Thursday, November 5, 2015

I Would Like to Thank the Academy…

I recently received an award. Not because I’ve suddenly and inexplicably done something noteworthy, but because I have hung around for so long. It’s for blogging longevity; basically an award for people with too much time on their hands.
One of my early blog logos
My friend* Toni at ExpatMum nominated me. She’s been blogging since 2008 and in her post she expresses a fond nostalgia for these sorts of awards, which were popular when she began blogging. For me, they were a new and perplexing innovation, and something I never really got to grips with.

For those of you who don’t remember them, you would get “tagged” and then you had to perform certain tasks, namely show the award, tell 7 interesting things about yourself that not many people know, and tag 15 other bloggers.

Here's the Award. Task One: Complete
They’re the on-line equivalent of chain letters (remember those) but without the need to buy stamps or the dire warnings about breaking the chain. Therefore, since I don’t have to worry about some catastrophe befalling me, I am not going to tag anyone. As with chain letters, I feel it is a bit of an imposition to foist these tasks onto someone else. And, more to the point, I no longer know 15 other bloggers, especially ones who have been around for a long time. My blog has been going so long that it's now in that, “Hey you kids, get offa my lawn!” stage, so I am not the virtual gadabout I used to be.

So what is this blogging time-limit criteria? Five years. Phu-leese! I began my first On-Line Web Journal, which is what we called them (and we liked it that way), in March 1996. Most of the people on-line these days weren’t even born then.

In those barnstorming days of the Internet, you needed some real estate on an ISP, a dial-up modem (explain it to the youngsters), knowledge of HTML and an FTP tool. In short, it was not for the faint-hearted, and there were actually more people taking a curious, cautious look at this interweb thing than there were people regurgitating their views onto it. Therefore, good writing, and sometimes even mediocre writing (which would explain my following) earned an audience.

I started using some free space provided by a local university, then moved on to other free hosting sites—Xoom, Geocities, Tripod—before buying my own domain,, in 1999.

Some of my early Blog headers
My first blog was called Cracks of Time, described by me as “a grotesque monument of self-absorption.” That later gave way to a blog about my hiking excursions, then on to an account of my Irish Dance adventures and lastly morphed into "Suburban Hell" -- my statement on life in the soulless expanse of strip malls, gas stations, fast-food outlets and housing developments that was Clifton Park,

Suburban Hell didn’t last long. In summer 2001, I went to Ireland and met the woman who would shortly become my wife (Shameless plug alert! You can read the full story in my book, Postcards From Ireland). Soon after, I started Postcards From Across the Pond.

The first header graphic for PCFATP.
That is nearly 20 years of continuous blogging, so I guess it’s about time I got some sort of award, though the “Can’t He Find a Better Use For His Time?” award would be more apt.

Another PCFATP header
And so, on to the list – seven interesting things not many people know about me:

First, and most important is, I am not all that interesting.

At family gatherings, the most unusual thing about me is that I do not have any tattoos.

Another is that I have not done time.

In my teenage years, I belonged to a fundamentalist cult.

I have never read To Kill a Mockingbird

I have wanted to be a writer since I was a child. The first story I wrote was about a pilot who crashes his plane in a jungle clearing trying to save another man who is trapped there. Together they build a new plane from the wreckage and fly out just as the natives are coming to attack. Somehow, Elleston Trevor got hold of it and stole the plot to write Flight of the Phoenix. I was never able to prove that, naturally. Shame, too, as I could have used the residuals from the movie rights.

I play the bagpipes. Badly.

Oh, and I’m a certified SCUBA diver. (That’s 8, maybe I’m more interesting than I thought.)

Thanks for wandering down Amnesia Lane with me; we will now return to our usually scheduled broadcast.

* She's a real friend, not one of those sad, virtual acquaintances. Okay, she’s not the type I can call up on Saturday afternoon to ask, “Hey, you wanna go bowling?” but I have met her and we get on well and we even co-wrote a blog together for a couple of years.


  1. Congratulations, Mike. I think.

    1. Thanks for the congratulations, Tim. Like the award, I'll take what I can get ;)

  2. I'd like to read more about the fundamentalist cult you were a member of as a teen. Oh, and, congrats!

    1. Excellent idea! I'll do a post about it. Stay tuned.

  3. You didn't mention your Irish Dancing in the list. That makes you even more interesting!

    1. You know, I completely forgot about that. Strange, since it greatly contributed to my being here. Maybe I'll do a post about that, too. ;)