blogging obsession invades workplace

*start nerd talk*

I’m spending a good portion of the day researching WordPress. We’re planning to have a hunting-centric blog in conjunction with our upcoming DU web initiative (coming Sept. 1 – watch for it!). It’s going to have multiple contributors (mostly from our magazine staff) and cover a wide variety of topics from hunting gear to decoys to dogs to stories, memories and traditions from the field. We’d considered hosting it within our current blogging interface (which is home to Checkett Out, written by our in-house communications biologist), but the system is fairly rigid and a little outdated, so third-party seems to be the way to go.

If anyone has thoughts on better platforms than WordPress, feel free to suggest them. But I’ve heard so many rave reviews – and so little about any of the other options – that it just seems like the way to go. It’s highly customizable, has a great catalog of plugins and special features and has a good track record for stability and support.

I signed up for a free webinar that’s being held tomorrow at 5 p.m. CDT. Apparently they’re held fairly regularly and involve chat sessions/Q&As with WordPress pros. It’s hosted by No Blogger Left Behind, so, if you’re interested in blogging – especially the technical aspects – you should check it out.

I really wish I were a little farther along in my time here at NHQ. I think about this blog project and want to step up into some sort of lead role on it. I hadn’t considered how involved it would be back when we thought our current system would handle it and the writers would just access the content management system, copy/paste from Word and click “Publish.” But now that we’re delving into third-party management, there’s going to be more to design, implement, oversee, manage and troubleshoot. Basically, if I want to show my worth, I need to learn everything I can about WordPress, designing themes/templates, hooking up all the plugins we will need, maintaining the blog and comments, etc. I just hope I can do most of that secondhand, since we don’t have anything established at this point for me to experiment. I need to be quiet and quick – ninja-like, if you will – in my learning process.

*end nerd talk*

Saturday was a good day. I got up early and got to hit the Memphis streets before very much of the populace had risen from their beds. I love driving early in the morning, passing sleeping houses, wandering cats and dewy front yards. It’s so peaceful. The dim light casts this hue on the world that makes it feel safe and cozy, like you are the only one around and everyone else is snuggled under the covers with their loved ones, catching their last few moments of a spectacular dream. You feel like you’re getting a unique view on the world before anyone else has a chance to see it.

(A related aside: I haven’t directly mentioned my new coworker friend in this blog as of yet. I’ve been trying to gauge the level of privacy with which to address our friendship. And while I’ve gotten away from using initials over the years, I think I will reinitiate that practice for him – RP. RP is in my department at NHQ and is a really nice guy.) I went over to his house the Saturday before last just to hang out on the deck with him and his dog, Syd. She is such a sweetheart – yet another great example of how I get along better with animals than people. :) I met up with them again this weekend, and while Syd had to stay home for part of the day, we spent most of the afternoon and evening with her.

Saturday’s breakfast was from the local Blue Plate Café, over on Poplar. The restaurant is a revamped home painted a calming shade of yellow and adorned with paintings from local artists. I was especially impressed by the animal paintings hanging in the entryway. I had to stand there for a couple minutes and look at the brush strokes and layers of color – so beautiful. The Blue Plate menu is printed on the inside spread of a mini newspaper that also boasts famous quotations and the history of the restaurant. While they had an impressive selection of foods that would thoroughly clog my arteries for the day, the promise of a good steak was still on the horizon for the evening, so breakfast needed to be light. I ended up choosing the only item under the “Health Nut” category: a bowl of vanilla yogurt, granola, strawberries, banana, cantaloupe and honeydew melon. I was going out on a limb considering my general dislike of all things banana and melon, but it was delicious and just perfect for that time of day. I was full by the time I scooped up the last strawberry slice. RP’s potatoes were a little too greasy and his fruit not as fresh as mine, but at least I came away with a positive impression of the place.

He was kind enough to drive me through Midtown and into downtown Memphis after that. We saw the Pyramid (the now-abandoned former home of the Memphis Grizzlies), the Peabody, the Mississippi River, Beale Street from both ends, Tom Lee Park, etc. Luckily, it was still early in the day, so the homeless people were still asleep in the parks and the traffic was minimal. We drove past the St. Jude campus as well, which I hadn’t realized was based here. Then it was off to the Memphis Zoo.

The zoo was great. I wasn’t sure I’d be impressed, even though the only zoos I’ve experienced to date are Toledo, Binder Park, Detroit & parts of Potter Park. But I really was. The cages were designed differently, so I felt as though we were able to get a closer look at the big cats (especially the snow leopards and lions) than I have at other zoos. Once the clouds parted and the sun came out, the temperature and humidity were staggering, so we took advantage of as many indoor attractions as possible. I brought along two frozen water bottles, so we made it through without having to purchase $3-4 beverages. I think my favorite part probably was the Animals of the Night building. It was bigger than others I’d seen, and the cooler temperatures and more appropriate living conditions meant more activity on the part of the animals. There were several varieties of Loris (which kept me thinking of the Lorax the entire time), a big bat cave, armadillos, anteaters, etc. And I actually allowed myself to like monkeys momentarily in the China exhibit! I think they must’ve been the White-Cheeked Gibbons. We were amazed by their agility and smooth acrobatics.

The rest of the day consisted of more sightseeing, a great grocery store, some delicious ribeye steak and veggies, a failed attempt at going to see “Dark Knight,” my fruit/cake/Reddi-Whip dessert and a successful attempt at watching “My Cousin Vinny,” which I really liked. I also got to cuddle with Syd for a little while during the movie, so that was the perfect way to end the evening. :)

Sundays are my least favorite days, but what started out poor ended up much better. After the gym and a stop at Kroger for vanilla yogurt and fiber granola bars, Patrick and I went to the evening service at the nearby Hope Presbyterian Church, on Walnut Grove. My landlady had suggested going to a concert there next Friday – Bebo Norman & Ginny Owens – so I thought I’d check out the place beforehand. The evening service is called The Stirring – here’s how they describe it on their website:

The Stirring is a worship experience that seeks to recapture the greatest aspect of the Church – its willingness to interact with culture, dwell in it and understand it, earning the right to speak to it and influence it (where needed).

The atmosphere was almost identical to Riverview, with the coffeehouse in the lobby and the flexible dress code, and they even went a step further by having round tables in the front section of the sanctuary instead of just the rows of chairs. However, the crowd was much smaller than any Riv service I ever attended, so I’m not sure it would’ve been a practical setup there. The pastor was young and spoke about the power of language and the fact that we need to recognize our responsibility to use our words for good. He said that language has the ability to both build up and tear down, give life and kill, so we need to choose the former on both counts, encourage others instead of hurting them, remind ourselves that though email is simple and gives us the ability to hide behind monitors and miles, hitting “Send” changes things. Words are permanent even after emails are deleted. It’s something that I’ve taken for granted my whole life, so I hope to be more aware of it from now on.

Well, it’s taken me my entire lunch hour to compose this post, so I should stop here. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Enjoy your week!

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2 Comments

Filed under blogging, lessons, recap, thoughts, web

2 responses to “blogging obsession invades workplace

  1. surly-bastard

    WordPress is indeed a fine platform for the OCD blogger (and non OCD ones too). A friend once commented that Joomla was more full featured, but to the extent that there were many features that simply went unused. WordPress seems to have the largest community following, which means the largest supply of templates, the largest compatibility with other programs such as Gallery and the most free support.

    Yeah… I only read the nerd talk portion so far…

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