Somewhere, over the rainbow, a blog is born. A blog for Kansas. A blog for America. A blog by a reporter with a difficult-to-pronounce last name. But most importantly, a blog that is AMERICA'S ONLY PLACE dedicated to the vital intersection of politics and Sunflowers. The Heartland gods nod in wise approval.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Home improvements, part 1

It's amazing how the simple passage of time creates restlessness. Take, for example, my condominium. In mid-January I will have lived here one year, and dare I say I've made great strides. I've bought several pieces of furniture, repainted the bathroom, and learned various lessons about the dos and don'ts of wiring.

But it is far, far from enough, I decide as I contemplate my household in the twilight rays of 2004. The year has somehow changed me. I grow curious at the accomplishments of Allison down the road, who, with Alabama stubbornness and a patient mother, willed a new wall into existence. I marvel at the coherent taste of my upstairs neighbor, who combines Virginia stateliness with accents from her trips to Mexico when she was a student in San Diego. And I look I my home and think, I want bamboo shades, or an equally self-expressive equivalent! I want cool new shelves above my kitchen cupboard, seemingly organic but newly placed. I want people to come into my home and think, this man has style, rather than the apologetic feeling that comes over me when I say, "Yeah, but bricks and boards are practical. And I saved so much money on bookshelves!"

This is, of course, a writ-small example of How The Man Keeps us Under His Thumb. The material achievements of others prey on our insecurities, creating desire. How can I be happy, how will I ever be loved, if I do not adhere to a standard of decor that exists only in my mind? Would a desert-tan living room bring me closer to self-actualization, or will eggshell do the trick? Will I know I've met the eluvive, indefinable standard of appropriate good taste when, literally, I've seen it? Or will I buy all-new furniture, only to think and but, and but, and but ... ?

I don't know the answer to that, but I think I know where my Christmas money is going, and if I'm successful I will within a few short months have a new-and-improved home that I will be proud of. One that is current with the times, yet timeless in its expression. One that will speak my character and reflect my standing in the world. One that looks more like ... everyone else's home.

Therein lies the trap. And the secret of the world's greatest economy.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

This photo is from the Republican Convention last September. It has no current significance, except it's the first-ever photo posted to Ozblog as I continue to tinker w/format.  Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Just e-mailed a couple friends for advice on how to go about a more interactive redesign. Could be a good holiday learning experience.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

What's the Matter With Ozblog?

I swore, I swore, I swore that I would not become one of those bloggers whose blog sits in cyberlimbo, seldom updated and existing with no point. And here I am, letting Ozblog linger, devoid of effort but not officially closed. So I think I'm going to have to at least close it out in current form. I have hopes of composing some sort of valedictory essay this weekend, but have little faith in my own reliability at this point.

The recent dropoff in the blog is a convergence of factors. Most immediately, my morning routine has changed. After neglecting to properly treat some nagging sports injuries that have been lingering for up to 18 months, I'm going whole-hog on physical therapy right now. The appointments are in the morning, so I'm often not at work until 10 to 11 a.m. Do the blog, and it's already lunch. Even with Congress out of session, I just don't have that luxury.

But that's just an immediate cause. Even if I were my normal in-the-office-at-eight-a.m. self, I just don't think I'd have the same motivation for Ozblog I had in the halcyon days of the 2004 campaign. Ozblog was, as the Knight Ridder-generated header (more on that later) still states, "Observations on the 2004 presidential election." That made a lot of sense up until the election. It made a lot of sense for the first couple weeks after the election, when the votes were still in dispute and partisans pondered the results. But it doesn't make sense anymore, and my thoughts on how to evolve Ozblog into a grander forum for Heartland political discussion are problematic when applied to the site you see before you.

Following that thought: Part of the tension in continuing this particular blog is its Knight Ridder identity. They set up the site, they promoted it, and now they could care less about it. That's perfectly logical, from their standpoint, and I don't begrudge 'em -- the dirty little secrets of blogs is that even the most popular ones have a fraction of readers that mainstream do. I, for example, had the best-read KR blog of the conventions. On my peak days, I had about 1,000 readers. The Wichita Eagle has an estimated 200,000 readers every weekday -- and it's not considered a "big" paper, either.

In retrospect, KR's blog effort was all about the zeitgeist -- blogging was the Big Media Story of the conventions, and it continued to draw attention throughout the campaign. Like any decent corporation (and don't get me wrong, KR is pretty decent), KR wanted its flag on blogging, and I flew it proudly. Still do, but it's akin to flying a flag on the north pole -- symbolic, can make a nice picture, but not exactly a sight that gets a lot of traffic. And there have always been frustrations with the way this was set up -- not so much over content (never had any serious problems with that) so much as a lack of control over the blog's design, its interactivity, the lack of willingness to allow photos, etc. That was all swallowable, when in return for the restrictions I got my smiling little blogface on the front of Kansas.com every day. But that hasn't happened since Nov. 3, and the rationale for the compromise has evaporated.

If I continue the blog at all, it would seem to make more sense as an indy, personal blog dealing with the same topics in a way that provides more depth and discussion opportunity. Given the deterioration in reader numbers since corporate promotion ended, divorce from the company isn't going to change traffic much -- it would take awhile to get back to the October #s (about 300 readers a day) no matter what I do at this point. But at least then I can play with photos, set up feedback, etc. Of course, the complications of running the blog and my day job would exist, but I'm not overly concerned about that, as Ozblog wouldn't change much in content, just in creativity. And as I said, content has never been the problem.

So that's where I'm at. I feel bad, because I know people have, like, bookmarked this thing, and I feel like I've let 'em down. But anyone who's visited lately deserves this overdue explanation, and I don't expect this to be the very last post. Penultimate post, perhaps. But I've still got more thinking aloud to do, and as always, I appreciate your patience.

Friday, December 03, 2004

From a Manhattan laptop

If there are two "All Apologies" posts underneath, I, uh, apologize. Blogger's telling me I deleted one, but still has both posted. Curses on contemporary technology -- and yet, without Blogger, where would these precious thoughts find the bright sunshine of exposure?

Spent last night at the Philharmonic, got up this morning, started reading about BTK. Todd Tiahrt got a million dollars appropriated for BTK-related investigation expenses, but ultimately it's all about cracking the case, and who knows what it will take to find the alleged 65-year-old wrong-side-of-the-tracks serial killer. Bet he's following the efforts with interest, though.

Up, friend's ready. Off to MoMA.