Reflections on the A to Z Challenge

A-to-Z Reflection [2015] - LgThis April I participated in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge for the third time, sharing a selection  of what I described as “Interwebby Wonderments.”

The first year I decided to join in the bloggy fun was 2012, and I fell and whacked my head on the sidewalk when I was a few posts from the finish line. (Fortunately a few friends banded together and finished for me.) In 2013 I made it to the end, exhausting as as that was. My experiences in both years should have taught me some important lessons, but as you’ll see below. I don’t learn so quickly.

This year I decided to sign up even though I was, by ridiculous coincidence, in the process of recovering from another “head meets sidewalk” fiasco–because I’m just that coordinated–but I still managed to finish. And I think I’ve finally learned some of those important lessons:

PLAN AHEAD

Other than deciding on a handful of topics, I didn’t do much pre-planning, and I didn’t pre-write any of my posts. That was silly for all kinds of reasons, but primarily because it meant the time I spent researching and writing my posts was time I didn’t spend visiting other blogs. I still managed to visit somewhere between 10 and 40 blogs a day, depending on how rude life decided to be about rearing its intrusive head, but my brain felt pretty explodey by the end of some days. And by “some,” please read “most.”

FOR GOODNESS SAKE, DON’T BE SO LONG-WINDED

Please understand, I’m not talking about anyone but myself here. I actually like long posts, even during the challenge, but I realize that others don’t, and to all of you, I apologize! You’d think that without pre-planning my posts would have been, by necessity, brief. You’d be so wrong. It would seem that I am nothing, if not verbose. Case in point? This post. Sorry again.

PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE AND THEY DON’T ALWAYS BEHAVE THE WAY YOU WANT THEM TO

I knew from previous years that a lot of people aren’t terribly reciprocal about blogging challenges. They love your visits and comments, but they don’t feel particularly obligated to return the favour. This year I went in prepared for this, and for the most part it didn’t bother me. I have my own cunning strategies for finding people who will reciprocate. It did annoy me, though, when I saw that some people who were so diligent about visiting a lot of blogs and commenting often received almost no comments in return. No wonder so many people dropped out along the way. That must have been so disheartening.

CAPTCHA IS NOT MY FRIEND

Okay, I didn’t learn that this year, but oh, good grief, that got annoying. Half the time Blogger managed to lose my comments while I was doing the whole captcha sign in thing. After a while I learned to copy my comments before trying to post them, which saved me from banging my head off the keyboard.

MY BLOG CAN BE A SNOTTY MOO

My apologies to anyone who ran into difficulties trying to comment on my blog, which kept pretending it hadn’t received the comment or that the comment was a duplicate, or even worse, hijacking the comment into comment purgatory because it didn’t like one of the links. I wanted to switch themes to see if that would help, but I didn’t dare do anything during the challenge in case I messed up everything.

I STILL LOVE THIS CHALLENGE

For me this challenge is about connecting–with the bloggers I’ve met in previous challenges or through social media, and with new bloggers whom I probably wouldn’t have found without the challenge. I was going to try to name and link to some of those blogs, but I know I’d end up leaving someone out, and I don’t want to do that. I’m pretty sure there are quite a few blogs I meant to follow and didn’t. I’d drop a comment, move to the next blog, and then wonder, whoops, did I click “follow”? I’ll be rectifying that as I browse through the reflections posts.

THANK YOU

To Arlee Bird, the co-hosts, and all the minions, a huge and heartfelt thank you for giving us this yearly opportunity to go blog-bonkers together.

The Z to A of A to Z

This month I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, drawing from my “Grab Bag of Delectable and Occasionally Edifying Interwebby Wonderments.”

To celebrate the long anticipated and much yearned for arrival of the letter Z, I hereby declare the Blogging from A to Z Challenge to be my interwebby wonderment of the day. And what makes this challenge so darned special? I’m so glad you asked. Allow me to present my Z to A list on that very topic:

  • Z is for catching Zees now that the challenge is over. I’m Canadian, and we say Zed, but catching zeds isn’t an expression anywhere, so…forgive me, fellow Canadians, and all you other zedders.
  • Y is for You, dear bloggy friends. As I said yesterday, it’s all about you.
  • X is for astonishingly difficult letters. We love you X, but wow, you sure made us dig deep.
  • W is for Writing, writing, writing, and still more writing. This is how we hone our skills and develop fluidity and (we hope) find our blogging groove.
  • V is for Very glad to have signed up and Very glad to be saying hello to Z.
  • U is for Understanding and supporting those who had to drop out along the way. Sometimes life just doesn’t cooperate, and that’s all there is to it. 
  • T is for Thinking our thinky thoughts and sharing them with others. We all have something important (or amusing, or whacky, or fascinating) to say, and the challenge gives us a forum for doing so.
  • S is for Supporting one another, leaving encouraging comments when a fellow blogger starts to flag, letting our bloggy friends know that their unique voice has touched us.
  • R is for Reading. And reading. And reading some more. Twenty-six days of dashing to blog after blog to immerse ourselves in the funny, the sad, the uplifting, the scary, informing, the inspiring.
  • Q is for Quotations, and Quizzes, and Quirkiness–three of my favourite things that manifested themselves in abundance during the challenge.
  • P is for Planning ahead. Ahaha!! If only. I had a very few posts roughly planned out in advance (by which I mean I’d decided on the topic and maybe had one link to accompany it). Composing a new post (almost) every evening left me less time for commenting, which meant less time for getting to know people, which meant missing out on the very point of the challenge. Note to self: don’t do that again.
  • O is for Oh, shoot me now, because we all had those moments, right?
  • N is for the Nerve-wracking panic resulting from not doing P and having to wrestle ideas out of an obstinate brain.
  • M is for Memories of fabulous people and their fabulous posts.
  • L is for Laughter, whether it be the laughter elicited by amusing posts, or the hysterical laughter that bubbles up as we struggle with our beleaguered brains on the 24th day of the challenge to come up with an “X” post that won’t completely humiliate us. (Of course, those of you who planned ahead will be laughing at the rest of us at this point.)
  • K is for Knowing a whole lot more about a whole whack of subjects than I did on April 1. That’s a big A+ for all you knowledge enablers.
  • J is for leaving holier-than-thou Judgement at the doorstep and overlooking the typos and grammatical waywardness of posts composed at two in the morning, and refraining from engaging in political, religious, or any other kind of argumentativeness for the duration of the challenge.
  • I is for Insomnia, or, as I like to call it, who needs sleep anyway?
  • H is for Hello to new friends and Hugs to old friends for putting up with your A-toZ-ing buddies through this hectic month. Oh, who am I kidding? Hugs to all of you!!
  • G is for Gratitude–for your friendship, whether you were part of the challenge or not; for a challenge that’s kept me me on my toes, entertained and inspired throughout the month; for all those who visited and commented; for all those who visited and read, even if they didn’t comment; and for reaching Z with sanity (more or less) intact. t
  • F is for Fun! Come on, now, this was fun, wasn’t it? Much easier to say that as we reach Z than it was when we hit K, but fun nevertheless.
  • E is for the Encouragement that kept us going.
  • D is for :
  • C is for Community, which takes us back to this being all about wonderful, welcoming, supportive you.
  • B is for Bloggy marathons that sap every ounce of our endurance but make us all kinds of happy when we reach the finish line.
  • A is for Acceptance, Appreciation, Admiration, Affection, Attachment, Amusement, and all those other fine A-nouns inspired by spending April in your bloggy company. Oh, and let’s not forget the awesome-sauciness of each and every one of you.

Big squooshy hugs for all of you–unless you’re not the huggy type, in which case, meaningful looks and buddy punches on the arm for you. See you in May!

And the rest is history…

This month I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, drawing from my “Grab Bag of Delectable and Occasionally Edifying Interwebby Wonderments.”

My post will be short today (brief pause as I attempt to ignore the sighs of relief). Once again I’m composing the night before it’s due, and I’m tired like a tired thing–see? can’t even spew out a decent comparison. Tonight my plan is to leave bucketloads of comments on other blogs (well, one per blog, don’t worry no imminent spam attack from my direction), drink copious a sedate amounts of wine, and then crawl under my cozy quilt and snore until the roof shakes.

And to those of you raising your left eyebrow in barely veiled scorn as you mutter to one another, “Well, there was the option of writing the posts in advance like the sane folk did…”, all I can say is “Yep, you’ve got me there”.

The post may be short, but it is rich in linky goodness. I thought I’d focus on History today because, (a) H and (b) the interwebs are chock-a-block with tasty timelines, maps and other history-focused yumminess.

TimeMaps World History – a collection of timelines that offer a “visual framework for history topics.” The site houses more than 650 maps and 1,000 pages of accompanying text. You can follow the atlas through the centuries or browse by specific historical event. Super cool.

HyperHistory is an expanding scientific project presenting 3,000 years of world history through lifelines, timelines, and maps that can be viewed in parallel.

Fashion-era – over 890 pages of fashion and costume history, social history, articles on fashion and clothing, as well as fashion tutorials.

History of Art Timeline – offers a chronology of visual art.

And, then, of course, perfect for my fellow A-toZ-ers, the awesome and not very time consuming History of English in 10 Minutes:

Big ole jet airliner

This month I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, drawing from my “Grab Bag of Delectable and Occasionally Edifying Interwebby Wonderments.” Welcome!

We hear so much about air disasters and tragedies that sometimes it’s hard to remember all the good and fascinating and fun things about airplanes. If we overlook the astonishingly deep carbon footprint and environmental recklessness of air travel–and for the purposes of this post we’re going to do exactly that–there is a veritable gold mine of wonderments to be discovered on the web.

For example, should you have a bent for historical lore or an unquenchable nostalgic urge to revisit the glory days of air travel when an onboard meal meant Boeuf Bourguignon instead of a teensy bag of oversalted pretzels, you might enjoy a quick wander around the Everything PanAm  website.

Here you can have a riffle through a fascinating collection of images from the 1920s to the 1990s–photographs of crew and passengers, the evolving models of aircraft, old menus (first class and economy), the bling Pan Am used to sell, and even pictures of the various iterations of their airsick bags.  Fascinating stuff. Really. I promise. Go look.

But maybe you couldn’t give a rat’s nethers about sick bags and the evolution of flight attendant fashion. Maybe it’s all about the food for you. In which case, allow me to present Airline Meals, a site dedicated exclusively to, you guessed it, airline meals. And why, you might ask, would you care to peruse this extensive photo archive of online meals? Well, really, why wouldn’t you? Come on now. Food! On cute little trays! With cute little accessories! (Granted, as the decades roll on the food becomes progressively more disgusting, but you have a strong stomach. You can handle it.)

If you want to ignore the evolutionary journey from cloth napkins to minuscule squares of flimsy tissue, you may of course skip straight to the “more brain food, please, sir” portion. NASA, through a series of shockingly rudimentary illustrations (really, NASA, please apply some small modicum of your funding to improving your website) and a few paragraphs of surprisingly comprehensible text, explains how it is that airplanes manage to stay up in the air.

And finally, I leave you with this benediction: should you ever be trapped on a runway for three hours, may you be fortunate enough to have the Philadelphia Orchestra onboard with you: