Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bloggers Meet Outside Virtual World

The other day I met in person, Bob Frank, who writes at "Eclectic World." He was previously known to me only in the blogosphere. This was the first time either of us had ever met another blogger as a result of our only contact having occurred through blogging. We both probably had various anticipatory feelings. I was in my own hometown, at a restaurant with known faces, so was quite at ease being in a familiar setting. My thoughts did marvel that I was actually engaged in meeting another blogger in person, since I had expressed reservations about ever doing so when I first began blogging.

I entered the restaurant to surprisingly find every table filled, but knew to look for Bob and his friend. We had no pre-arranged signal, but as I began gazing around the room they must have observed my searching manner and their waving hands quickly caught my attention. Fortunately, as we exchanged greetings we quickly established we each were who the other thought we were. Bob's friend soon left our company for the local library, a convenient block away, to use the computer. Before relating more about our meeting, I want to give you some background.

Early in 2005, having just received my first desktop computer a few months earlier, I became aware of "blogs," and undertook to determine what exactly they were. I read various blogs, but soon discovered "Time Goes By" (TGB) by blogger Ronni Bennett. Her exceptional writing and blog content captured my attention. I began to read her more frequently, then gradually explored TGB blog links to other bloggers, now known as Elderbloggers,

Contrary to the prevailing attitudes of fear and mistrust of the Internet I encountered from most others in my bricks and mortar community, my blogging activities led me to conclude I could have a positive experience in the blogosphere. My young adult children supported my interest and curiosity as they supplemented information I might need to best navigate safely on the Internet. I gradually determined exercising common sense and due diligence in the blogosphere could yield information, pleasurable fun and even new "virtual" friends. Ultimately, I embraced the suggestion that blogging offered special benefits, including to the elder population, and made communicating this message to others my mission.

Blogging beneficiaries, I realized, can include those who are separated from loved ones and friends; those who may have lived longer than their family members and friends but are now alone; and those with limitations preventing their usual community socialization. These are just some types of individuals I recall reading Ronni Bennett describe as potential bloggers. When I unexpectedly became a new widow I developed an added interest in blogging. Coupled with my awareness of some of the needs of the primarily older population with which I worked and my special interest in language and communication, promoting blogging ideas especially resonated with me.

I had long been dedicated to the value and importance of communication and had thought even then of ways in which to facilitate this for others. I now became a strong advocate for blogging. Regretfully, these past few years I have met with little genuine adoption of elderblogging locally, or at least I'm unaware of any who have joined our blogging community as a result of my promotion.

One of my disappointments on this self-adopted project during these years has been encountering the continued prevalence of those same blogging-as-dangerous false perceptions held by others since I first began blogging, despite my extensive efforts to demonstrate otherwise – and I do mean extensive in terms of time I have expended and education I've provided others. I became doubly dedicated to this goal following my husband's death, to the exclusion of some other matters requiring my attention. This activity may have been healthy by serving as a distraction from my situation. Whatever -- I've since concluded that if I hadn't been focusing on elderblogging promotion, I likely would have found something else to avoid taking personal actions I needed to be taking.

I extended myself in this elder blogging promotion effort on a personal level in full knowledge, given the suspicious attitudes toward blogging I encountered, that doing so could adversely affect my professional credibility with some, though I tried to carefully differentiate between the personal and the professional. Fortunately, so far, I have experienced no evidence of negative effects in attitude toward me professionally. On a personal level I experience from some others an indulgent somewhat subtle jocular reaction conveying one of superior tolerance toward what they regard as my idiosyncratic behavior and possible poor judgment with regard to my actually blogging.

Not because of the attitudes I encounter, but I have since stopped deliberate blogging promotion after several years directly trying to facilitate interest and adoption of blogging in some elder settings. I am sure most know by now I offer my support should they ever wish to pursue the matter. I have detected in others an increasing awareness and acknowledgment that blogging might be an interesting respectable activity as they note more and more traditional broadcast news and print media personalities promoting their own blogs.

Yet recently, I had a conversation with an intelligent professional person I've known for years who has periodically expressed interest in my blogging experience. The person has previously requested my assistance locating my blog and others to read. Yet, what I heard expressed was vague language, again, about the threats and dangers lurking in the blogosphere. When pressed for specifics, the stories of the few exploited by the press were cited as justification to condemn all blogging. My hope for eventual support from this person and others to facilitate aspects of blogging in one prime elder setting clearly is still not present. In another, where I had some success, any plans are on an indeterminate time line hold given the current economic situation.

While I didn't discuss the above with Bob, we did note a shared lack of interest in blogging for a variety of reasons by so many with whom we individually interact in our separate lives and locales.

Returning to the story of my entry into the blogosphere, what precipitated my first blog comment months before I started my own blog, and why it's significant to my choosing to actually meet another blogger .....

I was reading TGB's November 2005 post "The Nature of Blog Friends" and comments about meeting other bloggers in person as a consequence of contact through blogging. I was suddenly strongly motivated to make a comment. I still was apprehensive about having my name on the Internet, so I quickly contrived a blog name under which I could post. I felt some concern that in order even to do that, I did have to input into the system verification of my email address, but trusted the information would remain confidential as promised.

I wrote my first blog comment basically expressing reservations about ever meeting another blogger in person:

"I feel some reticence when it comes to security and privacy issues. Additionally, I believe I could be quite content to limit contact to just through blogs."

Three years plus have passed since then. My thoughts and beliefs have evolved through increased knowledge and experience. I've written many comments on numerous blogs, exchanged private email with a few bloggers, and even spoken by phone with another. I felt pleased a year ago to be invited to meet in person with another Southern California blogger whose blog's personal memoir writings and professional photos I enjoy. I have been unable to arrange that visit due to personal scheduling complications, but still look forward to doing so in the future if the offer continues to be extended after all this time.

Meanwhile, this past week, upon learning a blogger, Bob, from the Midwest Great Lakes area would possibly be near my community, I expressed interest and willingness to meet in person with him should his schedule allow this meeting. Accommodatingly and coincidentally, my work schedule modulated so I had the necessary flexibility to adjust to his uncertain travel time schedule so we could meet.

My first contact with Bob a year or two ago occurred after I re-visited "Ageless Project" and on a whim thought I'd randomly contact bloggers listed there with my same birth year. His blog is one I've since enjoyed reading when he periodically publishes. We've commented on each others blogs, and exchanged short infrequent but occasional emails. He wrote reassuringly of having successfully filled his personal life after major life changes. I've found this to be encouraging that I, too, could continue on life's journey fulfilling my own new life. So, when we recently actually met we had this limited but significant background as one facet of our known lives.

So, one day this past week between rain storms (known here as "California sunshine,") we shared coffee and conversation for an hour or two, though I truly lost track of time, at a casual restaurant where my communities locals and visitors congregate. I enjoyed meeting him and his travel buddy. Our nearby local library provided needed computer access for his friend while we talked, and later for him. I was quite comfortable and at ease the entire time. To some extent I sensed Bob was someone I already knew by virtue of our prior contact through blogging. I felt no awkwardness with the conversation that flowed rapidly.

We could easily reference previously exchanged information much as friends might, expand on other matters we might have only briefly mentioned before and introduce new topics. I learned of some of Bob's special service activities and other interests shared with a long time friend who wasn't on this trip, and his family as we skipped from topic to topic. There seemed hardly time to explore specific accounts of his most recent outdoors activities that had drawn him and his friend to Southern California. Perhaps he'll write about them, if he has time, once he returns home, but his trip is far from over yet.

When we parted I had the sense that we could easily have continued talking longer about a variety of subjects. Our shared time was short since he and his travel companion needed to be on their way. More heavy rain storms were coming from the coast. Further up the West Coast where Bob was headed they needed to drive through elevated passes where snow was predicted as low as the 3000 ft level. I knew often that highway had to be closed in such circumstances, so time was of the essence for them to travel through before sundown or snow intensified.

Meeting Bob was a delightful experience as was the brief contact I had with his travel friend. I'm glad we had the opportunity to meet in person. I have no doubt that bloggers can meet outside the blogosphere's virtual world and enjoy friendship.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Rose Parade 2009 Finale

Our Rose Parade's pictures and videos now conclude after the January opening account entitled Rose Parade 2009 Anticipation, then Rose Parade 2009 Part II, followed by the preceding Rose Parade 2009 Part III. More unique flower covered floats and spectacular marching bands came our way on Pasadena's Colorado Blvd.

"Believe in Music" emphasizes the proven benefits of playing music in their float's message from NAMM (International Music Products Assn.,) Sesame Workshop and Music For All. We caught sight of familiar Sesame Street characters including Big Bird and original cast member, Bob McGrath. Joining the group later was Oscar the Grouch peering from his trash can abode.

"Bands of America Honor Band" supported by the same groups above brings together more than 300 highly talented students from 200 high schools for this opportunity to march in the Rose Parade led by Indianapolis, Indiana Band Director, George Parks.

"Entertaining Dreams for a Century" celebrates Roseville, California's Centennial with a nearly life-size replica of a 1909 Union Pacific engine that made a historic trip from that city to Sacramento. This is their first Rose Parade float. They include tribute to their Indian community, nature and spectacular environment at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

"The Making of an Epic" pays tribute to Hollywood's Golden Era courtesy of the longest running float entrant for the 56th year by FTD.

Puebla, Mexico's Aguilas Doradas Marching Band with Director, Profesor Luis Alberto Mendoza Gomez is considered one of the best in Mexico. The 200 strong members wear elaborate gold eagle helmets with their signature blue, white and gold uniforms.

"Surf City USA" from the City of Huntington Beach features a family riding a huge ocean wave. The surfer was partially hidden from us due to the trees, so we had to wait until the Blvd. corner was rounded to fully appreciate the float.

Liberty High School Grenadier Band, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Directed by Gregory MacGill has performed in London, throughout the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. Their uniform includes Royal Stewart tartan imported from Scotland for the bagpipers' kilts and majorettes' skirts.

There were 89 Rose Parade entries listed in the official program. I haven't shown all the parade photos we took, nor were we even able to take pictures of all the floats and bands, especially toward the parade's end. My daughter's own photo shots were often hampered by a lady in front of us who frequently and suddenly raised her arm high in a constant 180 degree wave to everyone in the parade. Entry 67 of the Grenadier Band above was our last photo or video, so there were many more memorable sights and sounds we didn't record.

You can access Tournament of Roses 2009 highlights from the Parade.

The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association awarded twenty-four trophies. You can view photos of each 2009 award winner when you scroll down to the link "Begin."

A Few More Personal Comments and Observations.....

If there is a specific float for which someone desires to know what decorative vegetation, flowers, seeds, etc. were used, I can provide some information from my official Rose Parade Program. Leave your request in a comment or send an email to the "Contact Joared" address noted on this blog home page.

I have read reports the Rose Parade officials limited participant entry numbers to fewer in number than in past years. This was allegedly due to adjustments made to accommodate shortened television coverage time, especially during a time when commercial sponsorships lessen and our economy undergoes challenges.

There was no parade route viewer space to spare anywhere I looked. Many onlookers had camped out overnight along both sides of the parade route. There were crowds up and down the Boulevards with several people deep standing and others seated in stands such as those across the street from us.

The right side of the parade route often seems to be catered to by float performers since that's the location of television cameras at the parade's start.

The five and a half miles distance down Colorado and Sierra Madre Blvds. took its toll on those paraders on foot, including most of the marching bands. Their parade-beginning straight column lines we saw on the TV rebroadcast we watched after lunch, and returning home, were a contrast to the somewhat wavy horizontal lines we observed live when the marchers reached us just before their final turn onto Sierra Madre Blvd.

I noted at our end of the parade the animal-droppings-cleanup-scoopers I observed on television previous years were nowhere to be seen, but maybe they were just wherever the cameras were. We assumed this scooper brigade was either lacking in number to reach our part of the parade route, were all "scooped out," or erroneously concluded the animals, at least one of the horses, had no further business to unload. That assumption would have been wrong!

We watched with great apprehension as marchers with their eyes straight ahead sometimes "cut their foot" (a phrase whose meaning I recall learning in a farm's barnyard shared by cattle and horses.) Viewers in the parade stands could only sympathize from afar with each unfortunate marcher's plight. Later, further down the route we noticed an empty tennis shoe laying in the street and thought that individual's motivation must be strong to part with his or her shoe.

Sights I hadn't recalled seeing in previous years television viewing, but saw and heard in person, included a multitude of law enforcement vehicles driving by at the end of the parade. Emergency trucks and flatbeds followed bearing the names of more such businesses than I ever knew existed. Drivers of all of them were waving and sounding their horns creating a deafening cacophony of sound saying "Look at me!" I thought the auditory assault would never end. The vehicles were needed to transport all the floats to and from the parade as well as be available should they need to rescue any float breakdowns along the route. (We weren't aware of any such SOS needs.) By this time the stands were emptying and we were headed to our bus parked directly behind the stands, happy to have the noisy sounding horns muffled when we climbed aboard, then rode home.

Attending the 2009 Rose Parade was an enjoyable fun stress-free experience. We knew some people have their own camper or rent one they park overnight, but we appreciated not doing any driving for this event. I had splurged in the summer when we made our reservations and purchased inexpensive cushioned bleacher seats with backs, a very worthwhile investment I highly recommend.

We did learn of alternative ways we might be able to attend the Rose Parade in the future. We could drive part way, walk some short distances, use Metrolink/Metrorail, possibly independently reserve seats located in bleachers toward the beginning of the parade route near the television stands.

You may visit for the latest official news as preparation begins for the 2010 Rose Parade.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Rose Parade 2009 Part III

The Rose Parade continues following the January opening blog piece titledRose Parade 2009 AnticipationthenRose Parade 2009 Part II.

Keep in mind all these colorful float displays consist of a variety of vegetation including fruit, seeds, bark, grasses, and flowers. Many more than the traditional flowers such as roses, marigolds, and mums with which we're quite familiar are used to decorate these floats.

"Bollywood Dreams" salutes the most prolific film industry, the cinema of India, courtesy of the city of Sierra Madre.

"Hats Off To New Mexico – BEEP, BEEP!" from that State was one of my favorites with the Roadrunner zooming down old Route 66 or Foothill Blvd. as the highway is known in many communities east of Los Angeles.

The Grand Marshal of this 120th Anniversary Rose Parade was Emmy- and Oscar winning actress, Cloris Leachman. She is "no spring chicken" as best described by one of my mother's favorite expressions. See a recent photo of her at this link to "The Insider." I was impressed that after Ms. Leachman's two hour ride down the parade route when she reached the final turn just past where we were seated she was still kicking her shapely leg high, but we weren't quick enough to get a picture.

"Natural Entertainers" was a float I wanted to see with its skateboard-riding bulldogs joined by actor Dick Van Patten. Tillman and his pal, Tyson, ran on a 55-foot-long oval track but were out of our sight and I would think exhausted by the time they reached us.

If you haven't seen these dogs here's an earlier YouTube video of Tillman
and Tyson

City of Long Beach paid a colorful flower covered float tribute to "Renaissance Revival."

A tribute to "Broadway's Golden Age" complete with a spiral staircase and a grand piano filling the air with music was this elaborate self-built float by the city of Downey.

"Sharing the Great Outdoors" captured that entertainment venue on this beautiful Kiwanis International float.

"Propel Your Dreams" showcases a fantastic flying machine depicting the active lives of those living a healthy lifestyle.

Pennsylvania State University Blue Band, Cheerleaders generated enthusiasm from the crowd for their Rose Bowl football team playing later in the afternoon. The colorful tall flags in the bands midst represent The Big Ten Conference schools. The University of Michigan is clearly visible as is Ohio State University, several times from different angles.

"Mad Hatter's Tea Party" presented by the City of Torrance was a whimsical eye-catching sight.

"Hooray For Hollywood" celebrated the film industry courtesy of the city of West Covina.

Another band whose appearance attracted our attention as still sounding strong and holding their formation well toward the end of this long tiring parade route was the 56th entry Homewood Patriot Band from Homeward, Alabama whose band director is Ron Pence, making their third Rose Parade appearance.

The Homewood Patriot Band has performed in two Presidential Inaugural parades and have won numerous awards including the "Grand Championship" and "Most Entertaining Band" at 2007's Heart of Dixie Band Competition. Coincidentally, the next day when my family was flying home they discovered they were sharing the flight with these musicians who were also 2006 finalists for Grammys in our Schools.

The Cal Poly Universities float that came into view next was one we most especially wanted to view.

Background information is that a few days before the Rose Parade, for the third time in recent years, my granddaughter and daughter devoted several hours helping decorate the Cal Poly float. Their grandfather/father (my husband) retired from Cal Poly. His relationship to the University when he was still living had attracted them to first volunteer helping with that particular float. A Cal Poly University website explains:

"The Cal Poly float is the only entry in the annual Tournament of Roses parade that is designed, built, and decorated solely by students and volunteers -- a tradition that dates back to 1949. Students at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo and California State Polytechnic University Pomona design and build the float each year. Students in the Rose Float programs at each campus build half of the float, which is trucked to the Pomona campus every November. The students spend their weekends assembling the float in Pomona. Students, parents, alumni and volunteers put the finishing touches -- including flowers -- on the float in Pasadena during 'Deco Week' before the New Year's Parade."

The float's theme "Seaside Amusement" won local Los Angeles TV station KTLA's Viewers Choice Award. Pasadena Rose Parade Assoc. announced this was the first time ever they've had this Viewers Choice Award. The Cal Poly news item described the float:
"It featured a working ferris wheel, a roller coaster and a parachute drop. Cal Poly planted more than 2,000 marigolds and asters to use on the float." This 2009 float was the 57th entry in the parade, said Cal Poly Rose Float Club Coordinator Josh D'Acquisto.

I do want to note the little green car and and the little red one perched on the front of the Cal Poly float were the recipients of my family members decorative gluing efforts. My daughter described labor intensive and time consuming hours working in a necessary flower preserving cold environment.

"On the red bumper car, we applied seaweed to the bumper. On the green bumper car, we applied green mums along the back, sides. Your granddaughter applied them above the bumper around the bumper car and I applied oleander leaves along the sides of the car."

The green car proved to be on the right side of the float and we were on the left side of the parade route, so caught only a real time brief glimpse of their handiwork. We were able to view Cal Poly float's red and green bumper cars more clearly on TV later as seen in this YouTube video.

Our 2009 Rose Parade finale will be published next time.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Rose Parade - 2009 - Part II

(Note: Rose Parade and float information that follows includes some wording, partial quotes I want to credit as having originated in the 2009 Official Souvenir Rose Parade Program I purchased at the parade. The Editor is Caryn Eaves; Contributors: Anne Dullagahan, Melissa Flores, Miranda Spradlin, Monique Willis.)

(One other note: I regret in every instance with multiple pictures of a float, they are in the reverse sequence of how I entered them for publication and the order in which they were photographed. Since this Rose Parade series is my first effort with posting photos and videos to my blog I clearly have more to learn about these reverse technical aspects. Actually, this second installment was ready to post the day after the first, but I became over confident with the ease at which I had prepared my first effort and tried to get fancy with picture placement. That post on preview was unpublishable. This is the earliest I could find time to undertake correction since basically, I had to start over. I am again disappointed, but it's viewable. It is too late (early wee hours) and I'm too tired to change the photos order now.

I continue to have a heavy work load in the world outside the blogosphere. Am acquiescing to the fact I can't cut these late hours and work long days, too, as I could only a few years ago. When I can pursue the technical aspects, succeeding Rose Parade posts will be forthcoming since they're already written. Thank you for your patience.)

Appearing after the sky writer, B2 and historic bikes seen in the preceding January piece Rose Parade 2009 Anticipation, the next-generation FCX Clarity hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle 2009 Honda Pace Car came rolling by, the first such vehicle to lead the Tournament of Roses Parade.

The "Hats Off To Entertainment" theme banner came next carried by Eagle Scouts and Gold Award Girl Scout troops.

You can see just a glimpse of the United States Marine Mounted Color Guard followed by The United States Marine Corps West Coast Composite Band. The Mounted Color Guard Marines rode past mounted on Palomino mustangs which have been adopted from the Bureau of Land Managements 'Adopt A Horse' program. These are active-duty marines who volunteer their off-duty time to train their mounts and perform precision color guard movements.

Horse lovers with and without horses might enjoy this Horseyset link.

Excitement prevailed with the appearance of the 49 foot tall, formally clad replica of American Honda's humanoid robot, ASIMO.

ASIMO tipped his hat.

"Saturday Matinee" depicted film strips and entertaining characters moviegoers have enjoyed through cinema's history.

Strikingly attractive was "Mechanical Melodies" self-built by the La Canada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association.

"Hee Haw" from RFD-TV, the nation's first 24-hour television network dedicated to serving the needs and interest of rural America, paid tribute to the 40th anniversary of that television show.

Following along were the "All American Cowgirl Chicks"

"Entertaining Exhibition" was a really lovely entry with outstanding floral design winning the Sweepstakes Trophy.

Another spectacular float "Making A Splash" from Mission Viejo caught our attention.

"Hope Grows" showcased bundles of colorful flowers courtesy of Vera Bradley. A pink ribbon attached to the watering can handle highlights the fight against breast cancer.

Our Hawaiian family members were especially proud of the Hawaii All-State Marching Band Kaneohe, Director: John R. Riggle.

University of Southern California - USC's Spirit Squad, float, Trojan and the Band excited the crowd preparatory to their afternoon Rose Bowl football game.

The enthusiasm of the crowds of people around us was contagious as everyone was constantly cheering some lively individual performers, bands, and floats that continued coming our way.

We were impressed with the 27th entry Royal British Legion Youth Band Brentwood Essex, England – Band Director, John Wyndham. Their performance was accented by their uniforms fashioned from those the British Army wore in 1905, which included black helmets, red tunics and black trousers with a red stripe.

A short time after the band passed out of our sight we became aware of First Aid Station drama at a location diagonally across the street from our bleacher seating. A British band marcher identified by the bright red uniform was spotted being brought in for treatment. We watched with concern hoping one of the ambulances lined up nearby would not have to be utilized. Eventually we noted the helmetless bright red uniform-wearer walking about independently and were greatly relieved, speculating that probably the marcher needed only re-hydration.

Our outdoor temperatures were cool and comfortable as we never removed our jackets. We were seated in the shade, but parade participants were constantly in the sun expending much energy.

"Salute To The USO" from the city of Alhambra had as its backdrop a 45-foot-long Amercian Flag composed of various flowers and carnations.

More photos and videos of our 2009 Rose Parade experience will continue next time.