INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Friday, April 29, 2005

Returning to the Fold

It’s past time to get back into action here. I’ve been completely pre-occupied with an exhausting round of house renovation, and now I’m preparing to leave for an Internet marketing conference in Chicago. I’ve always been a terrible multi-tasker, and my advancing age makes me even more so. So the blogging has just gone down the tubes lately.

However, I got the blogging juices revived yesterday by having lunch with a terrific blogger that I've been wanting to meet for a long time, Maria Benet. I wasn't able to attend her recent reading and book signing marking the debut of her newly published book of poems, "Mapmaker of Absences," so I emailed her and suggested a lunch date so that I could get a signed copy of her book (not to mention the opportunity to enjoy the considerable pleasure of her company).

The slim, attractively designed book is, for me, a small treasure and I was thrilled to get her inscription. If you've done any reading at all of Maria's blog, you know what a hell of a writer she is and probably won't be surprised to learn that her poetry is great too--even better. I can't recommend this book too highly. Do yourself a favor and order a copy.

This was the fourth time I've met and spent a little hang time with a blogger from my blogroll. Although the four individuals are all quite different(Frank, Dorothea, and Denise are the others), the experience is always the same in many respects: the sense of already knowing each other; lively and stimulating interchange; having discussions about other bloggers almost as if they were members our own famililes; trying to dissect what it is about blogging that makes it special, and never quite being able to express it adequately, but nonetheless knowing exactly what the experience is that the other person is trying to express; and probably seeming wierd and esoteric to those within earshot. It's a unique and special bond.

The other thing I've noticed in each case is that the blogger is the measure of the blog. That is, the qualities that make the blog special are personified in the real-world person. What you read is what you get. I think it may be quite likely that the community of serious bloggers is one of the least phony groups of people you could find anywhere.

It certainly holds true in Maria's case. Totally unaffected and down-to-earth despite considerable smarts and artistic talents--oh, and she's technically adept as well. She started blogging with her own personally developed software before blogging software programs came on the market.

I'm in awe of people who can carry the tech mind and the artist mind in the same brain. Maria demurs, saying she's no Shelley Powers. Maybe not. After all, who is? But I'm still mightily impressed.

OK. I hope there's another blogger in the wings who will grace my path one of these days. It could be a great hobby.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Ode to Oregon

We’re back home after a gorgeous trip to Oregon, whose praises I shall sing. Too bad I don’t have any Oregon readers—at least none that I know of (maybe b!x, the outstanding Portland blogger, who used to drop by every once in a while. But that was way back in the first flush of the early blogdays--before he converted his blog from personal to a communique on civic affairs).

Anyway, Oregon is not only beautiful but mellow—the way Northern California used to be before the age of the Yuppies.

Up until around fifteen years ago, there was a whole crop of outlying towns around here that had been populated by former city-dwellers whose agenda was living the laid-back life and escaping consumerism. It was great fun to visit these places because one could relax and enjoy a sense of freedom from the acquisitive pressures and poseur-ism of the urban scene.

Nowadays, except for prettier surroundings, these places, in terms of life-style, are nearly indistinguishable from the city. Materialism and competitiveness rule. The same SUV’s, glitzy boutiques, celebrity chefs, ten-dollar martinis, unaffordable art, wine snobs, and show-offs sully the scene.

Some call it progress. Rural towns going cute-sy is not my idea of progress.

But, lo and behold, Oregon has retained its soul. The towns are wonderful, real, down-to earth, but with enough of a hip element to make them interesting. As in the old days in California, the primary driving force among the urban transplants is definitely non-materialistic. How refreshing!

This made for a great vacation. I’ll be back.

Of particular note, I might add, is the town of Ashland. A gem! The perfect combination of great scenery; culture mixed with down-home people; hip-ness with small-town mellowness; the way things used to be co-existing with the way they are now—minus the phoniness.