4th NWI Blog Carnival

Welcome to the April 26, 2010 edition of the Northwest Indiana Blog carnival.  Every week, we seem to be growing. This week,  we had sixteen entries in seven categories from various blogs around The Region!

General:

Jeff Eriks presents Thinking About Remodeling or Expanding? Planning is the Key! posted at Construction And Waste.

Jeff Freeze presents The Devil is in the Details posted at BigFreezerBlog.com.

Cender and Company presents State Revenues Increase posted at Indiana Municipal Consultant, saying, “In good news, for the first time in a couple years, spending and tax revenues increased in Indiana.”

Dave Woodson presents Experts, Gurus and Ninjas – Oh My posted at Davewoodson.com

Personal:

Glinda Harrison presents Something in The Region Business Community Worth Watercooling posted at Nat Finn’s  How to Publish a Book. Of Blues. Hopefully..

Politics:

Northwest Indiana Politics presents Laura Blaney – Only Option is to Appeal posted at Northwest Indiana Politics, saying,” Porter County Council member Laura Blaney on the RDA controversy.”

Chris Hedges presents Live-Blogging the Lake County Sheriff’s Debate posted at Northwest Indiana and Beyond, saying, “The Northwest Indiana Times live blogs the Lake County Sheriff’s Debate showing the power of blogging in news reporting by allowing an in-depth look at the debates.”

Chris Hedges presents Speak Your Piece: Sipping the Tea Party | Nascar News Update posted at Nascar News Update, saying, “David Masciotra offers a view of the recent Valparaiso Tea Party rally.”

Lifestyle:

Steve Dalton presents Valparaiso Mortgage Rates posted at Northwest Indiana Mortgages – FHA VA and Conventional loans, saying, “Interest rates are going up, slowly but surely from their lows in the 4’s two months ago. Have you talked to your real estate or mortgage professional lately?”

Green Pointe Homes presents We Pay Real Estate Agents posted at Green Pointe Homes, saying, “For many the last three years were a time to stay in a small home or even apartment and wait out the recession. As the recession is ended, it’s time to start looking for that new home, maybe even your first home.”

Northwest Indiana:

Case Ernsting presents Finding Work in Michiana: Think Seasonal posted at FinditLocal411 Blog, saying, “Many are still unemployed in Michiana these days, but that’s soon to change. With summer approaching, many seasonal positions will be opening up at Golf courses and beaches in the area.”

Chris Hedges presents Reminder: Drawing for Three Floyds Dark Lord Day at 3pm | WBEZ Blog | blogs.vocalo.org posted at blogs.vocalo.org, saying, “Dark Lord Day was last weekend and even Chicago’s Public Radio Station WBEZ mentioned the Munster celebration of what some call one of the best craft beers in the world.”

Scott M Bort presents One Day at the Craft Brewers Conference posted at All Hopped Up.

Cutting Edge:

Chris Hedges presents It is Time for NWIndiana to Take the Social Media Lead posted at BlogNWI, saying, “It’s time for Northwest Indiana to take the social media lead!”

Tech:

Glinda Harrison presents What Was the First Viral Video | Part 3 | The Daisy Spot posted at Golden Technologies Blog.

And from my own blog,  You Must Be a Registered User to Comment on this Article posted at Glinda Says:.

Do you have a blog post that you would like to submit for the next NWI Blog Carnival?  Submit it here.  And visit BlogNWI.com for details about the next edition of NWI Blog Carnival.

You must be a registered user to comment on this article

Portrait of man sitting inside a cardboard box

I love reading other people’s blogs and websites. Not too long ago, I read this really interesting blog entry on the Dalai Lama.  I thought it was clever, funny and very well written.  I wanted to leave a comment on the blog that said that.  But unfortunately, you had to be a registered member of the site in order to comment. And that was the only way to leave a comment. My response? I hit the back button.

Sad to say, on many websites, in order to comment, I find I have to create an account and login. Or, I can only comment with a Google account.  Which I don’t have. Or a Facebook account. Which I also don’t have. So, since I don’t want to create an account and won’t use Google or Facebook (which seem to be the most popular accounts for website sign in), I am hitting the back button. 

 For me, it doesn’t matter if registration is free, easy, or even offers me a prize. Unless I am passionately interested in that site and plan to be spending a lot of time there, I am not interesting in joining just to leave a comment.

Why? The short answer is I just don’t have time to create a new, unique username/password combo for every website I visit. (Read that as not using my dog’s name everywhere on the internet so that I’m not too likely to have my account hacked.) My last feedreader exploding due to thousands of unread posts may have something to do with it as well.

Want a few examples? From Social Media Today:  

Please note that comments from non-members will be sent to a moderator for approval within 24 hours. You can also register as a member for this site to have your comments approved automatically.

Or perhaps from boingboing.net:

Warning: Anonymous messages are held for moderation. This could take a (long) while. Or your comment may not be posted at all. Please consider creating an account and logging in. It’s fast, free, and we don’t spam, ever.

Get the impression that sites really want you to become a registered user? I sure do. And I understand why. But it still does not make me want to sign up for an account.

Homeless man warming his hands by a fire

Some sites take it to extremes. An author I was interested in reading was having a contest for a signed advance copy of an upcoming new novel.  To enter the contest, you had to visit a popular genre blog and post a comment.  Whe I tried to post, I found that you could only post if you signed in with Google Friend Connect.  When I nicely questioned the blog’s owner if there were other ways to comment, I was told that there were not.  Furthermore, I was told that the reason for the Friend Connect only comments rule was “to improve the quality of the discussion” and thanks for stopping by.

Gee. I realized I had just been called Internet riff-raff.  And not even based on my clothes or my hair or my car or any of those other status symbols people usually judge each other by.  It was based on the fact that I didn’t use a particular social networking system.

And from a marketing perspective, that blogger just lost my readership and my business (if he’s selling something).  He just lost the  potential to  get my business.  And he probably lost the business of a lot of people that I am going to tell about it. And the author who used that site for a contest that should have been open to everyone doesn’t fare too well in my opinion either. Because I won’t be back to visit that blog again.  Ever.  Just like I wouldn’t go back to a brick and mortar business that treated me badly.

And if you are a business blogger, that is not good.  Because for a business, building blog readership is crucial to building your business. And turning people off is not building relationships.  And, honestly,  most people love comments as it gives the impression that this is a site people are really interested in. 

So how do you make your blog as open as possible for readers and commenters?  Without driving yourself insane trying to fight off the comments from the dark side, of course.

The range of options seems almost as wide as the types of websites and blogs out there.  Unmoderated with spam filters.  Captchas of all varieties.  Moderated.  First post moderated and then posting is allowed. Sign in with Open ID. Google or Facebook or WordPress.com.  They are all options, although I personally have issues with most of that list.  What about a comment policy for your blog to help cut down the work? Ask people to play by the rules?  And why can’t I sign in with Twitter? 

The other extreme is a site like Topix.com. According to this article, they get tons of comments by allowing anonymous ones, although deleting them also seems to be a full time job.  There has to be somewhere in between.

While anonymous comments seems to be an invitation for trouble, many people like signing in with name and URL, even if it is moderated.  It helps to promote your own blog by inviting return comments.  I myself have discovered many a new blog or website by checking the links from an especially witty or well-thought-out comment. I have observed that the more open the comment process, the more interesting and intelligent the discussion seems to be.

So, do you do anything to make the comment process more open on your blog or website?  Or is there a reason why you keep the process limited in some way?  I’d love to know.   And, contrary to this blog post’s title, you don’t have to be a registered user to comment. You just have to wait for me to get around to approving the comment.

Tears for Giovanni: The too short life of a special dog

Giovanni

I spent the day yesterday crying over the death of a dog I’d never met.  

I’d only seen bad cell phone pictures of him and occasionally heard him barking when I spoke to my son on the phone.  Nevertheless, I have spent the day heart-broken over the needless death of my son’s roommate’s dog, Giovanni. 

Giovanni and Jack
Giovanni and Jack

We don’t know all the facts pertaining to his death.  We may never know.  There definitely seems to be negligence on the part of the Albuquerque, New Mexico animal hospital that treated him.  There are indications the dog may have been poisoned.  Either way, at less than a year old,  he is still just as dead. 

Giovanni had not had a an easy life.  A pit bull mix, he was abused by his former owners.  Rather than becoming mean and aggressive, he was a gentle soul, playful and full of love.  My son’s roommate, M, adopted him from a shelter.  He made fast friends with my son’s dogs, Jack and Daisy.  He loved his new home and his new family.  I fell in love with his pictures and was looking forward to meeting him on my next trip to New Mexico. 

My son and his roommate are, of course, devastated at Giovanni’s loss.  

As a parent, it is hard to see these kids, on their own, halfway across the country, struggling to deal with the loss and the unfairness of it all after spending over a thousand dollars and doing everything they could to save the dog’s life.

As a person, animal lover that I am, to think that someone could have poisoned the dog deliberately is sickening.  To think that veterinary providers could be so uncaring and incompetent (and greedy for dollars) when life of a pet is at stake is absolutely outrageous to me.   I have been giving my Labradorable Retriever lots of pats and hugs.  He’s been glued to my side, because he always knows when I am upset.

I realize that many people do not share my view that pets are members of your family.  I really do get that.  But regardless of where you weigh in on that, animals deserve the right to live out their lives without being the target of a person’s hate or anger or as a target for revenge against someone.  And they do deserve competent medical care, especially when you are paying premium rates for those services. 

Many years ago, I found this tribute to a dog by George Graham Vest.  The first time I read it, it made me cry and has shaped the way I think about dogs as a member of the family.  For me, it always comes to mind when a dog is lost too soon:   

ONE MAN’S SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO A DOG

The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful
or treacherous, is his dog.

 A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground where the wintery winds blow,
and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s  side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the sores and wounds that come in encounter with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his Pauper master as if he were a prince.

When all other friends desert, he remains.  When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in it’s journey through the heavens. If misfortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies.

And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in it’s  embrace, and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true, even in death.

 -From a speech given by Former Senator George Graham Vest of Missouri. Delivered in 1870 when he was acting as a lawyer in a suit against a man who had killed the dog of his client. — He won the case.

If you have a story about a beloved pet who was lost too soon, I’d love to hear it.  And, if anyone has recommendations for a good vet in the Albuquerque area, please leave a comment and let me know.

The Internet Cookbook: Baked Eggs with Spinach and Brioche

I am trying to add more meatless recipes to our diet and this recipe is a wonderful addition.  The dish is simple to make but has a gourmet flair and tastes absolutely incredible! It is perfect for brunch, but also great for a late night supper.  I substituted bagels for the brioche and sour cream for the creme fraiche.  It was still fantastic!

Brioche is French for a rich bread made with lots of eggs and butter.  Although historians don’t think the story is true, supposedly,  brioche is the cake in the Marie Antoinette “quote” of “Let them eat cake.”