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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Friday, May 04, 2007

Why Bloggers Blog: Part Five-B

To Enjoy a "Sense of Neighborhood"

Thank you for participating in this discussion. It has been a very enjoyable and thought-provoking process.

My boyhood neighborhood was kid-friendly, suburban, white, Italian/Polish/other (we were other), mostly catholic (we were not), Democrat (we were not), blue collar (my dad was not), lower-middle-aged / lower-middle class (we were lower than most). As a kid, however, I didn’t think in such terms. I only knew it was a wonderful place to grow up. As an adult I fondly described it like this:

“From our front porch we could see scores of nearly identical small, three-bedroom brick ranches, and beyond them were hundreds more, packed into ….a suburban grid of tightly-woven streets and patch-pocket yards with about twelve feet between the houses.… When I say ‘tightly-woven,’ I mean ‘close-knit’ without the comfortable give.”

“Neighborhood” can be an attitude rather than a maze of streets and homes, a place where all the demographics and adjectives are as unimportant as they are to a child.

Blogging creates that sense of neighborhood from Seattle to Savannah, Malaysia to Michigan, Oklahoma to Ontario, India to Indiana. It boggles my mind that this is possible. I may never fully understand how the technology works, but the sociology is not that different from real life.

The metaphor I most often use for blogging is a conversational gathering on a front porch in the kind of “neighborhood” we’ve all described. Front porches are an open, inclusive, transitional place between the neighborhood and the home itself (without actually opening the home).

Some bloggers do “open their home.” They may prefer a kitchen metaphor, because they focus on recipes; to some it’s a family room, and they scrap and talk about kids ; to some it’s the garden or a work shop or garage. A blog is a place that reflects our interests, perspectives, and how far into “our world” we’re comfortable allowing strangers.

Whoa! Wait a minute, Tom. Strangers? I was with you until you said "strangers." You just described this neighborly place we all enjoy to visit. We’re not strangers. Lots of us have become friends with people in this neighborhood.

I understand that, and I sense and value that camaraderie, too. It's been a unaticipated reward of blogging. But before you read on, please try something with me. Don’t click these links yet. You must first agree to insert the word “nobody” for the word “everybody” each time the song says it. Okay? Now click this link and listen to the theme song from Cheers. (Or if you’d rather watch the video clip of the same song, click here.) Remember, insert “nobody” each time you hear “everybody.”

"Thanks, Tom, for completely ruining the song!" I like it better the other way, too. The lyrics suggest we all long for a place to make new acquaintances, feel accepted, etc..... a place to be “known”... but only so well. But don't you agree that sometimes we want to go where we can enjoy some friendly anonymity and selective vulnerability? It is in that sense that this is a neighborhood of "strangers." Being the right kind of "strangers" is not a bad thing. Remember, the two men in the previous post were perfect strangers.

Based on our use of first names only (or knick names) and our brief “profiles,” we've all wisely chosen to control how little or how much we actually share of ourselves with the world.

You are all interesting writers with thoughts worthy to be shared in an open forum. For all the reasons mentioned in this discussion, I value the insights and perspectives in this neighborhood in spite of the inherent limitations of the internet.

Speaking only for myself, I feel more free to write here with some level of plausible deniability. =) I'm a school administrator. Can you imagine me being in the middle of some school discipline matter and having a kid say, "I'll make a deal with you Mr. K.: You throw out the detention and I'll promise not to tell anybody you wrote about a "drool stained pillow." I can simply say, "'Patterns of What?' Never heard of it, and don't ask me how that picture of George Lukas holding my daughter got on that site."

Some of my school clientele read here, we talk about it, but the vast majority of people who know me have no idea these pages exist, and I'm totally okay with that. Even though that's true, I still have a rule of thumb: If I wouldn't say it out loud at work, the mall, or church, I should think twice about writing it on my blog. We must live with our words. Choose wisely.

Likewise, on a more serious note: since none of our blogs are “closed,” we must remember that there are unsavory strangers and sultry alleys just a mouse click away. (A stranger helped a stranger in “The Good Samaritan,” but it was also “strangers” who robbed the man in the first place.) In the same sense that parents should be very careful about kids spending too much time at MySpace, adults must be careful with this personal pastime we call blogging.

The second reason we need to be careful with this "neighborhood" pastime is one I’m not sure we want to hear.... I've been putting it off in this discussion. Here's a clue: the word “pastime” implies the passing of time. We’ve all shared reasons why the dimension of blogging is part of our lives, but read through the comments and you’ll hear many bloggers candidly talking of it in terms of addiction. I know they may be joking, but there's some truth to it.

I confess that the weekend “writing time” I mention in my header has of late become an evening “pastime,” too. Take now for instance: It is 11:35 PM Thursday. At the moment, I'm in my recliner "waiting up" for one of my daughters. It is the amount of time I'm gladly giving this pastime that prompted the last post of this series.

Part VI is some advice (mostly to myself) given in a somewhat humorous light. I'm mulling over a few concerns and suggestions I need to consider as I strive to strike a manageable balance between a pastime and the reality of passing time with those we love and serve in our home, neighborhoods, communities, and world around us. We have some family activities this weekend, but I'm hoping to post it by Sunday night.

My daughter just got home--right when she said. I love hearing about her day. (Next week, maybe I'll tell you about her first "warning" for a traffic violation.) Allow me to close with this post's theme and the story behind the song. =)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like I said in last nights comment, I do not leave comments (so what is this?) but I had to come see what you told me I would get a kick out of. You were right. I did not follow that show but learned the song in reruns. i like it, and it does fit me once you switch the words.

4/5/07 10:01 AM  
Blogger Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Hi Tom,
catching up on reading everyone's blog. Once again you have done a great service with this series. You made some sharp observations and gave some good advice.

4/5/07 1:27 PM  
Blogger Josie said...

George Lucas! Of course! You look just like him.

I, too, have often found myself at 11:30, midnight, etc., still reading folks' blogs. When I am reading people's blogs, I think of myself having a visit with that person, so for me it becomes very social. And because I am a "people person", the more people I visit, the happier I am. A stranger is just a friend I haven't met yet.

Our blogs are very much an extension of ourselves, so I can understand how blogging can become addictive. We all like to socialize.

What a great series of posts this has been.


4/5/07 2:51 PM  
Blogger the walking man said...

I coined two words Tom when i first got on the web Faceworld and Cyberworld. At that time the passion of the moment was message boards and we had hours, days, months long friendships, wars, fights and even two cyberweddings. It was a fascinating experience and yes I was off of work at the time and i got involved in the fray and the ever changing shifting alliances of that no holds barred community.

People would set up boards that had a descrptive setting like a cabin in the woods and people would go in and sit on the couch and have tea and conversation. people at work would come in and stay for hours, which amazed me.

People would describe themselves as one type of person and they would turn out to be opposite or not quite what they said they were. some especially the females would trade phone numbers and et to know each other in a closer way.

Eventually this led to a group of about twenty of us choosing a common city and booking a block of hotel rooms where we could finally meet and learn each others faceworld names. We have now done this four times but it's been awhile and we all seem to have gotten over our internet addiction when the sight closed.

Now we can call each other if we chose to and we have one sight we all can post at but sometimes it is months between posts but if someone does post then there is a flurry of other posts from the core group, which means that at least every day
we check that space just like we do our email.

Now I blog or play games at POGO and interact with other people that way. Not that it is easier in the cyberworld because I believe I am the same in both worlds. (What you read is what I am) it is simply the pattern that my life has come to since they put me out to pasture at such an early age.

If i cut off all communication in either world then I would most certainly age faster, losing my faculty's at an increased rate. so both worlds are important for a variety of reasons, yet you are absolutely correct in the warnings you give about the predatory nature of the internet. But most people I know don't know what computer parental controls are. And that is what needs to be cleaned up in the cyber'hood.



4/5/07 3:30 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

You and all our other "anon" friends can really relate to that "remix." You are welcome here with or without a name.

Glad you're back from Borneo. We missed you.

Go to the link at the words "the picture" and you'll see why I said that about George Lucas.
This is a great venue for "People People". Remember that song: "People who need People"? I hadn't thought of it until now, but it really does apply to what you said.

Walking Man,
I'm going to come back and address this. This is VERY interesting. I was completely unaware all that was going on before blogs. Susie Q and J_G have hinted at it but nothing like this.
Gotta go. My daughter needs me to take some pictures, but I do want to return to this....

4/5/07 4:54 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

I would like to be a fly on the wall of your life for just 24 hours. You have so much going on in that head of yours and then you just come up with the perfect link! I enjoyed the Cheers link and history, as much as I have enjoyed this entire "Why Bloggers Blog" series. So, that's one of the reasons I keep coming back, to learn something new! And that's what it's all about!!

4/5/07 5:13 PM  
Blogger J_G said...

Tom, You hit the nail on the head with this one. I find it terribly difficult to discuss the things that I read here and the other nice places I go blogging with my real life or non internet friends and especially my coworkers.

I don't know how it happened or why it happened but I find that most of the people I call friends nowadays totally disagree with me on the war, faith, and just about everything else I consider to be interesting and important. I love poetry as you know and I also love history and I just can't talk about the things I am passionate about with any of the people I call friends and it is very frutrating to me.

I work on the Women's ministry committee at my church and I find that very rewarding. The other women there are very nice but it seems everyone has a family to take care of and the only time we talk is after church for a few minutes or when we meet once a month. I do other things at my church too but the Women's ministry seems to be the thing I'm interested in most.

Blogging has become something that I do because I need to find people that share the same interests or at least are able to discuss different things with some level of interest in what the other people are talking about.

You are right though about blogging being time consuming. I've been at it now since December 2004 and I've had my ups and downs with it but being able to have someone respond to what I believe is interesting and important with more than just a grunt or a nod of the head and have an intelligent dicussion is very important to me.

I'm in the middle of changing my whole life situation as far as changing where I live and where I work and who my friends are so blogging gives me a place to go to at least know there is intelligent life out there somwhere.

4/5/07 7:51 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Walking Man,
After helping my daughter, we had a school play to attend--the kids did great!
Now back to that story of yours...
People would set up a chat board that was an imaginary cabin or whatever? I never heard of anything like that. People on the imaginary boards gathered in real life? And now years later you still keep in contact in cyberspace? That is amazing.Speaking only for myself. I would not do that. If I'm going to spend a weekend somewhere fun, it's with my family for sure. Hearing you talk of it, does make it sound like a type of addiction or at least an obsession of sorts.

Thanks, too, for the reminder that people are not always what they say they are in cyberspace. That is one of the scary things about kids on MySpace, but the hazard applies to all ages.
I'll try not to assume a "one size fits all" tone in my next post on this topic. Some people may have more "free time" than others and I can think of worse things to do with it.
Thanks for sharing this. I'm sure others will be as surprised as I was. It sort of ups the ante on the next post.

If you were a fly on the wall, you'd know that there are times when my time at this laptop computer is a sore spot with those who deserve my time and attention in "real life." (That was not true before.) They are patient but have helped me see that I need to make an adjustment in my "writing time" and find the balance again. More about that in Part VI.

I know what you mean. Christal sounded like she could use the same company.
Today after school, I sent a large package of letters to Iraq. They were written by students to our troops. I also sent four copies of that "Tribute to the Class of '42 (GHW Bush's class by the way) to various VFW posts in our area. Then I saw a documentary tonight on all the great things our guys are doing over there for schools, hospitals, cities, etc--THAT ISN"T GETTING REPORTED-- and I think "why are so many people in a hurry to make them feel like dupes and failures? Why do they think we want to see a car bomb but none of the good accomplishments?" Those trying to raise these questions can't get a word in edgewise these days. Please keep up the good tributes to the troops at your blog.

4/5/07 11:06 PM  
Blogger SusieQ said...

Tom, with few exceptions I try to write things at my blog which I would feel comfortable having my own grandchildren read. That has been the brakes for me.

I took a self-test recently to determine if I was addicted to blogging. According to the test results, I do not suffer from a blogging addiction. It does not interfere with the rest of my life to any great extent.

I guess what I like most about blogging are the many opportunities I have to either engage in a worthwhile discussion on an important topic or witness one in progress. I like to talk about things that are worthwhile. I have always been like this. I crave good discussion, a good debate. I find it very hard to find people, shall we say in real life, who want to engage in a worthwhile conversation. Most people are satisfied with casual conversation. But in the world of blogs, you can find all sorts of people eager to discuss things that are worth talking about. I guess I am a conversationalist looking for other conversationalists and I can find them in the blogs.

These discussions or debates that I have the privilege of being a part of often lead me to research certain topics on the Internet. The wonderful thing about the Internet is that knowledge is just a few clicks away. No hauling yourself to your local library and relying on a librarian, resourceful as they are, to point you to the right books. It is a great time saver. But, of course, I rely on books, too, and have a bunch of them. Too many in fact.

Another thing I like about blogging is that maintaining a blog of my own requires a commitment on my part to write. This refreshes me. It enables me to release some of my creative energies. It forces me to pull my thoughts together to create a cohesive whole.

I am going to be 67 years old in June. Blogging has been good for my mind and my spirit. And on top of the merits of blogging I have pointed out so far, I get to meet some of the nicest people, too, through blogging. But I am at a point in my life where I have more time to devote to writing, online discussions, research, and meeting people. My family is raised. The little bit of work I do for my husband in his business leaves me with plenty of time to pursue my interests. Blogging will be different for someone who has a family and works full time. For these people, how they use their time is of utmost importance. So, they will need to be very disciplined about blogging.

By the way, I like watching reruns of Cheers. How 'bout that Cliff guy?

4/5/07 11:34 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

"Conversation" is often the word I use to describe what people do in cyberspace. Quite often these conversations are open ended and the participants pick up where they left off even with large gaps of time in between.
Your thoughts in this comment tie in nicely with some of those in the "draft" of the last post. It's why I told Walking Man that I won't make my concerns a one-size-fits-all. Some of the adjustments I'm talking about will probably pertain only to me. Something you said several comments back--possibly as far back as Part One--is that writers need readers and that is what I didn't have in my first year and a half of blogging. That has raised the level of my writing and as you said given me a sense of "deadline" to stay with the things that in the past ended up in files or half-empty journals. It's not a "vain" thing for one to admit he or she enjoys and is motivated at the thought of having "readers"--it's just recognizing that writing and reading is type of conversation. I would miss it.

5/5/07 8:42 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

I definitely caught myself being "sucked in" to cyber space. Just one click on a link and you're deeply involved in someone else's life story. While I've relied heavily on "cyber therapy" there are definitely goods and bads associated with modern technology. I had to make a conscious effort to find that balance and try to only blog while my son is at preschool or if I can spare a moment when my husband is home from work, etc. Thank goodness I dont have a cd burner or I'd never get out of my chair!
By the way, thank you for your comments on my blog. I'm sure, with the whole "Six Degrees of Separation" thing, that I know someone who knows someone who knows the people you know!
Julie in Colorado

5/5/07 10:30 AM  
Blogger the walking man said...

I guess time is the thing, some of us ave a lot of free time and others take time from Peter to pay Paul.

although my faceworld is good, I have a wife of nearly a quarter century who I know loves me dearly, kids that are adults and have lives of their own, and a dog that killed a bear. I used to have more people in my life who sought me out for my time, but those people are not around much anymore, except with the cyberworld words "we should meet up for coffee and cigarettes" which 99 times out of hundred are just empty words.

So I have vast amounts of time free for me to do what I will, cyberworld or faceworld, except i am not imaginative enough or interested enough to try anymore to seek out new experiences in the face world.

You'll never catch me jumping out of an airplane or tying to ski again. So I come to these spaces, sometimes to tell a story other times to make a comment and sometimes just to lurk and see where my cyberhood is headed.

But mostly to while away the hours that would otherwise be empty, alone with God and my thoughts and sometimes that is a dangerous space to be in.

5/5/07 1:04 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Cyber therapy. I haven't heard that, but it's true. Sounds like you have found the balance. It was a privilege to spend quiet time at your site.

Walking Man,
It's been 27 wonderful years for us. Thank you for mentioning that. It's an important fact of your life and mine. You're right that we all have varying "expectations" upon our 24-7-365, and various "faceworld" duties.
Your last thought got my attention. Hmmmm....

5/5/07 3:38 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...


My youngest daughter and I just came in from four hours of yard work. We took the "tent" off the trampoline (She's been begging for weeks to do that, but we store all the patio and "fire pit" furniture under that "tent" so it's a long process. I have a 1x6 frame that gets enclosed to protect the tramp, but it also provides a nice "winter storage space" for the yard things. It's all set back in a wooded corner of our lot.)

I'm now sitting in the "parlor" where the piano is and she is practicing her recital pieces for tomorrow. She's playing a complex but delicate arrangement of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." I love this time with her.

So sh'e playing that in the background as I'm re-reading these comments and BOOM they begin to hit me in a different way...
and all I can say is ... my thoughts are running too deep for words...

Beneath all of our comments is a small stack of thought that has never toppled in my mind before... it may not make sense...it hasn't crystallized yet...
Here goes...
this need to create... to connect... to converse... to matter... to close the gap...to fill the void... to make a difference...to be missed...
that is at the heart of being made in the image of God.

5/5/07 3:41 PM  
Blogger Josie said...

We are all part of God, and in that way we are all connected. Synchronicity is no accident. Whatever the electromagnetic field is that joins us all together and joins us to God, it is very real. When we communicate with each other, we are communicating with ourselves and with God.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls...

5/5/07 7:01 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

1st John 3:1-2 puts it this way,"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." 1st John 3:1-2

6/5/07 7:06 AM  

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