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Archive for May, 2012

How to Kill Facebook

This week, Facebook rolled out a heap of additional changes to their Facebook Pages platform. In the midst of writing my heart out in honor of my Dad, and with all my Facebook page growth indicators UP, they took away 15% of my reach in one day.

I learned back in September that relying on Facebook for ANY exposure was stupid, and I diversified. Yet, I still get traffic from Facebook right now, and when they make changes, it is demoralizing to someone who blogs from the heart and makes no money for it.

Thanks to Tricia Driscoll at Critters & Crayons, I found the skinny on a possible workaround FOR NOW. I’ve copied her verbiage below and added some of my own. If you have a Facebook page and have been pulling your hair out, I hope this helps you recapture some of your hard-earned Likers without paying Facebook. If you like my page, following the instructions in the link below will help you see my individual posts, at least in the short-term.

New Changes To What You’ll See In Your Facebook News Feed…If you’ve liked a page, you may not see it unless the page administrator pays to promote each individual post. (And, within six months, you WILL NOT SEE IT EVER unless they pay – that’s my prediction.)

This is a helpful article about how to create lists of pages you would like to include in your newsfeed. I just created mine. If you already Like Andra Watkins – Author #1 THANK YOU, and #2 Please consider adding my page to a list. Here are excellent directions on how to not miss data from your favorite sites (even if mine is not one of them :) http://www.iheartfaces.com/2012/05/facebook-list-pages/

Regardless of what Facebook does in the future, you can help me and other hard working bloggers who are generating content you enjoy by doing any or all of the following:

  1. Subscribe to my blog by e-mail OR if you have a WordPress.com account, follow it there. If you have been reading blogs simply because you saw them in your Facebook news feed, you can no longer rely on Facebook to show them to you.
  2. Share individual posts you enjoy with your networks. Three or four shares a month on any platform can make a massive difference for a blogger, whether you have few connections or many.
  3. If you are a blogger, enable all sharing widgets. Don’t rely on the Facebook one alone. I share lots of content in my Twitter feed, and if you don’t have that widget enabled, I can’t help you as easily.
  4. If you’re on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Stumble Upon or any other popular social media platform, connect with me there. Currently, none of those platforms limit the content you see if you are interested in seeing it. You may access my profiles in those platforms by clicking the highlighted links on each platform name above.
  5. Explore other platforms. As an individual user of Facebook, you can no longer rely on it to maintain your personal connections, keep track of the people you care about, or know what is happening in their lives. Your individual connections currently see less than 8% of what you post, and that number will continue to fall as Facebook tries to monetize in the wake of its disastrous IPO. Leading social media folks are predicting that Facebook will fold, because regardless of what they’ve tried to do to make money thus far, their per user revenue continues to plummet.

Whatever you do, I want you to know that I appreciate your reading my blog. It is a daily honor that so many people choose to spend time here, to share their stories, to make a community that adds so much to my life. Thank you for being here.

Stop All The Clocks

My father served in the US Army in the 1950′s. He was stationed in Germany, and he visited London in 1957. His departure for his tour leads a series in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubileea post you can read here. Follow the posts forward to read the series in order. His photographs of London in 1957 are juxtaposed with my own modern images to try to tell a story each day. Thanks for reading and for sharing this series with your friends.

By Roy Watkins. June 1957.

I think somebody told me back in school that time waits for no man. Even that clock tower, shrouded in scaffolding, is no prisoner of time. Wandering around this city, I can hear it, playing its dirge in the distance sometimes. It’s almost like it is counting the quarter hours of my life to Westminster time.

Chime.

I stop in one of those red telephone booths, the ones decorated with that crown the Queen wanted on them, and I mug for my buddies. I’m laughing on the outside, when I really wish I could just call my mother on the thing. Tell her I love her. Slow down time to keep her with me.

ChimeChime.

I toy with the idea of finding the Prime Minister’s place. Mac the Knife. It’s supposed to be around here somewhere. I know he smokes a pipe, and I wonder, if I went up to him all casual-like, if he would tell me what kind of tobacco he blows. Huh. I bet he never got that question from a wet-behind-the-ears American soldier. Maybe he’d remember me.

ChimeChimeChime.

Back at the big church. Westminster Abbey. Do they let Baptist boys like me in that place? It’s awful impressive. I can’t help but wonder if God hears people better in buildings like that one. From the outside, it kinda looks like something that might be in Heaven. Though today, London is heaven.

ChimeChimeChimeChime.

More soldiers. Decked out in red with the fuzzy hats. I need one of them fuzzy hats back in Germany. That snow blows in over the Black Forest, and if we’re out there on maneuvers, my head just about freezes plumb off. All I’ve got to trade is some cigars, and I need those. Burning time is another way to mark its passing, I guess.

ChimeChimeChimeChimeChime.

Here I am again. Back at the dadgum clock tower. And, all this passing time has done is make me realize I’m hungry. Maybe I’ll find a pub, some grub and somebody with an English accent to talk to. Yep. Make a new friend.

Is there any better way to pass the time, than shooting the breeze with a stranger?

By Andra Watkins. March 2009.

Through the Mists of Time

My father served in the US Army in the 1950′s. He was stationed in Germany, and he visited London in 1957. His departure for his tour leads a series in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubileea post you can read here. Follow the posts forward to read the series in order. His photographs of London in 1957 are juxtaposed with my own modern images to try to tell a story each day. 

By Roy Watkins. June 1957.

Upon Westminster Bridge

by William Wordsworth, September 3 1802

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth like a garment wear

The beauty of the morning: silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky,
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!

The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

Visiting London is like having a date with a bridge. Or several of ‘em. You can see a lot of the city from shore, but that only sets the mind to wondering. What will the place look like from out there on the water? Will it be any different from this bridge versus that one? Will my tired feet carry me to one more bridge before I need to find me a pub and light up my pipe?

I walked across this particular bridge because my father, he’s always been into big clocks. Grandfather clocks. Mantel models. Strange wall tickers that needed lots of extra support to stay up there, telling time. So, seeing that there clock reminded me of my dad, of how much he probably misses his only son on the farm at home. Boy, would we get a charge out of looking at that big ole clock together, me and him.

Course, I couldn’t get the clock picture for him and fit the rest of that big ole building in the shot. Not from the middle of this bridge. So, I took the clock shot for my father, and I snapped this one all for me. The way that building is shrouded in fog: I hope my picture has that look when I see it for the first time. This mist. Well, it reminds me of home, the way it swirls in the river bottoms and creeks beds and snakes through the gashes between the hills. Sometimes, the way it lit up the sign outside of whatever bar I was rescuing my dad from.

A mist that stirs up memory.

It encircled me as I stood in this spot on this here bridge. A shroud that pulled in the edges and made home a little closer to me. I took this shot to try to capture that feeling, where England merged with Tennessee.

By MTM. Me on Dad’s spot. March 2009.

Playing Queens and Indians

My father served in the US Army in the 1950′s. He was stationed in Germany, and he visited London in 1957. His departure for his tour leads a series in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, a post you can read here. His photographs of London in 1957 are juxtaposed with my own modern images to try to tell a story each day. 

By Roy Watkins. June 1957.

The Queen is going to Virginia. She’s going to Virginia, and here I am in London. I wonder. What would it be like to see America through the Queen’s eyes? Especially given her reason for going.

Jamestown, Virginia. 1607. King James I gave a bunch of good ole boys the go ahead to start a colony in the New World. Those people sailed across the ocean, landed on an empty island, and tried to build a colony. Nothing grew in that sandy soil that was so different from their rainy English home. At least, nothing familiar. There wasn’t much material to build a proper English house, either. By the time they erected shelter, many of the English ladies and gentlemen were happy with their crude wooden fort made with pointed sticks, given that the natives attacked them unpredictably and often.

I wonder if those people felt like me? Marooned far from home. Alone. Surrounded by people I don’t understand half the time.

Anyway.

The Queen is going to Virginia to commemorate the 350 anniversary of the founding of the Jamestown Colony. They say she’s going to meet President Eisenhower and Vice-President Nixon. Fitting that they’d bring out the big guns, given that it’s her first state visit to America and all that.

I wonder if she’d take a homesick American boy in her entourage, let me watch her when she gives her speech in Williamsburg at the College of William and Mary, maybe let me march behind her car in the trip to Yorktown. London sure is pretty, but Virginia sounds like paradise to me right about now. So close to Tennessee.

I wonder if I will ever see home again.

By Andra Watkins. March 2009.

Lady Liberty Fans the Flame of Memory

It isn’t often that I start a series with a repost, but this one is special. My father served in the US Army in the 1950′s, and he visited London in 1957. His departure for his tour leads a series in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, where I will use photographs he took of London in 1957 and juxtapose them with my own modern images to try to tell a story each day. Enjoy a preview shot at the today’s end.

A slide show accompanies the post today, pictures of The Lady taken by Robert Johnson, author of The Quotidian Hudson. The visuals are a powerful accompaniment to this story about my father. Please follow this link to experience both pieces of the story. Thanks to Robert for covering this from his home in Manhattan, and to his daughter Abigail for helping him select the winning shots.

Blasting gusts slammed his face as he stood on deck. He had one night in New York, and he was comatose from lack of sleep and sensory overload. East Tennessee was a backwater otherworld compared to this place, this metropolis of booming experience. Trying to do it all in one day (and one night) had been a mistake. His head pounded, and his mouth still flamed from losing a bet in Chinatown. He didn’t know what he ate, but it was seasoned with the lake of fire. He leaned on the railing and opened his mouth to catch the cooling air.

Nothing helped.

Buildings rose like ragged teeth on the receding skyline. It looked foreign to his countrified eyes, nothing like the rolling greenness of home. He shifted, tugged at the waist of his uniform under his winter-issue coat. How could he possibly memorize such a tumbling jumble of unfamiliar sights? Squinting, he tried to count the spires and narrow rectangles as they undulated with the bobbing of the water. Movement made his eye innaccurate. Or were his mistakes caused by the tears clotting in the corners, threatening to spill mortification down his cheeks in front of everyone?

He was only eighteen. He’d never been away from home. Basic training followed by a swift commission to West Germany left his immature mind muddled. What sounded like an adventure a few short months ago had become………something else. He never thought about dying back then, never considered what that meant. The ease of home was something he took for granted. Now, standing on the deck of a ship, he could see his only touchstone to home disappearing, consumed by the foaming wake. It wasn’t home, but it was. The realization that he might never glimpse it again forced a tear from his left eye. He shifted to flick it away before anyone noticed.

He was scared, though he fought the admission. Who knew what lay on the other side of the teeming Atlantic, what remnants of war were left behind, forgotten for him to find? How would he function with people who were still living amongst the charred wreckage of a long-concluded war? What would he say the first time someone told him about family members who disappeared, or the hard choices they had to make in the pulsating point of a moment? What would it feel like to canvas a village of rubble and have the ground explode underneath him, to have his last seconds consumed by abandoned artillery? Would he remember, in his dying seconds, what home looked like? Would he be given time to conjure it again before he was gone?

Eighteen. Too young to face his own end. He hadn’t lived.

Wiping another tear, his eyes darted for a final image, something he could carry with him on his journey into the hell of what humans inflict upon one another. Liquid was replaced by light, an upraised beacon teasing him across the waves. He took in her serene face, the drape of her clothing, her arm proudly holding the torch.

The promise of Liberty. It was the reason for everything. Through his interminable tour, She would be the unifying image that carried him through.

Carried him home.

To my Father and all other veterans, thank you for the sacrifices you and your families made. Remember on Memorial Day and every day.

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