Posted tagged ‘Blogging’

Writing is a Process of Discovery

6 January 2010

I just watched a 90 minute PBS program: “American Master – Garrison Keillor: The Man on the Radio In Red Shoes”.  I really enjoy listening to his “The News from Lake Wobegon” podcasts.  I appreciate his unique sense of  humor and his down to earth way of looking at life.  He is such a fabulous story teller.  He does not talk down to others as he tells his tales.  More importantly, he does not put other people down as he tells his stories.  He meets his listeners on their level.  I find him not only entertaining, but also very refreshing.

Perhaps a good part of why I enjoy his stories is that it seems like he comes from “my people”.  No I’m not from Minnesota and he’s not from Illinois.  But we both come from good Lutheran traditions.  There’s lots of Germans, Norwegians and Swedes in our history.  We both have fond childhood memories of church potlucks, large family gatherings and growing up in public schools with unique personalities all around you.  We both love the fact that when you sing in a Lutheran church, there will be people singing all four voice parts and that’s Okay.  One of my favoirite parts of this program was when he was wondering around the Minnesota State Fair and talking to people about one of his favorite rites of spring, Rhubarb pie.

I think the part that I most appreciated tonight was his love of writing.  He was an English Major in college and I believe he even got a Masters Degree in English.  He mentioned one of his early jobs in radio where he would play music like big long symphonies. Then he could write while the music played and just have to turn on his microphone to tell the listeners what it was they had just heard or were about to hear.  He enjoyed that in part because of the time it gave him for writing.

I have aspirations of doing more writing. I have a variety of blogs that I keep.  Most are not updated often, but I do enjoy writing when I make time to do so.  I want to make more time for writing.  It takes a different kind of thinking than what I do all day where I work.  Oh, there is some creative thought that goes into the problem solving, programming and customer support things I do at my job.  But writing requires that I try to let my creative side out for more of  a long walk rather than just a quick trip to the mailbox.

So what drove me to write this long note.  It was a part of this program where Mr Keillor was talking to a group of students about writing that piqued my interest. Part of what he said was:

“You start with what you know.  But writing is a process of discovery.  It is not as if we are taking a (photo) plate out of our head and laying it down on paper and printing from it.  We’re not. Writing is an act of discovery.  And the moment you start, with a character or maybe with yourself,  and you learn about that character by writing about that character and you wind up in places that you never thought you were going to go.  That’s the whole reason for writing, is for discovery. You do not know what you yourself think, until you put it into words.”

It seems like many of the things in my life are changing.  The kids are out of the house, one in an apartment and one in a college dorm.  My wife and I are reconnecting as we learn to live in an empty nest.  My position at work changed significantly last year.  And I’m dealing with a few new health challenges.  And on the plus side there are 30 pounds less of me than there were 6 months ago.  This is a time of adjustment and discovery for me.  I look forward to seeing what writing can help me discover.


FollowFriday: SysAdvent Calendar

4 December 2009

One of the Twitter practices that I have found helpful is FollowFriday.  I thought that this being Friday, it might be good to go a step further and post a blog entry with a slight twist.  The intent of a #followfriday post on twitter is to recommend other twitter users that you might consider following yourself.  I’d like to suggest (via This FollowFriday blog post) a blog that you might consider reading and possibly subscribing to.

For those who may not be familiar with the whole FollowFriday concept, I’ll recommend you read an article by Sharon Hayes-Tucci entitled “FollowFriday on Twitter“.  I’ll also offer this brief example (posted via my @n9kju twitter account today).

#followfriday @jordansissel and the SysAdvent Blog (

The #followfriday hashtag marks this as suggestions for others that you might consider following on Twitter.  If you visit the profile of the username(s) suggested (ie. @jordansissel) you can check to see if this is a twitter user that you might want to follow.

I’ve not seen anyone else tweet to suggest a blog for following. I want to suggest a blog that you should consider following.  Tweets are limited to 140 characters and that’s hardly enough to properly suggest the SysAdvent Calendar Blog.  But by posting this FollowFriday blog suggestion in my own blog, I overcome that limitation.

So what is this SysAdvent Calendar Blog.  Jordan Sissel created the Blog last year (2008). There have been perl advent calendars in years past. The idea was to put out one blog post each day starting Dec 1rst and then for the next 25 days.  This is just like an Advent calendar that you may have had in your house when you were growing up.  At my house, my siblings and I  took turns opening one door on the Advent caledar each day.  Last year, Jordan offered to take postings from other SysAdmins, but he ended up doing almost all the writing himself.  This year, Matt Simmons has been helping contact other SysAdmins to seek submissions for this years calendar.

Each article is written to focus on a single, somewhat-specific idea related to systems administration.  The target audience is the intermediate or senior level SysAdmin.  Having said that, I know that they hope to have at least one posting by a junior SysAdmin this year.

When you do visit the SysAdvent Blog, you will find the most recent posting listed first and older entries are sequenced below that most recent entry.  In fact, if you keep going down the list (back in time) you will find the 25 articles that made up last years inaugural version of the SysAdvent Calendar.

I think this is a really great idea.  I’ve enjoyed browsing through many of the posts from last year.  And I look forward to reading new posts as they come on-line this year.

Please let me know if you find this sort of Blog following article helpful.  I follow a quite a few and I expect several of them would be worthy of a FollowFriday Blog article.

Claim your ID Follow-up

12 November 2009

Already with a follow-up. I got an e-mail telling me something I did not know related to the ClaimID service. They have a Best Practices page on their website. Every web service should have a page like this.

Now while I did not know that the page existed, I was aware of some of these tips. I have had Google Alerts searches in place for over a year now. Not just searching for my own name, but also for my wife and two kids. I first learned that my wife set up a page at LinkedIn because of the Google Alert. And of course I quickly checked that it really was by her and about her. Whether or not you use ClaimID, running such searches on a regular basis are an important step in protecting your on-line identity.

And if you own a domain, don’t forget to check regularly to see what the search engines have that is pointing to your domain. Regrettably, when I search for, I get hits on every page/article that discusses Smallmouth bass fishing. I guess that with my domain name, that’s not a bad thing.  I do need to keep up on that topic. 🙂

The ClaimID Best Practices also has a nice description of ways to improve a search by changing your search string. And while I rarely use search engines other than Google, they do give a good list that you can use.

One would think that a lot of these best practices would obvious just as good common sense. But even those of us who are interested in on-line identity protection can learn a new trick. You would think that as much as I depend on a spell checker, I would think of the value of searching for things by using common misspellings. While you may not get any interesting hits this way, I’d rather not miss something just because I assume everyone knows how to spell my 10 character last name.

If you have a suggestion for another best practice that could be applied here, please leave a comment. You might also consider e-mailing it to the ‘info’ at ‘’ address.  Their page does say that will keep this list of best practices updated.   Pages like this are a very good thing.  And let’s not forget that the internet is more valuable when we all share our best practices.

More later, Ken S.

Claim your on-line identity

8 November 2009

I went through high school thinking that I could be the last Schumacher. I’m the only son of an only son. Teachers back then seemed to find my last name difficult. I was sure they had not heard it before. Then I got to college and I found out that Schumacher is as common a name among Germans as Smith is to the English. Even knowing that, I was still surprised to find that there are eight Ken Schumacher’s in Illinois alone.

I have enjoyed writing web pages for many years. I would practice developing HTML by writing about my many hobbies.  As I begin writing this Blog, I need to update my listing.  The listing has links to and short descriptions of the pages out there on the internet that are either by me or about me.  Where possible, has also verified that I as the owner of the listing really are the person in control of that web page.  I verified most of the pages by putting a unique MicroID into the header of my web pages.  When I add the code, it demonstrates that I do have write access and/or control of the site I am verifying.

Do you see the value in maintaining this type of listing on  If I went on a job interview, I would expect a potential employer to do a Google search at the very least.  If I was hiring someone, I would want to make sure that the information I could find on-line agreed with what I learn of the candidate from his/her resume or after an interview.  Or let’s say you read one of my pages about on-line privacy.  It would hurt my credibility if you came across a site where someone else who shares my name had posted rantings about how good he is at breaking passwords.

My point is that since I do maintain a page at, I am not concerned about my on-line integrity.  My integrity is tremendously important to me.  If you read on a web page where I mention how important my family is to me, I know you will find the same sentiment on all the other web pages I have written.

In simple terms, I see the site/service to be a form of on-line identity protection.  No, it does not protect my social security number or other IDs.  But it does allow me to make it quite clear which pages one will find on the internet are mine and which are not. I recommend all web developers and bloggers use their service.  Their free service protects my integrity, and like I said, that is very important to me.

More later,  Ken S.

Disclosure: Other than being a verified and satisfied user of their site, I am in no way affiliated with

Update 12 Nov 2009: Please see the Claim your on-line Id follow-up posting.

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