Two Awards in One Day

Two fellow bloggers separately named “The Gad About Town” as a winner of the “Lovely Blog” award today. That is as cool as it gets.

Both are blogs that I enjoy reading regularly, by two very different writers in different parts of the world: Tidlidim and The Reluctant Baptist. Thank you both. Both writers have strong personal voices in their work and sometimes include their own photos.

In the blogging world, there are some rules of etiquette in the form of paying forward the “lovely” attention. Here are the rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for the award.
2. Add the “One Lovely Blog” logo to your post. Display the award on your blog—by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget.”
3. Share 7 facts/or things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 bloggers you admire and inform nominees by commenting on their blog.

The last one first. I have been participating for the last 10 weeks in responding to our WordPress service’s Daily Prompt, which has helped spur my most prolific period of writing since graduate school. (This prolific-ness is a good thing, too, because I am working on a terrific project, due out soon, with another blogger.) Most of the writers with whom I have been communicating regularly, several of whom ask me questions and give me applause every single day, I met via that service. My subscribers have doubled and so has the number of blogs that I subscribe to. Go to the Daily Prompt any day and you will see the several dozen blogs that I read and often like every day.

I fear I will leave someone out, is all I am confessing.

Several random facts about me:

1. The number four is my lifelong “secret lucky number.” (Anyone who has gambled with me knows about this. Read: The Gad About Town: Against NYS Proposition 1.) Now, I know that in most of the world’s luck traditions, if one declares out loud that something is secret and lucky, one has immediately kiboshed all secrecy and luck out of that thing’s existence, but that is the beautiful thing about my “secret lucky number 4”: It remains lucky and maybe even grows in power every time I speak of my special relationship with it. Maybe.

2. I left New Paltz in 1995 to work in Narrowsburg, NY, and moved back to New Paltz in 1997. I left New Paltz again in 2000 to work in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and returned to New Paltz in 2006. (There are legends about New Paltz and eternal return and gazing upon the nearby Wallkill River—I am legend, I suppose.) And then I had to move again, this time to Goshen, NY.

3. Depending on my relative levels of optimism or pessimism, I may refer to my spinal muscular atrophy as an “illness” versus a “condition.”

4. I pretended to write before I knew how to write. There may even now be pieces of furniture at my family’s house with my crayon scribblings on them and in them—I did not draw, I wrote, wavy lines that I would then inform my parents was a story. I’ll guess I was about three or … four. See? It must have been a lucky number.

5. I am very audiologically sensitive (I do not know if that is even a term). I can identify voiceover actors, even when famous ones are used anonymously. The downside of this is a sensitivity to certain noises … if the faucet in your kitchen sink is dripping, I will excuse myself from your living room to see if the tap can be tightened or if the faucet swung away from any container under it. Bloop bloop bloop. Sadly, this sensitivity does not translate to any musical ability. I have none, just an appreciation for music and performance.

6. I see words as I speak them.

7. My favorite animals growing up were dinosaurs. My favorite dinosaur was the triceratops. In the children’s books about dinosaurs, the triceratops always seemed to get into a tangle with the fearsome T-Rex and walk away, unscathed.

About My Page, Online Friends, and A New Award

On March 3, I went viral. My “” page was featured on that website’s “popular” list, and my page, which usually receives about 150 views per day, was seen by 3051 other users, 2000 within the first hour of being listed. Another 1300 visited the next day.

It was like being famous, minus the fame or anything fame-like.

According to its own publicity, profiles are viewed 150 million times per month, which sounds an awful lot like publicity. The online identity service has about five million official, registered users, most of whom, like me, use it for free. In 2010, AOL purchased the site, and in 2012, its founders purchased it back from AOL, when AOL discovered (faster than it usually does) that it was not going to become bigger than Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn combined just by adding free subscribers.

Even the founders of (the link is to the company’s WordPress blog) do not seem to harbor ambitions for it to be all of those websites rolled into one; instead, it is intended to be an online identity website. It’s a virtual business card service. As you can see from my personal page, it is the only location where one can find a connection to all of my pages (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), and—in several places, at the top of the page, at the bottom of the page, and twice in between—to my blog. The blog you are reading. It has a nice spooky photo that I took at Olana last year and a selfie I took with the laptop I am using right now.

Now, as far as I can see, there is no reason for anyone who is already reading this website right here—my chief means of expression in the whole, wide world—to visit my virtual business card, and I am not advertising for the company here. But what happened on March 3, when I went viral, told me a lot about social media and online expectations. Since I launched this website in January, the number of direct visits from to this blog is 22. Total. This includes that momentous day when thousands viewed my page and saw my links and (mostly) ignored my hints to check out “The Gad About Town.”

There is a show business saying that if a performer is a great enough talent, “you could put him (or her) behind a brick wall and he will still find a way to entertain.” While I believe this to be true in idealistic theory, I also think that not putting him behind a brick wall would be very very helpful. If a website is going to be worth a visit, publicity is going to help get that visit.

When an user visits one’s page, their page appears on yours. I started to see a few users re-appear and then three-appear on mine. added features such as a “Like Your Photo” button, and some of these individuals became correspondents. A few dozen correspondents became Twitter acquaintances. And a handful now communicate with me via “The Gad About Town” and their own blogs. So those 22 visits out of 49,000 views (my total so far since November) are very valuable, as they resulted in real readers who are becoming that rarest of thing: real, online friends.

One of these real, online friends, Tazein Mirza Saad, lives in Singapore and maintains a very energetic, inspiration-filled website with about 3000 followers. She awarded me the fireworks trophy seen at the top of this post, the “Wonderful Team Membership Award,” a name that is a mouthful. But I still accept it.

2014 WordPress Awards Season

As with all of these WordPress awards, there are rules, which include: “1. The Nominee shall display the logo on their post/page/sidebar. 2. The Nominee shall nominate several best team members. 3. The Nominee shall make these rules, or amend rules keeping to the spirit of the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award. 4. The Nominee must finish this sentence and post: ‘A great reader is …'”

Among the readers whom I met first via, then Twitter, and with whom I now communicate via our blogs, I am grateful to have “met” Tazein; Terry Irving, who gave me a big boost on his great website about writing and journalism within a couple weeks of my WordPress debut, and whose first novel “Courier” is due out in April; and Catherine Townsend-Lyon, who has created two huge and hugely helpful websites dedicated to helping people in recovery (“Recovery Ramblings” and “Just a Recovery Author Learning to Be a Better Writer“), and who has shared encouragement with me several times. All three are “great readers,” active readers who generously give other writers encouragement. My thanking them here does not require them to do anything. How’s that for an award?

There are several other writers with whom I communicate via our WordPress blogs, and I only hope both lists continue to grow. We aren’t behind any brick walls here.