Sunday, May 01, 2005



I tookBuzzword.Comoffline for several hours this morning to compact the databases and perform some other server maintenance. I'm tempting fate by saying this, but so far, so good.

We're nearing the one-year anniversary of the server, which became the home for 3,000 longtime Weblogs.Com bloggers last June. I have some ambitious plans to mark the occasion, but for now my priority is to keep theactive bloggersrunning smoothly and bring all of UserLand'supgradesonline.

UserLand has a new version of Manila, the software hosting these weblogs, inbeta release. There are a bunch of new features, among them a better way for bloggers to manage visitor comments and trackback.

That's Quite a Spectacle
Whenever a character in a movie is a by-the-book square who never got over the end of the 1950s, he wears plastic-top, metal-rim eyeglasses. Tom Hanks donned them inCatch Me If You Can, and you can't make a film about Malcolm X, NASA, or the JFK assassination without ordering them in bulk.

The glasses are especially effective if the buttoned-up wearer is one bad day from a total nervous breakdown, like the downsized defense contractor D-FENS, who rampages across Los Angeles to protest incivility inFalling Down.

I wrote about these glasseslast yearwhen I heard the only manufacturer, ArtCraft NewYork, was discontinuing the style. This was crushing news -- I step on my pair of Clubman Art-Rim frames at least twice a year and can barely see through a SuperGlue smudge in one lens.

Since then, I've heard from an executive at Shuron, the company thatinvented the style in 1941and sold more than 17 million of them by 1970:

The Ronsir was in many movies and worn by many actors/celebrities -- Kevin Costner, Denzel Washington, Vince Lombardi, Nicholas Cage, and many others. The Ronsir is not going away.

Because I keep directing people to Shuron when they ask about the glasses, the company is sending me a free pair, which I believe makes me the world's first blogger/spokesmodel. I'm spending this weekend trying to come up with my ownBlue Steel.



Holy See, Holy Do
I'm getting a lot of comments like this one by Concerned Canadian:

I think it would be in your best interest to use this site to better humanity. Use it to donate to some sort of Catholic charity, or use it to write about the history of the Catholic church. Cashing in on it would be very typical, and if you have any personality at all, you won't want your 15 minutes of Internet media fame to be seen as typical.

I haven't decided what to do with thebenedictxvi.comdomain -- my goal was to keep it away from pornographers, not grab a domain for some kind of papal superstore.

But now that my weblog has 120,000 new readers, just counting yesterday, I'm using the opportunity to promoteModestNeeds.org, an organization that's like a charitable eBay: They match up donors with people who have short-term, under-$1,000 emergencies (such as repairs to the family's only car), helping them get out of the crisis.

SmartMobsdescribes how the charity got started in 2002:

The founderKeith Taylorbegan Modest Needs by giving 10 percent of his $350 a month earnings as a way to return a no-strings kindness paid to him when he most needed it. He told me,"Those who need help can always ask for it at Modest Needs, absolutely for free. How much money we raise matters less -- to me, anyway -- than simply providing a vehicle for human kindness."

Here's thelatest donation-to-expenses reporton Modest Needs from GuideStar and the charity'sfull financial statistics, for people who want to research the group before contributing.

Virgin Mary of the Viaduct
I received an e-mail from someone affiliated with theVirgin Mary viaduct, the Chicago highway underpass that has alife-size water stainresembling the mother of God. They wanted advice on setting up a web site.

I'm a firm believer in the idea that all religious iconography that develops naturally upon either surfaces or food should have its own site. This is exactly the kind of thing for which the Internet was invented.

Because of the visual nature of the underpass and the community that has developed, the ideal place for its web presence isFlickr.

Flickr's a terrific photo-sharing community that was recently purchased by Yahoo for 5.2 bajillion dollars. You can create an account for free, upload your photos for public viewing, and add tags that describe the subject of the shots.

Every time I find myself on Flickr, I get lost in the photos, most recently in the work of Justin Hankins. His pictures of theBridge of Lions,Night of Lights celebration, andIntercoastal Waterwayare some of the best shots I've seen of St. Augustine.

Flickr photos can be grouped into sets and viewed as slideshows. Somebody should hire Robin Jean, the photographer doing thisRockstars set, to take column mugshots for newspapers.

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