Introduction, re-introduction, and justification
For sixteen years beginning in February 1994, before the word “blog” was known, and long before the mainstream news media saw any virtue in having a web presence, I posted via an email list and as a web page, a weekly compilation of news items from New Zealand. Called “WYSIWYG News”, it was also posted on the now moribund Usenet forum “soc.culture.new-zealand”. Targeted at expat Kiwis, and indeed anyone else with an interest in New Zealand, it reached a peak in about 2003 with 4,500 email subscribers, a hundred or so who interacted with it on usenet, and an unknowable number who looked at the web site.
As a preamble to each issue, I wrote two or three (sometimes more) pages of what I characterised as my “purple prose”. These were my reflections on events and places in my life. Mostly they were descriptive pieces extolling the beauty of our wonderful country, and occasionally they covered more personal events or family events, graduations, weddings, births, and deaths. I enjoyed writing them, and to my surprise, received a steady stream of encouragement to do more.
Over the years, the mainstream newsmedia finally understood that there was a market, if only they could find a business model, for their product on the web, and the original news-based purpose for the existence of WYSIWYG News was eroded. When I finally closed it in 2010, there were still 1,300 subscribed recipients, many of who wrote kind things and encouraged me to continue the purple prose part of the exercise. I needed the break, and so, nothing has happened until now, and what follows may, or may not meet their expectations. As before my main expectation is that I should have fun doing it.
Much has happened in my life since the cessation of WYSIWYG News, including the birth of Otis, my third grandson, and sixth grandchild. Of direct relevance to the resumption of my writing, I have now retired, and except for what is probably a one-time contract in the first half of this year, my working career is now over.
Prior to that, with the aid of the Hutt Camera Club, and attendance at the regional and national conventions of the Photographic Society of New Zealand, I reignited my dorman passion for photogrphy (and spent a lot on equipment on the way). But before I go there, for the sake of any old friends who may be rejoining me, I should tell you that the family is all well, and I am revelling in the business of being retired. So now, with the introductions and pleasantries behind us, what’s the purpose of this blog?
Well in the first instance it provides me with a platform from which to resume writing, an activity I greatly enjoy. An audience is a prerequisite for most authors including me. I hope that those who read what I have to say will tell me what can be done better, and let me know if they enjoy what they see and read. Of course affirmation is always a pleasure to receive, but constructive criticism is where real learning and development occur. Please feel free to express your opinion.
What will the blog be about? Anything that takes my fancy, but as in the days of the original purple prose it is likely to arise from things I see and experience, in my family, in my travels, or anything else I feel like. It is unlikely to be political in any partisan sense, nor indeed technical.
It is no secret that I am a theist (not an atheist), and a Christian, but that will manifest itself in the way I live and the attitudes I profess, and certainly not in any deliberate preaching. Please don’t waste your time or mine trying to change that. I shall simply not engage in that conversation.
A major difference between this venture and the old WYSIWYG news is that my writing and my photography will be tightly integrated. Each daily post will contain one image (sometimes more), and it will be related to the writing. Sometimes the image will illustrate the points made in the prose, and sometimes the prose will attempt to interpret the image.
What kind of images will they be? Always safe for work and family. Usually they will be representational, and sometimes they will be impressionistic or experimental.
In the year just ended, I joined a group of friends, and strangers who quickly became friends, and we each attempted to take at least one photograph every day for a year. I missed four days in 2011, but learned a lot and had a lot of fun doing it. I had so much fun that I looked for a new way to do it all over again, and to combine it with the pleasure I take in writing, so the idea of a daily blog with at least one imbedded image. Each day’s image will have been made the previous day so that I have had time to reflect on, or explore the image. Ok that’s all the preliminaries, now let’s get on with the real thing. A normal day’s episode is more likely to be as long as the following section.
New Year’s Day, 2012
New year’s eve in Wellington 2011 was wet and windy. Long Southerly swells rolled up the harbour to burst against the sea wall in the North West corner of Petone Beach. Further to the East , the seas were less well-formed, more confused, just a tumbling mess of muddy brown water laden with the silt from the fast flowing Hutt River Estuary.
I love the photographic opportunities presented by such days. Shades of grey and receding planes as various parts of the landscape are obscured by the advancing rain, can make some very nice images. Yesterday was particularly difficult to photograph anything looking to the South since the rain and salt spray were coming almost horizontally from that direction. If I stood up in the open, my camera lens was immediately obscured. After I dried and cleaned the lens, I tried again, shooting from the driver’s seat of my car through the open passenger side window. I was still getting wet, but less so than if I were outside.
From this partial shelter I caught this hardy fellow skittering past on his sailboard. The mysterious grey island in the background is Mokopuna, at the North end of Matiu/Somes Island. On a clear day, the city would be plainly visible beyond, but not so yesterday. I enjoyed the vivid colour on his sail as a contrast to the nearly monochrome scene behind him.
The reason I chose this image to begin my new year journey is that,like me he saw the opportunity to get something positive out of a circumstance that everyone else seemed to be complaining about. Summer picnics and barbecues were cancelled, but this windsurfer was putting the “bad” weather to good use. Every so often he would attempt some acrobatics on his board, usually with humiliating results. Each time he would struggle to remount his board and lift the sail to resume his waterlogged flight across the churning water. He was having fun and so was I.
Despite never having been on a surfboard in my life, I felt a bond with him. We were each seeing an opportunity to extract something positive from something that presented as a negative. It seemed like a useful pointer for the year ahead, the first in my newly acquired role as a retired person.
I am still learning how to be retired, and I suspect I shall encounter some setbacks and anxieties. My challenge will be to find a way to see the positive opportunity in each such problem
Happy to year to you all.