Monday, June 20, 2011

My thoughts on Twitter - now that I've used it for a while

While participating in my first Word Count's Blogathon in May, I had little time to spend learning about the
peripheral tools of blogging.  Things like Twitter, RSS feeds, WordPress, and publicizing my new blog went virtually untouched.  I was too busy writing and figuring out the basics to posting my blog.

Since June 1, I've spent a lot of time trying to understand the ins and outs of Twitter.  Who should I follow?  How can I weed through the enormous amount of tweets?  How do I use this tool to help attract attention to my blog?  How can I best use my phone to utilize this tool?

It's been quite a learning curve, and I still feel like there's much more to learn, but I've come to a few conclusions about Twitter.

Take Away #1 - Twitter Stalking helps you find interesting people to follow 
I learned how to "stalk" on Facebook when my daughter was in high school.  It's basically when you go to someone's unprotected Facebook page and read their posts.  Then you click on a friend of theirs and assuming they haven't chosen the security setting of "Friends Only" (which most kids don't) wahla, you can view their posts too.  My daughter's generation calls that "stalking" and being a "creeper" but hey, as a mom you have to look out for your child and that means understanding the behavior of their circle of friends which equates to "creeping."  I won't apologize for that!

Take that same concept into Twitter and you have, I'd think, "Twitter Stalking."  Although Twitter doesn't have security settings so I prefer to call it "Twitter Surfing."  To Twitter Surf you click on an interesting person's Twitter name and click on who they follow.  After all, interesting people must follow interesting people, right?  From there you look for anyone who sounds interesting or is tweeting in an area that applies to your blog, and you follow them. Then you can stalk, I mean surf, further by clicking on followers of followers and suddenly you're reaching out into circles of twitter-ers you never knew existed.  And honestly, Twitter actually encourages Twitter Surfing because it suggests different people for you to follow on the sidebar located on the right hand side of your Twitter home page. 

I've found a lot of really interesting people to follow by Twitter-Surfing.  I wish that I could remember who follows who so that I could thank them, but I honestly lost track in all the clicking. I'm pretty sure I started on Michelle Rafter of WordCount's Twitter page - @MichelleRafter - so hats off to her for pointing me in the right direction to begin with!

Nonetheless there's some really interesting folks out there like @BrianSolis who seems to be the center of the social networking universe.  Then there's @SteveButtry who appears to know the newspaper industry inside and out and who has a vision of where the newspaper world SHOULD be going.  I also enjoy reading tweets by @MarketingProfs, @SecondAct, @EncoreCareers and @YourLifeCalling

Take Away #2 - Twitter produces some incredible gems of information and also lots of junk
I've found that there are some wonderful gems of information that people tweet and then there is the junk.  Sifting through the mass of junk is what I find frustrating.  I ran across a couple of people who had some interesting tweets, but then when I went to their Twitter home page (if that's what it's called?) to read further and perhaps follow them, they had a multitude of irrelevant tweets.  I don't mean to sound rude or insensitive, but I really don't care what time you woke up, that it was earlier than yesterday, that you had a bagel for breakfast, were running late that day (hmm, could it be from all the tweeting?), that there was traffic on the bridge in San Francisco (I live in the Midwest), and that you stopped by Starbucks for a Mocha Coconut Frappucino.

What's worse is when all of these tweets and 20 more irrelevant ones come within a 30 minute span. Can't the extraneous tweets be kept to a minimum please?  It just junks up the tweets and makes it even harder to find the real gems.  There must be a solution for this chaos other than not following that person, but I haven't found it yet.  I'll keep looking though. 

And finally, I have learned that....

Take Away #3 - I can waste an enormous amount of time on Twitter
Gosh, do I even need to elaborate on this one?  I'm thinking that I should limit myself to 60 minutes per day of stalking around Twitter-kingdom and clicking on links from tweets.  Ok, maybe 30 minutes is even a better goal.  Otherwise, I feel like I have a wealth of information in my head, but what am I really doing with it?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fly away already! The saga continues!

The drama of the baby mourning dove continues.  We last left off after the baby hatched and appeared to be preparing to take flight.  It didn't make it very far.  About five feet down to ground level and five feet south to be exact.  And right into the landscape in front of our house.

In my last post about the baby, I mentioned that I thought I had injured the mommy bird because I inadvertently scared the poor thing after trying to water the hanging plant that it was hiding in.  Well, the good news is that both mommy and daddy birds appear to be alive and well.  The bad news is that the baby bird has remained in my landscape, on the ground, for about a week or so now.

I'm truly amazed it is still alive and that no animal has eaten it for dinner. But every morning I go out to get the newspaper and there it sits on a large rock in our landscape.  It's survived some pretty severe storms, some of the hottest days in history here, and a big drop in temperature at night. And every morning, there it sits.

I leave it birdseed every day but I fear that Chip, the chipmunk, is eating it instead.  I no longer see the parent birds drop in to visit the baby bird so I don't believe that it's still being fed.  Yet, day after day, it just sits in my landscape.  It never moves to more than the rock and then behind the bush.

Sugar, in the doorway, wondering why the bird won't fly?

We know it CAN fly a bit because my neighbor, out of concern that it may not be eating, snuck up to my porch and added some fruit and nuts to my bird seed.   The baby bird didn't see her coming and freaked out...flying about 25 feet away and landing on a window ledge.  I thought then that it may take flight, but a few hours later it was back in the landscape.

I'm no longer worried about it every minute of the day because I don't know what else I can possibly do for it.  It needs to fly away... for it's welfare and my sanity!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I nearly killed the mommy bird!

In my "A Mother's Love" post I shared photos of a family of doves that have nested repeatedly in a wall floral container on my front porch.  Over the past few weeks, the baby had hatched and was about to leave the nest when yesterday I nearly killed the mother bird.

Since the baby bird's birth, I've added annuals to several flower pots I have on my porch, and I always buy a hanging pot of annuals to hang from the porch ceiling. Knowing my annual flower purchasing habits, my daughter actually bought me a hanging pot of petunias for Mother's Day so it hangs proudly on the porch.

As I was watering the porch flowers yesterday morning, I noticed the mommy bird wasn't with her baby, but that wasn't terribly unusual.  She has left it alone recently for several hours as it has begun to prepare for flight.  I was guessing yesterday that the mommy bird was out gathering food. Boy, was I wrong!

Apparently, she had moved to the hanging pot to keep an eye on her baby.  Well, it would have been nice if I had gotten that memo!

Since I had no idea she was sitting in my hanging pot, I reached up with the garden hose to give the plant a drink.  She totally freaked out...flying at my head and then into the front door before finally escaping to the yard.  I'm sure if anyone saw our screaming and her fluttering around...they would be chuckling, but the comedy soon turned to a possible tragedy.  She limped along, obviously hurt or dazed, across the street.  Her mate came to her side as if to say, "Are you ok?"  She obviously was NOT!

I watched her for awhile trying to regroup.  She finally sought shelter under my neighbor's bush.

The baby bird remained in the porch pot - the mommy bird didn't return.  I left the house shortly thereafter and returned about 7 hours later.  The baby bird hadn't appeared to have moved an inch, but was stretching its wings.  I was hoping it would take flight, but I didn't see the mommy bird anywhere.  I was worried.

This morning as I went outside to get the newspaper, I noticed the baby bird was gone.  "Hurray!" I thought.  But after careful inspection, I saw the baby bird on the floor of the porch, and mommy bird was back in the hanging pot. 

A few hours have now passed.  Mommy bird has left the hanging pot and baby bird is still sitting in the same spot on the porch floor. 

I fear the worst!  The neighbor has a cat that routinely visits my yard, and we have a cute chipmunk-looking animal (we've named Chip) that has made himself a home in our front yard landscape.  Either would find the baby bird a delicious meal I'm sure.  I know this is just the "Circle of Life" acting out on my front porch, but it's heart wrenching to watch.