This screen …

Dear friends,

It kills me that we can’t hang out together in real life.  I’m tired of reading your blogs; I want to spend these long summer days being where you are and talking to your faces. Offline life is quite absorbing at the moment and I feel as if some subtle re-consecrating and rearranging is going on that is really hard to articulate in pithy 500-word posts. In a roundabout way, I’m trying to say that I miss my blogospheric community and apologise for my recent lack of participation; you know who you are and I think of you often. I reckon I’ll find my groove again in the near future and look forward to picking up some trailing threads …

 

 

An Alphabet of Websites

ISO 9995-8 telephone keypad diagram.

In my browser, the address bar is so set up that I often have to only type the first couple of letters of the site I want to visit. My most frequently visited sites pop up automatically – it’s like predictive text for web addresses. This makes it quite easy to figure out my most used sites for each letter of the alphabet so … here goes …

A – Art of Narrative

This is a beautiful growing archive of book illustrations with lots of fairytale pictures. Lovely to disappear into for a while and indulge the imagination.

B – Blogger

The Google based and integrated blogging platform that I have used for many years and which hosts, most notably, my Stories from the Borders of Sleep. I guess this one is at the top of the pile because I check my stats far too often.

C – The Chiff and Fipple

A recent obsession with woodwind and especially flutes and whistles puts this at the top. This is THE go-to site for all things relating to the tin whistle/penny whistle. If it’s not covered here or in their forum, it’s not relevant.

D - Download Magnatune

Actually you need a password to access this part of the Magnatune site but this can be obtained for a nominal monthly subscription that gives generous access to all the material in their catalogue. In fact most of what I listen to these days comes from this site because they have a fantastic selection of Jazz, Folk, Ambient, New Age and Baroque music from international artists. For the monthly subscription you get a license to download as much as you want in various formats and permission to distribute up to three copies to friends. Win-win-win!

E – English Forums

It seems that I use this site more than I realise as, during the course of my editing work, I am constantly referring to the current debates in the world of grammar, style and usage.

F – Flickr

No surprises here. This is still THE social network for photography and visual stuff. On my photostream, there is a lot of analogue photography from my extensive collection of pre-digital cameras; although, since the cost of developing curbed my six-films-a-month habit, I have been putting my doodles up here.

G – Gutenberg

A huge collection of literary material in the public domain from the classics to obscure victorian histories. Most of the stuff I consider to be worth reading was written over a hundred years ago so this is where I go to get it for free.

H – Helpguide

Not sure why this comes up; I’ve only used it a couple of times. It is essentially an ad-free resource about all things health related. Articles are contributed by experts in their fields and cover Mental Health, Childhood, Aging and Diseases – anything to do with health.

I - iJourney

Again I’m not sure why this makes it right to the top as I’m not a frequent user of this site, but it is a tremendous source for mindfulness and spirituality, nonviolence and healing related articles, poetry and art. Sweet … need to check it out more often.

J – Jack Hatfield

Jack Hatfield is a mainstay of the international banjo playing fraternity, an educator and contributor to the Banjo Newsletter. Frankly, us banjo players need all the help we can get with our musical affliction.

K – Kayak

Cheap flights finder. I don’t think I’ve actually used them to buy a flight, yet, but I’ve obviously stumbled over there while daydreaming of travelling to faraway places.

L – Last FM

The streaming service and music-based social network that I couldn’t do without. Ad-free listening based on what you have listened to in the past and liked. Last FM streams music to you after figuring out what your taste is. It does not offer you much control over exactly what you listen to (unlike Spotify) but it still suits me a lot better than Spotify. I like a radio station that is tailored to my taste, that helps me to discover new artists and that doesn’t charge for ads-free listening.

M – Musescore

I have tried a lot of different musical notation software over the years and Musescore wins out for intuitive, speedy and flexible interfaces. The site also has a nice social networking element with people sharing music scores, original compositions and arrangements.

N – Noisetrade

Offering a massive catalogue of mainly Christian and indie artists on a free or pay-what-you-want sort of basis. I’ve downloaded a couple of nice things from this site and am particularly fond of the Nashville Film Composers album which totally rocks.

O - Oneworld Publications

As it’s name suggests, this publisher has an inclination towards books with a social consciousness and a current global perspective – philosophy, biography, investigative journalism, that sort of thing. There is a handful from their catalogue on my “to read” list.

P – Pinterest

Yes … well … obviously. Another social network keyed to sharing visual material. Although many people use it as a sort of “wish list” of things they want, it is also a great source of inspirational artwork and photography. I spend a lot of my coffee breaks here and my “pin” boards are at http://pinterest.com/seeingmore/

Q – Quick and Dirty Tips

The home of Mignon Fogarty’s “Grammar Girl” podcast – I don’t know how I’d get by without it. In fact this site is one of the most phenomenal resources of useful and educational material on the web in the form of numerous podcasts and articles.

R – Ron Block

An inspirational banjo player with Alison Krauss and Union Station, but also a deep-souled man of faith, Ron Block is one of my heroes. He is also a fellow George MacDonaldist. Sweet!

S – Seymour Writes

If you are reading this, you are probably on this website right now. This is my main personal blog that also serves as a shop window for my writing and editorial services.

T – The Session

Visited several times a week, this is a huge user-contributed collection of traditional tunes, jigs, reels, polkas, hornpipes, airs from the celtic tradition. I play in a ceilidh band and am somewhat obsessed with traditional music so this website is a lifeline.

U – Using English

I do a little bit of teaching English as a foreign language. I rely on this site a lot for lesson ideas and resources and the occasional grammar related query.

V – V&A Museum

The website for the Victoria and Albert Museum. Actually a really nicely put together and informative website detailing the current and up-coming exhibitions with plenty of little video clips and informative documentary material.

W – Wooden Flute Girls Blog

Not surprisingly, another woodwind resource makes it to the top of the “W”s. This is Christel Rice’s personal blog where she posts, among other things, lots of delicious tin whistle tunes. I have started visiting this site to train myself to learn new tunes by ear rather than from sheet music. She teaches at the New York Irish Center in Queens, NYC. Lots of great stuff for people who are geeky about simple blown instruments.

X – X Files

Iconic, cult viewing from the 90s – Mulder and Scully  … what’s not to love about it. Actually I used to be too scared to watch it and have only got into the series later in life when I am old enough not to be disturbed by the compelling mix of supernatural speculation and conspiracy that underpins it. I think the series treats some pretty profound themes, not least about doubt and faith, that make it well worth re-watching.

Y – YouTube

We unplugged our TV and didn’t bother renewing our licence about a year ago. If I need to collapse in front of a screen nowadays, it is to explore the weird and wonderful world of YouTube. The anarchic geekery is an endless source of fascination, but I don’t only watch people blowing up batteries and putting marshmallows in vaccums. I find it an invaluable source of music and making tutorials as well as news and views. Lately I have been rounding off the day by catching up on news according to Russia Today (quite the most satisfying world reportage available) and blowing my mind with TED talks.

Z – Zahndrew’s Blog  (Creatives)

Andrew Zahn is not an infrequent reader and commenter on this blog but I’m not sure I will ever be able to compete with his energetic and creative blogging habit which has resulted in his site becoming something of a hub for discussion on all things relating to creativity. He’s not just here because of the rarity of the first letter of his surname but because I do actually read most of what he posts and it never fails to inspire without overloading the mind.

Google Insights: Fairies decline in popularity but trolls and goblins are on the rise

Every now and then I drop into “Google Insights” to take the pulse of popular opinion. Today I thought I’d see what the state of play is with the relative popularity of mythical creatures.

Not surprisingly, fairies rule. But, not for much longer? While gnomes hold a steady baseline there seems to be a rising interest in trolls and goblins. In fact, if they joined forces they could push the fairies into obscurity any day now. The vulnerability of fairies is shown in a distinct downward trend in their popularity over the last six years – at least as far as Google searches are concerned.

Should we be worried about these developments? What do you think?

I’m rooting for the little green guys and their under-bridge dwelling allies, to be honest, but where do their hopes lie?

A quick look at the breakdown by country shows that is is in South Africa that the goblins are finding their strongest support and, oddly enough, the Belgians don’t give a stuff about fairies and prefer gnomes by a long way.

It would also seem that, according to some school children, goblins have been making trouble in Zimbabwe lately.

If you fancy hearing a story about the war between the fairies and the goblins that took place simultaneously with one of our world wars you can have a listen to the story, “Two Handkerchiefs” at Stories from the Borders of Sleep.

Are You Creative? Send Me Your Card!

I’m a sucker for business cards. Collecting them is like playing a grown-up game of swapsies. Even though we live in a digital age of networking, there’s still nothing quite like taking home a pretty little piece of card with someone’s details on it.

So here’s a thing I’m going to do: If you are a person who works broadly in the area of creativity, art, writing, music, performing arts or that sort of thing, send me your card (either a scan or a “hard copy” – email seymour@seymourjacklin.co.uk for my snail address) and I’ll feature it on this blog and link it to your website … simples!

I have started with a few that were already in my wallet:

Google Contextual Ads Bring a Tinge of Irony to Apocalyptic Predictions

So I only just found out about the end of the world, too. So I checked in to judgementday2011.com – it was hard to focus on the facts with all those adverts offering me one last bite at life on earth:

Errr ….

Thank you, how very welcoming!

Salvation or sushi? The choice is yours!

Whatever happens tomorrow some people are going to be quids in. I predict that making predictions could become a big business in the future.

My Five Most Popular Blog Posts of 2010

I have been writing this blog for nine months now, since it was born on the 5th May 2010. An average of 1000 visitors have passed through and hopefully found something worth reading. Reviewing the most popular posts of the last year has given me a few surprises. Here are the top five in order of popularity:

1. Man The Gatherer: The Foraging Instinct.

Inspired by a raspberry picking trip with members of The Durham Fruit Group, I reflected on the anthropological aspect of wild food sorties, the superiority of fresh wild picked raspberries, and even managed to leverage in some comments about why we should all adopt a peaceful plant based diet. This article got “stumbled” by a couple of people which may account for its astronomical viewing stats.

2. Who Is Edward Monkton?

This was intended as a fairly flippant post but it turns out I was not the only person who was curious about the identity of Edward Monkton, the naively drawn proponent of off-the-wall folk wisdom who haunts our greetings cards. This is my most googled post and includes my own attempt at a bit of Monktonography.

3. Foraging Friday: Saffron Milk Caps

This post must have been published just as a lot of people were getting curious about these garishly coloured edible mushrooms. It is the most popular of my Foraging Friday series which will be continuing just as soon as spring starts to put out new growth and make foraging worthwhile again.

4. Milk Monday: Twelve Talking Points

Part of a long running series on all things “Dairy” that has been fueled massively by the terrible threat of the US style zero-grazing cow factory proposed for Nocton in Lincolnshire. Milk Mondays have been about asking if we really want to consume milk and, if we do, then what are the ethics of our consumption habits. I wanted to give consumers some idea of what goes on behind the supermarket shelves. The series grew with a significant helping hand from the folk at the Not In My Cuppa campaign. This post offers a few points for discussion on the dairy industry in Britain.

5. Jazz and Light: Two Things I love

Another fairly rapidly scribbled post that did unexpectedly well. I muse on two of my passions: Jazz and Photography. I love them not just for the aesthetic of the end product but for the path, process, spirituality and philosopythat underpin them. More on both these topics, I hope in 2011.

Many thanks to the people who have read, commented and retweeted in the last year. Happy New Year and all the best to you in 2011.

Blogging Friends: Spreading The Love

See that column on the bottom right? That’s my Blogroll. I wrote this as a static page but was so blown away as I pondered the qualities of my various blogging friends that I thought I’d make it a post, too. These are all people I know offline and I would like to introduce them to you in no particular order:

Nick Howes: Developing leaders and organisations to their full potential.

Nick is the associate Director at LMI UK (Leadership Management), a training and development company that has been going since 1966 – that’s a long time for this kind of company. Nick is based in Coventry. His blog shares gems of wisdom in leadership and training, motivation, planning, and goal setting in a nice informal style.

Liz Coughlan: Geriatric Gapper

I first met Liz when I was about 5 in Zimbabwe. Since then she has travelled and taught all over the world in England, the USA, Zimbabwe, Spain, Argentina, South Africa, Thailand, El Salvador, Malaysia, Italy and Turkey. Currently based in Turkey and retired from teaching, Liz blogs her travel experiences and the colourful life of Istanbul. She also writes at Helium.

Daniel Sladen: true//edible

Daniel was my room mate for the first term at University, he is one of the most intelligent people I know, and a gifted philosopher. He is a tax expert and city banker in London but he is on a mission to share fine recipes and discover an authentic experience of “church” in the 21st Century; both of which he does very well on his blog.

Ben Jiggins: These Thoughts of Mine

Ben is an elf from Middle Earth thinly diguised as a science teacher. He has a thoroughly considered opinion on just about everything so his thoughts are worth a read. Ben blogs about books, films, music and fragments of contemporary culture as well as random uncategorizable stuff.

Gabriel Smy: The Tongues Of Men

Content Guru by day and Novelist by night, Gabriel is a man with a vorpal pen. If pens were swords his would be Saldin’s Scimitar. His chameleonic ability with poetry, web copy, and fiction is an inspiration to me. Gabriel is based in Cambridge and blogs about his coming novel, “The Tongues of Men” and all things writing.

Marika Rose: Theologies

Marika … I can’t really tie it down in a single phrase. She’s an academic theologian with not the slightest hint of bluestocking. Her blog does what it says on the tin, “Theologies”. Marika makes the wierd and wonderful ideas of bygone and current thinkers accessible and relevant to laymen like me.

James: James’ Blog

James IS a giant peach. By that I mean a soul with an engulfing sweetness it would take years to explore. James is based in the cultural melting pot of Bradford and blogs very honestly about his faith. He dares to say out loud the stuff that most of us won’t admit to thinking.

Becky Hunter: visual artist, itinerant art historian, freelance writer

Another of my greatest inspirations, Becky is insanely prolific and seems to cram into a single day what I can only hope to achieve in a week. Where does she find the time and energy to flit between York and Philadelphia, interviewing artists about their work, delivering talks, drawing and creating original artwork, and writing for magazines? She is amazing.

Emily Phillips: Emily Tamara’s Blog

After working like a trojan for several months, fighting off dastardly infections and saving all she can, Emily is at last starting at Nexus Music College in Coventry. Read about her experiences and adventures in faith … or even better, sponsor her!

Sally Heasley: Sally Heasley Illustration

Sally’s artwork has an illustrator’s simplicity of line and lightness of touch. It makes me think of icecream and parasols and has an atmosphere of unihibited joyousness. Her blog showcases her recent work and current projects and she sells lovely screenprints and cards at her www.sallyheasley.co.uk.

Heather Lawson: Home Grown Heather

Heather and her husband, Mark, are urban gardeners taking small steps towards sustainability and The Good Life in Durham, UK. Every time I see them, there is a new idea on the horizon of their ever-widening visions and plans. Heather blogs about the simple pleasures of their little plot and other exciting projects.

Stuart Porter: Eat More Raw

Meet the man who eats 30 bananas a day! Since breaking free from a host of physical ailments – back pain, IBS and fatigue – by changing his diet, Stuart has become an advocate of the raw vegan lifestyle. He proves that you really can thrive on raw fruit and vegetables. He has a YouTube channel and is always pushing the limit of what can be achieved on his diet. He also sleeps without a pillow and runs barefoot – a true man.

Tim Mayo: Cool Christian Culture

Tim works for a homelessness charity and in his spare time he surfs and ponders Christian Culture from the perspective of a visual and new media artist. I love this humble man and his relentless quest to be a better person and live alive. His blog highlights some great charities, beautiful artwork, music and films and tries to see where “cool” and “christian” meet. He plays a mean guitar, too.

Dr. J: Heart Soul Mind and Strength

A man of bass, beats and strong convictions, I have had the privilege of playing in bands with Jason during his years at Durham University. Jason is a DJ and musician, never seen without cans on his head. His blog is a mix of photography, videos and other creative projects. He’s another of those people who crams every day full. Where does he get the energy? Loves God, nuff said.

Sian Aynsley: Literal Librarian

Another Durham graduate from the old university days. Sian held the record as a longtime housemate to my wife until I overtook her a couple of years ago. She has gone on to become one of the new breed of librarians; by that I mean unstuffy, savvy, information management ninjas. Currently working as an NHS librarian and blogging in that niche, Sian always has creative projects going on the side where she lets the artist out.

Robyn Trainer: Floral Footsteps

Robyn Works for the Ethical Superstore and is forging a second career as a photographer, illustrator, and florist. I don’t know anyone who can put so much life into a few penstrokes and a blotch of colour. She blogs about the projects she is working on and the lovely people in her world.

Matt Finn: Confessions of an Undercover Theologian

Matt is the living proof that there is so much more to Geography than colouring in. His blog has been going for years. Matt is doing a PHD and the “undercover theologian” bit is about revealing the theological dimension in absolutely everything he does, geographical and otherwise. His posts are always thought provoking and very current from, “How Emphasis can Quickly Become Reductionism” to, “Keep Anachronisms Relevant”.

Pete Phillips: postmodernbible

Pete is Secretary of the Methodist Church’s Faith and Order Committee and Director of Research for Centre for Biblical Literacy at St John’s College, Durham. He’s also a Dad and an avid tweeter and social media networker. He’s massively involved in advocating for the Bible in a digital age, dashing round the country with a bag full of i-gadgets and writes about all this stuff on his blog. In spite of having such a full mind, you always feel that he is 100% with you when he’s with you – I covet that quality.

Chris Juby: Christian spirituality, web design, reading, music and life

Chris is the arts and media man at my church and runs his own web design show. He shot to fame in August 2010 with his herculean project to tweet the whole bible at biblesummary. He’s one of my most valued brotherly confidants and encouragers. He blogs his worship sets and the books he is reading. Sorted Geezer!

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