Unmistakingly American, Joe Buck’s voice emanated rather loudly from the living room while Diane did what everyone else in the San Francisco Bay Area did last Sunday night: watched the San Francisco Giants play game six of The World Series. Alas, I was slaving away in the computer room working on The Liebster Award Post. Yeah, OK, stop laughing. Some old farts still use a computer and mouse while blogging. And early retirees only buy new devices when a faced with an emergency (like a new Apple OS rendering you as obsolete).
Less than 30 days into my first ever attempt at blogging, I received two nominations on the same day for the (coveted?) Liebster Award. For the benefit of my blog-less email followers, the award is given by fellow bloggers to other bloggers as a recognition of excellence. Generally given to new bloggers like me, the rules state nominees can include non-newbies with less than 800 followers. The rules are here. Also designed for promotion of under-appreciated blogs, I noticed a spike in my stats so I guess it works. Thanks to Tim and Joanne of A Note from Abroad and The Tex-Pats of Adventure Pengembara for the nod !! I’m honored and appreciative.
Before moving on to the nuts and bolts, I’d like to mention something and suggest a constitutional amendment to the official rules. Unclear who the appropriate senate member of the awards is, I’ll address my issue to Lorraine Reguly, a Canadian based high school English teacher that runs a very informative website aimed at providing tips for better blogging, writing well and freelancing fabulously (her words). The website name is Wording Well.
Completely new to blogging, one of the first thing I noticed about almost everyone nice enough to like, follow or share my posts was that they mostly have hundreds and sometimes thousands of followers, even if they’ve only been blogging a short time. Understanding I don’t participate in a myriad of social media, this didn’t surprise me but did leave me confused about what constitutes success ratios of a new blog.
Countless posts from WordPress forums state that content is the most important part of a blog as well as interacting with other bloggers. Many also say they’d rather have a few hundred loyal followers that actually read and enjoy every post than thousands of followers that click “follow” on almost anything they read, virtually defeating the purpose because nobody can possibly read hundreds of blogs every day and still have time for their own. (Well, nobody from my generation, anyway).
While adhering to the notion of “less is better” if the post is better than than others with 9,000 likes, I also realized that the topic has a lot to do with popularity. Choosing to share my story-telling skills, I chose “Expat” as my sole topic because that’s the focus of our experimental early retirement and I often feel overwhelmed when I visit “jack of all trade” blogs with multiple categories.
Expat blogs don’t usually enjoy the popularity of other topics like photography, food, fashion or even general musings. Coming across some excellent writing while searching for my nominations, I found a lot of under-appreciated writing therefore I didn’t stick to “new blogs” as my sole criteria and I’d like to suggest that “under-appreciated” be added to the rules. In the financial industry, these would be the “value stocks”, often quality companies that the broad market fails to recognize.
Having made my point, I need to formally thank the people who nominated me. Tim and Joanne Joseph of A Note From Abroad have just embarked on their “next chapter”. At a stage in their life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing their adventures with their friends and family is their dream come true, they are basically Diane and I in a few years had I not been laid off.
I promised the Tex-Pats of Adventure Pengembara I’d answer their questions also since they simultaneously nominated me two minutes later. Pengembara is the Malay word for wanderer or traveler. Expats in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, they write about their observations and experiences and perhaps we will meet next year.
Without further ado, here are the nuts and bolts according to the official rules.
These are the answers to Tim and Joanne’s questions:
- Who has your fantasy life and why? Byron Riera Benalcazar. He was our primary guide through the Annual Expat Destination Research Vacation to Ecuador. He races cars, enjoys all his guests, gets to travel all over and get paid and has a great attitude on everything.
- If you could have a conversation with anyone, living or dead who would you choose? George W. Bush
- What is your favorite time of the day? Sunrise. During winter in Edmonton this does not happen until almost 9 AM
- What is your greatest strength? My sarcasm which helps get me through life.
- Who has made the biggest impact on your life (and why if you care to share)? My wife Diane. Nuff said.
- What is the one thing you would LOVE to tell the younger you? Cut the partying, get your shit together and go raise dogs in Alaska like my Dad suggested I should do instead of sitting in a cubicle for 30 years.
- What trait do you admire most in other people? Patience, the trait I lack the most.
- What is your favorite or dream destination anywhere in the world? Antarctica. After climate change makes the temperature more tolerable.
- What is your biggest regret? I’ll pass on this one, Alex Trebek. Too negative.
- If you could change one thing IN THE WORLD, what would it be? The universal religion would be Zen Buddhism which preaches self-enlightenment and has no hatred towards others,
- If a magic fairy gave you three wishes for YOURSELF, what would you wish for?
a) A full head of hair so I can see what the big deal is
b) A do-over starting in 1983
c) Another Stanley Cup Championship in Edmonton. In this century
These are the answers to The Tex-Pats
(Apologies but I can’t find your name anywhere on the blog)
- If you were awarded a two-week, all expenses paid, trip to anywhere, where would you go? (We are assuming, of course, that this trip fits seamlessly in with your work, family, and other obligations.)
Safari in the Serengeti
- What is your favorite thing to cook, or to eat if you don’t like to cook?
- If you had a magic wand and could make one type of junk food have redeeming nutritional qualities, what type of junk food would you pick?
Coffee Crisp Bars (All non Canadians, please see this link as you scratch your head wondering what the hell that is)
- For those of you who are expats, what is something from your host country that you think should be imported immediately to your home country? This could be a food item, a cultural norm, a style of clothing…whatever. For the non-expats, what is something you wish someone would innovate, specifically for your life?
Malaysia needs a Katz’s Deli. If you don’t know what that means, please see the photo below
5. What talent do you secretly wish you possessed? (Super powers and “regular” talents are equally acceptable.)
Invisibility for obvious reasons
6. If you could have any kind of creature for a pet, what would you pick? (Realistic or not realistic are both OK.)
7. What’s your favorite non-book to read? Could be a website, magazine, or something else. Everyone asks about favorite books, but what about favorite “other” reading material?
Kiplinger’s Magazine so I can afford to be retired
8. What kinds of activities do you like to do when you travel? Are you a museum person? A sit on the beach person? Someone who seeks out new activities to try?
Eating insane food. If I sit on the bowl the whole trip, that qualifies as insane
9. If a new restaurant opens near you, and you get to pick what type of food they serve, what would you pick?
Anything tatsy but also healthy, ruling out 99% of American restaurants
10. If this one thing ceased to exist in the world, your life would continue uninterrupted. What’s that thing?
The internet. I spent 32 years without it
11. If this one thing ceased to exist in the world, you would be very sad. What’s that thing?
11 Random Facts About Me
- I graduated high school in three and 1/2 years due to scholastic achievement. This proves only that New York City public high schools sucked in the 1970’s
- I’ve had surgery for a hernia repair on my left and right sides. Happily, I’m out of sides.
- I’m legally blind in my right eye, making blogging harder for me. The condition is called optic neuritis and only 10% of those who have it don;t recover their eyesight. This proves that killing 99.9% of germs is not good enough when it comes to a bathroom cleaner because the 0.1% could surface in your house.
- I could read a map when I was about two years old.
- I’ve also worn a watch since age two. Diane says I’m “anal”. I call it “detail oriented”.
- I watched them film the scene in Saturday Night Fever where John Travolta dances on top of the tables at a White Castle. Yes, I’m old, yes I loved that place and no, it’s been gone for may years.
- I have a physical copy of every paycheck I’ve ever earned; my first one ever was from a kids clothing store where I worked part-time as a stock boy for $3.35 an hour (the minimum wage at the time)
- I enjoy mornings and sunrises more than late nights.
- The only team sport I’ve ever been any good at is bowling and that’s not even a sport.
- I was published once in a magazine that nobody reads in Alberta during my days as an American Expat in Canada. Blogging has reinstated my failed parallel life as a satirical journalist. Does it show?
- The new head of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellin, went to my high school. I thought that was cool; nobody in my previous office shared my opinion.
My nominations, in no particular order other than expat vs. non-expat:
1) Seattle to Shanghai: Melinda and Thom are embarking on a career based expat adventure to Shanghai. Diane is Chinese so we understand and appreciate the difficulty and challenges of adapting to a “negotiation” culture where English is not always understood. Zhu hao yun (Good Luck)
2) Samscapade: Sam calls his life a “Samscapade” and claims himself fluent in English, profanity and sarcasm. My kind of guy. He deserted his comfy South African home for the Middle East. I can’t really tell exactly what his mission is but the writing is funny and if irony, sarcasm and Caustic writing are your style (like me), give it a look
3) From Palmetto Pride to pad Thai: Becky’s expat story includes a battle with her son’s autism diagnosis. Featuring much of her published work from a BKK Events, a Bangkok website, she documents her adventures through a series of interesting reviews.
4) The Abu Dhabi PTA : The name alone captivated me and just reading the about page solidified the nomination. Gina is an American expat living in the UAE who educates through experience, attempting to alleviate stereotypes associated with women of the Arab world, As soon to be expats venturing to a Muslim country, albeit a technically secular one, we’ll be following her closely.
5) Adventures of La Mari: Fulfilling both the non-American and “sappy story” categories (her words, not mine), her tagline is “girl meets boy, falls in love, moves to Germany”. Filled with adventures from all over Europe, it holds great appeal to us since we expect our new social circle to include many Europeans in Malaysia and quite frankly, I don’t really know much about them.
6) Changes in latitude, changes in attitude: One of the few blogs written by an author older than us, Mike is a Brit and has led a life that I call “chief cook and bottle washer” (multiple faces). He’s now retired to Thailand and his recounts of life in “The Big Mango” help reassure us that our “Plan B” is an intelligent choice. I also enjoy the refreshing points of view from anyone that grew up with LP,s rotary phones and typewriters.
7) Old England to New England: Heading in the opposite direction as the previous blogger, this blog underscores the persona of Americans and their often vague familiarity of individuals from anywhere else. Through anecdotes and short stories, I appreciate the struggles of an Englishman trying to “learn English”.
8) The Crazy Canadian’s Gypsy Heart: With our obvious connection to all things Canadian, we loved reading about a 17 year old from Saskatchewan who claims to be diagnosed with “a case of gypsy heart; unable to settle in and having a need to travel, learn, meet new people and gather great experiences”. Take it from seasoned 30 year veterans of boring jobs: Live, learn and enjoy !!
9) The Travelling Pantry: My entry in the food category, the blog’s amazing cornucopia of recipes, ingredients and flavors practically jump off the page. A collector of “kitcheney” things and interested in food styling, the Melbourne based highlights the author’s passion fro food styling and photography. The stats were unclear and the blog is not “new” so apologies on bending the rules a bit. (I do believe the WP reader listed it as under 1,000 follows)
10) Nexus: With categories all over the board from acting to writing (and literally, an alphabetical cornucopia), I chose this blog as my “general interest” category. Written by an 8th grade humanities teacher, this blog is also not “new” but does fall within the appropriate number of followers guidelines.
11) The Optimistic Cynic: My favorite line in Hayli’s about page is “I enjoy the pathetic 4 digit number on my income report because I can hold it next to my growing list of accomplishments and say kiss this”. You go girl !! My choice for the “internet generation life struggle” blog, Hayli writes poems, fiction and creates art. I’m sure she’ll find her way just fine.
If you accept the nomination, here are my questions:
- What world event influenced your life the most?
- What is your favorite cartoon character or animated TV figure?
- Would you cry or cheer if the internet disappeared forever thanks to some crazed cyber criminal?
- What childhood teacher stand out the most and why?
- If you could pick a universal form of government for all the earth besides democracy, what would it be and why?
- What do you consider the greatest comedy in the history of cinematography?
- What quality do you envy in someone besides anyone in your immediate family?
- Do you like hockey and if not, why? Were you not born in Canada?
- What advice can you give the next new blogger that receives this award nomination?
- Besides anything from work or your blog, what is your biggest accomplishment in life?
- Knowing what happens afterwards, if you could save one famous figure from being assassinated, who would it be and why?
Reiterating, here are the Liebster Award Rules:
- Thank your nominator and post a link to his/her blog.
- Display the award on your blog.
- Answer the 11 questions provided by the nominator.
- Nominate 5-11 blogs which have less than 1000 followers, and let them know they’ve been nominated.
- Make up and post 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
- Post these rules on your blog.
Thanks to everyone for your support !! As promised, The Experimental Expats now return to their regularly scheduled posting
Coming in November: Ecuador !!