Saturday, August 30, 2014

Taking Stock at Six O’Clock: Beginning My Blogging Career (August 2014)

A number of my friends who are also my readers have asked me questions about my experiences since I started blogging in February 2014. They want to know:

  •  How did I get started? 
  •  What were some of my key decision points?
  •   Where do I get my ideas?
  •   How long does it take for me to write a post?   
  •   What have been some of my most thrilling moments? 
  •   How do I keep on doing it?

So I decided that about every six months, i.e. Six O’Clock by my blog dial, I’ll do a highlights report on my time as a self-styled, independent blogger.
Starting Out/Key Decision Points:

Three of the biggest decision points as I was starting out were:
1.) focusing on a topical area and refining its scope, i.e. for me--wristwatches;  2.) selecting a blog name then getting it registered; 
3.) choosing a content publishing platform.  

I’ve described my blog scope and name choice in my About Me page.

Thanks to the book, Blogging Made Simple: Powerful Techniques for Blogging Success by Michael  H. Fleischner and Justin Freid which I read in January 2014, I selected Google’s Blogger as the platform for publishing my content.  It was free, easy to navigate and understand for me, a blogging novice. I then registered as my domain name through GoDaddy. 

Another key decision point was to join Darren Rowse’s online blogging community, ProBlogger  in March.  This has given me access to other emerging and seasoned bloggers around the world and real-time as well as archived webinars.  One ProBlogger webinar I highly recommend is Crafting Content for Your Blog.  It aired just this month.

Getting Ideas:

I mainly get my ideas from what is happening around me at the time, magazines and books I’m reading, other watch/jewelry blog sites I especially like and images that strike me as making a unique, time-related statement.  

For example, my second post, OMEGA: Longstanding Olympian was triggered by the excitement and media coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Likewise I couldn’t escape FIFA World Cup soccer fever and ended up writing about Hublot and GaGà MILANO brands.  Longines’ advertisements featuring Kate Winslett and Simon Baker  in Time Magazine, a Ralph Lauren ad in WSJ, and a Chanel video on YouTube all led to postings.  A  J. G. Ballard short story, The Garden of Time served as the literary equivalent of Chaumet’s Hortensia tourbillon timepiece.

And my most recent post, The Sons of August began with the desire to connect e World War I’s 100th anniversary with trench watches and an art installation at the Tower of London.

My favorite watch/jewelry blogs include WorldTempus, WatchTime, nawcc/watchnews, and The JewelleryEditor.

Writing Posts:

I work on several posts at a time, although I won't publish all of them. Generally, it takes me up to three weeks, working off and on to research and write what I consider ready-for-prime-time material.  Heavy editing and proofreading take their toll on my initial drafts. And yes, I keep a postings ideas book, consisting mainly of working titles and back-up jottings.

Most Thrilling Moments:

Reaching my 10th posting on April 6thArt Sourcing Time. 

Receiving very positive feedback on two particular posts, Hublot’s Vivacious Contender and  Discovering Timeless Beauty Unexpectedly from watch brands' GaGà MILANO and RSW corporate marketing officials.

 Surpassing 3,500 all-time page views on August 29th.

 Realizing that I had an international readership that goes beyond the U.S. and includes the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Brazil, China, the Ukraine and Russia.

AND the ultimate rush, finishing a post and hitting the PUBLISH button.

Sustaining the Writing:

How do I sustain my enthusiasm to keep blogging?  That’s simple.  There is so much to discover, explore, and say about time at hand.  There’s even more satisfaction in having the tools and technology available to share it with others instantaneously around the world.

Let me know if any of my comments on my own blogging start-up experiences are similar to yours.

 What you are thinking/how you are doing as a blogger or blog reader?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Sons of August: World War I Trench Watches and a Modern Day Tribute to the Fallen

The month of August always reminds me of Barbara Tuchman’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Guns of August and its accounting of the events leading to the start of World War I.  One hundred years on and here I am blogging about The Great War’s anniversary within the context of wristwatches.

World War I was a war of staggering carnage and casualties with over 17 million killed.  Many of the men on all sides who lost their lives did so in trench warfare –the trench being both their battlefield home base and their protective though dangerous ground zero.

 As Tessa Paul, a contemporary commentator on the history of watches reminds us in her book, Watches: Eye on Time (Park Lane Books, 2012), “Officers in World War I realized that for a soldier sitting in a battlefield, wearing a heavy Sam Browne belt and carrying arms, a timepiece on his wrist was more efficient than a watch in his pocket.  The fob watch had dominated the market for over 200 years but it was finally conquered in the trenches of the war, and the 20th century opened to a great new era, that of the wristwatch.”   

A catastrophic transition for time keeping that we are the beneficiaries of in our focus on the wristwatch as the most modern of time keeping necessities/ accessories.

These trench watches, also called wristlets resemble pocket watches fixed onto  straps with lug holders of various devices to secure them to  bands.   During the war, a number of companies, including the Waltham Company in the United States, Longines and Omega supplied such models to various countries' military procurement units and were bought by individual soldiers. Very often the watches had similar looks with enamel dials and white numerals that were very wide.  These were painted or overlaid with radium as were the hands so that they could be seen at night. Many of the designs had metal grids resembling trench crisscrosses or grill screens allowing the dial markings to be seen but also protecting the dial’s crystal from flying shrapnel or other projectiles.  Other models had full metal front covers.

Below is one example, I have found on the web, but there are countless others that can be seen by searching the web.

So what motivated me to write this short, exploratory post on trench watches?  Another historical “trench”  -- the moat surrounding the Tower of London. 

This summer in remembrance of the British and its colonial World War I fatalities, ceramic artist  Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper have collaborated on the ultimate reverential installation commemorating their country men’s sacrifices.  Called, “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red,” the project consists of 888,246 ceramic poppies that are being planted in remembrance of the Empire's losses in Flanders’ poppy fields and elsewhere. Volunteers are planting these one-by-one on an around the clock basis in the Tower of London’s moat. The last one will be placed on November, 11, 2014 (Armistice Day). After Armistice Day, the poppies will be sold to the public and the proceeds in part distributed to six charities.

Moat_poppies 8114155; Attribution to Slowking4 (Own work) [GFDL 1.2 (], via Wikimedia Commons

I encourage you to take a look at other poignant images of the installation at the Huffington Post’s online site and follow the development of the plantings.

I hope that some of the original trench watch makers and other companies sensitive to WWI's anniversary will pay tribute to this amazing effort and create poppy-red enamel dials or design poppy-inspired numerals to grace the face of  new lines of trench watches. These would be the ultimate 21st Century remembrance pieces for the Sons and Dauughers of August, their families, and all of us seeking peace today.