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Monday, March 29, 2010

Hermiston: Best Place To Live!

Hermiston: Best Place To Live!

My small Oregon community, Hermiston, is one of the top 20 best places to live in the west.

I think so, and so does the American Cowboy magazine.

According to AC, we have exceptional cowboy culture and charm, respect for history and heritage, recreational and outdoor activities, a strong sense of community and rugged independence, as well as the top-rated, nationally published blog, "Milt Reynolds: Thinking Out Loud."

Actually, as editor of "Milt Reynolds: Thinking Out Loud" I thought it appropriate to insert that last exceptional quality of Hermiston. Those who disagree with this editorial insertion should start their own blog.

But it's got me thinking. Is there a chance, perhaps just a slim chance, that the American Cowboy magazine plans to capitalize on our newfound exceptionalism by increasing sales of its magazine? Our we just a simple cog in a giant marketing scheme? Do we actually deserve to be one of the top 20? Just how did AC find us and come to know us?

As a marketing ploy, it's genius. Pick out twenty towns under 50,000, spaced somewhat equally over your marketing region. Search Google.com for their community websites, lift a few paragraphs from each one that seem especially appropriate for your target audience. Now, write an article, 21 paragraphs in length (one for each town, plus one to lead your article), and post it to your blog (which is nationally distributed, right? I mean, it's the World-Wide-Web!)

Now, pick up the phone and call the chamber of commerce or city hall of each of these towns, letting them know what an honor has been bestowed upon them. Out of all the towns in the west, only twenty are deemed BEST, and your town is among that elite bunch.

It's definitely a slick set-up. American Cowboy's website is packed with advertising, polls, popular content, forums, blogs, prizes, and flash graphics...not your down-home, simple website sittin' by the fire, just in from brandin'. Let's look closer and try to find evidence that the writer actually visited our town and got to know us.

Nothing on the website immediately pops out that highlights Hermiston...must be a minor blip on the western scene.

Now, don't get me wrong...I do think Hermiston is a great place to live...nobody forced me to live here, and I feel comfortable, safe, and entertained. And the magazine is probably a great read, and the website has tons of info and camaraderie.

It's just that "western" implies simple and rugged, independent and honest. I cannot imagine how large of staff is required to run the company that owns this magazine...from the financial, legal, editorial, publishing, distribution and marketing side of it all, it must be hundreds. The company, Active Interest Media ("AIM"), produces and markets a barn-full of diverse products:


Amazing Wellness, American Cowboy, Arts and Crafts Homes, Backpacker, Better Nutrition, Black Belt, Country’s Best Log Homes, Early Homes, Log Home Living, Muscle & Performance, Old-House Interiors, Old-House Journal, Optimum Wellness, Peaks, The Design Center Sourcebook, SNEWS, Timber Home Living, Vegetarian Times, Whole Foods Market, Yachts International, Yellowstone, and Yoga Journal magazines. In conjunction with these magazines, we produce and market over 75 martial arts, videos and books, including several by the legendary Bruce Lee and a dozen three-day log home shows seminars that attract thousands of consumers from around the country.

So, how did big-ole AC get to know little-ole Hermiston?

Oops! I have to retract a portion of what I previously said...the article about the best places to live is on the front page...must be a rotating flash program or something. Anyway, here's the article.

Kevin Carmody has the byline. "Kevin Carmody american cowboy" on Google.com brings several hits related to this one article about living in the west. Hard to know much about Kevin...no staff bios on the site, no search box by author. So, Kevin, when were you in Hermiston?

Kevin discovered the following exceptional opportunities awaiting immigrants to Hermiston:


An outdoor playground awaits in eastern Oregon, where the natural beauty of the Columbia River is ideal for horseback riding, water skiing, jogging, hiking, hunting, fishing, or plain old peace and quite. Hermiston is centrally located between Portland, Spokane, Wash., and Boise, Idaho, and hosts the Farm-City Pro Rodeo each August.

I especially value the quite that can be found on the Columbia River. The plain old quite is the best kind of quite, although I do like to spice it up now and again with a bit of fancy new quite. My favorite activity is chanting "I want quite a bit of quite right NOW!"

So, let's investigate my growing hypothesis that Kevin found Hermiston's website and decided that surfing would be just as good as visiting in person.

Hermiston's website has a great, 10-minute long video that describes the actual opportunities, features, and benefits of living here. Kevin could easily have simply viewed the video and wrote a brief summary, highlighting what he most appeals to the inner-cowboy to whom we owe all our western culture and charm.

Here's the real Hermiston:

But, I do not think this was Kevin's source. The video includes many down-home, westerny qualities that Kevin does not mention, including winter recreation, transportation hubs, golfing, shopping and gardening. Sadly, the video also completely ignores the plain, old quite that is the foundation of western living. I wonder how Kevin discovered this?

I found it! The Source of Kevin's Knowledge of Hermiston!

http://www.el.com/to/hermiston

This quasi-blog includes a brief summary of Hermiston's attractions. Notice the common elements found also in Kevin's write-up:


Community pride and small town spirit characterize Hermiston. Situated on the northeastern edge of Oregon in the northwest corner of Umatilla County, Hermiston is centrally located between the major cities of Portland, Spokane and Boise. Its proximity to the recreation areas of the Blue Mountains makes it a favorite destination for those who enjoy fishing, hunting, and camping. In the winter, snowmobiling, skiing, sledding and snow tubing are popular mountain activities.

The Columbia River, located six miles to the north of Hermiston, offers many water sports including boating, swimming, fishing and wind surfing. Additional fishing spots are the Cold Springs Reservoir and Umatilla River. For hunters, Hermiston has pheasant, goose, duck and quail hunting in the local area.

The Farm City Pro Rodeo, held in conjunction with the Umatilla County Fair, is recognized nationally as one of the finest pro rodeos in the country. It attracts top quality cowboys, cowgirls, clowns and announcers. Held for five days in August, the Umatilla County Fair features daily big name entertainment, as well as local exhibits of produce and animals.

Several state parks are near Hermiston. The most noted is Hat Rock, named after a distinctive rock monolith described by Lewis and Clark on their travels.

Family focus and small town pride makes Hermiston a friendly place to visit, and a great place to raise a family.

Note: the host of this community PR website is http://www.el.com. Interesting site. Looks like it's owned by a Portland company...that makes it a little more "down-home" than AIM. It's a collection of links organized by category...designed to be a browser's home page, probably. I'd never make it my home page...too busy...but it's got lots of links to sites that I never knew I needed.

Anyway, I'm quite sure that http://www.el.com ("On the Internet, WELCOME is spelled www.el.com!") is Kevin's sole source.

Kevin, however, is the ONLY one who has mentioned our peace and quite. I like that.

Seems pretty darned, down-home to me.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Desert Thistle Pipe Band

Desert Thistle Pipe Band

31st Annual Concert: An Evening of Celtic Music

I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent listening to a variety of bagpipe music, Scottish highland dances, and Irish dancing.

The concert drew a large audience, gathered at the Chief Joseph Middle School Auditorium in Richland, Washington, Saturday, March 13.

Bagpipe music is an acquired taste, much like wine. At first, I could not distinguish at all between the different pieces played by this 18-member band, including pipers and drummers. The music is definitely foot-tapping and rousing, but after the third set I realized that they all sounded the same to me. Not a criticism, just an encouragement to me to listen to more of it.

It all sounded the same...except for the classic: Amazing Grace. Nothing does justice to the emotion of that song like a bagpipe and drum band. Great music!

The drummers added visual excitement by twirling their drumsticks, switching hands, flipping and twisting.

The Desert Thistle Pipe Band debuted in 1976, the name reflecting the thistle of Scotland and the desert of the inland northwest. For thirty years the band has performed at state fairs, rodeos, parades, festivals, picnics, clubs, schools, and weddings.

Guest performers included Scottish and Irish dance groups, and a powerful three-piece Celtic band, the Rose and Thistle Band.

The Rose and Thistle Band are Rob Barrick, Elizabeth Nicholson, and Eddie Parente, from Portland, Oregon. They play Celtic dance music, irish and Scottish slow airs and song, and classical wedding favorites. Their technical skill and emotional presentation was a great treat.

Reference Links:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Seven Important Births

Seven Important Births

I'm always on the lookout for good ways to study or apply the truth of God's Word. Here's a unique, simple plan, especially good for new believers or seekers.

Dr. Gerard Van Groningen’s got a simple plan. He calls it the “Seven Important Births.”

Here’s what it looks like:

  • Birth of the universe and mankind. Read Genesis 1-2.
  • Rebirth of mankind with Noah. Read Genesis 6-9.
  • Birth of God’s people through Abraham. Read Genesis 11:29-25.
  • Birth of the people of Israel through Moses. Read Exodus 1-17.
  • Birth of David and his kingdom. Read 1 Samuel 16-31.
  • Birth of Christ. Read the books of Matthew and Luke.
  • Birth of the Church. Read all of Acts

Read more: http://www.youseedrybones.com/how-to-read-the-bible-the-seven-important-births-method

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Connecting and Subscribing

Connecting and Subscribing

A class in Basic Internet Skills 101 would probably cover web browsers and how to click your way to interesting or useful sites. Once you find yourself relying upon the Internet for your daily dose of information, interest, and entertainment, you might wish you had a better way of zeroing in on just the sites you want to check with daily.

Those of us still mired at the basic skill level will try to rely on memory, each day clicking through the ever-increasing list of bookmarks, checking for updates and new posts of your favorite sites.

There's a better way.

Cleverly disguised as a serious writer of important information, I plan to slyly ensnare more and more of you as faithful subscribers to my various websites and posts. Along the way, you just may pick up some tips that could make the Internet less time-wasting and more effective.

Maybe.

RSS: Really Simple Syndication

It is possible to have all your websites, especially the ones that have regular updates or changing information, send their information directly to you, as soon as it is updated.

The way to do this is through RSS: Really Simple Syndication. I'll step you through one easy way to get started, but keep in mind that there are several different providers and variations. If it intrigues you, do further research using the reference links at the end of this post.

Step One: Get an RSS reader

Your email program may already have an option for reading RSS subscriptions. My preference, however, is the free reader from www.google.com.

Register with Google at this address: http://reader.google.com

Create a new account, or if you already have an account with Google.com, sign in with your email address and password.

Once signed in, Google Reader will open in your browser.


Step Two: Get a good website

As big as the Internet is, there is really only one site you should begin with: MINE.

Just kidding. Actually, we will begin with MINE, but I allow the possibility that there may be a few other websites somewhere in Cyberland that are worth reading regularly.

Maybe.

Anyway, let's subscribe to a web site!

Open a new browser window and navigate to the Internet's best website: http://miltreynolds.blogspot.com

Look for the RSS symbol and click on "Posts".

The drop-down menu shows several RSS readers. Since I'm registered with Google Reader, we'll select the option that says, Add to Google.

Google gives us two options: add to Google homepage, or add to Google Reader. My preference is Google Reader, so click that button.

Google will add the subscription link to your Google Reader account. From now on, to read my daily (somewhat semi-weekly/monthly, or so) updates, just open your browser, navigate to Google Reader and log in. Every site to which you subscribe will be listed, with options to view all the updates or past posts.

Google Reader can become your daily newspaper or magazine, customized to give you exactly the information you're looking for. No longer do you need to visit every individual website that are your favorites. All the updates from all your favorites are delivered to one website: your RSS reader. You can subscribe to sites that provide world news, local news, comics, puzzles, opinions, weather, entertainment, and much more.

Some websites do not have an RSS link that automatically adds to Google. You can still add the subscription to Google Reader. Let's try that next.

Frances Hunter's American Heroes Blog is a great blog. Frequent updates, interesting articles and photos, all about the Lewis and Clark Expedition and American history. The site actually does have an RSS link that will automatically place the subscription into your Google Reader account, but for purposes of learning, let's use a link that is more generic.

Navigate to Frances Hunter's American Heroes Blog: http://franceshunter.wordpress.com

At the top, right-hand corner there is a couple of RSS links. Click on the one for Posts.

Your browser will open a window filled with text and coded language. Don't be alarmed. This is the web site re-formatted into a version that is readable by most any RSS reader.

Copy the URL address of this page: http://franceshunter.wordpress.com/feed.

Go back to Google Reader and click on the button in the top, left-hand corner labeled, Add a Subscription.

The drop-down window allow you to paste in the URL address. Click Add, and Google Reader will fetch that page and display it in the reader pane.



You can do this with any website that offers an RSS feed. Look for the RSS link and add it to Google Reader. Enjoy!

Here are some great sites, all conveniently labeled MINE, ready for you to grab!

You might notice, if you are signed into your Google account, all of my blog sites have a button at the top of the page, the very top: Follow. This is also a way to subscribe to any Blogspot site. Click the Follow button, and it will automatically become part of Google Reader's subscription list.

Twitter

Some websites do not offer RSS, but they do offer ways to subscribe. One of my favorites is Twitter.

A Twitter account allows you to send very short messages, only 140 characters (including spaces).

A good overview of how Twitter works can be found here: http://twitter.com/about.

I use Twitter nearly every day. I often will post interesting (to me!) quotations that I come across. I'll post what I'm doing when I think I'm doing something noteworthy (such as, cooking lunch, fighting a cold, watching American Idol, laughing...you know, those important milestones in a person's daily life.)

Twitter allows you to follow other Twitter-users...you'll receive their daily posts and updates. A few of my favorite Twitter-users I've linked to my cell phone, so that I get their posts immediately as a text message.

In my never-ending quest for world peace and betterment, I will now guide you through the steps to setting up a Twitter account, helping you to begin following my Twitter site as a favorite, and linking my site to your cell phone.

First, navigate to http://twitter.com.

Click on the button on the button: Sign Up Now.

Enter the required information, agree to the Terms of Service, and click on the button: Create My Account.

A message sent to your Twitter account is called a tweet. Sending the message is called tweeting. Type your message in the entry field, under the general question, What's happening? and click Update.

Your first post!

Now, let's find another site (MINE) and mark it as a favorite so you can start following ME.

Navigate to my Twitter site: http://twitter.com/miltreynolds.

Click on the button labeled Follow. All my updates will now show up on your Home page of Twitter.

Now, let's make it easier to keep up with my news. Let's link your cell phone to your Twitter account.

Click on the link in the upper, right-hand corner labeled: Settings.

Click on the link labeled: Mobile.

Follow the instructions given to link your phone to your Twitter account.

Now, go back to my Twitter account: http://twitter.com/miltreynolds

There is a green checkmark next to the title: Following.

Immediately following the title, Following, there is a small, gray icon that is supposed to represent a cell phone. Hover your cursor over this icon and you see a warning: Updates are not sent to your mobile phone. Click this icon and it will change to green: Updates are sent by SMS to your mobile phone. Success!



Now, you'll get a text message as soon as I send an update to my Twitter account. You'll never be out of the loop!

You can follow as many other Twitter users as you like, and link any of them to your phone. Here are a few of my favorites for you to consider:

Facebook

Finally, the social networking website that perhaps has the most potential to devour all of your idle minutes: http://www.facebook.com.

Facebook allows longer postings (420 characters), and you can post photos, music, links, games, events, and a bunch more. It truly is a bazaar, or a marketplace, for meeting, greeting, joking, ranting, questioning, deciding, changing, renewing, and surfing.

An account with Facebook is easy to register, and you can learn how to send messages and follow other users quickly by following the basic instructions. I'll point you to the place to start, lead you to my Facebook page, and then I'll tie all these three elements together.

First, navigate to http://www.facebook.com

Sign up by following the instructions and then visit my page: Facebook: Milt Reynolds.

Click on the button: Add as Friend. I'll get a request to allow you to follow me (which I will approve if I know you) and then all my updates to Facebook will appear on your News Feed page of Facebook.

Just like with Twitter, you can request as many Friends as you like. The more you request, the more people will start requesting to be friends with you, and your network will grow.

Putting It All Together

I've linked my Twitter account with my Facebook account. Everything I tweet shows up on my Facebook page as well as on Twitter.

I've also linked my primary blog site, miltreynolds.blogspot.com, to Facebook. Everything I send to my blog also shows up on Facebook.

Why?

Here's the unvarnished, unashamed fact of the matter: I like to have attention paid to me. I like to imagine that my thoughts and opinions (rants, raves and redundancies) bring interest, or a smile, or an insight to others. I'm a fairly quiet person...I don't talk a lot and I don't talk easily...I write much more, and better, than I talk. So, this is my equivalent of calling people and talking to them on the phone.

I dream of one day being able to stop working 12-hour shifts, rotating days and nights, manual labor. I dream of one day earning my living by writing or creating (art, books, crafts, whatever...I just want to create). My various blogs and websites are my attempts to keep that dream alive, hone my writing skills, and express myself.

Come join me!

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