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I set out on Nov. 1 with a mission – to find out if I could write a blog post a day and churn out a 50,000-word novel by Nov. 30. This was all in the name of National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo) and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Here I am 30 days later and the results are in: I made NaBloPoMo, but NaNoWriMo was a total failure. I thought it would be fun to break things down by the numbers, in a sense, to see how I fared. Making it hard on myself, I decided to go through each blog post and check my word count. I’m sure there was probably an easier way, but eh, I like to be difficult sometimes.

NaBloPoMo – 30 posts, 9,685 words/average of 322.83 words per day

NaNoWriMo – 598 words/average of 19.93 words per day

I think it’s pretty evident, when you look at it that way, just how poorly I fared with NaNoWriMo. I told myself I’d be happy if I got past 10 pages. I didn’t even hit two. I have a story, however, and I think I could make something of it if I come back to it from time to time. I’m more determined to write something well, rather than just get to x number of words, as was the goal of NaNoWriMo. Perhaps the effort’s not a failure after all.

NaBloPoMo was hard. If you look back at my November posts, you can see that some of them are completely lacking in content. Those were the days that I struggled with motivating myself to write. There are so many things out there to write about and it’s hard to juggle thoughts when they’re racing a mile a minute. I believe I even still have a post or two in draft form.

My intention with doing NaBloPoMo was to become more consistent with blogging. I think the real challenge, however, is going to be whether I stick with it. What does tomorrow or the next day hold? I’m sure many of you are facing that same dilemma. How do you keep yourself motivated?

Funny thing is, those 9,685 words rack up to about 19% of a 50,000-word novel. It’s interesting when you look at things from that angle, but it’s important to realize that blogging and novel writing are two totally different bears.

I would like to extend my congratulations to all who took on one or both projects. Even if you couldn’t see things all the way through, at least you gave it a shot. Beginning is sometimes the hardest part. 🙂

Cool tidbit: More than 1.5 billion words written for 2008’s NaNoWriMo (so far).

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Do you have the answer?

Adam Zand (@NoOneYouKnow) commented on a previous post I made and suggested that we co-present a panel at PodCamp Pittsburgh 3 about how SM is a lot like high school. It didn’t happen due to Adam not being able to make it down from Boston and well, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to jump into my first PodCamp with a presentation.

I’ve been revisiting that ever since, when I see all of the tweets in my Twitter stream about “Top 50 Tweeters,” “Help me get to 5,000 followers!,” or “Who’s the hottest blogger?” – junk like that. Sadly, it really does seem that social media sites are progressing into popularity contests.

Why? I thought the purpose was to create relationships and share ideas, not make it about who has the most followers, comments, linkbacks, whathaveyou. True enough, there’s some vanity involved when we check out our Twitteranks, Twitter Grades, and utilize other web sites that tell us just how we measure up against our fellow social media users. It kind of reminds me of Snow White’s wicked stepmother who consulted that magic mirror to know she was still the fairest in the land. Is that really what we need to keep ourselves going?

There are incredibly smart people out there who are utilizing social media for great things, but why are only a few people called rockstars? Why can’t we all be rockstars?

What you’re doing is just as cool as what I’m doing. We might want different outcomes, but I’d like to think we could all be on the same social level, without trying to one-up each other. I don’t think, however, we can truly be social as a whole until we get rid of the labels and all of these self-serving motives (and yes, I know we all have self-serving interests in a sense) that do little more than try to inflate online social status.

I’d like to take a line that those High School Musical kids so cheesily, yet happily sing: “We’re all in this together.”

They have a point.

Do you agree? What are your thoughts on social media and popularity?

You can also feel free to email me your thoughts and I will post them in comments under anonymous or any way you’d like.

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I have a few posts swirling in my head that I’d like to get to this weekend, especially since I’ll be sitting in an airport terminal on Sunday. I’ll be flying to South Jersey to visit my folks for the Thanksgiving holiday. Expect a post with my mom’s pumpkin pie recipe once I have it in my hands. It is so simple, yet divine.

For now, I’ll just share this story about the teen who killed himself in front of his webcam. It’s truly a sad state of affairs that he was partially egged on to do it. I am outraged that some people find depression to be funny. It’s no laughing matter and I can’t begin to imagine how his parents must feel.

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Have you made your donation yet? I’m collecting money through Dec. 24 for The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign. Please join with me to help those less fortunate. The need doesn’t just end at Christmas; the funds raised go to keep programs running year-round. Consider giving as much as you can. No amount is too small. Just click on the sidebar banner to make your donation today!

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I don’t have much to say today other than the following:

1. Thanks to all who are stopping by and reading my little tribute to the writer formerly known as PittGirl and The Burgh Blog. I think it’s evident that we’re all pretty sad, but it is my sincere hope that people will just let it go and refrain from trying to uncover her identity. Sure, we have our times when it’s fun to guess, but at the end of the day the woman took a huge risk to allow us to peer into her mind every day and some things are just better left secret.

2. First PCPGH3 meet-up was tonight at the Firehouse Lounge. It looked like a good time was had by all and it was nice to put a few more faces to names. Hopefully, we’ll continue this next month (preferably some place with tons of heat, guys, as it will be mega cold) and have a few more come out. Blogfest 16 is this Friday, so if you’re in the Burgh and you like social media, come on down. Yes, it’s the same night as Light Up Night, but we can drink, yak, and then go watch fireworks.

3. I had my first donation for my little experiment. THANK YOU – you know who you are. I’m only $105 away from my fundraising goal. Won’t you help someone in need this holiday season?

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My favorite blogger quit this morning.

“PittGirl” decided to pack-up and leave The Burgh Blog behind, with everyone’s favorite butler, Woy, breaking the sad news.

I’m still trying to process that I won’t be able to check it off my daily must-read blogs. In fact, it was the first feed I’d read out of all 50 million subscriptions. PG had this gift. Whether it was making me laugh hysterically over the antics of her self-united husbands or making me want to cry with her thoughts about people with cancer, I knew that the woman could tell a story. Boy, could she tell a story.

It was through these stories that I began to understand more about this city. I’m a transplant from South Jersey. I still don’t get things, but I feel that reading her blog helped me with the transition and I became comfortable enough to eventually call myself a Pittsburgher. As cheesy as it sounds, she made every day just a little bit better. She wrote about all of the good and bad in this city and through that, you could tell she dearly loved it at its best and worst.

She had the guts to say what many of us think, but might be afraid to say without facing repercussions. It was therefore understandable why she chose anonymity while constructing this community. I may never know who she really is, but I feel like she is the kind of person you could just be friends with instantly, knocking back a few Zimas and prattling on about the Steelers, that pigeons are indeed Satan’s winged Earth army (step off, PETA), and everything else.

It’s my honest opinion that both she and The Burgh Blog are one of the great treasures this city has to offer.

Thanks, PG, for the memories. I know we all hope you’ll return in some capacity one day. You may love Pittsburgh, but don’t forget that Pittsburgh loves you, too.

*pours Zima on the asphalt and stomps a pigeon in remembrance*

Forsooth, yo.

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For those who have no idea who the heck PittGirl is, I can refer you to this lovely article in Pittsburgh magazine. It really can’t begin to describe the woman behind the blog. If you never had the opportunity to read her thoughts, you truly missed out.

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UPDATE 10:47 P.M. – Looks like the folks behind Motrin are taking notice of the outrage.

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While watching the Penguins win over the Buffalo Sabres last night, I checked my phone to tweet and see what everyone else was yakking about. I noticed that there happened to be a huge uproar concerning Motrin and there was little I could do to find out due to a) not having an awesome iPhone or Blackberry/smartphone in general and b) I was at a house party, so … you know. When I got back this afternoon, I could see that there was much outrage by many moms on Twitter about a new advertisement on the product’s official site.

After monitoring the Twitter steam for a while at Motrin and #motrinmoms, I finally decided to watch the video to see what all the hubbub was about. Honestly, after watching it, I can say that I’m not wholly offended. I’ve watched it numerous times since then as a way to continue analyzing it, but nope … still nothing. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have children that I tend not to take any real meaning out of it. I think I’m in the minority here, but maybe not.

You can watch it and form your own opinion, but whereas many see the tone as condescending, I’m more convinced it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. Additionally, I can’t help but think I could relate and might secretly have the same thoughts whenever I’m a first-time mom, too. Am I wrong for thinking that?

There’s strong focus on buzzwords such as “supposedly”, “things”, “official mom,” and so on. While we can argue over the context of those words, it is my humble opinion that “things” refers to the swaddles, swings or whatever you want to call them and NOT babies as some seem to think.

Many are calling it a PR nightmare. At this point, we don’t even know who is on the team that formulated this concept. I’d be interested to see if some of the team members are moms who may/may not have had experience with babywearing and thought that they could share their own experiences in a semi-humorous fashion. How would the perception change if this comes to light? A focus group may have helped, but again, we don’t know if they put it through the proverbial wringer before making it public.

It could have been helpful for Motrin to have a Twitter presence right now to deal with the backlash, but how can one person (or a few people) possibly engage on a personal level with hundreds of angry parents at once? How would you do it? I’m unsure that having a social media presence at this particular moment would have really helped the situation.

You can argue with me that then I don’t get it. I do, but this whole wave of social media platforms is still very new and companies are slowly starting to catch on. While we can bitch and moan that it would be so much easier if every company utilized social media, I think it’s imperative that they monitor and understand what’s happening “now” before taking the plunge. Having a presence just to have a presence isn’t always the best thing if your company has no clue and is more or less utilizing these platforms as the opportunity to spam or quite simply broadcast and nothing more.* Now, this situation might show the company (which is part of the Johnson & Johnson family) that social media engagement could be helpful in the future and I’m sure they will be paying more attention to it.

In the short term, I see an official statement being issued in response to the backlash and the ad will go *poof*. I don’t think a boycott will have any detrimental effect on the brand. Those who haven’t bought the product in the first place, probably won’t anyway and that’s more than likely due to the cost or loyalty to another brand.

While I do agree that the ad is a bit tasteless tacky (again, I don’t see it as offensive), I don’t believe they intended to piss off an entire market. They tried to reach moms in a way that they thought they’d be able to relate, but obviously it backfired – back to the drawing board. I’m looking past the controversy on a personal level because at the end of the day, the product works and to me, as a consumer, that’s what matters.

*I know this might sound pretty contradictory to several posts I made previously about businesses utilizing social media, but I don’t believe every company will find value in all social media tools. Participation ultimately needs to be structured according to what type of conversation they’re looking to have – hence, I just throw out suggestions.

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Mario “Le Magnifique” Lemieux, Pittsburgh Penguins hockey legend and the team’s current owner, is often quoted as saying, “It’s a great day for hockey.” But it was actually former coach “Badger” Bob Johnson who coined the phrase. Either way you slice it, for Pittsburgh, it truly is. In just three years, the Penguins (or Pens to the typical fan) have managed to turn around from a dying hockey club into a champion, almost tasting champagne from Lord Stanley’s Cup last year for the first time since 1992.

There are many tangibles that have factored into the Pens’ good fortune as of late and it all started with drafting Sidney Crosby, first line center and the youngest captain in the NHL, with the 1st-overall pick in the 2005 Entry Draft. He was hailed as “The Next One,” joining the likes of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (1st overall, 2003 Entry Draft) and forward Evgeni Malkin (2nd overall, 2004 Entry Draft), who jumped ship in 2006 from his Russian team to play for the Pens. Forward Jordan Staal (2nd overall, 2006 Entry Draft) made the big league last season in his first year turned pro and hasn’t looked back. Add some veteran grit to a talented, young roster and a strict disciplinarian coach in Michel Therrien, and you have the makings of a winning hockey club.

This year’s campaign, “A Great Day for Hockey,” is fitting when considering the past of the Pens and the immediate future during which Pittsburgh will say goodbye to its beloved Igloo (Mellon Arena) and welcome a new, yet-to-be-named facility currently under construction – a move that ensures the Pens presence in Pittsburgh for years to come. What I love most about the commercial is that it not only highlights what the Pens do on the ice, but also what they do off it and the thousands of dedicated fans who cramp into the Igloo or brave the cold to see their beloved Pens play (and hopefully win). Pittsburgh-based rock band, The Clarks, provide the vocals behind the action with their rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” in a fitting homage to all things Pittsburgh.

Here’s the official link to the video: A Great Day for Hockey

You can also follow the Pens on Twitter @pghpenguins.

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