the old blogging days

So, since we were talking about websites the other day, I thought I’d go back to that subject a little and ramble on about the Internet. Because, you know, nothing is more meta than getting on the Internet to read what people have to say about the Internet. So come, let us sit on the porch in our rocking chairs, and shoot the breeze about the good old days of Doberman Pizza and Bahá’í blogging.

One of my favourite taglines for doberman pizza is “rolled, dressed and cooking since 1994“. That was the year when I first uploaded my homepage to a local Internet Service Provider, complete with wild rainbow colours, insane graphics and even insaner content. One of my first web projects, Find The Beagles, is still online after all these years, and still sports the same look it did way back then. What’s Your Pokéname?, a frivolous name generator that I coded up while in university, has only changed a little since the early days, but miraculously, it still gets over a thousand hits per month.

The “blog” part of the site appeared in June 2000, powered by a handmade Perl script. It wasn’t much more than a makeshift Twitter feed filled with mundane updates like:

whoops, left at 01:57 on 19/12/00: I just erased netscape by mistake! How *^$@# cool am I?

you’re e, left at 14:49 on 26/01/01: this is me at shamdogg’s place doing SECRET SQUIRREL things. peace to you all.

thwomp, left at 09:38 on 19/03/01: do you realize that this website is almost completely purposeless? that’s a rather interesting concept!

But then, there were also some interesting bits of news back in the day, too:

the main event, left at 07:23 on 22/05/01: In case you haven’t heard, the terraces of the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa, Israel are being officially opened today. They’re broadcasting it live on the web, in realplayer format. it’s going on today and tomorrow. Check it out!

Eventually, I signed up with Blogger and set up a proper blog page. Soon enough, Bahá’í blogs started appearing here, there, and everywhere: Povo de Bahá, Sliding Thoughts (now A Calm Storm), Life of Leif, Warble, Baha’i Thought, Baha’i Views, Anxiously Concerned, Correlating, and Barnabas Quotidianus, to name a few of my favourites—not to mention Martin’s Quest, Vafa.tk, and Arash City. And then, of course, there was Bahá’í Blog, which looked very different from its current incarnation, but was still pretty darn cool. (I mean, they were regular readers of Doberman Pizza, so of course they were cool.)

Around 2007, things had started to get pretty well organized in the Bahá’í blogosphere, as we called it. I had my own 15 seconds of fame when my blog and I were featured in an article for the Canadian Bahá’í News Service. But soon enough, newfangled Web 2.0 websites started appearing, like Facebook, Twitter, and the like, and blogs started losing a lot of the prominence they once had. For me, I also got pretty busy around this time, and I hopped over to Vietnam, where my life got turned upside-down. As a result, Doberman Pizza took some extended down time, and for a while I wasn’t even sure if it would ever get going again.

That’s why things like this Bahá’í Blogging Challenge are really a stroke of genius. First of all, you have the challenge—go ahead, post something new every day, I dare you. A call like that has to be answered, and the requirement to post each day gets the creative juices flowing out of necessity. Second, you have the added benefit of support from all of the other poor souls who are also toiling through the challenge. In fact, some of the old-school bloggers I mentioned above, such as Sholeh at A Calm Storm and James at Warble are participating, too—check out what they’ve been writing, and get wowed by how far back their archived posts go. All in all, it encourages us to rise above the lethargy imposed upon us by our busy lives and just create—spin our words into something beautiful, just like we did in the old days.

Hmm, speaking of the old days, maybe I should go hang out at Shamdogg’s place. ben to tings. you’re e.

it’s a doberman pizza life

Hey everyone. It’s been a little while since I actually used this blog as a blog. Thanks to some encouragement from friends, a little planning and a lot of creative ideas, I’ve joined up with the Baha’i Blogging Challenge to breathe a little life into this quiet little website. So for the next thirty days you’ll have something new to read on doberman pizza, as well as on many more Baha’i blogs.

Life has been nice and busy, as you can imagine. Quỳnh and I welcomed our second child into the world very recently, and we’ve been running around changing diapers and cleaning up after both of our little ones. Work and service are going quite well; even though I’ve been too busy with kids to be serving in quite the same way as I used to, I’ve been getting lots of good work done and finding new ways to serve.

I’ve been blessed to receive a lot of great feedback about doberman pizza in the past little while. I’ve never really been very conscious of being “known” as a Baha’i blogger, but several people have mentioned to me lately how they’ve appreciated reading what I write here. Besides what that might bring me in terms of “fame”—which I figure I’ll always be more comfortable forgetting—it’s really nice to know that what I’ve written here and there might actually have helped someone, somewhere, to progress a little farther in their great journey of understanding. If you’re one of those people, then God bless you and thanks for being here. And if you’re not, well, read on and hopefully you’ll find something that’ll be uplifting, or at least funny.

So, what I’m planning on doing this month is part journalling (i.e. “normal” blogging) and part reviewing what I’ve written in the past. Depending on who you ask, some of the posts on this blog are more or less popular. I’m going to select some of them that have been particularly popular over the years over the years, and have a look back at them. Perhaps I’ll have a few words to add to each of them, or perhaps they’ll hit a nerve and I’ll have a lot more to say. Either way, we’ll take a trip back through the past fifteen years to see some of the most engaging posts doberman pizza has had to offer. If any of them have been favourites of yours, feel free to say so in the comments. And if you don’t see one of your favourites show up, then tell me which one, and perhaps we can find the time to take a look back together.

getting things ready

seeing into the futureSo yeah. How are you, O dearly beloved reader of doberman pizza? As I noted earlier, you shall be seeing much more than scattered Facebook reposts from now on. For various reasons, blog posts have been scarce over the past few years—mainly because of the workload involved in preparing for our wedding, recovering from a loved one’s passing, and filling out the paperwork required for Quynh’s immigration to Canada. As well, since the recent social media boom and the rise of Facebook, Twitter and similar networks, random status updates have just been easier to post elsewhere than here. But fear not! There’s no reason to unsubscribe. Starting this week, doberman pizza gets a much-needed overhaul and relaunch. See you here on Thursday evening, December 6th, around 5 PM Eastern Time and onwards (see World Times) for the big switch, and, who knows, maybe a little real-time chat like the old days. I’ve been working at getting things ready for the past month now, and I really hope you’ll like it.

heheh slight delay

ok, so I said the last post on “Death and Life in Vietnam” would be up before the new year, but I’ve gotten a little sidetracked—not in the least by the arrival of the newest letter from the Universal House of Justice to the Conference of the Counsellors, which, along with the Ridván Message of 2010 (167 B.E.), basically describe the aims of the coming Five Year Plan.

so yeah, look for the final post sometime this week. I’ll be back in Vietnam in about two weeks to celebrate Tet, so I’ll be nice and busy visiting relatives and taking pictures. What a blessing, to be involved in uniting the East and the West so directly.

death and life in vietnam

dawn reflections in da nangmy recent trip to Vietnam to visit family after my father-in-law’s passing afforded me a lot of time to think. Even while I was still there, I knew I wanted to share with the world reflections on the experience of losing a loved one across cultures, from a personal and a Baha’i perspective. as it turns out, I’ve actually got a lot of notes, so much so that it’d probably take way more effort than I can give at the moment to put it all into one big essay-type format. So I figure I’ll split it into a few posts, covering a few different—but very related—topics. These may change, but I figured people might like to know what I’m planning.

As noted, I expect these posts will come out every 3–4 days, as I have time to work on each of them (that said, the dates noted here are approximate).

Edit: All posts are now up (finally)!