2nd Blogaversary and Nostalgic Musing

August 29th slipped by quietly.  Just like the first day I started, inconspicuously.  Upon a casual suggestion from my son, I set up a blog and posted my first mini movie review, oblivious to what I was venturing into, not knowing what a widget was, or how to embed a link.

Now two years and 176 posts later, I am a happy sojourner in the blogosphere.  Still, I have no idea where this will lead, but I’m not too concerned, because through these past blogging days, I’ve been enriched and gratified.

My thanks to all who have taken the time to stop by Ripple Effects.  I know a few might have just stumbled upon, your visit is just as valued.  While some bloggers might tell you they live on comments, and I don’t deny the life-sustaining power of comments, I must express my appreciation for my silent readers. A click on the readership map on the sidebar can tell where they are.  To all of you out there from all corners of the world, I want to assure you that you’re more than a red dot on the map.

These two years have seen some unexpected ripples, like a screenwriter leaving her comment in my review of her movie, or, a writer suggesting a differing opinion to a book I reviewed and pointing me to his own work. The most encouraging would be a private email from a reader who told me she had sent my post link to someone whom she thought could be comforted from a personal tragedy. The blogosphere is a virtual world of human experiences and pathos, a reality no less poignant and alive than our everyday encounters.

I’m glad to see as well that Ripple Effects has evolved into some sort of a mini forum where ideas are exchanged and experiences shared.  I’ll be all the more gratified if the trend continues, where people would come for the comments as well as the posts, or even instead of … just the same.  You are all contributors.

I’m inspired too that we can explore together the universals among us all, sentiments that connect rather than segregate, and to seek beauty in the mundane, the transcendence in the temporal.  My thanks to all of you who regularly leave thought-provoking comments to make Ripple Effects a worthwhile stop in the hustle and bustle of life.  I’d be happy if it can be a restful way station along the journey.


I’ve been a book and movie lover since childhood.  As a young reader, I would rate the stories I’d read, putting a check mark or two by each title in the table of contents.  I remember also, for my own pleasure, I would write up chapter summaries of a book that I loved, illustrating the content with pencil crayons.

As for movies, I practically grew up with them,  both on TV and in theaters, during the pre-VCR days. I was a good re-teller of stories too, recounting in details the plot of movies that had touched me, to whomever that had patience enough to listen to a child.

Two people came to my mind as I write this.  During my childhood days growing up in Hong Kong, our family had had live-in maids helping with cooking and housekeeping.  One of them had been with us since my infancy.  I had watched her many times, peeping into her spartan sleeping quarter in her after work hours, and found her reading in bed.  She read classical Chinese literature, now that’s like reading Shakespeare without Coles Notes, or even Beowulf without translation.  Who says Renée the concierge in the Hedgehog isn’t a realistic character?

Another came at a later stage, looking after our meals. She was always the one who had patience enough to listen to me retelling stories from movies.  I would go into the kitchen and follow her around, describing to her in details the exact plot and even dialogues from movies I had seen.

I remember one time, I was especially moved by a film entitled ‘Misunderstood’, (Incompreso, Golden Palm Prize, Cannes Film Festival, 1966).  It was about a child whose mother had died.  The only memento of her was a tape recording of her voice, which he listened to frequently, until one day he accidentally erased it.  As I was telling her the story, I saw tears well up in her eyes, and she begged me for more.  That was one of the most gratified moments for me as a child… I had been heard.

I think blogging opens for us this powerful access and offers us unimaginable possibilities… every single voice can be heard, every view readily expressed and acknowledged.  Even if the feedback is an opposing opinion, it just means that the ripples have reached far or near, spurring resonance deep enough to rebound. In this world ruled by technology and bytes, blogging might well be one of the most human of modern inventions.  A voice can still be heard by those who have patience enough to hear.


Copyright Infringement

Arti is going through the most depressing blogging experience at the moment.  No, it’s not the Blog Stats, or the comments, or the lack of them.  I admit they can affect one’s mood.

The most discouraging scenario for a blog writer is to see not one, or two, but 10 of her posts being copied and reprinted in their entirety on another website.  Of course when they do that, there won’t be any link back to your own blog, neither would your name appear as the writer.

I was aware of this as a “pingback” on my posts, waiting for me to approve.  A click on the trackback link I found they were no “pingbacks”.  My whole home page with 10 posts all appeared on the plaigerizer’s site.  What’s funny is even my last post, stating I was Arti at Ripple Effects, was intact in the content. 

This just confirms it’s a myth to think it’s a compliment to your writing when you see your work copied.  Do you think Splog operators would care to read every post and think it’s good before stealing?  The whole process is automated.  It just happens that maybe my posts just carry the tags they’re looking for.  By the way,  all my 10 posts are categorized under “Music” on that Splog.  You can tell how much they care about the content of even their own site! 

These are Splogs, Spamblogs.  They exist to collect advertising revenues using other people’s materials just to attract traffic.  How can one write so many posts all on a single day if not by the simple act of copying and pasting?  It has been noted that on the average, a blogger takes from 1 to 8 hours to writer a post.  Well, for slow bloggers like Arti of Ripple Effects, it takes days of mulling, reading, viewing, researching, before writing.  The last step in the whole process usually logs in the higher end of that 1-to-8-hour range.

Arti feels robbed, violated, and knocked out.  What’s the point of continuing wtih this if whatever I write is taken away and published as somebody else’s work? 

While still sustaining a concussion, Arti went through the process of writing a complaint letter, found in the very informative website Plaigarism Today, and trying to find the hosting company of the site through http://whois.net.  But of course, it’s blocked by the domain owner so I had nowhere to send my complaint letter.  It did though lead me to the site Privacy Protect, where I could at least launch a report of abuse and hopefully locate the domain owner.  As of now, I’m still waiting for a reply.

Finally, an email to WordPress Support, a most helpful source, led me to the possible hosting company, to whom I directly sent my letter of complaint.  Within the hour, I received their reply, stating that they had ‘reminded’ the owner to remove the pirated content.  I assume they are in good faith, since the language is not in English, except the few lines addressed to me. I appreciate their immediate response.

Whew!  Even writing this sequence of events is exhausting!  But now that I’m done, I feel relieved.  Another reason why we blog.  Ok, maybe it’s still worth it, to continue writing, blogging, and all that.

So yes, if you’re reading this on a website other than Ripple Effects, you know you are reading a post that has been copied without permission. Go to https://rippleeffects.wordpress.com to read this and other interesting articles in their original.

Update April 29:  Arti felt like the victim of a practical joke when she saw this very post, entitled “Copyright Infringement”, was copied on to that Splog mentioned here.   Anyway, here’s the good news:  The Splog in question has now been suspended by the hosting administration.  Thanks for all your moral and practical support.

The Proximidade: Celebrating Closeness

Arti of Ripple Effects is honored to receive The Proximidade Blogging Award from ds of  third-storey window.  A wonderful view she has over there.  Thanks again ds!

“The Proximidade Award believes in the Proximity – nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this clever-written text into the body of their award.”


This is a while back now.  Although ds is very generous as to spare us the obligation to pass it on, I feel I should share this award by naming  some worthy recipients whose blog has closed the gap among us, in one way or another, narrowing our physical distances through common interests and other higher ideals.

It’s my pleasure to pass the Proximidade Award to the following Blogs, in alphabetical order:

Book Club Girl — for closing the gap between authors and readers by her own radio show ‘Authors on Air’.

Classy Music — for drawing us closer with news and views of classy musicians and their performance.  Take note, ye fans of Susan Boyle and Paul Potts.

FilmChat — Movie reviewer Peter Chattaway (no kidding) engages us with insightful and interesting dialogues between faith and film.

Jane Austen Today —  Great job Laurel Ann and Vic,  in connecting Janeites the world over by their excessively diverting blog.   (LA and V:  I’m still working at finding ‘classics’ blogs for the ED Award.)

Visual Dialogues — Blogging from Hong Kong, Molly Mavis closes the gap between East and West with her perceptive photography.

I trust you’ll find the above blogs informative and entertaining, well deserving the Proximidade Award.

Slow Blogging and the Long Take

Recently, I’ve been mulling over the notion of slow blogging, a movement that is gradually gaining attention. I first read about it in a blog I frequent.  In her post entitled “Slow, Stefanie has drawn out the essence of what slow blogging is. It’s all about thinking through, reading and studying in depth, chewing and digesting, and finally putting something meaningful down in words. I don’t know who initiated the idea. It may have sprouted up from various bloggers, those who care about the quality of their writing, and the effects of their posts. I urge my readers to visit the Oxford University Press blog post on the subject, and the Slow Blog Manifesto.

Yes, a Slow Blog Manifesto, written by Todd Sieling dated back to September, 2006. But for some uncanny reasons, just as I was working on my draft of this very post, after I’ve linked the SBM to my draft, it has now been taken off the WWW.  Hope this is not an omen of things to come.  Fortunately, before its disappearance, I had the chance to read and mull over his words:

“Slow Blogging is a rejection of immediacy.  It is an affirmation that not all things worth reading are written quickly.”

(It’s back!  Todd Sieling has just re-posted his SBM. He has created a whole new site just for this.  Click here to go there.  You may want to read his comment at the end of this post. I’m just going to leave the following paragraph as is.)

But then, all is not lost.  Barbara Ganley’s BGBLOGGING is still standing.  Ganley had taught writing at Middlebury College in Vermont for some years until quiting her academic job in recent months and ventured into uncharted personal exploration.  She is an advocate of slow blogging, and related the idea to the term meditative blogging, way back in November 2006.  Here’s the link to that post.

After more than two years, the notion has finally reached Arti of Ripple Effects. As my blog name suggests, I thrive on hindsights and delayed resonance. I may not have immediate response to all that I come across, but for those ideas I find stimulating, I would delve into and mull over, research and read about them, sometimes for a long while, before I dare to put thoughts into words. I’m glad I have finally found a name for the kind of writing and thinking with which I feel most comfortable all along.


And that is why I find a recent article in the November issue of ‘The Atlantic’ so disconcerting.  In his article entitled “Why I Blog”, Andrew Sullivan , the prominent political commentator and blogger, describes blogging as postmodern writing that thrives on its immediacy. By nature it is rash and temporal.

“It is the spontaneous expression of instant thought. As a blogger, you have to express yourself now, while your emotions roil, while your temper flares, while your humor lasts.”

What Sullivan is pronouncing is that you may have an instant platform accessible by all in the blogosphere, and with links authenticating your sources, but what you write is as ephemeral as your breath, as unreliable as your mood, and as momentary as your fleeting thoughts. Time is of the essence in the blogging world.

I can understand such a perspective may apply to political and news blogs, where bloggers’ views and comments are almost on a par with professional journalists, or where bloggers are journalists, such as Sullivan himself.

But I’d just like to remind Sullivan that there are also those of us for whom blogging is not about beating to the punch, or channeling rants and angsts, or climbing to a higher ranking and authority. What we write may seem like ramblings at times, but they are thoughts that have gone through regurgitation, pondering, and conscious self-censure. For the writing I read in some of the blogs I visit, their quality is not undermined by the self-publishing nature of blog writing.  Their message is no less important, their style no less eloquent, their impact no less powerful than many conventionally published materials.


Around the same time, I came across the post on the long take in Brett McCracken’s blog The Search. Do click on the link there to read the whole essay when you are there.  The long take is a technique where a camera follows its subject for an extended period of time without cutting, capturing life in real time. Viewers looking for instant gratification and fast actions would often find the long take boring, incongruent to the normal pacing of a normal movie. But as blog writer and movie critic Brett McCracken reflects, the long take leads us to confront life in a real sense, in real time:

I go to movies to recapture time—that achingly pervasive burden that keeps us so unceasingly busy in our normal lives. In the movies, time is “free.” We need not worry about our own time; all that is required of us is that we cede our imagination to the screen, where time is footloose and fancy free, dancing to and fro in flashback, flashforward, slow-mo, still, etc.

voyage-du-ballon-rougeA vivid example is Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Flight of the Red Balloon which I reviewed in my last post.  Who would want to sit in a theatre to watch a balloon slowly drifting above the urbanscape, other than those who enjoy the grace of unhurried moments, those who consciously seek for poetics in the mundane, and those who take time to ponder the meaning conveyed by the filmmaker.

Slow blogging and the long take, two powerful ways to glean the indelible essence of life.


Rewards and Awards of Blogging

Why do we blog? WordPress seems to have grasped the psyche of bloggers in five words: “Express yourself. Start a blog.” If being free to self-expression is the intrinsic reward of blogging, then being heard and read is the extrinsic reward. And, to top it all off, getting unexpected awards for what one already enjoyed doing is the icing on the cake.  A few months ago Arti had the first taste when she received the Excellent Blog Award.  This past week Arti has tasted more icing from fellow bloggers in the form of two awards.  In chronological order, they are:

The Premio Dardos from Ms. Place (Vic) of Jane Austen’s World. Thank you Vic for naming Arti as one of your 15 recipients of this award “that is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing”. Thanks Vic for the honor and for the translation from Portuguese:“O conceito deste prémio passa por reconhecer valores culturais, éticos, literários e pessoais, transmitidos de forma criativa e original nos pedacinhos rabiscados por cada blogueiro que o receba.”

To meet the requirement, in turn, I am naming the following blogs to receive the same award.   To avoid duplication and to make it more meaningful, I have selected 10 instead of the 15 suggested.  Here are their excellent sites in alphabetical order:

  1. Austen Quotes is the blog of Lori Smith, writer of the book A Walk with Jane Austen, her personal experience of treading the paths of Jane’s in England.  She has inspired me with quotes from the works and letters of JA, some witty, some wise, some poignant, and all of them delightful.  Lori may have taken a hiatus due to physical ailment, but what she already has chronicled in her site is worth reading time and time again.
  2. Austenprose is a wealth of JA information and forum. Laurel Ann offers Janeites with a wealth of Regency knowledge, book discussion, interviews… a delight to visit every time.  This is one of the first blogs that got me hooked on JA…, no I wasn’t born a Janeite.  I only discovered this wonderful world a few years back.  And it’s blogs like this that feed me to my fill.
  3. Blogging for a Good Book is created by the staff of Williamsburg Regional Library.  In there you’ll find in-depth and insightful book reviews.  With several contributors, the blog offers a new post almost every day, keeping us up-to-date with newer titles. The quality writing and informative entries are enjoyable to read.
  4. Film Think is a site where films, theology, and criticism meet.  Writer M. Leary offers a wealth of resources and knowledgeable discussions and critique for those interested in the intellectual pursuit of the art of film, and its interaction with Christianity, criticism theory, other art forms, and their relevance in society today.
  5. Itinerant Idealist is Sarah’s journal  “in search of a soul awake”.  I’ve enjoyed her excellent writing.  In her casual way, Sarah embeds her prose and poems with style and spiritual insights.  Hers is one of the long time blogs I’ve been reading since the beginning of my own blog.  I’ve learned and gained much from reading her posts.
  6. Looking for Life’s Humor looks at life and brings out the joyous perspective.  As a mom with an autistic child, the writer of this blog depicts the humor and love that we often miss in many of life’s circumstances.  A heart-warming and delightful read in every post.  A truly enjoyable break in the midst of daily chores and chaos.
  7. Of Books and Bicycles As a book lover and an avid cyclist, Dorothy has successfully created a concoction of writings involving both…well maybe more about books.  Informative reviews and personal book experiences can be found here, while she has another site dedicated more to bikes and her training as a cyclist.
  8. So Many Books Stefanie chronicles “the agony and ecstasy of a reading life” with detailed research and insightful commentaries.  This is a literature lover’s blog.  Just the Blogroll is impressive enough, for there are probably hundreds of lit blogs on her list to provide almost unlimited avenues for blogging and reading pleasure.
  9. The Happy Wonderer It’s a joy every time I visit Ellen’s blog.  As a happy wonderer, Ellen wanders in the fields of photography, food, life, family, and the Bible, offering us musings, pictures, and inspiration, a celebration of life every day. This is one of the earliest blogs I found when I first started blogging, and I’ve been reading her since.  “To honor and encourage”, that is exactly so.
  10. The Task At Hand What Linda Leinen has created here in her relatively new blog is nothing short of a compilation of model writing.  Every single post is an example of style and inspiration.  At this point of her life she is a boat varnisher along the Texas Gulf Coast (how cool is that!), and she writes what she lives.  In her blog, she has woven artfully a tapestry of penetrative observations and skillful, affective writing.  I have gained and learned much from reading her every single post.


The other award I received just a couple of days ago is the Arte y Pico given by Linda of The Task at Hand. Directly translated from Spanish means “Art and Peak”, at the peak of its art. Linda has included Arti’s Ripple Effects for its “creativity, design, content and contribution to the blogging community, regardless of language”.  Thank you Linda, I’m greatly humbled by such an honor.

To fulfill the requirement of the Arte y Pico, I’m naming 5 other blogs to be recipients in turn.  Noting that it’s Spanish in origin, and the phrase “regardless of language”, I attempt to highlight some of the ones I visit that have a different geographical or cultural flavour, although I admit they are all in English.

  1. Blogging in Paris As a 64 years-old cancer survivor, Claude’s attempt at blogging is in itself inspiring.  She writes from Paris, and from her many travels in Europe, affecting us with her zest for life and eye for beauty.  It’s a mixed bag in her blog, some photography, some journal writing, some personal musings.  A delight to visit.
  2. Moderato brings a European perspective to the discussions of art, books, music, films, and literature.  The writer offers in-depth and well researched commentaries on the subjects.  A very fine and intellectual lit blog.  Some great You-tube clips to augment the enjoyment.
  3. The Errant AEsthete From New York, “Essentials for the Cocktail Swilling Savant”, ok, it may sound a bit exclusive, but the art, photography and visuals presented in the blog are stunning and often thought-provoking.  And since it’s located in the ever widening blogosphere, anyone can visit and better yet, no dress code.
  4. Hidden Art A blog for the arts and crafters among us. The name says it all… art can be found and creativity unleashed in almost every homely place.  I’ve enjoyed the casual atmosphere and the stimulating ideas for mixed media and paper arts that are achievable by those who, like myself, are not art school graduates.  Accessible art speaks a universal language.
  5. Edible Landscape This is a unique blog on food written by a young guy from Hong Kong, an interesting diversion from the blogs on food and cooking we see from North America.  Wilson concocts an international flavour with his fine, quality writing on food and restaurants.  What more, where do you ever read a 20-something young man writing about cooking and cuisine art with such expertise?

Wow, that’s a mouthful!  Why do we blog?  The above are some of the obvious answers.

First Blogaversary and Summer Wrap-up

Last year on this day, August 29, 2007, I began my blogging journey on WordPress.  One year and 104 posts later, this sputtering engine is still chugging along.  I’d like to think of my blogging experience as a road trip.  The kind of vehicle I have in mind is the VW van in the movie Little Miss Sunshine.  Almost an obsolete wreck and yet still functioning, just needs a little running push.   

It has been an eventful summer for me.  Having had to move twice and living out of a suitcase, sustaining the horrors of home renos, tending illness in the family, and caring for two elderly parents have put my life on hold…or maybe this is life.  All this time, I didn’t have easy access to the internet, no TV, or other high tech luxuries.  While my posts have been more sparse than I’d like, blogging, even though infrequent, has at least kept some kind of normalcy for me during this unsettling and chaotic period.

While I’ve missed many important events during these two months, such as Hilary’s concession speech, and the Olympics… I’ve been able to catch some summer flicks and read a few books.  As I take stock of this summer’s entertainment consumption, I’m surprised to find that my list is long despite the interruptions:

The following are straight from memory, in no particular order:

Movies seen at theatres:

  • Mamma Mia! 
  • The Dark Knight
  • Swing Vote
  • Brideshead Revisited

Live Musical:

  • Spamalot

DVD’s watched or re-watched:

  • Persuasion (1996)
  • Persuasion (2008)
  • Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005)
  • Life As A House (2001)
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
  • Vantage Point (2008)
  • The Bank Job (2008)
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008)
  • Plus about 25 titles previewed for a Film Festival

Books read or re-read:

  • Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman
  • The Savior by Eugene Drucker
  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • Up Till Now by William Shatner
  • Lady Killer by Lisa Scottoline

So this is the summer of 2008.  Will be leaving for Ontario tomorrow to take our son back to university, Arti is wrapping up another summer, and the first year of blogging. 

What’s your blogging trip been like this summer?   And your list of books and entertainment?