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September 17, 2010

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Considering what they say, that you can’t choose your own family, I guess I’ve been pretty lucky with mine.

I’m talking about my blog family, the coterie of far-flung readers who have grown close around my Oddly Enough Blog over the past three years.

CANADA/The blog, if you’re not a reader, is my own quirky take on news and non-news. It is sarcastic, snarky and, some readers think, entertaining.

It’s a little hard to categorize. Travel and Leisure magazine named it one of their “Top Travel Websites of 2009,” much to my surprise. As the slogan on my landing page says, it’s “News, but not the serious kind.”

The overwhelming majority of people who come to my blog just read it and go on to something else, leaving a trail of 3.1 million page views last year.

But a plucky few stick around, commenting, joking, flirting and just doing what people with something in common do.

According to the blog tool Reuters uses, a few days ago I got my 30,000th comment. That is a serious level of interactivity, even for a popular blog like this one, with a Facebook Network following of nearly 17,000 readers.

comments clooney 220The readers who comment share as little or as much of themselves as they care to. We don’t pry behind the nickname they choose.

“CrowGirl” is a swineherd in Wales, a self-described “farmhand, fatalist, potato enthusiast, frivoler, map addict and deontologist. Yeah, I had to look up that last one, too.

“Dave_not_Dave” is a former major in the U.S. Marines who manages a construction company in Afghanistan and lives in a converted storage container on an Afghan airfield. Dave’s second biggest problem, after suicide bombers, is what he calls “to whom it may concern” rockets, lobbed randomly in his direction.

Not surprisingly, Dave’s blog comments tend to be brief and to the point.

USA-POLITICS/DEBATEThen there is “Shra,” a native of India who works in Scotland and likes to roam the world so much that she has “traveler” tattooed in kanji on her ankle. Within my blog commenting family, Shra is the keeper of an imaginary taser, used without mercy on readers who take the blog too seriously. The blog is a place for fun, not pedantry, she reminds them. Zap.

On and on it goes. “Nosmo,” born in New Zealand of a UK father and Danish mother, trains border security agents in Canada. “JustK,” a conservative Republican, home schools her children from a trailer home in Texas, plays drums at her church, and has been cracking me up with her comments for three years.

While most readers preserve their anonymity, a few chip away at it in private messages, some of them surprisingly personal. A marriage falling apart, a new baby, bouts with depression, health problems and other secrets, often confided just to tell me why a reader may not be back for a while.

comments gaddafi chavez 340Some of my readers have even gotten together in various parts of the world, to share notes, have drinks and toast the blog that brought them together. I am not convinced that such fraternization is good for the universe, but it goes on just the same.

For my own part, I haven’t met any of them yet. Perhaps that’s for the best.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t tried the blog, have a look.

Nah, on second thought, you probably wouldn’t like it.

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U.S. first lady Michelle Obama makes a point as she talks to children about health and fitness during a visit to an elementary school in Silver Spring, Maryland, May 19, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The Dalai Lama jokes with a nasal spray after being asked his opinion on the swine flu during a press conference after his first lecture in Lausanne, August 4, 2009. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud

A swimmer dressed as a toilet waits to enter the waters of English Bay during the 90th annual Polar Bear Swim in Vancouver, British Columbia, January 1, 2010. REUTERS/Andy Clark

U.S. actor George Clooney arrives for a charity dinner in Venice August 26, 2008. The 65th Venice Film Festival will take place from August 27 to September 6, 2008. REUTERS/Max Rossi

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain reacts to almost heading the wrong way off the stage at the conclusion of the final presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, October 15, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez (R) drives Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s limousine as they arrive at an event in Margarita Island, September 28, 2009. REUTERS/Miraflores Palace/Handout

More stuff from Oddly Enough

30 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

The humor keeps us glued together, BG.
Congratulations on all the views!
Invisible hug enclosed.

Posted by Onedoor | Report as abusive

That’s a lot of time spent on company networks! :-)

Posted by Jibberish | Report as abusive

Dunno if you placed the picture of John McCain next to the description of Shra and her taser of purpose but it is very appropriate! One could imagine that would be the face one would pull after a good shot! :p

Mercy is for the weak, sweep the leg! You have a problem with that?

No sensei!

Congrats on the thirty thou Mr. B.! Thanks for all the laughs and helping make my day that much more tolerable. And for the medi-doughnuts of course. ;)

And thank you to all my fellow commenters for making me feel welcome and allowing me to be a part of the OE world! :D

Now enough of the sobby heartfelt shennaningans… bring on the VS models! Woooooo!

Posted by iflydaplanes | Report as abusive

Spin, I can’t – or won’t – answer that question.

Reuters gave me a Cadillac Eldorado to present to the author of the 30,000th comment, but I pretended not to notice and kept it for myself.

Posted by rcbasler | Report as abusive

not gonna lie, i read this blog just to keep up with all them people who comment. you guys keep me happy – no medi donuts required!

Posted by me_and_me | Report as abusive

Thanks, Me… I’m sorry if I sometimes get between you and the commenters….

Posted by rcbasler | Report as abusive

I join in with another well done to Mr. B!

@Crowgirl: Bore da! Sut dych chi?
@Spam Basket: WAAAAAIT! If you are not programmed for Welsh, as of course any self-respecting spam basket should be, PLEASE don’t throw me out. It’s only a “hello, how are ya”. I also hail from Cymru (known to the English as Wales) but many many moons ago.

Posted by ExpatP | Report as abusive

Not all of my comments are on company time…some of them were from my sick-bed or vacation chair when I call in.

BG, I do hope these three years are just the beginning. Congratulations! *toasts you with her coffee* (I’ll repeat that with fermented liquid later)

Posted by PetPunkRock | Report as abusive

A Cadillac Eldorado eh? Did that come with or without the old person smell?

Posted by iflydaplanes | Report as abusive

Thanks, Expat. Welsh is always welcome here. I love your grape jam!

Posted by rcbasler | Report as abusive

Hey Mr B!
Did you say ‘Interactivity’ or ‘Inactivity’, ’cause they both kinda fit really.
Mind you, with my background, I spend most of my time being confused.

Posted by Nosmo_King | Report as abusive

Nicely done BG. Here’s to getting another 30,000 comments. Maybe then you really will throw us a party.

Posted by Dave_not_dave | Report as abusive

We need to throw an OE jamboree. With the Welsh type grape jam.

Posted by AllThatJazz | Report as abusive

Congratulations Mr. B!!! Is it time for a group hug now?

I quit going to the 12 step meetings for weirdos and misfits when I stumbled across this blog – life is much better now with medi donuts. ;) My new life goal is to get zapped by Shra one day.

Posted by drgnbait | Report as abusive

Spin, I thought to myself “What is an Amana? Did she mean a Nissan Armada? And what is a front-loading Armada?” Then I read the very next word which was “washer” and the puzzle fell into place. The lesson learned from that is thinking is for chumps. I am better off just noming a medidonut and going with the flow. :p

Speaking of, how’s the new living establishment ben working out for you and the man?

Posted by iflydaplanes | Report as abusive

And thank you Mr.B for all the laughs and all the medidoughnuts…
I agree with Mr.Pilot.. you all keep me sane.. :)
Drgnbait.. thats a very painful life goal, maybe you want to have a re-think about that?
Dave, think we have to wait for another 3 years for that Tropical Island beach party? ;)

And i join your endless fans in congratulating you on your 30G.. Love ya, Mr.B!!

Spin, here’s adding another cheer… Hic Hic Hurray! :)

Posted by Shra | Report as abusive

I am awesome. I just thought I’d let ya’ll in on that. Word up from Texas, yo.

Posted by justK | Report as abusive

Well I’ll be! I guess there are TWO readers calling themselves “justK.”

Posted by rcbasler | Report as abusive

Congrats Blog Guy. Amazing accomplishment. I’ve been a loyal reader, but only started commenting. Love all of the gang at OEB (would someone pass the medi-donuts?)

Keep up the good work. All of us at the IBOB (International Brotherhood of Bizarrities) love it.

Spin – Are you by any chance a Long Island or Queens girl? I was in the middle of that crazy storm too

Posted by inebgreen | Report as abusive

Spin I heard about the thunderstorms and tornados! Happy you are ok. :) That’s what sucks about living mid-island though, we never get any of the fun stuff where I am!

Yeah I used to watch The Price is Right but why would I pay attention to the prizes up for bid when there were all thoses Bob’s Beautys standing around? :D

inebgreen, help yourself to some medi-donuts, just leave a blueberry cake one if you will please. And you are a fellow LIer also hmm?

Posted by iflydaplanes | Report as abusive

There can be only one “justK”. That’s why I carry a sword with me wherever I go, and take the head of any other “justK” I meet….

From the dawn of time we came…moving silently, down through the centuries, living many secret lives….struggling to reach the time of the Gathering…when the few who remain will battle to the last. No one has ever known we were among you…until now.

That was from memory. As I said. I rock, yo.

Posted by justK | Report as abusive

Indeed, justK….

Posted by rcbasler | Report as abusive

You rock, I rock, we all rock with Mr.Shamrock!

Posted by Shra | Report as abusive

RU is in New Brunswick, New Jersey, but I’m sure all you New Yorkers know all about Rutgers. LOL J/K Spin. U know I have nothing but love for the Stiletto Unit!

Posted by MamaC326 | Report as abusive

Aw, thanks Mr B. :) Though I’d like it noting for the record that I wouldn’t have described myself as that if I’d ever read it back and realised how pretentious it sounded…

Expat; Da iawn ! Dw i’n byw ym Mhowis, ond dw i’n dod o Ogledd Lloegr yn wreiddiol.

Posted by CrowGirl | Report as abusive

This reminds me of that High School Musical song.. “We are all in this together.. once we know that we are.. we are all stars..”

Go on, sing this song all day long!! :D

Posted by Shra | Report as abusive

Alltud, os wyf yn siarad gyda chi mewn Cymraeg, a allwch ddweud wrthyf lle rydych yn byw?

Posted by Shra | Report as abusive

Make that two..

Posted by Shra | Report as abusive

Shra, yep. :)

Posted by CrowGirl | Report as abusive

I want that answer from Expat too!!!

Posted by Shra | Report as abusive

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