Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Recapping the Year 2013 in "The Charbor Chronicles"

So, yes, 2013 is just about over now.

But it was a memorable one for "The Charbor Chronicles" - easily the busiest in terms of the sheer numbers of blog entries published. Also, it was far and away the most audience response, as well as the most views in general for certain blog entries, that have yet been seen here.

The strongest reaction by far, both in terms of numbers and in terms of feedback left, was a blog entry about electronic cigarettes. I myself am not a smoker, but became fascinated by this topic when exploring some gift options last Christmas for my mom. It seemed to me that this might be a wonderful gift to get her, and the research that I did was fairly extensive, because I wanted to know how these things worked. Again, it was really amazing, and before long, I had enough to commit a fairly extensive blog on the subject.

It seemed that surely, there would be people out there interested in learning more, like me. But I was amazed by the sheer numbers - it was easily (and almost immediately) in the hundreds, and a lot of people left me positive feedback, saying that it had been very informative and helpful. I was very appreciative for all of the comments.

Some of the other consistently strong numbers, and even feedback, came with blogs that were, in some way or other, about music. Album reviews, concert reviews, even book reviews about musicians or bands, seemed to generate a considerable measure of interest. The first Pearl Jam review for the show in Philly on October 21st received a lot of views, far more, even, then the one that came the next day for the anniversary show, and that one had pictures and even a video clip! So, that came as a bit of a surprise.

One blog entry that proved a much bigger surprise was the album review for the new album by Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine, which generated over 1,000 views, and some positive reviews, even (again, I am thankful). I figured some people might be interested, but had no idea that the numbers would be that large - not that I'm complaining!

There was a series on feuds between musicians/bands that really seemed to get a lot of notice, although I only published a handful. originally, this was going to be a whole series, but each of these took considerable research. Also, there was the problem of liking one, or both, bands, and then kind of starting to roam around the internet for articles and video clips and such. Before you know it, an article that I expected to take an hour or two, perhaps, with a brief summary of the issues behind the conflicts, wound up being far more extensive and involved than expected. Still, I think it was an interesting topic, and might try to resume these in the relatively near future!

Otherwise, I did quite a few sports reviews. By far, the most successful of these, at least in terms of the numbers of views, was the review of last year's NFL Divisional Playoffs weekend, the one that had the Denver Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens in what was an instant classic, when the Ravens pulled off a miracle win at the Mile High City, en route to taking the title.

Somewhere in mid-April, I began to actually do something that I had been tinkering with for a while. I wanted to do a daily "On This Day in History" series, even if this admittedly lacked originality. It was just such a fascinating topic, and there always seemed so much to explore.

Unfortunately, it did not out quite the way I had planned. It was actually a lot of work, and unlike the band clash blogs, which were relatively rare, these came on an everyday basis. So, I made adjustments along the way, keeping my own words and involvement to a bare minimum, so that I could regularly deliver a decent quality blog entry that more or less would indeed tell the story of what happened "On This Day in History". In 2014, I intend to deliver better versions of these, with more involvement on my end (rather than just essentially getting all of the information from other websites, which I do credit). I have some ideas, but I have to see how workable they are. We shall see.

Otherwise, one thing that I was truly blessed to write about this year were some trips -in particular, the trip to Europe back in June. I always get excited with the opportunity to travel, especially to new places that I've never seen or been to before, and in June, I was able to visit some places that I had only dreamed of prior to then - Germany and Poland. Specifically, Berlin, Krakow, Auschwitz, and the Biezsczady, a rural area of southeaster Poland.

So, I broke those down, and tried to dive in to a decent quality blog entry visit to some of the most memorable or interesting sites. I tried to give some history, as well as some of the feel for the place when I was visiting. The pictures added a strong value to it as well, making them easily more complete.

While writing them, it was, in a sense, an extension of my trip. My girlfriend, who is Polish, was sad to come back to the United States, and I don't blame her. I was sad, too. But I was also thankful, because it had been thirteen years since my previous trip to Europe (France), which had felt entirely too long. I got to see things that I never had seen before, and experience new things. And sorting through the pictures, and trying to comb through my memory, in order to write about those experiences, was, in a sense, reliving those times. It was actually pretty cool, and perhaps better than a mere photo album could have been.

Personally, when I think of the year 2013, the thing that immediately pops into my mind is that trip with my girlfriend. It was a very happy time for us. We both felt very content simply to be there, even though the trip absolutely just flew! That was predictable, of course, but it was annoying. You plan on a trip for months in advance, and you are dreaming about it. It just feels so huge, you have invested a lot of money on airline tickets and hotel reservations and all of that, taken time to organize things, and then, just like that, it flies by, and it's all over.

Talk about depressing!

But that said, I am so very appreciative to have gone.

Those blogs on traveling (there were also similar blogs for Washington, DC and Toronto/Niagara Falls), added some considerable spice and diversity to "The Charbor Chronicles", and again, I was, and still am, thankful for that!

Some things, however, kind of went by the wayside. I recently dug into some past blog entries, searching for other things, and happened to stumble on an old blog entry with the news of the time (I can't say the day, because these entries certainly were not a daily thing). I remember that these took a lot of work, and were just too draining in the end. There was no single point when I called it quits. But there was the realization, when I stumbled on that blog entry, that I simply had never returned to it, like a dull book that you put down one night, and never do pick back up to continue reading. It was just too much work, and I wanted to really concentrate on getting at least one, and preferably more than one, blog entry every single day (with days when I was on vacation excepted). So, those just got in the way too much, and were scrapped, at least for the remainder of the year.

And now, a new year is upon us. Out with the old, and in with the new, right?

I have some ideas for things that I would like to do on "The Charbor Chronicles" for the new year. But it is a constant experiment, and things that seem like they might work when you think about them well in advance wind up sometimes not working when you actually go ahead and try and execute them. So, I am not going to make any promises.

Well, then, that's it! I finished up the year successfully, I would say! I wanted this to be the most active year on this website, and it was, far and away! It leads me to want even more for this upcoming year, and for the future in general.

But for now, this is my last blog entry for the year, and I bid you adieu for 2013, and here is wishing you all the very best in 2014! May your resolutions and new year's wishes be realized!

Early Spring

One of my favorite pictures.


Srednia Wies

The sign announcing entry into town.

Old church of Srednia Weis

Festive Family Gathering

Family Gathering

The Skansen of Sanok

Some of these homes were just beautiful! And it was such a beautiful day, weather wise (well, maybe a little bit on the hot side). These pictures mostly came out nice, but it is not quite like being there. 

You see something as charming as this, and you know you're not in New Jersey anymore. 

Basia posing by the rose garden. At least I think it was a rose garden, if memory serves correctly. I can't apparently rely on my eyesight serving correctly now, evidently. 

You see a scene like this, and you would probably be forgiven if you mistook it for Ireland, or perhaps old Brittania.

This particular scene reminded me of the Asterix books I used to read as a child.



Castle of Lesko

 Zakopane -The Tatras

The clouds finally breaking in Zakopane, revealing the beautiful peaks of the Tatras.


The gardens inside really look beautiful, with the spires of the cathedral serving as a backdrop.

From atop the spire, you get a remarkable view from above of Krakow. 

The dragon of Krakow. 

Sun setting in Krakow, seen near of the outer fortifications of the Wawel.

Here we are, showing off our tans in the golden, Polish summer sunshine. 

This was one of my favorite shots, taken during the boat cruise. 

I liked the angle of this view, looking up at the Wawel walls, and the illuminated towers inside, during the nighttime. 

This was a really incredible shot. I saw this view, and I just had to take it! 

Collegium Maius - Jagiellonian University


Colin Haye

Chris Cornell