May 22, 2009

5/23/09 World Wide Web

I admit it, I'm a computer geek. Not the worst, but definitely a 'geek'. I'm the guy everyone comes to at work when there is a problem on their computer. And I do spend an inordinate amount of time surfing the net. I've had a website online for the last 10 years, since 1999, which might seem ancient in internet terms. So, I thought I'd give you a taste of 'my world' on the Wide World Web.

My websites:

WanderingTheWorld.com - You're reading this, so you know about the site. What you may not know is my original website started out in 1999, after I returned from hiking the Appalachian Trail. I had taken some 2000 pictures and kept a journal, but how to share that with family and friends. The internet seemed a logical solution. The website has had various names: jdamico.grapevine.net, jim.damico.net, and then wanderingtheworld.com. At one point in 2006, I actually went 'offline' for a month, thinking the website was just too much work and cost too much money. Lucky for you and me, a friend (thanks Jesse) suggested using a blog format which was also free, so jim-wandering.blogspot.com was born. Don't worry, either address works. The big difference with the new 'blog' was that it finally had every trip I had taken, complete with pictures. It's number of pages is over a thousand now and I hope that will eventually double someday. So, stay tuned.

wanderingtheworld.fotki.com - But what about all those pictures I took on the Appalachian Trail. Well, that also posed a problem. Where could I make literally thousands of pictures available online? I eventually chose Fotki.com. Face it, many people don't really want to read my travel journals, they just want to look at the pictures. At Fotki, not only can they view the 6000 pictures, but order prints if they want.

Facebook.com - I resisted having a Facebook page because it just meant more work and time on the internet. But I had a 17-year old niece who was very difficult to keep track of and since she didn't check her email often, I found out she had a Facebook page. So I got one too so I could at least see what's she's been up to. For someone very far from home, Facebook is the perfect way to keep in touch with family and friends, and much more personal and immediate than a blog.

jimbagsh.blogspot.com - Jim bagsh means 'teacher Jim' in Monoglian and is what many of my students call me. So, I set up this website for my students where I could post lessons, MP3s and links to other helpful websites to learn English, and keep my students up to date with timely announcements. In the end I decided to close this site down and use my new much more useful Anglehel.ning.com social networking site. I found another website called 'Breaking News English' where they have text, MP3 files, and even a lesson plan for the articles they publish. Instead, I can spend more time recording things for DharmaEnglish.org. instead of duplicating work that someone else is doing much more thoroughly.

DharmaEnglish.org: Simple English, Simply Dharma - While teaching English at a Buddhist center in Mongolia, I saw that my more intermediate and advanced students needed more practice with their English. And since I was a volunteer at a dharma center, I thought the dharma itself would be a great way to practice English while at the same time learning a little bit about Buddhism. So, DharmaEnglish.org was born. Over 500 million people speak English as a foreign language and there are over a billion, yes, a billion people in the process of learning the English language. But it's no wonder. Did you know that more than 80% of the Internet is in English. And Amazon.com lists over 16,000 book tiles under Buddhism. Right now, I am publishing a new chapter every week from 'Prince Siddhartha: The Story of Buddha" along with an MP3 of me reading the story.

Anglihel.ning.com: Learning English in Mongolia - This is our English departments new dynamic website (angli = English, hel = language). I'm glad I found Ning.com. It has so much more potential for interactive communication between my students and Tsetsgee and I. Looking forward to seeing what it can do.

Mongolia websites I follow:
  • Patrick's Mongolian Adventure by Patrick
  • A Thousand Voices Talking Perfectly Loud by Cassandra ✰ Cassandra and I haven't met but we've traded emails a few times. It was her through her, that I got on an English radio show last December that a friend of hers put on the air. Be warned, some of her blog entries will have you rolling on the floor laughing in pain. Recommended!!!
  • Advance Humanity by Travis ✰ I had started reading Travis's blog before he came to Mongolia to be a Peace Corps volunteer. One day in Nerra's Cafe across the street, I noticed a guy who looked familiar. "I know you." I said. "And I know you too." was his reply. We both recognized each other from our blog photos. Travis is a great guy and his blog is very ensightful. Highly recommended.
  • And So It Begins... by Trinh who helped me out alot when I was getting ready to come to Mongolia. A life saver really.
  • Leslie & Nathan in Mongolia
  • My Peace Corps Adventure by Robin
  • Dreaming Danzan Ravjaa by Konchog who is an American monk living just around the corner. Unfortunately, he's leaving Mongolia in a month after having been here for many years working to help restore Mongolian Buddhism after 70 years of communist repression.
Buddhist blogs I follow:
  • Buddhist in Nebraska by Monica ✰ We haven't met but have traded emails, even chatted a bit, and she has contributed with several readings of her essays for my English websites. A wonderful writer who I hope will publish a collection of her stories in 'Dharma Cowgirl' soon.
  • Sweet Not Always by Sangye
  • Cheerio Road by Karen Maezen Miller ✰ I met Maezen in KC when she gave a dharma talk at our Rime Center. Her first book was called "Momma Zen" of which I have a signed copy. Since then we have traded a lot of emails and I call her a friend. Highly recommended.
  • Hardcore Zen by Brad Warner. A sometimes 'irreverent' blog by the author of "Hardcore Zen", "Sit Down and Shut Up!" and his newest "Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate". Highly recommend his books.
  • Solbeam by Christina aka 'Sol' ✰ Not really a Buddhist site but her incredible writing is infused with a spirituality not found many places on the internet. She's another blog writer I love to see published. She hasn't been writing much lately but her many years of blog posts are highly recommended.
Drawing blogs I follow: For those of you who don't know, I've always had this desire/dream to be an artist. I thought if I saw enough art, I might feel inspired to draw something. I mean I have all the stuff, watercolors and paper, pens, etc. So far, nothing, but I'm still hopeful. [smile]
I'm sure there are a ton more links I could share but these are the highlights. Check them out at your own risk. [smile]