Audience Participation

Hey you! Yeah, you. I need your help. I’m seriously contemplating what it might be like if I considered the possibly of maybe or even potentially pondering the notion that it could conceivably be a good idea to revamp this blog. Rebrand it, if you will. In order to make that happen some time during this presidential administration, I’m going to need input from you, my loyal readers. What I’m looking for are the following design ideas.

Should I keep the current title? I’m thinking about making this an eponymous blog. So many refer to this blog by my pseudonym already. Why not just go with the flow?

I’d like some ideas for new quips (the snarky line just below the title). I get bored easily, so I’ll likely be rotating them (as usual), so throw as many at me as you can think of. Be creative (and PG, please). What sentence, phrase, or other collection of words sums up this blog to you?

I’m slightly colorblind. As a resent, my aesthetic tastes tend to differ a little from others’. Add to that fact my rather eccentric personality and you get a parchment background horked from the Vatican with a coffee-house color scheme. If you could rebuild this blog from scratch, what colors and/or patterns would you use?

The Latin’s staying. Deal. Now that you’ve accepted this fact, help me to make it less intimidating.

Three columns? Two columns? One column? How would you organize things around here?

Lastly, do any of you fine folks know of some good pro bono blog template designers (ala Eris Designs)? Blogging’s fun and all, but I’m not throwing any more money into it.

This entry was posted in personal and tagged , on by .

About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

11 thoughts on “Audience Participation

  1. Rob

    1. There are many advantages to 3 column. I’m currently in a 3 column mood. You’ve actually got awards to show.

    2. Do what they did when they bought out DeRoy jewelers. It becake Kay DeRoy jewelers for a while, and then finally Kay jewelers. If you do the hard switch, you’ll lose people.

    3. No offense, but Funky Dung…I don’t want to read dung. Eponymous doesn’t quite work, since it’s not only you — you have other bloggers. Ales Rarus is distinctive. It’s also bird-themed, and I may not be trustworthy on that topic!

    4. I would not mind the background color changing. If I can remember to think of it as parchment, it’s ok, but the font doesn’t match.

    5. Slightly stronger divisions between the three columns would be better, although it’s fairly well defined. You cram a lot into a little, which I like.

    6 You are absolutely kicking everyone’s butt in, as well as Technorati, Blogpulse, and TLB’s Ecosystem. Especially mine. You shouldn’t be listening to the author of Technorati’s 32,631st blog. Ask Boing Boing.

    7. Of course, Boing Boing makes me think of vibrators, so maybe you want to choose another blog.

    8. 24’s on, and I’m Geschichte!

  2. howard

    Speaking of the little people, here I am with a couple thoughts:

    1. No name change; I’ve just finally broken myself of the habit of calling this “Scribble Lines” — and, unlike those days, vast numbers of netizens probably know you now as “Ales Rarus”, even if it isn’t the pseudonym under which you’re writing. The brand recognition issue alone should keep you on track (just look at me, I’ve been trotting out one of the worst title of all time for two and a half years now — I’m sure it’ll catch on someday).

    2. Font change, yes. I’d go with something a bit more modern, and while you’re at it, I’m still not crazy about the coloring here (which, I should assure you, makes it a testament to your overall quality that I’m still reading you).

    3. Don’t know of any good pro bono template designers for this, but I remember hearing a while back that there was supposed to be some sort of conversion tool to migrate existing blogs to a more customizable, easy to use platform (say, WordPress, which is free and also heavy on free designs). Does Fahim still keep up with this kind of stuff? He was always helpful when I needed help, right up until I unwittingly blasted my Blog databases into oblivion…

    That’s just a couple thoughts. I might have more, but it’s late right now.

  3. Steve Nicoloso

    Funky, I don’t get the navel-gazing. You’re acting like a compulsive object-oriented programmer who can’t stop trying to make his code even more “perfect”, even after it’s been tested bug-free and effective. Is the design perfect? No. Is the parchment “too much”? Maybe. I think it’s a trademark part of the look here, and would hate to see it go completely, but maybe less of it would be okay. Would more color be nice? Sure. Fonts? Who cares… they can be overridden (usually to disastrous effects) by the end user anyway. But the design is fine… It’s the content stupid! (And of course you know I mean that in the best possible sense 😉

  4. Funky Dung

    First of all, the navel gazing comes from a desire to shake things up once in a while. I do it in other areas of my life as well, such as the livingroom furniture. Secondly, my training may be scientific, but I’ve always had an interest in aesthetics. I took art major classes in high school and would still consider myself decent at drawing. IOW, not only have people complained about certain design elements, but I also have an internal drive to make things look better. Lastly, it’s not just about the content. There was an article recently (anybody have the URL?) that showed that people make judgments about web pages at a subconscious level in less than a second. Image matters. Does that mean I’m going to obsess over it? Heck no. I think designing stuff is fun. Tweaking a template is part of the fun of blogging for me. So stop being a stick in the mud and join me in my fun. Humor me, and tell me what you’d like to see changed. 🙂

  5. Quote

    “If the gospel message is foolishness, it can only be conveyed by those who can die to the American Dream and become fools to the world.”
    –Vinoth Ramachandra

  6. Steve Nicoloso

    Do you really want the kind of reader who would otherwise be turned off by a vatican-esque parchment look? … or the fact that the boundaries between columns are not well demarcated?

    Changing things around, fun? Drench me in molten lead any day! I’m glad I didn’t marry you… you’d have me up on the roof changing shingle color every 6 months 😉

    Okay, no more Mr. Stick N. Mud for me then… Here’s what I think. The whole blog is a bit too busy… okay WAY too busy. Look at Jimmy Akin. He’s got one award showing. I find it hard to believe that’s all he’s gotten. He puts up the one that (presumably) means the most to him. You could do the same: put up the one (1) award that means the most (or perhaps is the most recent), and stick the others behind a link “For Voyeurs Only”. Same thing with the quotes, put up one, perhaps the most succinct or the most valued or the most funny, and stick all the others on the Voyeurs’ Page.

    And I like the parchment at least in the reading space, center column. It is true that the sans serif font looks too modern for parchment, but it is also more readable than more stylized serif fonts. My vote would be, if the incongruity is intolerable, stay with the parchment and choose a MORE old-fashioned serif-style font. You may wanna consider doing solid color for columns 1 and 3, as this will also make for cleaner boundaries betwixt columns.

    But on the whole I’d say the blog needs more simplicity, not less… you already have the longest-loading page of any of my regular reads, and my fear is that someone who considers “tweaking the template” as part of the fun, is not going enjoy tweaking in the direction of simplicity. I could be wrong…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *