22 April 2013

The Best Blogs of 2013

"Nobody does it better -
Makes me feel sad for the rest.
Nobody does it half as good as you.
Baby, you're the best..."
The executive committee here at TYWKIWDI has spent several weeks browsing and reviewing the blogs submitted for this years blogfest. The following winning entries have been selected for four broad categories:  Best Personal Blog, Best Specialty Blog, Best Accumulator, and Best Humor Blog.

Best Personal Blogs

The majority of all the creations for the blogosphere are "personal blogs."  In 2009 when Technorati surveyed the state of the 70 million blogs they monitor, they noted that "hobbyist bloggers overwhelmingly blog about personal musings."  Sometimes these blogs are intended simply as family archives and no outside audience is even sought.  At its worst, a personal blog can degenerate into an obsessive scrapbook of trivia - the classic "Daily Pictures of My Lunch" blog.  A well-crafted personal blog, however, can add meaning to one's existence (even if the purpose of one's life sometimes seems to be to serve as a warning to others).  The best personal blogs transcend the mundane to reach out and seek meaning in events, to share personal fulfillments, to ponder universal questions from an individual's standpoint. Here are the entries judged "best personal blogs" for this year, in the order they were submitted:

Fearfully & Wonderfully Made chronicles, from a Christian perspective, a woman's journey through weight-loss surgery and its effects on her life and body. 

William D. Richards uses A Writer's Chronicles to "vent extraneous thoughts" while writing, with a recent focus on "how-to-digitally-publish-yourself."

Abram and a friend are climbing Yosemite's El Capitan this summer via "The Nose."  In Go Up: The Road to El Cap they will narrate their adventure (currently in the planning and preparation stage).

Bailey's Buddy is an eclectic mix of the things which make up Jay Simser's life - "my dog, my causes, humor and my Masonry. Oh and a bit of a diary with an occasional poem."

A. Aronsson's WeBOLLog features projects and life events of "mr random dude on the Internet" - mostly impossible art in perspective, photography, and video projects.  Plus some motorcycling.

Laughing at Dragons presents the life of teenager Aki Nace, with an occasional emphasis on reviews of books.

Barefoot Journey recounts the adventures of a barefoot runner with Asperger's syndrome and prostate cancer.

Dr. Mieke was one of the first readers to stumble upon TYWKIWDBI perhaps five years ago, so I've had the pleasure of indirectly watching her family grow up and her farm prosper at The Grange: a small farm in the Northern Rivers area of NSW.  It includes good photos of the area for those interested in seeing rural Australia.

Robin Johnston may or may not tell you why her blog is called My Pinky Finger.  Robin is "a teacher, a maker, and a book lover who makes things, from jewelry and sewing to clay, painting, and bookbinding. It's a place for me to share whatever art or creation I am working on, feature other artists and craftsmen of all types whom I admire, pursue various thoughts on education, ponder spirituality, and occasionally post about my life."

Steffi uses Bibliosphere to write about college life, science research, interesting events, and childhood cancer awareness.  And of course cat photos.

Mama Bean maintains a "mommy blog" at Update My Status.  It includes gardening-related posts and some insights into mental health (depression, post-partum depression).

Ionut created Irina's Corner for his girlfriend, and fills it with photos, collages and drawings that she creates.

Half Moose with a Twist contains Tom's "doodles, cartoons, nature photos, occasional poetry, short fiction and movie reviews. Oh, and sometimes man's best friend makes an appearance."

Average Jane may be the most experienced blogger among us.  She has been filling the Average Jane blog with "lots of talk about cats, hobbies and food" for over nine years.

Sanity Check! has Tom Tjarks' own fiction writing, notes on gaming and games he is playing (currently Bioshock Infinite).

Natalie and Dustin are DINKS (dual-income, no kids) living on a Marine Corps base in Iwakuni, Japan. Tice Adventures tells of their experience with Japanese culture, nature, and lots of food.

Oregon Expat details the adventures Fletcher and his wife have experienced after leaving Oregon to live and work in southern Portugal, but also includes "a healthy sprinkling of other travel images, science geekery, language/cultural comparisons, and an occasional Mac moment."

Best Specialty Blogs

While often retaining many of the characteristics of a personal blog, those in this "specialty" category have chosen to focus intensively on a single subject or limited range of subjects, typically but not necessarily reflecting the blogger's personal or professional expertise.

The DragonFly BSD Digest is a "running summary of events around the development of DragonFly BSD, an open source operating system."

Crisp Oaks is one of few tumblrs submitted this year.  The focus is on music, with a new song every day.

In Unequally Yoked, Leah, a geeky Catholic convert, "picks fights in good faith."  While the blog is ostensibly about religion, there is also a heavy dose of musical theatre.

Lockwood's Outside The Interzone posts a geology picture (and relevant discussion) every day, most of the subject matter being derived from the endlessly interesting state of Oregon.  The blog features a large dose of humor every week in the "Sunday Funnies."

David Crews covers a range of material, with a focus on "Photos, Essays, Poems, and Musings on Life, Spirit, Ayahuasca and Entheogens, Time, and Travel.

Phasmatic Apparatus is a specialty blog about Polaroid modifications, projects and items of interest to keep the instant film movement alive.

Heather Hutchinson's Dietetic Sinners is a blend of a personal and a specialty blog, with the main topic being recipes, and restaurant/product reviews.

(OvO) is "an ongoing series of images (primarily photographs, both old and contemporary), quotations, and music interwoven to express an organically evolving theme.

Elly Vortex is a fellow Minnesotan who writes about hiking, biking, and other ourdoorsy stuff in Tales of the Witch of November. " It's been a bit quiet due to the long winter, but now that spring is here it's picking up again. More state parks, biking the wonderful Minnesota state bike trails, volunteering (National Frog and Toad call survey coming up, building the Superior Hiking Trail, etc).

Tank Hughes "used to be semi-informational discussions of English compounds, but now it's just a photoshop comic every Monday and some screenshots from Batman: The Animated Series which I call Bruce Waynesday."

Mikeb302000 has a very topical focus: gun control (plus some other liberal issues).

Richard Hartmann's blog has a lot of (very) "technical stuff," plus some travel diaries and general observations.

Lady Aritê gunê Akasa participates in a living history group called the Society for Creative Anachronism. Sarmatian in the SCA is where she posts what she has learned about the Sarmatian culture and her other experiences in the SCA.
Best Accumulators

An "accumulators" is created by a web surfer who wanders cyberspace like an uncontrolled Roomba, scooping up whatever he/she perceives to be interesting items to preserve and share.  While the accumulators often harvest one another, because of the galactic breadth  of the internet, no two blogs wind up alike - just as no two cooks will create the same meals when they combine ingredients.  Each of these blogs has a unique flavor

Emily selects epigraphs from books and movies and assembles them in Epigraphic.  Although it might be considered a "specialty" blog, the topics for the epigraphs are so varied that the end result becomes an accumulator.

Allhomosapienswelcome compiles interesting facts and articles on science, music, math, art, nature, and much more.

PHSChemGuy is a Midwestern chemistry teacher who uses In Deference to My Idols to blog about music, movies, media, games, and interesting websites, and links the blog to the course he teaches at school.

Goodies//Random Awesomeness I Encounter is Ben Wildeboer's classic accumulator, whose content is defined by its title (and presented in a unique format).

Gort Nation is Oblio's creation, dedicated to "motorsports, politics, music, social commentary, weirdo art, science fiction, home repairs, and cooking."  Oh, and also counterculture ephemera.

Those interested in Icelandic culture will find relevant material at Flippism is the Key, along with "an eclectic mix of short-form 'thought pieces', photos and even a full length novel in serial form."  And the mandatory cat photo.

furthermore, flask is about "whatever i am thinking about at the moment. i have a short attention span, a wide range of interests, a finely tuned sense of outrage, a quirky sense of humor, and no sense of fashion.  soon i will be posting some stuff about the pond skimming up at the mountain, the mushrooms growing in my kitchen, and my continued correspondence with nigerian email scammers."

Chris describes Reboots DaMachina! as containing "Observations & Deep Thoughts
Mostly observations that I find interesting," but I think the range of material puts it in the "accumulator" category.

Regarding Criminal Wisdom, Nathaniel quotes Samuel R. Delaney: "“The only important elements in any society are the artistic and the criminal, because they alone, by questioning the society’s values, can force it to change.”

Andrew denies that Andrewt.net has a focus or topic.  I would agree; it's pretty broad-based.

Dan's Now I Know is not exactly a blog; it is more of an email newsletter, the purpose of which is "to share something new, interesting about the world, each morning. Like the fact that carrots used to be purple, or that Abraham Lincoln created the Secret Service the day he was fatally shot, or that there's an island of hyper-poisonous snakes off the coast of Brazil."

I occasionally harvest material from Rob's Webstek for TYWKIWDBI.  He writes from Amersfoort about "history, paintings, old photographs, maps, classic movie actresses, city walls, Königsberg, Crimea War, geography, Amersfoort and more."

Le Cafe Witteveen is described as a "scatterbrained exploration of personal thoughts on being raised religious, owning and operating a photography and video business, and posting from my favorite blogs."

The title for Clayton Ashley's Clayton's Internet Life came about as a result of a mondegreen.  It is a repository for "funny or interesting videos I find in my daily Internet browsing, but I'll also post about interesting video games, cool photos, web comics, and other neat things."

Best Humor Blog

The recurrent tragedies of the real world and/or the mundane dreariness of everyday activities drive most bloggers to seek out humor to incorporate into their blogs.  Thus one finds a smattering of funny cat videos in poetry blogs and Calvin and Hobbes' cartoons in political blogs.  But some blogs are devoted entirely to humor, and those are the ones we turn to when we need a mental health break.  Only one blog was submitted for this category this year (Miss Cellania being unaccountably absent).

Criggo has been harvesting newspapers for bloopers, unfortunate advertisements, bizarre articles, and odd headlines for years.  Only someone with terminal melancholia could go through several pages of Criggo without at least a chuckle.


  1. Thank you for including my blog! I really appreciate it!

  2. Thanks so much for the link. It's a great thing to do for us.

  3. Thanks for including me :) And thanks for having this blog, I really enjoy. Now to enjoy some of these other recommendations (as if I needed a longer RSS lololol)

  4. TYWKIWDBI should be among them. :)

  5. We're #1! We're #1!

    What's that you say? You only had one nominee in the humor blog category?

    We're STILL #1! We're STILL #1!

    Seriously, thanks to you, MinnesotaStan! You da MAN!

  6. Thank you for posting my blog.

  7. Always appreciate the mention; I look forward to this post every year to "recharge" my link lists.


  8. My blog was nominated by my husband...I had no clue. I'm so surprised and quite humbled by making your Best Of list! Thank you so much and God Bless!

  9. Can you move my to specialty blogs?
    And thanks, Stan!

  10. Thanks for posting my blog! PS: I love your blog and check it out almost daily. I'm full of random facts thanks to you=P

  11. Found a couple of new blogs to enjoy. Thanks :)

    And Criggo, we went through 20 of your pages, laughing the whole way.

  12. Thanks for listing Epigraphic! I'm so honored to be included!

  13. I didn't have time to check my reader these days and I was wondering about this sudden rush of visitors to Irina's Corner. Now it all makes sense :) Thank you

  14. "even if the purpose of one's life sometimes seems to be to serve as a warning to others"

    I just loved that!


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