Friday, November 12, 2010

Backseat blog

The blog has taken a backseat this morning to another project.  First, though, we must digress.  As everyone knows, we both love to volunteer--it's in our DNA.  In the nearly 10 years since we began volunteering, we've learned a few things well.  One of our top lessons is twofold: A)You enjoy volunteering more if you create your own volunteer opportunities, and, 2)You have to work far in advance to create a volunteer opportunity.  In other words, you simply can't waltz into any given place and say, "Hey, I wanna volunteer for you."  Nope, it don't really work that way unless you wanna stuff envelopes or set up chairs at a Senior Center.  The good stuff takes a long time to incubate.

Take that BLM river project we did this summer--that was about 2 years in the making.  The list goes on and on.  Some volunteer opportunities can be created fairly quickly.  Others take time and lots of thought and tinkering.  That's why this blog took a backseat this morning--we've been working on creating a volunteer opportunity for ourselves.

What's it all about?  In a nutshell, we're trying to sign on as a volunteer for the National park Service to help Montezuma Castle, Montezuma Well and Tuzigoot plan and implement the usage of online social media. (AKA: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.)  Any time you deal with the Good Ol' NPS, you've got a tough nut to crack.  You simply can't smile and say, "Hey, you need social media and I can help."  Nope, it don't work that way.  It's pretty much they that have to adopt an idea and then turn to you to help them flesh it out.

So far, I'd reckon I've spent 15 hours on this project, probably more but at least 15 that I can think of.  Most of my time now is being spent working on a blog called "Social Media Usage by NPS."  This morning, I created a Twitter account solely to find all the NPS Twitter accounts in existence.  I found 161 of them.
It's turning out to be quite the education experience for me.  Even if I don't wind up getting this volunteer gig, it will have been worth the effort.  Why's that?

Well, it turns out that totally unbeknown-st to us, the NPS now actually considers Virtual Visitors on the same par as real physical visitors to a National Park.  Surprised?  Yeah, we were, too.  That seems to be a huge sea change for the staid Ol' NPS.  But there it is in black and white in their main Policy Manual.  Amazing.

There's a teeny, tiny little unit of the NPS sitting out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  it's called the Pu'ukohola Heiau NHS. Ranger Greg C. operates the Twitter there.  The place is less than 100 acres, a mere flyspeck to the huge NPS parks elsewhere.  Greg has shown what Twitter can do for an obscure park--his Twitter now has more followers than another other park in the Nation, including places such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon and the Tetons!  He's bringing an incredible new level of attention to his park and he deserves a huge round of applause for doing so.  This is a classic example of the benefits of social media in marketing a place or a product.  We feel the same phenomena could happen to the NPS units in the Verde Valley.  Heaven knows they need all the help they can get!  Anyway, that's why the blog has taken a back seat this morning.  Greg and I swapped numerous emails last night.  He's a great guy and he put us at the top of his Twitter overnight.  That's the screen shot from Greg's Twitter atop this blog post.  THANKS, GREG!

You can click here to read the Social Media blog.  And you can click here for the new Twitter we created this morning.

OK, moving right along.  Yesterday after a few hours on the above project, we packed up half of the Nissan.  For the first time in Modern Memory, we actually have all our clothes packed days before departure.  Normally, we don't bother packing clothes until about 60 minutes before we leave, oftentimes far less than that.  We can now see that everything we wish to take south will actually fit in our vehicles.  The NWS Wonks have changed their tune once again--now it looks like Tuesday's weather might be dicey.  Ah, who cares?  We're leaving no matter what (unless it's a blizzard, of course).

Today's more of the same--pack and pack some more.

As part of packing our clothes yesterday, we actually sorted out about 70 items to donate to Deseret Industries (Dee-Eye).  Dee-Eye has huge industrial washing machines and all clothes they chose to resell have been thoroughly cleaned prior to display.  I like that about buying clothes from them--you don't have to worry about somebody else's cooties.  Anyway, believe it or not, 100% of my clothes are totally organized.  yeah, I know, it's a scary thought.  Geeze, ALL of my socks are even sorted and correctly matched and folded.  Is there no end to this Type A stuff?

Susun's really getting into her new laptop--she even gave it a name, Lilly.  She's delighted to have it and she's a real fast learner.  Pretty soon, we'll bet she will be giving lessons to her friends.  No kidding.

Well, that's about all there is to report from these parts.  Have a great day & Cheers, jp

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