Of Ancestors, Blogging & Taking My Own Advice

Of Ancestors, Blogging & Taking My Own Advice

You know the cobbler whose children go unshod? I’m the blogger who dispenses advice but forgets to take it.

My friend and colleague Vera Marie Badertscher created a Web magazine, which debuted yesterday, called Ancestors in Aprons: All About Food and Family. As you might guess from the title alone, it has strong links to two topics that are central to Freud’s Butcher — the ones that fall into the general categories I’ve called “genealogy” and “meat.”

Of course dealing with relatives almost always involves the third topic, “psychology,” but it’s not explicit on Ancestors in Aprons as it is here.

Ancestors in Aprons

Vera Marie asked me to take a look at her site before it went live.

I was happy to oblige and think the site looks — and reads — great. I’m sure you’ll agree when you go over there. (Note: That’s “when,” not “if”). I had only one suggestion: That she post a list of her family names as “cousin bait” — a lure to members of the family with the same name.

She took my advice, as you’ll see in the box on her home page that links to a list of her family names.

You can see where this is going. I realized I did not have a similar list of names anywhere on my site.

More Than Kornmehl

I’ve written the name “Kornmehl” in so many posts that my blog turns up high in most Google searches for the name, though Lasik surgeon Ernest Kornmehl — written about here as one of the members of the Far-Flung Kornmehl Family —  is always on top.

But Kornmehl is only one of the names in my mother’s immediate family, the focus of this blog (I should note that Mally/Molly Kornmehl is the “ancestor in an apron” who appears in the picture next to this post’s title).

[stextbox id=”info” caption=”Family Names for Freud’s Butcher”]

To name only my mother’s parents and the married names of her aunts, there are also:

  • Rosenbaum
  • Schmerling
  • Farber
  • Schweizer

On the male side of the family there is only:

  • Kornmehl

with the oddity that one of the aunts married a Kornmehl who also had the same first name as one of her brothers, Siegmund. So she is a double Kornmehl. And the cause of much confusion for future genealogists.


Among the other names that caught my eye when gazing at my family tree there are: Fast (as in Howard, author of Spartacus); Fodor (Eugene, who created the series of travel guides which, as it happens, I worked on for several years); Sternbach (not famous, but I had a friend named David Sternbach, and I’d really like to track him down); and, of course, Margulies.

I promise to put all these names — or at least the primary ones — in a more prominent place on this blog. But this is a start.

Blog vs. Web Magazine Website

I have alluded to Ancestors in Aprons as a Web magazine, because that is Vera Marie’s preferred term. I’m happy, on the other hand to call Freud’s Butcher a blog. [I sit corrected; as Vera Marie pointed out in the comments, she prefers the term “website,” not “web magazine,” to “blog.” But my distinction — also argued in the comments — still holds]

What’s the difference? “This Is Not a Blog Post,” an article in Slate.com by Farhad Manjoo, provides some distinctions regarding format and style that I don’t think apply to the difference between Freud’s Butcher and Ancestors in Aprons. This seems more relevant:

Writers online are sensitive to old, cheap stereotypes regarding their professionalism—”young men sitting in their mother’s basements and ranting,” as Andrew Marr, the former political director of the BBC put it recently. While blogs aren’t treated so dismissively these days, perceived misuse of the terms “blog post” and “article” can still inflame journalistic class consciousness.

Why do I use the term “blog” for this site? Because I like to use the verb “blogging” to describe writing that I generate on my own terms, and on my own schedule — and, yes, that I don’t get paid for. I value it as much as my other writing — even more, in some ways, because it appears precisely as I want it to appear. I can — and often do — change posts after I publish them.

But I agree that there is still a stigma attached to the notion of a blog, as opposed to paid work that appears in print, say, or (often unpaid) work that appears on sites associated with print media such as NationalGeographic.com; or on content aggregation sites like HuffingtonPost.com that get far more traffic than most personal blogs do (and which should pay writers, but that’s a whole other topic).

Just curious. Those of you who have personal sites:  Do you describe yourself as the writer of a Web magazine — having to say that long phrase alone is a reason for me to use “blog”! — or as a blogger?

10 Responses to Of Ancestors, Blogging & Taking My Own Advice

  1. Kim Clune says:

    I’m a blogger through and through, not a webzine author. The look and feel of my site has become more zine-like, but it’s still a blog. I suppose I’d feel differently if I strictly reported facts with less personal opinion, but everything I write is from my point of view, interpreted through my lens, and presented in my very own way. Nothing about that seems web-magazine-like to me.

    PS: I often change posts after the fact too thinking, “I could have worded that better.” And so I do. Glad to see you do too. Validation, baby. Thank you!

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      Thank *you* for weighing in here. It’s interesting that you take that position, because your blog is far more professional looking than many webzines — a term I hadn’t really thought about but which does, of course, makes sense, though being a “webziner” does not roll off the tongue, and brings to mind “weiner” to boot. Hmmm. That wouldn’t be a bad thing for my weiner-related blog, would it?

  2. I usually refer to myself as a blogger because the folks I hang out with online are bloggers. It’s a shared term.

    But when I talk about either of my blogs offline, I call them websites. Everyone knows what a website is. 🙂

    BTW, I love the term cousin bait. Methinks it might generate some wacky spam, however.
    Pamela | Something Wagging This Way Comes recently posted..8 Things No One Tells You About Training a PuppyMy Profile

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      Interesting. Part of the Slate article I linked to said that people on the outside don’t really care what you call the content that’s posted, but I think you’re write. Outsiders do make those distinctions. When I think about it, I also use blog as a distinction from “static website” — which I had back in the old days when I had to hire someone every time I wanted to update my website.

      So far, the spam on this site seems no wackier than the spam on Will My Dog Hate Me (which I still get, since the site is still going). My cousins must attract Christian Leboutin shoes, however. That company comes here several times a week.

  3. Thanks for recommending Ancestors In Aprons. Actually, though, I must make a slight correction. I don’t refer to Ancestors as a webzine or a web magazine. I just call it a website.

    Over the four and a half years that I have written A Traveler’s Library,my first site, I have learned that people take articles a tad more seriously than they do blogs, so I’ve gravitated to using that term instead of blog.

    And I don’t see a need to make things complicated. Writing is writing, whether you are your own editor and publisher, or you’re being paid the big bucks

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      I sit corrected! I knew you didn’t like the term blog; I don’t know where I got the idea that you preferred Web magazine.

      But I stand by my position. I initially wasn’t going to go into this topic because I came to the same conclusion as you did, i.e., that writing is writing. But then I realized it isn’t. I make the distinction of what I am writing in my mind — and others do too. I distinguish advertorials from press releases from magazine articles or newspaper articles. So if you are going to be precise, then using a shorthand for the type of writing you’re doing when it exists makes a lot of sense.

  4. Hi, Edie —

    To your last question, I think of myself as a writer who blogs. I see what you mean about the “class” distinction that simmers. But I believe that’s a temporary phenomenon. When the internet revolution shakes out, peeps will find what they want to read, and I often ask myself why quantity of readers is a first consideration. Unless writers are trying to make a living, of course.

    As Milton said, “Fit audience though few . . . ”

    About surnames: you raise good questions. I keep hearing about “Word Clouds” for surnames, and soon I’m going to ask @wptribe for advice, since I have WordPress.

    Oh, and I have both a blog and a website. The blog references the website and the book. So it goes! I like to write on my own schedule, too. The total Social Media LIfe seems like a very crowded life.
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    • Edie Jarolim says:

      Well, it’s always good to be heard, and to have a conversation with as many people as possible. I suspect Milton would have liked a larger audience, but to his credit he chose to speak out instead.

      And the money is nice too, even if it’s not your primary source of income.

  5. Clare says:

    As one of the unwashed masses who just reads online, and who doesn’t write or aspire to having a blog, website or webzine, I admit that I always thought that “blog” meant something on which the originator writes stuff regularly to inform or persuade, and that a website was, as you put it Edie, static, usually advertising a product or skill, with at most a link to “Contact Us”. Just sayin’….

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      Rarely unwashed, Clare — I’ve always known you to be impeccably groomed — but I get your drift. Thanks for the feedback.

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