Blogger Profile

Blogger Profile: Amy Hacala

Here at YkOnline we are going to start two new series, the first being Blogger Profiles. This series will feature profiles from Yellowknife and Northern Bloggers and should be published once a week. Our first featured Blogger is definitely worthy of the spot. Not only has she been blogging for over 5 years but she also brought most if not all the northern bloggers together on one site called NWTBlogs. She has more plans in the works for Northerners online, check out her profile below.

Who are you?

My name is Amy.  The roles I fill include: wife, mother of three, employee, volunteer and friend but none of these words can accurately describe me.  I don’t think I can either.  If you really want to know, talk to someone who knows me, they are able to me much more objective.
But, on a superficial level…  I love to organize, participate, aggregate, conglomerate and laugh.  I am easy-going and friendly, love to play poker and have a good time.  I like to exercise my creativity, and get a kick out of trying new things.  I suck at giving advice, but I am a good listener.  I tend to lurk, and only comment when I really have something important to say.  I like it when friends call me Ames.  I don’t like it when people I hardly know call me Ames.
I enjoy eating the low-hanging fruit, but feel a constant need to climb higher and get the one on the highest branch.

Where do you blog?
My personal blog can be found at www.hacala.ca.  Hacala is my last name.  If I could do it all over again, I would’ve picked a different URL.  My blog, is unofficially titled “…on the present moment”, and I am aware that mention of that is, right now, completely lacking from the main page (if not all pages).
My handle most other places is amsiebee.  It is a nickname my dad gave me when I was a little girl.  It is a mashup of both my given names, Amy and Bronwyn.

Why do you blog?
I started blogging in 2004, primarily to keep family in faraway places updated on our comings and goings.  This was before Facebook, or any of the other more recent methods of keeping stalkers aware of what is going on in our lives.
My blog has changed quite a bit over the last five years; initially it even hosted an internal photo gallery.  These days, with Flickr and the advent of many of the other social networking sites, there is no need to do that anymore.  My site these days is more of a mashup of all of my online activity, with the occasional rambling journal post about my life or my thoughts, or the lyrics to a song I am currently obsessed with.
I blog primarily to stay connected with the online/blogging community we have created here in Yellowknife.  Seeing the number of people who blog in YK and the NWT grow over the last five years has been great.  I like the idea that I am adding my voice and my perspective to the dialogue going on out there…
The core reason I blog though, is purely selfish.  I love the act of building the blog, and changing it, and adapting it, and adding to it.  I am, in truth, much more interested in the technical side of the blog that the content side of it, which can make life a little difficult.
What gave you the idea to start NWTBlogs.com?
I am not exactly sure where the idea came from.  When I started the site, there was really no place where you could find a directory of blogs being written in the NWT.  Next thing you know I was carrying out daily Technorati searches trying to find as many Northern bloggers as I could and adding them to my aggregator.
There are all kinds of cool things I would like to see the site do, including aggregating the content of NWT Flickr streams, displaying NWT/YK tweets in a more user friendly kind of a way, and to provide users with a choice of RSS streams that include bits and pieces of the site or all of the site.  I have some really neat ideas about geotagging things too, so you can pinpoint a bloggers location on Google maps.  It is almost more fun than my personal blog because I do not have to write content for it, I can just obsess about the technical stuff.

What is the best part of blogging? …Or worst?
In my experience, the best part of blogging has been the new friendships I have made.  I have met and become friends with people whom I otherwise would never have known and am happier for it.
The worst part of blogging, or the most difficult for me anyways, is the struggle to create content regularly.  Because I want to write things that my audience will generally find interesting, I can’t just write about web 2.0 constantly (although I want to, and I seem to be doing it more and more lately).  Maybe I lead a boring life, or I am intellectually uninteresting, but I have been having a really hard time lately keeping my site updated.

Who do you write for? Yourself? Your Readers? Google? For a living?
Hard question.  I think perhaps the reason I am having such a hard time writing anything lately is because I have been trying to write for my readers.  Maybe I should switch it around and write for myself, write the things that I would find interesting and then the content would flow much easier.
Is it better to enjoy the process, have regular content and no readers OR struggle with the process, have very little content and more readers?  What do you think?

Do you or would you ever censor yourself?
I have and I continue to.  People who have known me for a while know the whole story, but here’s the Reader’s Digest version.
In 2006, a blog post I wrote after the funeral of a long time friend was read by the Chair of the local Catholic School Board (I sat/sit as a trustee with YCS).  The post has long since disappeared from my records, but it basically consisted of me questioning the purpose of a formal church funeral.  I was having trouble with the death of my friend and really could not wrap my head around the idea that grief would be eased because a priest told me everything would be OK.  It did not seem enough for me.  I mused that perhaps religion, for some, is like a warm fuzzy blanket for people to wrap themselves in when they have nothing else; a crutch to lean on when they couldn’t find answers.
The then-chair of the school board felt it necessary to read the post in its entirety at a public board meeting.  After she had read the post, she gave a little speech about her horror at having read this on the blog of a trustee, and how her religion most certainly was NOT a crutch.  I found out recently that she had also stood and read my blog post from the pulpit in church one day during the same time period.
There was also the small matter of my pro-choice beliefs and the fact that I had pre-marital sex with my now-husband (both pieces of information were then available on my blog) being trotted out by the local media and the former-chair of the board as obvious reasons why I was unfit to sit as a trustee on the local (publicly-funded) Catholic School Board.
All of this was very personally difficult for me and my husband and as a result, I have tried to be much more neutral about what I post on my blog.  Jason would say that I am giving “them” power over me by doing this at that is what “they” wanted in the first place, but for at least the next few months, that’s fine with me.  I will continue to self-censor for a little while longer.

PC or Mac?
Although I grew up on a MAC (my first computer was an Apple IIe), because of cost considerations, as an adult I have moved to PC.  Is there really that much of difference?  I don’t think there is.  There are pros and cons for each, but really neither one will do brain surgery, or balance my budget.  They are just the tool you use to do/make what you do/make, the user that is more important than the machine.  In my opinion.

Do you have any future blog related projects you want to share?
The biggest things on my radar right now are two community events we have coming up.  On May 30th from 1 to 3 PM at Javaroma, we are holding our first Yellowknife Tweet-up.  This is an opportunity for everyone who participates in the online community (primarily twitter, but bloggers are welcome too!) here in Yellowknife to gather and meet each other face to face.  It is very informal, and is only meant to strengthen the relationships we have started online.
The second event is our MINI BARCAMP being held in the Genesis Group Board Room (2nd Floor of the Nunasi Building, across from Boston Pizza) on June 20 from 2 PM until we are done.  This event is designed specifically for our local blogging community.   A BARCAMP is an open, participatory workshop-event, whose content is provided by the participants.  The idea is that there is all kinds of expertise and knowledge in our blogging community, everybody is good at something.  The BARCAMP is an opportunity to come together with other bloggers and share knowledge, ask questions and improve our skills together.  We are still working on flushing out the list of topics that will be covered, but hopefully there will be something for everyone.

Blogs you read or would recommend?
There are so many.  I read all of the blogs listed on NWTblogs.com, so go there and find your favorites.  Specifically though, my favorite local blogs are:

  • I am ALWAYS impressed by Megan @ www.snowcoveredhills.com, she is brilliant, witty, a phenomenal writer and a wonderful person. Oh, and she posts EVERY day which in my books elevates her to blog-goddess.
  • I love Jason’s honest and direct delivery @ www.thegaywhitenorth.blogspot.com, not only is he a fantastic writer with a unique perspective, but he is a terrific guy and a great friend.
  • Jackie is full of funny stories @ http://rankin-inlet.blogspot.com, she makes me laugh and snortle every, single time.
  • I am not sure how I found Fabiola, through twitter maybe? Nonetheless, she writes beautifully over @ http://efcarletti.wordpress.com and you can follow her on twitter @fierce_fab.

If you interested in social media, web 2.0 or the like, I suggest:

If you are thinking about taking the plunge onto Twitter, may I suggest the following tweeple:

  • @frealityy
  • @the_bushman
  • @dbrosha
  • @moneycoach
  • @jeryes
  • @sween
  • @Sundry
  • @biorythmist
  • @arjunbasu

Are you originally from Yellowknife? Or what made you decide to move here?
Basically, yes.  I have been here since the age of 5.  Before living here, I lived in Broughton Island and Arctic Bay, Nunavut and Southern Ontario, none of which I remember.  I do remember though, I think, when Old Airport Road was only two lanes, and I remember when they build the YK Community Arena.
Also: does anyone else remember the Fall Fair they used to have at the Arena?  It was a giant celebration of local arts and crafts, horticulture and community.  I want to start it up again, this fall.  Anyone want to help?

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About the author

Kyle Thomas

Kyle grew up in Yellowknife and is a local entrepreneur, writer, baker, and Yellowknife Advocate who is addicted to learning as much as he can about the community and sharing it with anyone who'll listen. In 2009 he developed YkOnline.ca. A website all about living, working and thriving in Yellowknife for residents, newcomers, and visitors.

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