Bloggers share thoughts, views

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Click here to enlarge this photo
Bryan Haynes⁄The Gazette
William Barnett, who keeps a blog about neckties, shows off some of his collection at his Greenbelt home.

Greenbelt resident William Barnett wanted to share his necktie collection with the world, so he did what some other Greenbelters are doing — he blogged.

Blogging, writing in a online diary or keeping a chronology of thoughts also known as a Web log, has become a popular way to share information — or ties with personality, in Barnett's case.

Barnett, who was wearing a different tie every day and was an avid tie collector for about five years, had an epiphany of sorts: ‘‘There weren’t enough people seeing [my ties], and I only wear them once,” he said.

Last August rolled around and Barnett, a senior systems analyst for the university relations department at the University of Maryland, began showcasing his ties at Burl Veneer’s Tie Blog at http:⁄⁄

The name for the Web site came to Barnett about five years ago when he was watching ‘‘Antiques Roadshow,” and someone on the show explained that an item had a ‘‘wonderful burl veneer.” The description struck Barnett, and he employed it as his alias whenever he was surfing the Internet. The name easily converted into a blog title and combined with his love of ‘‘wild ties,” Barnett founded a creative blog that speaks volumes about his interest.

He told friends and family about it and updated the Web site any day he wore a different tie — which turned out to be nearly every day.

Barnett buys most of his ties at online marketplace eBay but raids the local thrift stores when the mood strikes. And ‘‘maybe once or twice a year” he will buy one at a retail store. Most of his ties cost less than $3, but when he sees a tie with extra blitz, Barnett goes for it. Near the end of August, he blogged about a tie that designer Jenny Lee-Katz created. Lee-Katz based her patterns on traditional African motifs, according to Barnett’s blog entry.

Greenbelt bloggers
William Barnett Burl Veneer’s Tie Blog ‘‘Displaying my voluminous collection of fabulous neckties, one a day, as I wear them.”
Bill Tchakirides Under the Lobsterscope underthelobsterscope. ‘‘A blog that combines theatre and politics with lots of local stuff.”
Greg Johnson The Staff Disturber ‘‘An irreverent political blog for UMCP staffers.”
‘‘I paid more for a one-of-a-kind [tie] that benefited the Pendulum Project,” he said. Barnett explained that the organization provided food, water, shelter and medical care to children orphaned by AIDS.

But he added that his hobby isn't breaking the bank.

‘‘I think it all averages out — it’s a self-sustaining hobby,” he said.

Barnett, who admits he turned to collecting ties because music record collecting became ‘‘too cumbersome,” said he enjoys sharing his assortment with the online community.

‘‘The thing about collections that makes them important is sharing them with people,” Barnett said.

Greenbelt resident Bill Tchakirides' Web site is a bit broader than Barnett's. Tchakirides has a penchant for bestowing his thoughts about his various interests.

Tchakirides, a government employee, discusses his love for theater and art, and keeps a critical eye on politics in his blog, Under the Lobsterscope, located at http:⁄⁄

Tchakirides started after various life-changing events — one of those being the 2004 presidential election — spurred him to give voice to his convictions. So he began blogging.

‘‘I figured there were things I wanted to say at that time,” he said. ‘‘My life is very interesting, it has a lot to do with theater and politics.”

People began visiting his Web site, in sort of a ‘‘if you build it, they will come” way.

‘‘I discovered that there are a lot of people that read my blog,” he said. ‘‘On days that I don’t [blog], or if I miss a couple of days, I get an e-mail saying ‘Are you alright?’”

Tchakirides explained that a lobsterscope is a ‘‘theatrical lighting device that gives a stroboscopic effect.” Back when there were no strobe lights, lobsterscopes were used to imply time was passing to an audience.

‘‘I use ‘Under The Lobsterscope’ to imply that what I observe or comment on is cut out of time as it passes by,” he said.

Tchakirides pointed out that anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can share his or her thoughts with the world.

‘‘There are blogs for everything,” Tchakirides said.

Greenbelt resident Greg Johnson started his blog, The Staff Disturber, at http:⁄⁄, to share information and garner attention for local and university issues.

Johnson, who works down the hall from Barnett in the university relations department, is president of UMCP Local 1072, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

He has been blogging since May about politics for university staffers.

‘‘I wanted to reach the white-collar people,” he said.

His blog offers a critical voice of university, state and world politics and keeps an eye on politicos and some of their ‘‘shenanigans.”

‘‘One of the main things that I try to do is get across some of the policies that could be harmful to us,” he said. ‘‘I don’t think that many people are aware of what’s going on.”

And Johnson realizes it may be an uphill battle.

‘‘It’s tough to convince the average American that his or her vote matters,” Johnson said. ‘‘I’m just a person who believes in being active in my community.”

E-mail Sara Schwartz at