Tag Archives: 06880.

24 Hours After Our “06880″ Party…

…and at the exact same spot on Compo Beach, there was a wedding.

Preparing for the ceremony.

Preparing for the ceremony.

We baked last night — in shoes and sandals. Our cake melted pretty quickly.

I can’t imagine what it’s like today, in a wedding dress.

Oh no! The wedding cake!…………..

Beach Party? Bingo!

I knew Audrey Hertzel was a loyal “06880″ reader.

I didn’t know she’s also an excellent photographer.

Yesterday — while the rest of us partied at the 1st-ever “06880″ beach bash — she was busy with her camera.

Enjoy her shots. (And I hope she enjoyed a shot or two — or some other drink — in between all her photography, tent-erecting and banner-making work!)

O! It was quite a party.

’0′! It was quite a party.

Jennifer Hershey and Mary Hoffman were party planners extraordinaire.

Jennifer Hershey and Mary Hoffman were party planners extraordinaire.

Maite Hernandez, Roy Marmelo and Robin Singer. Maite provided some great Cuban food -- less than 24 hours after she and her husband Roy returned from a month in Europe.

Maite Hernandez, Roy Marmelo and Robin Singer. Maite provided some great Cuban food — just 24 hours after she and her husband Roy returned from a month in Europe.

Pete Romano and Robin Tauck -- one of Westport's favorite couples.

Pete Romano and Robin Tauck — one of Westport’s favorite couples.

Achara and her friend shared a fantastic pizza.

Achara and her friend shared a fantastic pizza.

Judy James, Matt Mandell and Dewey Loselle may or may not have been discussing town politics.

Judy James, Matt Mandell and Dewey Loselle may or may not have discussed local politics.

Tom Lowrie, Kelle Ruden and Mike Laux have got the Rotary Club, library and swim team scenes covered.

Tom Lowrie, Kelle Ruden and Mike Laux have got the Rotary Club, library and swim team scenes covered.

Brian Hershey gained "06880" fame for stories on his trips to observe polar bears in the Arctic, and North Koreans in their repressive country.

Brian Hershey gained “06880″ fame for stories on his trips to observe polar bears in the Arctic, and North Koreans in their repressive country.

Andy and Meryl Kaplan take a relaxing break.

Andy and Meryl Kaplan relax.

Master cupcake maker Lisa   Alter, Linda Hudson and Rick.

Master cupcake maker Lisa Alter, Linda Hudson and Rick.

Newcomer Michelle Benner and oldtimer Terry Brannigan.

Newcomer Michelle Benner and oldtimer Terry Brannigan.

Audrey Hertzel -- who provided the tent and banner -- and her Memphis friend.

Audrey Hertzel — who provided the tent and banner — and her Memphis friend. Debbie Pafford. (Photo by Prill Boyle)

Prill Boyle and yours truly. We go way back -- to Burr Farms Elementary School.

Prill Boyle and yours truly. We go way back — to Burr Farms Elementary School.

60% of "06880" isn't too bad. See you next year, at the 2nd annual party! (All photos by Jo Shields)

60% of “06880″ isn’t too bad. See you next year, at the 2nd annual party! (All photos by Audrey Hertzel, except as noted)

Happy Anniversary To Us!

Today, “06880″ turns 4.

When I hurled that 1st post into cyberspace on March 6, 2009 — click here for that trip back in time — I thought I had a few things to say about Westport.

My biggest fear was not finding enough material to fulfill my goal: posting once a day.

I shouldn’t have worried.

"06880" helps Westport weather good times and bad.

“06880″ helps Westport weather in good times and bad.

I did not foresee windstorms, hurricanes and blizzards. Great Cakes. Church Street. Newtown.

I knew there were amazing Westporters, doing incredible things. I didn’t realize I’d find so many of them. They paint and preach and run 86 flights up the Empire State Building. They run for office, and run our town.

They drive too.  Though not very well.

Four years ago, I envisioned an ongoing “06880″ conversation. I hoped there would be some interesting back-and-forth. I had no idea dudes like The Dude would wade in with such gusto, commenting and opining and inciting near riots.

It’s been a wild ride. In 4 years I’ve posted over 2,600 times — an average of well over twice a day.

Commenters on "06880" have called this man a socialist and a bully.. Whatever.

Commenters on “06880″ have called this man a socialist and a bully.. Whatever.

You’ve made more than 30,000 comments — an average of more than 10 per post.

For me, it’s a labor of love.

And time.

As “06880″ has grown, so have the hours I spend on it.

There’s writing, sure. But also interviewing, researching, responding to comments (public and private), taking and sizing and framing photos, and scouring the web for appropriate (and occasionally inappropriate)  graphics.

I spend a few bucks, too. I pay to keep “06880″ ad-free. I pay for domain mapping. I pay for photo-editing software.

So, once a year — on my anniversary — I put out my tin cup.

If you like what you read, please consider supporting “06880.”

A suggested donation to "06880."

A suggested donation to “06880.”

Am I worth $1 a month?  $1 a week?  Perhaps (my choice!) $1 a day.

If you think “06880″ deserves 10 cents a day, that’s only $36.50. (If you think it’s worth more — and you can afford more — well, who am I to argue?)

I hope if “06880″ has ever

  • made you  laugh, cry, think or wonder
  • spurred you to go to an event, read a book, try a restaurant or patronize a store
  • kept you up to date in a blizzard, hurricane, windstorm or power outage
  • helped publicize your event, book, appearance or concert
  • published your photo
  • delivered breaking news
  • opened a window on Westport’s history, helped you think about its future, introduced you to someone in town you never knew, or helped you look at someone or someplace in a new way
  • given you a voice in the comments section

– you will considering tossing something my way.

Can't we all just get along?

Can’t we all just get along?

Republicans: Think of me as a small (ho ho) businessman doing his best.

Democrats: Help a non-union worker get some benefits.

Libertarians: You won’t find a “Comments” section like ours anywhere else in the world.

Thanks for 4 great years.  I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, whether anyone sends an anniversary gift or not.

But it would be nice.

You can donate by PayPal: click here, then click “Transfer” and select “Send Someone Money” from the drop-down menu, and enter this email address:  dwoog@optonline.net.  You don’t even need a PayPal account!

Checks (or cash, if you’re paranoid I’ll find out who you are) may be mailed to:  Dan Woog, 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880.  Put “06880″ on the memo line.  It won’t do anything for the IRS, but it may help you remember at tax time why you sent me something.

Comments On “Comments”: An “06880″ Plea

Sunday’s “06880″ post — based on a reader’s request for insights into the Westport and Weston school systems — elicited plenty of reasoned, insightful and well-written responses. The online discussion was thoughtful, nuanced and robust.

Lately, that’s a rarity.

The “Comments” section here too often resembles the Wild West — not Westport.

This rendering of the new Y unleashed a torrent of hostility -- much of it anonymous.

This rendering of the new Y unleashed a torrent of hostility — much of it anonymous.

Everyone knows that every Westporter has an opinion about everything. Taxes, education, transportation, downtown, infrastructure, recreation, Winslow Park, Baron’s South — if it exists, we’re experts on it.

One of the reasons I started “06880″ nearly 4 years ago was to be able to express my opinions about my hometown.

And to give everyone else — those who grew up here, live here now, or somehow wander through this town (or site) — a chance to express theirs, too.

One of the founding tenets of “06880″ was that anonymous comments were okay. The First Amendment is a powerful force (though it does not apply to private blogs), and from the beginning readers took advantage of the option for anonymity to toss in their 2 cents’ worth.

Some were private citizens, eager to talk but worried what their friends and neighbors might think. Others were town officials, happy for a chance to chime in without bringing their names and titles into the discussion.

But — month by month, year by year — the thoughtful anonymous commenters have been elbowed aside by trolls. Bozos. Haters.

Troll -- or "06880" commenter?

Troll — or “06880″ commenter?

Those are not my descriptions. They’re yours — expressed to me in emails, by readers frustrated that the comments section has devolved into a mud pit of finger-pointing, name-calling and real nastiness.

I have always responded the same way to those emails: “I am a firm believer in the First Amendment. I don’t like what some people say, but I defend their right to say it. I’m keeping the ‘anonymous’ option open.”

Three recent stories, though — two on gun control (right after Newtown, and on Monday), the other on the Y (really, just 3 architectural drawings of the new building) — may be a tipping point.

Scott Smith — who always comments using his real name, alias-sounding though it is — emailed me:

I know you don’t agree, but I think the policy of allowing anonymous posters devalues what has become a vital community resource.

I know full well the online trusim that uninhibited commenting results in an inexorable drive to the lowest common denominators among us. Trolls, crackpots, hatemongers and the uninformed always come to dominate and ultimately drive out the more insightful people who might wish to add their views.

I see it as a shame as I, perhaps naively, wish for more enlightened discussion among a group I willingly choose to be a part of. But who wants to 1) stoop to their level, 2) get attacked personally, or 3) engage in an unfair debate?

Not me, and it seems, increasingly, many other loyal, intelligent denizens of “06880.” Though many of your own items are wonderfully insightful and uplifting, the comments on your blog are all too often just the opposite.

Scott noted that when he argued in the comments section for a policy in which commenters could use pseudonyms only with my blessing, and for a reason, he was attacked by an anonymous person — and his place of employment cited.

He said — and others have, too — that serious commenters no longer contribute their thoughts. They’ve been driven away by the level of vitriol.

Another commenter who believes "06880" is Number One.

Another commenter who believes “06880″ is Number One.

Scott acknowledges that “the unbridled free-for-all of anonymous commenting can be fun and liberating. Certainly revealing. I know you like a certain amount of free-spirited rabble-rousing.

“But like most libertarian exercises, the end result is usually excess, anarchy and ultimately negative consequences. Sadly, we are not an altogether enlightened species. Too often, dumb and dumber triumph over good and gooder.”

Scott admits he’ll “probably keep checking in on ’06880′ every day. There is too much good stuff on it, from you and occasionally from others.” But he may not check the comments.

Or, he says, “I may join the dark side and start posting anonymously. (I bet I would be vicious.)”

Neither solution is appealing, he says. So he turns to me for the answer.

Thanks a lot.

I’m not sure of the solution. Personally approving every comment would take far too much time — and because of the lag, it would kill the real-time conversation that can make a blog like this so valuable.

I could ban certain commenters. Again, more work for me. (And not foolproof.)

I could require names. But I’ve seen blogs that do that, and the discussions on them are about as lively as a Trappist monastery.

This is not how I want to spend my time.

This is not how I want to spend my time.

I could sweep through the comments section every so often, deleting those I deem overly nasty, personal, unsubstatiated or whatever. But that too takes time. Plus the comments would already have been seen. Plus it seems way too school-marmish for me.

There may be a way to have commenters register, with their names and emails, before posting. It’s an extra step or 2 for the commenters — though time they could use to compose their thoughts logically, perhaps? — but that’s not foolproof either. It’s not always easy verifying which names are real.

So maybe the burden isn’t on me after all. Maybe it’s on you. Maybe, as we head into a new year, readers’ resolutions should be to call off the attack dogs. To play nice. To use your inside voices.

I want the “comments” section to remain an important part of “06880.” I want this online community to really feel like a community — not a dysfunctional family. I want, above all, to keep allowing people to comment.

But I may not be able to. My new year’s resolution is to not get another email like the one I got from Scott Smith.

Or the many similar ones I got before his, from readers who no longer feel welcome at “06880.”

Talking Turkey

The “Comments” pages of “06880″ have been filled with wild stuff the past year.  Crazy drivers, crazy weather, crazy crap going down with senior housing  — if I’ve written about it, you’ve commented on it.

Today, let’s play nice.

This post’s “Comments” are devoted to a simple topic:  giving thanks

I’ll start it off.  I’m thankful that I live in such a beautiful, creative, compassionate, involved and supportive town.

I’m thankful for the thousands of readers who make “06880″ such an interesting labor of love.

And I’m thankful that despite all the craziness that sometimes threatens to drown us, we somehow manage to keep our heads above water, shake ourselves dry, and find our way back to firm, familiar land.

Oh, yeah.  I’m also thankful for electricity.  It’s on, most of the time.

Now it’s your turn.  What are you thankful for?  Just click the “Comments” link.

Thank you!

Westport illustrator Stevan Dohanos’ “Saturday Evening Post” cover, 1941 — 71 years ago.

Happy Anniversary To Me!

Three years ago today — March 6, 2009 — “06880″ was born.

The first post described what this blog would be:  open-ended conversations with a Westport angle, no matter how tenuous.  I invited comments, feedback, tips — anything.

No one responded.

Things picked up soon — my 2nd post, on a Staples PTA “Risky Behaviors” panel, drew 5 comments.  “06880″ was off to the races.

Time flies when you’re having fun.  Exactly 3 years later, my blog and I celebrate our 3rd anniversary.

Thinking of a gift?  That’s sweet.  The traditional 3rd-year gift is leather. (Ahem.)

I’d prefer money.

Donate as much as you'd like to "06880"

For the past 3 years, “06880″ has published over 1,900 posts — nearly 2 a day.  Some have been international in scope — the ones on porn star Marilyn Chambers, “Paranormal Activity” star Micah Sloat and supermodel twins and “Amazing Race” stars Derek and Drew Riker still draw viewers, years later.

Others are intensely local:  the departure and return of Mike Aitkenhead to Wakeman Town Farm. Drivers who leave the Robeks parking lot by going directly over the curb onto the Post Road.  Tributes to remarkable people like Esta BurroughsRich Rollins and Manny Margolis.

When snow -- and trees -- fell in October, "06880" was there.

I cover all our crazy weather: windstorms, hurricanes, a freak October snowstorm. When the power goes out — yeah, it happens — “06880″ keeps publishing. With photos, updates on what’s open (the library and Y, usually), and we’ll-all-get-through-this-together tales.

I’ve given shout-outs to Westport kids — international science fair winners, an 8-year-old future hotel owner, even a beloved kids’ librarian.

I’ve looked back at the history of the Mill Pond, chronicled the changes on Church Street, and peered into the Twilight Zone of Westport’s own Rod Serling.

"06880" has gone Down Under for stories -- well, to the Down Under kayak shop in Saugatuck, anyway.

I’ve covered the ABC House, the Tea Party, the environment, education, restaurants,  artists, oystermen, fires, the movement for a new movie theater, the movement of the Y, the demise of downtown and the rise of Saugatuck.

I’ve provided a forum for wide-open discussions of anything and everything — on-topic, a bit tangential, and way, waaaaay off.

And it’s all been free.  A public service, if you will.

Of course, even servants like to eat.  So in honor of my anniversary, I’m making an NPR-style plea.  If you like what you read, please consider supporting “06880.”

Am I worth $1 a month?  $1 a week?  Perhaps (my choice!) $1 a day.

You can turn the page -- or you can help this man eat for a day.

If you think “06880″ deserves 10 cents a day, that’s only $36.60 (2012 is a leap year :) ).  If you think it’s worth more — and you can afford more — well, who am I to argue?

Unlike Channel 13, you won’t get a Peter, Paul and Mary DVD.  Or a tote bag.  Donations are not even tax-deductible.

What you will get is the chance to help me recover a bit of the cost of registering domains, keeping “06880″ ad-free, and spending 2 hours every day interviewing, researching, writing, responding to comments (public and private), taking and sizing and framing photos, and scouring the web for appropriate (and occasionally inappropriate)  graphics.

Thanks for 3 great years.  I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, whether anyone sends an anniversary gift or not.

But it would be nice.

You can donate by PayPal: click here, then go to “Send Money” and enter this email address:  dwoog@optonline.net.  You don’t even need a PayPal account!

Or checks may be mailed to:  Dan Woog, 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880.  Put “06880″ on the memo line.  It won’t do anything for the IRS, but it may help you remember at tax time why you sent me something.

Shameless Self-Promotion

One of the advantages of having your own blog is being able to blog about teaching blogging.

So here goes:

I’ve teamed up with Westport Writers’ Workshop to offer a 2-evening session called “Be a Blogger.”  On Thursday, July 14 and 21 (7 to 9 p.m.), I’ll help aspiring bloggers — this means you! — learn how to:

  • Choose a topic.
  • Generate ideas.
  • Create content.
  • Find a voice.
  • Respond to the Dude, Anonymous, or whoever else comments on your stuff — and create a community in the process.

We’ll also cover the mechanics of choosing a platform, finding graphics, and marketing and maintaining your blog.

That’s the 1st Thursday.  In the hands-on, interactive 2nd session you’ll develop your own blog, write the 1st post, put it online — and hear immediate feedback from fellow workshop participants.

Here’s 1 free hint on how to start blogging:  Embrace action verbs.

But you have to pay for the rest.

(Westport Writers’ Workshop is at 3 Sylvan Road South.  Anyone age 14 and up is welcome.  For more information and to register, click here.  Space is limited to 12 soon-to-be-awesome bloggers.)

“06880″ For Your iPad

If you own an iPad, you know how easy it is to follow “06880″ anywhere you go.

Now we’re much sharper, bolder and interactive too.

A new interface gives “06880″ a distinctive look.

Photos, stories, graphics — they’re all maximized for the iPad.  It’s completely different than reading the blog on a desktop or laptop.

And don’t worry, dude (and Dude):  You can still comment to your heart’s delight.

(To get “06880″ on your iPad, open Safari and type in http://www.danwoog06880.com.  To add an “06880″ button to your home screen — so we’re always just a click away — tap the arrow button at the top of the Safari page.)

Happy New Year!

Here’s wishing all of us — the world, Westport, and (especially) the “06880″ community — a happy, healthy and inspiring 2011.

Dissenting opinions are, of course, welcome.


“06880″ Is 1

A year ago tomorrow — March 6, 2009 — “06880″ was born.

The first post described what this blog would be:  open-ended conversations with a Westport angle, no matter how tenuous.  I invited comments, feedback, tips — anything.

No one responded.

Things picked up soon — my 2nd post, on a Staples PTA’s “Risky Behaviors” panel — drew 3 comments.  “06880″ was off to the races.

Time flies when you’re having fun.  Exactly 1 year later, my blog and I celebrate our 1st anniversary.

Thinking of a gift?  That’s sweet.  Ironically, the traditionally 1st-year gift is paper.

But I’d prefer money.

Feel free to donate as much as you wish to "06880."

For the past year, “06880″ has offered up approximately 650 posts — nearly 2 a day.  Some have been international in scope — the ones on porn star Marilyn Chambers, “Paranormal Activity” star Micah Sloat and supermodel twins and “Amazing Race” stars Derek and Drew Riker still draw viewers, months later — while others are intensely local:  drivers who leave the Robeks parking lot by going directly over the curb onto the Post Road.  Arby’s taking advantage when Westport eased up on its sign regulations.  Edyo Keehan‘s tireless work on behalf of Westport’s World War II veterans.

And it’s all been free.  A public service, if you will.

In honor of my anniversary, I’m making an NPR-style plea.  If you like what you hear read, please consider supporting “06880.”

Am I worth $1 a month?  $1 a week?  Perhaps (my choice!) $1 a day.

Unlike Channel 13, you won’t get a Peter, Paul and Mary DVD.  Or a tote bag.  Donations are not even tax-deductible.

What you will get is the chance to help me recover a bit of the cost of registering domains, keeping “06880″ ad-free, and spending an hour or 2 each day interviewing, writing, responding to comments, and scouring the web for appropriate (and occasionally inappropriate) photos and graphics.

Thanks for a great year.  I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, whether anyone sends an anniversary gift or not.

But it would be nice.

(Checks may be made out and sent to:  Dan Woog, 301 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880.  Put “06880″ on the memo line.  It won’t do anything for the IRS, but it may help you remember at tax time why you sent me some money.)