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Polar Blair's Den
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1. What Came First? The "Polar Blair" or the
2. Events That Lead to Polar Blair's Den.
3. Why "Polar Blair's Den"?
4. The Igloo Logo
5. The Fans
7. The First Hiatus
8. Early Days on the Web and the Second Hiatus
9. Back on the Scene
12. Newsletter Archive
1. What Came First? The "Polar Blair"
For some who ask, it's kind of like the old chicken
and the egg question. You know: "What came first, the
chicken or the egg?" My nickname of "Polar Blair" came long
before "Polar Blair's Den"...by a slip of the tongue on my part.
I was 11 years old, talking to my mom about my favorite wild animal,
the polar bear, when "Polar Blair" just slipped out. Usually,
people don't give themselves their own nickname, but I did and it
stuck. It wasn't until 1997 that
people outside of my family knew about my nickname.
2. Events That Lead to Polar Blair's Den.
It was 1997, my senior year of high school, and our
new English teacher was starting up a school newspaper. Our
school never had a school newspaper before. If we did, Polar
Blair's Den would've come out much sooner. Mrs. Teresa Martin had
a good idea of starting up a school newspaper. The problem was
that she found very few students who wanted to write for the
newspaper. Let me stop right there to tell you a little more
about Mrs. Martin. That was her first year of teaching anywhere
(before this she was a housewife). She was a good teacher, nice,
thoughtful, and attractive. Still, most students in her classes
didn't treat her very nice. I did, but most of the kids in my
high school were real "stink-heads" to put it light. She left
our high school after one year. From what I hear, she started
teaching in Cedar Falls, Iowa. I don't know what happened to her
after that. She started "The Knight Page", in which Polar Blair's
Den appeared, and it went under that name for a part of the next school
year after she left, but without her guidance it just didn't last that
much longer. I don't think anyone after her had much of a desire
to run the school newspaper. Plus, there were never that
many contributors, which was sad. In our area, there weren't that
many high school kids who wanted to write.
Mrs. Martin liked the essays I wrote and sought me
out, asking me specifically to write for what she was calling "The
Knight Page". It wasn't a newspaper by itself, but a section of
the town's newspaper named after our team "The Knights". I was an
"A" student who loved to write, and it's the only extracurricular
activity I ever participated in throughout my entire school career.
I wanted to write a weekly column. Something
intelligent, but fun. Mainly, I just wanted to get people
interested in SOMETHING...anything. There were just too many
people in society, as there are today, who don't have an interest in
anything. I don't know how such a widely-held attitude came into
place, but I wanted it to change. I did NOT want to write
a commentary; commentaries don't accomplish anything. One
person's opinion on something just isn't that
important. I wanted to speak to everyone, not an exclusive
audience. Since I was old enough to read I was infatuated with
trivia books and just about anything with facts and figures.
"Ripley's Believe it or Not" cartoons are still a big hit with
me. I developed a weekly column full of interesting tidbits of
information. Now I just needed a name.
3. Why "Polar Blair's Den"?
It wasn't that hard to come up with the name Polar
Blair's Den. Polar Blair was already my "home" nickname,
and since I already knew a lot about my favorite wild animal, I knew
that polar bears lived in dens. Hence "Polar Blair's Den".
4. The Igloo Logo
something that would draw attention to my
column right away. People would look for this logo every week and
know that they would find Polar Blair's Den. I imagined a
flashy-looking igloo that would welcome visitors by its very
appearance. The igloo has an open door with a red carpet leading
up to it lined with runway lights. The night sky in the
background brought the whole scene together, giving the "Den" that
nightclub look. I was going for that Las Vegas type of look.
At first I wanted the logo to be in color.
Back then, our local newspapers did not have color. In recent
years (at the time of this writing), all of our local newspapers in
Eastern Iowa have color. I drew it in black-and-white and was
later glad I did. You can make out everything in the
picture much better because it's black-and-white. In this case,
color would've ruined it. It's the very same logo I use in the
Polar Blair's Den website.
The first Polar Blair's Den article was the only one
that didn't feature the igloo at top. I had the artwork completed
just one day after the deadline (I was misinformed about the deadline,
or it would have been done sooner). Every PBD article afterwards
had the soon-to-be-famous logo.
5. The Fans
I was the ONLY contributing editor to the Knight
Page that wrote for that school year's newspaper every single
week. When I was writing the column, I didn't want to reach out
to just the students of my high school or my age group. I wanted
all ages of people to read Polar Blair's Den. I succeeded.
For the entire run of Polar Blair's Den I heard from fans of both
genders and of all ages ranging from 6 to senior citizen.
What I didn't expect was that Polar Blair's Den
would have such a far reach. The article came out in the La Porte
City, Iowa newspaper. However, I heard from regular readers from
a 50-mile radius. Pretty good for a small-town school newspaper
journalist! Some of the towns that I know had Polar Blair's Den
La Porte, Dysart, Vinton, Reinbeck, Waterloo, and Cedar Rapids (among
Another interesting fact is that La Porte
City's "The Progress Review" newspaper had always been a thin newspaper
before Polar Blair's Den. After Polar Blair's Den was out for a
few weeks, the paper became three times thicker. After Polar
Blair's Den ended, "The Progress Review" shrunk to its previous size
and has stayed that way. At the end of my senior
year of high school, I received a free subscription from "The Progress
Review" because I increased their circulation. The free
subscription was only supposed to last a year, but I ended up getting
it for almost two years.
I really enjoyed writing Polar Blair's
Den. If I would've had the time to do it in college, I
might have continued Polar Blair's Den in a campus newspaper.
However, there are certain limitations with newspapers that PBD faced
on a weekly basis. I had to keep my articles short so they
wouldn't take up too much space. The biggest drawback for me was
the fact that I couldn't have more pictures. Illustrations take
up a lot of space in the newspaper, especially if you want them to be
big enough to see clearly.
There were other problems I had, specifically with
"The Progress Review" newspaper. The person in charge of putting
my articles in the newspapers almost always made mistakes. After
a while I began to think it was intentional. Since PBD was
the only real exciting thing in that paper, I assume that person was
jealous and wanted to make me look foolish. I proofread every
single article I turned in 7-8 times. Almost every week I
would look in the paper and find spelling mistakes, grammatical errors,
parts of my article repeated, and sometimes words with extra letters
added in to make it look like profanity. I was really upset about
the profanity words, and I gave notes to Mrs. Martin, the chief editor
for us high school kids, that asked the "Progress Review" staff to
carefully look over their work. They had no effect.
If high school didn't end for me, I probably would
have stopped writing for "The Progress Review" newspaper, anyway.
I wasn't at all pleased with the incompetence. Polar Blair's Den
was meant to be professional, and someone tried to take the
polish off my hard work. I hope this doesn't sound critical
(because I'm not a critical person by any means), but when you work
hard on something to make it look right you should have the full
cooperation of others you're working with to make it that way. I
feel I received that cooperation.
On a good note, the "errors" didn't drive off any of
my regular readers. In fact, I kept getting more readers all the
time and found out that most of them didn't even notice the newspaper's
"mistakes". Still, when things like that happened I always kind
of held my breath like, "Oh, man! I'm gonna hear it now!".
7. The First Hiatus
For two years after high school I wanted to continue
Polar Blair's Den, but didn't know how. College got in the way,
and even if I had time I didn't want to write for a newspaper
again. My frustration with "The Progress Review" aside,
newspapers as a medium are just very limiting. Then something
unexpected happened. I got my first computer in 1999. I
also got a free website service from our local Internet
provider. I thought about a Polar Blair's Den website for awhile
before starting work on it in early 2000.
8. Early Days on the Web and the Second
I started work on the website in early 2000. I
did it all by HTML language which is very time-consuming and difficult
to do. Updates weren't very frequent because HTML is so
tedious. After all, I had college. I made three major
updates in 2000, then I stopped working on the website for almost four
years! In 2000, I signed up for all sorts of webrings, made links
on my website to other websites, and had links on other people's
websites to mine. I also suggested my site to many search
engines. These were all very good for awhile, and they helped the
PBD site to get noticed, but almost all of the webrings and
links died off in a few years. Some websites just don't last very
learned not to make links to anything that I don't feel will stay on
the Web for a long time. My site could still be found through
many search engines, though.
My old website service, NetINS (an Iowa-based
provider), started changing their service and e-mail addresses.
There were a few times I thought Polar Blair's Den was gone for
good! This is why it's important to back up files! Luckily,
I was able to retrieve my website and keep what I had
online. I also had most of it saved on disks. Since I had
the free Showcase account, I wasn't given that much space to display my
site. I wanted to make Polar Blair's Den bigger (whenever I had
time) and I wanted to have my own ".com". I tried to get one of
their more expanded Showcase account packages, but they made it
too difficult so I decided to just keep my free account, but get a
bigger Showcase account from another website provider. Sometime
in 2002 I purchased a bigger Showcase account from HostSave.com (later
Although I didn't have time to move or work on my website until early
2004, I still kept the service.
9. Back on the Scene
It was around May of 2004 that I finally got my
first book published, "Lenta Shane, the Tiger-Woman". I had been
done with my school days for some time, but pretty much since I got out
of college in 2002, I was working hard on getting my book out
there. I realized that the book's best exposure would be on my
own website. I developed a HUGE area for Lenta Shane that dwarfed
the rest of the website. Like a concerned parent, I felt the rest
of the website had been neglected. Even when I didn't work on the
website for a period of years, I was still hearing from people all over
the world who appreciated what I did. So I thought, why not bulk
it up a bit?
A little something I learned about during my college
days made working on the website go much faster and smoother. I
used an HTML-editing program called Netscape Composer (later called
SeaMonkey). No longer did I have to type in every bit of
code. This was nice.
Well, the first book didn't sell great, due largely
to my publisher's negligence. An author can promote the heck out
of his/her book, but if that person doesn't have the support of their
publisher, then it's dead in the water. That's what happened with
"Lenta". But, "Lenta" was responsible for transforming Polar
Blair's Den from a humble little site into a big, shiny monster of a
website. The rest of the website has continued to flourish, while
the "Lenta" feature went away in a couple years.
2005 was a red-letter year for Polar Blair's
Den. Not only did the
website grow by leaps and bounds, but the number of visitors and fan
response blew me away! By September of 2005, "Polar Blair's Den"
got 1,000 visitors every 2-3 days. Sometimes it received 1,000
hits in one day, although that was not always typical. It took me
awhile, but I finally decided to put the same counter on every page of
the site sometime earlier in the Summer. I had toyed with
counters three times since my website began, and every time the
counters would eventually stop working. This was the last time I
would ever work with counters in Polar Blair's Den; they're just not
reliable. But what I learned from this last attempt is that Polar
Blair's Den was more popular than ever before, by quite a stretch!
I heard from many readers and made many wonderful
friends. I started to become great
friends with celebrities that I've admired for years. Gayle
Caldwell (d. 2009) was my very first, "close" celebrity friend, made in
February of 2005. Quinn O'Hara, who became my best
friend, came along on June 27, 2005. I also came into contact
with other celebrities including
actors, musicians, professional lady-wrestlers, models...all kinds of
people! It's been exciting for me and at that point 2006 looked
even brighter...it wasn't, but that's another story.
For the first time in my life, I started a Christmas
card list! I never before knew too many people that I was good
enough friends with to send cards. I'm a private person...to an
extent...but was thrilled to now know SO many great people to wish
holiday greetings! This is what the popularity of Polar Blair's
Den...with the help of its fans...has done for me!
Where 2005 was a real blowout for Polar Blair's Den,
2006 and much of 2007 proved stagnant. I still made updates, but
they were few and far between. In 2006, my father's health
worsened and, on May 31, he passed away. It was a rough time for
me. During the last two years of his life we had not gotten along
like we always had before. His poor health and chronic pain gave
him an ill temperament. In early March, he had snapped at me in
such a manner that I got mad at him and we didn't speak for a long
time. In the two weeks prior to his death, we had started talking
again and everything was going as well as it could. Then I found
him lying on the ground.
I barely touched my computer until October. I
received numerous e-mails and letters asking me if I was okay or, my
personal favorite, "Are you still alive?" So thanks to the
support of Polar Blair's Den friends, I started working again.
After my father's death, I started losing the weight I gained due to
stress that stemmed from his health crisis. I was wearing a size
52, my father's size, and it scared me to no end. His death came
from being overweight, which led to severe diabetes and heart
failure. I didn't want to end up like that. When I started
losing weight, it was quite by accident. I barely ate for three
weeks due to grief. Then I discovered that my clothes started
fitting looser. I liked that, so I decided to start losing weight
on purpose. I got down to a size 46 before I started working at
the now-defunct Landmark Aviation. Serious, unbelievable mental
stress and physical exhaustion brought me back up to a size 48.
Since I left Landmark, my weight went down again and I'm working hard
on my goal of a size 42 (which is ideal for a man of my height and
Going back to October, 2006, I was very unhappy with
the look and functionality of my website. It had a lot of
material, but there was no uniform look among pages in the Departments,
and the Departments were not clearly defined. I also had a hard
time finding files to update, and before I knew it I had a mess on my
hands. I never wanted to eliminate anything from Polar Blair's
Den. As a matter of fact, I wanted to expand. But I was in
over my head. Quite frankly, Polar Blair's Den grew too big too
fast and I didn't know how best to manage it.
I'd add a few things here and there. My
newsletters were no longer monthly, but every other month at
best. Most of the time, I didn't release newsletters. And
with the lousy newsletter service I was provided by Bravenet, most of
my subscribers weren't receiving the newsletters I made.
Things needed to change. But when? And how?
Money was tight, and I put Polar Blair's Den on the
backburner as I attempted numerous odd jobs for money. My
financial situation finally forced me to enter the "real" working world
on October 1, 2007. The job was fine, but the employer
sucked. What was meant to be a nice, quiet job until I got my
other projects rolling became an all-consuming monster. Polar
Blair's Den was ignored, but not by choice. I wasn't allowed the
time to do a single thing for myself. The weight I had lost since
my father's death was slowly starting to come back due to heavy
stress. This job depressed the heck out of me and I felt
trapped. After many months away from the Den, I happened to look
at the hidden counters on my website one day. These are the
counters that you don't see on the website, but I can see from my
website service provider account page. This was in late
summer of 2008. It said that I was receiving anywhere from 10,000
to 15,000 hits a day! Wowza! I was amazed when I first
started getting 1,000 to 2,000 hits a day. This was
astronomical! What's more, my website was getting this kind of
traffic when it was untidy. I thought to myself, "How
well-traveled could this site be if I made it look cleaner with easier
navigation?" I also realized that I wanted to do Polar Blair's
Den for a living. I wanted to use this website as a vehicle to
make an income. It's what I loved doing. But in order to do
this, I had to make the site look better.
Organization and easy
navigation were two things, but I decided to start adding cool
load websites done with it. I realized in the last few years,
computers and Internet connections advanced markedly in size of
memory and speed. Just about everyone in the world had a computer
that could load the nicer-looking websites. I wanted to have a
slicker-looking website that went beyond the basic HTML. By the
much glitz. I really do think the beauty of Polar Blair's Den is
in its clean appearance and massive size. That's how I wanted to
It was in August of 2008 that I took Polar Blair's
Den completely offline except for the index page. I did this
totally unannounced. Believe me, I got the
e-mails. People were concerned. I knew it would never be a
good time to take it clean off. It's what I had to do to best
rebuild the site. I realized that I had to take things one
Department at a time...for the most part. I also realized that
show business Departments were my most popular features. They had
to be done first. At the time, I had only Movies and Television
for the show business Departments. I had a hard time placing
features about actors between the two, so I thought, duh, why not make
a Department expressly for actors? So I created, for the first
time, the brand new Actors/Actresses/Performers Department. Even
though I worked on three Departments, they all crossed over into each
other and I treated it as one subject.
I didn't upload anything until November of
2008. I made the official announcement that Polar Blair's Den was
"back" for the December newsletter.
The December, 2008 newsletter was another milestone
for Polar Blair's Den. I wasn't happy with the newsletter service
I was receiving from Bravenet (provider of free webmaster tools).
I KNEW how people were sure to get my newsletter. I came up with
the idea to make each month's newsletter a hidden page in my
website. I would then send out one e-mail to all my newsletter
subscribers, giving them a link to this newsletter page. It would
no longer eat up lots of precious space in people's e-mail inboxes, and
they could look at the newsletter at their own leisure. Since
space was not an issue on my own page, I could make the newsletter much
more grand in size and appearance. I could also keep a regular
template for my newsletter so it didn't need to be completely redone
every month. Above all else, people could easily skip around to
read about the subjects that interested them via the Table of
Contents. In countless ways, the new PBD Really Fun Newsletter is
much better than its earlier incarnation.
With better organization, and a commitment to keep
my newsletter monthly, Polar Blair's Den became larger and
more attractive than ever before!
12. Newsletter Archive
From December, 2008 onward, my monthly
newsletter will be an ongoing chronicle of Polar Blair's Den
progress. To learn more about what's been going on, please visit