Today is one of my favorite days of the year: March fourth. Misspell it and it's the only day of the year that almost forms a sentence: March forth. It is a declarative; you must obey. No choice is given, get up, get out, March Forth.
Declarative statements, I have discovered, reduce in number as you get older--as long as we exclude declaratives issued to children and stick instead to the self-imposed declarative: "I will never talk to that person again as long as I live!" "I would never do that!" "Oh, I would absolutely do it a different way if I was in charge!"
It's easy to declare your intentions when you have the bluster and arrogance of twenty-some years behind you. I did it hundreds of times. Now, I tend to keep my mouth shut, think things through, and then, perhaps, if it fits into the conversation, discuss that I was thinking of doing such-and-such. Which is not to say that I don't declare my intentions every now and then--a quick search of the archives here will catch me with my declaratives showing, I'm sure. But it's getting easier and easier to leave the declaring to teenagers and twentysomethings and the younger crowd. They take more energy than I'm willing to expend these days.
They're wearing me out down here. Between the moving and the lifting and the strangeness of the sleeping arrangements (two strange bedrooms in as many nights) I am just not getting enough sleep. Last night the strangeness got to Worf, their Rhodesian Ridgeback, who decided to survey the perimeter at 2 a.m. All the floors are hardwood; a 100-lb. dog makes quite the tick-tick-tick noise when his claws hit the wooden floor as he paces the house. It made me feel comfortable that he was patrolling, but I really would rather he had done it before we all fell asleep instead of after. And he's definitely getting back into his old state of mind; he scared the bejeezus out of the plumber today, who declined to come any closer to the front door than he already was when he saw (and heard) Worf leaping and barking his "I'm going to kill you!" bark.
Actually, I get quite a kick out of watching people's reaction to Worf, and even more of a kick being on Worf's short list of who belongs to him. No one else can get in this house without being challenged except for the family. He used to bark at me until he realized it was me, but not anymore. When I come over he takes a quick glance and goes "Oh, it's you" and then comes up for a pet and a bump. Heidi says if they're ever robbed and Worf isn't dead and full of bullet holes, she's telling the police to find out where I was that day, because I'd be the only one who could have gotten away with it.
Yesterday after dinner, the house was filled with his roars. Worf was quiet by necessity while they were in their temporary apartment, and at the end of his first day in his new house, he and Sparty got into their usual after-dinner routine of barking loudly and chasing one another. Worf has a deep, loud, bass bark; Sparty's is the high-pitched yip of all miniature poodles. The sound magnified and echoed in the Great Room, where Worf was, overwhelming us in the kitchen. We just covered our ears and watched them play. They'd earned it. Of particular interest was seeing how they'd react to slippery hardwood floors. We were expecting slides into walls. We were disappointed. Damn, those Ridgebacks are smart. Worf adjusted immediately and spread his legs wide, crouching as he ran, to keep his balance.
Here's hoping Worf decides that the one perimeter watch was enough. I could really use a good night's sleep. permalink
Bugs and Ballet
It must have been insect day and nobody told me. First I have a nightmare in which millions and millions of bees are swarming, and I have to drive through them to get home. But that didn't scare me or wake me up; what bothered me was that when I finally did get inside the house, a bee landed on my head and was crawling around in my hair, causing me to scream, "There's a bee on my hair! Get it off! Get it off!" which somehow scared me enough to wake me up. Go figure. Nightmares are impossible to decipher. I'm really not very afraid of bees, although I'm not fond of them.
There are ants in the temporary apartment that Heidi and family is no longer inhabiting. They seem to like the bathroom the most; either that, or I can see them the most easily when they clamber about the bathtub. Although I was extremely annoyed to see one on my plate last night as I was just about finished with dinner, proving they were beginning to take over the apartment.
Heidi's rather matter-of-fact about the ants. The apartment management corporation wasn't all that helpful when things like toilet flooding happened; she figures they already know about the ants. Either that, or the apartment complex was built over an old ant cemetary, she says. And besides, we're in the new house completely as of today, so who cares if the apartment has ants?
This house is beautiful. I'm sitting in front of the fireplace, on a comfortable leather chair, with my feet on the ottoman, in what is known as the Great Room. The ceiling stretches some sixteen feet above me, and the glassed doors open onto the Great Deck, which is half-moon shaped and from which we can survey the woods behind the house and everything down the hill. Everything smells new; everything looks new; everything feels new. I am the first resident of the guest room (which has been referred to as "your room" by my friends since they began building the house). Alas, the new bed for the guest room won't be here until Wednesday, so tonight and for the next few nights I have to sleep on the dreaded futon/featherbed combination. I miss the waterbed.
We brought the dogs here this afternoon for the first time since the house was a frame in the woods. Dogs are much easier to move than cats. They ran around, sniffed things, looked for food, and immediately decided it was much nicer here than in their apartment. My cats will be under my bed for at least two months when I move. Well, Gracie will, anyway. But Sparty is lying on my feet, and Worf is looking to see if anyone is hiding any food around. I'm off to the ballet in a few minutes.
Back from the ballet, back on the seat in front of the fireplace, and thinking amusing things about Prokofiev's Cinderella. The Richmond Ballet wasn't bad, although the Prince had a few flawed landings. The ballet itself wasn't nearly as compelling as I had hoped, but then, it was the Cinderella story after all. I discovered an amusing pastime when I started getting bored, and it was killing me to be unable to share with my companions--who were Sorena, eight, and Hannah, nine. Heidi got to stay home and work on the house while I took the kids to the ballet. She'd already seen and fallen asleep during it.So when I started getting bored, I found myself examining the dancers' packages, and wondering if they all stuff, or if any were truly au natural. (Don't even pretend to be shocked; I'm a single, healthy, red-blooded American woman.) Then I began to decide which one I would most like to take home with me after the performance. Mr. Silver Tights won, with Mr. Dark Green Tights a very close second, and Mr. Purple Tights (no snickering there in the back) in third place. The Prince would not have been given a second glance, lead male role or not. Yeah, I know half of 'em are gay, but hey--I said I was bored. And during the second act, my little game gave an entirely new meaning to the title of the act: "A Ball at the Palace." permalink
I love the first days of the month. I know I've said it before, but this is the time of the month I get to see all of the search phrases instead of just the most popular and the first twenty or so to register. The ways people find my site can be vastly amusing, or puzzling as hell.
"Old metal workers having lunch Empire State Building". Someone found this site via that search. That, however, is not nearly as distressing as "www.prisoners.com". I had no idea I was being that strict; please consider yourselves all free to come and go as you please--as long as you're back in your cells by lockdown each evening.
"Dress me up Osama." Wow. Someone wants Our Buddy Bin to help him get dressed. Frightening. But not as much as "Americans will do Taliban". I sure hope that "do" doesn't mean what I think it means. Hm. "Why Osama hates American cartoons." Now that sounds like I should write a blog about it.
Heather! Dooce! They're looking for you and finding me, so here's your link back.
And, as always, the top search phrases--even in less than two days--are "John Edward fraud" and searches on Miss Cleo. It's my pleasure to serve the public by pointing out that Edward and Youree Dell Harris (her real name, which is what you're mostly looking for) are frauds, charlatans, and thieves. Don't call them, darlin's!
P.S.: Happy birthday, Dave. permalink
Thankfully, it was an uneventful trip. No real traffic problems, and even though I had my traditional late start, I arrived in Virginia early enough for us to go to a barbecue restaurant for dinner. The three-foot-tall plastic pig (with serving platter and apron) was interesting. (I had the beef, if you're that curious.) The cashier had a pen with a plastic pig's head on it that, when squeezed, caused the eyeballs to pop out. When you write with it, the eyes light up. Sorena, who is eight, was enthralled. We all laughed, but it's not a pen I'd like to use on a daily basis.
Southerners fry everything. We were given a basket of rolls, hush puppies, and corn nuggets with our dinners. Corn nuggets are pieces of sweet corn somehow stuck together in rectangular shape, breaded, and fried. They were strangely alluring, but then, you could probably bread and fry a page of the New York Times and I'd eat it. Everything tastes better breaded and fried. The hush puppies were better than any others I've had, but they're still no match for latkes. The barbecued beef was excellent.
I am extremely happy to be here. The house is astonishingly beautiful, and even the prospect of moving all that stuff into it can't stop me from appreciating the finished product. I told Heidi that If I didn't have my cats, I'd put my things in storage and board with her and her family. Alas, her Rhodesian Ridgeback would eat my cats, probably in only two bites.
I think the state of Maryland might be sending me a letter soon. There were huge lines at all the toll plazas but the MTag booth, and since the last time I drove through Maryland my EZPass worked in the MTag/EZPass booths, I assumed it would work in this one. When I got there, a sign said "MTag only". Oops. Hey, even if I get a fine, it was worth it to cruise through while everyone else was stuck in line.
The view from the Potomac River Bridge reminded me how incredibly beautiful this country is. Alas, it was an hour before sunset, so I missed the truly spectacular view, but I did catch the sunset over the farmlands of southern Virginia. And a huge red cloud of smoke when I drove through Fort AP Hill. Our soldiers practicing their wargames, no doubt. Last year at this time, an activity like that would have barely registered with me. Now I wonder if the soldiers practicing maneuvers may be headed to the Middle East. 9/11 touches everything these days.
Head-banging music all the way down. I've been in a real head-banging mood while driving, lately. At home, too. And Richmond has an awesome new rock station, dudes! They played Tool as I was driving up to the house! Kewl!
Okay. Sorena is out of the shower, and I'm done for the evening. permalink
It's going to be a little quiet in town today. I'll be back tonight with tales of the (hopefully quiet) journey south.
And I'm already starting later than I was supposed to. Damn the Internet! Damn discussion groups! And triple damn Metafilter!
Praise them with faint damns. (That was one of the funniest lines from "The Sword in the Stone"--the book, not the [kaff] Disney film.)
Damn. Who left this kitchen table such a mess? I'm gonna have to clean it before I can leave. Would this be the right time to also complain that I don't have a maid? Room service? Anyone? Bueller? permalink
Blogsisters is a new community blog--literally--being co-blogged by a number of women bloggers. I don't have the time to join in, but they were kind enough to invite me, so go check it out. And then come back here and click on the Bloggers With Attitude link in the left menu, and find another excellent blog to read.
It occurs to me that my post below makes it look like I don't like Wil Wheaton or his blog. Not so. His blog is funny and interesting, but not on my daily visit list. What I don't like is that I think people were swayed by his celebrity and voted for his blog over others that may have been more worthwhile--like little.yellow.different. permalink
Heather B. Hamilton is the author of Dooce.com, one of the most hilarious blogs I've ever happened upon. Between her and Loriloo, I'm not going to be lacking in the laughs department. (Don't miss Dooce's side boxes; they're at least as funny as the main content. An example: "Currently thinking: How did I get talked into signing up for an Old Navy credit card?")
Another blog I've been really enjoying lately is little.yellow.different. I'd start in on why he should have won the Bloggie rather than Wil Wheaton, but then I'd offend all the reformed Wesley-hating fanboys out there, and we wouldn't want to do that, would we? (Said the woman who never hated either Wesley or Deanna, just enjoyed watching the show.)
An update on my Tig: His eye has healed. I can go to Richmond with a clear conscience. Unless he puts his eye in front of my foot between now and then. I'd say the odds are three to two on my foot.
I had no idea when I posted that little note about Hela Young that I would get 64 searches on three different search engines in three days. I was not exaggerating when I called her New Jersey's Vanna White. I'm guessing there's not a person in the area who can't imitate the way she used to say "The Pick-6 Lotto jackpot is ... ten MILLION dollars!" Sad. She was far too young. permalink
For the past couple of months, I've noticed that Qatar turns up regularly in my web stat demographics. It may be a spider; it may be a spammer using someone else's IP address. But it just may be someone from the from the State of Qatar who reads my weblog. And if it is, there are so many things I wonder about that person. Qatar is 95% Muslim; there is no Jewish population at all that I can discover, and aside from knowing that Al Jazeera is based there, and that it's a Persian Gulf state whose main industry is oil, we've hit the limits of my knowledge of Qatar.
But I wonder many things about my visitor.
You figured out in the last few days that I, like Danny Pearl, am a Jew. Does it bother you to know that I'm Jewish? Does it make a difference in the way you perceive my words? Do you hate me now that you know? Will you stop reading a weblog written by a Jew? Do they hate Jews in Qatar?
Would you kill me because I am Jewish?
Here in America, I learned early about hatred. A boy in my fifth-grade class called me a "jewbagel" one day. I didn't know what it meant, but I was pretty sure it wasn't a compliment. I told the teacher; he apologized to me and got detention. It was my first experience with anti-Semitism, but not my last.
I have worn a Star of David as long as I can remember. It is a part of my identity. Unless I say otherwise, it is the only way you can tell I am a Jew, because I don't "look" Jewish, and I don't have a Jewish-sounding last name, and I don't speak in "Jewish" inflections except when I'm at a large family gathering. But all you have to do is glance at the hollow of my throat, and you will see a six-pointed Magen David that shouts to the world: Yes, I am a Jew.
In college, my then-best friend introduced me to some new people--a group of Iranians attending her school on student visas. I was polite and welcoming to them, but whenever Mary Jo left the room, they would speak to each other in Farsi and look at me strangely. I knew what the looks meant, if not the words, and grew immediately uncomfortable. When I told my friend that her new buddies didn't like me because I am Jewish, she told me it was my imagination. After a few more experiences like that, I decided that when she wanted to spend time with her Iranian friends, she would do it without me.
The first time they spent an evening without me, they apparently filled her in on the evils of having a Jew for a friend. It hadn't been my imagination. It never is. You can't disguise hatred, particularly to the object of your hate.
That was the last time my friend saw the Iranian students socially.
Did I mention that she's Polish? There's an interesting story to that. When we first met as teenagers, our parents didn't want us to be friends. My mother didn't want me hanging around with a Pole. Her father didn't want her hanging around with a Jew. We just ignored our parents until they stopped behaving like idiots--which they did. Another of my closest friends was Polish, too. His parents were from the old country, but they didn't seem to have a problem with their son and me being friends. And my dearest friend now is of German descent. That's three deep friendships I made with people who, had each of us been in Europe instead of America, would probably have never crossed paths--let alone been allowed to be friends.
Is that it? Do you hate us because you don' t know us? But you used to have large Jewish populations in the Arab world; most have since emigrated or been driven out. Unless the government wanted to persecute the Jews--like they did in Syria. I don't understand the logic behind not allowing them to leave, but then, I don't understand anti-Semitism at all.
Some people claim it isn't anti-Semitism, it's anti-Zionism. It's the biggest lie of the 20th century, and working its way into the 21st. You can't separate Jews from Israel. If Zionism has evolved from "the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland" to the support for the State of Israel, then Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism under a new name. When Muslim speakers intertwine "Zionists" with "Jews" or "Israelis", they are speaking the language of hate.
And that language of hate--you're teaching it to more than just your children. You're teaching it to me and mine. You're making me remember that I can be singled out and murdered because I am a Jew. Like the millions who died during the Holocaust. Like Leon Klinghoffer on the Achille Lauro. Like the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Like the Jewish passengers on the hijacked Air France plane that landed in Entebbe Airport. They freed all the non-Jewish passengers and kept only the Jews. Do you remember that? I've never forgotten. It was a lesson thrust home well; I flew a lot in those days and often wondered if I would have the time to hide my Star of David if my plane was ever hijacked. Or if I could actually do such a thing. Survive a liar or die a Jew? God willing, I will never have to choose. Because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't survive the choice.
Am I saying that I hate you because you're from Qatar? No. I don't hate you because you're from Qatar. I don't hate Arabs because they're Arabs, or Muslims because they're Muslims. I hate the people who hate me. They have taught me how to hate. I can tell in a moment. Sadly, I have far too much experience with hatred.
And so, my reader in Qatar, I stand openly and solidly with Danny Pearl and the millions of others who died for this reason, and this reason alone:
Yes, I am a Jew.
Mike Sanders runs a blog on which he examines attitudes towards, the meaning of, and subjects of and about blogging. There are some who say his site encourages much navel-gazing by bloggers (hence the title of this post). I am not one of them. I say that Mike raises some interesting questions, and causes others to delve deeply into them, and this is a good thing. Whatever your thoughts, though, Keep Trying has become one of the most oft-cited blogs about blogging, and Mike is becoming a man with quite a good reputation.
All of which introduction is to say this: I'm putting Mike on my blog links, but I won't be getting any deeper into the meaning of blogging for me than what I wrote last week. That's his job, and he does it quite well. Hm. Maybe he can add blog analysis to his resume. "Well, Meryl, I can see by the number of times you use the pronouns I, me, and my that the main reason you blog is because you have an ego the size of Montana."
Okay, maybe we won't let Mike analyze me. Especially since when I gaze at my navel, all I see are those extra pounds quitting smoking put on my belly. Sigh. permalink
If you look to the left of the home page, you'll notice that I've added a Webring called "Bloggers with Attitude". That's the webring that Burningbird started after finding out that Sharon couldn't get into Blogsnobs due to language restrictions. I suppose that means I also can't get into Blogsnobs, as I swear pretty much whenever I want to around here. But hey, they have the right to have their rules. I had no great desire to put a Blogsnob ad on my site when I first heard about it, but more power to anyone who likes and is a member of the group.
But back to BWA: No other webring has ever gotten me to join, and I doubt I'll join any others. I like Shelley's reasoning behind it:
And I like the other members of the webring. So for now, I've thrown out the old Groucho remark and joined a club that would have me as a member. permalink
I have a confession to make. About two weeks ago, I came up with what I thought would be a great idea to get some new users. (Not that I'm unhappy with the current crowd, I'm just greedy.) I created a page entitled "A Guide to Googlewhacking", peopled it with informative links, and put it up on my website, content to let Google's spiders do their work. I didn't mention it, didn't link to it anywhere, not even on this site. And then I waited a few days and checked the Google search engine for googlewhack and googlewhacking. My new page didn't come up anywhere, but my old blogs did. So I waited again. Still nothing. Today, I checked one last time. It doesn't even show up when you search on "googlewhack yourish." (That sounds so obscene, doesn't it? Please don't do that.)
So I give up. I added the link to the left menu, because after all, I did do a considerable amount of stealing--er, research--to create the page. (Look, I credited Dane Carlson--how many of you did?) And because in order for this blog to grow, I have to work just as hard at getting new people to take a look as I do at getting my regular users to keep coming back.
If it weren't for you, I wouldn't get to mangle advertising slogans and other cliches nearly as often as I do. Like, "I work harder, because you don't." You know what they say--comedy is easy. It's the blogging that'll kill you.
Wow, even I thought that one sucked. permalink
I get searches every so often on the phrase "Chubb sucks". I mentioned that in one of my search engine blogs, so I get more searches on that phrase. That's the self-referential part of Google, something the philosopher in me finds eminently amusing.
But now I get to say: Chubb does suck.
I attended the Chubb Institute from November of 1999 to June of 2000. I spent many thousands of dollars and expended much effort to come through it with a degree in programming, a 90-something average, and the ability to get a job as a developer. Some of my classmates were jobless in their field a year after we graduated. I'd already had web experience, so my job search was among the easiest. Except that I was "laid off" in December--let's just say one of the bosses took an extreme dislike to me about two months before I was let go, stemming from the fact that I didn't realize when he asked you if you could do X with Y, you were always supposed to say yes, not give an honest response if it couldn't be done. So when I lost my job, I called Chubb and told them to put me back into the pool of job hunters.
They wouldn't. Chubb's support services included finding graduates ONE job. If anything happened afterwards, that was our tough luck. They had our money; they had their percentage of graduates placed so they could keep their state certification--all the rest we could whistle for, as the saying is.
But that's not what's bothering me today. Over the weekend, Chubb alumni got a letter explaining how Chubb wants to be part of our continued success. It's a sales pitch for more training. I've already decided that I'm not paying another dime for more training for the rest of my life. If an employer wants me to have more skills, they're gonna damned well pay for it. I've paid for enough. But here's the kicker: The last bullet point begins, "From time to time, the Chubb Institute may engage companies to work with or on our behalf to provide a product or service..."
The fuckers are going to sell my information to mailing lists unless I opt out. I paid an incredible amount of money to Chubb to learn programming, and now they're going to sell my and my classmates' information--unless we opt-out of the scheme. They include an 800 number. It doesn't answer. They give me 30 days to respond, and if I don't respond, they assume implicit permission.
Oh. And the paragraph beings with that amusing lie: "Since The Chubb Institute values your privacy" and goes on to tell you how you can contact them to get your name off their list. With the 800 number that doesn't work.
Can you understand at this moment how much I loathe the Chubb Institute and want it to die a slow, painful death?
Yep. Chubb sucks. permalink
In just the last few days, more people have found this weblog by searching for Danny Pearl than any other search in the entire previous three weeks of the month. Sadly, I think the search may wind up being the most looked-for phrase ever on this website.
Second-most-popular search: Miss Cleo's real name (Youree Dell Harris). Does anyone else find it fitting that Youree can be found on yourish.com? Like my brother says: Either Yourish, or you're not. She's not.
Here's a fact that's going to confuse us all soon: There's a politician in North Carolina who's being touted as the next good thing in the Democratic party. His name: John Edwards--not to be confused with John Edward, the fraud who has the syndicated show where he pretends to talk to the dead. (Did you ever watch that show? Watch how pissed off he gets when the audience members don't go along with his routine. Or really have some fun and keep a running tally of the number of times the audience members answer "no" before he gets it right. He can't edit out all the bullshit.)
But in the meantime, John Edward fraud brings people directly here to my first archives page, where they can get the information and decide for themselves that Edward deserves to be wearing an orange jumpsuit and picking up trash along Route 80. With Miss Cleo.
Hm. Do you think perhaps that was a little too strong? Maybe I should tone the rhetoric down a bit?
Nah. Me neither. permalink
You folks continue to mystify and delight me. After a couple of mighty soft weekends, leading me to wonder if I should work so hard to update the blog on weekends, you blow me away with the biggest Sunday ever. The readers have spoken, and I will work seven days a week. I reserve the right to bitch about it, however. (And trust me, I will.)
Today's shout-out goes to Bolingbrook and Champaign, Illinois. I have no idea where either of those towns are, and feel like I should look them up on one of the online map companies. But I'm afraid that Web Trends spelled their names wrong, as they have also done to Pittsburgh (they dropped the final h), and I may never find them. Do you think I should email Web Trends about all of their misspellings, or do you think they might get all huffy about it and get mad at me for pointing out their error-ridden programs? Then again, if I'm going to debug their stuff, they should be paying me. That settles it. Let Web Trends figure it out for themselves. Hey, I didn't take second place in the eighth-grade spelling bee at Avenel Junior High School just to give my talents away for nothing! (Cindy Zarsky took first place, because back in those days, I thought "quorum" had an "a" in it. Hey, at least I knew it was a "qu" word. Oh, and I liked Cindy Zarsky. She was in my homeroom, and until I met her, I was always last in line for any alphabetized moment. We became immediate best friends after she took my place. I'm off on one of those parenthetical excursions, and can't seem to find my way back out. Wait! There it is! Phew.)
Hey, Pittsburgh! (See, unlike the programmers at Web Trends, I paid attention in geography class. Er, except when they told us where Champaign was.)
Heck, let's make this one a mega shout-out. To the readers in Redmond, Washington: I know where you are! My friend used to work for Microsoft. Pretty campuses. And to Salt Lake City: Betcha you wished you were here the last couple of weeks. For once, there was a place in the U.S. more crowded than New Jersey. Ha! permalink
Smart links! Cat links! ... and one sad link
Why I want to marry Michael Kinsley.
Sometimes I get really annoyed when I read critiques of the online life--you know the ones, written by people who are "too busy" (read: Ignorant) to spend much time on the Internet, or "too busy" (read: Snobbish) to read anything other than the professional sites. Those are the ones who tell us we have too much time on our hands, because we create things like Cat Haiku or write our own weblogs.
And then I get to my mailbox, and I have some letters from people who aren't too busy to spend a lot of time on the 'net or to blog, and sometimes I just think: Neat. I found a new friend. Because I have all these new friends who I met because of the Internet, and because of the blogging phenomenon. Friends that I'd never have met just by reading the big professional sites.
This is something I discovered back in 1986, when I first started BBSing. I'm still friends with the guy I was trading emails with late one night until I said, "Hey, I'm home, you're home, wanna talk instead of type?" I was the only groomswoman at his wedding.
It's good to make new friends, even ones you may never meet in person. However, I must point out that I will no longer be a member of a wedding party if I have to buy another stupid-looking dress that I'll never wear again. Been there, done that, like being groomswoman better. permalink
Last week's blogs are archived.