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Neko

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Sidebar doodads and more stupid eBay sellers 


You may have noticed that the upper part of my sidebar has been redone; at the very top is something I was surprised and proud to find out on one of the blog directory sites... thanks to those of you who've been kind enough to link to me, I've now got a Google PageRank of 6. SIX!! Most of you realize what that means, but for those who don't know why that's happy-making, especially for a niche blog like mine, here's the deal:

Google gives every website a numerical value, aka "PageRank," 0-10 that indicates its importance. As of when I write this, there are only 18 pages with PR10 on the entire internet

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_websites_with_a_high_PageRank

There are, if I counted right, 222 sites with PR9; there are a couple of vaguely bloggish news/info sites at that level, but no real blogs. The blogosphere IS making its presence felt, though, because the mega-blogs are PR8 and PR7, which is truly spectacular; I've looked at all the listings of top blogs that I can find, and you can't even get through the top 20 without finding some that are below PR7, so there are maybe 2 or 3 dozen blogs at this level... naturally, they're all the big news, politics, and entertainment sites, NOT ones dedicated to personal ramblings. Then, for all the millions of other blogs, the best that's left, the highest level we can have right now, is PR6.

AND I'VE GOT IT!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)

Google re-ranks every 3 months or so, which for all I know might mean that they start re-ranking tomorrow, and once we start to get election fever a bunch more news/politics blogs will leap into prominence, so I don't expect to have the PR6 forever... but it sure feels good to have it today.

My blog doesn't look like any other. You'd be hard put to find many with posts as consistently long, or focused on such atypical subjects. I don't have commenting, trackbacks, or even text formatting of my posts. I've had belligerent types inform me on other people's blogs that this meant that I didn't have a "good" or "popular" blog, and never would; for now, at least, I can tell them that Google doesn't agree.

But wait, it gets BETTER; I told my mother about getting a PR6, including the explanation of Google's PageRank system and how blogs are represented within it, and she said... if you're a regular reader, you'll want to brace yourself. She said she was very impressed, and that she was PROUD of me... words that had never passed her lips in reference to me in my entire life. Maybe the cancer is making her sentimental?

In any case, this is exciting news-WOOHOO!! :-)


The other new sidebar doodad came into being because I got tired of Blogrolling.com being the only major blog service, or minor one for that matter, without a little banner that people can put on their blogs for readers to click on, so I decided to make one. I don't know how to use Photoshop or any other graphics program, so I went here

http://ekstreme.com/buttonmaker/index.php

where you can make the standard 80 x 15 buttons with full customization, and started cranking stuff out. I got worried that people wouldn't notice it, since we're used to seeing TEXT to click on to Blogroll, so I made it bigger; I then wasted a great deal of time figuring out that the control for how close the wording comes to the top of the banner goes crazy at 10 pixels, putting the text half over the border, but works fine for all other #'s, and that a few, and ONLY a few, of the fields were automatically resetting themselves after each iteration, and so had to be kept track of and endlessly re-entered. I had to pick a color for the banner, so I tried red, for visibility, but it was too bright. Then, I did orange, which looked ok, so I saved it and crossed my fingers that I could stick the URL for the image into the Blogrolling code and have it work; it DID (YAY!!), but it was TOO eye-catching, so I switched from the orange I'd used to "the orange" that's standard on these sorts of banners, and it looked pretty good... except it was sitting right on top of the other banners, and since THEY all had a little space under them and mine didn't, it didn't look right. I was going to try to stick it in a table, but my husband came to the rescue with the vspace command, which allows you to define space to be inserted above and below an image; after the inevitable trial and error to get the spacing to be the same # of pixels as the other banners had (4, if anyone cares), I was done. It's not fancy, heck, I didn't even outline it, but I like the way it looks because it's easy to read, so that's what I'm going with... until my next idea, that is.


Ebay sellers must be taking stupid pills, I swear. I sent a message to one about a shirt, asking him to measure from under one arm to under the other so that I'd know the bust measurement (there's no standardization whatsoever for the sizing of women's clothing, sadly); he replied with a measurement that'd be for a shirt for a 500 lb person. I asked him if he was sure of his #, and he announced that it was the distance from the bottom of one sleeve to the bottom of the other, and he hoped that'd tell me what I needed to know. As politely as I could, I told him that the measurement I needed was the one that I'd ASKED for, underarm to underarm, and he eventually sent me that one... but he's so dimwitted that unless the item goes dirt cheap I won't risk buying from him.

The real mindboggler, though, is with sellers trying to auction used CD's; although, with the exception of rare items, a used CD is only desirable if it still plays perfectly, there isn't 1 in 100 of such auctions where the seller makes clear whether the CD does in fact play perfectly... they use all sorts of adjectives like "great" and "terrific" to describe the CD's condition, but none of those words actually tells the prospective buyer the one thing they need to know. When questioned, nearly all the sellers DO know how their CD's play, and it usually turns out that they DO (supposedly) play perfectly, so why don't they just SAY SO on their auction pages?

If you want to be successful at selling CD's on eBay, which means that people will buy from you and then leave + feedback rather than -, here's what you need to do:

1) Play the CD under circumstances where you can pay attention and hear clearly; if it's clean, state that on your auction page... if not, just toss it, because no one wants it (remember, you PAY to run an eBay auction).

2) In good light, examine the CD, case, and booklet if any, and include a VERY precise description of any wear or flaws you find on your auction page; most folks will accept a reasonable amount of imperfections, but ONLY if they know about them in advance.

Is there anything confusing, difficult or unreasonable about that? Can you imagine why hardly any sellers are doing it?

In general, eBay needs to adopt a stricter policy about how sellers can describe their merchandise; part of the process to set up an auction should be a statement that the seller would have to agree to along the lines of, "I have examined this item carefully, and tested all its functions where applicable, and have included a description of ALL flaws on my auction page; I understand that if my description is NOT accurate, I must offer the buyer a COMPLETE refund, including return shipping if I want the item back." THAT'D make the sellers think twice before pawning off stuff they've barely glanced at as "excellent," or, as in the case of a shirt I recently received that had TWO stains and a HOLE, "like new," wouldn't it? In case you think the refund policy would be too harsh, be aware that Federal law REQUIRES that people sending merchandise through the mail, or any other delivery service, refund in exactly that way; just because eBay, like PayPal, is currently operating in contradiction of various laws doesn't mean those laws don't apply.

Here's a final eBay tidbit; this auction

http://cgi.ebay.com/MEET-CRISS-ANGEL-APPEAR-ON-A-Es-MINDFREAK-TV-SHOW_W0QQitemZ6622901469QQcategoryZ16071QQtcZphotoQQcmdZViewItem

which is for the chance to meet master illusionist and uber-babe Criss Angel and be part of one of his demonstrations on his show in the upcoming season, has ended... and the winning bid was $17,300!! Can you believe that people had that much $ to squander, and were so eager to be on TV, that the bid went that high? For that much $, I'D expect Criss to be stark naked and doing alot more than a magic trick, lol... we are a very warped country, let's face it.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The UNjust world 


Warning; this post concerns the inner workings of human nature... prepare to be disheartened and disgusted.

I found something here

http://www.science-spirit.org/article_detail.php?article_id=40

that instantly rang true... unfortunately (all asterisks are mine):

"THE JUST WORLD EFFECT

Melvin Lerner documented this effect in the 1960's, and the concept has since become commonplace in social psychology. We like to believe we live in a just, fair world and, therefore, we do feel that we live in a just, fair world. In order to defend this fragile belief, *** we twist our perceptions of others and reinterpret past events. *** This requires considerable self-delusion in our sometimes capricious society.

Lerner looked for and found these illusions, even in those who intellectually know the world is unfair. His suspicions became aroused during his work in psychiatric medicine. Many of the doctors and nurses he met seemed oblivious to the pain and plight of their patients; they would laugh and joke about the afflictions of their charges, even insulting them to their faces. These intelligent men and women were in protective denial about the distressing state of affairs they confronted. He also noticed students taking his social medicine course derogating the poor in society as 'lazy good-for-nothings who deserve the raw deal they get.' He was unable to disillusion them with statistics and rhetoric, and took to the laboratory to devise an experiment.

'Tom' and 'Bill' performed the mundane task of assembling anagrams while their coworkers looked on. At the end of the task, one of the two was awarded a large sum of money for his efforts. The other received nothing. It was made quite clear to everyone before work commenced that the award would be made randomly, without reference to the workers' performances. After they had observed Tom and Bill's efforts this admonition was repeated: the subjects were again reminded that the prize would be assigned at random. The onlookers invariably thought that the man who walked away with the money was more productive, creative, and industrious than his penniless companion. These people, after seeing the money handed out, thought they remembered seeing the unlucky worker deserve his poor fortune. Lerner called this the 'Just World Effect.'"

I want to say that this is unbelievable, but the grim truth is that this is TOTALLY believable, because I've seen people doing mental contortion acts like this all too many times.

"In 1971, they gave such a test to sixty 19-year-old men who were participating in America's draft lottery. Those unlucky students who drew 'short straws' would find themselves in the armed forces. One might expect a degree of camaraderie to emerge - that the fortunate would feel sympathetic towards those with less luck. Not so among students who believed in a just world. These men actually resented the losers, in spite of their own vulnerable position. They felt that losing at the lottery meant you must have been a 'bad person.'

This seemingly blind faith in the fairness of the universe has been identified in experiment after experiment. It puts men and women at a disadvantage by inducing them into *** serious errors of judgment about their fellows. *** Nevertheless, it is found in societies across the globe"

This is what makes learning about this so important; it's one of the many areas where not making a conscious effort to figure out WHY you've made certain judgments leads to being totally wrong and thus to making bad decisions.

My spiritual/metaphysical readers should be aware that what's being described here is VERY different from accepting the workings of karma (as I interpret them) in people's lives; karma does NOT bring you what you "deserve," as the traditional view of it would have you believe, it's just mindless flows of energy with no judgments attached, and, while it DOES bring you positive and negative energy to match what you've sent out, that doesn't change the fact that there are many other forces at work that are unaffected by your karma... it neither protects you from the actions of weather, earthquakes, mad dogs and evildoers, nor provides you with the winning lotto #'s, based on your behavior or "worth."

"Justice is very clearly bound up with religion in all western traditions: a religion prescribes what is just, by example and by commandment. Religious institutions do not create the desire for justice, but exploit it to increase their appeal. In the afterlife or on Judgment Day, everything will be put to rights. Everything evens out in the long run. This is an enormously appealing doctrine, and its prevalence in religious thinking is no accident. "

This is a little bit of a tangent, but I included it because I think anything that helps us understand religion is valuable... and it points out just how deep this psychological bias runs.

The Just World Effect exists in us from a very early age:

"Deborah Fein studied six to nine-year-old children. She presented them with videotapes of a girl helping a friend, stealing a playmate's sweets, finding money, and being hit by a shelf of falling books. Different children saw different sets of videotape and then judged how 'good' the girl was on a scale from 1 to 14. Those who saw her help her friend gave her over 11 points - really quite virtuous. Those who only saw her finding the money [put] her at just under 12 points. Good fortune alone provided as much evidence of good character as did the act of friendship. The unlucky girl suffered insult as well as injury with an eight-point rating to add to her bruises from the books."

If you're a parent or grandparent, part of your job is to help combat these warped perceptions; you'll give your (grand)kids an edge by improving their judgment, and make them better people who don't look down on those who are already suffering.

Like all seemingly insane behavior patterns, this one exists because there are benefits to it:

"They studied a large number of married couples and found that people with strong beliefs in a just world had more satisfying and stable relationships than those without. People with high just world belief scores were more likely to respond constructively in disputes because they found it easier to take a positive long-term view. They were more trusting of their partners and more self-sacrificing as a consequence. Of all the spouses, they were the most accommodating of their partner's needs and desires since they had implicit faith that their partner would reciprocate in kind."

"... members of societies that emphasize and exaggerate their implicit beliefs in the world's fairness are more cooperative and trusting of their fellow citizens. A more cooperative society is a more successful society. Little wonder that human cultures support this phenomenon both explicitly and subliminally. Those that didn't would have been superseded."

Yes, BUT; you've got a BRAIN, and you can use it to CHOOSE to behave in ways that will maximize your relationship and societal success withOUT the ugly misjudgments being along for the ride.

Still not convinced that you need to fight this tendency?

"After World War II, a survey of Americans found that, far from evoking sympathy, *** the Nazi persecutions had caused a rise in anti-Semitism. *** British troops marched German civilians around the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. 'What terrible criminals these prisoners must have been,' they said, 'to receive such treatment.'"

Despicable!! Disgraceful!! Next time you start thinking we humans are an exalted species, remember THAT little gem.

You've probably already made the connection between what you've read here and the "she was asking for it" concept all too often seen at rape trials:

http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v3n2/justworld.html

"The verdict of the jurors in the Fort Lauderdale rape trial may have been influenced by a widespread tendency to believe that victims of misfortune deserve what happens to them. The need to see victims as the recipients of their just deserts can be explained by what psychologists call the Just World Hypothesis. According to the hypothesis, people have a strong desire or need to believe that the world is an orderly, predictable, and just place, where people get what they deserve. Such a belief plays an important function in our lives since in order to plan our lives or achieve our goals we need to assume that our actions will have predictable consequences. Moreover, when we encounter evidence suggesting that the world is not just, we quickly act to restore justice by helping the victim or *** we persuade ourselves that no injustice has occurred. *** We either lend assistance or we decide that the rape victim must have asked for it, the homeless person is simply lazy, the fallen star must be an adulterer. These attitudes are continually reinforced in the ubiquitous fairy tales, fables, comic books, cop shows and other morality tales of our culture, in which good is always rewarded and evil punished."

If someone says that they've been victimized in ANY way, and you hear yourself thinking that they must have done something to deserve it, STOP and correct yourself, and correct anyone else that you suspect might have come up with the same cruel idea; you can't call yourself a good person if you're not willing to do so, because by denying the victim support for their pain you'll be aiding the wrongdoer in hurting them. Even if the victim is someone you're seeing on TV or reading about in the paper rather than someone you're interacting with, you still need to use every such situation as an opportunity to re-train yourself to lay blame correctly... on the victimIZERS.

There are more examples of the Just World concept at work:

"Melvin Lerner, a social psychologist, has conducted a series of experiments to test this hypothesis. In an impressive body of research, he documents *** people's eagerness to convince themselves that beneficiaries deserve their benefits and victims their suffering. *** In a 1965 study, Lerner reported that subjects who were told that a fellow student had won a cash prize in a lottery tended to believe that the student worked harder than another student who lost the lottery. In another study a year later, Lerner and a colleague videotaped a simulated 'learning' experiment in which it appeared that the 'participants' were subjected to electric shocks. Lerner found that subjects who observed the videotapes tended to form much lower opinions of these 'victimized' participants when there was no possibility of the victim finding relief from the ordeal, or when the victim took on the role of 'martyr' by voluntarily remaining in the experiment despite the apparent unpleasantness of the experience. Lerner concluded that 'the sight of an innocent person suffering without possibility of reward or compensation motivated people to devalue the attractiveness of the victim in order to bring about a more appropriate fit between her fate and her character.'"

And here's something else grim it can lead to:

"Zick Rubin of Harvard University and Letitia Anne Peplau of UCLA have conducted surveys to examine the characteristics of people with strong beliefs in a just world. They found that people who have a strong tendency to believe in a just world also tend to be more religious, more authoritarian, more conservative, more likely to admire political leaders and existing social institutions, and more likely to have negative attitudes toward underprivileged groups. To a lesser but still significant degree, the believers in a just world tend to 'feel less of a need to engage in activities to change society or to alleviate plight of social victims.'

Ironically, then, the *** belief in a just world may take the place of a genuine commitment to justice. *** For some people, it is simply easier to assume that forces beyond their control mete out justice. When that occurs, the result may be the abdication of personal responsibility, acquiescence in the face of suffering and misfortune, and indifference towards injustice. Taken to the extreme, indifference can result in the institutionalization of injustice."


We have all sorts of thoughts and feelings and judgments about people... and we're dead-wrong with appalling consistency. This is because we're living in a modern world with stone-age brains; these tendencies exist in us because they helped us survive when we were a primitive species living in crude tribes, but in today's world, with so many ways for evil types to do wrong, so many ways for things to go wrong outside of our control, and our vicious combination of contempt for virtue and love for wrongdoers, our instincts steer us to counterproductive decisions on a regular basis. This is why I tell you to ignore your "gut" under most circumstances; those "gut feelings" are our instincts that are trying to essentially make us play chess with the rules for checkers.

You have an ability unique in the animal kingdom; you can respond to your initial perceptions of people and events with skepticism rather than blind adherence. You can say, "Hey, wait a minute, why am I judging that person to be bad because he's unemployed? Don't ALL sorts of people go through periods of unemployment?", "Hey, wait a minute, why am I judging that person to be terrific because he got a promotion? Isn't it an established fact that he and the boss are golf buddies, and that he doesn't even pull his weight at the office?", and, the biggie, "Hey, wait a minute, why am I reacting with contempt towards this person that is being/has been mistreated? What excuse is there to believe that (s)he deserves mistreatment? Isn't it much more likely that the ATTACKERS are bad than that the VICTIM is?" You can say those things... but WILL YOU?


If you've read this far, you're probably a regular visitor (or a glutton for punishment, lol); just as an FYI, I had a dream last night in which I explained to my mother that I had to do more reading and research on spiritual and scientific issues, and get back to learning about new aspects of the unknown, and thus had to scale back to blogging every 4th day... I kid you not, I DREAMT that, and because I believe strongly in acting on those sorts of messages from the subconscious I will in fact be blogging every 4th day for now. Fear not, my passion for blogging is undiminished; I just need time to get some new ideas into my head... and a little more sleep wouldn't hurt.

I'll end with a bit of good news: The injured raccoon has been limping through the open gate every night to eat on my patio, so he figured out how to get plenty of food without having to climb the fence; even better, the swelling has gone way down on his paw, and he was using it to eat last night, so maybe it's just bruised and not broken... keep your fingers crossed for him.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

In praise of desperation 


First, the news:

We saw an ad for the new movie "Over the Hedge"

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0327084/

and they showed a bit where Sammy the squirrel sticks the nozzle for a can of Cheez Whiz in his mouth, and the cheese (cheez?) squirts out of his nose in long streams; my husband laughed... and laughed... and laughed. I finally protested:

Me: It's not that funny!!
Him: Yes it IS!!
Me: No, it's NOT!!
Him: Are we talking about the same thing? The squirrel and the...
Me: Yes, and the Cheez Whiz, and it's NOT that funny.
Him: To a guy it is.
Me: {sigh}
Him: Aw, come on, that's funny.
Me: Call me crazy, but I don't find stuff spouting out of an animal's nose to be amusing.

Undaunted, he laughed on and off for most of an hour. {rolls eyes}


A little later, I was coming back from a bathroom break, and was slooooowly approaching the area near the sliding glass door so as to not frighten any animal visitors, craning my neck to search the patio... and a startled raccoon looked back in at me. I started in with the usual croon of "Hi, hi baby, hi precious"... and he RAN!! For a moment I thought it was the beta male, who's become much braver but is still skittish, but this coon had no tail; this was another new one, our FOURTH!! I was very distressed to see that he'd suffered such a major loss, and that I'd inadvertently timed my return so as to scare him away from the food; I hope he comes back soon, and that we can make his life happier by providing him with easy meals.

It wasn't long after that that the alpha male and the female came; we here horrified to see that he was limping, holding one of his front paws up so he wasn't touching the ground with it... there was no sign of blood or wounds, but it was swollen. He didn't appear to be having any trouble using his "arm," and none of his "fingers" looked messed up, so he must have sprained his "wrist" or injured his "palm"; we'll never know for sure, as we unfortunately can't take him to the vet as we could with a pet. He ate plenty of food, but didn't look like he'd be able to climb back up the patio pole; the female climbed up a bush and then onto the fence, which none of them had ever done before, and my husband said "It's almost as if she's trying it out to find a way for him to climb up," and I think it's entirely possible... they're THAT smart. He did eventually manage to climb up somehow; after they were gone, my husband put a ladder against the fence, and propped the gate open enough for the coons to get through it, to facilitate the male getting in and out, but, although they appeared briefly walking along the top of the fence (they'd been on the roof) and sniffed and touched the ladder, neither of them tried it, and they didn't come back.

We're deeply concerned about the male's fate; raccoons need to be able to run and climb, and they use their paws constantly, the way we use our hands, so if he has broken bones in that paw it could easily lead to his death from falling or being run over, and he'll be severely limited as to how he can feed himself... our only consolation is that he has unlimited food and water on our patio, so if he can manage to get in one more time, and find the open gate, he won't starve. If he has a long walk to where he sleeps, though, or alot of climbing to do to reach it... if he can't get to safety by daylight... the downside of all the pleasure we get from the wild animals that visit us is that we suffer endlessly when something happens to them, because there's nothing we can do to help them.


And now for the main course: If there's one thing that's a sure bet to scare someone off from becoming romantically interested in you, hiring you, or even befriending you, it's desperation; even the tiniest hint of desperation will usually do the trick. WHY? We're not put off by EVIL, in fact we're usually attracted to it, so what possible excuse is there to head for the hills at the 1st sign of desperation, which is harmless and not generally indicative of any problems with the person projecting it (there's an exception, which I'll get to)? Let's take it case by case:


1) Romantic desperation: all this means is that the person didn't hook up with someone right away when they started trying, and the normal self-doubt and worry that any normal human feels when it starts to seem as if something important might be beyond their reach has set in... it does NOT mean that they're not 100% as terrific as any other person you'll meet. Nearly everyone is desperate at some point in their single life, usually more than once, so to dismiss someone as a romantic possibility, to reject or ignore them, when you might be interested in them were they NOT desperate, is flat-out stupid... and that goes double if you have no other prospects at that time. Heck, a desperate person will go out of their way to accommodate whoever they end up with, so they're a BETTER deal than a non-desperate one; if I were ever single again, and was acquitted (lol), I'd head to a scifi convention and make a beeline for the geeks who haven't had a woman in 10 years, believe me.

But, won't a desperate person be clingy and needy in a relationship? No more so than anyone else, since EVERY sort of person can be a desperate single... provided that they're not in the "exception category" discussed below.


2) Workforce desperation: this is most often seen in job interviews, and simply means that the person has been unemployed long enough that their bills are looming large... which these days can be a matter of a week or 2. Studies show that employers decide if they want to hire an applicant within 30 seconds of meeting them, and, sadly, this means that the negative reaction people have to desperation often prevents the folks who need jobs the most from getting them; not only is this unfair and bound to be karmically bad, it's foolish as well, because a person who's desperate will work 10X as hard as a person who's NOT, who has options and doesn't need the job as intensely... and isn't a really hard-working employee the best value for your company's $?


3) Friendship desperation: here's where you have to make a judgment call. A person can be desperate for friendship because of circumstances, such as just having moved to a new place, or their best friend having moved away and left them at a loss, or because they've entered a new phase of life, such as marrying or having kids, and their old friends can no longer empathize with their troubles... OR, they can be desperate for friendship because they have clinical depression (or some other so-called "mental" illness) and/or are wildly socially inept, haven't had ANY friends in a long time, or maybe never, are lonely and unhappy, and are trying mightily to have someone in their life to provide them with some human contact. The former are just regular folks, and you can have a regular friendship with them, with the added bonus of their gratitude that you were there for them when they needed someone. As to the latter group... I hate to have to say this, but... after years of offering friendship to any who asked for it, I've seen over and over that people like these are incapable of accepting and appreciating friendship, incapable of BEING friends, and no matter how much you bend over backwards for them will either end the relationship (because they can't handle it) or mistreat you until YOU do so in self-defense; with folks like this you DO need to see their desperation as a sign that you should avoid them, but they're the ONLY exception to the otherwise superior benefits of bringing desperate people into your life.


You can't stop having the knee-jerk aversion to desperate people, but you can choose, CHOOSE, to ask yourself why you're put off by someone, and, if desperation is all you can honestly come up with, you can decide to get to know them better and judge them on their actual merits... and to remind yourself that their desperation works in your favor (with that 1 exception) if your resolve fails. Why should you make this extra effort, aside from the fact that it'll BENEFIT you? Because it's the nice thing to do. Because it's the right thing to do. Because one day YOU will be the desperate one, and you'll want people to give YOU a chance.

This is one of the scariest things about human nature; that all too often, if you want to have the most positive possible experiences with people, your best bet is to pursue those you're repelled by, and reject those you're overwhelmingly drawn to ("bad" boys/girls, charming sociopaths and other evil types). Most folks tell you to "trust your gut" about people, but not me; while I DO think you should listen to your gut if it's telling you that someone is doing something wrong, or getting ready to, because those sorts of feelings tend to be accurate, in general I say to IGNORE your gut... use your BRAIN instead, because it's the only organ in your body that can truly tell a good person from a bad one.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Odds and ends 


What does a pedophile buy for the little girl of his dreams? How about a padded satin pushup bra with Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street on it, and matching "boy short" panties? I'm not making this up, they actually exist

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=5472554023&ssPageName=MERC_VI_ReBay_Pr4_PcY_BIN_Stores_IT

Isn't that revolting? Seriously, what other situation does this particular bra fit? {gag}


Ebay sellers are getting stupider; I've had THREE of them in the past few weeks decide to remove the hyphen from my email addy, and then not understand why I didn't get their emails. Did some magazine (Moron's Quarterly, perhaps?) mention in an article that people who post their addies on websites are sticking in spaces or substituting "-at-" for "@" to foil the spambots, and these folks read it and made the leap to assuming that all special characters are to be removed from all addies under all circumstances? The belief that they can pluck pieces out of an email addy at their whim and still have it reach the same person is so idiotic that there's no way to correct it without it sounding condescending; luckily, everyone thus far has eventually decided to give my complete addy a whirl, so I haven't had to try and find a way to educate them and still do pleasant business with them.


My body keeps coming up with new weirdness as the years march by; for the 1st time in way too long, I did crunches last night (I do 1500, and that's not a typo), and, although I felt no discomfort at the time, this afternoon my abs started feeling sore, and it's gradually escalated since then, to the point where even when I'm holding still they bother me... who ever heard of pulled muscles taking so long to start hurting? I think I'm in for a couple more painful days; it's worth it, though, to see those upper abs looking like little clenched fists again.


A few days ago, my husband and I saw "One of the Hollywood Ten"

http://movies.msn.com/movies/movie.aspx?m=7427

"The troubled career of blacklisted director Herbert Biberman, who endured a considerable struggle to make the 1954 pro-Labor film 'Salt of the Earth,' provides the centerpiece for this historical drama. The film opens at the 1937 Academy Awards, where Biberman's wife, Gale Sondergaard (Greta Scacchi), wins the first ever 'Best Supporting Actress' Oscar. Although the anti-Fascist sentiment in her acceptance speech gets her labeled a 'commie' by some observers, she and Biberman (played here by Jeff Goldblum) are placed under contract at Warner Bros. Ten years later, with Cold War paranoia growing, a group of predominantly Jewish Hollywood directors -- Biberman, Sondergaard, Danny Kaye, and Dalton Trumbo among them -- are labeled Communists and questioned before Congress. Refusing to name names, Biberman is thrown in prison for six months; his wife's similar refusal to testify severely threatened her career as well. After his release from prison, Biberman, no longer able to work in Hollywood, strikes out on his own with other blacklistees, producer Paul Jarrico (John Sessions) and writer Michael Wilson (Geraint Wyn Davies), to make 'Salt of the Earth.' Biberman's production is far from easy, however, as it comes under attack from both the FBI and redneck vigilantes."

I know, it doesn't sound exciting, but it WAS, especially once they got to the part where they were struggling against the odds to make "Salt of the Earth"... so much so that by the end we were eager to see said movie, and put it at the top of our Blockbuster online queue. Given that it was made with a tiny budget, with most of the roles played by folks who weren't actors, and under dreadful circumstances, we didn't expect much... but it was brilliant.

So, what's it all about?

"Set in a New Mexico mining town, the film concerns the measures taken by the largely Hispanic union to improve working and especially living conditions for the poverty-stricken workers. Remarkably prescient, given that the film was made long before the women's movement, is the fact that it is the wives who keep the strike alive while their husbands are beaten and otherwise oppressed by the owners."

http://movies.msn.com/movies/movie.aspx?m=23010

That probably doesn't seem too promising, BUT: The script for "Salt of the Earth" was written by Michael Wilson, who's better known for "A Place in the Sun," "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and "Lawrence of Arabia"; does that pique your curiosity? How about the fact that this was the only US film to ever be blacklisted? Heck, it was nearly OBLITERATED:

http://www.answers.com/topic/salt-of-the-earth?method=5&linktext=Salt%20of%20the%20Earth

"The film was denounced on the floor of the United States House of Representatives for its supposed 'Communist' sympathies, and the FBI investigated the film's financing. The American Legion called for a boycott. Film-processing labs were told not to handle it. Unionized projectionists were instructed not to show it. After its opening night in New York, the film languished for ten years as all but 12 additional theaters refused to screen it."

Still unconvinced?

"In 1992, the film has been deemed 'culturally significant' by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. The film has also been preserved by the Museum of Modern Art in New York."

Yes, it's that good; it's also based on a true story, and most of the parts were played by the people who lived it, so it's got a really authentic feel that's rarely found in American films. I'd suggest watching "One of the Hollywood Ten" 1st to be able to fully appreciate the talent, effort and determination that went into producing it, but that's not a requirement to enjoy it; just watch it, you'll be glad you did.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter :-) 


If you're reading this on the 16th, you saw my nifty JavaScript thingie wishing you a Happy Chocolate Bunny Ear Eating Day... because that's what today's about for most Americans; an official excuse to eat candy. It's supposed to be a religious holiday, but even amongst those who go to church today there are many whose actual focus of the day is the special dinner and/or the treats... this is America, after all.

My husband and I, being true Americans, are planning to have a roast for dinner; I say "planning" because we don't HAVE the roast yet... since we're geeks, we lost track of the holiday preparations we needed to make. (Update: we DID find a roast-whew!!) Weirdly, this year I didn't want a bunch of candy; I had a couple of Cadbury's Cream Eggs a month ago, and that was it for me... my husband isn't into sweets, so we just didn't buy any. Even if we HAD gotten candy, though, I would NOT be eating the kind with ears; even as a kid who was rarely allowed to have candy I didn't much care for chocolate bunnies. I've never understood the nationwide passion for this particular Easter staple, which is after all made of the worst-quality chocolate on the planet, or, even worse, brown stuff that they have to call chocolate-FLAVORED (and what it really is is anyone's guess); it's bad enough that our sugar-junkie kids eat them, but why are their parents, who are supposed to know better, so consistent about stealing the ears that it's a standard joke at this time of year? I don't know what's worse; stealing food from a child, or making that level of effort to eat something gross when far better stuff is on every store's shelves.

For the 1st time in several years, we have our full Easter display out; not only is it a real pleasure to look at it, at the bottom of one of the Easter boxes I found a Halloween doodad that had been missing for, as you'd expect, several years... and you get ONE guess as to who put it there, declaring with false confidence, and no small amount of belligerence, that he'd remember where he'd put it, and so it was fine to store it with the bunnies and eggs rather than investing 2 minutes of "effort" getting a Halloween box out to stick it in.

Our Christmas tree is still up, but there are only a few ornaments left on it, so we got closer to having it put away by Easter than we usually do; we DID manage to get the Valentine's and St. Patty's stuff put away, so at least we don't have 4 holidays' decorations out all at once... much to my husband's disappointment.

Hey, it could be worse; imagine if we didn't have an artificial tree.

For many of you, your enjoyment of today is marred by taxes being due tomorrow (did you know that in some states they have until the 18th?), but I might be able to help ease that burden a little; I discovered today that there are a slew of websites where you can do your taxes for FREE. I'm not talking jokes or scams, I'm talking about sites that are listed on the official IRS website

http://www.irs.gov/app/freeFile/jsp/index.jsp

as offering free online tax preparation AND e-filing for folks who made less than $50K last year... H&R Block is one of them, can you believe it? The catch seems to be that it's FEDERAL tax prep only, and they're hoping that you'll be willing to pay a few bucks to be able to get your state taxes done almost instantly once the Federal return is done; it'd still be way cheaper than buying tax software or going to a human tax preparer, so if you're getting bogged down and stressing out, give it a try.

Nothing will be able to mar MY enjoyment of today, because I got the best surprise imaginable, aside from if my husband suddenly started flushing the toilet more than 1 time in 10; a THIRD raccoon!! The new one's the biggest so far, and presumably male; we thought he was the other male at 1st, and couldn't understand why he was hanging back and acting so skittish all of a sudden... but when he got closer, I saw that his facial markings were very different, and we realized that it had to be a new one. Coons aren't jumpy critters, especially big ones like this newbie, so I'm guessing he was smelling the other male and was afraid he'd show up and try to drive him away from the food; we're worried about that too, but all we can do is make sure there's plenty of kibble and hope they'll be willing to share the feeding zone as raccoons often do around human homes.

Although the landscaping and the post they use to climb onto the patio cover are taking a beating, I'm the happiest I've been since the early days with the possums, or maybe even since my little squirrel girl used to come daily to be fed and petted; I hope your Easter brought you something as nice as I got. :-)


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Who should you trust? 


"Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none."
--Shakespeare

I'm not a big fan of Shakespeare (despite having spent 4 HOURS watching "Hamlet" last night), but I give him full credit for his grasp of human nature; although loving ALL is a little broad (I maintain that evil people should be an exception), overall that quote is as good of a summary of how you should deal with people as any I've seen, especially in so few words.

In modern times, it's become fashionable to have extravagant levels of trust in all sorts of people, including people we should DIStrust with a passion; we don't seem to know what trust MEANS anymore. Given that, let's review:

Trust: firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something

http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/trust?view=uk

When you say you trust someone, then, you're asserting that you believe them to be reliable, honest, etc; considering that these are non-trivial assertions, wouldn't it make sense for them to be reflections of the FACTS? Of course... but they rarely are. Take a moment and think of all the people in your life that you trust completely; then, think of all the people in your life who have NEVER lied to you, broken a promise to you, failed to do what they were supposed to do, or otherwise done anything wrong. Chances are that the 1st group has a fair # of folks in it; the 2nd group probably isn't a group at all, because you probably don't know ANYONE among those close enough to you for trust to become an issue who hasn't at least failed to call when they said they would or to show up on time... in other words, you've placed your full trust in people who objectively aren't worthy of that level of trust.

Furthermore, it's unlikely that YOU are worthy of perfect trust either... right? Surprised? Don't feel bad; it's a rare person these days who's objectively deserving of being totally trusted.

We have such contempt for virtue in this country that it never occurs to us that a person's reliability should count for ANYTHING, much less be the basis for trust; instead, we base trust, stupidly and dead-wrong-edly, on whether we share DNA with a person, or have known them a long time, or care about them, or are sleeping with them... as if being in some sort of a relationship with US somehow magically adds trustworthiness to a person's character, or as if our affections would magically only be stimulated by trustworthy people. The reality is that we turn our noses up at people who really ARE trustworthy and fling ourselves at people of unproven virtue, or, more often, people whose virtue has already been proven to be weak at best, and give our trust willy-nilly, nearly BEGGING to be dumped on.

I can't tell you how many times I've gone through versions of the following:


Friend: blah blah blah he's so wonderful blah blah blah I TOTALLY trust him.
Me: Why?
Friend: What do you mean "why"? Because I LOVE him!!
Me: Trust is supposed to be based on a person's record of proper behavior, NOT on your raging hormones.
Friend: You're supposed to trust the people you love.
Me: Not unless they are in fact trustworthy.
Friend: He IS trustworthy.
Me: Oh? So you mean that wasn't YOU calling me every day complaining that he didn't call, didn't show up on time, forgot to do what he said he would and so forth?
Friend: Well... yeah... but those are minor things, you don't base trust on things like that.
Me: So what DO you base trust on, then, other than him not having committed a major crime to the best of your knowledge?
Friend: ... well... uh...
Me: Exactly. All you have available to judge the appropriate level of trust by are those countless little occasions where he either did the right thing or did NOT... and he's failed over and over, hasn't he?
Friend: Yeah, but... I don't care about that, I know he loves me, and I trust him because I know he won't hurt me.
Me: I can recall a dozen times that he HAS hurt you, and that's just the ones you've told me about; how does that lead to your belief that he won't keep right on hurting you with the same insensitive, thoughtless things he's done all along?
Friend: But he... but I...
Me: Has he had a bump on the head and had a total personality change? Has he undergone radical psychotherapy in the past few days? Did he suddenly find religion?
Friend: No...
Me: Then on what do you base your belief that a man who hasn't shown himself worthy of your trust is in fact trustworthy?
Friend: I don't care what you say, I love him and I'm still going to trust him!!
Me: {sigh}

2 months later:

Friend: WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!! I can't believe he cheated on me with my best friend/stole all my $/was dealing drugs from my house/gave me a venereal disease/was still seeing his ex-girlfriend!! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!! Why did I ever trust him?!!
Me: {SIGH}


What can you do to avoid being the one crying about how someone YOU trusted did you wrong? CHOOSE to give people only as much trust as they've earned. Trust isn't all or nothing; you can halfway trust them, 84% trust them, 12% trust them, whatever fits the facts. You can also have different levels of trust for different areas; you might completely trust a friend to be in your house without stealing your stuff, but only 40% trust them to show up on time, and 5% trust them to repay $ they've borrowed. What matters isn't the ability to come up with a precise numerical value for everything, but to be consciously aware of each person's track record and to USE IT to determine just how far you'll trust them in any given situation... or even if you can validly trust them at all.

Almost without exception, there are many, MANY warning signs that a person is untrustworthy before they drop the bomb on us, but if we like or love someone we tend to brush off any # of wrongdoings as insignificant, thus allowing the evil types to slam us at their leisure; if instead we force ourselves to accept that EVERY untrustworthy act MUST become part of our judgment of how much trust we'll place in a person, we can restrict our inner circle to those who deserve to be there, and not expect more reliability from those folks than they're able to produce. Yeah, it's an effort, but far less of one than putting your life and heart back together after someone you'd have run a mile from if you'd been paying better attention got close enough to you to devastate you.

The romantics among you are undoubtedly wondering if you can have "true love" without having 100% trust in the other person; yes, of course you can... and you don't get anything extra for pretending someone's fully trustworthy when they're not. My own husband is the world's biggest screw-up, and thus totally UNtrustworthy over a broad range of categories; as a result, I don't trust him in most areas, BUT, our relationship has outlasted countless others of people who loudly proclaimed their total trust for their partners, because he's proved trustworthy in the category that really matters-the only woman whose life he screws up is MINE.

I can live with that.


Monday, April 10, 2006

TWO raccoons!!!!!!!!!! :-) 


There seems to be a bunch of people who use Blogger who're losing their blogs or portions thereof recently; if you haven't already done so, PLEASE backup your template and all your posts... do it whatever site you blog on, even if you have your own domain, because ANY system can lose all your stuff. There are tech ways to do this, but even if you don't know them you can still do what *I* do and copy everything into Word files; all that matters is that what you've worked so hard to create doesn't just vanish.

If a blog you enjoy appears to have been deleted, don't give up on it; try it again in a few days, and it'll very likely be back... hopefully with all its former posts.


I caught Joel Osteen tonight (I'm getting back into the habit of watching his show again, because I'm remembering to look for it at midnight rather than 11PM), and he made an interesting assertion; if there's something that bothers you when you encounter it, or that you don't handle well, God doesn't shield you from it, He keeps putting it in your life so you'll learn to overcome your issues with it, thus becoming the better person He wants you to be. It DOES often seem that bothersome things flock around more than random chance would predict; MY explanation for it is that we tend to dwell on unpleasantries, and the "shape" of the energy we expend in doing so draws them to us... as usual, Osteen and I have perceived the existence of the same odd phenomenon and explained it from within our differing spiritual frameworks, with the only real difference being that he presumes intent from the energy source he sees at work (God) and I see no reason to attribute any such sentience to the engine of karma.


Ok, you've been patient, so on to the raccoons; if you live in a country that doesn't have them, there are lots of pics here

http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/Vines/4892/furfriends.html

Aren't they CUTE? They're some of the smartest critters in the world, too; I've been eager beyond words to get close to one again, for what will be the 1st time since my childhood.

Last night, I heard a crunching sound, looked up, and was thrilled to see a raccoon eating kibble on the patio and peering in at me. As before, I started the chant of "Cooooonie, coooooonie" to get him used to my voice... and to alert my husband that we had a visitor. The raccoon seemed smaller to me than he had before, but I told myself that I was being silly, and just not remembering clearly; what else could it be, right? My husband, who hurriedly went into the kitchen where he could observe without scaring the coon, hadn't witnessed the original visit, so he couldn't judge one way or the other; he hadn't seen a raccoon since HE was a kid either, so he shared my excitement at seeing the sweet masked face looking alternately up at him and in at me.

Since the coonie had eaten a large pile of kibble, we figured that when he left he was done for the night, but a couple of hours later he returned (thank goodness we always automatically restock the food after an animal leaves!!) and began casually picking pieces up with his handlike paws and putting them in his mouth; my husband rushed back to the kitchen as soon as heard my ecstatic reaction, and we both watched intently... or rather all THREE of us did, because we were clearly under observation ourselves. It didn't seem like life could get any better than our shared rapture over our new friend... and then my husband gasped, "Look, there's TWO!!" and a 2nd coon sauntered into the feeding area. He was significantly bigger than the 1st one, and I'm certain that it was HIM I saw the 1st time, which would explain why the other one seemed "too small"; based on the size difference, we're assuming for now that the smaller one is a female, but until we see some sign of what anatomy each of them possesses this is just a guess.

We watched in awe as the TWO raccoons calmly shared the food and alternated dabbling about in the water dish; sometimes they drank, and sometimes they stood with their front paws in it, as they would in a natural body of water. They were only about a foot away from me, and couple of times one of them got their nose almost up to the sliding glass door and looked right into my eyes; they also stood up (they can balance on their hind legs for a long time) and looked through the kitchen window at my husband... they can't possibly have been enjoying us as much as we were enjoying THEM, but a good time was had by all. They showed no sign of fear, were clearly hearing my voice (their ears would twitch and swivel) and were unconcerned, and became comfortable enough to sit while they ate; all this was a BIG change from the possums, who were very shy and slow to get used to us moving around and being really close to them.

Eventually, having wiped out the kibble, they wandered off into the landscaping; they didn't come back tonight, but they've each eaten here twice now, and they WILL come back soon. I'm already bursting with the desire to try handfeeding them, and I'll start attempting it soon, as long as things keep running smoothly; raccoons are very easy to persuade to take food from people, because they're big and smart enough to figure it's safe for them, and I've fed them in the past with no problems. I should point out, however, that raccoons are wild animals, and there's always the potential for disaster when interacting that closely with them; they have long, sharp teeth and claws, and if frightened, sick, hurt or threatened can be expected to use them. I don't want to deny anyone the joy I get from critters, but I also don't want anyone getting hurt because they read my post and then tried to shove food in an unprepared creature's face; unless you've got a really good rapport with animals, it's best to not try to coax them to cross the barrier between humans and wild things.

My life has felt a little empty since the possums disappeared, so I'm blissfully happy to have new critters to love; I hope that my long nights of type-type-typing and video watching will be regularly interrupted by those masked faces outside my door from now on. :-)


Friday, April 07, 2006

A new spiritual insight 


First, a couple of fun bits:

Check out Karma Kitty in the sidebar, and you'll see that he's got something new; if you click on "more," you'll get a steak that you can feed to him (except in Firefox, inexplicably, at least for now). If he's standing, he'll just take a bite every time you click, but if he's laying down he'll pounce and eat it all; give it a try, it's fun... go ahead, I'll wait.

Then, check out this astonishing eBay auction for what's described as:

"GLOW Clone A Willy Kit! Glow In The Dark Version!

This is it! The ORIGINAL Clone A Willy Kit! Preserve Yourself For Your Loved One. Make An EXACT Copy of You For Her That GLOWS IN THE DARK!"

http://cgi.ebay.com/GLOW-Clone-A-Willy-Kit-Glow-In-The-Dark-Version_W0QQitemZ9507206308QQcategoryZ36452QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

My husband's lucky that they want $29 for the darned thing, or... ;-)


And now on to the serious stuff; I don't normally quote from other people's blogs, as this blog is about MY thoughts, but sometimes something I read helps me make spiritual progress, and then I'm compelled to share it. My friend Jax, whose excellent blog is here

http://butchjax.wordpress.com/

has a terrific post

http://butchjax.wordpress.com/2006/03/30/the-consequences-of-helping/

called "The consequences of helping" that, in light of the spiritual insight I posted about on 2-18-06, which dealt with how the karma generated by people whose actions you influenced flows back to you, instantly struck me as being true. She started out with:


"For those of you who haven't played Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II, there is this theme that runs throughout the game regarding the consequences of helping."

I've never even heard of the game, and I do NOT seek spiritual answers in games, BUT, it's been my experience that people who create in the scifi and fantasy genres often come up with plausible spiritual frameworks for their characters by giving real thought to how things seem to work and how they could be explained... which after all is exactly what I'M doing, just with a different intention, and the process isn't diminished by the results ending up in a book, movie or game.


"They give a few reasons for this.

1. By helping, you rob the individual of the experience that comes from struggling through a problem."

I'm honestly stunned that something this basic never occurred to me before, but of course it's perfectly true; although it's always proper to help someone when horrible consequences will befall them if they're left unassisted, think how often we rush to help children, our less assertive friends, and even our partners with things they'd grow in wisdom, strength and capability by handling themselves. Most times your help won't make a bit of difference one way or the other, of course, except to irritate the person you think you're helping, but those times when the intended helpee doesn't get to feel a sense of accomplishment from doing something themselves, or to gain skill(s) from it, or to be given the credit if they do well, or to learn from their mistakes if they do poorly (so that next time, when you're not hovering over them, they can independently do it right), you ARE affecting their behavior and their future in a meaningful way, and any karma that results will come back to haunt you. In addition, as Jax points out:

"I can see how giving someone too much can hinder rather than help. It's at that point you become an enabler, which is worse than not helping at all."

If you think you're helping someone by covering up for their misdeeds, addictions, etc, in other words, you're making matters worse, and you're then to blame for the negative consequences that're sure to result.


"2. You don't know what chain of events you will trigger by helping someone. In the game, the example involves giving a refugee some money, who is then mugged around the corner, putting them in a worst state than they started with."

While the example illustrates an unlikely case, it drives the point home that you just don't KNOW how even the most innocent help could adversely affect someone. You could change someone's entire life by, for example, persuading them to come to your house for dinner so you can try to "help" them by setting them up with someone (who they of course won't like), causing them to miss out on meeting the love of their life, who'll be at the Chinese restaurant they'd otherwise have gone to that night, where they would have met at the buffet when they both reached simultaneously for the sweet and sour pork; having missed their big chance, they'll eventually hook up with someone crummy out of loneliness and desperation, and the negative karma from that will be pointed right at YOU... and you wouldn't even know it, much less know WHY, because from YOUR perspective you tried to PREVENT that person from reaching that desperate "anyone's better than no one" point.

It's things like this that can leave a mystic feeling paralyzed, afraid to act because a terrifyingly high % of actions have the potential to cause negative consequences, from the trivial to the disastrous, and you just CAN'T live your life like a cosmic chess game, trying to see 20 moves ahead from every possible move YOU might make... when you REALLY think about it, you can feel the icy wind from the karmic abyss, believe me. Still, it's desperately important to understand how tightly bound we are to an ever-widening circle of people and events, and how necessary it is to THINK rather than cruise through life on autopilot doing what's easy or feels good rather than what's wise or right... because, although you won't ALWAYS be able to see how your interactions with others could cause a problem, usually you CAN, especially if you choose to be chummy with people who are known wrongdoers, as all too many people do (have you ever seen a wrongdoer withOUT friends?).

It was awesome to make some spiritual progress due to the efforts of another person for a change; thanks, Jax!! :-)


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

********************** 100,000 HITS ********************** 


WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-) :-) :-)

Click here to show me some love!! :-)

I remember how excited I was when my counter passed 100; 100 THOUSAND seems almost surreal, especially given the oddball nature of the things I post about... it never ceases to amaze me that people read my pages-long rambles and come back for more.

To commemorate this milestone, I've added someone very special to my list of blog buddies; to the best of my ability to determine (I did actual research on this), he's the 1st person who linked to me, way back at the beginning of 2004. Please take a moment to check out Jeffrey's terrific site

http://jeffreybabbleson.blogspot.com/

and you'll see that right from the start my readers have been quality bloggers.

A few of my other blog friends should get a mention too:


Umpire (formerly known as Goose), for being my 1st blog buddy, in other words the 1st person I communicated with on their blog, or anywhere for that matter, that I swapped links with; the other bloggers I'd visited to that point were either indifferent or belligerent, so it was awesome to get some approval for a change, especially from someone with a popular blog who sure didn't need a link from my fledgling site.

Smedley, for this post on the forum of the long-gone but fondly remembered BlogRank, in the thread where I'd said that people who were really weird might enjoy my essays:

"Color me weird.
I just got over to check out your weblog, and I find it very fascinating, the way you dissect common concepts and point out things that might otherwise go unnoticed. Pretty brainy stuff, but not even remotely boring. It's a good combination, and an uncommon one, too."

Those sentences, coming as they did at a time before I'd started finding my blog buddies and getting their generous praise, and from someone I'd had no previous contact with, who was under no obligation to say anything nice to me, meant a great deal... so much so that I followed an "inexplicable" (aka precognitive) urge to copy them out before BlogRank vanished, which is why I still have them.

Keeme, for posting his agreement with Smedley's assessment in that same thread and joining him in being supportive of me from that moment on; although my daily hit count increased steadily, #'s are cold things, and getting verbal verification that people were enjoying what I was working so hard on was greatly appreciated.

Yolanda, who, when I arrived on her blog for the 1st time (having discovered that she was linked to me), greeted my appearance with such a frenzy that she was nearly incoherent; I was stunned, and deeply touched, that she liked my blog so much that she was THAT excited to see me... doubly so since she's in Malaysia, and it was an unexpected pleasure to make an emotional connection with someone in such a faraway and exotic place.

Al and Ron, who are brothers with many things in common, such as their intelligence, eloquence... and the way they unfailingly react with enormous sadness and compassion when I post anything about my unfortunate childhood. Their unswerving sensitivity and kindness has boosted my view of the male half of the species many times, and, although I don't make those sorts of posts to garner sympathy, it's lovely that these 2 always have plenty to offer; their mother did a VERY good job raising them.


It's funny; usually, when people single out bloggers for special mentions, it's because they believe them to have the "best" blogs by some criteria or other... but, without thinking it through, what *I* came up with are the ones who've given me the biggest emotional boost. I'm satisfied with that, because I think it's this sort of thing that SHOULD be valued over writing or site-design ability; not everyone can be an intellectual or an artist, and those that are got it via their genes, not as a reward for virtue, but niceness, kindness, and being caring have to be worked at... anyone CAN be those things, but few bother to try, making those who DO precious indeed.

I hope you'll take the time to go through my link list and visit these folks... and of course all the others, too, because every one of them has a quality blog, has treated me as a friend, and has had sweet things to say about my ramblings.

There were some "extreme" blog-related stories that I'd been intending to stick in this post, but I think I'll save them for the next milestone; the main thrust of this essay SHOULD be to shine a light on some of the people who got me to this point... because the folks in my link list are responsible, both directly via their links to me and indirectly by how those links make Google and the other search engines rank me, for the vast majority of my hits.

I'll finish up with one point about the effect of blogging on my life (aside from the major loss of sleep); I've continued to look up countries as the geolocator shows that I've had visitors from them (160 countries so far!!), and because of this my husband recently said, "Thanks to your blog, you've gone from having geographical knowledge in the bottom 10% of the population to the upper 10%." The former is a gross exaggeration, as he was referring to the AMERICAN population after all, and forgets that just because HE still studies geography that doesn't mean everyone else does, but it was gratifying to know that he was paying attention to just how much I've learned about the countries where my readers live, particularly in the Arab world... if you gave me a blank map of that area I could fill it in with a high degree of accuracy, which is pretty wild when you consider that when I stated blogging I'd never even HEARD of some of those countries.

Breaking 100K was a KILLER way to start the week; thank you to everyone who visits me for making it happen!!

xoxoxoxoxoxo

Omni


Saturday, April 01, 2006

My husband has reached a new depth of stupidity 


First off; if you're reading this on 4-1, what did you think of my April Fool's JavaScript thingie? Did you have a moment of terror when you thought I might actually be deleting my blog, or did you guess right off that it was an April Fool's joke?

The other new item on my blog is another of those images you can customize with your own text; I'm a sucker for novelty doodads, in case you hadn't noticed. I went here

http://www.signgenerator.org/books/dummies/

and created the cover of "New Age Spirituality for Dummies," which you'll find at the bottom of the page; I know, it's sorta silly, but I DO think of my spiritual posts as trying to be clear and simple enough that someone who doesn't know anything about it can pick it up, which is the idea behind the "Dummies" books, so it's reasonably justifiable... and anyways, it was fun to make.


Ok, on to the main topic; it's a good thing I already did my April Fool's prank, because otherwise everyone would assume that that's what this post was... it's that unbelievable. A couple of days ago, my husband walked into the family room, where I was hard at work on my laptop, and:


Him: I just had a really good example of how maybe sometimes you should read the directions.
Me: What have you destroyed this time?!!
Him: No, nothing, this is something different.
Me: Well?
Him: It turns out that those CLOROX wipes aren't meant for "personal cleansing."
Me: Oh no, you didn't wash your [genitals] with those wipes with the BLEACH?!! (He's stinky enough to need to do between-shower touchups of his more rancid zones, so this was a natural assumption to make.)
Him: No... worse.
Me: You... you mean... you wiped your...?!!
Him: Yeah.
Me: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!
Him: It IS pretty funny, lol.
Me: Did you burn yourself?
Him: Yeah, a little.
Me: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!
Him: lol
Me: I know I shouldn't laugh at that, but... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!
Him: Why shouldn't you laugh? I'M laughing, even though it's MY butth0le that's sore.
Me: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!
Him: lol
Me: That was REALLY stupid, even by your standards.
Him: No kidding.
Me: Whatever possessed you to wipe yourself with a CLOROX wipe?
Him: I thought they were hand wipes, and that they could be used just like baby wipes.
Me: Hand wipes are NOT the same as baby wipes, as the latter are very smooth and cushy with super-gentle liquid for a baby's delicate skin, and the former are NOT.
Him: Oh.
Me: Can you imagine if Clorox tried to market a baby wipe? Would anyone buy it even if they had studies proving it was the gentlest brand?
Both: LOL
Me: Just for future reference, do NOT wipe your butt with a hand wipe.
Him: Ok.
Me: And it goes without saying that anything meant to clean the bathroom surfaces isn't for use on any bodily orifices either.
Him: Uh-huh, lol.
Me: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!
Him: lol
Me: I shouldn't be laughing so much, but...
Him: When it's a guy who was hurt it's always ok to laugh, unless it's a serious injury; even then, if the paramedics say he'll live you can still laugh.
Me: I'm sure that your male friends would find this hilarious.
Him: Oh yeah, big time.
Me: Speaking of friends, I'll have to call [female friend] this weekend and tell her about this, so she can laugh at you... and then she'll tell her husband, and HE'LL laugh at you.
Him: Aw, come on, don't tell her husband.
Me: You know she's going to tell him everything, just like I tell YOU everything.
Him: Ok, but tell her that she's officially not allowed to tell him; she still will, but if he's not officially allowed to know he can't say anything to me about it.
Me: We'll see. Also, you DO know that this is gonna be my next blog entry, right?
Him: I sort of figured that, lol.
Me: Thousands of people on 6 continents will know that you wiped your butt with BLEACH.
Him: Cool, I'll be famous!!
Both: LOL


A great deal more laughter has occurred at his expense, and promises that he'll be hearing about it for the rest of our lives, plus I've been calling him "Bleach Butt" and "Clorox Kid," which he chuckles at every time... you never saw anyone take such pleasure from being ridiculed for stupidity. He was openly disappointed when, after I examined the package of the offending product, "Clorox Disinfecting Wipes," which you can see here

http://clorox.com/solutions_disinfecting_wipe.php

I discovered that the wipes don't actually have any bleach on them; he literally said, with great dismay, "But now you can't call me 'Bleach Butt' anymore, and it was alliterative as well as being really funny"... he was relieved, I kid you not, when I told him I'd keep using the name as it was part of the story. He was pleased when my perusal of the label revealed further that the wipes are lemon scented, because now he can say that his butt was lemony fresh... at least for a couple of minutes.

As I've often said, marriage is GROSS; married people are WAY too involved with each other's bodily functions and the associated parts of the body. There's a great deal of potential for amusement inherent in that, though, as this incident proves; just wait 'til I remove all the toilet paper from my husband's bathroom in a few days and leave the Clorox wipes in their place. :-)





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