Image by tommypatto ~ IMAGINE. via Flickr

The Royal family marries off an heir to the throne minus coercion, Osama bin Laden is officially dead and Stephen Harper wins a majority government. An apocalypse has to be looming, don’t you think?

Being an American in the Canuck Kingdom feels like one of the Marvel Comics Bizarro worlds sometimes. Part of the Commonwealth, you’d think that Canadians would be all over the wedding of Kate and Wills, but it was a bigger deal to the folks down South than it was here. Similarly, for all our military fetch and carry deference in the ongoing American wars in the Middle East, the reaction to the dancing in the streets à la Arabs celebrating the fall of the Twin Towers left most Canadians a bit chilled.

And tonight? Not only have the Tories claimed their third consecutive election victory, but they will rule as the majority. No less startling was the utter collapse of the Liberals, the near extinction of the Bloc Québécois and Jack Layton‘s NDP rising up to claim the official opposition mantle.

Why do I care?

I have been struggling of late with this tangled web I weave around the Internet, and it occurred to me today – after vainly trying to write a post for my paying gig for the last two weeks and recoiling in weariness from a couple of Tea-Bagging baiters in the comment section of a Des Moines Register columnist – that I am tired of the way nothing changes.

Osama bin Laden is dead. They tell us at any rate.

No, they don’t have his body – conveniently they dumped it overboard on the way to spread the good news. There are no pictures, dental records or fingerprints. There’s video … of the swabbies tipping a shroud into the dark drink, in case anyone would care to be convinced by that.

It’s like someone captured BigFoot in the Rockies then killed it, cooked and ate some of him, dumped the body for wolves and came back to civilization to tell the tale – minus pictures even though he was carrying his brand new white iPhone 4.

“You just have to trust me.”

And the incredible thing is that “they” do. Try to tell anyone that even if bin Laden is actually dead – recently – nothing is going back to the way it was before – they won’t care. It’s enough to dance around with the Stars and Stripes proclaiming “justice!” “victory!” “Wolverines!”

I’m tired of writing about the slow death of public education or the coming loss of choice for women and their subsequent June Cleaver re-enslavement. No one cares. The choir is too busy blogging and writing non-fiction that no one reads. The opposition smugly sits back to wait for their next victory lap. “Wolverines!” The commenters in the  boxes choke on the smoking flames.


Image via Wikipedia

I missed International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Again. I always miss this made-up Internet bloggy holiday. De-lurking Day has escaped me too, and that’s one I’d love to commemorate because you all are the most reticent bunch.

But I don’t comprehend this fascination with pirate talk. It’s a terrible dialect and a worse accent.

Where is Drawl like the Wind Day? The American Southlands may be home to the more bat-shit crazy of my fellow countrymen, but they talk pretty. Even the crackers.

Or Intone Like Shakespeare Day?

I could get behind that. Seriously. Kenneth Brannagh? Colin Firth? Jane Austen may write narrative that’s thicker than the latest Franzen pseudo-lit tome, but it soothes the ears coming out of the right mouth.

But no, some fool chose pirates. Unless the pirate in question has an underlying accent of note – a Scot or a Brit or even an Aussie – it’s just choking on rrrr’s and that’s French.

is today. Or so Facebook and The Bloggess tell me. And that alone makes it true.

I’m not so sure the advent of Social Media as a primary venue for human interaction is something to get all “rah-rah” about. After all, it can only lead to this in the end:

If it hasn’t already for some of us.

Not knocking the brave new world. I met my husband on the Internet, as some of you know, and many good friends exist only across time and space with the help of powerful satellites and Al Gore.

Just a caution I’m throwing out.

So, happy social media day. IM or text your favorite virtual friend. Tweet goodwill to all and update that neglected status bar for the hundreds and hundreds of people you’ll never meet.

But consider taking a walk and doing some Sun Salutations while you’re at it.


I blog, therefore I cannot work in the Obama White House. I also Facebook and have been a member of numerous on line communities from soap opera fan site and widow support groups to parenting sites where I discussed all manner of reproduction minutia that would make the skin literally crawl off anyone assigned the task of checking out my cyber-trail. 

In addition to outing one’s own behavior, good, bad and pornographic on the great WWW, a person coveting a position on the President-elect’s second coming team will also have to cough up the goods on his/her spouse and all their grown children (no word on the age at which they will be considered grown but as any parent can attest, children can be an embarrassment at nearly any point in their lives).

I have blogged so extensively about my life for the last decade I can be certain that I will 1) never get a job with Obama and 2) possibly just never be viably employed again given the work world’s obsessive need to know what I do on my off hours.

I guess I can see the Obama people’s point. Their guy is going to have a tough time as it is. He doesn’t need to worry about what his “people” have been up to on the ‘net. And while I don’t believe it is fair play to dig up blog posts or comments from years ago to try and tarnish a person’s reputation, because this implies we are all set in stone and incapable of growth or change, I can understand an employer’s side of things. Blogging and other social networking is like the tattoo your mom or dad told you not to get because you would regret it someday. But they were old and uncool and you knew better, didn’t you? So now, Lola or Chad is history you can barely recall – because of the amount of alcohol you were consuming back then – but the tat you got in their honor is still there, faded and starting to visibly sag. If only you had listened to your unhip parents. 

The same can be said, of course, for that post you wrote about having sex with that guy you didn’t really want to have sex with or the time you twittered about the pub crawl – while you were mid crawl – and provided photos to boot. Or maybe those pictures are on your MySpace or Facebook page, tagged for all to correctly identify you.

And let’s not forget the mommy bloggers out there who are ruining their children’s futures with every stroke of the keypad.

A full confession for Team Obama includes among other things: all websites, every alias and a recap of every time you flamed someone or went off on a Keith Olbermann rant. Flaming alone would get my resume circularly filed. Soap opera sites are dog eat dog, people.

My worst peccadillo was replying to a post on the widow board about whiny people. The author felt indifferent to the point of  being cold to non-widoweds problems and resented having to listen to them because they were trivial. I replied that this didn’t bother me as much as widowed who did the same thing (whined about little things) because the non-widowed didn’t have a sense of perspective (actually people who have experienced great tragedy in general have this sense of what is really important – well most do). I was chastised off the board while being reminded that only the widowed are allowed to elevate mole hills to mountains – so there. Probably my least shiny moment. One day I might let that go. But not today.

So what’s in your Internet Closet? Publish porn much? Frequent Yahoo chat rooms just to pick ideological fights? Have an alias persona on Facebook? The President-elect would like to know, so he can disqualify you.

Last week’s Newsweek contained an interesting little article comparing user generated content sites to sweatshops. As I read it and then thought about it, I had to admit that it is true. For little to no compensation ordinary folk like us are, for all intents and purposes, creating the content that draws others to countless sites on the Internet and makes millionaires out of the owners who do little more than pat us on the head for our contributions by throwing us a few new apps here and there.

This week the industry bigwigs are meeting and playing in Sun Valley, Idaho to, among other things, try to determine how to make “mo’ money”.

The big questions?

  • building or buying digital industry leaders
  • designing the business model for generating revenue online
  • how to exploit user generated content and social networking sites

Apparently user generated material is what attracts people to the Internet but so far no one has figured out how to really turn us into slave labor. We aren’t poor Asians who haven’t any choice but to make Nike runners for $2 a day or Mexicans eager to make Hersey’s kisses for a fraction of what the company was paying Canadians in Ontario. For the most part we all have day jobs and view our blogging and networking as an outlet that we pay for via our Internet providers. Silly us.

The Internet thus far is not turning people into the same types of mindless consumers that say television does and this is a problem.

The other problem is that as content generators we are still relatively free of editorial restraints. At least as long as Net Neutrality exists but the powers that be are on that problem too. Although there seem to be plenty of us willing to write product endorsement/reviews for freebies being under the illusion that their opinion carries as much weight as the product link in their posts.

So how does it feel to be a virtual serf?

I have been meaning to blog about this and got a bit of a push while reading over at Under the Mad Hat recently.

Apparently there are a couple of big problems with Internet and the WWW as we know it today. First is that it’s basically unregulated which makes me wonder why Republicans aren’t falling over themselves to protect it. Until I get to the second point, an unregulated Internet is not a profitable Internet. At least not for ISP providers who could make a heck of a lot of money if they were allowed to two-tier their bandwidth. Doing so would allow them to sell the broadest and fastest band to those who could afford it and leave the rest to well – us. Finally, a neutral net allows we who use it to do just what we are doing now. Writing and sharing and meeting and bringing a whole new meaning to the idea that it is truly a small, small world.

So find out more about the campaign to protect what we have. Here (if you are in U.S.) and here (if you live in Canada).


The spring after Will died I spent a lot of time playing The Sims. In retrospect it wasn’t as mindless as it probably seemed at the time. In my little virtual reality, I had control over everything. Nothing happened without my consent and I could manipulate circumstances to have everything just the way I wanted it. Therapeutic? Professionals might not think so but as I played I slowly got tired of being in charge of everything and the lack of surprise and spontaneity and was soon just constructing my little worlds and letting the Sims run amuck in it.

There is an interactive version of sorts of the Sims called Second Life on the web now. You can build a doppelganger and hang out in cyber-realities like the crew on the Enterprise would with their holo-deck. Okay, not that “real” but I have been thinking lately about my on-line connections in terms of real or not. It was prompted by a comment that my friend Murphy made on our mommy message board the other day. She mentioned the fact that we had been “talking” with each other for eight years this coming February. Though some of the other members of our group have met in person, I haven’t met a single one. I haven’t even spoken on the phone with anyone other than Christie and that was years ago when Will first got very sick and Katy was just a baby. She twangs. A southern girl who has moved more times than I can count and fearlessly pursues her dreams from the perfect mode of employment to the best locale. I admire that about her because I am not that way at all. But aside from pictures and posts, I don’t know her like I know my best friend, Vicki or my new friend, Char. There is something about face time and body language and seeing someone in their element.

But still, Christie and Murphy and the others are my friends. We went through infertility, IVF (some of us), pregnancy/adoption, nursing, weaning, potty-training. They were there during the early days of Will’s illness when I didn’t know it was physical and was tearing my hair out – virtually – not knowing what to do. Eight years and a lot of life has been shared.

I think about my blogging friends and acquaintances too. Rob and I are acquainted with a law student in New York City who goes by the name of Pulp. He probably isn’t much older than Farron and I wouldn’t know him from a hole in the wall if I were to walk by him on the street. But he counts. I know people all over. There is Rick the rabid Republican who blogs at the Register and stubbornly refuses to except that he is wrong about climate change (he is a flat-worlder in that respect). Barb and Ali are in Australia. I got my initial dating advice from Jim and Martin in Great Britain. Tanja is my larger than life Dutch friend in Arizona. I have friends all over Canada. Sally, Heather and her sister Karen, Cheryl – who came to our wedding. I know a lot of teachers. Murphy is an economics professor in the SF Bay area. Marsha teaches somewhere in Illinois and Andrea is down in Texas. Tanja will likely be in NYC come the next school year. I met a White House correspondent ala West Wing who is now blogging in Iraq somewhere. Janet is in Idaho. Liz and Candy share a place in Arizona and date biker/musicians up in the mountains at their leisure. A recent Facebook friend has a successful pod-cast that she sells on iTunes. And I know more widowed people than I can shake a stick at.

Alicia, a widow acquaintance, and I had a short exchange on yesterday’s blog about our “relationship” and though it is not friends, it is not strangers either. We know more about each other than many people who we likely interact with on a real and regular basis. How is that? It’s a puzzlement, as the King would say. What defines a relationship? When does it stop being acquaintance? And does that mean friendship? I think not because that is a mutual consent thing but I don’t remember asking anyone to be my friend ever. In some cases I just presumed and was not rebuffed when I did so, but in many instances it seems to be unspoken but mutually understood.

So what has prompted this ramble? Moving. Again. I am finally settling in here and at the same time am getting ready to travel to Texas for an extended stay. Though not to put down roots because the idea of fire ants, alligators, humidity, hurricanes and endless expanses of concrete can’t compete with the sky here, which I will miss terribly, or the space and the dry air. And I like the people. It has been easier to fit in here than in any place I have ever been. I am not sure if that is Canada or me however.

I am psyched for Texas. Really, I am. But while I didn’t really feel as though I was leaving home when I sold the place in Des Moines and came north. I can’t say the same thing about returning.