June 04, 2005

summmmmmmmmmmmer

After a week of rain, we got to spend the day at the pool today. weee!!!! The pool we go to was built in 1952, and when it was built it was the largest pool in the U.S. A little-known fact.

It has 32 separate filters, about four-foot square, underneath the pool deck. I forget how many gallons they told me it takes--but something like 30 gallons of chlorine, would that be right?



It's Olympic-size AND with a week of rain and no sun it had to be maybe 59 degrees, but that didn't matter one bit. We swam and dunked and swam and screamed out loud at the frrreeezingness of it.

air bags

safety first!
8888
Originally uploaded by dream_boy_1811.

June 03, 2005

Maximize, Optimize, Rasterize, Jazzercise...

Tom accomplishes quite a bit thanks to a crummy ISP.

Talk about making lemonade!

Dig.

"You have to dig deep to bury a father."

That's a proverb attributed to Gypsies that Neil Chethik chose as the epigraph for his book "FatherLoss." According to Freud, becoming fatherless is "the most poignant loss." It was one of the reasons Michael Jordan quit pro basketball in 1993. Chethik, a writer from Lexington, Ky., explores the depth of that loss for sons of all stripes. A worthwhile father/son loss book, it is but one of many that try to tackle the tough task of explaining what it is to grieve.

A relevant article in American Scholar called Work of Mourning describes several 'works of mourning' of our day -- evaluating how authors are trying to -- and whether or not they are succeeding at -- wrapping words around feelings of utter devastation, as well as the author's own experience.

What happens if the work of mourning does not proceed on this detailed and stately course, if the enormous energy available for the labor of grief does not find its proper tools or associations? It can become what Freud calls "pathological mourning." Like those spirits of the dead in Greek literature who, if improperly mourned, return to cause malevolent mischief--devastating crops, destroying whole towns--the psychic energies of mourning, if repressed, can wreak grievous harm. They can turn inward into a dangerous process of self-devouring (as when we "eat our hearts out"). They can metamorphose into what we now call depression, a condition for which Freud preferred the more resonant, tradition-laden term melancholia. And, most tragically, they can give rise to self-hatred and self-destruction. "The patient represents his ego to us as worthless, incapable of any achievement and morally despicable, he reproaches himself, vilifies himself and expects to be cast out and punished.... This ... delusion of mainly moral inferiority is completed by sleeplessness and refusal to take nourishment, and ... by an overcoming of the instinct which compels every living thing to cling to life."






Dag. How come CBO's links look so nice and neat?

In celebration of sleep

I love bedding. King-size, beautiful, luxurious bedding. I have a thing about it. Because I love to sleep. I am a comforteraholic. I went through a phase as a kid where I would only sleep on 100% cotton sheets. My Italian grandmother supplied my mother who supplied me. They used to iron sheets--do you iron sheets? I don't. But when I can get 100% cotton anything, don't ask me to get out of bed.

zzzzzzzzz.

If you stare at this, it's supposed to make you sleepy.



zzzzzzzzzzz at your own risk.

June 02, 2005

Always remember and don't ever forget

Fear it.
strj4
Originally uploaded by misterugly.

bass

always like to see this knob.
bass
Originally uploaded by virgu..

Remembering...

Almost a year. One month to go. Hello beautiful filter! Hello handsome american spirit! I hope you are well in someone else's hands/mouth/lungs. Know that I miss you, but I am glad you have moved on.

signed,
waiting to inhale

Remembering...
Originally uploaded by Jeneane.

boulderattack

Pics on flickr from back when it was beta were neat, you remember, and you could chat and pop pictures into your chat easy as pie? these early additions we should not forget. they are mostly, well, really funny. And not real pictures at all. Let us celebrate them. Together.
boulderattack
Originally uploaded by Chris Locke.

I used to be an angry bat

When I lived in Rochester, I was very used to your garden variety Seattle day--overcast, 50s, drizzley, gray, motionless, there. With a decade in the south in my hip pocket, I am No Longer a Bat. I used to be a bat. I used to LIKE being a bat. I was a happy bat. I kept my cube at Kodak dark. I mean very dark. Living in the dark makes days grey brilliant. I liked my comforter days, under the downy sweetness, everyday feeling like football season.

I don't like being a bat anymore. It's been five (six?) days now of rain, gray, dreary, nothingness. And I feel like an angry bat.

I am a very angry southern bat.

Call on me.

Lying here in bed. Cloudy day. Missing the sun for five days now. The blinds are drawn. I'm waiting for a client to call and thinking of ways to delight them today, to give them them something worth paying for. Aside from the laptop here in front of me, what I do bears a sneaky resemblance to the world's oldest profession.

Thanks, Yahoo

Oh my god, they named this after me--Mrs S!

June 01, 2005

Aggregator 2.0

The Next Generation of Aggregators Has JUST ARRIVED.

Now that you can skim, skip, and ignore the messy parts of weblogs (aka: the weblogs themselves), you're probably wondering what's next.

You know what? Tonight's the night you find out what's next.

And what's next is Aggregator 2.0.

THAT'S RIGHT! With Aggregator 2.0, not only can you subscribe and sort and be automatically notified when that hot content arrives on your desktop, but you can completely ignore all of it in a blink of the eye.

Aggregator 2.0 lets you avoid more than 2,000 blogs in a single frame--several times each day! The more they write, the more you can think about reading and then just skip the whole bloody thing.

What a boon to your productivity! What a morale booster!

The fun doesn't stop there. Aggregator 2.0 comes with add-on features: Buy a basic subscription, and get the email aggregator too. With Email Aggregator 2.0 you can skip those urgent emails in your inbox.

Someone pouring their heart out to you? We know you've got better things to do.

That's why we do the job for you.

We aggregate it. You ignore it. No more wasting valuable energy opening your email client or Web browser. In fact, just can just skip booting up in the first place.

YES! Aggregator 2.0 is so efficient it takes you back to the days before your laptop could play hiphop.

Tonight only, in honor of our launch of Aggregator 2.0, visit this site and learn WHAT'S NEXT in the field of emergent reading.

Watch for Aggregator 3.0 later this year. Among other great features, it completely removes your ability to type--I mean that pesky task of pressing keys, one after the other after the other.

The 21st century is a blast so far, isn't it?

I'll say!

Adult Children of Dead Parents

Like me, Jonathon experienced the death of a parent as a kid. I was six, he was fourteen--the same age as my brother when my dad died. My dad. His mom. We have both written about it.

I can't help but pull out Jonathon's comment on my stepfamily post.

I think I now know why I am drawn to certain bloggers and would rather piss on others.

Those I can do gang signs with all have gone inside themselves at some point in time. Then again I am dark. Thus the gang signs.

Thanks J and frank.

Now, to the story at hand. My dad was convinced I needed to call my step-mother, "mom."

The power of the fist, certain.

She did not want that. He did. It was the first time I told him to go fuck himself. The next time would be 17 years later.

IT was a huge source of tension as the other kids were lots younger and they had no problem swapping nouns. That is until they were older. Then everyone was confused.

Sometimes the words mom/dad were used and others their first names. Multi-personalities in that house. That is what happens when you go inside yourself and yourself stops letting you.

Anyway, amazing how freaky things can get when a parent dies. Does it occur to the living parent that by making you call the new addition mom/dad that you have the unique f'ng pleasure of buring two dads or two moms in your lifetime? How sick is that. I think if they make you call em dad/mom you should have the right to make them call the new addition the same name as their dead spouse.

That would prolly clue em in a bit.

Do you understand that he just told a joke to change my life?
Yes, me the angry kid's life--he just cracked me up by telling me something I never thought of, and believe me, when it comes to this topic, if you've been there, you pretty much think you've heard and thought of everything.

Not this though. THIS IS AN AWARD WINNING LINE. Steparents, listen up. It isn't about YOU.
I think if they make you call em dad/mom you should have the right to make them call the new addition the same name as their dead spouse. That would prolly clue em in a bit.

That is Absolutely The Bomb. Stepkids, listen up. Let me give you the quote, from Jonathon's mouth to your ears, pure and simple:

"Sure. I'll call Ted 'Dad' if you'll call Ted 'Robert'. Does that work for you guys, Mom?

That, in a nutshell, is it.

Another part of what Jonathon wrote that made me jump mental rope was this:
Sometimes the words mom/dad were used and others their first names. Multi-personalities in that house. That is what happens when you go inside yourself and yourself stops letting you.

Hello, yes? Right, let me introduce you to my parents. This is my mom and this... is... uh... my... dadidyouseethegamelastnight? Or, this is my mom (anxiety building) and this is my... Ted. Or, These are my mom and stepfather. AND the one I finally settled on: This is my mom and step-dad. I did get that close. Step-Dad.

But when talking with my step sister, even to this day, it's "Your dad and my mom" (me), and "Your mom and my dad" (her). THAT'S RIGHT, WE NEVER GAVE OVER OWNERSHIP.

But when talking to my "blood" brother and sister, even to this day, they are "mom and brian."

Oh, and Jonathon--remember trying to phrase sentences so that you didn't have to use pronouns or proper nouns at all!? The implied "you," direct sentence became an important tool. Or, the time-honored, walk into the room with out acknowledging anyone--best to practice equal opportunity avoidance.

NO WONDER WE WRITE.

STEP.
STEP ON MY HEART.
STEP ON A CRACK BREAK YOUR MOTHER'S BACK
STEP ON A BUG
STEP.

How linguistically complicated and panic inducing our lives become when we try to shoehorn love relationships in place of one another and give them simple names. Reduce them to the lowest common denominator, give simple names to the most complex dramas of our lives. And force kids to figure it out for themselves.

How much grief do you think kids like us carry into our 20s, 30s, 40s? You don't want to think so, because blended families are a lot more common now than in the 1960s and 70s. But you know what? Your kids are us. We roll it up and hide it in places you can't see. We find extra places to keep it, or grow some. But we bring it with us. A big stinking package of grief.

Just ask me or Jonathon. We'll tell you.

all nighters no fun at 43.

Today I remembered Vivarin, competitor of NoDoze, which used to help me through my many double-all-nighters in college. These same homeopathological meds also gave me heart palpitations, made me unreasonably irritable, and helped me pump out some killer A+ papers.



Look at all the happy people on the Vivarin website. I was never happy when I took Vivarin. I was very angry and irritable, and Highly Highly productive.

These Vivarin liars don't look irritable. Surely, they have not taken the recommended dose. Especially the PTA mom with 2 kids. Or, perhaps they're not letting on that they also enjoy an occasional Valium when Vivarin puts a bit too much perk in their pecks.

As I was showering, I remembered that old commercial--Do they still run it? I don't think so because they didn't have to run all the disclaimers back in the early 80s--"Revive, with Vivarin!"

Or... Learn how to out-perform your peers in an altered state!

Ah, the things we learn in college.

I get my caffeine in coffee these days. But a hit of Vivarin under my tongue would sure help me out tonight.



For you comparison shoppers, progeny of my preferred college brand, No-Doze Plus, boasts the following anginatical ingredients: 100 mg caffeine plus 10 mg nicotinic acid and 10 mg thiamine hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), which is pretty much like injecting a cup of coffee, ten cigarettes, and a couple of vitamin B pills into your bloodstream at once.

Wicked. Great. Poetry.

Take three if you want your head to explode. That's a great excuse for why your work isn't done.

I'm just observing, really

I've now lost my passion for the topic of the Bloggerati and linking, or the lack thereof, of the growing homogeneity of the "conversation," or at least the visibility into the "conversation" within the bloghole. I'm back to writing what I write. A big valley girl "WhatEVER" to the rest of it.

HowEVER....

I couldn't help think the other week, when IBM made news 'round the net by posting it's IBM's new Blogging Guidelines, that our own A-Lister Bloggers could learn something from the Megacorporation.

In response to IBM's announcement, I posted my IBM's Breathing Guidelines for Air Suckers, which might have gone unnoticed but to my regular readers if IBM had not wanted to PARTICIPATE IN not just ANNOUNCE its news, to which IBM jammed back with its own take on the breathing guidelines, effectively engaging a tiny voice from the blogosphere on the big day of the announcement in a funny aside that drew about 4,000 people here and elsewhere, gathering in comments to play their own word games.

None of those people were Big Bloggers, the Men of Weblogging, better known as Our Own A-Listers.

I started thinking this: If Jeff Jarvis or Rogers Cadenhead or David Weinberger, say, had posted the same breathing guidelines on a satirical whim -- which would be in keeping with their proclivity toward witty banter on tech news -- and if IBM had come back and jammed with them on their first day of official acknowledgement of corpoblogging, would the linky love among the blogworld's Big Blog Guys not have flowed like a fine wine?

Doc's headline might have been: Waiting to Exhale

David's might have been: Turning Blue, or IBM Learns How to Breathe

Jeff's: Suck It Up: IBM Breathes and Blogs

Roger's: Air Suckers Blow at IBM

Scoble's: It's as easy as breathing, guys.

Joi's: Blog Change Is in the Air at Big Blue

Of course, these post titles are all imaginary.

Because, you know, those guys were busy reading each other during those few days.

And, just for the record, these are the fellas I like, some of them I know pretty well, and all of them I read. Still do. Will do.

The More I Work...

Been a long time since I pulled an all nighter. This wasn't a particularly productive one, though. Usually they are. Usually I can get a day's work done, sleep a few hours, and enjoy the "day" part of the day that you don't get to enjoy in an office job.

This all nighter was a complete flop. I waited to long too make the declaration, that's why. I waited too long to commit, to say: ALL NIGHTER, BAKE SOME COFFEE.

Instead, this one involved head-on-pillow perseveraton about a project and a deadline. I tried for two hours to let it go and sleep so I could hit it fresh in the morning, up and down, round the room, back in bed, and then I knew: Better off typing than fretting. So I got back out of bed about 4 a.m. and put a couple hours thinking and writing in.

The thing about writing for me -- format matters. I mean, from the left-right margins to the font choice to the point size, it all adds or detracts NOT from the my ability to write. I think my industries are segmented according to font. Financial Services and Manufacturing/Supply Chain are definitely Times New Roman. But Healthcare? Entertainment/Media? Arial. Deep Tech makes me need columns. I like seeing the same copy in different type faces.

Although I write with the design in mind when one exists beforehand, and I do my best to suggest and direct the designer when one doesn't exist beforehand, the simple fact is, it doesn't matter to me what the designer will eventually choose while I'm writing. My internal design, the one I structure in my head, matters to me during the composition, affects how I say what I say, must echo and mirror my thinking patterns.

So tonight has been an Arial 9 point, space-and-a-half, landscape, .5 left .5 right night.

That give you a hint?

The End of Writing As Usual

You know what I was thinking tonight, this night, with my Word file open, my heart just edgy, just that edgy double beat not sure it's mine weird jumpety jumpety heart feeling in my chest, is this: You know the poetry book I did, over there on the sidebar, no not the first one, the second one, well that was an incredibly fucking brave thing I did, and if live to be 43 in nine days, or if I live to be 99 in some number of days I'm not prepared to count right now, that will still be me, coming online, walking right out here with ya'll, right in the fucking middle of the Internet, not like I didn't know what I was doing, not like I didn't have people out here who could cut me with my own words, and being one brave motherfucker.

And you know what I want to tell you Jenna, one day when you read this stuff? I want to tell you that this is your mom's voice, baby. And it's me showing -- in the only way I know -- how to give your voice permission, how to open your heart and scream until your throat bleeds, to wail and pound your fists, to sing the tapestry of pain backward across generations.

And you know what most of all?

I love you, my Jenna Bean.

May 31, 2005

Gimme some ever lovin site pals

Squark it, baby.

w00t!

I mean, Kent Is Right.

I have to agree:

One aspect of aggregators that you may have overlooked is the fact that they allow us to do various statistical analysis's-es on the different types of data, categories and tagged nuances of a weblogging population category tagging. We can measure tails, do kurtosis, find modes, subdivide, measure things and look for stuff like Power Laws -- all this is evolving into a new branch of statiscal mathematics and "number figuring" that we call theoretical aggregatology. Let's say we group weblogs into 2 goups -- aggregatoreds and aggregatorees. Don't worry about exactly how they’re defined -- it's a complex process. Next, let’s look at some statistics that we can gather from aggregators such a bloglines. Using the bloglines aggregator, we can see that you have 117 total subscribers. However, only 56 of those subscribers are public. So, your ratio of public to total subscribers is 56/117 or 48%. Your non-public to total subscribers is 52%, or what we call the ratio of nonpubs to totsubs. We can then compare this to Tom’s Improprieties 58% pubsub-toadsub ratio? Naturally, there seems to be some type of anomalous kurtosis in your power law distribution -- which might lead us to question why so many of your aggretatorees tend to remain non-public? Why are they still in the closet? What are they hiding? The statistics don’t lie, Jeneane, the statistics just don't lie, do they?

The thing that I really want...

...is a list of about 200 blogs to read every day in my aggregator. Because then I'll never run out of things to read. Too bad for you and you and you that I might never get to yours. I'm becoming a scrollaholic. It's not good. So, hey, can I save-as YOUR subscription list, o mighty woman of aggregation? ;-)

May 30, 2005

The Psychology of the Aggregator

Recently, for the first time since entering this funny little space in 2001, I've been using an aggregator to keep up with my blog reading. And what an odd shift in my habits I've noticed since getting all aggregator loopy.

1) I don't feel like I'm visiting someone's virtual house anymore--instead, I feel like they're writing a newspaper that some paper boy slaps on my doorstep.

2) I've moved from community member to consumer. The difference? There is a wanting and an expectation now, not a simple gladness to see that somebody's at home when I stop by.

3) I am no longer surprised by surprises. Usually there are two or three people who toss the same "big story" at me in the space of three or four clicks.

4) My reading has become more linear; there is top-to-bottom structure to my aggregator--not the in, among, and bewteen of hypertext connections among story pieces.

5) The childlike joy of following breadcrumbs is lost lost in favor of having the hubby pick up a loaf of bread from the store.

6) I have to work harder to find new voices. I find myself reading voices that loop.

7) I am never satisfied because I didn't get to dig the ditch myself. There's something about putting forth an effort before enjoying someone else's work that is fulfilling.

8) I want to stop, but I can't. It's too efficient. It saves me too much time.

I'm not sure there's any going back.

Timeless

In 2002, David Weinberger invented a new way to say, "I'm Sorry." Since that day, the Unfuck sign has been used across the planet to say, "Oooo--My bad," making the world a better place.



Thank you Dr. Weinberger!

Stepfamilies - 2

My stepfather had a daughter, who I inherited with the marriage. Stepfamilies usually work this way--buy a parent, get a kid free. When our parents were first dating, Chris would come every other weekend to visit her dad. In preparation for our Looming Future Together, we four would get together, a sort of test drive for a What If family.

The first time Chris was to come to meet us, I wore one of my fancy dresses, and for my cooperation in not throwing mud from my brother’s window over the garage onto the hood of their car when it arrived, my mother let me wear her navy blue, patent leather, zip-up boots, circa 1975.

Thrust into a dating situation with my mom, I was ill-equipped to meet another ten-year-old, especially one who was tall, blonde, and pretty. With a high sense of duty, I did my best. Or, as my Slavic Catholic relatives would say, I decided to "Offer It Up" (eyes skyward).

On our first family date, they took us to the museum, and we’d only made it out of the parking lot when the three-inch heel of my mother’s boots, the ones I had talked her into letting me wear, fell off.

I was going to try to hide the fact, scooping up the heel and catching up with the three of them, but it was hard to blend in with my new walking disability.

I hobbled through the “American Indian” exhibit, one foot normal and one on tip-toe, amazed by how much the Indian men resembled the men of the Pre-Historic Era exhibit just down the hall.

“I’ll be okay,” I said, when Chris asked if I wanted to go sit down or something; she was nice enough to carry my heel.

Afterward we went for ice-cream, and somewhere along the way home, the heel got lost and it was no big deal because we were all laughing about the faulty boot and my mom said that’s fine, she was ready to get rid of those old boots anyway.

That night, I felt as if I had passed an audition—-my mom’s boyfriend’s kid liked me. I found out Chris was born 11 days after me. What that meant, in the long run, is that we both got the same presents on our birthdays – yellow Schwinn ten-speeds at 12 – but that our periods came at different times.

After they were married, Chris started staying over night -- she slept in my brother’s old room, so we strung two disposable plastic cups together with enough string to reach across the hallway and talked to each other until 2 in the morning, making fun of everything we could think of. After a while, the “the folks” (“your mom and my dad” or “my mom and your dad”) told us to go to sleep please and thank you.

I waited for every other weekend to come so that I didn’t have to be the lone kid amidst courting adults. In Chris, I had an ally. I was no longer outnumbered. It was a fair fight, two against two.

She told me, she wanted my mom to die first so that her parents could get back together. I told her I wanted her father to die first so my mom and I could get back together. In the mean time, we decided to make the best of it. An allegiance between the powerless. A forced friendship of the highest order.

This is when my shoplifting began in earnest.


....more eventually....

Priestcasting?

Tell me if I'm wrong, but all AKMA needs -- since Seabury already makes MP3s of their sermons -- is space on a server to store the MP3 files on, then start a blog dedicated to the task, and put the enclosure tag (Lisa--what is it again?) around the a-href code with the URL-address of any given mp3 file name, right?

God, forgive that sentence.

Podcasters?

May 29, 2005

IBM Blogging Policy #244

James, man, I love what you're writing, but I need to know exactly what I have to do to comment on your blog. I have all this pent up commentary just eating away at me. Don't make me go leave it at Scoble's blog.

When I try to comment on your blog, I get confused. There's the mysterious little comment link that some people seem to be able to navigate, like the guy from ComputerWorld. Yet I end up at this registration page that at first makes me think since I'm not an IBMer, I need to keep my comments to myself. Now I've finally gotten through the email and password registration (EIGHT characters or more on the password, people), and then I find all of this "bequeath your first-born child to IBM" lingo, and I'm like: wha?

Blogging to IBM: Easy access works wonders.

New Blogging Policy Please--don't ask for people's phone numbers, business names, titles, addresses, OR blood types if you want them to want to talk to you.

Tidings. Breathe.

-j.

Stepfamilies - It's Not The Brady Bunch

I remember the day my mother told me that she and my stepfather had talked about it. And that they had agreed.

I remember her saying that if they had to do it all over again, they wouldn't. In the end, it was too much pain for too many years for too many people.

I don't blame them for, at some point along the way, declaring our patched together household a failure as a stepfamily. "It's not like the Brady Bunch," my mom would say to outsiders who wondered what it was like. I'll say.

I used to think, if we only had Alice everything would be better. None of us would behave the way we did if Alice had been in our house. You put on a nice face and nice clothes and behave nicely, and you know that if all else fails, Alice will be there. She'll get you to the game; she'll whip up dinner; and she won't drink your Vodka. Unconditional Alice.

As an adult, I understand that there was no workable way to merge the complex varieties of grief, mostly unresolved, across our two families. Just no way. In retrospect, I don't see it as a failure of us as individual columns, all of us standing rigid in our place, but as the failure of a faulty structure that hardly resembled a house, let alone a home, not even on its best day.

By the time my mother married my stepfather, I was 12. She had been a widow for six respectable years.

By the time my mother re-married, I still didn't know what my father had died of. Or my grandfather weeks after him. It was the loudest silence in our house. I dared not speak of them--they were too precious to name or to form words around. Sacred territory. I imagined them on the communion plate with the wafers of Christ's body.

Amen.

And so, when my mother told me that she and Brian were going to marry, and asked what I thought about it, I said, "I don't think you should." She explained that it was very good, my honesty, but that she was the adult and she would do what she thought was the right thing. I wondered why she had asked.

More than that, I wondered what I was supposed to call him.

A couple of years prior, my best friends, Cynthia and John, had undergone their mother's remarriage. They lived down the street; they were the only thing in my life that made me feel like I fit in at school. Their father had died in Cayuga Lake, a drowning accident while he was on a weekend fishing trip with his buddies.

The worst part for them was that they never found the body. That's how it was sometimes when you drowned in the Finger Lakes. They couldn't find you. Two words stay ever present in the minds of folks who live or boat on those lakes: "Underground Caves."

Anyway, Cynthia and John's house was my second home. Our mothers were both in their early thirties; our fathers had died in their mid-thirties; and we went to the same school. Not only did that mean we were almost related, but it meant that I wasn't the only kid in second grade with a dead father, and you can't imagine how happy that made me feel.

Their mother was beautiful, a Lebanese derivation. My mother was beautiful, full Czech. They became friends, their own exotic beauty was the only date they needed. But dates, they had many. As a result, we children became bestest bestest friends. Cynthia and I were in the same grade. John was two years younger. Cynthia and I had a fight and didn't talk for a year because she said her mom was prettier than mine and I said mine was prettier than hers. During that year, John and I were best friends. He liked me because I didn't have freckles. "No frecks," he used to say. That was a prerequisite to being his friend.

And the thing I was trying to relate: the story behind the anxiety over what to call my stepfather.

When Cynthia and John's mother found a husband, he was a man with the first name of Dick. I remember Cynthia, John and I sitting by the bushes in front of their green cedar house, talking about the dilemma with the seriousness of a legal negotiation.

"He says once they're married, we can't call him Mr. Morris anymore. That's what he says."

"So, what are you going to call him," I ask. "Not DAD are you?"

"I don't know. He says we can either call him by his first name or call him dad, but no more Mr. Morris."

"Whoa. You can't call him Dick. I mean, DICK?! OH NO!"

"Yeah, DICK!!"

Rolling on the grass hugging our grammar school guts, "Dick, dick, dick, dick!!"

Laughter subsiding, turning again to the serious decision at hand, only I, among everyone we knew, could understand their dilemma. What would I do if MY mother ever remarried. Let alone remarry a DICK.

"I think you should just tell him you want to still call him Mr. Morris."

"He said no, and our mom said no."

"Well then, I guess Dick. You can't call him Dad. I mean, can you?"

"No. I guess we can't. But we can't say, DUH HI DICK! CAN YOU TAKE US TO THE PLAZA DICK!?"

Punching rolling falling over again.

It seemed an answerless puzzle, one we abandoned for the day as we headed down the street to play spud.

After the wedding, they would indeed call Mr. Morris, "Dad." It was a betrayal of sorts to me--a precedent setting event for step-kids around the world.

Their father could be alive on an island somewhere, and they were going to call their mother's new husband, "Dad"?

I never got over it.

So when it came my time for the Big Talk -- the What Are You Going to Call Him" talk -- I said, "Well he better not expect me to call him Dad."

My mother assured me that this was not a requirement for my new role as stepdaughter. But that he hoped in time I might grow to see him as a father.

That day never came. He has always been Brian to me.

I lost touch with Cynthia and John after their new Lawyer Father, Mr. Morris, AKA Dad, moved them to a big new house in the Very Nice Suburb about 15 miles away. In neighborhood speak, for me, that was half-way around the world.

I went to see them two or three times, once for a sleepover, and in the morning Mrs. Morris, AKA their mom, made me Buckwheat Pancakes, to which no one told her I had a deadly allergic reaction, and after a few bites my mom had to come rescue me with special medicine from the doctor.

The other time I went, my mother had already met Brian. I think she had a talk with Mrs. Morris, asking her to soften me up because she really cared for the Dear Man. I think this because Mrs. Morris had a Talk with me. The Talk went like this:

"What do you think of Brian--I mean it's great that your mom has found someone who makes her happy, right?"

"I don't like him."

"Well, that really doesn't matter, you see? It's time for her to be happy. You've had her to yourself for years now--wouldn't you like to see her happy?"

I wanted to stab her with one of her fancy silver butter knives. I wanted her to poison me again with Buckwheat. I wanted anything other than to be having this conversation.

So I said, "Sure."

And went inside myself....

....

If there's a chance it can help: Dave Koch

I know some folks at DM Review, a publication I've written for on and off for over a decade. I don't know David, but I do know Jean Schauer and Mary Jo Nott and others to be among the nicest, most professional people in the tech publishing business. Which made me all the more sad and concerned to receive an email from Renee, and then read this post that David Koch, the associate publisher, is missing. Apparently there has been a search underway, but as it seems to be losing momentum, it might help to get the word out to the press, to folks up in Vancouver, to everyone that help is still needed to find David.

Send your prayers to the search party, family, friends and colleagues of David.

Rich man poor man beggar man thief

It amazes me how I can shift through these roles, personally, in a month's time. When I'm billing beaucoup hours, I'm a rich (to me) man for a month, without a worry in the world. Yet when I'm billing a trifle few hours, I feel like a poor man / beggar man. (See that donation button?) And, well, you all know about my youthful proclivity for (I'll stop short of saying my "excellence at") thievery. So that thief man is never far away. In a pinch I'd resort to whatever I had to resort to. It's a plus that I would be good at it.

Inconsistency breeds mania in me. When I have the money, I engage in the dysfunction-fed art of shopping my ass off. It's not really shopaholism because I don't buy big stuff, just stuff I've been needing. Of course, I guess, alcoholics don't take "big drinks" either. But I see my spending in times of relative affluence as a response to the unpredictability of being in business, trying to grow a business -- not to mention being a mom in the summertime. (What are we going to doooo todayyyyyy, mommmm?)

Today, for instance, I'm sitting here all pissed off that our "lazy Sunday at the pool," which is what the club calls its summer Sunday festivities, isn't happening because the weather stinks. That's the Rich Man part of me, who can manage to summon and express disdain for such a calamity. It's borne from my narcissistic wounding. It makes me kind of sick.

And yet, quite honestly, I do want my poolside lounging today.

Then the beggar-man-thief part of me says, "You just cooked three steaks out on the grill--and you're bitching about the no sunshine and the "club"? We're living large like a barge with all this meat cooked to perfection, Baybeee! Cheer the fuck up."

And I know the beggarman-thief is the part of me I'll always trust, the one that won't do me wrong, maybe get me tossed in the joint, but won't ever do me wrong. I know where my roots are planted.

Steak anyone?

Scoble's Featurelizer

If you have a product and you want to know how to make it better, maybe Scoble can blog it for you. Look at this great set of feature requests for aggregators that are "aggregated" in Scoble's comment box.

These are regular Scoble readers with a passion for a product they use on a (mostly) daily basis. What we see here is a micromarket coup for aggregator/product folks -- and an example for other companies. Want to know what you should do next? Find a blogger with a wide audience of users and ask him or her to ask us.

Blogs can be a one-stop shop for organizations to find out what should be in their next release. Send your product marketing manager home for a month. Scoble's got you covered.

Scoble, can you do one on world peace, or at least whriled peas? ;-)

No Pool Toe?

I can't believe there isn't a single illustrative photograph on Google Images of Pool Toe. Is it a southern thing? Are my friends and I the only ones to use the term to describe, well, you know, pool toe?

Tell me you know what it is. Tell me you know how, when you go swimming a lot - as in every day because the weather is nice here in the south, not like western new york where it's gray and 53 degrees all summer, which lasts approximately three days - and your big toe gets kind of flat, calloused, and the side of it develops that hard, yellow, extra appendage type thing? You know, right: Pool toe.

It's when your big toe gets calloused like you've been playing bass with your feet. Right? And it starts to splay out the callous gets so hard and big. And it itches at night but the callous is so hard you can't make a dent in that crazy itch?

Right? Yah? Well, I've got it.

I know, I know. Cry me a river.