March 25, 2006

Don't Fuck With My Cluetrain

I'm glad Tara has taken to heart some of the feedback to the Pinko Marketing wiki. I didn't get a chance to form my thoughts before the rest of the blogosphere lept in and apparently did it for me. I applaud the work Tara has put into the wiki and the boldness of the effort. My personal thoughts? Unusually easy-to-follow Wiki. Typical ballsy Tara Hunt style. But wrong theme and application. When it comes to Cluetrain, that Pinko dog don't hunt.

My initial reaction to the Pinko Marketing idea was personal. I have spent the last seven years helping put Cluetrain theories into practice in ways that reflected the true spirit of its magic -- in ways that demonstrated that Cluetrain was not about leftist political hippy acid trip ideals (so tempted to put "just" in, heh), but rather a totally new mirror held to the face of faceless corporations that said: LOOK! All you see is you, but we're here. HA!

Cluetrain detractors have always looked to put Cluetrain down by attributing to it characteristics that encourage enterprises to write it off as left-fringe nonesense. But Cluetrain was never "all touchy feely" as its critics would like to imply. Cluetrain is as much about money as it is about you and me. The principles of Cluetrain are as important economically as culturally to the foundation of modern business. It's not all about Robin Hood, or about sharing and hugging and beating on drums.

In other words, Yes, Virginia, there is a ROI.

It's just that your customers tell you what it's going to be.

Wherever Tara goes next with the idea, I'm looking forward to jumping in. As long as we all understand that Cluetrain is PERSONAL to a lot of folks. No one gets to pick who spearheads Cluetrain 2.0, because we don't need a Cluetrain 2.0. Cluetrain WAS 2.0 before 2.0 was 2.0.

Get it, Got it, Good.
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WHO do i email at blogger...

...about the problem of my blog being invisible for undetermined amounts of time until i happen to login and republish?

Please, someone?

Speaking of Cooking...

How about some Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme?

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ray ray meets the joker

Nobody snarks better than karsh. check out the post about the annoying Rachael Ray who I've been fortunate enough, mostly, to avoid. Any friend of Oprah's is a heebie-jeebie of mine.

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Looking Back on Unpartnering

Lots of partnerships are forming around Web 2.0 initiatives. Left and right, it's one for all and all for one -- or me for me and what about you?  You need only to have read Dave Winer or Rogers Cadenhead over the past several months to know what it looks like when good partnerships -- formal or not -- go bad.

I've been doing a lot of reflecting during these latest tech-biz-separations on my  partnering experience last year, a time I now lovingly refer to as, "Jeneane: The Lost Episodes," because I wish that business arrangement had never seen the light of day.

But it did. Because I did it. For all the wrong reasons.

Against the prickling on the back of my neck, I jumped in. I worked my spleen off for a year. And in the end, it was a year of my life that I wish I could get back, because I put it in the wrong place. Plain and simple--misaligned values, misplaced enthusiasm, mistrust, mismatch, miseverything. I wasted precious time and energy that I wish I could have back at 44ish.

My family suffered greatly during that year--for that I am the saddest and the sorriest.

It would be hard for anyone to explain how a bad business partnership feels, how it hurts when you open your eyes in the morning, and it gnaws at your gut when you're trying to fall asleep at night. It seems like there's no sensible way out because so much of you and yours are tied into the business. And there is no easy way out. In most cases it means letting go and taking a loss, then starting again on your own.

It's something that I think I needed to experience once in order not to walk the same road again.

I'm trying to look at my post-biz-separation success as testimony to having made the right decision--to having walked away at a lucrative time, at a moment when staying would have made smart financial sense, and leaving no financial sense at all. Walking away was scary. But not as scary as losing my voice--the voice I worked so hard to find here over the last five years.

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Jenna was telling me the other days about how she knew something was going to happen before it happened: "Mom, I think I'm sidekick."


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Q&A on why i stay.

when i asked Mark McKibben if i could blog our recent email exchange on why the hell i stay with Blogger when it treats me like shit, he said something like: okay. So here it is.

Mark asks:

Just curious, given how much trouble you seem to be having with Blogger, why do you stick with it? Wouldn't it be easier to get a webhost and setup something like WordPress or MoveableType?

To try and be a bit more on topic, for my blog I use WordPress and a cominbation of the Bad Behavior ( & Akismet
( plugins to fight comment spam. While I doubt I get your kind of traffic, I only have about 10 comment spams hit my moderation queue a week.

Additionally, I originally read this post of yours in my RSS reader but came to your site to comment on the post. Using a feed reader doesn't preclude people from visiting your site to make comments and I don't agree it kills the sense of community. Instead, it lets people take part in more communities.

Additionally since they went to the effort of coming to your site to respond to your posts, the users you do leave comments are that much more engaged and passionate about the community they are taking part in.

I attempted to answer, to which Mark responds to my answers with some very good points....

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark McKibben
Sent: Saturday, March 25, 2006 12:24 AM
To: Jeneane Sessum
Subject: Re: Comments about your recent posts

On Friday 24 March 2006 16:44, you wrote:

> The answers aren't necessarily smart:

> 1) I still hope someone at google hears me.

Well, their motto is to do no evil; so maybe they will listen to you....someday but I wouldn't hold my breath.

> 2) I support Blogger's/Blogspot's position as the lowest-barrier-to-entry

> blogging platform. It has always been free, and always been easy enough to

> use to get anyone blogging. We are not some low-rent district. Lots of us

> are people who came here very early on.

I can't say that I ever thought of Blogger as a low-rent district.  Though I've seen a few blogs on their service that won't be returning to any time soon.  *shudder*

> 3) Of my class of 2001/2, Denise, Halley, and several others remain where

> we started out. There's something beautiful to me about hanging in, though

> I'm not sure what lately.

I see the convenience in your sticking with it, both for you and your readers. The beauty in it is a bit harder for my eyes to see.  Then again after my first optometrist asked my mother "how this child finds his way to school?!?" 

My eyesight has not improved over the years, so maybe my sight isn't something we should be relying on.  :)

> 4) I've lived here for 5 years--I want people to be able to find me.

> None of those reasons are necessarily good ones. But look, Scoble can move

> and his readers will follow him. Jeneane moves, and she could lose some old

> friends in the transition.

You could transition to your own host/site slowly.  Say start by getting the domain name you want to use and pointing it at your Blogger site.  Then post the domain name and request your readers update their links.  Then work on importing your archives into the new site

> Still, with the recent unreliability, my reasons sound stupider and

> stupider.

> Thanks--can I blog this by the way?

Don't be silly, of course you can blog this.  It's hard to be part of the conversation if I don't take off my lurker's cloak every once in a while.


"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."

 - Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

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March 24, 2006

The Mainstream Media IS the New Blogging A-List

More on RSS and the reproduction of the mainstream world.

When I look around at the most subscribed to blogs in Bloglines, and not coincidentally many of the new breed in the Technoriati Top 100, I see the effects of RSS and 'consumption-based reading' -- I see how so many real bloggers who used write in a real, human voice have slipped off the charts, replaced by 'conglomerate' news blogs like gizmodo, engadget, wired news, etc. -- all well written, but not so much blogs as relentlessly updated zines -- and I realize that THESE are the blogs that mainstream journalists who cover similar or related beats are subscribing to. That's where a large portion of their readership is coming from--and with authority comes the masses, following suit.

With so many in the mainstream news business subscribing and linking to, and getting their news from, these new breed of super-news blogs, what happens to the individual voices? And how do we keep from becoming a replication of MSM, 'cept faster.

RSS is a news engine. It has nothing to do with blogging. Now if only some tools for conversation-based blogging would help us sift through the noise, maybe we could still hear ourselves talk. or listen. as the case may be.

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Agreed to Return vs Looting, Stealing & Being So Articulate

Listening to George read Yahoo News is always an event.

He was just reading this article about the minister's wife (note picture in article - and descriptions by neighbors: "They were a nice family." "They just blended in.") who murdered her husband and took off with the kids. The article begins with this:

"The wife of a minister found shot to death in their church's parsonage agreed Friday to return to Tennessee to face first-degree murder charges."

I hear George say this:

"If that were someone of color, it would be: 'He agreed to be beaten half to death on  suspicion of jay-walking.'"

Agreed to return. Nice of her.

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healthcare sucks

One of my all time favorites...

every now and then i get a little sdljsldfjs;dkfs;dkj

and i like to think i will one day board the mothership.
p.s. swear words, put on headphones.

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Our Knockin' Robin

Unbelievable. I thought I heard her last week. Yes, more than a year later, she's back.

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The Financial Services Model and Blogging

I used to do a lot of work with clients in the financial services industry. One thing you learn in the banking and insurance world is that all customers are not created equal(ly). Same in healthcare. There are some customers you simply don't want to have.

It's the same with any business, but it's very apparent in banking where there are plenty of scores and metrics that help segment customers. What's a good trust account customer (loads of dough) might be a crappy credit customer (pays off monthly, keeps no balance = no interest or fees). Some checking account customers are right-on to talk to about a new car loan, while others are ripe for debt reconsolidation loans. The goal is to spend your marketing dollars talking to the right people about the right services. Over time, because of the nature of the business, financial institutions develop rich repositories of customer data that helps them have the right conversations with the right customers. Fortunately, there is some great technology to help financial institutions do this, to determine the best treatment for each and every kind of customer.

So, is that what Google needs to do with its blogger Bloggers? Or maybe it's already happening--and I'm in the segment with my 3,000-plus posts and heavy bandwidth use--that they WANT to go away?

As someone who has been the user of a specific technology for FIVE YEARS, from inception, through sale, through crappy service, I'm trying to figure it out -- because I just can't believe the "ignoring" is by chance.

What is the motivation for Google/Blogger to treat long-time Blogger/Blogspot like they don't matter? They never communicate with us, never a single hey, here's what we're planning, what do you think, or thank you for keeping at it email. Never a warning or a sorry to say: We know your site has been unavailable for the last 12 hours Jeneane; maybe you should try republishing your entire blog again for the sixth time this week.

Don't give me the free service argument. It's the same as free long-distance for your cell phone --> somebody someplace is gaining or that little free piece wouldn't be free. No transaction goes unpunished.

So, as a blogger who has helped build the Blogger and Google brands every single day, several times a day, over the last many years, I need to say this: I WANT TO BE TREATED AS A VALUABLE CUSTOMER. I want to be the three million dollar customer for the Trust Department of Blogging! I want to be the high-rolling, balance-carrying, good-credit-score customer for the Credit Department of Blogging! I want to be the three-Lincoln-Navigator family of the Loan Department of Blogging!

I am the one you want to talk to!

How ironic that the company with access to more data than any other (with the exception, perhaps, of some in the financial services arena) has no idea that it even HAS customer value in its bloggers.

Because if they had even a hint, believe me, we'd know it.

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March 23, 2006

Yah Well, Leave it Blogger. Everyone's stuck on "smenita"

Leave it to ME to start bitching about comments and aggregation and then have Blogger Comments decide NOT to work for non-Blogger bloggers today. For crap. Could someone please come up with a reliable commenting tool? Could Dave Winer add this to his list of things to do before he goes?

I'm not interested in co-commenting right now. I'm interested in comments on my site that work but keep a relatively good deal of spam out. I'd PAY for it. After five years struggling with offering comments, first through YACCS and then through Blogger, I'm thinking there must be a better way. When I switch to moderated comments with Blogger, you should SEE the amount of spam that comes in. Don't ask me why, but it increases 20x.

Today, several readers were trying to comment on my unmoderated (but with a security word) post, all of whom coincidentally(?) got stuck on the same captcha code: smenita. WTF, Blogger?

In honor of those who tried to comment but couldn't, here's what you might have read from them.

From Dave Coustan:

I've been slow in getting a blogroll of some sort implemented on Earthling. This is the mild thrashing I needed to get moving with that. I'm not dropping my feed habit, but I'm with you about trying to maintain more intimate conversation spaces. In the blog

neighborhood you describe, maybe I'm one of the fingerless-gloved toughs in the alley gathered around a burning trash can.

Dave C.

From Sheila Lennon:

I downloaded and set up Headline Viewer years ago, but I kept forgetting to use it. Same for Sage, the Firefox sidebar extension. I like returning to familiar sites, I guess, seeing what you're all up to. Making my rounds is a comfortingly familiar routine to start and end the day. This means I probably vacuum up less information than feed readers (but I read fast!). I do use MyBlogLog to see referrals, and following up on these can lead to some interesting encounters with strangers who link to my blog out of the blue. I really like running into these one-offs. (Example, today.)

Welcome back to where I never left, J. It's still fun.

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Euan on Aggregators and Windmills

Euan has some very good stuff on his uneasy relationship with aggregators.

It felt like I wasn't really visiting people any more. I had turned relationships into content. I was also increasingly frustrated that I didn't really know who was reading my own blog as it is hard to get a sense of how many people access your content through RSS and because of the lack of referalls you can't get to know them.

EXACTLY!! I didn't quite know how to word that part of my frustration--but Euan has.

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March 22, 2006

Aggregation v Community v Ourselves v Ecosystems

Shelley -- as usual -- has some keen observations, about feeds, communities, in-person v. virtual connections and friendships. I was going to put snippets of her post here, but as is usually the case with Shelley, I found myself wanting to quote her whole post. Which would kind of defeat the purpose. So instead, just go read it.

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Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk saxophonist

George Kelly took some amazing photos at SXSW.
Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk saxophonist
Originally uploaded by allaboutgeorge.

Ralph Brandi Says More on Aggregation and Every Man for Himself

Over on There Is No Cat, Ralph takes the aggregation-pet-peeve thing I'm having lately to a broader discussion of community -- or the lack thereof -- and the role of aggregators in further separating us from one another.

I resisted using a feed aggregator for a long time. I tried and abandoned them a number of times. Only in the past month or so did I give in. I find it makes it easier to keep up with a wider variety of weblogs. Right now, I think that's important for me to do. I used my blogroll as my primary means of keeping up for a very long time, and enjoyed taking a leisurely stroll among my neighbors in Blogistan, but lately find I need the time I used to spend doing so for other pursuits. Aggregators make that possible. But I have to remind myself to leave comments, and even to read the ones others have read, because they don't show up in most feeds.

I met the REAL Ralph at SXSW - a pleasure indeed. Aggregate that!

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Atlanta, Trader Joe's Is Coming!

YIPEE! Trader Joe's is coming to Atlanta. I've always wanted to visit one.
Though Trader Joe's is a specialty market — offering more than 2,000 foodie-centric items — its prices typically are less expensive than gourmet grocers' and more closely resemble those found at traditional supermarkets.

Trader Joe's achieves this in several ways. The retailer, unlike a Publix or a Kroger, doesn't stock Cheetos or Downy and therefore doesn't have to pay the premium to get them. The limited number of brand-name goods Trader Joe's buys are bought in bulk directly from suppliers, cutting out the middle man. The retailer also manufactures its own products under its name and clever variations like Trader Jose's for Mexican meals and Trader Giotto's for Italian.

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Josh coming to the ATL

Atlanta -- there's an Atlanta bloggers' meetup on Tuesday evening -- the occasion, Josh Hallett will be in town. Details on Hyku. Leave Josh a comment or drop an email. I'll try to get there but won't know til Monday. Still catching up from the last jaunt spent with living people. eeee!

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Last Call for MomBlogs

Last chance to participate in the blogads Momblog survey--get yours in by tonight or beee squareee.

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Why am I up until nearly 2:00 blogging and talking about people needing people being the luckiest people in the world when 400 of you folks don't even need me enough to leave a comment now and then.

Okay I will state for the record that you faithful few who brave Blogger's fucking captcha thingy deserve EXTRA credit, which is why I'm going to write my best stuff just for you and not let the others see it.

Somehow. I haven't figured that out yet.

And what really pisses me off is the downright LAZINESS that has overtaken the blogosphere thanks to innovations like RSS. Right, the folks who USED TO BE pivot points for conversation aren't even IN the Technorati Top 100 anymore and do you know why that is? It's because blog readers have become content johns. That's right, they are addicts jonsing for some of that sweet hot content, and the fastest way for them to get it is to open up that big fat aggregator and feed read.

You know what happens to blogs when all you do is feed off their feeds, but you never click through and you never link and you never comment? THOSE BLOGS FALL DOWN GO BOOM. And the people you are forgetting to talk to are some of the hardest working bloggers in blog business. Working their asses off so you can save yourself the trouble of clicking a damn mouse. You'd rather read them in an ugly scrolling window. That's like coming over for dinner and eating in the front yard.

What's the matter with us? We have to get out and WALK the blog neighborhood. Everyone reading this post, please make sure that you have a blogroll. Sure, I can't tell you what to do, but Blogrolls are the antidote to RSS and aggregators. Bring back our conversation nodes, our watering holes, our double wides. Bring back our summer-time Christmas lights and nativity scenes.

Please. I am not writing posts for you to read; I AM TALKING TO YOU.

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Scoble's Right about the In-Person Thing

Not every day. Not every month. Maybe not every year. But every once in a while it is good to be with people. As one who doesn't attend many conferences, I wrote about my SXSW experience over at Troy Worman's place where I'm one of the guest bloggers while he's on vacation.

There's something about the togetherness, the talking, hugging, the laughing.

It's like an Italian wake without the dead body.

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You need credit cards in the next life???

I can't believe you need a credit card number to register for Second Life--even for the free basic service. I just want to see what it's like. This feels like some book-of-the-month club. Sign up for free with your credit card and we'll only bill you if you don't return your life by the last day of the month. You think they would have left those nasty  credit card registration tactics back here in this first life. Anyway, my purse is in the car, thanks, where a purse does not belong--nonetheless it is so. So no second life for me. Note to self: better luck in third life.

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Austin skyline

NICE photo of austin by George Kelly
Austin skyline
Originally uploaded by allaboutgeorge.

March 20, 2006

Guess Who's Coming to Lunch? A Table for Bill.

Our esteemed Albert Lai of BubbleShare got the rare opportunity to eat lunch with Bill Gates today at Mix06. Scoble was there too. And Lynda Weinman. And Mike Arrington, who also blogged it.

Damn, and I thought SXSW was cool.

Check out the Big Picture of Bill and Albert on BubbleShare.

To. Die. For.

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Go Qumana!

Nice review of Qumana by PC Mag. Of course, I'm impressed too. ;-)

The coolest feature is the Qumana DropPad, a transparent window that floats above your desktop. You can drag and drop text, photos, and graphics onto the DropPad, and they'll automatically appear in the main Qumana editor, where you compose your blog entries. You can instantly upload these to several popular blogging services, including Blogger, TypePad, WordPress, BlogWare, Movable Type, and more.

JSMag (that'd be me) is most impressed with how FAST Qumana makes blogging, how ubiquitous it makes the action of blogging, and how EASY it makes tagging (my former nemesis).

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Was awesome meeting jon lebkowsky in austin

Jon WeBlogSky Lebkowsky has some great pix up from SXSW. It was so cool meeting these folks--it's hard to explain what adding the dimension of flesh does.

In a perfect example of 1 degrees of web separation, our nanny-for-the-trip's husband is pictured performing on one of Jon's photos. Stuff like that makes me giddy.

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Still watching the Mix06 keynote, where I just heard Marc Canter wrap up the MySpace portion from the audience, with a resounding: "Give Us Some Open APIs, Please!"

Nice! ;-)

How do I know it was Marc? He's sitting next to Albert.

Who I happen to be IMing with.

What kind of mashup is that!

Read Marc for more on social networking meets Microsoft.

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Watching Bill Gates Keynote at Mix06

Bill Gates is on at Mix06 - keynote 9 a.m. west coast time.

BubbleShare's Albert Lai is at Mix06 too. If you're there, buy him a Clif Bar for me!

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All Things Web 2.0 -- The VC Go-To List

Oh My, we've been busy.

If i were a big consulting company (which would look weird, for a person to be a big consulting company--would I have ears? a tongue? anyway...), I'd start a Practice Area who's job it was to test, mashup, and integrate these new techs to bring the best of them to the enterprise. Maybe I'd buy one or two. 'Cause Big Enterprises are scared to adopt, but when Big Consultancy says, "we've blessed it AND we have a methodology for implementing it," well then it's okay.

I might call this practice area my Internet Software Group? My New Apps Group? My Enterprise 2.0 Group? I dunno. how bout you? would you have ears and a tongue if you were a big consultancy?

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March 19, 2006

crohn's disease questions

My 24-year-old nephew was just diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. I know some about Crohn's from initial searches, but figured where better than blogland to ask for information and good sources to get educated about it. I'm sure someone out there, or someone's loved one, knows about it first hand. Thanks for any information you have. Email or leave as a comment. THANKS!

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Jenna's City Remained!

Jenna was hoping that the Lego city in the far corner of the pic, which she built, would last after she left. YAY! It was still there upon the taking of this pic by Doc.

I explained to her about Open Source, and how the beautiful part is that someone can build on to her Lego City, make it even better, bigger, prettier.

She said: "Or some toddler could come and knock it down."

Well, yah. There's that.

Originally uploaded by dsearls.

I understand it's hard to believe

It's hard to understand. After so many years, it's weird to figure that we can stop blogging  without the blogosphere grinding to a halt. Never mind grinding to a halt: without missing a beat. In some cases, without noticing at all.

Yesterday some folks were asking if Dave Winer had stopped for good, the wrapped burrito at the end of his post signifying, 'it's a wrap.' Today he's back, so no, that wasn't his exit. He gave a 9 month window, so now dramatic pauses have his readers wondering.

With so many folks talking about quitting blogging, and then continuing to post, it's hard to keep up. To the point that I'm afraid I'll miss moving day if and when they actually do go.

But it's bigger than that.

When I was a kid on the school bus the days following my father's death, traveling the bumpy country road to my first-grade classroom, I got it.

Even at 6, I sensed the tremendous disconnect between my shattered world and the world-as-usual, its regular cadence in tact, without so much as a gasp or a sigh for our loss.

At the store, people bought groceries. At the gas station, people pumped gas. On the playground, kids played. Street lights turned red, yellow, green. The radio didn't mention it. My toys were in the same order as the days before. The dog ate his kibble with the same hunger. The horses still grazed. The wind didn't even bother changing direction.

My God, how can souls pass from this world without something breaking somewhere besides hearts.

It's like that when I hear of the fatal state of a blogger, one who, for whatever reason, disappears from the blog world. We barely bother with the wake anymore. It's right back to the snark; we have other bolded RSS feeds in our aggregators to take the dearly departed's place. The irony.

It's a life lesson. I had to learn it early. It wasn't lost on me.

Say it and keep saying it, because when you stop what's left is not eerie silence, but the maddening hum of sameness.

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Things I've Missed...

My friend Phyllis sent me some links that made me nearly wet the bed. How new, I dunno, but have you seen the "Microsoft Designs the iPod" video?

Secondary giggle: Google in 2084.

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Frank Closes in on a Quarter Million...

...with something about post-modernism, episiotomies and puppies.

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