Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Commenting on Comments

Hello, tens of readers. A humble request: if you comment, please don't do so anonymously. Apparently my rant about the silliness of fans (or former fans, I guess) filing an FTC complaint against Clay Aiken sparked a couple of comments. Hmph. I really need to evaluate my topics if a post about that dude gets more comments than most of my other posts.


I'm annoyed that I can't respond to these people. It's not that I would respond and point out where they might've misinterpreted what I wrote. But it's kind of a pain that I don't have the option. Eh, oh well. In the end, it's hard to take a comment seriously when the author isn't willing to own it.

New Rule #3

No one is allowed to say "She looks good for her age" any more. It is hereby stricken from the English lexicon. Well, it's stricken from mine, anyway.

My white-hot dislike of this phrase peaked while I was watching The Surreal Life 6 over the weekend (go ahead, cast your stones and raise your eyebrows). There's a moment when Florence Henderson steps over the transom of the kooky household, and many of the castmates stare in awe and shock. During their one-on-one snippets with the camera, pretty much every female (or on-the-way-to-becoming-female) castmate said something akin to, "Wow, she looks really good for her age."

What a backhanded compliment! It's like saying, "Wow, she looks good, but if she looked like that at thirty, then she'd be a total troll and we would all heap pity and plastic surgery coupons upon her."

I get the feeling that people tack on the "for her age" so that no one is confused about their ability to evaluate beauty. 'Cause if they just say she looks good, then the whole 'verse will think their physical ideals are outta whack.

Ooh, and this goes for, "She looks good for just having had a baby" too. People who say that need to be poked in the eye.

That is all.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I'll Show You! Well, Maybe Not.

Oh for pity's sake!, as mon père would say. The Claymates are filing a complaint with the FTC against Clay Aiken's label, manager, et. al. for misrepresenting his personality. They feel duped? Criminy. You should buy music because you like the MUSIC, not because you think the singer is a delightful, virginal young man. I mean, I guess that can be a bonus, sure, but it shouldn't be the sole rationale behind picking up a disc.

What's next? Are we going to complain about other people who "duped" us? Let's go tack a frowny face on Rock Hudson's tombstone. And let's not forget Ashlee Simpson; I mean, I totally thought she could sing before the Saturday Night Live debacle. Ooh, maybe Britney Spears isn't a sparklingly straightlaced young woman; jot her name down on the list. You know, come to think of it, I'm not sure that the Hollywood glitterati are as beautiful and handsome as they appear to be on the silver and small screens. You know what? Let's place ALL of the entertainers the world over on the FTC list, just to be safe. That'll teach ENTERTAINERS, people who get PAID to help us SUSPEND DISBELIEF, to lie through omission. Yep, they'll sure change their ways.

Puh-leeze. I just think that the 9 folks who signed the complaint are big dummies because (a) they didn't realize that Clay isn't the asexual dude he was "marketed" to be, (b) it matters to them that he might (horrors!) be a non-celibate gay man, and (c) they compare this brouhaha to Enron. ENRON! The company that caused rolling blackouts in California which resulted in who knows how many deaths! The company that ripped off investors! The company that blew up the pensions of thousands of employees!

Think maybe these folks are being a wee dramatic?

Monday, March 20, 2006

It Was Really Pretty When They Followed the Drinking Gourd

This past weekend, Hubby, my Friend and I went to Ocean City, MD for our annual St. Patty's Day weekend. We don't go because Ocean City is any kind of Irish epicenter for the big green holiday. But we've dubbed it a tradition so that we have a pre-planned getaway weekend. With little 'uns around, you need to draw a line in the sand somewhere (har har) so that you can actually get away.

Anyway, as you cruise to and from the beach via Route 50, you'll notice "Scenic Byway" signs dotting the road. One of them caught my eye this year that I hadn't noticed...it read, "Scenic Byway: The Underground Railroad." Wha-huh? When I hear the words, "Scenic Byway," I think, "Ah, this'll be a pretty drive for a lazy Sunday." When I hear the words, "Underground Railroad," I think, "What a tragic part of our national history that people of color had to risk life and limb under cover of night to escape to the northern states and gain their freedom." These are two notions that don't easily marry. Couldn't the state call it an "Historic Byway," or something like that? I'm just sayin', is all.

Friday, March 17, 2006

You Can Call Me Hon

"Hon" is a ubiquitous endearment in the greater Baltimore Metro area, so I take no offense if a perfect stranger, or perfectly strange acquaintance, dubs me such. Well, OK, I raise an eyebrow if the person doling out the "Hon" is a 16-year-old Denny's waitress. Still, though, it doesn't prickle.

But "Honey" and it's ilk ("Sweetie," "Sugar," "Pumpkin") are a different matter entirely. These nicknames are strictly limited to family and friends. Which means that the next time the guy behind the counter at the bakery calls me Sweetie, I may have to go all Julia Sugarbaker on him.

I refuse to appreciate the coincidence that the Sweetie-man is the cash register jockey at a bakery. Where I buy brownies. So there.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Ms. Washingtonienne Goes to Hollywood

Oh, for the love of all that's holy, Jessica Cutler's got a TV deal now too? Why, why, why is our nation celebrating and generously compensating a chick who proudly spilled the beans about her political booty calls? It used to be that we as a nation would fork over some cash to peruse the steamy memoirs of someone who was famous for SOMETHING ELSE AS WELL.

Honestly, are we so strapped for gossip that we'll make TV shows and movies about any celebutard who snags 15 minutes o'fame? If this were, say, ten years ago, I can't help but feel like this story would've been one of those sobering four-page "It happened to me, names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved" features in Cosmo. But alas, no. Now, these kinds of life experiences generate multimedia empires.

Yay for progress!

One tiny bit of consolation...her pseudo-eponymous book has plunged in Amazon.com's rankings to #33,281, whereas Moby Dick (the book to which I originally compared rankings back in June, 2005) is at #3,191. Cold comfort, eh?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Blog Numbers

I'm suffering through some blog blockage, so you get to suffer through some numeric goodness. Aren't you excited?

1: Number of people I've told about my blog

1: Sites that link to mine according to Google (which I think is wrong, since I know of 3)

1.31: Revenue (in dollars) earned since I installed Google AdSense (YESSSSSS! That dream house will soon be MINE!)

3: Times LtW has been featured on DC Blogs

3: Blogs that I check every day (DC Blogs, Harshing My Mellow, Miss Snark)

4: Friends of mine who blog (Matter-Eater Blog, A One Girl Revolution, All the Rage, She Who Must Be Obeyed), not including MySpace folks. Only 1 of them knows that I know that she blogs....kind of sounds like that Friends episode, eh?

10: Months that I've been blogging

17: Links that precede mine when you Google "Louder than Words"

24: % of visitors who stick around for more than 5 seconds

34: % of visitors from other countries

103: Posts (not including this one)

1,253: Value (in dollars) of my blog according to BlogShares

1,436: Visits to my site since I installed a counter

Hmph. Dunno if those numbers are good or bad. It's kind of like when you proudly blurt out your annual income, then realize that you're in the company of tycoons.

I figure if I actually told people about my blog, I'd have more hits. Since I use my real name, I'm not exactly in the blog closet. And I'm not tapping out any particularly salacious tales, so I'm not embarassed by what I'm sharing. Sheesh, if I weren't actually somewhat pleased with what I write, I'd use a pseudonym like "Danger Kitten" or something. I s'pose I opted to post under my real name to give my friends, family and co-workers the opportunity to stumble upon my ouevre.

But viewership is not the reason I started this, really. I'm not a megalomaniac who believes my particular take on the world must be read the world over. Well, not yet anyway.

Mostly, I'm an undisciplined writer who was looking for a way to open the floodgates of creativity while producing a visible result, some means of measuring my efforts. 'Cause lemme tell ya, when you fiddle around with writing novels, you don't have a really clear idea of how much progress you're making. As the metrics above indicate, I get numbers with this blog.

There are a couple of other nice benefits to the blog thing...

I've always wanted to journal to capture me in all my glory for all of posterity, but man alive, my hand cramps easily. Typing gets around the claw hand nicely.

My writing voice has improved, 'cause if other people are reading what I'm writing (even if it's only 10 of 'em), well, I feel the need to refine and proof like never before. Also, I permit myself to use unfiltered vocabulary and slang, rather than tailor my language to the audience. Little Bro once shared that he knows that I'm probably funny, but that my jokes (and lingo) are a little above his head. But when my readers are online, I can assume they are savvy enough to look up whatever they don't understand. And if my references are particularly obscure, I can link to source material that'll clarify my posts. Ever think that Dennis Miller should present his rants in blog form only? But I digress...

Last, but not least, my blogging efforts make me feel like a part of a writer's community, loosely bound as it is in the ether. Maybe I'll hie myself to one of those DC Blogger get-togethers in the near future...

So, yeah, I'll be keeping up with da blog, despite what the paucity of my posting indicates. If you've got any topic requests, lemme know, 'cause that'll help me avoid going down the numbers path again...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Strep Poker

Now that I have the ability to swallow without wincing, let's do a brief re-cap of the whole strep throat experience, shall we? (Gimme a break; since I was incapacitated for most of last week, I've precious few recent experiences to blog about).

My six readers know that the Boy went ten rounds with roseola and an ear infection two weeks ago, and his parents and grandparents spent the better part of those sicky days tending to a very unhappy toddler. As he felt better, though, I started feeling worse. And on Oscar Sunday I woke up in pain. Eh, whaddya gonna do? I self-diagnosed a change-of-season cold, went to work on Monday, and tried to convince myself that I was fine.

I kinda knew something was up when all I wanted to do was nap under my desk and my eyes were leaking like a broken water main.

Tuesday morning, I went to the doctor's around the corner from me. My master plan was to get there about 10 minutes before they opened 'cause it's one of those places that doesn't take appointments. But I was clearly delirious, because I went to the wrong shopping center. By the time I figured that little factoid out and hustled over to the correct shopping center, five other people had signed in before me. Those five people translated into a 45-minute wait to be seen by any medical professionals.

The only available magazine in the waiting room was an issue of Time that I'd already read cover to cover.

When my name was called, I followed the tiny Physician's Assistant to the cube where she took my vitals. My weight was down two pounds due to my inability to swallow anything thicker than broth. Then she led me to curtained exam room where she swabbed my nose and throat. Awesome. That's exactly what I wanted: to be jabbed in tender spots. During this swabbing frenzy, she chit-chatted about how she washes her hands like crazy. Maybe I'm sensitive, but I got the distinct impression she was hinting that the acres of white pus spots in my throat are a result of lax hand washing. Listen, my hands are STILL chapped from the umpteen times a day I scrubbed during the Boy's illness.

Then she shared that she will occasionally sniff water and spit it out to clear her nasal cavity of any bacteria that are thinking about setting up house. At that point, I decided I could stop listening to her advice. If I wanted to snort water, I'd plunk down some coin for a Neti pot.

She left to run the tests and see what they tell her about my ailments. Fifteen minutes later, the flu swab came back negative, and the strep swab came back inconclusive. So, Physician's Assistant-ette swabbed my throat a second time. Joy. Another fifteen minutes, and another negative result. Uh oh, what does that mean?

That means that mustachioed Mr. Dr. Man decided to send a throat culture out, because those tests are more reliable. I am then swabbed a third time. Mr. Dr. Man then says that if the throat culture also comes back negative (by Thursday or Friday), then I should come in to have a mononucleosis test done. Yipes! MONO? I'm THIRTY. And I'm not smooching anyone by Hubby, so mono seems very unlikely. To battle the unconfirmed strep, though, Mr. Dr. Man prescribed me some antibiotics and sent me home.

On the way, I drifted through the supermarket to pick up some sicky sore throat essentials: soup, pudding, throat lozenges, Thera-Flu. Unfortunately, the supermarket is remodeling and the ONE aisle that they hadn't totally restocked yet was the cold medicine aisle. Pickings were slim, and I had to knock a couple of clip boards and carboard boxes out of the way, but I managed to get everything and get home.

Cut to three days later. My throat is almost back to normal (hooray for antibiotics!), but my test results for strep still hadn't come in. During the Friday afternoon commute, I punched the doctor's office number into my cell phone so I could confirm that the test results were positive for strep. I mean, what else could it be? The symptoms fit, and the antibiotics were helping, which wouldn't be the case with a virus. But the nurse on the other line told me that the culture was negative too. Confound it!

So...my weekend kicked off with sitting in the doctor's office AGAIN, thumbing throught the dogeared copy of Time, and having blood drawn for a mono test which...drums please...came back NEGATIVE. A different doctor saw me this time and decided that my throat must have been crammed so full of pus that the strep test was negative because none of the strep bacteria had a chance of getting caught on the cotton swab.

Appetizing, eh? But I'm on my eighth day of antibiotics, and I am hale and hearty once again. 'Til the Boy dances with another childhood ailment, I guess.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Operator, Could You Please Connect This Call

Now that the Boy feels better, I've gotten smacked with strep throat. Poor Hubby. He traded one sick family member for another. Anyway, I've been riding the couch at home for the past two days. When you're home for a stretch of time, you start to notice things, like...

For the love of all that's holy, we get a lot of telemarketer calls! I guess I'm normally in and out of the house when I'm well, so I didn't notice it before. Here's a list of the phone numbers of companies trying to shill their services:

8:40 PM: XXX.715.0737
7:01 PM: XXX.585.6996
6:24 PM: XXX.952.3140
5:01 PM: XXX.688.1146
4:59 PM: XXX.342.4066
4:43 PM: XXX.910.3503
3:32 PM: XXX.204.1128
2:32 PM: XXX.821.0077
2:28 PM: XXX.585.6996
2:13 PM: XXX.324.4066
1:40 PM: XXX.715.0737
12:36 PM: XXX.213.0687
12:29 PM: XXX.458.3014
11:23 AM: XXX.588.4430

Ye gods! That's fourteen calls in nine hours! If I didn't have caller ID, I'd probably pick up the call and waste a couple of minutes each time saying thanks, but no thanks.

Right around call number ten, I decided to re-register on the National Do Not Call Registry. Charities, political hoo-ha, polling agents, and companies from which we've purchased services (ironically named "courtesy calls") will still get through.

But I can hang with (or hang *up* on) that.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Put on Your Mask, My Roseola

Let me just say that I think it's valid if you want to deduct quality points from this post since I'm taking poetic license with a Better than Ezra tune from about a million years ago.

A pox has descended on our house. Its a minor pox, but a pox nonetheless. That's right, the Boy has roseola. It's a lovely little virus whose hallmarks are:

1) Crazy high fever that spikes up to 104 degrees outta nowhere and lasts for 3 to 7 days, reducing pretty much only with the assistance of miracle drugs like baby Tylenol or Motrin;

2) Much anger and irritability in the toddler afflicted with the ailment (can you blame them?);

3) Mild diarrhea;

4) Swollen eyelids;

5) Lethargy/listlessness;

6) To cap it all off, when the fever breaks, he'll most likely develop a splotchy rash on his trunk, arms and legs. The saving grace of this last one is that it is apparently not itchy.

Know what the doctor's say to do? Dope him up with the Tylenol or Motrin as often as needed (while staying within the limits of the dosage directions), give him plenty of fluids, plenty of rest, and lukewarm sponge baths and/or cool compresses.

That's it.

Now, I know viruses need to run their course. But couldn't they just pretend and give me a placebo so that I felt like I was actually doing something for him? Thank goodness his grandparents drove the many, many miles to stay with us during the quarantine. I'm sure we'd be a sight if they hadn't -- Hubby and I are also fighting colds, but neither of us can really take time off of work right now, so I'm sure we make for a fabulously grumpy trio right now. The patience my in-laws have is unrivalled.

Oh, and did I mention that the Boy also has an ear infection?

Let the good times roll...