Is there anything NOT on the Internet? I mean, really. I just spent the last 20 minutes in a link-clicking frenzy in blog-land. Seriously. I had to back up eleven pages to remember how I'd gotten there. One minute, I was checking out some serious craft in the world of indie-knitting, and the next thing I know, I'm on a YouTube video of Argentine kids screaming in fear at a gnome. Seriously. I'm not making this stuff up. In the span those few minutes, I had also seen David Byrne's newsletter, a recipe for blood orange sorbet, a knitted sweater in various stages of completion, a Rob Base video, old books made into journals, someone making pizza dough, and the abovementioned kids scared of a gnome. I'd hyperlink all that crap, but, well, I'm lazy, and you, well, you have Google, don't you?

It got me to thinking:
a) my attention span has begun to rival that of a thirteen year old
b) there is absolutely nothing I can't find on the web

And I'm not saying that in a "When i was your age, sonny...." sort of way either. What i mean is- well, it's hard to sum up. Is there ANY experience that hasn't yet been blogged about, wikipedia'd, databased, web paged or otherwise cyber-catalogued? Doesn't it blow your mind to think about how many different angles there are available to you about anything anywhere? For instance: I saw (on one of the sites I was on) a picture of a half-completed guerrilla art project on a pier in NYC. Now, there must be some blog somewhere by some artist who'd told the world that she was going to paint some barnacled bundle of wood in New York... and now, in addition to that one piece of information about the intent, there is a picture of that project, half completed, and a little blurb to go with it. And that's only one angle. Who knows if someone else didn't snap a picture from a different angle that same day, and write up a little blurb on her blog- or didn't take a picture at all, but wrote a little something about his walk along the water... or maybe he didn't write about the art project per se, but instead was inspired to paint something himself and then post that picture online... which sparked someone else's commentary on some other site... do you see what I mean? We're never just watching kids scream at gnomes. We're participating in this viral experience of the world. Every time we click, we're taking part in a massive social experiment to see if we can take it all in... all this information, all this experience.

When those rebels suddenly abandoned their paintbrushes and paints that day on the pier, did they think that someone might come along and snap a digital picture of their stuff and then write a blog entry about it? I don't know. But here it is, for the world to see and read about. It seems like that IS something you need to consider whenever you do ANYthing these days. Remember when you could just plant a garden or decorate your room or cut the sleeves off your shirt and that was that? Nowadays, the impulse to DO is inextricably linked to the compulsion to document it all.

It all screams of our very human need to seen and heard, doesn't it? Makes you want to add another thing to HomoSapiens grocery list of fundamental needs...

-Someone to notice me because i saw some stuff and talked about it

It seems like, at least here in the States, that since we've fulfilled our "manifest destiny" to inhabit every stinkin' corner of this country, the next thing on the cosmic to-do list is to have an opinion about everything. And to let everyone know what it is. So, instead of physically occupying every bit of land coast to coast, we now intellectually inhabit it. All of it.

What I'm curious about is the math on all this. I mean, there's only a tiny portion of the world's population that has access to the Internet, right? So, is there some sort of logarithm that states that as we learn more about each other, and as more people gain access to the Internet, the world gets smaller and more knowable? That if we keep sharing exponentially our experiences of the world, that eventually everyone will have access to the experiences of anyone on earth?

If that sounds like sci-fi mumbo jumbo, well, I admit, it is late... and I did just watch a video of a gnome in Argentina. Anything is possible.

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How To Rescue a Raspberry Bush

It's 10:38, people. It's March 17th. My taxes are still not filed. So here I sit, in my smells-of-livestock basement, with my laptop on my lap, my adding machine to my left, and my dayplanner to my right, and a pencil tucked behind my ear. I'm trying to calculate my mileage deduction for my federal taxes. I SHOULD be drinking green beer somewhere. Instead I'm here, freezing my ass off, inhaling the stench of chicken butts from 40 years ago, and adding 2.4, 5.6, 16.0 and so on. Yeah, I know. The cobbler's kids have no shoes, the tailor's wearing rags... and this bookkeeper's books aren't kept. And so it is.

Lucky for me, CLH is down here too, playing me the latest Cloud Cult album, his head hidden behind his gargantuan monitor. He's working. I'm working. Ah, quality time together.

This weekend, we went out to the back 40 and unearthed our raspberry bushes. This past fall, I went out there and cut the nearly hollow (read: old as hell) vines down to the ground, hoping they would make their reappearance this Spring. Well, Spring has been coming, slowly, and the vines are starting to grow. It's a bit tough for them, having to compete with waist-high grass and all. CLH and I got down on our hands and knees and ripped that grass out with our bare hands around the bases of the vines so the poor things could breathe. We couldn't use any tools to get between the plants because they are so close together and the vines so delicate. We played this game with the lawnmower afterwards. It went a little like this: we'd find a place where the grass was so tall, it was bent over and growing horizontally (you could pick out these spots because the ground would feel spongy and creepy underneath you). One of us would "comb" the grass in the opposite direction it was laying and the other would run the push mower over it. We repeated this for nearly an hour and cleared a spot about 6 feet square. Seriously. Our backyard is a lot like the Secret Garden. You have no idea what's growing out there. The former owners' mental state is the subject of much debate in our household. Sometimes, when we do things like mow the same spot of 3 foot grass for 15 minutes, we ask ourselves: Was it madness, laziness, or a combo of both that would make someone let their grass get tall enough to swallow a small dog?

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An Open Letter to Washington Mutual Bank

Dear WAMU,

Honestly. "Whoo Hoo?" That's what you came up with for your newest ad campaign? Have you completely lost your minds? Been reading the latest self help book about how the most obvious thing is usually the best answer and you took the first chimpanzee noise you heard your kid make and labeled it pure genius? Because it's not. This is not even close to bad. This is lazy. The worst. I suppose I can't blame you entirely. You hired a young, snappy marketing team, I'm sure, to help with this. Some group of extremely unimaginative but extremely well dressed men and women with artistic glasses and blocky jewelry. They probably took a look at your monkey language scribblings and rubbed their chins thoughtfully and nodded to one another slowly and made you feel really important and smart for an hour. I would have been taken in too. I watch TV. I know how enchanting the well dressed can be. Especially if they smell good and shake your hand, and say words like "move forward" and "branding" and "product placement" too.

It's impossible to miss the damned billboards. I pass at least two of them on the way home from work. Which is, I'm sure, exactly what the well dressed people in the artistic glasses, and you, wanted. I know enough about advertising to know that McDonald's doesn't make the best burgers ...but they do have enough real estate such that at the moment you get hungry on the road, you are never more than five minutes from a McDonald's. And you are reminded of that fact with a 40 foot McWhatever-It-Is plastered onto a billboard every 80 feet or so. Is that what you were you're hoping to accomplish here as well? Like, maybe I would be thinking about buying some coffee on my way in to the office, but then, Whoo Hoo! I would see your sign and be overcome with unmitigated joy at banking with you so that when I got to the store I wouldn't just buy a coffee, I would buy a to-go mug and a t-shirt and a key chain as well, charging up a storm with my WAMU credit card, exclaiming Whoo Hoo! with every item I picked up like some crazy locomotive/cash register hybrid?

Try this: take the money I give you and DON'T invest it in crap like this. Take it and do something interesting and worthwhile, like that Wamoola for schools thing you started a while back. You do know we're headed towards a recession, right? That the Fed just dropped the interest rate for like the 78th time this year? That means you have less available to pay me in interest... so please don't take the very little I've decided to stick in the meager interest bearing account I have with you and waste it on giant blue and green and orange billboards that read "Whoo Hoo!".

Oh, and don't send me a form letter back. I hate those things. Take the time you were going to spend going to your My Documents folder containing "We've Read Your Letter And Are Trying Our Best To Serve You Better Letter To Complaining Customers" and hitting "print", and save it. Save the money you were going to spend on the paper and the 15 minutes it was going to take your executive assistant to prepare an envelope and hand it to the mail guy... and just meditate for a moment. Think about all the paper you've used making this beast. Think about the money I've trusted you with. My money. The money I work very hard for.

Think about all the nonsense out there you and I have to stomach every single day. Think about the visual bombardment, the cacophony of noise you and I have to endure just to buy a t-shirt, or pay our phone bill online. Think of the pop-up ads, the junk email, the telemarketers, the guy standing out there on the sidewalk wearing a "Liquidation Sale Today!" sandwich-board sign on his body and waving laconically at you. Think about how much junk mail you throw into the garbage every day. There's a lot of "stuff" out there already. Did WAMU really feel like it needed to join the fray?

Here's something else: Think about how much energy and toxic chemistry it takes to manufacture an adhesive strong enough to hold a polymer to a piece of plywood in 20 mph gusts of wind. Think about the electricity it takes to light a sign all day and all night. Think about how many landfills are already full of the latest and greatest cool billboards approved of by well dressed people in artistic glasses. Think about how much waste and noise you've just put out there in the world to promote, not a money saving tool, or a loan product, but a catch phrase having nothing to do with banking.

Now think of the opposite of all that. Think about a clear view of the mountains in our state, unimpeded by big orange signs. Think about our water unpolluted with manufacturing waste runoff. Think about being able to offer your customers more than catch phrases. Think of the opportunity you have in this country, what with the sub-prime mortgage crisis and all, to help people save money and stay in their homes. Think about the money you've just saved by being a more responsible, environmentally friendly, and consumer-conscious bank. Makes ya want to say, Whoo Hoo, doesn't it?

Yours Truly,
A Loyal Customer

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America, this is what I'm talking about. This is what we're not allowed to say on TV or on the radio, but this is the kind of thing that IS allowed into my junk mail box.

These are subject lines taken directly, without alteration, from my junkmail box. I think I'll call this one "Why Power Tools and Weapons Belong Outside And Not In The Bedroom".

Why be a tiny cocktail sausage when you can be a mighty weiner?

Blow her away with your giant weapon.

Be a winner with the ladies with a huge lovestick.

Make her cry in pleasure when you enter her deep and full

Lengthen your male aggregate length and girls will love you promptly.

It's time to bring your good willy hunting.

Change your garden tool into a POWER TOOL.

Increase your male aggregate and you will sex giant.

It is greater than the oscar there will be blood
Armed with our rods, we thrust forwards.


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An Update on The House and Why I Should Never Be Allowed To Touch Appliances

CLH did something very special today. He wired an electrical outlet onto its own circuit. I don't even know if I've said that correctly, but it was incredibly impressive to me to see. Yesterday the basement was a black smelly void and today it's a well-lit smelly office space. Being deathly afraid of electricity, I avoid the remodeling tasks that involve electricity. Move furniture, paint rooms, tear down molding, hang curtains, change light bulbs, haul trash, build garden, mow grass, polish floors, yes. Touch the wiring? No freakin' way.

The last run-in I had with do-it-yourself wiring involved a puff of black smoke, a clapping noise, and a temporary power outage in the office. I was there on a Saturday. That should give you a good indication of where my head was to begin with. I had just taken the job in the front office and, since we were switching over as a company to computers from typewriters and carbon paper, i thought I would usher in some newness of my own by painting and redecorating my office. There was one giant problem: the walls were covered with bulky sliding door cabinetry from the '70s. I can't quite remember the color of the things. It was something in between steel gray and failure. Anyhow, I called a friend to come with me to the office so she could help out with the removal of these cabinets around my desk. She was a good friend.

It seemed simple enough: just unscrew one end and then the other, having helper hold the end not being worked on with screwdriver. The unscrewing was easy. It was the little flourescent light that threw me for a loop. I'd forgotten that little sucker was mounted underneath the cabinets. (Sidebar: now that i am thinking about it, this was the second office I worked in the late nineties/early 00's that had these revolting cabinets on the walls. What was it with me and a) missing the dot-com boom, and b) working with people who liked working on the set of the Mary Tyler Moore show?) Anywho, the light. I'd forgotten he was up there. And he was up there GOOD. Mounted to the underside of the cabinets (needed another sized screwdriver to de-barnacle the cabinet) and then hardwired into the wall. Hardwired. No little cord running to an outlet. When these people said "seventies", they'd meant it.

Well, I knew that the little guy wasn't getting replaced, and I wasn't going to be plugging in anything else at 4 and 3/5 feet off the floor, so I just yanked the wires from the fixture and let them hang out of the little holes in the walls. One of the wires had a little (orange, was it?) cap hanging from the end of it. The other didn't.

But now I had these hang-y cords coming out of the wall. Definitely not part of the redecorating plan. I had to do something with them, and I just figured I could ask one of the shop guys on Monday to just clip 'em... so i did what any idiot with compulsive tendencies toward order and who knows nothing about electricity would do: i shoved the one cord into the cap with the other cord.

Enter the smoke and the flash and the comment, "So THAT'S what burned flesh smells like..." I don't know what we did, exactly, or what actually happened after the BANG noise, i just know that on Monday, my computer and my phone had both lost power, and, when asked about it, i just shrugged and backed up nervously to block with my body the black soot stain on the wall.

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