The Other End of Sunset

Thursday, April 27, 2006

What is Gingivitis, anyway, and does it come in Teal?

Who does one blog for, anyway?

Is your blog like a journal, with some weird exhibitionist bent? Get your jollies by showing your secret thoughts to random folks? Or is it like pirate radio – “look at me, I own the air! Talk hard!”

Or is it just talking. Talking to you, my OtherEnder friends, or to myself, or to my dogs (who are very good on the Internet, I'll have you know. After all, on the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.)

I have been reading random blogs lately. Some from friends, some from acquaintances, some from random references. Some are interesting, some banal, and some downright artistic.

I read one recent blog entry about buying boots, and the particular shape of the toe that matters, and a longish discourse on work boots versus play boots. My, I only knew about Sunday-go-to-meetin’ boots (which, for those of you who have not spent enough time in cattle country, are your nicest cowboy boots that you do NOT wear to work in, but rather, only wear to go to church.) I had no idea there was actual processing related to boot selection. I feel somehow inadequate now. And I'm wearing cowboy boots at the moment.

Another person spent the last posting whining about the rain in the bay area. I agree, by the way, although it’s been nice the last few days! Made me laugh really hard. Just for dramatic irony, I'm on my way to the Southwest, where it is supposed to be raining. Yuck.

JR writes about chemo, and the fight. And about her life goals. Very personal stuff.

Some people write long discourses, like mine, with themes, and imagery, and occasional references to song lyrics. Others write snippets, little bits of string, wisps, if you will. I don’t enjoy these as much, but then, does it matter what I think?

Who are they blogging for, anyway?

And with that, let’s move along.

I watch House a lot. It’s a medical show. Formulaic as all get out.

// Sidenote. What does that expression even mean? All get out? I have no idea how to explain an expression that dumb. It was commonly uttered in Arkansas. But then, so are all kinds of other things, many with horrible racial overtones. Back to our plot… //

Anyway, basically, for the first half of the show, the case gets explained. It’s always something wild and weird. Makes me want to go look up the conditions they talk about.

The other day, they talked about Wegner’s Granular Mitosis. That one is real. But I have no idea if the symptoms they were describing were real. Maybe I should play the home game next time, during the show, and check the accuracy of their symptoms. There’s this thing called the Internet, see, and sometimes you can use these magic tools called search engines to find stuff. Anyway.

The problem with the formula is that you know when the ads are – a new symptom appears, time for an ad. It’s so predictable that I can start fast forwarding on the DVR before the show fades to black.

Note that I [1] didn’t name a DVR brand there [2] but did reveal that I don’t want to watch ads. I don’t really care about the upcoming broadcast premiere of “Stupid Comedies, part deux” or “Reality Bites: the Soho version”. So I skip the ads.

Clearly, I'm contributing to the death of the American marketing dream. I don’t mind being sold to. I think that advertising is sometimes exactly the right result. Really, if I want information about, say, rolling computer bags, it’s fine to offer to sell me one.

But the Chrysler 300 doesn’t have anything to do with a House episode. Advertising should be targeted to what I'm doing.

Not sure what the House ads would be. Maybe stress relievers? Or vacations? Seems like an interesting marketing research problem.

Now watch this cool writer’s trick I'm about to pull. Did you notice the connection of the advertising thread to the rest of the post?

To wit: Who are advertisers advertising for? Does the content of the show matter? Probably. Does the demographic watching matter? Almost certainly.

Targeting is clearly the answer. But how to target effectively, to a streaming medium like TV? Lots of interesting technical and social – and content – questions there.

Questions – another good topic for a blog. So let’s try a new tack – Douglas’ questions of the day, week, or perhaps millennium.

Question 1: Why do men spit in urinals? Really, people who don’t spit, spit into urinals. Who taught us this? ALL of us. Seems odd.

Question 2: Why does Elton John keep flaming many of his friends and co-performers in public? What’s the angle? Is it akin to a not-to-be-named star’s “theft” of nude photos with her boyfriend – and then her going to the press with her “horror”. In other words, is it a tactic to keep some press interest? (BTW, in case you are wondering, I am listening to “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” right now. Priming, you know.)

Question 3: Why don’t more people give blood? (And a shout-out to two people, who gave B-positive blood, at the Stanford Blood Donation Center, sometime between April 1 and last Saturday. Thanks, folks. I appreciate it, and consider me an honorary member of your good karma club. I shall light candles for you both.) It’s not hard to give blood, and they give you cookies. Come to the dark side, we have cookies, and give a pint while you are here.

Question 4: Why are we programmed not to be grateful for what we have, and are given? I have a friend who is getting beaten by a large group of people, simply for being tangentially involved in a decision that took some (largely unused) stuff away from them. A respin of the core issue would be to be thankful for the dozens of choices that remain, but that appears to be not an option. Strange. And I do it too.

Question 5: Am I the only one who found it ironic that Greg Kihn performed “American Idiot” on that weird TV show, “Play it again” (or whatever it was called, when the old stars performed new songs and competed?). The Green Day song is largely a protest tune, and Kihn seems to be a dyed-in-the-wool conservative (judging from his commentary on his morning show). Seems ironic.

Question 6: More to the point, am I the only one who watched that horrible car wreck of a show, in the first place? The emcee was some supremely annoying Brit, who reminded me of Denny Terrio (sp?). It’s ok if you don’t know Denny (and it might be Danny, even) – he was the annoying American emcee of Solid Gold, a car wreck of a music show in the 80’s. The cycle of life, you know – one annoying car wreck of a show begets another, including a strange copy of the first wreck components. The formula returns, but this time, perhaps it wasn’t properly sterilized (a very sick joke, if you will pardon the pun-on-an-unlikely-historical-reference-about-a-wordplay.)

Ok, enough questions for now. Back to my personal forte, semi-funny stories. Or perhaps “funny semi-stories”, given the context of what is to come…

Commuting in to work with a pal of mine, the other day, we were driving in the carpool lane, speeding a bit, as usual. My friend saw a highway patrol officer coming onto the freeway, and pointed him out. OK, not a problem, I'm barely above the speed limit. But, the guy in front of me in the carpool lane was by himself (and no, he was not in a qualifying hybrid). That’s a ~$300 fine. Hmm. The officer raced up to me, paced me for a second, and then pulled in front of me into the carpool lane. Rode the guy for a few minutes. And then cut around him at high speed. Dude, he totally ignored the fact that carpool lanes are, well, for carpools! Makes me wonder why I don’t always just ride in the lane? Of course, if I do, it’s a karma hit, and I may need it; equally importantly, if everyone does it, there won’t be lasting advantage to the lane. But still, I noticed it – who else did? Why didn’t the guy get a ticket? The law-abider in me was bothered.

Now there’s an oxymoron, even greater than Kihn-does-Green Day. I like to follow rules. I have long hair, earrings, and probably wouldn’t agree with “the man”, if I could even identify him. But I have a hard time cutting in line, or lying to people, or taking advantage of random perks. Hmm, seems a contradiction in terms. A conformist rebel. Seems like it couldn’t possibly exist. Or perhaps shouldn’t exist, such as war-for-oil.

Speaking of things that shouldn’t happen, I forgot to tell JR happy birthday this morning. Yuck. That’s sloppy. Sorry JR.

To attempt to atone, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, via the Internet.

This one is a huge milestone, too. Bad Douglas, Bad Douglas, no biscuit!

I'm bad at dates. I can remember computer languages that haven’t been in common parlance in years. I can remember miscellaneous stuff about the battle of 73 Easting. I understand the duality of matter and energy (at least at some level). I can meaningfully compare and contrast Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox religions, which are kissing cousins, let alone Catholicism and (say) common Paganism of northern England (which are a long ways apart, in case you were wondering, despite how close they are in geographical terms.)

But I NEVER remember to tell partners, friends, family members, etc., happy birthday on their birthday.

Don’t get me wrong, I plan for their birthdays, weeks or months in advance. I give great presents, some bought, some made, but all with some meaning for the recipient.

I think I'm a thoughtful friend or partner, and that comes out in my presents. From the silly to the sublime, I want you to feel special, to know that I thought about you, and to have something that you can look at and remember me, us, and some moment.

But I will not tell you happy birthday. Sigh. I won’t remember on the day. Sorry. If it helps, I'll be really mad at myself when I figure it out.

The best part? I have this dumb idea that nobody notices this about me. I did it once to a wife. Totally blew telling her happy birthday. And I tried to cover my tracks, all suave – I said something like “I wanted to wait until after your meeting” or something equally stupid. She just sighed in annoyance, and said “Why don’t you just say you forgot it, it’s not a big deal, I know you!” Oops, busted.

She was right about me. Bummer. But she’s wrong that it wasn’t a big deal. It is.

Surely I can figure this out somehow? (And yes, they are on my calendars – all of them – but what if I forget to launch the calendar that morning? I remembered the birthday yesterday, so reminding me then isn’t helpful! Maybe I should figure out a service that will page me, early on key days? Hmm, hard to monetize though, so not a great business model. Next!) There’s something magical about the DAY itself that causes me to forget, and become the modern-day Archie Bunker, paying attention to nobody but myself. Sigh.

Ok, I just ran word count on this posting. It’s about 2,000 words so far. I can remember not that long ago when a 750 word essay was agonizing, terrifying, and generally an act of cruelty. Dude, I probably spent about that many words on the birthday meme, let alone on the entire posting? What changed?

Did I become more wordy as I got older? I certainly find myself boring at times, and think that I'm just consuming oxygen without purpose – “That oxygen you are breathing? I want it back. Really. Now.”

Or is it that I'm writing not one paper on Descartes or whatever, but rather a loosely coupled set of thoughts that pour like pepper out of my mental pepper grinder?

I guess the answer depends on your perspective. I don’t over-think these postings, I just express them. But you may feel them overdone (as one reader does), or bland (as many have thought over time), or perhaps revealing (as several people feel).

But, really, am I writing for me, for you, or for some other reason.

I guess I don’t know who I blog for.

But perhaps you will tell me? Some of my best conversations take place in taxis.

Let’s share one, go downtown, and look at the pretty buildings, and talk about earthquakes, and architecture, and food, and migrants, and please remind me that it’s your birthday…