Monthly Archives: May 2012

FiftyFourAndAHalf.Com’s Secret to Increasing Your Stats

I hope by now you have all come down from your virtual sugar high after celebrating my Blirthday yesterday, because serious work is at hand.

In a comment on that post, Frank of A Frank Angle asked me to divulge my secret for having reached 24k hits during my first year of blogging.   Naturally, I ignored him.  I planned to take my secret to the grave.  Or to the crematorium.  Or into space with Scotty from Star Trek.  There are some things you just don’t want made public.

And then I got an email here at my office that made me shout “Curses, foiled again!”  That is a phrase not heard happily by medical researchers, as even those working in offices expect to hear a loud noise next.

No colleagues were injured in the copying of this Google Image

Yes, my nephew, Clinton, had sent me this article:  Avoid these words to prevent Homeland Security from spying on your social networks.

Now, I should tell you that I have known about this for years.  I figured it out, in fact, before I even started my blog, that all I had to get attention was to include some special terms.  And I do!  That way, hundreds of thousands of government workers click on my blog every day leading to, umm, 24K hits in a year.

Wait.  Does the math work here?  Shouldn’t I have millions of hits by now?  Billions?  Centrillions?  Pishaw!  Word Press is probably lying to me about my stats.  Just like when it tells me that today I have ZERO links to my blog using search terms.

You would have thought that at least my post on Butt Burn would have alerted the authorities and resulted in multiple fear-ridden G-3s trying to figure out the terror angle in car seat warmers.

But apparently not everyone in the government clicks on my blog.  So I guess I’m going to have to expand my list.  Up the ante.  You can too — I believe in sharing.  Well, this time, anyway.  I want company when I get sent up the river because my blog “breached” “homeland security,” “threatened” a “standoff” with a “SWAT” team, causing the “lockdown” of my office and its “evacuation” because of folks who cannot distinguish between someone who is “a riot” and a real riot.  You know, one with “shots fired.”

 

Plenty of room for all of us! (Thanks, Google!)

67 Comments

Filed under Gun control, Health and Medicine, Humor, Hypocrisy, Law, Science, Stupidity, Word Press

It’s My Blirthday Too — Yah!

One year ago today, when I was a mere fifty-four and a half years old, I started FiftyFourAndAHalf.com.  A blog with a stupid name that I decided to keep.  So yup, today’s my first Blirthday!

John Lennon is, in fact singing “Blirthday.”  He was a man well ahead of his time, singing in celebration of something that hadn’t happened yet.  (Kind of like when he sang about peace.)

*****

When I started this blog, well, I figured it would be filled with rants about politics.  That was the subject of my very first post, in fact.  I was mad as hell that the GOP wanted to end Medicare for folks 55 and under.  I took it rather personally, in fact, given that they were going to take it away from me.

So now that I fixed that –

Excuse me?  I didn’t?  I didn’t fix it?  You mean they’re still talking about screwing people 55 years and younger?  Damn!  I guess I can’t quit now.

Anyway, I found that I was writing and posting kind of a mish-mash in here.  A little politics, a little bit of silly stuff, way more embarrassing stories about me than I can believe I have actually put in print.  And occasionally a serious piece.  Oh, and I didn’t forget politics.

Yup.  I find that FiftyFourAndAHalf.com has become a sock drawer of a blog.  And I’m OK with that.

Don’t grumble. They’re all clean.

But to celebrate my Blirthday, I need to thank a number of people who have been helpful and supportive:

John,

Jacob

Cooper

Other Family Members who would kill me if I named them

Jen and Keily and Judy and Bao

 And to three friends I met in writing classes who encouraged me to blog.  They became my first followers in the early months when, um, I didn’t tell anyone I actually knew about the blog.  (These guys are all good writers and they need to post way more often):

Delajus at Higher and Higher

Jamie at SleepDeprivedAndInsane

Lisa at Eat Plants said the Cow

And thank you, my bloggin’ buddies, for reading, commenting, “LIKE”-ing  and writing such great stuff that I spend all my time reading and commenting on your blogs instead of cleaning my house.  Please remember me when the Health Inspector condemns it.

“But seriously, officer, I’ll clean it up as soon as I finish this comment …”

90 Comments

Filed under Elections, Family, Humor, Hypocrisy, Politics, Stupidity

Overheard at the Park

You all know that I love being outside.  I often go to a park not too far away that lies along the banks of the Potomac River.  It’s a natural area, with lovely paths that go up and over hills and others that follow the river.  Still others cut through open fields.  It’s lush and green, or open and bare, depending on the season and where you are.

Now that my dog is elderly and, well, in failing health, I tend to take my long walks by myself.  It gives me time to sort out my mind, think up blog posts, get some exercise.

It also lets me eavesdrop.  Here, you can too!

*     *     *

At the entrance to a short path that heads upriver for about half a mile, stood a woman looking at her iPhone with irritation.  She was surrounded on either side by two men, one of them presumably her husband.  The other looked like he might have been her brother.

“This damn UPS app,” she complained “doesn’t say how long the path is OR where it goes!”

But you’ll get a package for your troubles!

*     *     *

Two men were walking towards me; they had obviously just seen a snake, and since there are loads of them around here, I like to know where they’ve been spotted.

“Yeah,” said the first to his friend, “there are tons of snakes around here.”

My ears perked up.

“You’re right.  And it’s you have to be really careful not to step on one,” said the friend.

“Yeah, because when you do, they act like you’ve done it on purpose.  Like they don’t even get that you didn’t mean it.”

Ummmm, Guys? It’s a SNAKE, not Disney.

*     *     *

And just now, on the Sunday before Memorial Day, I heard this:

One tall middle aged guy was wearing a short sleeve flag-motif shirt. 

He was clearly waiting for someone.  Finally his friend showed up.

“Did you have trouble parking?” said Flag shirt guy.

“Yeah, the park sure is crowded today,” responded his friend.  “I shouldn’t have been surprised.  After all, it’s a three day weekend.”

“Yeah, Memorial Day.  But, still, why are there so many people here at the park?  There isn’t a Memorial here.”

Oy.

*     *     *

Happy Memorial Day, everybody.  Hope that the dopes you run into are at least entertaining!

 

39 Comments

Filed under Awards, Humor, Stupidity, Technology

Me and Julie

One week after landing in a hazy, overcast, gray Geneva, Switzerland, I had my very first taste of what I’d moved 3,000 miles to experience.  And it was, of course, magical.

I was alone for the first time in weeks.  Exploring.  John was working, Jacob was safely at his first day of school.  I was on my own, with only our Bernese Mountain Dog, Charlie for company, when it happened.

I was driving down the Route de Divonne when the clouds, at long last, parted.  And there they were – just past the now glistening Lake Geneva — the mountains.  Mont Blanc, with its year-round snowy peak, the highest mountain in Europe. The Alps, danced right there, just through my windshield.  I could practically reach out and touch them, taste them, smell their beauty.  It was magical.  Breathtaking.  Inspiring.  Unforgettable.

Google image

I felt like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.  You know just what I mean, don’t you.  I felt like Julie when she is up there in the mountains by herself.  When she throws her arms wide and sings with all her heart, The Hills Are Alive, With the Sound of Music.  And they are.  Trust me.  They are.

I slowed down, tried to breathe, tried to memorize the moment and keep it in my heart. Tried to capture the moment forever.  I also tried not to hit another car.

And then, well, something else happened.  From a side street to my left came a small car.  It turned in front of me, pulling behind it a long green open-air trailer.  Neatly stenciled on the back in a lacy, delicate script were these words:

jardin naturel

“Natural Garden,” in french.

And on top of that trailer sat the largest pile of steaming cow manure I have ever seen.

And so, my first solo excursion in the Swiss countryside became a metaphor for life as an ex-patriot living there:  There were moments of majestic beauty that I call “Julie Andrews Moments,” when I was filled with beauty and awe and felt like the luckiest person on earth.

And there was a lot of shit.  These two elements combined with travel to places I never dreamed I’d see, made our time in Geneva the adventure of a lifetime.

*     *    *

Some of my bloggin’ buddies have asked me to write more about our time in Geneva, and I figured it is about time I did.  It was a wonderful experience, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss my  non-home-away from home, Switzerland.

83 Comments

Filed under Driving, Elections, Geneva Stories, Humor, Music

A Love (?) Story

When I tell this story, I always have to put in a disclaimer.  Sort of like Dickens at the beginning of A Christmas Carol, when he says

“it must be understood that Marley was dead, otherwise nothing strange and wonderful could have happened.”

In this case, it must be understood that I was really, really nice to everyonePromise me you’ll remember that.

Once upon a time, I had a job at a law school.  The most fun job I’ve ever had.  I was the administrative assistant to a student organization, the BSA.  The Boy Scouts of America, law school chapter.  The BSA members were 2nd and 3rd year students who did a lot to make the first year students happier during their (relatively miserable and difficult) first year.  They did orientation, taught legal writing, answered questions on where to go, what to do.  The office was large, with comfy chairs and a couch, a full free coffee pot.  A good, friendly place to hang out.  The members did, and so did a core of 1st years who, naturally, tried to become members for their 2nd and 3rd years.

It was a wonderful job.  Basically I answered questions and was nice to people.  Always.  A smile on my face, a laugh, a soft shoulder when needed.  It was easy to be nice in such a fun job.

Substantively, I had to know what was going on in the members various activities, because I was the one in the office when the 1st year students had questions.  I had to know what was going on to give the  answers.  Because that was my job.  The BSA members were all nice.  Except Monte.  He wasn’t.  He was a jerk.  Totally uncooperative.  He deserved that name.

Monte was in charge of a very important program that was one of two mandatory moot court programs for all 1st year students.  Essentially, it’s where they learned how to present and argue a case.  A whole case.  They write the briefs and argued the case in front of a panel of judges.

The students had a million questions, and they were also apprehensive, because it was so important.  But Monte was in charge and wouldn’t let me know what was going on.  He wouldn’t answer my questions.  He wouldn’t keep me informed or involved.  I invariably had no answer to give to the poor student who really needed one.

Now, it might surprise you to know this, but I really hate to look stupid.  So one day I’d had enough of being unable to help, unable to answer questions I was supposed to answer.  Unable to do my job.  So I took Monte into the back room and politely explained in the nicest possible way, why he had to do things my way.

He responded “Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.”  And he left.

Me, except I’m blond. And in color.

To this very day I have never been so mad at anyone.

I went back to my desk fuming, steam coming out of my ears, angry tears, the works.  As I stood there, shaking mad, a tall, blond 1st year student entered the office, came up to me and said – oh I don’t remember what he said.  But it was a question about that program.  Monte’s program.

“I DON’T KNOW.  YOU WILL HAVE TO ASK MONTE WHO IS A COMPLETE JERK!” I screamed at the tall, completely innocent blond guy.

He stood there, put his hands on his hips, shook his head and left the office.  He never returned.

I remember it clearly.  Well, except all I can see in my memory is the outline of a faceless blond guy, shaking his head, clearly thinking “what a bitch she is not very nice.”

John did not propose then and there.

In fact, we didn’t ever cross paths again that we know about during the two years we were there together.  We met again through a guy I was dating who worked with John.  Years after I broke up with the other guy, John asked me out after we met up again at a party.

Whenever someone asks us the “how did you two meet?” question, well, I make sure I tell the story.  Because John claims I fired nuclear weapons at him, which, I think you will agree, is a slight exaggeration.  And it makes me look bad.

Really, I didn’t shoot at him.

But hey, my husband can never claim that he didn’t know I could be a bitch.  And that has been worth its weight in gold (or nukes) for almost 26 years.

*    *    *

I wrote this up after Arindam, of Being Arindam suggested I do it.  And because there is nothing I like to do more than humiliate myself.  Publicly.

116 Comments

Filed under Awards, Family, Humor, Law

Another “Day”

My life is shitty.

No, no, no.  I can’t say that, they’ll think I’m suicidal.

My life is in the toilet.

Ditto.

Saturday, May 19th is World IBD Day.  World Irritable Bowel Disease Day.

That’s it!

Recently I learned about this, umm, holiday.  It is a very personal one for me.  Way more personal than I want to admit.  But of course it’s not my fault.   I blame my sister, Judy.

You see, some time in the late sixties Judy pasted a picture on the front of the medicine cabinet above the toilet in our one bathroom.

*

Little did I know at whatever tender age I was that that picture would illustrate my life.  Because in 1972, not long after it went up, I found out that I had ulcerative colitis.  An inflammatory bowel disease.  The bloody flux.  I was in and out of the bathroom and the hospital for much of my teens and early 20s.  What a blast!

Long story short, it ended up that I didn’t have colitis!  But we only found that out when a bunch of men (led by Dr. Herbert Hoover) came at me with knives, removed my large intestine and reorganized my plumbing.  That was when they found out that I really had Crohn’s Disease.

Crohn’s Disease, is, well, worse.  Partly because I can’t for the life of me spell it.  But also because it means I still spend way too much time in the bathroom (although I am very well read).  Oh, and it can affect the entire rest of your body.  Trust me when I say it’s nasty, and that there is no cure.  I would be delighted if that were to change in my lifetime.

That’s why I’m divugling my secret to tell you that Saturday is World Inflammatory Bowl Disease Day.

As far as I can tell there are no festivities planned here in the U.S., although there are some in other countries (the ones that have universal health care, no doubt).

So, I thought up some IBD-related activities myself:

A toilet paper squeezing contest!

What a perv

A wet tee-shirt contest:

Contestants try to stay dry in a stall inhabited by a toilet with an automatic flushing mechanism!

No umbrellas allowed!

Lastly, a relay race around a circle comprised of 50 porta-poties set up on a public green!

(The winner of this last one gets to use a non-self-flushing toilet inside a nearby building when they feel the need, which, of course, they will. Repeatedly.)

I’m quite sure the organizers will contact me to help think up activities for next year’s festivities.

This  year, folks are asked to be aware of World IBD Day and to wear purple.  I understand the awareness part of it – and I would really like to  celebrate World IBD Day.

So let’s

  • Do more research to find a cure!
  • Stop running to the bathroom!
  • Take the “ooh” out of “POOH”!

So yeah, I get the raising awareness part.  But purple?  Wouldn’t brown be a better color?

*     *     *

For a less snarky take on Crohn’s and World IBD Day, see LifeFromTheSmallestRoom‘s piece on living with the disease.

86 Comments

Filed under Childhood Traumas, Family, Health and Medicine, Humor, Real Estate, Science

No, Google, No!

I am what I am because of Google.  Really.

B.G. — Before Google, I was just a regular person.  I knew how to research, knew what books were, where to find them, how to answer certain questions from them.  There were computers, but they were really more for word processing.

Finding out stuff on the internets was just staring, at least for me, fresh from an 8 year “mommy break.”  There were things called “search engines.”  There was “Yahoo” (always a stupid name).  There was “Web Crawler” (Eewwww.  Will I get dirty?)  There was “Ask Jeeves” (for what, I often wondered — a shrimp fork?  A finger bowl?).  But none of these engines had much horsepower.

And then came Google.  And like Athena, the Greek Goddess of wisdom, Google gave me all knowledge — all I had to do was ask.

At my last job in a large international bureaucracy, someone told me about Google in 1999.  I don’t know when you learned about it, but it was news to me.

It took me a while to share.

Now, I wasn’t really greedy.  But suddenly I could find out stuff that made me look brilliant.

Who is the newly appointed Health Minister of Bangladesh?

Who is in charge of HIV research in Thailand?

What was the name of Myanmar before it was Myanmar?  (OK, my bosses knew that one and I didn’t —  but I could pretend I did, which is just as effective with the right snide look on your face.  Google made us geographically challenged Americans look awesome.)

Before I let on, everybody thought I was amazing.  (It’s a good feeling.)

Eventually I shared my secret.  But they already thought I was brilliant.  I just had to keep up the ruse.  Which is way easier than starting from scratch.

So imagine my dismay when I received the following headline in an email message that popped onto my office computer screen when I had a tight deadline:

Google revamps search, tries to think more like a person

Which person are they going to think like?  Will I like what they think?  What if they think like George W. Bush?  Elizabeth Hasselback?  Judge Judy?  Someone else with neither brains, nor heart nor soul? What if Google thinks like John Boehner — shallow and obtuse and tearful?

Google, please don’t change.  You know if you do this, you’ll take another little piece of my heart.

67 Comments

Filed under Humor, Technology