26 August 2008

Trolls and the Law of Attraction

I was recently reading a post from someone who seemed quite shocked about "all the mean people" on the Internet.


I suspect she was being just a wee bit facetious. But, it got me thinking again about the Law of Attraction - because I am not at all surprised that some people seem to attract more negative responses than others.

I try to be respectful of people and their ideas, even when those ideas are very different than my own. I find that, usually, the law of attraction prevails. If I am respectful and kind, the people I interact with - and draw to me - are also respectful and kind. If I put forth intelligent comments, I usually get intelligent conversation in return.

I've "met" many lovely, intelligent, funny and kind people online.

And then there are the trolls.

I belong to an online community: cafemom. It's a great place to interact with other moms and I've made some great cyber-friends and even a few IRL friends there. There are great conversations to be found all over cafemom.

But there are also trolls lurking under some of the bridges, too. Those folks who just like to stir up trouble for whatever reason.

They come in a variety of flavors, of course. But they are pretty easily recognizable. In fact, the clever fellow over at Flame Warriors has created a rather comprehensive catalogue of them.

Funny stuff, that.

Trolls - for whatever sad reason - think it's fun or fulfilling to push other people's buttons. You know people like this is real life, right? Well, on the Internet, their relative anonymity inspires them to even greater depths.

The most annoying are the nasty little passive-aggressive ones. They poke with their sharp little sticks then make innocent, "who me?" noises. Ick. I have more respect for the ones who act like outright bitches.

Since I, personally, have very hard-to-push buttons (unless you happen to be married to me or a blood-relative - why is it that family always push our buttons best?) trolls rarely, if ever, "get to" me.

But they do offend my sensibilities. Kind of like spiders and mosquitos. I don't bear them specific ill-will, but I don't really want like them in my personal space.

I find that ignoring trolls works remarkably well. And, when I do choose to engage one, maintaining a calm attitude can usually diffuse a situation quickly. When they can't get a rise out of you, they get bored and move on.

(This, by the way, is part of the reason for my nickname, zenmom. The other reason being my interest in Buddhism. But I maintain that I am not so much "zen" as I am "extremely rational" ... but "extremely rational mom" just doesn't have the same ring, you know?)

Anyway, back to the trolls.

I sometimes wonder at their motivation. I guess they must get some sort of satisfaction from their behavior, though I can't imagine what that would be? What pleasure is there to be found in running around tilting at random strangers on the Internet like some rabid Don Quixote? They must have very sad lives.

So, I guess the next time I run into one of these "mean people", instead of getting that eeew-there's-a-mosquito-in-the-room feeling, I should try remember that they must be very unfulfilled people, indeed. In which case, I should try to feel compassion for them.

I still plan to to ignore them. Mostly. But I will hope that one day they learn that the "secret" of finding the best in others is giving of the best of yourself.

Maybe we would all run into fewer "mean" people if we are all a little kinder to others. And if that turns out NOT to be the case, well, what have we lost by trying?

23 August 2008

Tagged: 7 things

The rules: Write a post stating 7 random facts about yourself. Then tag 7 others to do the same.

7 - I'm a member of the roll-over club, meaning: I was in a car accident in which my car rolled over.

6 - I was 30 when I had my first baby.

5 - I've never been on a diet.

4 - I'm a sci-fi geek.

3 - I'd rather read a good book then do just about anything else.

2 - I am painfully shy and quiet in some situations, and yet quite loquacious in others.

1 - I use "big" words, like loquacious, on a regular basis.

Tagging: Jen, Kim, Jenn, Kitty, ALG, Becca, Betsy

20 August 2008

Green habits

My husband and I were raised by frugal folks.

My grandparents remember the depression and the Dust Bowl. My parents came into adulthood in the 70s - 'nuff said. "Waste not, want not." should be on my family crest.

So, when we hear about "new" ideas for saving money and resources, Hubby and I usually just look at each other with raised eyebrows, because that's what we've been doing all along.

Turn lights off when you're not using them? - Duh.

Turn off the water while dish washing/teeth brushing, etc. - Been there, done that. (Hubby takes it a step further and insists that we conserve water with tandem showers. I'm sure he is motivated purely by ecological interests.) ;)

*Tip: Fill a milk jug with water and put it in the holding tank behind your toilet - instant low-flow toilet.

Set your thermostat to 85 - *snort* We don't usually turn the darn thing on until we hit triple digits. And a whole-house fan is on the short-list of home-improvement projects. We'd love to go solar, actually, but the conversion is just too darn expensive right now.

Only run the dishwasher/clothes washer when they are full - What?! Are there really people who run the washer for just one or two items?! We've recently gone back to line-drying, too. Takes a little extra effort, but it saves a lot of energy.

*Tip: When line-drying, take the clothes off the line and throw them into the dryer for 5-10 minutes with NO heat, BUT with two of those bumpy dryer balls - softens them right up for just a few pennies' worth of energy. :)

Reusable shopping bags - My grandma has been using these since the depression. They are GREAT. I really don't know why more people don't use them? When we DO use plastic for one reason or another, we always re-use them, of course. In fact, we have this great cloth bag that my grandma "invented" to store and dispense plastic bags.

Home recycling - My city FINALLY started providing those "blue cans" this year for residents to "start" recycling. Pfft. I learned how to separate recyclables before I learned how to ride a bike. My parents separated paper, plastic, cans, etc. AND we used the bio-recyclables to make mulch for our vegetable garden. (Which, by the way, had a clever irrigation system that did not waste water.)

*Speaking of renewable resources: I LOVE my bamboo bed sheets. You should get some.

Organic food - My grandma made everything from scratch. I mean picked-from-the-garden, milk-from-the-cow, eggs-from-the-chicken-coop, meat-from-their-own-livestock scratch. Mom didn't go quite that far too often, but, she could do it, too. (Have you ever gathered eggs from chickens? It is so NOT a fun thing to do. I would rather have fed the pigs, any day.)

At our house, Hubby is the cook (Gawd, I love that man!) and - while we don't make much of anything from scratch - he is very conscientious about where our food comes from and what is in it.

We don't have much room to grow food at our house. This year, the crop was just a few tomatoes and peppers and some cucumbers. But a bigger garden plot is on the long-term to-do list. In the meantime, we try to buy our fruits and veggies from the local Farmer's Market whenever we can. And I am pleased by the growing selection of organic stuff at our local market, too.

* Remember to take your cloth shopping bags to the Farmer's Market, too.

Informed Consumers - This seems like the simplest one of all. But it can actually be quite difficult. It can be hard to balance the need to get the most out of our dollar with the need to make socially responsible choices.

It shouldn't be so hard to buy local, to invest in renewable resources, to support green businesses, to NOT support foreign dictatorships and human rights violations. But it is. Cost is a factor. And so is information. It can take a lot of work to learn enough to decide who I want to give my money to.

But, it's worth it. Because what we BUY has an even greater impact on our country (and, by extension, our whole planet) than how we VOTE. As consumers, our dollar is our voice. And, while mine might be just one little whisper in a crowd, I have a responsibility to put my money where my mind is.

We are not the "greenest" family on the planet, not by a long-shot. But - because of the values and habits instilled by our families, and because we are informed consumers - we are going to keep doing our itty-bitty little part to improve the world.

Sometimes, I admit, it's not the easiest thing to do. But it's the right thing to do.

What gets me, though, is this: SO MANY of the things you can do to save money and resources ARE easy! So, why isn't EVERYONE doing them?!

18 August 2008

A friend helps you move ...

... a real friend helps you move a body.
That's an old joke a few friends and I have been telling each other for years. But it still always makes me smile. Not because it's the world's greatest joke. But because saying it to each other carries the weight of years of shared memories.
It reminds me of all of the fun (and serious) and joyful (and painful) and kind (and angry) and supportive (and hurtful) feelings and experiences that you share when you've known someone for so many years.
Sometimes, when you meet someone, you feel an immediate connection, a kinship. And those are great and exciting moments. But the best friendships are the ones that are so old and comfortable and familiar that spending time together is like slipping on your favorite pair of old, worn jeans. It just fits. Just right.
Have you ever had one of those friends who - no matter how much time or space is between you - still fits so perfectly in your life and your heart that it's like they were made to be there? The kind you can go weeks, or months, without seeing in person ... but then you just roll right into the conversations as comfortably as if you had talked every day in between? The kind who just makes you feel like you are "home" whenever you are together?
The number of people I actually call "friend" is relatively small. I'm picky like that. :) But I feel very lucky to say that my best friends are of the "old, comfy jeans" variety. I got to spend the day with one of them - and her beautiful family - this weekend. We didn't really do anything "special" - but it was a special day, anyway. It was fun. It was relaxed. It was comfortable.
It was the kind of day that's good for your soul. The kind of day that reminds me never to take those few "comfy jeans" friends of mine for granted. They are precious. And I should remember to tell them so more often.
So here's to "comfy jeans" friends. You know who you are. :)

07 August 2008

Kid Logic: Literal, much?

This week, my preschooler's teacher told me that my son threw a block at his friend and then he said he did not do it, even though the teacher saw him. So, that night, we sat down to have a little talk:

"Honey, did you throw a block at your friend at school today?"

"I didn't throw a block at my friend."

In my best patient-mommy voice:
"Your teacher saw you throw the block at your friend. And then you told her that you didn't. That was not the truth. You know that you always have to tell the truth to Mommy and Daddy and your teachers, right?"

Very matter-of-factly with his best "innocent face" on:
"But, Mommy, I didn't throw a block at my friend."

Still using the patient voice:
"Honey, you are not going to be in trouble, but you have to tell me the truth."

"I. didn't. throw. a block. at. my. friend."
(This was accompanied by a very nice eye-roll of impatience - I can't imagine where he could have learned that.)

A bit sterner now: "It is not okay to throw blocks at our friends. And it's not okay to to lie about it."

In his best long-suffering exasperation tone: "But, mommy. That girl is not my friend."


04 August 2008

and the kitchen sink

In the Before Time, The Husband and I used to be able to spend five days in the back country on just what we could carry in two backpacks - the "bare necessities".

Last weekend, we went camping with the kids and found that our "bare necessities" measured about two metric tons.

Okay, I exaggerate. But I seriously cannot believe how much "stuff" we "need" to go anywhere these days. In the Before Time, we used to do all sorts of fun things: Backpacking, camping, hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, beaches, theater, museums. Seems like we would just hop in the car and go. Except for the scuba gear, I think the heaviest thing we used to lug around was a picnic basket or an overnight bag.

Ha! Now, I can't even go to the grocery store without the obligatory 20-pound "mommy survival bag" filled with diapers and wipes and snacks and juice and toys and teething rings and clothes and ... oh, the list goes on.

There must be some secret physics formula that explains how two kids who don't even weigh 50 pounds between them need more supplies to maintain them away from home for two nights than a whole platoon of Marines deployed in the desert for a week.

18-(kid's age) x (miles from home) x 100 = pounds of supplies per night

I know that we could "trim" our supplies if we really wanted to. But it really comes down to motivation. When we were backpacking, it was easy to pare down - When you have to CARRY the kitchen sink 50 miles up a hill, it doesn't seem as crucial.

Now, we are more motivated by making sure the kids comfortable and happy.

I also know that some people just choose not to go to the places we go or do the things we do until their kids are older because it's so much more "work". I think that's too bad.

Because, even with all the excess baggage we "need" to lug around ... it's worth it. As much fun as it was to do all of those things in the Before Time, they are even better now. Seeing the forest or the beach or a city or a show or a museum or a park through your kid's eyes is a pretty special experience.

And it's a limited time offer.

I'd say that's worth a few extra pounds of cargo.

03 August 2008

01 August 2008

Confessions of a grammar snob

I just read a post that was written in ALL CAPS - except for every letter "i", which was in lower case. Every "E" in every word was replaced with "3". And it was written in a bold pink font on a white background.

Those were it's good points.

I think my eyes have finally stopped bleeding.

I would like to say that this was the worst post I've ever seen. But, sadly, that's not true. It's not even the worst post I've seen this week.

What are people thinking?

I capitalize the first word of sentences. I use punctuation marks. I take the extra .25 seconds to spell out whole words like "your" and "to". I use spell-check.

Apparently, these basic grammar skills mark me as appallingly uncool in online communities. I guess I should just shut off my computer, cancel my Internet service and hide out in academia for the rest of my life.

But, before I shuffle off to the old-geeks home, can someone please tell me: Why is it that people like me - who appreciate good grammar and netiquette - are considered "rude" or "uptight" for remarking on atrocities like those described above? Or - gods forbid - gently correcting an error? As I've said before: I think it's like telling someone they have spinach in their teeth. I would want to know.

But, apparently, the Internet "doesn't count".

Oh, bother.

Fine. If you don't mind the fact that people will think you're stupid, then go right ahead: Ignore basic rules of grammar and spelling. Keep right on misusing homonyms. Boycott punctuation. Type only in "txtspk".

But don't expect me to read it. And don't expect me to give any serious consideration to anything that you have to say. The right to speak does not include the right to be read, nor to be taken seriously. You have to actually work for those.

If you "choose" to type like an idiot, I'm just going to assume you are one.


You know what's funny? I actually like things like LOLcats just as much as the next gal. (In fact, I've a downright unhealthy addiction to those things. I've had to clean my beverage off of my screen many-a-time while browsing icanhascheezeburger and icanhasforce, but that's a whole other blog.)

I've also been known to use "LOL" and "OMG" and "PWNED" and other Internet slang in IMs or casual emails. I even use (overuse?) smilies. :)

But the difference is: I KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.

If you know the rules and choose to break them - sparingly - for humor or other effect, I have no problem with that. If you make a typo, or misspell a word or two, or "LOL" at something - I'm not going to lob a dictionary at you. I promise.

But the people who write whole blogs in "txtspk" and "l33t speak"? The ones who make forum posts six paragraphs long with no capitalization or punctuation? The ones who blatantly misspell every word? The ones who use rAndOm caPiTalIzatIoN?

THEY make me want to stab them in the head with my little red copy-editing pencil.

I guess that makes me a mean ol' stuck-up grammar-snob.

Meh. I can live with that.