30 June 2009

Fun with Google

I love my paying job, but my "hobby" writing leads to the best Google searches. I just love learning random new things. (Yes, I'm that kind of geek.)

This week, I Googled* ...
  • iwb holsters
  • Miwok mythology
  • heather tea
  • vampire group
Um, don't try that last one. I was looking for a collective noun and instead I found ... weird things. :)

(While we're on the subject, what would you call a group of vampires? You know: Pride of lions, herd of buffalo, murder of crows, pack of werewolves, coven of witches, ________ of vampires?)

On the flip-side of my Google-related entertainment this week, someone from Colorado landed on my blog with the search term "jean gray's ass".

Um, okay. That's a new one.

Even more disturbing, though, were the guys (and you know they were guys) from Asia and Northern California who were looking for, respectively, "my mom ass pictures"** and "moms take it in the ass".***

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

I am SO not Googling to check, but I can't imagine how my innocent lil' ol' blog could have landed among the top searches for, I assume, MILF**** p-o-r-n?!

I can't help but think that they must have been terribly disappointed when my page loaded, no?

Happy Googling,

* Shut up! It's totally a verb, now. Ask Webster's.

** It's the pronoun that creeps me out most, I think.

*** Note to self: Don't use the word "ass" in my blog anymore ... Oh. Oops.

**** Oh man, I'm going to regret using that term later, aren't I?

25 June 2009

On Anonymity

This is one of those oddly masturbatory blogs-about-blogging. Feel free to skip it if you find such things annoying. :)

My blog is semi-anonymous.

I don't use my real name - or the names of my husband or children. In fact, the only real names I use are those of other online people who are already "out" about their offline identities.

I don't usually post identifying photos. (I do occasionally post pictures of my kids, but I will likely do that less as they get older and start school.)

I never mention my workplace, specifically, or even my hometown. And I try not to give away too many identifying tidbits.

But ... my blog is also non-anonymous in that it is read by several people who already know me "in real life" - including several good friends and even my parents! (My husband has the address, too, but he doesn't usually read it.)

But there are other people in my offline life I'd prefer never find my blog. Or at least never find out my blog is ME.

So, I try to ensure that if someone were to go a-Googling for "My Real Name" or other personally identifying details - this blog would NOT show up in those searches.

It's not that I have anything to hide, really. I'm comfortable "owning" everything I write. It's more a matter of desiring a bit of control over my privacy. And, of course, there are the normal concerns about the random freaks and weirdos out there.

But, the main reason for my semi-anonymity - or maybe it's pseudonymity - is professional.

Everyone's heard stories of people who've lost their jobs - or job opportunities - because of something they posted on their blog or Facebook or MySpace.

For me, those concerns are amplified.

I work in public relations. I am the public spokesperson for my workplace. Like it or not, I am always "on duty" in public - always representing more than just myself. In this small community, that means everywhere: At the park, in the grocery store, at preschool, at restaurants - even just driving down the road.

It's not entirely fair. But it is what it is.

In a way, this blog is one of the few places I can relax.

Even though most of what I post here is pretty innocuous in terms of my professional life, my semi-anonymity gives me the freedom to let my hair down a bit and not worry too much about who might be judging what and how it could reflect on my work.

So, while I'm comfortable having some friends and family read my blog, if I had to put my name on it for just anyone to see ... well, I probably wouldn't blog at all.

As it is, I probably still self-censor just a bit. But, that's just me - I'm a private sort of person in some ways.

I'd like to think I'm basically the same person online that I am offline. Though - if we're honest with ourselves - I think we'd all have to admit that we share different parts of our personalities in different situations. Are you the same person at home with your kids as you are at work? Or at dinner with the in-laws? On a first date? Out for a drink with your pals? At your class reunion?

Even if it was possible to ensure complete and total anonymity (and don't kid yourselves, dahlinks, such things are not possible in this day and age), I'd like to think my blog would not be all that different from what it is right now in it's semi-anonymous state.

I do sometimes ask myself: If I had complete anonymity ... would I write about things I have not? Would I say some things differently? Would I feel more "free" to share different sides of myself? To be honest: At least once, the answer has been yes.

But, for the most part, I think I am still "putting out there" an honest representation of who I am and what I think.

What about you?

Is your blog anonymous? Do people who read it know you IRL? Why or why not? What do you think are the pros and cons of each? Do you have concerns about personal or professional repercussions? Are you concerned about what and how much you share?

I'd really like to know. :)

24 June 2009

Playin' 'possum

I'm pleased to present today my first Guest Post by the original zen mom - MY mom - AKA Lady Elizabeth. She sent me this hilarious story about her nocturnal adventures this week, and I convinced her to let me post it here. Welcome to the blogosphere, mom. :)

So… it actually started yesterday morning.

I came downstairs to find the power was off to my computer and all of its peripherals. I immediately noticed the Garden Gnome (Mr. Farty Pants) was gone.

When I approached my desk, I discovered that the mouse had been jerked to the back of the desk; my webcam, my digital camera and my camera dock were missing from the window sill and the clock was turned around.

I looked behind the filing cabinet and there they were. When they fell, they hit the tangle of wires behind the computer unplugging things and pulling down the webcam and other things. So, I gingerly reached down into the dust bunnies and retrieved everything. I reconnected the wires and the power and got everything back up and running. I moved Mr. Farty pants to the other end of the window sill and blamed it all on the cat. I was late for work.

Last night about 11:00 pm I went downstairs to get some water. I knew that when I went upstairs for the night, I had put the computer on standby so I was surprised to see the login screen glowing in the dark. I approached my desk (in the dark) and noticed the mouse was jerked all the way to the back of the desk again. I pulled the mouse forward and decided I needed to check this out further.

I went to the kitchen and refilled my water, came back into my office and turned on the light. As I approached my desk the second time, I noticed a tiny movement of something sticking out from behind the monitor. It was a very long, almost hairless tail. It was big and long and ugly. I leaned to one side to get a better look and noticed that the tail was attached to something with very coarse spiky grey hair.

What to do? Hmmmm, Ron had been asleep for an hour and a half, so he would not be pleased if I woke him up. I immediately ran upstairs and woke him up because he knows where things are like heavy gloves and guns and things. As he groggily responded to my nudge, I told him I thought there was an animal downstairs and I suspected it was an opossum. He mumbled something about my sanity and trudged downstairs in his underwear.

He approached the desk with much caution and soon confirmed that Mr. Opossum was indeed hiding behind the monitor on the windowsill. He also confirmed that it was not in a good mood and had big teeth. Now we are both standing there saying, hmmmm, what to do?

He went out the back door and headed for his garage. I watched closely and the opossum did not move. Ron returned, still in his underwear, but now wearing his heavy welding gloves and holding a large fishing net.

I suggested that we might be able to remove the window screen and allow Mr. Opossum to exit through the window. However, this was not really feasible because Mr. Opossum was right in front of the window that was open and we couldn’t get to the screen without reaching right past him. So, Ron placed the net between Mr. Opossum and the computer monitor, which only annoyed him.

A woman of action, I ran to the laundry room and retrieved a baby-gate to keep the opossum from entering the kitchen and thus gaining access to the rest of the house. The back door was open in case he decided to do the smart thing and leave that way. We were ready to make a move.

Ron used the net to gently prod the opossum into moving down the windowsill and out from behind the monitor so he was exposed. He tried again but he still couldn’t make any headway with the net, he decided to remove the screen now that Mr. Opossum was no longer in front of it.

Voila! Now Mr. Opossum could leave via the open window.

He didn’t.

Ron, not so gently, coaxed him toward the open window with the handle to the fishing net. Meanwhile, I moved closer and climbed on to a chair in case he decided to run. I was barefoot, so this seemed necessary. In the process, I stuck the handle of the broom I was holding in the ceiling fan, thus scaring Ron and me half to death. Since the chair had wheels, I sort of wobbled and the broom hit the ceiling fan again before I regained my balance.

Ron looked at me sideways. After making some comment about my sanity again, Ron poked and prodded until Mr. Opossum was hanging onto the window ledge with one front paw. One final poke and he was outside. Ron closed the window.

We looked at each other and shook our heads. The cat walked by and looked at us both with disdain. Mr. Farty Pants gave us a blank stare. The window screen could be replaced tomorrow ...

19 June 2009

Fathers and Suns

Happy Father's Day!

I don't have any deep insights or sweet sentiments to share about this holiday, today. :)

But, if you are looking for some Father's Day related reading, you can check out this previous post about some of my favorite Dad Blogs. Good reading. Good dads.

And as long as I'm sharing the linky-love, I think I'll add Hot Dads to the list - they are interesting and irreverent bunch of dad bloggers who offer fun and funny insight on modern day fatherhood.

As for us, The ZenHusband is up in the Bay Area this weekend for his Father's Day present: The National Homebrewer's Conference. Trust me: It's was the perfect gift for him. :)

So, the Minions and I are getting ready to go to my parents house for a few days. The boys are very excited about the visit and can't wait to "help" Papa barbecue and work in his vegetable garden. :)

Oh, and didja know?

This year, Father's Day happens to fall on the longest day of the year (for those of us in the Nothern Hemisphere) -the Summer Solstice, or Midsummer.

So, Happy Father's Day and a Happy Summer Solstice, too! :)

What are your weekend plans?

18 June 2009

Kick-Ass Chicks 2: Moving Pictures

Every girl needs strong female role models. Not just in her personal life, but in pop culture.

When I was growing up, there wasn't exactly a surplus of female "heroes" on TV or in the movies. While my brother and his friends had a plethora of heroic characters to choose from at "pretend time", I was pretty much stuck with Wonder Woman or Princess Leia.

Not that they aren't awesome. But, it's nice to have some variety, eh?

I still think young girls get the short end of the stick when it comes to pop-culture heroes. But, fortunately, we older would-be heroines have a few more strong women characters to choose from than when we were young.

I've already shared some of my favorite books about ass-kickin' chicks. So, I guess it's time to give moving pictures their due, too.


10. Elizabeth Swan, Pirates of the Caribbean
The girl who went a-pirating. This character speaks to the little girl I was - the one who wanted to climb in Max's boat and go adventuring with the Wild Things.

9. Lara Croft, Tomb Raider
I've loved this character since I played the first game. She was like a female Indiana Jones - finally! And - as cheesy as they are - I like the movies, too. Mostly because Jolie plays her as an awesome balance of hot-hot-hot and so cool ice doesn't melt in her mouth.

8. Zoe Washburn, Firefly/Serenity
Speaking of cool: Zoe is the epitome of "cool under pressure". She's tough as leather and loyal to a fault. She just edged out her ship-mate, River Tam, for this slot because, while River is the picture of deadly grace, Zoe is who I would want by my side in a tough spot.

7. Katherine Janeway, Star Trek: Voyager
A smart, rational leader who thinks things through and always tries for the peaceful solution, (She's like the anti-Kirk. But, in a good way.) but who isn't afraid to give 'em both barrels if the situation calls for it.

6. Kara "Starbuck" Thrace, Battlestar Galactica
She's a hard-drinkin', fast-flyin', bad-mouthin' SOB. And proud of it. Brave, brash, and just a little bit damaged. You gotta love her.

5. Sarah Connor, Terminator
Some moms say they'd take on the world for their kid. She actually does it. Yeah, she's kinda soft and fluffy in the first movie. But you get glimpses of the tough core underneath. The one that lets her become the hard-as-nails mercenary who fights the future and her own darkness in T2. And - damn- is she scary, then, or what?!

4. Leia Organa, Star Wars
"Somebody has to save our skins. Into the garbage chute, flyboy!" Tough, determined, and just a tad snarky - exactly how I like my princesses. She's iconic - one of the first.

3. Trinity, The Matrix
Sure, you could argue that almost anybody could be kick ass in Bullet Time and a leather body suit. But, her toughness is tempered with a vulnerability that makes her so much more appealing. Oh, and did I mention the body suit? Day-amn.

2. Ellen Ripley, Aliens
She was one of the first of her kind - a tough, smart, brave, self-reliant woman who doesn't need a man to rescue her - she can handle it, thank-you-very-much. She was one of the characters that changed the way we saw women in SF action movies. For that alone, she would have earned a top spot on this list.

1. Buffy Summers, Vampire Slayer
"She Saved the World. A Lot." I could write a book on the subject of why this was such a smart, fun show and why Buffy was such a beloved character. In fact, people have. Written books on the subject, that is. But, the truth is, if you are a fan: You already get it. If you're not, well then, you don't. Bottom line: Buffy was an interesting, original and totally kick-ass character in a show filled with outstanding plots, characters and writing. It was fun and fantastic. And I miss it.

Well, there's my list. What do you think? Did I miss anybody?
Who are
your favorite SciFi heroines?

16 June 2009

Kid-Logic: Reason number 1,942 ...

... that my sons are very different boys ...

The four-year-old doesn't want to pet the llamas at the zoo because they might make his hands dirty.

The just-turned-two-year-old doesn't want to pet the llamas at the zoo because he's too busy trying to LICK them.


This kid is going to be the death of me.

11 June 2009

But if life were made of moments, then you'd never know you had one

Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to run into him somewhere.
A chance encounter at the store, on the street, in a coffee shop.

Would we greet each other warmly, sitting down to chat like old friends about our new lives? Or would we offer smiles that don't reach our eyes and exchange uncomfortable small talk before going our separate ways?

Would we share pictures of our spouses and kids? Or would we just share a private, nostalgic look as we pass?

Would I see the passionate young man, in the middle-aged stranger in front of me? Would he see the care-free girl in the mother of two?

Would his smile still make my stomach do flips? Would he flirt and bring up old times?

Would my cheeks burn at the flood of memories? Would his eyes sparkle at my blush? Would mine brim with tears when the moment was past?

I love my husband, my children, my life.
I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.

But, sometimes, I wonder.


That's what woods are for:
For those moments in the woods...

Oh, if life were made of moments,

Even now and then a bad one--!

But if life were only moments,

Then you'd never know you had one.


Let the moment go..

Don't forget it for a moment, though.
Just remembering you had an 'and,' when you're back to 'or,'
Makes the 'or' mean more than it did before.

Now I understand--

And it's time to leave the woods.

~ Stephen Sondheim
Into the Woods

09 June 2009

Where Snips and Snails meets Sugar and Spice

It's started already: Today, the four-year-old Minion told me that his five-year-old friend said his Dora Candy Land - one of his favorite games - is a "girl's game". Like it was a bad thing.

I had to reassure him that it was a "boys and girls game", so that it was "okay" for him to keep on playing it.

How does that happen? When does it happen?

I don't think that The Husband and I have ever consciously made a distinction to our boys about "girl things" and "boy things". If anything, we've specifically tried NOT to draw those lines. And yet ... they know. Already.

Minion the Elder treats the "pink aisles" in the Target toy section like enemy territory. He gives them a wide berth - as if he knows it's frilly borders are not to be breached by Y chromosomes. And when we watch TV, he happily calls out "I want that!" during "boy" toy commercials and emphatically declares "I don't want that!" during the "girl" toy commercials.

Is it nature or nurture?

I've read interesting studies about how even very young boys tend to "naturally" gravitate toward more "action" toys like trucks and girls toward more "nurturing" toys, like dolls and stuffed animals. But is it "natural"? Or is it just learned so early that there's no real difference?

Are they so culturally saturated from birth in the distinction between masculine and feminine that we have no real chance of countering the lesson? Have the husband and I subconsciously reinforced the message that boys like and do "A, B and C" and that "X, Y and Z" are girl things?

I don't know. Maybe we have.

Personally, I've always been a bit of a tomboy.

Oh, I had a couple of Barbies and even a knock-off Cabbage Patch Doll, but I was usually more interested in playing with my brother's GI Joes or Transformers or He-Man or Star Wars figures. My brother, on the other hand, was the one who spent the most time with my Easy Bake Oven. (Which was telling as he became a chef and I can't boil toast.)

I do sometimes joke with my husband that we are lucky to have boys because I really can't stand some of the toys that are marketed to young girls right now (Yeah, I'm lookin' at you, Bratz Dolls). If I did have a girl, I would probably be steering her towards the same toys and games my boys currently have.

In fact, we used to joke that if we had a girl-child, she would turn out to be a ballerina-cheerleader-princess-girly-girl and I would have no idea what to do with her. Because the Universe is an Iron. :)

So, yeah, maybe I have subconsciously encouraged my boys toward more traditionally masculine toys and games. But I'd like to think that I would not balk if they suddenly wanted to play with dolls. (Except those nasty Bratz things. But I wouldn't give them to a girl, either, so that's not gender bias. That's just good taste.)

But, even as a young girl, I remember the social pressure to play and do "girl" things. I can only imagine that the peer pressure must be so much stronger for young boys.

I mean, if a girl wants to play with trucks or Transformers, most people greet that with amused acceptance. But if a boy wants to play with Barbies or Disney Princesses, that's not so kosher, is it?

We still cling to the traditional ideas of masculinity pretty hard. And we do it from birth. Don't believe me? Okay, go buy a pink outfit for a boy baby shower gift.

I guess you could argue that there's nothing inherently wrong with our traditional gender stereotypes. That there's no reason to worry about these things.

And yet, I do.

I do feel a certain wrongness in creating such a clear divide between "boy things" and "girl things" so early in life. It feels ... divisive, alienating, limiting.

What do you think?

05 June 2009


Because I'm a Mom ...

... my car is full of strollers and bikes and Cheerios
... my refrigerator is full of juice boxes and toaster waffles
... my entertainment center is full of Disney and Pixar and Dreamworks
... my MP3 player is full of Imagination Movers and Backyardigans
... my medicine cabinet is full of Scooby Doo Band-Aids and Boudreax's

Because I'm a Mom ...

... my mornings are full of challenges
... my nights are full of bedtime stories and noggins
... my weekends are full of laundry and forts and drums
... my vacations are full of stuff
... and my to-do list is just full

Because I'm a Mom ...

... my purse is full of snack bars and toys
... my closet is full of mom jeans
... my shoes are full of alligators
... and my heart is full of a joyful pain

Because I am a mom ... my life is full.

03 June 2009


Last week, we celebrated the second anniversary of the second time I became someone's Mother: The beginning of all our second Firsts.

You'd think the Firsts - first smile, first steps, first sentence - would lose some of their magic the second time around. But they don't. My two sons are so similar in some ways. But so very different in others. My second's Firsts have been all his own.

In fact, these second Firsts are almost more precious to me, because they are also my last Firsts.

So, Happy Birthday, Baby Boy. I look forward to celebrating so many more second Firsts with you. But, no rush, okay?