Friday, October 10, 2008

Don't Blame It on the Bloggers!

I happen to be amongst those who believe that there is some good stuff, even some great writing, in blogs. The old school reporters and writers stuck on the paper trail that refuse to believe they're lost, who believe that there is no such thing as good journalism in blogging are very foreign to me.
To me, the written word, no matter what media, has value, if it's good. And as always, regardless of the media, "good" is in the eye of the reader.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that blogs are necessarily art. Nor that they are the new version of quality journalism. I am just saying that not all are trash. And not all are a fad. Some folks are really good writers out there, and just because they choose a non-traditional media doesn't make them junky!
Some folks, non-journalists, maybe have had no other outlet, or know-how, and are willing to share with their world their opinions, beliefs, themselves. Don't shoot them, OK?!

I also believe that private blogs paint a vivid and colorful, never boring, always surprising landscape of any society. You go through them, and you meet anyone from the lonely introverted computer geek who cannot get a date, to the soccer mom overwhelmed by chores, to the angry Republican voter who just lost a big ticket!

They also offer arenas for the new debates. They are the new scene for exchanging ideas amongst regular folks, if they allow comments ...

Just to prove my point, and just because I found this hysterical for a Friday, here follows a blog from The Washington Post and its subsequent comments.
I am not going to reproduce the whole article, although it's not big, because I am not sure of all the copy rights involved. I hope the link will stay valid for a while, though, so you can read it:

And if not, the article is, in essence, talking about the new release of the a new MacBook, next week, on October 14.
What I found formidably entertaining were the comments. I have always believed that the comments to a piece of writing are, of course, comments about that piece of writing. Well, you'll see below, they tell us MORE about the people who make the comments than they tell us about their opinions on the blog. In fact, the point of the article is seldom acknowledged by the commentators.

What the comments did provide for me (outside of the intrinsic humor) was a picture of our dear America as we know it. The paranoid, conspiracy theory freaks, right along with the child molester, and the computer geniuses, the Republicans, as well as the Democrats, the soccer moms, and the overworked soccer dads of our country, the war vets and the Depression babies; the potheads and the schizos - everyone has a piece of virtual soapbox to climb upon in this one.
My God, what a masterpiece!

As if I needed further approval that all this was true, please read what 'English Guy' posted - as I think he does a great job of summarizing this blog and its comments for all of us.

I have not modified any of the comments. These are honest to God posts on The Washington Post's site.
Enjoy, and please allow me to make some of my own comments (in blue), to the ones that the readers have made. I just can't help myself sometimes - I am THAT opinionated! My comments follow (not precede!!) the post of one person.

And feel free to post yours, as well.
Happy weekend, all!


i can't wait for these (he means the MacBooks) to come out.
i'm only 13 but i plan to get one as a joint birthday and christmas present.

nobody can understand how excited i am!

Posted by: adam codrington | October 10, 2008 11:30 AM

Recognize the type?! Sure you do: our computer enslaved teens being misunderstood - come on, this is an easy one!! Now, the fact that this is the first comment is karmic and cosmic at the same time: this is the one faucet that releases the torrent to come.

Kudos to the poster, because he's amongst the very few here who refers how the topic affected him personally (which is what personal comments most times should be, I think) and almost the only one who gives his whole name.

Thank God for kids, some days. Because it's a Zoo in the adult world. But let's not divulge, shall we?!

Um, son, your not getting this laptop, we cant afford it cause your dad lost his job due to the economy crashing and we must now sell you for slave labor, sorry.

Posted by: YOUR MOM | October 10, 2008 11:38 AM

How sad, that the family is in need! And how sad the mom cannot spell, either. I am sorry, Adam! We all wished for more forward thinking parents.

Misleading headline - bad journalism

Posted by: Poster | October 10, 2008 11:38 AM

who needs a labtop a thirteen???

Posted by: aa | October 10, 2008 11:40 AM

Evidently, "aa" should have had a computer at age 13 ... maybe it would have helped with the spell check. I think.

I'm a PC.

Posted by: Kenya | October 10, 2008 11:41 AM
These are my favorite: just disconnected, disjointed comments, just because one's bored and would like to share their opinion "online". They say we're paranoid about our identities being stolen online. That's BS! Americans are identity whores. We love to share it, and flaunt it. Most of us have several "personal sites". Sometimes I think the only thing we're really afraid of is that we're not interesting enough to have our identity stolen! Now, who cares who is a PC, I ask you, in this context or otherwise?! This shows only one thing: you watch too much TV and you know the commercials! Not a very laudable characteristic, in an evolved human's book, and plus, no ONE is a "PC", because no ONE is a "thing". Or, are you?!?

Love my iMac, Macbook Pro, iPod and iPod Touch.

Keep innovating Apple!

The days of infected Microsoft software are over for me.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2008 11:42 AM
Wow!!! How can one keep track of ALL those!!! Pretty soon, (s)he'll turn into a robot themselves ...


Posted by: Arun | October 10, 2008 11:42 AM

One of my favorites ... :-)


but I'm a PC.

Posted by: Bill | October 10, 2008 11:42 AM
Hhmmm... Again: who cares?! And: really?? Are you?! Where's the start button, and how do you reboot??

one word bill gates

Posted by: mj38 | October 10, 2008 11:45 AM

Hhmm... that would be two words! But thanks for sharing.

if your 13 you should be worried about getting a bike you greedy punk you dont need a $3000 computer

Posted by: BigDick Johnson | October 10, 2008 11:45 AM

I guess this poster's name speaks for him itself !!

I'm a PC, but I use a Mac.

Posted by: PC | October 10, 2008 11:48 AM

So ... Schizo? Maybe?!

I'm a PC too

Posted by: Vzx | October 10, 2008 11:49 AM

I felt after a while that someone will say " My name is a PC and I am a Macoholic". Geez!! I loved these ones, just because their repetitions sounded rhythmical after a while. Kind of like a chorus in a song.

Bad journalism?

Not hardly!

The headline is followed by an asterisk. Follow to the next asterisk and it says "until the 14th."

This is very clever. It is NOT misleading and it got everyone to not only notice... but to read what it was about.

I missed the "until the 14th" part... but knew the asterisk was there. I read the entire article waiting for them to tell me not to buy it and why.

Then I realized I missed the by-line. MY FAULT! Had I seen it... I most likely wouldn't have read the article.

This was clever, and I was fooled. Kudos to this writer.

I agree... a laptop is not a toy and a 13 year-old shouldn't be given one. Most adults can't even handle one.

I have no problem with kids having them... but let them work for, save and spend their own money on them so that they will take care of them a little more responsibly.

Posted by: Boo Mac | October 10, 2008 11:51 AM

That was the PhD for you: he explains everything. Nothing ever goes by him, and he has a reason and a rhyme for it all. It all makes perfect sense. Now, don't get him started on the aliens vs no aliens one! He'll never finish!! He is the "Friends"'s Ross for all of us!! On top of the PhD, he is also a loner. And a tad OCD. He's covering ALL his grounds... Don't you agree?!
I don't like any MAC without cheese - this article will do

Posted by: Frank | October 10, 2008 11:52 AM

One of my favorites as well. :-)

I'm a penguin. I hope you like your lap top.
There were no lap tops when I was thirteen. We had to play footbaLL and stuff like that. We also did a lot of shooting down at the river.

Posted by: Mr. Ubuntu | October 10, 2008 11:54 AM

Aaaawww ... here come the ones with the memories ... and the remembrances: "in MY time, things were different". And again: Linux is an operating system: what's the machine, you elitist freak?!?

I'm a PC in a Mac's body...

Posted by: Confused | October 10, 2008 11:54 AM

That's the one who's a closeted gay, right?!

Oh my goodness, the headline clearly has an asterisk AND a subtitle that immediately clarifies. No halfway intelligent person would just read the headline and not think there wasn't more to it (much less actually obey it...!).

Bad journalism, huh? And this accusation comes from what background? Don't open your mouth unless you actually know what you're talking about.

Posted by: cbr | October 10, 2008 11:56 AM
But how do you KNOW that you DON'T KNOW what you're talking about , so you can keep quiet ?! Hhhmm...

Dear young 13, what will you do with your new MAC? Text and surf you-tube? When I was 13 I was locked in the basement with only a candle and some roaches to play with. I tied threads from my pajamas to their legs and watched them run and run when the hot wax dropped on their little bodies. It was fun but not as much as a new MAC laptop will be.

Posted by: Weenie | October 10, 2008 12:00 PM
I thought you TYPE on a laptop. You TEXT on a phone. No? I'm STILL behind, eh?!? And someone, please call 911 and also trace this IP, if you would !! I think we've just found out who killed Jon Benet!!

Hey, I'm a Acer Aspire One Netbook with bout that!

Posted by: Fallout330 | October 10, 2008 12:05 PM

Oh, man, this one is soooo cool, ain't he?!? Why does everyone want to be a "thing" though, is beyond me!!

I'm a mac.

I like the present plastic MacBooks because the wireless reception is much better than the aluminum or Ti ones.

For all you mac along with all the intel macs can run windows in BootCamp without emulation. Nice. Best thing would be to never, ever access the web/internet, email, etc. while in PC mode...then you'll be safe from PC viruses.

Posted by: macface | October 10, 2008 12:08 PM

I am an IT professional, of sorts. Someone please translate this one for me!

Yeah.. and wait till christmas comes around and everyone gets presents and he doesnt...

Im sure he will whine like the little turd he is

Posted by: Franky | October 10, 2008 12:13 PM

Someone please neuter THIS one! I mean, if he's straight and having sex with a woman, I would not want him to have his own "turd" one day!!! I'd feel sorry for "the turd" !!

I bought MY first mac with cash that I saved. I saved by not wasting money on other things. 3 years later, I'm still using it and still loving it.

Posted by: solvent | October 10, 2008 12:13 PM
WHAT WAS THIS ALL ABOUT???? Saving? Wanting a medal for saving? Being poor? Being poor and cocky?! What in the hell?!? Glad that credit counseling worked for you, there, "solvent".

I want that 13 year old boy and his new macbook for MY birthday... mmmmmm

Posted by: Krunch | October 10, 2008 12:13 PM

OK. Another 911 call, please!! Jesus, people! I cannot believe this is The Post, still!

Don't buy a 'Mac' ANYTHING. It's a bunch of overpriced proprietary garbage, for people who have more money than brains...

Posted by: John Galt | October 10, 2008 12:14 PM

You know... I have always thought that, but I cannot speak, as I have never used a Mac. Hhmm...

The Mac is also a PC.

Posted by: Javier | October 10, 2008 12:18 PM
Amen, broher, is ALL I am saying!! I never understood why a Mac is NOT a PC anymore!!! What? A Windows machine belongs to you (it's "personal"), but a Mac is a lease?! Makes no sense to me!

I can't believe with the economy so bad this article was published.

No one should be buying a new anything from Apple. (Unless of course you are using bailout money to do so. ;) AIG)

Also does the memory of the readers fail to remember the Apple 5400 Laptop and it's great

Give Apple time to stew in the laptop for a year then race out to get one when the economy forces it to be ...let's say ....affordable!

Posted by: Jason K. | October 10, 2008 12:19 PM
Love the economy rant. I mean, can we please see PAST the 'today'?! Think of something else other than the headlines of any junk paper in town?! Evidently, some cannot !! And if they can't, why to they clog up the virtual waves?! Just so we all know they're bothered by the economy? Who isn't?!

I love my Mac.. it quit working 6 months after I bought it, but the monitor still is bright enough to use as a night light.. It's great!! Wouldn't trade it for anything, I've always had macs so I'll stay with them F O R E V E R. I have to use regular PC's at work and everywhere else though. But, I still have my trusty nite light at home. Soon I'll give it to my 13 year old son as a xmas present. :)

Posted by: Loyal2dacore | October 10, 2008 12:23 PM
I was CONFUSED about this one! Man, the loneliness in some folks' lives is truly ... touching! NOT! It's sick!! I did get 'some' ideas about home decorating ... *eye roll*.

I will bet $5.2 Trillion in mortgage derivatives that this '13 year old' is a 28 year old marketing guy sitting in a cube in Cupertino monitoring press coverage and writing under 'Adam' in WaPo and 'Jenny' in WaTimes...

If I am right you can have Fannie Mae's bad loans, if I'm wrong you can have Freddie Mac's bad loans. (hey at least I didnt give you Wachovia's bad loans from Golden West!)

Posted by: Mike | October 10, 2008 12:26 PM

And there goes the conspiracy theory man! Well done!

When I was 13-years old, I got an abacus.

Posted by: Old Dude | October 10, 2008 12:30 PM

... and the Depression grandpa... How endearing!

This is brilliant, you are all re-enforcing every American stereotype available! Cheers for the buggering up the economy, when you get a passport come visit me in the rest of the world. And are you really, seriously gonna let that Alaskan bird with learning difficulties run your country? ha ha ha!!!

Posted by: English Guy | October 10, 2008 12:56 PM
It's fun to see how truly we are and look like when the Brits (or the rest of the world) are holding the mirror in front of us, and point. And laugh. Quite nice! If this doesn't make you shake your head and wonder how we got here, I am not sure what does ... All I can say is: I have an escape: I am a DUAL citizen!! And 50% of the time, I can be the one holding that mirror. That makes me sleep at night!

Gah, it's taking all I have not to burst out into hysterics in my pink cubicle...

Posted by: LoriMar | October 10, 2008 1:03 PM

That was Jessica Simpson for you!

This isn't bad journalism, because it isn't journalism... it's an editorial blog entry. It expresses an opinon. And he isn't a journalist, he's a tech blogger. He's not reporting anything, since once again he's expressing opinion.

Essentially, the only difference between this and any blog entry is that it's on the post's website.

Posted by: beep | October 10, 2008 1:21 PM

So, is it journalism? Or blogging? And how are they different? Is it blogging or tech blogging? Is it an editorial, but no journalism?! Thank you, Style Professor, now, we're all happily confused and have one more topic for the next blog. Or Journal Entry. Or ... Editorial blog entry. Wait...! Which was it again?!?

I need some weed

Posted by: "Sad Face" | October 10, 2008 2:11 PM

"Are you a pothead, Focker?!" :-)

I like Obama

Posted by: Aho liquor | October 10, 2008 2:15 PM

Well, good for you. Thanks for sharing! Just sober up before you vote: we need to make sure you don't punch the wrong hole, OK?!?

I have a dog named Rusty...and he's a PC too!

Posted by: Rusty's Mom | October 11, 2008 2:32 AM

:-) - is all I have to say about this one, while laughing ...

Obama blows just like and mac and he's a communist just like steve jobs.

Posted by: Joe | October 10, 2008 3:01 PM

With that spelling and poor grammar Obama would not want you voting for him, I am sure.

Does anyone remember the topic of this blog? Or the first comment?! Then, please relate "Rusty's Mom's" comment to those?!

And if THESE are the readers of
The Post, I wonder who reads Soap Opera Digest anymore ... hhmm ... That's it for one week's bashing of our society.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A Change of Season Trip

"Out where your troubles can't find you
Out where you leave ‘em all behind
Out where the moon shines sweetly
Won't you meet me down on the county line”

(Sugarland: County Line)

I take a trip every year, as a rite of passage… For the past two years, it’s been to the wine festival at Smith Mountain Lake, in the heart of Franklin County, VA – Moonshine Capital of the World. Before that, it was Villa Appalaccia, a winery also in VA, on the Blueridge Parkway – for an olive and wine festival.

This journey is so welcome: at the end of a busy year, and typically a busy summer, I need something to put the breaks on, and get me ready for the slow pace of winter, where I’ll have no purpose, other than to exist and eat plenty of warm and home made food. And nothing works better than views of mountains, fall coming, leaves turning, mums in the front yards, the taste of new wine, and chilling over a bottle of gossip with dear friends, in the crisp mountain air. The stillness of the mountains, and the closeness to the wine making process, which is patient, and slow, and artful, become intoxicating and transfer into life itself!

Up there, in the mountains, where time stands still, and moonshine is smooth and plenty, and wine is sweet and clear, where people talk slow and hurry for naught, where old houses smell like rotting wood, and kitchens smell like fried thick cut bacon and fresh biscuits in the morning, you get lost. They can ask you your name and you don’t even remember that! And it’s all a good thing!

This year’s wine fest was wanting to be a big wash out: there was rain, rain and more rain in the forecast. But we would not have it. Rain coats, umbrellas, and all, we went to the middle of the pasture, anyway! We sampled wine, with umbrellas in one hand, and cameras in the other! We sampled home made cakes and dips, and the overwhelming mud puddles were not going to put a damper into our day! It’s the company and the attitude that carries you through, and that was the case for us!

Muddy and wet, happy, and buzzed, we went through the day in glee and silliness!

24 hours of that kind of escape feels like a 2 week vacation in the Caribbean! (without the stress over the overpriced umbrella drinks!). You wander about on country roads, and your friends drive recklessly, because they can, and because they’re free, and because the cops are at the wine festival and don’t care. And after all, you’re in the middle of nowhere, so there are no laws! You can be a kid again and let loose. For one day, you’re as free as the clouds wandering on the peaks. As free as the wine pouring into barrels – unbounded!

Your only worry is only “my glass is empty. Someone, please, pay attention!”.

It’s also a time when I reconnect with friends and find out they’re still there for me! Just like the harvest time, when we’re all grateful to the Earth for giving us the food, in the fall, I am also grateful for the friends! After we have all attended to family affairs all year long, and to too much work, we’ve finally slowed down enough to meet and give all of us a break!

I am so grateful for those friends! And for their gift of welcoming me, and making my yearly retreat ever so welcome! Don’t ever change!! Or move …

Thank you!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Commitment to Love

"People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle." (Thich Nhat Hanh)

I have always thought that God forgot to put a biological clock in me. But maybe it's because I was brought up in a 'love story family', as my dad calls it... Maybe I was raised to believe that kids are the center of the parents' universe, and that they are the fruit of their love.

Maybe because of that, I have always loved kids and I always wanted to be a teacher when I grow up. Or maybe it's because I can never have my own child?! Or maybe it's just because I am a new aunt, and I am head over heels in love with my nephew.
Who knows? Whatever the reason, children's stories move me anymore...

Last Friday I went to visit an orphanage in the area, and bring the kids a pre-holiday gift bag, with a cd player, a t-shirt, a backpack, and a soft toy.

When I was growing up, to enforce discipline, my dad would threaten me and my sister that he'll "send us to the orphanage if we're not good". We always asked "what is that?", and he would say: it's a cold and dark place like a prison, where you get no toys, people are mean to you, and you never see your parents again, until you're 18. It didn't sound much like fun.

And I have always seen, with the rest of the world, the CNN documentaries that made Romanian orphanages famous around the world for the wrong reason. But I have never been to an orphanage before - until this Friday.

It was everything and nothing like I imagined. This one, was not just one dark and cold building, like my dad's description said, but a whole campus of cottages that looked very "homey". Each cottage had a "parent family", which typically is a married couple with kids of their own, that live in that cottage as their home. With them, in the same cottage, several orphans share the space as well. I am not sure what kind of room arrangement they have, as for our visit, we were welcome to the gym, but I imagine it's more like a dorm?! So maybe a couple of kids share a room?! But a small scale dorm, since each cottage has 7-9 orphans living there and the houses don't look huge. Should I say "students"?!

We met some of the teachers, and they all seem like nice, friendly, very well rounded people. Not some drill sergents that my dad was talking about. They have nice families, and some wear even designer shoes, ahve stylish haircuts and lots of make up. They're friendly. They smile.

And then, we met the orphans and my heart just about stopped. They were teens, between 11 and 17, I would say. They had a look on their faces that will chase me for the rest of my life: it betrayed fear, and sadness, but also trouble, and watchfulness. It told about loneliness and hardships. You could tell. Their hands were coarse, with blunt nails that they have been biting, and their facial features hard. Some of them were absolutely model material gorgeous. Just beautiful, gorgeous kids. But their eyes had the same fear, and they looked around like they were waiting for something bad to happen, or careful not to be struck by surprise, by something that to me was not there.

They behaved in the only way, I think, abandoned kids would: to attract attention to themselves: they were loud, spoke very dirty, and they were pushing each other, and hanging off of basketball baskets instead of playing ball. They were kicking the bleachers instead of walking on them. They had rage. Again, against something that was not there for me. Deeply rooted rage. Untamable.

They looked like beautiful lions stuck in cages at the zoo: smart, quick and gorgeous, and having to be good for the man who feeds them, but not happy with it. There was a sneakiness about them.

We were told that not all the kids were there that weekend: that the orphanage encourages those who have a chance to spend the weekend with their families, to re-develop that relationship. That made me wonder: what would be worse: to know you're an orphan, and to know you were given up, and to know your family, but know that they can't take care of you, and at the end of every weekend they send you away? Or not to know them at all, and always wander what they look like, who they are, and why they left you to no one? I think both predicaments are equally heartbreaking!

Our organization brought a group of little girls who danced for them, and did ballet. The little girls in the dancing group were adorable. They were small, and klutzy, and cute as a bug's ear. We all melted, and laughed because they could not find their place, their props, or their beat. The orphans didn't find all that amusing at all. They were serious. Stern and matter of fact. What was funny to all of us, and endearing, stirred almost no reaction/ emotion in them, it seemed. You felt like in their world fun is measured by completely other dimensions than in ours.

It's heartbreaking for me to see that what comes from what generally is accepted as a love act, is so deprived of love. I felt like the orphans have always been missing just the human touch. The hugs, and tuck-ins that all the kids are getting when they grow up. The kisses in the morning when they go to school, the re-arranging of that curl on the forehead, the heart-felt "I love you"-s when they go to bed, or when they go to school in the morning. The approving and re-assuring smiles of the parents when they do something good.

They looked human. But afraid and cold, like they did something wrong. They looked guilty - but they didn't know what the guilt was?! Is being born a sin?! Their guardians were nice, and friendly, but no matter how much you try, the nurturing love that comes natural to a loving parent the teachers might not have.

I felt for a moment that I want to adopt them all! I felt such an enormous love, and compassion for all of them. Just some innocent souls that have never asked to be brought on this planet, and have been born, and left to the winds, to find their own ways.

Someone said that weeds are flowers devoid of love, I think... It's easy to see how these children can choose to be weeds, as they intrinsically know that they were not loved to be flowers. They have a stubbornness about them that betrays some kind of revenge towards the world. The world that has allowed this to happen to them. This loveless, cold and dark world.

I don't judge the parents who make that choice. I can't. I would not know where to begin to do that . Some parents really don't make it, if they die and have no one left, the choice is made for them, perhaps. There are as many stories of abandoned children as they are abandoned children, I am sure. It is just a sad, sad reality that's around us, and that has moved me beyond tears.

Some people asked me what "funstuff" I did on a Friday night. I would not have traded this visit for the world! Now, I have a clear and distinct picture of what orphans look like and need and want. This visit opened my veins to love, and protect the kids I know.

Yesterday, I got to read the "thank you" notes they sent to our organization for the gifts we gave them. It again made me cry. They can find in their hearts to give back even if the world has not given to them. The depths of human love and compassion are once again leaving me speechless!! This gesture gave me hope. When I saw them on Friday, I was wondering: will they ever be able to give love in return, since they don't even know what it looks like or feels like to get it?!? But the simple gesture of taking the time to write "thank you for my gifts: I could not wait to get out of school to go to my room and listen to my cd player" made me sleep last night, with the hope that they will be different. I hoped that the kindness of teachers, and the kindness of organizations like ours, the ballet representations, the innocence they get exposed to will, hopefully, in the long run, open their hearts to the beauty and the love that this world indeed has. I hope!

I have been watching videos of my nephew all week, and I cannot wait to hold him in my arms again in a couple of weeks. The amount of love I can give him seems endless right now. The amount of hugs and kisses - the same. Such a fragile, innocent blossom, and we, adults, have such responsibility and accountability towards them!

I want him to grow with his eyes full of love and trust. Not fear. With his smile forever cemented on his face. With his heart big, and his eyes curious. I want him to know he is important enough not to ever want to attract attention upon himself. He can just ... be. I want him to give hugs in return, and be compassionate, and loving. I want him to have everything all the unwanted children of the world cannot have: a hug in the morning, and kiss good night on the forehead at night. And a meaningful "I love you" every day of his life!

And, after Friday, I have added a new line to my prayers. I will now also pray for the abandoned souls of the earth, everywhere. May God and Nature take care of and protect what humans could not.

And just to share, the picture of my love, here's my nephew: