A quick wrap up

This will be a short one, readers.  Just cleaning up a few end of year details, getting ready for the new year and highlighting a milestone of sorts.

So this is 2011 damn near done.  For the first third of this past year, I say, good frigging riddance.  They were a rough time for me personally and professionally.  On the plus side, I changed jobs (within the same company), and I think I grew up a lot personally and learned to place blame squarely where most of it lay.  With me.  Then I learned to deal with it.  I also learned to stand up for myself a lot more.

The last two-thirds of the year are a whirlwind.  I joined the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR) writing community and went to the Ontario Writers’ Conference on April 30.  Two days later, as a direct result of the conference, I started this blog.  Only 244 days ago.  Or 5856 hours.  351,360 minutes…or 21,081,600 seconds…give or take.

From a chance meeting at the OWC, I ended up a founding board member of the Writers’ Community of Simcoe County (WCSC).  From meetings at WCDR, I ended up great friends with members of the brand new Writers’ Community of York Region (WCYR).

At the same time, I also taught three Creative Writing courses and met a lot of new friends and writers that way.

So I’ve met a lot of writers/editors/enthusiasts.

I got published for the first time ever in August at the Festival of Fear and the response not only at the booklaunch but also ever since, whether it was readers, fellow writers or reviewers, has been so much more positive and passionate than I ever could have hoped for.

I also got reacquainted with some old friends and family and met some new ones.

In all, though it started out as the worst time of my life, it’s turned into one of the best years, professionally and personally, that I ever could have hoped for.

In the beginning, I had modest hopes for this blog.  244 days ago, I’d originally planned to put up a new blog every day.  That turned out to be unrealistic, but I have managed an average of one every two-and-a-half days.  I’ve almost hit a hundred posts, which seemed so unattainable way back in May.

Which leads me to the milestone I was talking about.  Sometime today, I’ll cross 10,000 hits (only 26 to go as I write this).  Now, I’ve come across some blogs that have had ten or twenty times that, but for me to have an average of forty people viewing this site daily or about a 100 or so per blog post…when it didn’t even exist in April…that’s surprising to me.  It always shocks me that so many people are somehow interested in anything I have to say.  Because most of what I say is either dirty, profane or doesn’t make sense.  Ohid I actually good peanuts!

And yet, still you come.

And starting tomorrow, or next year, however you want to look at it, I’ve decided to make three resolutions.  Two are easy, the third’s going to be a challenge for me.

  1. Keep doing what I’m doing when it comes to my family and friends.  I don’t want to lose any of them because of my boneheadedness.
  2. Create a page on here to let you know what I’m reading.  As a heavy reader and a pathetically slow writer, I’m always interested in what others are reading.  When I visit someone’s house, I always look at what books they have on their shelf.  So I’m gonna let you know as well.  Could generate discussion…could suck.
  3. (And this is the hard one, folks)  Write an average of 500 words a day.  Every day.  I came across a site (thanks Jason Darrick!) that is set up like an all-year NaNoWriMo, but, at least for me, seems a little more attainable.  So I’m not going to count blog posts in the word count.  Only actual fiction writing.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress here.  Yes, in public.  Humiliation works wonders.

That’s it.  Next year at this time, we’ll see how I did.

So, thank each and every one of you who take time out of your day to stop by.  I really do appreciate it.

Have a fantastic 2012 and let’s keep doing this, shall we?

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Naked vacuuming & other search terms

It’s interesting what people are interested in, what they go online and search for.  Apparently WordPress thinks it is too, because it keep track of all the search terms that have lead someone to my blog.

So far, it’s filtered 499 unique search terms, but of course, many of them get multiple hits, which means there’s been 1772 hits to my blog off those 499 terms.  You start to see quite quickly why tagging your blog is important.

Now, some of the terms are completely expected.  There’s twelve different ways people have searched for me or the blog by name, most of which involve misspelling my name.  For the record, people, it’s T O B I N (like Robin, but with a T) and E L L I O T T (with two L’s and two T’s…must have been a buy-one-get-one free day) and it’s L E F T   T O   W R I T E (not write to left, or right to left or left to right).  All combined, they make up 160 of those hits, or almost 10%.

But the strange thing is the next three big searches.  The word incredulous had 41 hits (2.3%) all on its lonesome…which left me incredulous.

The next one, who’s time, quite frankly, I thought had passed.  Six variations of I love boobies (some with bracelet, or bracelets or wristband, etc. tacked on the end).  This accounts for exactly 100 hits, or just shy of 6% of the hits.  People must really love boobies.  I know I do!

Oh yeah, and for the two people that searched I love ass bracelet?  You’re doing it wrong.

The next one I wouldn’t have guess in a million years.  Six variations on cut grass.  Yup.  54 hits (3%) for  cut the grass; grass cutting; nice cut grass; cutting grass…and three losers who actually searched how to cut grass.  I mean, come on!

Rounding out the top five searches, it was a tie between kenora dinner jacket and bad language, both with 24 hits (1.4%).  Who knew those flannel shirts were so damn popular?

Then we get into a couple of trends.  There’s apparently a lot of you out there with some strange fetishes.  The first one?

Cats.  But not just any cats.

  • cat gives dog crotch massage (nice…real nice…classy, people)
  • cat taking up the ass (see my comment above)
  • cat hitting dog
  • cat kicks dog
  • cats and dogs look at me (paranoid much?)
  • cat getting beat up
  • cat contempt
  • inmates and cats (which kinda fits in with the second bullet point above, but surprisingly, no search for prison tat cat)
  • cats staring
  • tough cat
  • funny psycho cat (cuz nothing says funny like a psycho)
  • dog watches cat
  • cat watching out for dogs
  • adult swim angry kitty in suit on laptop (I…don’t even want to guess…)

After that, Homer Simpson seems so…boring.  And the search terms essentially define all of his life skills.

  • homer simpson drunk
  • homer simpson passed out
  • homer passed out drunk (sensing the trend here yet?)
  • homer simpson picking his nose
  • what goes around homer simpsons mind
  • homer simpson sleeping

The next popular trend?  Nude celebrities, especially Pam Anderson & Tommy Lee.  Please, that was so 1990s!  Get over it!

  • pam anderson no clothes
  • tommy lee leaked photos
  • paris anderson and tommy lee (note that it’s Paris Anderson…someone’s showing their creative side…or they’re just confused over all the damn sex tapes out there now)
  • scarlett johansson birthday suit (I find it hilarious that when it’s the Anderson’s and the Lee’s, it’s “no clothes” but when it’s Scarlett, suddenly it becomes “birthday suit”…what’s up with that?)
  • alannah myles accident (I’m guessing…hoping actually, that this one isn’t for nakedness.  Probably refers to Alotta Myles’ redo of Black Velvet which was more of a trainwreck than an accident)

Now we’ve come to the part of the blog where I just have to take these terms one by one.  You’ll understand shortly.

First up, throwing up.  Seriously, what need do you have to actually google this?

Man eating clipart leaves me wondering.  Did they want clip art of something that eats men?  Or are they actually looking for man-eating clip art?  I could so write a story about that one!  “Hey, check out the great clip art I found in this YEEEEARRRRRRRGH!”  Oh, the horror!

Staying with the horror motif, how about pictures of cut killer pyshco animals with captions (and yes, the “pyscho” spelling is all theirs).

Closely related to the above comes knee monster which could be related to horror as well…I guess…I mean, geez, knees can be pretty fearsome…if you…you know, trap them in a corner or something…

Okay, I have no freaking clue what a knee monster is.

But now we’re firmly into body parts, right?  So it makes sense to ask why the hell someone would search (or even be interested in) shoulder sniffing.  I’m telling you right now, someone sniffs my shoulder, they’re getting a taste of my knee monster.

Ah!  Now I know what a knee monster is!

A different kind of scary is the search for meat loaf + suzanne vega.  Seriously?

My name is Luka

I live on the second floor

I climbed them like a bat out of hell

I’ll steal your soul and so much more

Making the ol’ knee monster look kinda tame now, isn’t it?

Can someone tell me exactly what captain kirk in punctuation means?  I-just…don’t…understand…and-it…fills-me-with…anxiety.  My-God Spock!  Look-at-that…man-eating…clip-art!”

The next one I understand even less.  Someone searched my mind doesn’t let me be sarcastic.  Wow dude.  Sucks to be you.  My mind doesn’t have a “sarcasm off” switch.

Now, this one doesn’t necessarily fit under the “sucks to be you” label…more like, “sucks to be your friend” I guess.  Or maybe “sucks to be your dog”…  Does someone really mean it when they say i’ve been posting my letters in the dog poop box?

Keeping with the animal theme for a moment…Next up is what kind of dog is toto?  Again, why do you need to look this up when the answer’s so obvious?  What kind of dog is Toto?  Ugly.  Next!

How about it’s my world your just a squirrel?  Is that a put down?  If that’s the best someone can diss someone else, they need help.  I’d totally go for an insect of some sort over a squirrel myself.  Maybe a dung beetle.  On the other hand, I think that’s a great name for a blog.

The next two fit nicely together: my stoned wife and i want to knock my wife up…doesn’t even seem like that much of a challenge, does it?

And then there’s funny schoolboy hitting on teacher.  Yeah, right.  It’s all fun and games until the paternity suit and the statutory rape charges hit.  Just ask Justin Bieber.

How about you got hepatitis c why not a.  And I agree.  Damn underachievers.  At least go for hepatitis b+!

I had a good laugh over collage exams demotivational.  Either someone’s taking their collages much more seriously than they should, or they’re pretty much screwed for their college exams.

Now, I know the next two don’t necessarily go together, but I’m doing the mash up anyway.  Sue me.  The first is truly disgusting, so of course you know it’s something I use on a fairly regular basis myself.  And by that, I mean the term, not the object.  The term?  bacon strips underwear.  Yes, I know, no need to tell me.  The class oozes off me like slime.

And hot on the heels of nasty gitch is naked vacuuming.  Strangely, this has never held any appeal for me.  But I guess it does put a whole new spin on you suck, doesn’t it?  And remember, if you’re going to vacuum naked, practice safe vacuum…use a hepa filter.

Now, if only they could invent something that sucks the bacon strips right off the underwear.  Gotta get my admin to call Fruit of the Loom and Hoover.

And in the end, I’ll leave you with three final thoughts.  Even though you’re just an asshole, it’s still important to say it…dr phil if you know nothing else, know that I love you.

And to end it all?  Actually a bit of good advice: forget the muse and just write.


What I got from spam

Humans are such funny animals.  Relentlessly curious and always trying to get ahead, be it by social status, or financially, or romantically…

In that search, it’s quite funny at times what we’re looking for.  Or what others think we’re looking for.  In the past few weeks, I’ve been bombarded by Twitter followers that…well, as an example, Ms. Virginia Osborn of Oklahoma, who’s Twitter handle is Rettagoh looks harmless enough.

Now, my mind works strangely, so the first thing I notice is “Rettagoh” backwards is “Hogatter” which can be broken up to hog atter, which sounds like a rural expression for liking someone.

“Lookit that one, Billybob!  Ain’t she purty as a pikchur?”

“Sure is, MarmaDuke!  I’d hog atter in two shakes of pig’s tail!  Yessiree!”

But that’s being unfair.  I’m sure poor Virginia’s first few choices for names were taken.  And look at the thoughtful tweets from my new Oklahomian friend!

At the end of our lives, we all ask… Did I live?  Did I love?  Did I matter?

and

The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring.

Deep, right?

Anyway, it’s only then that I find, much to my dismay, that my new Twitter friend has a rather unfortunate website address (though, I’m sure, no fault of her own, my guess is she’s rather naive, growing up in rural Oklahoma), but you can visit her at porn-gangbang25.info.

Makes me wonder if those two quotes don’t necessarily have meanings other than what I thought.

Makes me wonder how many people are stupid enough, or pathetic enough to fall for this shit.

But then I start thinking about the spam I get on my blog and decide take a look at the gooey stuff that got caught in my WordPress spam filter this last week.  Turns out it’s quite a bit.  Just for shits and giggles, let’s see what I can get from it all.

Got your Hazmat suit, gloves and goggles?  Great!  Let’s take a look, shall we?

hello there and thank you for your information – I have definitely picked up something new from right here. I did however expertise a few technical points using this website, as I experienced to reload the site a lot of times previous to I could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your hosting is OK? Not that I’m complaining, but slow loading instances times will often affect your placement in google and could damage your high-quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords. Anyway I’m adding this RSS to my email and could look out for a lot more of your respective fascinating content. Make sure you update this again very soon..

Huh.  Cool.  Vernia Ireland thinks I have respective fascinating content.  Nice!  Thanks Vernia!  I think you have…a…bonny last name!

The unfortunate fact is that even the leaders who are brought forward only keep the Pakistani ideology in mind and not of the state of Kashmir.

This was in response to my blog about education.  Not sure what crazy old Brian Vosakalo‘s talking about, but…yeah, you go with it, Bri!

The next one from lcellphepay was far too long to quote the whole thing, but it’s filled with fascinating factoids.  Check it out:

Tables are made of wooden. Every thing has got its original alternative. Just think associated with using Ugg footwear with the beach. Ohid I actually good peanuts! Certainly, notecause that could be the simplest way such boots has been around since together with started to be popular inside of a short-term span of your energy. Can’t you consider the idea? Perfectly allowed me to clarify you simply speaking precisely how the idea appeared. That it was all through 70s the particular footwear grew to be far more dominant associated with the browsers from Queensland.

What have we learned from this?

  1. Tables are made of wooden.
  2. Every thing has got its original alternative.
  3. Ohid I actually good peanuts! (okay, not really a learning, but it’s so fun to say!)
  4. Such boots has been around since together with started to be popular inside a short-term span of your energy.  (I think this may be something I learned in high school Physics then forgot)

So, jeez…spam as a learning experience!  Who knew?

Chuck Norris Jokes seemed to find something funny in my blog about getting older.  His response?

lmao

Well, at least he was succinct, even if he was laughing at a guy worried about getting old.  Screw you, Chuck Norris Jokes!

Then I got some heartening news from Extended Warranty Blog.  I’m so excited, I just…well, why should I spoil it when I can just quote it?

Great write-up, I am normal visitor of one’s site, maintain up the nice operate, and It’s going to be a regular visitor for a lengthy time.

I’m happy that he’s a normal visitor of one’s site, so, by God, I’ll move heaven and earth to maintain the nice operate so it can continue to be a regular visitor for a lengthy time.  This may be a bit premature, because we just met a couple of weeks ago, but, yay me!

Apparently I really helped Armandina Dubois when I talked about the Wife’s hellish shopping habits.  Armandina said:

Wohh just what I was searching for, thanks for putting up.

Now, had she said “thanks for putting out” I would have referred her to my Oklahomian friend, Virginia.

Brian Dunarause holds a special place in my heart.

You are my intake , I possess few web logs and rarely run out from to brand : (.

Brian, you are my intake too, buddy.  Now, for the rest of you, just to let you know, I don’t think Brian and I are always going to see eye-to-eye, intake or no intake, because, quite frankly, I often run out from to brand.

And then there’s the spam that makes you think.  Pharmf603 has really got me wondering here…maybe the other readers can help.

Hello! ecdfkea interesting ecdfkea site! I’m really like it! Very, very ecdfkea good!

Now, is ecdfkea a cuss-word?  Or does he think I’m ecdfkea?  Or is it some sort of mashed up combo…my name as a cuss-word.  Damn you, Pharmf603!  You’ve got me ecdfkea confused!

So, in the end, I remain fully committed to carefully scanning my spam.  I’ve made new friends and gotten some encouragement and words of wisdom from them.

Seriously, hopefully I’ll get regular ecdfkea spam for lengthy times!  I’ll maintain the nice operate and fill it with respective fascinating content if you all promise to be my intake.  Ohid I actually good peanuts!

And to you Chuck Norris Jokes?  Well, you can just ecdfkea!

Bless you, spam!

Next?  Search terms.

Gift wrapping, “chillingly close” & suspense

As I wrapped the last of the Christmas gifts yesterday…okay, full disclosure, as I wrapped all of the Christmas gifts yesterday, I started thinking about…writing.

How does that work? you may wonder.  How are those things connected?

Funny you should ask.

As I struggled and fought (and mostly lost) against covering up my purchases with brightly-coloured paper, doing my best to disguise the easily-guessed items (an example would be a DVD…I mean, come on, even in wrapping paper, it’s either a DVD or a video game), I thought about suspense.

I mention this in my Creative Writing course, and I think it’s an appropriate example.

Why do we wrap Christmas gifts?  Or birthday gifts?  Why do we go to all the trouble of doing elaborate shenanigans to fog, mystify or throw off the guesses of the gift receiver?

Suspense, that’s why.

What fun would it be on Christmas morning (and yes, I’m an open-your-presents-Christmas-morning-not-Christmas-Eve kinda guy) to have your spouse reach under the tree, grab a plainly visible watch out and hand it to you.  “I got you a watch.”

Then you reach under the tree and hand her the plainly visible and easily discernable Ginsu knife set.  “I got you the Ginsu knife set,” you say.

Pretty freaking boring, right?

Instead, we thrive on the anticipation of it all, the mystery, and yes, even the trepidation.  Is Grandma going to get me yet another pair of slippers this year?

Looking up suspense, I got three basic definitions:

  1. The condition of being physically suspended.
  2. The state or quality of being undecided, uncertain, or doubtful, or; Pleasurable excitement and anticipation regarding an outcome, such as the ending of a mystery novel.
  3. Anxiety or apprehension resulting from an uncertain, undecided, or mysterious situation.

I think, unless your Christmas morning is way different from mine, that we can toss out the first one.  I may become physically suspended while hanging the Christmas lights on the house, but I haven’t yet experienced that during gift giving.

So looking at the two parts of the second definition and the third one–which, really, is just the second one with a more negative tone–you start to understand the reason for wrapping gifts.  It’s the pleasurable excitement and anticipation regarding an outcome.  Or, in the case of Grandma’s slipper gifts, anxiety or apprehension resulting from an uncertain, or doubtful situation.  And maybe the same feeling if her dentures tend to slip while she’s giving you a kiss or something (yes, there’s a reason I write horror).

Anyway, that pleasurable excitement, or even that apprehension we feel, well, that’s the fun part, isn’t it?  It’s the reason we also go on rollercoasters, go watch thrillers and horror movies, and look around at who else is shopping at the local Wal-Mart.

And it’s also why we read.  If there’s no suspense, or very little, then it’s just not a fun ride.

This is why I don’t like to watch romantic comedies.  Anything starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts and her three hundred teeth hold no suspense for me.  Why?  Because, no matter what happens in the first one hour and 45 minutes, I know, in that last 15 minutes, they’re going to get together and live happily ever after.

Yawn.

I constantly rant against the horrid writing of Dan Brown.  No, really.  Want a taste?  Okay, just remember you asked for it.

A voice spoke, chillingly close. “Do not move.”

On his hands and knees, the curator froze, turning his head slowly.

Only fifteen feet away, outside the sealed gate, the mountainous silhouette of his attacker stared through the iron bars. He was broad and tall, with ghost-pale skin and thinning white hair. His irises were pink with dark red pupils.

Okay, let’s count the errors in these roughly 60 words, shall we?

  1. Voices don’t speak.  Characters do.
  2. A voice that’s “chillingly close” isn’t fifteen feet away.  It’s whispering in your ear.
  3. If the curator froze, how can he turn his head.
  4. Pretty impressive that he could pick out those pink irises with dark red pupils of a friggin’ silhouette.

Okay, so, established, shitty writer.  But the one thing I’ll give him (about the only thing I’ll give him) is that he was a master at setting up a situation, then leaving you hanging at the end of virtually every chapter of The Da Vinci Code.  I’ll admit I didn’t give a flying crap about how it came out, because he totally lost me by the first chapter (I only kept reading because I’d been told by so many people how good it was…lying bastards), and I didn’t like the characters and their pretty much non-existent motivations, but when he set up a situation, he was good at leaving you hanging.

Maybe that’s why everyone bought the book.  Because the only other explanation is that everyone is simply lemmings and once the stampede starts, you’re along for the ride, even if it takes you off that cliff.

Think of your absolute favourite movie, book, or episode of a television show.  Now think about why that was your favourite.  Sure, you probably loved the characters.  You likely fell in love with the story as well.  Maybe location, or personal interest in some aspect of it held your attention as well.

But I bet there’s this absolutely nagging sense of Oh! My! God! I need to find out what happens!

That’s suspense, baby.

It’s crucial.

And it’s found in all the best movies, books, events, television shows…and gifts.

As opposed to the aforementioned Richard Gere/Julia Roberts rom-com, which is just a poorly wrapped DVD or video game that can be guessed at from twenty paces.

Sorry, forty paces.  Twenty paces would be “chillingly close.”