Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pure Romance Parties -- I never would have guessed!

I am up at 4:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning! This demonstrates one of two things. Either, (A) I’ve become addicted to blogging in the true sense of the word, i.e. “when a repeated behavior negatively impacts your life but you keep doing it anyway.” I’ve often said in A.A. meetings, “Although alcohol is my primary addiction, if you can do something more than once, I can become addicted to it.” In Virginia, I had a vanity license plate that said: OBSESS.

BUTLER: Excuse me, sir, but is there ever going to be an ‘or’ in this either/or construction?

Or, (B) that my sleep patterns are changing as I get older.

In any case, I am a tad sleep deprived but I have some time alone in the dark early morning hours to scan photographs, work with Photoshop, work on my poems…

BUTLER: But you are not doing any of those things, are you. You are blogging again, aren’t you. You might want to look up ‘moderation’ in the dictionary.

But we are interrupted by the crashing sound of the door slamming against the wall and Bagman erupts into the room, roaring with excitement.

BAGMAN: “I just found out about Pure Romance parties! We need to go to one!”

I look befuddled. Even more so when I wonder what it means to be fuddled. Is fuddled a thing you can actually be when you are befuddled? But Butler does not seem displeased.

BUTLER: “One of your fans put this into your head, right?”

BAGMAN: You’ve been hacking into my emails again!”

BUTLER: How else can I keep tabs on you! But I’m just pleased that a little purity has entered your life. A pure romance with God. Mother Theresa would be proud. We all need more purity in our lives.”

There is an awkward silence. I continue to explore the state of being fuddled. Bagman looks like he is befuddled also. Butler is busy looking things up on the Internet. His screen flips through various websites until suddenly he falls over backward in his chair.

BUTLER: “Oh my God!”

I’m thinking in digressions again that this must be the popular OMG abbreviation that kids use while texting. But Butler is now dusting himself off and throwing withering looks at Bagman.

BUTLER: “Stop. We are not going any further with this! This is a G-rated blog and Pure Romance is not G-rated. It is a line of products, using the term loosely, sold at parties attended mostly by women.”

BAGMAN: “Which is why we need to go! Now! And who says this has to be a G-rated blog?”

“Sort of like Avon?” I suggest before falling into another digression about what letter I should use to rate the blog. Probably D-rated for scenes containing brief digressions.

BUTLER: More like Tupperware. Except with small battery operated motors inserted.”

BAGMAN: “HAHA! You used the word ‘inserted’! Inserted inserted inserted!

Bagman is dancing around Butler like a 9-year-old who has learned a new four-letter word, teasing him with a sing-song chant: Butler said ‘inserted,’ Butler said ‘inserted…”

Enough, I think and stride over to see what was on Butler’s computer screen that shocked him so much. One glance and I realize that I have just lost 50% of my followers and my blog is going to have its mouth washed out by the Blogspot Police. I immediately hit the breaker switch and throw everything into darkness where I hear Butler’s disembodied voice.

BUTLER: “Rather odd use of the word ‘pure’ don’t you think?

BAGMAN: “I don’t care what they call it! I just want to go to one! Just to watch!”

I leave the room as Butler starts grilling Bagman about which of our followers told him about Pure Romance Parties so Butler can block them. Bagman is refusing to tell even if Butler tortures him with the deluxe feather tickler which you can also buy on sale at a Pure Romance party..

I decide that, at my age, we might want to start more conservatively. Maybe Avon. A nice bath oil for my wife. Or some Tupperware containers.

You never have enough Tupperware containers.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Blast from Past – Lockwood meets Vonnegut (Part 3 of 3)

I hate this blog!

(Although I’ve been surprised at how many people seem to like it and are looking forward to how it comes together at the end.) Maybe that’s why I hate it – because I realized yesterday that it ends kind of pointlessly. Don’t look ahead! Trust me, in this case the trip really is better than the destination.

Most good stories have a couple of threads which carry their own weight but then gradually intertwine to a dénouement in which they all come together to a make a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Or a kind of O’Henry twist. (Or is that a candy bar?)

Knowing where this one is going and Bagman and Butler didn’t even get up to help me with it. But I feel obligated to push on. I feel like a lemming. “Just make it fast, Doc” I say, biting down on the bullet. (Although, biting down on the bullet, I would probably say, “Nake a tass, Doc.”)

Okay – so John Lockwood, before he went down the Snake River in a kayak, read an anthropology book about some very primitive hunter-gatherer tribes that had recently been discovered. He decided they were the most interesting people in the world. More interesting than Einstein or the Rolling Stones. They had no need for possessions – or clothes -- and greeted each other by fondling genitals instead of shaking hands. Enough said. I hear Bagman starting to wake up in the other room.

Moving along, there was Kurt Vonnegut. Kurt Vonnegut had become my favorite writer of all time that summer. Mostly because his sense of the absurd was similar to mine and partly because he wrote very short chapters. I would have said he blogged but that word had not been invented then. In fact, we still wrote on typewriters. Absurd is good. Short is good. I still thought I wanted to be Ernest Hemingway but that is too much of a digression even for me to get into here. Vonnegut also had a dark, scathing, bitter humor at times which seemed stylish to me.

Continuing to try and move along, Kurt Vonnegut came to speak at the Annual Boston Book Fair. It wasn’t a long trip for him because he lived on Cape Cod. I had even stalked him once and took a picture of his mailbox which I will post someday if I ever find it in the 8,500 images I am going through at a snails pace.

John and I went and sitting in the audience listening to him talk, John became convinced, for some unknown reason, that Vonnegut had read the same book about the hunter-gatherer tribe. “I’m going to go up and ask him,” John insisted. “Whaa-Ow.” The embryo of Bagman was cheering and the embryo of Butler was cringing. I was trying to change film canisters because digital had not been invented yet.

Vonnegut’s speech ends. He answers a few questions about the future of American Literature and what did he think of the Vietnam War. He leaves the podium and heads down the aisle so he can go back to Cape Cod when John charges out of the crowd babbling like Bagman (although Bagman hadn’t been invented yet either) about hunter gatherers and shouting “Whaa-Ow!”

And here is the picture. I’m not sure whether Vonnegut is pulling away because of John’s loud “Whaa-Ow” or he was just afraid he was about to get his genitals fondled.

You see, this is why I hate this blog. Because I have just spent three days of my time and yours creaeting story threads for no other reason than to show off an old photograph of Kurt Vonnegut. And the point was what? To let everyone know that I once took a photograph of Kurt Vonnegut? What a cheap name-dropper!

So, in desperation to salvage some entertainment value, I’ll close with a few choice Vonnegut quotations:

1. Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.

2. I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.

3. True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.

4. Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.

5. One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.

6. Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. All they do is show you've been to college.

7. Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn't mean we deserve to conquer the Universe.

8. I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off. I reply, 'The Beatles did'.

And kick me if I start another multi-part blog without knowing how the last blog will end.

Blast from Past – Lockwood meets Vonnegut (Part 2 of 3)

I learn new things about blogging every day. For instance, I thought it was such a good idea to break longer stories into parts and label them “Part 1 or 3” or “Part 2 of 730.” I first saw it in a blog called “Explorers View of Life” and thought, “Aha!”

What I learned this morning is that, before you write “Part 1 of 3” you should be sure that you are going to want to write parts 2 and 3. Better still, you should have already written them. Which reminds me of yet another blog about why I have difficulty finishing something I start.

BUTLER: “Just concentrate, Mark. Get back on task here.”

BAGMAN: Finish the bleeding story so we can go have some fun!”

Okay – so, I’m living in a cheap apartment across the hall from Peter Lockwood who has gone away on a trip for a month and I hear someone banging on his door and I open my door to tell the person that Peter is gone for a month…(come to think of it, good thing it wasn’t a potential burglar! Duh)…but it was John Lockwood, his brother, back from the army and from hitchhiking, hiking, and exploring everywhere.

BAGMAN: “Step on it! The story is lagging! Just say anything, make it up! Nobody will know!”

BUTLER: “You are a bit dull this morning, old chap.”

Okey, okay…dispense with form, style, grammar…say it quick. Be done with it. It’s a kind of dull story and nothing is going to make it much better. Okay, okay. So John moves in with me until his brother comes back except after is brother comes back he’d rather stay with me anyway and we become fast friends.

John is a wild man. He enters a room and the walls bend outward with his trademark “Whaa-Ow” (said in the same cadence and accent as the military “Hoo-Rah”, except that it is “Whaa-Ow” not “Hoo-Rah”…potato potaato, let’s call the whole thing off!...Damn! Digressed into confusion again. John is curious, explores everything. He is at a party at someone’s apartment in another building that is still being built and, being curious, he opens a door in a hallway, steps through and falls two stories down. Smashes his hip. Doctors say he’ll never walk again without crutches. He takes up kayaking. “Whaa-Ow.”

BUTLER: “I don’t know. This rushing through a really tragic story like bullet points in a power point doesn’t seem right somehow.”

BAGMAN: “I don’t know if I’m laughing or crying.”

Well, it was really tragic and emotional at the time, but I’ve already dragged Part 2 on too long…See I never should have started this. Where was I – kayaking…yes “Whaa-Ow”, John refuses to give up exploring for knitting so he learns to Kayak and then works with some kayak builder to create a kayak that can be broken down into two parts which can be strapped on his back because he needs to leave his hands free for the crutches. And he heads off to Kayak the length of the Snake River through Canada. Every time he has to portage around bad sections, he has to make three trips…one with the front of the kayak, two with the back of the kayak, and three with his supplies. “Whaa-Ow.”

He made it to the West Coast. He lived in a stationary railroad car for awhile. I never saw him again although we’ve exchanged an email or two. He developed a really well-respected make your own wooden kayak company our there. I still get his catalogues. Slick, beautiful, wooden boats. And they always have pictures of him and his family in beautiful wilderness spots.

But I’ve reached the end before part 3. Dang!!! Another good reason for planning. I skipped the Vonnegut piece entirely. As well as the hunter-gatherers!

BUTLER: “Breathe. Breathe. Just get through tomorrow. You’ll get the hang of this series format soon.”

BAGMAN: “Let’s just throw more pants!”

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blast from Past – Lockwood meets Vonnegut (Part 1 of 3)

This morning, I used my get up earlier than everybody else so that I can have time for myself time to work on the “Endless Project.”

Lifetimes ago, I read a book, I think by John Barth, who I pretended to like because he was popular at the time and I was trying to be literarily correct. I didn’t really like John Barth, didn’t think he made a lot of sense, and don’t remember the title of the book. In fact, it may not even have been John Barth at all.

But somewhere, in some book I once read, there was a character who had two obsessive rituals that illustrated his core belief about life. First, he paid his rent every morning. Just one day’s rent. Because he could never be sure if that was the day that death would come to him. Secondly, he ended every day in the evening by working for an hour on a project that he had calculated would take a thousand years. Because you never could be sure that you wouldn’t live forever either…or at least a long time. Maybe it was John Barth after all since the second half of this formula doesn’t make a lot of sense to me now.

It may not make a lot of sense but I have a project that is sort of like that.

Shortly before last Christmas, I purchased a really good printer/copier/scanner that is also capable of scanning negatives. This is exciting because it enables me to convert lots of old film photos to digital. Scanning negatives is better than copying prints because it captures more detail. Of course, to get the detail, you have to change the default setting of 200 ppi to 600 ppi and this causes each scan to take ten minutes or so! I need a faster computer with more RAM and more ROM and more OOMPH. I can also set it for as high as 2,800 ppi but anything above 600 currently crashes my system.

More detail is great! It reveals more clearly all the dust specks, scratches, hairs and accumulated junk on these old negatives despite all my efforts at blowing, brushing, anti-static-ing, and cleaning. Most of my negatives, I placed in protective sleeves. But, but over time, hairs and dust are more persistent than gravity. I’ll never beat Mother Nature.

These negatives go back to 1968 when I used to do my own black and white developing and printing in a bathroom sealed off by towels and blankets. From 1968 to 1976, the cheap apartments I lived in always reeked of pipe smoke and booze except for the bathrooms which reeked of developer, fixer and stop bath. It’s a wonder I can smell anything today.

Damn. Digressing again. I am incapable of telling a story straight. Where was I?

Oh, yes. The endless project. The notebook pictured above, which contains the subtle odors of pipesmoke, booze, photographic chemicals, and mould from countless storage sheds, also contains approximately 8,500 images. 8,300 of these are junk…booze focused fuzz balls of god knows what or guilt-producing pictures of old girlfriends. But in order to find ones I want to save, I have to at least do the intial pre-scan. I may never get through them all.

Oh yes, there is also a huge box of snapshots and color negatives from the thirty years after that! Many of these negatives are not in sleeves much to the delight of hair and dust particles that treat the box like an all you can eat buffet.

But periodically I plow on through memory lane. And this morning, I suddenly ran into John Lockwood.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bagman, Butler and I go to Columbia

Columbia, capital of the great state of South Carolina, is a scenic two hour drive from Charleston. From the windshield, the beautiful blue Southern sky stretches out above a long line of long needle pine trees, standing delicately together on either side of a smooth gray highway. It is quite beautiful. For five minutes. Unfortunately it does not change at all for two hours.

This picture has nothing whatsoever to do with the blog
Bagman just stuck it in because he thought I was too boring

I make this trip at least once a month. Two hours out and two hours back. I have done the math and estimated that I have been able to enjoy this view for approximately 645 hours since moving here. I never should have done the math. It makes me reassess my sanity.

BAGMAN: “You have too much sanity to begin with!”

BUTLER: “I think it would be more precise to look at your old calendars and get a more exact number.”

I probably should leave the B&B brothers home when I go to play bureaucrat but they insist on going everywhere but they usually promise to stay quiet. But I often hear them arguing or giggling in whispers while I sit for three and a half hours with all the other Directors of County Addiction Treatment Programs and assorted State Officials. We meet to solve statewide problems like how to get alcoholics out of emergency rooms and into our detox facilities. And where to go for lunch.

Both problems were discussed the first time I attended one of these meetings 10 years ago. Both of these problems were discussed today. I’m not sure we have made any progress in solving either one.

Why? Because we are bureaucrats. This does not make us bad people. None of us got into these careers because we wanted to waste time or taxpayer money. All of us have a sincere desire to help people in trouble and to serve our fellow human beings. I’m not being funny. It really is true. Of course, the other reason we do this is because we like to hear ourselves talk.

BAGMAN: “And you’re doing way too much of it right now!”

Okay. I know. Get to the point. So I’m sitting in this room with a bunch of people in suits and we’re talking about Obama’s stimulus package and Medicaid. I was paying close attention at first, but I began to drift after the third person spoke, saying basically the same thing that the first two people said.

There’s a reason our meetings last so long. Everything may have been said in the first half hour, but not everybody has had a chance to say it.

Plus we have to talk in bureaucratise. I’ve become pretty good at speaking bureaucratise, which helps because, as I drift further into thinking about what a great picture it would make if everybody would get up and throw their pants, suddenly the chair says, “How would this effect Charleston?”

The fact that I haven’t a clue what “this” refers to, doesn’t slow me down. I simply say, “I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet but if we can capture the information and crunch the numbers a state-of-the-art solution can be implemented. If we work as a team and stay results-oriented this might be the wave of the future. Of course, that’s not written in stone.”

My peers nod approvingly at me and a couple of them give me the thumbs up. Well-earned appreciation for my ability to use 8 stock phrases in a short paragraph. Bagman has fallen asleep long ago although Butler gives polite little applause, the kind of fingers against the palm of the hand clapping that the Republican side of the Senate did during Obama’s speech last night.

Finally, the discussion turns to where we are going to go for lunch.

Later, guilty and bloated for having eaten too much, I get to enjoy my 646th and 647th hours looking at pine trees and trying to figure out if they look any different viewed from the other side driving home.

Maybe next month, I’ll bring a Powerpoint.

Off to be a beaurocrat

I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date! No time to blog hello, goodbye! I'm late I'm late I'm late...Alice in Wonderland. Bagman and Butler in Bloggerland are also late heading up to the State Capitol to babble in bureaucratise. Maybe something humorous will come of it later this evening.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Turning off the verification words

I’m figuring I need to take a break. I let Bagman drive home since he gets here much faster after work. I figure I’ve got thirty minutes before the family arrives. I decide I’m going to avoid Blogspot entirely and just concentrate on working on a couple of more normal photographs…something other than flying pants…maybe a landscape. Or a reflection of trees I took the other day. But I know I don’t need to blog because I had Butler post some warning signs this morning that I might be missing a bit.

But I do decide to check my email before turning on Photoshop. And my eyes pop open (Bagman’s eyes pop open even wider) to find one of the wonderful goddesses of blog (blogdesses?) who has taken the trouble to email me to tell me that the verification thing doesn’t work and nobody can make comments on my blog!

I couldn’t panic any more if the house was on fire. Although I wouldn’t have to panic if the house was on fire because Butler already has a prioritized list of what to remove and save and Bagman would be taking pictures of it while throwing his clothes at it. But I digress. As usual.

I panic. I immediately go to Blogspot and turn off the verification thing that protects me from spam comments. Wait. How many spammers are going to comment on flying pants anyway? If it becomes a problem, I can turn it back on. Don’t fix what ain’t broken.

So it is off now. Butler, of course, frets because he is afraid that this simple act will immediately infect my computer with a virus. Bagman doesn’t care much except that he does like the verification thing on other people’s blogs. In fact, Bagman, I’m embarrassed to say, has actually been collecting a list of verification non-words or pseudo-words in a separate file.

BAGMAN: “Yes! I’m going to do a blog in which I write definitions of them!”

BUTLER: “We’ll have to turn on the adult warning label!”

Anyhow, we haven’t given Bagman actual access to the Dashboard so he can write anything independently, so I’m not worried.

But, I have just realized that having promised I would spend time away from blogging and work in Photoshop, I’ve gone and done another blog instead! I really need to go to Bloggers Anonymous. “Hello. My name is Mark and I can’t stop blogging.”

BAGMAN: Yes! Start a group! We can meet bloggers in person. And bloggesses! And we can blog about it!”

Road sign

There is a next to the turn off leading to the old Brownstone where Bagman and Butler (and me, of course) live. It was put up yesterday. It says: "Caution. Real Work Ahead. Reduce Blogging." Dang! I hate it when traffic slows down.

But to make up for it, there were too billboards that seemed to remind me of something.

I liked the 2nd one better...playing around at lunch hour....which reminds me...need to go!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bagman throws his pants or It seemed like a good idea at the time

I don’t even understand this one myself. My wife says she gave up trying to figure out why I do things years ago.

But Butler and I had just come inside after putting the finishing touches on the bricks and pine straw around the flowerbeds that the dogs tore up. Butler even took a nice reasonable photograph which is reasonably posted below:

Butler went off to calculate something, I didn’t know where Bagman was, but I was tired and needed a shower, so I turned on the water, took off my dungarees and tossed them toward the clothes hamper. As they floated through the air, they billowed out in an interesting way and suddenly Bagman was erupting in my head. “Throw pants! Throw pants! Bagman wants to throw his pants!”

So I humored him. I put my dungarees back on and got the camera while he took his pajama bottoms off and ran around throwing them then roaring, “Aha!”

Maybe after spending two days placing bricks in a line, this was a release. Pants landed on Sally, landed on furniture, tipped over lamps. Bagman started screaming about photo manipulations and Photoshop and artistic genius and dropping a whole basket of laundry from the roof during a sunset.

My wife came into the living room at one point, either to compliment me on the yard or because she heard a lamp falling over and wondered what I was doing.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Throwing pants,” I said.

“I gave up trying to figure out why you do things years ago,” she said, leaving and shaking her head, then looking back to add. “But please be careful with the lamps.”

I finally ran out of either digital memory or patience and went to walk Sally and then to spend some time with Karen to try and convince her that I wasn't completely nuts.

Bagman is still thinking there must be some way of turning these pictures into art. But I think I agree with Karen. I can’t figure out why I do some things either.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Eventually, I ran out of excuses to avoid the Saturday chores and announced to my internal colleagues that we were heading outside to repair the bricks around the flowerbeds, mow the lawn, pick up after Sally (what Bagman calls the brown Easter Egg Hunt), lay down pine straw, and clean and refill the bird feeder.

Pulling on an old sweater and work shoes, I watched Bagman grunt in disgust, escape to his room and shut the door. I expected to lose Bagman’s help since he hates yardwork, but just as I was about to go through the porch, I noticed Butler had stopped and turned back.

This worried me because I need Butler’s suggestion for efficiency. He’s the one who can map out the most efficient course for the lawnmower to take so I have the longest straights, the fewest turns, and no need to backtrack over what has already been mowed. He is the one who has worked out, over time, the most effective Sally poop-scoop which he modeled on a golfer’s technique for getting out of a sand trap, striking just behind the little round object so that it lifts up with a little backspin rather than being mashed deeper in the grass…or sand…depending on what object we are talking about.

In any case, I needed Butler. Starting back to get him, I heard his voice yelling through Bagman’s closed door, more pleading than angry.

BUTLER: “Come on, Baggie, just give it a chance for once! I know you think you hate yardwork but some people love it! If the protoplasm-we-call-Mark had you with us, he might notice things when he is outside. With your zest for passion, he would see catch the bongo beat of the woodpecker in the gum tree instead of just noticing the irritating spiny things that fall from it. He might enjoy the smell and feel of the rich soil around the flower beds and delight in patterns made by circling turkey vultures and wheeling crows. With your eye for beauty he might see the reflections of the sunlight clouds in the pond. He could live in the present and feel the edges and heft of each brick he replaces. Come out with us, Baggie, old chap. The yard can be just as creatively satisfying as any old photograph or poem!”

Then I heard the crash of some small piece of furniture as Bagman must have thrown it against the door, followed by a string of unrepeatable adjectives followed by the word “yardwork.” Then Butler turned, left Bagman to whatever fantasies he was going to indulge in behind his door, and returned to join me in the yard.

Together, Butler and I toiled all afternoon in the back yard. We picked up dog crap, slammed bricks into place in nasty dirt, sweated and complained about the cold at the same time. When my wife got home after staffing her booth at the teachers conference, she looked at yard and exclaimed, “Wow! It looks so much better!”

“Right,” I muttered. I hadn’t really noticed. It was work, it was done, and I never looked back at the results. Dragging my sore back inside to take a shower, I also did not notice the birds swooping down in graceful arcs to twitter their grateful, soprano chorus around the feeder.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Strange. He doesn't look that obsessive!

Here's a self portrait of me writing the blog below. Well, maybe a few minutes after posting it actually. Now I REALLY have to go work in the yard.

So many comments, so little time

Today is Saturday. Karen is off to staff a booth at a teacher’s job fair. I think, at job fairs, it is always better to be staffing the booth than visiting the booth. So I have the day to myself.

And, of course, a two page To Do list which includes reconstructing the yard from the recent canine blitzkrieg of Brian’s three dogs. Bless their doggy hearts, they have now left to go destroy my sister-in-law’s backyard. I have flowerbeds to rescue and at least 50 doggy holes to fill.

And also, of course, with a million chores to do, the moment Karen drives away, I rush upstairs to check my blog. I’m addicted. Having spent my life becoming addicted then recovering from addiction then running treatment centers to help others with addiction, I know what addiction is. I’m addicted.

My plan is to write a blog about our mattress and the Winter Solstice. But when I log in, I see 9 wonderful comments about my dog, retirement, resident ghosts, and new posts from people I’m following. My head spins!

BAGMAN: “Just tell them all how much you love them! Specially the women!”

BUTLER: “Just break it into small tasks. Read each comment and make a short thoughtful answer. Then read each blog, one at a time, and make a concise and useful comment to each of those as well. Then….”

Aaah! My head spins faster. By then Karen will be returning after standing on her feet in an exhibit booth all day and I will not have filled a single hole!

BAGMAN: Snicker snicker…”filling holes”…snicker snicker…

BUTLER: “Zip it! He doesn’t have time for smutty schoolyard puns!”

I grab my head to stop it from spinning and think about stuffing ear plugs in my ears to keep out the voices of Butler and Bagman but realize their voices are inside my head so earplugs won’t work. And how to bloggers like Barry do it with 10,000 followers. What have I done? 21 is overwhelming!

And yet, I’m also thinking that if I can find some time, I’d like to browse around to see if I can find a few more bloggers that I want to follow and would like to have them follow me. Holy Temsplat! (to use my latest swear word that I picked up from the treasure trove of random non-words that blogspot makes us type in to post comments). Holy temsplat, I really am addicted!

BUTLER: “Calm down. It’s no big deal. The people who make comments are bloggers themselves and they don’t expect you to write long letters answering each and every one of them. And if you skip a day without posting a blog, they won’t kick you off blogspot.”

BAGMAN: “That’s easy for you to say, Butthead! They don’t love you…all logistical and sensible. They love me! And it is a big deal! Because we love them too! We love their blogs! We love their comments! Each one is so special. Each one so different, so passionate, so interesting! Screw the yard and the todo list! The heck with sleeping or working! The hell with real life! Just read and write comments and blogs and love them to pieces…specially the women.”

BUTLER: Personally, I like Barry’s blog because it is about exploring.”

Enough, enough. I finally get Bagman and Butler to quiet down. I take some deep breaths and try to rearrange some moderation into my day. I hope people won’t mind if I don’t answer everything. How do the ones with hundreds of followers keep up? And no matter how addictive this stuff is, I really do want Karen to come home to a reasonably looking yard, so I’ll head outside with the shovel.

But first I’ll read just one more blog that somebody just posted…