two little things, which coincidentally are both about my mom

1. Over the past few days, people searching for “facebook login” on Google have been clicking on the search result for this ReadWriteWeb article by mistake, thinking that they can log in to Facebook from there. There are hundreds of comments on the article from confused people saying that they hate this new Facebook layout and dammit they just want to sign into their account.

I work with a lot of people who are not so tech-savvy, so this didn’t come as much of a surprise to me. People ask me about “this page on your website” when they’re really talking about another site, they tell me they can’t access our website from home when they’re not connected to the internet, and when I tell them where to go on our site to get employee discounts on Microsoft Office, they ask me how to install software.

This frustrated me when I first got this job, but now I’m used to it. I’ve come up with some simple things to say that will help people without making them feel stupid, like teaching them about the address bar vs. the search box, showing them how to use bookmarks, or telling them where they can go to get software-installation help.

My dad’s been into computers since we got our Commodore 64 in the eighties, so he’s never had much trouble figuring out the internet. He asks me for recommendations on things like the best site for him to post photos or where he and my mom should sign up for web space, but that’s about it. I learned everything I know about the basic inner workings of a computer from him.

My mom, though, has had a bit of a harder time. I remember a few times in the late nineties when she would send large PowerPoint files from her office to home via email, and then call me from home to tell me that “the email is stuck.” I’d explain to her that she should go do something else for awhile and come back to check on the email progress later, because a 15MB PowerPoint file was going to take a very long time to download on their 28k modem.  I can also recall this incident in which my mom, having neglected to look at the address bar, thought my little Geocities website was much larger than it really was.

These days her level of internet-savvy has improved. She signed up for LiveJournal so she could read my private posts there, and then posted an entry of her own. Last year she won an iPod Nano in a contest, so over Christmas I showed her how to use iTunes to import some of her favorite CDs and put the songs on her iPod.

While reading a Metafilter post about the ReadWriteWeb/Facebook confusion, I came across this comment:

My dad, thank the lord, is not on Facebook, but he does the search bar thing all the time. Every time I grit my teeth I remember that he knows how to rebuild a diesel truck engine and I can’t change my own oil.

At Thanksgiving in 2008, the after-dinner conversation turned to “what’s the grossest thing you ever saw?” I talked about the time I saw a dog get run over, other people talked about stuff I can’t remember, and then it was my mom’s turn. She told a story about having a few drinks with a friend one evening while they were in nursing school. They went downstairs to the morgue to see what it was like all deserted and dark, and when they opened the door they saw that the room was full of cadavers covered by sheets. My mom’s friend dared her to lift one of the sheets and look underneath, so she did.

In other words, my mom’s not good at the internet, but she’s seen a dead person’s brain all covered with maggots, so.

2. Do you guys know about my Tumblr site? I mostly use it to reblog things from my other Tumblr contacts. Sometimes I add commentary, sometimes I don’t. It’s not super interesting most of the time, but the reblogging with commentary thing was something I couldn’t resist.

I don’t usually get really going on a subject over on Tumblr, but yesterday I did, so I thought I’d repost it here.

Virginia law now states a single “yes” is enough to destroy any accusation of rape


“Let’s say you start having intercourse with a man (and) 30 seconds into it you say you want it to stop,” [Defense attorney, Robert W.] Lawrence said. “Some states have said that’s impossible and it wouldn’t be fair. Some states say you have to look at the specifics of the case … and give the man reasonable time to react.

“My position, personally,” he added, “would be if the female consents and they start having intercourse, he has a right to finish.”

Holy. fucking. shit.

No, no. I think you mean HOLY. FUCKING. SHIT.

When I was 12, Ann Richards and Clayton Williams were running for Texas governor. Among other controversies in that race, this one stuck out for me:

During the campaign, Williams publicly made a joke likening bad weather to rape, having quipped: “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.”

That shit scarred me for life. Before then I had no idea someone would ever even THINK something like that, let alone say it in public. The realization that people with opinions like that could make it into positions of power was huge. I was just a 7th grader at the time, but I’ve never, ever forgotten Clayton Williams’s name, and I’ve never forgotten that quote.

Current 12-year-olds, I’m sorry that there are people like Clayton Williams and Robert W. Lawrence, and I’m sorry that they are successful.

Here’s another one: when I was 18 and about to go to college, my mother came into my bedroom and handed me a condom.

“Uh, what’s this for?” I said.

I’m not going to quote her because I don’t remember her exact words, but she told me to keep it in my backpack at school at all times. She said that if I were ever sexually assaulted on campus late at night and I couldn’t get help or fight him off, I should tell him to at least wear a condom. I didn’t know what to say to that, but I took it and put it in my bag anyway.

I told a friend about it a few years later, and was shocked when they told me that asking my rapist to wear a condom would keep me safe from pregnancy and STDs, but would  probably keep the rapist from being convicted of a crime.

Yup, this is what it’s like.

I’m a Spalding Gray in a Rick Dees world!*

1. The way to get your house in order and everything hung up on the walls real quick-like is to move in and then have people over three weeks later.  You’ll spend those three weeks getting everything to look nice, instead of spending them staring at all your art and saying, “Man, I really should hang that shit up someday.”

Everyone will say your place looks “super-cute” and “very cozy!”  You will say thanks, that you think it looks a little bit like a cartoon, but secretly you will be proud of your new clown apartment.  Then you will get silly drunk and nearly fall asleep on your friends, who will take one look at your sleepy face and decide it’s time to go.

It was a good party.

2. My parents moved to St. Louis several years ago, and they’ve done a good job of keeping in touch with their Houston friends, most of whom they met through church.  They all visit each other relatively frequently and stay up-to-date on what’s happening in everyone’s lives.

After I decided I wasn’t going to go to SXSW next year (though I’ll be in town to hang out in the evenings), I made a point of going to Chicago to visit Andrew and Cinnamon, two of my favorite people I see at SXSW.  I’ve been toying with the idea of visiting Seattle for the same reason, though I’m not sure yet if that’ll happen.

While I was in Chicago, my parents happened to be there as well.  They were on their way to Elmhurst to visit some old church friends of theirs, and they stopped by to have lunch with Andrew and Cinnamon and me.  As we were walking back from the Indian restaurant, Andrew and my dad were walking ahead of me, and my mom and Cinnamon were walking behind me, and that’s when it occurred to me that I treat my internet friends the same way my parents treat their church friends.  We don’t get to see each other too often, but we try to make a point to visit and keep up.

Is the internet my church?

3. Despite my best efforts, things are not looking too good for Pushing Daisies, my new favorite TV show of late.  It’s the Arrested Development thing all over again, and it makes me sad. With the failure of my favorite TV shows comes the realization that most people don’t like the stuff I like, and the stuff I like that sticks around tends to suck after awhile.  Gilmore Girls, the X-Files, Scrubs, the Office,** etc.

With that in mind, maybe it’s good that AD and Pushing Daisies didn’t last that long.  They never got the chance to suck.  Maybe it’s time to move to England and watch shows that aren’t meant to be around that long.

*from this episode of The Simpsons
**The Office‘s suckitude is still debatable at this point, but that dinner party episode was really, really awful.