My Private Island

I’ve mentioned this before, and that is if you ask me to estimate how many people read my blog without thinking I would honestly say around 10-12. I’ve recited that figure on numerous occasion, because 1) I can’t imagine anyone outside of those 10-12 people (friends and family) whom I’ve bullied into reading my blog would be interested in reading it, and 2) truthfully, only having a few readers is a little liberating, and it kind of allows me to be a bit self-deprecating.  I have permission to express things more freely.  Hey, I’m only writing for friends. And it allows me a neat excuse when I’m outted as a blogger who doesn’t have the notoriety of say a Patton Oswald (or any number of bloggers).  “Well, really only a few friends and family follow me, it’s not a big deal.”

Ostensibly, I post as a way to practice writing since language is not my strength.  Growing up, I was the toddler that hit or destroyed things while my more precocious relative of an equal age bedazzled the adults with words.  I would often hear, “why can’t you be more like him?” as I grew up. This probably lead to more hitting of the things and a fair amount of stink-eye. Writing helps me compose my thoughts and use my words, which is especially good on days where I’m actively trying to set fire to things with my mind. Through my blog I get to post my ramblings, my rants, ridiculous anecdotes, and my heartbreak – noise inside the brain of an extremely ordinary person. I also use my posts as a way to send mass letters to friends an family announcing, “this is where I’m at right now. This is who I am right now.”

Having only a handful of readers also takes away a certain measure of accountability, “hey, only 10-12 people will read this so it’s ok if I lose my mind over some issue.” This false belief has lead to some carelessness on my part. There’s nothing more humbling than being told, “I read your blog,” wait, what??? “and I only realized how affected you were by something that was said when you wrote a particular rant” (paraphrased a ton) by someone whom you didn’t realize knew you had a blog, and whose dear friend it was  you wrote a scathing piece about. Err… whoops. Not my finest moment.  Or you get an email from your Jr. High bully asking, “hey, is that me? Oh yeah, I remember you now” where you learn a lesson in the power of the internet, and why using full names maybe wasn’t your finest moment.  These experiences have made me more keenly aware that this isn’t my private island of 10, though I admit it more often than not still feels that way.

Someone recently told me in regard to this space, “you don’t know how your words affect people” which was extremely humbling. So, this is a shout-out and a thank you to all of those other readers whom I sometimes forget I have.  To Melissa, Jenn, Heather (you are strong, and amazing – though we haven’t met, I hope you know I think you’re great; I believe in you), Drew, Jerry, Jim, Julie, Heather B., Denise, Roanna and David (actual gifted writers), Lynn, Tori, Gail, and Irina (thank you for keeping me sane in the real world and for allowing Buddy to talk politics openly – sorry about Marine le Pen, Buddy). To Brandi who is one of the toughest people I know with a heart of pure gold, and Meredith who makes me laugh more than she knows. To Lori (I believe in you, too. You got this.)  To Karen (I may not always comment, but I enjoy everything you write). And to Dale, you’re a PITA, but you’ve kept me grounded through some dark times (by being a PITA – I think that’s your secret).  To the 10ish: Anna, Jonathan, Dad, Charla, Seth, April, Aunt Philis, Kim, Tony, HRH DeAnne, Kati, and Shari – you’re troopers to survive all the years of my blog nonsense, and for encouraging me (and for once asking me about t-shirts – I did look into it, but the image was too small to work with).  To everyone else who follows me along this bumpy ride of life, I may not know your name, but I appreciate you and thank you.  And to Scott and Carolyn,  whom I miss more than words could ever express – thank you for your encouragement – for suggesting I was funny, for cheering me on all those years. This world is a little less bright without your beautiful and gentle light.

All of you make for one amazing set of 10 on this island of mine.

Shoutout: WordPress Gurus & Friends

Friends – we had an exciting week on this blog, well ok “exciting” doesn’t quite describe it. It was more “eh, ok”, but let’s pretend for me that it was exciting.  We (the royal version who is not particularly regal) learned two things: 1) I can set posts to private without driving the blog completely underground (yay) and 2) that while I can set posts to private, I cannot fix it so you can see them.  That means, if you signed up for the private version of BBM, WordPress converted you to “Followers” when I made the blog public again.  As “Followers” (as opposed to lowercase followers without quotes, which isn’t what you are, you guys are special) you just get an email when I post – like you just did to receive this.  You’ve gone years without having to receive an alert, so you won’t hurt my feelings if you go to the bottom of the email and hit “unsubscribe”.  You know our favorite shared social media source will alert you or that RSS feed you were already using.  No need for me to spam you.

WordPress.com Gurus – is there any way to share a private post without converting people to Admins on my site?  Now that I’m a bullhorn to the universe and that horn will be blown quite loudly, I need a solution.  That’s assuming people still want that same sarcastic content they’ve come to love.  Until that time, this site is officially rated G and will only include stories about cuddles and bunnies and isn’t that Jay Leno a hoot.  I love talking about those so much that it makes me want to skip around my yard while carrying a little basket. OR without a solution it could go a different direction – somewhere between R and toxic to make it so unpalatable that it becomes unreadable.  That’s where I’d offend all of my favorite readers and that’s not really what I want to do.  You’re clever folks, any suggestions?  I need your help.  Ideally I’d like to create a group who get special content. (By “special” I mean you know as special as I can make it – ummm… I could get you all shirts, too?  BBM swag? A free round of Mexican martinis? A signed photo of Sam?)

A final question: Would moving it to WordPress.Org give me any more control?

Advice & Perspective

Last week the following email managed to leap over my spam filter and land among my various fan emails (my friends simply refer to them as ‘notes’, Philistines! But they know they’re fans deep down):

“Hi Beth,

I came across bigbluemess.com and thought there would be a good fit for a partnership with our network of local landing pages in various verticals. Our users are looking for informative articles, and advice, and your perspective stood out as a fit.

I’m looking to set up a call for my director to learn more about bigbluemess.com as  well as have her bring the right person up to speed on how we work with  our partners. Would you be the best person for this conversation? If so, would either this afternoon at 3:00 PM EST or tomorrow at 11 AM EST work better for an intro call?”

After tearing apart the sender’s email address, determining the email’s source by sifting through header information and finally cyberstalking the sender through LinkedIn (as well as a few other sites), it appeared that it was legitimate.  Being legitimate gave me permission to laugh.  Well, once I finished translating it and determined what was meant by the term “vertical”.  I’m a pro at “horizontal” eight to nine hours out of any given day; however, vertical has always been challenging especially on Mondays.  Apparently this “vertical” is a different beast. I’d share the definition, but I think it’s important we all embark on our own personal Odysseys (that and I think deep-down, you may not care).

I must say I was a bit offended.  The note implies that:

  1. I write articles.  No self-respecting journalist would ever look at my posts and award them the title of “article” unless they were stoned or half-heartedly making an attempt at stand-up. I’m almost positive all of my past English teachers/professors were overcome with a strong compulsion to roll their eyes in unison as soon as the guy typed the line.  We won’t even talk about the “informative” part.  (Well, unless we’re talking CCL surgery and physical therapy for beagles in Austin, TX.  I have steered a few readers in the right direction that one time.)
  2. I give advice. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  AH HAHAHAHAHAHA!  My advice in a nutshell: Don’t assume a slow southern/Texas drawl is indicative of a a slow mind.  Trust your gut. Don’t randomly kick things, especially around hospitals or fire ant mounds.  Let me just send up a huge apology to my grandmother, Grandbuddi; I hope I didn’t cause you much discomfort, but I couldn’t for the life of me tell what that was underneath your covers.  Please understand I was still a teenager, which means my brain was half formed and I was still somewhat of a sociopath, like most youth.  I’ve stopped kicking most things now.  You’d be quite proud.
  3. I offer a sought after perspective.  Wow.  I should display my reader count to shake them back into reality. How desperate must a company be for partners if they skim my site and think we’d make a good match?  Sure, I can offer a bit of perspective when it comes to improv or how my whining both plagues and confounds my sketch writing teacher, but real, thoughtful, and introspective insight where I bestow my pearls of perspective on a regular basis?  I don’t have it in me. My friends refer to me as the “token blonde”. That’s a strong indication that there’s probably not a lot of insight rattling around upstairs.  Insight scares me.  People might make pilgrimages to my house or find my face on their toast.  Then there’s the whole problem with what do you do to feed the masses.  Should we build a balcony on which I can stroll out at noon and wave? Will the Home Owners Association allow for a shrine in my yard when we can’t even display tasteful yard gnomes? And what if my new found minions ask me questions?  Let’s face it, at best I’d end up being the embodiment of Peter Seller’s character in “Being There” and no one wants to see that sequel. See, this is a slippery slope.

Needless to say, I didn’t respond or set-up a call.  I’m pretty sure my advice, perspective and “informative articles” were not quite what they would be looking for in a “partner” and their verticals would become diagonals – sloping in entirely the wrong direction.  Plus, to be quite honest those call times would be right in the middle of my work day, meaning the call would have to be made from my desk where all of my co-workers/cube-farm mates would learn how truly important I am.  Do they have a vertical? I bet they don’t even have a decent bar graph. I couldn’t do that to them.  It would be like finding out that Clark Kent was actually Superman.  I prefer my workplace anonymity where no one is sure if I can work the copier.  Finding out I write compound sentences would blow their minds.

Has anyone else received a solicitation like this and did you respond?

DeAnne’s Vote and a Sam Update

Earlier this week, I got a great email from my friend DeAnne. You should refer to her as HRH DeAnne, like we all do and if you could genuflect a bit or possibly approach on your knees, that would not only be a welcome gesture, but one that would be encouraged and save you from being royally thwapped. No one wants a royal thwapping. This email was one of the best I’ve received in a long time. You know how I crave a good story? Well, this email wasn’t just a story – it was an adventure! There were misread maps, weest (a combination of East/West), punching, stitches tearing apart, Lacrosse, chili, starving teens, a crazy woman wielding a Christmas gift card, and a surprise move to North Dakota. I’ve saved this email because it’s simply that great and it’s a reminder that writing has become a lost art. No one ever writes letters anymore – we just quip each other to death with what amounts to email tweets. Her email reminded me how I really miss well thought out letters (or emails). Of course, in response to DeAnne’s great email, I email tweeted a thanks. I completely failed to rise to the occasion and offer up my own real letter. Sorry Miss DeAnne! (Yes, I did use “Miss” when addressing her; you should still stick with HRH or something else that shows a proper amount of deference.)

DeAnne’s vote for one of the top posts was the one titled True Beth North; she completely empathized with my sad lack of direction. Well, it’s not a lack of direction. Everything is North depending on where I stand. As one of the smartest people I know, DeAnne confessed that she has sometimes struggled with direction, thus the term “Weest” was born – a term that will get you (or anyone directly related to her) punched if you dare speak it within earshot. Her next vote was for any post dealing with Sam.

Sam actually showed up as a couple of people’s favorite topics when I polled them about their favorite posts. Since there are a few of you who are fairly new to the blog, I’ll just give you some background. Sam is our 9-year-old beagle that we adopted 5 years ago from a local group called Hound Rescue. Sam has had a harder time then most of our pets having suffered from a condition known as Horner’s Syndrome (similar to Bell’s Palsy) and tears to both of her cranial crutiate ligaments. What I’ve taken from this is I’m a pet person. I don’t have a pet because it’s convenient or easy. I have Sam because she’s a great dog who makes me laugh. The next time someone suggests, as a co-worker did in the past couple of weeks, that it would be cheaper to euthanize Sam that pay for knee surgery, they should come with a figure on how much it would cost to euthanize them. I mean, with food and housing going up, not to mention health care I’m thinking a single shot would cure anything that ails you (or me), because frankly you’re more expensive to maintain in the long run than my dog. Oh, and I like my dog more. Truce? I won’t say a word about how you throw your money away on unnecessary expensive little toys and go on your vacation jaunts. In return, don’t suggest I kill my dog because she’s inconvenient. Last I checked, you weren’t in charge of my finances. Thanks.

To veer off that rant a bit, I’ll tell you a little more about her. First off, as a beagle Sam is basically a stomach with legs, soft ears and a very keen nose. The sound of a kibble plummeting off of the cat’s food perch will wake her from a dead sleep and send her running into the kitchen. Beagles are never satiated, which is quite awful if you think about it. Sure, you may have known hungry dogs, but anyone with a hound, particularly a beagle can tell you crazy stories about their appetite and the lengths they’ll go to in order to eat.. Sam doesn’t know how to play unless playing involves dancing around for food. The only way I could get Sam to play with a stuffed animal or a ball would be to wrap it in bacon and smear it with peanut butter. I tried talking to her about it, but I suspect she just likes hearing her name. According to Sam, she has three command driven names. They are “Sam”, “hey, Sam” and “I love you”. “Hey, Sam” knows to look at me and pay attention, there might be food or something interesting to sniff. While, “I love you” tells her to wag insanely, because that Sam is going to scritched from head to toe.

Sam is scared of our cats and our cats are aware of this. They like to set-up gauntlets in the hallways. If I hear Sam whimpering, it’s usually because a cat (probably Hodi) won’t let her come down the hallway or enter a room. However, this fear disappears if anyone is eating chicken, despite not getting table food, or when she’s enjoying her rawhide. It’s only under these circumstances that she will chase Hodi and Sage all over the house. Without the false bravado instilled by a yummy leathery chew; she’ll return to the whimpering mess we adore when faced with a kitty obstacle..

Sam Update: The Long Overdue Installment

I haven’t had a “Sam Update” in awhile, but that’s mostly due to things being fairly normal in the house. This is a good thing. Yes, I am knocking on wood. So, I’ll leave you with two recent happy moments. First, I came home a couple of weeks ago and released Sam from her crate. She was full of silly and dashed all over the house as fast as she could without pinballing into any kitties. She was the embodiment of joy, so I did my part to keep her going. Her final move was a dive under her blanket, which as I recall used to be MY blanket. She wiggled in one end and worked her way to the other finally kicking the blanket so her head peeked out. I declared, “you’re ridiculous!” which caused her to leap out of the covers and zoom around more. Where she doesn’t play with balls, she does love running at break-neck speeds that sometimes make me wince as I think of her knees (she’s clumsy and has torqued them performing this maneuver). Still, it’s hard to discourage her when she’s having fun.

From last weekend: There was whimpering from the kitchen so I got up and to make sure Hodi wasn’t pinning Sam in somewhere while cackling maniacally. I go in and find that Sam would really just like Hodi to hurry up and let her have a turn at the water bowl. (We have three, incidentally, but this one is deemed the best by all the pets. It’s a fountain where water pours constantly purchased because Sage wouldn’t drink from still bowls.) I looked at her and said, “no, you have to wait”. All of her nervous energy eventually drove Hodi away. Sam then asked to go outside, so I open the back door and there sitting against the fence is giant a tom cat. Sure, Hodi and Sage are horrifying, but that 20 lb. tom cat is clearly a big sissy and chose the wrong yard. Sam went tearing out sending the cat over the fence. (He’s sprayed our porch, much to Hodi’s great dismay that she vocalized in long mrrs and hissing one night.) Sam marched around proudly at having defended the yard, then came in and resumed her spot at the bottom of the pet totem pole. Hodi won’t tolerate uppity beasts and made it clear, “get any idea, Ears and I will smack them out of you.”

Thank you, DeAnne for inspiring a new Sam Update and for taking the time help me out on those blog posts.  I know, I still owe you a real letter.

7×7

Jacqueline over at Mature Student Hanging in There (or maturestudenthanginginthere) was kind enough to award me the 7×7 Award earlier in the week.  Jacqueline is one of those who make bold claims like:  white powdery stuff falls from the sky and collects on the roads, rooftops and sidewalks (I still suspect this is a myth since this past week we’ve had highs in the 80’s (26’s if you’re one of those Celsius cultists) and we all know the weather is the same everywhere and that the Earth is flat and carried on the back four elephants atop the giant star turtle Great A’Tuin.

Ok, so I don’t believe the world is actually flat, but I’m spot-on about the turtle.

Thanks to Jacqueline, I’ve learned about Scottish traditions – most recently Burns Night.  Of course, the fact that I didn’t know this prior to a few weeks ago earned the great disdain of one of my British co-workers.  Once I recognized his face was collapsing in from the complete horror that I had not heard of this, I reminded him that he’d used a certain word in the past to describe Americans and their ignorance of other cultures.  He started throwing out possible words.  “Was it xenophobic? Isolationist? Ignorant? Provincial?”  I smiled as he spoke each new word, and declared that it wasn’t the correct one just so he’d throw out more.  Exasperated, he finally threw in the towel and explained more about Burns Night.

Now, my understanding of the award is the recipient is supposed to name 7 posts that I like and then pass on the award to 7 fellow bloggers.  Well, here’s where I need to confess that I’m terrible about reading multiple blogs, many that I do read have won the 7×7 award and I’m terrible about passing on awards.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate the blogs or their authors; I’m just the perfect storm of shy and lazy.

So, I’ll cheat a bit and list a few of the blogs I enjoy (they in no way represent all the blogs I enjoy and are not all the blogs I think deserve recognition):

I love stories and I deeply admire people who can tell them well.  My epitaph will doubtlessly read, “tell me a story” since this is a common plea.  A few of the blogs I can always count on for their writing, their wit and a great turn of phrase are:

Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

All Write written under my new favorite pseudonym Harper Faulkner. Complete aside: I feel there really should be an actual author sporting this name.  Faulkners, I’m looking at you.

Kana’s Chronicles, formerly Kana’s Notebook

Anna’s Family Blog – which isn’t the name and I can’t link to it, but trust me there are a lot of funny stories being told there.

I’ve added a lot of these stories into my personal story repertoire so I’m always well prepared when challenged to, “tell me a story.”  Most of my friends are now familiar with these author’s names, their personal tales and my friends enjoy hearing the latest stories.  (Left on my own, I’d just retell the stories they’d already heard many times before and be greeted with great groans that said, “please, not the time you freaked out in sketch writing class again.”)  Plus, these stories are fresh and not the typical Happy Hour gossip, “well and then do you know what she did next? I know!!!! And there was a chinchilla in the room. NO!”  (As we all know, chinchillas are possibly the cutest animal ever and when people are up to things they shouldn’t be it should never be in sight of an innocent chinchilla.  Note: no chinchillas were actually in any rooms they shouldn’t have been that I’m aware of) (Yes, I am ending that sentence in a preposition – flying in the face of all good grammar, because I don’t feel like writing “of which I am aware.”  I’m a rebel.)

A blog I discovered through All Write that I’m enjoying (and Seth, I think you might as well if only for the photography; the author is married to a photojournalist) is:

The Art of an Improbable Life

I guess I’ve now made this award a 5×7, which is a nice size for a photograph.

As for my 7 blog entries, I had a tough time.  I’ve had this blog since 2006 and have close to 500 posts.  It’s hard for me to remember what I wrote and harder still to pick out a favorite so I relied on the help of friends and included several of their suggestions.  I’m only naming 6 right now, since I told my friend DeAnne that she’d have time to think about it post some fun oral surgery.  (Lucky girl, send her good healing vibes.) So, in no particular order:

  1. Some Kind of Woman – I wrote this the night after my mother passed away unexpectedly at the age of 65.  I was sitting across from my Mom chatting when it happened; it’s a moment that haunts me as I stand perpetually at that door watching the events of the day repeat. I never intended for this to be read at her funeral; however, my aunt asked if she could.  It’s the only piece that has ever been presented to a large audience.  Hrmm… probably says a lot about my writing.
  2. I Hate Houston – this is a very inside joke between me and another friend, although I am proud to claim that at one point it was among the top 3 searches if you Googled “I Hate Houston”.  Sadly, it’s slipping in the ratings.  Anyway, it’s my most read blog piece.  Oh, and for the record, I’m just indifferent to Houston.
  3. Hey, Don’t I Know You – where I make fun of reincarnation
  4. A Drought Jingle – I still want a jingle.  Just the other day it sprinkled a bit and a cheery newscaster posed the question, “will this be enough rain to pull us out of the drought?”  We need 20+ inches of rain and his question made me want to stomp down to the station and kick him in the balls while responding, “this rain won’t be enough, but maybe your tears will be!”  Needless to say, I’m still mad about the drought.  But hey, only 9 more years to go!! JAZZ HANDS!
  5. (Reserved for DeAnne)

Thanks to all you folks you regularly slog through my writing.  I appreciate all of you.

Hey, That’s Not New

So, your feed led you astray with its promises of something new did it?  But you read along anyway only to realize you were right in the middle of my blogging past – like a blog time machine sucked you somewhere strangely familiar – a dejablog.  Yes dear “feed”ers, you’ve been tricked!  Why it isn’t a new post at all, it’s merely a “fixed” post.

I confess that while it is ultimately the feeds fault, I suppose I should take partial blame.  You see, I have a habit of looking to see what readers are linking to and when I see a post was accessed that I personally haven’t read in a while, I run over there to see if what I said was brilliant.  (Oh yes, one day the answer will be “yes” – maybe not today or tomorrow, but one day.  One day the words will flow and they will be both beautiful and typo-free and the world will say, “oh, Beth” and I will respond with a modest blush, “oh, you”.)  Back to reality. What I usually find are a few little typos winking and waving at me in an annoyingly taunting way and I’m forced to smack them down for being sassy.  Of course, that’s when your feed says “lookee! something new!” and I suppose it is new – you’ve now got a few new words that can be found in the dictionary – words that won’t be underscored in red if I’d actually bothered to run a spellcheck to begin with.  Details.

That’s a long way to say that I apologize (kinda) if you suddenly found yourself in the middle of Sam’s knee saga today (or found yourself reading about my Star Trek shirt or my disdain for Houston or some other random post from years past).  I promise I’ll keep doing it as long as I continue to type(o) these posts.  That there is a Big Blue Mess GUARANTEE!

2010 in Review: Big Blue Mess Style

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

(Does anyone ever not get “wow” as the result?  Did some blog writer wake-up this morning, look at their blog 2010 review email and see it rated as “Pitiful”?  Is the “wow” supposed to make me hug kittens and inspire me to pick up the blogging standard and carry on?  Couldn’t they attach some sort of triumphant sounding .wav file maybe featuring a blaring horn section? I always feel more inspired when there’s the proper music.)

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,300 times in 2010. That’s about 10 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 50 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 393 posts. There were 16 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 5mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was April 13th with 121 views. The most popular post that day was For Mother’s Day.

(On April 14th, the novelty of a new WordPress blog wore off.  Grabbing a tissue then I’m slapping the “helper monkey” that made this “inspired” abstract art.)

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were google.com, facebook.com (thanks to shameless promotion on my part and strong-arming friends), Google Reader (shh, don’t tell my friends who think I can’t see these), b12partners.net (shucks, thanks to Seth), and WordPress Dashboard.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for shirley jones, blue beagle, big tis, i can has cheezburger, and vulcan star trek.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

For Mother’s Day May 2007
1 comment

(Ok, why this is #1?  It’s not due to sentimental madre-philes, it’s because the Shirley Jones fans want to see a photo of her when she was in her early 20’s.)

2

Big Tis December 2007

(This is #2 because people can’t spell “tits” and I mocked them in a post.  Those little optimists still go to the link in hope of the tits and must stay for the mocking. LEARN TO SPELL!)

3

Post CCL Surgery: A Beagle’s Story April 2010
8 comments

(YAY! The beagle folks!  Boo CCL tears, surgeries and rehab.  YAY! Healthy pets!)

4

Maintenance & Thank You’s! December 2006
3 comments

(Lots of folks haven’t straightened out their old RSS feeds and redirected their links.  Thus, this made #4.)

5

About April 2010

(err… someone wants to know about me? That’s my #5? Sad.  In short.  I’m a Texan. I’m an Austinite through-and-through.  I have an accent.  I have pushy friends.  I have a beagle (she’s cute) and two evil cats that torment her (also cute) and a husband (very cute).  My favorite food is cheese.  My favorite drink is liquid.  I like romantic strolls through my house.  Rainy days.  Hot summers.  I study improv.  I suck at improv.  My dream vacation involves sitting at some random cafe near Washington Square people watching. I also like expensive gifts and being driven around.  I’m not kidding.

After receiving this email about my stats, I’m trying not to rock in place because none of the top 5 reflect readers being drawn in by my writing.  This probably says something about my writing.  Damn.  Back to rocking.