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Category Archives: tips

How to make enemies and alienate people

We’ve discussed here before how to win social media, both on Facebook and Twitter. Most of the advice boils down to Wheaton’s Law, which is:

Surprisingly, this is very, very difficult for a lot of people. I’m not sure if this is because they truly like being dickish, or they don’t REALIZE they’re being dickish, or it’s too hard to think, so therefore they just say whatever crosses their minds the minute they sit down at a keyboard…but whatever the reason is, the dicks seem to outnumber the people with something real and helpful to say online, most specifically in the comment sections.

Most people I know are, for good reason, aware that if you read an article online, you don’t, under any circumstances, read the comment section. Why? Well. Because here be dragons, of course.

For every kind, helpful and relevant comment online, you have to wade through people being racist, sexist, or just downright weird, and it starts to turn your stomach and despair for the human race.

But what about if you CAN’T avoid the comments? What if it’s your job to be the one to POLICE the comments?

I will never not love this guy. FAVORITE POLTICIAN EVER!

I will never not love this guy. FAVORITE POLITICIAN EVER!

One of the aspects of my current job is social media. Five days a week, I’m in charge of the work Facebook page and Twitter account (along with my other multitudinous tasks, of course. I’m a busy bee. But I am a HAPPY busy bee, so there’s that, then.) I not only schedule the posts our readers see, I’m in charge of reading their comments for a few reasons – to see what they’re saying (it might come in handy in the future); to see if there are problems (sometimes they tell us about typos/errors in the article or on the site, which we can hopefully quickly fix); and to make sure things aren’t getting off-topic or squirrelly.

Things often get off-topic and squirrelly.

Twitter isn’t bad, only because people in this area don’t use Twitter as much as I wish they did. (It’s a great resource for a newspaper – we can get the news out almost immediately and have a constant stream of it going to our readers. It just hasn’t taken off around here like it has in more populated regions. I think it will, eventually; we’re just late adopters.) The people who follow us on Twitter are respectful and polite, for the most part, and I never feel like I’m wading into The Princess Bride‘s Fire Swamp when I check our Twitter page.

fireswamp

The Facebook page, however, is a very different beast.

Now, please don’t go into this thinking I don’t appreciate – and even enjoy – a vast majority of our commenters. We’d be nowhere without our readers, and I love that they’re out there and paying attention.

It’s the fringe contingent that worries me. And keep me busy hiding their comments. And sometimes shaking my head and thinking, “oh, I don’t…oh, oh no.”

SO. For those people, I’d like to give you a quick list of pointers. You are very quick to complain when your comments disappear, vocally and angrily; you are very quick to shout “CENSORSHIP!” and “THANKS, OBAMA!” when you think you’ve been silenced. Hopefully, this will help you navigate the waters of our social media more successfully.

HOW TO NOT BE A DICK ON PUBLIC SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES

  • Watch your language. I don’t know if you’re aware, but Facebook has a helpful function for those of us that moderate a public page. We can choose to have comments with swear words immediately hidden, so only we can see them. We very much utilize this function, as we have every intention of being a public page, and the last thing we want is some hapless child stumbling upon you cussing the hell out of a news story. Also, you kiss your mother with that mouth? Good grief, yo.
  • Stay on topic. Of course, there’s leeway here. I’m not saying there’s one path to greatness, people. But if we put up a post about, say, a fundraiser picnic, and you start rambling on about how angry you are that there are so many mosquitoes this year and there’s no global warming because of that LIAR AL GORE!, that’s just confusing and you might be a conspiracy-crazy. I’m not saying I’m blocking it, but people are going to think you’re a looney.

    Except for you, Mulder. You can comment any old time.

    Except for you, Mulder. You can comment any old time.

  • Remember: since it’s a public page, everyone on your timeline, as well as anyone in the world, can see what you’ve said, and hover over your icon and see your profile. It’s just the way Facebook is set up, my little chickadees. You give up your anonymity when you comment on a public page. If you’ve got your page locked down, when they go to look at you, they won’t see much…but you’re still not anonymous. Your name is there. EVERYONE NOW KNOWS YOUR NAME. And your comment shows up in your friends’ newsfeed. I have a friend of a friend who’s very involved with commenting on social media sites. Every time he comments on our paper, my friend says, “I see So-and-So commented on your work Facebook page again!” Everyone’s seeing what you say. Keep that in mind when you comment. If you’re not being a jerk, you have nothing to worry about. If you are, however…well, your mom’s probably seeing that (assuming your mom has Facebook. My mom doesn’t. I’m one of the lucky few.) Do you want your mom seeing that? Are you sure?
  • Personal insults? Really? What grade are you in? We have had to take down entire posts because people randomly started insulting the other commenters, the people in the article, random politicians (seriously, if I never see another non-ironic “THANKS, OBAMA!” it’ll be too soon), and, in one weird thread, God. (Yes, some guy started really insulting God, like, over and over. SO MAD AT GOD.) That counts as off-topic, and it counts as just downright mean, people. STOP IT. I get it. You are filled with all of the hatred. You are ready to explode like a hatred volcano. Sometimes *I* am the target of the hatred volcano. Sometimes my beloved coworkers who wrote the articles are (and it takes every bit of my precarious self-control to not respond with a very biting “WE ARE RUBBER YOU ARE GLUE!” rebuttal, because when it comes to my coworkers, I am such a Momma Bear.) But if you go too far, I’m hiding your comments, buckaroo. I don’t like meanness. I don’t like the idea that people are walking around with a stomachache because someone was mean to them for no reason on our social media. Make a new plan, Stan, and screw off home.

    Oh, is THIS who's to blame. UGH THANKS OBAMA

    Oh, is THIS who’s to blame. UGH THANKS OBAMA

  • Why you gotta be so dirty? SO MUCH NAUGHTINESS. I’m immediately hiding your comments saying female politicians got to where they are “on their knees” or that the local taco place sells “fish tacos that remind me of my ex-girlfriend.” Seriously? What are you hoping to accomplish with this comment? Like, cracking up your friends with a “HEE HEE DIRTY COMMENT ON A PUBLIC SITE?” or “UNGH I AM SO SEXY THIS IS LIKE AN OBSCENE PHONE CALL FOR *EVERYONE*!” I don’t even know. I have ALMOST the least tolerance for this. The LEAST tolerance is saved for…
  • On my watch? No racist, sexist, homophobic comments. Not going to happen. Don’t even try. And if they happen when the other people I work with are on social media, I’ll sometimes randomly check and hide your comments EVEN THOUGH I AM NOT WORKING. Yeah, you heard me right. I FEEL SO STRONGLY ABOUT THIS, I DO THAT SHIT FOR FREE, YO. You don’t get to have a public forum to spew your hatred. Sorry. I know, right, FREE SPEECH? Well, we run the page, and you lost your right to free speech when you commented on it. We have the right to moderate. And until the day my fingers fall off, I will not allow you to put hate speech on our site.
  • Acting too cool for school is actually the stupidest thing ever. We get a lot of “who cares?” or “slow news day” comments. Did you really take time out of your day to write that? Actual time you could have been spending on something else? YOU obviously care, because you took that time out of your day. And no, it’s not a “slow news day.” There’s no such thing. If we posted the article, we think someone can benefit from reading it; if it doesn’t resonate with you, maybe…oh, I don’t know, don’t feel like you have to comment? It’s not like you have to comment on everything. No! Really! You don’t have to! I know, freeing, right?
  • Maybe spell/grammar check? I’m a little more stringent about this than others. I hate ALL typos. It’s what I do for a living; you can’t really blame me. Most people don’t care if you make a few. But I’m talking about the people who write a comment like “For teh all people eat fodo there waffles, good yunger.” I don’t…what does this mean? Do you even know what it means? Is it a puzzle? If I solve it, what do I win? (Is it waffles? That’s a worthy prize. I’ll take it.)
  • Don’t try to sell me a car. We randomly get a Ugandan businessman who spams about 15 of our posts with a huge long “CARS FOR SALE!” comment. We block him; he comes back in another incarnation about a month later. We’re going to keep blocking you, buddy. No one wants your used Buicks. And how would they even GET here from Uganda? Logistical nightmare.

These all seem common sense, right? Yeah, you’d be surprised. If you’re looking at the comment section of a public site, know that most likely, even though your blood pressure is up? Most of the worst comments HAVE ALREADY BEEN TAKEN DOWN. I know. Humbling, right?

So the next time you’re going to comment on a public page, take a deep breath, think, “Is this a dick move? Should I do this? Am I building someone up, or knocking someone down? Do I have a valid point? Is there even any REASON for me to make this comment?” If you can answer all of your questions and still look yourself in the eye in the mirror…you are welcome! Comment away! If not…maybe start a blog where you can say what you want, with no fear of The Powers That Be shutting you down.

...or you'll make Ron Swanson annoyed. You don't want to make Ron Swanson annoyed. Trust me.

…or you’ll make Ron Swanson annoyed. You don’t want to make Ron Swanson annoyed. Trust me.

And, to those of you with actual, helpful, intelligent comments to make? THANK YOU. You make my day/month/year. Keep on keepin’ on, you guys. You make what we do worthwhile.

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Confessions of a night owl

I’ve always been a bit of a late-night junkie.

When people in my family hit puberty, we lose the ability to sleep. It’s like clockwork, really. HORMONES BAM WHY DO YOU NEED SLEEP? It’s impossible to FALL asleep, and once you’re there, you have to be very, very careful to STAY asleep, because once you wake up, all bets are off. You might get an hour’s sleep, or six hours, but if you wake up too much, there’s no falling back to sleep. Or you might wake fully up for no reason at 3 a.m. and there you have it, then! That’s all the sleep you need! (It’s not. Not at all. You’re sleepwalking all day and you yell at people, and sometimes walls and/or your own feet for being stumbly.)

My grandmother and great-aunt never used their beds because why bother? They slept in their recliners with the televisions on. That way, they figured, if they woke up, they could at least watch some fine late-night television. My dad’s currently getting 4-5 hours of sleep a night. That’s actually quite a bit for him.

(Ironically, Mom sleeps like the dead. She’s in bed every night by 9 and up by 4-5 a.m. and she’s one of those “I’m up, let’s sing songs of little BIRDIES!” people that make you want to throw things. Talk about opposites attracting.)

A normal 9-5 workday never worked out for me. I hate alarms. I hate getting up early. I hate going to bed before I’m tired. If you’re an insomniac to begin with, going to bed when you’re not even tired is a waste of time. You just lie there and every stupid thing you’ve said in your ENTIRE LIFE goes through your mind.

I was a little nervous about the new job. See, I’m working weird hours now – til 1am three weekdays a week and over 10-hour days on the weekend days (I have to get up kind of early those days, but I get out at 8.) I worked the late shift at the answering service quite a few times over the years, and it never bothered me that much (things always slowed down a lot, and mostly we could chat and laugh, which was always good) but a job where you were actually WORKING and expected to be MENTALLY ALERT until 1 a.m.? Eeesh.

Well. Come to find out, this works PERFECTLY for me. Who knew the solution to over almost 30 years of insomnia is shifting your sleeping/waking hours? (FINE, I’m sure some scientist knew this. Everyone has Circadian rhythms, right? Well, who’s to say mine aren’t much different from everyone else’s? I mean, my brain seems to run at a different weirdo speed than most of the world; I wouldn’t be surprised if my rhythms are all off, as well.)

It took a bit of getting used to (a month or two, to be honest) but come to find out this is kind of perfection. I get to go to bed when I’m tired. I only have to set the alarm twice a week. I can let myself sleep as late as I want 5 days a week. Let that sink in – I can sleep until NOON if I want to FIVE DAYS A WEEK. (I don’t – I usually get up between 9:30-10 – but I COULD.) I’m actually perfectly alert until 1 a.m. (well, most nights – some nights the copyediting and proofreading is very, very dry, and my most favorite cheerful goofballs happen to have the night off, and there’s a lot of hurry up and wait, and on those nights I get a little yawny. But who wouldn’t, even during a normal day of work?) Then I get to go home, and it takes about an hour to unwind, and I’m off to bed. AND I CAN ACTUALLY SLEEP. I’ve been getting almost 8 hours of sleep a night for months. IT IS GLORIOUS.

ME EVERY NIGHT. (Plus about 40 years, let's be honest.)

ME EVERY NIGHT. (Plus about 40 years, let’s be honest.)

(Well, side note, not EVERY night; there’s a certain cat who’s QUITE sure that once the sun comes up, it’s playtime. So he leaps into my bed and tromps all over me and says “MEOW MEOW MEOW” all up in my face and I say sleepily “No no good boy go lay dooooown” and he is VERY EXCITED to hear my voice and then there is MORE tromping and meowing and “HEY MOM HEY MOOOOOM maybe it is time for wet food? Mom mom MOOOM! Meow meow meow PURR IN YOUR FAAAACE!” and sometimes there’s tickling my nose with his whiskers, which is not optimal, and sometimes even WORSE, there’s licking of my forehead, which he knows makes me giggle and squirm and put my head under the covers. That’s a VERY fun game for him because it means he’s won! Man, is that guy lucky I adore him.)

BUT! If you work nights (or want to sleep many hours into the sunrise) you have to follow many rules, such as:

  • DARKNESS! I had dark curtains but they weren’t enough. Em recommended blackout curtains and I got some for Christmas. They make ALL the difference. Those, plus closing all the bedroom doors most of the way (sadly, not all of the way, because there’s a certain cat in this household – YES, the same cat mentioned ABOVE – who cannot bear closed doors and would caterwaul and throw himself at the doors until I opened them, and that’s not going to help you sleep, because he needs to come and go or he can’t handle his FEEEEELINGS – are keeping my room dark like a TOMB and it is GLORIOUS.
  • QUIETNESS! There’s only so much of this I can get, because of the cat, you see, but quietness is important. I live on a somewhat-busy street, and the cars start being loud early, as do the children waiting for the bus and the upstairs neighbor who has a normal schedule and gets up early in the morning. I have mostly solved this with a very loud fan. I suppose I could use a white noise machine, but those make me nervous. Someone gave me one once, and my choices were “forest” (every now and then this very loud frog would be all “RIBBIT!” and how is that white noise?), “ocean” (which would have been fine but whoever recorded this put on screechy seagulls and also it made me have to pee all night), “wind” (which kept having these gusts which made me think the house was about to fall down and I was having nightmares about Auntie Em and the storm cellar) and “storm” (rain is soothing, except for the having to pee part, but random VERY LOUD THUNDERCLAPS are not. I’M AWAKE NOW IS MY HOUSE ON FIRE?) So I just turn on my fan and angle it away from my bed and it makes just enough whooshy white noise that I don’t hear much of anything except for the time some man came to my house trying to collect a debt from the prior tenant and knocked on my door AND all the windows (and you can be sure I reamed him a new one and he left apologizing and I think is so scared of me now he will never return.)
  • MEDICALLY INDUCED COMA! OK, so this one might not be for all of you, but I’ve been on meds for my sleeping issues for…oh, most of my adult life, and I take a teeny tiny pill every night that helps tip me over into slumberville. It doesn’t always work, but I’d say 90/100 times it does the trick. Aaah, prescription zzzzzs.
  • BEING COMFORTABLE! Comfortable sleep clothes are a MUST. You can take your sexy negligees and wear ’em to your heart’s content, my friends, I’m wearing flannel and t-shirts and, on very cold nights, a sweater over that, and maybe furry socks. And sometimes the cat is allowed under the covers because he is a warm little furry hot water bottle. You also need to know what kind of covers you need. Lots? Few? (Me, I’m a 4,000 blanket person. I like to feel MUMMIFIED under blankets. So I can barely MOVE. It is just my best thing.) How about pillows. Squishy? Hard? Feather? Foam? GET YOURSELF COMFY, YO. The more your bed’s a happy safe haven, the more you’re going to want to stay in it longer. There’s nothing worse than waking up because you’re freezing or in a pool of sweat. Plan ahead. And, related to this…
  • DO NOT DRINK ALL THE BEVERAGES BEFORE BED. Seriously, do you want to crawl out of that warm little cocoon you’ve so carefully constructed to pee like 14 times all night long? Especially when you KNOW when you get back the cat will have taken the warm spot in the bed and then you have to move him and he’s all “MEOW MOM YOU ARE THE WOOOORST” and then decides “Well, I’m awake, can I climb on you like you’re a mountain? Who cares, I’m gonna” and it takes forever to get back to sleep. Just curtail your orange soda after a certain time of night. You’ll be fine, my little gumdrops. You can drink all the soda in the morning, if you want. I won’t tell anyone.

SO, to sum up: I am getting the best sleep in my life by working weird hours. And when I tell people what hours I work, I get that face. That “oh, I feel so BAD for you” face. But I get to work with people who are ALSO happy to be working weird hours, and we’re kind of like kids who get to stay up all night and sleep in all day, and if anyone says anything about it we can say “I WORK NIGHTS” and this makes people kind of back away from you as if you might be radioactive (you kind of might) but little do they know, you’re actually kind of working the best hours ever.

(This all might be moot if you have children, or are in a relationship with someone who doesn’t understand weird hours. I decided about a month into this I was only allowed to date either other newspaper people, or writers, or maybe people who do long-distance truck-driving because who else is going to be up at these hours?)

Also, there is nothing better than doing errands in the middle of the day on a Thursday. NO ONE IS IN THE STORES! You can get in and out and it is like MAGIC! Yes, all of the employees think you’re unemployed, but who cares? YOU WIN QUICK SHOPPERY! Also, if you leave work at 1 a.m., no one’s on the roads, so you can drive really slow when the weather’s bad and NO ONE IS THERE TO CARE! It’s all very “I own the world, this is mine now” and empowering.

Now you know a secret: people working at night don’t always hate it, after all. Just don’t tell anyone. Then EVERYONE will want to work nights, and who’d open the stores early then? THE WHOLE AMERICAN ECONOMY WOULD COLLAPSE. I’d feel TERRIBLE. Eek!

And if anything goes on before, say, 10am on a weekday, you guys will let me know, right? Good, good. Much appreciated. All the love. *smooooch*


What they don’t tell you about walking on sunshine is that it is SO SO HOT.

It’s hot.

Like, heat-wave hot.

BEYOND hot.

Like, living on the surface of the SUN hot.

(Now is when Andreas tells me I am exaggerating.)

Today, I asked my boss if somehow we were living in Tucson and no one told us. She thought maybe.

I'm pretty sure if I looked outside today, I'd see this.

I’m pretty sure if I looked outside today, I’d see this.

It’s the kind of hot where everything’s making me cranky, and I don’t want to leave the house, and there just aren’t enough cool things like icy beverages and popsicles and cold showers in the world to make it better, and I just don’t want to do anything but sit around and sigh sadly.

SO CRANKY AND HOT.

SO CRANKY AND HOT.

(Don’t you even tell me, as my mom always does, “You’ll WISH it was this hot when WINTER gets here!” Because I will NOT think that. I NEVER wish it to be this hot. And even when it’s super-cold in the winter, I don’t get this lethargic and crabby. I’m much better at cold than I am at hot. I HATE HEAT.)

According to a map I saw of Merka, it’s hot all over the place, except in a few places it’s in the 70s. (Well, I suppose in Alaska it’s cooler, but also there are moose and such up there, so that barely counts.)

Welcome to Merka! MONSTER HEAT WAVE!

Welcome to Merka! MONSTER HEAT WAVE!

So, because a lot of my readers are living where it’s quite toasty at the moment, I thought we could look at a helpful list of tips I found on the internet for staying cool when it’s hot out. That’ll be good, right? Yep. Totally will. We’ll think cool thoughts together.

Here’s the list. Ready?

1. Have a water-drinking competition with your family. I don’t think drinking water is competitive, and I know I read somewhere that if you drink too much of it, you can actually get water intoxication. You feel drunk and it makes you sick and stuff. I don’t know the science and I’m too hot to look it up. Something about imbalancing your chemicals or something. I bet Andreas knows. Just drink enough water so you don’t get dehydrated and don’t dare each other to drink more. Also, it’ll make you pee. Like, a LOT.

2. Sit in front of the air conditioner and eat marshmallows (sort of the opposite of roasting marshmallows over a campfire…) What the hell? This is foolish. Just eat whatever you want in front of the air conditioner. Popsicles. Fried chicken. Oreos, I don’t care. Weirdo.

3. Put an ice cube on your skin and see how long it takes to melt. Ooh, is this like naughty-times? Because it’s too hot for naughty-times. Get off me. GET OFF ME, I SAID.

Is she SLEEPING on the ice cubes? What is happening here?

Is she SLEEPING on the ice cubes? What is happening here?

4. Use a fan to blow your hair around like a fashion model’s and take pictures. And you have to do this during a heat-wave why? You could do this anytime. Also, you’re going to look weird, not sexy. Just so you know.

Well, this dog looks pretty good. But dogs always do.

Well, this dog looks pretty good. But dogs always do.

5. Read that book you haven’t had time to read because you’re usually outside. Ha! “Usually outside.” It’s like you don’t know me at all. I avoid outside as if it’s filled with bugs, sun, and strangers. Oh. Wait. It is.

6. Call a neighbor and invite them over for ice cream. No, because a., I don’t know or want to know any of my neighbors, and b. none of my friends are going to want to drive across town in this kind of heat for something they could get from their own freezers.

And if they eat it like this, I TOTALLY don't want them to come over. This is just creepy-times.

And if they eat it like this, I TOTALLY don’t want them to come over. This is just creepy-times.

7. Spend the day wandering around your local air-conditioned mall (assuming you have an air-conditioned way to get there). I actually somewhat agree with this one. One summer it was so hot my roommate and I were dying so we went to the mall and we watched a movie in comfort (we didn’t have air conditioning in that place) and we so, so, SO didn’t want to go home. But we had to. Because you can’t live in the mall, as much as you want to. But I don’t suggest spending the DAY there. I mean, you might as well go to work. Work’s air-conditioned, right?

8. Have a movie marathon–of movies that take place in the winter. This isn’t going to make you feel cooler. But if you want to watch movies, go to, I guess. Also, did I mention eat popsicles? Do that.

Watch this movie if you have to watch a cool movie. This movie is the best thing. (Ang Lee's "The Ice Storm." Highly recommended.)

Watch this movie if you have to watch a cool movie. This movie is the best thing. (Ang Lee’s “The Ice Storm.” Highly recommended.)

9. Call an elderly friend or relative and make sure they’re doing all right. OMG, everyone always says this. Who are these lonely forgotten old people, and why must we all be reminded to check on them? I’m guessing they’re old people that have no one, and that makes my heart hurt. My old people are fine. Mostly that means my grandmother, because the rest of my old people have died of non-heat-related reasons.

10. Soak in a tub of lukewarm water. I don’t like tubs, because they seem filthy to me. Also, when it’s hot, I want cold water. Not lukewarm. Cold. So I’m freezing. Then that cold lasts for like twenty minutes when I get out and then I’m all hot again, but still. It’s better than nothing. Dad says that only crazy people take cold showers and that the SHOCK will KILL me but I’ve been doing it for years and I’m still kickin’, baby.

I'm rarely this HAPPY in the cold shower, though. Who the hell is? It's cold. You move fast or you freeze.

I’m rarely this HAPPY in the cold shower, though. Who the hell is? It’s cold. You move fast or you freeze.

11. Write a note to remind yourself not to complain about cold temperatures next winter. Then write a note to remind yourself to stop being a supercilious asshat.

12. Have a sub sandwich buffet for supper: set out rolls, meats, cheese, veggies, and condiments, and let your family put together their own sandwiches. I don’t have a family. Who’s going to eat this Subway shop I’ve set up in my house? Dumbcat? He doesn’t like human food. It makes him hide under the couch. What a waste of all those things. I mean, there are only so many sandwiches I can eat, you know?

13. Give yourself permission to be a little lazy; after all, in this kind of heat you shouldn’t try to do too much. Except work, grocery shopping, laundry, packing for vacation, hanging with Dumbcat, doing a million theater reviews…yeah. I don’t know that I have an option to kick back and be lazy, yo. Sorry, me.

These don’t seem to have been very helpful tips. Here are MY tips.

  • Sit in front of the air conditioning
  • Eat all icy things all the time
  • Tell Dumbcat to get off you because he’s so heavy and so furry and so hot, even though you love him
  • Try very hard not to get cranky over things that wouldn’t normally bother you because it’s really just the heat speaking
  • Go swimming if you like such things and can swim (I do not, and cannot)
  • Don’t do things that make you extra hot, like cleaning the house, moving heavy furniture, or riding the mechanical bull (one or more of these is a euphemism, you can decide which)

Stay cool, my little ice cubes. And if you are my real-life most-beloved, and I am snappy, please know I am not snapping at YOU, but at the HEAT, which is like WALKING INTO A DAMN OVEN.

RIGHT INTO AN OVEN.

RIGHT INTO AN OVEN.

Ahem.

Happy Tuesday.

HAPPY TUESDAY.

So…so…hot…


Blogging etiquette. Should that be blogiquette? Maybe. Kids today, with their words and such.

I think we need to have a chat about blogging etiquette, my most lovely readers.

What? Who does Amy think she is, Emily Effing Post? Nope. I never know which fork to use, and I don’t understand the white-after-Labor-Day rule, so I don’t wear white at all. (That’s actually not that hard, since I only own one white thing, and that’s a white teeshirt, and it has crazy pitstains, so I can only wear it under things now. TMI? Yep. So now you can see I am SO not Emily Post. I don’t even play her on teevee.)

Oh, screw this, I know nothing about this crap.

Oh, screw this, I know nothing about this crap.

There are a lot of bloggers in the world. How many? Don’t know. This pretty infographic tells us about the state of blogging in Merka:

The most important thing you can learn from this? Other than I couldn’t find one for the world (sorry, world)?

There are a LOT OF BLOGGERS. You are one of MILLIONS.

Also, odds that you’re going to make your fortune as a blogger? Slim to none, sunshine. Sorry to burst your bubble. I have made $25 from blogging in the past year and a half. It’s not something you do because you want to make a lot of money. (Well, it might be, but you’re going to be disappointed pretty damn quickly. Or unable to pay your rent. Or eat. Or feed your cats. Dumbcat disapproves of this plan. He likes to eat quite a bit.)

So, because there are so many bloggers, I think it might be time that we mention some of the general rules of blogging.

I know! You’re all, “What? There are RULES?” and no. No, there aren’t, not really. But there is etiquette. And a lot of people aren’t being polite. And it’s bothersome. You want to be polite, don’t you? Sure you do.

Now, I’m not the queen of polite. I mean, I TRY to be, but I’m sure some people think I’m the rudest person to ever rude it up. I’m cool with that. I do my best. I can sleep at night. But some people…well, I think it’s one of two things. Either you’re new to the blogosphere, so you don’t know the ropes, or you just don’t care. Either way, let’s have a chat, ok? Cool.

Now, remember how up there I said there weren’t really rules to blogging? I lied. There’s one.

Here’s the one, which I will center and make all-caps and bold with stars because it’s just that important:

***HAVE FUN***

There. That’s it. That’s the number one rule. That is THE rule. Don’t do it to make money, or to become the most famous blogger EVAH, or for whatever other weird reasons might compel you to blog. Do it because you like writing, and because you have something to say, and it seems like it might be fun. And if it continues to be fun? And if you meet amazing people? Well, good. That means you’re doing it right. And if it stops being fun? Well, it’s something you should stop doing. I mean, listen. Work’s not fun, but if you quit doing it, you couldn’t pay your bills. Paying your bills isn’t fun, but if you quit doing it, you would have no power. Or water. Or home. But if you aren’t having fun blogging – well, why the hell are you still doing it? It’s an extracurricular. So quit it. It might not be your thing. That’s ok. It doesn’t mean you’re broken. I mean, soccer isn’t my thing, but that doesn’t mean I’m broken. Just uncoordinated. You’re still ok. You’ll find something. Promise.

ANYWAY. Let’s talk about etiquette, ok? Because it’s necessary.

Write good posts with actual information in them. So! You’ve started a blog. Great! Now, what to write about? That’s up to you. What do you like? What are you good at? Are you funny? Are you serious? Do you want to talk about your kids? Tell stories? There are a million things you can blog about. Only you can decide what you’d be best at. What not to do? Write one or two sentences (too often – once and a while, sure. Shake things up.) Reblog other people’s posts and do nothing but reblog other people’s posts – again, once and a while is ok, but if it’s all you do, how are you going to develop your own voice? I promise, people want to get to know you, not just see what other people are saying. If they wanted to see what other people were saying, they’d follow them. Just be YOU. Seriously. If you don’t know who you are? Figure it out. Sometimes it takes a little while to find your footing. That’s fine. You’ll find it.

Don’t steal. You saw what happened to Jean Valjean, right? Right. OK, so you’re new to blogging, you’re reading a lot of other blogs, they seem SO COOL…so, they wouldn’t mind if you took their post ideas, right? I mean, they have a lot of followers, and you WANT a lot of followers, so if they’re doing this neat thing like they’re recapping an episode of Game of Thrones using X-Files action figures or something, well, that’s a cool idea! Yank that right off of there! It’s not like stealing from a store, right? WRONG. It’s WORSE. It’s intellectual property. That person worked hard on that. They worked hard on the post; they worked hard on getting those followers. But AMY! What if I steal the idea but TWEAK it a little? NO. Us bloggers, we are a savvy bunch. We know when you’re yanking our ideas. We know when you’re stealing the way we talk, our blog designs, a cool idea we worked weeks on developing. And here’s the thing: a., can you really sleep, knowing your cool idea was just stolen from someone else? and b., any followers you get are eventually going to figure this shit out, you know. You’re not fooling anyone, not for long. (Also, this goes for the big blogs, too. I won’t name names, but there’s a big-name genre blog that steals from the smaller bloggers within that genre ALL. THE. TIME. It’s a shady-ass blog, and it’s getting tons of followers and hits on the hard work that the smaller bloggers are doing. I’ve got my eye on you, big blog. And someday, you’re going to get yours. Seriously. I believe very strongly in karma being a bitch.)

Do you really want to be the kind of jerk who swipes? Well? DO YOU? Dora would totally shout at you if you did.

Do you really want to be the kind of jerk who swipes? Well? DO YOU? Dora would totally shout at you if you did.

Read and comment on other blogs. Now you have a blog, and you’re writing (hopefully non-stolen) posts that are awesome and full of kitten-rainbows. You want people to read your stuff! And your best bet? Other bloggers. Listen, I just counted, and I am subscribed to 191 blogs. And I add more every day. And I’m SELECTIVE about the ones I subscribe to, mostly because I don’t have time to read the ones I DO read, so I have to be careful about adding new ones. Now, not all of those update daily, but some update MULTIPLE times a day. I read them all. I comment when I am moved to do so and if it’s a WordPress blog, I hit the like button when I’m moved to do so. A lot of bloggers are very engaged with other bloggers, more so than most readers, I’d dare to say. Because we write, and we love to read what others are writing. You need to engage with other bloggers. Follow their blogs; learn from them (but do not, per the last paragraph, STEAL from them. There’s a fine line between inspiration and thievery.) Comment, and comment thoughtfully, if you are moved enough by their post to do so. If you like their blog, RSS it, or get the new posts emailed to you. This is your community now. Dive right into the pool.

Dive right in there. Wear floaties if you have to. No one will judge. Promise.

Dive right in there. Wear floaties if you have to. No one will judge. Promise.

BUT, don’t comment with nonsense. NOW! You’ve read a post. This blog has a lot of followers! You know if you comment on it, your name and a link to your blog will be in the comments! THEN ALL THOSE PEOPLE WILL FOLLOW YOU AND YOU WILL BE FAY-MUSS! Well, you might get a click or two from those comments, sure. I’ve gotten some wonderful followers from comments I’ve made, both the bloggers and others who follow that blogger. HOWEVER! Here is a tip. Do not just comment with the following, or a combination of the following: “LOL good post”/”Ha ha this was funny”/”I read this, good”/”Good writing”/”Thank you”. Why would you even comment with such a thing? Please put content of some sort in your comment. I mean, yes, comments are awesome, and bloggers love them? But we don’t know much about what to do with that kind of comment. Do we respond to it? Ignore it? Also, we’re aware you’re here to draw attention to yourself and your blog. YOU ARE NOT FOOLING US, SLAPPY.

And, don’t link-spam. If you’ve commented correctly, your name and a link to your blog will neatly show up in to the left of your comment. You do not need to put a link to your blog IN the comment. That’s overkill. And it’s rude. It’s one of those unspoken rude things. Don’t do that. Also, and I don’t know when this became a thing, and I blame WordPress, but apparently there’s a setting now where you can blanket-spam a bunch of people with a link to your blog. I’ve gotten a ton of these in the past couple of weeks. “Check out my blog!” “Read my blog!” “I follow you, now you follow me back!” And – my personal favorite, and if you’re reading, whoever did this, yes, I’m totally talking about you – “Send this to 21 more people now.” And that was all. IT WAS A BOSSY BLOGSPAM CHAIN LETTER. Let me tell you something. I delete these when I get them. I don’t even click the link. If you’ve commented on my blog, I’ve checked out your blog. I promise. I’m diligent about such things. You don’t need to link-spam me. I might be reading; I might not. As I said, I can’t read every blog in the world. I have to be selective.

I can only assume you don't want to be a processed meat-like product, so cut that out, you.

I can only assume you don’t want to be a processed meat-like product, so cut that out, you.

Don’t overpublicize. You don’t need to put up links to your most recent post a billion times. Once or twice on Twitter/Facebook/wherever else you publicize your stuff? Cool. Ten times? More? Tweeting it to a bunch of people asking them to read it? Spamming blog comments with it when the post has nothing to do with the post you’re publicizing? (I’m not saying NEVER put a link to your blog in someone’s comments. If you know the person, it’s ok. Or, I’ve put a link to someone ELSE’S blog in someone’s comments before. THAT’S ok. But don’t be a spammer, yo, see the paragraph above. It’s rude.) People are going to get sick of seeing all those links and they’re going to stop paying attention to you. Seriously. Trust me on this.

Be polite. Don’t be rude in people’s comments. That’s not your house. You want to be rude on your blog, cool. That’s your house! Someone else’s blog is not your house. So don’t walk all through there with muddy shoes. AGAIN, there’s an exception – if you know the blogger, and you have one of those jokey sarcastic relationships with them, go to it, jellybean. For example: I like to use SHOUTY ALL-CAPS and be very sarcastic. But I wouldn’t do that on someone’s blog I didn’t know well. I would do it on someone’s blog I’ve known a long time. If I didn’t, they might think I was sick. Otherwise, be polite. Your mom told you to be polite, and she wasn’t kidding about that.

I'm sorry, but this made me snort-laugh. I never said I had a high-brow sense of humor.

I’m sorry, but this made me snort-laugh. I never said I had a high-brow sense of humor.

Reply to your comments as much as you can. You have readers now! And they are commenting! Now, once you become a big old huge blogger, you might not have time to respond to all your comments. But are you The Bloggess? Are you Wil Wheaton? No. No, you are not. You are cutting off a dialogue between you and your readers if you don’t talk to them, and where can you talk to them? In your comments. Reply to them. Joke with them. Ask them things. Respond to their questions. And guess what? You might even make FRIENDS with some of them. I know! Shocking! Seriously. Try it.

Use social media, but do not abuse social media. You are a blogger! With followers! And commenters! A good thing to do is make a presence on social media. Twitter and Facebook are good. Some people have luck with Google Plus, Tumblr, things along those lines. Do what you’re comfortable with. Or what you’re NOT comfortable with, maybe. Go outside your comfort zone. It won’t bite you. Probably. Don’t abuse your social media presence, however. Don’t annoy people; don’t harass people; don’t post like a zillion links to weird stuff that isn’t even FUN or GOOD, don’t just retweet things. Think before you post. PAY ATTENTION. I can’t emphasize this one enough. If someone’s not talking about something? Probably don’t needle them about it. If someone seems sad, maybe ask them what’s wrong. If someone’s celebrating, congratulate them. Paying attention shows you’re a good listener, and potentially, someone people want to get to know. Also, don’t beg people to follow you. Ask them, nicely, a few times, but don’t constantly harass them. It makes me crazy when someone’s constantly in my face about following them. If I wanted to be, I would. I’m pretty savvy about the interwebs, dudes and dudettes. (SIDE NOTE! This is a me-thing and not an anyone-else thing, but I don’t use my personal Facebook for blog stuff. So while I appreciate people who have found out my REAL IDENTITY ZOMG and want to be my Facebook friend, odds are very good I will not approve your friend request. I’ve mentioned this in my FAQ’s, I think, but that’s where I keep my family and friends. I don’t invite strangers in there. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, and please feel so, so free to follow my blog Facebook page, or friend me on Twitter, where someday I might actually post shit again. But odds are very good you’re not going to be accepted on Facebook, and I’m sure you’re lovely, and not at all a stabmurderer. But, sorry. I have to have a certain level of knowledge of you, and trust, to let you onto my Facebook page. Thanks ever so for understanding.)

Be patient. Nothing good happens overnight. I know, it’s easy to look at some bloggers who have like 2,000 followers in 6 months, and be all, WHY NOT ME! I AM THE WORST! and freak out. I know. But keep doing what you’re doing. Have fun. Write what you know how to write. Make friends online. And if you get your 2,000 followers? Cool. And if you don’t? You know what? Not at all the end of the world. Don’t compare yourself to others. You’ll never measure up. You know why? You’re not them. And, there’s someone out there attempting to measure up to YOU and failing miserably. Just don’t. Measure your success against how happy you are. Are you happy today? Then you’ve succeeded. Are you sad? Then what are you going to do tomorrow to make it a better day?

OK, this is insanely long, and you know what? It stops being fun for me if I can’t get any sleep. So to bed I go. Have fun is the number one rule. And the number one etiquette rule? Well, it’s simple. Follow the golden rule. Treat others like you want to be treated.

Then take that, and your happiness, and go out into the world and CONQUER it. You’re invincible now. And who doesn’t want to be invincible?


Preparing for the apocalypse with snack cakes and disco balls.

We were talking about the end of the world at work the other day. You know. As you do.

Apparently, the Mayan end-of-the-world is December 21. I don’t know the details. Something about the Mayan calendar ending or something? I read a bunch of things and they were confusing. Something about some sort of period ending? And some people are all DOOM AND GLOOOOOM! and some people are all, um, yeah, that’s not how this works at all, people, you’re being weirdos. But you tell people the end of the world is nigh and people start freaking the hell OUT, yo. (And it’s not even about zombies! I know. Hard to fathom.)

Apparently this thing predicts our DOOOOOM. It looks like a prop from a Nicholas Cage movie.

Apparently this thing predicts our DOOOOOM. It looks like a prop from a Nicholas Cage movie.

Mostly I think the end of the world is hokum. I think we’re all going to have an end of the world; it’ll happen at different times for all of us. Some of our worlds will end with heart attacks and some with cancer and some with accidents and some with, I don’t know, falling into the sea from a cliff or something, there’s always someone who does something like that, right?

Whoa.....splash.

Whoa…..splash.

BUT, just in CASE the end of the world’s happening in less than two weeks, we totally have to be PREPARED. I worry about you, my little jelly beans. What if I poo-poohed the Mayan apocalypse and then it happened and you were all beset upon my locusts or something? I’d feel just utterly TERRIBLE. Well, in-between hiding from those locusts, I suppose. In-between that I’d feel terrible.

LOCUSTS!!!

LOCUSTS!!!

So I totally researched the things you need to do to be prepared for the (potential) upcoming apocalypse. So you don’t fall prey to the locusts. (If the horsemen come, I can’t help you, though. They’re total badasses.)

THINGS YOU NEED TO DO IN ORDER TO BE READY FOR THE UPCOMING APOCALYPSE (OR MAYBE NOT-CALYPSE)

According to this website, which I think we can all agree looks quite sciency in a not-at-all sciency way, we need to do the following:

  1. Get together a group.
    One...two...three...PROCREATE!

    One…two…three…PROCREATE!

    Apparently your group needs to be about 25 people, and with your group you need to repopulate the earth. Oh. Um. Well, I think that’s how you need to phrase it. You should walk up to your friends and say, “Listen. The world’s ending in a little over a week and a half, so I’m trying to get a group together. We’re going to need to have a lot of sex. You’re cool with that, right? Us having a lot of sex, platonic-friend-up-until-now?” That won’t creep your friends out at all that you want to use them as brood mares. Neat! So start making a list of people you want to spend the rest of the end of the world with and/or bone and/or procreate with. (You also can’t bring along family members, obviously, because no one wants to have sex with their siblings. So see ya later, bro, you can’t come. Get out of my apocalypse shelter.)

  2. Plan.
    "Bob, you're in charge of the sex swing, and Jenny, you're in charge of the baking. We cool? Good, good."

    “Bob, you’re in charge of the sex swing, and Jenny, you’re in charge of the baking. We cool? Good, good.”

    Get together your orgy group and talk about the apocalypse. I’m sorry I left this for so late. You don’t have a lot of time to do any of these things. I guess talk quickly. This also says to elect a club president and treasurer and such. You know the president’s going to get the most sex, so choose wisely.

  3. Find a place for your new civilization to begin.
    I choose here. Look! Pretty!

    I choose here. Look! Pretty!

    Claim a plot! Make it be in the middle of nowhere (because of other people who are NOT in your sex-orgy group, and also probably looters.) Get a map, so you can find it once the locusts come. Go camping there in all weather (um…we only have a week and a half left…so again, I’m sorry, I really shot you all in the foot on this one) so you can be prepared because this is your new HOME.

  4. Put together a survival kit.
    Here's mine. I am OBSESSED with these things.

    Here’s mine. I am OBSESSED with these things.

    Now, this site was not helpful about a survival kit, but I was reading a recap of some show on TLC (of COURSE it was on TLC – TLC has some SUPER-helpful programming like about hillbillies and such) about preparing for the apocalypse and apparently what you need is a lot of food in cans like huge cans of pudding and stew; a big garden under a geodesic dome like in that movie with Pauly Shore and the stoner Baldwin who has since found the Lord; rabbits (so you can pet ’em, but also kill ’em and then eat ’em); a portable surgery kit just in case someone needs to get their leg amputated; and guns. A LOT of guns. One guy was pre-carrying his gun everywhere, just in case the apocalypse hit while he was going about his day. He was attempting to learn to SWIM with it on. I’m not even kidding.

  5. Build a shelter.
    Ooh, a BOOK. About SHELTERS. Nice.

    Ooh, a BOOK. About SHELTERS. Nice.

    The site recommends you build it underground and also protect yourself from the elements and also looters. Also since you’re going to be having all that procreatey sex, you probably want to put one of those rotating beds in there with satin sheets, and maybe also a disco ball. And load up on CDs you like, probably. You’re going to be listening to those over and over and OVER. Plus also the site recommends you figure out your power source. Listen, this is a lot of work. Why didn’t you all warn me we needed to start planning for this before this? URGH.

  6. Hoard.
    SO MANY THINGS!

    SO MANY THINGS!

    Hoard a YEAR’S worth of supplies. Shit, you guys, you have to do this in a WEEK. You’d better get on the horn with your 25 sex-people and get them to start hoarding too. Put one in charge of snack-cakes and one in charge of Dumbcat-food, ok? (Oh. Yeah, if the world’s ending, Dumbcat’s coming with. Sorry. There’s going to be fur all up in our shelter. Listen! I’m not leaving my guy BEHIND. He wouldn’t know what to do with all those locusts.) Don’t just hoard food. You also need things like clothes and toilet paper and pens. Don’t forget pens, how will you write to-do lists?

  7. Pray.
    I like this kid's face. PRAYING IS HARD!

    I like this kid’s face. PRAYING IS HARD!

    No, seriously, the next step was to pray. Um. Well, I guess, if that’s your thing, you can do that. I’m not going to tell you NOT to pray. But while you pray, I’m going to use that time to hoard more.

  8. Study.
    NO, you can't have a Golden Ticket. Stop asking.

    NO, you can’t have a Golden Ticket. Stop asking.

    Each of your people who are also sex-orgy people also need to be an expert in something. Well, I think we can skip this step, because I’m not inviting anyone into my underground bunker who’s not brilliant. All of my people are already experts in something. Also, I’m not having sex with anyone who’s not brilliant. Sorry. That’s the golden ticket to my areas.

  9. Cross-train.
    We get to use awesome bouncy balls? That's ok, then.

    We get to use awesome bouncy balls? That’s ok, then.

    This article wants you to be in peak physical condition for the apocalypse. Shit. I don’t think a week and a half is long enough. Sorry. Unless you’re already IN peak physical condition. Wait, do I know anyone in peak physical condition? I don’t know that I do. Those people confuse and befuddle me, plus where would I meet them? Those people don’t live on the internet.

  10. Keep an eye on the sky for…something?
    I guess one of the other group-members will have to look for the bombs. I have to hoard ALL THE THINGS RIGHT NOW.

    I guess one of the other group-members will have to look for the bombs. I have to hoard ALL THE THINGS RIGHT NOW.

    I don’t know. Bombs, maybe? This one’s confusing, plus I’m too busy hoarding.

So, really, what we’ve learned it, mostly we don’t have much time, but once we do all this stuff, we’re totally going to be having a lot of sex with our friends. Um. I don’t…huh. I don’t really want to have a lot of sex with my friends. (Sorry, friends.) But then again, I don’t know that I so much want to go up to complete strangers and ask them to be in my sex-orgy apocalypse group. This is a hard choice, you guys.

OK, so we have almost two weeks. Hoard hoard hoard. Also maybe get some guns and rabbits. Or don’t. But if anything happens to you, I will feel TERRIBLE.

And so will Dumbcat, although mostly he’s just excited he gets to live in a BUNKER and get his fur all over NEW FURNITURE MOM!


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