Friday, January 26, 2007

Housekeeping notes

There is now a "Subscribe" button in the upper right corner. If you want e-mail updates, that's where to go!

I'm trying to clean up the look of the page by only displaying the two most recent posts, as well. If you missed anything, or are extremely bored, feel free to browse the archives, also listed to the right.

For those of you who say love doesn't last...

From the "Random News I Find Interesting" file:

Jim Hamm (70) and his wife Nell (65) were hiking in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, in California on Wednesday when Jim was attacked by a mountain lion.

The lion wrestled Jim to the ground and began chewing on his head. Nell ran over to her husband with a four-thick log and began to beat the animal, as well as attempting to stab it in the eye with a pen. Eventually the mountain lion gave up and left the couple, who then went to the trail head to get help from rangers.

Next month, Jim and Nell Hamm will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. They're planning to head off to New Zealand, with it's stunning scenery, laid-back atmosphere and, the Hamms should be happy to note, lack of large predatory wildlife.

I think that Nell is fully entitled to remind her husband that this is their golden anniversary, as in gold, jewelery, "you owe me your life pal", etc.

All kidding aside, kudos to the Hamms for making it 50 years, and kudos to Nell for standing by her husband in about the most concrete and unambiguous way possible!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Blogging for Dollars!

It's amazing how much money there is out there for poor, underemployed bloggers. No, I'm not talking about advertising space, syndication or any sort of aspirations of journalism. I'm speaking of a peculiar form of "corporate sponsorship" that seems to be popping up lately.

The most recent example doesn't involve actually blogging, but editing Wikipedia. Imagine, getting paid to post your edits to a certain web page! That's exactly the offer allegedly made to software engineer Rick Jelliffe by none other than Microsoft. Jelliffe claims that he was offered a contract by Microsoft to edit entries regarding Microsofts OOXML vs. the competing ODF format. They wanted the entries to reflect "more balance".


Another example of how to profit from that time spent in front of the computer comes from bloggers Jim and Laura, on their blog Wal-Marting Across America. This couple travelled the country in an RV, stopping along the way to visit their favorite megastore, chat with employees and, presumably, shop.

Of course, this totally spontaneous trip needed to be funded somehow, so, out of the goodness of its great, loving corporate heart, Wal-Mart bought the couple an RV, planned their itinerary for them, and even paid them just for posting blog entries.

And who says that the Wal-Mart corporation is a huge, heartless robber baron that will do anything for a buck and has no ethics or honesty?

Well...a lot of people, apparently. When exposed the real story behind the blog, it was regarded as something of a PR setback.

I always thought that if I were going to be writing for a living, I had the choice of being either a journalist or a novelist. It looks like there are new options opening every day.

I wonder if Exxon is hiring?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Count on Me

It might not surprise you to know that "the" is the most commonly used word in the English language, but did you know that one of the least commonly used words is "conquistador"? Actually, it ranks at 86,800th.

The source of this information is, a website designed by Jonathan Harris. Harris compiled the 86,800 most frequently used words in one long strand. The words are presented in order of frequency, with little red numbers appearing next to each entry telling the reader its rank.

Not surprisingly, the beginning of the list is dominated by basic, utilitarian words. It starts off "the, of,and,to,a,in,that" and continues on with prepositions, articles and basic pronouns until at least number 66-"time". "people" doesn't come until number 81, and the "government" has shown up by number 140.

It's hard not to scroll through the list and wonder what our word usage says about us as a culture. The word "love" comes in at 384, well ahead of "hate" (3107) but still behind "war" (304). "Man" (142) still leads "woman" (393), but it's hard to tell if that has more to do with the battle of the sexes or the use of "man" to mean "mankind"(7981).

For all of the claims by various pundits that "fuck" is the most versatile word in the English language, it only ranks 5598th, well behind "hell" (1927) and "damn" (4225) but well ahead of that stereotypical British expletive "bugger"(9939).

Those of a less profane bent will find "God" high in the running at 376, while the "devil" is lagging behind at 4802. "Angel", at 5283, shows we've still got enough optimism to keep away the "demon" (15586).

Even though I came across Wordcount fairly recently, it has been up and running for quite a while, and various neologisms aren't anywhere to be found. This isn't really a weakness, I think there's a lot to be learned by what is there.

On the other hand, I did get a "not found" message when I typed in, of all things, the word "blog"