Just Say No To Zero Population Growth

Michelle Duggar, 45, and her husband, Jim Bob, have revealed they are expecting their twentieth child. Well, whoopee. What a surprise. And just when we were hoping for the joys of menopause to hit Michelle.

“We are so excited,” Michelle said. “I was not thinking that God would give us another one, and we are just so grateful.” I’ll bet you are grateful. Now it’s for sure your TV show will be renewed for another season.

The Duggar’s motto is “There’s always room for one more.” Really? Is that the motto? Is that what it means to bring a child into the world? Why not have another one, we have room in the dorm, one of the older ones is moving out. What was her name again? Not sure, but it starts with the letter “J”.

Seems as if that’s a bit of a superficial motto but then, when you’re into hyping your reality show and your new book “A Love That Multiplies”, that’s as good a motto as any.

Jim Bob (his name would have to be Jim Bob, isn’t it fitting?) joked “I don’t know how it happened.” Ha, ha! Isn’t Jim Bob funny?

Jim Bob looks like he’s been driving the Clown Car, and says (all joking aside about him not knowing how it works) that they “didn’t want to stop at an odd number.” Oh, well then, that makes perfect sense. So given that 20 is an even number, and the fact that they already live in a house big enough to house the cast of Saturday Night Live and there’s always room for one more, why not bring another human being into this world? Those are good reasons. As good as any I can think of to take on the responsibility of another child.

It’s obscene. That these self-professed Christian people continue to do this, take advantage of the fact that Michelle’s eggs are refusing to give up and Jim Bob’s Super Sperm are still paddling upstream, in order to procreate again and again so they can get on the national news, and all over the internet, and write more books, and get the title of their TV show changed to 20 Kids and Counting. It is materialistic and irresponsible and reprehensible. What selfish individuals they must be.

And of course, the twenty kids and their future spouses are brain-washed into thinking that this is the right thing to do and what if each couple procreates ten times over? Michelle and Jim Bob (I still can’t believe his name is really Jim Bob), will have 400 grandchildren.

It “takes a village” to raise a child. It will take a village to house the Duggars and their children and grandchildren.

What if we all did that?

I know, I know, Michelle and Jim Bob don’t care about that. They are just glad that they did it first, and they are the lucky ones to get the reality show. All the couples who come after them and have twenty kids won’t be so lucky. But maybe if they start earlier, and have one per year until they’re 45, they might be able to out-procreate the Duggars by half a dozen kids or so. And don’t forget multiple births. An added bonus!

It’s a job to them. See, we have to have all these kids so we can get on the Today Show, and everyone will know who we are, and we can write books, and make lots of money. That way, Jim Bob doesn’t have to work too hard at being a “realtor”.

Never mind that we have recently hit a world population of seven billion and we are running out of resources. Don’t you worry about that, Michelle and Jim Bob. You just think about how that new little one is going to increase your coffers, and get you more attention, okay? Because that’s what you’re doing, despite all your lamentations otherwise, that you are “grateful for each and every gift of a child”. I guess you could look at it as a “gift”.

I put a scene in my novel, Whatever Happened to Lily?, about this very thing. No one ever mentioned it, and it was a bit disappointing, because I’d hoped it would be a social commentary of sorts. That the girl Katie, who Jay wanted to get it on with, was only interested in marriage and having twenty children to become “warriors for God”. He didn’t want any part of that scenario. Good for Jay, he thinks a lot like I do.

I thought a long time about writing this, because it has all been said before, by others, again and again, how these people don’t get it. It enrages me, that they WILL NOT STOP IT. And I will supply no links to any website that condones the behavior of the Duggars or anyone else in the quiverfull movement.

Life is Good, No Matter What

On Thursday, November 17, 2011, I attended the funeral of Holly Sneider (1972 – 2011). I had never met Holly, I only knew her parents and don’t live close enough to them that we see them often. But when we did meet up with Holly’s parents, at family reunions or the occasional meet-ups at my mother-in-law’s house, there was a connection there — a feeling that I’d like to get to know them better. I liked them a lot and hoped they felt the same. They seemed to think about things the way I do.

In April of 2010, Holly was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer, already in the liver. As Christopher Hitchens notes wryly when speaking of his own cancer, “There is no Stage V”. Holly was a fighter, and she had a husband and three children, and decided cancer wasn’t going to beat her, not without a fight. And she gave it her very best shot. Reading her Caring Bridge page left me with a knot in my stomach, that anyone could go through so much agony. But she didn’t want to leave her children without a mother, her husband without a wife, her parents without their daughter, and her brothers without their sister.

She thought of other people before herself, and throughout her battle never lost her faith, and she never lost her will to live. Some people seem to especially touch those around them and Holly was one of those. Her illness affected the entire small town of Milan, Ohio where she lived.

As her brother said, at the funeral, It’s not how it begins, it’s how it ends that matters. Holly was brave to the end, and she inspired a whole lot of people to think about what she was doing and because of her, that they might find the strength to do the same if the need arises. And her brother admitted that he thought he’d be a better person, that he would be better equipped to handle the bad stuff in his life, because of Holly and the example she’d set.

Though she only lived 39 years, she had made a difference. Just having her around that long was a gift to everyone who knew her. At the funeral home, the line of people who wanted to pay their respects, to tell the family what Holly had meant to them, stretched out the door and down the block. Some people stood in line for two hours.

It is always deeply tragic when someone so young is taken from us, especially by a disease as insidious as cancer. Cancer sucks. There is no doubt about it. It scares me worse than anything else, yet statistics say other afflictions kill people more often, heart disease and even the flu. But a diagnosis of cancer is a life-changing event, even if you do beat it, you aren’t really, ever the same.

If only Holly could have beat it, she’d never have been the same. No, her body would have been forever damaged by the effects of the massive amounts of chemo she took, but she would have been okay with that. I picture her as becoming a life-long cancer fundraiser, or a cancer counselor, perhaps. If she’d been able to beat her own, she’d have probably devoted the rest of her life to helping others do the same.

She was an inspiration to all who knew her. True to form, her motto was:

Life is good, no matter what!

Holly Sneider, 1972 – 2011.

Random Thoughts About Role-Playing Games

Just when you think it might be a difficult week coming up with something fun to write about, a gift from Google falls in your lap. I can’t stop myself, I must talk about this.

Last week, I blogged about search terms, and being of a curious nature, I decided to do some research on search terms and how search engines figure out which sites might be something the searcher is interested in. I searched for WordPress Search Engine Terms and landed on a couple of blogs that talked about this subject. But what I found interesting was that one of the blogs had an article about it, and the author wondered how people found his blog using the search terms they did. His blog is devoted to World of Warcraft (WoW), which is an online role-playing game.

This is interesting to me, because one of the characters in my next novel, Perigee Moon, is a gamer. Luke’s son, Ben, is addicted to gaming, and I wanted to be able to appear smart about it, like I actually knew some real hard facts, instead of sounding clueless, which, thankfully, I am. So I added it to my Favorites, under a subfolder entitled Book Research so I can learn a little about WoW.

I recently wrote a blog about romance novels, and what’s not to like about them, so I’m doing the same about WoW, which is a mindset I have never even come close to understanding.

The following is a definition of World of Warcraft from Wikipedia lifted with errors intact, i.e. “a massively multiplayer online role-playing game” (shouldn’t that be “massive”?)

World of Warcraft (WoW) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) by Blizzard Entertainment. It is the fourth released game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe, which was first introduced by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994. World of Warcraft takes place within the Warcraft world of Azeroth, approximately four years after the events at the conclusion of Blizzard’s previous Warcraft release, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Blizzard Entertainment announced World of Warcraft on September 2, 2001. The game was released on November 23, 2004, on the 10th anniversary of the Warcraft franchise.

If I include World of Warcraft or WoW in my tags for this post, it will appear in the search results for individuals who are actually interested in this topic, and they will not appreciate what I have written here. They may even tell me what they think of me for dissing their chosen pastime and leave me nasty comments, which might make me feel bad (though I doubt it). Here is a disclaimer:

WARNING!  Anyone who wants tips and tricks for Restoration Druids is not going to learn anything here. I  appreciate your annoyance at being diverted by my thoughts on the subject. SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE. But for those of you who might have an avid interest, click here to discover everything you ever wanted to know about talents, gear, spells, patch notes, tips and tricks for Restoration Druids.

What in the World of Warcraft, is a Restoration Druid anyway?

The following are the beliefs and utterances of a Baby Boomer regarding WoW:

We did not grow up in the time of texting, Twitter, Facebook and role-playing video games. Some things that are absent from the formative times in life, might never become completely comfortable pastimes to some of us. It’s like someone once said (but I can’t remember who it was), if you don’t start eating sushi in your twenties, you will never eat it. True in my case.

Here’s a quote from the author of the WoW blog, who writes this about his recent trip to the Blizzcon, (which — should you be so unfortunate as to be as uninformed as I am — is a WoW conference, named for the authors, Blizzard Entertainment):

On the downside, I met people who I would be happy to never socialize with again. It’s unfortunate too because I felt I had such a strong connection with them over Twitter.

So, let me force this information into my brain. You formed a strong connection with them on Twitter. In 140 characters or less (and the less the better, can’t forget about retweets, now can we?) I find it nearly impossible to imagine how to form any kind of connection with anyone on Twitter. Is there something I’m missing?

There are lots of ways to waste time in life. But wait. “Waste” might be the wrong word for doing things truly enjoyable, like going to the park, reading a book, watching a weepy movie. But playing role-playing video games is truly that, wasting time. What do you get out of it? Well, I’m told, you play and you get better and you get to a higher level. And my reply to that is, so what? What do you get out of that? And I’m met with blank stares, and I realize they now believe it is pointless to attempt to explain something so basic to someone so pathetically sans clue (me).

I am surrounded by little boys who play video games. If you let them, they would do it all day, every day. It is tantalizing to them, such a cool thing to do, since  their parents don’t want them to do it. Things parents want you to do are boring, like reading. Things parents don’t want you to do are cool, like video games and YouTube.

Some study came out and said that people who play video games are way better at robotic surgery than people who don’t play. The problem with this is, there is a limited number of robotic surgeons that can be supported by the population, so what are all the other ex-gamers going to do with their lives?

In my experience of late, I have come to know individuals who are pushing forty who spend their vacations playing video games. When asked, “So how was your vacation?” the reply is, “Great! I got to Level X in (insert name of super-exciting, fast-paced, mind-numbing, eardrum-splitting Cool X-Box Video Game here). Was that before or after you visited the Grand Canyon? That’s next year? Oh, okay.

Just as reading romance novels can become an addiction, so can gaming. And like any addiction, it can wreck a career or a marriage. I thought this phenomenon interesting enough to develop a character around it. Sort of a contemporary social critique.

Bottom line: I don’t get it, will never get it. So all you WoW enthusiasts who are going to write comments about how clueless I am? Save your keystrokes. I already know it.


SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Search Terms

Every day I check my blog stats. Okay, make that several times a day. They tell you how many hits your blog had, not who, just how many. Here they are, and I am happy to say they have continued in an upward, positive trend since February 2011.

Here are blog stats from January through October, 2011:

I seem to be getting a lot of traffic from search engines, but when I checked the search engine terms used to find my blog, many times I couldn’t figure out how it ever ended up on the first page or pages of search results produced from the particular input criteria.

While I am very pleased to think that my SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques, which include pertinent keywords, accurate titles and labeled images, appear to be generating traffic, sometimes I confess, it’s a real head-scratcher to understand how it works, based on the content of my blogs. Here are some of the most bizarre:

  • wally moon – Who is Wally Moon anyway? Any relation to Perigee?
  • little kid on a treadmill – All you little children, stay away from treadmills. You don’t need these until you’re older – much older.
  • beer background design – This does not sound like a good background picture to me but maybe on a Beer For Dummies book it would be.
  • punctuation takes a vacation what is bothering mr wright – Racking my brain for whatever would be in any post I have ever written that would cause a blog about writing women’s fiction to appear using these search terms. Punctuation? Vacation?
  • dental photography black background – Dental photography? Keep this away from me, please.
  • kitap kapak tasarımı – Is this Pig Latin?
  • chains black background – Whenever I see “chains” I get suspicious.
  • spine flower – Probably wanted to find information about tattoos?
  • uneducated successful businessman – This might be an oxymoron, oh wait, probably not.
  • can’t find romance novel about memory loss and love – No? Bummer. Neither can I.
  • mild indirect – This seems bland to me, should I take warning from this?
  • why i don’t feel creative – Wow, neither do I. Welcome to the Let’s Suck at Creativity Club.
  • desain sampul buku – More Pig Latin, with a Mid-eastern flair?
  • soap liquid background – Cleanliness is next to, um, I forget.
  • toast treadmill walker – Let’s see, first you have your toast, then you get on the treadmill, then you need a walker. It’s all I can figure.

I doubt that the individuals using these search terms are interested in a blog site dedicated to baby boomer issues and women’s fiction but you never know where you might find readers, so I’ll take it as a good sign that the stats are improving.

It puzzles me, how search engines work. I can’t imagine that they can search through every piece of information on the internet, examine the content of each one, and deliver a results list at the speed they do, but maybe that’s exactly how it works. I know that many of the terms used above were not in my titles, nor were they in the body of the posts. Apparently, greater computer minds than mine ever was are at work here.

And the really odd part is, when I search for these terms, I don’t see my blog in the results list returned. So what search engine are these folks using? I researched this very issue, and came up with a few blogs that addressed the subject, but none of them provided a good answer. They mostly said, your results could be located on page N (insert really big number here) but that some people actually go deep into many pages while searching.  I find that hard to believe. If it doesn’t show up on the first page, I seldom go any farther. But maybe.

And I still don’t understand “kitap kapak tasarımı”.