Farflung Correspondent Seeks Your Help

Yesterday’s email included the contract for my volunteer position as Euro-editor for this year’s BlogHer. I have a few questions on the details, but esentially, I’ll be trying to publish the best blogging from and about Europe to the BlogHer site during the lead up to the conference in San Jose, California, in June. BlogHer focuses on women, of course, but hello, guys, I did ask about what the editorial policy is around including Y chromosomes in my selections. Stand by on that.

In exchange for my hard work (like I couldn’t use some of my squandered web hours contributing?) I’ll get the mighty muscle of BlogHer promoting my own site, Nerd’s Eye View. I’ve been having something of an identity crisis around the site. Note the remodel! Note the advertising! Note the participation in Performancing discussions on how to monitize your blog. (Bleh. There’s that word again. Monitize. Bleh.) I’m not going to sell a billion copies of my book, Baked Insanity, without some marketing, right? If I want to write less “To BLAH, click the BLAH and then, click BLAH” and more stories about noisy elk, I’m gonna have to get my writing in front of more eyeballs. Welcome to the era of shameless self-promotion.

But wait there’s more. It’s not just about I Me Me My. There’s some pretty fine writing out there about European issues that warrants sharing. You may be shocked to learn that I am anti-Americentric thinking. It’s true! I engage in my share of Eurobashing, but not more than I engage in my share of Ameribashing. Indulge me while I get up on a soapbox for just a minute and rattle on about how exposure and understanding of other cultures and ideas makes us not just better neighbors, but better people. Eh, you don’t need to hear this. You know. I’ll step down now.

Anyhow, I could use your help. I’m looking for first rate Euro-bloggers. I have plenty of good ex-pat sites bookmarked. There’s no shortage of stories about language lessons or the crazy local phone company or the significance of pork. You get the picture. There’s also plenty of primo travel stuff out there, plus, that’s a whole ‘nother category for BlogHer. That’s what I’m NOT looking for.

I’m looking for sites about European issues. I want the Ameriblog and The Daily Kos of Europe. I’ve got some feeds already, but I’d rather get dupes than miss something, so I’m not going to list them. I’m way a lefty but know thy enemy, yes? I’m also looking for photostreams, podcasts, and any other bloggy stuff that offers quality insight on European issues. I’m primarily looking for work by women – hey, it’s BlogHER, not BlogHIM – but I’ll certainly look at other stuff. English language only. Of course there’s great stuff in all European languages, but I lack the skill to evaluate it. Unless it’s visual, then, okay, bring it.

That’s more than enough about me and my needs. You and your recommnedations, please? In the comments (or here on Nerd’s Eye View. Thanks loads for helping me out in this upcoming bloggy adventure.

Note: Cross posted a few places. Sorry for dupes in your RSS readers.

A few words from the publisher

First off: Hello! I’m really, really not dead! Though I can imagine that my long haitus from the site has left people wondering.

I’m sitting at my desk in the office downtown I’ve been happily inhabiting since late October. Today is literally the first day where I’ve had more than 20 minutes of downtime, the first day with leisure to think and write and turn lunch hour into more than a feeding frenzy.

My new job is probably the most exciting I’ve ever had–I’m managing a hugely talented group of people who are also really fun, and everyone else on the management team is smart and sassy and inspiring–but it has been busy and exhausting and for a few moments almost overwhelming. In other words, it is exactly the change I needed.

It has been good for everything except my blogging–and perhaps my record as an exemplary husband who can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. I just haven’t had the time during the day–or the responsibility as a critical part of my job–to soar through the blogosphere and post my musings here. And frankly, when at home, I’ve preferred to play with the dogs, sip vodka-and-diet-Cokes and snuggle with Smithlet. I ask you: who would do differently had you the choice? Smithlet is pretty snuggly.

In this little blog vacay I have, however, tremendously enjoyed reading what all of you have to say. I’ve come to think of myself as the publisher, instead of the editor-in-chief and most nonfamous columnist, of our little online media empire. (If I ever took on a drag name, it would be Katherine Graham Cracker.) It has been a lot of fun, this vicarious blogging, rather like observing your guests at a fabulous party you spent months planning. You’re all fabulous and best of all you’re having a great time!

All that said, I’m coming back. It’s not a New Year’s resolution, exactly, but more of an old habit dying hard.

Also: I think the Republic needs me. It needs us all to redouble our engagement after an exhausting year, to get our Tom Paine on and start kicking the despots where the sun hasn’t shined for far too long. I’m not sure what the New Year brings but it’s going to get strange fast now that we know “W” stands for “Wiretap.” As Bette said, “Fasten your seat belts– we’re in for a bumpy ride!” I’m in it for the bumps, the humps and the lovely lady lumps. I hope you’ll all have me back.

Finally, to close my first post of the rest of my blog, I’ve got a shout out to the homies: Seth’s brother Jess (that’s Marti’s brother in law for those of you who don’t have the nonfamous nonstranger family tree reference chart at hand) has a great column on Slate about his delimma as a Bhuddist at Christmas. It’s great–and after you read it you should buy his book!

While we all have our own delimmas this time of year, there’s one thing I am unconflicted about: I love all of you who make this blog something I am proud to have started, something I’m proud to be a part of. I love all of you who read what we have to say. Thanks to each of you, Happy Holidays, and God (or Whatever) Bless.

A Festivus… for the rest of us!

The Feats of Strength will be done in the traditional way to ensure the Festivus runs for a good length of time (you’d have to see me to understand). And no I will not accept bad breath as a proper test.

Let me be the first to wish all of you a Happy Festivus. You are all welcome to come celebrate with me on the 23rd.
This year in lieu of an aluminum pole, I’ll be using a 5′ pressure treated 2×4 with rusty nails. For dinner we will drink vodka, eat chips and salsa and sample gourmet salts. This should ensure an honest and proper Airing of Grievances which will begin promptly at 9. The Feats of Strength will be done in the traditional way to ensure the Festivus runs for a good length of time (you’d have to see me to understand). And no I will not accept bad breath as a proper test.

A perfect survey for nonfamosi!

First off… I am alive and well! Sorry to have been consumed by travel and then a new job. Everything is going splendidly! I will return to blogging soon. In the mean time, can we all give a huge round of applause for Paulette’s return to Nonfamous.com!?

OK… on to the topic of my post… a request for help from my friend Trav. Take a moment, y’all!

We are looking for volunteers to participate in a research study on
how stories about political events are evaluated. Your participation
in this study is completely voluntary.

We are interested in learning about your opinion on different aspects
of a story explaining an event from the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign.

If you are interested in volunteering for this study, please visit
the website linked to at the end of this message.

If you participate in this study, you will be asked to complete an
anonymous survey containing questions about your opinions on a story
about a political event. You will complete the survey online using
a standard web browser. It will take you between 15 and 25 minutes
to complete the survey.

There are no anticipated risks to this study. You may decline to
answer any question that makes you feel uncomfortable. You will not
be financially compensated. Upon completing the survey, you will be
given an address for a website to visit after the completion of the
study for information on its results.

To begin the survey, please visit this link.

Email me with any questions and I can pass them on to Trav. Thanks!

Welcome Shaun

Shaun’s a fellow Okie, fellow geek, and fellow graduate of Putnam City North High School–as well as a good friend of Miss Julie Porter. As a frequent reader of Nonfamous.com, he wrote me recently to bemoan the infrequency of postings in our tech/sci category. So please give him a warm welcome as our newest Nonfamous Nonstranger.

Quick hallo from London

All’s well here in London! David has been working away at his conference but had last night free… we went for a great pub meal and stopped off for a drink in Earl’s Court, not too far from our hotel in Kensington. I have been doing tourist things, managing the tube, and just generally enjoying my brief unemployment. It’s so nice to read “No Messages” on my BlackBerry! [That said, if you send me Gmail with BB in the subject line it forwards on, kind of a nice trick.]

Honestly, I haven’t gotten up to much more than some shopping and a visit to the V&A… which had some lovely things but was undergoing massive renovations and frankly seems to lack a clear focus. But as it is free, one can’t really complain. We’re headed to Kent for the weekend to stay with Woody and Sara and some other of David’s friends I haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting. David has a meeting in Oxford Monday, so I’ll accompany him and see what I missed out on when I didn’t get the Rhodes. Et in arcadia ego, at least for a day.

My trip to Oklahoma City last week was just wonderful… it was great to see everyone and spend some time with family. I will definitely have to post some pics of Lyndi’s Jack Russell pup Jewel, who is exactly the same age as the boys. [Who are, incidentally, none too happy to be boarded–despite three walks a day, they cry whenever anyone comes near, hoping to be let out. A bit sad really!] And of course, I will have to post the photo of Julie, Lyndi and I all getting manis and pedis… it’s a Porter Sister classic.

Well, I need to dash– lots to do here. More later everyone!

We get letters

Very paranoid letters. Old-timers here might recall that the “Famous and Nonfamous Strangers” moniker comes from a letter I received in 1997 while working for a small nonprofit in Oklahoma City. You should read the whole thing again, but my favorite line will always be this: “Before these famous people held charity dinners on behalf of the cause they fabricated around my life and exploited me in every way imaginable, I had a happy, typical, conservative, affluent, dignified, respectable, middle-class life.” It perfectly captures the pivot into tragedy that mental illness is–and far from mocking Jeannine, it makes me realize how close we all are in our private paranoias to effulgent madness.

Such florid madness tends to make one the object of the very fame that fuels the paranoia. The letter’s author was from Olympia, and when I launched the site a friend who had gone to Evergreen immediately recognized her as “crazy Jeannine”–proving once again how small [and how paranoid] the world is.

But it gets smaller. If I became paranoid, it would be a metaparanoia based on the volume of paranoid letters that find their way to me. My sister, working for a state office housed in the same building I worked in when I got Jeannine’s letter, just received a similarly paranoid letter. The writer, amazingly, lives just a few miles from Casa Nonfamous here in Seattle. [Coincidence???]

So, being mindful that it’s not nice to make fun of people with serious mental disturbances, in our defense I can only say that when you send letters out at random across the country, your disorder is no longer private. Given our mandate to “keep paranoia at the lowest healthy level,” consider this post a cautionary tale.

Writer Mac now joins our patron saint, Jeannine, in the Nonfamous Pantheon of Paranoia. The full letter is copied below the jump, but the gist is something like this:

I am writing you a tearful letter about the musical collosus Robert
Fripp of King Crimson. I was evacuated to Seattle from Pittsburgh after my
girlfriend was raped and I was tortured by his Gurdjieff Cult.

I had been interested in Fripp’s group and invited by them to Mt. Desert Island in 1988. Because I am almost completely deaf, I always feared that something would go wrong and I informed the Fripp gestapo, who were professing to be with Amnesty International, that I had been a victim of traumatic childhood violent crime.

In 1988, I received a postcard from Wm. Zell, of his cult, on Mt. Desert Island (Jackson Immunogenetic labs, mousecage assembler) which surrounds my name with positive and negative signs and reads: “The photo of Goebbels, cross section of testes with cancer, injecting people…all may have been chance…I am part of deliberate community”. They had just given me scabies and introduced me to a girl with a tattoo of the grim reaper on her inner thigh. Zell had said in 1981, “what would you think of scheme to transform the human race by injecting the blood?” They were using me for a lab rat in HIV testing. They had tortured me deaf in childhood. So I became suspicious.

And I think anyone would! As the letter continues, Oliver Stone and Yoko Ono have a lot to answer for. Yoko is new, but of course Jeannine put Oliver Stone at the top of the list of people who “watched me in the privacy of my own dwelling place for several years.” Perhaps they should get together for coffee.

We at Nonfamous will, of course, investigate these claims… the world is a strange place and Mac might be on to something. Or, more likely, off of something. Good luck and God bless.

The full text of the letter is below, with the image to come soon, I hope.

Continue reading “We get letters”

Katrina Blog Goes Up a Notch

I’m pleased to be able to report that Grace’s Katrina Direct Relief Blog has been sponsored by TypePad! They’ve picked up the tab for a year of blogging! The blog effort takes requests from a handful of contacts in the hurricane ravaged delta and posts them where you, blog reader, can find them.

The response has been overwhelming. Volunteers have shipped truckloads of goods down south where they’re going directly to those in need. We’ve been providing connections between the people on the ground who know what’s needed where and, well, anyone with an internet connection. I’ve been helping out as Site Janitor and Posting Backup. It’s not much, but hey, it’s something.

Babies and dogs

Wow. The news is still death and destruction all the time. I think we need a break.

First, because I’m woefully overdue at posting a photo of my visit to see Piper Sophia (oh, and Seth and Marti!) last month, here’s one of the budding star in her fancy sunglasses:

PS She\'s a star

She is just too cute– and Mom’s pretty cute too 😉

And, for those of you who don’t know yet, we have a couple of new residents of Casa Nonfamous… Max and Easy:

Max and Easy

Max has a black tail while Easy (as in “The Big Easy”) has a white one. They are three-quarters Jack Russell and one-quarter rat terrier. Easy might be a little more cuddly, but they are both inquisitive, smart, hella energetic and way too cute. So far, they are doing a great job with house training and crate training.

I don’t have to tell you that you’ll be hearing a lot more about these two.