Anatomy of a Lurker: A Guest Post

I'm proud of this one. Perhaps by greatest accomplishment thus far as a blogger. I got a non-blogging lurker to guest post! I'd venture to say that this is an unprecedented event, but then again, I thought I was the only dad who blogged when I first started this here website. Chuckle. Without further ado, let's give a warm welcome to "Carol" (name has not been changed to protect her identity), my "blogless stalker" from NYC.

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And now, a word from your sponsors...
the blogless majority.*

Don’t you bloggers ever wonder who all those lurking readers are? You know, that silent majority in the equation where x is your total number of readers, y is the number who comment, and x - y = a hella large number? You look at your stats and know you have over 5,000 unique visitors to your site, but only about 50 of those comment.

We are the silent readership. We come, we read, and we don't comment. We're the ones typing your address from memory and depriving you of a trackback URL. We're the ones faithfully visiting your from our reader. We are also, quite often, the ones steadily flipping back through your archives in a stalkerish fashion. [In my case, I am the one visiting you every day for an update and reading your archives in the meantime until I finally cave and start using this 'Are-Ess-Ess' dealio.]

We're not always parents. Some of us aren't even close to that point. I'm a single, 22 year-old recent college graduate who's working in the "real world" for the first time in my life. I don't know how far down the road kids are, or if they're even in the cards. But that doesn't stop me from reading you, Mr. Lady. Or you, Looky Daddy! Or you, Backpacking Dad, and Amalah, or even finslippy, you who first opened the parenting blog door to me (via Mimi Smartypants, but she doesn't really do the blogroll thing).

Your blogs give me a view into a world that I can't even imagine. While you terrify me with your pregnancy stories and bare to the world your heartbreaking struggles, I keep coming back for more. All of you share a piece of your life with us and show us what's coming, what could have happened, or what did. You gift us with personal stories when the bookstores are glutted with "expert opinions" on how to raise your children "right." You're our community when we need a village to raise our child.

*Yes, I realized after writing this post that the majority of you are blogless readers like me, so it doesn’t really make sense to be writing to bloggers. But I just pimped out a bunch of good links for you, so just shush and go read those.

Now my "actual" guest post:

I always knew I'd stalk something greater. Sure, looking up that cute blond guy’s schedule when I was an office aide wasn't a stunning abuse of a security hole, nor was finding out the address of my friend’s cute hapa guy later in high school, but I've always had a knack for finding information. I blame it on that children’s show that brainwashed me with “Knowledge is Power!” It’s not my fault googling my friend’s address comes up with the names of his neighbors and how much they donated to the Democratic Party (That’s the law’s fault). Maybe it scared that classmate when I figured out his schedule by looking at his books (and hey, maybe that’s why he won’t accept my friend request on facebook?), but that was just warm up for when it came to Busy Dad. Here was a person, nay a persona, completely unknown to me whose blog I stumbled upon from the great web of parent bloggers. Nothing whatsoever was mentioned in his first few entries that would give me a clue to geographical whereabouts (mentions of weather or nearby landmarks/conventions usually give it away) so it wasn’t until I saw “Pasadena” mentioned in a back entry that my mental ears perked up. Pasadena! 20 minutes away from where I lived at that time. All the other bloggers I read hours, states, or countries away. Here was one who lived in my own backyard. Reading his archives and twitters led to more information mining, one wonderful video clip of BD driving confirmed my suspicions as I recognized the streets I had grown up on, and it all culminated on the other side of the country with an awesome meet-up and the sharing of an amazing historic moment.

Point is, you never know who’s stalking your blog.

All These Things That I've Done

I am not BusyDad, in case you were wondering. Oh, no, he's sunbathing on the topless beaches of the blogosphere right now, basking in the light of everyone else's posts, kissing the shadow of Ariel font as is falls upon his keyboard.

Bastard.

There are easy ways to tell BusyDad and me apart. He's Asian; I'm so white, I'm transparent. He went to Harvard for four years; I went to three high schools. He majored in psych; I am a lifetime member of the International Thespian Society. He drinks Jack; I drink Jameson. He doesn't have any back hair; I can french braid mine.

There are easy ways to get confused between BusyDad and me, too. He's BusyDad, I'm Mister Lady. I could be a dude; you don't know. I could BE BusyDad for all you know. He writes about cooking; so do I. We both believe that goggles are a necessary kitchen tool. He's married with a kid and two dogs; I'm married with a girl and two boys. Smells about the same at our houses. We read more or less the same blogs, have more or less the same truly tasteless sense of humour, and neither of us ever, ever blog about blogging.

Until today.

That son of a nutcracker said to me the other day, "Hey, you really want to guest post on my site? Sweet! Blog about blogging; I double dog dare you." Because he hates me and wants me to be miserable.

The thing is, neither of us ever do that. We are both of the opinion that there is a very good reason God invented ProBlogger, and that we should stick to our own personal brands of insanity. However, I am not one to look a double dog dare in the face and walk away*. What would they say about me on the playground if I did? I've been blogging for what will be four years in about 6 weeks now, and if I can't find some nugget of information to share after all that time, well, maybe it's time to take up learning Klingon.

So, yeah, here we go. Don't say I didn't warn you. Here's the bullet-point cop-out guest post about blogging. Ugh.

  • Do not name your blog, and your internet identity, until you've done your research. Someday, you may want to trademark or copyright your "brand" and it's good advice to plan ahead. Like, even if your pseudonym came from your best friend's kid forgetting your name in a moment of urgency when he really had to get your attention or he would DIE, that doesn't mean that someone else didn't first use it to start a record label, and that even though that record label is gone, the name will never be yours in the biblical OR legally binding way. Or, if you choose to be called, in Sioux of course, "Father who has many things on his plate", you will forever be thought of as the husband of "Mother who has many things on her plate." Which is okay I guess, except maybe for their actual spouses.
  • Do not move your blog over and over and over again. Pick a spot, stick to it. If you, say, start your blog at twentysomethingmom.blogspot 3 months before you actually turn 30, then take it underground, then bring it back as mrladysblog.blogspot, then tire of blogger and move it to mrladysblog.wordpress, hate that title and change it to jblts.wordpress, then realize free wordpress doesn't host ads, so try to move the whole shebang to squarespace AND wordpress.org at the same time, you're going to have more logins to remember than your average elephant could keep up with, and you're going to lose a LOT of posts in the process. Not that I know anything about that.
  • Do not design your own template. Unless, of course, you have a FIRM grasp of php, html, the length of freaking margins, and the differences between how things look in IE and Firefox. Do not design your own template and then, after you've moved your 2 1/2 year old blog to a new site, then go look at your old page in IE and realize that your right hand sidebar, where all your ads were, has been chilling out in CHINA for 2 1/2 years. Not that I would know anything about that.
  • Do not pay someone to design your template. Especially not someone who's designs you really love because at some point you're going to start your period, find one little thing that irks you slightly about your template, try to change it, massacre your beautiful template that your designer spent MONTHS on, and by the time you've messed with it so much it resembles a jigsaw puzzle of scrambled eggs, your designer will have cast several spells and hexes of different denominational origins against you and you'll be screwed cutting and pasting old images in Windows Paint because you're too cheap to get Photoshop and too scared to ask for help.
  • Do not mix a Reader and a Blogroll. You know what happens if you put vinegar in your washing machine to rinse the load of laundry you forgot about for three days while you were trying to fix your blog template, and then think, "Hey, baking soda might brighten up those moldy clothes!" You blow up your basement, that's what. If you use a blogroll, stick to a blogroll. If you decide to emerge from the 18th century and start using a Reader, for the love of god and all that's holy transfer your WHOLE blogroll to your reader, not just 3 blogs because you'll get around to the rest tomorrow. Or your friend is going to email you one lovely Monday morning six months later and say, "I never see you here anymore. You never call, you never write, you never read.." and you are going to feel like a brown hole on the lower end of your torso, because you were too busy trying to remember all your stupid logins to actually remember to look at your damn blogroll already. Not that I would know anything about that.
  • Do not multitask. Do not sign up for NaBloPoMo, NaNoWriMo, Cre8Buzz, The Great Interview Experiment, Blog 365, X 365, Plurk, Twitter and Facebook and guest posting here and there, and then start an entirely new blog with some dad you found on the internet. Because one of those balls is not going to stay juggled, and it's probably the one you're paying to throw around. Not that anyone with the keys to this blog would know anything about that.
  • Do not sign up for Twitter. <yul brynner> Just don't do eeet. </yul brynner> Twitter is the crack of the blogosphere. You cannot take just one bite, and before you know it you're uploading pictures to twitpic, plastering tinyurl.com's page in your bookmarks, and telling all of your really good stories in 140 characters or less. And then you have nothing left to blog about, so you have to ask some mediocre mom blogger to fill in the blanks for you because your entire blog got bumped to your sidebar. Not that our esteemed Editor in Chief would know anything about that. (PS: Same thing goes for Facebook, Andy.)
  • Do not get crazy with the Cheese Whiz.  How many things in your life do you cover on your blog?  Count them; I'll wait.  THAT is how many categories you need.  If you, say, write about your children (3), your spouse (1, so far), your family history (1), recipes (1) and politics (1), then you need 7 categories.  NOT 91.  91 should be the number of cigarettes you're capable of smoking in one sitting if you're extraordinarily drunk, the number of love letters you've written, or the number of fabulous movies you've seen.  91 is not the number of categories you should have in your personal blog.  Not that I know one single thing about that.
  • Do not develop too close a mixed-gender relationship online. Because one post too many, one tweet too many, and half the damn internet will have created for you a sordid tale of steamy emails, late night chat sessions and secret meetups in dingy bars, when in truth the hottest thing the internet has provided you is the recipe for a really good chili con carne. And you'll only find out about this when your Google Alerts start streaming Harlequin-caliber links into your inbox from comments sections of other people's sites.  Again, totally hypothetical, of course.
  • Do not write a good post. More specifically, do not write one and only one good post out of 1200, submit it to BlogHer, get asked to read it in front of 1,000 people, and then agree to that. Because you may find yourself afterwards with a whole bunch of people thinking that you can replicate that one good post, and people will start reading your blog and thinking you know something about anything and asking you to guest post on their sites, and the entire internetowebosphere will suddenly be filled with this crap, and the collective sigh of disappointment will be heard all the way in the northern corners of British Columbia.  That one, I know tons about.

*This knowledge will come in handy if you ever find yourself in a bar me with, and I'm quite drunk, and you have a camera of any sort. Just throwing that out there.

The Kind of Bailout I Needed: A Guest Post from Smart Ass Mom

Friends don't let friends put their blogs on the shelf. They want you to pass it around like a rental car for people to eat, smoke and perform lascivious acts in with impunity. At least that's what I think Mr Lady was getting at when she told me I should get guest posters. So she's pledged the help of her hubby (better known as The Donor), while I got my mom, Fury and my blogless stalker Carol to promise to pitch in. And then others (who do write blogs) also wanted a turn red-lining the engine. Cool. I can legitimatley call myself the Editor-in-Chief now and sit back and watch this blog become something deserving of the -$12 it earns me each month.

The first one to get their post to me was my Jager-shootin' "internet date" from NJ, Smart Ass Mom. She's like the rebel suburban mom, and she'll nail fools who take this "parenting" thing too seriously. And thanks to her, I'll never look at a fortune cookie the same way again (check out her recent posts, you'll find it. Yes, I want you to work. You thought I'd just link to it? Ain't my style). Anyway, this is the post where she kind of earns her moniker. At my expense. My eyes are still bleeding...

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Hi all, I am Smart Ass Mom, from you guessed it smartassmom.com. I am shocked honored that BusyDad asked me to force his readers to run in terror holding their bleeding ears guest post. It's a tough act and one that I am sure will be bashed abundantly by the others. However, what I lack in great writing ability I make up for in laughs directed at myself.

Here is a little background; as a college freshman, knowing everything there was to know, I decided that I was so awesome I could balance a double major. My passions were dancing and making money. (Clear up your dirty minds, not where I'm going with this.) First up, move to LA where I imagined slipping into pressed Armani suits, reading phonebook style filibusters by day. My nights would be dedicated to choreographing The Jackson 5 comeback and busting a groove at highly paparazzi'd hotspots. What do you mean it isn't possible to major in both Dance/Choreography Instruction and Political Science? Well, that was only until I hit it big and moved to NYC to work for the Philharmonic. Wha? They don't dance? Oh, well no wonder I failed miserably.

Luckily for me, my failure didn't bring me down. Instead forced me to look around for creative answers to my craptacular questions. Instead of the job of professional choreographer and teaching Paula how to shake her money maker, I would instead teach 2 year olds not to spit on the dog. Instead of arguing the peoples right, ala Erin Brokovitch, I would argue both legs into my toddlers pants. So I got crafty. I dropped the lobbiest bit and bid the poli sci degree adieu. And I picked up my own dance routines. I practiced and made up my own stuff. I am more than willing to break that stuff out at a local watering holes. I auditioned for the Houston Texans dance team, and even made it past day 1. I even study too, and by study I mean I catch all the episodes of So You Think You Can Dance?

I am also known to DVR Saturday Night Live when a fav performer is on. Then in the seclusion of my bedroom, during the day when there are no witnesses, I slowmo over, and over until I am a superfluous talent of backup dancing material. With the drapes wide open, for all to laugh at me I will break it down and squeel with glee when I have the first 32 counts down. Usher and Luda's Yeah? I own it. Chris Brown from the '07 VMA's? All minus the standing back tuck. My fav of all time? JT's Sexyback. You don't know the drill? "5, 6, 7, 8. One and two, three four FIVE SIX sevenandeight! Jazz hands!" So I came to the conclusion after logging hours in front of the TV that I had Beyonce's 'Single Ladies' kick line style dance down. And you know what, it was some work. And trying it out in stilettos was a poor choice on my part, or so says my ankles. But lemme tell you; I am about 8 counts away from stealing JayZ. So watch out, B. I have this one, and I am not afraid to vlog about it.