You think I’m funny? You think I’m FUNNY! *squeee*

Beloved will tell you, there is no living with me right now. Not since I found out that Postcards from the Mothership was shortlisted as one of the five finalists in the Humour category of the 2010 Canadian Weblog Awards.

2010 Canadian Weblog Awards

Did you catch that? The HUMOUR category.


Humour! I mean, I was so honoured to be nominated in the Best Written category. I love to write, and yes, I think I can string a few words together with occasional panache. And well, my raison d’être is pretty much Family and Parenting, so of course I was honoured to be nominated in that category. But to be nominated in, and then shortlisted in, the Humour category? Funny is something I aspire to, something I am never quite sure I have managed. Something I am genuinely delighted to be acknowledged for.

I’ve written before about how much I admire Schmutzie‘s efforts in putting together the Canadian Weblog Awards. She’s done a fantastic job reinventing blog awards to make them relevant, and more than just a clicky popularity contest. (Did you get that clever play on words? Clicky, like the keyboard, but cliquey, like the social thing? Cuz apparently I’m FUNNY!)(See? No living with me. Poor Beloved.)

If you haven’t had a chance, click on over and check out the finalist shortlist in all the categories. It reads like a who’s who of the Canadian blogosphere, all the blogs you should be reading if you aren’t already. I’m so happy to see blogs and bloggers I adore like Kids in the Capital and Julie and Amy and Andrea and Tanya and Annie and Kimusan and tonyphoto/drool and XUP and Thordora and Cheaty and Kate and Emma and Laura and … and ALL of them. Holy cats, there’s a lot of bloggy goodness representing here!

But wait, there’s more!

First of all, you’ll be delighted to hear that I am not about to recruit you into a clickfest of voting for me. Because there is no voting with the Canadian Weblog Awards. Isn’t that awesome? The whole thing is juried. I love that! There are so many contests I bypass on the Interwebs, because I truly hate the “vote for me” things. I know, I know, I’ve schmoozed you into doing it for me many times over the years, but I’ve always felt vaguely icky about it. So I’m doubly honoured to be shortlisted based on merit, however subjective and ethereal that might be, rather than by how many votes I can mobilize.

So now there’s a second round of juried review, and the first, second and third place finalists will be revealed on January 1. Um, wait a minute. Does that mean I have to be funny for the entire month of December? The insane month of December, rife as it is with school concerts, holiday parties and mould remediation? Yikes. That may just be the stress that tips me over into the abyss.

Then again, humour has always been my coping mechanism of choice. As long as the Universe keeps up with its antics, there should be plenty of “might as well laugh as weep” moments in the coming weeks!

In which she shakes it off and sucks it up

Okay, bear with me for one saccharine minute. Please? I promise, it’s no worse than yesterday’s introspective moaning. (I swear, I blame it on Douglas Coupland. I still credit Generation X with getting me motivated out of a bad marriage, and I’ve spend the last three weeks reading The Gum Thief. He gets into my brain and messes with it in a way that no person in my real life does!)

Oh, and I have to say, while I really really REALLY appreciated your comments, I think I misrepresented the depths of my despair. The blog was never really at risk of ending — I don’t know if I could stop if I have to. But it just hasn’t been any fun at all for the largest part of the last month, and I don’t need another chore in my life. The blog is my escape from the housework, and shouldn’t be a drudge.

So anyway, this is where I was going today: I woke up with the Beatles’ song The End in my head, a propos of nothing. And as I’m making coffee, the line keeps bouncing around in my head: And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

It’s karma, baby. I truly believe that. I keep putting out good things into the universe, and the universe sends goodness back to me. And the past couple of weeks of bloggy constipation and soul-searching? That’s probably because I totally stole that guy’s parking spot at Costco last month and then shrugged and shot him the “Who, me?” innocent look. I was in a hurry!

So if I can blog about taking inspiration from a half-century old song that came to me in a dream with only the slightest cringe of self-consciousness, I can get through any lingering ennui.

And besides, I’ve got a wicked-cool giveaway for Ottawa peeps later today. Stay tuned!

The post I wasn’t going to write

Last week when I put up the quick post with the TtV tulip shot, I mentioned that I felt I’d been neglecting the blog lately because I’ve been so crazy busy and “feeling a little unsettled.” Bless her observant little heart, Angela picked up on it and asked me “Why unsettled?”


It’s been about three weeks since the whole stupid thesis thing, and you know what? I still can’t find my footing. Oh, how I wish I could close that damn Pandora’s Box. I’ve tried to write this post a dozen times, and I can’t come even close to getting it right. Ever since that whole kerfuffle, I feel so exposed and so self-conscious and so — and this is where I get stuck, every time. Not only can I not blog about this, but I can’t blog about *anything* without feeling weird and awkward about it. And I hate it.

I have this idea in my head of what the blog is to you, dear reader. I like to think you think that it’s a place for fun ideas of things to do with your family, of places where we have interesting discussions about the foibles of parenting in the 21st century, a place where I show you what the world looks like through my eyes by using my words and my camera, a place where I can turn the minutiae of my life into vignettes that resonate with you and will be treasured by me when the moment has long since passed. In the last couple of years, it’s also been a place where I hand-pick what I think are useful or valuable or just plain interesting products and services, and find ways to get freebies for all of us.

By the time the dust had settled, I felt like just another mommyblogger writing about potty training and takeout dinner. I’ve never felt so misunderstood, not even as an angsty 16-year-old with more attitude than brains. And then as it rippled through our little corner of the Internet, people said I was “indignant” and “overreacting” when in fact, I was none of those things. I was perplexed and weirded out, and I felt like someone had taken something quite valuable to me without my permission and turned it into something that made me uncomfortable. As it progressed, I felt like I was the one who had been wronged, and yet somehow I had to defend myself for it. And you know what? It drove me crazy seeing all these people saying, “Well, you put it out there, what did you expect?” Um, not that. As if that weren’t enough fun, then I felt awful because of the brutal comments — none of which I made but many of which I felt responsible for, because they happened in my space — eviscerating the thesis and its author. So I went from weirded out to defensive to guilty to wishing I’d never found the damn thing in the first place. Damn Google.

So I kind of tried to wait it out, putting up meaningless little posts while not blogging about the elephant in my throat, and hoped that I’d shake it off. I tried to go back to a contented sort of oblivious bliss, but I just couldn’t find my way. And then I read that Theryn is planning on writing another paper about the reaction to the thesis, and I felt even more exposed and more vulnerable because I don’t *want* to be a part of anyone’s thesis ever again so I sure as hell don’t want to feed that fire. But after five years of group problem solving, I don’t really know any other way to address an issue like this except to blog about it.


I had decided that I would not write this post, that I would just suck it up and swallow my anxiety whole and muddle through, because this is exactly the kind of revealing, wallowing, indulgent sort of post that I really don’t like to write. And then I read this paragraph on the Canadian Weblog Awards post about Nova Scotia blogger Kate Inglis of sweet | salty. I’ve read Kate’s blog on and off through the years, and found her to be an amazing writer and photographer, but this paragraph in her interview on the CWA blog spoke to exactly where I am right now:

Choosing not to delete my blog at that moment was a turning point. To keep going, I had to shrug at the rest of the internet. The trolls, the bickering, the melodrama, the need for validation, the exposure fetishists. The shit. I had to make the internet into something else, at least in my corner, and not internalize the rest of it. I made an effort to find kind and interesting people for whom blogging was just a platform for something else. Good writing, ideas, photography, art.

That’s it, exactly. I’ve got to find that place again, where I can write from my heart without feeling like I have to put up walls to protect myself and the things that are important to me. I hope it’s not gone for good, because I liked that place. It made me happy.

The Creepy Thesis Hangover

Leave it to Marla to come up with the perfect final word. By the time I’d gone to bed last night, I was feeling that vaguely hangover-y, regretful way she describes in her comment. You know, that guilty and indulgent way you feel when you’ve eaten too many chips or wasted too much time on the Internet when you could have been doing more productive things with the real people in your life? Not that spending a couple of hours with y’all is a waste of time, and anyway, I was already feeling tired and cranky for reasons that have nothing to do with the Internet and everything to do with a toddler who thinks he’s a newborn and wakes up 4x a night now, so I didn’t mind sitting on my ass tapping away and not washing the floor for a couple of hours.

And it was a really interesting conversation, wasn’t it?

So here’s the thing. Today, Theryn sent me an e-mail to say hello. Theryn, aka Heather Lyn, the author of the thesis, who is still a regular reader and even a blogger herself. Look, she even said hello on the comments, and I’m not sure anyone noticed. And here’s the big lesson of the day, one I should have known better: she’s a real person, not just the two-dimensional author of some obscure (less obscure than last week, though!) thesis. And whatever we might have collectively inferred about her academic abilities, turns out she’s pretty nice, too. Certainly she’s got a thicker skin than me, and bore all of our criticism and commentary with grace and good humour.

As I told her in our e-mail exchange, I’m still not sure how I feel about her thesis — but I do regret bringing down a hailstorm of unsolicited and occasionally savage criticism on her head. And so Theryn, I’m sorry that you had to endure a verbal assault on your work that would have brought me to tears, thin-skinned and praise-needy as I am.

Funny thing, this Internet. Even for someone like me who lives and breathes it, who prides herself on hosting fair and respectful discussions, it’s easy to forget that there are people behind the keyboard, people with feelings and biases and opinions that are different. I can’t say that I regret my original post, because I wrote it in good faith and I think it resulted in a truly fascinating conversation. I haven’t changed my mind about thinking that Theryn crossed a line in her assumptions, and that she took my work out of context. But I do regret that I was naive enough to think that Theryn wouldn’t see the commentary if I didn’t explicitly name her, and frankly I regret that she did see it if only because I would have been hurt by those criticisms if there were directed at something I’d invested a lot of time and energy and myself into.

Ironic or what?

In which the Internet finally freaks her out once and for all

For those of you not on Twitter at 10:00 pm on a Saturday night (what, you have a life?) you might have missed the latest gossip. Turns out some woman at SFU wrote a masters thesis about called “Works in Progress: An Analysis of Canadian Mommyblogs.” In it, she examines in minute detail the writings of eight Canadian bloggers, and uses that fodder to make egregious assumptions and inferences about their income, their marriages, and their children, among other things.

Mine was one of them.

In fact, it was me who stumbled on the thesis yesterday afternoon. I was googling my own name of all things, for an upcoming post that I’ll get around to finishing once all this settles down. I was bemused at first: “Oh look, someone referenced my blog in an academic paper.” But the more I read, the more it creeped me out. This woman spent what must have been days poking around in my archives, copying and eventually analyzing several months’ worth of writing. Analyzing several month of my life. And then she starts making assumptions, and that’s where I’m no longer impressed. She makes inferences and assumptions about my marriage, the division of labour in our house, my income, my job aspirations — about my life.

By the time I’d finished reading, I felt — violated. It’s a strong word, used intentionally. I felt that someone had taken what I put out into the Internet and used it for a purpose I neither intended nor approved. It’s not even the real me, it’s an unauthorized repackaging of the avatar of me that I slip into whenever I sit down at the keyboard.

Now, I have never been shy about sharing the most intimate details of my life online. Back in 2007, Chatelaine magazine (who has a much larger readership than this thesis ever will) wrote a feature piece about Beloved and me that looked at our reproductive history — infertility, miscarriages and all — in intimate detail. We’ve been on CBC TV discussing infertility twice. Neither one of those bothered me in the least, because there’s two key differences here. The first is that the MSM took the time to contact me and ask my permission first. The second is that the MSM seem to understand the fact that what’s on the screen is only part of the story, and doesn’t assume otherwise. They ask questions to get to the real truth, not the one that gets packaged for Internet consumption.

For the first time ever, I felt embarrassed and ashamed of myself and the blog when I finished reading this woman’s thesis. I thought, “Is that what I’m putting out there? Is that how people really see me?” And then I realized that that’s exactly my problem with what she did — she stripped my words and thoughts and ideas of their context and used them for her own purposes. (For example, she seems fixated on posts where I comment about potty training and take out, cross-referencing them extensively.) She treats my writing as a factual rendering of my daily life and completely ignores the fact that I am writing to entertain, so of course I am exaggerating some details and omitting others.

As I mentioned, there was a good little twitterstorm going last night, and most people seemed to agree that not contacting the bloggers in question was a significant ethical violation. (You can scan the conversation by clicking on the #creepythesis hash tag.) If she had, I think she would have had a much more interesting and well-rounded thesis. And she would have had my permission to quote me, something that she didn’t bother to acquire. By the way, the other blogs in question are Cheaty Monkey (Haley-O and I discussed this issue at length yesterday), The Writing Mother, Cheaper than Therapy, Adventures in Motherhood, Hypergraffiti, Chaos Theory, and Momcast. There’s also quotes from a lot of the other players in the Canadian momosphere, from Mad Hatter and Veronica Mitchell to Her Bad Mother. Go ahead, use the search feature and see if she quoted you without permission, too!

Now, I haven’t totally lost my perspective on this. I do realize that there are inherent risks in putting so much of my personal life out onto the Interwebs, and I realize that the “wrong” that has been done here is relatively minor. But I am offended by this, and I do intend to follow up with both the writer and SFU. In fact, my first impulse was to include her name along with a long list of accusations of ethical wrong-doings, because while I may soon forget how violated I felt in this moment, Google never will. (Figures. Now is a hell of a time to develop a sense of discretion!)

So, bloggy peeps, I’m willing to bet you have thoughts on this. Am I being overly sensitive, feeling as I do like a bug on a microscope slide? Or should I be flattered that anyone paid that much attention to my writing? Would you be creeped out? Would you act on it?

Me, I gotta go to church. *sigh*

A bloggy question of ethics

The other day, I received an e-mail pitch about a recent kids’ movie that I had thought about taking the boys to over Christmas. Now it’s coming out on DVD, and a PR firm working for the studio contacted me with what was very obviously a mass mailing.

Usually, I just delete these, but I’d been interested in the movie initially so I e-mailed back and asked if I could have one or more copies to give away on the blog. I got a prompt response saying that there were no promo copies for giveaways, but did I want a review copy?

I waffled, and in the end said no. I feel kind of odd taking products for review now when I can’t share them with at least some of you through a giveaway. I’m curious, though — what would you have done? Why I am differentiating between this and the dozens of other freebies I’ve received and blogged about through the years is beyond me — it just seemed somehow greedy of me to accept. Weird, eh?

Maybe it’s because I had read this blog post not too long before. It’s a rather tawdry story of some really indiscrete bloggers who were accepting products, reviewing them glowingly and talking about how much they or their family loved using the products, and then selling the items on a Facebook page, proclaiming that the items were “brand new” and “never used” often with tags still attached. I’d have no problem with a blogger donating or giving away or even selling a review product they’d received and not used, but to be duplicitous enough to lie about using the product and then turn around and sell it? No wonder mom bloggers get a bad name!!

On the other side of the spectrum, I didn’t have to waffle at all when I recently deleted a glowing offer to become a “brand ambassador” for a popular daytime soap and another daytime talk show. According to the pitch:

Brand Ambassadors will:

* Get the inside scoop on show developments and segments
* Have direct access to the Daytime Team to share feedback on XXX
* Be asked to use their influential platforms to help spread a buzz
* Receive special perks and goodies. We just have to keep these specifics under wraps until the Brand Ambassador Team is selected!

Excuse me while I roll my eyeballs around in my head for a while. Maybe it’s because I’m not a soap opera kind of girl that I’m cynical about this. Heck, if Jeff Probst asked me to be a Survivor Brand Ambassador, I’d fall all over myself saying yes. Then again, if Jeff Probst asked me to play naked in traffic during the rush hour in January, I’d do that too. We seem to be off on a bit of a tangent here… where were we?

Ah yes, I was about to ask you your thoughts on all of this. I try hard to strike a balance between great freebies for you guys and not spamming you with consumer stuff. While I’d happily accept a free Nikon D90 for the pleasure of sharing the pix with you (hello Nikon, are you listening?) the idea of taking little things like DVDs or free breakfast cereal just seems kind of cheap to me — and yet, the line in the sand is entirely arbitrary.

If I had a few extra minutes today, I’d go back and parse this meandering ramble into a much more concise post, but this is as good as it’s going to get. What say ye on the subject of bloggy freebies? Would you or do you accept any and all offers? Do you ‘get’ my distinction or do you think I’m splitting hairs? I’m always interested in your opinions!

More reruns: The Sweater Story

I’m blogging over at Family Jewels again today, and it’s a topic both dear to my heart and important for you to read, so get on over there and read it, okay?

But if you still can’t get enough of me today (frankly, I’m a little sick of me these days!) here’s a golden oldie from my way-back archives, The Sweater Story.

I’ve been back at work for about three weeks now, and I think I’m finally into the rhythm of the office again. I’ve been working on some pretty high-profile stuff around here, so I get lots of face time with senior management, which is nice for a new employee although some days I really feel like I’m in over my head.

Today was an especially busy day. We had our usual all-staff morning meeting, where I gave an update on my project to the group, and I had a couple of drop-by-my-cube meetings with colleagues. I also spent about 30 minutes on a conference call in my director’s office, sitting across the desk from her while we talked to some of the folks down in Southern Ontario region.

It was about 10:30 by the time I finally made it to the bathroom. I was washing my hands when I caught sight of myself in the mirror and noticed it. IT. In that moment, I became truly cognizant of the definition of mortified. On my sweater sleeve – my creamy white cotton knit sleeve, no less – smeared from mid-bicep to near my wrist, was a painfully obvious, incredibly nasty two inch wide smear of baby shit. Suddenly I flashed back to the pre-dawn gloaming of Tristan’s room, where I rushed in to grab a little cuddle before running for the bus. I picked him up out of his crib and slung him onto my hip to deliver him to Beloved, blissfully unaware of the toxic ooze seeping out of his Pampers and ingratiating itself with my arm.

As I gazed at my sullied reflection in the mirror, I tried to console myself: “They won’t notice. It’s not that obvious.” It WAS that obvious. THEY NOTICED! You would have to make a Herculean effort of avoidance to miss it, and I just knew my colleagues weren’t up to the task.

I tried to at least mitigate the damage. First, I tried to rub it off. Have you ever tried to rub dried baby shit off cotton ribbed knit? Then thought maybe a little water might do it. Which worked, inasmuch as it diluted the stain by about 20 per cent and spread it over an area about 300 per cent of the original stain. So I rolled up the sleeve as much as I could, which did a great job of drawing attention to the goodly part of the stain still visible, left the other sleeve down, and tried valiantly not to make eye contact with anyone in my office for three months.

Rerun week continues with A Love Letter to My Daughter, Who Will Never Be

(I’m guest-blogging this week over at Canadian Family magazine’s blog, Family Jewels, so it’s nothing but re-runs back here. Since I’m writing today about why sons are better than daughters, I thought it would be a good day to share this one from my archives, originally posted in September 2007.)

To my darling daughter, who will never be:

It may seem odd to begin a letter with a farewell, and perhaps even moreso a farewell to someone who never was, someone who never will be. But I needed to find a way to say goodbye to you, my daughter, because even though we never had the chance to say hello, you’ve always been a part of me. You’ve been with me – the idea of you – my whole life. As far back as I can remember, I expected you. I spent my life preparing for the act of mothering you. I carried the potential of you, my daughter, close to my heart, and in quiet moments I have loved to savour the imagining of you. But now, through the vagaries of fate and nature, it seems you are simply not to be.

It’s a wonder of the human heart that it can be filled with boundless joy at the idea of a son, and yet haunted by regretful longing on losing the idea of a daughter.

I am sad to have lost the opportunity to know you. I feel an empty hollow in the place I’ve always reserved for you. After a lifetime of expecting you, I’m struggling to let go of the idea of you, and with that, the idea of us as mother and daughter. Having felt you so keenly in my life, have expected you so fully, the reality of life without you still perplexes me slightly. “What do you mean I’ll never have a daughter?” It’s like trying to imagine a world without the colour red. Red has always been there; red belongs in the colour scheme of life.

I like to imagine that you would have been like me, but better. The best of me and of your father distilled, and improved upon by that which would have been uniquely you. You would have been precocious, and willful, and you would have kept your doting brothers wrapped around your little finger. You would have grown into a strong and capable woman, and you would have become, with the passage of the years, my friend as well as my daughter. We would have shared things that only a mother and daughter can share, and I would have treasured our unique relationship as much as I treasure the relationship I have with my own mother – a relationship I could only hope to replicate, as it would be impossible to improve upon it.

It may seem to be a little strange to say goodbye to someone who never existed; who never will exist. But to me, you were as real as the sunrise, as real as the stars that shine at night. I can’t touch those things either, but that hasn’t stopped me from believing in them. But now, after a lifetime of anticipating you, I relinquish you to the stars and banish the idea of you to the speculation of long, dark nights. What might have been, what will not be. In the darkest of those nights, I think of three lost souls, three babies miscarried, and even poor Frostie, and I wonder. I wonder if you were there, if you tried to arrive, if there was some great ironic twist of biology that prevented me from gestating a girl. I’ll never know.

While I may have spent my life expecting a girl, I’ve been delighted by the inherent joy of mothering my boys. My boys; those odd and adorable creatures whom I love beyond reason. I truly had no idea how wonderful it is to be the mother of boys. And though I can’t imagine life without them, the arrival of each boy somehow only deepened my certainty in your eventual arrival.

But now, finally, it’s time to say goodbye to you, my daughter, as I embrace with my whole heart the idea of spending my life being the princess, the diva, the queen among my coterie of men. I’ll miss you, my girl. I’ll miss holding a place for you in my life, and I’ll miss what might have been. I’ll have to adjust my sense of self, too, my sense of how my life will unfold from here. But my heart is full, and I have more blessings in my life than I ever dared hope for.

Goodbye, my beautiful daughter.

Zed-versus-Zee, the first in a series of reruns

Here’s another secret I’ve been keeping from you. (Two secrets in one month. Can you believe it?) I’ve been asked to guest-blog this week over at Canadian Family magazine’s Family Jewels blog. How cool is that? My first post should be up there later today – come on over and say hello! (Edited to add: it’s up!!)

I didn’t want to leave poor old blog completely neglected, though, and there simply isn’t enough time for two blogs and a photo habit this week. Instead, I’ve plumbed by not-inconsiderable archives to find a few favourite posts to share with you this week. You can call them re-runs, I’ll call them buried treasures.

First up, from 2005: Zed-versus-Zee, A Love Letter to Nancy.

It’s Nancy’s fault. She asked “So, which one is it (zed or zee)? Anyone know? And should we really care? Is it really a Canadian versus American thing? Or something else?”

Ooo ooo ooo! (dances in chair, waving hand in the air) I know, I know! I care!!

In fact, my darling Nancy, it is not so much a Canadian thing to say “zed” as it is an American thing to say “zee”. According to wikipedia:

In almost all forms of Commonwealth English, the letter is named zed, reflecting its derivation from the Greek zeta. Other European languages use a similar form, e.g. the French zède, Spanish and Italian zeta. The American English form zee derives from an English late 17th-century dialectal form, now obsolete in England.

Is it really worth all this debate? Even Shakespeare himself cast aspersions on the dignity of the 26th letter of the alphabet with an insult I’m going to try to work into at least two conversations today: Thou whoreson zed! Thou unnecessary letter! (King Lear, act II, scene II.)

You got me curious, though, so I did a little bit more research on the subject. According to the Concise Oxford Companion, “The modification of zed to zee appears to have been by analogy with bee, dee, vee, etc.” It seems Noah Webster, the dictionary guru, seems to have mass-marketed the “zee” pronunciation, along with the incorrect spelling of “centre”.

Apparently we Canadians aren’t the only ones feeling the effects of the Americanization of the “Sesame Street” phenomenon you mentioned and its influence on how you learned to say zee versus zed. I found a research paper titled, “Can Sesame Street bridge the Pacific Ocean? The effects of American television on the Australian language.” The introduction to her thesis talks about how just like here, Australian kids learn to say “zee” by watching Sesame Street and their parents correct them to say “zed”.

Sesame Street’s influence also gets mentioned in this chapter from the textbook Sociolinguistic Theory: Linguistic Variation and Its Social Significance. He says,

With the use of “zee” stigmatized, it is perhaps strange that children should learn it at all. One source is pre-school television shows beamed from the United States, notably one called Sesame Street, which was almost universally watched by children in the 1960s when it had no serious rivals… Sesame Street and its imitators promote the alphabet with zeal, almost as a fetish, thus ensuring that their young viewers hear it early and recite it often. The “zee” pronunciation is reinforced especially by the “Alphabet Song,” a piece of doggerel set to music that ends with these lines:

ell em en oh pee cue,
ar ess tee,
yoo vee double-yoo, eks wye zee.
Now I know my ey bee sees,
Next time, won’t you sing with me?

The rhyme of “zee” with “tee” is ruined if it is pronounced “zed,” a fact that seems so salient that many Ontario nursery school teachers retain it in the song even though they would never use it elsewhere.

More than just ending the alphabet song with a jarring non-rhyme, the zed/zee conundrum poses problems for people trying to market technology across the border. CNews reports on a Toronto law firm who lobbied Bell Canada and Nortel to change the pronunciation from “zee” to “zed” in the directory on their voice mail system:

“We’ve had inquiries about why it is the way it is when we’re Canadian,” said Tammie Manning, a communications analyst at the law firm. “(People said) we’re not the States. We’re independent. Why should we be subjected to that?”

Several officials from Nortel insisted the technology to make the switch from “zee” to “zed” was simply not yet available. But by mid-afternoon Friday, following several calls from a reporter, the company’s director of corporate communications said Nortel would change the “zee” to “zed” as soon as possible.

And then, of course, there is the infamous Joe Canadian rant from Molson’s, which although overplayed and out of date, still merits mention in the discussion:

Hey, I’m not a lumberjack, or a fur trader, and I don’t live in an igloo, or eat blubber or own a dogsled. And I don’t know Jimmy, Sally or Suzy from Canada, although I’m certain they’re really, really nice. I have a Prime Minister… not a president, I speak English and French, not American and I pronounce it About, not A-boot.

I can proudly sew my country’s flag on my backpack, I believe in peacekeeping, not policing, diversity not assimilation, and that the beaver is a truly proud and noble animal. A toque is a hat, a chesterfield is a couch, and it IS pronounced Zed, not Zee… ZED!! Canada is the 2nd largest land mass, the 1st nation of hockey, and the best part of North America. My name is Joe and I AM CANADIAN! Thank you.

So you see, dearest Nancy, it DOES matter, in a patriotic sort of way. Aren’t you sorry you asked?

In which she pines for the glory days of Blogging 1.0

My friend Barbara, also a social media junkie and mom-blogger, sent me a link yesterday to an article about a contest sponsored by Scholastic to find the “best Mommy Blogs on the Web.”

No wait, don’t leave just yet, I promise I’m not out to whore any votes for this one! The voting is over – apparently, more than 10,000 unique votes were cast – and the winners revealed. And between us, neither Barbara nor I have heard of a single one of the winning blogs. No Dooce, no Amalah, no Rocks in my Dryer, no Finslippy. (Ah, I can’t be bothered to make the links. Google ’em if you’re curious.) None of the winners were any of the big names you’d normally associate with mom blogs, in fact. Or maybe they are the big names now, and I am just too far from the epicenter to know it. Maybe once again I’m a vinyl girl living in a CD world.

I don’t think so, though. I think the blogosphere has just gone through one of those fundamental shifts in the last year or two, leaving the landscape irrevocably changed. I’ve been noodling ways to express this idea in a couple of posts that will likely never escape the vortex that is my drafts folder, but I can’t quite seem to get it to come out right.

What I’m trying to express, with virtually no success, is how different things are in the blogosphere than they were back when I started bloggin in early 2005. Back then, the parenting blogosphere was like a big high school; there were cliques and clans, and there were a few genuinely popular blogs that everyone seemed to link to, but we all kinda-sorta knew each other — or at least of each other. If a blog had been around a while, you’d likely at least have heard of it, if not visited it once or twice. Now, the blogosphere is like a country the size of Canada, and the chances of you knowing even the bloggers in your own city are as remote as the chances of you knowing Phil from Saskatchewan when you live in Corner Brook.

Along the same lines, I was nodding my head in agreement the entire time I read a recent article and post written by Lindsay at Suburban Turmoil (another old-skooler from back in the day) about how mommy blogging is lately less about story-telling and sharing perspectives and more about SEO optimization and branding. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am completely NOT opposed to the idea of people making a profit from their blogs — far from. But it seems to me that the essential charm of the mommy blog, what drew me in to the medium in the first place, is getting lost in all the noise from the product hawking and advertising deals.

So what’s my point? I dunno. I’m just sitting here on my porch rocker, waving my cane at those young whipper-snappers with their review blogs and revenue generating opportunites. Back in my day, I tell ya…