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Friday The Thirteenth

Friday, August 13. For me, it will always be the day I almost died.

It was 1993 and I was 12 years old, having one of those summers spent almost entirely in the water. I had biked to the town pool only to find it was closed for maintenance. Remembering that my mother was leaving the house, I biked home fast before I was shut out for the afternoon. I remembered looking both ways before crossing the street but clearly I didn’t. I saw red and then it was dark. (Years later, I found out it was a red pickup that hit me when I was telling my mom I had felt uncomfortable sitting in someone’s truck and I didn’t know why. Yup it was a red truck!)

I don’t remember any pain but it was dark and I couldn’t move or open my eyes. I remember hearing people talk all around me and not being able to say anything. I was trapped in my body.

I spent three days in the hospital. I don’t remember much but I remember my family being around and that I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I remember trying repeatedly to make it through a half hour long television show or a chapter in a book but getting a headache before I could finish. I had a concussion. I had an MRI or maybe a CAT scan which I slept through. Overall, I was sleepy and a bit sick to my stomach.

The day I was supposed to go home, I had a seizure. It felt like some big invisible hands were holding me down and pushing my head backward. I tried to mentally overpower it, or at least say something to calm people around me down, but I was trapped in my body again.

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Fun Friday: The New Dog

I write about whatever I want on Friday, because it’s fun. And I can.

I thought I’d take some time to answer a few FAQs about my new addition. Gidget became my dog at about 11 pm on Wednesday night when she, over the course of half an hour, crawled out of her airline crate and accepted a Greenie from me. Here’s more about the whole scenario.

Gidget will lay right down if you start patting her, even in the middle of a sidewalk.

Why Gidget?
Gidget was originally named Corky on the website she was listed on. When I asked the animal shelter director if she’d mind if I changed her name, she didn’t skip a beat. “I mean Corky the Corgi? Were we even trying that day?!?” And everyone I met agreed that this name could not stay, which only reaffirmed what I was going to do anyway.

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Fun Saturday: Funny Stuff You Notice On Walks

I write whatever I want about at the end of the week. Because I can.

Now that it’s finally sping in my corner of the world, I can advocate walking again.

I mean, we all know that it’s great exercise and doesn’t waste fossil fuels like driving, but these last few sunny days have made me think about the actual reason I enjoy walking: You notice funny things that you never notice when you are driving a car.

I could show any number of lovely photographs of some of Bar Harbor’s more famous landmarks at this point but instead here are some things I’ve driven by a million times but just noticed when I was out walking the other day.

What is this behind the Abbe Museum? An odd building indeed...

Just a few of a bunch of colorful birdhouses, attached to a fence, set far back from the road.

It makes me wonder what else I’ve missed, and makes me think of walks past, like my walk to school on Vinalhaven, my walk into town from my French apartment, or the nightly walk my dog and I used to go on around the block.

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I Am Addicted To Wasting My Own Time

Every Friday, I write about whatever the heck I want… because it’s fun.

I pretend to hate video games… but I really don’t. I just stay away because I have no self control. Anyone who doubts this should watch me in the same room as a bag of Cap Cod kettle cooked salt and vinegar chips…

Yum.

Oh right, yes, computer games. I may have never got past level three in Super Mario Brothers when I was a kid (or even now) but I did have some games that I was good enough at to actually enjoy.

I started off with Tetris on the Gameboy. That thing got passed around in our family so much, I am surprised it didn’t melt the year we got it.

Briefly in college, there was Snood. I had to uninstall it off my computer, the only time I’ve even had to uninstall anything.

I even went through a Spider Solitaire phase that was so intense, I would dream I was playing it all night. I had reached a point in my life where I had enough self control to just not let myself even open the program for a year. And I’ve gone the last few years being a pretty productive internet user…

You think I'm self disciplined, huh? You haven't seen me and Bejeweled together yet!



Then a few weeks ago, I met Bejeweled.

I love that when you break any game like this down into what it is, it sounds stupid: You try to get lines of the same jewel (at least three but ideally, four or five) in a row, then they explode and disappear. I feel embarrassed just saying it but it’s so fun!

At first, I was a casual user: playing it while waiting for someone to show up for dinner for example. Pretty soon though, I found I would lie in bed with my iTouch playing it until midnight.

So I gave it up for Lent. And my first big test will be in a few minutes when I get in a car as the passenger on a longish drive to Saddleback Mountain skiing. I guess I’ll *gasp* have to talk to my companions, undistracted by little jewels getting crushed together.

Here’s hoping your Friday is equally social… but, if you were going to have your attention and time stolen by something completely artificial, what’s your guilty pleasure?



Marketing Monday: Goop

Editor’s Note: Thank you all for your kind condolences about the death of my dog. I appreciate your compassion, and am happy to report that I am feeling much better this week. Many thanks.
Know an individual or business doing something cool to promote themselves online? Let me know about it and they might be featured as part of Marketing Monday!


Goop's front page. Flash driven and a little vague (bad) but graphic and simple (good).
I’d first of all like to keep this blog a positive one. There are so many people doing so many good things online, to promote their business or otherwise.
Today, I wanted to review Gwyneth Paltrow’s website called Goop. It’s mission is to ‘nurture the inner aspect’ and is supposed to be about things in Gwenyth Paltrow’s life.
Recently, her post about a New Year’s cleanse recieved some media attention at both Nerve and Huffington Post and just this past weekend, the site came up in conversation over lunch with two of my friends in the media.
The only reason this website seems to work is because it belongs to Gwenyth Paltrow. I haven’t found anyone who ‘gets it’.
Goop does not embrace internet terms.
A web magazine written by one person about their life is called a blog.
Goop can call its posts ‘articles’ all it wants but in doing so alienates itself from the blogging community. I could see the use of another term if this website was launched five years ago when blogs weren’t nearly as prevalent . But nowadays, bloggers are used as experts on television news programs and followed by media types on social media for story tips.
Bloggers are far from obscure and distancing yourself from a group of people also trying to create online content seems like a silly thing to do. Let’s not mention the fact that bloggers spend a lot of their time talking about and linking to other websites. Not one of them? That certainly makes it hard to become part of the community.
It’s unclear whether the site is compensated for the products it endorses.
A whole section of Goop is called ‘Get’ and seems to endorse cool products. No where on the site could I find policies about these products. Does Gwyneth Paltrow receive financial or other compensation for putting these products on her site? Does she personally use them? It’s hard to say.
As a reader of the site, I’d like to know. A simple ‘About’ section of ‘FAQ’ would do wonders at answering some small questions about the site and its policies.
Goop doesn’t link to other sites.
Not linking to other sites makes you 1) less connected with other web developers and 2) doesn’t help your search engine ranking. This is why all bloggers have a blogroll or list of links we like: because it’s good for us and good for the people we link to.
Not having many (or perhaps any) links off the site seems like a missed opportunity, not only for increased traffic to Goop but also for Paltrow to use her star power to help out smaller sites. You can’t buy the kind of good buzz that would create.

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div>In short, celebrities can get away with things the rest of us can’t.

Most regular people can’t get away with a ‘this is stuff i like’ blog, if only because most of us have a limited audience. There are probably 30 people in my life who would care about everything Nicole Ouellette likes in my case. I am not Oprah, and this is why my blog entries have an undercurrent of money and marketing. It is why most blogs have a topic or subject they are about: more universal appeal.
What is Goop about? Whatever Gwenyth Paltrow feels like needs to be covered that particular week.
As my Twitter friend Marc Pitman puts it, it looks like Goop is “trying to do WAY too much”. I agree.
Some people do like a website that covers a lot of ground though, but for those of us who like to know what to expect, it’d be great if there’d be a preview of what’s coming up. No doubt the staff that maintains this site plans ahead for content and letting readers in on the not-so-distant future offerings I think would lead to increased overall satisfaction with readers.
Also, it would be great if Goop engaged it’s readers in some way. Featuring helpful comments in the weekly newsletter or having reader guest bloggers would no doubt increase Goop’s appeal and further connect it to other cool things going on online.
While Goop has interesting written content and a clean design, the posts have no photos.
The posts on Goop are text heavy; it would be great to have some graphic elements to get the content more skimmable and make the website prettier. Perhaps this is a place where readers could contribute if they knew about the topic ahead of time. Just an idea…
In short, Goop is not the world’s most terrible website but it could further its mission with some thoughtful tweaks and increased reader engagement.
Want some other opinions besides mine?



Top 5 Things To Never Say To Someone Who Is Grieving

Yes, I know the BE blog is on break, but I was reading this old post that I wrote on my old personal blog after my father died two years ago. I thought it might be appropriate to rework it and post now.
I put my dog down last night, and for those of you who struggle to find words to comfort someone who is grieving, here is a little advice that may be helpful. Thank you to those who have wrote or commented; your kindness is appreciated.
I’ve learned a lot these past two years about losing someone important, first suddenly with my father two years ago, then rather slowly with my dog with her finally passing yesterday. More than anything during these times, I’ve noticed how many important people touch your life and reach out when you need them.



People have said some pretty comforting things to me but also a few odd things. I thought I’d pen a blog sharing these ideas because I find people often don’t know what to say.
First of all, there is not much wrong you can say, so know that. But here are the top five things you should never say to someone whose dog/father/insert-significant-relationship has just died, and in no particular order:
He’s in a better place.
Thank you, Captain Obvious. Don’t need to hear that, ever.
Maybe six months later, I can get philosophical about it all, but not immediately after the fact.
What are you going to do now?
Gee, I don’t know. I thought I’d make a sandwich. (Huh, I guess I can be sarcastic!)
Asking people about making decisions (especially major life ones) within days or weeks is asking a little too much. I mean, I didn’t know what I was going to do before all this happened anyway, and in my grief, I could barely decide what to eat for breakfast this morning.
Also even just putting the dog down (versus planning a funeral, which I have also done) required many decisions made while I was completely stressed out. Don’t make me make more of them.



This is so hard. And it doesn’t really get better…
Yeah, I really want to look towards the long years of my life and really dread them and feel like they are forever tainted by something I can’t control.
If you want, just acknowledge this is hard. That’s acceptable and true. Don’t ask me to look ahead. It’s a little too raw to do so.
You should move home/buy a puppy/insert-advice-here.
I’m with the camp that if I want advice, I’ll ask for it.
Please don’t ever tell someone how they should be grieving or dealing with it, or what they should do with their life now. I think we all know what’s best for ourselves and the grieving process is so individual.
I am not sure whether I am going to get a dog next week, next month, next year, or never. But I should feel free to do what I need to do to make myself feel better without worrying how someone else feels about it.
(Void of Silence)
Please don’t say nothing. This is the worst thing you could ever ‘say’.
I understand that it can be awkward but please aknowledge that something bad has happened to someone you love by saying something. You can do it in a card, with flowers, or even with social media. Us grievers really don’t care how the message gets to us.. . Which brings me to…



Four things that are just fine to say:
1. I’m so sorry.
2. My thoughts/prayers are with you.
3. I don’t know what to say.
4. You gave her such a good life/she was so lucky to have you.
5. (Share a story about the person who died)
I had much more tolerance for these cliché phrases and sentiments then the other stuff. In particular, I appreciated condolences that incorporated multiple elements in them. As the person saying these things you probably don’t think they help. As the person hearing them, I’m telling you that they really do, and even if you hear the same thing over and over from different people, each little thought somehow buoys you up just a little and makes it a little easier.
And the best thing you can do if you want to go beyond saying something is doing something. Don’t ask me for what I need, because I honestly don’t know. Just show up with dinner or offer to help me pack my dog’s stuff or really whatever. Today, several have stepped forward offering me their company and offering to provide me with my basic needs.
So I hope that’s helpful the next time you are faced with a situation like this…but trust me, I hope you aren’t for a long time.



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