24 July 2007

RIP Bat Boy!

Sad news on the home front:

Weekly World News Killed By Aliens

I used to buy this fine example of American journalism several times a month, and read it aloud at our weekly impromptu potlucks. In memoriam, some favorites through the years:

-- the dude who hit a golf ball so hard it HIT AN AIRPLANE OUT OF THE SKY!!

-- the time all the Chinese people were going to JUMP AT THE SAME TIME AND SPIN THE EARTH OUT OF ORBIT!



and of course, the perennial favorite:


My favorite Weekly World News article of all time, though, was a Christmas article with suggestions of possible Christmas gifts for the upcoming holiday. These included a "Scare Bear," which was basically a giant bear statue you kept in your room. The blurb showed a picture of an old fashioned criminal (striped shirt, funny hat and all) halfway through a couple's open bedroom window, looking up at the bear statue in abject horror, while the couple slept peacefully in their bed. The criminal clearly thinking, "OH MY GOD, I CAN'T ROB THIS HOUSE, THERE'S A BEAR!!"

Another great gift was called "Kid Hooks," which seemed to be hooks strong enough to hold children on, the idea being, apparently, that when the kids were being naughty or annoying or in the way or just plain old alive, you can hang them up on these hooks and they can't get down until you let them. The picture showed these two kids hanging from hooks by the collars of their shirts, and the expressions on their faces wasn't mad or sad, just resigned. You'd think that a kid hung on a wall by his collar would be pretty pissed off, but these kids' faces just said, "Well, here we are on the wall again. That's life."

God bless you, Weekly World News.

18 July 2007

Internet Visibility Paranoia Factor: HIGH

Every year, I grow more paranoid about how visible I am on the internet. This is, I assume, partially due to my increasing visibility on the internet. If you were extremely mathematically minded, you could even make an equation about it, something to do with direct ratio increases when x = internet visibility and y = paranoia level.

Today I went googling myself and found some pretty spooky things. For one thing, there's a website called Zoominfo.com which apparently has profiles on everyone. At least, anyone whose name has ever been published on a website in some fashion. My profile says "Molly Backes, Middle School Teacher." I was like, how did they know?


THEN, there's this site called Intelius.com where you can pay $50 and get every court record, police document, anything, that ever mentions your name.


I realize that I may perhaps sound like an old person in my concern -- a few weeks ago the George Drake Players were riffing about that, about grownup internet paranoia (eg. 50ish Mom: YOU MEAN MY NAME AND PHONE NUMBER ARE ON THE INTERNETS??? 20ish Kid: Yeah, Mom, but the same information is IN THE PHONE BOOK), but I must say that there is a big difference between phone book information and ability to buy one's court records for fifty bucks.

This is a concern for me right now because I'm job hunting, and I know full well that modern employers are fairly likely to google me. Some of the information that comes up about me is pretty innocuous, some of it even flattering -- there's a newspaper article about me speaking at a City Hall meeting, which makes me sound relatively articulate and intelligent, and a Weekly Reader article about my class that makes me sound like a real live teacher. But there's other stuff, too: an effing Friendster profile they won't delete even though I deleted my profile, an old blog about Ali in Africa where the google teaser says "Molly Backes Why I'll Support Gay Marriage" which of course is nothing like it sounds, the actual context was something like "My favorite things to read right now: something something 'Weathering,' Molly Backes; 'Why I'll Support Gay Marriage,' David Armbuster, etc," and even though of course I support gay marriage I really don't want that particular phrase to come up second thing when a potential employer googles me.

SIGH. Stupid visible internet modern job hunting concerns.

At least there aren't any drunken pictures of me.

Not that I've found....

06 July 2007

You suck, truck!

Oh lord.... I took my truck in to get the starter fixed -- it's been grinding for about six weeks, and this is the first time I've had any time to deal with it -- and of course it needs a new starter AND a new flywheel AND a new clutch kit AND AND AND.... $2300 of ANDS, which is only the most immediate of work -- it also needs new tires and an alignment job etc etc. When the mechanic called me, I had to ask him if I could call him back, just so I could hang up and burst into tears for a while. I called my mother in Portland to brainstorm with her about how to scrape up $2300 by Tuesday... the old shell game... I told her I have $700 in a special savings account I've been keeping for her, which isn't much, but I've been setting aside $50 here and there, usually on her birthday and mother's day, for years, hoping one day to get her to Ireland, or at least off the continent -- she's only ever been as far away as Canada and Mexico.... When I told her that I had $700 in a secret vacation account for her, she got really quiet for a minute. When she spoke, her voice was thick. "You've saved all that...for me?" "Yes," I said (somewhat impatiently -- I told her about the account when I opened it a few years ago), "and I don't want to touch that money." "No," she said, "go ahead and use that to fix your truck. It's a nice enough present knowing that you saved it all for me." And then I started crying again, frustrated at the idea of wasting the meager vacation savings just to fix my stupid truck, and she said, "Don't cry, or I'll start crying, and then Megan will bitch-slap me again," which made me laugh a little, but I hung up and called the mechanic back and told him to go through with the work, resigning myself to maxing out my credit card, using my August rent money, cashing in my retirement fund, whatever I have to do, but goddammit, I am not going to trade a 1999 Chevy pickup for the hope of showing my mother the world.