La fin de l’année

It’s the end of 2009, whether my French is correct or not. In looking at the blog, I realize that I haven’t posted anything here since early November. I’m not exactly sure why that is. To rule out the obvious, however, it’s not because I didn’t have anything to say. That hasn’t happened to me for a single waking hour since I was about three years old.

My online silence, I think, has had more to do with a sort of profound weariness–a delayed hangover, so to speak, from the ordeal of supporting Marge through her cancer treatment and recovery. She has felt it, too. After months of having too many difficult things to do every day, both of us came to a time when we didn’t really have to do anything at all. So we didn’t. That consumed most of the summer. Through the fall, we did what was required. The blog, however, somehow got labeled “Not Required.” And so it has been.

I don’t usually make resolutions for the new year, but I’m making an exception this time. During 2010 I want to post something here at least three times a week. As the old cliché has it, “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”

So out with the old year and in with the new year. Take it away, Guy…

Facing the C Word

“C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me,” sings Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster. It’s a cute song and an engaging character, especially as re-imagined by Stephen Colbert. The problem is that C stands for a lot of other things, too.

Cancer, for example.

Last Friday, Marge and I sat listening to Marge’s newest doctor, a gynecologic oncologist, while he let us know as gently as he could that Marge has ovarian cancer. I felt as if I’d been slapped. In fact, I actually tried to get a look at the name on the case file the doctor had open while he was talking to us because I was convinced there was some mistake. Surely the message he was giving us was intended for someone else. But no luck on that one.

The cancer is apparently already advanced, and there may be several tumors. The next step is surgery, perhaps on September 30th, a week from today, but we don’t have a confirmed date for it. We’ll meet with the doctor again on Friday for more information about the surgery and the overall treatment strategy. I do know that the surgery will be both treatment and diagnostic tool. We have little specific information now, but there will be a mountain of it following the surgery.

The last four days have been long and difficult. I don’t know of a harder job than this waiting and waiting and waiting to learn how bad the bad news really is. The outpouring of love and support we have received and continue to receive from family and friends, however, is wonderful. I mentioned this to a friend yesterday, and her tone was matter-of-fact as she said, “Of course. You’re wonderful people. Everybody loves you.” I’m braced for bad news, but kindness can make me cry. I cried when she said that.

Today I’m in the process of setting up a CaringBridge site to record our journey through this. The URL is although not much is there just yet. I’ll post treatment and recovery information over there so that it doesn’t take over this blog.

And so, friends, if you’re familiar with prayer, please pray for us now. If you don’t know how to pray, it’s time you learned. We need everybody here.

Rebooting the Blog

A lot of things are like this, I guess. You step out of your routine for a while. It’s hard at first, but then it gets easier. My last post here was almost four weeks ago!

For the first week, I felt vaguely guilty about it. By the second week, I began to understand the reasons why I had stopped writing. By the third week, I began to think “What the hell. It’s waited this long, it’ll wait a while longer.” By the fourth week, I began to think this blog might be dead.

Then I heard from my friend Ronni at Time Goes By. “I’ve been checking your blog now and then and nothing since 15 August. Are you okay? Is your family okay?”

Yes, and yes-although there are some stories to tell. Anyway, I’m back. And thanks for the lifeline, Ronni!

Mea Maxima Culpa, and All That Rubbish…

You’d think that after 20+ years of computer use, I might be reasonably clear on the concept of “copy and paste.” To review: first you copy, then you paste.

A few handy keyboard equivalents and I'm good to go.Turns out that for AdSense to work, I had to copy and paste all of the code. Every last scrap of it. Deleting nothing. Adding nothing. Changing nothing. Who knew?

I knew, of course, but I can’t for the life of me figure out the origin of the code I found pasted into my page.

Now AdSense seems to be working, sometimes at least. I love the way it picks up the word “maxima” in this headline and pumps out car ads. I’ve driven a Nissan Maxima since 1999. It’s getting old and is as much of a gas hog as ever, but I’m attached to it.

Getting attached to a car is as dumb as screwing up copy and paste, but what can be done?

Waiting for Google. And Waiting Some More.

OK, Google, here I am. A brand spanking new URL all set for you. But you never call, you never write. My Lijit search over there on the right doesn’t work without you, Google. And my AdSense? That is you, Google! Dammit, don’t get me started. I mean, what am I supposed to do? Play Elaine to your Lancelot and waste away waiting for you? I’m not feeling it, Google. I’m just not feeling it. So why don’t you crawl your robot ass over here right now and index my damn blog?

And while we’re on the subject of crawling, I know you guys at Yahoo! are up to here in alligators trying to fend off the barbarian hoards of Redmond. But still. You are in the search business, aren’t you? So search me, already!

As for you, Ask, it just hasn’t been the same since you dumped Jeeves. And you, MSN, what’s up with the butterfly? Maybe you guys have already stopped by. No offense, but how would I know? So it’s up to you, Google.

I’m waiting, Google. Don’t make me come over there…

As I Was Saying…As I Was Saying…As I Was Saying

The unavailability of the subdomain on should have been a clue. The way the phrase came to me all at once might have tipped me off. The deeply ingrained habit I have of adopting phrases I like and then, after God knows how many years have passed, forgetting where they came from could have motivated to search a little harder for a name.But nooooo. (Thank you, John Belushi.)

I had to go ahead and name this blog “As I Was Saying…” I like the name. It turns out a lot of people have liked the name for a long time.Jack Paar

There are dozens of blogs that use the phrase as all or part of their names. It’s a phrase the television pioneer Jack Paar used a lot. He even used it as the title of a book.

I was a huge Paar fan. He hosted The Tonight Show from 1957 to 1962 and actually had cameras in Havana at the time of the Cuban Revolution. You couldn’t really see much of what was going on in Cuba, but I was transfixed with the thought that I was witnessing the overthrow of a government as it happened.”

As I was saying…” is also a family joke that I use as an easy way of admitting I’ve made a mistake about something. Sample dialog:

Me: Let’s eat at Margarita’s tonight. We haven’t been there for a long time.
Marge (my wife): We ate there last weekend!
Me: As I was saying, I’m sick to death of Margarita’s.

In our family at least it’s the sort of thing that gets funnier with fairly frequent repetition. Please understand that I’m not talking about murderous, sanity-shredding, “Wazzzzzzzzzzuuuuuppppppp?” style repetition here. What I mean is that using the phrase once a week (once a month?) has become my own little family tradition.

I had a professor years ago who spoke of “doughy lumps” in writing. He used the term to refer to a phrase or sentence (sometimes a whole paragraph) that comes to you easily and all at once when you’re writing. It comes to you all at once, he said, because it seems familiar. It seems familiar, he said, because you have heard it before. A doughy lump, therefore, most likely represents plagiarism, cliché, or received wisdom. As I was saying…

Perhaps Oscar Wilde had a point when he said, “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”

Anyway, as I was saying, I might have been happy with a different name for this blog.