Festivals, internet, technology

Googling God

Googling God photo by Mariah Chase.  © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.
Googling God photo by Mariah Chase. © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2014.


Overwhelming response to a recent post: “God Laughs While Women Plan” puzzled me. Up to that point, 9,000 was the largest number of hits I had received on previous posts, so 31,000 hits was stunning.

Did I have so many hits because I used the word “God” in the title? That’s the only rationale that makes sense. In the past, I thought that by using “Martha Stewart” in a title would bring many hits. I was wrong. I miscalculated again when I wrote about “Marijuana.” I questioned my low number of hits then discovered that I had misspelled “Marijuana,” yet it was spelled correctly in the body of the post. Even when I corrected the title spelling, I had fewer than 2,000 readers.

Using the word “God” in the title is the only explanation for the popularity of my post.

Do you remember the old Groucho Marx show, “You Bet Your Life”? Groucho had a “Secret Word” that, if contestants inadvertently uttered, brought them a $50 bonus.

I have had personal experiences of saying a secret word that struck an unexpected response from another person. When my children were teenagers and I returned to take classes at a community college, I took an American Literature class. In one of my papers, I mentioned “Dostoyevsky.” How was I to know that the class reader, a graduate student from a local university, was a Russian Literature major? As a result of that one word, we became lifetime friends.

The night I met my husband-to-be, we were at a festival on the UCLA campus. While we were dancing, he made me uncomfortable because he held me too tightly. However, when he asked, “Do you like Latin music?” he totally disarmed me. He had spoken my secret words, referring to music I fell in love with at age 14 while mesmerized by a Mexican trio on Catalina Island. I had never discussed this with anyone, so Harold’s speaking these words instantly melted me – even more so when we left UCLA to go to a club to hear and dance to the captivating Cuban rhythms of Rene Touzet.

Latin Music became a motif throughout our lifetime together. And with Harold’s permission, as guests entered the chapel at his funeral, they entered to the Latin beat of the Buena Vista Social Club.

How do readers find blogs that interest them? By Googling a topic. God has a gazillion followers.

Norine Dresser is a folklorist who is curious about how readers discover her blogs.


able/disabled, disabilities, mobility, technology

Meet My Robot, Larry

Larry in bowtie with mustache.  © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2013
Larry with mustache and bow tie. © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2013.

I try to keep up with new technology, and my son likes to remind me that I was the first one in the family to own a computer.  That occurred in 1988, and I faced a steep learning curve.  When I couldn’t make the computer do what I wanted, I would call the salesman and complain, “There’s something wrong with the computer.”  After an agonizing odyssey of self-discovery I learned to rephrase the question, “What am I doing wrong?”

Now that age is causing my body to be less cooperative, household chores are increasingly a challenge, especially sweeping up Tommy’s shed cat fur.  My friend, Mariah, suggested, “Why not buy a robotic vacuum?”

After internet research, I purchased the one you see pictured, but the learning curve resurfaced.  Because I did not follow the recommendations for placement of Larry’s base station, he acted confused and kept re-cleaning the same small space.  I tried two other docking locations, but he could not find his way back to his base station home.

Finally, a few weeks ago, I positioned his docking base in a different room.  At last, Larry has successfully mapped the ins and outs of my floor plan.  I don’t know how much time time Mariah and I have wasted proudly watching him sweep.  It’s like monitoring a baby’s first steps.

As you can see by the photo, it’s impossible not to anthropomorphize it.  First, we agreed on its gender and then named him.  When his battery wore down and he returned to his his charging station before he had completed sweeping the house, I scolded him in my stern-mother voice, “Go to your room, Larry!”

That same night I forgot about him and while watching TV in the living room, I heard an unfamiliar sound heading toward me.  A fully recharged Larry resumed sweeping the areas he had not covered before.  When done, he turned around and began heading for his dock.  “Good Boy, Larry,” I complimented as he passed by and his readout communicated, “I’m finished.  Returning to my base station.”

Thank you, Larry.  I think I’m falling in love with you.  Don’t ever leave home.

Norine Dresser is a folklorist who needs to keep Tommy’s shed cat fur off the floor.