Life at the Lake

a diary of living at a small lowland lake


Early moonrise over Lake Ketchum

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Big John Dvorak says Blog Time is Over!



If you want to know what is going on in a dependable low-tech manner, you will read John C. Dvorak in PC Mag or watch him on Tech TV. He writes that "the onerous Big Media incursion marks the beginning of the end for blogging."

Well, maybe; maybe not. But some of his stats are passingly strange and interesting.

For instance, half of today's blogs are not being updated. A quarter of the blogs are what he and researchers in the field call "one-day wonders."

He says, 132,000 blogs are abandoned after a year of "constant updating." There are perhaps five million blogs in the world and four million of them have been studied by Perseus Development Corporation. They are being created faster, still than they are being abandoned. A typical blog, according to Dvork, "has about 12 readers."

But the big danger is that the blog business is being co-opted by Big Business. It is a new means of communication and everybody now wants to have one (or more): ABC News, FOX, National Review, The New Republic, The Christian Science Monitor—even the staid Wall Street Journal.

To Big John, this proliferation by the Big Boys marks the beginning of the end. Blogs are a trend, and trends run their tired course.
My own opinion is that blogs mirror the Internet itself. With three billion websites in this vast world, who has time to visit most of them, and what do they have to say?

Life at the Lake blog is typical. My big dismay comes from the fact that the average visitor to my site stays for 0.0100 seconds. (Or is it 0.0010 seconds?) In either case it is a nanosecond. It is nothing.

We blogsters write for the occasional surfer who alights (like a mosquito?) on our site and stays there long enough to read a bit. The "bit" is measured in seconds, and when some brave or bored soul stays for a few hundred seconds, we (or I) feel heartened.

The big question is, is occasionally feeling heartened really enough? Is Big John right?

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Autumn Leaf from the Cherry Tree.
Aw, Ain't That Purdy?



Don't Say That High School Spanish Was Worthless
Deep in my chair today, rain pelting down on the lake outside my window, reading a good book, I was summonsed to the computer by its cheery call, "You've got mail."

Sure enough, I had.

I hurried over and was asked, in highly recognizable Spanish, if I'd like to have a larger penis.

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More Bad News from the Middle East



Actually I was awake but, yes, I was in bed still.

I saw this nation bombed nearly flat by a foreign invader—dark-skinned, with a definite Arab look.

Then troops rolled into my favorite city (Seattle) in armored carriers. Soon they occupied both city and countryside, where I lived. Naturally we were all alarmed, but what were we to do? We had no weapons except old hunting rifles, and many of us didn't have those. Soon the enemy took over our streets, seized our infrastructure, cut off supply lines.

We grew hungry and, of course, afraid.

Now remember, this was America, not some foreign nation. We were all ordinary Americans, greedy, self-centered, full of pop culture. In short, we were nothing special. All we had in common was language, background, and common media experience.

Some leaders rose out of the chaos and din. They urged us to attack the hated enemy.

"What with?" we all asked at once. For we had no weapons.

The leaders quickly grew exasperated with our lack of vision. "Seize a car," they said. "Pack it with explosives. Remember, Jesus loves you and wants you to do this. He will remember how you gave your life for the cause of ridding us of the Evil Invader. You will sit on the right hand of God for Eternity. You are despised now, but you will be loved forever and ever in the AfterLife."

"Where do we get a car?" One of us asked, for we were eager to pursue the dream of Eternity. "And where do we get the explosives?"

Patiently the leaders explained that there was a warehouse full of plastique explosive. Tons of it, and it was all free. There was plenty of gasoline for the cars we would steal. And the leaders gave us detailed maps of where the enemy encampments were and where the most effective places would be to aim our explosive-laden cars.

If we all worked together we would drive the enemy back to wherever he came from—Iran or Saudi Arabia, I forget which. It seemed a good idea. I didn't mind dying for a cause. And having Jesus and the others in Eternity to welcome us there was the deciding factor.

But I had one more question, for I am an American, through and through.

"What make of car?" I asked.

"Any SUV will do," said the leader.

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Golden-crested Kinglet, alive


Our next door neighbor at the lake, Amy, who lives year-round near to where we used to live in Seattle, came over today with her little boy and a box suitable for pastry. But inside there was a tiny bird, dead. She had found it in her yard, under a tree.

What was it, she wanted to know? My wife and I had no idea. It was as small as a kinglet, but didn't look much like one. For one thing it had a brilliant gold crown. True, the facial marks were highly similar to a kinglet. But the top of the bird's head was like none we had ever seen. It glowed in the gray light. A brilliant top knot.

So we consulted a bird book. Nothing looked like our dead bird. I gave up and went off to do something different. Norma pursued. At lunch she told me, "You were right. It is a kinglet." I doubted this; rarely am I ever right in such matters. She had left a page marker in the book—the two-volume Stokes edition. It was our bird, all right. Only about three inches long.

Kinglets are quick birds but not especially shy. They dart in and out of the bushes and conifers, generally stay close to the ground, and will come quite close to people. Yet we never get much of a look at them. I guess the only way you ever get to see them up close is . . . dead.

Seen up close most birds are incredibly beautiful. But—alive and quick—you rarely get to see this.

How sad.

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