Follow Me, Up and Down, All the Way, All Around

4th of July was the perfect day, complete with an outdoor pancake breakfast, a parade, margarita snowcones and lots of enjoying life.

We even got a mini-parade in preview, as the parade horses came by our house on the way.

(No, I don’t know why I didn’t get a better picture than this.)

Here’s the beginning of the parade itself, which consisted of ten different emergency vehicles, all very shiny. Sometimes I think our rural area parades serve that purpose, to show off our protective equipment. Not unlike having the army march past, I suppose. All those shiny trucks allow us to have homeowner’s insurance and therefore mortgages and therefore homes to live in out here.

All hail the mighty firetruck! Honk! Honk!

My cousin emailed me yesterday with an interesting question about my blog.

(Hi Janie! I will write you back, as well.)

She said:

Can you teach me something please. Why would one sign into a blog? Why do you have members? I read your blog but you would not know it, though I love it. Am I supposed to sign in?

I thought it was worth answering here, because lots of people ask this question, actually. First off, if you don’t know what she means, if you look on the right hand side, there’s a list of my “Followers.” In truth, those fine people follow the blog, not me. Though the idea of a little tribe of followers is appealing. Like that movie (no, I don’t remember which one) where the guy hired the band to follow him around and play his theme music.

The first answer is, no, you don’t have to sign in. You don’t have to “follow.” Some bloggers get het up to get people to sign up as followers. They run contests – “all you have to do is follow this blog and comment on this post” – or send messages out on twitter, etc., saying “follow my blog!”

I don’t do this.

I love to see new followers, but I find trolling for them kind of distasteful. I believe you all should be free to come and go as you wish. I’m putting this out there. You owe me nothing.

The reason people want followers is to demonstrate a “platform.” Theoretically at some point you could show an agent or editor that you have umpty-billion followers and they’d extrapolate that all those people will buy your book. Never mind that you bribed them all to sign up in the first place.

There are two main reasons one would sign on to follow a blog: to show support and for ease of reading.

I follow blogs I like to let the person know that they have my support. Among bloggers, this is common courtesy and people will usually reciprocate follows, though it’s far from required.

The other big reason for me is ease of reading. Because I have a Blogger account, I have what they call a dashboard. It pops up and shows me who has posted recently on the blogs I follow. This is a wonderful feature for me. Any of you can set up a blogspot account ( and use the dashboard. You wouldn’t have to create a blog to do it. There are other programs that do this, too, (Google Chrome, maybe?), but I’m not familiar with them. This saves you clicking through all the blogs you like to see if someone has posted recently.

And I do kind of know that you lurkers are out there. I have a counter that follows metrics of visitors to the blog. I can see which days see a lot of visits. It’s easy to get obsessed with the metrics, though, so I don’t look often.

A lot of you comment to me – on Facebook, Twitter, blog comments, via email or in person. All of those conversations mean a great deal to me.

Once I figure out my theme music, I’ll hold auditions.

Aloha Honolulu

Honolulu at night from our balcony.

A friend once told us there was no point in coming to Honolulu because it’s just like any big city. Any gorgeous big city dancing along a beautiful beach on a tropical island that is.

It’s funny to spend 4th of July with palm trees and fruity drinks. Instead of beer, brownies, bing cherries and fried chicken, today will be about chocolate-covered macadamias, mahi-mahis and pina coladas. Maybe a key lime martini, if I get lucky.

My new addiction: the key lime martini. Of course, I had my first one in Laramie, Wyoming, but that’s neither here nor there.

Hilton delivers as always. And no, they don’t pay me to say it. (Though I’m not too proud to let them, were they so inclined…) Hilton Hawaiian village is right in the city and right on the beach. With gorgeous tropical pools, flaming torches and a non-stop party.

This is not your quiet, pristine Caribbean get away, it’s true. It’s more the Las Vegas strip goes to the beach. Which has its own charm.
And nothing beats waking to this sight.

Gallantly Streaming

Normally I’m not what you’d call patriotic.

You know what I mean — I’m just not into the patriotic thing. I hang a flag on 4th of July, but not really any other time. I know all the words to the Star Spangled Banner and even the other verses of America the Beautiful, but that’s more being a lyrics nerd. I’ve never felt like I should buy an American car nor do I check if products are American made. I don’t have much patience for people who reduce discussions of the US to “love it or leave it” terms.

When we planned to move to Canada, it had nothing to do with my approval or disapproval of the American government. That’s not why we were going and my feeling towards the country of my birth and citizenship had nothing to do with anything. And we didn’t change our minds for those reasons.

So it surprises me to find that I’m feeling something about keeping our money in the country.

Never mind that we really felt like the Canadians tried to take us for all we’re worth. Never mind that they acted like our money was no good and that we deserved additional credit penalties on our mortgage, just for being Americans. There’s something else.

Something that has to do with the US Customs agents saying “Welcome Home,” when we come back into the country.

Certainly setting up a US mortgage feels like beyond easy at this point.

I participated in a webinar for work today on a new project. It’s for state efforts funded by the stimulus act, which requires a certain amount of the materials used to be American. We’d be evaluating the requests for waivers from the requirements, say if the widget needed can only be obtained from Japan. The examples of what we might look for naturally lead to the ways that an applicant might slant the research to show there’s no equivalent American product, whether from laziness or a vested interest in something else.

It made me think. Who would be the person who would deliberately not buy American? Probably no one. It’s more about the change in thinking, to deliberately seek out the American equivalent, if it exists. To go to some extra pain and expense to do so.

For a while my mom was resolved to buy nothing from China. After a while, she was forced to give up. In great frustration. It simply couldn’t be done, unless she went without. I suppose she could have done so, but that wasn’t really the point. She still makes the effort.

I suppose that’s what the Big Switch comes to. We wouldn’t have made the choice deliberately to keep our money in country, but now that we are, I feel good about it. So many budget cuts around us. It feels good to spend our money into something that will, in turn, give back to us.

Welcome Home.