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I love to cook. I love to cook different things. I love to learn how to cook different things. The Internet helps me. See my handiwork above.

I am so happy to look at my mostly barren between-shopping-trips kitchen, type the words [squash], [capers] and [mint] and find something to make for dinner. And many, many times, the results taste good. Even better, I might have added to my cook’s knowledge for next time.

Another terrific thing about cooking is that you can use your learnings to make changes or substitutions to reflect what you have on hand or your taste preferences or both.  Sometimes I’ll scroll through a bunch and take parts of two–or maybe on occasion six–and concoct something. Sometimes I look for a recipe just to get a technique or a cooking approximation. The internet is a treasure trove for cooks and cook wannabes.

Yet another terrific thing about using recipes online is looking at the reviews of the other cooks. You can get an idea if people thought that there was too much salt or too much oil or if the prep-time is onerous or if it feeds an army rather than two or if you should double the sauce. If many commenters said that the results stunk, you take that caution and move on.

A non-terrific thing about cooking and the internet are people who comment and rate a totally different recipe.

Like this one for a corn and tomato salad,

I didn’t use tomato.

What the what? It’s a corn and TOMATO salad. Rule 1: You can’t review a recipe that you didn’t use.

Or this one for old fashioned spaghetti and meatballs,

I thought this was a great, old school recipe. Like somebody’s grandma. I pretty much followed the recipe exactly, except for making the following changes: I substituted salmon for the ground beef and veal because I had some leftover. I don’t really care for Italian seasonings so I used ginger and scallions. I bound the salmon together with some breadcrumbs and egg and the sauce was more soy and mirin. We served over rice with sesame bok choy. I would give the recipe 3.5 stars if I could, but will leave it at 3 since I made a few changes.

What recipe did you make? How could you review this recipe. And, most importantly, why do we care about your version of what is definitely not Mama’s Pasta? Rule 2: You can’t review a recipe that you didn’t follow, like at all. Shut up, please.

And the final one is the person who takes offense and feels compelled to share said offense because that is NOT how his family makes it. And his grammy knows! This is most entertaining when they include their own version of the recipe so that you don’t make the mistake and prepare the food wrong.

From a vegetarian recipe for healthy “fried” green tomatoes with red pepper vinaigrette,

I am from the South and no self-respecting Southerner would make their fried green tomatoes with goat cheese. My grandma would take the can of lard or bacon fat out from behind the pantry and she’d fry them up. Also, we don’t put any fancy salad dressing on them. Just eat them sitting on the back porch waiting for the catfish to cook. This recipe is an insult to my heritage. No stars!

Seriously? Your childhood is sullied because someone is making a different version of a vegetable? Rule 3: Recipe comments are not a space for your personal therapy. Find a professional.

I know that this recipe commenting thing is a part of the broader issue of internet commenting and trolling. You know, where people comment on things that they didn’t read, comment on something that they reinterpret for their own purposes or comment so they can get something, maybe peripherally related, off their chest. [As an aside, if you want to be entertained by some of the best recipe trolling ever, go here.] 

Come to think of it, I think that I just might prefer reading recipe comments over any other internet comments.*  At least there’s a chance I’ll learn something.


* except when I see your Facebook comments that say I look good. Never enough of those.

Mozil-low’s Hierarchy of Needs

Huge sign on the side of the building from mozilla ranking Food Water Shelter The Internet

What should people have? Like all people, just because we are people?

The nice people at Mozilla–the open internet organization that spun off of internet OG Netscape and built Firefox for your browsing pleasure–defines a hierarchy of needs to include food, water, shelter and “the Internet.” Now, one could definitely take this list to task. Like how about access to vaccines and health care? Access to clean air? Access to safety?

I wouldn’t disagree with that criticism, but I saw this huge blue sign hanging off the side of a building and started to unpack this Internet thing. What does it mean? What does it mean to have access to the Internet?

Mozilla says

We believe the Internet is at its best as a global public resource, open and accessible to all.

The tag line says to “keep the internet fair and open.” But this begs what it means to be accessible. Is simply being there enough?  Because in order to actually access the internet–if access means to use versus being passively available–there are a bunch of other things you need.

  1. Like electricity, or some way to generate, transfer and store energy to use to power #2
  2.  A device–a computer or cell phone or other type of tool–that can receive and transmit to #3
  3. You need access to the grid. Even if you can make your own electricity, you need some way to jump on the grid–like wire or satellite or a cellular phone tower–so you can get to that fair and open field.

What happens when you arrive at that fair and open space? Well, literacy is pretty important since much of what’s available has to be read. Even non-text information almost always requires text input to connect to it–either typing in a URL or using a search engine or following a link.

Unpacking the ability to read I get to the ability to see–or hear in some cases. (And if you can’t hear, you damn well better be able to read.)

So, maybe Mozilla is really advocating for universal education, improved infrastructure and accessibility to the devices and the ability to get value out of the devices for everyone.

That’s pretty radical. Because ensuring that the internet is fair and open only to people who have access to the tools of access is neither open nor fair.

Next up, let’s take a closer look at that list of basic needs.

At My Fingertips 

There just may be something seriously wrong with me. It’s like I don’t need to wait for a physical internet implant. I think that maybe I’m becoming The Internet of Things. I’m reduced to an acronym: IoT.

How did this get to be?

So today I was hungry and thinking about lunch. That’s what you do when it’s 12:08 p.m., and you’re working on an epic procrastination. You exit your 11:30 a.m. meeting that was blissfully over by 11:48 a.m., even though you were seven minutes late. On that happy note, let’s think about lunch.

There’s tons of choices within a few blocks. I have the curse of choice. (Don’t hate. I used to work at a secure location with the only choices being the type of bread for your Subway sandwich. After 2 weeks, I recognized that all the meat choices tasted exactly the same, so I’d get the veggie and save a buck. Sometimes I’d order the the wheat bread and sometimes the salty spicy bread that I don’t remember what it was called. I’m trying to forget. I can’t even walk by a Subway today without gagging.)

Back to my surfeit of choice.

I didn’t know what I wanted. There was nobody to ask. I looked around, and they were all gone. Siri is more than (or is that less than?) useless. I looked at my screen and asked,

“What do I want to eat?”

Nothing. Fingers to keyboard,  I googled,

“What do I want to eat?”

I half-imagined, with great hope, that the results would be topped by one of those Google cards that you gives you the answer when you type, “How far to Dublin?”

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 8.10.58 PM

or what is the “French word for bread?”

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 8.09.40 PM

“What do I want to eat?”






Nope. Nothing. Nada.

Always hopeful, I looked down a bit. Sometimes there isn’t a card. Like when you say, who won The Bachelor last night? (Really, is winning what they do? Another post, another time.)

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 8.15.45 PM

The all knowing Google has a variety of ways to answer.

I looked down the search results. There was no answer. There was, however, a Buzzfeed Quiz.  A few clicks later (Do you eat meat? Are you hungry or hangry? Which image of the sky do you prefer? Unicorn or Winged Horse?), I had an answer.

A sandwich.

Fine. A sandwich it would be. At least I had an answer.

I pulled on my long black trench and made like Snape and his billowing robes around the corner and down the fire escape to the street. Before I reached ground, I grabbed my phone out of my pocket and powered up Yelp–location on–to find sandwiches, current location.

Standing outside on the sidewalk, I started poking the little pins on the screen. No. No. No. No. No. No.

Wait. Is that the one I was thinking of?

I click through to the restaurant deets. I don’t think it was the one, but maybe this is that other one I walked by before? I can’t tell for sure from the address. I pinch my fingers out on the map. Not the one I was thinking of but the one I walked by. Might as well try it. I’m now headed east at a clip.

It was a great sandwich. Bigger than The Dog’s big head. I sat there and looked out the window at the scurrying lunch goers as I munched away. Good choice, Yelp!

I pretty much finished my sandwich, tossed the paper remains in the trash, used the hand sanitizer to clean away the mayo that had leaked, ambled up the stairs back to the lunch-bustle and took the sidewalk headed back West.

My hand rested on the phone in my pocket and my mind went to another app. What am I going to enter for this calorie buster into my Fitness Program?

I decided to make a new entry. Big ass sandwich, 750 calories. But wait, nobody knows what I ate. I paid in cash. It’s a secret from my Internet life. Not even The Google knows, and I don’t have to ask. I can do whatever I want.

Ha! I got back my humanity.

Setting Sail on the S.S. Crapper

shipwreck in Australia

Dammit people! Have you not yet figured out how the internet works?

Let me break it down for you. You tell your “woe is me” story publicly–like for example on Medium or on Facebook where you post to 1,327 “friends” and friends of their friends so it’s pretty public–and people crap on you. That’s what happens.

Also some people will reach out to you as if you are a beautiful and fragile flower. Those people then crap on the people crapping on you. And then the initial crappers pay back.

Yes, your personal misery become a crapfest all because you see yourself as a writer speaking truth to power or speaking your own truth. You’re patient zero on a crapfest of your own making.

I have pathos for you. Really, on a personal level, I do. I know you are going through something and you want to get it off your chest.

Getting it off your chest in a most public forum, however, is NOT a solution. It might be a step in getting to a solution. It may–and I say may in the most improbable sense of the word–be a work of art.

What it IS though, and this is true whether or not you explicitly invite it, is an opportunity for people to engage with you. And call you mean names. And ask why you are lazy, stupid, + all the variants of stupid, playing the victim, selfish, self-entitled, self-absorbed, self-centered, self-everything, unambitious, and/or petty. Some will oddly attack your looks and say you’re fat, ugly, lumpy, disgusting…oh, I could go on, but you’ve already read those attacks. Sorry. And even though it’s about them trolling for reaction and not about you, it still feels mean and painful.

Then there’s the relativist responses. You know, that you don’t have it so bad. That others have it way worse. You are having first world problems. I walked eight miles to school uphill both ways in the snow wearing tires for shoes and with a piece of moldy bread for lunch. And of course, think of the CHILDREN??

So, I do feel for you personally because your dreams aren’t coming true in the way you imagined, that your parents won’t pay for your dream wedding, that your job sucks, that it’s really really hard to be bombarded with messages about having it all when you have baby poop on your suit.

But when you publish it for all to see, expect that not everyone will see it from your point of view. They see it through their own crap-covered glasses.


Not Again

Tap Alarm to snooze

Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I hate the Internet.


I get up this morning and do what I have avowed to do. I am NOT looking at my phone first thing.

Okay. Well I always technically blow that vow since my phone is my wakeup device. In truth, first thing, I “tap to snooze.” That’s looking at nothing so I’m not breaking my rule.

After ten minutes when the clarion revives, I swipe right. But I’m not looking–other than to verify that it is indeed time to get up. I grumble. The numbers are big, so I’m not engaged. Therefore, I maintain that I’m not looking at my phone first thing.

I used to immediately look at email, glance through Facebook and hit up the @Twitters. That translated into significantly wasting much of the activity part of my morning. Time when I should be walking the dog, prepping breakfast and making beauty. So, I stopped the morning Internet.

Except since summer has passed, I look at the weather.

Oh, come on! Don’t be so exacting on my pledge. You know that the weather has been crazy. Shorts on Christmas Eve? Followed by sixteen degrees for the dog walk just one week later? Who would know what to do absent a quick glance. I maintain that doesn’t count as looking at my phone first thing, either.

So I get up and check the weather and pad downstairs. I bundle up against this morning’s sub-freezing temps and take the dog for a working walk. It wasn’t so bad and there was coffee.

I check my phone and I see an email headline about David Bowie. Not a surprise given all the noise about his new LP and freaky video released last week. Except it actually was a surprise. He moved on to the next world after an 18 month bout with cancer.

And I hate the Internet for all the RIPing posts. And I hate the Internet for interrupting my just fine morning with news that another part of the soundtrack to my youth is gone.

And then I love the Internet because I found this.

I wish you could swim
Like the dolphins,
like dolphins can swim”