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Ping!

          Not long after I wrote the post titled “Well I’m Sunk” about Fannie Mae’s deplorable lack of support for those of us building green homes, an article appeared in the Christian Science Monitor about the emerging field of green building certification. The Green Building Council, among others, are beginning to offer certificates – mostly to businesses – verifying that their buildings are made with energy efficient, non- polluting, renewable and generally tree-hugging techniques and resources. The Monitor opinion piece said this was a good trend, and blah, blah, blah. I, of course, shot back a letter to the editor saying that it might be a good trend, but what if people building green houses couldn’t get mortgages?

          They published my letter, which you can read here: http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0124/p08s05-cole.html

And you can read the original opinion piece here:

http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0115/p08s01-comv.html

          I don’t imagine it will do me any good, but maybe someone will take notice and down the road some other schmuck will be less hapless than I.  I did notice that even before the letter was published there was a whole new class of pings on my site. I’m pretty sure that the cyber term “ping” doesn’t mean what I mean here, but it seems like a term tailor-made to what I mean, so I’m appropriating it. The author of a blog can see what terms are being typed into a search engine to result in hits to the site. All of a sudden the terms I was seeing were “FNMA lending on earth berm houses”, “Fannie Mae + earth berm”, and even “I’m sunk”. People were searching for those terms and hitting jasjuice. Seems like some Monitor intern was tasked with verifying the information in my letter to the editor and while googling away, whatever else they pinged, they pinged me.  

     Since there were so many pings, I instantly started picturing this hip young (they aren’t hip any more, but what are they?) intern who pinged me once or twice for work, then (blush) for fun, and then passed the word around that jasjuice is a …. what? A laugh and a half? A case and a half of Life’s Most Embarrassing Moments? An example of what can happen if you flaunt the basic rules of Strunk and White? Something. As usual, my imagination, having been given an inch, took an astronomical unit, and before you could say boo to a goose I was being invited to write an expanded essay, then my own column, and then perhaps – who knows? – syndication. Perhaps I should start working on my upcoming interview with Robert Siegel on NPR.

          Mediocre as my achievements have been in this life, I’m startled to discover that, my imagination notwithstanding,  I do have a modicum of fame, and that poses – as ever – more challenges than you would expect, given the excessive minisculishness of my modicum. And it isn’t exactly fame, or even notoriety I have, but something more akin to availability. I’m used to being able to write or say anything I want, and know with grim but resigned certainty that my audience was listening with, at best, one ear, and really could not care less about what I had to say. Now, with this blog, there is more than one ear at a time if not attending to what I have to say, at least digitally jotting it down and making it searchable.

          It wasn’t just the Monitor interns pinging me, either. You may recall last June I wrote –glowingly – about BSE excavating, who dug the enormous hole for my house. They did a good, honest job for a reasonable price, but it seems they forgot to bill me. I never even noticed, since at that time my check-signing finger was sprained from over-use. I just paid every bill that came in. Many months after the job was done I noticed some pings from the term “BSE excavation”, which I found odd, but just ignored. Probably Brandon was idly googling himself and stumbled on the site, getting a rosy glow from the praise and free advertising (he should be paying for that…did you hear that, Brandon?). As it happens, that was when he realized that he never billed me. Next thing I know his dad paid a casual visit to the office, and asked a lot of questions. Shortly after he left, the mail arrived, and in it was a bill from Brandon.  I’m being watched. And it seems I’m being watched with trepidation, since he probably read all that about my cashtration troubles.

          On the brighter side of being nearly famous is that not only creditors, but old acquaintances can find you. I got an email from a fellow who I apparently attended college with, since there was an update on him in our alumni newsletter for the class of 1978, though I wouldn’t know him from adam (all the names in that newsletter are utterly unknown to me, which is to be expected not only because of my inability to remember just about anything, but because so many of those old classmates are CEOs, have just published their eighth book, just made a six million dollar endowment or set up a non-profit foundation for the eradication of dengue fever, unlike this strident underachiever…). He also opted to meander to the beat of a different drummer, and wound up living just a couple hours south of here. He writes:

 I’m in West Yellowstone (motto: Gateway to Ennis!) where I can spend my winters leisurely thinking of excuses to avoid outdoor activities and my in between winters (what the flatlanders call “summer” I believe) staring at puddles in various stages of not erupting.     I think the closest I’ve been to Neihart is the east side of Canyon Ferry Lake – which smelled terrible. I have spent some quality time in Elkhorn, Freezeout Lake, and The Bob which are all about equally nowhere near you.    If you ever come down to take a lap around The Park and want someone to point out the obvious and fabricate plausible sounding tales of natural history, I’d be happy to oblige. Otherwise, I’m pretty useless. 

Sounds like we could have been separated at birth. And probably should have been.

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