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Thursday, August 04, 2005

'Sleeper Posts'

I appreciate that several of you saw fit to send me comments and emails expressing personal feelings about yesterday's post... ranging from disinterest to disgust.  :-)

That's fine... really!

I know that I can't make everyone laugh or cry with every journal entry I post here... in fact I don't even try.

But if you take a look at the archives here at treppenwitz, you'll see that the posts that regularly appear here can probably be herded into the following basic categories:

Funny... Something struck me as funny and I wanted to share.  More often than not I find out that what I consider to be funny is not universally perceived as such. 

Sad... This might be my thoughts on a personal disappointment, a national tragedy... or anything in between.

Weird... Anything worth mentioning that falls between 'funny' and 'sad' (sometimes with elements of both).

Doh!... This is a genre of posts that describe me doing, saying, or experiencing anything painful, embarrassing or humiliating due to my own unique ability to make a fool of myself.  This type of post is a favorite of many treppenwitz readers... as well as my children (hmmm... I wonder if there could be a connection?).

Family... Stuff going on with my immediate and extended family (can overlap with most of the other categories).

Israeliness... Stuff I experience / learn as I become acclimated to life in this wonderful, frustrating, beautiful, exasperating country.

Political Rants... These tirades are usually followed within 24-48 hours by an apology and/or partial retraction.  I've discovered that discussing politics in so public a forum is very good for one's humility (if it doesn't kill you first).

Sometimes it is important to remind everyone that when I sit down to write something here on treppenwitz, I have a broad range of personal agendas to address... and sometimes the subject matter doesn't fit perfectly into one of the categories above.  That's where this last category comes in:

Sleepers... These are difficult to describe.  Sleeper posts are usually written around a kernel of information that I found to be both useful and timeless.  I write the occasional sleeper post  knowing that it will be a big snooze for most of my regular readers.  My goal is not to bore you, but rather to get some useful tidbit of information out onto the Web so that people doing searches for specific information will have access to it.  Think about it... how many times have you done a web search for some obscure or arcane bit of information and found it, simply because someone took the time to post it on their site?

Yesterday's post was a pretty good example of a sleeper post... but the best example so far would be a journal entry I wrote a long time ago called 'Itching to tell someone'.   You can go read it if you have nothing better to do... but simply put, the 'Itching to tell someone' post was the result of a personal epiphany I experienced over a persistent itch that I'd had in the same spot on my back for most of my adult life.  This itch had been a constant nuisance and had stumped several very competent medical professionals. 

I knew it had to be a fairly common condition because nearly every vacation spot and resort seemed to sell back-scratchers in their gift shops.  Why would back-scratchers be so ubiquitous unless many, many people were also walking around with a chronic itch like mine?! 

I had done web searches for years looking for some hint at what this problem might be called, and what others were doing about it (besides buying Mickey Mouse and Goofy back-scratchers), and came up with bupkes.

It wasn't until I asked a fellow musician to scratch my back on the bandstand that he asked if I also suffered from Notalgia paraesthetica.  Apparently his doctor had been able to put a name to the problem... and it was only the through the coincidence of having asked a fellow sufferer for a back scratch that I found out about it!

Even after I knew the name of the problem I found precious little on the web about it (you can see that I had to resort to the New Zealand Dermatological Society web site to find a working definition of it!), so I decided to write a post in order to get some helpful information out onto the 'Net.

Since publishing that 'Sleeper Post', I have received thousands of hits from search engines with keyword strings like 'itchy shoulder blade', 'back itch', and 'persistent itchy back'.  I have also received dozens of emails from grateful people who have expressed profound relief, if not from their symptoms, then at least at finally knowing a bit about the cause of their problem.

After all this self-congratulatory carrying-on, I will add a caveat stating that one needs to be very careful about publishing 'Sleeper Posts'. 

If you post medical advice, you run the risk of misleading someone or (G-d forbid) giving someone with a life-threatening condition the mistaken idea that they have something fairly benign.  The same can be said about posting legal advice or even blogging about new and interesting uses for household products like flea & tick treatments.

I encourage any of you who keep a blog or journal to also consider creating an online record of interesting/useful information you acquire during the course of your lives. 

However, if you do decide to post a helpful marker along the Infobahn... please be aware that the Internet - like love and taxes - is forever!  Search engines will inevitably lead people to your doorstep who have far less common sense than web-surfing skills, so try to anticipate all the ways your words can be misinterpreted or taken out of context. 

What I'm really trying to say is that from time to time you may see a post here that seems particularly out of place among my typical fare. 

Now you'll know why. 


Posted by David Bogner on August 4, 2005 | Permalink


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And here I thought "sleeper posts" where those posts you wrote while sleepwalking. I have as you described written some helpful posts on things I've learned along the way. they are usually about things like my washing machine and therefore I'm not really worried that my words will be misinterpeted but I can appriciate the warning. Good to see you are still keeping your 221. I see it's pretty consistent lately.

Posted by: Jewish Blogmiester | Aug 4, 2005 1:28:56 PM

So sleeper posts are not posts stuffed with secret keywords that, when time has come, line up nicely in the search engines and tell the secret grassroot blogger front to take over the internet? No InterFada???? Booo. Boring.


Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Aug 4, 2005 1:41:34 PM

Is Schnappi a sleeper post, or is it because I am up at 4 am and sleeptyping. I don't know.

Posted by: Jack | Aug 4, 2005 2:01:53 PM

I think it's great that your blog has such a varying degree of topics and information. I am often surprised when I take a peek... never know what I'll find! If someone is bored, they can stop reading and check your blog tomorrow to see if it interests them more. Your blog, your choice of material!

Question, though...
are there regulations in Israel governing how to dispose of icky substances (that is, of course, a technical term) like pesticide soaked meat. Perhaps places someone who chose to follow your yellow jacket tip could take said meat?
Just as the internet is forever, a "sealed receptacle" may not be and could end up where it should not be long after leaving your garbage can.

If you know that info and can add it in the type of post you wrote on bees/yellow jackets it could help those with "far less common sense than web-surfing skills" who chose to follow your tip to do it in the safest manner possible or at least prompt them to check out disposal of hazardous materials wherever they may live.

Posted by: nrg | Aug 4, 2005 2:10:53 PM

Jewish Blogmiester... So long as my weight stays within a pound (+ or -) I made a decision to leave it at 221. The minor variances due to time of day... what I ate for dinner... time of month (kidding) etc. are not really relevant to my dieting goals. I also don't have the world's most exact scale in the bathroom. Thanks for noticing, though. If my weight really starts to move one way or another... you'll be the first to know.

mademoiselle a. ...No, nothing so brilliant as that (although, now that you mention it...). :-) Although, I do consciously use as many variations of keywords in these sleeper posts as possible so that people looking for info related to the subject will be most likely to find it no matter what words they plug into the search engine.

Jack... Please don't remind me. Posting about that damned schn*ppi was perhaps the single biggest mistake I've made since I started keeping this journal. Here... look at this graph showing my web stats for the past year. That big shark fin between December and April is almost entirely due to that stupid song!

nrg... From everything I've been able to find out, only corrosive chemicals and metals (such as those found in batteries and industrial solvents) and waste oil require special handling/disposal. The small amount of meat that would remain after a treatment as described in my post can be wrapped in plastic and thrown away with the regular trash. Most any food has the potential to become poisonous once it has been sitting in a warm trash container for a few days, so this scrap of meat is not going to pose any additional risk.

Posted by: David | Aug 4, 2005 2:31:44 PM

Hey, I found yesterday's post interesting. I didn't make any comments because it was a particularly busy day, and coming up with something more or less understandable in English usually takes me more than a few minutes.

Here where I live there is a foreign species of wasps called in Spanish "chaquetas amarillas", that is, yellow jackets (they're probably the same). I don't know how they were brought into the country, must have been inadvertently. But they are a real annoyance in summer, they kill the honey bees, they are aggressive, and very dangerous to allergic people. I found it funny that so far away people might have the very same (little perhaps) problem. And the advise on how to get rid of them is useful. As for the way to dispose of the remaining poisoned meat, I think I'd cut it down in tiny pieces, and flush it down the toilet.

Posted by: Sandra | Aug 4, 2005 4:24:36 PM

Of course the last post was a sleeper post. I loved it. But, um... what kind of post is this one?

You sure haven't sprayed coffee all over your car or inadvertantly displayed your gun or eaten a big yummy bowl of gravy in a loooong time... :-)

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Aug 4, 2005 4:53:56 PM

I wouldn't worry about labeling posts, your stats or how they are received. I would just continue to write about whatever interests you. It is your blog.

We are all different. And different posts interest different people.

For instance, the post you referenced above about Notalgia Paraesthetica I found to be completely fascinating. I had never heard of this condition. I would not refer to it as a sleeper post.

Your blog is great. Don't overanalyze, just keep writing. :)

Posted by: Stacey | Aug 4, 2005 4:56:30 PM

I like the overanalysis. Don't overanalyze how much you have to analyze, just keep writing.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Aug 4, 2005 5:18:45 PM

Sandra... My post wasn't at all intended to chide people about not commenting. It was also not meant to express displeasure at those who commented or emailed to say "uh, what the heck was that?" as for the leftover meat... we're talking about a few scraps of ground (chopped) meat, so the toilet also offers a good exit strategy. :-)

Doctor Bean... that was a sleeper post... this one was just a snooze. :-)

Stacey... I wasn't really trying to analyze anything here... just explaining what's going on to people who may have been thrown off by an odd-ball post yesterday. While I really have no idea what I'm going to write about when I sit down most mornings... there is generally some intent once the words start flowing. After a while it becomes sort of imperative to create some sort of order among all the chaos. Someday I may actually categorize all my posts... someday.

Doctor Bean... I'm thinking about another kind of analysis. :-)

Posted by: David | Aug 4, 2005 5:31:24 PM

I agree with the previous commenters. I enjoy the variety of topics that you write about on your blog, and the random topic thrown in every now and then are sometimes the most interesting posts (not to the exclusion of the others!)

All the things you write about are merely a reflection of who you are, and that's what your friends come here to enjoy and experience - YOU.

Keep it coming!

Posted by: Chavi | Aug 4, 2005 5:31:52 PM

Goodness me, I can't believe people think it appropriate to complain about what kind of posts you write! They're all free gifts from you to us! How rude.

Write what you want, it's all good. I read every single one. No need for explanations about subject-matter (unless you feel like writing them!- in which case, also good!).

Posted by: Alice (in Texas) | Aug 4, 2005 6:01:19 PM

Chavi & alice... Trust me, there were nothing but good-natured comments and e-mails. It was just that yesterday's post was a pretty pronounced departure from what I usually do here, so in all fairness I probably should have had a bit more explanation beforehand (instead of after-the-fact).

It's all good. :-)

Posted by: David | Aug 4, 2005 6:07:43 PM

David, you certainly don't US explanations; you're writing for yourself primarily and we just HAPPEN to be here at the other end reading what you've written.

Your blog can be likened to a good pot of cholent: sometimes it takes a bit of this, other times it takes a bit of that to get the flavor you're really seeking. (not all cholents put the eaters to sleep or send them running to the "sherutim"!) Don't worry...we might not care for the flavor this time around, but we'll be back to try it again and enjoy the company of our host and the guests around the table!

Posted by: Pearl | Aug 4, 2005 7:28:22 PM

Hey, it's your blog. Seems to me anything you choose to write about fits in. If it occurred to you to write about it, it belongs on Treppenwitz (and how's that for a "doh" comment?). As Alice says, your entries are like gifts to us. Sure wouldn't be much fun if you kept an old fashioned paper journal instead.

Posted by: AmyS | Aug 4, 2005 9:23:05 PM

I've done a bunch of sleeper posts myself. Last month I wrote something called "Post for Mirty" which was basically a step by step way of fixing my router when the network goes down.

Posted by: psychotoddler | Aug 4, 2005 10:57:21 PM

Your posts are like grapes- some are sweet and some are sour. Pretty profound. :)

Posted by: Jack | Aug 4, 2005 11:02:54 PM

How often does a girl get to read about poisoned meat? I mean you put all the proper warnings up. The weirder the better if you ask me. And BTW, I'll be sure that my bee-keeper friend Richard gets a copy of that one.

Posted by: Alice | Aug 4, 2005 11:29:22 PM

You know what I like about this place is the quirky characters. It is a potpourri in which we get to read all sorts of interesting and offbeat stories.

Besides without your blog I never would have had the opportunity to read about laser hair removal and what man doesn't want to learn about that because you never know when cousin It is coming to visit.

Of course that wasn't on this blog, but that is ok. BTW, I am still doing my part to keep the donuts out of your reach, but judging from the way my pants fit I may have to start shipping them back.

P.S. Are the Red Sox still playing baseball. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Aug 5, 2005 6:15:17 AM

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