Wednesday, August 31, 2022


Here's another photo from my walk on Saturday. This really shows the gritty urban reality of certain stretches of the Grand Union Canal, with the graffiti, the mysterious pile of garbage by the bench (no idea why that's there) and the train running over the bridge.

I have to be at work early this morning because we're closing early this afternoon -- so my hours are shifting. Something about a meeting in the library space. Yesterday was busy as all get-out, with new students being introduced to the library, and all the sixth graders going on a scavenger hunt that required them to run up to my desk in groups of four or five and yell "WHO WORKS HERE?!" at the TOP OF THEIR LUNGS. (They were supposed to list the librarians' names on their scavenger hunt form.) I also finally got departed patrons deleted from the Lower School system, and I've been working on getting back copies of the student newspapers bound into books for our archives, so I was e-mailing back and forth with a bindery in Southwark.

On the home front, I had to schedule our annual gas safety inspection, and I was e-mailing our landlord to ask about tree-trimming in the back garden. We have a green light to go forward with that; now I've got to call a tree service and have them come and give us an estimate.

Dave, meanwhile, was getting a PET scan to help determine the cause of his hand tremors. He said the experience was pretty interesting; apparently it involves being injected with radioactive glucose (I think?) from a lead-covered syringe and then lying in a full-body scanner. I asked whether Olga and I could safely sleep next to him -- I remember when my cat got a radioactive iodine treatment they told me not to sleep with her for a few weeks, a request I ignored -- but Dave assured me it wasn't a problem. (Famous last words.)

So, yeah, a little bit of activity around here.

This is Olga's newest trick -- lying on top of plants in the flower bed. That's a phlox right under her back. I have no idea why she's started this but suddenly she thinks this spot is the best place in the world to be.

I will leave you with some quintessentially 21st-century food for thought. Do you know those Google ads that appear on web sites, and say things like "Click now to see this video before it's banned" with a slightly provocative picture, or "Do this secret thing to improve your hearing -- they hide this from you"? It's called "clickbait":

Here are four common examples: Doctors are stunned by mysterious weight-loss vegetable (often with a picture of some food that's not a vegetable, or in this case, run-of-the-mill lemonade); Beautiful twins, then and now, ALWAYS with girl twins who look like they've been created by CGI; Puppies that allegedly turn out not to be dogs; Dangerous animals with a photo of some unidentifiable thing that may or may not be an animal. There's also the man who saves the bear cubs and mama bear does an amazing thing, or the most dangerous bridges in the world, or five places people die taking selfies, blah blah blah.

Anyway, I never click these ads, but I'm intrigued by the way they're constructed to draw us in. Evidently everyone's looking for easy weight loss (nothing new there) and we're all seduced by peril. We want to see "forbidden" videos that might be racy and we believe that experts (the famous "they") hide valuable knowledge from us. Sex, beauty, risk -- the marketer's trifecta.

They're like miniature experiments in psychology. Still, don't click them. They'll just stack your computer with useless cookies, pop-up ads and malware. Does everyone else see these same ads, or am I alone in getting weight-loss vegetables and dogs-that-aren't?


Tasker Dunham said...

Were the librarians then supposed to shout "shhh!" at the top of their voices?

Moving with Mitchell said...

Those ads appear in the legit, free, online newspapers I read. I’ve never clicked on any, not the miracle diet vegetables nor the “not even dogs.” Thanks for reassuring me.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Occasionally those "clickbait" ads have drawn me in but usually you have to go a long way in before you reach the "answer" to the bait that hooked you in the first place. I guess I am gullible.

Anonymous said...

Rarely as I've learnt, but I have at times clicked on clickbait to see something specific, perhaps a promised tease photo, and invariably after going through such rubbish, I give up. I am learning.

Peter said...

Yes, I get those ads and, like Andrew, I have clicked on some in the past but have learnd better.

Bob said...

I am not a "clickbaiter," thankfully.

Dov said...

Tell your husband that the radioactive substance may make him nauseous afterwards.

Boud said...

Yes, I get those click bait things a lot. Including the infamous firefighters find puppies they rescued were actually...

I hope all goes well with Dave. I guess they've ruled out medication causing the tremor? Maybe you can borrow a Geiger counter to check if he's ticking?

Ed said...

What gets me is that more respectable sources are starting to do similar things, only verbally. Case in point. This morning on NBC's Today show, they flashed up a new high definition picture of the Titanic and said something about staying tuned until after the break when they reveal what in the new picture has stunned scientists and has never been seen before. Ten minutes later after the break, they revealed that it was the manufacturer's name that could be seen on the anchor.

I wasn't stunned.

Vivian Swift said...

If you are ever tempted by clickbait, you can use an anonymous browser, which is also good when you are researching airline tickets. That way the airlines won't know that you are shopping and won't inundate you with ads -- also, when an airline knows you're looking for tickets they tend to start showing only the expensive ones. On a Mac all you have to do is open your browser, then hit Command + Shift + N. For Windows you do Control + Shift +N. And there you are, incognito.

That photo of Olga is adorable. I love her spots, and I love how relaxed and at one with the phlox.

The Bug said...

Oh yes I have definitely been drawn in by click-bait, most recently for some sort of funny anecdote where you could see the first part but had to click to read the rest. Of course when I clicked the one I was looking for wasn't even there so I got right back out again.

I hope they figure out what's going on with Dave!

Ms. Moon said...

The problem with clickbait is that the fish is never worth the click.
I really hope that whatever is going on with Dave can be figured out and treated easily! Getting older brings so many worries. Too bad we can't all just be Olgas and spend our days snoozing in the flower beds.

NewRobin13 said...

I just went to my Facebook page to see what ad would be there. First one was for Tostitos. I don't think I've ever had one in my life. What I have learned that often, if I have googled something, an ad will show up in Facebook about the product or something like it. I really don't like that invasiveness.
I hope all goes well with Dave's scan and results. And Olga looks cute sleeping in the garden.

Debby said...

You are absolutely NOT alone re: clickbait. I always wonder why in the world anyone would fall for the bait. My favorite is always some version of woman gives birth, doctor takes on look and calls the police. WTH?

I love the idea of kids running up to your desk and shouting 'who works here?' as you reply "Mr. READ". It always makes me laugh to remember how long it took me to notice that.

Southwark! I was there.

Marcia LaRue said...

Is Dave on an anti-depressant? I take a 10 mg Lexapro and it does give me the shakes, however, they settle down later on.
I hope he doesn't have anything serious like Parkinsons or, like Weaver, the tremors.

Sharon said...

I don't recognize any of the click-bait ad pictures you post but I certainly recognize the phrases. Yes, I see these types of things all the time and I'm pretty good at ignoring them.
Your top photo really does sum up the grit of the big city!

Linda Sue said...

The canal , or any shiny, reflective body of water makes everything look better. Even the garbage looks colorful.
Those medical folks better know what they are doing- sounds like
Dave may be infected, now ,with super powers. Just in time to heroically save the planet from doom and destruction! Thanks, Dave!

Red said...

I might not see these ads but there are far too many ads.

ellen abbott said...

If we're on social media, we get them. I don't click on them either. You never ever get the answer, just ad after ad with a few words in between. You did have a busy day. If you start glowing we'll know you should have slept on the couch.

Kelly said...

Your day sounds stressful to me. I hope you were able to enjoy another of your fancy gin cocktails when you got home. Hope Dave gets some positive answers from his test.

Sweet Olga.

Margaret said...

Being an insatiably curious type, I've probably clicked on a few of those.:) Not recently though since I soon learned that they weren't worth it. A PET scan? I didn't know that was used for anything except cancer. They're very expensive here.

James and Brigitta said...

Yes, I get the click-baits as well and have on occasion fallen for them, only to find out that you have to scroll through page after page of things that aren't what drew you in the first place .. every single time of course, but why would you learn from that ...?

Michael said...

Just reading your "Who Works There" part of your post made me get nervous as I go back to work next week. School has already been in session for two weeks. My substitute, who is a good friend of mine, has been calling me daily and telling me what's been going on. The students are not so great this year, and she has been warning me everyday. She is not an alarmist either. I dread next Tuesday when I go back! I hope Dave gets good news from the PET scan.

jenny_o said...

I see the exact same ads as you've listed and around a million others :) fact-checking website occasionally checks out some of these so the rest of us don't have to, and they are always a waste of time. Which you already know.

Wishing Dave an answer to his issue soon, and a benign answer at that.

I just love that photo of Olga. She is resting hard.

Steve Reed said...

Tasker: We do that sometimes, but I try to avoid the stereotype of the chronic shusher!

Mitchell: Yeah, that's where I see them too, on newspaper sites.

YP: It can be hard to resist them!

Andrew: Yeah, it's so annoying to be unable to see the promised content.

Peter: Well, that's how we learn, right?

Bob: Me neither.

Dov: He was complaining of not feeling well last night and I relayed your comment to him. It could very well be related.

Boud: Apparently they're testing for all sorts of things, before they conclude it's the medication or the Crohn's itself (which are both possibilities).

Ed: There's always a fine line between teasing a segment and over-hyping it!

Vivian: Good point about the browser, though I think it's still safer to stay away entirely. I laughed at the phrase "at one with the phlox."

Bug: The Dave saga is a long, ongoing one!

Ms Moon: You do have to envy animals, and their live-in-the-moment approach. No anxieties there. (I don't think.)

Robin: Yes! I've had that happen too. It's strange that you got a Tostitos ad. I wonder why they decided you needed Tostitos in your life?

Debby: Ha! Yeah, I've seen that one too. The kids still get a kick out of Mr. Reed.

Marcia: He's not on an antidepressant but he is on several medications for Crohn's. Parkinson's, MS and essential tremor are some of the conditions they're testing for. So far, nothing has turned up positive, which is good.

Sharon: I think as Mitchell pointed out above, they're often on newspaper sites.

Linda Sue: I'm not sure Dave wants that responsibility! (But that's how it works being a super-hero, right? "With great power comes great responsibility.") Water DOES make a scene more appealing.

Red: Always, everywhere!

Ellen: Ha! No glowing yet, fortunately!

Kelly: I forgot how crazy it often seems when the kids first come back.

Margaret: I think they're expensive here too. I always associate them with cancer as well, and I'm sure cancer is among the things the doctors want to screen out, but apparently they can also detect other conditions.

James and Brigitta: What's that famous definition of insanity -- doing the same thing and expecting a different result? :)

Michael: Well, hopefully the kids will have worked through their initial back-to-school excitement and will be more mellow by the time you get there!

Jenny-O: I love Snopes! It's a great web site.

River said...

In my eyes the most beautiful twins in the world are three months old and will soon learn to call me Grandma.
That pile of rubbish by the seat worries me. I hope it doesn't spread out and start falling into the river.