Wow. Earlier today, my lil' hit counter doodad hit the 10,000 mark. 104 visitors in less than a year. Sure, plenty of sites get that many visitors every minute, but still, I'm flattered. Although it's a bit late for Thanksgiving, I'd like to say thanks, everybody, all the same. I'll get to the Thanksgiving thrills, chills, 'n spills in a moment, but first a bit more about today's important milestone.
Visitor #10000 came here looking for wisteria photos. I posted a few of those back in early May (see here), but this visitor probably never saw them; several weeks ago there was a sudden upsurge in search hits from images.google.com, which would be neato except that they're basically all "junk" hits. Instead of directing users to a specific post, Google Images sends people to the archive page for the entire month in which I posted the desired photo(s). Needle, meet haystack. So instead of going to the specific wisteria post, user 10k ended up at my May '06 archive page. The wisteria pics are near the very bottom of the page, and the top story is a grim bit about the massacre at Haditha, something you're probably not in the mood to see if you're looking for nice photos of flowers. If this blog had a narrow focus on either flowers or the mideast, all these archive page hits wouldn't be a big deal, but whatever super-secret algorithm Google's using right now clearly discriminates against those of us with wide-ranging interests.
Also, Google sends image queries your way if you merely link to a picture and don't actually include it in your page. Last December, I made the innocent mistake of linking to a photo of the Devil in his Tucker Carlson "harmless doofus" persona, just mentioning the guy briefly at the bottom of a mostly-unrelated post. Now, if you click the #2 image hit for ol' whatsisname, you'll arrive at my December '05 archive page. When you get there, you'll really have to search to find my brief snarky comment about the guy, and you won't find the linked photo at all, because it isn't here, dammit. It just isn't. All of this just goes to prove the guy really is the Devil.
A few days ago, I got a brief flurry of silky anteater hits, and I'm still not sure why. Maybe Animal Planet reran the stupid nature show where I first heard of 'em. There's no way to know, really. But I'm willing to misinterpret that as a vast surge of popular demand for cute animal photos. I don't actually have a lot of those, unfortunately. I was just about to upload a handful of third-rate wildlife photos I had on hand, but I like to think I've achieved a certain level of quality here, and blurry long-distance photos of deer and hummingbirds just won't do the trick. So I think we'll go without photos for once.
So whatever. As I was about to say before I interrupted myself, Thanksgiving was just fine. This year someone brought poker chips to the big family gathering, so us manly men would have something manly to do while the womenfolk were in the kitchen making pies and quilts and churning butter and gossiping and watching Oprah and doing who-knows-what. Seems certain male relatives of mine have caught the Texas hold-em bug, so I finally broke down and (sort of) learned how to play, or at least how to lose. Then grandpa arrived. He's 95, and he's been playing poker since about age 8 or so, and he hasn't forgotten a thing. Grandpa says Texas hold-em is a sissy game, and he wants to play 5 card draw or 7 card stud, with an occasional round of 3 card lowball. Which is fine by me. I learned to play (sort of) on the classics (thanks, Cub Scouts!), not this newfangled business with cards in the middle and small and big blinds and all this complicated crap. Switching to dealer's choice didn't help me a lot, since grandpa ended up with all my chips, but at least it was more fun. The unspoken rule of playing cards with grandpa is that he'll see what he can get away with, since he knows you aren't likely to call him on it. I see everything (I think) but I don't say a word, because it's just a marvel watching the guy work. You'd almost chalk it all up to fumbling 95-year-old fingers, except that it always works to his advantage, and it's always subtle. You won't catch the guy with five aces or anything egregious like that, and most of the time he plays strictly by the book and beats you fair and square anyway. Ever heard the saying about how old age and treachery defeats youth and skill? I think grandpa might've been the inspiration for that. Did I mention he's also basically unbeatable at pool, too? It's true. If I live to be 95, I figure I could do a lot worse than to be the resident poker & pool shark down at the senior center, and I expect I'd feel I, too, was entitled to beat the young 'uns at cards by any means necessary. As for the meal? I'm slowly realizing that "turkey" rhymes with "jerky" for a reason. That's all I'm going to say.
The next day, it was time to go see the latest James Bond flick with dad. Well, with the whole family, but mostly with dad, who's a huge James Bond fan. He seemed to think Casino Royale is one of the better Bond films. I thought it wasn't bad, although I got a chuckle out of the extended casino sequence. Instead of baccarat, the gazillionaire high rollers have a tense high-stakes game of... you guessed it, Texas hold-em. I kept expecting to see some D-list celebrities show up, and maybe a camera crew from a third-tier cable network. I'm not asserting that rich people actually play baccarat in real life. They probably play bridge, perhaps the only card game in the universe that's even more complicated than baccarat, and it isn't even played for money. Maybe that's why the rich are still rich, I dunno. That aside, dad and I got to drool over the new Aston-Martin for a bit, so overall I suppose it was money well spent.
The following day, it was time to hang out with a friend of ours who's single and newly 40, which means a rapid trek from bar to bar all across town, searching for eligible women. If none spring immediately to hand, it's off to the next bar. I don't entirely understand the role we play in this quest. I guess we're there as the normal-looking married friends who help him look safe and nonthreatening or something. Which is ok, since he really is safe and nonthreatening, he just doesn't look like it when you first see him. Sometimes it takes a few months to see past the dubious exterior, and we're there to facilitate the process as best we can. It hasn't worked yet, but we're all still very hopeful. At least, I think that's the role we play in his scheme. I'm not 100% sure. I don't really remember a lot about the evening, quite honestly. At one point there were tater tots and electronica, and I think that was the highlight of the evening, as far as I can recall.
The day after that, I woke up and felt utterly godawful. Finally got over that and had just enough stamina to get up and go to the gym for the first time in a week, and after that it was nothing but junk food and beer and cheesy movies. Ahhhhhh. Now that's what I call a holiday...