I use Yahoo as my internet whatever – the first screen I see (whatever that is called) not from any strong preference but merely because that must have been, in the dim dark ages past, the first whatzit that popped up when I started on the internet. By now this has become, in a modest way, my preferred whatzit only because I am used to it. Actually, on my other computer, my Apple, which I bought when I had a lot more money and nothing much to do with it, Google is my first whatzit, which makes more sense in a way, because I often go online to Google to look up a word or person or thing which has come up in conversation and which I suddenly realize after all these years that I don’t know exactly who or what it is.
Yahoo seems to see itself, these days, as a sort of USA Today lite – and of course, USA Today itself is news lite in the first place – so when I first hit my computer in the morning or whenever I manage to get to it, I am usually presented with about six headlines concerning things that Yahoo assumes will interest me. At least one of these commonly begins with a grabber like “Six people that…” or “The ten best…” or “Fifteen horrifying…”. I canceled my Time subscription some time ago for offering me too much of this kind of headline. There are usually about two of the six headlines given over to some event in the lives of some film actor who should have known better even if he or she is not Lindsay Lohan. Today’s quota of actor-related headlines were about actors Pete Postlethwaite dying and Zsa Zsa Gabor having her leg amputated. What stopped me in my tracks were not the misfortunes of these actors, but the little note at the end of each headline displaying a camera icon and the word ‘photos’. Really?? For one giddy moment I thought I was being promised a close-up of a corpse and a stump, but of course, just like the ‘Ten ways to cut your taxes’ articles, the reality is no such luck. I have to say they had me for a minute there.
I’d like to say that Yahoo doesn’t ‘get’ me and that I am above clicking on articles about people I will never meet and lists that have nothing whatever to do with my life. (Have you ever read one of those tax-reducing articles, by the way? They have about as much relevance to me as does the AARP magazines agonizing over where one should buy one’s second home or which upscale getaway caters to such ‘Life-is-sweet’ seniors as myself. ) But, getting back to the thought provided in sentence one of this paragraph, I have to admit that I quite frequently do find myself idly clicking on these desserts for the mind type articles – though I hate myself for doing so - while I am just as likely to skip stories on the war and Washington. Partly my avoidance of the latter items is Yahoo’s insistence on giving no information that I don’t already know from last night’s two sentences with film footage on NBC or ABC. The problem with a world in which everyone is famous for 15 minutes, is that no one is allotted that fame in relation to his deserving of it. Probably nearly everyone has 15 minutes worth of depth in some area or other, but that is never what we get to read about. I wonder what kind of interesting stories we’d get if Yahoo omitted any ‘news’ article with less than ten sentences altogether, and for those longer than ten sentences, they arbitrarily picked sentence 11 of the article and had a writer do a whole article on that sentence’s topic alone. Such depth is why I love my Atlantic and my New Yorker. Either tell me a whole lot that I don’t already know, or skip it altogether.
So I have to admit, sadly, that Yahoo probably does have my number. It is embarrassing. On the other hand, while Yahoo is just guessing, and probably wouldn’t know me if it passed me on the street, my nearest and dearest should have a clue as to what I am all about. Each Christmas I am reminded anew what a mystery I am to all who know me. I wonder if the gifts I give are as unrelated to the people to whom I give them as theirs are to me. An Indian man, whom I worked with in Saudi for six months or less, and whom I have seen only once in the last fifteen years, dropped by the other day on his way from Toronto (to which fascinating city he has emigrated) to introduce me to his wife and three kids and the lot of them were kind enough to bring me a Christmas gift. How is it that this man had a better idea of what I like (a book on the latest findings on brain plasticity) than do my relatives, many of whom have known me since birth? Just asking. I like getting gifts – giving, I find, is much overrated – but I do find it baffling that people are so wide of the mark when they decide what I might like. Perhaps they see me as too narrow, and wish to widen my horizons. But an insulated coffee cup every Christmas? Still, the degree of difficulty I find in buying gifts for most of my near and dear would argue that I am as clueless as they are. But this is about ME after all.
What happened to bring these thoughts to mind was the fact that just now I opened the upper cabinet door where I have stowed the latest insulated coffee cup and, apparently feeling that I had enough of its ilk therein already, this latest gift leapt from its shelf and smashed a plate I had set on the counter below. I am not exactly looking a gift horse in the mouth here; I know that it is the thought that counts. But what baffles me, is what thought exactly is it that I am counting? Has anyone ever found me, for instance, serving or drinking flavored coffee? Yeah, I got some of that – and when I served a bit of it at the Sunday Breakfast last week, I got a resounding chorus of ‘Eeewww!” which kind of echoed my own reaction. To be sure, if asked, I wouldn’t know what I wanted either, so I guess I can’t expect anyone else to know. I have too much stuff already. The best gift I have gotten in the last several years was a gift certificate for iTunes. At least I don’t have to find a place for the resulting purchase.
As a special service, I offer the following (he said, changing the subject). If your eyeglasses’ lens keeps popping out, don’t try supergluing it to the frame. If you DO glue it and inevitably get some glue on the lens, don’t try wiping it off with your finger. And if you do smear it around with your finger, don’t try to clean it up with a paper towel. I’m not saying how I know this, or where bits of paper may be firmly adhering to my body, I am just being of service.