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April 15, 2024

Websurfing 01

By Morris and Gillespie

I'm an info geek and I'm looking for some more useless information for my brain, where do I go? Google of course. Or Yahoo. Or Dogpile. Or, well, you get the picture. The internet has replaced the home encyclopedia set.

Sable and Shuck


This seemingly boring business site is anything but normal. After agreeing to be over 18 (don't worry, Mom; there's no porn here), visitors enter a stark place where the bottom line is: your soul.

Click on "The Company" link and discover that their client list is made up of "thousands upon thousands of people, including leading musicians, scholars, actors, royalty and more." The Director of Acquisitions is responsible for -- what else? the acquisition of human souls. Other positions on the company payroll include Director of Procurement (makes clients' dreams come true), Director of Legalities, Oaths and Contracts, and Director of Punitive Measures (responsible for eternal torment of defaulters).

Click on "Omni Publications" for the latest edition of the Hornchurch Star, in which the lead story is about a haunted crossroads, and the horoscope urges people to "give into the temptation." The crossword is devilish hard, and the weather outlook is always "fine and dandy...with isolated brimstone."

Produced by a Belgian company, this clever satirical piece disguised as a boring business site will fool your boss into thinking you're actually working.


This makes me sad. You see I had a very intimate relationship with our hard earned World Book set of encyclopedias. They made school reports so much easier as a kid. During the summer I enjoyed reading them, cover to cover.

And yes, I actually dated during high school.

Furthermore, just now I spelled encyclopedia all by myself silently singing the Jiminy Cricket's song - you old folks should know what I'm talking about. If you don't well yer just too damn young, you whipper snapper you.

Wait a minute, what the hell is a whipper snapper? Let's ask Google.

I typed in: history of the words whipper snapper - and the first place I landed was Phrase Thesaurus - which in of itself sounds interesting and just the place to find out. But no. Phrase Thesaurus is only available at a fee. No go. And wow, over fifty dollars a year! Do I really need to know fifty dollars worth of information about catch phrases in a year. Nope. I guess I'll keep looking.

The very next stop at the Word for Word Archives gives me a complete answer without costing me a dime. Quote from the site:

Just about anyone who is called a "whippersnapper" is either a juvenile or a learner who is barely dry behind the ears. One of the easiest skills learned by greenhorn cowboys is that of snapping a black snake whip, or bullwhip. Long ago, lots of young fellows who could not bulldog a steer or rope a maverick prided themselves on being able to strut into town while calling attention to themselves by snapping their whips. Older townsfolk were quick to adopt "whippersnapper" as just the right label for any brash but unskilled beginner.

Over the last couple of years I've used the internet to research many, many unusual subjects. I almost always end up somewhere I didn't mean to land (and that's aside from the many porn black-holes-of-death that won't let you simply close the page without crashing your computer with popups and enough spyware to fill a pair of boxers). Yet every now and then I find a website I truly want to visit again. I'd like to share a few of those with you now, but don't worry I'll save plenty for later.

It's Christmas time again and I know just where to send the thrifty shopper with a big imagination. Visit the American Science & Surplus, Incredible stuff at unbelievable prices! Here you can find Remote controlled rats and a magnetic patch just the right size for your dog Fluffy. They carry it all folks, and most of it in bulk. I seriously recommend you stop buy the Must Go section because every family needs a sticker with a close up picture of the face of the Statue of Liberty for Christmas. It's a fun site for browsing, and who knows? You might just find the pack of popsicle sticks of your dreams.

For you beer lovers there is: RealBeer.com - what part of beer don't you understand. This site provides gift guide for the beer lover in your family, along with an active community to discuss your favorite beverages and my favorite beer humor - a random generator for humorous beer jokes. It really is a well organized, and smooth site, with a great deal to offer even those that don't drink beer that often.

Everybody has a blog. Even me. But not everyone can blog well. One of my very favorites on the web is Dooce. Dooce (pronounced deuce) is the website of Heather B. Armstrong, previous web designer, now stay-at-home-Mom that shares her life. She's a funny ex-Mormon with a quirky sense of humor that I find laugh-out-loud funny almost every time I visit. She is a darn good photographer too. Take an hour or two and browse her archives whenever you need a laugh; you'll definitely find something to laugh about at her site. Pooping, cussing, child-rearing and monthly letters to her daughter are just some of the many topics she covers.

Another blog that I think is well done, organized and informative is Blackfive. You can read all about the creator of the site here. His blogs are usually about military related issues, or political issues, or well, just about anything. I've been reading his site for awhile now, and he always backs up everything he has to say with verifiable facts - not something to take for granted in this easily manipulated age of media misleads and sensationalism. In addition to having a great site, there is a list of links to other sites that are also well worth your time. If you want to read letters from real men and women serving on the front lines in Iraq drop in any time.

I read constantly. At the breakfast table, in the bathroom, when I'm waiting in line - it doesn't matter. I'd feel more naked without a book than without a top. While I'll read just about anything (cereal boxes and squished tubes of toothpaste included) as I've gotten older I hate buying a book only to discover after a few pages it isn't that great of a book *cough* The Lovely Bones *cough* so I stumbled across BookBrowse.com. This site is a wonderful database of books - paperbacks, bestsellers, all types of genres - giving the browser a chance not only to read reviews of the books, along with bios of the authors, but also excerpts. Yes, excerpts! I love that feature. Who wants to get dressed, drive to the bookstore, find the right bookshelf, finally find the book and stand there and try to read the first ten pages before you buy the book? Not me. I much prefer sitting at my desk, wearing sweats and ponytail, reading the first few pages of my hopeful-next-purchase. They also have a wonderful newsletter full of information delivered right to my inbox every month.

And finally, I'm going to leave with two of my secret idea starters - Ananova and New Scientist. Ananova news site has a little section they call Quirkies. I love reading about the strange and sometimes disgusting things that make the headlines in this section. It's great for writer's block. I certainly couldn't come up with Man didn't know he had nail in skull on my own. And New Scientist is always there to perk my brain with the latest news on the Science front, everything from cloning to genetically modified food to the latest dope on weed. (I couldn't help it - I had to write it - so sue me.)

I guess I've come a long way from the World Book Encyclopedia set when it comes to researching, but I have to admit I miss the smell of the leather and the slick feel of the crisp pages under my young, unwrinkled fingers. For now I'll just assuage my grief with the knowledge that there is no end to what I can discover online (some of it I hope to never see) and there will always be yet another link to click.


Article © Morris and Gillespie. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-12-11
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