If you look at my undergraduate transcript, you will see from the summer of 1997 two course credits from the University of Aleppo. While in Aleppo (as part of the since-discontinued “Summer in Syria” program of the National Council on US-Arab Relations), we resided on campus and lived in the university dorms.
My anger is seething at those responsible for the cowardly act of targeting a university, and, worse, doing so during final exams yesterday.
My heart is weeping for the students and people of Aleppo and their families.
I haven’t written very much for a while. At least recently, in part it’s been a readjustment, in part the need to attend to so many things that had been delayed since the beginning of 2011, and, certainly, partly sadness.
I made pizzelles yesterday for the first time in more than half a dozen years. It’s also the first time I’ve made pizzelles without the able assistance of Grandpa Porczak, who for many years served as my timekeeper and as an extra set of hands when arranging and stacking the cooling cookies. Things definitely go better with a two-man team, so it’s unfortunate for me that he no longer travels south for Christmas. It was a bit of an adventure, with a rougher start than normal (I don’t think the rainy weather helped, either), but in the end, we once again have several years’ worth of pizzelles.
Pizzelles are Italian wedding cookies, though in our family they most often appear around Christmas (like most of our ethnic cookies).1 But they have also made appearances at family reunions in the summer, as well as whenever my grandmother felt like sending me a care package. So I have many happy memories associated with pizzelles, both baking and eating.2 It’s somehow comforting to press my parents’ forty-plus-year-old pizzelle iron into service and continue baking the same cookies as my Ardissone ancestors.
Maybe next year I’ll tackle potica.
1 I suppose that as our immigrant ancestors recede by more generations into the past, those pieces of that heritage we retain tend to focus on special occasions, and any stray elements shift to coincide with those occasions/holidays. ↩
2 In addition, one of my favorite memories from Washington was after we’d returned from our first Christmas holiday; Meredith came back with her krumkake (a similarly-baked Norwegian cookie) and regaled me with tales of Norwegian treats from the holiday. ↩
Sometimes once we begin walking down a path, it is irrevocable.
As an aside, this is why I don’t post very often these days; what should have been a quick ten or twenty minute writing episode (rant) turned into several hours of revising, polishing, marking up, and ensuring that, even though a rant, the post was documented and had a tone that (I hope!) should still be respectful. If you’re going to take the time to argue with someone or critique something (or otherwise express your thoughts, since most of my “missing posts” are not actually rants), you owe it to the person or persons on the other end, and especially to yourself, to do so well, in a manner that doesn’t overshadow your points or preclude a conversation.
Writing is hard.
Today I discovered one of my friends had returned to blogging. Seized with happiness, I went to leave a “welcome back” comment.
Unfortunately, in the two-plus years since I had last left a comment on her blog, WordPress.com had completely redone comment authorization. Even though the text reads
Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:
(emphasis added) and I filled in my details rather than clicking on a service icon, WordPress.com decided that, because said email address was also associated with my Gravatar or WordPress.com accounts (both, in this case1), I would have to sign in to WordPress.com in order to leave a comment.
That’s not the end of the world (although way back when, I had carefully crafted my cookies exceptions list to ensure I was remembered on her blog but not anywhere else in the WordPress universe—there’s nothing more frightening than showing up on a site you’ve never visited before and finding that you’re logged-in in the comments field—and generally free from being tracked by WordPress.com in my travels across the web), if that were where it ended. I would have logged in, had my comment posted, logged out, and gone about the rest of my evening, and you’d never be reading this post.
However, what happened is, without any notification whatsoever, WordPress.com replaced the details I had entered (remember, I entered my name, URL and email address instead of clicking on a service icon) with a reference to my WordPress.com account. So instead of “Smokey” from http://www.ardisson.org/ leaving a comment, “sardisson” with no URL left a comment. Even after I visited my never-used WordPress.com profile and entered http://www.ardisson.org/ as my “Web Address” (“Shown publicly when you comment on blogs and in your Gravatar profile.”), my comment still has no URL. I guess because my blog isn’t actually at WordPress.com, I can’t have a Web Address associated with my comments on WordPress.com sites. As for my name, I can also change my “Public Display Name”, but, once again, doing so didn’t alter my comment. (I can also change my WordPress.com username, which might produce the desired effect—though based on the prior two changes it seems unlikely—but I don’t want to jump through the hoops required to do that, and, besides, I like my username just fine.)
On the one hand, I can understand WordPress.com’s desire to force all commenters to use an account from one of their blessed services (even if I don’t agree with the idea), but in that case, why even allow for the appearance of commenting with any name/URL/email? I can also see an argument for forcing anyone who is trying to comment using a known-to-the-WordPress.com-universe email address to log in, so all comments can be associated with the user profile and aggregated (though, in my opinion, that argument is not one that carries much weight).
But if you’re going to force this correlation on visitors/users,
- Make it clear the association is going to happen, and don’t offer alternative identification UI that leads users to believe they can still comment using the traditional name/URL/email details, and
- Realize that users—and here by users I mean people, human beings, flesh-and-blood, your mom, your brother, your best friend from college, real people you know and interact with in person on a daily basis, not some abstract construct called “users”—are going to want to identify themselves differently in different contexts,2 so you need let them. Not just let them, but facilitate this choice.
After all, even Yahoo! allows you to have separate “identities” associated with the same account and has allowed you to subscribe to different Yahoo! Groups using different identities for so long I’ve forgotten when they introduced that feature. And, er, I believe Gravatar.com supports exactly that sort of thing, different gravatars for different email addresses (except, I guess, if you want to comment on WordPress.com?). Why can’t WordPress.com comments?
Please, just let me comment on my friend’s blog as “Smokey” from http://www.ardisson.org/ using the email address I customarily use on the internet, and let me choose to comment elsewhere on WordPress.com blogs as “Smokey Ardisson” or “sardisson” or whatever facet of my identity is most appropriate for the context in which I am commenting.
1 Even if I hadn’t used the same email address on both services, once Auttomatic acquired Gravatar and linked it with WordPress.com, practically speaking for everyone the two accounts are one and the same. ↩
2 :cough: Google Buzz :cough: Google Plus :cough: ↩
Treat every day as a gift, as a blessing.1
Enjoy and make the most of it.2
1 I’m not sure where I first heard the opening sentiment expressed; it seems like it was in some sci-fi production, perhaps Dollhouse or The Postman. (Fun fact: Olivia Williams starred in both.) ↩
2 Or, to quote Cicero and the 1994 NJCL theme, Occasionem oblatam tenete. ↩