10 x 10, inch by inch

Voices of the Year/ 10×10 audience at BlogHer ’14, San José, CA. 


Don’t they/ you look fine?

The woman toward the right with the nice DSLR pointed at me is Danielle Tsi, BlogHer’s event photographer (and a brilliant one).  I’d worked with her at about a half a dozen BlogHer events, and she was kind enough to take my new cutie mirrorless camera and take a few pictures with it for me, so’s I’d have a clue what I was looking’ like (et voilá).  What’s not to love about a person whose generosity matches their talent?

On the occasion of its tenth annual conference, folks at BlogHer had asked ten longtime community denizens to take ten minutes to reflect on the past ten years online (and to imagine where we may be going in the next ten). I was honored to be among them.

I thought I might publish here what I read that night, for any of youse who were there and wanted to get a reminder, and for any of you who didn’t go, but might be curious. If I find out I have permission (nettiquette FTW!), I might embed the slides which I produced, but which were polished off by BlogHer’s designer & thus might be theirs.  If I can’t, your imagination will have to fill in the blanks. Which people’s imaginations generally tend to do anyhow, so.

Herewith, my ten minutes’ of reflection, courtesy BlogHer’s YouTube channel. Below the embed is the text, complete with slide cues, because this is cinema verité here, people.



[SLIDE: note of gratitude]

 First, thank you. Thank you Elisa, Lisa, and Jory. Thank you Stacy, and thanks also to the many very hard-working women behind you for this stage and what it has meant to so many of us over the years. I know first-hand what it takes to make this happen, and it is truly a labor of love.

 Thank you also for the opportunity to reflect on the past ten years, from my point of view. I would sit in rapt attention listening to all sorts of people doing the same thing – in fact have, and will. It’s a great privilege to take a stab at it myself.

 [SLIDE: 2008 Community Keynote audience, courtesy Elan]

I can say in all honesty that two of the things most precious to me now, I owe to blogging: the clarity I have as a parent, and the opportunity I have to be doing the work I’m doing now in support of LGBT families in my community and online.

And it’s not an exaggeration to say that it all began on the BlogHer stage, 50 miles to the north of here and six years ago.

Six years ago, I stood backstage waiting to read a post at the first Voices of the Year. The ballroom was packed, but with about a third as many people. Backstage were a bunch of folks, none of whom I knew, even though I knew of them. We didn’t know what was about to happen. All we knew was that whatever it was, it seemed like a damned good idea.

I had spoken in the morning on a panel moderated by the inimitable Lindsay Ferrier.

[SLIDE: Lindsay’s pumps; riff; try really hard to not say anything untoward; resist the urge to speak randomly about muffins, as you are wont do]

Read more10 x 10, inch by inch

Eighth list of ten: High and low points hit in one day (Adoption Day)

one hundred stones
Original photo credit: The Windgrove Center, Tasmania, AU.

In celebration of the 100th post, part eight in a ten-part series.

[Key: lil’ monkey/ kid #1 = 2.3 yr old daughter; lil’ peanut/ kid #2 = 3 week old son]

As proof that a static state of happiness is a mirage, but then again so is a static state of misery, we oftentimes experience peaks of both in the same day. Sometimes in the same moment. As illustration of the relentless coexistence of misery and joy, behold

Ten high and low points conspiring to fill one day — yesterday — to the brim:

1. Low point: Slept fewer hours the night before than we had in the lil’ peanut’s young life, it seemed. Many of the hours I was awake I spent hacking and coughing up half a lung from the never-ending bronchial scourge that took hold before kid #2’s birth sent us into the Year of Sleep Deprivation. I am resigned to the possibility now that the hack may not leave me ’til the little guy takes his first steps. I wouldn’t be complaining about the sleep deprivation except for it was going to be a big day, as noted in Item #5.

2. Low point: Stepped, half asleep and barefoot, into dog pee in the kiddle’s room. The poor geriatric is on diuretic medication for a heart condition, bless her loyal canine soul. She managed to sneak in and relieve herself on the rug sometime between when I last took her outside, at 3:30am (it’s only fair, what with the diuretics), and when I got my arse out of bed at 7:00am.

3. Low point: The dog managed to foil us yet again when we tried to smuggle one of her twice-daily pills into yet another Trojan Horse delivery mechanism. We have tried: cheese (hard, soft, cream, Camembert, etc.), salami, even potato salad. She is a frickin’ Borg. She figures us out faster than we can come up with alternatives. A given med-smuggling food works for one, maybe two repetitions, after which point she gingerly takes it in her mouth, walks out of the kitchen, and patooi’s it out somewhere in the house, usually on a rug. We are now rotating randomly through leftovers and hope the variety there will work as a suitable cover.

4. High point: Sleep deprivation (see Item #1) had pumped such a fog around the beloved that she managed to think, for a moment, that a squeaking sound she heard (it was from a game the lil’ monkey was playing), coupled with the fluttering of something in her peripheral vision (it was a dried eucalyptus sprig, falling from a nearby shelf), was actually a bat. A BAT, people! Okay, so they are common in the Midwest, whence she came. But never once in her decade of living in these parts has she clapped her eyes on one indoors, hell, even outdoors. It was nothing but a sleep deprivation-induced hallucination, and the shriek she let out, coupled with her swatting away at nothing in particular, provided first me, then a moment later her, a great deal of relief from Items 1 through 3 above.

5. Low point: Late in the morning the lil’ peanut projectile-vomited most of the high-quality mama milk he’d just ingested. All over the beloved’s sweater. Which wouldn’t have been such a problem, except that it was the third time he’d done it that morning (previous targets: first the couch, then the cat, who’ll likely never lounge so close again). Why cry over hurled milk? Because we were all stressed out trying to leave the house TO GO TO COURT FOR MY OFFICIAL ADOPTION HEARING FOR HIS OLDER SISTER.

6. A high and a low and a high point again: At the courthouse, we packed the lobby with a dozen loving family members, blood and chosen and extended, plus a handful of friends (that would be a high point). My dear old friend, who launched the final chapter of our baby journey by suggesting we borrow a cup of her husband’s sperm, held the lil’ quilt-bundled peanut and was getting a contact baby high from sniffing his scalp (another high point).

Then the clerk comes out and asks whether we have forms number 215, 225, and 230. All we knew about was form number 200 (which we’d already sent in, along with several pints of blood and pounds of flesh). We had asked two or three learned sources just what we needed to bring to the court (the person on the phone from the court, plus an attorney friend, plus the person at the adoption agency whom we contracted for the social worker home visit). Not a one mentioned forms number 215, 225, and 230. Where was our lawyer, you might ask? That is another story entirely, but suffice to say the lawyer was more helpful absent than present. For illustration, see visual aid below:

[A nod to K. Vonnegut and his depiction of a certain bodily orifice in Breakfast of Champions. Get yours direct from the artist here (scroll just a bit for the famous *)!]

We finally got the court date on our own, after giving the lawyer the heave-ho. But there, finally in the hallway outside the courtroom, utterly bamboozled by the sudden need for forms 215, 225, and 230, we felt like the whole adoption was going to be sucked down the drain. Until the clerk procured copies of the three forms we could fill out on the spot (which we promptly did, snivelling and whimpering with gratitude).

It boggles my mind how anyone can keep their sanity and patience through an adoption of a kid not already cheering them up by being in their custody, much less in their country. I am certain that the rigamarole we did for a “second parent adoption” was a tenth, at most, of what folks do for regular in-country ones. And a hundredth that for international ones. (Not sure? Check out the To Do list of Adoption Steps in Artificially Sweetened’s right-hand link column.) I bow down to you all, sisters and brothers, and wish you godspeed.

7. High point: The judge, while shuffling through all the papers on his desk, asked (rhetorically) whether the “putative father” has signed away his rights and so forth, to which I was to answer “Yes.” Which I did. But it also happens that said putative personage, whom we lovingly refer to as our Donor Chum, was among the retinue, and seconded my response by dropping his camera from his face for a moment, smiling and waving to the judge and going, “Yep.” Then back he went to the work of documenting the happy event.

8. High point: Being declared by the judge to be my daughter’s lawful parent, which relationship no one can tear asunder. The assembled broke out into applause, and I stifled a tear and hugged the bejezus out of the lil’ monkey, who’d been on my lap the whole time. I referred to her as “Legal Daughter” the whole rest of the day, much like Bette Davis refers to her man as “Groom,” following their marriage, in the last scenes of All About Eve.

9. High point: After we all left the courtroom, most of us who could stay on adjourned to a nearby coffee shop, which was deserted before we came in and had just enough tables to enable us all to encamp there. Not long into the festivities, we broke out into song (to the tune of “For S/he’s a jolly good fellow.” Only the words went, “For she’s now your legal daughter/ for she’s now your legal daughter/ for she’s your now legal daughter…” — and at this point, we all revv up the volume — “which nobody can deny!”

10. High point: Though he slept through the entirety of the day’s proceedings, the lil’ peanut was not going to let the day pass without comment. After we’d gotten home, his big sister “kissey-kissey-kissed” him for the umpteen-gazillionth time. But yesterday evening, for the first time in his life (moved by a person, and not his bowels), after she kissed him, he smiled. A huge, toothless, There may be bad times, but lordy are the good times good kinda smile.

Seventh list of ten: Things to do whilst waiting for the birth

one hundred stones
Original photo credit: The Windgrove Center, Tasmania, AU.

In celebration of the 100th post, part seven in a ten-part series.

Around here, we answer the phone with the preface “Baby on the inside.” Thus, in a sing-song: “Baby on the inside; hello.” Not that friends and family wouldn’t expect to have been informed somehow or another that the baby got himself on the outside. But for some reason, since he dropped into ready position several weeks ago, and he’s already way bigger than the biggest bowling ball any amateur would want to bowl with, it is a matter of widespread bamboozlement that he’s still snacking on the inside. But I’d be doing that if I were him. It’s a Caddy in there.

Meanwhile we try hard not to devolve into staring alternately at the clock and the belly, lunging for the hospital bag every time another “Braxton Hicks” passive labor contraction comes along. Instead, I try to keep focussed on these

Ten things to do whilst waiting the sweet eternity for baby #2 to emerge:

1. Anything the obscenely pregnant mum wants; anything at all. Repeat when necessary. Mutter passive-aggressively under your breath if the request seems unreasonable, but do it anyway. Because being this pregnant is unreasonable. She is within a stone’s throw of a nine month-long ascent of Everest, and you can’t blame her if the thin air is making her brain do funny things. You may find yourself hallucinating, too. Be kind to yourself, and then SNAP OUT OF IT! Look at her! She hasn’t been capable of seeing anything south of her belly button for months!

2. Arrange care for kid #1 for the duration of your time away at the birth and afterward. But work to make peace with the inevitability that no matter how seamlessly you try to ensure that her routine will be undisturbed, bringing home a whole new person – who, much to her dismay, will not be returned after a trial period – is going to be anything but routine. Adjust your seatbelt and enjoy the ride.

3. Attempt to do absolutely every backed up repair job (a.k.a. “honey do” jobs) around the house. Call in every favor you can with every handy friend you have, if you got ‘em (both favors and handy friends, that is). Then give up on fixing everything and settle for the three things your sweetie is most likely to notice over the next few months.

4. Arrange for food delivery from friends and family for at least a week, maybe two following the birth. The upside of this is, you have the opportunity to introduce your fresh baby to friends and family, but not all of them on the same day. We had “latching issues” with kid #1, and were so stressed out about it that we really could only handle an hour at a time of anyone’s company after we left the safe haven of the hospital.

The idea of a self-imposed house arrest was an idea we got from the childbirth education class we took in anticipation of our first little monkey; we did it then and were massively grateful for every hour of peace we had as a new trio. For a body recovering from the major event of childbirth, it’s a medical necessity. For anyone properly in awe of the arrival of a new life, however it finds its way into your home, it’s an emotional necessity.

5. Rummage around and find all the little bitty fresh newborn paraphernalia that you packed away when kid #1 outgrew it, get all teary and nostalgic and hum “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof as you slowly unpack it. [Thanks to The Heavenly Harpist for her rendition of this classic.]

6. Arrange for the first supply of diaper deliveries if you’re doing cloth, or go get a bunch of the disposable kind if you really despise Mother Earth and want her to die a slow, miserable death smothered under tons and tons of non-biodegradable diapers. If you are going the cloth route, try to conceal from your eco-chums that on kid #1 you threw cloth overboard after a year and a half, opting instead for chlorine-free, bio-degradable, free-range paper diapers simply because they’re so gosh darn convenient.

7. Write down the phone numbers of everyone you’re going to call from the hospital with the good news (presuming it’s a hospital birth, and of course presuming it’s good news). Before you put the list in your wallet, laminate it if at all possible, just so’s not to leave any obsessive-compulsive stones unturned. Because what if you forget your cell phone (presuming you have one)? Or what if you remember your cell phone and it forgets all the numbers? Anything can happen, people. You may even forget your fingers so be prepared to dial with your nose or a pencil held in your teeth.

8. Go get a double stroller on Craigslist, or eBay [oops! never mind! check this out], or some place sensible. Whatever you do, don’t go to some bourgeois baby boutique and pay retail, just because it’s more expedient and you and the Big Missus are going stir-crazy waiting for the kid to come out. You’ll totally regret it. That is, unless you get an orange Phil & Ted’s baby buggie that pops into a dozen different two-kid configurations and drives like a Beemer, man. Meep meep!

9. Get a haircut, dude! Because you are soooo not doing anything but wall-to-wall childcare for six weeks after the birth, and by then your hair will be all huge and Shaun Cassidy-like, at which point no matter how adorable your newborn is, you will pray not to be seen by friends out on the street.

10. Appreciate your remaining time together as a trio. This first kid has been gently drawing your parenthood out of you for the past two plus years, and nothing — aside from coming out, or falling in love, or living through the deaths of loved ones — has changed you so profoundly. Look into her eyes, and the eyes of your beloved, and give thanks.

Sixth list of ten: Things I have in common with dads

one hundred stones
Original photo credit: The Windgrove Center, Tasmania, AU.

In celebration of the 100th post, part six in a ten-part series.

I’m a female parent who (a) didn’t give birth, but (b) is partner side-by-side with one who did, and (c) is in some ways nearly as mannish as I am womanish. As a result, more often than not it’s the dads I sidle up to and chat with at the playground, and I’ve made at least as deep a connection with my men friends who are fathers as I have with my women friends who are mothers. (This is apart from the obvious and intense connection I have with women who are, like me, lesbian parents.)

Given all this, I thought it’d be interesting to corral, in one of these lists, a good

Ten things I have in common with dads:

1. (with slacker dads) We both tend to want to avoid doing the dishes and the laundry as frequently as the sweetie would like.

2. (with handy dads) We both prefer to put the “some assembly required” toys together; this impulse also applies to installing child seats, building tree houses, and fabricating excuses to take a “quick trip” to the hardware store.

3. (with dads whose partners have carried and birthed the kids) We have seen our partners through the awe-inspiring Everest climb of pregnancy, witnesed them birth our kids, and therefore tend to see our partners in the kind of shimmering light that shines on them.

4. (with dads whose partners have carried and birthed the kids) Because it’s the other one who gave birth, and nursed, and smells like Home to the kids (rather than home), we’re chopped liver for years, and it hurts, man, it hurts.

5. (with donor-conceived / donor insemination / DI  and adoptive dads) Our parenthood has been made possible by the generosity of another man.

6. (with donor-conceived / donor insemination / DI and adoptive dads) We don’t look like our kids, they don’t look like us, and we are grateful for the powerful impact our nurture will have on them.

7. (with donor-conceived / donor insemination / DI and adoptive dads) We may worry about whether one day our kids will develop some strong desire to look past us, to the donor or biological father, for some biological kinship that we can’t provide. And of course we live with that, due to item #5 above. If we’re fortunate, we may even find ways to regard this in an expansive, positive light.

8. (with feminine dads in same-ish sex marriages) Kids are drawn to us in a distinct way, because while I can’t substantiate it with clinical proof, I know there’s just something wonderful about a person who has a rich mix of both masculine energy and feminine, all in the same body. And in my personal experience, kids pick up on this big time. They know they’ll get both the hoisting high and the soft cuddling, and it makes some visceral core part of them very happy.

9. (with gear fetishist dads) We wish that there were a baby shower for us, so we could receive stuff from this place. Or this place. Not that we’d want to admit that in public.

10. (with every dad with a wide-open heart) We consider this parenthood gig the toughest (most meaningful, rewarding) job we’ll ever love, and can’t imagine how we ever thought we could do without it.

[Seventh list of ten: Things to do whilst waiting for the birth]

Fifth list of ten: How to build a better weblog award competition

one hundred stones
Original photo credit: The Windgrove Center, Tasmania, AU.

In celebration of the 100th post, part five in a ten-part series.

[Warning A: Jumbo post alert! Warning B: Of little interest to anyone who didn’t ride the Weblog Awards roller coaster last week! If you didn’t, please check back in another day or two for actual content! content! content! If you did ride, and have an itch to scratch about it, read on!]

As a way to put the 2006 Weblog Awards rollercoaster ride in some perspective, I thought it might be useful to come up with some steps about how to build a better Weblog Awards system. Not that there aren’t enough bright ideas hopping about in the animated Weblog Awards Forum. But I got five more of these lists to get out, man. And I reckon I’m not the only one that suspects a different story would have unfolded, had this — and all the other finalist blogs in all the categories — had competed under a different set of rules.

Imagine my surprise, as I was rooting around the web for alternative examples, when I discovered rival weblog awards! Blogular rookie that I am, having begun in earnest only this past spring, I was utterly unaware of them. One existing award is international (the BOBs), another is older (the Bloggies). Another (The Webbys), includes a few blog categories in a survey of the web far, far beyond the blogosphere. Two split their awards into juried and “User Prize” winners (the BOBs), or juried and “People’s Voice” awards (The Webbys). The Bloggies employs a jury selection to get blogs to the finalist stage. All are designed to keep the mass voting hysteria in check by attempting, in one way or another, to limit the quantity of popular votes.

If it’s pure quality product you want to suss out, if you want some way to determine excellence in a blog, then a popular vote contest isn’t going to reveal anything more than (relative) popularity. If you’re looking for something else, I offer for your contemplation these

Ten steps to build a better weblog award competition:

1. Strive to reward excellence, while admitting from the outset that “excellence” is a fairly subjective thing and that no two people are going to be completely satisfied with a rubric by which to judge it.

2. Try to determine a rubric anyway, responsive to the features that define or characterize blogs as a distinct medium of communication. These might include such things as: quality and originality of content; value of content to intended community; quality and originality of graphic design; elegance of user interface/ readability; appropriateness of design interface to blog content; presence and liveliness of dialog with intended community.

The Deutsche Welle International Weblog Awards, called the Best of the Blogs (or BOBs), use the following guidelines, published on their Criteria page:

Prose: Linguistic expertise, intelligibility, timeliness, transparency, authenticity.

Creativity: Originality of topic, humor, use of new style elements.

Design: Appropriate design, use of multimedia elements (animations, graphics, audio, video.

User Friendliness: Interactivity, usability, linking, commentary functions, other useful properties.

The aspects listed above are not a comprehensive list and should be used as general guidelines for the jury’s decision.

The Webby Awards reward excellence in content, structure and navigation, visual design, functionality, interactivity, and overall experience. Here are their Criteria.

Most blog designs are turnkey, and most amateur bloggers work fairly modest variations on a standard template. This one is a typical example: I use WordPress’ K2 with almost no fancy customizations, except for the header bar; my contribution to its overall design is to attempt to keep some color consistency, and to break up text in the links column with the occasional image or graphic. (That is, to the extent I can figure out how to pry into the WordPress template without derailing it.)[Ed note: July 2008 I actually did spiff it up, with the help of others. So there.] Design judgment under these circumstances entails the splitting of hairs over how bloggers make use of existing templates. For this reason, original template design should be especially rewarded.

The Bloggies separate off these design templates and actually reward “Best Application for Weblogs” (2006 winner: Blogger; finalists: Flickr, Del.icio.us, Site Meter, and WordPress).

3. Determine the most reliable means by which to measure a blog’s relative success in these various realms. This would be a very hard thing to do, since much of the design and content judgments would be so subjective. Some relatively objective measures of a blog’s impact and worth within its intended community may be measurable via tracking such things as its user comments, its incoming links and traffic. Another measure would be the amount and way in which a blog is referred to on other blogs. And while there’s no accounting for taste, many can agree on essential standards for sound design and usability. Jakob Neilson, usability guru, has provided some usability standards for blogs that could provide a basis. (Even if the aesthetics of his own sites fall far short of the ideal.)

4. Subject that rubric to a wide, democratic, wiki-like review and revision, by those who make up the community to whom this measure of blogular excellence matters.

5. So that step #4 doesn’t devolve into chaos, fix the period of public review to limited time, and delegate the final determinations on the judging rubric to those who would also serve as jury for the blog competition.

6. Recruit a varied, principled jury to judge the nominees. How many people, and how the judging process might be administered, would have a lot to do with the scope of the blogosphere that the award is attempting to represent. The jury ought to comprise a panel of distinguished contributors to and observers of the blogosphere, representing a range of specializations (design, content, community impact, significance of contribution, etc.).

The International BOBs use a jury of “independent journalists, media experts, and blog experts,” and each year’s jury is profiled on their Jury page.

The Webbys are overseen by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a 500+ member association characterized by excellence in contribution to life online:

Membership in The Academy is currently by invitation only and is limited to those individuals who have catalyzed great achievements on the Internet, demonstrated extraordinary talent in a traditional medium, or who possess in-depth knowledge of new media and comprehensive familiarity with a broad range of sites within a category.

Could be this is why the Webbys have been called “The Oscars of the internet” by The New York Times.

7. Make the judging process as transparent and as rigorous as possible. The Webbys’ “judging process” page provides a great example of this.

8. Acknowledge that a means of communication as wide-open and unregulated as the blogosphere is likely to foster many blogs which straddle multiple subject area categories, complicating the process of parsing them into discrete subject area categories. The Webbys, which aim to reward excellence in web site design including but also far beyond the blogosphere, provide more than 65 categories. Notably, no “generalized” category exists, minimizing the confounding experience of comparing blogs with dramatically different purposes and scope.

9. Find a way to live with the fact that apples will be compared to oranges which will be compared to camshafts. And that no matter how the process is conducted — no matter how transparent, how well-thought out, how wisely substantiated by professional consensus — many folks will feel cheated, rooked, had, screwed, and swindled. Because there are two kinds of people: good sports and poor sports. Both will want to play, and everyone will consider themselves good sports, and their competitors poor sports.

10. If a select panel of distinguished jurors seems inappropriate for a medium as garrulous as the blogosphere, here’s a concession. The Webbys provide a parallel competition, the “People’s Voice.” There, the general online community can vote on the finalists chosen from the nominees. But this stands parallel to the “winners” chosen by the panel of professionals.

It’s not clear to me how the Webbys’ “People’s Voice” vote is conducted. How to narrow things down to the good ole fashioned, one person, one vote? That has got to be the $64K question. No one is likely to provide their Social Security number or their driver’s license number, two of the few data points which could be uniquely verifiable. Yet every other data point even just slightly less private — email address, phone number — isn’t exclusive to just one person. That is, plenty of people use multiple email addresses and phone numbers.

For better and for worse, this is what the Bloggies do:

•  Only one nomination form and one finalist voting form may be submitted per person.
•  E-mail addresses are required to vote. You must use your own address.
•  If you attempt to submit a second ballot, your first one will be erased.

The BOBs do this:

While there’s no way to eliminate fraud from Internet voting, we’re trying to avoid it by making voters — the real human ones — enter text from a randomly generated image to confirm their votes.

So they, as do the Weblog Awards, surely field multiple votes from the hyper-motivated.

Whatever the case, if the “popular” part of the awards were to be determined by a one vote-per-computer, one vote-per-24hrs spree over the course of ten days, you can be guaranteed the following:

  • voters with access to multiple computers (e.g. at work and at home) will be privileged;
  • competitors will be at an advantage when they spread the word far and wide, and therefore active or activatable online networks will be at an advantage;
  • an important or dramatic issue perceived to be at stake can inspire such a network to emerge under pressure; and
  • feverish competitiveness will be built into the process, particularly if an issue is perceived to be at stake in any of the competitions.

If all that sounds like fun, then great! Cause that’s what I think just happened with the 2006 Weblog Awards! But the “winning” blogs are not necessarily standard-bearers for excellence in design, content, or even utility to intended audience. They represent those whose readership and/or community is either the largest, or the most motivated, or both. Maybe they’re motivated by quality product, maybe not. All’s we know is they’re motivated.

And so we roll to a stop back here at this particular assemblage of lesbo bon mots. I gave up trying to solve the abiding mystery surrounding how in the Sam Hill this blog made it as a finalist (I’ve run out of alternative readings on the blog title; perhaps someone read it right, and thought these were the sweet musings of Papa Ethridge, or Papa Lang, or Papa O’Donnell). But there it was, and there it stayed, and it netted a sizable community of voters with a sizable motivation to vote, which has been in turns surprising, humbling, and inspirational. To those of you erstwhile voters who stick around as readers: I’ll try to live up to your expectations, on behalf of my cute kid, and all sorts of other cute kids in LGBT families that I think she’s standing in for. But it’ll have to be back at my pre-Sweeps Week publishing output, though. Every other day, weekends and childbirths off.

[Sixth list of ten: Things I have in common with dads]