Stories without recipes

Friday, March 21, 2008

Coming in July 2008 from Algonquin Books:
The Dinner Diaries: Raising Whole Wheat Kids in a White Bread World

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The day I launched this website a few years ago, I got a call from Andy. Apparently, he'd been doing a little online surfing; he called home to tell me that he'd come across a site called
This Mama Cooks!. He sounded worried. As someone who was new to the Internet, I grew mildly panicked too; was I encroaching on someone else's virtual turf? Having come from the land of dinosaurs – print media – I didn't know the first thing about web ethics. My wonderful web designer and virtual therapist, Catherine, told me not to worry. The web's a wild and woolly place, she said soothingly; you stake out your turf and that's just how it is. And as This Mama Cooks! wrote to me at the time, at least mine wasn't a porn site.

Then a few weeks ago, I got an email from Betsy Block. This was neither a joke nor a mistake; there are at least a few of us who share the same name. It's one thing to take a web address like Mama Cooks, but it's quite another to take a domain that's a real name. I apologized for monopolizing our address on the Worldwide Web; she got back to me with the following story:

A friend of Betsy's saw her name in the local paper. This woman's namesake had just been arrested for harassing a minister by throwing feminine hygiene products in his yard. Betsy writes, "She found out that some distant college buddies had seen the article in the newspaper and talked about whether their old buddy had gone off the deep end!!  They were too afraid to speak with her directly!" Obviously this put an entirely different spin on the whole website thing.

In an ideal virtual world, everyone would get the name of their choice for their business or pleasure, but that's not how it works. Because I got to before anyone else in the entire world did, I own it forever, or as long as I remember to stay paid up with Network Solutions. I feel funny about it, though, and I told this to Betsy. On the other hand, at least I'm not a tampon-throwing madwoman, or even a wanna-be porn star. And while normally I aim higher than this, just for today, maybe that's enough.

updated: 10 years ago