Monday, June 11, 2007

We're not in Kansas anymore Toto...

I was in the grocery store this morning when I had one of those moments of immense cultural frisson, when it becomes startlingly clear that you are living somewhere else.

I had walked into the store first thing this morning, it is getting pretty darned hot and hauling my groceries up these hills at noon is an option to be avoided. So I get my cart, and the staff are busy stocking the shelves, so I go between two of the cash registers to pass into the store. As I go by the space where the cashier stands, I glance down and there is a big fat crap sitting on the floor. I mean BIG. OK. Now that is pretty weird in itself, but, well. No it's just plain weird.

I go up to one of the ladies who works there and bring her over to point it out. She giggles, motions me to silence and tells me something about it...either it is from the night watch dog, or it is plastic, I don't know which...it wasn't smelly anyway...then she points to one of the other women and tells me it's a joke...

So the whole time I am in the store all the various employees, except the soon to be victim are giggling and laughing when they see me, because of course I am now in on the joke.

She hadn't seen it by the time I left.

Can you IMAGINE that at your local grocery store? I mean they would just about shut down two thirds of the place in the local Piggly Wiggly or Loblaws, let alone stand around and laugh about it. The manager was in on it too!

Just think what the food inspection agencies would do. OMG.

On another topic, I have been made a moderator and animator on the expat-blog website...you'll see the button further down on my side bar...this happened in part because I was active in a topic stream there about living in Barcelona. We unfortunately ended up with a person on the stream who was not happy in Barcelona, which is fair enough, no place is perfect for everyone, but he was making broad extremely negative bordering-on-racist comments about the Catalans and he was attacking and insulting everyone who disagreed with him. It was...unpleasant. It also was effectively shutting down an interesting and active stream of comments and discussion. I ended up e-mailing the founder of the site, and we discussed the problem. Eventually the unhappy and aggressive expat was banned.

Then I was made a moderator on several of the streams....one of the things I was asked to do was to clean up the Living in Barcelona topic. This posed me an interesting set of difficulties. Hardly earth shattering, but still...as I was working away I was faced with questions about ownership...whose site was this anyway...well, it is the founder's and this is how he wants the site to be...but then there is the fact that history is written by the victors...and now that the unhappy expat was banned, how much should I slice away of his opinion? Then there are censorship issues that rear their ugly head.

Where to draw the line? Some of it was no brainer easy. Broad negative comments about a group of people based on cultural background went at a sweep. Attacks on other commenters also went swiftly. Then....

Some of what he said was true, but was couched in such a loathing way it detracted from the value of his comments and seemed frankly bizarre. So I ended up removing some of the more extreme adjectives and adverbs that seemed to be lacking a basis in fact....and left it.

It still reads angry and aggressive and unpleasant but I don't know how much...The founder had previously deleted entire entries that were attacking other posters...

This also left more editorial questions about continuity...other people had commented countering this person, sometimes with considerable emotion, but since the offensive comments have been removed, their comments seem somewhat extreme now...

It is all a little awkward, although I was interested that I found myself awash in intellectual ethical debates as I did the task....I'll go and reread it all again tomorrow.



On a final note, some of you may have bird dogs, or sheep dogs, or hunting dogs. We are the proud owner of a FLY DOG!!!!!!!!

If any of you out there have a problem with flies, we have the mutt for you...no window is too delicate, no computer is too vulnerable, this dog will go to any length to leap after those pesky beasts and kill them for you! Unfortunately, though rather sensibly, he will only kill them, he leaves the carcasses around for you to tidy up...though he will go back, like the highly trained sentry that he is, and ensure that they are indeed still dead and haven't sneakily come back to haunt you.

WHAT a good dog!

4 comments:

Beth said...

awww. chuck is such a sweetheart! My dog kills flies too! he loves to chase them and then eat them. Maddie just likes to stalk small creatures.

and if I went to get groceries and saw a pile of crap on the floor, I'd crap! That would be soooo gross!!!

and about your eyebrows....I don't know!!! Maybe an eyebrow pencil and color them in a bit...???

Esben said...

What a weird experience in that store. Office humour is standard everywhere I suppose, but not like that in the middle of the store (why not do it in the lunch room?).

As for your trouble with applying censorship I can relate. I'm a moderator on a football forum ( http://www.sif4ever.dk/list.php?2 ) and football can REALLY antagonize people against each other. I also find an amazing amount of tricky cases. I recognise the one where often a poster makes a well thought and well argued post, but then just SOMEWHERE adds that some other debater is an asshole (sometimes mid-sentence). What do you do? Delete the whole thing or delete only that sentence or just one word?

I also find it hard to deal with conflicts where two people are constantly bickering amongst each other with slow escalation rather than one unprovoked attacking the other. In the beginning the insults are subtle and small, but they grow slowly stronger and more offensive every time one of them makes a response. It can be very tricky figuring out where to draw the line, since the one who has his post deleted will always complain since what the other one did was almost as bad.

It can be really hard to keep everyone happy, but at least I think I have found a line where nobody gets to upset.

Beth said...

(Fake?) crap in a store, tackling censorship issues and a fly-attacking dog - your life is never dull!

oreneta said...

Beth: Yeah he's a good dog, unless it your one of the kids he is plowing down in his relentless desire to hunt the flies...

Esben: It is awkward isn't it...I have to find my balance with it still.

Beth: Dull now, exhausting, sometimes...both Chuck and I are strangely lethargic today...