Karma Chameleon, Karma Quadriceps

In Which I Catch A6 and Ruminate on Recovery

No, no, no. Not *that* Karma Chamelon. I don't think Boy George and Culture Club had orthopedic problems and existential angst in mind. So a few days ago I passed the three-month mark: three months since I tore – completely severed, rather – the quadriceps tendon in my right leg, and had surgery to correct it the next day, Christmas Eve.

Has it really been a month since I last posted and laughed in the face of Fate and the Universe? I guess it has. I haven’t had a lot of bandwidth the past few weeks for much else beyond teaching and reading; I’ve had a cold that has persisted for two weeks – persisted in kicking my ass. I’ve compared notes with fellow expats, and it seems they have drawn the same conclusion I have – we don’t have the natural or resistance we would otherwise have back home, where our bodies are familiar with the bugs that get passed around.

Back in the States I typically would get a cold or the flu once or twice a year, and it would last a week or so. In between those times I might get a scratchy throat or a runny nose for a few days here and there, but nothing more than a minor annoyance.

But over here on the other side of the planet, there are bugs floating around that my white blood cells haven’t encountered before, and when you come down with a cold, it’s a bitch kitty, as my old man would have said. Coughing up technicolor snot – or blowing it out of your nose – every twenty minutes or so. Coughing until you sound like a trumpeting, randy elk. Not fun.

Somehow, thanks to my usual pig-headedness and over-the-counter drugs, I managed to keep up my teaching load, which is now back to full time. But as I say, the past few weeks, I haven’t had much bandwidth for aught else.

A technical diagram illustrating where the quadriceps tendon rupture occurred.That has included my therapy exercises, but now that I’m walking unaided, it doesn’t seem to have slowed down my recovery. Of course I make it a point to walk up and down stairs at every opportunity.

I still need a bannister to lean on, but when one is present, I take the stairs. I’ve been able to walk up stairs normally – provided they aren’t too high and there is the aforementioned bannister present – for the past three weeks or so; for the last two weeks or so, I’ve been able to walk down stairs normally.

This tends to make my leg a bit sore at the point of the injury/surgical repair if I do it too much, but then, no pain no gain, at this point. My therapist, Mistress Lien, continues to be pleased with my progress. Although when I showed up last week – having canceled my weekly appointment the previous week because I was barfing up chunks of lung – and I looked like death and was braying like a donkey when I coughed, she politely inquired wtf I was doing there.

I wasn’t going to miss another week of therapy, I said, cold or no. Besides, a little physical activity might help – get the lymph moving around, and whatnot. And I’ve noticed that when my sinuses are swollen, physical activity is one of the few things that relieves them – the blood flows elsewhere, for a bit.

To top it all off I accepted a bit of freelance web development work from an old acquaintance that I know through work, and that’s kept me busy too, lo these past weeks. But I’ve enjoyed getting my hands dirty with CSS, PHP and whatnot again. Nerd is as nerd does. But as I say, no time for anything else.

Karma for Funky Walk: I’m Sorry Larry

I howl with rage and despair, just like this dog. Despair_by_FluffleNeCharkaAs I’ve noted before, I’ve been more than a little obsessed with the existential meaning behind my torn quadriceps tendon. I can’t help but think to some degree that perhaps that it is karma. Maybe not for one thing, but maybe for several little things. Maybe my karmic bank vault was a little too full and some sort of cosmic pressure valve opened – and I suffered a serious injury stepping off a bus.

The other day I was walking through the park – my gate is almost normal, at this point – when my leg buckled and I stumbled and nearly fell before I recovered. In order to walk with a near normal gate I still have to consciously think about it; my leg is still too weak otherwise and I limp noticeably. The buckling happens less and less as my leg gets stronger, but it still happens once in a while.

I found myself drawing stares from other people in the park, stares like I haven’t drawn since I left the crutch at home. It’s funny how quickly I’ve gone from an object of amazement – a foreigner walking with a crutch! In public! Out in the street! – to just another expat walking around Sai Gon. Once again the only people that give me a second glance these days are people that want to sell me something.

But as I regained my balance after my leg buckled that day in the park, I crossed a vast gulf of time, back to grade school and junior high, and in my minds eye I pictured a kid named Larry. Larry – or as a friend and I had dubbed him, as teenagers are wont to be cruel – Funky Walk.

Larry was suffered from what I presume now was some sort of congenital defect; one of his legs was malformed and didn’t quite point in the right direction, and he walked with a noticeable limp. I went to large suburban elementary school and junior high school, and he was one of those kids you see around, in the halls, in the lunch room, but never get to know. Of course, Larry stood out because of his rolling, rocking gate.

In junior high I had a friend; let’s call him “Ralph.” For a year or two we were pretty tight buds, and then in high school we grew apart. It was one of those growing-up kind of things where at some point you stop and think “why was I friends with that guy? He’s an asshole.” Granted, Ralph might very well have thought the same thing about me.

Keep on Truckin' Larry, wherever you are -- sorry we were teenage dicks. Anyway, whenever we saw Larry around school, we always remarked “there goes Funky Walk.” He looked like that iconic “Keep on Trucking” guy drawn by R. Crumb — himself iconic — when he walked. Teenagers can be real dicks, and I was no different, unfortunately.

I haven’t thought about Larry in decades; not since high school, of course. But the other day, I could picture him in my mind’s eye as if it were 1982 and I had just passed him in the halls of Anderson Junior High. His long dishwater blonde hair, black t-shirt and faded boot cut jeans (Larry actually looked pretty hip for a kid in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1982, come to think of it).

Must have been tough growing up with that abnormal gate. He probably went to a lot of doctors and physical therapists, and in the end he was stuck with it – unlike me, who has a light at the end of his gimpy tunnel. I remember at some point in high school, I was hanging out with a girl, and Larry walked by, and I said something like “There goes Funky Walk.”

I guess I wasn’t quite into my more-thoughtful, post-teenage-dick phase yet. She informed me, and rightfully so, that I was an asshole, and that Larry was actually a pretty cool guy.

Larry, wherever you are are now, I owe you an apology. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry I was and adolescent dickhead. Having had a small taste of what it’s like, to be stared at because you aren’t as able bodied as everyone else, to say you have my respect would be an understatement.

Fuck Yeah! I can walk! And welcome all you meme googlers.P.S. SEO Funnies

It seems a lot of people are out there are wandering the Vast Series of Tubes in search of things related to the “Fuck Yeah” meme. My previous post has generated a lot of traffic in the month that it’s been up, most of which came from Google searches for “fuck yeah;” it’s become the second most popular landing page on this blog. Notably, it doesn’t contain the words “fuck yeah” anywhere in the post, but it does sport an example of the Fuck Yeah meme in the form of an image, and “fuck yeah” is included in the image tags (’cause I’m a good little search engine optimizer).

Of course I used that image because it adequately conveyed how I felt, being able to walk unaided and ride a bike, albeit a stationary one, for the first time since I ruptured my quad tendon. So for all you folks who landed here, read my meandering prose and all the while wondered “what the hell,” I bid you welcome.

And fuck yeah. I can walk. I may look like an R. Crumb cartoon when I do it, but I can walk.

Under Construction (gif) in Sexi Mondo

The original movie poster for Mondo Hollywood. Or: the Internet is Effing Strange;|
the Vagaries of SEO Stranger Still

Here at the Gecko’s Bark World Headquarters, we’ve been pondering, or at least paying attention to, SEO and the internal workings of the Internet lately. For much of its history, this blog has been nothing more than a some-time amusement for its author; there was never any attempt to make it into anything more. It was of no concern if anyone else read it; unlike in my professional life I wasn’t writing for anyone else’s edification other than my own – compulsive mental onanism, as it were.

However, as the evolution from print journalist to online journalist to some sort of bastard hybrid of journalist/web developer progressed, I naturally began to absorb more and more data about search engine optimization (SEO), search terms and the corresponding use of tools like Google Analytics. But now that the blog that has become the Gecko’s Bark has blossomed – well, that’s not really an apt metaphor.

It’s more like it replicated itself via binary fission, like some sort of digital amoeba, only the rate of mutation is much higher than one would find in nature (at least until humans began helping). And with that, we have the Gecko’s Bark, Jeff Chappell (dot com) and Barking Book Reviews, with Deathless Prosaic and Throw Horns in the embryonic, developmental wings (for indeterminate lengths of time, at the moment).

So what was once a some time hobby seems to be accruing into an attempted vocation (although it’s clear that it will be a long time before any significant income is generated, if ever – but it beats working for a living). And I find myself frequently thinking about and pursuing SEO. Which brings us to sexi mondo and under construction gifs.

I’ve had this blog since late 2006. Since then there have been 180 posts and 8 pages comprising some 19 categories and 165 tags. Now only in recent months have I bothered trying to optimize posts in terms of SEO, and I haven’t yet bothered to go back and perform retro SEO. Still, you’d think all of that content, where I ponder such varied topics as death, politics, cycling and what it’s like to be an expat in Southeast Asia, that there would be wealth of different things driving traffic to http://geckosbark.com.

You would be wrong.

This is not the case. In the two months since I’ve been keeping Google tabs, so to speak, on Gecko’s Bark traffic, the terms that drive search engine traffic here are searches for, in order:

  • seximondo 21.24%
  • www.seximondo.com 19.03%
  • under construction gif 14.60%
  • seximondo.com 9.73%
  • under construction gifs 2.21%

Google rankings for the terms under construction gifsBack in October of last year, when I was migrating this blog from its old URL, jeffchappell.com, to its new geckosbark.com home, I of course put up the standard under construction post explaining what was happening, and used some of the typical under construction gifs that one finds all over the net. It seems that many people are searching for these same gifs at any given time; this under construction post is one of top landing pages on the Geckos Bark.

An interesting thing to note here though, is that this page actually doesn’t even show up in the first 100 Google rankings for the terms under construction gif. Nor does it show up in the first few pages if you do a Google image search for the same terms. Nevertheless on the initial results page, after the first two results, are related image search results for the same terms, and here is the ridiculously sexy and sexist under construction gif that brings you to the particular post on the Gecko’s Bark.

Lesson learned: don’t ignore your image tags, SEO kids.

Landing on Planet Sexi Mondo

Another top landing page is an entry regarding one of my favorite pieces of spam. I like to peruse my spam filter – Akismet for the win – on occasion before deleting the inevitably ginormous pile there, and sometimes I’ll post the more interesting or bizarre efforts of spammers. In this case, this list of keywords cum search terms reads like some sort of postmodern existentialist poem, one perhaps created by some lonely artificial intelligence born of interconnectivity in the vast sea of information that it is the Internet (yes, I’m a fan of Masamune Shirow and Ghost in the Shell).

Here’s an interesting stanza by way of example:

behan chudai sex stories
sexi japaniese girl
loiras safadas
lrg dead serious skeleton

And it ends with this plaintive cry:

teenny girls
phone sex gratis di indonesia
autopsia de valentin elizalde
sexolandia

blue deep something

Is that not the cry of a plaintive lost soul, crying out for meaning even as it drowns in a meaningless existence, sinking beneath the fleshy oil slick of naked skin that drifts on an ocean of Internet porn?

Okay, perhaps not.

But either way, it amused me, this spam cum poetry. So I posted it, and just banged out a headline off the top of my head: Porn spam no. 2: sexi mondo spammo! (blue deep something). This actually wasn’t the first time I had posted poetic porn spam, you see. The first one, Thai sex bra, can be found here.

And while the foreign language that comprises some of the initial stanzas of this pr0n poem seems more likely to be an attempt at Portuguese (I’m guessing), for whatever reason my headline leans more toward Italian. Why, I can’t say – I was just wingin’ that mother. I might have just as randomly titled it Large Dead Serious Skeleton, were I to travel back in time and relive this moment.

Sexi mondo SEO: Google search rankings for the terms sexi mondo.This was way back in 2007. And here we are, four years later, and if you search for seximondo (as one word) in Google, that old post is at the top of the list. Granted, there are only 42 entries listed for this term – if you make it two words, as in sexi mondo, you get 16,500,000 entries, and my sexi mondo spammo entry falls to No. 7 in the Google rankings. Still, this is a coveted top-10 position, all thanks to inadvertent key word SEO — luck.

Now my site doesn’t generate oodles of traffic; my monthly visits from search engine traffic can be measured in the hundreds, as opposed to thousands. But there are apparently a lot of people searching for sexi mondo at any given moment, and many are clicking through to the Gecko’s Bark (only to be disappointed at the misanthropic ravings they had hoped would be porn).

So naturally, after noticing that this is a consistent draw to my website from Teh Google, I became curious: what the hell are all these people looking for? Indeed, what is, sexi mondo? Is this some sort of porn phenomenon I didn’t know about? If so, I wanted to rectify the situation, if for no other reason than curiosity – certainly I never, ever look at pr0n for purposes of titillation. Heh, I said titillation.

Well it seems that mondo, Italian for world, is actually a film genre – thank you Wikipedia. If I may quote same:

A mondo film (from the Italian word for ‘world’) is an exploitation documentary film, sometimes resembling a pseudo-documentary, usually depicting sensational topics, scenes, and situations. Common traits of mondo films include emphasis on taboo subjects such as death and sex, portrayals of foreign cultures that have received accusations of racism and staged sequences presented as genuine documentary footage. Over time, the films placed more and more emphasis on footage of the dead and dying, both real and fake. The term “shockumentary” has also been used to describe the genre.

History of the genre

The original movie poster for Mondo Cane, the fake porn documentary that fomented the sexi mondo genre.Although there had been earlier films such as European Nights (1959) and World by Night (1960) that could arguably be pointed to as examples of the genre, the origins of the mondo documentary are generally traced to the Italian film Mondo Cane (A Dog’s World, a mild Italian profanity) that was made in 1962 by Paolo Cavara, Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi and proved a commercial success.

Documentary films imitating the approach of Mondo Cane in the sixties often included the term “mondo” in their titles, even if they were in English; some examples include Mondo Bizarro, Mondo Daytona, Mondo Mod, Mondo Infame and Mondo Hollywood. Even films from outside the genre followed suit: Mondo Trasho, Mondo Weirdo: A Trip to Paranoia Paradise, Mondo Keyhole and Mondo Brutale (actually a German release of Wes Craven’s film The Last House on the Left) all bill themselves as “mondo”, although none are true mondo documentaries. Towards the seventies this naming convention began to fall out of favour and fewer mondo films identified themselves as such in their titles.

Ah, so now we have some clarification perhaps. Are these what the sexi mondo seekers are looking for, vintage pr0n in the form of fake sex documentaries? If so, they must be even more disappointed by Google results one through six, particularly No. 4:

And No. 6.

Sorry. What has been seen, can’t be unseen, I know. One would have to travel to say, Pluto, to get farther away from the sexy world. The Internet is a damn strange place. And fortunately or unfortunately, SEO sometimes involves getting down in the muck and exposing oneself to the unseemly sexi mondo that is its underbelly.

On the other hand, as the black hat SEO people have known for years, this can be molded to the webmaster’s advantage, too.

Heh.

Postscript: It just now occurred to me to mention that of course people searching for sexi mondo or seximondo.com might actually be looking for sexy mondo or some derivative. Learn to spell.

As for sexymondo.com, it is an active site and is just what you would expect, a porn site — well, an Italian site that sells porn, sex toys, lingerie, etc. It’s not safe for work so consider yourself warned. 😉