Sunday, 24 January 2010

This Blog is Powered by Slugs

I have a guilty secret: I enjoy checking my site meter to see who has visited this blog. This strikes me as a hopelessly nerdy thing to do, but there it is. Every so often, I'll find that someone from Kyrgyzstan or New Zealand has come for a visit, however brief, and that always makes my day. I live in hopes that I'll get someone from Papua New Guinea some day, or maybe even Sao Tome et Principe. And I can't live without my dreams.

Ever since I started working full-time, I haven't been able to post as frequently as I used to, so there are times when very few people drop by. Sometimes, the site meter doesn't seem to change at all and I worry that I haven't been as positive or as entertaining as I should. But no matter what, I still get a steady trickle of visitors. And here is the most wonderful thing I have learned through my site meter: People visit this blog because of slugs.

Yep, that's my big draw. I'm the slug lady, the one who wrote about how to eat slugs. I feel like such a total hypocrite: I've never eaten a slug in my life! But that doesn't seem to matter to any of my visitors. Even though I don't supply glossy photographs of myself dining on slugs, or post recipes for slug chowder, slug marinade, or slug pate, they still come to read what I have to say about slugs. Which is essentially that they eat up the things in my garden and are difficult to deter -- and that it is actually possible to eat them.

Every week or so, when I check my site meter, I find my slug post is the one constant. Here is just a sampling of the google questions that have led readers to my blog: Can u eat slugs? / Slugs, people die eating / Eating slugs okay? / Can I eat a slug? / Why can't people eat slugs? / How to eat slugs? / Can vegetarians eat slugs? / Slugs poisonous? / Do people eat slugs? / Australian slugs poison? / Raw slugs bad for u? / Can my cat eat slugs?/ How do slugs taste? / How do you cook slugs? Nutritional value of slugs? The most common question seems to be about the nutritional value of slugs and I am always so sorry I can't supply a breakdown on the protein, vitamin, fat, and mineral composition of slugs. Can anybody out there do this? If so, please let me know -- you would be performing a real service.

One person's google line made me smile: Resident slug lady. Doesn't that just conjure up an image?

Most of the people who come to read about slugs are Americans, with a large majority being from Oregon and Hawaii, where I bet the slugs are big, numerous, and juicy. But it's not just Americans: people from Algeria, Kazakhstan, Bolivia, Canada, South Africa, Mexico, Germany, the Philippines, Japan, and South Korea come to me for my slug expertise. And I could go on there, but I don't want to bore you.

I have found myself worried that this world-wide interest in the edibility of slugs could be due to the worsening economy. This is a real, heartbreaking possibility and I would hate for it to be true; I've heard many stories from both Koreans and Japanese about eating slugs during the war when little other food was available. But I really think that it has to be something else: natural curiosity.

I know that there must be a lot of people like me out there, people who lie in bed at night and wonder about things. Like where dust comes from, for instance. (I've heard what they say about pollen, animals, fabric, soil and tiny bits of organic matter; I've heard how we lose 35,000 dead skin cells a minute and how all of that adds up to dust. And I'm not buying it: does all of that stuff really turn into the fluffy drifts that live under your bed? Something fishy is going on with dust, isn't it?)

There have to be other people who wonder why some people cannot whistle no matter how hard they try, just how long they could manage to live without money, how many months it would take someone to walk the entire California coastline, whether it's possible to make your own crackers, how easy it would be to learn to juggle, or how to truly motivate people who don't want to learn. There must be other people who wonder why we can't be kinder to each other, when a vaccine for AIDS will be developed, whether bullies are mainly a result of nurture or nature, and when we will enjoy decades of world peace. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine what a compelling subject slugs were. Or how many people really wanted to know whether you can eat slugs and if so, how to do it.

I started this blog to make myself known, to meet other writers, gain an audience for my long, drawn-out stories, and indulge my nerdy desire to explore all sorts of issues that interested me. I never imagined that I would be instrumental in showing people how to eat slugs. That I would acquire fame and an eager readership as the Resident Slug Lady.

My life is all about writing and teaching, I suppose. And certainly about serendipity.


angryparsnip said...

wahahahahah . . .

Clever Slug post !

I also wonder about several items you mentioned and I have made crackers and they were wonderful with cocktails !

cheers. parsnip

Angela said...

All hail the Slug! All hail the slug!

I love to see who's visiting my blog. I saw this clever thing on a blog sidebar once--it was a live country feed of the current visitors. AND OF COURSE LIKE AN IDIOT, I thought, 'Oh, I'll remember where I saw this and ask them about it.'

And forgot.


If any commenteurs know what I'm talking about, please in the name of zombies give me a holler!

Helen said...

Mary - I'm deeply disturbed by this post. Only because the minute I read "Resident Slug Lady" I immediately saw a woman dressed in black leather, resplendant with whip etc and the ground covered in well-organised rows of slugs. Sad but true.
I lie in bed and wonder whether or not I should dream and live big, or whether I should just live a normal life.....

Postman said...

I look to see where the people on my blog are from every day...I didn't know it was so weird.

You can't make this kind of stuff up. People come to your blog most because of slugs? Crazy, crazy. Right out of left field. Who'd have suspected that you were the resident slug lady?

Great post.

TechnoBabe said...

Ooh, how about slug smoothie?
You did mention so many good subject for people to ponder, you do bring up a good question as to why they choose to single out slugs.

Tigermama said...

Are you sure you aren't using slugs for your "Gourmet Club"? They'd work for kebob, I'm sure. :P

Vijaya said...

And with this post, it will get more hits from people interested in slugs.

I also check stats ... what's so nerdy about that?

We have the most enormous banana slugs here in the rainforests of Washington. Even when I've not caught any fish, I'd never think of eating them ... they look so ... unapetizing. What's with people anyway?

Kit said...

So can you eat slugs?

I've never wanted to eat one before... and somehow still don't despite the apparent slug revival, but now I'll lie awake wondering about it!

Robert the Skeptic said...

You will feel right at home here in Oregon, then. The legislature has been trying to make the Banana Slug the State Invertebrate of Oregon. The bill is "stuck" in committee, though.

crazy monkey said...

I just finished watching Forest Gump for the nth time and at the end he is talking to Jenny's tombstone and he says this...

Jenny, I don't know if Momma was right or if, if it's Lieutenant Dan. I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it's both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.


p.s I visit my sitemeter too :) Mostly because I want to find out who leaves anonymous comments... its like a detective spy game kinda thing :D

Mary Witzl said...

AP -- Hooray: I've always suspected I could make my own crackers! Now that I've read this, nothing will stop me from giving it a go! Do I need to put anything like vitamin C in them to keep them fresh? Never mind -- I think I'll try cheese crackers first. If they go stale, I can stick them in the toaster.

Angela -- (Bowing deeply) At ease, oh subject slug!

I have seen that live country feed myself and like you, I just assumed I would be able to find it again. Not so! I've looked in vain ever since, and I can't find anything remotely like it. What I'd REALLY love would be a map of the world you could click on to enlarge. When readers from Borneo and Malaysia visited, it would light up with the name of their country displayed for me to gasp and swoon over.

Any other bloggers who know where to find this, please let Angela and me know and put us out of our misery!

Helen -- I'm with you. I picture Ursula from Disney's Little Mermaid, a slimy, unctuous woman of upper middle years who doesn't carry her considerable weight very well. For the record, I don't look anything at all like Ursula; I have a completely different dress sense.

Dream, and just aim to live a decent life. Normal lives are vastly overrated -- or so I've always imagined.

Postman -- I've heard that other people do this too, but you don't know how relieved I am to know that so many people admit to it. It's time consuming and I've got plenty to do, but it's just so interesting. I still see blogging as the written equivalent of ham radios. When I was a kid, I remember grown men with ham radios in their garages who got all excited when they heard from people hundreds of miles away. The only difference between them and me is that I get all excited over Guyana and Botswana whereas I recall it was places like Omaha that stirred them up.

Mary Witzl said...

TechnoBabe -- Can't say that slug smoothies would appeal to me, but who knows? Maybe they'd be okay with a hint of thyme (the only vegetable they've left me with), a shot of Worcestershire sauce, a hint of tabasco, and a ton of garlic and lemon? If this sort of thing works for snails, you never know. have the first taste. I'm not that much of a pioneer.

TigerMama -- What a good idea that would have been! I've begged off the gourmet club for next term, but since my guys turned their noses up at quesadillas and guacamole, slug kebabs would have been a fitting choice.

Vijaya -- I don't think I'll get any more slug traffic with this post. Somehow, I got on some sort of gardening/culinary forum. I'm not complaining; I was quite honored. It just seemed odd that of all the things people might come to my blog for, slugs should be number one. And from now on, I will proudly check my stats!

Many thoughts run through my mind when I see banana slugs, but not, "I wonder how that would taste?" But I HAVE wondered if it is possible to eat slugs. I have that sort of weirdly inquiring mind...

Kit -- Yes, you really can! Dr Tim Pearce, Assistant Curator and head of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History's mollusk section tells you how. If you check the 'slugs' section in my sidebar or google Dr Pearce, you'll find out more than you wanted to know.

Robert -- The State Invertebrate of Oregon, seriously? Oh please tell me whose idea that was! And if the bill goes through, does that give slugs protected status and will it be illegal for people to kill them? If so, California can expect to get a lot of gardeners moving back south... But whatever the case, I love Oregon. I love all that rain and dampness and greenery, slugs or no.

CrazyMonkey -- I've always liked that last part of Forrest Gump too. I think maybe it's both myself.

My site meter isn't all that trustworthy for anonymous comments. I was dying to find out who'd written one and the next day, the only colleague of mine who knows I write a blog told me it was her. Either my site meter let me down or my colleague got from Southern Turkey to Los Angeles in a few hours flat.

Bish Denham said...

So how do you kill a slug? By slugging it? Or maybe you could slug someone in the jaw with a slug. In which case you might want to ponder those famous words, "To slug or not to slug, that is the question." Would you call a pinch-hitting slug a slugger? And if you were knee deep in slugs would you say you're slogging through slugs?

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Mary,

I check my site meter here and there too, just to see who's been by and where they're coming from.

I get regular hits for my posts on The Mists of Avalon all from University computers which leads me to believe my blog has become a 'homework helper'. And I get regular hits on Joe Montegna and Cicero - from the My Town Monday posts I did for Travis like two years ago.

That doesn't sound nearly as fun as being the resident slug lady.

Nandini said...

Oh, this is so funny!! Thanks for making my morning. Reminds me of when Ron's "Eat Slugs" spell backfired om him in Chamber of Secrets. Ugh!!

My all time top post is "How to make chicken tikka masala" -- people have even emailed me asking if it's OK to add this or that to the recipe! I think I should put it on the sidebar ...

~lifedramatic~ said...

Mary I just love your blog. I don't comment often, but I check in when I can, and I always love reading your stories! I always am excited to see something new.

I have no desire to learn how to eat slugs though :)


Falak said...

Haha! Slugs?! I too keep checking my site meter to find out about the anonymous commenters but I never am able to figure out where they are from. As a kid I used to lie in bed at night and wonder what actually would we have if the earth, the universe and the world as we know it didn't exist.....

Postman said...

That's exactly it! But more than that, I'm on a secret mission to impress people from other countries (namely the English-speaking ones like the UK and Australia) with my literary prowess and wide field of eclectic when I hear people from those countries are following my blog, I get all excited. But seeing that there's somebody from Bangalore, India or Vietnam or Korea following's a thrill and a half.

It's ironic that you mentioned ham radios. My great aunt and uncle from Arizona are ham operators. They brought their gear over to our house once when I was 12 and we were talking to people in Australia. It was one of the most amazing things I've ever experienced. Communication's a marvelous thing, isn't it?

Robin said...

I love it! It is an interesting question. I want to know more about the people who are googling that information. Maybe we should put up a new site devoted to slug eaters, and see what happens.

I like Helen's imagination. I'm so much more mundane. I read the title and imagined teenagers being involved somehow.

Charlie said...

I agree with Vijaya: after mentioning "slug" 327 times in this post, you're going to float right to the top of Google.

I don't use sitemeter because ... well, I guess I'm not very curious. I prefer the people who read my blog and leave comments rather than the phishers.

Mary Witzl said...

Bish -- Ewww...if I were knee deep in slugs, I'd say a lot of things, but none of them would be printable, and I'd need a good slug of something afterwards, to help with the shock. But I'm pretty sure I could slog through slugs.

Merry -- It's so reassuring to know that other people check their site meters.

Maybe I'm being fussy, but I aspire to something a little more refined and gracious than Resident Slug Lady. But a slug lady DOES sound entertaining, doesn't it?

Nandini -- Wasn't Ron's slug spell backfire just awful? Better to have them going out than going in, I suppose.

The worst slug experience I had was when we lived in Japan. Our house didn't have hot water on tap and one winter a slug found its way to the toilet seat. Nothing like trying to wash slug slime off bare skin with cold water and a pumice stone in January.

Charlene -- Thank you! You and me both, about eating slugs. I'm not saying it will never happen, but I'd eat a lot of other stuff before slugs. Like maybe grass and pine cones.

Falak -- Sometimes my husband and kids help me figure out where comments come from, but I hate having to ask them. Glad I'm not the only one who finds it hard to tell!

I've thought about things like that too, but it makes my mind reel. Better to concentrate on the origins of dust and whether it would be possible to bake my own crackers.

Postman -- I'd have gone wild to be able to talk to people from Australia at age 12. Our neighbor had a ham radio and I can still remember the thrill when he picked up someone from Vermont.

I've had people from Latvia, Ecuador, and Timor Leste on my site meter. I swear, I went around all day with a foolish smile on my face after that.

Robin -- Believe me, a blog devoted solely to slugs would get plenty of hits. I briefly considered this, then decided it would just be too much work to write about nothing but slugs all the time. Plus, I'm not gardening here, and that would take away 85% of my inspiration. But I've got the perfect name for it: SLUGGISH. And you could definitely use a photo of just about any sleeping/relaxing teenager, couldn't you?

Charlie -- Yep, I've figured out the secret to success: multiple slug mentions.

When I started this blog, I didn't have a site meter. Kim made me put one on once I got the blog going; in fact, he installed it for me. For ages, I didn't do anything with it, but once I started paying attention to it, I got addicted. You're better off without one!

Marian said...

People wonder just how long they could live without money? I couldn't last two days. I wouldn't have any food. I suppose using up the cereal and canned soup might work, but after that?

It's a hypothetical question, but a worrying one nonetheless. If there was another version of the Book of Questions, you should submit this. :)

Barbara Martin said...

Now I know more about slugs than before. I'll have to see if any are endangered to post about.

kara said...

you should make yourself a t-shirt that calls you just that. the slug lady.

Mary Witzl said...

Marian -- Some people don't only imagine this, they actually do it. Google Heidemarie Shwermer's 'My Life Without Money' and prepare to be awed and illuminated. I know I was.

Barbara -- That was probably more than you wanted to know about slugs, wasn't it? And if there are any slugs on the endangered species list, I'll have to exercise my right to civil disobedience.

Kara -- Tempting, isn't it? But wouldn't that just be a shameless self-aggrandizing tactic? Because people would ask me what it meant and then I'd have to tell them. A bit like wearing those cutsie T-shirts with photos of your grandchildren on them.

MG Higgins said...

We all want to be known for something. Why not slugs? That's what you get for obsessing over your stats. I do the same thing. It's great fun. And I do lie in bed and think about strange things. I can't think of an example at the moment, but believe me. I do.

Carole said...

I remember reading with interest your post on slugs, but that is not why I am commenting. I am commenting because of you and your daughter's supposed nerdiness. After reading about your New Year's Eve activities I've become a sporcling fanatic. This weekend with all the kids and grandkids over we sporcled until the wee hours. I need to sleep. Seriously, it is a hoot. I didn't even know it existed. And the funny thing is, I am so shocked at the things my kids do and don't know and they are a bit shocked at what I know and don't know. Good fun. Anyway, thanks for the good times.

laura said...

I know how many people visit my blog but I think it would frighten me if I found out why they stopped by!! I do know it's not because of slugs!

AnneB said...

And the difference between a slug and un escargot would be... just the shell, I imagine. No weirder than eating oysters or quahogs. Still, a snail would be more decorative on the T-shirt. You ARE giving away a Slug Lady T-shirt to a random commenter, right?

Mary Witzl said...

MG -- I'm convinced that 90% of the world does this. If more people out there were insomniacs, we'd just hear a lot more about it.

You study your site meter details too? Seriously, finding this out is so heartening! On weekdays, my blog would all but dry up if it weren't for slugs.

Carole -- Yay, you're still around! (sniff) I can't get onto your blog anymore and haven't been able to for at least a year...

Have I created another Sporclemaniac? Great, join the club! I can't get over how much current music stuff my kids know. They're amazed that I know the lyrics to As Time Goes By and The Star Spangled Banner. If you really want to be challenged, try the English vocabulary section of Free Rice. The foreign languages are too easy, but you'll NEVER get through all the English stuff.

Laura -- Well, if you want to boost your hits, just sew something that features slugs. Perhaps a Resident Slug Lady T shirt or anything to do with the nutritional value of slugs. Believe me, it's a hot topic.

Anne -- You're right: the shell is the biggest difference, right up there with the 'ewww' factor. In my original post, I mentioned the fact that slugs are actually slimier than snails. Not having shells, they need extra slime, perhaps to stay moist.

As for the T shirt, it's a great idea. If I get published, you can count on this. Who knows?
'Resident Slug' could be something big, like the next smily face or Hello Kitty.

Carole said...

I am around, but took a huge nosedive off an emotional cliff and have just been getting around to life again. Not sure I will blog again, but will be lurking around and keeping up. Kim has managed to keep me breathing and now I think the sun might shine again.

Sporcling is awesome. I thought I would do better in literature but yikes...However in the Harry Potter section, my kids knew absolutely every question without fail, down to the spells. Craziness.

Nelsa said...

Mary: I totally do this too! It's neat to see where people come from and why. My most trafficked blog post wasn't nearly as interesting as slugs, though, it was a post on Diary of a Wimpy Kid! Man, that Jeff Kinney guy is popular!
And there is a world map in the side bar where you can see up to your last 50, 100 etc visitors.

Maybe I should try a post on slugs too (tho honestly I don't have the stomach for them! :)

Tosser said...

I was raised in Oregon. It wasn't until I moved to the arid state of Colorado that I realized Oregon was slug central.

A lot of places in this world are slug deficient.

順利 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mary Witzl said...

Carole -- I've been wondering (and worrying) about you. I'm so glad you're back from your nose dive; I know that they are all too easy to fall into. I'll try to keep in touch with you via Kim!

Keep Sporcling, and when you're tired of it, there's always Free Rice. There have been days when I'm so dissatisfied with my writing that Free Rice is a welcome distraction. At least it gives me the illusion that I'm making a tiny difference.

Nelsa -- How wonderful to know that almost every other blogger does this too, and that certain random posts attract such a surprising amount of attention. Another post of mine that has been immensely successful is one I did ages ago on how to make oatmeal Bengali style. I had NO idea that so many people were pining for such a thing, though I'm glad to have been of assistance.

Tosser -- Colorado is slug free? I never would have thought! Growing up in Southern California, I never even knew what slugs looked like. I think I was in Florida the first time I saw one; I thought it was a scrap of rubber. I'll bet they're not common in places like Saudi Arabia either.

順利 the Scammer -- Xie xie, but I work too hard for my money to give it up so quickly.

Patrick said...

Slugs, it can't possibly taste good...>.<

Btw, I like to check my site meter too, hoping to see some visitors from somewhere around the globe in my blog. =)

Anne Spollen said...

I only check the site thing every once in awhile because it amazed me that people from Somalia would read my blog. I always think it's Googlebots roaming the Internet.

But I don't think that's weird, Mary.

Now, the slug thing...

Anonymous said...

What a thing to Google about, but then again I Google some strange things myself.

Anonymous said...

Who knew slugs were so popular? :)

And I also love to see from which countries people are reading my blog. I'm sure that's a common curiosity!

Mary Witzl said...

Patrick -- Garlic, white wine, parsley and butter. Add those to ANYTHING and it will taste good. Why not slugs if we eat things like shrimp and oysters? But, um, you first...

Glad you check your site meter too!

AnneS -- You got someone from Somalia reading your blog? I feel so wistful and envious! :) But I'll tell you what, after reading about how everyone else checks their site meters, I've been checking mine a LOT more frequently.

My mother used to make peanut butter and mustard sandwiches. She also intentionally burned cabbage. My father ate pancakes made out of pulverized insect flour. I figure eating slugs is just a hair weirder than that.

Gypsy -- From checking my site meter, it appears that slugs and snails are a hot topic. I just wish I felt like I knew more of the answers people are seeking.

From now on, I'll be checking my site meter more often, confident that it it's a perfectly natural thing to do. I've always felt a little silly, but no longer.

Medeia -- Honestly, I had no IDEA how compelling the whole slug edibility issue was. Clearly I've hit on a question that the world has been dying to have answered.

Do you find that you google some bizarre things in the course of your writing? I had to research how to package human ashes to take abroad. Felt pretty weird googling that.

Tigermama said...

Is this the live feed you are looking for?

Mary Witzl said...

WOW, I had no idea you could do that! Thank you -- I'm going to have fun checking that out. Once I figure out how to do it...

Sarah Blake Johnson said...

I know I didn't visit well when I lived in China--for many reasons.

I just added you to my google reader, that way I can read you easily, with other blogs I follow.
I'm sorry Germany isn't an interesting place to appear on your meter. Oh well.

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