Thank you

I would just like to thank everyone who participated and are still participating
in the reader survey I posted on Tuesday. It’s a lot of fun to hear from people
I don’t normally hear from, and learn more about even the frequent commenters.
I’m always a little afraid to solicit responses
because a) it feels self-indulgent to ask, and b) it feels absolutely awful
if no one responds. I learned a few things from your comments:

  • There are more international readers here than I realized—Canada, England,
    Scotland, Australia, Malta, Malaysia, Singapore, a nameless country in Southeast
    Asia, and California are all represented.
  • A number of people who visit this site live in places I wouldn’t know where
    to look for on a map.
  • I should really visit Malaysia some day. I already have several friends
    there.
  • Definitely more women than men read this blog.
  • Search engine hits sometimes result in return visitors.
  • Since a couple of Oklahomans visit this site regularly, I should tone down
    my anti-Okie rhetoric when The University of Texas plays OU this year.
    I don’t
    want to
    alienate anyone.
  • People really do read what I write and enjoy it. That’s what I hope for,
    but it’s a little overwhelming to know it for a fact.

Just about every day this week has had some sort of blog-trumping quality,
which is why I resorted to asking for reader participation. Next week I will
definitely get back to writing about marriage for real.

Thanks again, all of you.

Who are all these people?

What follows is mostly speculation. I have no idea how accurate or even useful
this information may be. It’s just a bunch of guesses backed up by some questionable
technology.

According to Sitemeter, The Happy Husband receives an average of 200 visitors
per day during the week. About 50 of those visitors come from search engines
and, judging by their search terms*, leave quickly in a rage of disappointment.
That leaves 150 daily visitors who actually mean to be here. Since not every
regular reader visits daily, I’m guessing that around 200 people overall read
the stuff I write. Last week, I asked men who read this blog to leave a comment
so that I could get a sense of how many male readers visit this site. Thirteen
left comments, but I can think of at least four others
(just off the top of my head) who read regularly and did not comment.
Since one-third to one-half of invitees usually respond to an invitation, I
estimate that there are between 13 and 26 male lurkers. A total of 35 men
who visit here to celebrate marriage
(17.5%
of
the regular readers) is a decent number.

Now I’ll open the comments up to all readers, male and female alike. If you’re
reading this, please make yourself known with at least a first name and your
city and country of residence. Sitemeter also tells me that I have visitors
from at least seven different countries, and I’m curious to see who you all
are.

I promise never to be this self-indulgent again…for at least a year.


*Some of the terms I can repeat:

  • sharing wife
  • how to dress my husband like a lady
  • how to surprise your husband with a new baby
  • how to draw a squirrel
  • happy nicknames for boyfriends
  • allison peed herself
  • how what is fair in a divorce , when the couple is 52 years old and have
    been married for 30 years with 2 grown children who live at home and the
    mother does not work. the father is having an affair.

Thanks, and Welcome!

I received an e-mail from Christian blogosphere heavyweight Dr.
Adrian Warnock
earlier today asking, "I wonder if
you would be OK about receiving a warnie?" The implication that I might refuse
such
an honor
is charming, and doubly so if you read the question in a British accent.
(I should note that I met Adrian in person once, and we argued about
which of us pronounces our words normally
and which of us has an accent. I say that on his blog, he can call my accent
American, but on this side
of the ocean, he’s the one who talks funny.)
Anyway, I said I would indeed be okay with that and threw in a few "thank you"s
for good measure.

So I began trying to compose a gracious and humble acceptance post, full of
wit and self-deprecation as well as appreciation to the good doctor. I was
about halfway through that post when I decided to check his site and see if
he had linked to me yet. He had. He had written some very nice things about
The Happy Husband, along with this introduction:

Allthings2all is a fantastic blog, better known as "The Happy Husband".

He was partly right—Allthings2all is a fantastic blog, but it is not better
known as The Happy Husband. I’m not sure what happened there. All I know for
sure is that I no longer need to try be humble and self-effacing. It’s just
coming naturally.

In any case, I’d like to extend a hearty welcome to any and all readers here
by way of Adrian’s Blog. My purpose here, as he mentioned, is to
celebrate marriage
. I’m here to work against the pervasive ideas that marriage starts
out with a bang but quickly gets boring, that lifelong fidelity is unnatural
and confining, and that marriage’s main value is societal rather than personal.

Marriage is a beautiful, fun, exciting journey, and I know I’m not the
only one who thinks so. This site is for others who value marriage as much
as I
do.
It’s
for people
who
understand what I mean when I say that my wedding was the happiest day of my
life except for every day that has followed. It’s for people who are single
and want to look forward to marriage, but don’t see any reason for hope in
the mainstream media.

So if you’re visiting for the first time, make yourself at home. Click around
the categories in the sidebar for things you might be interested in, such as
my list of 100 Reasons I love my
wife
, stuff about marriage
in general
, stuff
about our marriage, stuff
about our first child (who will be joining us in November), and some other
things. Come back on Saturday for my weekly round-up of marriage
writings around the blogosphere
. Most of all, just hang out and join the
celebration.


Update: I just received an e-mail from Adrian (again, be
sure to read this with an English accent for full effect):

dash it sorry
I think it’s fixed
you used to have another name I think……..
Can you ever forgive me!!!

I have forgiven already, Adrian. Thanks for the recognition you have brought
to me and so many other Christian blogs.

On blogging

I recently finished reading Blog by
Hugh Hewitt.
I’m a little behind the curve on that, since everyone else read and reviewed
it three months ago, but better late than never. The book deals mainly with
political blogging and the influence blogs have had on the coverage of news
stories. I
found it fascinating even
though not much of it applied to me specifically. More than anything, his diatribes
against mainstream media arrogance reminded me of my college days.

My bachelor’s degree is in journalism, but I have never worked for any sort
of journalistic enterprise. I chose journalism as a major because I wanted
to write for a living. I rejected it as a career because the more I studied
it, the more I hated it.

First of all, in order to be a journalist, you have
to eat, drink, sleep, breathe, and bleed news. A journalist is never off
duty, and I desperately wanted a job that provided a definite daily quitting
time.
I had horrible visions of being on my honeymoon when some psychopath decided
to assassinate the president a block away from my hotel. If that happened,
I’d have to leave my bride in the hotel and cover the story, and the interruption
to my honeymoon would tick me off more than the death of my country’s leader.
Anyway, my point is that professional journalists consume and are consumed
by their work, which often leads to a terrible arrogance and condescension
toward any non-journalist who dares to have an opinion about anything of public
significance. I wanted no part of that.

Second, journalists are trained to exercise "news judgment," which means
they decide what people need to know. I remember one time a guest speaker gave
a lecture to my reporting class concerning coverage of a presidential election.
He said that every election has five main issues, which are decided by the
media. I raised my hand and said, "Do you mean that the media somehow discerns
the five main issues the public cares about, then reports on them?" He answered
clearly, "No. The media decides the issues. Public sentiment doesn’t enter
into it." I remember another time I was being interviewed by a panel for a
newspaper
job, and a senior editor from The Dallas Morning News asked me about
a "quite sophisticated" (his words) essay in which I had opined that newspapers
should focus more on explaining why particular events are important than why
they happened. I told him people need to get some sort of value from their
news, and news articles don’t usually deliver that. It turns out that I was
ahead of the curve with that remarkable insight, since a lot of newspapers
were experimenting with a concept called "community journalism" that I (at
the age of 20, with no experience and only one year of journalism coursework)
described in my essay without ever having heard of it. The editor was visibly
impressed, but I didn’t get the job. It’s just as well.

Another thing is that news as it exists in newspapers, magazines, and television
does not communicate everyday reality—it focuses on aberrations of reality.
But when you eat, drink, sleep, breathe, and bleed news, your perception of
reality
is as distorted as 60 Minutes—maybe
more, because you see a lot more than what gets published. Again, I wanted
no part of that.

And lastly, most journalists make peanuts for wages. I would have been miserable
as a journalist, and I didn’t want to be miserable
and penniless.

Getting back to the book, Hewitt is pretty certain that the blogosphere is
to the mainstream media as Martin Luther is to the Catholic church. Even his
supporting
points
seem
to
argue against that, drawing a closer parallel with Gutenberg than Luther, but
whatever. Blogging certainly has an impact, and no one can credibly argue otherwise,
though many have tried. But I think the impact of blogs is not precisely what
Hewitt expounds in his book.

Blogging is journalism minus all of my objections:

  1. A guy can blog when he
    wants and rest when he wants.
  2. The public sets the agenda, not the networks, The New York Times, or Newsweek.
  3. Good bloggers can make everyday reality compelling and readable, thereby
    presenting a mostly balanced view of the world.
  4. I haven’t made any money off of blogging, but I’m not penniless.

Another plus about blogging is that a blogger doesn’t have to cover what an
editor tells him to cover. If I were writing for the Austin American-Statesman,
I wouldn’t be able to focus my efforts on celebrating marriage. I’d have to
investigate the academic performance of a University of Texas football player
or interview
an environmentalist about pollution in the natural springs or fill five inches
of newsprint with some junk about the city council. I wouldn’t be filling a
miniscule niche like I do with this blog.

One idea in the book that I had not thought about was the influence small
blogs can wield. When I began this blog back in August of 2003, I was the only
marriage blogger I was aware of. Now this blog gets about 1,300 visits per
week, according to Sitemeter. That’s not exactly spectacular in the grand
scheme of things, but there are now quite a few other blogs devoted to marriage,
and many more that
regularly
deal with the topic. Our combined readership is certainly significant, and
may some day convince people that marriage is a wonderful gift of God rather
than the aberrant plague the mainstream media portrays.

Tooting my own horn, Taps style

Response to the new design here has been mostly positive, but I expected that.
People who don’t like it are probably just not saying anything. One commenter
said, "your old blog was prettier…." Jerry has
told me in person that the design doesn’t match the content. And Mrs. Happy
objects: "It looks all suave and stylish and doesn’t express who you are
at
all."

One frustrating
thing about Web design is that when you do something that’s technically cool,
non-Web people are unimpressed. At my old site, I had a CSS-only three-column
layout.
Not
one table. Not one. That’s amazing, but one has to understand the issues involved
to be impressed; as far as my wife is concerned, three columns are as simple
as two clicks of a button in a Word document.
On
this
site,
the
stretchable
banner
is
a
feat
of
CSS I am proud to claim. It took me several days—longer than it should have,
I know—to
figure out how to do it, but I’m astounded at my own innovation. Oh, and do
you see that little line between the sidebar and the main content? That wasn’t
easy either. Sadly, most people don’t know that it’s difficult, assume it’s easy, and focus instead
on the way it looks.

Both Jakob Nielsen and Dean
Peters
have said repeatedly that good and usable should
trump technological coolness every time. I thought I had learned
that lesson, but maybe I’m too enamored of my modest technical accomplishments.
I’m certainly not giving up on this current design, but any constructive comments
concerning the usability or look-and-feel are welcome.

Welcome!

Thank you for visiting my new location. It’s a fixer-upper with a lot of work left to do, but I like it. I have to manually apply categories to several hundred posts, find a way to port the comments over, and make some tweaks to the appearance. It should look pretty good as it stands, though. If you have any problems viewing this site, please drop me an e-mail (happy at atimelikethis dot net) and let me know what browser and operating system you’re using. Posting may be light for a while as I try to fine-tune this thing.

On life in the blogosphere

On other blogs, bloggers like to blog about blogging. I’m a blogger who enjoys
reading about blogging on other blogs sometimes, but I find that I can’t blog
about blogging without feeling self conscious about constantly using various
forms of the word blog, a word that I still find a little ridiculous.
This is a rare post here, because it is a blog post about blogging. So that
I don’t have to type blog and repeatedly inflict the word on innocent
readers, I’m
going to use the word porkpie instead.

The winners of the 2005
EU Evangelical Porkpie Awards
have been announced. The Happy Husband didn’t
win anything, but then it didn’t really fit into any of the categories.
Rey nominated this porkpie in the category for Best New Evangelical Porkpie.
The nomination did not effect an award, but it did yield some interesting results
nevertheless:

  1. It gave me
    the distinction of becoming the first entrant to be disqualified, since I’ve
    been
    porkpieing for 17 months and cannot be considered "new" by any definition—particularly
    not by porkpieosphere standards.
  2. Due to the disqualification, The
    Happy
    Husband was the only porkpie on the list of nominees to appear in a strikethrough
    font for a week
    or so. The line through this site’s name brought more attention to it than
    it would have received under normal conditions. My traffic increased quite
    a
    bit during
    that week.
  3. The top-quality
    and
    highly competitive
    porkpier
    behind Amy’s
    Humble
    Musings
    , another Best New Porkpie nominee, declared me to be her
    stiffest competition (or, as she put it, "biggest
    threat
    " because THH is "a great site, plain
    and simple."). I consider
    that quite a compliment, especially since she eventually
    won the award and impressed Eric the Preacher enough to interview
    her at length
    on the Evangelical
    Underground
    site. As soon as I
    do the redesign I’ve been thinking about for the past six months, her
    porkpie
    is going
    into
    my
    sidebar as
    well.
  4. My artist/geek friend Rey, whose The
    Bible Archive
    was a nominee for Best
    Evangelical Porkpie–Apologetics, borrowed a page from the
    Impressionists’ playbook
    and held his own Salon
    du Refusé
    , an awards showcase so arbitrary it borders on Dadaism.
    Eric the Preacher liked the idea so much he even put the Salon graphic (see
    above) in the EU sidebar even though he wasn’t included in the Salon. Coolness
    on all sorts of levels.
  5. This porkpie was included in the Salon
    du Refusé
    and given the award for
    Not A Runner Up. It is my first award, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Though some folks thought the Evangelical Porkpie Awards were silly, divisive,
and irrelevant, I think they accomplished their purpose of bringing valuable
attention to some quality work that people are doing. Even nominees who didn’t
win benefited from some extra traffic, and even those who weren’t nominated
benefited from their discovery of porkpies they might otherwise never have
noticed. I commend Eric for a good idea and thank him for all the work he put
in to promoting God-oriented sites.

I should note that the Salon du Refusé did not escape controversy. Apparently
there have been accusations of blatantly erroneous French grammar, mistakes
born of ignorance that tries to sound sophisticated and impressive. For the
record, I have no problem with that and find it entirely appropriate and in keeping
with the spirit of the Salon awards.

You know you’re a blogger when…

Last night I had a dream (a dream—please understand that before reading any
further) that I received the following letter from my high school
girlfriend:

Dear Curt,

I realize we haven’t even seen each other in 17 years and that we have had
no relationship by any definition of the word for at least that long. I feel,
however, that we need to formally dissolve our marriage. This may be a somewhat
empty gesture, but I have filed legal papers for divorce. I want you to know
that I expect nothing from you in terms of money, property, or personal
contact. I just want this settled once and for all. I hope this will provide
closure for both of us.

Sincerely,
Marcy

Let me repeat—this was a DREAM. I did not marry my high school
girlfriend in real life. We broke up in 1989. But within the muddled context
of the dream several thoughts ran through my head (pretty much in this order):

  1. Oh NO! I forgot we had that wedding!
  2. Oh NO! I forgot we never really divorced!
  3. Oh NO! I never told my wife I was married once before!
  4. Oh NO! I’m going to lose all credibility on my blog!
  5. Oh NO! Does this nullify the legality of my marriage now?
  6. Oh NO! I can’t in good conscience continue to blog about marriage.

I continued to be upset for several minutes after I woke up. Even after I
recognized the unreality of the dream, that I never actually received the letter,
I still thought I needed to confess the prior marriage to Mrs. Happy. Oddly,
the part that depressed me most was the idea of giving up blogging. The other
things,
while
shocking
at
first,
could
be
discussed,
accepted,
and
put
in the
past. I love my wife and she loves me, and our relationship is solid enough
to withstand any mistake I made in my teens. But how could I go on proclaiming
the value of commitment in marriage, of one man and one woman dedicating themselves
to each other for a lifetime?

I have no idea where that dream came from. But it made me understand the impact
this blog has had on my life. I really do think of it as a ministry, a place
that I have set aside to be an oasis for anyone—of any marital status—who loves
the concept of marriage as God intended it. Though I hadn’t realized it until
now, it is certainly an oasis for me, and a huge encouragement when I see the
links,
traffic statistics (around 350 visitors a day), comments, and e-mails. People
often dream about things that occupy their minds, but you know something
is an integral part of your life when it’s actually part of your thought process
even when you sleep.

Reminiscence No. 7

Recently Miss O’Hara spent some time on her blog to draw attention to a
few of my older posts
, the implication (at least as I inferred it) that
she had been reading my archives. I like to think that everyone does that.
My posts are not tied to current events and are therefore as relevant tomorrow
as they were two years ago. Deep down, though, I know it can’t be true. People
just don’t have time. That’s why I sometimes like to feature some older posts
that newer readers may have missed and long-time readers may have forgotten
about. Here are a few from May and June of last year:

  • I actually got to meet, face to face, three fellow Christian bloggers: Adrian
    Warnock, Messy Christian, and Mac Swift. This
    post
    describes our wonderful
    meeting, and offers links to the others’ sites and their own descriptions (assuming
    their archives still work).
  • I try to stick to one translation of the Bible, but sometimes I get a little
    mixed up. My confusion sometimes results in my memory merging different translations
    of a single passage with a bit of "according to Curt" stirred in. Here’s
    how I
    Corinthians 13
    (the Love chapter) exists in my own head.
  • I take a stab at offering an answer to an important question: Why
    should anyone marry
    ?
  • It’s important to have heroes and/or role models. My role models for marriage
    are my pastor and his wife, who last year celebrated their 18th wedding anniversary.
    It was my privilege for them to share some of their own thoughts on marriage
    here on this blog. If you read any of these reminiscence links, read the
    posts of Steve and Shelley.
  • I spent three days on this blog talking about my heart trouble and the
    related hospital stay. Then I spent one more day talking about the man in
    the hospital bed next to me who had been
    married for 65 years
    .

Giving thanks

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. I’m going to take a short
break from blogging to just relax and enjoy spending time with family and friends.
Blogging will resume on Monday.

It’s always kind of cheesy when people write about things they’re thankful
for. It seems like it’s always the same stuff: family, friends, country, health,
etc. Plus, no one’s life is perfect, so a lot of I’m thankfuls tend
to take on the attitude of "life could be so much worse" (e.g., "I’m thankful
I only
lost
four of my
fingers
in that accident last month."). So I know people tend to roll their eyes when
they see a post listing what someone’s thankful for, even if the list is absolutely
sincere (as most of them are). Everyone has some cynic in their personality.

I say all this because I want to list a couple of things I’m thankful for.
I’m a little self-conscious about it for the very reasons I just mentioned.
I don’t want people to think I’m trying to write a heart-wrenching, life-changing
piece of short literature here. I have my eyes wide open. I know this is going
to be cheesy. But I’m a blogger, darnit. Every real bit of online self-consciousness
I might have once possessed flew out of my ear somewhere around post No. 250.
I don’t reveal every bit of myself on this site, but sometimes I just need
to express what I’m feeling, even if I’m feeling full of schmaltz. So here
are some things I’m thankful for:

  • Everyone who reads this blog—especially those who leave comments and send
    e-mails. Every time I get discouraged and think I’m wasting my time with
    this, someone tells me how glad they are that I’m celebrating marriage. That’s
    more encouraging than I can express.
  • The Internet. I’ve made a lot of friends over the Internet that
    I may never see this side of Heaven, but I’m so glad to know them.
  • My wife. We uprooted ourselves from Texas into the strange and
    foreign land of New York. The experience cemented the notion for me that
    my home is wherever she is.
  • My family. They’ve all moved around since I left home, and none
    of them live in any of the cities where I spent my childhood. But wherever
    they are, that’s where I’m from.
  • My church. I have a biological family with whom I share a lot
    of love, but I also have a spiritual family that loves me, probably more
    than I know.

I guess that’s as much self-revelation as I want to do right now.


I can’t believe I did this, but I counted from my first post to find No.
250
.
That was pretty self-revelatory, but I think my self consciousness actually
flew out of my ear at No.
223
. Just for your reference, this post is No.
354.