Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Naughty Cookies

by Sophie


Since I go first every time we switch themes, I always get to steal everyone's thunder. This time the temptation was high to talk holiday cookies because, having been mom-at-home for all those years, I have a *lot* of experience.

Instead, I'll leave the recipe trading to the rest of the gals, and instead talk about the *other* kind of cookies. You know...the ones that leave a trail of breadcrumbs all over your computer. The ones that, if you're not careful, tell anyone who happens to borrow your Mac for a few minutes - to check on their history assignment, for instance, or find out when the game's going to be on - exactly where Mama's been spending her "research" time.

The naughty cookies.

(These are by Icings by Ang - cuter, and less mortifying by far, than many in my search results!)

Any parent with a child over six has probably had to have the careful-where-you-click talk. And not long after that, the "your father and I found some interesting sites in your history list, of course curiosity is natural and healthy but - " discussion. But I'm guessing that most moms don't live in fear that their children will be the ones stumbling across the bad-girl URLs they themselves clicked on.

It all started innocently enough, when I was doing research for my first Stella novel. I've told that story many times, about how a simple search for "restraint gear" launched me into a whole new world I never knew existed, one that I found so fascinating I lost days to browsing and learning.

It's not like I went straight from having no idea what a ball gag was, to buying them in all their marvelous variations, but I did get hooked. Not on the toys themselves, but on the idea that there is so much out there in the world that I know nothing about, and that the power to stop being ignorant is just a few clicks away.

Blame LGC. She's the one who gently nurtured my research bug. It took me a long time, but I now kinda, sorta relish flexing my fingers and opening a search window whenever my research takes me in a new direction. Lots of it is G-rated - today, for instance, I researched 1940s women's pants styles, Amtrak schedules, and desert rodents - but some of it is not. And darn if it isn't the latter that gets one going on those endless hyperlink research benders, where hours pass in what seems like minutes, and you're suddenly an expert on, say, human autophagy, or railing oxycontin.

All of which is well and good...unless you've got a couple of kids around who are way, way better at following digital footprints than you'll ever be.

So "cookies," to me, took on a much more sinister meaning for years. I learned to clear my history, my cache, to reset Safari, but I always worried. I was convinced that one day my kids would stumble on something that would take a LOT of explaining. I had half a mind to blame the other ("oh, you know your brother..." or "your sister is probably just in a curious phase, it's totally normal") or feign ignorance (spam ads! had to be those terrible spammers!) but in a stroke of what I can only consider luck I didn't deserve...I never got busted. Not once.

They're old enough now that if they ever *do* trip over something untoward, it'll just be something to tease Mom about. I still reset and delete and so on, but I no longer live in a perpetual state of shame about my browsing habits.


Rachael Herron said...

I have to admit, I don't clear my cookies on my computer -- I figure if someone is looking to convict me on searched on my computer, I'd rather have them see EVERYTHING I've ever researched than the fact that I forgot to erase the "mercy killing" thread.... Then I can plead that it really was just research! I swear!

Adrienne Bell said...

And with that reminder, I am off to scrub my hard drive clean.

Juliet Blackwell said...

I stopped worrying about clearing the cache when my techie friend showed me how nothing is EVER really erased from the computer -- experts know how to find all the good stuff. So, like Rachael, I'll keep ALL the search stuff in there and, with luck, anyone searching will run out of patience halfway through!

L.G.C. Smith said...

I am happy to take credit for urging anyone on when it comes to research. As they say at Faber College, Knowledge is Good. In my next life, I want to be a librarian.

Unknown said...

Is this where I confess that I have no idea how to clear cookies? :) I love research tangents...they are so truly fascinating.

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