Ed. Note: During the last week of the year, we asked our writers to reflect on the highs and lows of 2010.
As much as I'd like readers to assume that we Seven Days staffers are continually poring through national newspapers, magazines, blogs, Tweets and other databases in search of the most compelling and hard-to-find nuggets of Vermont-centric infotainment, the truth is, these days it makes more sense to let technology do the walking for us.
Hence, Google alerts, a simple way to trawl the Internet's seven seas for content related to topics of interest, and then have those links wash up in my in-box several times a day. For example, I have alerts set up for "Vermont," "Vermont judicial," Vermont civil liberties," and about a dozen other words, names and phrases, including my own name, just to see who's libeling and/or lampooning me with savage ferocity.
One of the first alerts I set up was for the name "Burlington." However, since most stories about Vermont's Queen City don't specifically say "Burlington, Vt," Google's drift nets inevitably churn up a lot of "bycatch," aka digital debris with no discernible connection or interest whatsoever to Vermonters.
More often that not, such alerts are about those other, "lesser" Burlingtons — you know, the ones that aren't the healthiest, safest, greenest, hippest, most unicycle-friendly, localvore, community-policing, low-carbon-emitting, gluten-free, walkable cities in the known galaxy for raising children/dogs/backyard poultry/greenbelt mushrooms.
You know what I discovered? Life in those other Burlingtons fairly well sucks: gang warfare, cross burnings, roof collapses and five-alarm fires are the norm. (After four alarms, our Burlington switches to frantic cowbell ringing and girlish shrieks.)
Of course, many of the other Google alerts are for non-place-name Burlingtons, such as upcoming sales at the Burlington Coat Factory, or transients getting run over by Burlington-Northern trains, both of which seem to occur with tragic but preventable frequency.
But my favorite Burlington alert of 2010 arrived in my inbox just weeks ago with all the comforting goodness of a freshly baked brownie. The headline, courtesy of the Philippine Star, read:
Oh. My. God. I had no idea we even had a Ms. Burlington, let alone one whose foot hygiene was worthy of international acclaim. As I soon discovered, Jes-lin Del Mundo "epitomizes freshness and exudes confidence in her work as [a] data analyst at Maynilad while taking up her masters at Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela."
"Miss" del Mundo — the Manila newspaper's copy editors are a bit lax on their feminine honorifics — was scheduled to do the rounds of such hot Manila late-night TV programs as the Medyo Late Nite Show with Jojo A All the Way to "promote Burlington BioFresh and its advocacies." According to Manila Bulletin Publishing, Del Mundo "will discuss the advantages of using Burlington Biofresh products such as underwears, socks, towels, foot spray and powder both at work and in school." Beauty AND versatility! How 'bout that?
(Planning to set your DVR? Remember, “The Medyo Late Nite Show with Jojo A All the Way” airs on Manila's TV5 right after “Juicy.”)
If you've never heard of Burlington Industries Philippines, maker of Burlington BioFresh, clearly, you don't spend enough time in Quezon City, home of the first Burlington sock plant.
Which got me thinking: Their Burlington make socks. Our Burlington used to make socks before they all hightailed it for Asia's tariff-free trade zones. Now that Burlington, Vermont has already adopted seven sister cities and two sister lakes — Lake Ohrid on the border of Macedonia and Albania, and Lake Toba in Indonesia — maybe it's time to move on to more adult relationships, i.e., sister-corporations? I can't think of a better way for Vermont's city by the lake to epitomize freshness AND exude confidence, both of which are available in spray or powder form.