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When I was a kid, there was this show called Romper Room, a sort of televised kindergarten for happy little children who never spilled or tantrummed or caused any ruckus. The whole shebang was run by a perfectly-attired-in-70’s-polyester soft-spoken woman who was very excited when Doobie, the guy dressed like a bee would show up. Would you like to comment on the name of the bee? Of course you would. He existed to encourage good behavior. Be a good doobie! the troopleader would intone. And the kids ran around on romper-stompers, little yellow truncated cones as platforms that you put beneath your feet and pulled up towards you with green plastic lanyard. It was good times.

At the end of the show, the perfect 70’s housewife/kindergarten teacher would hold up a fake looking glass through which she’d look at you and say, “And I see Bobby, and Billy and Emily and Petunia…” and any other name she could think of, except Eileen, never Eileen. But I would sit with rapt attention in front of the gihungous television that was deeper than it was wide, and wait for her to call my name. She never did, and later into my childhood, when we were traveling around the country in true 70’s splendor in the pop-up trailer, and watching this same show on a tiny black-and-white tv while eating stale cereal in the damp mornings, I would discover that gah! The show was the same in other markets, but the lady? The lady was different! It didn’t stop her from holding up that looking glass and saying hi to those kids though. All those kids, but never me.

So what does this have to do with bearshapedsphere? Since the beginning of the lonely planet expat blog contest (vote! time’s a-wasting, the voting ends on Friday!), I’ve seen a marked increase in blog traffic. Thanks to sitemeter, I can learn a little about you, just as you learn a little about me. I can see where you navigated from, what browser you use, the town you live in, how long you spent, and if you clicked away through one of my outgoing links, which one it was. One of my friends told me that when she saw the “you see me? I see you, too” at the bottom of the right hand column of the blog, she felt observed, uncomfortable. No reason. I can’t see if you’re in your jammies or guess what you had for breakfast (though I hope it was french toast made from the bread you bought from the Hare Krishnas because man was that ever good).

I think you should all know that I think of you by your town names. In some cases that kind of makes sense. So I’d like to say hello (just like the lady with the fake looking glass) to Austin, Chandler, Clyde, Dallas, Douglas, Eugene, Norman and Victoria. I think of you fondly, and often wonder how you are doing.

See, it works just fine with the town and city names that are really names, as though those are the names by which you are called. But I also wonder often about Abbotsford, Bloemfontein, Cave Junction, Doha, El Cajon, Flower Mound, Garching, Hyerabad, Jokkmokk, Kaohsiung, Leningradsky, Melbourne, Nezahualcyotl, Oradea, Petaling Jaya, Quilpué, Reus, Shawnee Mission, Tipperary, Ulefoss, Vernon, Windhoek, Yokosuga and Zumrraga. I wish you could all meet each other and hang out. You have so much in common.

I also can’t help but notice where you come from in computerlandia. A lot of you come from articles I’ve written, photos with links to me, or cross blog posts (like lonely planet’s blogsherpa) or forums where I post about travel and the like, or links in email. A great number come from the Lonely Planet competition (oh! did I mention that?), and recently from travelblogs. And there’s a ton of google hits for the following:

Torta chilena
Quill stem (bicycle related)
Should you tip your postman?
Tipping the courier
Shake bums (sorry, it’s true)
Fruit in Chile
Climbing a volcano

Some of you are repeat visitors. We like that. Some of you google something really strange to find me, and then do it again and again to find me again, as if the bookmark function didn’t exist on your computer. I don’t mind, it takes you from the land of unknown (where many visitors also seem to live) to a place I can remember. And one of you, just one of you looks for me nearly every single day by plugging the words “bear shaped sphere” into Google. Hey Atlanta! I see you! Careful with the typos.

Now all of you, go vote. And tell your friends. I’m planning a giant trip to visit (almost) each and every one of you, so please get your couch, hammock, futon or space on the floor ready. I’m pretty low-maintenance but I will kindly ask that whatever the caffeinated beverage of choice in your neck of the woods is, that there be a plentiful supply of it nearby.