The original smart phones …

Just because it made me laugh …

Get Smart (TV Series 1965–1970) – IMDb

Bumbling Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 for CONTROL, with a great deal of help from his competent partner Agent 99, battles the forces of KAOS – Starring Don AdamsBarbara FeldonEdward Platt.

Dark sky in the morning

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It’s windy. The oak trees are bending like saplings. The wind must be strong higher up. It doesn’t seem like much on the ground, but a hundred or so feet upward, the oak trees are dancing to Mother Nature‘s tune. You can watch the dance and hear the music. It whooshes and whistles, rattling dead leaves that still hang on the branches.

Sometime during the night, most of the trees stripped bare. Oak trees never go completely naked, not like the maples do. Some leaves cling to branches even in the deepest part of winter. To the extent that leaves will be lost, the oaks lost them overnight. When we went to bed, it was already after midnight. There was a bit of wind and a lot of rain, one of the “local bands of showers” the weather guys keep talking about, but this morning, it’s mostly wind. Skies are gray, dark and sullen.

Rain is falling, but it isn’t much. Not yet. Tomorrow will probably be the big day for rain, or maybe tonight. My instincts are saying tonight, but the weather gurus are saying tomorrow. I’m usually more accurate.

The air is heavy. It doesn’t seem as if day has quite arrived, just like yesterday. It never brightened at all and by late afternoon, it looked like midnight. Absolutely no feeling or look of snow now or to come. I can smell snow. Actually, it’s no big deal. You live in a snow belt, you can smell it. Ozone? Whatever. You feel it, smell it, and see it in the sky. It’s not hard to tell the difference between a sky full of snow or rain. A snow sky is white, or nearly white. Rain clouds are gray, sometimes very dark gray, but never white. Today is gray. Solidly, dully gray. You can’t see clouds. The cover is unbroken, no patch of blue to provide contrast, nor even differing gradations of clouds. These aren’t thunderheads or typical cumulus rain clouds.

I’ve got a headache that coffee isn’t going to dissipate.

We have power, so although trees are swaying, they are not falling, at least not on power lines, or more exactly, not falling on any that affect us personally. I’m sure somewhere trees are falling, but not here, not right now.

I used to like storms. I loved watching thunder and lightning, seeing nature put on her show with fireworks and sound effects. That was until lightening started hitting us, at which point I began to take the whole thing personally. I’m not sure why the valley in general and we in particular are so prone to strikes, but I’ve noticed every public building taller than two stories … there aren’t many of them, so mostly, we are talking about church steeples … have a lightening rod. People have asked me how come we don’t have one too since we’ve been hit three times. The problem is, the lightening doesn’t hit our house. It hits ]nearby, close enough to do damage, but not a direct hit. We’ve lot a utility pole up on the street that it knocked out a couple of computers and the router. One strike hit a tree in the front yard and took out the power. The best hit was the well pump. I thought lightening aimed at the highest points. You couldn’t find a lower point than our well pump. It’s 450 feet underground.

I think that Zeus has it in for us. I have trouble finding our well, much less the pump, so how did he do that? The gusts are picking up. This was not supposed to happen until tomorrow. If this is the prelude, the full show is going to be really fun. It’s much more entertaining when your home, family, and everything you own are not on the line. It’s amazing how much of a difference it makes.

I’m going to get some more coffee. I am doing what I’ve been told: planning for the worst while hoping for the best. If it doesn’t get much worse, we’ll be fine. But we haven’t gotten to tomorrow, so I have to wonder what the next 36 hours is going to bring. Meanwhile, there’s coffee and chocolate cake.

You didn’t expect me to go through a storm of epic proportions without chocolate did you?

Where do the swans go?

 

When the wind blows, when the rain falls, when the snow piles up, where do the swans go? Do they shiver in nests beneath tall trees?

Do they hide under one another’s’ broad white wings? When the lake freezes over, how do they find food to eat?

Do they depend on the largesse of people to feed them through the long hard New England winter?

As everyone talks about the upcoming storm, I worry about my swans. I hope they will be alright. Where do the swans go to weather a storm?

Ten useful things I’ve learned about blogging

I started this blog in February 2012, but it wasn’t until the end of May that I started to write regularly. Before that, I posted erratically and rarely.

Criminal Minds Season 7 Promo

In September, I tossed off a very short post about Criminal Minds (the TV show, not politicians) that somehow wound up the first result in a Google search. It has stayed in the top 5 search results (out of 4,100,000 possible results) for more than a month. I have no idea how that happened. That single post has gotten more than 3,500 hits and keeps going. It took me 5 minutes to write and was a response to something that bothered me about the show. Who knew that so many people cared about a television series about profilers and serial killers?

The ups and downs of popularity remain a mystery. Immediately after that post, my numbers went way up, then as I expected, began to drop, then level out. Even so, I tripled the hits I get each day. Folks came for that post and stayed for others. I also have an unknown number of  followers on Bloggers, Twitter, ScoopIt, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.

I am, as my blog title suggests, eclectic. By profession, I’m a writer. By inclination an historian. My hobby is photography. I have distinct audiences for writing and photography. I haven’t figured out how much these groups overlap. Even within my writing, subject matter varies quite a lot. Amongst philosophical ramblings, discussions of whatever current events are on my mind, and so on, I write a lot of stuff about movies and TV. There is a specific audience for the media posts.

Posts I labor over may be barely noticed; others that I just drop on the page get lots of hits. I have learned, through trial and error, a few things worth mentioning. I’m sure I’ll learn more. I need and want to learn more. Meanwhile, here are 10 things I’ve learned that seem to be true:

  1. Less really is more. More than 1000 words is too long. 500 words is plenty, especially if you include pictures. Sometimes, just a caption is enough.
  2. Use more pictures, fewer words. Everyone likes pictures especially nature, pretty girls, children, dogs, and for some peculiar reason, Arizona.
  3. Funny gets more hits than depressing. Being serious is appropriate for serious subjects, but you can use a light touch even with heavy material.
  4. Popularity is nice, but it’s your blog. Do your own thing. That’s the point, isn’t it?
  5. Digress but remember to come back. When I tell stories, I ramble. It’s my style. I wander before I get to my destination, but there’s a limit to how far and how often you can roam without losing your reader.
  6. Be economical in how much material you use per day and per post. If you set yourself an unsustainable pace, you’ll burn out.
  7. Have fun. Have a lot of fun. Enjoyment is contagious.
  8.  Do what you love. Blog about the things you find beautiful, important, amusing, or interesting.
  9. If you aren’t having fun, give it up.
  10. On the graphics side, leave white space. At least 50% of the screen should be empty. This percentage includes the space between pictures and text, between paragraphs, margins at the top and both sides, space between columns. Clutter is hard on the eyes and gives your site a “rummage sale” look. Do you really need every widget?

She’s On Her Way

By the time we got to Walmart, there wasn’t any bottled drinking water left except for the expensive stuff that always tastes to me like polluted water. Yuk. So we bought one large trash can (plastic, with wheels, Rubber Maid), some instant coffee because if we are without power and without coffee, life will be Hell. We easily got the stuff we needed to make a lot of chili. We bought candles and long matches. It isn’t everything we need, but it still costs $60. We were going to stop at Hannaford on the way back, but the trash can was in the back seat because it wouldn’t fit in the trunk, so it seemed sensible to go home. I doubt Hannaford has any water left to buy either. We’ll give it a shot tomorrow morning and see if they’ve restocked, but I’m not optimistic. We should have started dealing with this sooner.

Hurricane Sandy – Photo by Talkingrock

We had our first power blip at 6:30 PM, Saturday, October 27th. Governor Patrick declared a state of emergency a few hours earlier for Massachusetts, beginning tomorrow afternoon. That’s when Sandy is supposed to make landfall in New Jersey. Normally, we wouldn’t be much affected by a storm that far away, but this is one hell of a storm, a super storm. The news just keeps coming and none of it is good.

Sandy’s has been upgraded to hurricane status. Again. The water in the north Atlantic isn’t as cold as it ought to be. That cold north Atlantic water is what keeps us safe from most hurricanes. As the storms start to move across the colder water, they lose momentum and power. Most often, they veer out to sea or fizzle. Not this time. With warmer water to feed her (what about that global warming, eh?) and two other weather fronts  on track to help ramp her up, Sandy is about to become a storm of a strength and magnitude  for which we have no name. In honor of the season, she’s been dubbed “Frankenstorm.” Appropriate for Halloween.

I’m having trouble believing this is happening. I know it is happening. But it’s surreal. We don’t get storms like this around here, at least not in my lifetime. There were some big ones before I was born and there was one in the 1950s when I was too young to really remember, but mostly, by the time hurricanes get to this latitude they are just huge rain storms. We get blizzards, sometimes really bad ones.

Cars trapped on Route 128 during the blizzard of 1978

The blizzard of 1978 was a killer. It came on so fast that thousands of people were trapped in their cars and some died. There have been a few big hurricanes. There was one in 1938 that was really bad, especially on the Cape and the Islands. But nothing noteworthy in recent years. There was “the perfect storm‘ in 1991 but that stayed out at sea. Sandy is bigger than any of those historically major storms and she’s coming ashore.

Looking at a live weather feed, the mass of this storm is astonishing. It’s the size of a continent. We should have gone and gotten the water yesterday and even that was probably too late. We should have taken stuff inside, put stuff away, laid in food supplies that don’t require refrigeration, but I was somehow sure it wasn’t really going to hit.

This is not hype, but we have been subjected to so much hyperbole about weather that we assumed it was another case of  TV meteorologists making a big deal out of nothing. They had cried wolf too often. We have grown so accustomed to wildly exaggerated descriptions of impending weather that we ignored this real threat until today, leaving us vulnerable and barely prepared. There’s not a lot more we can do. We’ll fill up the barrels so we have some water and if we get a lot of rain, it will refill the barrels. If trees don’t fall down and power stays on, we will be fine. If not? Que sera sera.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign – Encounter From Hell

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“The Devil, too, sometimes steals human children; it is not infrequent for him to carry away infants within the first six weeks after birth, and to substitute in their place imps”Martin Luther

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Met upon my way, this dark representative from the dark side? Or merely a smelly old ram? You decide.