KING OF BEASTS – THE BLACK LION UPDATE

According to everything I have read, this lion isn’t really black. It’s a hoax, a Photoshop manipulation. It is however, not a genetic impossibility. Color mutations among creatures great and small are never impossible. This particular picture originally showed (supposedly) a very rare white lion that has been manipulated to appear black.

I’m not sure why showing an extremely rare white lion would be less intriguing than a black one, but there you go. It doesn’t have to make sense.

WHERE OH WHERE HAS MY LITTLE PROMPT GONE?

Truth Serum - You’ve come into possession of one vial of truth serum. Who would you give it to (with the person’s consent, of course) — and what questions would you ask?


I would start by asking why you can’t seem to regularly publish the Daily Prompt without problems? Why there were never any problems until you started working with formats that are pretty, but obviously full of bugs that keep recurring? Where are your Alpha and Beta testers? And when you post the prompt … doesn’t anyone check back to see if everything is working okay?

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You know, in addition to bloggers, pretty much all of us are or were workers. We performed jobs for which we were paid, in some cases quite well. We did our jobs. We understand taking pride in our work, being professional. Every day. Because we are and were responsible. What is wrong with you? Seriously? Don’t you have any pride in your work?

You put out prompts that look like you spent an eighth of a second thinking, then posted the first thing you thought of. Dull stuff, repetitive stuff, stupid and occasionally offensive stuff. And never a personal word to say “You know, I kind of screwed up yesterday. Hope you like this better.” Not a “people person,” are you Ben. You’re a desk jockey, doing your thing, no contact with your customers, no interchange on a human level. No sense of obligation to any of us.

You ought to already know the prompt is broken again. Because — like any good professional — you should have checked to see how it’s going. And seen it isn’t going. And would be all over your support staff to fix it so you wouldn’t disappoint us.

But … that’s not how it works. You’re too important maybe? Too remote? Too out of touch? Or you don’t care one way or the other. Think we are a bunch of nags, annoying you?

It doesn’t matter why it happens. Once? Twice? Three times? Okay, you’re still fixing a bug. But again? And yet … again? Is this professional? Maybe you should give this job to someone else … you know … someone who truly wants to do it. Properly. So now, to the serum.

Mr. Huberman: Do you want your job or more to the point, this part of your job? Do you feel an obligation to those you supposedly serve to provide service? If so, how can you explain failing to do your job regularly, not fixing problems before they affect all your customers? Where is your sense of pride and professionalism?

I’m just not seeing it.

AUTUMN — HERE AND GLORIOUS

It still hasn’t rained. Rain is in the forecast and maybe it’ll be enough to make a difference. There’s more predicted for next week, though I have no idea how accurate prediction for 10 days from now can be. We can certainly hope.

On the up side of the drought, the foliage is glorious.

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Autumn is our finest time, when New England shakes off her drab old clothing and puts on her coat of many colors. It’s a party for nature and it’s special and gorgeous. A simple ride to the grocery store is breathtaking.

I think it’s heading for an epic-level Autumn. But I’m still hoping that after the leaves have peaked, perhaps Mother Nature will take pity on us and send the rain.

GRATEFUL PILGRIMS – SHARING OUR WORLD

Share Your World – 2014 Week 39

Did you ever get lost?

Did I ever get lost? When am I not lost? I have no sense of direction. Ask anyone. You could put a paper bag over my head in my living room, twirl me around twice, take the bag off and I would be lost.

Autumn through the window

Traveling? I can read a map — my saving grace. Of course we have a GPS but as often as not, it sends us to the wrong place. Boston is hopeless for a GPS. Everything is so close together, half the time the GPS thinks we are driving up the Charles River and not Storrow Drive. It loses its signal in the tunnels. Many street names in Boston are duplicated in several locations and the GPS always sends us to the wrong part of town.

In more rural areas, our GPS sends us via weird back roads to bridges that washed out years ago, by roads that are closed. Permanently. And obviously have been closed for a long time. If it sends us outbound via a logical, fast, efficient route, it reroutes us coming home, whimsically sending us down strange, twisting paths until we are forced to double back to a main road.

Nowadays, I print directions from Google or Mapquest before I go anywhere, with or without the GPS. If I or Garry doesn’t know how to get there from memory, I have a backup plan. Sadly, more than half the time, the printed directions are wrong too. What to do?

Back to paper maps and atlases. Because at least they don’t lie. Well, not usually.

Who was your best friend in elementary school?

Carol was my best friend, but I do not think I was her best friend. I know I was an important influence on her, at least intellectually, introducing her to music and books, and that took her all the way to a Ph.D.  But she had a lot of friends, while I had her. I was not one of the pretty girls, not part of the “in crowd,” nor one of the cool kids.

By the end of high school, I didn’t care. When I was a little kid, though, it hurt.

Since the new television season has started in the US, list three favorite TV shows.

NCIS, Blue Bloods for both of us.

Garry: The Good Wife.

Marilyn: Legends.

But Madame Secretary, Gotham, Scorpion are all good … and The Black List is back. I’m optimistic about this season. I think this will be a good year. About time!

If you were a mouse in your house in the evening, what would you see your family doing?

Watching television. Playing with the dogs. Snacking. Laughing and making comments about the scripts and characters on the screen. Maybe I’ll be writing at the same time. Or editing. Or maybe Garry will check for email. Nothing really exciting, I’m afraid.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I would be remiss if I didn’t say how incredibly grateful both Garry and me are for all the help we have been given by so many people. Good friends, old friends, people we haven’t seen in more than 30 years … people we have never met and only know from the Internet — as well as completely strangers have sent us gifts that will allow us to fix our well.

We have an agreement with the well guy. He will get to us as soon as he can. There are a lot of dry wells right now and since we have — at this point — a little water which we supplement with jugs of bought water, we can gut it out for a couple of weeks. We just have to continue being very careful to use as little water as possible.

It has not rained at all. But — there’s a reasonably good chance of rain tomorrow and maybe next week too.

robby and bouquet

Thank you — everyone — for your kindness, your support, your prayers and wishes. It restores much of my lost faith in humanity. When our backs were solidly against the wall, you came through. I will never forget your kindness. Not as long as I live.

NO GREAT DIVIDE

The Great Divide – The Daily Prompt for Monday, September 29, 2014

When reading for fun, do you usually choose fiction or non-fiction? Do you have an idea why you prefer one over the other?


There is no great divide. You must have made that up. Or maybe you don’t read much because if you did, you would know that literature is a continuity, a world without walls.

All my friends read. Friends and acquaintances, we read everything. Anything. Non-fiction and fiction, fantasy, mystery, and science fiction. The back of cereal boxes and magazines. Newspapers. Science and biography. Auto-biography and historical fiction.

I’m not sure there’s a whole lot of difference between historical fiction and regular old history anyhow. There’s a lot of fiction, made-up nonsense, wishful thinking and mythology in traditional history … and a lot of truth in fiction. Sometimes, the freedom an author gets under the cloak of fiction gives him or her the opportunity to write truer and reach more people than he or she could accomplish in an academic setting.

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Those who love books don’t worry much about such distinctions. We pick books based on whether or not they will engage us. Teach us something we want to know. Make us laugh, cry, grow, change.

Most importantly, books take us out of ourselves. They transport us into a bigger world and give us food for thought and tools for understanding.

May a day never come when I confine my reading to a single genre, rejecting all others.

May the world never force such an awful choice upon me or anyone.

MORE STATS AND STATS – 5,000 BLOG FOLLOWERS

5000 followersStatistics are a hot topic among bloggers. Some of us obsess over them. I don’t obsess exactly, but I’m aware and interested. I take a daily look. Usually.

Over all, things are looking up at Serendipity. There has been a slow but steady increase in readership over the past 7 months. It’s encouraging — and today I breached a threshold.

FOLLOWERS

I’ve got 5,000 blog followers, the only followers I feel I can (more or less) accurately count.

I have no idea how many Facebook “friends” check out my blog. I suppose a majority of them occasionally check out a post, but most are linked to me because we play (or played) the same game(s). A few hundred more follow me via Twitter and Tumblr. I have no idea how actively they follow. I have no idea how actively anyone follows unless they comment or otherwise make contact.

WHO IS ACTUALLY READING ME?

I’m sure at least half of my 5,000 blog followers are no longer actively following me or were never really following me at all. Some are spammers and con artists, pornographers, trolls and troublemakers. I don’t hear from the real weirdos … and there are a few of them, too. The conspiracy nuts, the ones who are planning to overthrow the government but hopefully lack the skills to do more than rant.

Many followers sign on hoping I’ll do a reciprocal follow. I don’t. Won’t.

For anyone who wants me to follow them, I often check out sites because a comment catches my interest. Don’t send your link if you haven’t read a post or two on my site. I’d just as soon you not send your link at all. If you comment, I’ll have all the information I need to find you. Sending your blog’s link as a comment is rude.

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PAGE VIEWS 

Everybody’s numbers fluctuate. They go up and down without any obvious reason. Unless it’s a multi-week nose dive, I don’t worry about it. Usually, there’s no apparent reason. Or, it can be a seasonal thing. Holidays, the weather, political stuff — all these and dozens of other factors will change what people do online. I used to fret over it, but my recent life has been so stressful, I decided to make blogging a stress-free zone.  I know if things get slow, they will pick up. Eventually. Blogging on the same site for three years has taught me patience.

And, of course, I’m a wild card, maybe the biggest wild card. Because I’m the primary writer. I post every day and have for more than two years, only missing the period when I was too sick to do it.

Even at the best of times, all my posts are not brilliant. I have inspired days and blah days. Sometimes, I think a post is terrific, yet no one agrees. Other time, I think a post is dull, pedestrian — but it gets tons of hits. Go figure. I’m definitely better at gauging my work than I used to be, but that brings me up to maybe 50%. The rest of the time, I think I’ve got it nailed, but I don’t.

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THE COOL KIDS

I keep hearing that there are “cool” bloggers who are hyper popular and garner all kinds of awe and adulation. Everyone (apparently) wants to be one of the cool kids. I don’t actually know who the cool kids are because I avoid extremely popular sites. They are so busy, it’s impossible to have a dialogue with anyone. Or at least, I can’t. I’m not going to line up to be heard.

I think there is a tipping point when a blog becomes an enterprise. It gets too busy, too professional. I’ve seen blogs morph from personal blogs to businesses. I wonder if the bloggers even realized what was happening.

The first symptom? They stop responding to comments … or only respond to a particular group of followers. If I comment but never get a response? I will stop reading and following. I don’t require 100% reciprocity, but I need some acknowledgment. If you are too busy to ever answer my comments, you are too busy for me.

TAKING A LONG VIEW

I prefer to take a long view of statistics. I have yet to match, much less exceed, the numbers I made in November 2012. I had a lot of help that month. We had a highly controversial presidential election and a super hurricane which conspired to make the Internet a wild and crazy place.

I’m getting back up there gradually, month by month. Statistically speaking. This time, maybe it won’t be a fluke and it will stick.

Then again, maybe not. I’m sure I won’t post every day forever. I’ll get tired someday. Not soon, but eventually. Nothing is forever. Definitely not me.

Prescience

Marilyn Armstrong:

Doobster says it better than I could.
There is no joy in Mudville.

Originally posted on Mindful Digressions:

Red Sox World Series ChampsBack on April 1st of this year I published a post, From first to worst. In that post I wrote:

This is an unmitigated disaster. It’s almost the end of the baseball season and my beloved Boston Red Sox are in last place.

Of course, if you know anything about baseball, you know that my post was tongue-in-cheek. After all, it wasn’t “almost the end of the baseball season.” In fact, it was the very beginning of the Major League Baseball season and the Red Sox had played just one regular season game, which they lost to the Baltimore Orioles, 2-1.

The Sox won the World Series in 2013. That put them at baseball’s pinnacle — the top of the heap. They were the best team in professional baseball last season. So I was highly confident that, despite losing their opening game of the 2014 season, they would do…

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