A DNS server went down Saturday afternoon around 3 in the afternoon. It stayed down until past 10 in the evening. Which meant there was no Internet access for a big swatch of Massachusetts’ cable subscribers.

It was inconvenient and annoying, but not tragic. My posts are written and scheduled in advance. I was finished answering most comments and email. I download — not stream — my audiobooks, so I’m not dependent on having a WiFi connection for listening. That’s also true for my Kindle books. I download batches of books at a time … and I keep my Kindles charged, in case the power goes out.

My photographs are on hard drives here, in my house. My editing software is not internet based. So if I’m on vacation and there is no WiFi service? I can download photos and edit them.

But many of my friends and neighbors were more than merely inconvenienced. Their entire world is dependent on being able to connect. They don’t know anyone’s phone number. All their address books are online. They stream their music, their movies, their books. They store their applications and photographs “in the cloud,” which means …

Does all your stuff live in a cloud?

Does all your stuff live in a cloud?

Yes, you guessed it. No WiFi, no nothing!

Call me crazy — and many of you have — but I think we are overly dependent on our Internet service providers. Even if you don’t hate your cable company (and who doesn’t hate their cable company?), servers go down. Service goes out. Power goes out. It’s amazing they don’t go down more often.

If your power goes out … do you know any of the phone numbers of your basic emergency services other than 911? Do you know your doctor’s number by heart? The electric company? Your fuel supply company? Whoever services your heating system?

Do you have an address book that isn’t online?

If you lose your cell phone, can you get in touch with anyone, even your best friend? Do you have a land line — or something like it?

Just wondering. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

(As the Clouds Roll By, 1947, directed by Richard Whorf, with June Allyson, Lucille Bremer, Judy Garland, is an MGM musical.)


Warning: This is a rerun — with editing — but it so precisely fits the requirements of today’s Daily Prompt: Discussion Enders, I could not resists doing a little revision and posting it. I quite like this little post. It makes me laugh every time I read it so maybe you will laugh too. We all need a laugh.

As the years have crept by, I have given up a lot of stuff, most of which (it turns out), I didn’t need in the first place. I gave up worrying. I gave up working. I gave up on the lottery, even though I still occasionally buy a ticket (just in case).

I gave up wanting a new car, expecting old friends to call (some of them don’t remember me any more — some don’t remember themselves). I’ve stopped hoping Hollywood will make movies I like, though occasionally they release something I love (like “Quartet,” a movie Dustin Hoffman directed in 2012). I’ve stopped trying to adopt new music and most new television shows.

I’ve renounced trying to figure out what’s going on with the Red Sox.

Some stuff gave me up. Some people gave up on me Other things, I gave up more or less voluntarily. In the end it works out to the same result.

When anyone asked me how or why I have given up whatever it was, I tell them it was for religious reasons.

UU Steeple 4

No one ever asks me what I mean by that. But just so you know, here’s my secret … obviously a secret no more …

I don’t mean anything at all by it. It’s just a way to end a conversation. No one wants to offend me by asking for the details of my religious beliefs. Who knows? They might turn out to be embarrassing or merely bizarre. Thus my all-purpose answer to everyone is “on religious grounds,” “for religious reasons,” or “my spiritual adviser required it.”

What power these words hold. They can make pretty much any conversation vanish without having to tell someone to shut up. It works on everyone except those who really know me. They will raise one or more eyebrows, and fall over laughing.

It’s very similar to (but different than) my all-purpose answer to “How are you?” With the biggest, broadest, fake smile I can muster and with heartfelt enthusiasm, I say: “I’m FINE!” 99.9% of the time, this does the job. Give it a test drive yourself. If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

Because I’m fine. For religious reasons.


Posts in menuMaybe I missed it. Maybe the link has been there for some time and I just noticed it. Or maybe it was recently added and no one at WordPress felt it worth mentioning. In any case, there’s a statistical link in town I’ve not previously explored.

I like it. Of all of WordPress’s analytic tools, this is the one which tells me about specific posts. You can find it under the “Stats” column on the Posts or All Posts page. You get there using  the “Posts” or “All Posts” entry on the black menu on the left side of the dashboard.

One of the problems I’ve had with the numbers WordPress supplies is they are too general. It’s hard to get information about individual posts. But this data can tell me if I am reaching my audience, how many views on which days. I see a curve showing the life cycle of the post. Useful information for a blogger.

There are still holes in the statistics, such as how I can have a post with more than a hundred “likes” when the stats say it only has 75 views.

In the following screen capture, you can see the STATS column. Note the little bar chart symbol. If you click on the symbol, voilà. You get more information on that post.

post page with stat link

Here’s a readout on a recent, relatively popular post.

Just want to feel better stats

You’ll notice that the “views” are divided into dark and light blue. The dark blue band at the top represents “syndicated views,” the light blue “on-site” views. I think I get “on-site,” but what are “syndicated views”?

Are those views which originate from the Reader? There is no explanation, so I can only guess. Syndicated views could mean views from links on other blogs or pages elsewhere on WordPress, such as “The Daily Prompt” page. If one of you finds out, I’d appreciate your getting back to me on it.

I assume this is a relatively recent addition because I can’t get accurate information on older posts. For example, this one, from 2013, note in the final week shown, the viewing percent for the post went up by a full 2,770% — very impressive, isn’t it? But three weeks earlier, it went up by 1,100% — so in a month, it went up a solid 3,870%. Can’t beat that.

stats for gazing through 2013-now

The percentage change for the final week of this post went up a lot — 2,770%! Wowie zowie!

I couldn’t get anything at all on the oldest version of the post. They best I could get was a summary that supposedly includes everything from when I officially started blogging in February 2012:

top posts stats

“The FBI Can’t Do A Simple Google Search?” shows 10,143 hits, but the search engine can’t find that post. It can only find the one I most recently re-published. The old one was gone, buried. It is difficult to figure out if the problem is the statistical analysis or the search engine. Both?

Limitations notwithstanding, this is a useful tool if you don’t have quite as many published posts as Serendipity (more than 2600 and growing). I have to assume if you have less stuff in your files, the search engine will find it. I’m just guessing.

This little tool isn’t going to answer all your statistical questions, but it’s a good way to get a clearer picture of how a post has been received. For those of us who enjoy working the numbers, this is useful information. Have fun!



No, he couldn’t and didn’t.

I don’t remember exactly when Roomba, the vacuum robot, was first introduced. It must have been more than 20 years ago because we were still in our 3-story townhouse in Boston. We didn’t have any dogs yet. We were still deep into a world full of cats, maybe a couple of ferrets too. Regardless, the television was full of advertisement for this the exciting new robot vacuum.

I had my doubts. Roomba didn’t look likely to do much in the cleaning department. Cat hair is notoriously pernicious. The most powerful vacuum cleaners are hard put to pull it out of rugs and furniture. I had curtains I knew would never come clean. When I would finally took them down, their next stop would be the trash. The hair of the cats was so embedded in the fabric, nothing would make them clean again.


Nope. Not true. Just sat there chugging in place while the battery wore down.

Still, Roomba was tempting, though not for the advertised reason. Those early versions of Roomba were not terribly expensive, less than $100 (or maybe just a little more?) and both Garry and I were still working. It didn’t seem a lot of money for something that might provide a great deal of amusement.

Amusement? What about cleaning?

None of us expected Roomba to actually clean. Just looking at its design and its lack of power, I doubted it would do much of anything … but it might absolutely drive the cats bonkers. The amusement factor alone could make it worth the price. Big Guy, Spanky and Pookie would get crazy and we hoped drive us to paroxysms of laughter. Big Guy was already completely obsessed with electric trains and slot cars, so a robot vacuum cleaner seemed the logical next step.

I ordered one. With mounting excitement, we unpacked Roomba and charged him up. Given his very small size compared to the amount of animal hair and other dust and dirt, he didn’t look likely to accomplish much, but we weren’t expecting much … at least not in the way of cleaning. Our amusement expectations were far higher, though.

Sadly, neither cleaning nor hilarity ensued. Roomba got stuck under every chair, every piece of furniture. He did not navigate around obstacles nor did he climb onto the area rugs to clean them. He didn’t even change direction when he bounced into a wall. Poor little thing just sat there, chugging hopelessly while the cats turned up their collectively snooty feline noses and walked away, tails high with disdain.

Note the puzzled Australian Shepherd in the background? Appropriate.

Note the puzzled Australian Shepherd in the background? Appropriate.

He cleaned nothing and proved a poor source of amusement. What we nowadays refer to as “a waste of money.” But the idea was good.

I’m assuming, now that there are so many models of Roomba and his companion that supposedly scrubs floors … and the price is hundreds of dollars more for even the most basic model, that the technology has improved.

Frankly, I’m skeptical. Roomba was not merely not quite good enough. Roomba was useless. Even when he actually managed to find a piece of floor flat enough and uncluttered enough to attempt to clean, he didn’t pick up enough dirt to make a noticeable dent in the dust and dirt.

He was eventually consigned to a box in a corner and ultimately thrown out with other stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time. I’ll be charitable and suggest maybe Roomba has improved during the past 20 years … but unless someone gives me one for free, I’ll stick with traditional vacuums cleaners. Because they actually suck dirt.

I’m sure the day of the robot will come. But I don’t think it’s here yet. Where’s Robby when we need him?


 You, Robot – The Daily Prompt


deck flowers summer petunia

Summer is passing too fast. Slow down, summer. Autumn will wait and so will that nasty old winter. I’d like the warm weather to hand around longer. Let the flowers keep blooming, the dark green leaves of late summer heavy on the branches.

deck flowers purple petunias summer

And my deck garden. It’s just one season long, then it’s gone. One summer of purple and white petunias and white begonias, hanging on their post on the deck.

deck flowers petunia summer

Hang on summer. I still need your heat!

deck flowers summer petunias

For those who would like to know, I used my Olympus E-PM2 (4/3 format) with the Olympus 45 mm 1.8 portrait lens to give the pictures a super shallow depth of field and lovely bokeh (fuzzy background).


It’s either in the chalice from the palace … or the vessel with the pestle … or possibly, the flagon with the dragon. One of them has the brew that is true, but if you mistakenly drink the wrong one? Then you’ve consumed the pellet with the poison. And your goose, so to speak, is cooked.

I don’t have a line of music to add because although I’ve read lots of books recently and listened to a bunch of audiobooks, I have not a single line of music to offer here. I haven’t heard music on the radio, on CD, in a movie, or anywhere else.

But I can give you words that are almost music and I’m pretty sure will make you laugh.

Herein I praise some of the funniest movie dialog ever to grace a screen. This particular “bit” has been going through my head since yesterday. Lacking music, I’m going to suggest this as Very Early Rap or maybe Hip Hop — from the days of yore.

I defy you to memorize the words and keep them in order. I’ve been trying to remember them in order for decades, to no avail. I always lose track eventually.

Maybe you’ll have better luck (but I doubt it)!

It isn’t on Netflix any more, but it is available on Amazon Prime: The Court Jester.

Opening Line – The Daily Prompt