A SERENDIPITOUS PHOTO STORY PROMPT

MARILYN’S LEAP OF FAITH

This is the kind of stupid thing I do which can be a big hit or a total flop. I have no idea if anyone is interested. If you are not, please do not participate. Don’t be a pill about it, though. I’m not recruiting anyone.

I would like to keep telling stories linked to pictures. To help the process along, I’ll publish a picture and write something about it. You can use my picture as a prompt. Or you use any picture you like as a jumping off point. Link back to me (send a pingback) and I’ll publish it.

I’m not going to do this every day because that’s a bit more responsibility than I’m ready to take on. I’m aiming for at least two weekdays — Tuesday and Thursday to start. I’ll do more if I see sufficient interest.

I’ve been reluctant to host a regular “challenge” because my life is full of challenges and they aren’t much fun. You will have to forgive me if I miss a day here and there, or if Thursday is comes out on Friday. I’ll do the best I can.

Each of you is free to jump in. No themes for now except what’s in the picture. My current thinking is to leave things loose. No one needs to worry if they have “the right” picture.

What do I mean by story? Something written in words.

Poetry, prose, fact, or fiction. A couple of lines about the camera and how you got the shot. A fanciful tale of time travel and parallel worlds. Video if that’s your thing. Old pictures from your scrap-book. Weird pictures from the internet. Cartoons. Pictures of your family vacation and how the bear stole your food.

Your trip to Paris. You flight from Irkutsk. You favorite dog, cat, ferret, cockatoo. The weird boyfriend you had in high school. The last book you read, the next book you plan to read, or why you don’t read books (but you write them)(don’t write them)(would like to write them).

Television shows, movie stars, classic film, history, language. Fiction, non-fiction. Everything, anything as long as you include a picture and some text.

It sounds simple. It is simple. Every picture has a story or ought to. Otherwise, there are no rules. A pictures, some text. That’s it. Short or long, truth or fiction. Prose or poetry. You’re in the driver’s seat.


Warning! I’ve never done this before. There are a few technical issues I’m not entire sure about, but I hope to get them ironed out pretty quickly. I’m using today’s post as the first of the series. It’s got a lot of pictures in it and you are welcome to choose one. Or pick your own!

You can take a hint from the topic (communicating between generations) or write whatever strikes your fancy. It’s just a point of reference.

You don’t have to do what I do. Just … do something! I’ll try to get these out early enough for everyone, but time zones around the world differ. I apologize, but the world is large and round and always in motion.

I’ll try to post the ideas a few days in advance on the page, but links won’t work until the day of publication. As I said, this is new for me, so be patient while I work out the details.

  1. GENERATION GAP – GROWING UP BOOMER – Tuesday, April 21, 2015
  2. MAKING MARIJUANA LEGAL – Thursday, April 23, 2015
  3. FIVE PHOTOS FIVE STORIES: Let’s start with a Serendipitous Bang (DAY 4)

FIVE EXAMPLES OF SENSIBLE VIOLENCE

We’ve all heard of senseless violence. The term is nearly as common as “stay in the car.” Everyone knows no one stays in the car and “senseless violence” implies there’s another kind. The sensible kind.

sensible violence

Reasonable, well thought-out violence.

1. “He needed killing” (really, I kid you not) is still accepted in some American courtrooms as a defense against a charge of murder. If he needed killing and you kill him, you have committed an act of sensible violence.

2. “No one was supposed to get hurt.” You held up the bank using automatic weapons. You just wanted some money. To improve your life. You had a perfect plan which went unaccountably wrong. “But your Honor, no one was supposed to get hurt!”

3. “I had no choice.” You could have gotten a divorce, but you were put off by all the paperwork, lawyers, and courts. In the spirit of cleanliness and reduction of paperwork, you killed your husband and shoved his body in the washing machine in the basement laundry room. Sensible and tidy.  “Your Honor, he really pissed me off. And it wasn’t easy getting him down the stairs and into the machine.”

4. “Anyone in my position would have done the same thing.” Really, no kidding. Anyone. Because it was the only reasonable response. “Your Honor, she burned the roast. I had to dismember her and hang her body parts on stakes in the yard. Anyone would have done the same thing.” Sensible violence was the only answer.

5. “I lost my temper.” You said I wouldn’t like you when you are angry. You were completely right.

So you see? Not all violence is senseless. If you didn’t mean it, you had no choice, your plan went awry … it’s all good. Absolutely sensible.


 DICK CHENEY’S SEX APPEAL

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST

Another one of the bloggers with whom I have been in close communication for more than a year just shut down. I suppose I knew something was happening because he wasn’t posting as often. Nor was he displaying the cleverness and enthusiasm characteristic of his past work.

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Why? He didn’t explain. I could take an educated guess. Several educated guesses and probably be right at least once. This is why I am afraid to invest heavily in virtual relationships. It’s not lack of caring. It’s my fear of losing those to whom I’ve become attached. All of a sudden, with no word of warning. Without knowing what happened to them, why they abandoned me. Wondering if I ever existed in their world. Or mattered at all.

This isn’t the first such loss. Or the tenth. There is constant attrition. People vanish. Poof. One day, you stop hearing from them. Sometimes they post something to let us know that they are going silent, but rarely why. More often, they disappear without a word of farewell or hint of an explanation.

I have thought about quitting. Each time WordPress makes another pointless change in the Interface, I think about throwing in the proverbial towel. Every time someone with whom I’ve become friends goes missing. To date, over the course of my three years of blogging, I take the hit, absorb it. I mourn and move on.

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It’s getting harder. Personal and virtual losses pile up. I can’t help but wonder who will be next? Will anyone I know now be around in a few months? Are we allowed to grieve for those we have come to care about, but never met? After all, it’s just the Internet, isn’t it? I mean, we aren’t real to one another, are we?

You are real to me. I share your lives. I know your husbands and wives, fears and hopes, triumphs and defeats.

I am afraid. Because slowly, it’s going away. I can’t help but feel a deep sense of sadness and foreboding.

TEN REASONS I DON’T COMMENT ON YOUR BLOG

Recently, I’ve had to be away from the computer more than usual. Winter is over. Stuff needs doing and frankly, I’ve got a bad case of cabin fever. Thus my email, the daily deluge of notifications, comments, advertising, and occasionally actual messages from friends, doth overflow. To the point of finding it necessary to delete a lot of notifications from fellow bloggers of new posts.

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It was hard for me to do it. I’m compulsive about reading and commenting, or at the least “Liking” the blogs I follow. It went against the grain to delete so many notifications.

I tried to catch up with myself, but kept falling farther behind until I had no choice. Unless I’m going to spend all day everyday in front of the computer, I can’t handle the traffic.

72-Computer-in-use_01It got me thinking about why I comment on some blogs and not others. Following are the top ten reasons I don’t comment on your blog:

1) You get dozens of comments and put the oldest ones on top. If I have to scroll past two dozen comments before I can comment, you don’t need me.

2) You’re a photographer. I’m a photographer. I feel comfortable pointing out I can love your pictures, but not have anything to say about them.

3) I liked your post, but I’m late to the dance. Everyone has already said it. If I have nothing to add, I’m won’t comment. If you allow “Likes,” I’ll leave one.

4) I hated your post, but I like you. If I have nothing nice to say, I won’t say anything. I try not to be over-critical because it is in my nature to be over-critical. I consider it a character flaw.

5) If you post one picture per post 12 times a day, consider two posts with six pictures each. It’s not personal. I get buried by notifications, and comments. I follow as many blogs as I can, but if you post that often, you become spam.

6) If I’ve been following you for months and you never visit my site, I’ll stop following you. Eventually. It’s insulting. I don’t expect you to read every word I write, but if you never visit, you are going to lose me.

7) You write about one topic. Only one. All the time. It is your passion, but there are other things which matter to me. I can’t read on the same subject every day, even if I agree.

8) You’ve got a problem. Your blog is where you let your feelings be known. First, I will be sympathetic. Then I’ll try to help. Eventually, I’ll give up. You are free to complain. I’m free to not listen. At some point, you have to move on. See number 7.

9) You’ve had a “sense-of-humorectomy.” You used to be funny, but now you’re an angry ranter. I have a limited capacity for rage. Even my own. I get mad, but I get over it. After I stop being angry, I find my drama funny. If you can’t get past your rage, I’ll get over you. Sorry.

10) More than half your posts are reblogs. I follow you because I like you. We all reblog some stuff but if that’s your primary material, you won’t hear from me.

I love comments and dialogue, but I think it’s a mistake to demand comments from every visitor. Personally, I think we should take our “Likes” and be grateful. It means people are reading and visiting. I don’t expect everyone to comment on everything, though I appreciate an occasional word so I know someone is there.

Now you know. In case you were wondering.

BIG GUY AND THE CARDINAL

Garry was working weekends that decade, so whatever stuff happened on Sunday was part of his beat. This particular Sunday, the old catholic cathedral near our condo in Roxbury, was going to host Cardinal Bishop Bernard Law. It was a big deal for the neighborhood’s shrinking Catholic population.

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For a Prince of the Church to say Mass anywhere is an event, even if you aren’t Catholic. We lived one block from that lovely old cathedral. The neighborhood was buzzing.

It was a grand dame amongst local churches.You could see her former grandeur, though she was currently in desperate need of restoration and repairs to just about everything.

Roxbury was an almost entirely Black neighborhood. It had previously been a Jewish neighborhood which was red-lined by greedy real estate brigands. We had been among the first two or three middle class mixed-race couples to move back to Roxbury. We hoped we’d be the start of positive move for the neighborhood, including how it would be reported by media and perceived by Bostonians. We had chosen it less out of altruism and more because it was a great location. Convenient to everything with lots of green space, lovely neighbors, and compared to almost any other place in Boston, affordable.

It was not crime central. You could leave your car unlocked on the street and no one would touch it. I know because my neighbor tried desperately to have his cars stolen, going so far as to leave the keys in the ignition for weeks. Not a chance. People watched out for each other in Roxbury. I never had better neighbors, or felt safer.

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The morning on which Cardinal Law was due to visit, Garry called.

“I was telling Bernie (Cardinal Law) that you used to live in Israel and are really interested in religion and stuff.”

“Uh huh.”

“So he’ll be dropping by for a visit.”

“When?”

“I think he’s on the front steps. Yup, there he is. Gotta run. Love you. Have a great day.”

BING BONG said the doorbell.

I looked at me. At least I was dressed. The house was almost acceptable. Thanks for all the warning, Gar, I thought. Showtime!

And in swept His Grace, His Eminence, wearing his red skull-cap and clothed in a long, black wool cloak. Impressive.

Big Guy stretched. Our Somali cat — the best cat in the world and certainly the smartest, sweetest and gentlest — was our meeter and greeter.

Big Guy

Big Guy

I offered the Cardinal the best seat in the house, the blue velvet wing chair by the bay window. Big Guy promptly joined him. We chatted for almost an hour. Israel, the church, whether there was any hope St. Mary’s would get funds to repair and upgrade before it was too late.

The neighborhood. A bit of church politics. Although Bernard Cardinal Law was ultimately blamed for the long-standing and terribly wrong policy of the Church in hiding the misdeeds of child-molesting clerics, this was years before that story came to light.

The man I met was wonderfully intelligent, friendly, witty, and a pleasure to spend time around. Which was probably why Garry was so fond of him and considered him a friend.

When it was time for the Cardinal to depart, he stood up. Big Guy left his cozy spot on the warm lap of the region’s reigning Catholic cleric. And that was when I saw the Cardinal was coated in cat hair.

Oh! Exactly what does one say in this odd circumstance?

“Wait a minute, your Eminence. Let me get the pet hair sticky roller and see if I can get some of that hair off your long black cape?” I was pretty sure the cloak needed more oomph than a lint roller. It was going to need some cleaning power beyond my limited resources.

So I shut up. Wincing with foreknowledge, we parted company. As he and his retinue swept out my door, I pondered how life’s journey takes strange side roads, unexpected twists, and turns. This was one.

“Meow?” questioned Big Guy. Clearly he liked the Cardinal and it had been mutual. I believe Big Guy came away from the experience with some special, secret understanding of Truth. I, on the other hand, felt obliged to call my husband and warn him that Cardinal Law was dressed in more than he realized.

“Oops,” said Garry, master of understatement.

“Yup,” said I, equally downplaying the difficulties that would arise from the incident. I had wrangled with Big Guy’s fur. I knew how bad it would be.

Some weeks later, when Garry, in the course of work, again encountered the good Cardinal, he called my husband to the side for a private word. The other reporters were stunned! What scoop was Garry Armstrong getting? Rumors ran rampant. Armstrong was getting the goods and they were out in the cold. Mumble, mumble, grouse, complain, grr.

“Armstrong,” murmured the Cardinal.

“Yes sir?”

“You owe me. That was one gigantic dry cleaning bill!”

“Yes sir, Your Eminence,” Garry agreed. “Been there myself.”

“I bet you have!” said Bernard Cardinal Law. And the two men shook hands.

When the other reporters gathered round and wanted to know what private, inside information Garry had, he just smiled.

“I’ll never tell,” he said. “Never.”

But now … YOU know. The truth has finally come out.

URBAN MYTH?

Once upon a time, there was a company who had a great idea. Create a platform on which all kinds of people could come and do whatever they wanted. They could write, show off their photography or paintings, even show videos and play music.

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They created easy-to-use software and a congenial atmosphere. People flocked to them. They started sites. Talked about their lives, their memories, their hopes, dreams, art, ambitions. They connected with one another. Participated in collective events and formed friendships that circled the globe.

And everything was good.

One day, someone in a high tower in a far distant place said “We need to get with the real world.”

Many people were surprised because they thought they already were part of the real world, but he was the Big Boss, so they listened. He must be wise, because he was in power and we know that powerful people are wise, right?

tablets kindle iPad

He told his employees that small devices were the way of the future, that no one would use real computers — desktops or laptops. Indeed, several years before, many people believed — briefly — something along these lines. Everyone had long since backed off this belief — because it was obviously untrue.

Too many things — in business, art, even entertainment — needed a bigger, more powerful machine. Working people weren’t going to do spreadsheets on telephones or tablets. These things were convenient for checking email, but without room to work and a keyboard, no one was going to write their next novel on it, try to manage finances, or edit photographs.

Ghost Town by Apache Junction

But the Powers-That-Be didn’t want to hear this. They had a vision and were determined to make it true, at any cost. Moreover, they believed they had the power to force their customers march in lock step to their music. They hired a band and played marching music day and night.

Their customers blocked their ears and expressed their dismay, but the corporation couldn’t hear anyone over their own music.

Thus over a period of months and years, they changed everything. They took away the fun, the congeniality, and the software. They sucked the fun out of blogging. And then, people began to drift away.

There were some protests, some angry voices, but most people had been doing it because it was fun and it wasn’t fun any more. So they posted less. With each revision of the platform, more people gave up.

Not with a bang, but a whimper.

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There wasn’t any other platform to take its place. There ought to have been, if this were a happier fairy tale. No alternative universe existed into which they could go, so they just quit. They found other media. Maybe not as good as the old one was, before the corporate bosses ruined everything … but it was okay. People got used to it. At least no one was trying to make them do stuff they didn’t want to do.

empty chairs

Over a period of time, the big corporation noticed they didn’t have so many people using their platform. “No problem,” declared the Big Boss. “We’ll get businesses to take their place. They will pay us for our services.”

Businesses had their own IT departments and servers. They saw no reason to depend on someone else when they had their own resources. And the platform’s reputation for poor customer service while creating a user-hostile environment was all over the Internet. Everyone knew someone who’d been betrayed. No one wanted to risk their business. What if they were next on the corporate hit list?

“No thanks,” they said and moved elsewhere.

sad momProfits fell. First a trickle, and then a mighty waterfall. Customers abandoned the ship. Eventually, the corporation realized it was out of business. Like Wang. DEC. Grumman. IBM. GTE. They thought they were so big and so powerful, they could do whatever they wanted however they wanted.

They were wrong.


The End.


What a Twist! — Tell us a story — fiction or non-fiction — with a twist we can’t see coming.

THE REDIRECT SCRIPT

Referring to the little script that will redirect your “new post” interface back to the “classic” version as opposed to the “improved posting experience” that is in no way an improvement — it works.

This morning, for the first time since I selected “keep the classic interface” back when WordPress first tried to foist this crap software on us, they tried to send me to the new version instead of the old. I guess they finally cleared out the default I had set. So the new one flashed for half a second on the screen and the script intercepted it and I was back where I want to be.

For anyone still battling with the blockheads of WordPress, I strongly suggest you install the redirect into your browser. It will let you continue to blog the way you always have. It’s not going to solve the problem forever because WordPress is never going to give up.

The blogging platform that is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

The blogging platform which is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

Microsoft has demonstrated why this is a terrible idea, that forcing users to “do it” your way when they don’t want to, not only doesn’t work, but can transform your customers into someone else’s customers.

Microsoft has generated a lot of business for Apple and Linux while trying to convince us that Windows 8 isn’t garbage. WordPress thinks they can do the same, but get different results.

It’s marketing 101 and obviously, they don’t get it. They cannot force their will on people. Not here, not now, not in 2015 on the Internet. All they are doing is getting people to rethink if they want to continue blogging while searching for other platforms.

Please, visit How To Force A Redirect To The Classic WordPress.com Editor Interface on DiaryofDennis.com. It works. And when it is working, you can work, too. At least until they figure out another way to blow us out of the water.

A SLOWER LANE

I was thinking of taking a blogging vacation … and I may do it yet. But without further ado, I am going to slow down. I need a break. I’m beginning to feel a bit too much as if I’m back at work. I don’t want to feel like that. This is supposed to be fun.

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So, if I don’t post as much, there’s nothing wrong. I want a change of pace. Especially with vacations coming up, I’d like to hang a little looser.

Before we blogged, we wrote letters

Garry was saying he was taping an old movie, “A Letter to Three Wives.” He thought the whole concept of writing letters was kaput. No one writes letters anymore. We may dash off a note on a card, but a whole letter?

“When,” I asked Garry, “Was the last time you wrote a real letter.”

“When I wrote to you, in Israel?”

“Yup,” I said. “And the letters I wrote to you from Israel were the last personal letters I ever wrote.”

“Funny about that,” he said.

“Sure is,” I answered.

That was 1987.