SERENDIPITY STRIKES AGAIN!

A Name for Yourself

Some writers’ names have becomes adjectives: Kafkaesque, marxist, Orwellian, sadistic. If your name (or nickname, or blog name) were to become an adjective, what would it mean?


Lucky me. Smart me. Far-seeing me. Pat, pat on my back, back!

When I picked my blog name, it already meant something, which is “to find something for which one is not looking.” A serendipitous discovery is pretty much a happy accident.

ser·en·dip·i·tyˌ noun
The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. “A fortunate stroke of serendipity”. Synonyms: (happy) chance, (happy) accident, fluke.

I suppose you could talk about my pithy, ironic commentary as Marilyn-isms, but there are more than enough existing words to describe pithiness, irony and wit without making up a new one.

Let’s just stick with serendipity. It’s a good word, a happy word. When chance takes you someplace pleasant and surprising, if you unexpectedly happen upon something that tickles your fancy, think of me.

Serendipity strikes again!

WELCOME TO MY WORLD – WEEK 20

Share Your World – 2014 Week 20

Thank you Cee for letting me participate and coming up with cool questions :-)


If you could go back and visit any time period, what time would you travel to and why?

Probably the Victorian period, late 1800s through early 1900s. As long as I get to be one of the rich people because the poor during that period were probably worse off than they were at any other time in history.

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I’m tempted to say the Middle Ages (14th century), but the disease and lack of sanitation is off-putting, though the era is fascinating.

If you could have three wishes granted for you alone, what would they be? This is a time for you to dream and have fun.

1. Be healthy and pain-free, able to move freely and walk more than a few yards. I miss having a body that works like it should. I would wish this for everyone, if I could.

2. Winning the big lottery so I could pay all of our debts, be able to help my friends and live without worrying about how we’ll get through the next month (or week or day).

The Blacklist3. Finding a place to live with good weather. Without a brutal winter or a stifling hot summer. Maybe the Caribbean? If I’ve already won the lottery, we could visit and have visitors all the time, even though we are further away.

Wanting something to quench your thirst, what would you drink?

Coke, fruit juice, whatever. This is not so important to me as it was once upon a time.

If you watch TV what are your favorite three television shows?

NCIS, Blue Bloods and The Black List.

 

ANOTHER CUP OF COFFEE, PLEASE

A Form of Flattery - Write a post about any topic you want, but in the style of an author or a blogger you admire.


It’s hard to get up a real head of enthusiasm on a day when you doubt the post will ever actually show up on The Master Post. WordPress, please bring back regular vanilla ping-backs. The technology is tried and true. It’s been working for more than 20 years and clearly, whatever you are doing has, as my granddaughter says, “issues.”


 

Mr. CoffeeWrite in someone else’s style? To be honest, most of us don’t have styles all that distinctive. I certainly don’t or if I do, I’d appreciate someone explaining to me exactly what that might be. I write the way I talk, but with a lot more typos. I hope my speech typos are undetectable. I’d hate to think everyone actually sees my words flying through the air, misspelled and mispronounced. Egads.

So … just in case the WordPress people get the Daily Prompt back on line and connect us all up to form the much-touted “family” — I think I speak for many of us — and if I don’t, I definitely speak for myself — when I say “Which ‘other bloggers’ style? Who has such a distinctive presentation that I could flatteringly imitate it? Maybe I am suffering a caffeine deficiency that I need to quickly remedy?

I suppose I could get ambitious and pretend I’m William Faulkner or maybe Edgar Allen Poe … but it’s Sunday. Sleepy peaceful quiet Sunday. I will get myself another cup of coffee. Yes, I think so. Uh huh.

And, for my finale, I’ll stick with my style (whatever it may be). May your day be peaceful and include sunshine and lots of coffee.

IF YOU WANT TO GET HIT

Note: I break my own rules all the time. So the most important rule — the ring to rule them all, so to speak — is do your “thing” whatever it may be. Have fun. The rest will follow.

Or not, but regardless, at least you’ll have a good time.


As far as I can tell, there are a few things I’ve found that work well. They aren’t really rules, just tips. You are more than welcome to ignore me.

  • Keep posts short (500 words or less)
  • Make it funny if you can
  • Pretty pictures get lots of hits
  • Post often.

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It’s often said that “Less is more.” In a post, fewer words is good.

Fewer posts is not so good. If you give people more to look at and read, they’ll look and read more. On the other hand, beware of posting so much you become a spammer minus the agenda.

So. Take good photographs. Write stuff to which people can relate. If people identify with you, they become friends and supporters. Be entertaining, even when your material is serious. You might make a real difference. It happens and it is deeply satisfying when it does.

And it helps to have a bit of luck!


Note 2: The picture of the swan has nothing to do with the post. I just wanted to use the photograph.

 

JUST ANOTHER DAY? REALLY?

Just Another Day

Our days are organized around numerous small actions we repeat over and over. What’s your favorite daily ritual?


After yesterday’s debacle with the Daily Prompt, I’m unenthusiastic about today’s. It is just another day … and one of my little rituals is checking the Daily Prompt to see if it sparks a thought upon which to write a little something. And this is very much a part of my daily ritual.

Now, because WordPress has not seen fit to so much as explain or apologize for yesterday’s disaster, I’m wondering if it’s worth the time and effort to participate? If we can’t even count on a ping-back link to the original post, the entire point of such “community” challenges is gone. There is no more community.

I think when WordPress addresses what happened and explains that they fixed it and it won’t happen again, I’ll feel better. Maybe. Until such time, participation will not be a given and I’ll be a bit scarce around here.

When I screw up, I take responsibility. Perhaps this is a lesson WordPress needs to learn.

TIME TO CELEBRATE!

It’s going to be “one of those days” for little old Serendipity. Today I pass the 150,000 hit mark and I’m not at all sure what that proves, if anything. I missed the day when my blog followers (not counting followers through other channels) topped 3000 … I think I was busy being sliced and diced. Something like that.

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It’s also my son’s 45th birthday. Aside from any other sentiment … how did I get old enough to have a middle-aged son? I remember one day I was sitting with my mom and she looked at me … got this weird look on her face … and said: “You’re going grey!”

“Yes,” I admitted. “I’ve been going grey for quite a while.”

“But,” she said, “You’re my daughter.” She looked sort of stunned and I didn’t understand, but I do now. I have a giant son. Tall and big, going grey and bald and looking so much like his father sometimes it catches me unawares and spins my brain around like clothing in a dry cycle.

It’s also the day the leaves are finally going to pop. I can see it from my window. Green fuzziness atop the maples. Spring is finally — about a month and a half late — springing forth. I think it may be too late for a lot of the flowers, but maybe not. I hope not. We don’t get a big spring around here, but however brief, it is the showiest time for flowering trees and spring blooms.

Apple Blossoms

I’m in favor of all seasons. When I was living in Israel, more than anything else, I missed seasons. Autumn especially, but also the rhythm the seasons make. When you grow up in a 4-season world, you body synchronizes itself to the seasons and it make the passage of time orderly. It feels right.

So, here we are, still on Serendipity. Garry and I need to get out today with a couple of cameras. I’m not up to anything strenuous, but we both need an airing, me especially. We are in the grip of cabin fever and only a trip into the world will help.

Thanks to everyone who has passed this way for making this such a fun place to hang out … and to everyone who has become a friend and supporter through some very rough times. I couldn’t have made it through without your help!

And happy birthday, son! The torch is definite in the hands of your generation now.

CONFESSION

Time for me to confess a few things.

I’m having a hard time. My body and I are at war … and the body is winning. All my systems are out of whack. My gut is in full rebellion. I can’t sleep more than a few hours a night no matter what meds I take.

I can listen to audiobooks but I can’t seem to focus  on text. I’m having a lot of trouble reading your posts because I can’t stay focused on anything longer than a couple of hundred words. I’m best  in the morning. As the day goes on and my various body parts begin to crash, my attention span diminishes with each passing hour.

I look okay, but I’m not. Not yet. I’ll get there, but it’ll take time.

So I apologize to all of you. I can’t keep up. I can’t read all your beautiful posts though I want to. I’ll do more as soon as I can. Right now, just keeping up with comments is a stretch. More will come. Later.

WHY I DO IT

Why do you blog?

A friend asked me why I blog. Which is the same as asking me why I write and take pictures. I felt like asking her why she breathes because writing and shooting is like breathing to me, but instead, I asked her why she plays golf.

self 4-27-2914 marilyn

She is a fine sportswoman and can’t imagine living a life in which she can’t play or compete. That’s as much who she is as her face.

I write because I have a head full of words. I take pictures because I see them wherever I go. These things are as much part of me as my face or my feet. I can no sooner not write as not breathe.

Go figure.

ADVICE FOR BABY BLOGGERS

I’ve gained a slew of new followers recently. If I can, I check out all the my followers. I go look at their websites, if there is one … or even a profile. It’s because I’m trying to get a handle on who’s who, figure out what made them click the “Follow” button.

Sometimes it’s easy. It’s a fellow photographer or writer. Maybe we’ve had a passing encounter via his or her website. Or they have an interest in what I write about, are my generation, love the same movies or share a passion for history. Or the same taste in books.

Quite a few are probably spammers hoping to gain entry to my site. I can block them from commenting, but I can’t block them from following. Anyone can follow whoever they want. I wish it were otherwise.

96-KKCheer-3a

A bunch of them are from countries whose language I don’t speak, often whose alphabet I can’t read. I think some of them are photographers and come for the pictures, but I can’t always tell for sure.

And then there are the baby bloggers. Not merely new to blogging, but … well … children. Teenagers as young as 12 or 13 years old. Girls who aspire to a career in fashion (why in the world do they follow me? I’m the most unfashionable person I know!) and some who want to be writers or photographers. Many who aren’t sure what they want, but have discovered blogging. They follow me, hoping I’ll follow in return and help them build a following of their own. I get that.

If blogging had been an option when I was that age, I’d have been doing it. For a creative kid, blogging is a godsend. So much better than a diary, which was my best option.

It’s hard to get a blog off the ground. There are weeks, months — even years — before it begins to come together. So when these kids ask me if I’ll follow them or imply as much, I’ll at least give their site a read, a “like,” a comment and maybe some encouragement. I’m already following more blogs than I have time to read. I’m loathe to add more, though now and then I do add one anyway.

Some of these baby bloggers are surprisingly good. Their observations are astute and sensitive, their photographs show a fine eye for composition. Others — not so much. Some need to learn the rudiments of composition and basics like focusing, cropping. Many more need to learn the difference between writing and texting.

young shooter

For all you youngsters who want to be writers, I would like to offer you some unsolicited advice:

  • Use real words, not internet abbreviations or hacker slang
  • Check your spelling
  • Write sentences and paragraphs
  • Leave some white space on the page. All text and graphics makes me claustrophobic
  • Punctuation is not optional. Discover how exciting commas and periods can be
  • Do not end every sentence with one or more exclamation points!!! Really, just don’t!!! If you do that all the time, it makes you sound hysterical!!!
  • Use emoticons sparingly :-)
  • Contractions require apostrophes. It’s don’t, not dont, can’t, not cant.

If you want adults to read your posts — anyone older than your texting pals — you will have to write in a way older folks can understand. It’s not just the words you use.

It’s also subject matter. I’m mildly interested in what’s going on with your generation,  but makeup and gossip don’t hold much appeal for me. If you are going to write about things that only interest your high school friends, your only followers will be the kids who attend your school. Maybe that’s enough for you. But if you want a wider audience, find topics that interest a broader audience.

Most importantly, make sure that you write in a real language, not text-speak. Please.

Status

STATS AND STATS

Good intentions

I meant to write a little something on stats when my followers passed the 2000 mark and certainly when the number of posts exceeded 2000. I meant to, but I forgot. There’s been a lot of stuff going on lately. So much so that by Tuesday of this week, I thought it was Friday. Busy, busy, busy. 72-stats-stats My best month ever was November 2012 with a total of 12,067 views. Between hurricane Sandy and the presidential election, the Internet was a very exciting place. The most hits I’ve ever gotten on a single post was The FBI can’t do a simple Google search? on which I got 10,143 hits. I wrote it during the commercial break.

The posts in second through fifth place in my best-ever list are an old Internet joke and three re-blogs.

I have personally answered nearly all 20,000+ comments. If I didn’t answer yours, it was because I missed it (it happens occasionally) or I ran out of levels to continue the conversation. I am a compulsive comment answerer.

What’s the Secret?

After a lot of careful consideration, the secret to success — such as it is — is to write a lot of stuff people want to read. And publish good photographs. With a few notable exceptions, hits on my pictures exceed hits on my writing.

Size matters. No matter what anyone says, if you post more good stuff, whether you write it yourself, reblog it, have guest bloggers or share the spotlight other writers and/or artists, publishing more gets more hits. There’s a direct correlation between the number of posts and bigger hit counts.

What does it all mean?

I don’t know. I stopped obsessing over statistics. These days, I take a look when I think of it. I like to see how my best work does in “the ratings.” Sometimes stuff I like best does well and I’m pleased.

If a good post (in my opinion) gets overlooked, I scheduled it to for republication. I re-post photos, rework writing. I rerun favorite posts, but I will republish anything. I don’t reblog because I don’t like the way it looks and most people don’t like having to jump link to read the rest of the story.

None of us needs to apologize or explain why we republish our own work. If NBC can do it, so can Serendipity. And so can you.

With more than 2000 published posts, it’s too much material to not reuse at least some of it. There are, of course, posts I’d just as soon forget I ever wrote in the first place — a subject for another day.

Often, an under-appreciated post finds its audience the second or third time around. If you’re prolific, you can be sure not all your readers read every post the first time it was published. And if they did? Well I watch reruns of NCIS often enough to do dialogue with them. Reruns make the world go round.

The most important thing to come out of my blogging experience?

Friends. So many of you have become my friends. You are loyal, caring and I love you. You have been kind, supportive, encouraging … all the things that friends are supposed to be. I cannot begin to thank you. So … thank you. All of you. You make my world a better place every single day.

Image

I AM A PEBBLE, LIFE IS A RIPPLE

I am a pebble. Drop me in the water and ripples spread along the surface, marking where my pebble began its descent. Then the water closes. The ripples vanish, leaving nothing to show where the pebble sank.

Unlike the pebble, I plan to resurface. I’m just not sure when, exactly.

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We all sign up for stuff with full intentions of fulfilling our obligations. But sometimes — often — life gets in the way of art. Shit happens. We have to adjust. Commitments and projects are set aside for later or for others to do. A lot of stuff I planned will have to go on without me for a while.

I like to think you will miss me, but I know the Internet is rich with bloggers, websites and news. It moves on. I’m just a pebble on that huge beach strewn with millions of rocks.

I follow a lot of you. I don’t always comment, but when you allow it, I leave a “like” as a calling card. Those of you who don’t accept “likes” do yourselves a disservice. Many folks — including me — don’t always have something to say. It doesn’t mean we didn’t like your post. Sometimes I just don’t have anything valuable to contribute. Other times, there are hundreds of comments in place which have covered the bases. I’m not going to add anything to the dialogue. If you let me click “like,” you will know I was there. If you don’t … well … your loss.

Now, about my site. Exactly how I’m going to keep it going while I’m recuperating, I don’t quite know. I know part of it. Garry will write more, Rich will pitch in more too. I’ll try to create some posts to go up when I’m not up to doing new material. I hope you won’t stop coming by. Rich and Garry are great writers and deserve your support, especially since they are supporting me on top of their other obligations.

For the blogs I follow,  everyone will be set to “no mail” until I’m well enough to deal with it. I’m afraid my inbox will explode otherwise. It will be bad enough with only bills and junk mail. When I think about how much could pile up in weeks and months … well, formidable doesn’t cover it. I will also set my scheduled posts to “no comment. “

You will still be able to leave a “Like” because I love knowing you visited. All of this is intended to keep my email from overwhelming Garry, who is going to have a lot on his plate. When I get back on the computer, I don’t want to be faced with thousands of notifications. I’ll just delete them en masse anyway. That’s what happens when I get back from vacations, too, and I always lose stuff I would I wanted. Don’t take it personally. It has everything to do with me and nothing to do with anyone else.

I have turned off a lot of stuff already and I don’t have time to do much visiting. I’m sorry about that. It’s become so much a part of my routine to go and see what all of you are doing … but there’s no more time.

I’ll turn off the rest shortly. I need to use what time I have to get things in order. There’s lots still to do. The time has come to get my house in order, literally and figuratively.

If this is leaving you puzzled because you missed part one of my ongoing medical drama, you can click the link and read THE HEART SURGERY UPDATE

WHAT’S WITH 1337?

What’s with the 1337 thing? WordPress uses it for a lot of things, for the top number in posts, in follows. I figured it must have some kind of historic significance to them, like the amount of money they had when they started the company, or maybe a time or maybe map coördinates.

Nope.

I looked it up. Whatever did we do before we had Google? Of course, before the internet, we would not be looking it up because this is the straight stuff: pure internet/gamer/hacker gibberish — er, slang. A bizarre distortion of language and a techno-geek in-joke.

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1337 means LEET,  a twisted version of the word “élite.” Which, over the years, has become internet slang for superior. Here’s the math: 1337 (1 – L, 3 – E, 7 – T) = LEET = ELITE.

This is supposed to be tres cool. Do you think it’s cool? I’m curious to hear what you think. I think it’s lame and annoying, but hey, I’m old. Definitely not one of the cool kids.

In fact, I’m not a kid at all.

GRANDMA’S BEST ADVICE

The other day, I had one of the increasingly rare moments alone with my granddaughter. She has been going through a prolonged siege of the teenage girl crazies, a ghastly combination of hormones, boys, high school and high drama.

Clearly, she was in need of the best advice I had to offer, so I gave it to her.

“If you are going to be crazy, be crazy,” I said. “I was a basket case at your age too. Many of us were. It’s a girl thing. But trust me. You really can trust me on this. Everything gets better. Not very long from now, you’ll look back on this time and be embarrassed by some of the stuff you are doing.”

High tension wire, golden maple leaves framed by an azure sky.

And then I gave her the best advice I had: “Be crazy if you must. Just — for God’s sake, don’t put it online. Your great-grandchildren will be finding your Facebook posts and laughing their asses off. Worse, your future possible employers will be finding them too, not to mention your potential life-partners, business associates, friends and co-workers. Be nuts if you must, but shut up about it. Don’t publish it.”

I know it’s the current thing to spill ones guts on the internet. I share too, but only if I can make it reasonably elegant and I don’t mind who knows. Moreover, I’m retired. I will never again have to hunt for a job. I have the only husband I will ever need or want. My friends already know I’m a whack job and they love me anyhow.

But my granddaughter is 17. She’s got a whole life to live, worlds to conquer and all that drama published on the internet can turn into the stuff of nightmares.

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Nothing ever vanishes once it’s “out there” in cyberspace. Everything you ever wrote, ever commented is going to show up on someone’s Google search. It gives friends something to laugh about and you something to blush over … but it’s also something for those who don’t like you to use against you. It provides easy ways for people to hurt you. If you are, as I am, past the age where you give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks or says about you, behave accordingly.

However, if you are still in the job market, still hoping for a career, especially if you are a teacher or any kind of public servant. Or looking for work in finance or something which requires a security clearance … Think carefully before you publish.

Nothing you put on the internet is private, no matter what anyone tells you. I can find posts I wrote that were supposedly private twenty years ago and newspaper articles in which I am mentioned that were published in The Jerusalem Post 30 years ago.

If it goes up on any form of social media or blog? It’s a land mine on which you will eventually step.

So be crazy. Be as crazy as you want. Just don’t publish it. If it’s unpublished, it’s a rumor. Plausible deniability applies. But if it’s published? You’re busted.

GETTING TO KNOW YOU, LA, LA, LA

Cee’s Photography

Share Your World – 2014 Week 7

What is your favorite couch potato activity: readings, watching movies, watching sports, napping, anything on TV, computer games, play cards, or other?

I watch television while using the laptop. I often write when what’s on TV isn’t especially enticing, always with a lot of canine company.

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What is your favorite toppings on pizza?

Pepperoni or just a lot of cheese.

What is your favorite genre of movie or book?

Books? Fantasy. Unreality works for me as long as it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Movies? Comedy and thrillers that … you guessed it … don’t take themselves too seriously. I’ll watch or read anything that has a good story, sharp script and wit. I value cleverness.

Do you prefer eating the frosting or the cake first?

I scrape off the frosting and eat the cake plain. Sorry. Don’t like frosting.

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AWARD, AWARD, AWARD!

Marilyn Armstrong:

I wanted to write all about these awards and of course, the one that was given to me — The Imagine Award. Which I love because if there’s one quality I value in myself and others it’s imagination. But time is short for me right now and I thought perhaps a simple reblog and a HUGE thank you might suffice. Love you Sharla! You’ve been a true and faithful friend and a wonderful supporter.

Originally posted on catnipoflife:

My, my, my! Three awards! Thank you, Raani, Ute, and Texas!

friends-followers-awardThe Friends and Followers Award comes by way of Raani York. Raani writes a very unique blog, which you must visit in order to truly appreciate.  While she writes in many categories, my favorite is her letters to celebrities. What a hoot! She carries them for one wild ride! Then, of course, there are Jake’s antics and viewpoints recorded as the Diary of a Cat Prince :-)

According to Raani, this is a relatively new award. It was created by Nerissa at Nerissa’s Life. The Friends and Followers Award was created to celebrate the 75,000th hit at Nerissa’s blog. Congrats, Nerissa!

Here are the rules:

  1. Post the award on your blog. 
  2. Thank the blogger who gave you the award and follow them (by any means necessary ). 
  3. Pass along the award to a few friends…

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