I started blogging because it was Thursday or Tuesday … or maybe Monday and I didn’t have any reason not to. I didn’t have anything specific in mind and I had no plans. I felt like writing and since I’ve always been a professional writer, I couldn’t see much point in writing if no one what going to read it. I don’t need another by-line. Got plenty of those. A by-line and $7.50 might buy me a cup of coffee if I don’t want one of the really big ones. Or something with foam.

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I’d been following a couple of blogs on WordPress and had signed up so I didn’t have to identify myself each time I wanted to comment. That was in February 2012. I didn’t actually do anything more except name it and write an “About Me” page until June and didn’t get “into it” until September when the election stuff all over the Internet got totally crazy.

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I dislike ignorance. I resent millions of people who think you can get all the facts you need by watching Fox News … or for that matter, by listening to the opinions of those who watch it, then repeating what they heard as if it were facts. It made me crazy too, so I spent a lot of time checking out rumors, “opinions,” so-to-speak facts, then writing my stuff or reblogging commentaries by people who seemed to still have some contact with planet Earth.

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When the election finally ended and we had a nation full of sore losers whining about how they wuz cheated, I wrote about that along the lines of “shut up, take your marbles, go home and wait for the next election.” An opinion I still hold.

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Then I shut up too because sometimes, silence is the best answer you can give.

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After that, I started writing about whatever I felt like writing. I discovered the joy of reviewing books which worked out well since reading has always been my number one form of entertainment. I treated myself to some good camera equipment and upgraded my processing tools … and that’s pretty much where I have stayed.

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My life is a disorderly, sometimes scary, often a painful disaster area. So there’s always something awful going on. And I’m old enough and I’ve been around, so I’ve got a backlog of stories — true stories no less — to tell. When I remember one, I tell it. Preferably with humor because whining is boring. Even I find my whining boring, so I can only imagine how dull you find it.

Sunrise Rockport

I’m opinionated. Ask anyone who knows me. Not only am I opinionated, but I can be on either side of any issue because I’m a Pisces and I agree with everyone, more or less … or at least, I understand their point of view, even if I hold a different one. Everyone owns at least a bit of the truth except some annoying morons that I wouldn’t mind shooting with a big gun to which I am entitled by my second amendment rights (you pointed it out, not me). But guns costs money and I don’t have any, so I guess I’ll have to use words. But a gun, now that would add a bit of spice.

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Has my blog changed? Often. And I’m sure it will keep changing. It isn’t evolution. It’s just me getting bored with doing the same thing all the time.

Old House in Hadley

I find a new template I like and switch to it. An idea scurries across my brain? I write about it. A spider crawls up my leg? I yell ‘EEK’ and that’s a post. I watch a movie and review it. I have a stack of virtual books to read and review that leaves me not a minute to spare. Sometimes I have trouble finding enough hours to sleep.

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And then there’s my health (ha!) about which the less said, the better. But I’ll still talk about it because life and death have a lot of impact and can’t be ignored. Not completely, anyhow, though Lord knows I wish I could.

Stagecoach in Tombstone

I write what I think will make others laugh or at least smile. Sometimes I write stuff I think may prove useful in solving problems.  I display pictures I enjoyed taking which are pretty or interesting to look at.

Manchaug Dam

I have no goals at all. I have no ambitions. Ambition left home without me about a decade ago, along with my health. I’m not in it for money. I write because I’m a writer and a blog lets me put my writing in front of eyes that may read it. I take pictures because I love to take pictures and displaying them makes me happy.

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Am I supposed to have a lofty objective? Something important I need to achieve? Because I don’t.

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If the lack of ambition means I’m a failure, so be it. I lack objectives. There is no distant destination I feel I need to reach, though there are places I wish I could go …. just because they are beautiful and I’d like to go there.

Christmas and Boston

Christmas and Boston

I wish I were making money at this. I need a mobility scooter. I need a stair lift. I want that cool new camera Panasonic just put out. Lacking capital, I hope my writing keeps getting better and eventually I get rid of typos. Take better pictures.

Old #2 in winter

And hope you’ll enjoy them. If that’s not goal enough … oh well. C’est la vie.

 

Daily Prompt: Origin Story — Goal Free and Destination Unknown

Weekly Writing Challenge: Salutations? Who cares?

WordPress

WordPress says:

Where do you stand on the grand salutation question? Do you instinctively write “Dear…” even to your siblings? Do you drop any attempt at deference even when writing to your boss, professor, government representative? Do you mix-and-match depending on your audience’s status, age, or culture? Answer the poll below, and then, in a separate post on your own blog, expand on your thoughts regarding etiquette in the age of email. Stories, anecdotes, poems, opinion pieces, essays short and long — all are welcome contributions. Don’t forget to tag your post with DPchallenge, so that we can all read your take on email (in)formality.

I almost choked with a combination of laughter and astonishment. And I thought Facebook (last week’s challenge) was silly. But this is so much sillier! Wow.

Why does WordPress wants us to address this as if it were a meaningful questions? An issue? “Salutations” on email messages? Someone really cares? Do they — the good people at WordPress — really care? Really and truly? Because if this is the big controversy in their world, they are missing the point. Which point? All the points. Everything that matters and makes a difference.

Serendipity Says

Mom always said: “You ask a silly question, you get a stupid answer.” You might want ponder the inner, deeper layers of meaning of this classic, yet still charming truism. You guys are not joking? Because if you are, that would be fine with me. If you aren’t, and I guess you aren’t, okay, I’ll tell you.

I don’t care.

I never did.

I never will.

If you are talking about formal communication with superiors, teachers, employers and colleagues, there is typically a standard for email messages at school and/or in the workplace. There’s no need to guess. Just follow the rules. I’ve written guides for students and faculty to deal with this issue. Some schools encourage informality as do some workplaces. Learning basic manners is another issue and goes way outside the boundaries of email salutations. In reality, in any kind of structured setting, there are rules and standards. Follow them or pay a penalty.

The question of whether today’s young adults know when to be formal vs. informal, even know the difference or understand how to be civil is a separate — and much larger — area of discussion. It might be an issue worth discussing.

Short of someone spewing obscenities (why am I corresponding with anyone who’d do that?) or outright insulting me (again, why am I corresponding with someone who’d insult me?), what matters is my friend. The message. To that end, I ignore missing punctuation, grammar, typos, missing words … all of it. This isn’t school. My role is not that of a judge or school marm. Spelling and punctuation matter to the extent they clarify the message. Otherwise, all I care about is content. I won’t notice if there is a salutation or not.

To sum it up again: I don’t care. Not one little bit. Not in a minor way. Or a major way. Not in any way.

Who is extremely polite in email? Scammers and spammers. They address you with your full name, as if you were a dignitary. That is one of the markers to warn you it’s fake.

Are we so cocooned in our little corner of the blogosphere that all we care about are silly things? Email salutations? I think we are better than this. Now, if this were meant to be funny … that I could wrap my head around, but as an issue I’m supposed to take seriously? Good Lord, no.

What’s the underlying issue?

I started out thinking this is a non issue. As phrased, it is. But underneath the question, are serious unasked questions about how to strike the appropriate tone and content for various types of electronic communications. Formal versus informal. Social context. Command structure. The nature of internet relationships with people who are not friends or family members. Respecting boundaries, something about which many young people are hazy. If you didn’t learn at home, you will learn quickly out in the big bad world the first time you inadvertently show disrespect to a boss or co-worker. Or, God protect you, a commanding officer.

Early in the cyberworld, before email formats were standardized, there were issues about salutations and signing off to identify sender and recipient. Today, the embedded format of email programs, from gmail to whatever your office or university uses, is set to handle this stuff. Automatically. And getting better all the time.

When you’ve got an electronic header, a salutation for an informal communication is redundant or optional at most. Email isn’t snail mail, just faster. It is a different animal. So many conventions of traditional paper mail are embedded by format in email from CCs and subject lines to headers. Our software takes care of details. We need guidelines for content. It’s not just about grammar and punctuation. It’s the whole cyber-culture where there are no rules and everyone makes it up as they go along. Until suddenly, that’s not good enough.

Other than a ritual adherence to form without substance? What’s the point? Email is what it is. Now, if you’d like to discuss manners in communication, that’s a meaty subject.

Daily Prompt: Great? Greater? Greatest?

Kind of reminds me of the old talkin’ blues — “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like!”

I don’t know — or care — if the blogs I follow are great, greater or greatest. It’s entirely subjective. Great for who? Me? You? Everybody on the world-wide web? I doubt there is any such blog. If there were, we’d never agree on it, so the real question is what do I like and why?

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I like humor. If you make me laugh, you own me. I am perhaps overly invested in word play and wit. I like photography, so if you post astounding pictures–or just pretty ones–I’m in for that too. I appreciate thoughtful posts on subjects ranging from ancient history to the meaning of life. If you combine them all, even better.

I adore authors and try to support them, even if what they write isn’t my favorite stuff. I’m a gadget freak and faithfully follow blogs that delve into hardware and software. I read movie reviews, book reviews, product reviews. I trust my fellow bloggers. From your blogs I’ve discovered books, authors, movies, cameras, lenses, software and accessories. I don’t know where I got information before I found you all!

I follow many blogs for many reasons. All great. Some are written better than others. Some photographers are more skilled than others, but I don’t count typos or ignore less than perfect pictures. Many people lack technical finesse, yet have true vision and thoughts worth hearing. I’m egalitarian by principle and inclination.

I love animals. Dogs, cats, horses, birds and everything else. Wild animals and pets. But not insects. Sorry bugs, I just can’t love you. I’ve tried. Maybe in my next incarnation.

I hate hate and haters. I admire kindness and generosity especially because I’m not as good as I want to be. I don’t think cruelty is funny. Even when deserved, suffering makes me wince, not laugh.

I’m interested in God, religion and faith — but can’t stomach being bullied to believe a particular dogma. One size never fits all, not in philosophy, religion, political system, technology or clothing. I read blogs by ministers and other religious people. I want to know what they think and why, how they made their “leap of faith.” Seeking is good.

Then there’s information, ideas, useful hints, suggestions on how to do things differently. I love learning new stuff. Don’t we all?

I don’t read everyone everyday. Not enough time but I try to peek at everyone, even if I’m a couple of days late getting to it. But in my humble (well, maybe not so humble) opinion? You are all great. We are great. Great because we care about something not ourselves. We share. Whether to change the world or make someone smile, help with a problem, teach something, offer a new way to see the world, we don’t just talk. We do.

Greatness is in the eye of the beholder. I behold you all and thank you. You’re the greatest.

 

A Place of Peace

Despite all the blogs and bloggers who have posted articles on the etiquette of commenting, too many people still don’t get it. Maybe they just don’t want to understand, because it isn’t so complicated.

I got a really nasty note yesterday from an individual who took issue with something I wrote. I think she didn’t even understand how rude she was. Another — even nastier comment — expressed displeasure with my failure to address his comment — 3 months ago. The original comment was insulting (which is why I didn’t respond). Today’s follow-up was much worse.

In both cases, the result was identical. Bye bye. You’re out of here. Don’t come back.

This is not a forum, public or otherwise. This is my personal blog, my website. My little piece of peace in a nutty, wacko cyber world. In this place, we discuss, but we don’t fight. If I don’t like your comment — for whatever reason — I can choose to not publish it, delete it, edit it … or call it spam and make it so you trouble me no more.

It doesn’t mean you aren’t free to disagree. You are welcome to disagree. Politely. Reasonably. Friendly. But if you feel like sniping, insulting me, calling names, think this is an opportunity to show how smart you are at my (or anyone else’s) expense? Bye bye.

If you do not appreciate what I have to say or how I say it, no one is forcing you to read it. You don’t have to look at my pictures, read my opinions, like me or follow me. Cyber space is infinite and you are welcome to be virtually elsewhere.

I do not have to take crap from you. Not here. In the rest of my life, I deal with all the stuff I don’t like. In this place, this tiny corner of the huge universe, I hold fast to an illusion of control. I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

In this place, this space, we dwell in peace and harmony, even when we differ.

A Twofer for Moi! Word Press Family Member (In need of washing) Plus The Sunshine Award

A huge thank you goes to Draliman on Life who obviously thinks better of me than I deserve. One award is a big deal, but a twofer … and two I’ve never received before. Thus he honors me while depriving me of bloggers to whom I might pass these awards. I mean, there oughtta be a law, y’know?

I was going to defer doing this until I next come up for air. But I started counting on my fingers (consider it a fleshy abacus with limited functionality, but infinite availability) and realized it might easily be the end of August or even September before I find a space in time. I might as well just do it.

I’ve been broadening my reading, writing, reviewing, picture-taking and enjoying the results immensely, but collapsing under the weight of committment to so many deadlines. They don’t call them deadlines for nuffin’! Yoicks. Why do I do this to me? Truly I am my own worst enemy. I’ve been enthusiastically saying YES my whole life. So you’d think I’d have learned something. Apparently not so much. Old Dogs (or Bitches, in my case) can learn new things, but are not so good at unlearning old bad habits. Woof.

Whining time is officially over.

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On to the accepting portion of the program. The two awards with which I’ve been honored are the Sunshine Award — which I assume has to do with spreading light and joy throughout cyberspace. I’m not sure I’m such a ray of sunshine, but I take pretty pictures and say something fun now and again. Maybe that’s what counts. Note I’ve created a shiny new badge ’cause the old one was getting a bit droopy.

The rules for the Sunshine Award require me to answer a few questions. These are not mind bending quizzie things, so I think I can get through them unscathed. And … I can do it with pictures! Yay! Yah? I’ve taken a few liberties because some of the questions were meaningless to me, so I didn’t include them. You’re welcome to add anything you want, however.

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Favourite animal?

Bonnie Resting

Big Guy

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Favourite number?

FortyTwo

Favourite non-alcoholic drink?

Mr. Coffee

My passion?

Our books say a lot about us ... maybe too much.

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Cameras

Prefer getting or giving presents?

Be sure to close the barn door on your way out
Favourite days of the week?

Mayan calendar
Favourite flower?

summer flowers

The second award is the WordPress Family award. I am definitely a part of this family, but apparently Mom and Dad at WordPress don’t approve of me. I’m the kid (every family has one) about whom they speak in whispers behind closed doors. With 80,000 hits, more than 350 followers plus well over 1000 posts, I have never written or posted a single thing worthy of Freshly Pressed.

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I think I’ll survive the slight though I remain forever un-fresh, un-pressed and unheralded. I embrace my cyber family and joyfully contribute to daily prompts in photography and writing, though I’m stale as old coffee. Ah, but when I think of all my pals on the humongous cyber blogsite in the sky, my virtual sun shines again!

WordPress Family Award

YOU guys, you out there …. you’ve all been so kind and so welcoming. You’ve changed my world in all the good ways worlds want changing. It makes the effort a joy rather than a burden, gives me a focus for my days (and my nights, as often as not).

Here are the rules for the WordPress Family award:

1. Display the award logo on your blog. Done!

2. Link back to the person who nominated you. Done again!

3. I will nominate 10 others who I think deserve notice. That’s 10 combined for both awards, right? Because 20 is over the top. I want to point out if we keep requiring every recipient to pass it on to 10 or more bloggers, every blogger will have received every award many times over. This is effectively a pyramid scheme, a chain letter. It can’t keep expanding forever.

Many of the people to whom I want to give awards have just gotten them, from me or someone else. I have a suspicion they won’t consider another an honor. More a lot of work for which they don’t have time. Maybe it’s time to consider making sensible modifications to these awards. ALL the awards. Before no one wants them.

4. I will advise my 10 awardees of that I have awarded them. But it’s going to take a while.

5. This is it. The big moment. Ten — that’s 10 — friends who blog. I’m spreading love. I got it. A minyan.

All of you, heads up! You, at the computer. Don’t look around, I’m talking to you.

I’m giving you two awards. You may choose to ignore them, acknowledge them or pass them along to whoever you feel would genuinely like to receive them. And deserves them.

To my friends who have gotten every single award I’ve gotten, often at the same time — I’m not going to name you again. I love you as much as ever, but I understand you’ve got lives and obligations. Maybe even a family and a job. If you genuinely want more awards, let me know because I’m not sure how many of you see this as an honor versus how many wish I’d take my awards and disappear. I love you, I really do, but I don’t wish to burden you.

The Bookshelf of Emily

The IPC

Lasers, Monsters, and Barbarians, Oh My!

Films and Things

My Beautiful Things

Fish of Gold

The Queen Creative

Iam Who Iam

Catnip of Life

Sunday Night Blog

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I’ll Have Them Both, Thanks! The WordPress Family Award and the Sunshine Award, WOW a twofer!!

Marilyn Armstrong:

Draliman on Life has kindly shared two wonderful awards with me and although I don’t have the day to put into fulfilling all its contractual terms and sub-clauses, I did not want to let this lovely gesture and honor pass uncommented.

I aways start out with a big WOW, THANK YOU, YOU REALLY LIKE ME, YOU REALLY LIKE ME!

These are beautiful awards and if I do not respond quickly — I probably won’t because I have so many deadlines and commitments over the next weeks — don’t think I have forgotten YOU or the lovely awards. I really need to learn to look at a calendar and recognize the finite number of days per page and know I can’t make a deadline in a day. There’s a process that requires more time than I allow myself — and this crunch is the result.

I’ll expect to be dug out by sometime in August if I don’t make any more promises. Does a vow to not make any more vows really count? You’d think I’d have learned by now, but apparently NOT.Sunshine AwardNK-1

I love blogging, but I need to get organized and more realistic Thank you and thank you again. I like your “U” additions. I’ve always felt that “or” becomes ever so much classier when accompanied by a “oUr”! It’s why Brits always sound so much smarter than Yanks.

I’ve made a fresh image for the sunshine award. It was getting a bit tatty and pixelated from too many clonings, so please come by and grab one :-) It’s a thank you from me, to you … and all Sunshine awardees! If you want a really BIG one, ask and it shall be given!

Originally posted on draliman on life:

A few days ago Khana over at Khana’s web nominated me to receive the WordPress Family award. Then a couple of days later Nanuschka nominated me for both the WordPress Family award and the Sunshine Award!

I’m touched – I feel as if my WordPress buddies are part of my extended family and I’ve wanted this award for ages! I love reading about the experiences and views of people from far-flung places like the USA, South Africa and so on as well as posts from closer to home. I feel like I almost know some of you people.

The Sunshine Award – now, I’m not really a “Sunshine” kind of guy. Maybe my overwhelming pessimism doesn’t come out in my posts? But I’ll accept this one as well – maybe it will inspire me to positivity!

Here come the logos!

WordPress Family Award

Sunshine Award

Here are the rules for the WordPress Family award:

1. Display…

View original 596 more words

It’s YOUR fault!

I’m not sure how this happened. I haven’t found anyone to blame yet, but I’m looking for a scapegoat and would appreciate a volunteer.

When did my blog change from a fun hobby into a do-or-die project? It has been consuming my life. Incrementally, bit by bit, it nibbles at my days, chews up my evenings and gnaws the edges of my nights.

Dutch IrisI have computers everywhere, so I can work from any room. Any place I might relax, a computer lies waiting. The proliferation of computers was a convenience, so I wouldn’t have to haul stuff around. It wasn’t supposed to be a constant reminder of tasks and assignments. I renounced that stuff years ago … or so I thought.

I started reviewing books because I love them. Now, I have more books to read than time — and I’ve got deadlines. Deadlines? Come again? I’m retired, aren’t I?

No time to read other people’s blogs or listen to an audio book just for fun. No time to read anything that isn’t on my “to-read” list. Barely time to answer personal email. Or talk on the phone, shop, cook or do anything except write, edit and read. Sleep? No time for that, either.

We don’t change as much as we think we do. Just when we think we’ve finally gotten that piano out the door, it sneaks back in the window. Old, engrained habits lurk — then when you think you’ve got it beat, pounce. Whack. HEY! Where’d you come from? Saying “yes” until I’m drowning — it’s an old song, oh so familiar. I know the music, lyrics and all 42 verses. Old habits are like old shoes. So comfy. Slide right into those babies.

Riverside gardenWhen I started doing this, I wanted to be busier than I was, but didn’t want to be tied to a schedule. Free, unscheduled time is the singular gift of retirement. We may be short of money but our time belongs to us.

Instead of letting myself enjoy the wealth of time, I’m back on a schedule. I’m not even getting paid!

So I’ve decided it’s not my fault. It’s someone else’s fault. I just need to figure out who. What about you? Has your hobby, your blog, your avocation taken over your life? I’ll bet I’m not the only one who has a problem. Maybe bad habits are contagious and I caught it from you. In which case …

It’s your fault. I can point a finger and be off the hook. No need to ponder my complicity or change my behavior.

This must be why scapegoating is so popular. It has surpassed baseball as our national pastime. If others are to blame, I can be a total screw up. If it’s not my fault, I don’t have to fix it. Cool.

So, is it your fault? You, there, sitting in front of your computer. Yes, I mean you.  Don’t try to weasel out of this. I know guilt when I see it!

Rain Rain Go Away

We were supposed to be in New York for the weekend. Seeing old friends. Doing stuff with the college radio station where Garry and I met. Instead, we got weathered. Tropical storm Andrea, or her remnants, are meandering up the coast dropping tons of rain. We couldn’t face the 500 mile round trip drive in heavy rain.

Saguaro Storm 06

So the day didn’t get off to a very good start. I expected to be on vacation, but find myself at home. It makes me grumpy.

This was not one of my best days. A stupid day. I had a snippy fight with the bagger kid in the grocery store and the dogs did things in the house they should have done outside because they don’t like rain. Through all this, my body kept reminding me that like the dogs, it doesn’t much it like the rain. The argument with the dogs and ongoing disagreements with my body were both pretty much one-sided, but the kid in the supermarket actually mumbled in what I believe was English.

The issue was pizza. I wanted my frozen pizza laid flat, not shoved into the bag sideways so all the toppings fall off. The young bagger was baffled. I suggested — perhaps a bit testily — if he would lay the bag on its side and insert the pizza, voilà, you get a flat pizza. Then I could transport the pizza and it would be ever so much more attractive when it became a future dinner.

He said I didn’t need to give him so much attitude. And me, a white-haired senior citizen.

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I prefer to think the lad was giving me an unintended backhanded compliment. He finally worked out what I mean about putting pizza into the bag, but then he put another 5 pounds of groceries in the bag on top of the pizza, including a half-gallon of milk, totally defeating the entire point. Some days you really can’t win. I shudder to think what that pizza will look like when we want to eat it, but I could not argue any further. My head was beginning to hurt. I wanted to go home and sulk.

Putting the groceries away reminded me how much prices have gone up without an equivalent rise in our so-called income. It is hard to believe how little stuff $100 buys these days.

My current goal is to restore my sense of humor. I think I’m about ready to forgive the bagger and the rain has eased off enough so the dogs are going back outside. It’s going to rain tomorrow and Sunday too, or so the weather gurus are saying. These long drenching rainy periods puts all our systems to the test.

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We don’t get out much any more. So many friends are gone. Many have moved far away and more are planning moves to the left coast or someplace in the southwest. It’s entirely possible I will never see many of them again. If they move to the other coast, there will be no more spontaneous gatherings. Probably ever. It’s tough to deal with. The world is supposedly getting smaller and indeed, our personal world is shrinking, but the distances between people seems to be ever-widening.

I’ll feel better when the sun comes out.