Back from the mountains, from the north land. Out of 9 days away, 4 were spent entirely in the car. We drove most of the day today and are exhausted. We need to rethink how we take vacations, how much driving we do. How close together we do long drives. 


I am not going back to posting three or four times a day. Garry commented I didn’t seem to be having fun anymore. He’s right. It has become a job. Serendipity has eaten my life.


So I’ve pulled back … and my stats are falling like a rock. Apparently, there’s a direct correlation between how much new material I post and how much traffic I get. So be it. I guess I’ll have to make do with less traffic. Because if I can’t do less, I’m going to quit entirely.


Vacation is a good time to ponder how I spend my time. I realized I spend all my time with the computer in my lap. The only time I’m not hooked up is when I’m physically out of the house, asleep, or cooking. I shouldn’t be surprised my wrists and shoulders hurt.


So … what?

I love comments. I’ll answer comments, but if I don’t answer you every time, it’s not because I don’t care. There aren’t enough hours in my day to keep up this pace. I’ll visit your blogs when I can, but I won’t make myself crazy trying to visit everyone everyday.


I’ll write if I have something to say. Post pictures when I’ve got something worth displaying. It will depend on the season, my mood, and what else is going on. Probably I’ll post more in the winter when I’m stuck in the house anyhow, less in nice weather.

So what do you guys think? Am I being unfair? Unrealistic?

I have stopped visiting bloggers who never visit me. That was easy. I don’t expect daily visits, but never isn’t enough. Never is actually insulting.


I wish I could give everyone a boost. I know you want me to look at your site because you drop links in my comments. Which would be okay if it weren’t obvious you haven’t read me. Or even looked at the pictures.


Blogging — especially over the long haul — is a lot of work. it means keeping at it when you are sick, tired, and you don’t feel remotely creative. It takes determination, patience, and time to write and edit. I’m slower than most people to fully develop an idea. Even slower to edit.

My pictures aren’t just snapshots. I seek pictures and locations … because there are only so many pictures I can take of my backyard before even I don’t want to look at them.

Then I download, review, and finally, process. I don’t do a lot of processing, but I do the basics. Even so, it takes time. Merely reviewing a hundred or so pictures — the output of a typical outing — is a day’s work. I’m often still plugging away at it when everyone else is watching a movie or asleep.

72-oil-yellow-bouqet_05 macro


don’t accept web chain-letter awards. It doesn’t matter what you call the award. Or who is giving it.

Anything that requires I annoy fellow bloggers, most of whom also won’t accept so-called awards, is spam. If you feel compelled to distribute them, send them to someone who has not up front stated he or she does not accept awards. Please: take “no” for an answer. If I say thank you, but no … nagging is just going to piss me off.


So there you have it. It will be interesting to see who keeps visiting. I’ll do the best I can for all of you, but it’s time for a change and I am determined to make it stick.


Yes, I’m going to keep doing it. Because it’s fun. And blogging is supposed to be fun. Expect a new one this Wednesday, September 23rd.


Personally, I can’t remember when I last wrote other than a list by hand. I’ve been touch-typing since I was 10 and never looked back. No one, including me, can read my handwriting. My hands cramp when I try, which isn’t often.

But there are times when you really need something in writing. Back when I was still trying to get established in a profession, I accepted any job with a connection — no matter how tenuous — to writing. In those pre-Internet days, getting a job was simpler than now.

Early Autumn September 11

You phoned or wrote a letter. You attached a résumé or brought it with you. You went for an interview. A day or two later, they called you back. It was either “Yes, you’re hired,” or “No, thank you.”

Every job didn’t require 30 hours of interviewing with everyone from the company president to the IT crew. There was a job to do. You were qualified to do it, or not. Whoever interviewed you had the authority to hire you. That was why he or she was doing the interviewing. Unlike today.


I don’t remember the details of the particular job, but I remember it was in the city. Manhattan. I wasn’t thrilled about its location. I lived in Hempstead, on Long Island. Getting there and back meant taking the Long Island Railroad which was not comfortable or dependable in the 1960s. I’m told it has improved since I last rode it.

I took the job because it was with a large corporation. I thought it might lead to something better. I was working, so I quit the job I had — whatever it was — and two weeks later, on the appointed day, I showed up for work.

The guy who had offered me the job was gone. Quit or fired, no one seemed to know. Moreover, no one had heard of me, or my so-called job. I had nothing in writing. No job. Without proof, I was barely eligible for unemployment. I learned the most critical professional life lesson:


Whatever it is. If it’s not written, dated, and signed, it’s not worth the paper it isn’t written on. Or less.


About this Daily Prompt thing — I guess I’m finished.

I will check to see if there’s an idea worth writing. If and when there is — or when the prompt overlaps what I wanted to write about anyhow — I’ll do it. Otherwise, I’ve given up.

It wasn’t a sudden decision or a conscious choice. I didn’t decide to quit. I got tired, busy, and annoyed with the prompts. Rather than whine about how bad the prompts are, I just didn’t do them.

Life has been a bit overwhelming. I haven’t had patience to deal with prompts that focus on the trivial or morbid. It has been a long time since housework (as an example) was a subject I felt required further discussion.


I don’t know why WordPress chose to kill off both daily and weekly writing challenges. I miss them. The point of following them wasn’t to enlarge my audience, which is as large as I can handle, but to see how many different ways we could all write about the same topic.

It was creative writing. The challenge was in seeing if I could find an interesting approach to the topic. I did pretty well for a couple of years, but the repeats are not challenging. Not for me, anyhow.

These days, it feels like dumb and dumber — or annoying and even more aggravating — so I stopped. I’ll drop around to see if something grabs me and it would be great if WordPress put an editor on it and made it live again.

To all the friends I’ve made, I follow you. Hopefully, you follow me. We don’t need the daily downer to keep in touch. If you are interested, you’ll keep in touch. See you around!


“Americans. They think everybody is snowflake. Only one snowflake. Only one you. But in Korea we think like snowball. Everybody snowball.” Yun-ji packed an imaginary snowball in her hands, then lifted it, palms up, as if offering Billie a present. “You see? Snowball.”

Both of them looked at Yun-ji’s hands holding nothing.

“Snowball,” Yun-ji repeated, then looked at Billie, at her unhappy mouth, at her face that looked like it had been bleached, and she pictured that soldier sitting in the tank, listening to head phones, maybe reading a Rolling Stone magazine, then the call coming in over the radio, the hurried attempts to think of an excuse, some reason why he didn’t see two fourteen-year-old girls walking down a deserted country road in South Korea.

“Never mind,” Yun-ji said and dropped her hands.


There are a lot of levels to this book. It’s a book about cultures and differences, but it’s also a book about the similarities that underlay human societies. In the end, our humanity trumps our differences and enables us to reach out to those who seem at first unreachable.

It’s about women and men, their relationships, their failure to communicate. The endless misunderstandings arising from these failed efforts — or failed lack of effort. It’s also about the assumptions we make based on appearance and how terribly wrong are the deductions we make based on what we think we see. And how we use bad information to make our choices.  And finally, the pain that results from choices — even when the choices are the best available.

The story takes place in South Korea. Billie, a young American woman, is in the country to teach English to grade school children. She has come there with her friend, lover and partner and shortly realizes she is pregnant. It’s as wrong a time in her life to have a baby as there possibly could be and probably the worst possible place she could be — far away from her home and isolated by distance and culture. The story is told in the first person by Billie as well as two other first person narrators, both south Korean.  Yun-ji is a young woman approximately the same age as Billie who also becomes pregnant and a man named Moon who is divorced and suffering through a painful separation from his son.

All the characters deal with problems springing from damaged relationships and miscommunication, misunderstanding, problems with parenting, pregnancy and abortion. Despite cultural differences, in the end the pain is very personal — and remarkable similar — for each.  There are no simple, happy answers.

It’s well-written and held my interest from start to finish. Whether or not the book will resonate for you may depend on your age and stage in life’s journey. For me,  it was a trip back in time to the bad old days before Roe Vs. Wade made abortion a viable choice. Of course, one of the issues made very clear in the book is that the legality of abortion doesn’t make it less of a gut-wrenching, life-altering decision. Anyone who thinks abortion is the easy way out should read this. Whatever else it is, it’s not easy.

It’s a good book. Strongly written, presenting highly controversial issues in a deeply human context.

The Korean Word for Butterfly is available in paper back and Kindle.


A Firestorm of Misinformation, Rich Paschall

There are always items in the news that bring out the social media commentators.  There’s the economy, Obama Care, and campaign finance laws.  There are Pipelines and Trade Agreements.  There is religious freedom and freedom of speech.  It is that Freedom of Speech thing that lets the haters and misinformers run rampant on the internet.

© 2007 Nuno Pinheiro & David Vignoni & David Miller & Johann Ollivier Lapeyre & Kenneth Wimer & Riccardo Iaconelli / KDE / LGPL 3 with permission.

© 2007 Nuno Pinheiro & David Vignoni & David Miller & Johann Ollivier Lapeyre & Kenneth Wimer & Riccardo Iaconelli / KDE / LGPL 3 with permission.

It seems a lot of people have time to create graphics with so-called information and historical quotes (internet memes).  Some are very artistically created with nice pictures of a president or other important historical person in the background.  If you are on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter enough, it seems some of these historical figures are speaking out of both sides of their mouths.  One of my favorite internet memes states “The problem with quotes found on the internet is that they are often not true. – Abraham Lincoln.”

Many of the quotes are easily disputed.  I like to type the first phrase of an internet quote or meme into Google search to see what I get.  Sometimes I immediately get proof the quote is false.  Sometimes I find the quote is true, but it was said by someone else.  It seems popular to attribute interesting political and social quotes to George Carlin, even if someone else said it.  Do we think a quote is more believable if a more famous person said it?

I have often seen a quote attributed to former President Jimmy Carter.  It says “If you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying you want a country based on Christian Values, because you don’t.”  While it seems like something Carter may have said post-presidency, he did not say it.  Yet, it is frequently re-quoted all across the internet.  Many sites will use it to drive home their point by indicating what this thoughtful and highly regarded human being has to say.

It was actually said by comedian John Fugelsang (Snopes.com here).  I guess if the quote comes from a comedian rather than a former president, it is harder to beat people over the head with it.

In addition to a simple Google search for the quote or alleged fact, you can go to websites dedicated to debunking internet stories.

The most popular is Snopes.com.  It calls itself “the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.”  It has to work extra hard to keep up with the mountains of internet crap published daily.  Still, I usually find out whether some really convenient quote to prove a point is actually true or false. Usually they are false.

Tech Republic has a list of the Top Ten websites dedicated to debunking internet rumors and hoaxes.  Snopes leads the list but you will find other reliable websites that can help you quickly deal with stories on Facebook that seem too convenient in proving a biased point of view.

Despite easy access to the truth, haters choose to believe whatever is posted on the internet if it can be twisted to support their position. They then take the misinformation and share it with their friends, who in turn do the same. I like to post an article or link into a comment under these false memes, but it does not seem to matter.  Comments continue to be made after mine in support of the lie, as if posting the true story meant nothing. It is infuriating, to say the least.

The anger and hate behind the false stories and memes was out in full force recently due to some “hot button” topics in the news.  The confederate flag debate was raging following the murder of nine black church-goers in South Carolina.  Haters from both sides condemned the “opposition” for their point of view.  While one side says the flag represents slavery and racism, the other claims the flag is a historical battle flag, part of their heritage. The name calling continued for quite a while.

Bringing out more internet lies than you can count was the historic Supreme Court decision on gay marriage.  We previously looked at the legal aspects of the case in It Is So Ordered.”  But not many respondents on social media were interested in the facts.

Celebrants quickly hailed the decision as if their social pressure brought about change, rather than coming as a result of well argued points of law.  Detractors saw this as the downfall of society and many Republicans vowed to have such a decision overturned by some undetermined method.  Apparently they are unaware that the Supreme Court has the final word on Constitutional law.  That is probably why we call them the “Supreme Court.”

With homophobic commentary out in abundance, never was so much hate poured out in the name of God.  I had reposted some Facebook comments by Fr. James Martin, SJ on my facebook.  I had noted he had linked to some thoughtful articles on same-sex marriage.  He asked people to respond to the court’s decision with love. You know, “love thy neighbor.” 

He did not come out in favor of the decision, he just asked us to love one another.  What did he get for his trouble?  The haters let him have it full force.  The advised him “you’ll be spending your eternity in hell.”  I guess there are bad consequences to preaching love.  The next day, in response to another posting calling for love and understanding, the good Father had to add to his facebook post “NB: No ad hominem. No uncharitable comments. No homophobic comments. One to two posts per person.”  Nope, that did not work for him. 

The bad part of social media is the ease in which hate, anger and lies are spread. Impressionable people can find support for their misguided thoughts, and feel they have backing for whatever hate or heinous acts they perpetrate. While we all support the idea of Freedom of Speech, it is safe to say our founding fathers had no idea how quickly lies could become accepted as truth.

And all of this happens in an era where the truth so easy to find. If you are interested in truth.


It’s an odd feeling to be declared obsolete. I had been getting increasingly less relevant for a while, but after the dot coms went down, the high-tech world turned on its ear. Venture capital disappeared and so did the start-ups that had been my bread and butter.

computer gargoyle

Tech writers were replaced by automated systems that generate “documentation” from embedded engineering notes. For years, no one cared if the material these systems generated was useful or readable. As long as “something” was included with the product, it was “good enough.”

Intelligent, human-based technical support had already been exported. Now, the same thinking was applied to documentation.

Need help? Call tech support on the other side of the world. Let your customers wait on hold, get disconnected. Finally, let them talk to someone who knows nothing and will provide incorrect information. Never provide a call back number, so if the solution doesn’t work — and mostly, it won’t — make them go through the whole thing again. What could go wrong with this? Who needs a manual?

i_467_old-computer-advertisement-006A lot has gone wrong with this approach. Almost everything. Belatedly, a wide range of companies discovered that having horrible customer service and no documentation was actually affecting business.

Industry-wide rethinking came too late for my career, but it’s nice to see respect for customers coming back into style. Better late than never. It turns out that customers who buy expensive gear do want documentation and expect good service, too. Shocking. Who’d have guessed?

The whole “call tech support” got old quickly.

I never intended to be a technical writer. I was going to be a “real” writer. You know. An author. Novels. Literature.

I eventually wrote a lot of books, all of them explaining how to do something obscurely technical and computer-related. For a gal who barely scraped through basic algebra and never took a physics or chemistry course, I picked up a lot along the way.

I rode the high-tech wave until that fateful day when I was informed “no one reads manuals.”

alienware side view computer

The world keeps turning. I’m seeing “help wanted” ads for tech writers again. It was a long drought.  At last, written (not generated) documentation is making a comeback. I’ve lived long enough to see the full cycle, to watch an industry — and my profession — come 360 degrees back to where it all began.


The Daily Prompt wants a list. I did a version of this a couple of weeks ago, but it has changed. It’s half a rerun, half a rewrite.


I’ve had to be away from the computer a lot in the past month. My email — the daily deluge of notifications, comments, advertising, and occasionally messages from friends — is overwhelming me. I thought I’d cut back a bit. Write fewer posts. Read a bit less.

It don’t like deleting notifications without reading them, but necessity triumphed. Nonetheless, I decided to try hosting a twice a week prompt. I think maybe I underestimated how much time it would involve. I may have erred on the side of “you’re kidding, right?”


All of this got me thinking about why I follow and comment some sites, but not others. Following are the top reasons I don’t comment and/or follow your blog:

1) You get dozens of comments. If I have to scroll past two dozen comments before I can comment, you won’t miss me, especially if all I was going to say was “Great post!”

2) You’re a photographer. I’m a photographer. 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 everything there is to say. If I have nothing new to add, I’m won’t say anything. 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. And anyway, I don’t have to agree or like everything you write.

5) If you post one picture per post 12 times a day, consider putting out two posts with six pictures each. I get buried by notifications, and comments. If you post that often, you become spam. Beloved, but spam.

6) If I’ve been following you for months and you never visit my site, I’ll stop following you. It’s insulting. You don’t need to read every word I write, but if you never visit, you will lose me. I have recently unfollowed half a dozen (more?) worthy bloggers who never felt compelled to find out what I’m doing. Respect means showing interest in other people’s work.

7) You write about one topic only. 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. Now you’re a 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.

10) More than half your posts are re-blogs. I follow you because I like you. We all reblog some stuff but if re-blogs are your primary material, I’ll pass.

11) I don’t have time. Today, I can’t make your party. I apologize. The clock ran out.

12) You write about stuff in which I have no interest. A sport I never follow. Books I’ll never read. Movies I won’t watch. I’ll wait for a while to see if you will move on, but after a while, I’ll give up. Our interests have diverged.

13) Your posts are too long. You love your words and I sympathize. I love mine, too, but I have learned to cut and cut some more. I run out of steam after 1000 words. Sometimes less.

14) You don’t respond to my comments. First, I’ll stop commenting. Then, I’ll stop reading. When I remember, I’ll stop following.

72-Yellow Car-Sunny Day_031


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

That’s it for today. I am going to take some Excedrin and have a second cuppa coffee.