Daily Prompt: Morton’s Fork – Hobson may have a choice, but I don’t

I'm part of Post A Day 2012


The question posed is as follows:

If you had to choose between being able to write a blog (but not read others’) and being able to read others’ blogs (but not write your own), which would you pick? Why?

For me, the answer is a no-brainer. I would write. Why? Because I am a writer. If I could not write, something in me would die. When asked “what are you,” I never immediately think I’m a wife, mother, grandmother or even that I’m a woman. I automatically and instantly respond that “I’m a writer.”

Being a writer is so much a part of my identity that if I am not that, then I am not sure what I am. Writing was my profession, but I was a writer before I earned my living writing. I have been out of the job market for more than a decade and I am still a writer.

Unlike other professions … and probably this is true of the arts in general, not just writing … what you do is more than how you earn your living. It’s a drive, an instinct, the way you synthesize your world and experiences. It stays with you as long as you breathe, long after the paychecks stop coming and often, even though the paychecks never started coming.

Writing is so deeply embedded in who I am that I cannot imagine not needing to write.  I think only death will stop me … and depending on how that works out, maybe not even that. If there’s an afterlife, I’ll be blogging about it.

Reading blogs is wonderfully inspirational for me and I would miss it greatly  … but there are books, newspapers, all other literary and news inputs. Writing can’t be replaced. There in no substitute for it. Nothing else could fill that space.


  • “The 12-Foot Teepee (Book Review)”. Anti Essays. 5 Dec. 2012: NOTE: This is a review of my novel. It is supposed to be free and available, but the site on which it is posted (Anti Essays) says that due to technical difficulties, none of the free essays on the site are accessible without paying them money. Do NOT pay them money. Read what you can without payment (which is most of the essay, fortunately) and then forget it. They call it a technical problem. I call it fraud.
  • Daily Prompt: Hobson’s Choice (writinglikeastoner.wordpress.com)
  • Daily Prompt: Hobson’s Choice (burningfireshutinmybones.wordpress.com)
  • Why read blogs? (bottledworder.wordpress.com)


Paths, rivers and life as a soap opera

So, there we were by the riverside, enjoying a springlike day in early December, me with my new portrait lens … Kaity with her favorite “does everything” lens, sitting on the steps trying to find something to shoot, something that might make an interesting picture.

Two paths diverge ... which one would you take?

Two paths diverge … which one would you take?

And I found things to shoot. Not my most epic photography, but pretty pictures. I saw across the street an actual double path, one paved, one dirt that split into two … and wondered which I would take.  I decided that it would depend on whether I was afoot or traveling in a powered vehicle. Vehicle, go paved. Feet? Go dirt. Bet you wind up in the same place anyhow. Because that’s the way life goes. You think you’re taking a different road and thus you are going to wind up in a new place, but actually, you’re merely taking a detour and you will end up in exactly the same place. Karma is.

Right now, my life is a really bad daytime soap opera. It is so bad it is really funny. A few days ago, I was ready to cry. Now, I feel like howling with laughter. At a certain point, the ridiculousness exceeds the drama and you might as well laugh because it’s too stupid to be tragic.

Millville Steeple

Secretly, Mel Brooks is writing my life. Or someone like him, anyhow. Whoever it is, I sure do wish they’d let me read the script before I need to play my role. Life, unlike soap operas, doesn’t work that way.

Shadows on a path

Maybe that explains, in part, my obsession with pictures of paths. I’ve been taking pictures of paths through woods, along cliffs, along shorelines my whole life.

River reflections

I have yet to find the perfect path either as a photograph or as a direction. Maybe there isn’t any such thing. Maybe all paths are inherently imperfect. Probably they are supposed to be. Nobody said it was going to be easy, but I didn’t think it would be quite so funny.

Although there are many paths we didn’t take all of us wonder where those untaken paths would have led, I’m willing to bet I’d have inevitably wound up right where I am.

Call it Karma. Destiny. Fate. Doesn’t matter. It just means that you can run, but you cannot hide.

Spam! I bet I get more than you do!

These days I get approximately two spam messages for every real hit on my site. Since I average between two and three hundred hits on a normal day, I get at least five or six hundred spam messages. Is this a record? Should I be proud of this? Or worried?

Among the many questions I ask the universe, and one of many to which I will never have an answer is: How did a slimy, over-salted canned meat come to be synonymous with pornographic electronic junk mail?

Even more puzzling is that people really eat Spam. You may take that any way you like.

Most of my spam comes from a Spanish list server (lista de emails … anything you get from this address is spam) and 80% of these are also porn. The rest of them are scams. Legitimate companies do not send thousands of illiterate, nonsensical messages to random blogs.

Then, there are those who ask for advice. They use some version of this message as a comment to a randomly selected post.

“These are in fact fantastic ideas in concerning blogging. You have touched some good things here. Any way keep up wrinting.

Huh? What? It gets better. For completely incoherent, this is one of my favorites. I receive several dozen of these every day:

“Fine way of explaining, and fastidious paragraph to take information concerning my presentation focus, which i am going to convey in academy. Watch Elementary Season 1 Episode 5 Online”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

A few of my best friends and followers always get mixed in with the spam, so I can’t just go and delete it. I have to read through it. Sometimes there are 10 to 15 pages of it at a time, sometimes more, but since there are usually some few real comments mixed in, I have to at least look through all the pages. Every once in a while, something looks like it might be the real deal … a true comment, but I can’t always tell.

If you’ve been trying to comment and aren’t showing up, probably you’re getting dumped into the spam and because I don’t recognize you, you’re getting deleted. If you are a real person, please say something that identifies you as a human and not a machine generated message. I apologize in advance if I have over-zealously deleted you.

I know that I am by no means alone in getting tons of this garbage. WordPress does a good job finding it and putting into the spam folder. I wish there was some way to tell them to just delete anything with the word “Viagra” in it. Or “porn” or “hot sex” of for that matter, “lista de email.” That would cut down significantly on the volume because I’m reasonably sure that no one with something to say includes any of those terms in their comments or uses “lista de email” as their ISP.

My question is this: what do these spammers hope to accomplish by sending me this stuff? The messages never have anything to do with the posts with which they are supposed to be associated. Many of them are repeats and clearly generated on a computer programmed by someone whose native language is not English. Most of gibberish. But then again so are most posts of Facebook, so maybe that’s not a good example.

There are the ones that warns me my blog doesn’t display properly on the sender’s computer in Internet Explorer (why would I care?). There’s are three or four versions assuring me I am brilliant, they love my post about (insert post title) and promise they will tell everyone how useful the information is on my web blog (they always call it a web blog).

The thing is, while there are many ways you could describe my site, no one could honestly say (not even me) that it’s full of useful information. My stuff may be interesting, thought-provoking, occasionally funny, off-beat and apocryphal, but useful? I don’t consider it useful and I write it.

There are those that request I exchange links with them and those that would love an invitation to write for my blog, those who suggest I come to their site to see huge penises, hot lesbian sex, hot gay sex, hot sexy sex, huge breasts, gigantic butts, and attractive ladies doing disgusting things with inanimate objects. If not, they would like to sell me some Viagra.

Does anyone actually believe this will generate business? Make money? If they believe this, why do they believe it? Does anyone ever respond to these “messages”? So many questions, so few answers.

If anyone has an answer, let me know. I’m baffled.

Meanwhile, feel free to visit the Spam website. You’ll be glad to know that Spam now comes in a wide variety of flavors, including a low sodium version that dodges the question of  all that fat but lowers the salt level. The site includes recipes, a Spam Museum (no joke), and an online shop where you can buy Spam gear, such as caps, tee shirts, and other strange and wonderful things.

So maybe I do include useful information. I guess it depends on how you feel about Spam.