DEVELOPING AN IDEA – Marilyn Armstrong

Develop – from Fandango’s One Word Challenge

Garry and I have had this particular conversation often. For him, writing is a developmental process. He has to “see” the entire post, or at the very least, he has to see the beginning and a hint of where it is going before he can start writing.

As far as I can tell, for blog writing anyway, I don’t develop anything. I get a little “bing” in my brain and I start writing. If, for some reason — like it’s the middle of the night or I’m cooking or something I really can’t stop — I try desperately to hang onto the tweak of an idea until I get my fingers on a keyboard.

When I was writing manuals for software and hardware, that was an entirely different story. I had to see in my mind the entire process, from the introduction to the final indices. While I didn’t use 3X5 cards (I never quite got “into” the whole card thing), I did write a preliminary table of contents — subject to massive changes when I got my hands on the product and realized the engineers had no idea how the product would be used.

I excused them for not knowing because while they understood what the software would do,  they had no interest in users.

I wanted to know how people would make it work and it was my job to help them do that. How they would interface with it. What graphics they would need. When they would want panels of information. When they need “instant” data — such as press “CTL D” for valid entries. And when they would need extensive background data.

It all depended on who was going to be using the product. Was it going to be a civilian who wasn’t entirely sure how the mouse worked? Or an engineer using this software to create new software for a new product. Two very different species of users.

Surely the engineer would not need an explanation of how to use a mouse or turn on the computer.

The hardest manual to develop was when the manual would be used by civilian and experienced people. Then you had to write for the least experienced user. Because someone who already knew the information could skip it and move on, but someone who was clueless would be grateful it was there.

A badly written manual — and these days they are all badly written because they are generated from developer’s notes and not actually “written” at all — can effectively confuse anyone. I remember one manual which used symbols — probably an early version of emojis — instead of text. Problem?

There were a lot of those tiny little symbols and if you didn’t have good closeup vision (anyone over 40 knows what I mean), it was amazingly hard to tell one from the other.

There were so many. You needed a glossary of symbols just to know what you were looking at. Mind you, this was a beautifully designed manual — written by (you guessed it) a designer. Her goal was to make it look great, so it was gorgeous. Useless, but pretty.

I didn’t get the job of writing it, but I got the call to come in and repair the disaster. I made a lot more money than I would have had I been given the job in the first place.

Probably, all of this explains why fiction is a big problem for me. Good fiction — even flash fiction — requires at least a minimal level of development. From beginning to conclusion, you need to see your way through the story to the end.

I write really good non-fiction. I write amazing instructions when I am trying. The rest of the time? I unwind ideas with a lot of diversions because that’s the way I talk. A story needs to roll out and much of its magic are the words themselves, the music they make. That kind of music doesn’t require structure or development. It is a feeling, a sense, a kind of magic, and beautiful words.

These days, in retirement, I don’t develop, plan, or structure. I write and what comes out is the whole of it.


Note: I do not have a single copy of any book I wrote in hard copy. I think I dumped them when I retired. I wish I’d saved one or two. But if I get desperate, I have a couple as documents, though I have a feeling they are in a format I can’t access anymore.

BEAM ME SOMEWHERE! – Marilyn Armstrong

As airlines make traveling by air increasingly miserable, unfriendly, and physically uncomfortable, those of us who yearn to travel but abhor airports and airplanes have been waiting for teleportation.

You know. “Scotty, beam me up” and off you go to another place. It might be earth. It might be an outer planet in another galaxy. It might be … well … the bar in Star Wars of that cool one in Second Generation! Who the hell knows? And who really cares?

Although I foresee a limit on luggage, I’m sure I could work with that. They are making gigantic strides in travel clothing every day!

Warning, though. This is one of the many things we won’t be able to do unless we vote very Blue this November and remove the Orange Menace from the White House. Anyone who feels we need a wall at the Mexican border isn’t going to allow teleportation for just anyone from anywhere to anywhere else.

Certainly, I can’t imagine his nibs allowing ALIENS beaming into the land of the free and the home of the cringing, whining, terrified white people who voted for Orange Peel. If you think brown, red, yellow, or beige people whose native language isn’t English are out to get you, what will you do with a creature with tentacles who loves drinking grout cleaner?

What a bunch of dumbasses. We could own the universe, but instead, we prefer being locked up behind our own walls lest we feel potentially threatened by people who are different than us. And mind you, there is really not a bit of difference between us and the other colors and styles of people. We are all exactly the same, genetically.

Obviously, there are individual differences. Smarter, dumber, more creative, more athletic, totally clumsy — but nothing that you won’t see in any group of people who all have the same coloring or background. Skin and its variations have no effect on intelligence or ability to understand the meaning of the universe.

You know that, right? Nor does not speaking English. Mr. Nobel was Swedish. He didn’t speak American. Einstein was an immigrant. Sam Adams made beer and fomented revolution … and I’m not sure where he was from. Ireland? Scotland? England? Germany? The whole world? And anyway, we are all from Africa because that’s where humanity began. Check it out.

But wait! Orange Gecko won’t be in charge forever! He’s too old! Unless we’ve also invented the no-aging device, he’s going to bite the big one just like the rest of us.

Get those transporter beams revved up. I’m ready!

Let’s open up the world while I’m can still enjoy it. We will take our elderly tricycles and electric wheelchairs with us. Surely they have sidewalks on Betelgeuse.

Let’s transform our cellular material and go with the flow. You ready? I’m definitely ready!

For today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt of Teleport.

Randy Rainbow on Impeachment Possibilities – REBLOG – Judy Dykstra-Brown

And just to cheer you up, from Judy Dykstra-Brown, this charming big of political humor and music!

lifelessons - a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

Thanks to forgottenman for sending this to me. HERE is another Randy Rainbow song on his blog.

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COLORS OF SEA AND SKY – CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Teal, Aqua, Seafoam or Turquoise

Green turquoise corn maidens
Truly Turquoise
Aqua daisies
And then there is the sky … 
And an amazing sky

ROCK CHIPS, WINDSHIELDS, AND LICENSE PLATES – Marilyn Armstrong

Rock damage to windshields is so common that sooner or later, it will happen to you. If you drive, that is. Usually, the worst part — for me — is a sharp bang on the windshield. It sounds like a bullet.

Very startling.

I try to not drive behind big trucks with wide wheels. They kick up a lot of rocks and other stuff and can make a mess not only of your windshield but also your car’s finish.

Sometimes you see the damage immediately, but often, it takes a day or two to show up. After it arrives, it will creep along the window, starting as a little ping with a few rays, then inching its way up the glass until suddenly one morning, you realize you don’t have a choice. You need a new window.

The old PT Cruiser with Garry at Fenway

I don’t know about every state, but both here and in New York, the glass people come to you. They will replace your windshield in your own driveway.

The last time we needed a replacement, the people next door drove the same car as we did. Ours was silvery gray and theirs was maroon. After replacing the glass, the guy called my son and said he was done.

Owen asked him what did the car look like and he said it was a 2007 Red PT Cruiser.

“Dude,” Owen said, “I’m sure they’ll be pleased, but that’s the neighbor’s car.”

Our neighbors are not very neighborly and never said anything, though surely they recognized they had a new windshield. We got a new one too.

Moral of the story? Check the license plate number before you start the work.

Word Prompt: Rock Chips

FRENCH FRIDAY: PIPI IN PARIS … AND ELSEWHERE – Evelyne Holingue – REBLOG

French Friday: Pipi in Paris … and Elsewhere

August 24, 2018 by  14 Comments

So many cultural facts jumped to my eyes when I moved to the USA from my native France!

However, when last week my husband forwarded me a link about newly installed public urinals in Paris he not only gave me an idea for a French Friday post but he also pushed my memory button on. I suddenly remembered the top cultural difference that I immediately noticed upon my arrival in California.

Wow! I thought. There are so many places pour faire pipi. And they are free and clean. They even have changing tables and are handicapped accessible.

I kept raving about the fact that toilets in the States were no longer a place to avoid and no longer a daily challenge. And our numerous French visitors confirmed my first impression, even if they were initially shocked to see that most stalls didn’t have full-sized doors and that it could be possible for someone to peek. At first, I was surprised, too. Years later, I can attest that no one has ever peeked. In fact, I’ve stood in long patient lines in women’s restrooms, everyone of us assuming that each stall was occupied while in fact some were not. No one peeks in American restrooms. Only visitors do 🙂

Back to the early 90s. Yes, doing number #1 in the U.S. was far easier than in France. French public restrooms were fewer, rarely free, and sadly much dirtier.

For more true stories on the subject, scroll down to read about our family toilet adventures in the City of Lights.

Despite the dire situation for all Parisians, men, though, had an advantage, thanks to urinals found in most metro stations and also in public spaces. My husband argues that they were filthy and that as a boy and teen he felt uncomfortable using them. I totally get him.

Still, men had an edge. French girls and women had to learn one lesson: hold it.

Things changed in 1981 when the first sanisette was installed in Paris.

It cost one French franc to use them, but they were clean and private.

Fast forward to 2018. Has the French pipi scene improved?

Sanisettes are free, but many close at 10:00 p.m. since they can be used for drugs and prostitution deals. Cafés still forbid their restrooms to anyone who’s not a paying customer.

So it remains a challenge to find clean free restrooms throughout France, including in Paris.

No wonder alleys, building entrances, and street corners have turned into Men Restrooms. Women still hold it.

Which explains why men were on designers’ mind when they invented the uritrottoir, a noun created from urinoir and trottoir, which mean urinal and sidewalk in French.

The French company based in Nantes installed the first uritrottoirs in Nantes in May 2017 and their arrival didn’t trigger vehement reactions.

In Paris it has been another story.

This summer a few uritrottoirs have been placed in the city.

From the Ville de Paris’s twitter account

This what CNN wrote about it.

A quick linguistic note: French people may contradict me, after all I’m not an expert on male toilets, but I never used or even heard of pissoir. In French urinals are called urinoirs, pissotières or vespasiennes.

Here and there are two additional articles, if you read French.

Residents in Île Saint Louis, one the most posh Parisian neighborhoods, argue that they spoil the look of the historical landmark.

Visitors to the area, though, applaud the idea.

When I browsed through the articles, whether pro or con, I quickly noticed that almost every person interviewed on the topic was a man.

Of course, they love the uritrottoir.

Continued …


Read the rest of this post on:
FRENCH FRIDAY: PIPI IN PARIS, Evelyne Holingue