MORE ICY WEATHER BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

I took a lot of pictures yesterday, so I’ve got a few more to show you today. This is just as well because I feel totally non-creative at the moment. Part of it is simply that I don’t feel well.

The clunk I took on the head a couple of days ago didn’t help a lot either, but to be fair, I was pretty brain-dead before that too.

A couple of things are wearing me down. Politics is clearly one. Like a lot of liberals — and other fair-minded people — the ugliness of our political situation is dispiriting and depressing. Whatever humor I felt about it at the beginning has long disappeared. Now it’s just grim and hateful. It has made a lot of people a lot grumpier than they were.

It’s like living under a black cloud that just follows you around and keeps raining. Which either means we are rain gods or we are drawn by a famous (and I should add, dead) illustrator.

So, back to the birds. They are bright, non-political, and all they want is some seed.

I can do that.

More of the bright red bird

Cardinal and his Junco pal

Yesterday, the Patriots won a hotly contested game against the chiefs. It was one of the games where even those of us who aren’t super football fans can only say “wow.”

Cardinal in the cold

On a frozen Monday

All the other news is so demoralizing and sad, it’s hard to stay excited. Especially since with so many TSA agents calling in sick because the government doesn’t think they should pay them for their work, you have to wonder how people are going to get to the game.

The bitterly frigid weather hasn’t helped either.

Well-chilled Junco

From here to Atlanta is more than 1000 miles. Driving, that’s about 86 gallons of gasoline and at least two, maybe three days at the wheel.

A chilly Nuthatch

By train, that’s 24 hours.

Part of a Nuthatch and a Cardinal

Although there remain some flights available, the prices are ridiculous. Lucky we weren’t planning to go anyway, isn’t it?

AFTER SEVEN YEARS OF BLOGGING … Marilyn Armstrong

WordPress has a lot of issues, most of which they have never fixed and will never fix. Some months ago, my graphics gallery stopped working if any of the pictures included a caption. Sometimes, the gallery just doesn’t work at all and hangs the entire post. Sometimes, I lose the post in the process.

The text shows up in a different format that its designation. The spacing between paragraphs has always been a gamble. They change formatting so often it’s not unusual for your template to become obsolete while you are in the middle of writing a piece.

Landing Titmouse and Junco

Comments disappear entirely or show up days — and occasionally months — after you write them. Or never.

Pictures may or may not show up. The size in which they show up? It’s like playing craps with busted dice. Frequently, the intended picture isn’t in the post or a picture appears that was pulled from a sidebar or someone else’s post. Sometimes photos are much smaller or larger than designated — or appear as a straight line or a black box … or nothing.

They have a lot of text issues they’ve never addressed which is one of the many reasons I strongly objected to them floating a whole new version of text editing when they never managed to solve their previous problems.

Nuthatch

WordPress never repairs anything. Their “happiness engineers” mostly specialize in telling you it’s not a problem. It’s just that one day, half your followers disappeared because they don’t like you anymore.

“Overnight?” you ask.

They explain that you don’t write what people want to read, the implication is that the problem is not their dipsy database, but your writing.

They know this how?

They don’t know anything. What they really know is that they are not there to solve problems, but rather to explain why the problem is not their fault but yours.

Instead of fixing problems, they move on to “something different.” If the new format has issues, they won’t solve them. They will just move on to something else and you can follow … or not.

They don’t care about bloggers unless they are a business prospect. If you aren’t paying the highest price for a business site, they have no interest in you or whatever problems you have.


I’m tired of WordPress. Tired of their bad attitude and failure to realize that we, the writers and creative artists who built their brand are still the people who bring in business. Without us, people would only come to do business and most of their visiting population would be gone.


I’m paid up through 2019 but after that? I don’t know whether I want to continue. I love the friends I’ve made. I get good responses to my work, too. But it’s so difficult to work around the embedded issues that are always part of WordPress. I wonder if I will continue past this year. The main reason I keep going is my friends — who matter — and I’m retired and don’t have that many other things to do.

I love writing. Not answering questions or figuring out how many prompts I can stuff into a 200-word response.

I want to see WRITING. Something new, out of your or my head, using our own ideas.

The audience has changed, the concept of what blogging is has changed. We all used to write about what our world and what was happening. Now, it’s all prompts and “Question & Answer” stuff. Almost no one is writing about what matters to them.

Each day feels less like fun and more like work for which I don’t get paid. The bloom is off the rose.

Ultimately, I’m tired of the hassles of WordPress. They don’t care about us.  No matter how brisk our stats show our response to be, they don’t care unless we are a business application. Why should I pay for a business plan when I don’t have a business?

Junco on a very cold morning

That’s the direction they are going. You, me, all of us who began blogging for the joy of writing or whatever our creative thing is are no longer valued. WordPress does not care. We aren’t making enough money for them. And it isn’t as if they are failing for lack of funding. They just aren’t getting as rich as Jeff Bezos.

If you think it’s bad now, it will be much worse in a year. If there was a viable alternative, I’d be there, but Blogger (Google) has its own issues every bit as bad as these and no reasonable way of directly responding to posts.

Whatever is wrong, you can bet it’s about money. No company wants to simply be profitable. They have to make enough money to rule the world. We are not part of that goal.

BARTERING – THE COUNTRY WAY – Marilyn Armstrong

Bartering may be “old style” in the U.S., but I think that’s just in cities. Because in the country, a lot of bartering still goes on. The countryside … where the cows outnumber people and only the horses look fat and happy.

July - Farm Stand

“I’ll write your brochure if you’ll frame a couple of pictures.” Done!

“I’ll clean your kennel if you’ll groom my Scottie.” Done!

But then there are the old-fashioned people. “I’ll plow your driveway because you are a member of our church, even though you never show up. How about I dig you out — and you come to church this Sunday?” A bargain is a bargain. He didn’t require we come every Sunday, right?

The steeple of the now-abandoned UU church in Uxbridge. Built in the mid-1800s, it’s getting pretty shabby. Might be earlier, but I’m not sure.

“Sweetie, I’ll buy your prom dress and all the trimmings. All I want from you are a couple of hours to take some nice pictures of you all dressed up and ready to go.” Done and done! Until she decides to not go to the prom at all (long story).

“God? Hello up there? If you make my cancer go away, I’ll attend church every week. Forever!” Unfortunately, God didn’t say anything. Fortunately, cancer was remitted by surgery.

When you negotiate with The Big Guy Up There, you’ve got to hope he’s listening. Faith is the coin of exchange. You believe, he delivers. Or not.

Personally, I think one, loud, direct, incontrovertible Word from The Big Guy would go a long way to turning this nasty old world of ours into a better place, especially if accompanied by a major smiting. The “blind faith” thing is getting a bit old.