A SUDDEN JOLT OF OPTIMISM – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Overjoyed

I know last night’s debate was a mess in a lot of ways. Too many potential (and unrealistic) candidates and a really annoying and abrasive set of television hosts who refused to ever let anyone actually SAY something that might be important. I think it was Colbert who said it was just as well these guys weren’t moderating Lincoln-Douglas because no one would have gotten a word in, edgewise or otherwise.

Round two of four – Detroit

I also agree with Garry that they need to sit down in a big, comfortable room with plenty of coffee and other drinks, pizza, sandwiches, and dessert. Then, point out to the people who are not going to really run for president (because they don’t have the money, backing, or support to do it) that there are other important jobs to do.

A classic moment

Senators. Governors. Mayors. Judges, who run for offices in many areas. The people who aren’t going to make the final cut need to make their moves on other Democratic platforms.

Marianne Williamson had a positive response. Good ideas. I don’t think she has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, but some good points made

They all had something to say — and some of it was reasonably intelligent, too — but they have to find another place to say it. There’s only one president, but we need a lot of senators.

As far as the actual debate went, there were too many people. The moderators were intrusive, mindlessly controlling and apparently not listening — and I was ready to whack them. I understand they were trying to maintain control, but some commonsense in letting people make a point before cutting them off would not have gone amiss. Thirty seconds is NOT enough time for anyone to say something sensible.

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – You could actually see the friendship behind the political push to win

All this being said, I was overjoyed with a sense of optimism this morning and it was the first in a long time.

Optimism? Yes. Really. Because mostly, they agreed with each other and didn’t spend all their time trying to chop each other down. They talked about what needed doing. The didn’t agree with exactly how, but they agreed on what was important. It was the first positive feeling I’ve felt to date.

I needed that. Maybe I wasn’t overjoyed … but I felt better. A little less glum. A little less angry and depressed.

THE CHANGING SEASONS – JULY 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons, July 2019 – Our Hottest July Ever!

It’s official. This has been the hottest July in recorded weather history … 140 years worth. Not only have these been the hottest days, but they have also been the hottest nights with temperatures rarely dropping below the 80s.

I haven’t been outside much. For an asthmatic, this is bad karma. The hot, wet air makes it difficult to breathe and lacking inhalers (because I can’t afford them), being inside is a lot safer.

I did take a few pictures in the garden and of the newly repainted deck, but this hasn’t been much of a photographic month. If someone turns down the thermostat and the humidity, maybe we’ll have some breathable air. Right now, it’s like trying to inhale hot soup. Whatever that stuff is, it isn’t real air.

The newly refinished deck — which is also why there are no birds. It was time to take in the feeders until the fall. I miss my birds!

The Garden – Daylily Central!

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

    • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
    • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
    • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

    • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
    • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
    • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to Su-Leslie’s post, she can update it with links to all of yours.

WHERE’S THE BUS STOP? Marilyn Armstrong

This is the kind of normal question that anyone might ask in any town anywhere. Except if you ask it here, the responder will look at you quizzically. Because honest Abraham of Civil War fame, we don’t have any public transportation in this town.

If you need to go somewhere, you have a choice.

You can walk. You can hop on your bike, assuming it isn’t the middle of winter with roads full of snow and ice and you’re still young enough to do it. You can saddle up your horse (or hitch up the buggy) … or jump in whatever vehicle you own.

That’s it. I’m told that way back before we were living anywhere, they used to have a bus. I would certainly not object to having a mini-bus so old folks — like me — could get into town without having a driver. So far, no go, but I live in hope.

No Uber. No Lyft. No taxi. Nothing unless you drive. There are train tracks, but the trains don’t stop here and anyway, they are all freight trains, not for passengers.

We have tracks, but lack trains

Most people don’t take their horses to town, but it has happened. It makes the horses nervous, though and carrying back the groceries can be a bit clumsy. So mostly, it’s feet, trucks, and cars. We’re about 3-1/2 miles out of the village and we are definitely past hoofing it.

This is casket truck. Everyone needs a traveling casket, right?

Or maybe something smaller?

Public transportation isn’t part of the rural lifestyle. At some point, the trains did stop here. I only know it because we have a converted train station that’s now a real estate office. But once upon a time, it was an actual passenger station.

Does a school bus count?

School bus, in town. I think you need to be attending a local school to get a lift!

Photo: Garry Armstrong

THE BELLS ARE TROLLING – Marilyn Armstrong

There are subjects I avoid writing about because no matter where I go, there’s a troll lurking and waiting for an opportunity.

Gun control and “right to life,” or more to the point, the right of the unborn as opposed to the rights of the already alive are big troll-gatherers. They have always been two of the hot topics on the Internet and the trolls follow them like moths to flames in the dark of night. At least I have some control over them here on Serendipity. It’s the big advantage of blogging rather than being part of an “open” bulletin board — or heaven forbid Facebook.

How do you know you are being trolled?


I’m usually pretty good at spotting trolls, but sometimes, they creep in. They make a normal comment and as far as you can ascertain, they seem okay. There aren’t many ways to figure out if someone new is a follower or a troll other than whether or not they have a valid blog. But not all followers have a blog. Some people simply enjoy following other people’s writings.

So you have a new follower. They start a conversation, but they never quit. By the time the second day of conversation arrives, they have stood on every side of a “discussion” … and are getting aggressive.

I have been trolled on places like Amazon. You would think a biography about Alexander Hamilton would be essentially troll-free, but you’d be amazed at the damage they can do. I think Amazon has done something to control these jerks, but not enough. If they want reviewers, they will have to end the trolling.

Places like Facebook are obvious trolling sites. If you are fool enough to open yourself to that sort of thing, you will get what you deserve.

This isn’t Facebook, so it’s simple. I’ll put up with a conversation as long as that’s what it is. The minute it starts to edge into trolling, I will end it. One warning from me — and if there is another murmur from the aforementioned troll — he or she is blocked.

I tell them why and they say I’ve misunderstood them. They were merely trying to “liven up” the conversation. There was a time when I actually believed that line. I don’t believe it anymore.

These trolls actually think their viciousness is funny. They think they are being “cute.” Or anyway, that’s what they say. I still don’t believe it. Cute and funny isn’t nasty, angry, and mean. Sometimes, you get an apology. “Oh, I was just trying to make conversation.”

Don’t believe it. Trolls know exactly what they are doing. They do it wherever they go. They aren’t stupid. They think getting you angry and upset is hilarious. For them, anyway.

If it makes you unhappy, they don’t care. They are doing it for their own amusement, not yours. Their idea of livening up the conversation is to get a lot of people upset and if possible, feeling bad about themselves. When you ask them they will say they like “stirring the conversation” by which they mean insulting and harassing people they don’t even know. It’s their version of “getting the conversation moving.”

It’s trolling. If it is making your nervous system jangle, you can bet it’s trolling. Unless it is someone you know who has just gone a little over the edge, it’s trolling. Do not let them turn your site into a battleground. Spam them, block them, get rid of them. They will drive your real readers away and inflict a lot of damage — to you and others. Trolls are ugly people and their idea of humor has nothing to do with how anyone else feels. The more upset they can make you, the more they enjoy it.

I sometimes wait a while to see if the commentary is going that way, but when it’s a “new reader” with a flurry of nasty, sharp things to say? It’s a troll. Bet on it.

There are things we need to say and sometimes they are controversial. People argue, sometimes with considerable fervor, but I think you will know the trolls from regular readers with strong opinions who have maybe gone a little bit overboard. You’ll know the difference.

Shut down the trolls. Don’t let them back on your site, no matter what they tell you. Once a troll, always a troll.

CAMP YESTERDAY, VAMPIRE TODAY. DO I SENSE A TREND? – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Vampire

Yesterday, we discussed camp and today it is vampires? I feel a trend coming on! Shall we move on to robots tomorrow? If so, can we do the ones from Douglas Adams’ books? The ones who really wanted the wicket?

Anne Rice, having recovered from her fit of Christian evangelicalism, went back to writing vampire stories and I was delighted. I’d barely survived her Christian saga. Since the new one was about Lestat (who else?) again, I figured I was in for a hot (sort of) read.

But what was hot and sexy in 1972 wasn’t so hot and sexy in 2011. It was page after page of lecturing about … well … I’m not even sure what, exactly. It didn’t work for me and I abandoned the book more or less in the middle. I couldn’t get interested in the characters and Lestat seemed old. He might not have looked his age, but he was cranky and into the vampiric version of, “Get off my lawn, you twerp!”

I think maybe it’s a trend which came and went. Unless someone manages to give it a new burst of life, which is always possible. I live in hope.

I was disappointed on a number of levels. I had liked her writing for a long time. Granted it was unique in its original day but it didn’t age well. Or maybe she had lost her touch.

What had been fun and breezy seemed kind of leaden and tired.

I’m pretty sure the last two I tried to read was “Memnoch the Devil” and “The Vampire Lestat.” It was like being in a really dull literature class. Now that you bring it up maybe I’ll try it again and see if the past five years have changed my viewpoint.

ALL of her books carry five-star ratings, but all of her books are definitely not five stars of reading.

On a more philosophical view, I’ve always wondered whether eternal life was a blessing or a curse. To not know when you can die — human on some level or other, rather like the very long-lived people in Robert Heinlein’s stories — in one thing. But to know you will never die? That sounds almost as depressing as knowing you have two weeks to live.

Vegan witches

I’m not the first person to ponder this anomaly, either. Eternal life — especially lived in eternal darkness — doesn’t sound delightful. And the whole sucking blood thing? I’m not even sure how I feel about bacon, much less sucking the blood of living people.

Can one be a Vegan Vampire?

IT’S THE LITTLE STUFF THAT GETS ME – Marilyn Armstrong

EVEN WORDPRESS CAN’T BE THAT BAD, CAN THEY?
Even my computer is part of the plot against us! It's Alienware!

Even my computer is part of the plot against us! It’s Alienware!

I definitely have a few bones to pick and I’m going to start picking right now. You see, I have these questions. Important questions. And there are, as far as I can tell, no answers to them.

1. Why does WordPress allow us to approve or disapprove comments, but anyone can follow us? Doesn’t that seem wrong to you? I leafed through my thousands of “followers” the other day and exactly as expected, most of the recent ones are spambots. Short of using Captcha, which I consider cruel and unusual punishment, there doesn’t seem to be any way to prevent the spammers from following. I can get rid of their comments, but I can’t get rid of them.

2. No matter what you do, every pingback has to be personally moderated … yet if you allow reblogs — and most of us do — these do NOT need to be moderated, not even for those who have never commented and are essentially anonymous. Thus my posts have been reblogged on all kinds of horrible sites where I would never go, much less see my work posted. Forgive me if the logic of this eludes me.

3. Object linking has become the function that powers our internet experience. For those of you who don’t know much about programming and computer development, a “link” is really an embedded address. Thus a pingback is actually an object “pointer.” It takes the address of a website or some other thing on the internet (it could also be an email address or a picture … or a part number in a database), embeds it in a graphic or text so that when someone clicks on it, it takes them to that place. Like the transporter on the Enterprise.

Bonnie guarding my computer

It’s the computer equivalent of “Scottie, beam me up.” The other day, all my links went wacko. If I clicked on a notification from a follower, I got sent to the Reader … but not to that blogger or that post. Just the top of the Reader. Sometimes, I got the message that the address didn’t exist.

I panicked, contacted WordPress. Who said they would check it out. Yet, before they even had a chance to look at it, it fixed itself and the problem disappeared. That was when I got a notice that other people had begun to have the same problem.

Is our technology beginning to fail because chaos reigns and magic is loose in the world?

4. When my links went berserk, my knee jerk reaction was to get mad. After all the goofy “upgrades” WordPress has been making to their user interface (in my world, it is known as the GUI, pronounced Gooey, or graphical user interface), anything is possible.

I assumed this was another bizarre piece of programming they were foisting on me. Eventually, I realized even WordPress could not possibly consider this acceptable. Not unless they were all taking some heavy hallucinogenic drugs up in the office.

So there you have it, my contentious bone picking of the day.


Watch your links. Keep watching your links.
Aliens are invading the servers.