KEEP THE THOUGHT

A good idea is like a dream.  Perhaps it is a dream, in waking form.  It comes misty and bright. Beautiful, floating in your mind. Catch it  before it flies away because it will fade to a mostly forgotten memory in minutes. No matter how certain you are that you won’t forget it, I bet you will.

You don’t need to fully develop every concept as it flashes across your consciousness. But, if you think it is worth turning into any kind of authoring, write it down. Where you write it doesn’t matter, as long as you remember where. Your phone, a piece of paper, the white board in the kitchen, a couple of lines in a post on your dashboard. The important part, is to do it quickly. Put at least a sentence or two somewhere and try to make sure it is something which will help you remember what you saw.

Ideas, flashes and thoughts are ephemeral. Reality will steal them, so catch those ideas. Those ideas you are absolutely sure you couldn’t possibly forget will be gone before you turn around twice. Catch them before they get away!

HALF A MILLION – A LOT OF VIEWS

We have a small pond in our woods. It’s way far back and though I can see it from two windows in the house, I have never been there. There’s no path. Getting there would mean climbing boulders and crossing rough terrain. At least half the year, I can’t even see it. In the summer, the trees hide it. In winter, it’s buried under snow. As summer ends, it becomes so dry, there’s little to see. Right now, though, for this brief period after a lot of rain and before leaves come out, I can see it clearly, bright behind the trees.

It rained like crazy yesterday, so this morning, my little pond was shining in the sun. I could easily see it, so I tried to get some pictures. They aren’t good pictures. Even with a my longest lens, there are so many trees and branches and weeds in the way, the lens had a hard time focusing. But I know it’s there. Sometimes, it sort of disappears, but it pops up again.

During the five years of doing this daily, I’ve seen my numbers rise and fall. Sometimes dramatically. I have learned to not let statistics drive my writing. I am tenacious. Stubborn. Determined. If I think a post is good — mine or anyone else’s — I’ll keep putting it out there until it gets its due. Like that little pond. I may have to wait for rain, but it always rains. Eventually.


This has been a very rainy year.

I’ve been watching Serendipity’s numbers climb. Despite hearing repeatedly how “blogging is dying,” I’ve seen our statistics rise by at least 50% since last summer. I’m sure having so much help in writing makes a big difference as do the various points of view. We have more voices. More interesting ideas to think about. More dogs, too.

I always wonder what makes some sites “popular,” while others go off with a bang and then fade away. Sometimes, it’s because the blogger loses interest, gets busy with work or whatever else. Other times, there’s a sense of mental exhaustion. Good ideas popping when the blog began fade and there’s nothing new. It isn’t easy to write day after day.

I spent my life writing professionally, so I’m accustomed to writing. It isn’t exactly automatic, but I don’t suffer from writer’s block. Almost any idea can be a post. Before blogging, my best writing was done writing letters. When blogging arrived, I instantly realized I’d found my thing: blogging is letter writing with an audience.

On Serendipity, we don’t write the same way. We each have a personal style. I don’t always agree with everything, but that’s the point of not being the only writer. If I wanted it all to sound like me, I’d write it myself.

I like writing. I’ve always liked it, since the first time I picked up a pencil. Now that I blog, people read what I write. Before that, I wrote, but I no one read it. I’ve heard people say it doesn’t matter if anyone reads what they write, but I don’t buy it. Writing is meant to be read. That’s the point. If no one reads it, why bother?

Being a good writer and a pretty good photographer improves the blogging process. Varied content matters too. There’s so much available online. It is a busy, electronic world. You need to be entertaining. Five writers are a huge plus. No two people write the same Even when we write about the same thing, we each have our own way of doing it.

The pictures are pretty and our dogs are cute. Posts are funny — or at the least, humorous. On the whole, we don’t rant. Much. Okay, there’s an occasional rant, but it isn’t a daily event. Also, though we all have issues, we try not to dump it all on the blog. Everyone’s got their own bag of rocks to work through; you probably don’t need ours.

From the start of Serendipity, I got plenty of advice from WordPress. They assured me I needed a theme. I needed to have a direction because no one would want to read just anything. Personally, I’m a big reader of just anything. There are a few things I avoid. If it’s gory, I usually move on. Mostly I’m willing to try anything you throw at me.  I figured I can’t be the only one who feels like that.

So I rejected their advice, though I did wonder if I was making a mistake. Ultimately, I figured if the posts are well written well and the  pictures are pretty, a few people are bound to drop by for a look.

The new Serendipity shirt!

I was surprised — and still am — at all of you who have dropped by. Even more rewarded by how many of you have become friends. You are the biggest and happiest surprise of all. We may not be able to hop on an airplane to hang out for coffee, but we are friends.


From Ellin: CONGRATULATIONS MARILYN!

You started your blog five years ago, by yourself, from nothing. You now have accumulated a half million views! You have a crew of talented and devoted contributors to help you with content. You have faithful and enthusiastic regular readers. And you’re winning over new people every day. Your hard work has paid off and you deserve all the success you’ve achieved!

Thank you for including Tom and me in the Serendipity family. Here’s to the next 500,000 views!


For anyone who hasn’t noticed, there are “author pages” for everyone as well as a contact page under the graphic. So if you want to leave messages, please feel free!

Thanks to all my authors — and all our friends.

I know I’m small potatoes compared to many other sites. I know bloggers who have millions of hits and tens of thousands of followers.  For me, this is fine. Moreover, it’s fun. I get to write whatever I want, when I want … or not. No one tells me what to say or in how many words in which to say it. If you have spent a lifetime writing as a business, you have no idea how special this is.

Thank you for finding Serendipity interesting enough to visit when there is so much else going on in the world. What are my chances of making it to a million? You think?

WHACKADOODLE VIRUS

I have some solid armor on this computer. Not only the version of anti-virus that comes with Windows 10 (which I had been using for years before it became part of the system), but also Malwarebytes to pick up any slackers. Between the two, I haven’t gotten a virus in a long time.

Today, I popped over to YouTube and  voilà! One virus ahoy. “IF YOU TRY TO REMOVE THIS, YOUR HARD DRIVE WILL FA … ” except it never got through “fail” because it got whacked by both virus blockers in one heavy hit and down it went. Sadly, it left Chrome messy. Time to delete it. Chrome doesn’t deal well with being “a little bit broken,” so unless you are planning to deal with its “little bit of brokenness,” you have to take it down and then, put it back.

This isn’t a big deal — usually — because while it takes a few minutes, Google gets itself back in business fast. But, I had to dump not only Google, but all its “pieces.” I would have to depend on Google to restore itself. Once I was sure I’d gotten rid of the viral page, I deleted it the rest of Chrome. And all the little pieces of it, what they call “the backup” stuff. I took it all the way down and suddenly, there was a screen.


Why did you delete Chrome? — Me: Virus 

Do you want it back again? — Me: Yes, please.

Click here. — Me: I clicked there.


Thinking about two. Don't ask why. Just ... two.

Thinking about two. Don’t ask why. Just … two.

No problem if I had the slightest memory of the password I used. I wrote it down because who doesn’t write down their passwords? But I wrote it in my gmail account. Which was the thing I couldn’t get to because …

This is the moment when you usually threw your hands in the air and scream “I GIVE UP!”

No more. Now, before I had time to find a paper and pencil, the phone was ringing. And there I am, trying to wrench the top off my pen so I can write down the number. Phew. Got it!

I put in the numbers and in went Gmail and Google. After a while, as I passed some time checking the new settings (Google is always new), everything came back.  The whole kit and caboodle. Though I’m pretty sure I’ll have to replace every single password for all the sites I use, but it was time to dump them anyway. Remind me I said that.

There was a thing on TV. I think it was on the Sunday NBC shows about passwords and how no matter what the people in the biz say, passwords are personal and often, there’s a whole story in each password.

Is that true? Are all of our passwords in some way part of our personal story? I think my early versions of passwords were likely stories. But now? Time has required I include capitals and numbers and at least one expletive, so my passwords are memories of times from a long time ago — with expletives and numbers jammed impossibly between.

Sort of almost memories.

FIVE YEARS OF SERENDIPITY

Today is Serendipity’s fifth birthday. Very few blogs survive this long. I’m amazed to find myself in such rarefied company!

Since February 2012 when I decided to give this blogging thing a shot, to an eclectic site featuring five intelligent, creative, smart — and often funny — writers creating relevant, unique content, it’s been quite a trip. We’ve got friends around the world in places I’ve only dreamed about and probably will never be able to visit in person, but I go there regularly in spirit.

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Through Serendipity, I’ve traveled to every continent and I hope the journey never ends. There’s so much world out there.

It’s really hopping on the Internet these days and we are closing rapidly on half a million views. I’m personally astounded at this turn of events and all I can say, is wow, thanks everyone! And it’s not because of one or two viral posts but rather a compendium of many posts, by me, but  now by Rich, Garry, Ellin, and Tom, too.

Online friends are real. I feel like I know you and share your lives and I hope you feel the same about me. I miss you when I don’t hear from you, worry when you are sick. Always wish you were my real-life neighbor so we could sit and schmooze and eat too many cookies.

A blog is a living thing. It thrives because of you. You read. You comment — and you inspire me. We engage each other. Exchange ideas, news. We teach each other all kinds of stuff. We enrich each others’ lives. We make each other laugh and cry. In time of trouble, you make me feel better. Because out there, in that great big world, we are friends.

I didn’t think I’d still be here — writing or even breathing — in 2017. I certainly didn’t expect this bizarre world in which we are currently living. But, if there’s a bright side to this mess. Life may be horrifying, frightening, weird, and surreal, but it’s not boring. There’s always something to write about. Maybe you shouldn’t think about that too hard. Maybe I shouldn’t, either. In fact, forget I even said it.

From all of us, to all of you, I’m very glad we inhabit the same planet and are connected to each other. I love you guys.

NOMOROBO AGAIN AND THE FILTERS OF LIFE

FILTER | THE DAILY POST


In the course of disconnecting, then reconnecting our telephone service, Charter also removed all of the settings and filters I had put on my phone. Everything from voice mail to blocking anonymous calls was wiped out. Including NOMOROBO, the add-on that makes having a telephone bearable in a world full of electronic phone calls from people I don’t know, for things I don’t want, for surveys I would never answer. Pitiful pleas for donations to “charities” that don’t exist. Bill collections for people who used to live here and are forever embedded in some calling service’s memory bank.

Without NOMOROBO, the phone rings several times every morning. Early. Always a robotic auto-dialer — no one who knows us would call before noon or minimally, eleven.

I spent several of today’s early hours trying to figure out how to reset my phone to the way it was. Trying to find the settings to stop the telephone from loudly announcing the ‘THIS CALL IS UNAVAILABLE” and mangling even the most ordinary words you’d think it impossible to mess up. I was not going to get any more sleep anyway because the phone was ringing off the damned hook.

Life is hard without filters. Harder for everyone than it ought to be.

Filters keep us on track. Filters on the phone get rid of junk callers and scammers. Filters on email eliminate spam. Filters on this blog keep the trolls from getting through our virtual gate. Our personal filters — the things we won’t say because it’s “not nice” or which we will deeply regret having said — and for which, apologizing is never enough because you can’t erase the memories or destruction left in the wake of a mouth gone rogue.

People complain about filters. They call it the “PC” police. They resent not being able to just say whatever awful stuff comes into their head, no matter who it insults, hurts, belittles.  If you feel this way, you are probably a bigot and a racist, whether or not you know it.  I applaud filters and refer to them as “good manners” and “civility.” They grease the squeaky wheels of society and make it possible for us to live in relative peace and harmony.

Today, we see how one too-powerful man with an unfiltered mouth can do an almost unlimited amount of damage. One man with neither manners nor civility — no filters — can cause life-threatening harm to millions of people. Did he grow up in a barn? Did no one teach him to say “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me”?

He is ugly, cruel, and full of rage. It makes me speculate as to the kind of relationship he had with his parents. Did no one ever give him a hug and tell him he was a good boy? Was his childhood as loveless as the barren, mean-spirited, narcissist who rants daily on our television screens and all over the Internet?

Last night on the Daily Show, Laurence Fishburne, currently playing Mandela – Mandiba, on BET-TV, referred to our current White House occupant simply as “45.” Garry and I immediately realized Mr. Fishburne had given us the answer to a problem with which we have been wrestling. We can’t bear to say his name, but “45” is a tidy, neutral way to identify to whom we are referring without having that name pass our lips. Speaking the name requires excessive oral cleansing to remove that icky taste. Yuk.

I think people who play bridge are going to have a problem. Just saying.

THE FBI CAN’T DO A SIMPLE GOOGLE SEARCH? – SERENDIPITY’S HOTTEST (EVER) POST

This is the post that put SERENDIPITY on the map, so to speak. It has gotten close to 20,000 hits in several versions, including a couple of followup posts. I wrote this original piece in about 5 minutes, during a commercial break in the show. When I say that no one was more surprised than me when it went as close to viral as anything I’ve written. It continues to get hits even now, more than 4 years later. Go figure.


THE FBI CAN’T DO A SIMPLE GOOGLE SEARCH?

On Criminal Minds in the première episode for the 2012-2013 season, the “perp” sews a victims mouth shut but in his mouth leaves the message “Gazing through to the other side.” The BAU FBI team cannot find any reference to this quote. So I typed it into Google and hit Enter. Guess what?

It’s part of a song, the lyrics to which essentially are the plot of the episode in which the first four victims are women, thrown into ditches, with their mouths sewn shut. If I can find this in one hit on Google, is the FBI less capable than I? Unable to do the most basic Google search? There isn’t anything more basic than typing in what you want to know about then hitting Enter, is there? My granddaughter could do this kind of search before she was in first grade.

If anyone thinks I believe the FBI is actually producing the show, anyone who can chew gum and walk at the same time knows this is a network television show that employs a staff of writers to write scripts supposed to make us believe these are hyper-competent profiler/agents. And they can’t run a Google search any grade school child can run. Wow! Bad writing and plagiarism? What a terrific combination for a show about the FBI!

There could be an innocent explanation, like the real authors of the material were paid, but never credited. I’d like to hear that. It could restore a bit of my rapidly diminishing faith in humankind.

Because it couldn’t be plagiarism. CBS wouldn’t allow that, right? Because networks, TV execs, writers, etc. are all so honest such a thing would never happen. Also, the tooth fairy left you a crisp dollar bill under your pillow.


The song is by a group named Blitzen Trapper, lead singer/lyricist, Eric Earley.

“Black River Killer”

It was just a little while past the sunset strip
They found the girl’s body in an open pit
Her mouth was sewn shut, but her eyes were still wide
Gazing through the fog to the other side

They booked me on a whim and threw me deep in jail
With no bail, sitting silent on a rusty pail
Just gazing at the marks on the opposite wall
Remembering the music of my lover’s call

So you make no mistake
I know just what it takes
To pull a man’s soul back from heaven’s gates
I’ve been wandering in the dark about as long as sin
But they say it’s never too late to start again

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?

It was dark as the grave, it was just about three
When the warden with his key came to set me free
They gave me five dollars and a secondhand suit
A pistol and a hat and a worn out flute

So I took a bus down to the Rio Grande
And I shot a man down on the edge of town
Then I stole me a horse and I rode it around
Til the sheriff pulled me in and sat me down

He said, you make no mistake
I know just what it takes
To pull a man’s soul back from heaven’s gates
I’ve been wandering in the dark about as long as sin
But they say it’s never too late to start again

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?

Well the sheriff let me go with a knife and a song
So I took the first train up to Oregon
And I killed the first man that I came upon
Because the devil works quick, you know it don’t take long

Then I went to the river ford to take a swim
You know that black river water is as black as sin
And I washed myself clean as a newborn babe
And then I picked up a rock for to sharpen my blade

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?
Oh when, oh when
Will that black river water wash me clean again
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again


It took me less than 10 seconds to find this. What’s going on guys? Television has become boringly derivative, but this is not merely derivative, it’s theft. I wouldn’t mind hearing from someone about this. I would like to hear an explanation.

BLOGGING – IT’S WHAT I DO

MARATHON | THE DAILY POST

SERENDIPITY will be five years old in a few weeks. Ready to start kindergarten. How quickly they grow from infants to sturdy little children with their own lives.

On one level, it feels like I just started doing this. This site is ever-evolving. It wanders in directions I never expected. Since I don’t really plan, most of my best stuff just happened because it happened. I hadn’t given it much thought. Not always true, of course. I do plan some posts, but most — often the best of the bunch — just fall out of my fingers into the keyboard. Voila! A post happened.

computer gargoyle

On the other hand, it also feels like I’ve been doing this forever. SERENDIPITY is the last thing I check at night before I go to sleep and the first thing I do in the morning when I settle down with my coffee.

I sit with my muffin or biscuits and my big cup of coffee … and SERENDIPITY is up. For the next few hours, I will write, read, edit, and ponder. I almost didn’t bother with this prompt because I couldn’t think of anything to say. Until I realized blogging itself has become my version of a marathon. It’s an endless marathon that doesn’t finish after 26 miles. It goes on and on and on as long as I and my co-conspirators have the will and interest to keep plugging away at it.

300-back-door-friday-13th-13012017_034

Blogging isn’t a hobby. Writing for me isn’t a hobby. More like something I’m compelled to do.  Writing is who I am as well as what I do, whether it’s a few lines of text surrounding a photograph, or a long, researched piece about something I feel is important. i can’t just “toss something off” without at least believing it’s well-written, has a beginning, middle, and end which tie together. The typos are in there just to keep you on your toes — well, not really, but I’m a terrible proofreader.

There are days when I don’t want to do it. Then, I think, about it. I realize … this is what I do. If I don’t do this thing, with what will I occupy myself? Shall I take pictures no one will ever see? Write long emails to friends too busy to read them? Write another book (Ganeesh spare me that agony … once was enough).

So everyday except when I am traveling en route to somewhere else or too sick to do anything, I write. A little bit, or a little more, and rarely, a lot. This is who I am, and this is what I do.

I will keep doing it until I hear the cows mooing at the barn under the glow of a blue moon. Probably because … it’s just me.