GREAT THOUGHTS SOMETIMES ESCAPE ME

Random Musings by Rich Paschall

Often I have great thoughts, frequently while driving my car, which I mean to write down as soon as I get home.  Usually, I forget.  Life intervenes.  They may not be ideas for an entire blog post, perhaps they are just interesting one-liners.  Many have drifted away.  Here are some I remember.

I noticed that cotton candy does not taste much like cotton, although I do not munch on cotton much.

I notice the White Zinfandel is actually pink.

drinks table dinner

I also noticed that buffalo do not have wings.  If they did I would guess they would be quite large.

Is there any surprise who Billboard’s Holiday 100 had at the top of the Christmas song play list this year?  Radio airplay, sales data and streaming activity, all measured by Nielsen, put a familiar group at the top: All I Want For Christmas Is You (Mariah Carey), Rocking Around The Christmas Tree (Brenda Lee), The Christmas Song (Nat King Cole), Jingle Bell Rock (Bobby Helms) and of course White Christmas (Bing Crosby).

So if radio stations gave up to two months of their programming to holiday music and half of that music was religious but not Christian, do you think right-wing Republican heads would explode?

So here people who have been ticketed for running red lights and have been caught by red light cameras, condemn the city for having red light cameras and want them removed.  I guess it is the same for speed cameras.

Last week we had a sleet attack of what turned out to be heavy and wet ice pellets accumulating greater than usual.  You could shovel it like snow, but many did not.  Some did not even bother to clean off their stairs.  Now the temperature has dropped and the stuff is hard like a rock.  It is a true hazard and I wonder how some of these people get up the stairs to get in and out of their houses.

Shovel it!

Shovel it!

Snow and ice-covered sidewalks are not only difficult for the mailman and other delivery persons, they can make the elderly and handicapped prisoners of their houses and apartments.

When I say mailman, I mean men and women letter carriers.  I could see some of you were about to write gender equality speeches to me.

When I say letter carriers I mean those men and women who deliver mail and packages.

If I make a mail delivery faux pas statement, I have a cousin who is a postal worker who is glad to slap me up side of the head.  I love you anyway, Milan.

I notice the Republican clown car has a few less Republicans than when it started out on its cross-country trip.

After the Republican debates, the Pulitzer Award winning news organization, Politifact, consistently finds statements by the candidates to be mostly false.  This does not seem to bother supporters of these candidates.

Donald Trump:

“We’re practically not allowed to use coal any more. What do we do with our coal? We ship it to China and they spew it in the air.”

Coal is the biggest source of energy for electricity in the United States.

Kentucky elected a Republican governor whose campaign pledges included a promise to dismantle Obamacare in the state.  A lot of Kentucky citizens are angry that they are going to be losing their healthcare.  You get what you vote for.

Kentucky was one of the Affordable Healthcare Act’s biggest success stories with a big drop in the uninsured.  Soon Kentucky can figure out how to deal with all the people who show up at hospitals without insurance.

Let’s have a show of hands.  How many think that the US Middle East policy has been a success at any point in the last 60 years?  OK, that covers my lifetime.

Let’s have a show of hands.  How many think that we should have no further gun regulations whatsoever in this country?  OK, that looks to be just the few NRA members in the back of the room.

When the Second Amendment was enacted I think people may have been using muskets for guns.  You know, single ball, one shot at a time things, not AK 47 assault weapons.

A lot of people see red when you start talking about the Second Amendment.  Remember it is not a religious thing and it was not handed down by god.

Top 10 lists, entertainment articles and short stories with happy endings are much more popular than my political commentaries.

On New Year’s Eve it looked like many people were buying cheese, crackers and beef sausage rolls at the supermarket along with the usual assortment of wines, beers and champagnes.

75-FirepitPosterART-1

With all those people buying wine and “Champagne” the super market should have had more checkout people over 21 years of age.  “21 on check-out 3.”

French wine producers in the Champagne region hate it when others call their sparkling wines “Champagne.”  You probably had sparkling wine on New Year’s Eve.  Real Champagne is not cheap.

I am happy to have had another year here at SERENDIPITY to give you Sunday articles, as well as an occasional extra day.  I am grateful that Marilyn is here to illustrate most of them, no matter what the topic, and often on short notice.   Her readers have been gracious to my every changing topics.

When I started here two years ago I mentioned to Marilyn that some of her readers may not like the types of things I write.  She said not to worry, just go for it.  Thanks, I did.

HERE AND NOW. AND THEN.

Here and now. And then. I’m pooped. Garry and I were just talking about how WBZ didn’t cover the First Night New Year’s stuff in Boston this year, but Boston didn’t do as much for First Night as it has in the past.

72-Tree-Christmas-Eve--122415_02

I said that New Year’s is dropping out of the top five of Big Holidays. Why? I think it’s simply too much. Halloween has gotten bigger and Thanksgiving has always been huge. Then, up roars Christmas and by the time everyone is done with the last of the pies and leftovers, oh my god it’s New Year’s.

72-kk-christmas-day-2015_15

Holiday exhaustion has overwhelmed the population. We’ve been partying, shopping, cooking, entertaining, wrapping, decorating and overeating since October and no has the energy or money for one more big bang holiday. Thus we all more or less sleep through New Years.

christmas red door wreath

And so, here I am. Still in my flannel granny gown and robe with no intention of getting any more dressed than this. Oh, I’ll get to the shower eventually. Probably.

It was a long, busy year and the last two months have been monumentally overloaded in every way. Now, we are about to pack up and go on holiday for real and all I can think about it how much i want to just sleep for a month.

Superstition Mtns Arizona

We are up, up, and away the day after tomorrow for two weeks. I’ve prepared posts for at least the first week and I’m hoping that photography and holiday updates will take care of the rest, but if I seem to disappear, you can assume any of the following:

  1. We went to the Grand Canyon and I fell in, camera and all.
  2. We went hiking and I was eaten by something huge and furry and hungry, thus completing the circle of life.
  3. I discovered the joy of not blogging for a whole week or two!

Take you pick of any or all of the above. I will be back, hopefully energized and with stories to tell.

2015 IN REVIEW – THE WORD OF WORDPRESS

From the WordPress.com monkeys to you! Yes, folks, this is my very own personalized summary of this past year in blogging.

I have never been to the Louvre, but it’s good to know that my followers are filling its halls.

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed more than 115,000 times (not 110,000) in 2015, but you probably already knew that.

If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.

Wow. Or they could just visit the Rodin exhibit. Or the Mona Lisa. I’m sure my blog would not be the main attraction at the Louvre on any day of any week of any year.

POSTING PATTERNS

Actually, there were 1,206 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 4,206. No one knows how many pictures I posted because I don’t know.

LONGEST STREAK

365 days, from 1 January to 31 December. They could have merely said “every day.” And more than once most days. Which is why I really need a break.

BEST DAY

Friday (Really? Wow!) 185 posts total. I have no idea why I posted more on Friday, but I think it may be because that’s the day the WordPress Photo Challenge comes out.

You can click here to see the complete report, but I figure you’ve already seen more than you have any interest in. Since WordPress kindly supplied this lovely, official document, I might as well make use of it, right?

Right.

NUMBERS FOR A NEW YEAR

It’s the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016. There’s something timely and almost overly appropriate in that today my total all-time views — or hits as I like to call them — passed 350,000.

That’s so many views I can’t imagine counting that high. It would take way too long.

350,000 Serendipity

More meaningful to me is the number of posts on Serendipity which now exceeds 4,200. Even assuming that many of the posts were short, it’s still a lot. Even including a couple of hundred reblogs, and a few hundred pieces written by Rich, Garry, and Ellin.

I have definitely learned a lot from blogging. I’ve made more friends than I imagined possible in places that were previously just exotic names on maps. My writing has gotten leaner, tighter. More crisp, more focused. I still can’t proofread and I will forever see what I meant to write and not what’s actually on the page.

I’ve also learned that there’s a direct correlation between how much I post and how many people come to visit. New material generates traffic. Be that as it may, the closest thing I can make to a New Year’s resolution is that I can’t keep up this pace. I’ve already slowed a lot from last year. You can expect to see fewer posts from me, but hopefully good ones. Maybe more pictures, less text … or just fewer posts altogether. I’m not yet sure how it’ll work out.

I know I need more time off the computer. Among many other issues, my wrists and shoulders are warning me of dire consequences if I don’t move around more. That won’t happen unless I set limits and stick to them. Which is very difficult because I like writing more than pretty much anything else.

Fewer posts will have the side benefit of giving me more time to read the stuff you guys write. Or play video games and read books.

Every time I cross one of these “milestones,” I realize I don’t know what it means. Other than I have stuck with this blogging thing. Even when I have been sick. On vacation. Feeling uninspired. Otherwise, I don’t know if it means anything. Maybe you should be telling me what it means.

You’re the hitters and I am the hittee. You know why you keep coming to visit. Thank you! You have hugely enriched my life in more ways than I can say.

Happy New Year to everyone. We are off to Arizona on Monday, so pickings here will be leaner than usual … but I won’t be missing entirely.

And with a little luck, there will be some photographs to remember!

AUTHOR’S PICK: MY FAVORITE POSTS OF 2015 *

(*) At least those I can remember!

Statistics don’t tell the whole story. I’ve been looking through the stats on my various posts to see what they tell me about the “best” posts of 2015. Statistics reveal which posts got the most hits … but that’s all. It doesn’t take into account how the author felt about it.

Because I publish about 1000 posts per blogging year — including re-blogs, photographs, and four authors — it is difficult to remember what I posted this year. I have to rely on statistics to give me a list of the popular posts for 2015. I’m leaving out any post I already mentioned in the “all time top ten.”

These are my favorites of those that made the top hundred most popular — using views as the sorting tool … and then my opinion as the final criteria. Click on a title to open the original post.

72-pacemaker_2

WHAT EMPOWERS YOU? From July 2014, this post apparently resonated with a lot of people and is still accumulating hits. It’s one of those posts that fell out of my fingers into the keyboard. On rereading it, it’s not bad. Perhaps I haven’t given it its due.

96-Moon-Small-34

MARILYN’S FAVORITE YEAR – 1969 Originally published in September 2014, it is still getting hits. Some posts apparently are “evergreen.” Not popular when first published, but has gathered momentum during the weeks and months that have followed. I’m glad, because it is one of my personal favorites.

NormanRockwell Little Rock

NON-WHITE AMERICA IN NORMAN ROCKWELL’S PAINTINGS – HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT,  JANE ALLEN PETRICK – This is a review of a lovely book that got almost no attention the first two times I published it. Yet this third time, it garnered hundred of views and several reblogs. I hope it convinced a few people to buy the book.

I’m not shy about republishing pieces that I feel were overlooked or under-appreciated.

72-Portrait-Anniversary_4

HE SAID YES was published in January 2015. It’s a piece of the very long story of Garry and my courtship. Edited for a G-rated audience and to keep the main characters out of jail. The truer story is longer … a book, not a post. Maybe I’ll write it. I’ll think about it. I’m not sure just how much personal information I’m feeling public about.

Brown-recluse-coin

BROWN RECLUSE SPIDERS DON’T LIVE HERE! So after Garry got bitten by one or two brown recluse spiders — who don’t live here even though everyone except the experts agree that they most certainly do live here — this is a piece of the story of the great spider bite debacle of 2015.

1988

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM! – GARRY ARMSTRONG Garry’s affectionate memories of his mom, on her birthday this past July, 2015.

aluminum-foil-hat_directions

PASS THE ALUMINUM FOIL (DIRECTIONS INCLUDED) A humorous anecdote of one of the more amusing wackos I’ve met over the years. A little astrology and directions to make your very own aluminum foil hat.

Banks Ernie Plaque 142_NBL_0LET’S PLAY TWO: REMEMBERING ERNIE BANKS – GARRY ARMSTRONG Just what it sounds like. In Memorium for a baseball great.

Heston-Charlton-Ten-Commandments

DON’T COVET YOUR NEIGHBOR’S ASS I couldn’t remember the ten commandments. Doesn’t everyone know them? But Garry couldn’t remember them either, though we more or less pieced them together — two minds being slightly better than one. But then, what was the correct order? I’m still not sure.

96-BabyOandMe-HP

GENERATION GAP – GROWING UP BOOMER Communication between generations. Maybe not the impossible dream? Is there hope?

STATISTICALLY – SERENDIPITY’S TOP TEN*

This is the TOP TEN for four (all) blogging years. Ten out of more than 4000 posts. Do these represent the best of my writing or my favorite pieces? No. These are the statistical winners. The people have spoken!

NOTE: * I omitted reblogs and “about” pages for Serendipity’s authors. The “about” pages are far and away the biggest “hit” producers.

top-10 LOGOSo, other than having been written by me or some other officially designated author for this site, what are my criteria? Quality? Relevance?

Nah. Just hits. How many people came by to take a look. I don’t even know if they actually read it or just came and clicked “like.”

  1. The FBI can’t do a simple Google search? July 23, 2013 – With a 10,149 hits for the original piece and probably another 5,000 for subsequent reruns, this minor piece about the 2013 season opener for “Criminal Minds” has retained an enthusiastic following. I have no idea why. Really. I don’t.
  2. DON’T DRINK THE KOOL AID – THE JONESTOWN MASSACRE – I have revised this piece several time and republished it annually. The total hits on this story of hell on earth has topped 9,000. One of the truly horrific episodes of American history.
  3. WHERE DO THE SWANS GO? It’s mostly pictures of the swans and my mental meandering about swans surviving the terrible winters. For all those who wondered, many swans and other water fowl don’t survive. They die of starvation and cold. Just under 2,000 hits on this one.
  4. GAZING THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE: HOLLYWOOD & MORAL CHARACTER – A followup post to the FBI post that’s number 1. Just short of 2,000 hits on this one. I guess “Criminal Minds” has a lot of fans.
  5. ANGEL COMES OUT by Rich Paschall – A fine post that got 1800 hits its first day and which continued to be read many times since.
  6. FLYPAPER (2011): A PLEASANT SURPRISE – Published several times, this is a review of a movie that almost no one went to see. It opened on only two screens for a couple of days and earned just over $1100 in its “onscreen” run. But Garry and I liked it. So I reviewed it. More than 1,200 views, probably more but I’ve been deleting earlier versions of the same piece so their statistics vanish with them.
  7. WHAT EMPOWERS YOU? – Originally in response to a WordPress Daily Prompt. Not a bad little piece of spontaneous writing. Apparently it resonated with quite a few people. 1051 views that I can find (earlier versions were deleted).
  8. How many states were trying to secede after the 2012 election? – November 2012. Everyone was on about all the American states that were trying to secede from the U.S. Real answer? None. 1,000 hits and still dribbling in after all these years.
  9. REMEMBERING DAD ON HIS 100th BIRTHDAY by Garry Armstrong was a nostalgic and loving tribute to Garry’s dad. 940 hits, give or take a couple of dozen.
  10. MEET FELIX CASTOR, EXORCIST BY MIKE CAREY — A review of the Felix Castor series by the elusive Mike Carey. Felix Castor is an exorcist with a conscience at a time when ghosts, demons, and zombies are becoming part of the human population’s mainstream. It is beautifully written, containing some of the most elegant language I’ve ever read. The 5-book series deserves more readers. If only Mike Carey, whoever he really is, would write one more. 700 hits.

This is the “all-time” list. I’ve made a 2015 list too which will be published New Year’s Eve when no one will be reading blogs.

I omitted, as I said I would, reblogged posts. I also left out my “Freshly Pressed” post which I don’t like. This is “the people’s choice” list. I’m not sure whether or not any of these would be on a list of my personal favorites.

I’m also not sure what my personal favorites really are.