A NEW LOOK FOR SERENDIPITY

I have changed the look of Serendipity. Again. I am pretty sure I’ve gone through at least a dozen templates since I started blogging more than four years ago.

Why? Because I’ve had a series of issues for the last three or four months. Some minor ones, others not so minor. All of them required intervention which, to WordPress’s credit, they have worked through and fixed.

I am convinced at least some of them are glitches connected to the Wilson theme I have been using. This isn’t the first time I’ve had a template “go sour.”  I have a theory about this. I cannot prove it, but I believe it’s true.

UNTITLED

WordPress is forever messing around with their software. These changes affect not only what they intend, but have many unintended “side effects.” Like the way the new software affects individual template functions. They don’t do much (any?) beta testing. Like so many other big software companies, they make changes, throw the new version out to customers and let us find the problems for them.

I hate this casual attitude toward properly testing software. I resent it as do most serious technology users. But apparently testing new versions of software is not included in the development budget. Plenty of money to develop and not one cent for testing. Aggravating.

So, after I’ve been using a theme for a few months, glitches start appearing. It’s like playing Whack-a-Mole. You smack one problem down, another pops up. You whack that one over the head and out of the game, and three more spring from holes in the ground.

After a while, you figure “Okay, time to change games.” Or, in this case, templates.

This theme is “Untitled” and it displays pictures well and large. I’m not sure I like the way it handles text, but I will give it a chance. There are a lot of templates. I haven’t tried all of them. Yet.

REVEAL TO CONCEAL

REVEAL TO CONCEAL

As much as we reveal in our blogging, we also intentionally conceal a lot. I’m sure it’s not just me. I prefer to not expose the rusting underbody of our lives to the world at large.

Marilyn and Garry by Bette Stevens

Marilyn and Garry by Bette Stevens

I do not blog about every tiff I have with my husband or anyone else. I don’t go into the sordid details of every passing  virus, sniffle, or stomach ache. Or the gory details of our lack-of-financial life.

garry laughing

Why not? Because it’s no one’s business but ours — and also, because it’s not very interesting. Whining is boring. My own included.

I know people who are in constant crisis mode and post all of it on Facebook. They present themselves as the most unlucky people on Earth because everything always happens to them.

A pipe breaks? “OMG we’re doomed!”

Flu strikes? “Why am I afflicted by the gods? Why is the universe punishing me?”

A lost cell phone? “The sky is falling, the sky is falling.”

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The other day, it struck me that we (and probably you, too) have as many of these bumps in your road of life as anyone else. Maybe more. We just don’t document each and every one … unless they make a good story. It’s always worth the virtual ink if I can make someone laugh.

Garry silly with dogs 30

Part of the pleasure of blogging is we get to present ourselves and our lives in a positive way. Unless you blog for sympathy and some people do. In our virtual world, we can be our best, most entertaining selves. If this presentation conceals our pain and misery and gives others a skewed idea of us? Who says “full disclosure” is what blogging is about?

Marilyn by Garry

Writing about all the grimy and grim details of day-to-day life is like posting ugly selfies. Why in the world would anyone want to do that?

I’d rather make you laugh. I’d rather make me laugh, too. And maybe, just sometimes, maybe (along the way) I make a point or two worth thinking about.

ADVICE FOR NEW BLOGGERS

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I’M NEW, WHAT SHOULD I DO?

  • Do what you love. If it’s writing, write. Photography? Take pictures. Excuses are boring.
  • Don’t whine. Funny is good.
  • Keep posts short.
  • Don’t post blurry, bad pictures.
  • Work at improving your craft(s). Do better writing. Take better pictures.
  • Proofread!
  • Follow your gut. If you’re gut isn’t telling you anything, try using your brain and imagination.
  • Stick with it. You don’t get a following in a week or two.
  • Don’t let other people’s numbers make you envious.
  • Fact check before you need to apologize. It’s called credibility. You need it.

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MORE GREAT THOUGHTS

Random Greatness, by Rich Paschall

How many random and unconnected thoughts can you come up with in one week? Just how random is your life anyway? If I keep writing random statements, does that indicate a failure to focus?  Uh…what was I saying?

Since I received 15 calendars in the mail from various organizations, down from almost twice as many a few years ago, I had no need to buy calendars for 2016.

I bought two calendars for 2016.  One is the Tom Daley calendar and one is Chris Mears.  Chris’ calendar is autographed, although I can not make out the signature anyway.

You don’t know who Tom Daley and Chris Mears are?

If I was going to the Olympics, I would want to see diving and my friend would want to see basketball.  I guess we will stay home, in our respective countries.

If my friend from Colombia comes to visit I plan to take him to the nearby Colombian restaurant to see how authentic it really is.

When we go to German restaurants, I compare the food to the memory of my grandmother’s cooking, or her sister’s.

When my friend from France visits we do not go to a French restaurant because he can get that at home.  Besides, he says, the French charge too much here for food and wine.

Eat local, drink local.

I did not find any Andes candies in the Andes.

To Rionegro

The Andes

Do you think any Eskimos go to Arizona or Florida in the winter?

My yellow tortilla chips are yellow.  So are the white ones.

The spicy guacamole from the local store is too spicy and the regular is too mild.  We need a medium.

There is a big difference between currency exchanges here and currency exchanges in other countries.  The ones here do not exchange one currency for another.

I think I will have to go back to the airport in Miami if I want to exchange Colombian pesos.

This is not a new story but I just ran across it.  It seems a man practicing his right to “open carry” his brand new gun was robbed of it, at gunpoint.  I guess the thief was glad the other guy displayed the gun openly because he told the victim he liked his gun.  KOIN news story is here.

Every now and then the line from Forest Gump comes to me.  You know the one.  “Stupid is as stupid does.”

There is something called the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act that will never pass Congress.  The NRA is against it.

If an organization supports the right of terrorists to buy weapons (as a second amendment right), does that make them a terrorist organization?

How many people still think Mark Zuckerberg is going to give them a lot of money if they share some Facebook post?

OK, everyone, repeat after me, “I will check Snopes.com or responsible websites before reposting stuff on Facebook, twitter and other social media.”

By responsible websites I do not mean FOX News.

All followers of the news channel whose name should not be mentioned should watch the movie Citizen Kane and keep watching it every week until they get it.

Followers of so-called Patriot radio should watch A Face In The Crowd and should keep watching it every week until they get it.

If you have not heard of Senator Joseph McCarthy, you should definitely read up.

Is it just too random if I switch from politics back to entertainment?

British musician and YouTuber Tom Law says he is moving to Croatia.

From photo shoot in Bath, England

Tom Joseph Law, from a photo shoot in Bath, England

Having missed him at least twice in 2015, I think I will definitely catch MAX Schneider in March.

Sometimes I catch myself randomly watching popular You Tube personalities and saying, “I don’t get it.”

What is your favorite Humphrey Bogart movie?  If you do not say “Casablanca,” don’t even speak to me.  How can you possibly say something else?casablanca-poster

I was disappointed to read that George Lucas does not like the direction of Star Wars under Disney.  I guess he should not have sold it.

How many Congressmen have ever visited the Library of Congress?

If the band Chicago is from Chicago and the band Kansas is from Kansas, where did UFO come from?

Resolutions?  What resolutions?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.