WHEN I THINK OF PARALLEL – Marilyn Armstrong

PARALLEL – The Daily Post

My mind rarely goes blank unless I’m looking for a word that has gone missing. But this time, literally — there’s nothing there.

We’ve done a bunch of similar words and I think I’m lost between synchronicity, clues, cabals, and collusion. Are these parallels? Of what are they parallels? What am I missing.

Right now, I’m missing something. I don’t know what it might be, but it is definitely leaving a hole where the rain gets in – and kept my mind from wandering. (That’s a line in a Beatles song, in case you missed it).

I look outside and it’s raining. Again. Cold. Raining. I get cranky (that was another word … from last week I believe) and irritable.

I would be glad for a parallel universe, though. A nice clean version of this universe, but without the sludge and the pollution and the murder. If parallels are “on offer,” sign me up for the “other” one. This one isn’t making me happy.


Sunday is Earth Day. I remember the first Earth Day and every Earth Day since. Earth has changed and I’m pretty sure we’re the ones who have changed it.

Pogo – Walt Kelly

This isn’t a trick . It’s a genuine question based on a few premises with which you have to agree before we can begin:

1 – Climate change is real, based on science and facts. It isn’t a glitch in nature and if we ignore it, it won’t go away.

2 – We used to call it “global warming” – but obviously there’s quite a bit more to it.

3 – You are sure it is going to affect you … but exactly how?

4 – You are not a conspiracy theorist. You do not believe that climate change comes from an angry God or some weird technology.

5 – You’d like to know what you should be doing about climate change — and you are pretty sure that recycling bottles is probably not the ultimate answer.

Jan 9, 2018 – Montecito, Santa Barbara County, California, U.S. – KERRY MANN navigates the large boulders and mudflow that destroyed the home of her friend in Montecito. The woman who lives in the home has not been seen since the early hours of Tuesday. At least 15 people died and thousands fled their homes in Southern California as a powerful rainstorm triggered flash floods and mudslides on slopes where a series of intense wildfires had burned off protective vegetation last month. (Newscom TagID: zumaamericasnineteen760940.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

These are questions for which I don’t have an answer. I have always believed that we were doing serious damage to the earth, even before it was officially proven. I thought it was pretty obvious. We still have pollution resulting from things we did in European river valleys a thousand years ago and these days, we simply make it worse. Even when we are trying to make it better.

The thing is, I know I had no idea what all of this meant on a personal level. I understood about rising sea levels. I got that part of the equation. I understood the increasing and probably endless loss of species — such as all of our large land mammals and probably all or most of our carnivores.

There will be no wolves, no tigers, lions, elephants, rhinoceros, giraffe. Whales will be gone. Slowly but surely because we are polluting the oceans and I don’t know if there is a way back from the mess we have made.

British storm – Ophelia 2018

The air will become more polluted and we will never figure out what to do with our radioactive wastes. We haven’t even figured out what to do with the filthy, polluted soil in this valley or for that matter, the Rhine valley or along the Yangtze or Ganges.

Off the coast of Massachusetts

Storms will be bigger, encompassing the size of entire oceans eventually. Right now, we have storms in North America so big they go literally from coast to coast. Super storms. Super tornadoes. We will have droughts and floods in sequence. Fires and mud slides in between and let’s not forget the occasional earthquake, just for fun.

It rained 30 inches in Hawaii over the past 24 hours and another monster storm is on the way. The concept of “monster storms” never crossed my mind.

Slowly rising sea water is pretty much what I saw in my head. I never imagined it would all be happening at the same time — and so fast. I thought it would take a lot longer for the water to rise. That the oceans would slowly edge up over the coasts. The rivers would rise and  we’d have flooding.

Snow? Maybe we’d have less with rising temperatures … but I didn’t think we’d have storm after storm with warm weather in between so it would fall, then melt, then fall again, and melt again. I didn’t expect the bizarre alterations of seasons, either.

What did you imagine would happen? Did  you imagine the mudslides in California? Or the fires? Or the floods in Puerto Rico and Texas? And now in Kauai?

Did we realize that the melting glaciers would mean that inland nations like Switzerland would have no viable water sources?

What did we think was going to happen? What do we think is going to happen next year and the year after? It won’t be nothing, that’s for sure. Something will happen and we will be in the middle of it. In the end, there will be few places left to hide.

Atlantic nor’easter

 I don’t think my imagination moved me much past a flooded basement. I never considered we might have an entirely flooded valley … or maybe a state under water. Or even finding myself turning up the thermostat in the middle of April.

Since the season is almost here, I implore you to not kill your early blooming dandelions. This is the food the bees need to keep alive until the rest of the flowers and plants bloom. Remember the bees because without them, we are dead, so skip that lovely Scott’s  lawn for now. Let’s try and preserve life on earth rather than the nicest lawn in the suburbs.

Bee in the dandelions


Someone commented that “working on a problem” was, for WordPress, their version of progress. So I got to thinking. What is the opposite word — the antonym as it were — of progress?

William Strunk Jr. was a professor of English at Cornell University and, together with E.B. White, author of The Elements of Style (1918).

And after considerable research I discovered there is no antonym because “progress” is a contextual word and what is means depends on the way in which you use it. If you are talking in military terms, the answer would be “retreat.” If you can’t move forward, the way to go is backward — another antonym. Also, don’t forget “reverse.”

If by progress, you mean “to go inside,” you can use “egress” which means “to leave” — but it really isn’t an antonym since progress is rarely used to mean “going into a building or room.” Generally, it means to “improve upon an existing state.” Or, to fix something that’s wrong. Or, to go forward when you haven’t been … well … progressing.

Regress is more mathematical than progress and has a lot of important applications in the coding world. But it doesn’t have much to say about making a bad situation better or worse.

I found this oddly amusing. Rarely do you find a relatively common word which has no antonym. In every case, the “antonym” was marked as “sense-specific” or as I prefer to put it, “contextual.” It means what it means in a limited, specific way.

One way or another, “progress” in this case would definitely be some kind of “forward movement” of the project, which happens to be figuring out why names suddenly don’t come up linked to the people who wrote the posts.

Ben C. (Automattic)

Apr 17, 12:50 UTC

Putting this back on hold

This issue is being worked on here: https://readersquad.wordpress.com/2018/04/10/site-not-appearing-in-reader-search/

Ben C. | Happiness Engineer
WordPress.com | learn.wordpress.com

First off, what does “putting it back on hold” actually mean? You mean — you took it off hold? Why when you never fixed it, would it have been on hold at all? It’s broken. Fix it. YOU broke it, not me.

So I wrote:

I am comforted by the fact that you are working on this major issue. Please don’t worry that my post about it has been reblogged many times in a variety of languages. I’m sure no one really minds having you make a complete mess of their contacts with the outside world. After all, we only do this so you can make more money and have no personal stake in the matter at all.

Many people will be comforted knowing you are working on fixing your broken search engine. It’s touching, really it is. After all. I’ve written 7,000+ posts for you — and been a premium customer — yet my NAME — nor any of the names of the other four writers on my site — can be brought up through your engine — even though they always showed up in the past. How special is that? What I love BEST about you guys is how hard you work at “fixing” things without apparently having any clue as to the other issues involved with the work — like what happens to databases when you disconnect the names of customers, probably by eradicating the pointers that have so effectively worked for years.

Listen, if you need people who actually understand how this stuff works? I used to be in this business and I know some really top-notch people who can fix a database to perfection. Of course, that means that EVERYBODY in your tech department also has to learn how they work so they don’t casually destroy them without even knowing  what they are doing.

Have you considered hiring PROFESSIONALS to work with rather than kids just out of school? I know you might have to pay them a better salary and that’s rarely done these days, but it’s worth considering. Because as someone who spent a lot of years of my life working with databases, you guys are clueless.

Your friendly neighborhood paying customer with a 40 year background in the problem you can’t solve (because I’m sure you have no idea how you broke it in the first place),

Marilyn Armstrong

Too snarky?

Freaking HAPPINESS ENGINEERS? Do they blush when they have to say that in public? Doesn’t it make them cringe with embarrassment? Has any WordPress “happiness engineer” made you happy? Their job is fixing the problems that they — themselves — have created. So effectively, they are “technical assistants” whose job it is to fix the messes they make.

Why do they make the messes? Because as far as I can tell, they really don’t know what they are doing. They just do stuff and when it stops working (duh!) they say oops. With luck, they attempt to fix it. Some things never get fixed because they have no idea what they did to break them. Talking to our happy band of Happiness Engineers, I am often confounded by how little they know about the stuff they are doing. How lost they are and how obviously young and clueless they seem to be. Every now and again, you get a smart one and it’s such a relief.

Finally! An engineer who knows what a pointer actually IS and can recognize a database when he sees one — and even knows how important the database and search engines are to the platforms of which they are, in theory, in charge.

Such is progress. They are making progress. Well, actually, no one has said they are making progress. That’s actually my own inference.

Are they making progress? Are they in full retreat? Are they moving backward? Are they in “slow progress” mode – which in the development world is identical to “no progress” mode?

Inquiring minds would love to know. By the way, I tried their link and it is blocked to plebes like me who don’t “get” development. You need a password, which of course I don’t have.

No problem. I’m sure, in weeks to come, they will be sending me another note letting me know that they have yet to make any progress, so they are taking this “off hold” because they are “Happiness Engineers” and they really want us to be happy.

I want to be happy too. Let’s all be happy together.


Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Free and Easy

Free and easy. Some days, I can’t even remember what that felt like. I’ll have to fix that!

Our backyard lawn swing was the best place to sit and read!
The perfect free and easy spot anywhere – Photo: Garry Armstrong
Just rolling!
Hanging out on horseback


Daily Post WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: PROLIFIC

This has not been a prolific April. It’s just plain cold. It’s the 18th today and it is not supposed to be this cold. Wet? Maybe. It rains a lot in the spring in these parts. But we shouldn’t have needed another oil delivery this morning. We got one anyway, and probably for the first time in MANY years, we are actually behind in our payments for oil.

We pay all year round to avoid catastrophic single payments, but this year has not been a normal year.

Below, a few very different looks for “prolific.”

Profusion of mics and prolific wires
Prolific wires!
The canal is most prolifically covered with fallen leaves
Violets and dandelions cover the back yard in early spring. And, should we ever have one, I’m sure they will again.
Wild growth on picket fence
Wild profusion of lilies … last spring …
Goldenrod by Roaring Dam
Prolific woodpile

SHAME ON #METOO – Marilyn Armstrong

The Daily Post: GENIE!

Of all the genies in all the world, why is my brain totally stuck on “I Dream of Jeannie?” I could be obsessing on “the Djinn of the Desert” or the many Djinn of the worlds of poetry and mythology. Instead, I’m stuck on a 1960 TV series which I rarely watched. The problem was, I found it insulting.

I was a pre-menstrual girl child. No breasts. I just intensely hated the concept, it made me want to spit.

My father once commented that he didn’t really like children because he found them dull. I pointed out that he never found me dull (when he wasn’t being crazy, he was interesting) and he said “Yes, but you weren’t a child. You were a person.” That is probably the only compliment he ever gave me and I think I was 50 at the time.

I felt belittled by it the show. Embarrassed. Humiliated. The idea of wanting a beautiful personal female slave — never mind that the show often didn’t go in that direction regardless. As a note, I think Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman were offended by it too. Larry’s mom was a strong woman in her own right, so they intentionally took it off the rails.

Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden

I was a child, but I already knew it was a bad idea whose time would never come. Besides — I wasn’t blond.

My mother didn’t act like that. She was so very far from that place you could not even mention the concept without a gigantic blast of angry energy. I did not have a penis of my own and thus the concept of having a “beautiful slave girl” wasn’t rattling around my genitalia as it does for so many male persons of the penile persuasion.

I’m probably too much #metoo to be the right genie gal writer. I was #metoo before #metoo was #metoo. I’m betting so were millions and millions of women throughout the world.

We didn’t have a hashtag because “hash” was ground up potatoes and corned beef so you didn’t tag it on anything except your scrambled eggs, but we were pissed off with men long, long decades (possibly centuries) before the “official” movement drifted into view. And we fought back within the limits of physical abilities and the realism of needing to have a professional job in a world dominated by men, many of whom didn’t like women.

So you may have dreamed of Jeannie, but I didn’t.

Still, that little nose wiggle Elizabeth Montgomery did — I could have lived with that. Anything to not have to ever clean — or repair — the house.


If you watch enough cop shows on television, you will be convinced there is no such thing as a coincidence. This is probably because in cop shows, they are looking for clues. Also, there’s the matter of the script in which everyone always says “there’s no such thing as a coincidence.”

Except there is. It may be a freakish coincidence. It may be downright weird and closer to home than you want, but it’s not a clue. Why isn’t it a clue? Because you aren’t trying to track down the bad guy. You aren’t looking for a serial killer (at least I hope not and if you are, I hope you are well armed and not trying to do it on Facebook). You are just tralala-ing your life away, so what kind of a clue would make a meaningful difference?

When I was living in Israel, someone posted that he was giving away his entire record collection. He had “gone religious” and decided he didn’t need such frivolity. I called him up and he came over with crates of vinyl records. This was before CDs took over and a few years later, records were stuff you didn’t need anymore.

I’m highly amused that they are back in fashion. Mom was right: hang on to anything long enough and it will be back in style. She meant clothing, but apparently it’s true for many things. I’m still awaiting eight-track tapes.

Sorry for the digression.

I look at the guy and he looked at me. We stared at each other for a really long time and finally, I said “Where did you go to high school?”

“Jamaica High School,” he said.

Turns out we were in the same show in our junior year. I don’t remember anything about him except that there was something in his eyes that was familiar. Freaky? Weird? Yup. A clue? A clue to exactly what? It wasn’t like we dated or anything. At best, we barely knew one another.

About 10 years later, Garry and I were in Dublin. Looking for the Stag’s Head Pub, which is one of the older pubs in Dublin. The only way you can find it is to see the old stag’s head mosaic in the sidewalk because it’s down an unmarked alley.

So Garry and I — eternally lost, but this time, lost in Dublin — were staring at the sidewalk. A total stranger walked up and Garry accosted him.

“Excuse me,” said Garry, “But do you happen to know where we could find the Stag’s Head?”

“You’re Garry Armstrong,” said the nice man who it turns out was a professor at Harvard taking a year off to teach in Dublin. Cabal? No, but he knew how to find the pub.

A few years later, Garry and I are visiting my cousins in Baltimore and we’ve gone out for dinner. Crabs legs. They do a great job with crabs in Maryland. The waiter came over, dumps a heap of crab legs on the table and says “Hey, you’re Garry Armstrong.”

We went to Disney World and people kept asking for his autograph. There was Goofy, Pluto, Donald Duck … and Garry. Ah, the memories. Okay Garry was a little bit famous. Still … what are the odds?


Garry bumped into a viewer while in a castle in the highlands of Scotland. I encountered relatives while choosing veggies at the shuk in Jerusalem. A guy I knew well in Jerusalem  (he was my hairdresser) showed up at my doctor’s office in Newton, Massachusetts.

Stuff happens all the time. You meet someone who lives in the house you grew up in, or was the best friend of your best friend in fifth grade. It goes around and comes around. If you are firm believer in fate, is there some spiritual element in this?

For me, the truly oddest thing is when I meet someone who knows me. Says we were on the swimming team together (where I was a bench sitter — I never actually swam). Were in the same classes. Hung out. And I don’t recognize her or him at all. Nothing. Blank. Is it me or them? Which one of us is clueless?

If it is “something,” I’m pretty sure it’s not a cabal, clue, or collusion. It’s coincidence with memories. Synchronicity, if you like. The rhyming of our personal histories.

We know thousands of people, yet we bump into the same ones. Repeatedly.

So, are we destined to meet and then meet again people we knew in our world or maybe in another world? Even when they weren’t important and we can barely remember how we knew them or a single event or conversation which binds us together?

I’m sure someone more spiritual than I can make something more of this. Let me know when you know.