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!

TELLING YOUR STORY – RICH PASCHALL

Finding Your Own Voice, Rich Paschall – SUNDAY NIGHT BLOG


What is the best way to relate something?  When do you communicate well?  What is it that gets your point across?  When does your voice stand out in a sea of voices?  How can you be heard?  I like to think that I can write about anything, but the truth is some stories and essays are more widely received than others.  Why is that?  When you tell a story or try to make a point, when are you at your most effective?

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Certainly those with debating skills know how to line up evidence, organize their material, give weight and structure to their arguments and drive their points home.  For some that comes rather naturally.  They can readily see how point one leads to point two and on to point three.  They can see what supports each point along the way.  They understand when something needs extra support.  If they have a particularly effective quote, they know whether to play that card up front, or hold it back for a rebuttal in such a way that it is not “extra topical” but right on point.

For others this skill is acquired through study of argumentation as well as study of opponents.  If I say “this,” what is the likely response?  Will it be more effective to address this audience in a bold, out-spoken manner, or a soft and persuasive one?  Does my voice sound sincere?  Combative? Rude? Respectful?  When am I at my best?  When are people listening?

What if it is not an argument at all, but a simple point that is to be made?  When are you at your most interesting?  How do you capture the imagination of your listeners or readers?  There is not much point to advancing an argument if no one is listening, or reading, as the case may be.  What do you need at the open to get people’s attention?  Whether you are speaking to an audience or writing your point for Word Press, a good opening line is essential.  What is it though?  How do you find it?

Perhaps you wish to tell a short story.  Certainly there is a great oral tradition of story telling.  The earliest written stories were likely those that were passed along from generation to generation verbally.  If you sat down to write Beowulf out for a newly literate segment of the population, how would you begin?  Is the same opening effective on paper as it was sitting in the mead hall with your friends, having a glass of whatever (really, what was that stuff?), listening to a tale and wondering if that was Grendel or the Rolling Stones making noise outside?  How can you make yours words stand out?

By now, you have noticed that I have thrown out a lot of questions. I suppose you might think that this is the part where I start answering them.  OK, wait for it … Sorry, I don’t have the answers. I really don’t.  What’s effective for you, may not be effective for me and what is effective for me …

You get the idea. Different people are successful in different ways. That’s because we are unique.  St. Paul would have told you in his unique letter writing style that each has his own gift. It is up to us to find that gift, that voice, if you will, and use it to be your most effective voice.

In looking back over recent weeks on Sunday Night Blog and Serendipity, I wanted to find the most read, liked and commented upon pieces.  What voice is heard?  I notice there was much interest in the personal stories.  Last fall Marilyn encouraged me to write about my trip to England and I posted several pieces.  Much to my surprise, they continue to be found and read.  I am sure it is not so much the personal story, but the adventure of it.  Don’t we all love to look at articles on travel and the pictures they contain?  Short stories and social commentary find varying success, and everyone has a comment or story about politics lately.

Recently we posted the importance of telling YOUR STORY.  It is not something you have to publish on Word Press or facebook or any other social media site.  We may be interested in your personal antics, but you may not be prepared to tell them.  Should you tell them at all?  If you are not a writer here, should you not pass on your stories of ancestry to your family anyway? What do you remember that this generation may want to know?  What about the next generation?  Can you find the words to tell them?

Whether you are writing a blog or telling a story at a family gathering, you will find your voice and it will be a good one. It may take a long time, years in fact, but don’t stop telling your story.  Some day you may be the best storyteller at Aunt Martha’s Christmas party and every gathering will bring friends and relatives to your side to hear your voice.  Or you may some day be the best writer in the blogosphere, and I will be reading you faithfully.  By the way, if you have answers to any of the questions above, please leave them in the comments below.  I really want to know them myself.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

WHAT’S UP DOC? ILLEGITIMI NON CARBORUNDUM!

RENEWING THE PROMISE TO FIND INTELLIGENT LIFE ON EARTH … AND A THANK YOU TO ALL OUR FRIENDS
A Glimpse into 2017: You and Your Site in the New Year (Part II)

First and foremost, despite all of WordPress’s improvements which make it so much more difficult to manage this blog and keep putting out quality material, I intend to give it my best shot. As will my co-conspirators who I thank from the bottom of my heart for their contributions, love, and support.

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A huge thank you to Ellin Curley who has completed a full year of blogging and never missed a deadline! In any business, that’s a pretty big deal. Her witty, cultured, and humorous observations on the human and doggish condition have vastly improved the quality of Monday morning for me and many others!

Contemplating the years

Contemplating the years

To Rich Paschall who has not only never missed a day, but always been there to pitch in when I’ve been away, on a vacation or rather more frequently — in the hospital. Thank you, Rich. From the bottom of my heart, I have never regretted inviting you to become a part of this … whatever we are. I only wish you lived nearby so we could slurp coffee and plan projects! More than three years during which time you have written fiction, travelogues, and deeply moving LGBT stories — documentary and fictional. Your writing has made a difference in lives all over the world. You have had an impact on the community and woken up a more than a few people who might otherwise never have paid attention to a reality in which they don’t personally live. Several of Rich’s pieces are among the most-views posts published on this site.

Rich, you are a treasure!

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Garry, who is as I type this writing a piece … you are always my star on Serendipity. Your stories of the people you’ve met, the things you’ve seen, as well as your wonderfully warped sense of humor and great eye for a picture are of incalculable value to me, personally and to this site. I couldn’t do it without you. I wouldn’t even want to try.

And Tom. You haven’t written much, but each thing you have contributed has shown brightly. You make people laugh and you tell the truth in a way that people can both understand and enjoy. That’s a rare gift. Now, how about a little more output in the year to come? I know you’ve got stories. Between you and Garry, you’ve got an encyclopedia of stories. How about the time you met Timothy Leary? Huh? Now that buying pot in Massachusetts is legal — but selling it is not (huh?) …

I couldn’t have better friends or a better team. It’s a rough world out there and this is, for all of us, the one place where we can say how we really feel … and at least so far, no one can stop us from expressing ourselves. Let’s keep the world smiling, thinking, and remember to check the facts. Let’s have the best reality-based-with-wild-flights of fancy weblog in the world! We’re almost at half a million views as I write this. Lets get there and keep going. Yay team. Yay each of us.

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But the biggest thank you goes to my followers, readers, and friends. They say that friends you meet and get to know on the Internet are not “real,” but a lot of you are very real to me. You have encouraged me when I’m down, told me I’m great when I feel anything but, sent me little gifts that made me feel incredibly special. I don’t know that I deserve your love and support but you have — all of you (and you know who you are, or I certainly hope you do!) from the farthest east, to the mountains of Switzerland, to the glades and glens of Shropshire, Cornwall, and the mysterious standing stones in England … you have taken me to places I had only dreamed of.

I’ve seen the sun rise over the Jura mountains and in the Arizona desert.We got there in person —  you can’t top that!

I’ve seen the wilds of Australia and Tasmania. Learned how much our Canadian neighbors are just like us … but different, too. We’ve shared our kids, our dogs, our fears for our country’s futures. Our concerns for the climate and the natural world.

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We’ve talked about our life, loves, and many happy hours about our cats and dogs and horses. I’ve learned about growing up in places that to me are as mythical as Oz or Valhalla … and met people who have traveled and lived all over the world. And all of you have helped me feel as if finally, I fit in somewhere. I belong to this world, this strange and marvelous world of blogging we share.


ILLEGITIMI NON CARBORUNDUM


Let’s all take a bow and stride forward bravely into the new year.  Go team SERENDIPITY!

CHECK OUT THE WORDPRESS CLASSIC STATS REDIRECT SCRIPT V2 – REBLOG

Noticed that you’ve lost your old stats page? Here’s a workaround (actually two workarounds) that may help you get stats you actually can use — until WordPress”fixes it” again. Oy.

The “new improved” stats page has no useful information in it. I don’t give a rat’s ass about the way it looks. If I’m on the stats page, it’s because I want data. I want to see which posts did well, how the month is going, how the year is going. How many posts I’ve written and the number of views. And from where they are coming.

The new format for stats is “stats lite.” Apparently WordPress thinks we are morons and can’t deal with meaningful numbers. They have to make them cute and user-friendly because we’re too dumb to deal with anything that gives us information.

I want to also mention the new reblog format. It includes ONLY THE TITLE and one miniature picture. No text at all, so if you want to include any text, you have to do some significant editing. This is also true if you use Press It.

I wish WordPress would stop fixing things that aren’t broken. They are making life very difficult. If they improve things any more, I may give up. This is supposed to be fun, not a battle with software.



WordPress Stats

Introduction

Back then after WordPress introduced a new stats page that quite a lot of people disliked, I suggested you that there was still a way to use the old stats page. I wrote a workaround guide about the classic stats redirect script of tPenguinLTG. This solution solved all issues for a while since everyone could continue to use the previous stats page. But WordPress mentioned back then in the forums that they might phase the previous stats page out, and this is what happened over the last days. If you used the redirect script, you might have noticed that it didn’t work anymore, this was the result of WordPress’s decision to kill the previous page.

Alternative Solution

If you still don’t want to use the new stats page, the incident is not the end of the world. We got help again, tPenguinLTG pushed out an updated version of the script and was working during Christmas days to give us yet again an alternative to the new WordPress stats page. It might be that your script updated automatically, if not, I suggest you to de-install and re-install the script. Check out your Tampermonkey or Greasemonkey browser extension, you should find an option to manage your scripts, that’s where you can de-install the “WordPress.com classic stats”. After that, you just have to install the new version again, the link in my classic stats guide is still the same and should point you to version 2. If you are thankful, please thank the author of the script!

But Something Changed

You noticed it? Yes, something is different now. Since the previous stats page was killed by WordPress, I suggested Penguin to redirect to the even older stats page. I don’t want to confuse you, but there were two different stats versions before they introduced the new one, the oldest stats page is still working, they just phases out the one that followed. Anyway, the oldest stats page is the closest experience you can get to the one you have been used to. If that’s what you want, reinstall the user script and enjoy blogging!


Check out the original post: Check Out The WordPress Classic Stats Redirect Script V2

Please also see the original original author’s site where he includes a lot of coding information, if you are code-literate (I used to be but I’ve forgotten everything in the 10 years since I used it): The Penguin’ says…