RERUNNING AND REWRITING ONE’S OWN MATERIAL – Marilyn Armstrong

I’ve written more than 10,205 posts. I have rewritten several dozens of these and reblogged a few more. After rewriting, most of the posts are so altered I barely recognize them. A few others I rerun because I like them. They are favorites and I like seeing them “up,” so I post them when the subject arises. Some subjects come up for discussion regularly and if I have already written the post — and assuming I can locate it — after 8 years of blogging every day, it should be okay to reuse my own stuff.

If you have been blogging for a long time, you will notice your audience changes. Other than my few actual online friends, almost all the others will change within two years, most within one. I hope those who have stuck with me will excuse the revamping of previously used material.

When you write every day for years on end, you eventually realize that all that stuff you’ve written is a treasure trove of ideas, many of which could have been better written and certainly could use an update. New photographs wouldn’t hurt either.

Alternatively, I could write once in a while and drift away as so many contemporaries have already done. They don’t exactly stop blogging. They just blog less and less frequently. Eventually, you realize you haven’t heard from them in months. Their blog is still technically “alive.” They haven’t been dismantled, but there hasn’t been a new post in a long time.

We all eventually move on, one way or another. Meanwhile, I’m rewriting earlier pieces that I think deserve it. I also think the rewritten versions are far superior to what I wrote in 2013.  Many started out as “good ideas,” and over time have become much longer and better.

Here’s my theory:

  1. This is our work. We own it.
  2. If a TV network can rerun shows without so much as giving it a fresh edit, why can’t I? Is there a law that says every blog has to be brand new?
  3. I don’t know about you, but I can’t write three new pieces every day. Not good ones, anyway.
  4. 10,000+ posts is a lot of writing. Most of the earlier material hasn’t been read by most of the people who read me these days.

Nor do I feel I need to announce it every time I reuse material, especially when it has been extensively rewritten. You are always free to not read anything I write, whether it’s new, or reconstructed.

I hate throwing things away. Don’t you?

IN THE SPIRIT OF DOING WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING … Marilyn Armstrong

These are the top 20 posts from this past year. Ironically most of them were written in other years, much earlier. As I said in comment to Fandango, popularity does not make it a “best” post. The problem is trying to remember the names of what I think were my best posts. Some of these posts weren’t written by me, either … and a few of them are photographs, not even posts.

My highest numbers were for a day of posts, rarely for one single post. I’ve gotten as many as 1400 hits on a single post in the past and it was a stupid post … AND it shows up here, again, even though I wrote it six or seven years ago.

Popularity is an odd thing and rarely seems to have much to do with what you view as your finest efforts. That’s not just true for blogging. It’s true for people who make movies, do the news, write books, take pictures. What others love is what they love.

THE TOP TWENTY FOR 2019

Title Views
Home page / Archives More stats 24,726
DESCENDING FROM THE GOLDEN HORDE – B+ AND ME More stats 1,763
GAZING THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE: HOLLYWOOD & MORAL CHARACTER More stats 1,107
THE MEANING OF EVERYTHING AND NOTHING More stats 701
MY BROTHER ESAU WAS A HAIRY MAN, BUT I AM A SMOOTH MAN – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 605
REMEMBERING “FAST AL” McNAUGHTON: A NEW ENGLAND TV NEWS LEGEND – Garry Armstrong More stats 440
STRAINS? NO BIG DEAL, RIGHT? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 360
DON’T DRINK THE KOOL-AID – THE JONESTOWN MASSACRE More stats 358
Destructive Gypsy Moth caterpillars More stats 346
Uncle sam political cartoon 1899 More stats 345
Those Old Catskill Comedians … More stats 326
LIMNAL VS. LIMINAL: “I” MAKE A DIFFERENCE More stats 295
DON’T DRINK THE KOOLAID: THE JONESTOWN MASSACRE More stats 280
How did your doctor’s appointment go? More stats 264
WHERE DO THE SWANS GO? More stats 242
THERE’S GOTTA BE A PONY IN HERE SOMEWHERE – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 203
A PRAYER FOR NOTRE DAME – Guest Blogger: KARIN LAINE McMILLEN More stats 181
TOM ELLIS: A TRIBUTE by George K. Regan, Jr. More stats 177
IF WISHES WERE HORSES More stats 150

As usual, the Jonestown massacre is permanently popular and should be as a reminder of what hate and cults can become.

The Gypsy Moth caterpillars is a photograph taken four years ago and the Uncle Sam political cartoon’s origins were in 1899 when despite my age, I wasn’t born.

“Where do the Swans Go?” was originally published in 2013 and I haven’t republished it. It just keeps getting hits.

“Those Old Catskill Comedians” was written and published (and never reblogged, either) in 2014.

“Gazing through to the Other Side” was published in 2014, took me less than 10 minutes to write during a television commercial break, got 1400 hits in one day and every year gets another thousand or so. Why? I didn’t understand the first time it happened and I don’t understand it now.

I wrote “Descending from The Golden Horde – B+ and Me” in 2015 and still gets hits … a lot of them … every year. I think there isn’t much information about blood types available. Either that or Google has it near the top of lists.

“A Prayer for Notre Dame” written by guest blogger Karin Laine McMillen was a beautiful piece as was the piece about Tom Ellis by guest blogger George Regan Jr.

“The Meaning of Everything and Nothing” is one of the pieces I’ve always had fun with. I wrote it in 2013, have rewritten in a couple of times. It has been longer, shorter, with and without pictures. I guess you could call it a summary of my college education in one post.

And then, this bunch also made the list. Most of these were at least written this year! The ones in red are favorites of mine.

THE REST OF THE BEST?

HAPPY NATIONAL ASSHOLE AWARENESS DAY! More stats 146
CONTACT More stats 143
THE FORTUNE TELLER WHO RUINED MY GRANDFATHER’S LIFE – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 140
THE RAINBOW BRIDGE – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 132
NEWS ANCHORING: LOOKING INSIDE – Garry Armstrong More stats 131
HURRAH FOR NUMBER 26! More stats 128
Violets, Dandelions, and Little Purple Flowers More stats 126
MACAVITY – THE MYSTERY CAT BY T.S. ELIOT More stats 125
The Bible Cyst on My Wrist More stats 124
SITUATIONAL FRIENDS – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 122
ONLY OLD PEOPLE WATCH CABLE NEWS – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 121
AND, THE OSCAR GOES TO … BUT, DO YOU CARE? – Garry Armstrong More stats 118
MARILYN ARMSTRONG More stats 116
Leather, explicit sex, immortals with magic powers — The Dark Hunter Series More stats 114
TWAS BRILLIG! JABBERWOCKY, LEWIS CARROLL More stats 109
THE RACIST BONE’S CONNECTED TO THE … HIP BONE? – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 107
BLOGGING – IT’S A NEW YET SOMEHOW OLD WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 106
CLYTEMNESTRA’S LAMENT – GUEST POST By KARIN LAINE MCMILLEN More stats 105
DAD WAS *MORE* THAN A CONTENDER – Garry Armstrong More stats 104
OLD MOVIES, NEW EYES – Garry Armstrong More stats 104
ROMANTIC ME – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 102
OUR CLIMATE CHANGE DIDN’T HAPPEN SINCE TRUMP TOOK OFFICE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 102
OLD ACQUAINTANCES – Garry Armstrong More stats 102
GAFFES OF AN ICONIC NAME DROPPER – Garry Armstrong More stats 102
THE LEISURE SUIT: THE LOST JOY OF POLYESTER – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 101
BEING AGAINST FORCED BUSING DOESN’T MEAN YOU OPPOSE INTEGRATION – Garry Armstrong More stats 101
THE REST OF THE STORY – Garry Armstrong More stats 98
GARRY ARMSTRONG More stats 98
LOSING YOUR JOB WITHOUT LOSING YOUR MIND – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 96
MEDICARE TO SENIORS: WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE? More stats 95
ABOUT THAT PAIN IN MY RIGHT ARM? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 94
HANGING OUT WITH ROBERT “MITCH” MITCHUM – Garry Armstrong More stats 93
FAMILY PHOTOS – Marilyn & Garry Armstrong More stats 93
REDACTED READING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 93
BOYS STILL PLAY, AT LEAST IN THE COUNTRY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 93
NATIONAL ASSHOLE AWARENESS DAY More stats 92
TOO EARLY TO BE DRINKING? – Garry Armstrong More stats 92
A SUMMER AFTERNOON WITH JIMMY CAGNEY – Garry Armstrong More stats 91
PANCHO AND LEFTY: EMMY LOU HARRIS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 90
GARBAGE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 90
DORIEN SHOULD REALLY BE DARWIN – By TOM CURLEY More stats 90
LET’S BAN PENNIES – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 90
LIVING WITH ANTI-SEMITISM – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 88
A BIPOLAR LIFE – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 87
REMEMBERING MY MENTOR – JEFF KRAUS – Garry Armstrong More stats 86
TIME OFF AND RETIREMENT – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 86
BE HOME BEFORE THE LIGHTS COME ON – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 85
WHERE IS STEVE McQUEEN WHEN I REALLY NEED HIM? – Garry Armstrong More stats 84
WALLOWING IN THE PAST – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 84
PLEASE REGISTER TO VOTE TODAY! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 84
QUESTIONS WITHOUT ANSWERS More stats 82
bludgeon More stats 82
I BEG TO DIFFER … Marilyn Armstrong More stats 81
NO ONE IS LISTENING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 81
THE DAY WE GAVE UP PIZZA DELIVERY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 81
FATE IS IRREFUTABLE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 81
IMPEACHMENT FOLLIES – Garry Armstrong More stats 81
ONLINE SHOPPING REVOLUTION OR CONSUMER REBELLION? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 81
I DON’T KNOW WHY HE HATES ME SO MUCH. I NEVER DID HIM A FAVOR! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 80
OUTLIVING THE BITCHES More stats 80
IT’S THE THEATER More stats 80
CHANGE IS ALWAYS ON THE WAY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 79
A NOSE JOB FOR MOM – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 79
A SUDDEN JOLT OF OPTIMISM – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 79
I WILL WORK FOR FOOD BUT NOT PIZZA – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 79
HOW GO YOUR YEARS? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 79
I THINK I’M TIRED – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 79
HACKING, OPERATING SYSTEMS, AND THE END OF THE WORLD – TOM CURLEY More stats 78
FLAT EARTH VS. ROUND EARTH – Reblog More stats 77
movie-set-boston More stats 77
IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 77
BRAIN DEATH AND FIBROMYALGIA – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 77
DINNER TABLE CONVERSATION – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 77
THE RISING OF THE PHOENIX – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 77
FANATICISM AND IGNORANCE IS FOREVER BUSY AND NEEDS FEEDING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 77
NOSTALGIA IN PHOTOGRAPHY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 77
WELCOME TO MY HUMBLE HOME – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 77
WHY DID YOU TAKE THAT PICTURE? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 76
THE CHANGING SEASONS NOVEMBER 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 76
Victorian-Gingerbread-House-Template-Models More stats 76
BATHROOM REDO AND THE BUSYNESS OF LIFE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 76
THEY TELL YOU WHAT TO DO, BUT WHO ARE THEY? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 76
DON’T YOU HATE WHEN THAT HAPPENS? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 76
TEETH WITH AN HILARIOUS SPECIAL COMMENT FOLLOWUP — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 75
REALLY, MY MOTHER – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 75
WIFED OUT – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 75
MAO, A CAT – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 75
EVALUATING ART – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
WORDPRESS AND REGENERATION – OH NO! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
WHY SERENDIPITY? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
INSTALLING A PRINTER AND WHY I HATE THEM – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
INFURIATION, RAGE, ANGER, AND OTHER BLOOD PRESSURE-RAISING MOODS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
GOLDFINCH OR WARBLER? Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
NO REFEREE? A NEW CONCEPT – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
AHOY AND AHEAD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
NOT QUITE THIRTY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 74
Human-Body-Muscles More stats 73
THE CHANGING SEASONS: MAY 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 73
THIS MAGIC MOMENT- Rich Paschall More stats 73
TO IMPEACH OR NOT? IS THAT EVEN A QUESTION? – By TOM CURLEY More stats 73
THE WALRUS AND THE CARPENTER More stats 73
Toilet Paper More stats 73
SHADES OF DIFFERENCE -MONOTONE AND MONOCHROME More stats 73
IT’S CALLED STRESS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
ONE THING I DID NOT WANT TO BE – Rich Paschall More stats 72
(unknown or deleted) More stats 72
GIFTS, DREAMS, AND MAKING IT HAPPEN – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
THE SUMMER OF ’69 – Rich Paschall More stats 72
I AM THE APPLE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
GOOD MORNING FRIENDS, BIRDS, AND A SQUIRREL – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
SELFIES AND AUTOGRAPHS – Garry Armstrong More stats 72
ENVY OF WORCESTER COUNTY – CAROLINE’S CANNABIS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
NO ESCAPE AND NOWHERE TO RUN – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
MY DAY: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE RIDICULOUS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 72
THERE ISN’T MUCH SNOWFALL #writephoto – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
JULY BLUES AND SUNRISE ON THE VERNAL EQUINOX – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
ESPECIALLY BAD WAYS TO DIE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
R&R WITH OLD FRIENDS – Garry Armstrong More stats 71
FINEST DAY OF THE WEEK, DEPENDING ON HOW YOU LOOK AT IT – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
THE PELLET WITH THE POISON IS IN THE VESSEL WITH THE PESTLE, I THINK – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
MY REMEMBERER IS BROKE More stats 71
CLOWNS ARE RUNNING THE WORLD – Garry Armstrong More stats 71
BLACK IS THE NEW BLACK – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
SIZE MATTERS, ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE GODZILLA – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 71
EVEN SQUIRRELS GET HUNGRY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
(unknown or deleted) More stats 70
WHAT’S FOR DINNER? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
A VINTAGE FARM TRACTOR AS GARDEN ORNAMENT – Garry and Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
AMBITION AND THE LACK THEREOF – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
NATURE VS. NURTURE – DOES HARDSHIP MAKE YOU STRONGER? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
A Public Service Announcement – An important reblogged announcement for everyone afflicted by universal stupidity More stats 70
B+ AND ME: BLOOD TYPES AROUND THE WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
YOU CAN’T BUILD A FUTURE ON HATE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 70
CASH NOT ACCEPTED HERE! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
WHEN NOTHING MEANS ANYTHING More stats 69
MyHeritage DNA – THE LEAST EXCITING DISCOVERY OF 2017 More stats 69
THE MOST NIMBLE OF ALL SQUIRRELS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
IS IT REALLY THAT BAD? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
WINDOWS ON MY WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
THE BOBCAT’S BACK – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
BLUE BIRDS OF HAPPINESS – Marilyn Armstong More stats 69
THERE’S NO GOOD TIME TO CALL AT&T – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
DIETING WITHOUT DIGNITY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 69
GOOD FRIENDS – BOSTON’S TV NEWS PERSONALITIES – GARRY ARMSTRONG WITH MARK SHANAHAN More stats 69
JACK WARNER, NAZIS, AND HOLLYWOOD – By Garry Armstrong, with a bit of inspiration from Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
KINDNESS OF STRANGERS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
AN EARLY VISIT – Garry Armstrong More stats 68
OFFICIAL MINUTES FROM THE FIRST “COUNCIL OF THE TOMS” – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 68
ONE OF THE DAYS DURING ONE OF THOSE WEEKS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
NO SPENDTHRIFTING THIS YEAR – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
A DANCE IN A GRAVEYARD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
EVERYTHING NEW IS OLD AGAIN – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 68
INGENUITY: PLANNING A TRIP WITH THREE DOGS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
AND AFTER ALL THE TESTS … Marilyn Armstrong More stats 68
THE LAST OF THE SILVER SCREEN COWBOYS – Garry Armstrong More stats 68
SO HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT LINES? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
LONG, RAMBLING POLITICAL & ECOLOGICAL POST – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
GOOD, BAD, AND UGLY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
THE LONG DELAY ENDS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
NO SPELLCHECKER – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
A GOOD NEWS-BAD NEWS KIND OF DAY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
SO HERE’S MY DEAL – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
Fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding: A Reminder from “Inherit the Wind” More stats 67
THE SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD: KUDOS TO MARTHA KENNEDY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO LIVE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
THE LAST TIMES SQUARE UNTIL NEXT TIME – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
FLOWER OF THE DAY PLUS SQUARE AND SPIKY MARCH DAY 3 – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
WHAT COMPUTER TO BUY IF YOU DON’T HAVE MONEY? Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
THE GARDENER’S RESPITE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 67
THE STUPID IS STRONG IN THIS COUNTRY – By TOM CURLEY More stats 67
WE ARE FINITE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
ALL I WANT TO DO IS ENTER MY HOUSE JUSTIFIED – Garry Armstrong More stats 66
THE SUPER BOWL OF GROCERY SHOPPING – Garry Armstrong More stats 66
WOODPECKERS: NAME THAT BIRD! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
(unknown or deleted) More stats 66
NOT THE BUCKET LIST – Rich Paschall More stats 66
OPTIONAL SUNDAY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
A BLOGGING DIARY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
EVENTUALLY MAKES A LONG LIST – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
BUCOLIC CREATURES AND THE FEEDERS ON THE DECK … Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
A SOGGY AUTUMN THURSDAY – Garry Armstrong More stats 66
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM LIKE A MAGAT? – AGAIN! – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 66
(unknown or deleted) More stats 66
HAPPY THANKSGIVING! – Marilyn Armstrong, with Photos by Garry Armstrong More stats 66
KEEPING THE WATCH – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
UP UP AND AWAY: WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 66
SOME STUFF NEEDS INVENTING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
THE CANAL FLOWS PAST US – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM LIKE A MAGAT? – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 65
WHY I WAS BUYING A LAMP AT 3 AM – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
ARE WE THERE YET? SHORT FICTION FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
IF IT WASN’T ABOUT SLAVERY, WHAT WAS IT ABOUT? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
UNEXPECTED WINDOWS: A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
Deutsche Bank Executive Found Dead More stats 65
LEARNING TO GROW THINGS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
WITH GOD ON MY SIDE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
FLYPAPER (2011): A PLEASANT SURPRISE More stats 65
POPULARITY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
NOW, IT’S THE NEW YEAR’S CACTUS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 65
THE DAWN BREAK IN – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
PERFUNCTORY AFFECTION – A NEW NOVEL By KIM HARRISON – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
TOO MANY BIRDS! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
SO TELL ME … WHY DO WE PAY FOR HOME INSURANCE? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
A PAIR OF LADY BIRDS IN THE AFTERNOON – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
DRAWING AND QUARTERING – MY FAVORITE NIGHTMARE More stats 64
EASTER AND PASSOVER: JOINED AT THE HIP – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
ALL LINED UP? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
THE CHANGING SEASONS – AUGUST 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
AHAB THE WANDERER – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
BRING ON THE ANGRY MOBS! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
IF IMITATION IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF FLATTERY More stats 64
I ALMOST HAD IT – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
A COLLAPSING WORLD IN “SAN ANDREAS FAULT” – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
IT’S BEEN ONE OF THOSE MONTHS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
EYEBROWS? Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
ARE WE READY FOR A GAY PRESIDENT? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
IS THIS THE END OF DAYS? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
A WILD RUSHING OF HUNGRY BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 64
NOT FEELING WELL – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
A TEMPORARY FINISH LINE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE DOG-HUMAN BOND – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 63
THE RESTORATION OF ANA McGUFFEY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
HOW DO THEY DO IT? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
THE OTHER SIDE OF IMMIGRATION – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
AUTHENTIC MASCULINITY AT ITS MOST VALOROUS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
RAW OR JPG? WHAT’S YOUR FORMAT? Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
FENCES: A WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – Garry Armstrong More stats 63
UXBRIDGE ON THE RITZ! – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
SQUIRREL DU JOUR – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY, JEFF – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
RETURNING WEDGEWOOD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
A NEW BIRD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 63
‘THE LATE, LATE SHOW’ – “GUILTY PLEASURES” (MA-XXX) – Garry Armstrong More stats 62
BLUE LIKE THE JAYS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
AFTER SEVEN YEARS OF BLOGGING … Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
THE MYSTERY OF THE SOCKS THAT DISAPPEAR IN THE DRYER – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 62
ASSISTED SUICIDE: YAY OR NAY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
CAR-MA AND COPS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
AN OPEN LETTER TO HUMANITY FROM PLANET EARTH – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 62
BIRDS AND THE FIRST SNOW WITH ONE SQUIRREL — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
“LES MISERABLE” VERSUS “LESS MISERABLE” — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
WHY ARE WE SO STUPID? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
A VISITOR TO THE DECK – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
A ROCK IS A ROCK IS A ROCK – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
AN AMERICAN CARAVAN STOPPED BY THE WALL – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
FLOWERS AND GETTING LOST – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
THE FOOL – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
TWAS THE NIGHT ‘FORE IMPEACHMENT – NOT BY TOM CURLEY More stats 62
HOUDINI DOG – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 62
SPIKY PINK CACTUS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
FAME: TO BE THE GREATEST EVER – Garry Armstrong More stats 62
SKULKING IN THE SHADOWS — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
INDULGE AND INDULGENCES – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
MOVIE NIGHT STARRING GARRY “THE LEGEND” ARMSTRONG – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 62
PEDIATRIC RELIGION – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
HUMANS RIGHTS — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
IT TOLLS FOR THEE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
NOT A PENNY FROM ME OR MINE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
MASSED SQUIRRELS ATTACK RURAL HOME SLAUGHTERING RETIREE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
A PET GOAT? – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 61
MY HOME TOWN – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
PROVOCATIVE QUESTION – CONTROLLING OUR LIVES – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
TERM LIMITS ARE A REALLY BAD IDEA – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
ORGANIZING THE PAST – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 61
WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
ANYWAY ANYWAY ANYWAY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
HAPPY BIRTHDAY OLE BLUE EYES – GARRY ARMSTRONG More stats 61
VICTIMS OR PERPETRATORS? TAKE YOUR BEST GUESS! – Garry Armstrong More stats 61
google-search-screen More stats 61
VARIETY IS MY SPICE FOR LIFE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
IT’S JUST A MATTER OF BALANCE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
A FEW PICTURES OF BIRD USING NEW VERSIONS OF TOPAZ STUDIO 2 – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
GOBLINS AND PUMPKINS BY THE ROAD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE HAPPY TO GET A PHONE CALL? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
YEARS OF BRASS, YEARS OF GOLD – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
IS ANYONE LISTENING? — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
IT’S THE LITTLE STUFF THAT GETS ME – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
FUN WITH FAKE NEWS — TOM CURLEY More stats 61
THE CHANGING SEASONS – SEPTEMBER 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 61
NEVER AGAIN? – BY ELLIN CURLEY More stats 61
selling soul to the devil More stats 60
IMMORTALITY AND AGING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
RASPY FOR THAT FIRST ANNOYING CALL OF THE MORNING – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
YOU KNOW HOW TO WHISTLE, DON’T YOU? – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
BLOGGING BETWEEN MADNESS AND SANITY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
STICKS AND STONES by Garry Armstrong More stats 60
INHERIT THE WIND (1960) – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
WHEN THEY CANCEL YOUR MEDICATIONS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
YESTERDAY WHEN MY WORLD WAS YOUNG – Garry Armstrong More stats 60
YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO LISTEN TO THE FIFTH DENTIST! – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 60
PASS ME THE MEGAPHONE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
OF ALL THE GIN JOINTS IN TOWN … — Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
MODERN CAPITALISM AND CORPORATE CORRUPTION IN ONE MEME – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
GREEN GREEN, IT’S GREEN THEY SAY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
BLACK & WHITE GEOMETRIC PHOTOGRAPHY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
BUSY, SNOWY DAY AROUND THE BIRD FEEDER – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
BENCHES BY THE RIVERS – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
ASK A SILLY QUESTION – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
A MOST UNUSUAL HOBBY – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
HE’S NOT A MAN, HE’S A CHICKEN, BOO – BY TOM CURLEY More stats 60
RURAL LIFE AND THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
BLUE JULY AND UP IN THE AIR! – Garry Armstrong More stats 60
ESAU WAS A HAIRY MAN … Presented by Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
EARLY RISER – A NEW NOVEL BY JASPER FFORDE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
WHEN YOU GET TOO OLD TO BE COST-EFFECTIVE – Marilyn Armstrong More stats 60
THAT GOOD OLD RULE OF THIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong 60
ROMANTIC BLUE IN JULY – Marilyn Armstrong

The one post that, with the help of Judy Dykstra-Brown (lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown) was actually published. But it didn’t make the popularity list. It was probably my best writing of the year and it was really nice to see an article in print again! Like print, as in “paper”!

The post was “BE HOME BEFORE THE LIGHTS COME ON” and if we are going by “well-written” rather than “most popular,” I think this one wins the cup. Thank you Judy, for ALL your help! I literally could not have done it without you!

Some of my personal favorites (and I didn’t write all of them) are bold and in red, but there are other pretty good pieces, especially in the not as popular section. I’m glad I did this. Now, if ONLY I could remember the titles of other really good ones. Pathetic, isn’t it?

SO HERE’S MY DEAL – Marilyn Armstrong

I’ve been trying to figure out why blogging is so much more stressful now than it was a few years ago. I actually came up with an answer that seems to make sense, at least to me.

As a start, I didn’t feel obligated to read everyone’s blogs. I read those that looked interesting and I didn’t sign up for so many. I have more than 70 blogs listed in which I am interested. I can’t read that much stuff in a day or even in a week. Especially if I also leave comments.

I don’t know when I started to feel obligated to read everyone’s blog, but at some point, it made me feel bad that people were reading me, but I wasn’t reading them. Then, new stuff came up and I subscribed, but a lot of the time it turned out that it was a one-time thing and I couldn’t establish a sustained interest in their material. Even those I read almost every day, there are just days when other stuff happens. Days when I want to read the news. Or a book. Or … gasp … do nothing in particular.

I don’t like unsubscribing to someone’s blog. It’s taken as a rebuke when often, it’s more a matter of finding time in my life to do something other than blogging. Between writing, photography, processing, putting posts together, and organizing … and having a life … it becomes more burdensome than joyful.

Not feeling I have the time to read books has made me crabby. I love reading — and listening. Not having time to get into a story bothers me. Reading has always been my escape.

Since Trump was elected, the world has been particularly treacherous. The news is terrifying.

I don’t know what I can do. I can’t solve any of the stuff that worries me. I feel helpless. Not a good feeling, especially because I need to feel a modicum of control over my life.

So for all of you who are my friends, I love you, but I can’t keep pushing myself to be everything to everyone. I wish I could, but I can’t. My writing suffers, I get too tired to take pictures and blogging stops being fun.

There are so many great blogs, I wish I could read them all.

A BLOGGING DIARY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Diary

Since I started seriously blogging, it has become a diary. It wasn’t meant to be, but because of it, I know when major and minor events occurred in my life. I can call up the time  — at least if it happened during the past 7 years — in my blog.

So much of the blog is made up of the things that have happened day to day in my world. Big things, little thing, barely anything — they all wind up on the pages of the blog. That’s why I’ve refused to let myself be locked into a particular style of blogging or a particular theme. It’s a big world and there’s a lot going on.

Two little titmice sitting in a feeder

In any case, I’ve never appreciated the idea or concept of being “locked-in” to anything. Ever. Even now, when physical movements are limited, at least my brain (such as it is) can roam free … and blogging has enabled me to do a lot more mental roaming than I ever thought possible!

A rather menacing Blue Jay!

I also feel I should mention that I’ve learned a lot. Not only by writing, but from the comments and conversations I’ve had. My world is bigger and I know so many more details of things that were previously just broad swathes of knowledge.

It’s a diary of what has been and it is also a diary of what I’ve learned.

WALLOWING IN THE PAST – Marilyn Armstrong

An endless recitation of woes are giving me migraines. It’s not that I lack sympathy. More like I’m emotionally exhausted. So many people are stuck in a pit of youthful misery. Bad childhoods, terrifying ex-marriages or other horrible relationships. Or worse, they want to write. They need to write, but they can’t. The words won’t come.

So don’t write. It’s not as if you are legally obligated to be a writer. If it isn’t working out, give it up. Do something else. Anything else.

Don’t they want to move on?

Apparently not. The quagmire of despair has become a comfortable, homey place. So they set up a desk, computer, and light and there they stay. Some of these bloggers continue exploring the depths of their suffering for hundreds — thousands? — of posts. Many are closing in on Social Security yet are still suffering from childhood trauma. So much for time casting a rosy haze over the past. Even if you haven’t solved your problems, it doesn’t mean you can’t just let them go. There will be new tragedies down the road and plenty more misery to come. I can pretty much guarantee it.

There ought to be an official cutoff date at which point you are required to close the book on whatever dreadful experience life dealt you during your wretched childhood and ghastly former relationships. Or at least after the passage of one full lifetime, you should be required to find some other subject about which to write.

we are not our mistakes

Sometimes I think it’s because they’ve found an audience for their posts about suffering and it’s their fallback position. Can they really be enmeshed in the same memories after thirty or forty years have passed?

I know lots of people who were abused as children. Hell, I wrote a book about it and because of that, I had total strangers telling me their stories. I suppose I deserved it. If you write a book on the subject and people read it, you can’t blame them for thinking you might be interested.

Now, let’s add in all those who had abusive relationships as adults. Isn’t that everyone? Who hasn’t had a terrible relationship or three? I plead guilty on all charges, your honor.

It was my first husband (before you ask, he died) who strongly suggested I might want to move in a different direction.  Of course, this was before my second marriage, the one in which I managed to step in front of the same bullet I’d previously dodged.


NOTE TO SELF: No one is ever too old to behave like a moron.

You have to want to move on.

It takes time and work, but I’m glad I (finally) did it. There have been plenty of new traumas to cope with. I doubt I’d have survived if I hadn’t cleared the decks. I’m overloaded. I cannot read another angst-laden tale of abuse and trauma. I’m know how awful it can be. Been there. I support all efforts to free oneself from the lingering effects of the past — but I’ve got a few problems and plenty of personal angst. If I can, I’d rather make you laugh than cry.

Cardinal, well-fed!

For all of us, it’s time to stop defining ourselves as the worst things that happened to us. We are not what others did to us. We aren’t our mistakes. As much as we have suffered, surely we’ve also found at least a little bit of fun, joy, friends, and love.

Misery is like a piano falling on your head; happiness just creeps up on you. The result? Long after the people who hurt us have disappeared from our lives, they are still beating us up and the only one getting hurt is us.

Got any good jokes?

ONCE UPON A TIME, WE WROTE LETTERS – Marilyn Armstrong

Garry was saying he was taping an old movie, “A Letter to Three Wives.” He thought the whole concept of writing letters was kaput. No one writes letters anymore. We may dash off a note on a card, but a whole letter?

“When,” I asked Garry, “Was the last time you wrote a real letter.”

“When I wrote to you, in Israel?”

“Yup,” I said. “And the letters I wrote to you from Israel were the last personal letters I ever wrote.”

“Funny about that,” he said.

“Sure is,” I answered.

That was 1987.

POPULARITY – Marilyn Armstrong

We bloggers are endlessly in search of answers. All kinds of answers. I am, in particular, forever seeking an answer to the ultimate blogger query.

What makes people follow me? Why are some posts popular while others — which I think are better — are not?

I think I’ve got it part of the answer. Not the whole one. There are just some posts that, for reasons I cannot fathom, become wildly popular and I never figure out why.

The more typical answer became obvious while I was reading someone else’s post titled “Excellent Demo.” It was about a software presentation to a prospective client that goes horribly wrong. The WiFi connection doesn’t work. The hot spot tool doesn’t help.

It’s humiliating and the kind of experience we have all had. It’s painfully universal. I can remember at least two horrible professional moments, both involving cameras. After more than 30 years, they remain cringe-worthy and painful to the touch.

His company got the contract anyhow. He wondered why?

I realized the answer was probably simple. Everyone in that room — at some time or another — had a similar experience. That the demo went badly generated a visceral empathy with the audience. The disaster didn’t sell the product, but it didn’t unsell it, either.

Back on Serendipity, I noticed the two posts that did better than usual were both about the kind of stuff that happens to everyone. What was the common thread? I looked at other popular posts.

I looked at the list of my all-time most popular posts. Not including camera, movie, television, and technology reviews which have an evergreen cycle, all Serendipity’s most popular posts have a universal theme, something to which anyone and everyone can relate.

I don’t write this way on purpose. I’m betting most of you don’t design your style. It comes out of you. It is you. I can control my subject matter, but I have little control over my style. When anyone asks about my “process,” I come up blank. What’s a process?

I don’t have a process. I get an idea. I write about it. It may leap out of a conversation with Garry, a comment I make on someone else’s blog, a book I’m reading, a TV show I’ve watched. A dream I had or what the dogs did. Many are anecdotes … things that happened here and elsewhere. Often, the interesting part of the story isn’t the event, but how it affected me or others.

There are blogs that deal with issues. Some special interest web sites which talk about current events, news, politics, religion, archaeology, history, the power structure, education. Some are all about history or literature. Or talk only about movies. They have their audiences, people who are interested in the things these bloggers write about. I and many of you reading this have special interests too, but mostly, we are interested in life.

That’s what we write about it. Sometimes, it’s a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Nice and tidy. As often as not, it’s a memory, a string of thoughts wrapped around something that happened. A wish, a wisp, a wistful moment. And strangely, other people enjoy reading it.

Go figure, right?

THE BELLS ARE TROLLING – Marilyn Armstrong

There are subjects I avoid writing about because no matter where I go, there’s a troll lurking and waiting for an opportunity.

Gun control and “right to life,” or more to the point, the right of the unborn as opposed to the rights of the already alive are big troll-gatherers. They have always been two of the hot topics on the Internet and the trolls follow them like moths to flames in the dark of night. At least I have some control over them here on Serendipity. It’s the big advantage of blogging rather than being part of an “open” bulletin board — or heaven forbid Facebook.

How do you know you are being trolled?


I’m usually pretty good at spotting trolls, but sometimes, they creep in. They make a normal comment and as far as you can ascertain, they seem okay. There aren’t many ways to figure out if someone new is a follower or a troll other than whether or not they have a valid blog. But not all followers have a blog. Some people simply enjoy following other people’s writings.

So you have a new follower. They start a conversation, but they never quit. By the time the second day of conversation arrives, they have stood on every side of a “discussion” … and are getting aggressive.

I have been trolled on places like Amazon. You would think a biography about Alexander Hamilton would be essentially troll-free, but you’d be amazed at the damage they can do. I think Amazon has done something to control these jerks, but not enough. If they want reviewers, they will have to end the trolling.

Places like Facebook are obvious trolling sites. If you are fool enough to open yourself to that sort of thing, you will get what you deserve.

This isn’t Facebook, so it’s simple. I’ll put up with a conversation as long as that’s what it is. The minute it starts to edge into trolling, I will end it. One warning from me — and if there is another murmur from the aforementioned troll — he or she is blocked.

I tell them why and they say I’ve misunderstood them. They were merely trying to “liven up” the conversation. There was a time when I actually believed that line. I don’t believe it anymore.

These trolls actually think their viciousness is funny. They think they are being “cute.” Or anyway, that’s what they say. I still don’t believe it. Cute and funny isn’t nasty, angry, and mean. Sometimes, you get an apology. “Oh, I was just trying to make conversation.”

Don’t believe it. Trolls know exactly what they are doing. They do it wherever they go. They aren’t stupid. They think getting you angry and upset is hilarious. For them, anyway.

If it makes you unhappy, they don’t care. They are doing it for their own amusement, not yours. Their idea of livening up the conversation is to get a lot of people upset and if possible, feeling bad about themselves. When you ask them they will say they like “stirring the conversation” by which they mean insulting and harassing people they don’t even know. It’s their version of “getting the conversation moving.”

It’s trolling. If it is making your nervous system jangle, you can bet it’s trolling. Unless it is someone you know who has just gone a little over the edge, it’s trolling. Do not let them turn your site into a battleground. Spam them, block them, get rid of them. They will drive your real readers away and inflict a lot of damage — to you and others. Trolls are ugly people and their idea of humor has nothing to do with how anyone else feels. The more upset they can make you, the more they enjoy it.

I sometimes wait a while to see if the commentary is going that way, but when it’s a “new reader” with a flurry of nasty, sharp things to say? It’s a troll. Bet on it.

There are things we need to say and sometimes they are controversial. People argue, sometimes with considerable fervor, but I think you will know the trolls from regular readers with strong opinions who have maybe gone a little bit overboard. You’ll know the difference.

Shut down the trolls. Don’t let them back on your site, no matter what they tell you. Once a troll, always a troll.

BLOGGING – IT’S A NEW YET SOMEHOW OLD WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

I’M NEW. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

It’s interesting, looking at an earlier post and realizing how many “givens” have changed since you wrote it. It was just a few years ago. But oh my, how times have changed.

Maybe I’m just getting a bit beat up from having hung around the blog world too long … or maybe it’s the endless pressure of political reality that is making me crazy and mentally exhausted. Maybe it’s everything.

I think it’s harder to blog now than it was. We used to be able to have fun –without feeling the responsibilities of the world. Funny, light, and airy have become harder to find. Some elements of humor have gone out the window. It’s not that I wanted them to go away, but it has been hard to let go of the awful developments going on around us.

That being said, I can’t talk about the “issues” all the time. I can’t even think about them all the time. In that direction lies madness.

Everyone knows that there are dangerous developments in the world, but we can’t think about them every minute of every day. The world is undergoing a bad turn. We are atop that evil pile. I often wonder if I’m still living in the same country. Is this America?

And it’s international too. Is this my world or have slipped into a parallel reality?

Nonetheless, the basic rules still apply — with a few caveats. WordPress is no longer providing any kind of support to bloggers. No prompts, no awards, no nothing. They ply you with endless advertisements to join up with their “business plan” even if you don’t have a business. They pay no attention to what we ask for. Instead, they give us what they feel like giving us … IF they feel like giving us anything. And they do not believe in beta testing their software.

Don’t count on WordPress to give you a hand. They won’t. Do count on fellow bloggers to give you a hand because we will if we can.

So:

    • Do what you love. If it’s writing, write. Photography? Take pictures. Excuses are boring. A lot of people spend more time explaining why they can’t write or take a sharp picture than actually writing or focusing the camera.
    • Don’t whine. We all have problems. (Remind me I said this.) If you are going to whine, try to be funny too.
    • We are all entitled to a good online rant. Just not every day.
    • Funny is good.
    • Keep posts short or at least as concise as you can — given the subject. Some things need more words than others, but when you’re running over a thousand words, put the post away and read it again later or better yet, the next day. I bet you’ll find at least 500 (or more )words you can cut.
    • Don’t post blurry, bad pictures. Learn to look at your work and appraise it as if it were someone else’s.
    • Work on improving your craft(s). Write better. Take better pictures.
    • Proofread! If, like me, you’re a terrible proofreader, use whatever free proofing device you can find. I’m using the free version of Grammarly. I hate to admit it, but it has helped.
    • Follow your gut. If your gut isn’t telling you anything, try your brain and imagination. If that’s not working, read a book.
    • STICK WITH IT. You don’t build a following in a week or two.
    • PERSEVERE! You need to post regularly and often. If you don’t post regularly and often, your readers will wander away.
    • Many followers will wander no matter what you do. They have their own lives and their own reasons. It isn’t about you. Every two or three years, with some important exceptions, you’ll find you have a new group of followers.
    • You never know who is reading you. Many folks read, but many fewer comment. Most won’t even drop a “like.” I’ve been shocked at who reads my blog.
    • Don’t let other people’s stats make you envious. If you stick with it, you’ll get there too. 
    • Check your facts if you are writing anything that contains facts. It’s called credibility. You need it no matter what your government is doing.

NO SPORTS, POLITICS, OR RELIGION – Rich Paschall

Some Old World Wisdom, by Rich Paschall

When thinking of blog topics, there is no shortage of subject matter. Some general areas offer a lot of topics.  With a bit of extra thought, there’s an endless supply. Consider well how many areas you can pursue if you are willing to delve into sports, politics, or religion. Each is bound to set some readers ablaze.  They would surely bring lots of comments. You do want lively discussion, don’t you?

How lively do you want it?

conversation1

Venture into a sports bar well into the evening and you are likely to find plenty of spirited discussions regarding sports.  These ideas should help you out:  Will the Cubs win another pennant?  Will the White Sox ever get the love the Cubs get?  Will the Blackhawks win another Stanley Cup?  Will the Bears get back to the Super Bowl?  Will the Bulls beat the hated ____________ (fill in New York team here)?  There is little reason get into crosstown rivalries. Dissing out-of-town teams works, but only locally.

DeflatedBallsThumb2

We could always take off after the Bronx Bombers, the Patriots and _______ (name your alleged scandal here), or Jerry Jones and the Cowboys. But why alienate readers in New York, Boston or Dallas? Perhaps we should just write about the ridiculous BCS Bowl series or the commissioner of _________ (name your least favorite here).

A good informational, yet rather neutral article might find favor. Others might conclude that you are trying to make a point, like promoting someone’s stats for the hall of fame.

A discussion of gays in sports or an Olympic diver coming out of the closet might get you into politics so we may have to think carefully about those.  Yes, we will leave the political area of sports alone.

politics-1800s

Speaking of your politics (or mine), perhaps we can find common ground. I could write short stories with a political theme, or write about a run for office that brings victory, but no win for the candidate. Too improbable?

How about the death of democracy through campaign spending?

Imagine buying an election. Maybe this hits too close to home … or do you think it merely fiction or satire?

Political satire is sure to get people discussing or fighting, especially if you throw in climate change as the kicker. Then again, maybe no one will bother to read this stuff. Maybe not such a great idea after all?

How about hitting the topics head-on in a nice well-researched article? We can talk about Democrats, Republicans, capitalists, or socialists. On second thought, that could split the audience from the get-go. Better to look at the subjects of the debates and write a well-reasoned essay.

women's suffrage-2

Where to begin?

Abortion? Immigration? Gay Rights? Civil Rights? Gun Control? Campaign reform? Welfare Reform?  Any reform?

National defense?

Can we all consider any of that without alienating people? There’s always alienating the aliens. Can’t go wrong with that, right?

Well, maybe not.

If politics is too risky, how about the world’s great religions? They’re all rooted in love, are they not? We could discuss the philosophies that ignite the passions behind our beliefs and thus find common ground. Peace and harmony at last.

Except that so many people believe their god is the only one. Some believe their god is telling them to kill others — which sets religion against religion. Alas, there’s nothing new about that. Belief is supposed to bring hope and joy, not war. Yet religion has been the cause of many wars. They are all about religion or land. Check it out.

God is on every side of every war, or so they say. Who goes into battle without the blessing of their particular deity? How can I expect to have a civil discussion in such an emotionally-charged arena?  I have innocently had to extract my foot from my mouth before. Maybe I should let the Dalai Lama write on this topic.

Soon, there won’t be a Dalai Lama because the Chinese won’t allow one. Oops.

The "Dodge City Peace Commission", June 1888. (L to R) standing: W.H. Harris, Luke Short, Bat Masterson, W.F. Petillon. Seated: Charlie Bassett, Wyatt Earp, Frank McLain and Neal Brown.

The “Dodge City Peace Commission”, June 1888. (L to R) standing: W.H. Harris, Luke Short, Bat Masterson, W.F. Petillon. Seated: Charlie Bassett, Wyatt Earp, Frank McLain, and Neal Brown.

Years ago, when one of my favorite innkeepers was alive, we used to drop by his establishment.  It was a great place for lively discussions. If anyone got a little over-heated, the owner walked over with a wink to say, “No sports, no politics, no religion!”

Seemingly a strange thing to say when a sports channel was almost always playing nearby, but he meant “No arguments, no heated discussions.” If arguments got out of hand, he’d say “No sports, no politics, no religion — or you’re out of here!”

That seemed a good approach to barroom politics because these were the areas of discussion that often ended with unpleasantness. Especially when dialogue was fueled by alcohol. Maybe his attitude probably short-circuited a few lively discussions, but he definitely cut off some brawls, too.

Let’s avoid them in the blog-o-sphere and cyberspace too. If Facebook is any indicator, that sounds like a plan!

I WILL WORK FOR FOOD BUT NOT PIZZA – Marilyn Armstrong

I’ve had enough pizza. I like it, mind you, but I’ve had an awful lot of it. Especially since we discovered frozen pizza we can throw in the counter oven. DiGiorno’s sausage made with marinara sauce is my favorite. It tastes pretty good. The dogs appreciate the crusts, too.

There is a rumor, perpetuated by television shows, that bloggers earn a living. Someone in Hollywood thinks people like me make money doing this. I am depressed to admit it, but not one cent have I ever made from this site — not counting the occasional free book for review.

I don’t advertise on this site. In fact, I pay WordPress to not put their advertisements here. My dream is not to monetize my site, but be such an incredible writer that the world will shower me with money — just because I’m me. I won’t have to ask, and I will owe nothing to anybody. And I could pay the bills! Yes!

Money for nothing. It brings tears to my eyes.

Somewhere, some blogger must be making money on his or her site, but I don’t know them. I’ve been around the world, blog-wise. I have yet to see a single blogger bringing in the big bucks. A few people have tried to at least keep even by putting advertisements on their sites, but the amount of money this earns them wouldn’t add up to a good meal in a mediocre restaurant. Moreover, advertising annoys readers. Sites with spammy ads and weird pop-ups make me want to go somewhere else.

Since the Internet remains one of the last, free places on earth, that’s what I do. I go elsewhere.

I don’t do this for money. I don’t even do it in the hopes that someday it might make money.

I don’t run advertisements, have no connections to any organization who will pay me for anything. I get offers for free applications for an “honest review,” but between the lines I read “positive, glowing review.”

I turn them down. “Money for nothing” is a delightful dream and that is all it is.

If for some obscure reason, you want to buy me off? You’ll have to do a lot better than any offer I’ve yet gotten. I’m sure everyone has a price, so I probably have one too, but no one has come close to meeting it.

Please, feel free to keep trying!

Meanwhile, there will be no big money coming from this blog. Not without a humongous payoff. That life of luxury? Waiting in the wings.

STATS AND BUMPS ALONG THE WAY – Marilyn Armstrong

During my first three years of blogging, I got around 100, then 200, then 250 to 300 views per day. In year four, it slid up to around 350 to 400. Where it stayed, showing a gradual, slow but steady upward movement with occasional shots of one post being exceptionally popular and periodic dips, especially around holidays.

A couple of years ago, we started getting more than 400 hits regularly. Which I thought was phenomenal. On October 10, 2017, something else happened. Suddenly, we shot upward to 500 and started getting hits as high as 700 or 800. The funny thing was, regular posts were not doing better than usual. They were doing pretty much the same as they always had.

It was a “Google” bump. For no particular reason, Google had found this blog and we were getting hundreds of hits. It kept going up until it hit 1400 at the beginning of November. Which was crazy. Blogs like this don’t get those numbers. It stayed up there for a few days, then started to drop.

I did not expect it to stay in those numbers. The archives were getting all the action. Old blogs were being read by a lot of people — which was fun — but I knew it would not last.

Statistical bumps are not “normal” growth. Somehow, some way, your blog gets picked up by Google or some other search engine and for a while, everyone who looks for something finds you at the top of the list. Thousands of people come and read your archived posts. Some visitors actually sign on and become regulars, but 90% or more will show up once, maybe twice, then disappear.

Red-bellied (or Golden-fronted) Woodpecker

They came to see one post, maybe read a second one while they were at it, but your “real” daily numbers haven’t changed. Without the input from the out-of-control search engine, you are exactly where you were before the bump.

It’s a bit startling and melodramatic when all that activity drops away– and you are left with your normal feedback. Even though you knew it wouldn’t last, you hoped it would.

Sure enough, we dropped back to pretty much where we were before the big bump. Riding “high” was fun, but it wasn’t realistic. We are not a news service and we don’t get huge numbers of readers for posts.

House Finch and Brown-headed Cowbird

The thing is, blogging is not about statistics unless for you it’s a business. It’s about communications with the people who follow you.

You follow them, they follow you. You feed each other ideas and give each other encouragement. The actual writing of a blog is only half the fun. The rest is people and relationships. The ideas you get from reading other people’s material.

Tractor with daffodils

Also — popularity isn’t always as much fun as you think it will be. I spend a huge amount of time writing, photographing, processing pictures. Keeping track of what’s scheduled. I answer all my comments and sometimes, I end up using a full day just answering comments. It is fun — but it eats a lot of time and it’s hard to find room for other things. Like buying groceries or replacing the kitchen faucet or getting back and forth to a hospital.

Luckily, I don’t have that much else to do. Except when I do.

With a few exceptions, I’ve talked to the entire world!

Like other people who blog a lot, I love it. I love the people, the ideas, the stimulation. I don’t get out into the world the way I did when I was younger. If it weren’t for blogging, I’d be isolated and probably lonely.

The thing to remember, for all of us, is statistics bounce around. A fantastic couple of months can be followed by a serious drop in readership. Why?

People move on. WordPress messes with the software and you lose a few thousand followers. And sometimes, you simply hit a lull. If you aren’t blogging for the numbers — if you are doing it because you genuinely love writing or posting pictures or whatever it is you do — then a drop in your stats doesn’t change anything. You are still you and you will do what you’ve been doing and all will be well.

Remind me I said that that the next time I lose 800 views a day overnight!

THE SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD: KUDOS TO MARTHA KENNEDY – Marilyn Armstrong

Sunshine Blogger Award

I don’t do awards. Except occasionally, I find the questions intriguing and decide to throw my hat in the ring. Except I’m not nominating anyone because so many people I know really dislike getting nominated, I’m just not going to stick my foot into the trap again. I still have scars from the last attempt.

Martha wrote some really good questions that are worth answering, so that’s what I’m doing. Anyone interested should definitely go to Martha’s post, copy the original questions, and take it away!

Here are YOUR questions

1. What made you decide to write a blog on WordPress?

What made me decide to write a blog was that I’d been following a couple on WordPress and I had to sign up with them just to have a conversation. Of course, this automatically gave me a blogging space. I didn’t really think very hard about blogging because I had never wanted to do it … but I had some space. And I had a few thousand photographs that no one ever saw because they were on my hard drives and would never get printed.

I didn’t actually think about the writing part of the exercise at all. I just figured I’d post pretty pictures. Technically, I started in February of 2012, but really, I didn’t write or post anything until May and that was one single post. The next month, I posted maybe half a dozen times.

Then something happened. I realized blogging was exactly like writing letters and I used to be one of the world’s great letter writers. Between editing material about air pollution, the spread of Hepatitis B in Israel, and reusing water for crops and raising carp, I wrote letters. Mostly I wrote to Garry who had a full drawer of my letters when I got back from Israel.

I should have saved them, but when we were moving, I dumped everything we didn’t absolutely need. I later regretted it but gone is gone.

So I started writing letters on my blog. Various subjects. Political. Funny. An occasional book or movie review. Opinions on this and that and sometimes, bits of fiction. And I posted pictures with the stories, so I sort of got to do both things, which was good. My best hobby combined with what was left of my profession.

Why WordPress?

I had already landed there. I had signed up when I started following other bloggers and it was free, so why not? I didn’t get serious about it for a few months, but it was an explosive time on the web. It was right in the middle of Obama’s second run for office and everything online was hopping and crazy. There also weren’t nearly as many bloggers then as there are now. I picked up a lot of followers pretty quickly.

After a while, Garry started writing pieces when he felt like it. And Rich started contributing and eventually, Tom and Ellin pitched in.

As it turns out, WordPress is pretty much the only game in town right now. Blogger (Google) has just as many problems and lacks the easy communications you get with WordPress. I originally thought I’d go find another place to do this again, but I have realized that I don’t want to do it again. Once was interesting and fun. Another would be work.

2. You’re writing a blog post and you find it taking on a direction of its own. Do you assume control or do you follow it?

Most of my pieces take on a life of their own and I follow faithfully. I’m often surprised where my posts end up, too. Sometimes, all I have is one good line and the rest just falls into place.

It’s getting the typos out that really kills me. I’m such an awful proofreader.

3. What are your goals as the writer of a blog? What do you hope for?

I really never had any goals. I write anyway, whether I have a blog or I’m just writing. I have always written, even when I had no one to read it. I might as well blog because at least a few people do read it. Also, it has really improved my writing.

Having no goals to begin with, I have none now. I like to write and I love the friends I’ve made online. They matter to me more than I imagined possible.

4. Describe the best day you’ve had in the past twelve months.

Yesterday when the birds stayed put and I got some great shots. The best day before that was the day we went to the movies.

A flock of Goldfinches

Cowbird and House Finch

Before that, the day they installed the new shower.

Looks pretty good!

I think every day I wake up still breathing is a GREAT day.

5. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why? What experiences would you hope for?

I’d like to go to England and see Sue Vincent and the great, ancient stones. I’d like to go to Switzerland and have tea with Pat and Australia and New Zealand and Utah and drive through the Rocky Mountains.

I don’t think we are really going anywhere except down to the river, but Paris would also be very lovely. Because it is Paris.

6. What was the worst road trip of your life? What happened?

Any trip I took with my parents as a child. They were ALL nightmares.

7. How much time do you put into your blog? Do you write every day?

I write every day. Even when I have decided NOT to write, I can’t help myself. That seems to be what I do.

8. Do you write to a daily prompt? Why or why not?

Sometimes if I can think of something to go with them. But I often have my own ideas of what I want to write and when I do, I don’t bother with a prompt.

I do use a lot of photo prompts. They help me find uses for many of my archived pictures.

9. What’s your favorite post? Why? Please share. 

https://teepee12.com/2019/01/31/my-best-year-1969/

Titled: MY BEST YEAR -1969

I think I’ve rewritten is half a dozen times at least and I’m sure I will again. It brings back happy days when everyone was young.

10. Is there a book, film or person (or animal) that inspired you and changed your life? What or who was it? How did it have such a profound effect on you?

Angelique by Anne Golan.

11. What advice do you have for someone who has just started writing a blog? What rewards has it given you that might inspire someone else?

If you enjoy it and if you are having fun, don’t give up. Everyone starts slowly. A blog needs time to find its place in the online world.

I really don’t have any questions to add. There have been so many question-asking blogs this year, I feel like I’m questioned and answered out. I do apologize. I think since Martha put so much thought into HER questions, you should definitely use hers!

GREAT, GREATER, GREATEST – Marilyn Armstrong

Kind of reminds me of the old talkin’ blues — “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like!”

I don’t know — or care — if the blogs I follow are great, greater or greatest. It’s entirely subjective. Great for who? Me? You? Everybody on the web? I doubt there is any such blog. If there were, we’d never agree on it, so the real question is what do I like and why?

I’m pretty sure this chickadee could talk., but he can’t type so he doesn’t comment.

I like humor. If you make me laugh, you own me. I am perhaps overly invested in wordplay and wit. I like photography, so if you post astounding pictures — or just pretty ones — I’m in for that too. I appreciate thoughtful posts on subjects ranging from ancient history to the meaning of life. If you combine them all, even better.

I adore authors and try to support them, even if what they write isn’t my favorite stuff. I’m a gadget freak and faithfully follow blogs that delve into hardware and software. I read movie reviews, book reviews, product reviews. I trust my fellow bloggers. From your blogs, I’ve discovered books, authors, movies, cameras, lenses, software, and accessories. I don’t know where I got information before I found you all!

Metropolitan Museum of Art – The fighting Unicorn

I follow many blogs for many reasons. Some are written better than others. Some photographers are more skilled than others, but I don’t count typos or ignore less than perfect pictures. Many people lack technical finesse, yet have true vision and thoughts worth hearing. I’m egalitarian by principle and inclination.

I love animals. Dogs, cats, horses, birds and everything else. Wild animals and pets. But not insects. Sorry bugs, I just can’t love you. I’ve tried. Maybe in my next incarnation.

I hate haters. I admire kindness and generosity especially because I’m not as good as I want to be. I don’t think cruelty is funny. Even when deserved, suffering makes me wince, not laugh.

I’m interested in God, religion, and faith — but can’t stomach being bullied to believe a particular dogma. One size never fits all, not in philosophy, religion, political system, technology or clothing. I read blogs by ministers and other religious people. I want to know what they think and why, how they made their “leap of faith.” Seeking is good.

Then there’s information, ideas, useful hints, suggestions on how to do things differently. I love learning new stuff. Don’t we all?

I don’t read everyone every day. There isn’t enough time, even if I did nothing but read other blogs. And then, I’d never get to write one or take a few pictures. I do try to peek at everyone, even when I’m a couple of days late.

Personally, I think you are all great.

We are great because we care about something that is not “us.” We share ourselves, our knowledge, our hopes, our dreams. Whether we want to change the world or make someone smile, help with a problem, teach a new way to do an old thing, offer a different way to look at the world, we don’t just talk.

We don’t have the power we wish we had, but we do the best we can and that’s a big deal. Especially today. There are problems way beyond our ability to help fix them, but I think we all, in our own way, try.

Greatness is in the eye of the beholder. I behold you all and thank you. You’re the greatest.

A FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE – Marilyn Armstrong

A MERE FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE, BOSS

This is one of the biggest problems with electronic communication. I suppose it’s a problem with any communication that isn’t face-to-face. People probably misunderstood each other’s handwritten letters too.

😀  I believe the  🙂  was invented to convey that what you wrote was not meant negatively  😦  Emojis are just an artistic advancement of the stuff we used to do on the keyboard.

I use emoticons liberally, though they are not English and cannot be considered in any way grammatical. They are also childish, but that’s good because children convey feelings easily. I’m not averse to being childish if it improves communications.

communication-intimacy-10-levels

I tend to be brusque. Short. I try to be witty, but it doesn’t always come across that way. My attempts to be “cute” can easily be misread as snide, snippy, and dismissive. So for all of you with whom I attempt electronic communications:

1) If I seem to be snide, snippy, or dismissive, you’ll know it. I’m not so subtle. Really.

2) My wrists hurt and I forget almost everything within 15 seconds. Sometimes I forget what I’m doing while I’m doing it. My typing is getting worse. Of the emerging issues caused by pain in wrists and forgetfulness, most malignant are those missing words. I’m not talking about misspellings. I meant words that aren’t there. At all. Particularly unfortunate when the missing word is “not” — exactly reversing the meaning of a sentence yet appearing as grammatically correct.

SOLUTIONS?

Lacking fonts that clearly express sarcasm or irony — both of which are far better expressed by tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions — maybe we (me) should consider alternate forms. This is difficult since I have always tended to be sarcastic. (I used to be worse, but I’m in recovery.) That kind of wit doesn’t translate well into text. Not yet, anyhow and until it does, I’m considering finding types of humor which are less likely to be misread.

The second solution isn’t a solution but might help. Before you decide you’ve been insulted, dismissed, treated with scorn, or anything like that, check with the comment’s originator. Make sure what you know is what was meant. That it wasn’t a complicated typo or a joke gone wildly wrong.

PARANOIA

It’s easy to read everything as a form of criticism. I’ve seen people slide into this by degrees until they successfully misinterpret everything. You need a degree of toughness to live a virtual life. You also need patience, in the sense of not jumping to conclusions. Finally, you have to remember you are not the center of everyone’s world and when people say something, they are not necessarily targeting you.

One of my many problems with the whiners, complainers, and the “oh woe is me-ers” is they have sunk so deep into their own “issues,” they forget other people have lives and problem of their own. People can be brusque — dismissive — and it hasn’t got anything to do with you. They are responding to something going on in their world.

Usually, you will never know what is or was going on unless they choose to tell you or you directly ask. Because many of us like to keep our private life private. I deal with intimate issues face-to-face and telephone-to-telephone. Even email-to-email. Not on my blog.

PRIVACY IS GOOD

Which brings me to my final point.

Bloggers can easily contact each other privately. If you have a bone to pick with someone — or think you do — try email. Directly. To the individual. Even if your position is righteous and your cause is just, in public is rarely the best place to resolve a dispute. After you’ve publicly insulted or hurt someone, they may refuse to forgive you.

And finally, squabbling about personal stuff online is tacky. Totally teenage, very Facebook, and not classy at all.

AFTER SEVEN YEARS OF BLOGGING … Marilyn Armstrong

WordPress has a lot of issues, most of which they have never fixed and will never fix. Some months ago, my graphics gallery stopped working if any of the pictures included a caption. Sometimes, the gallery just doesn’t work at all and hangs the entire post. Sometimes, I lose the post in the process.

The text shows up in a different format that its designation. The spacing between paragraphs has always been a gamble. They change formatting so often it’s not unusual for your template to become obsolete while you are in the middle of writing a piece.

Landing Titmouse and Junco

Comments disappear entirely or show up days — and occasionally months — after you write them. Or never.

Pictures may or may not show up. The size in which they show up? It’s like playing craps with busted dice. Frequently, the intended picture isn’t in the post or a picture appears that was pulled from a sidebar or someone else’s post. Sometimes photos are much smaller or larger than designated — or appear as a straight line or a black box … or nothing.

They have a lot of text issues they’ve never addressed which is one of the many reasons I strongly objected to them floating a whole new version of text editing when they never managed to solve their previous problems.

Nuthatch

WordPress never repairs anything. Their “happiness engineers” mostly specialize in telling you it’s not a problem. It’s just that one day, half your followers disappeared because they don’t like you anymore.

“Overnight?” you ask.

They explain that you don’t write what people want to read, the implication is that the problem is not their dipsy database, but your writing.

They know this how?

They don’t know anything. What they really know is that they are not there to solve problems, but rather to explain why the problem is not their fault but yours.

Instead of fixing problems, they move on to “something different.” If the new format has issues, they won’t solve them. They will just move on to something else and you can follow … or not.

They don’t care about bloggers unless they are a business prospect. If you aren’t paying the highest price for a business site, they have no interest in you or whatever problems you have.


I’m tired of WordPress. Tired of their bad attitude and failure to realize that we, the writers and creative artists who built their brand are still the people who bring in business. Without us, people would only come to do business and most of their visiting population would be gone.


I’m paid up through 2019 but after that? I don’t know whether I want to continue. I love the friends I’ve made. I get good responses to my work, too. But it’s so difficult to work around the embedded issues that are always part of WordPress. I wonder if I will continue past this year. The main reason I keep going is my friends — who matter — and I’m retired and don’t have that many other things to do.

I love writing. Not answering questions or figuring out how many prompts I can stuff into a 200-word response.

I want to see WRITING. Something new, out of your or my head, using our own ideas.

The audience has changed, the concept of what blogging is has changed. We all used to write about what our world and what was happening. Now, it’s all prompts and “Question & Answer” stuff. Almost no one is writing about what matters to them.

Each day feels less like fun and more like work for which I don’t get paid. The bloom is off the rose.

Ultimately, I’m tired of the hassles of WordPress. They don’t care about us.  No matter how brisk our stats show our response to be, they don’t care unless we are a business application. Why should I pay for a business plan when I don’t have a business?

Junco on a very cold morning

That’s the direction they are going. You, me, all of us who began blogging for the joy of writing or whatever our creative thing is are no longer valued. WordPress does not care. We aren’t making enough money for them. And it isn’t as if they are failing for lack of funding. They just aren’t getting as rich as Jeff Bezos.

If you think it’s bad now, it will be much worse in a year. If there was a viable alternative, I’d be there, but Blogger (Google) has its own issues every bit as bad as these and no reasonable way of directly responding to posts.

Whatever is wrong, you can bet it’s about money. No company wants to simply be profitable. They have to make enough money to rule the world. We are not part of that goal.