Thoughts destined to be washed away by the tides of life.
I've been studying my cover photo for a while now, and it seems to me that it is more than just a photo of what is there that can be seen, more than just three white rocks stacked on a beach. It contains an important question about the future, about what happens long after the photographer has gone. What will happen to our pile of stones when the tide comes in? Will it topple or has the architect built this structure at a safe distance? |
I don't know what will happen to these words that I stack here on the sand. They may prove safely distant, or they may be swallowed up by a rush of self-doubt. They may be here for a season. They may lose their balance and be scattered by the shoreline, or be hidden away under shifting sands. Perhaps someday, the tides of life will reclaim them.
Or maybe that's just a bunch of poetic, romantic nonsense. After all, this is just a blog.
|I've heard it many times: Don't complain about a review. Don't disagree with a review. Swallow your protestations.
I do all that. I even tuck in my sarcasm.
But there is one thing I have become aware of that I think is important, and that is when the review of a book entry affects the whole book's rating. I guess that it has to do that, based on the structure of a book, etc. But when someone reviews just one item in a book and rubbishes it, that low rating affects the whole book's rating.
It is something that I will ever keep in mind when reviewing book entries. Not that I would ever treat anyone's writing with such disdain and never would I review anything that I felt deserved a very low rating. I try to point out the good not the bad. I look for the shiny bits, the parts that make me smile or cry and thank the author for having done that.
So, that's all. I am more determined than ever to write uplifting reviews. Now if someone wants to publish and they need a professional editor, I think they should find one. That's not me. I want to find those wonderful, shiny bits of people that they put into their writing, and then tell them how much I appreciate them sharing.
When Rockwell wrote this song in 1984, it was a bit of a fun poke at the type of paranoia that we are all given to at times. Because it’s about a common feeling, the song didn’t tread into the area of making light of real mental illness. But if Rockwell felt like he was being watched 36 years ago, what sort of song would he write about 2020?
We have all grown used to the way that our web browsers track us and how they tell Facebook which products we were interested in looking up yesterday so that we then face multiple assaults by ads aimed at selling us that very product. Twenty years ago, when I was first venturing out into the internet, the very thought would have freaked me out. But now, I just murmur discontentedly about unsolicited ads on Facebook and keep going. There’s a lot to do and it’s easier sometimes to ignore the privacy issues because getting the job done requires the systems that present these issues.
Free stuff often comes at a high price.
If we paid for Facebook or Google or Zoom, then we would and should expect high priority given to protecting our personal information. But, can you imagine how many people would sign up for a paid Facebook? Right, not many. And Facebook would cease to exist with a pay to post model. Big companies don’t use free conferencing programs, because they need privacy and not Zoom bombing.
The reason that Facebook and other social media programs are free to use is because they are not the product. You are. The user supplies personal data, interests, shopping habits, feedback on purchases, location and a list of their friends and family. All of this data helps the tech giants to sell ads, and to sell you. And still, we continue to sign in and sign up for data mining.
The other day I was watching a YouTube video on my laptop. It was a knitting pattern for a slipper and the audio was in Russian (with video instructions and rudiments of language like numbers, it’s quite possible to follow a pattern in another language). Suddenly, the Duolingo language learning app on my phone sent me a notification, reminding me that I still had goals to meet in my Russian lessons.
So yes, we are all definitely being spied upon by our technology. Somebody is watching us, and listening to us, and even knows when what they hear is in Russian. Freaky.
But I am still using all this free social media and taking my chances. I guess convenience has won out over paranoia. I am not sure that is a good thing.
|Yesterday was the last day of September and suddenly, I found myself facing a set of deadlines that I hadn't intended to try to make. I was under no obligation to write two stories. But, I decided to give it a go and I am glad I did. It's not all glory, however. I am already wincing at needed edits I wish I had time to make on one of stories. I am too fearful to re-read the other story I wrote. It's probably worse than I remember. Actually, I wrote it so fast yesterday that I don't really remember it very well, at all.
The point of the exercise was to try to write two stories in genres I don't usually write it at all. I was not sure I wanted to write in these genres. I had no ideas and both had to be written before midnight. As it turned out, I did it all in one crazy busy day that included receiving several long phone calls, a visit from a relative and the usual various interruptions of family and cat.
Of course, I was a bit diverted from my original weekly goals, but in the long run I will have accomplished more.
And I wrote a blog post.
|There's one phrase that is often used by people of opposing viewpoints that I cannot abide. It's the shoving or ramming of one's beliefs or ideas down someone else's throat. "Don't try to ram your beliefs down my throat!", the aggrieved participant cries in apparent physical anguish.
It is a strange sign of our times that the sharing of ideas is considered to be a violent act.
There's the "don't inflict your ideas on me" school of thought. This is a little less violent but still gives one the feeling that the recipient of your ideas is being punished by them. The most restrictive of these mantras is the one about not burdening your children with your values and beliefs. I am not sure how one raises a child in that case because I believe a banana is good for a child, but if I cannot share that belief, the child may never try the banana. I believe that my child should not spit on or hit other children, or adults for that matter. It's a value I hold.
Oh, they will say, you must teach your children to respect others and to share toys, etc. Of course, because they believe these things, too. And that is the crux of it. You may share any values or beliefs that they agree with. Stating anything they disagree with is violently inflicting ideas at the end of a philosophical whip.
What the "don't inflict your ideas on me" group are actually saying is that any kind of political or philosophical discourse is impossible. People must agree or they should not speak to one another . This absolute rejection and fear of any ideas they have not already thought for themselves is like a phobia or perhaps, an allergy. They are afraid that if they are exposed to conflicting opinions or ideas, they will seize up in anaphylactic shock and die. That's why they chant loudly to drown out other voices. They can't take the chance they might hear something that changes their minds.
I think there is only one cure for this problem and it's the same approach they use with many allergies. For instance, the cure for a peanut allergy is exposure to minute amounts of peanut powder that helps the sufferer to build up an immunity. In the same way, people need to be exposed to new ideas, even if only a little bit at a time. Ideas that conflict with yours won't necessarily destroy your beliefs, they may strengthen your resolve. But give them a test. Try them out. Let other ideas into your world and use your core convictions to sort out what seems right to you.
Finally, as soon as someone says "don't inflict your beliefs on me" they've told you what they believe. They believe you shouldn't tell other people what you believe. Which they just did. And then told you to shut up.
I discovered something very useful this week. Or rather, I discovered that something I already knew about was very useful. The Weekly Goals.
I'd seen the Weekly Goals every Monday in the Newsfeed, but I didn't really know how it worked. It seemed to me that people were just typing their goals in the comments and then nothing came of it. I finally took a good look, and realized that it's not like that at all. I had no idea that there were GPs involved, for one thing. The rules state that you don't have to accomplish your goals to receive the reward, but I tried not to think of that as a possibility. It's already too easy to fail, without telling myself it's okay to fail.
Anyway, nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say, so I wrote a little list for myself.
1. Write a blog post about the utter chaos and complete crazy storm that kept me from doing anything useful today. At least I will get a blog post done.
2. Write at least one review per day (possibly excluding today - excuses to follow).
3. Write for 24 Syllables contest all 3 days, even if uninspired. That includes the one due tonight. Entries in for Mon, Wed, Friday
4. Write the poem for Promptly Poetry.
5. Write at least one fiction story for entry in at least one contest. Wrote two stories, entered two contests
6. Work on an entry for The Contest Challenge.
7. Write a poem in support of (159) 's new activity. Wrote one each day
I am happy to say that all goals were accomplished. That's why there are the little purple check marks and the comments in purple. In fact, I wrote more and did more than my list required.
I felt that even though I didn't have to finish my list according to the rules of the challenge, I felt inspired to try. It's my list, and so these are my goals and not some tasks set for me by someone else. That made it a challenge to meet my own expectations.
I will definitely do the Weekly Goals again. It helped me focus my time and efforts on things I could accomplish.
|I guess I am getting lazy. Used to be, I woke up every day at 5:00 am. Had to get the kids off to school. But now that they've moved on from school years and into adulthood, they don't need a human alarm clock. Without something as pressing as a bus schedule to provide the proper incentive to rise early, I have been slowly adding to my morning snoozes, a little at a time, year by year.
I stayed in bed until 7:00 this morning. Laziness!
In addition to getting my coffee later and later every day, I am managing to get out of bed just in time for people to start calling me on the phone or dropping by to visit me.
It began with a phone call from my brother, followed up quickly by a phone call from my sister. Some of the things she was telling me made me concerned for her health, so I called my brother back. My sister decided to come to my house to visit and arrived shortly thereafter, during which time my brother called me again.
My sister's visits are exhausting because she is hard of hearing and sustaining the right volume, pitch and enunciation to communicate with her burns about the same number of calories as a 30 minute Jazzercize class. There were some issues she needed my help with, and even though she arrived while I was still in my nightgown, I did my best to deal with these issues which ranged from health, to faulty technology and her bank statement. By the time she left, it was half past lunch.
I didn't get lunch, though, because it was time for another phone call from my brother. It's exhausting to explain our sister's visits and issues.
It was really more harrowing than I can relate here as I don't want to be insulting about family members who probably consider me to be just as impossible as I consider them to be. That's what family is - a group of impossible people who care enough about each other to put up with each other despite how impossible they all are.
Suffice it to say my day involved two visits from my sister and six phone calls from my brother and that the part of the day where I roam about WDC and decide what to write and where did not start until well after 4:00 PM.
Then I decided to write weekly goals.
Now, I think I need to add one more.
I need to make getting up at 4:00 AM a goal. At least I would get in a couple of hours of quality time with my coffee before the phone starts ringing.
|I've spent the last two days on YouTube watching ice forming.
Now, before you think that I am doing some new kind of arctic meditation, let me explain.
I have decided to buy an ice machine. I probably don't need it, well no one needs an ice machine, it's purely for convenience and fun. I eagerly await it's arrival.
I have to admit, it's been intriguing (and time consuming) watching ice form. And it's amazing how many other people got suckered into buying an ice machine and then made videos of ice forming. Because of them, I can sit here and watch videos so I will know what to expect when my ice machine arrives and starts forming ice on my very own kitchen countertop. One guy even bought two ice machines so he could race them. Another Youtuber showed how to clean out the mold she had growing in her machine. Yuck! Note to self: when not in use, let the machine dry out completely.
The one thing that none of the videos showed was just where on my overcrowded counter I should keep this ice machine. This is going to require some serious reorganizing and prioritizing. I may have to move some of the other bulky appliances that looked so useful and necessary when I bought them, but soon lost their novelty status. I should open a used appliance store.
I think watching ice form might become a form of mediation, after all. A kitchen appliance that also supplies inner peace is invaluable. But it wont be delivered until Thursday so I am going back to YouTube now. I need to achieve a "cool" state of mind.
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves , or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare, ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang
Forgive me. I was just testing out what Shakespeare would look like with some ML thrown in. This is one of my favorite sonnets, Sonnet 73. I love how the words always create a picture in my mind , especially these first lines that describe the aging process in terms of seasons, putting the colors, the feeling and even the silent abandonment of the trees into his verse. Shakespeare didn’t have ML, he had to use words. But doesn’t it look pretty now?
Here’s another good bit,from Hamlet. It's one heck of a play, let me tell you.
Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest…
You know, this is a lot of work. I think I will just stick to words.
|On the Newsfeed this week is a musical prompt - The Black Eyed Peas and the video for their song I Gotta Feeling. I thought that writing a blog post would kill two birds with one stone. Not that I approve of killing birds. No, not at all. But what sort of blog post? Should I write about how this song makes me feel? Should I review the song? Maybe I will do both.
Obviously, the song is catchy with an infectious beat and hook. It generates a "feel-good" atmosphere and it makes people want to dance or at least, tap their fingers. But those catchy songs usually don't blow your mind with meaningful lyrics. And again, I Gotta Feeling doesn't disappoint. It is rife with meaningless lyrics that encourage us all to behave foolishly and without restraint. Spend all your money, the song advises. "Loose" it all. Hmmmm.... Not sure if that is a typo or they really want you extra loose. Smash it up!, they say.
So, this song gives me two separate feelings:
1. The music makes me feel bouncy and happy; and
2. The lyrics make me feel depressed about the future of poetic influence on songwriting.
Gone are the days of such brilliance as Rogers & Hart. My word, could Lorenz Hart write lyrics! Just think about the complex rhymes he slipped into popular songs such as Manhattan:
"I'll take Manhattan,
the Bronx and Staten
Island too, its lovely
going through the zoo
And what about the absolutely lovely and enchanting lyrics of Stardust by Hoagy Carmichael? The whole thing is brilliant, so go look it up and read them. Better yet, find a great recording of it - maybe Nat King Cole - and listen to it. Tell me you don't get a bit of a thrill when he sings "When our love was new, And each kiss an inspiration".
So, now I am onto my general rant about the loss of true songwriting in popular music. There are still great song writers, of course, but they tend not to end up on the Top 40. They are well-known amongst smaller groups of fans. Perhaps that is how it always goes and is the difference between popular and well-crafted.
So, this was not really a review, because I have nothing to say about lyrics like:
Lets go way out spaced out
And loosing all control
Actually it hurts to read or write that.
|I haven't been having great success with prompts lately. It seems like every time I write on a particular subject, a few days later, that subject comes up in a prompt in some challenge or contest. I can't even think how to begin. I wrote what I had to say already, I'm dry.
But it's weird how this keeps happening. It is as if the creative mojo is being transferred from one writer to another from the website through the servers, over the internet and filling up all the little WiFi routers all over the world. It's the hive mind. It's like the Borg.
Or it may be that I am making excuses for not having written a Haiku yet for the Promptly Poetry Challenge. I swear I have been thinking about nature for days. But try as I might, i have yet to come up with a new angle. I feel that I have emptied myself of all my feelings towards trees, autumn leaves, morning, night, dusk, sunrise, sunset, birds, etc. and, oh yeah... etc. You get the picture.
It's dangerous to let me write when the usual subjects are exhausted It could get ugly in those 17 syllables.
I have to go think about nature some more, or look at it. Maybe I will email David Attenborough. He may know of some cute chipmunk stories.