Facebook, Friends & Flow Charts

Here’s what I’ve been thinking about this week.  Brought to you by the letter “F.”

• Facebook.  I was talking with a casual acquaintance the other day.  Over the years we’ve gotten to know each other– sort of.  She is nothing if not outspoken.

Often we talk about FB.  It fascinates her that I just left it.  Like that.  No worries, no looking back.  It’s kind of a theme with her.

And honestly, I’m fascinated about why she doesn’t leave FB.  She hates it– complains about it every time we are together.  In fact one of her biggest complaints is that her friends have the audacity to post status updates using words. That they think she’ll read about what they’re doing.  This seems to bother her to no end.  She mentions it often.

So, I asked her straight up why she messes around with something that so clearly upsets her.

And she told me that the only reason she stays on FB is so that she can see the photos that her friends post.  She wants to see these photos so that she can judge how these friends look.  Her word: judge.

Being the polite soul that I am, I just nodded my head up & down, mumbled a vague sort of “uh-huh,” and quickly changed the topic of conversation to something that didn’t give me a glimpse into the psyche of someone so shallow– and probably– more typical than I care to admit.


• Friends.  I stumbled upon this article: Bitter About Your Life? Blame Facebook.  The subtitle says: “New research suggests heavy Facebook users are more likely to believe other people have happier lives.”  

According to this article, researchers posit that this perception is due to the fact that people see all sorts of happy photos that FB friends post.  Then these people assume that other people are having a better time than they are.  Enter bitter feelings.

Wonder if that is what’s going on with my acquaintance… seeing how she is a nut for photos.


• Flow charts.  While I was enjoying all that Pinterest has to offer, I came upon this wonderful How to Delete Half Your Facebook “Friends” flow chart.  It is by a blogger named Samantha who keeps a blog called ashore.

I love this chart.  Now I just need to get my acquaintance to understand it and use it.  Might make her happier about her experiences on FB.  Maybe.

The Lighter Side Of Marital Miscommunication

We were watching a football game on TV.  And by we were watching I mean Zen-Den was watching the football game and commercials, while I was looking through a stack of home decor catalogues… and aware that a game was on TV.

In one of the catalogues I saw an outdoor small table with two chairs that at first struck me as something that we might want.  The table and chair were made of metal but looked like twigs had been put together in such a way as to create a table and chairs.  Very chic.  I thought that they might work on our deck over against one wall for me to use at noontime when I’m eating lunch by myself.

So I started to show Z-D the photo of the small table with two chairs, but in mid-show I decided that I didn’t like the table and two chairs after all.

Z-D wasn’t really paying much attention to what I was doing.  No surprise there.  Instead he was staring at a commercial for Cialis— and as with all commercials for Cialis the serious male announcer voice was telling us very important information.

TV commercial:  “Blah, blah, blah… When the moment is right, will you be ready?”

Me, referring to the photo in the catalogue:  “That’d make nervous if I had to look at it very much.”

Z-D, thinking that I’m watching the TV commercial:  “Why?”

Me, staring at the photo:  “Because pieces of it stick out funny.”

Z-D, still thinking that I’m talking about the topic of the TV commercial:  “Why would you care about that?  That’s not your problem.”

Me, getting ready to turn the page in the catalogue:  “Because I’d have to sit on it and that’d be uncomfortable.”

Z-D, finally paying attention to me:  “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?”

Me, handing him the catalogue with the photo:  “This chair that looks like it’s made of twigs.  Why?  What’d you think I was talking about?”

Z-D, dissolving into laughter: “The commercial on TV for ED.  I thought you were watching it.”

Me, indignant then realizing what I’d just said:  “No, of course I wasn’t watching that… HEY WAIT A MINUTE.  You thought I was talking about THAT?”

Z-D, staring at me in amazement:  “Yep.  And you were darned funny, too.”

Whatever The Day May Bring Us

The other afternoon I was at home writing and listening to a classical music radio station while waiting for Dave, the man from the chimney/roofing repair company, to arrive.  Dave has been to the house before so I knew who to expect and that he’d find a solution to our latest homeowner problem.

He showed up on time and started by looking at our water/mud mess in the basement.  Then he and his camera went up on the roof to figure out what was happening up there to cause the mess.  It didn’t take long for him to determine that the builder had once again skimped on something important.

[Details of problem for those who care about such things.  Chimney cap not installed with proper horizontal support.  Hot water exhaust pipe, which goes up inside of the chimney, not surrounded by proper gasket where it intersects with chimney cap.  Result: water doesn’t roll off top of chimney cap.  Instead, water forms a 2″ deep puddle on top of chimney cap and then slowly drips down leak around the exhaust pipe into inside of chimney.  Along the way to the basement water rots first floor sub-flooring under fireplace and creates a gentle steam down the basement concrete walls into the adjacent floor drain.]  

So Dave got down off the roof and knocked on the door.  He put on his standard issue contractor-inside-your-house paper booties, and stepped into the foyer to show me photos of this year’s month’s week’s problem.  He explained to me how the problem could be repaired.  And then he told me to expect an estimate in the mail in about 2 days.

Very standard.

But what made this visit different– and almost got me to the point of giggles— was that while Dave was talking with me the classical radio station was playing The Blue Danube Waltz.  Just float-y, water-y, swoosh-y music drifting into the foyer from the radio in the next room.

I don’t think that the music registered with Dave at all, but to me it was very fitting and funny.  I ask you, could there be any more perfect background music for a discussion about water running down the inside of your chimney into the basement and then flowing toward the drain?  Me thinks not.

Well played, Universe.  I bow to your sense of the absurd.


~ as a way of including The Blue Danube Waltz in this post, and for your entertainment, I leave you with this video ~


My 5 Suggestions For Writing Better Blog Posts

Even though I’ve blogged off and on since 2004 [read more here], I’m not sure that I’ve ever written about how to write a blog post. When I first stumbled upon blogging years ago nothing like this list existed.  Back then blogging was all trial & error, but eventually I figured out how to write a post that was understandable & interesting.  Now, of course, advice on how to blog is EVERYWHERE.  Which got me thinking that maybe what I’ve learned might be of value to someone.  So, without further ado, I give you…

My 5 Suggestions For Writing Better Blog Posts

[from www.thespectacledbean.com]

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1.  Have a thesis statement for your blog.

this is vital.  you need it to help keep you grounded as you write each post.  without it, you’ll flounder and your blog will go nowhere.

2.  Be specific.

details, baby!  tell us exactly what interests you and why.  show us how you did something.  explain your point of view.  i’m not talking about being wordy, here.  i’m talking about presenting your life in a clearly defined way that tells us about you.

3.  Write each post with one or two people in mind. 

pretend like you are writing– or talking– to one or two people who you know care about what you have to say.  tell them your story, and don’t worry about what anyone else will think of it.  you can’t please everyone, so you might as well focus on the few people who will appreciate what you have to say.

4.  Give your readers something to say “YES” to.

can’t emphasize this concept enough.  readers engage with you because you are sharing ideas & experiences that ring true with them.  they want to talk about things, and it is so much easier to comment when there is a way to say “yes.”

5.  Make it stylish.

each individual post must look inviting and polished on its own.  you need to become familiar with all those little buttons in your text editor that allow you to do jazzy things like bold, italic, font sizes, font styles, font colors, text placement, image sizing.  effective communication is much more than a string of words on a page.

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Weekend This & That

{january – monday – early morning}

√  I’ve been making small tweaks here on my blog since the beginning of the year.  Have you noticed?  Over the weekend I think that I finally got each of my posts entered into the proper category where each post belongs.  Now instead of Monthly Archives I have a list of 7 Categories where you can find all of my past posts.  By category.  Obviously.

√  We started putting together our traditional winter project, a jigsaw puzzle!  Years ago after seeing an episode of Northern Exposure where a married couple had a fun time putting together a puzzle, we decided to give it a try– and found that doing a puzzle was a harmless distraction from the winter gloom.  So now every winter we do ONE puzzle.  Yes, I know– not the most high-tech, cutting edge thing to admit to doing.  But it’s fun.  

√  I tried a new recipe for cupcakes that uses Blue Moon beer.  The cupcakes were good, not at all beer-y– but not orange-y enough to make them interesting.  I made some notes on the recipe and will try it again later this winter.  I think some clove and more coriander are in order.  Maybe a drop of orange extract?  If I ever perfect the recipe, I’ll post it here.  If.

√  We did a test on the stair railing to see how difficult it would be to strip the old stain and varnish off of the railing and posts.  Our conclusion: not difficult at all.  But because of the fumes and mess involved with this project we decided to postpone it until late spring when we can open the windows for ventilation.  Plus they’ll be more daylight then– which can only help us see what we’re doing.  Always important.

Bath Time + Snack Time

Sometimes a person needs to stop and smell the hibiscus flowers.  Or, as in the case of baby sloths, stop and eat the hibiscus flowers. 

‘Tis a sweet little video.  Enjoy!



[… I’d like to give proper credit to whoever showed me this link, but I can’t remember who it was.  My brain is a colander.  So, if it was you who showed me this–and you want me to give you a H/T here in this space– then let me know that it was you.  That is all.]

When A Presbyterian Decorates Her Coffee Table

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Two weekends ago after we put away our holiday decorations the coffee table in the living room was looking a bit puny— despite the fact that I keep a crystal bowl filled with jingle bells on this table all year round.  [The jingle bells are from my childhood.  Remind me sometime to tell you the story of how they came to mean so much to me.]  Clearly the table needed something more on it, but I was all out of ideas.

Then a few days ago while I was shopping at the grocery store I saw a small houseplant of ivy for sale.  It looked very healthy so I bought it, brought it home and transplanted it into the first pot that I found in the garage.  However, once I got the pot inside the house I realized that it was too small for this table and that it needed some height.  So I pulled some gardening books from the adjacent bookshelves and placed the potted ivy on top of the books.

Still I wanted something more on the table, so I took the plain vanilla candle that had been in the screened-in porch all summer/fall, brought it inside and put it on the table.  Suddenly, I had a pretty look for the coffee table.  Very coordinated & cheerful.

Or so I thought at first….

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It wasn’t until the next day when I lighted the candle and sat down in the living room to read a book that it dawned on me that I’d set up a tableau that amounted to the Roman Catholic Church’s time-honored excommunication ceremony.

“The bell represented the public character of the act, the book the authority of the words spoken by the presiding bishop.  The candle was believed to symbolize the possibility that the ban might be lifted by the repentance and amendment of its victim.  The ceremony was performed in some conspicuous place….”

~ Encyclopedia Britannica

After I stopped laughing at myself I got worried that maybe I’d really offended Someone– or some System– or some Being.  You know how I like to live a harmonious life.  So I did a bit of research about how one gets himself or herself excommunicated, and discovered to my relief that:

“The purpose of excommunication isn’t to allow you to quit or make a political statement or pursue some other private agenda. It’s to allow the church to throw you out. If you’re already out — that is, if you don’t partake of the sacraments or otherwise participate in Catholic activities… — excommunication is likely to strike church authorities as a waste of good holy water.”

~ Cecil Adams, The Straight Dope

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Finding out that I couldn’t excommunicate myself while decorating a coffee table has set my mind to rest about this situation.  Also, considering that I’m not Catholic I figure that the authorities won’t want to waste holy water on me either.

Of course, I have to admit that upon closer self-examination during this situation, I’ve come to realize that as a [lapsed] Presbyterian I really need not worry about how I’ve inadvertently offended the Roman Catholic Church, as much as the fact that I rarely go to church.  Which I suspect is going to reflect more poorly on my character when I reach the Pearly Gates– than my accidental excommunication-themed decorating tableau.  🙂