About Blogging: 5 People Whose Unsolicited Advice Shaped Me + A Blogroll Opportunity

A RATTLING GREAT INTRODUCTION

Not long ago someone [a spammer but whatevs] told me that I write a “rattling great” weblog. No one has ever used the word *rattling* to describe what I do here.

I had to look up the word to make certain I knew what it meant in this context. It’s an adjective used for emphasis when denoting something very good of its kind. 

I’m flattered, regardless of the source, because I’ll take encouragement wherever I find it.

Which leads me to writing about the five people, none of whom blog anymore, who guided me to be the blogger I am today. Without their help, which was pretty much unsolicited advice, I never would have stuck around as long as I have.

Many, many thanks to each.

THE 5 PEOPLE & THEIR UNSOLICITED ADVICE

DAISY (2004) – was a graphic designer who sent me, out of the blue, an email in which she told me point blank that I needed to write a personal blog.

I’d commented on her personal blog and she wanted me to know that I should write my own blog because I had what it’d take. That is, I was articulate and informed with a snarky vibe. I was fascinated by this new thing called blogging so I did as she suggested.

COLLEEN (2005) – was a librarian who took it upon herself to help me. Via email she’d politely point out grammatical errors and spelling mistakes I’d made. She also introduced me to the idea of adding links + images to posts.

While today her determination to correct + teach me might be perceived as trollish, at the time I took it as a generous gesture on her part to help me write clearly, learn html, and make my blog pretty.

TARA (2007) – was a marketing professional who thought personal blogging was great, a wonderful creative adjunct to basic marketing channels.

She read something I wrote then encouraged me to approach each blog post as if I was writing a letter to a few close friends.  Pick your friends, she said. Then write only to them allowing your sincerity and joie de vivre to draw readers to your blog.

CHRIS (2011) – was a lawyer who briefly wrote a family blog that had some of the most succinct entertaining posts of any blog ever.

His advice, that I took to heart, was to make the best use of a few words, often obscure words even. He never dummied down down his posts, nor did he meander aimlessly. He had a point and he got to it with panache.

KAREN (2013) – was a teacher who one day just up and told me that my best blog posts were the ones with the wackiest titles.

I’d never considered my titles, but she was prescient about this, realizing that by letting my freak flag fly in the titles I’d draw in curious readers who’d stick around to see what nonsense I was on about that day. And many days thereafter.

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

Do you know the meaning of *rattling* without looking it up? Is that word part of your daily lexicon?!!  

If you write a personal blog what’s the best blogging advice you’ve received? Was it solicited OR unsolicited?

In general what’s your opinion of unsolicited advice? Are you open to it OR snarly about it?

A BLOGROLL OPPORTUNITY

Last year in January I crowdsourced my Delightful Blogroll. It’s unique in that it’s a compilation of blogs based on the age of the weblog. I’m going to revise the blogroll this next month.

If you’re not currently on it and would like to be included let me know in the comments below by January 31st.  No act of kindness goes unpunished. Case in point, offer closed early due to excessive spam. Thanks for nothing, dipshits. Terms & conditions are were as follows:

  1. your blog must be at least one year old so tell me the year you started it & its complete name;
  2. your blog must be primarily a personal one;
  3. your blog cannot be rude, vulgar, vindictive, or hateful as determined by me; and
  4. you must demonstrate to my satisfaction that you engage with other bloggers via comment sections. 
~ ~ ~ ~

Forget Resolutions, These Are My 2023 New Year’s Rejections

My brain trust. Obviously

How My New Year’s Rejections Came To Be

THANKS TO EVERYONE who read my last post and answered my question, a call to action, about what I should write about next.  You’re the best, my personal brain trust.  I was feeling indecisive and needed some help.

I’ve never asked for guidance like that before and given the chance to tell me what to do y’all came through. Come to find out my brain trust wants me to write about what I’m rejecting in 2023.  

Oddly enough I tossed that topic into the choices at the last minute before hitting publish.

A friend and I had been talking about how comfortable we are rejecting trends and ideas that at one time would have seemed important to us. We got laughing about what we dubbed our New Year’s Rejections.

We weren’t saying that a particular idea, a solution, or a way of living is bad for everyone, just that something doesn’t work for us. Rejection is a sound concept if you’re clear about your underlying assumptions and what space you’ll create in your life because of it.

 What I’m Rejecting This Year

GETTING TO MY LIST of New Year’s Rejections a la 2023, I give you the following that I shall be rejecting for at least a year, maybe longer:

Newsletters – From a marketing point of view I understand them. They’re a way for a business/author to distribute information to their customers/readers keeping everyone up to date. They’re predicated on the hope that the customer/reader actually reads the newsletter and doesn’t send it directly to spam.

However as a person who receives these newsletters, I don’t like them. I rarely read them because they seem more like advertisements for new products than sources of information. There’s no engagement with the company/author and I sense I’m a mark, a pawn in someone’s game. This makes me feel irritable so I’ve unsubscribed to the ones I was receiving.

Assumption rejected? I am gaining valuable insight and information.

Cocktails – As I imbibed a few over the holidays I realized that: 1) I wasn’t taken with any of them; 2) they were fussy and expensive; and 3) that I prefer a shot of top-shelf liquor neat, or on the rocks, or with a splash of club soda. Thus I’ve decided to simplify my life, save money, and forgo mixed drinks.

Assumption rejected? I am having fun because I’m drinking something fancy.

Steps Per Day – I’ve never been one to judge my physical healthiness based exclusively on numbers, whether the numbers are external validation &/or criticism. I think that trusting myself to know how to live my life is the best approach, especially when it comes to walking.

To wit, there’ll be no recording of my steps each day. Instead, I’ll move when I want to, the amount I want to. I’ll walk with no preconceived idea [10,000 steps] of what I have to accomplish each day.

Assumption rejected? I am being healthy by focusing on and knowing a number.

Sweet potatoes/yams – Okay, I understand the reason why these starchy vegetables are good for me. They’re filled with fiber and minerals and magical properties helpful to women of a certain age. However, potatoes shouldn’t be sweet, they just shouldn’t. If I eat a potato, it’s going to be a basic old Idaho spud– or some redskin new potatoes.

Assumption rejected? I am eating something good for me.

Word of the Year – In 2011 I started picking one word to be my word of the year. I’ve continued this tradition for about a decade BUT more years than not my word of the year hasn’t made me feel good about my life.

That is, instead of getting a smoother or simplified or enjoyable year, I’ve gotten the opposite. The gods have laughed in my face. Thus I’m foregoing a word of the year to see if, by chance, I don’t need it.

Assumption rejected? I am living my best life because I circle back to a word, a 21st century talisman for self-improvement.

AND FINALLY THREE READER COMMENTS…

ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES with Alexa:

“Our Alexa is a buttinsky quite often. Just yesterday, I was chatting with my husband and daughter about crackers and Alexa piped up, “I’ve added crackers to your grocery list.” No thank you, Alexa. And then she wanted to know if we wanted a suggestion for something she thinks we need to re-order. NO THANK YOU ALEXA.”

~ Suzanne

“That’s funny what Alexa did and said. I’ve had her answer questions on TV when her name is said in a commercial or TV show.”

~ Jean

“We have never activated Alexa or Siri on any of our devices, finding the idea of them sitting there listening to our inane chatter rather creepy. Unbeknownst to us, however, my husband’s new Kindle reader came with Alexa activated. One evening, we were watching some show in which an actor asked his device to find a particular song he had been looking for. Almost immediately, a voice came from Bill’s Kindle asking if this was the song we were looking for, and some piece of music started playing. We did lose our stuffing, and disabled the little snoop faster than you can sing ‘Hit the Road, Jack.'”

~ Donna

One Last 2022 Post: Alexa Gets Nosy & I Ask You A Question

ALEXA GETS NOSY

“The answer is negative one.”

I was composing an email reply to a friend who’d written about a mutual acquaintance who was going through a difficult time.

I was rereading out loud what I’d written to make sure my grammar was correct and the content made sense. I’m a wordy girl after all and I take pride in how I put words together in a sentence.

Even in casual correspondence.

What I’d written, saying to myself in a quiet mumble, was: “ALSO SHE HAS ONLY ONE, NOT TWO, MEANS TO DO WHAT SHE DOES.” It was praise for our mutual acquaintance and how she was handling things.

But then out of nowhere, unasked, Alexa the little eavesdropper piped up saying the line I shared at the top of this post.

She startled me so much I jumped into the air and almost lost my stuffing. Confused and annoyed, I wanted to figure out why the heck she’d inserted herself into my life.

I looked at what I’d written then said to myself a few seconds before. I realized that Alexa had understood the word “ALSO” to be her name, then she’d interpreted what I’d said after that to be a math problem.

That is, I’d said “…ONE NOT TWO MEANS…” which she translated to the equation 1 – 2 = [one minus two equals] resulting in her reply [“the answer is negative one”] that she blurted out answering the question she thought I’d asked her.

Which, of course, I hadn’t.

And with that ridiculous realization about what had just happened, I solved my nosy Alexa mystery.

Bless. Her. Heart.

I ASK YOU A QUESTION

This will be my last blog post of 2022, but I have one last thing to ask you, my little partridges in a pear tree. I have four blog posts started, but FAR from finished. They require more research &/or introspection than I’m willing to put into them in December.

Because I want to goof off now, thus I shall write later.

Getting to what might be the actual point of this post, which one of the topics listed immediately below would you like me to write about first when I return? Yep, I’m crowdsourcing this decision so please tell me your preference in the comments. Thank you in advance for your kind cooperation concerning this matter.

~  🎄  ~

HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE
See you next year

~  🎄  ~=

Sorry, Not Sorry: The One About 3 Holiday Pet Peeves That Vex Me

It seems to me at this time of year everyone has at least one pet peeve that vexes them. Perhaps you’ve noticed this, too.

Now that we’re officially smack dab into the season of Forced Frivolity Rampant Consumerism  The Holidays, I want to tell you what vexes me the most. You’ll be pleased to know that I’ve narrowed it down to 3 pet peeves, succinctly explained below.

See if they resonate with you, my little fruitcakes, then you may share yours in the comments below. To get you started, but please don’t feel limited by, at the bottom of this post I’ve created a list of possible peeves* that do not bother me but I’ve heard about– oh. yes. I. have.

📷 ONE 📸

IF YOU SEND A HOLIDAY CARD that is a family photo or you put a family photo inside a regular holiday card, please I beg of you, tell the recipients of the holiday card who these people are.  Do not say a vague “Joyeux Noël from the Jones-Beauforts” BUT instead list the individual names of the people + pets in the photo. Do not assume we’ll recognize everyone in the photo.

You do know who they are, right? So why not share that information with the rest of us?

🌲 TWO 🎄 

IF YOU PUT UP A TREE to celebrate Christmas, do not overdecorate it.  Less is more.  There is this design concept known as negative space that, stick with me here, posits that an object is more noticeable and therefore appreciated if there is emptiness around the object.

I’m happy that you’ve invested in twinkling lights & colorful bulbs & tinsel & strands of pretty beads & personally meaningful ornaments, BUT do not cover every stinking inch of every branch on the tree so that all I see, anyone sees, is a big triangular-ish blob of shiny.

I want to see the details of your beautiful decorations, truly I do, so could you make that happen, please?

🍪 THREE 🍬

IF YOU’RE A BAKER OR CANDY MAKER, I ask of you to be forthright about what kind of sweetener you use. Some of us cannot digest artificial sweeteners while others avoid natural sugar at all costs. I don’t care how you sweeten what you make, that is not my concern, BUT for the love of all that is good, be honest about what is in the goodies.

You do understand that you can make someone sick if you lie about it, right?

~ 🔻 ~

~ 🔺 ~

* Here is a list of 10 holiday pet peeves that I’ve heard mentioned emphatically by other people:

  1. Reciprocity regarding the exchange of Holiday cards, obligation or opportunity
  2. Christmas music, yay or nay
  3. Party games that involve gift exchanges
  4. Incorrect use of the letter “s” when addressing a card or gift to an entire family
  5. Location of outdoor holiday decorations, near the house or out in the yard creating possible obstructions/distractions for drivers
  6. Appropriate day on which to take down the holiday tree inside your home
  7. Use of tissue paper or shredded paper inside a gift bag, yay or nay
  8. Hostess gift for an open house party shouldn’t be wine because you only take wine when it’s a dinner party
  9. Holiday newsletters, yay or nay
  10. Bow on holiday wreath goes at the top, the bottom, or the side

PLEASE NOTE: In an attempt to make our home connection to the internet reliable and faster, we’re changing our internet service provider tomorrow [Wednesday], going from coaxial cable to fiber optic cable. Fingers crossed this change goes smoothly, but if not… it’s been great knowing you I’ll see ‘ya when I see ‘ya. 

Simply Fun: Revisiting The “If I Were…” Prompts + Playing MASH Online

THE REVISITING PART

First jigsaw puzzle of the season is finished!

Lately I’ve been feeling nostalgic about personal blogging, missing the straightforward simplicity of my early days in the blogosphere. The following is an example of what I’m talking about.

I originally answered these prompts, that were referred to as a meme at the time, in 2011. Most of my answers have changed since then, making me 1/3 the same, 2/3 different now.  [Here is what I said back then.]

Interestingly of the six people who commented on the original post, two are still blogging and keep in touch here: J at Thinking About… and Margaret at Stargazer. Thank you both for hanging around.

And so WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, let me tell you that…

if i were a month i’d be May

if i were a day i’d be Tuesday

if i were a time of day i’d be 9:00 a.m.

if i were a font i’d be sans serif

if i were a sea animal i’d be a manatee

if i were a direction i’d be easy to understand

if i were a piece of furniture i’d be a kitchen table

if i were a liquid i’d be Sauvignon Blanc

if i were a gemstone i’d be a garnet

if i were a tree i’d be a maple

if i were a tool i’d be scissors

if i were a flower i’d be a zinnia

if i were an element of weather i’d be a zephyr

if i were a musical instrument i’d be a piano

if i were a colour i’d be teal

if i were an emotion i’d be amused

if i were a fruit i’d be an apple

if i were a sound i’d be quiet

if i were an element i’d be molybdenum

if i were a car i’d be reliable with good gas mileage

if i were a food i’d be a Parker House roll

if i were a place i’d be a locally-owned coffee shop with some outdoor seating

if i were material i’d be denim

if i were a taste i’d be slightly salty

if i were a scent i’d be orange

if i were a body part i’d be an eye

if i were a song i’d be jazz

if i were a bird i’d be a robin

if i were a gift i’d be inside a pretty gift bag

if i were a city i’d be midsize with a thriving farmers’ market and many parks

if i were a door i’d be solid wood with wrought iron hardware

if i were a pair of shoes I’d be narrow women’s walking/running shoes 

if i were a poem I’d be iambic pentameter

~ ~

THE PLAYING PART

I’ll be hyphenating my last name to Bean-Riker!

I stumbled across an online version of the childhood fortune-telling game called MASH.  I knew it as a paper and pencil game.  Maybe you played this with your friends at one time, maybe not.

If you’re unfamiliar with this game, the name is an acronym: M = mansion, A= apartment, S= shack, and H = house.  [There were subsequent versions that included I = igloo and T = tent, making the game MASH IT.]

The gist of the game was you answered a few questions, the first being based on the MASH acronym;  other questions had to do with your future life.  You wrote three answers to each question, then made a swirling line that magically showed you your future.

It was/is pure silliness, which is not necessarily a bad thing at any age.

Anyhow here’s WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW to join in…

•  To learn how to play the old-school paper and pencil version of it go here, How to Play M.A.S.H

• To play the free online version of it & get a snazzy personalized graphic go here, MASH

~ ~

And ONE LAST THING, to those who are celebrating it this Thursday, HAPPY THANKSGIVING 

~ ~ 🦃 ~ ~