Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I found myself thinking about Rodney King today.     A story in the Los Angeles Times details a controversy surrounding two crosses that have been erected at Camp Pendleton to honor four service members killed in Iraq.   The crosses were erected by a military chaplain,  who did not consult nor seek permission from the chain of command and have become a place where service members leave mementos of fallen comrades.

Need I even mention that the crosses have become the subject of an increasingly bitter dispute?   That some folks are complaining that the crosses are illegal under separation of church and state while other folks insist that service members have the right to have this memorial?   The thing is,  I believe strongly in separation of church and state.   If any service members were being required to visit this memorial or if service members of other faiths were being prohibited from erecting memorials in a style in keeping with their faiths,  I would be the first to object.   But come on!

It sometimes seems to me that we Americans have completely forgotten how to be respectful and accommodating to people we disagree with.    So much so that it felt almost like a miracle last week when the friend with whom I had a political disagreement with on a Facebook thread left a kind comment on Let’s Not Talk About Politics, Please and agreed with me how horribly divisive it seems so many issues become these days.   I don’t claim to have any great ideas of how we might be able to get past the extreme contentiousness and polarization that seem to have overtaken our society.  But I sure do long for the days when most people were capable of disagreeing without being disagreeable.   In the memorable words of Rodney King– “can’t we all just get along?”

My New Domain


So I registered  and mapped it to this blog.   I am now adding this blog back into my Empire Avenue account and look forward to getting blog credit for everything I post here.   I hope that you will bookmark and visit regularly.   I really am going to try very hard to update this blog every single day,  so there should most always be fresh content for you to peruse.

I have been reading my friend Jenn Thorson‘s new novel There Goes The Galaxy.   It’s very reminiscent of the late great Douglas Adams’   Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy books.   An alien abduction and laugh out loud funny adventures with all manner of strange creatures on distant and very different worlds.   I strongly suspect that when I have finished,  I will review and give it a Very Highly Recommended.

I have noticed the one flaw in importing a blog from Blogspot to WordPress– each and every tag has been set up as a category,  so I now have a HUGE category list.   I don’t have the time and energy just now to convert them all back to tags and set up useful categories  (I’ve never quite figured out just what categories are useful and appropriate for a personal free form blog).   I remember having to do this when I moved my Libdrone Books blog several years ago,  and I know it’s going to be a real pita.

Here’s hoping that your new week and new year are off to a great start!

Let’s Don’t Talk Politics, Please

I screwed up this week.    When I started doing a lot of socializing,  I made a conscious decision Not to get into discussions about politics.    And for quite a long stretch I managed that quite well.   It’s not that I never express any political opinions,  so much as that I try hard mostly to talk about other things.

I have strong political opinions.    I think most people do.   But in my experience all too often when people talk about political things online,  it all too often descends from basic disagreement to name-calling to flame war.    I am a veteran of many flame wars.   And to be perfectly honest,  I don’t want to do flames anymore.   In my experience flame wars ruin threads for most users and if a site, a group or a forum suffers from repeated and persistent flame wars,  it will almost certainly lose users until it becomes no longer viable.   And in all honesty,  I have only very rarely seen anyone’s mind changed about a political issue in an online debate.

There was a time when my online social life revolved around dating sites for gay men.    But since bonding with my partner,  those sites really bored me.    I have been involved in various online political and blogging related groups (and have seen many formerly great hangouts flame warred away.    So I try not to get into political discussions.   It helps that I often hang out with people from other countries,  who generally are not interested in getting into discussions of US politics.  But I have many friends here in the US too,  and being human I slipped up and got into the kind of discussion that I really try to avoid getting into.   I’m happy to discuss most anything,  but I’d really appreciate it if we DON’T talk about politics.

Full Circle

Blogging has been, truly, a long strange trip for me.   I started a site on Blogspot on June 1, 2007,  largely to keep up with a couple of very long-time dear friends, whom I mostly kept up with via their blogs.  (Hi Ron!, Hi Bev!)    Since that first uncertain post,  almost four years ago now,  my life has been through so many changes, ups, downs, ins and outs that I am hardly the person I was then.    In September 2007,  I took some good advice and moved my personal journal to this site (which until very recently was at and focused my site at  much more tightly on book reviews.

Only I never really did keep up with the journal on this site.   There were a few months in 2008 when I did post fairly regularly  (and most of those posts were about how very challenging it was to produce a daily book review site) but honestly this site never made it very far up my priority list.   And that definitely shows.  (I remain in awe of my friend Bev who for more than ten years now has published a daily, 7 days a week,  journal of her life.)   I learned more than a bit about blogging and web publishing.   I learned about web site promotion.    I moved on from Blogspot to self-hosted WordPress.   Still later I moved on again to free-hosted WordPress (.com).    My health took a turn for the worse and I had to retire from the library.

Being on disability is okay.   Although under our insane health care system it requires taking a two year vacation from seeing doctors and taking pills.    I’ve still got 9 months to go before I will have healthcare again,  and my diabetes, blood pressure and bi-polar disorder are starting to really worry me  (untreated).   While I kind of know in theory how to create a money-making blog,   I found that putting it into practice was oh so much more difficult than I’d ever imagined.    I’ve found that free-lance writing is a very tough way to earn extra income.   (Lots of buyers want excellent, eloquent, “native-speaking”  English;  but they mostly want it at wages that would be so-so in rural   India,  let alone the urban United States.)  So now,  I am working on writing a book,  which I plan to self-publish.   

And I find that what I really want to do,  in addition to write books and play games online,  is get back to this personal journal.   Which has been online for nearly four years.   And which I’ve never really made a serious effort at.   Now that I know that I am never going to make more than pocket change for creating it;  now that I have a much better understanding of how to create, publish and promote it;  now finally I have come full circle;  to publishing on BlogSpot;   about my life and my feelings.     I don’t know if I will ever have the self-discipline to post every day,  but I’m going to give it a go.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.    I welcome your comments and will endeavor to reply.

time to end Entrecard participation?

If you haven’t already heard, Graham Langdon,‘s number one douchebag, banned leading blogger Turnip of Power from the Entrecard system after Turnip posted a mildly rude tweet on Twitter. The tweet intentionally Mentioned Entrecard, in order to show the apparently Clueless Langdon why it’s Not such a Good Idea to post to your website Everything that Everybody tweets about you, particularly not when you have spent a lot of time pissing off a lot of people. And the reaction to that tweet, arbitrarily and immediately banning one of the site’s Top Users over a silly and not very important tweet on another social network, is just so over the top arrogant that I am Utterly disgusted and find myself contemplating a departure from Entrecard.

On the one hand, I hesitate to give up the traffic. I’m certain if I stop dropping (even if I keep the widget) my traffic will drop and my Alexa will go back up and my Google page rank (4 last I checked) may go down. In terms of selling ads, I am getting decent but not spectacular results from Project Wonderful and CMF Ads. I’m not making a lot of money, but I am making money from my site and I have every hope it will grow. But after reading a couple of post (s) I forced myself to really think about whether the time I spend dropping cards (all too often on crappy blogs where my only reason for visiting is to get a drop credit and maybe inspire a return visit and drop might better be spent creating quality blog content and marketing that content through other avenues.

Much as I really have enjoyed getting to know so many great bloggers through Entrecard, I have to admit that my time would be better spent building a better blog and doing more to market it beyond a social networking web site that clearly seems to be on the wane and, much more importantly appears to be run by a meglomaniacal asshole who feels that the normal rules of courtesy and concern for ones customers somehow don’t apply to him. And that is just Not the kind of company I really want to be associated with, let alone depend on for a large share of my traffic.

For now, I am leaving the widget up but am not accepting new advertisements at this time. I have nine or ten ads sold so it will be more than a week before I am in a position to pull the plug on Entrecard altogether, and I am not 100% sure if I will remove the widget or not. But my drop 300 per day days are Done and I suspect my time as an Entrecard member will soon be Done too. My sincerest thanks to all of my advertisers and visitors, many of whom I met through Entrecard. I will certainly continue to visit my blog friends and will be working on other ways of marketing the site and hope that I will continue to see you around the blogosphere and over at CMF Direct. If you haven’t already go list your blog on CMF Direct. It’s free and allows you to accept any kind of advertising and is a great place to find new blogs and connect with other bloggers. It may well be what comes along to Replace Entrecard once Graham drives it over the cliff, so be Sure you are listed.


Back to the dentist today for root canal. Reminded of the old joke ‘The operation was a success but… In the case it looks like we saved the tooth but my wallet died. I remember when I was working for Waldenbooks and was for first time responsible for my own bills (as in off my mother’s payroll) I would go to the dentist and the bill would be a hundred or two hundred dollars but with my insurance I would pay like 10 or 20. Now the bill is like 750 to 1000 and I am to feel fortunate that my part is only 125 today, 212 when I go back next time to get the “build up” and undoubtedly even more at the appointment after that for a crown. But on my bargain basement wages a couple of hundred sure aint equivalent to what ten bucks was to me back then. All I can say is that I sure as hell hope when the politicians figure out how to fix health care they Include Dental.

from The Thin Red Line : Dizzy, so dizzy my head is spinning

This is the original post as published at TRL. The book review portion of the post has been re-titled. Friday….must mean jambalaya

One of my new meds seems to have a bad side effect of
making me very dizzy. I first took the two new meds around lunch time yesterday, then just before I was ready to leave to work my 3–9pm shift I had about five minutes of feeling extremely dizzy and nauseous. It passed, thankfully, and I went on to work, and had a routine shift. Around 8:30pm I took my final break and went outside, sat down on a bench and smoked a cigarette. When I got up to go back in side it hit again and I could only barely manage to waive my wallet at the security thingie and stagger in to a chair. It again passed after a few minutes. Today I worked 8a–3:30p and just as I was fixing to leave I had another terrible dizzy spell, though I managed to get to the car and after a few minutes it passed and I was able to drive home okay. Ron thinks it is the statin that is causing the side effect so I will not take that one and see if the problem recurs. Guess we will have to call the doctor on Monday.

Ron teased me that the only reason I picked up The Naked Soldier was in hopes there would be pictures of naked soldiers inside, which is as good a theory as any. (Honestly I don’t know why I decided to read it.) Tony Sloane was a lower class 18 year old from rural England who decided on a whim to join the French Foreign Legion. This book is a memoir of his 5 years of service in that famous army. To be honest, I found his story appalling. The early chapters relate the intense abuse that new recruits to the Legion are systematically subjected to, while the later chapters relate how the recruits become “cold blooded killers” who routinely subject not only new recruits but also the general population of various African countries to unimaginably horrific treatment. Unless you are interested in reading about lawless, reckless and unspeakably cruel young men, this one is NOT recommended.

I was shelving in the 910’s this afternoon and came across a post-Katrina travel guide for New Orleans (first one I’ve seen) and picked up. I was mostly interested in finding out what things are still there and still recommended. It was somewhat disappointing in that as of the November 2006 publication date so much was still up in the air. I was very pleased to learn that The Fairmont Hotel (the subject of Arthur Hailey’s novel Hotel, site of my high school senior luncheon and where Joel and I stayed on a visit some years back) is being repaired and will re-open. (Previously Ron and I had heard that there were no plans to re-open so this was good news.) They also say that The Camelia Grill is expected to re-open, though as of the press date it had not.

Reading about New Orleans, the restaurants and the food put in the mood to make jambalaya for dinner. I have chopped onions and celery, sliced smoked sausage, peeled a pound of frozen shrimp and boiled the shrimp shells to make a broth. Now I just have to put it together. This is not exactly on my diet, but I have been pretty good about South Beaching it for the past week or so and my blood sugar has been in the low 100’s every morning so I feel entitled to indulge. Bon Appetit!