Ups & Downs

It looks like spring today, and it feels almost like summer. Tomorrow’s forecast: snow.

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Use It or Lose It

ANGER: you have to use it or lose it. Channel it into something good, or let it go.

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Don’t Do That!

I commented on one of Donald Trump’s posts yesterday. That’s not unusual. I comment on his Twitter feed all the time. What was unusual was that I posted the comment on his Facebook feed. I try to avoid making public comments on Facebook, because it brings the trolls out. Oops.

Trolls suck. One common troll tactic is to skip the debate and simply tell you that you’re stupid. I try not to take it personally, and sometimes it’s even sort of amusing. I wrote a Facebook post about the impressive collection of insults I’d received, including “fool,” “imbecile,” “moron,” and my personal favorite, “pee brain.” Some of my friends got a big kick out of “pee brain.” A little laughter brightens the day, so that was all good.

But, there were a lot replies (200+), and I read far too many of them. At some point, they started to get to me. I lost my temper. I responded angrily, first to some of their comments, then later to some comments on a friend’s post. Oops.

Not to say that those people didn’t have it coming. They did. That doesn’t excuse my behavior, especially given that it was bad for me. Being riled up like that doesn’t feel good. Worse yet, it’s almost addictive, that little ding my computer gives me whenever someone responds, and it makes me want to comment more and more so that there will be more dings. (Maybe the trolls ought to have called me a “dingbat?”) Anyway, it’s not healthy behavior, and I have other, better things to do.

It was also a futile exercise. There was nothing I could have said to change their minds. In fact, recent scientific study suggests that arguing with people is more likely to cement their opinions than to change them. Trying to make unreasonable people see reason, especially when it comes to gun control, is like shooting yourself in the foot—it only hurts you, and you’re the one limping afterward.

Plus, what if some of them were bots? Responding to bots is stupid. Only a “pee brain” does that.

So I’m writing this post as a reminder not to do this again.

  • Don’t post public comments on Facebook!
  • Control your temper!
  • Put your words to better use!
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Goal Check

I still have not finished my 2017 photo album or my 2017 posts. We are now more than halfway through February, and it’s past time to start looking forward rather than backward. Consequently I have decided to push off the photo album until later this year. The kids are getting older, and I take fewer pictures of them, so yearly albums aren’t a necessity any more. Every other year ought to suffice. I realize that if I don’t finish the 2017-2018 album later this year, that likely means I will never finish it or any other. But that’s not an immediate concern, just something to keep in mind as we get closer to year’s end. As for the 2017 posts, those have to be finished now or abandoned. I’m making that my project for the weekend.

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This Blog Has Changed!

I don’t add new widgets to the blog often, but I added one today. It claims that it will help me track my progress on my novel. I guess we’ll see. As far as widgets go, it’s an intrusive little bugger. I hope I won’t regret having added it.

The widget seemed to think I ought to name my Work in Progress. I have tentatively titled it Shades of the Future, which is much better than Chipmunks Are Free, the silly name I gave it for NaNoWriMo. I have applied my NaNoWriMo total to my new goal of 70,000 words, and I’ve given myself a September deadline. You can see the progress bar over to the right. It says I’m 29.9% of the way there.

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A Bad Dream

Patriot’s Dream by Barbara Michaels

Grade: C+

I’m enjoying my Barbara Michaels binge, but I wish that her writing had been more consistent. Patriot’s Dream is not one of her best. I just read it a couple of weeks ago, but I don’t remember the details very well, so forgive me for any inaccuracies in this review.

Patriot’s Dream was published in 1976, the year of the United States Bicentennial, and the story goes something like this: a young teacher is on the cusp of a mental breakdown, and she needs some time off, so she goes to Williamsburg to stay with her elderly aunt and uncle in their historic home. In exchange for the free room and board, she does housework and cooking for them. She starts having vivid dreams about the Revolutionary War. The dreams revolve around some of her ancestors, who once lived in the same house. During her waking hours, she attracts the attention of two suitors. One is nice and boring. The other is mean and less boring. The story moves back and forth between past and present, culminating in a brief meeting of the two timelines and the weak suggestion of reincarnation. In the end, no one element of the story ruined this book, but nothing quite worked either. I struggled to finish it, and I was dissatisfied with the ending.

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We Can’t Have That

The moment I sit down to work on my novel, I remember something IMPORTANT that I have to look up on the Internet. I cannot look it up later. I must do it now. Now! Because if I don’t, I might end up writing something, and we can’t have that, can we?

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A Haunting in Cornwall

Wait for What Will Come by Barbara Michaels

Grade: B

In Wait for What Will Come, American Carla Tregellas finds out that she has inherited an ancient mansion in Cornwall. There’s not much money for keeping the place up but, being young and carefree, she decides to travel to Cornwall and live in the house until the money runs out. Once there, she meets several love interests. She also learns about the folk stories of the area, including that there’s a sea demon who abducts a woman from her family every 200 years on Midsummer’s Day. (Can you guess how many years it’s been since the last abduction?) Meanwhile, she hears and sees strange things around the house, and she nearly dies in what was obviously a staged accident. Can she find out what’s really going on before the demon comes to drag her down into the deep?

This book had its own special atmosphere, and it was a nice change. For me, an ancient, stony mansion on the seashore of Cornwall is a more interesting setting than, say, an old house in Virginia. I also liked the idea of the sea demon who abducts a young woman every 200 years.

But the book suffered from some of the common flaws of the romance novel. How can you believe that the heroine is a smart, modern woman who can take care of herself if she’s always behaving stupidly and irrationally and getting herself into desperate need of rescue? Also, though I understand why an author would want to try to keep the reader from guessing which guy would ultimately win the girl, making him the mean one is a terrible method for doing that. How can we be satisfied with the ending if we can’t even understand why the heroine would want such an oaf?

But there is a lot to be said for Michaels’ work. I always learn something from her books, which is part of my justification for reading them. From this book I learned a little bit about Cornish surnames. I no longer have the book handy, so I can’t quote from it, but Wikipedia gives a couple of versions of the rhyme that Michaels referenced, including this one:

By Tre, Ros, Pol, Lan, Caer and Pen / You may know the most Cornishmen.

The Wikipedia article explains the meanings of the names. I think it’s interesting. I hadn’t even realized that there is such a thing as the Cornish language.

Next up in the Barbara Michaels binge is Patriot’s Dream.

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For the first time in 20 years, we are catless. All the doors can be left open, because there are no cats trying to sneak into forbidden areas. Cardboard can be left out with no fear that it will be scratched to shreds. Piles of clothing can be left out with no fear that they’ll get covered with fur. The leather couch doesn’t need protection. I don’t have to refill the water bowl or wash the cats’ food dishes or scoop the litter box.

Life is easier now, and sadder.

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All the Rooms Are Quiet Now

From the day we brought him home with us, Mojo’s snuffly breathing always gave him away. He couldn’t hide from us. We could always hear him even if we couldn’t see him. All we had to do was listen.

Until now. We cannot hear him anymore. All the the rooms are quiet now.

R.I.P. Mojo

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