Saturday, February 28, 2015


This is another in a series of “stream of consciousness” posts hosted by Linda Hill. This blog hop is a year old today! Be sure and stop by Linda’s blog to wish her a happy anniversary and to see the rules and the posts of others doing the challenge…


Happy birthday!

This week, in honor of the occasion, Linda’s doing this in conjunction with Bee Halton, whose last name is very similar to mine (and so is the look of her blog). She’s running a blog hop this month called “Love Is In Da Blog,” or “LoIsInDaBl.” So we’ll tag her here, too..


So, without further ado…

This Week’s Prompt: Friend and Acquaint(ance)

I joined a group on Facebook recently that is a memorial page for the people who went to my high school that have passed on. When I did, naturally, I looked immediately for people who graduated in 1974, the year I graduated.


New Trier Township High School, West Campus, Northfield, Illinois. If you’ve seen the movie Uncle Buck, you might remember it. (source: Google)

I was lucky; a guy who graduated with me, who I remembered from gym classes, had posted a list of the now-deceased members of the Class of 1974. And other people commented with other names. In all, 40 people from my class. Not a lot when you consider that there were 685 people in my class (that’s what, 6%?), but still, I knew most of them, and was friends with a few. I keep thinking, no, they can’t be gone, they’re too young, then I realize all of us are pushing 60.

But, I don’t feel like a 59-year-old man. At least my mind doesn’t. In my mind, we just walked out of the gym, holding our diplomas, not that long ago. We’re too young to have so many deceased classmates! My mind says that, then I stand up and feel the pain in my legs and hear the bones rubbing around in my knees, and I limp to the stairs and up them, and I realize that it’s been eight years since my stroke, and I was also too young for that…

I realize that I had sat in class with these kids, passed them in the halls, probably stood next to a couple of the guys in the restroom, saw them at lunch, and never got to know them. Now it’s too late. We could have been friends. I have one friend from high school that I stay in touch with. I run into people I went to grammar school with on Facebook, and we follow each other, and I see what they’re up to, and I comment, a voice from the past. And they comment, voices from my past. We spent nine years together, kindergarten through 8th grade (up north, we called that grammar school). Now we’re just a stream of bits to each other. If that… too many of my friends from those days aren’t on Facebook. Makes me wonder why I am.

I mean, people I used to talk to face-to-face, and sit in class with, and see around the neighborhood. They’re all over the country. I’m miles away from where I grew up, 800 long miles from Rogers Park.

I have one good friend in the world. My best friend. Mary. We’ve been married 37 years, and she’s always there, and when she’s not, I miss her. I’m lost without her.

No, I have a few more: Jim, Kip, and Pat, my brothers. We got close when our mother died. All of a sudden, she wasn’t there to keep us in touch. We’ve done all right without her, though we really suck at talking on the phone. Thank God for the Internet.

Stay in touch with your loved ones, and even a few you might have just known in passing. Life is too short.

from WordPress


Friday, February 27, 2015

RIP Leonard Nimoy


Farewell, Mr. Spock

Leonard Nimoy and my mother have the same birthday. Sad I didn’t find that out until today.

I’m by no means a Trekkie, but I do know that Leonard Nimoy was a great actor. His Mr. Spock was an icon; even if you didn’t watch Star Trek, you knew who the guy with the pointy ears was. He was also Paris for a couple of seasons of Mission: Impossible, a bad guy on an episode of Columbo, another bad guy on an episode of The Man From UNCLE, and a character in a host of other TV shows and movies.

A minute ago, Mary came up and told me that Mr. Nimoy had died. He passed earlier today at his home in Bel Air, California, of COPD caused by years of smoking. He was 83.

I know many people (including a few of you) got their start as writers by writing Star Trek fan fiction, inspired by the weekly exploits of Kirk, Spock, Bones, Sulu, Uhura and the rest of the crew of the USS Enterprise. I can only imagine how you feel. My condolences to his family and loved ones, and to Star Trek fans everywhere.

from WordPress


STEM and Creativity

I put “need for STEM education” into Google, and I got all of these sites. One of them was this page from the US Department of Education, which makes a couple of interesting points:

  • “Only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career.”

  • “The United States has become a global leader, in large part, through the genius and hard work of its scientists, engineers and innovators. Yet today, that position is threatened as comparatively few American students pursue expertise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)—and by an inadequate pipeline of teachers skilled in those subjects.”

They even put this diagram on the page to show the need for young experts in the STEM fields.

Source: US Department of Education

I bet if you were to ask kids why they aren’t interested in going into careers in these fields, they would say, “It’s too hard! All that math and science and stuff…” And, granted, kids have to have a good foundation in sciences and math before they can hope to understand the material being discussed. But they need something more.

Remember this that I put up on Wednesday?

See, people involved in the STEM areas are just as creative and intuitive as artists and writers. Engineering isn’t just an area where people work with numbers and logic; engineers also dream and design. Same with mathematicians: I was a math major in a previous life, and got into areas of mathematics that don’t deal with numbers or computation. We worked with number systems that don’t involve anything resembling the numbers we use every day. (That’s when I got out.) You could make similar arguments for scientists and technologists. All of the STEM areas are arts as much as sciences.

If we want more mathematicians, engineers, technologists, and scientists, we need to make sure that kids are seeing both sides of the picture. We know that both sides of the brain work together, each side doing what it’s best at and drawing connections between the world of fact and the world of fantasy. I realize that’s an oversimplification, but if a kid’s education doesn’t provide as much focus on creativity and idea formation as it does on math and grammar, what good does it do?

Then again, I could be wrong… What do you think?

from WordPress


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ten Inspirational Quotes from Abraham Lincoln


This week, as with last, I’m going to share something that I found online. When I saw it, I thought you would like and appreciate reading yourselves.

This week’s Thursday Ten comes to us from Matt O’Keefe from 10 Powerful Things Abraham Lincoln Said That Will Inspire Your Life. The more I learn about this nation’s 16th President, the more impressed I am with him. Enjoy!

from WordPress


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A thought from Albert Einstein



from WordPress


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Two for Tuesday: The Kinks

One of the more prolific bands of the British Invasion were The Kinks, led by brothers Ray and Dave Davies. They recorded some 25 albums between 1964 and 1996 and had five Top Ten singles and nine Top 40 albums in the US, and 17 Top Twenty singles and five Top Ten albums in the UK. While their albums were critical successes, they weren’t especially bestsellers, especially as their albums became more conceptual and focused on English culture and lifestyle. Nonetheless, Ray Davies’ songs have been covered by bands such as The Pretenders, Van Halen, and The Knack, and several British pop bands in the 1990’s credit them as a major influence.

Our first song today is “Sunny Afternoon,” from 1966. It reached #1 on the British charts and #14 in the US.

And our second song, “Dedicated Follower of Fashion,” also from 1966. It reached #4 in the UK and #36 in the US.

The band split up in the 1990’s, but still operates a YouTube channel and a website, and has presences on Facebook and Twitter. A number of their albums have also made it to YouTube, uploaded by fans; definitely worth a listen.

The Kinks, your Two for Tuesday, February 24, 2015.

from WordPress


Monday, February 23, 2015

Don’t Break The Chain by John Holton

John Holton:

I’m reblogging this guest post from the ROW80 blog. The year is almost two months old (it was written at the beginning of the year), but it’s never too late to start a chain. This is a great productivity suggestion, From Jerry Seinfeld, of all people.

Originally posted on A Round of Words in 80 Days:

It’s the beginning of 2015 as I write this, and the various how-to sites are full of productivity “hacks” (i.e. hints or tips… why they don’t call them that, I have no idea why), about increasing your output and establishing new habits. One that comes up all the time is the “Seinfeld method,” the way Jerry Seinfeld established himself as a great comic.

When he was starting in the comedy business, Jerry figured out he had to write every day if he was going to make it. He bought a year-at-a-glance calendar and a red Magic Marker, hung the calendar on his wall, and, each day when he had finished, crossed out the date on the calendar with the marker. After a while, realizing how much fun it was to see his calendar gradually fill up with red X’s, he made it his goal not to have any dates that…

View original 441 more words

from WordPress


Sunday, February 22, 2015

#ROW80: Did lots, just not what I planned on…

Click to visit the challenge!

Click to visit the challenge!

I’ve been preoccupied with the whole simulcasting thing, and didn’t get much done on the goals. The summary:

  • Read three books: Didn’t do a whole lot of reading this week. A few pages of the biography of Abraham Lincoln I started. I might skip ahead and see if it gets more interesting; fifty pages into it, and Honest Abe is still in his early teens. Not that there haven’t been interesting facts, but the author is dwelling on them.

  • Finish and schedule entries for the A to Z Challenge: Getting bogged down in detail myself. For example, my word for the letter A is a’a, one of several Hawai’ian words for lava. I think I understand the difference between it and pahoehoe, but I’m not quite sure. I’m meeting with a friend of mine that grew up in Hawai’i in a little while and hope he can straighten me out. It’s been that way through the whole alphabet. And it’s driving me nuts!!!!

Simulcasting my WordPress blog onto my Blogger blog is becoming my white whale. I may have to cut IFTTT completely out of the equation and double-post. That has its own problems, as both platforms use multiple stylesheets to make things look good, and they don’t use the same class names. Additionally, WordPress has the annoying habit of using placeholders to denote certain functions, like printing captions under graphics and …

(sensing people nodding their heads and smiling while looking for an out to escape these crazy rants) And you could care less…

See? I’m obsessed with it.

Beard’s coming in nicely, though, and it’s behaving itself this time. It’s not quite as curly as it was the last time.

Happy birthday to Kait Nolan, who shares a birthday with the Father Of Our Country, George Washington. I wonder, does that make George’s brother Lawrence the Uncle Of Our Country?


George in Freemason drag (Source:

I’m doing the guest post on the ROW80 blog tomorrow. Watch for it!

Straight ahead…

from WordPress


BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” result


Last week’s battle was over the song “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy,” the 1968 bubblegum hit by the Ohio Express. Our combatants were torch singer and Dixie McCall, RN on Emergency!, Julie London, and Spanish disco queens Mayte Mateos and Maria Mendiola, collectively known as Baccara.

Here’s the final score:

Julie London – 7

Baccara – 3

Guess it wasn’t all that close after all.

As with Presidential elections, people weren’t voting so much for one artist as they were voting against the other. The general feeling was that this was two crappy performances of a crappy song, and it was hard to get that excited about either one. And I can see that, although I do kind of like the song, and I definitely like Julie London, and Baccara had a couple of hits in Europe, most notably “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie“. But I purposely don’t vote in these.

I did get an interesting comment from Cathy, who asked, on both blogs, if I had any intention of moving this blog to Blogger. The answer is no. The primary blog will stay here; I set up the Blogger blog as a rebroadcast of this one. Both platforms have their annoying features, but the advantage I have with WordPress is I can self-host the blog with it. To the best of my knowledge, there is not a self-hosted Blogger blogging platform available. While I don’t know if or when I’ll move to a self-hosted blog, I do like having my options open, and moving a blog to a (self-hosted) one is much less of a pain in the backside. Thanks for asking, though…

from WordPress


Saturday, February 21, 2015



Greetings! Welcome to another Stream of Consciousness Saturday, hosted by Linda Hill over at her blog. If you’d like to see the rules on how to play, check over there.

This week’s prompt: relative/relativity

When I think about relative, I think about my family. I have a big family, not huge, but then, it’s all relative. In my immediate family, I had three brothers, and between them and their spouses they have seven kids, to me six nephews and a niece. Mom had five sisters and a brother, and all but one had children, so on that side of the family I have 19 first cousins (one is deceased). Dad (who died in 1967) had three brothers and a sister who died before I met her; one of his brothers had nine kids (two now deceased), another had one, and the third didn’t have any children. And I believe almost all of them have kids. I can’t keep up with them all, but I try; if Facebook is worthwhile for one reason, that would be it.

I suppose I should mention that one of my brothers has a different father than I and the other two brothers do. But that doesn’t matter to us. His father was as good as a father to the three of us after Dad died. Long story, he was a priest before he married Mom. And I guess I should mention that he has a brother and a sister and a bunch of nieces and nephews, I think 13 altogether. I even know some of them. Grandma Holton, my dad’s mother, sort of adopted him when she remarried. Mom was really worried about telling Grandma that she was remarrying, but no one could have been happier.

I won’t even try to mention all of my mother’s cousins. I’m never sure how many there are, or whether they’re Mom’s first cousins or “cousins once removed.” Dad’s family is a mystery. I learned a while back that Grandma Holton had four sisters and three brothers, including a brother Sylvester that none of us ever knew (I think he died shortly after birth), and Grandpa Holton (who died when Dad was seven) had six brothers, I think. The only one I ever met was Lawrence, who had half an ear and a pacemaker.

Mary’s family, on the other hand, is tiny. Her mother had two brothers, neither of which had any kids, and her dad had a brother who had two kids. So she had three uncles, two aunts, and two first cousins. All of her grandparents moved to the US from Lithuania at the beginning of the 20th century. Not long before she died, though, my mother-in-law heard from someone who was a cousin. Sad that she never got to know him except for a couple of phone calls.

Needless to say, Mary was a little overwhelmed by my family…

Oh! There are others! Walkie, my maternal grandmother, had two sisters. One married and had four kids, two of whom had a child each and one who had four kids. I actually knew Hicks’, my maternal grandfather’s, parents. Walkie died in 1962, and my grandfather remarried; his wife’s parents were still alive. His wife, who’s still going well into her nineties, had two kids, one of whom passed away a couple of years ago, not long after Mom did.

Just thinking about it, I’ve been blessed to have had so many relatives and to have gotten to know them, even for a short time.

from WordPress


Friday, February 20, 2015

The joy of working with @IFTTT , @WordPressdotcom , and @Blogger

Bear with me for a while; I want to document something.

For a lot of reasons (mainly to see if I could do it), I decided a couple of weeks back that I would like to simulcast this blog (which runs on onto the Blogger platform. My plan was to write and publish the blog posts on WordPress (whose editor I like better – the old one, not the new one) and use IFTTT to take the post from WordPress and create a post on my Blogger blog. So, I set up the blog on Blogger and created a recipe in IFTTT that waited for a new post on WordPress and publish it on Blogger as well.

And it worked!

To a point…

Some of the posts weren’t showing up in Blogger when I did this. I would get the post title and nothing else. I experimented and found that, whenever I attached a caption to a picture in WordPress (which I do frequently), I was getting the blank posts. I looked at the code WordPress was generating, and it looked like this:

<figure id=”attachment_1877″ style=”width: 375px;” class=”wp-caption aligncenter”><a href=””><img src=”; alt=”Click to visit the challenge!” class=”size-full wp-image-1877″ /><figcaption class=”wp-caption-text”>Click to visit the challenge!</figcaption></figure>

Perfectly-formatted HTML5 code. Works on both WordPress and Blogger, provided it’s coded in the text editor of each. Unfortunately, when IFTTT processes the code, it inserts a line before all of that that looks like this:

<div xmlns=’’&gt;

That tells Blogger that what follows is XHTML. That <figure> tag, added as part of HTML5, is not allowed in XHTML. As a result, and I don’t know where it’s happening, the minute that tag is encountered, something is telling IFTTT “NOPE!” and everything except for the XHTML line is deleted from the post.

Now, just as an experiment, I set up a recipe that would look to Blogger and create a post in WordPress, and it worked fine. The HTML5 passes over with no problem, and everything is, as my Canadian friends say, tickety-boo. No tag that tells WordPress “Here comes XHTML!” is generated when going from Blogger to WordPress. But the exercise involves taking what’s in WordPress and sending it to Blogger, not the other way around.

So, until IFTTT figures out why they’re telling Blogger that XHTML is coming and stops doing it, I’m using an XHTML method to center graphics and put captions on them.

This is frustrating!!

The above image required the following code:

<div style=”width: 240px; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; display: block; text-align: center; font-size: 75%”><img src=”…” width=”240″ /> This is frustrating!!</div>

I have this all sitting in Evernote so I can copy and paste it whenever I need it, but man, it’s a pain in the backside to center a picture in a post and put a caption underneath in both WordPress and Blogger. I could just decide to get WordPress right and have Blogger show up however it shows up, but that’s not how I roll. I want to get it right on both platforms, and would like to get it right without having to go through all this.

I have alternatives, of course. One would be to use another service, but so far IFTTT is the only one that can work with WordPress and Blogger. I could go from Blogger to WordPress, but the Blogger editor doesn’t give me the ability to put a caption on a picture, among other things (e.g ordered and unordered lists). To get those things, I’d have to do the markup manually (i.e. what I’m doing now). I could code the posts offline using Markdown, post manually to both WordPress and Blogger, and take IFTTT out of the loop entirely, at least until they fix the problem. Or I could shut down the Blogger blog and forget the whole thing.

IFTTT is aware of the problem, and is “looking into it.” I guess I’ll find out when I find out. Meanwhile, if things look a little weird, we’re working on it.

from WordPress


Thursday, February 19, 2015

James Altucher’s 10 Ways Reading Makes Your Life Better


It’s been one of those days. I went to bed way too late and got about five hours of sleep, I’ve spent most of the day spinning my wheels with a problem that I’m still having with the whole simulcasting experience, I tried using a different service to do the simulcasting. only to learn they talk to WordPress but not to Blogger (“Gee, we were thinking about it, but haven’t got around to it,” while advertising on their page that they do), it’s been the coldest it’s been since I moved here, etc. etc. Needless to say, when it came to coming up with a Thursday Ten, I drew an absolute blank.

So, instead of writing something myself, I’m going to yield the floor to James Altucher, hedge fund manager, author of several books (all available on Amazon), and host of the blog Altucher Confidential. I’ve been reading his blog for several years now, follow him on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to his email list. He doesn’t talk about money or investing on his blog; rather, he talks about his philosophy of life and how he thinks. The other day, he posted an article to his email list called 10 Reasons Reading Makes Your Life Better. I think it’s an interesting look on something we should all be doing as writers, anyway.

Read the article and ask yourself whether there’s anything he forgot when he made up his list. I’d love to hear what you think.

from WordPress


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A thought for the day

w640 Source:

from WordPress


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Two for Tuesday: The Dave Clark 5

The Dave Clark 5 (DC5) were the second British Invasion band to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show, making their appearances in March 1964. At the peak of their success, The DC5 were Dave Clark (drums), Mike Smith (keyboards, lead vocals), Lenny Davidson (guitar), Rick Huxley (bass), and Denis Payton (tenor and baritone saxophone). They were held up as competition for The Beatles, and while they were in a way (their record “Glad All Over” knocked The Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand” from the top of the British charts), their sound was different, however slightly: the instrumentation was different, and differences in geography (The Beatles from Liverpool in the north, the DC5 from London in the south) accounted for a slightly different sound. They were popular in the 1960’s, split in 1970, and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

Our songs today are from mid-1964. “Can’t You See That She’s Mine?” was their third hit in the US, rising to #4 on the Hot 100 in July.

They followed with “Because,” which rose to #3 in August and September, 1964.

The Dave Clark 5, another of the great bands from the British Invasion, your Two for Tuesday, February 17, 2015.

from WordPress


Monday, February 16, 2015

The Great and Powerful A to Z Theme Reveal Blogfest!


Sign-ups for the 2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge are already under way. If you have done it before, you know how much fun it is (good for you!) and if you have not, this is your chance to give it a try! You can sign up to participate here.

One of the most burning questions participants ask themselves every year is: “Should I have a theme?” Themes are not mandatory, but definitely fun. They let your visitors know what to expect, and help you create posts that line neatly up from A to Z. They also have an added bonus: They let you participate in a whole separate blogfest!

Two years ago A to Z participant Mina Lobo started the Theme Reveal, and we thought it was such a great idea that we made it tradition. It is now our very own, grand and festive way of rolling out our themes together!

Here is how the Theme Reveal Blogfest works:

Sign up on the Linky list below, and on March 23rd (Monday) publish a post on your blog in which you reveal your theme, tell us why it is exciting, and give us a hint of what to expect from it! Then, once your post is up, use the Linky to visit all the other blogs announcing their themes. Enjoy!

This is a great opportunity for all of you to get a jump start on your A to Z experience. You can link up with fellow bloggers, scout out and bookmark themes that you look forward to, and set out delicious themed bait on your blog to lure in wandering participants! This way, by the time the frenzied posting begins on April 1st, you will already have an audience eagerly awaiting your posts.

Sign up below, ready your theme, and post March 23rd on your calendar!

Click here to enter!

from WordPress


Sunday, February 15, 2015

#ROW80: A good week

I had a pretty good week. The summary:

  • Read 3 books: I got Busker by D. B. Rouse as a freebie, and read the whole thing. It was the enjoyable memoir of an itinerant musician and some of the things he ran up against on the road. That counts as my second book; I’m now reading Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer by Fred Kaplan; I just started it today. I knew he had little formal education, but he might have made himself one of the most intelligent presidents because (a) he read a lot, and (b) he wrote a lot. All I learned about him in school were the apocryphal stories about him. Somehow they glossed over the autodidacticism, and the determination he had to make himself as intelligent as he could. Had that been stressed, I might have taken my studies a little more seriously.

  • Write the entries for the A to Z Challenge: I’ve started with some of the shorter ones, and have about a half dozen done. Six out of 26 ain’t bad.

In other news:

  • After a relatively mild winter so far, we’re getting colder and there’s talk about snow, sleet, and freezing rain. I don’t like the sound of that.

  • Today would have been Dad’s 83rd birthday. Happy birthday, Dad!

  • I’ve decided to grow a beard. More like I’ve decided that the assault on my face with a sharp instrument isn’t worth it. Mary’s cool with it, as long as I don’t end up looking like H├Ągar the Horrible like I did the last time.

That’s it from me. Straight ahead.

from WordPress