Public Art Lovers

I genuinely believe that public art makes a city more livable. I’ve written about this before. I think murals and sculptures add a certain whimsy to a community, and that’s a joy to behold.

While going through my many photo albums, I suddenly realized that a recurring theme therein is public art. If I see a beautiful or funny bit of creativity, I’m compelled to stop and take a picture of it. These things make me smile. I suspect this is the case for others as well.

So, glutton for punishment that I am, I decided to start yet another Facebook group. Hopefully you are aware of and/or have joined my other two groups already.

The View from a Drawbridge is a group for readers of this blog, and every day I add a link to that day’s post. Many people are more comfortable leaving comments there than they are at the foot of the actual post, so you often get a more in-depth discussion of the topic du jour.

Drawbridge Lovers, on the other hand, is a group about all things drawbridge. People post some amazing photos of movable spans throughout the world in that forum. They also include links to drawbridge related news, which can be quite fascinating.

So this new group is called Public Art Lovers, and I’m hoping that it will get just as much participation as the other two groups. I’m really looking forward to seeing murals, sculptures and the like from all over the world. I wish I could be everywhere at once and see all these things with my own eyes, but of course, that would be impossible. So much art, so little time…

So, here’s hoping you’ll join my newest Facebook group and share your public art encounters with the world. I love the concept of group whimsy and delight! I think we all could use a little more of that in our lives. Join us!

Mural Seattle

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The Nuts and Bolts of This Daily Blog

I spend about 4 hours a day working on this blog. I’m fortunate in that I have the kind of job that allows me to do much of this while on the clock. If I had to dedicate this much of my free time to keep this engine chugging along, trust me, you’d be staring at a blank page.

The truth is, though, I don’t blog every day. Actually, I write two posts a day, four days a week. At least, that’s my goal. The nice thing about WordPress is it allows me to postpone my publishing date, so I can have them come out one a day, one minute past midnight, Pacific time.

If I don’t have at least 10 posts in queue at the end of my four day writing week, I’m very uncomfortable. My world doesn’t feel quite right. I genuinely believe that this weekly routine has improved my writing greatly over the years.

Sometimes I plan even farther ahead. For example, if I have a vacation coming up, I try to get enough posts in queue that I don’t have to mess with it during that time. (I love you guys, but sometimes I need a break.)

But who am I kidding? Even on holiday, the first thing I do when I wake up is check my statistics to see how many people have been reading my musings, and try to get a sense of what brought them here. I also post a link to the day’s publication on my Facebook group, The View from a Drawbridge. Then I run back over to my statistics and watch them spike, because a lot of my readers find me through Facebook. I’m averaging 106 views a day, now. What a rush.

I also try to respond to all comments the moment I see them. I figure if someone has taken the time to read what I write and respond to it, the very least I can do is reply. And I love the comments most of all, because it makes me feel like we have a community, here. And often that feedback from what I call Drawbridge Nation inspires other writing topics, which is wonderful.

Every day, I also reread and edit every single post that’s in queue. That means that if you see a typo, I’ve likely overlooked it as many as 10 times. Shame on me. (I really do appreciate it when you guys point errors out to me, though, so I hope you’ll keep it up.) Often the final draft is so different from the original as to be unrecognizable.

But that also means that I don’t want to get too much more ahead than 10 days. More than that and I feel so removed from the topic in question as to have become bored with it. I’m so over my writing after the 10th edit.

Another thing I try to do is link back to other posts that have something to do with the one you’re reading. After 6 years, I have quite the backlog to draw upon. New readers seem to appreciate this the most.

And after more than 2,200 posts, I’ve found it useful to keep a spreadsheet with the titles, the date published, and a short sentence as to what each post was about. In alphabetical order. With a link to the post. Because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to find anything, and since the ultimate goal is writing anthologies, this is a tool well worth maintaining.

I also link to other sources of information whenever possible. I’m humble enough to realize that there are others out there with more expertise and insight than I have. It is my hope that my posts are starting points for people, not dead ends.

And I enjoy finding really interesting pictures to include in each post. I’ve discovered that a lot of search engines have a way to filter their photographs so you can choose one that is “free to use or share.” If ever I were to be approached by someone who said that I didn’t have permission to use a photograph, I’d take it down immediately. I really do take copyright seriously. But I love the fact that it’s often the photo that draws the reader in.

One thing I do every waking moment is think in terms of blog fodder. Things I see or do. Conversations I have. The news of the day. Suggestions from you, dear reader. All can inspire a post. I have a long list of ideas for future posts. Some have been on the list for so long that I can barely remember what I was talking about. I’ve come to view everything through the filter of my blog. It’s second nature to me now. Like breathing out and breathing in. (I also tend to think in terms of song lyrics.)

This blog came to life because it occurred to me that I spend a great deal of time all alone in my little bridge tower, staring at the same view day in and day out, and because of that I notice minute details that most people overlook. I figured this blog would last 6 months, if that. But now I can’t imagine life without it, and without all of you. It’s such a big part of my routine, and such a source of joy for me.

What a gift. What a gift. And your reading of my writing is what makes it come alive. You are the nuts and bolts of this blog. So thank you, dear reader. Thank you for taking this journey with me.

(And a big thank you to Ray for suggesting this topic!)

You

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Time’s A-Wastin’

His Facebook page is full of lighthearted posts. Funny things he felt like passing along. Videos of cats. Smiling selfies. Humorous observations. The next post is bound to pop up any minute.

I barely knew him. He was a friend of a friend. We had pleasant exchanges in the comment section. I knew I’d like him. We’d yet to meet face to face. Vague plans had been made, and had yet to be carried out.

And now he’s dead, in his 50’s. Natural causes, they say. But there’s nothing natural about dying in one’s 50’s.

It’s all so fleeting. So unexpected. One day you’re taking a selfie, and the next you’re gone.

Life is precious. Don’t waste time. Savor every moment.

Wasting Time

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The Limit of My Tolerance

We have reached a point of such divisiveness in this country that it’s really hard to even get through a day without disagreeing with someone. That’s fine. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. In fact, I’d find this world rather boring if everyone did.

But what is even more tragic is that we are losing the ability to maintain a respectful discourse. I blame social media for this. We are now, more than ever, able to interact with total strangers and yet remain virtually anonymous to them. For some reason, that seems to allow the more crass amongst us to be outright hostile.

My whole life, I have put up with a mountain of crap from people who make these Facebook trolls seem like punters. Because of that, rightly or wrongly, my threshold for abuse is rather high. But I do have a hair trigger when someone attacks one of my friends or loved ones. You do that, and you have then entered the no-fly zone.

I will warn you once. But if you don’t correct your course to a more courteous trajectory, I will shoot you right out of my airspace. And I’ll have absolutely no regrets about it. Because life is just too freakin’ short to put up with hostility.

This isn’t the same as unfriending someone whose posts are irritating to you. A cousin did that to me, and I was shocked by that. It’s something I’d never do. This isn’t about ruffling feathers. It’s about basic decency.

I have very little control over the direction in which this country is going, but I sure as heck can control the tone of my Facebook page. Believe that. So agree or disagree with the people that I care about. That’s your business. But do it with courtesy, or we’re done.

No Trespassing

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Randy Rainbow: What Would We Do Without Him?

If you are on Facebook, and are even the slightest bit liberal, chances are you’ve seen videos by Randy Rainbow. He’s like the Weird Al Yankovic of our time. Not only does he sing much better than Al, but his messages are practically vital for one’s sanity in the Trump era. He shines a light on the insanity, and makes you laugh about it. He makes you feel a little less alone in our present-day Twilight Zone. Bless him!

So, when I discovered that he was touring, and that he’d be in Seattle, of course I had to go! And it was, as expected, hysterical, and delightful, and a much-needed political palate cleanser.

He performed many of his most popular parodies, including:

You Can’t Stop His Tweets!

Desperate Cheeto

Covfefe: The Broadway Medley

The Room Where It Happened

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Korea? (While wearing a nun’s habit.)

Yes! We Have No Steve Bannon! (While wearing a banana outfit.)

This is a comedian and performer who came at just the right time, to just the right place. If you get to see him live, I highly recommend it. At the very least, subscribe to his Youtube channel or his Facebook page and prepare to laugh!

Here are some blurry pictures I took of him in his many costumes at the concert. They’d no doubt horrify him, but hey, who said I was a photographer?  Enjoy!

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Facebook Data

There’s been much ado about Facebook data of late. What do they know, and when did they know it? How is it used? And why do I keep getting pummeled with real estate ads when I’ve already bought my house?

A friend recently showed me this article that describes, among other things, how to download your own Facebook data. I was immediately intrigued. Since I am my very favorite subject, I immediately dropped everything and followed the instructions.

When you’re in Facebook, click that downward pointing arrow on the ribbon at the upper right. Then click settings. That should bring you to General Account Settings. Beneath that list of info, you should see the statement “Download a copy of your Facebook data.” Click it.

Now, if you’ve been on Facebook as long as I have, it is going to take a while to download this stuff. But it’s quite revealing when you do.

For instance, I had no idea how many apps I have been active in. Most of them I recognize from past use, at least, but some of them I don’t recognize at all. For example, what the hell is MeowShare? And Disqus?

And most interesting were the Ads Topics. These words and phrases are what companies use to target me with ads, and a lot of them are spot on. But then there are some that are really out there and unrecognizable, like “Charlton Athletic F.C” or “Mud (2012 film)”. Others are oddly vague, such as life, love, religion, cup, duck, and Louisiana. (Beats me.)

The index made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It has my birth date, my e-mail, my city, my relationship status, my family and friends, my education, my work history, all my indicated interests, and all my Facebook groups. Wow.

I mean, I knew Facebook had this information, of course. I’m the one who gave it to them. But seeing it all laid out in one neat little package was kind of freaky. And of course, I still have no idea what they actually have done with this information. The worst part is that I will never know for sure.

Am I going to get off Facebook? Probably not. This is the only way I keep in touch with many people. But now I’m going to feel as if someone is looking over my shoulder. And that’s not a pleasant feeling.

Facebook Eye

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Messing with a Scammer

Early one morning, I was staring blankly at my computer screen, in an utter fog, wishing I weren’t allergic to caffeine, when the following message from my friend G popped up in Facebook Messenger:

“Hello Barbara?”

I knew right off the bat that this couldn’t be G. First of all, he would never call me Barbara. (The only person who ever used my full first name was my mother when she was pissed off.)

But the other big hint that this couldn’t be G was the fact that he passed away 3 months ago. For a split second, I wished fervently that it was really him, that his death was a huge mistake, but I knew better.

And that instantly infuriated me. This was clearly a scammer, and I bet he reached out to everyone on G’s contacts list, so that must have been a painful jolt to his wife and kids. How cruel.

So I decided to mess with this person.

Me: “Hi G! How are you?”

(As I typed that, I wished this guy was burning in hell.)

G: “Am fine, Busy online Searching on what to invest my Grant Money on and you?”

(Yep, definitely not G. G knew how to punctuate and capitalize.)

Me: “I’m good. Same old, same old.”

G: “Good. Was wondering if you’ve heard about the federal government grant?”

Me: “No I haven’t.”

G: “The Grant is placed for those who need assistance buying a home, paying for bills, starting their own business, going to school, or even helping raise their children with old and retired people .This is a new program, i got $100,000 delivered to me when i applied for the grant and you don’t have to pay it back.”

(I cannot believe anyone would fall for this scam during the Trump era. No way on earth is the government going to give us money to help ease our suffering, without some serious strings attached. This scammer must think the streets here are paved with gold.)

Me: “Wow. That’s good luck considering all you’ve been through.”

(Like, uh, dying.)

G: “Thought you might have heard about it already?”

Me: “No. We haven’t talked in months.”

(That’s putting it mildly. If only we could.)

G: “I contacted the online claiming agent through link and he checked me.”

Me: “Checked you for what?”

(Rabies? Psychopathy? A serious lack of common decency?)

By the way, we should talk about the 900 dollars I owe you.”

(I threw that in just to see if I could get this guy spun up and excited and waste more of his time. The more of his time that I wasted, the less time he’d be spending scamming someone else. But at this point, the scammer went silent for a day. I guess it takes one to know one. So I decided to give it one last try.)

“Seriously, though, I do feel guilty for not paying you back yet.”

G: “Forget about that yet. I know when you have it you will pay up.”

(What a mensch. Especially since I never asked G for money in my life.)

“Let’s talk about the good news. If you click on this link and fill out this form, you might be able to get the grant money, too.”

That’s when I started getting bored with the game. Of course I wasn’t going to click on any link and turn over my social security number or my bank or credit card information, or open myself up to ransomware. So, for my final salvo, I decided to let him have it.

Me: “Sorry, ‘G’, I’m not going to click on your link, and here’s why. You stole the identity of one of the most decent human beings I’ve ever known. He was kind and generous and supportive. He also died three months ago, leaving behind a lot of people who are heartbroken and who loved him very much. I doubt a scammer like you will ever be able to say the same thing, because you don’t build relationships, you take advantage of people. I think the real G would be highly amused by the fact that I’ve been able to waste so much of your time. I also think that since he was very protective of his loved ones, he’d be outraged to know that you probably also reached out to his wife and children, who are still grieving, and this must have given them considerable pain. Sitting in your dingy, third-world room in front of your crappy computer, you already know what I’m about to tell you: You are cursed. Maybe that’s revenge from my friend G and people like him, or bad karma from the pain you cause when you rob little old ladies of their life savings, or maybe it’s just your fate, but you wouldn’t be doing this if you weren’t desperate for the one thing that will never make you happy: Money. Know this: NOTHING will ever go right for you for the rest of your life until you change your ways and try to have a positive impact on people, rather than a negative, toxic one. Right now, you are pathetic. But you don’t have to stay that way. It’s up to you.”

I doubt any of this will sink in. I’m sure it wasn’t even read. But I have to say, I feel cleansed.

scammer

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