Another Frantic Waltz with the Random Word Generator

Writer’s block has taken up residence in my brain, and seems to have made itself quite comfortable there. Times like these, I cast about desperately for ideas. I ask friends, read about current events, and I have even been known to Google “What should I write about?” Because you never know where you’ll get an idea.

Sadly, all those sources came up empty this time around, so I went to my place of last resort: the random word generator. I asked for three random words. And even that was no help the first 4 times I asked. Nothing inspired me. But then I asked one final time, because I couldn’t think of anything else to do. And this is what the generator generated:

release distant situation

Okay, whoa. I don’t know if this just highlights my tendency to read something into just about anything, or if this is as profound as it seems to me. Because, yeah, I do need to release some distant situations.

There are a lot of things I need to let go of. Resentment about abuse perpetrated by people long dead. Disappointment keenly felt when people whom I thought I could count on have let me down. Insults. Hostility. Cruelty experienced or observed. Manipulation. Lies. Corruption. Criminal behavior.

Letting these things fester in my soul doesn’t do me any good whatsoever. It doesn’t solve anything. And the only one it hurts is me.

So, yes, I think it’s high time I work on releasing distant situations. In fact, it’s overdue. Like draining an infected wound, it may not be pleasant, but it will make me feel much better in the long run.


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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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What is it With Lists?

Is it me, or are lists becoming ever more prevalent? In just a lazy perusal of trending topics today, I came across:

  • 12 most iconic swimsuit moments.

  • 5 tips to get the most cool from your car air conditioning.

  • 25 makeup tips all older women should know.

  • The deadliest snakes ever found on the planet.

  • The full list of the 43 Kmart, Sears stores closing around the US.

  • Top 10 disturbing modern experiments.

  • 10 famous historic figures who suffered horrifying diseases.

  • 81 topic ideas for starting a blog that matters.

What is it with lists?

I get it. We’re all in a hurry these days. We want our information in bite-sized pieces. We want to be able to skim over the boring bits, or the parts that don’t seem relevant to us. But jeez…

I think lists also appeal to our desire to be right. “Top ten rock bands of all time? Oooh! I bet I know!”

And let’s face it: we’re becoming lazy. We want the work done for us. What used cars give you the most bang for your buck? I dunno. You tell me.

If I were more interested in upping the traffic to this blog, I would start posting more lists. Maybe I will do that occasionally. Hmmm. But first I should probably Google the top ten reasons why that’s important in life.

top 10

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I keep a list of ideas for blog entries. I write them down as they occur to me, or they’ll buzz away like hummingbirds, never to be seen again. I’ve even been known to pull off the interstate just so I can take a note if the topic sounds particularly intriguing.

When that list gets short, I get nervous. I’m waiting for the day when all I can say is, “I got nothin’.” That will probably be my last entry. Surely at some point the river of ideas will run dry. I’m amazed it’s continued to flow for this long.

So when I sat down to write today and consulted my list, I found one item that utterly baffles me. “Late.” That’s it. That’s all I wrote. Late. What is that supposed to mean? I don’t even remember writing it. (Maybe I was running late.)

Did I want to write about how I seem to start everything later in life than most people do? Was I planning on writing a rant about someone showing up late? Was I going to write about someone who passed away?

Maybe I meant to say “Latte”, and was going to hold forth on the number of coffee shops in Seattle. Or “Date”, because I had one recently. (But it didn’t work out, so I don’t really want to talk about it.)

Maybe I need to start another list, and at the very top of it I should write, “Provide a little more detail when you write a list.”

Yeah, I know. It needs an apostrophe. [Image credit:]
Yeah, I know. It needs an apostrophe.
[Image credit:]

Other Dimensions

I used to know a guy who was really, really into fishing. Good on him. It’s great to have a passion. But what made me feel sorry for him was that it was his only passion.

He was really hard to talk to, because fishing was his only topic, and if you weren’t into it (and I’m not), conversations with him quickly became extremely dull. If you tried to discuss current events, he had nothing to contribute. If you tried to be playful or in any way abstract or imaginative, he would give you a blank stare. Talking to this guy was a study in awkward silences. I used to think, “I know you’re in there… somewhere.”

I much prefer the company of more well-rounded individuals; people who are curious about the wider world. I enjoy not being able to predict the direction a chat will take. I like to banter. In that context, I might even enjoy talking about your piscatorial pursuits.

If you want more people to delight in your company, make an effort to expand your horizons. Become a bit more three-dimensional. Depth is important, as well as length and width.

[Image credit:]
[Image credit:]

I Feel a Blog Coming On

People often ask me how I’ve managed to come up with a new topic for this blog every single day for the past few years. Frankly, it surprises me, too. I assumed that I’d only be able to keep up this pace for 6 months at most, and yet here I am. I think it helps that I am a bottomless pit of curiosity, and I’d like to think I’m leading an interesting life. I also have a job that lets me live deep inside my colorful imagination much of the time.

What I discovered is that after a while you get into a sort of blog mindset. Every conversation you have, every daydream, every Facebook post, radio broadcast or billboard is potential blog fodder. It’s gotten so there’s actually a distinct feeling I get. It’s usually triggered by my thinking, “That’s interesting,” or “Wow!” or “I never knew that,” or “I wonder why…” When that feeling comes over me, I tend to say, “I feel a blog coming on.”

I’d be lying, though, if I said that it always came that easily. Sometimes just reading the bumper stickers on my commute home doesn’t quite cut it. I’ve actually been reduced to looking at words in the dictionary, or cruising randomly through Wikipedia. I’ve even been known to post on Facebook, “Gaaaaah! I can’t think of anything to write about in my blog! Help!”

Wherever inspiration comes from, I welcome it. This blog has become a huge part of my life. Thank you, dear readers, for taking the journey with me.

[Image credit:]
[Image credit:]

Revealing My Soft Underbelly

When you write a blog and have to come up with a brand new topic day after day, month after month, you find yourself getting more and more personal. The other day a rumor got back to me that several coworkers have been shocked at some of my revelations. “I can’t believe she would say that.”

Well, I’ve never had much of a filter to begin with, but a daily blog tends to boil you down to your basic elements rather quickly, and you find that you have less and less to hide behind. That was part of the experience that I wasn’t expecting. People who value their privacy shouldn’t blog.

If you read everything I’ve written for the past 15 months, you basically know everything about me except my name, rank, and serial number. I mean, yes, I’ve changed a few names to protect the innocent, but one way or another this is all about me and who I am and what I think.

I’ve told you that I’ve been fired. I’ve told you that I’ve been scammed. I’ve told you my politics, my preferences, and my bad taste in clothes. I’ve revealed that I’m fat and extremely well endowed and prone to depression and that I make mistakes. I’ve showed you my dogs and my socks and my friends and my fantasies. I’ve described who I admire and what gives me the creeps. I’ve taken you with me on my travels and shared a few laughs with you.

So far none of this has come back to bite me in the butt, and I hope it never will because I don’t expect I’ll suddenly encounter a sense of discretion at this late date. I’m having too much fun. Having said all that, I invite you to continue to join me for the ride. It might get exciting when you least suspect it.