Good Deeds & Blogging for Dummies

I picked up the library copy of Blogging for Dummies, thinking it might still be a little too deep for me, and then took an older lady and her husband to a medical appointment which was very beneficial, both for her and for me.  A point for those who know me well; I know that at age 76, I must be hanging around with people considerably older if I refer to them as older than me.  Point taken.

The waiting room was filled and the rate of patient reduction seemed stagnant for a good while, so I read my book Blogging for Dummies while trying to obscure the cover so that others in the waiting room wouldn’t knowingly look at me and sort of give me that sad and sympathetic head-shake and wonder why I was not in the waiting room of another kind of physician awaiting my turn at the counseling trough.

First, I think the _____ for Dummies realm is a real goldmine.  And, I think for those of us who can overcome pride and ego, there is a good deal to be learned from those experts who try their best to make some of this lingo translate into information even I can use; hence the “for Dummies” title.  I now know, for example, that my current accumulation of knowledge on the whole Blogging thing is pitifully lightweight; so, I’ll dig deeper and deeper hoping the words don’t keep getting bigger and bigger as well as simply more difficult to interpret.

I am using one of the top three or four blogging software packages, by benevolent accident I might add, that were designed to accommodate people like me who were tech novices and who thought they might have knowledge accumulated that ought to be made available to others…hence the blogging idea.  I have learned already that I am using one of the better host packages, as I said, which was comforting and that I am not quite as erudite on the topic of blogging as I might’ve hoped.

If you follow my blogs, you know that I usually publish a blog a day six days a week.  Now I learn that there are bloggers who publish double-digit multiple times per week.  I suspect their blogs are more snippets than tomes, but still, they have come up with the subject matter to fill spaces.  Those bloggers also have cultivated an active cadre of commenters; and, I don’t know which came first, but probably the hungry audience.

I learned that there are very successful bloggers who are posting multiple times per day albeit posting shorter snippets.  Many intersperse their words with pictures, charts, graphs, etc. which is not what I had wanted to do when I began blogging.  I learned that bloggers can be more effective if they encourage back-and-forth give-and-take with readers interacting.

I learned that I am using what to most would be one of the top three blogging tools (WordPress) as my hosting site, as mentioned above, and that there are a couple of others that I might want to explore a bit given added/different features.  I think, for example, that one of the other two in the top three would’ve permitted me to have avoided a problem I encountered two or three days ago.  Time will tell.

The idea of advertising on blogs is, of course, intriguing if I thought it could be done in good taste without me looking like nothing more than a money-grubbing blogger who is in it for a buck rather than because he is driven to write.  It would be great if the Blogs were self-supporting.  I also learned that bloggers with active commenters engaging in back-and-forth banter/commentary typically have higher levels of readership blog-for-blog.   I suspect that content would be critical in that area, so I am not overly concerned with my reader counts since they continue to improve regularly.

Finally, I was pleased to see a section devoted to blogging in the business world and to learn that those blogs often surpass regular blogs in terms of viewership.  I do some of that kind of thing and may think of additional clients provided I do not water down my available time and ideas for actual current clients.  Baby steps rather than giant leaps in this arena.  But it does pay off on both ends: the blogger and the client firm both benefit.

As always, your thoughts will be appreciated.  Leave a comment with an e-mail address or send an e-mail to to reach me directly.  I suspect there may be a StoneZephyr blog in the not-distant-future since I learned there are a number of multiple blog bloggers working today.  I’ve had that site for some time but not made use of it other than as the source of an e-mail account for several years.


Things Aren’t Always Easy…

If you are anything like me, you probably prove out today’s title as I seem to on an all-too-often basis.  My blog redesign effort falls into that category, and my patience was stretched beyond the breaking point earlier this morning.  So, the redesign continues as a ‘work in progress’ although progress at the moment is moving very slowly.

On a more positive note, the world outdoors this morning is beautiful.  The sun is shining; the temps are climbing almost daily; and, snow seems to be something we can now refer to in the past tense for a few months.  And, I accept full blame in advance for the two or three feet of that white stuff we might find on the ground tomorrow morning.

My trials and tribulations are nothing compared to those of the majority of people on this earth.  I, as have most of us in this country, have gotten so spoiled that I/we tend to think that everyone on the planet is as well off as are we.  A good friend is stranded for part of the day in a southern airport since a plane was not available on time, but she sits in relative comfort, has been able to communicate her plight so that we can change our airport meeting plans accordingly, and is safe while she waits.

We take all this for granted because it is usually failsafe and we expect the world to be that way in all respects.  My little hiccup earlier today is not even so large as a gnat by comparison.  But, I needed a few minutes to remind myself of the realities and get back into a good mood and a thankful frame of mind.

I doubt that I am alone in my oft-forgotten life of ease.  Most of us are the same in this regard.  Most of us feel pity for self while ignoring all the sorrow and suffering around us.  Most of us wouldn’t know where to begin if we were suddenly put out on the street without more than the clothes on our backs and not knowing where our next meal was coming from…if it was coming at all.

We can be our own worst enemies with our pouting and anger when things don’t quite turn out as we wanted and expected.  We do not think of those who have such much greater issues in their lives since we are very much self-centered.  We slip a quarter into the slot of the container being held by an apparently blind person, or even a dollar bill if we’ve been terribly self-centered and feel the need to be quite apologetic through the treatment of the needier person.  Too often, we are likely to turn our backs or take a detour across the street to avoid the situation we’re finding disturbing to self.

My little personal ‘hissy fit’ should embarrass me and it did obviously given the subject of today’s blog.  How many of us are there in this country today who qualify to be self-examiners?  I know I am not alone though that doesn’t absolve me.

I can take care of self just as each of you readers can take care of self.  It is what we are going to do for others who have needs greater than ours that is important.  They have those needs even though we might have had a “bad day” from our perspectives.  They have fears and concerns that dwarf those we might have, given relative circumstances.

My blogging software is still not where I wanted it to be, but I have gotten over my pique, and the software permitted this blog to be written and published.  It’s not such a bad day after all.  I hope you have that same experience with your day and with all your days to come.  They are gifts from God and it is up to each of us to make the most of them.


Our Single Most Reliable Politician?

Why that has to be Bernie Sanders.  He is the perpetual Socialist in spite of socialism’s multiple disasters around the globe.  Bernie apparently thinks that his brand of socialism will work but that has yet to be explained to the majority of us…fortunately.

His story is a tempting one as we’ve witnessed around the globe.  There are always enough people for whom that “siren’s song” is enticing.  Take from the rich and give to the poor plays well with a majority of people, even some who are theoretically sufficiently educated and consumers of history so as to understand socialism’s fallacies.

There are always those who seem to be more favored than the majority, and those more favored justify their status by pointing to the fact they are the leaders, the bosses without whom the rest would certainly starve.  The masses continue, over and again, to doubt their own capabilities since they’ve never been permitted the luxury of proving to themselves their own virtues, their own capabilities.

We are obviously talking about the Democrat Party and its senior members being the leader/s of this movement since that party has the most-liberal thought leaders as members, as party leaders.  We have a very well-identified capitalist in the White House today and he serves well as the lightning rod for liberals.  He also serves well as the poster boy for capitalism.  Those who enjoy capitalism like him; those who despise capitalism, despise him.  It is quite simple.

That lightning rod, incidentally, presides over a rambunctious economy given his approach to governance.  He presides over a United States that has reasserted its dominance in the world.  His ideas are ridiculed but we find that those ideas spawn economic growth and essentially full employment.  And still, the siren’s song of socialism continues to come from the left.

We are able to see, on a smaller scale, what happens with the states in our union that are the perpetual Democrat states, the blue states vs. the red states.  If we look at Illinois and Wisconsin, we see where the biggest growth rate in new industry is found…Wisconsin.  That happens for a reason, and that reason is the form of governance and taxation in each state being measured carefully by businesses planning on new facilities and expansion.

In spite of the lessons readily available, we have members of Congress who still posit liberalism as the best form of governance.  And we, unfortunately, have ignorant voters…ignorant, not stupid…who continue to be suckered into the siren’s song of liberalism.

There is a reason for people wanting to be part of this country, who trek hundreds and thousands of miles in their efforts to become members of our society.  They see from afar what many of us seem unable to see up real close.  They literally risk life itself to attempt to gain entry to our country one way or another.  They do that because we are the beacon of liberty and we show others that our form of liberty, along with the absence of socialism, is a wonderful combination for its citizens.

And still, we have the staunch liberals in the Democratic Party that don’t seem to get it.  If they do ‘get it’ then they are disingenuous because they know they’ll be at the top of the social and economic order in a socialist society they seem to dream of for the United States.

Bernie Sanders has supporters in the Democrat Party.  Bernie Sanders has no supporters in the Republican Party.  It is that clear-cut, that black and white.  There are no shades of gray.

Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump?  Debate that choice if you wish, but that represents the difference whether or not you like it.

Reading Between the Lines…

A quotation attributed to Mystery writer Margaret Millar caught my eye this morning:

“Some people become so expert at reading between the lines they don’t read the lines.”

Our nation’s Capitol Press has fallen victim to this malady if I don’t miss my guess.  These people spend so much time trying to figure out what wasn’t said, what was really intended or what ought to have been said, that they miss the point and often mislead us citizens as the result.

They just know that the President and his Press Secretary are dedicated to keeping the news away from the networks and keep nibbling away at the bone to get to the real truth, that they miss the substance of the announcements.

The “talking heads”, as they are known by most of us, have become the focal points in their own minds.  They are responsible for re-interpreting what is spewed as news in response to the press’ questions since they know this is nothing but obfuscation at best and simple lies at worst.  If they do not re-process what the government released as fact, we will be the victims…at least as the press too often sees things.

I think I am bright enough to work through the chaff in search of the kernels of wheat.  I also believe that I am a better judge of truth for myself than any of the members of that press corps.  I am a conservative; virtually no one in the press is a conservative…with very rare exception.

I may’ve lost track, but my recollection is that press conferences with Obama’s Press Secretary went much more smoothly.  There was not the niggling then that is present now.  Might that suggest that the press was more aligned with what they were hearing during those years than they could possibly be with this neanderthal we put into the Oval Office this time around?

If we dig a little deeper, I think we find that Americans today are too busy leading their lives to spend any time other than casually glancing at the headlines in the morning or evening newspaper.  Given that, we can reasonably conclude they are getting fed what the press wished them to be fed.  Given that the press is largely liberal, there is only one further conclusion that can be drawn.  The majority of citizens in this country have accepted shades of the truth rather than to dig deep to find the full truth which is often different than the bits that were originally fed to us.

I see largely liberals in our education system from Kindergarten on through college.  The young people who still think for themselves seem to be fine in terms of their ability to factually discuss the ins and outs of politics in the country, but they are growing fewer and fewer as liberalism seeps further into the sub-strata of society including in the ranks of educators.

If we continue to see higher-level educational institutions become more and more liberal, we will see the rest of society follow suit; the only question will be how long it will take.  We are on that long-dreaded slippery slope.  Those who do not see that we are on the slippery slope are either refusing to accept that fact or happy with that fact and therefore content with the direction of things.

Rather than reading between the lines, we need people who can read the lines, who can determine for self where we seem to be headed, and align with others of similar belief to turn the ship of state around before it is too late.

We will not get a second chance at this if we miss this time.

Changes Coming…

Changes are being made to The Curmudgeon’s Thoughts site and likely will become visible in the near future.  The site address remains unchanged at “” but the look will be changing.  WordPress continues as the engine of choice for any of you interested.

A digitized drawing of yours truly is being added courtesy of a good friend and local artist and member of our congregation.  Since I’ve not asked if he’d mind his name getting out, I’ll not mention that.  I still do not have much hair (understatement of the year), other than on the edges, since he insists on a reasonably accurate portrayal and couldn’t be bought off.  If readership falls off precipitously, I’ll pull the picture…maybe.

A second version of the blog named The Cranky Curmudgeon that, as the name implies, will have a bit of an edge to it is being added.  That version will be found on this same site and will alternate with the original Curmudgeon as content dictates…and as frustrations mount like pressure in an old-fashioned ‘pressure cooker’.  Daily subject matter will determine which of these Curmudgeon’s, vanilla or Hot Fudge with Sprinkles, is featured.

If you think of subject matter you feel would fit in the Curmudgeon’s world, please feel free to share those ideas.  Please do not be offended if they don’t materialize.  Part of the creation process is simply that whatever comes from my mind through my fingertips has to be something I feel, but that does not mean your idea wasn’t a good idea.  If you find yourself having a lot of ideas, the opportunity to blog is available to you, as well, and WordPress is a very solid place for people who want to start writing and posting.

Thanks to all of you who read the Blog regularly; I hope you’ll continue.  (Rechecking my notes reminded me that “Cranky” won out over “Frustrated”.  How frustrating is that?)

Comic Strip Wisdom…

Tom Wilson is a cartoonist who draws the “Ziggy” cartoons.  Cartoonists are a rare breed in that they can communicate with very few words and relatively crudely-drawn pictures.  Life as a professional cartoonist must take a brilliant mind, or a deviant mind, or a combination of the two since there are virtually no words employed to make the various points.

The cartoon today in the Journal Sentinel, one of the best parts of this declining newspaper now under the guidance/ownership of USA Today, shows Ziggy pondering his face while looking in the bathroom medicine cabinet mirror.  A very simple set-up by Mr. Wilson to be sure as are most of his drawings of Ziggy.

The caption is quite simple and quite profound simultaneously:

“If you’re sad over finding a new wrinkle…just think back to all the smiles it took to make it.”

I pride myself, which isn’t always wise, on being a very positive person that can typically find the good things in an otherwise crummy situation; which also is a great way to drive others bonkers if they have problems making that leap.  I admit this is purely a leap of faith, but that is sometimes all we have left in certain situations.

Faith is one of those very deep things we tend to tie to religious beliefs, and that is proper for faith is an absolute requirement if one is to be a real believer as a Christian.  We are confronted with so much that tends to fly-in-the-face of logic in our workaday lives that it sometimes just seems too overwhelming to stay rooted in faith.

And along comes Ziggy to help us wise humans get back to reality.  We will have wrinkles.  We will have problems.  We will be saddened by happenings.  We may wonder every once in awhile if we are right about this whole faith thing.  We acquire the signs of having lived by living.

Life means we’ll have some times when we are seriously challenged to hang on to our faith and to keep on putting one foot in front of the other until we emerge from that deep funk we had to get through.  Not one of us gets through this life without experiencing suffering and hurt.  We have choices in these situations.

We can pull ourselves up “by the bootstraps” even though the majority of us no longer have bootstraps, or we can choose the option of feeling sorry for self and making those around us miserable, too.  There are sufficient issues of real importance that we’ll encounter so we don’t really have to create our own situations by moping through our days affecting others with our cases of self-lament usually over things we ought not to be lamenting in the first place.

My tendency is to have a smile on my face throughout the day, and I know that makes some people uncomfortable or certainly makes them wonder what I take to be able to be the way I am.  If I have a secret it might center about the fact that I have a strong faith, I know there are bumps in this road we call life, and I know I want to get through the rougher patches as quickly and painlessly as is possible.

Simply, I do not enjoy being sad.  If I can find something to make me happy during a period of sadness, I will use that something as best I can to get to the other side of my current sadness.  The something is not alcohol or pills since that only makes things worse.  The something is usually whatever God has placed in my path over which I can revel and take my mind off other things.  It might be a pretty flower or a baby bird or animal or a beautiful sunrise or sunset, or any of a number of other things that we can see and experience if we open ourselves to that stimuli.

Does it always work so easily?  No, of course, it doesn’t.  But that means we just have to get back on that horse and ride it again.  Do I always get back on that horse right away?  No; I am as human or more so than many others.  So, I mope and frown and fail to see the beautiful things life brings to me for a while until someone or something hits me with the fact that my attitude is keeping me from getting through the fog and drizzle.

We are all similar in this regard, and we all need help.  The magic is finally coming to understand our own weaknesses and getting on with getting on.  Ziggy’s reminder about new wrinkles is an important reminder.  We can make wrinkles by smiling or by frowning…and smiling is a lot more enjoyable, and drives others a  bit nutty trying to figure out why you’re always smiling.


Democrats Think They’ve Found Reason

This story headline captured my attention…as story headlines are meant to do: Democrats sue Russia, Trump campaign over 2016 election.  It made it to page 9 of section A of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (owned by USA Today) this morning; not exactly front-page, bombshell-type news from those editors’ perspective apparently.

The Dems managed to bring WikiLeaks into this case, as well.  All the parties are alleged to have conspired to influence the 2016 elections in favor of Donald Trump.  The conspiracy is said to have launched a cyber attack to damage the Democratic Party and thus effectively had the ‘honor’ of electing Trump.

First, WOW!  We have heard previous reports of the Russians hacking the DNC computer system, stealing documents and employing WikiLeaks to disseminate the stolen materials.  This is old news; really old news.

All along, I thought it was the fact that we stupid American voters had no more common sense than to vote for Trump that caused Hillary to lose.  This simply sounds so far-fetched on its surface as to make it the understatement of the week, the month and maybe the year-to-date.  If there is sufficient truth here to gain a court victory, why wait so long?

My first thought comes from Mark Twain to whom is attributed:

“Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”

The Dem’s lawsuit alleges that Russia was a “willing and active partner” in Trump’s campaign and apparently that these ne’er do wells helped Trump defeat Hillary.  The DNC Chair Tom Perez was quoted on Friday saying:

“This constituted an act of unprecedented treachery: the campaign of a nominee for president of the United States in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the presidency.”

I am not sure that a political party is able to sue a sovereign country.  I am not sure the Democratic National Committee really wants to try to further explain Hillary’s loss…but maybe her ‘highness’ Hillary has threatened them with whatever to encourage them to fight for her honor.  The allegations state that “the Russian government notified the Trump campaign it had stolen Democratic e-mails and other information that it was seeking to use in support of Trump’s candidacy.”

It was apparently following this notification that the Trump campaign eagerly and willingly fell into lock-step with the Russkies in hopes of gaining the Oval Office.  This all sounds, pardon me for being so brazen, as something contrived in the ‘mind’ of Hillary Clinton that helps to explain her continuing embarrassment as a political competitor.

If there is sufficient truth here, why has it taken so very long to be exposed?  Why wasn’t this used during the campaign?  Why is it finally being laid out for us by the DNC?  Have Hillary and Company lost all semblance of believability?  Why hasn’t the investigative genius Comey been blasting this out for months?

Or can it be that this represents the final flailing about of a candidate who has lost her allure with the voters but hasn’t yet personally accepted that fact?  This is sad if anything.  Let us see where all this late-breaking 9 paragraph news item on page 9A takes us.