Suspicious?

I have no idea how the traffic on WordPress (or blogs or anything else on the web) is determined. I have no idea what makes one day a 55 hit traffic day and the next a 15 hit traffic day. I haven’t been able to see any correlation between subject and traffic or anything else. The only sure fire truth is: the less you post, the less your traffic in general.

But this is a brave new world where Youtube demonetizes those not “woke” Google is biased to the Left and Twitter lets Leftist say and do whatever they want, but routinely suspends those not following the narrative.

Most of my posts have just been neutral, secular, tidbits of late. I average somewhere around 18 to 20 hits a day. Sometimes into the 30’s 40’s and, occasionally, 50’s and higher. But I noticed after two posts of a religious nature (including a lighthearted pot shot at atheists) my average immediately plunged to 2 or 3 hits for the last several days.

Do I get shuffled to the bottom of the deck? Should I post some anti-abortion post and see if I just get a complete black out?

Or am I just paranoid?

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Scattered Life

I have a particular problem that is getting worse and worse as I get older. I am one of those people (and I am sure everyone knows one) that starts many, many things – and finishes close to none of them. This problem is getting so bad for me that I have some six books that I am simultaneously reading and getting nowhere with. I have stories that are sitting around with anywhere from six sentences to sixty pages – all of them sitting around (with very few exceptions) in first draft form.

I just went on my Catechism Class.com site and see that the last quiz I took (for Institution of the Holy Eucharist) was from April of 2017, and I started the course in 2013!!!

My reading of the Bible will take probably until the year 2099.

I have no problem getting the daily stuff done, the chores. I never miss vacuuming, balancing the checkbook, etc, etc. But then – what happens? Now, even blog posts are something I can’t seem to get to.

And now my complete lack of discipline and time management has to compete with a 40 hour work week. Gone, oh gone, are the 23 or 25 hour work weeks (including the 16 hour work weeks, I will miss those most of all).

I can barely seem to muster up the discipline to write to my sponsored child!

I think what I will do is I will complete each and every one of these objectives. And perhaps I should write a to-do list everyday. I have had a free schedule today, for instance since 12 pm, it is now 3:30pm. I’ve been on the old internet.

I think I will make a goal first and foremost, since it seems to be the most delayed, to finish the catechism classes. Funny, I think there is a little procrastination in this. The classes are heavy in reading Aquinas’ arguments, and they can be quite tedious. I am pretty sure I have done enough outside reading in those five years since I started the course that I could just blaze through all the quizzes now.

My Southern Experience: Part Two

Before I go onto other aspects of my southern experience so far I should note that, like all things human, it is not 100% this way or that. There is a general level of what I consider rudeness here (apparently saying “bless you” after someone sneezes is out?). There are some nice people here as well.

I also am not used to people not liking me at first sight and for no good reason (that I can see) haven’t had that experience since grade school.

The surgeon general’s warning on the dangers of smoking never made it here. People smoke everywhere and throw their butts everywhere. The stairwell of my building is an ashtray – I do not exaggerate.

Southern cooking is to die for… if you do not die from it. I am pretty sure there is enough sodium and fat in a southern meal to bring down a moose.

LOTS of bugs. But the fireflies are totally cool. I had those as a child when I lived in Michigan.

One of the pluses (and it is a big plus) is the beauty of western North Carolina (from Asheville to the western edge). Just the sheer number of colors. Against the backdrop of green and brown is about every color you can come up with. I took a series of photos in my apartment complex of a stretch of ground covering perhaps fifteen feet. The vegetation in this space had great variation of colors – and this was only in a tiny bit of space. Not a manicured or landscaped space either, its downhill from the railroad tracks at the edge of the property.

My Southern Experience: Part One

Thought I would start writing a little about my southern experience so far.

It will start off a little negative (alright, largely negative). One big reason for that is I fell into a huge depression after arriving here triggered by – swallowed by – homesickness.

I spent twenty years in the Seattle area happily married. I worked at the same place for almost that whole time where everyone knew my name where I felt the most comfortable. Where my day started with hugs, high fives, yells, and cheers and usually finished with friends and beers.

I am still trying to get used to a few things here in the south. One is the weather. It is MUGGY, I mean what I imagine soldiers felt in the jungles of Vietnam. I spend most of my time indoors in the air conditioning. It is just sticky and gross. If I go outside after a shower, I may as well have not showered at all. Nobody else (except for my pug) seems to notice. I do enjoy the almost daily thunder clouds coming in. I have heard more thunder and lightning in Asheville over the last five months than in all the time I was in the Seattle area.

Although I do yearn for a few days of overcast and drizzle.

Another thing I am trying to get used to is the rudeness of the south. Sorry, but I have lived in Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, Oregon, and Washington. I have travelled through most of the United States missing only New England. The south so far has been the rudest place I have been to. This really shouldn’t be much of a surprise since the area consists of a large number of descendants of people who thought chattel slavery was a good idea and fought to the death to keep it. And then thought terrorizing and lynching people was a good idea, and Jim Crow was a hero, etc.

And while we in the Seattle area may have groaned inside when yet another arrival said howdy and further clogged up the roadway, we (at least not in my experience) never let the person know about it. And we welcomed them and asked questions about where they came from, etc. I have been told here by no less than eight people (and have had that many more express the opinion in my hearing knowing I to be new to the area) that outsiders are ruining their area.

The wife and I were not here two weeks before we were making a purchase at a store. The lady at the counter was ringing us up and we were talking and we mentioned we were from the Seattle area. She said she had a son there. She then went on to lament how the area is going to the pits because of people moving in that weren’t from there (as if you could move there when you were already there). She may as well said, “this area would still be good if it weren’t for you folks.”

Another replied shortly after I said I came from the west coast something to the effect that it isn’t good to have people coming in from such places cuz then you have more chances of importing homosexuals.

I am still not sure if that was a roundabout way of calling me a fag.

This last I found hilarious. I spent over twenty years in Seattle and never worked with a transgender (is that still the term?) person. My first job here I worked with one. Two newscasters on Saturday morning here are homosexuals if my name ain’t Bob. Three cars in my apartment complex have bumper stickers that say “Vaginatarian.” The cars are owned by females. And if you can’t parse the word it is someone that eats vagina. Never saw those in Seattle area. Downtown Asheville can look, at times, like a cross between Haight-Ashbury and the Dinah Shore Golf Classic – if you catch my drift. Which, you should, it is as obvious as Vaginatarian.

You shouldn’t be worrying about fags invading your precious town, child. You are quite gay enough already!

People have no interest in where you come from here, no curiosity about other places. Note the distance between London and Berlin is less than seven hundred miles and, yet, they are two different cultures. The distance between Seattle and Asheville, NC is over three thousand miles.

It should be noted that the migration is the opposite from what my wife and I have done. Way, way more people pick up from places like this and move to places like Seattle than the opposite. Someone may move from Atlanta to here, but they are still a southerner. The tourists here are surely from Atlanta or Raleigh and other such places mostly.

I have a suspicion southerners don’t like outsiders.

To Be Continued….

Back in the Saddle Again

Peelin’ off my boots and chaps
I’m saddle sore
Four bits gets you time in the racks
I scream for more
Fools’ gold out of their mines
The girls are soaking wet
No tongue’s drier than mine
I’ll come when I get back

We have settled in Asheville for the next year in an apartment. We weren’t ready for the whole house deal yet. It is not something I want to do twice. That means I am connected again, modernly. Meaning, I have a high speed internet connection again.

We are just barely done getting the apartment settled and tidied up. It is a much smaller place than we are used to – one bedroom. This is the first time since I got married that I haven’t had an office of my own. The books have to stay mainly packed and I will have to write on a tiny coffee table in the kitchen, or on my living room recliner.

Good thing I’ve been using a program like Scrivener this whole time as I can’t afford to have paper all over the place…

But I do have the internet back. Tried the unplugging. You can’t go back.

Finally Decided on a Bible and Those Clowns! Clowns!

For awhile now I have been seeking to acquire a reading Bible that I could call my own. I say a reading Bible as opposed to the Douay-Rheims & Clementina Vulgata edition, an old 70’s family bible (it has wonderful script in it and art) and the numerous other versions I have through Verbum software. The first two are large sized books and thick. The others are digital and I usually use them for reference. And a couple of them are not even in English.

Part of the search was easy because you can disregard a large number of modern versions that make for terrible reading. And while the KJV (with apocrypha, of course) sounds the most impressive, it is really only because of the arcane language.

I had spent some time trying to find a nice old one with the nice leather but usually those found were from individual churches from Nebraska in 1846 and they usually smelled like mildew. That, and they are usually written in, “To Martha, God Bless.” Well, I’m not Martha.

It turns out the people who published my DR-Clementina Vulgata, Baronius Press, also put out a nice pocket size Douay-Rheims in leather, smythe sewn, head and tail bands, gilded pages, decorative endpages and satin ribbon markers. I chose the burgundy. Because I like it.

Another important feature that I required was the artwork inside. I had bought a pocket sized NAB translation (not my first choice, btw) about a year ago. If it had not been sealed, I would have seen the “artwork” inside and not purchased it. It looked like the hokey artwork I remember from bible camp as a child. It shouldn’t look like those nutty comics that used to circulate in the 70’s for children with the cheesy Jesus in artwork that was borderline cartoon.

I like the black and white sketch work in this one. Here’s a sample. You have to click on it to see (I don’t know why).

That book only cost me $10 and its quality showed. My new one is $40 – and I think it’s a steal.

I had to sacrifice a little. I prefer some wording more than others. I never liked 2 Timothy 4:1 stated “the living and the dead” when “the quick and the dead” is simply better. I mean come on, people, get a dictionary. But the Douay-Rheims is still a good translation.

CLOWNS!

On the writing front I’ve been revamping my clown story from 2015. Those wascally clowns are going to cause a little more mayhem than we anticipated! The actual writing for that is scheduled for tomorrow.

I also went through all my past unfinished writing projects and came up with ways to get them to the finish line. Funny thing is, almost all of them had potential for further work. If I shrink the amount of time I leave them in the drawer by 7 or 13 years, I could get some regular stuff out the door. However, The Five Deaths of Horace Gumble still has several months to wait in the brine.

New Acquisitions

Someone please stop me!!

First pick-up was:

I love C.S. Lewis’s work in general and his theological work in particular (although do I prefer Chesterton over Lewis? hmmm). And how can I pass up a book that contains an essay titled “Fern Seeds and Elephants.”

Second Pic was:

This is from 1954 and is pre-Vatican Two. It has some lovely (and some rather homely) art in it and a wealth of information on many things Catholic: stations of the cross, extreme unction, baptism, the thingamabobs that make up a priests “uniform”, etc, etc.

In the Missal (a thing I still find hard to penetrate conceptually) they give you the years 1954 thru 1972 instead of using a generic system by which you identity which of the possible fourteen calendars you are in for any possible year, say 2017? Can you imagine someone throwing this set out and getting a new one in 1973 because they ran out of years?

Ah, and the smell of the set. That old book smell. I don’t know what it is. Do books that come out now end up with that smell? Is it the ink? This is a closed box set so the aging of the pages and ink and binding is somewhat preserved in a hermetical atmosphere and the tones are that much more sweet. You can’t get that out of a digital book. And they will always be at a loss for it.

But it proves a nice thing to begin the day looking them over.

But as it is I am four weeks into N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God and I am only on page 67. My reading slows to an absolute crawl during allergy season and my waking hours are usually less than sleeping hours.

Of course a crawl is about 200 pages a week, but it has been all fiction as I can’t attain the level of focus required for Wright’s subject at this time. I hope the Cottonwood clears up by next week.

Interestingly, my wife has just recently started to suffer from seasonal allergies and she is hating it. “This is what you have been living under all these years?! I feel as if I’m having a stroke!”

Yeah, love, it sucks big time.

Bishop Robert Barron, Popularity, Blog Stats, Father Elijah an Apocalypse

I have noticed that I have provided links to two of Bishop Robert Barron’s articles or videos in the last month or so. I have noticed that those links have not been used. Even when yesterday’s post would have been better understood with the requisite background. I believe that is because most people’s thought nowadays are “Priest? What the hell do they know?”

Hilariously, I have seen this said about love or relationships – what would a priest know about it? After I clean my pants from laughing too hard I would say – a lot than you would think.

Now, the “logical” thing for me to do, given modern ways of thinking, is to look at my stats and say, “hmm, this Barron guy isn’t very popular with my audience such as there may be (Hi Mom!), he will have to go.”

But, unless you are new here, I detest modern ways of thinking. So, I am going to bump up my links, weekly, of related topics Bishop Barron covers. I may even see if I can find an esoteric blogger of Christology.

Heh heh heh, my thinking may seem to not make sense, stand on your head and it will be clearer…

Sometime in the whirlwind that was early last year Mr. Wright at his blog was praising a book he was reading during Lent instead of what he was supposed to be reading for Lent. I have a strange memory where I will remember such a thing as such a post, what was said in it and the comments, and the book author and title.

So, last Thursday I was back at one of my old haunts Half-Priced books in Bellevue WA (East Side!) and came across the title sitting on top of the Hindu section under “religion.”

I am hoping it is a good read and not a Left Behind clone. Not that I’ve read the latter and not that I will – yuck. I think I have read every sort of genre out there except this one. And yes, I have read Westerns. Alright no Romance novels… But what man has?

Bishop Robert Barron and Chuck Jones

Bishop Robert Barron (and I am not sure why I am writing this as I suspect most everyone turn away once encountering the word ‘bishop’ – your loss – writers read the article, I will tie it up nicely to writing) had an excellent article a few weeks ago.

I’m sort of taking it somewhere else.

In it he is talking about the distantiation inherent in the social media age. The habitualized mental experience of basically experiencing reality “once-removed” as experiencing it self-consciously, through the lens of an expected audience – modulated by others. It is basically living the psychology of the class clown.

The article is based on another article written by a modern writer of the social media age who became a mother.

To quote from Barron’s article:

Most millenials never simply had experiences; they were conditioned to record, preserve, and present those experiences to a following who were invited to like what they saw, to comment on it, to respond to it. To be sure, she acknowledges, the social media, at their best, are powerful means of communication and connection, but at their worst, they produce this odd distantiation from life and a preoccupation with the self. Here is how Menkendick puts it: “I’ve come of age as a writer at a time when it is no longer enough just to write. A writer must also promote her work and in the process promote herself as a person of interest…I learned the snarky, casually intellectual voice of feminist and pop culture bloggers, the easy outrage, the clubby camaraderie.”

This, I believe, is why the next generation of writers are going to (to be blunt) suck. They play to an audience. This I think is bad. This is why you get luke-warm Star Wars sequels like The Force Awakens because the writer’s concern is other people’s experiences of the subject matter and not the subject matter itself. They are not immersed in the reality of the material, but in the reality of people’s perceptions.

They are going to suck (as a whole, not each individually) because their whole orientation is non-artistic. Now granted, a writer gets feedback, usually, while writing. But not from every Tom, Dick and Harry out there. A trusted spouse (writers usually come in pairs, or, the other is not a complete tube-zombie) an editor, a writer friend, etc. Not ‘ClenchedBeaver47’ that has ‘hearted’ a few of your FaceBook pics of your dog. Or some random stray anonymous person.

When I was a young teenager I wanted to do either cartooning or animation. I read the autobiography of Chuck Jones (Chuck Jones was the big Warner Brothers cartoon man, he did all the great ones – Rabbit of Seville, etc). The single one thing that stood out to me was the following. He was lamenting the new young writers that sometimes would start at the studios who always seemed obsessed with everyone else thought of their ideas.

I am paraphrasing him here (because it has been over thirty years since I have read the book): “I write for myself. I write what I think is funny. After I write I will see what others think of it, but not before.”

Now the article Barron is referencing is about a woman’s experience as a mother and the contrast to a life on the social media. But, I think the same principle holds true here.

The story is the baby. You must experience it first hand, viscerally. You must jump into the river of life, let it wash over you. You, your anxieties, self-consciousness – they don’t matter. How others will see it, how it will reflect on you (are you trending, baby?) all of that is preoccupation with the self and not reality – reality here being the story.

Because as unintuitive as it may sound (but actually sounds a truism) your story is not about you. It is no more about you than a court case is about the court stenographer who is dictating the proceedings.

I think this applies to almost everything. Say you are in a rock band (am I out dated, are there still rock bands?) you wouldn’t come up with a riff or chord progression, post it on Facebook and then ask, “does this sound too 80’s everybody?” Forget about it. Throw away your guitar and join me in the service industry. You are going to need a lot of alcohol… I’ll train you.

This is Fun

So I’m into the preparatory part of N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God. This isn’t a popular presentation but a scholarly one, so you have some thirty or forty pages of groundwork to go through: preliminaries, questions posed, general thesis, approach to objections, parts and chapters described, etc, etc.

But what fun! I know none of this stuff. Almost zero. I mean I have read the Gospels and Acts and pinches of other works (although my reading of the OT is still sparse – I mean come on, I couldn’t get through the leavened bread! what is the big deal about yeast!?). But how the Jews and pagans viewed resurrection in general? I don’t know.

In general, an atheist tends to not pay any attention to anything having to do with religion, or, spends time attacking it while still knowing nothing about it, or, knows something about it and attacks it, or knows about it and doesn’t attack it (that’s a rare specimen). I was the first. I never looked at any of it for the same reason I never sought out a biography on Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny.

It is like joining a murder mystery. But this one is two thousand years old, and, apparently, the victim got up and walked away three days after the event. Beat that Law and Order!