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From Cyber Friends to Fast Friends February 28, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Blogging, Humor, People.
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Through internet connectivity and the world wide web, we develop cyber friendships with people we’ve never met.

We share each other’s stories and grow to understand one another . . . even though we may never meet face-to-face.

How often do Cyber Friendships blossom into something more?

When I first joined WEbook, I added writers as friends only after working  with them on a project or two.  I turned down friend requests from writers who randomly pulled my name off the Top Reviewer or Top Writer lists so  they could ask me to review their first draft novels and novellas.

Over time, I stopped rejecting friend requests from unknown-to-me writers.

I learned that cyber friends tend to sit quietly on our profile pages unless and until they have something to say.

Next came Facebook.

Even before I set up a profile page, Facebook prompted me to connect with high school and college friends, co-workers, neighbors, and the occasional stray acquaintance.  I found my WEbook friends (or they found me).  Using my e-mail address book, Facebook identified still more friends for me to invite to the cyber reunion.

In a few short hours of cyber sleuthing, I had amassed an enormous roster of Facebook friends . . . comprised, in large part, of people I hadn’t spoken with in years.

At the thought of catching up with them all, I froze.

Gulp.  I made a mistake . . . quick, hand me an eraser!

As I wondered how to tackle the list, two cyber friends invited me to play Bejeweled Blitz ~ a rather addictive game that kept me occupied  while I pondered the “can of worms” I had opened.

Playing games is a bit like putting the future on hold.  It’s like saying, “Stop the world, I want to get off.”  Blitz kept me occupied while I debated how to connect with so many “blasts from the past.”

Of course, playing Blitz has dangers of its own.

Hand-rolling-diceLike spinning the tumbler on One Armed Bandits, or rolling the dice, winning requires more luck  than skill.

After you train yourself to see “golden opportunities,” games do not always present a chance to score big.

That’s why it’s so addictive.

With other pursuits, we start as a novice, develop skill, and then move on to  conquer more challenging games.  Not so with Blitz!

After mastering the basics, my scores continued to bounce around like drunken ping-pong balls . . . from super high to lower than low, even when I played “better” during the low scoring games.

Word to the wise:  “Just Say NO” to Blitz. 

Surfacing from my short-term Blitz addiction, I returned to the question of how to manage so many long-lost friends on Facebook:

Should I scurry  from profile page to profile page to “catch up” on lost years?  Or let the reunion attendees sit quietly on my profile page?

I ended up doing a bit of both.

Then, last February, I entered the blogosphere for the first time.  I launched Spirit Lights The Way and invited Facebook and WEbook friends to visit.  They did.  Some of them had their own blogs which I visited in due course.

Over the past year, I’ve met talented bloggers who  became blogging buddies and cyber friends.

I discovered new faces in cyber spaces all around the world ~ Canada, South Africa, Ireland, England, Wales, Portugal, Scotland, Germany, India, and the United States.  I subscribed to their blogs and they subscribed to mine.

As the ranks of our blogging community grew, I got to know many of the visitors to Spirit Lights The Way ~ either through comments posted here or by reading entries on their own blogs.

We joke together.  We laugh together.  We learn each other’s likes and dislikes.  We commiserate and celebrate.  We toast each others successes and offer support and encouragement when warranted.

I wondered whether virtual friendships would survive or shatter in the real world . . . whether these cyber bonds would strengthen or disintegrate and evaporate outside the realm of the blogosphere.

Last week, I met a blogging buddy in real time for the first time.

Jeanne has two blogs ~ one for her writing, FlyingGma’s Blog, and one for her gorgeous photography, Mine Eyes Have Seen.  Jeanne and her husband decided to take a mid-winter break from Minnesota to visit Florida for the first time.  Since they planned to stay nearby, we decided to meet for lunch.

We visited Robinson Preserve and De Soto National Memorial on the mainland, then headed to Anna Maria Island for a delicious lunch at Rotten Ralph’s on the Historic Bridge Street Pier.

We capped off the afternoon with a few beers on our deck.

For 5-6 hours, we chatted non-stop . . . with no awkward  pauses.

From Cyber Friends to Fast Friends.

For Jeanne’s take on the day:  Southern Hospitality is Alive and Well in 2011.

No rules.  Just Write!

How about you?  Have you met any of your blogging buddies in face-to-face encounters?

Would you do it again?

Related posts:  Blogging: A Waggish Waste of Time?Blogging: Making First Impressions (My Literary Quest) * The 2011 Sexiest Blog AwardDown The Blog Hole * I Can Name That Theme in 3 Notes * Managing the Bloghood  & What The Blog Am I Doing? (SoulDipper) * What Blogs Do You Read & Why? * The Facebook Strobe Light * Facebook Is {GASP} Broken * 5 Etiquette Tips for Facebook * Facebook is NOT Vegas, Baby * Virtual Friendships * Reach Out & Touch Someone * My BFF: Best Friend Forever * You’ve Got a Friend in Oprah (Reflections from a Cloudy Mirror)

Loving Kindness & Compassion February 27, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Gratitude, Happiness, Spirit & Ego.
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The WordPress Theme of the day is Random Acts of Kindness which raises the question: Why be kind? 

Why practice loving kindness and compassion? 

* To gain brownie points with acquaintances? 
* To earn a seat in heaven? 
* To please God? 
* To honor Buddha?
* To create good karma for this (or the next) life? 

It’s even simpler than that . . .

Being kind makes us happy.  Right here.  Right now. 

Eight Steps To Happiness

The sacred art of developing love and compassion using the ancient eight verse Buddhist poem called “Eight Verses of Training the Mind” is addressed in Eight Steps To Happiness

This immensely practical book charts a complete path of spiritual development.

As a commentary to one of Buddhism’s best-loved and most enduring teachings, Eight Verses of Training the Mind by the great Tibetan Bodhisattva Langri Tangpa, it explains how to transform every moment of our life into a step on the path to inner peace, and in particular how to transform all of life’s difficulties into truly liberating experiences.

Geshe Kelsang shows how all our problems originate from a deeply ingrained tendency to cherish oneself more than others. He explains simple methods to eradicate this stultifying perspective and replace it with a genuine wish to cherish others – the source of all goodness and happiness in this world.

This ancient poem illustrates: (1) how to grow in loving kindness, gratitude and humility, (2) the danger of selfish intentions, and (3) how to practice understanding and compassion.

Kindness Echoes

If we want to transform adversity, reduce suffering, and gain understanding, we must practice compassion.

If we want to establish harmony with the environment and those around us, we must practice compassion.

If we want to develop inner peace and happiness, we must practice compassion.

Whether we have 5 minutes or 5 hours, we can be the change we wish to see in the world . . . transforming ripples of loving kindness into tidal waves of  love and compassion.

Quotes to ponder:

* Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary. ~ James M. Barrie

* The older you get, the more you realize that kindness is synonymous with happiness. ~ Lionel Barrymore

* Kindness is its own reward. ~ Maxim

* Do not overlook any good actions, thinking they are of no benefit; even tiny drops of water in the end will fill a huge vessel.  ~ The Buddha

* When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. ~ Jimi Hendrix

No rules.  Just write!

What about you?  Do you gain happiness when you extend loving kindness and compassion towards others? 

Does sharing and caring benefit you as well as those you serve? 

Related posts:  Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies * Dalai Lama: Inner Peace & Happiness * Generosity of Spirit * What is True Happiness? (Always Well Within) * Cultivating Happiness, Not Hedonism * I Plead The Fifth (The Laughing Housewife) * Charter for Compassion (Creating Reciprocity)

Photo Challenge: Abundance February 26, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Humor.
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Florida, the Sunshine State, offers an abundance of “S’s” . . . Shady Palms

Safe Harbors

Sand, Sun & Surf

Sunsets & Sunrises

Sustenance & Smiles

And, of course, the occasional S~N~A~K~E (eek!)

Related posts: 

The Daily Press 

Creating Magic  

The Laughing Housewife

Passionate About Pets

The Only Cin 

Pseu1’s Blog 

Flickr Comments

Bottoms Up! February 25, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Animals, Humor, Nature, Travel & Leisure.
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IMGP1216bWe ended the last post, Sarasota Jungle Gardens, with our arrival at the Ring-Tailed Lemur pavilion  housing three adults (Paul-a, Ringo, and Jude) and twin babies, about 5 weeks old.

Weighing about 3 ounces, Yoko  and Ono (our nicknames for them)  bounced around the enclosure like kangaroos on cocaine.

“Bing-Bing-Bing, ricochet rabbit!” 

These two little guys would hop on pop, hop off pop, climb the cage, descend down a tree branch, jump into the air, give themselves a mutual belly butt, then race over to mom.

Reaching mom, they would hop on her back, slide around to hang upside down – bottoms up! – from her belly,  and wrestle and tussle each other to the ground.

With seemingly inexhaustible energy, they ran circles around big brother while bouncing up and down and side to side like boxers getting warmed up for the big match.

We hummed “I like to move it, move it” as they climbed and jumped and pirouetted about their habitat.

And then the show got really interesting.

One of the babies climbed up the cage and slipped through a gap at the door, into the vestibule used by the keepers to enter the enclosure.

All three adults showed their maternal and paternal instincts by racing over to figure out how to rescue the little guy (who had quickly learned that the grass is NOT greener on the other side of the fence).

He scurried up and down the side of the cage trying to figure out how he ended up on the wrong side of the mirror, much like Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Wikipedia ~ Alice Through the Looking Glass (in Public Domain)

Initial concern flowed into increasing consternation at this unexpected  separation.

Mom looked like she was going to have a stroke when she realized that she could not get through the gate to save the little tyke.

Since we had been the lemurs only visitors for 20-30 minutes, BFF headed off to find a keeper to rescue the baby lemur, while I tried to calm the parents and older brother by singing, “Hang on, help is on the way ~ they’ll be here as fast as they can . . . “

Assured by my words, Ringo put his arm around Paul-a and pulled her head to his chest, in a gesture clearly designed to say, “It’s going to be all right.”

Then, Ringo climbed up to explore the cage entrance where he discovered how Yoko (or Ono) had reached the other side.  He slipped his paw through the gap and reached for Junior.

Junior, a quick study, latched onto his father’s arm, and climbed out of the vestibule into the cage proper, as if  following a trail of bread crumbs.

Just as he reached safety, three zoo-keepers crashed through the jungle foliage and raced towards the cage to perform a (now unnecessary) rescue.

Full of admiration for the lemurs, I told the keepers how Ringo had figured out how to save his wayward son without  waiting for assistance.  The keepers  found the offending gap (almost as quickly as Ringo), and held an impromptu conference to decide how best to prevent future escapes.

At that point, a fourth docent arrived bearing brown paper bags filled with treats for the relieved lemurs.   The adult lemurs reached for their grab bags, with obvious delight, and started stuffing their mouths from the portioned  sacks like hungry movie-goers inhaling popcorn.

Reaching the bottom  of the bag, each lemur would turn it over . . . bottoms up! . . . hoping they had missed a morsel.

IMGP1221Yoko and Ono, exhausted from their recent adventures and morning’s exercise, curled up on mom’s back for a time out while she snacked.

They happily abandoned their plans for a nap  when one of the keepers reached down with a tasty treat for them to nibble on.

Before we left, we checked back on the lemurs.  The gap had been closed off with foam edging wrapped around all four sides of the cage door.

Delighted that Yoko and Ono would not end up in the Snake Pavilion, we vacated our role as  temporary guardians and left with a spring in our step . . . “I like to move it, move it . . . we like to move it! “

No rules.  Just write!

What about you?

Are you amazed by the energy exhibited by baby animals and human toddlers?  Do you think we’ll ever figure out how to bottle that energy to infuse elders with similar enthusiasm for life and zest for living?

* * * * *

Posted in response to Sidey’s Weekend Theme . . . Reaching the Bottom (or as I like to say . . . Bottoms Up!)

Sarasota Jungle Gardens February 25, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Animals, Nature, Travel & Leisure.
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Sarasota Jungle Gardens, one of the oldest tourist attractions in the area, called our names one day ~ we packed a picnic lunch and headed down the Tamiami Trail to visit with a few four-legged and feathered friends.

The barren American Alligator exhibit didn’t impress us much ~ just a concrete pool,  three enormous  banana leaves floating on the surface, and the resident gator, “Attitude.”  

I sighed, thinking that the rest of the Gardens would be the same. 

Not so.

Around the next bend, we saw crocodiles in enclosures with grass and palm trees to frolic on and under. 

While admiring their toothy grins, we heard a cacophony of sound.

We wandered over and found 20  delightful jeweled-toned parrots  hanging around . . . nibbling on sponge cake, watching the sun bake, and posing with tourists covered in oil. 

Did I pose with a parrot?  Of course!

I held out my arm and a gorgeous red and yellow parrot – an obvious parrothead – grabbed my shirt with its talons. 

Eye to eye, up close and personal, we engaged in a few pleasantries:


“Hello,” replied my feathered friend.

“You’re a pretty bird!”

Nodding in agreement, he replied, “Pretty Bird.”

I encouraged Pretty Bird to sing “Cheeseburger in Paradise” with me.  No luck. 

He demurred ~  jumping onto the waiting docent’s arm, rolling on his back, and waiting for his belly rub! 

Too cute!

Around the next bend, we were surrounded in a sea of pink . . .  Flamingos that were almost, but not quite, as tall as I am. 

The flock wandered in and around camera-toting tourists as if they owned the place. 

Oh, wait, I guess they do.    

The path continued through jungle paths filled with hundreds of species of palm trees ~ pygmy palms, date palms, coconut palms, and even majestic Royal Palms, with trunks so smooth they look as if they are made of concrete.

During the course of our trek, we saw turtles, and lizards, and snakes.  We admired screech owls, and barn owls, and great horned owls. 

We watched a bird show, complete with a 73-year-old cockatoo riding a bicycle on a “high wire,” and another playing “Three Card Monty.” 

We sat in the front row for a reptile show, during which Attitude the Alligator demanded R-E-S-P-E-C-T and displayed A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E  when her trainer slipped a noose  past her nostrils and around her jaws for her weekly scrub down:

Splish Splash . . . we all got a bath! 

The trainer used a long-handled brush to scrub algae off Attitude’s hide.  In the wild, the algae acts as camouflage. 

After the show (and communal bath and shower), we had a chance to pet Crank ~ a four-year-old alligator with a belly as soft as a baby’s butt.

The best part of the day arrived when we stumbled upon the Ring Tailed Lemurs ~ three adults (Paul-a, Ringo, and Jude) and twin babies, about 5 weeks old. 

As soon as we saw those rascals in motion, we started singing the theme song from Madagascar . . . “I like to move it, move it.”  

Next Up . . .  Bottoms Up!

No Rules.  Just write!

What about you? 

Are you a fan of zoos that keep animals in captivity for educational and recreational purposes?  Or do you want to fling open the gates and cry out, “Fly, my pretties!  Fly!”

What is your favorite animal to watch in the wild or enjoy in tamer surroundings?  {Hint:  my favorite starts with the letter “Z”}

An Age Old Question . . . Old Age February 24, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Humor, People.
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In my teens, I embraced the passing years:

Sweet Sixteen . . . Sublime! 
Driver’s license at 17 . . . Freedom! 
Legal drinking age at 18 . . . Par-tay! 

These stepping stones to adulthood beckon us  forward, and lull us into complacency about the relentless march of time.

Fast forward a few years and we start to face milestones which are not nearly as fun . . . like the daily decision of how to tie our shoes.

Tying my shoes used to be almost as reflexive an act as breathing.  Now, I have to strategize:

Hmm, should I bend down to tie my shoes, and risk getting stuck due to my creaking, arthritic  knees?  . . . Or should I put my foot up on the bench, and possibly wrench my back in the process?

It’s a tough way to start the day.   It’s also one of the reasons I moved to Florida.

Here in the Sunshine State, the aging populace can don footwear without laces to tie or shoe horn extensions to wield.

Just slip on a pair of sandals or flip flops, no bending or stretching involved.



Despite having solved the issue of footwear, I still stare perplexed at the  number of candles littering my birthday cake each year, wondering where those years disappeared.  I smile only by considering the alternative . . .

No, not death . . . cryogenics!

I’ll freeze myself until they discover a cure for Old Age!  I just wish I’d thought of this about 15 years ago  . . . when I was still worth preserving.

While I could go on about the challenges faced with each passing year, there really is no need.  If you are as old (or older) than me, you can supply your own examples.   If you are younger, I don’t want to worry you about the future you will face ~ like needing a crane to hoist yourself off the toilet, or not realizing, due to hearing loss, that your flatulence is audible.

In any event, my biggest concern is not my own deterioration.  I am not going to worry about the passage of time until my feet no longer look good in flip flops.  If my eyesight fails quickly enough, that day will never come:

As others run away from my hideously deformed feet, those same feet will continue to look shapely and youthful to my aging eyes. 

At present, my primary concern with aging involves my parents.   Instead of aging gracefully and surrendering the things of youth – like shoelaces – they refuse to let go of a house and yard that are two sizes too big for them to maintain.  Except for their family room, kitchen, and bedroom,  the rooms in their two-story Colonial sit idle, collecting dust.

For 15 years, we have encouraged them to find someplace smaller ~ fewer rooms to heat and cool, fewer stairs to climb, and less to maintain. While they agree that it would be better to live in a retirement community with everything on one floor, no exterior or interior maintenance, and lots of planned activities, they are  dragging their feet . . . and sometimes tripping over them.

During my dad’s last hospitalization, following a fall, mom felt lost and alone:

“Mom, let’s look around at retirement communities.  While dad’s re-learning how to walk, we can find you a place on one level . . . with neighbors right down the hall.”

“Well, I don’t know if this is a good time to talk about this.”

“This is Dad’s fourth hospitalization this year.  When is it going to be the right time?”

“Well, we just have so many memories tied up in this house.”

“Mom, it’s a house, not a photo album!  Take the memories, leave the house.”

“No, I can’t think about this right now.  I want your father to be involved in the discussion.”

“Dad’s been involved in the discussions for the past fifteen years.”

“Well, I don’t want to talk about this right now.  Let’s wait until your father comes home and then see where we are.”

Meanwhile . . . time marches on.

Quote:  What I wouldn’t give to be 70 again. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (at age 92)

No rules.  Just write!

What about you?  What are your biggest concerns about aging?  Mental deterioration?  Physical deterioration?  Death?  Dying?

Or being Home Alone?

* * * * *

Inspired by The Daily Post Prompt:  What Gets Better With Age?

They. Are. Out. There. February 23, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Magick & Mystery.
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A few weeks ago, someone new (or someone “old” disguised as someone new) left me a comment that seemed “custom tailored” . . . designed with me in mind. 

The comment struck me as “fabricated” rather than sincere.

As I read through words which seemed “hand-plucked” from  previous posts on SLTW, I looked within for guidance. 

Spirit let me know that this person was not “for real” ~ and instead was a fictional character of someone’s creation. 

Intrigued, I visited “her” blog.  

It had all of one post . . . which, like “her” comment on SLTW, seemed more like bad story telling and flash fiction than the “life story” it purported to be.

Once again, I looked within for guidance as I read through the post. 

The Universe instilled me with intuitive knowingness,  “She’s not for real.  She’s a fake.  She’s a phony.  She’s a HE.”

Satisfied, I returned to “her” comment on SLTW and left a “generic” reply.

Weeks passed and I heard nothing further. 

Today, I checked to see if the blog had additional posts.  Nope.  The poorly written parody about belly dancing and the blog itself had been deleted.

Why am I telling you this? 

Because words are easily manipulated.  People often pretend to be something they are not, especially in cyber-space: The Many Faces of Blogging 

They. Are. Out. There.

If your intuition tells you that someone is not for real, focus on that feeling.  Ask Spirit to direct your steps, guide your actions, and light your way. 

The quieter your mind becomes . . . the more you hear.

Quote:  God is the breath inside the breath.  ~ Kabir

No rules.  Just write! 

Related posts:  A Glimpse Behind The Veil * God Dwells Within Me As Me * The Universal Internet * Why I Speak of Spirit, Not God * Winks, Whispers, and Nudges * A Beacon in the Dark * Access Your Inner Wisdom

How Do You LOVE? February 22, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Happiness, People.
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Tiggers-R-UsWhat makes you feel loved?  A kind word?  A warm embrace? A helpful act?

How do you express love?  Gifts and tokens of appreciation?  Giving your undivided attention to loved ones?

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, people express love in different ways based on innate preferences:

Words of Affirmation: Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.

Quality Time: In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.

Receiving Gifts: Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.

Acts of Service: Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.

Physical Touch: This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

Do you see yourself in one of these five categories?  In more than one?  Which one resonates the loudest in your heart?

Not sure?  Dr. Chapman’s site gives you a chance to assess your preferences:

Love Languages Personal Profiles

Different assessments are provided for Wives, Husbands, Singles, Parents of Teenagers, and Children.

I am not generally impressed with on-line profile assessments.  I read through the 5 categories above and knew exactly which fit me.  Just for fun, I answered the 30 questions in the assessment for Wives.

The results matched what I had discerned by reading through the categories ~  I scored 11 (out of a possible 12) on my top preference and 8 (out of 12) on my second.

Since the assessment seemed accurate, I asked BFF to take the assessment for Husbands.  He did.  The results mirrored his actual preferences.

Better still ~ his preferences and mine mirror each other’s!

Yay!  We are compatible.

What a relief.

After 30 years together, I would hate to start looking for a new BFF.

Quote:  What if seekers need only ask:  How well do I love?

No rules.  Just write!

Taking the assessment revealed that words are enough . . . for some.  For others, actions, attention, touch, and gifts speak louder than words.

How about you?  Which camp do you fall into?  Words, Deeds, Time, Gifts, or Touch?

And, based on what you know about me, can you assess which of the 5 categories BFF and I scored highest on?  {{Answer tomorrow.}}

Finally, a big shout out to Jeanne (Jeanne’s Blog) for bringing Dr. Chapman’s  book to my attention:  Learn a New Language in 15 Minutes or Less

On The Road Again . . . February 21, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Travel & Leisure, Word Play.
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Yesterday’s WordPress Prompt suggested that people discuss the best road trip they’ve ever taken.

I’ve been on two cross-country road trips, from East Coast to West Coast and back again.   Both trips lasted a month ~ which is too long to be gone and not long enough to see everything that deserves to be seen.

Although both trips included a stop at the Grand Canyon, I still haven’t seen  the Grand Canyon . . . except in postcards and on Wikipedia.

On the first trip, at the tender age of 13, I had had enough family togetherness for one summer (2 adults, 4 kids, and a Great Dane sharing a Suburban and a pop-up camper . . . you do the math!) and refused to get out of the car:

Mom:  You have to get out of the car.  It’s the Grand Canyon.

Me (Surly Teen):  I’m not getting out.  I’ve seen Bryce Canyon.  I’ve seen Zion Canyon.  I’ve seen the Petrified Forest.  I’ve seen the Badlands.  I get it.  The West is full of rocks.  Big, bright, badass rocks.

Instead of peering over the rim at the vast expanse dug out by the Colorado River, I stayed in the car and read a book.  


On the second trip, twenty years down the road, at the more mature age of 34, I bounced out of the car,  delighted to have a second chance to see the Canyon’s splendor . . . for the first time.

No such luck.

Standing at the very edge of the rim, I could see nothing but . . . F~O~G.

I couldn’t even see my hand held out in front of my face:

Me: Excuse me, when do you suppose the fog will burn off?

Ranger:  Beats me.  I’ve never seen fog like this at this time of year.  It’s like Mother Nature is running the F~O~G machine at full blast for her own or God’s amusement. 

Me:  No doubt.

Ranger:  Excuse me, I’ve got to stop that kid from walking off the edge of the South Rim into the foggy abyss . . .

Me (staring into the dense fog):  Very funny, guys!  I get it.  Sometimes once-in-a-lifetime opportunities only come around once in a lifetime.

I’ll just have to take it on faith that it is a grand canyon.

Speaking of grand travel adventures, what about Samantha Brown?

She gets to tour the United States, Europe, South America, and other exotic locales, staying in fabulous hotels, visiting amusement parks, parasailing along pristine coastlines, swimming with dolphins, waltzing in Vienna, and her show picks up the tab!

How WONG is that?!

WONG adj.  1 :  Way Outlandish, Nearly Galactic 2 : unusually good 

Synonyms : marvelous, astounding    

But, wait, there’s more!

Samantha gets to test-taste Guinness in authentic Irish Pubs and Scotch at  Scottish distilleries . . . without running the risk of getting fired for drinking on the job.

Drinking is her job!

I . . . want . . . a . . . job . . . like . . . that!

Quote:  Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbors.  Catch the tradewinds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover. ~ Mark Twain

No rules.  Just write!

What about you?  Any funny travel stories to share?  Any WONG adventures  awaiting on the horizon?

Related posts:  Get Paid To Explore * Discovery, Endeavor, and Atlantis

Taking the Bait . . . Hook, Line, & Sinker February 20, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Blogging, Humor, Mindfulness.
comments closed

In 7 Ways WordPress Rocks, I mentioned one of my favorite features on WordPress . . . the Spam Filter:

6.  Get out!  The SPAM filter catches titillating ads for sexual enhancement products so that readers don’t get . . . um . . . sidetracked from reading and commenting on our posts.    

Of course, the protection afforded by the WordPress Spam Filter applies to more than sexual ads and aids ~ it protects us from “taking the bait.”

In general, spammers preface their advertisements with insincere generic compliments designed to feed our ever-hungry egos.  For example:

* Hello! You have very nice looking site, congrats!

Thank you for noticing.  Tell me MORE!

* Terrific work! This is the type of information that ought to be shared close to the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

Ooh, what an Ego boost!  Higher . . . higher . . .


* Wonderful points altogether, you simply gained a new reader. What would you recommend about your post that you made some days ago? Any positive?

Notice the tricky reference to “your post.”  For someone who posts once or twice a week, this could be a tremendous lure.  For someone who posts every day, it’s an obvious fluke. 

* Hello! I like your site!

Seriously?  That’s all you’ve got?  Who takes that bait?

* Thanks for another informative website. Where else could I get that kind of info written in such an ideal way? I have a project that I am just now working on, and I’ve been on the look out for such info.

Stop it.  You’re embarrassing me. 

* Nice work. You keep working on this blog please.

Will do!  I promise to keep floundering around if you promise to keep tossing compliments my way.

* i love it

“Love . . . Love will keep us together . . .”  

* WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait ..

I’m sorry.  I don’t follow.  Say what?

* Larry King once said, “I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.” That’s precisely how I feel. I am grateful to have learned something new today.

This one caught my attention and inspired this post.   If it hadn’t been trapped by the Spam Filter, I might have believed that the spammer in question had picked up on my love of quotes and wanted to share one with me.  Our egos want to believe all our “good press.”   

As indicated, comments caught by the WordPress Spam Filter generally have three things in common:

1.  None of them say anything specific about the articles referenced. 

2.  Each is generic enough to post on any site in the blogosphere.

3.  All use insincere comments to lure our greedy egos into taking the bait.

Spammers go fishing with compliments, tossing out generic comments as “bait,” because they know that egos love validation, even insincere validation. 

Spammers who toss out whoppers are not a problem unless we mindlessly swallow the bait . . . hook, line, and sinker.

Having a Spam Filter catch the bait and cut the line BEFORE we notice the compliment allows us to see the alluring lure  for what it is . . . so we can confidently “toss it back.”

No rules.  Just write!

Those alluring lures . . . do you ever take the bait?  What tips you off to the ulterior motives behind Spam flattery?  

Do you have anything stuck in your Spam Filter right now worth sharing?  

Related posts:  Let Go, EGO! * WTF: Watch That Feedback * Pop Goes The Ego * Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies * The 2011 Sexiest Blog Award * I Am Truly Humbled . . . * The Inner Path to Peace * Those Alluring Lures