SoCS — Put Down That Cellphone

I have to say, all modesty aside, that I excelled at being a host for our out-of-town guests this week. My wife insisted that I put down my cellphone except for taking photos with it, so that we would be able to view those photos and remember the excellent times we all had.

Wanting to be attentive to and present for our visitors, I did as she suggested and minimized my cellphone usage this week. I really wanted our guests feel as if they were being treated like celebrities during their visit.

The only day we had to cancel any of the miscellaneous plans I had made was on Tuesday because it rained all day. Otherwise everything went off without a hitch. We were able to celebrate together our decades long friendships.

Last night was cool and crisp, and there was nary a cloud in the night sky. So we all gathered around our backyard fire pit to keep warm and to gaze up at the sky and look at stars and planets in their celestial splendor. It was spectacular.

But alas, all good things must come to an end, and tomorrow our guests will be leaving and heading back home. I will miss them after they leave, of course, but because I tried very hard to minimize my time glued to my cellphone, as I often otherwise am, I have missed reading many of your posts. And I have missed our interactions.

My plan is to resume my normal blogging activities, which I do exclusively on my cellphone, the day after tomorrow. I’m looking forward to reading your posts and responding to more of your prompts and challenges.


Written for Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt, in which Linda asked us to find a word that begins with or contains “cel” and use it in your post any way we’d like.

Fandango’s Provocative Question #106 Revisited

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Note: Because I am participating in the A to Z blogging challenge this month, I will not be posting any new provocative question until May. Instead, I will be revisiting some previous provocative questions that you might have missed. This one was originally posted on January 27, 2021 and can be found here. Please feel free to respond to it if you haven’t already.

Welcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week I will pose what I think is a provocative question for your consideration.

By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

Blogging is a medium of words. All of us who blog are wordsmiths. We use words almost exclusively to express ourselves, to tell our stories, to weave our tales, to write our poems, to help others to understand and possibly even appreciate our perspectives.

In the real world, words can take on different meanings depending on context, inflection, facial expressions, body language, and other countless factors. But in blogging, such visual cues are, for the most part, absent. Thus, the challenge of conveying your intended tone and the underlying meaning of what you write can be daunting. It gets down to the age old writer’s dilemma. Is the content what matters, or how the content is portrayed or presented?

So, as we are all writers who use words to paint pictures, my provocative question is simply this:

In the context of blogging and writing, what do you think is more important: what you say or how you say it?

If you choose to participate, write a post with your response to the question. Once you are done, tag your post with #FPQ and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments. But remember to check to confirm that your pingback or your link shows up in the comments.

Fandango’s Flashback Friday — March 18th

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 18th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally posted on March 18, 2018.

How Much Is Too Much?

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Do I post too often?

I have been averaging three, sometimes four, posts a day lately. But this morning I read a post from a blogger, Cristian Mihai, who has more than 120,000 followers. His post is titled “The 7 Golden Rules of Blogging.” One of his seven rules: “Blog often enough, but not too often.”

Mihai wrote, “You need to find a balance here.” He went on to point out that “it’s pretty safe to assume that constantly posting more than once a day won’t work really well.”

Okay, here’s an extraordinarily successful blogger with more than 120,000 followers (compared to my blog’s 583 followers) who is essentially telling me that I post too many times a day.

Then I read an article in Forbes that advised, “If you post too infrequently, your audience will forget that you exist and you will quickly fade into the deep dark recesses of their minds. However, if you are posting too often, you will become a complete nuisance and they will dread seeing your posts overcrowding their feed.”

Oh my God! Do you dread seeing my posts in your WordPress reader? Am I a complete nuisance, unnecessarily filling up your email box and your reader with all of my posts?

But how do I go about posting less frequently? What prompts should I stop responding to? Should I curtail my flash fiction posts? Should I refrain from posting about the moron in the Oval Office?

Hmm. Maybe the first thing I should do to avoid being a nuisance is to stop whining about how often I post.


Note: my original post had a link to the referenced post from Cristian Mihai, but it is no longer working, so I removed it from this flashback post.

Fandango’s Flashback Friday — February 25th

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 25th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally posted on February 25, 2018.

Hiding in Plain Sight

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To a post that I wrote for the WordPress one-word prompt yesterday, a short, somewhat tongue-in-cheek piece of flash fiction, I received a comment from one of my regular readers (and favorite bloggers), Marilyn Armstrong at Serendipity, who wrote:

“This is one of those times in which I wish there was more of you in this and less verbal play. It’s cute, but where are YOU?”

Marilyn’s comment got me thinking. Marilyn is very open in her excellent blog about who she is in “the real world.” She posts about herself, her husband, her family, her home, her dogs, her work, her play, and the trials, tribulations, and joys of her life. Her blog is very personal and she’s quite forthcoming. And that’s why she has more than 10,000 followers.

My blog’s About page notes upfront that “My real world identity will remain a mystery.” I once had my identity stolen and it took many painful months to get that all straightened out. Consequently, I am perhaps overly guarded about revealing too much about myself, my personal life, and my family, which is why I blog anonymously.

Also on my About page, I reveal that I’m a retired, liberal, practical, and pragmatic septuagenarian. I also admit that I can be a bit cantankerous, as well as somewhat pedantic (i.e., fussy) when it comes to grammar, spelling, and usage.

Now if I wanted to be glib about answering Marilyn’s question about where I am, I could respond by saying that I live in San Francisco with my wife, our dog, and our cat.

But in reality, I’m a boring man, a senior citizen who lives a rather routine, nondescript life. I’m neither particularly inspiring nor especially interesting. Which is why many of my posts on this blog recently are flash fiction pieces in response to various prompts. What goes on inside my imagination is much more fascinating and colorful than what goes on in my real world.

So to answer Marilyn’s question, I’m right here. A piece of me is in every post I write, whether I’m expressing my opinions, sharing my observations, offering my perspectives, or flexing my imagination. This post and my words that you are reading is where I am.

I’m right here…hiding in plain sight.

Fandango’s Flashback Friday — January 21st

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.

How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.

If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 21st) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.


This was originally posted on January 21, 2018.

Has My Blog Been Hacked By The Russians?

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Up until a few days ago, the WordPress Akismet filter seemed to be working flawlessly. Bogus comments by phony commenters rarely made it by that filter and into my comments sections. But these insipid spammers have apparently come up with a new strategy.

Starting around three days ago, someone who goes by the name Alex began commenting on my posts. His first comment was, “Nice weblog here! Additionally your web site loads up fast! What web host are you the usage of? Can I am getting your affiliate link to your host? I wish my web site loaded up as quickly as yours lol.”

Obviously this was spam that sneaked by my Akismet spam filter. I marked it as spam and didn’t give it a whole lot of thought.

But then I started getting more comments from “Alex” on different posts. Comments like:

You actually make it seem really easy along with your presentation however I find this topic to be actually one thing that I think I might by no means understand. It sort of feels too complicated and extremely huge for me. I am taking a look ahead in your subsequent publish, I will try to get the cling of it!

Wow, superb blog layout! How long have you ever been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The entire look of your website is great, let alone the content material!

I am no longer certain where you’re getting your info, however good topic. I must spend some time studying more or working out more. Thanks for excellent info I was on the lookout for this info for my mission.

It’s really a great and helpful piece of information. I am happy that you just shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

At least a dozen similar comments from “Alex” showed up on various posts. And I designated each as spam.

I haven’t received any comments from “Alex” yet today, but “Ula Guzman” wrote:

F*ckin’ awesome issues here. I’m very happy to look your article. Thank you so much and i’m taking a look forward to contact you. Will you please drop me a e-mail?

“Stacy Henderson” commented:

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And “Delores McCarty” wrote:

Thanks for any other fantastic post. Where else may anybody get that kind of info in such a perfect means of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I’m on the look for such info.

Definitely Russian hackers. This new strategy to get through the spam filter is apparently working and it’s really starting to piss me off.


Written for today’s one-word prompt, “strategy.”