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Life After Blogs
Your life without a computer: what does it look like?


Forgive me Father for I have sinned, it has been 10 weeks since my last blog post.

I really don’t feel too guilty. My blog is my greatest social media foray; limited and only somewhat consistent, but still a baptism into the computer culture.  For awhile I’ve been thinking about keeping my words to myself. If not completely, (hence this post!)  at least curtail my public spewing. So life without or a reduced computer usage is already my goal.

If I give in to abstinence, I would miss the machine. I can’t just run to it and ask who is dead or alive. Tell me more about a city or country I’m reading or thinking about. Tell me more about an author. Tell me if the library has a certain book. Just like entering a room to turn on a light switch when the power is out, and encountering darkness, I would feel startled at the deprivation.

My friend, my adversary. I would feel abandoned without his useful and senseless information. Even without an electrical outlet in the house, I guess I can’t keep my secretive and introverted self contained within my small room. There are no secrets and too many bread crumbs. There, you have more of me.

Blogging For Nobody

Recently Acquired
What’s the most important (or interesting, or unexpected) thing about blogging you know today that you didn’t know a month ago?

I have slowly discovered that I blog mainly for myself. This public outlet forces me to think more seriously about focusing my scattered ideas into a semi-coherent written form.

I find some pleasure in writing and enjoy rereading my old posts. Some posts embarrass, others decently flesh out an idea. I’m sure most of my writing makes sense and gives pleasure only to me.

Although I must admit that seeing visitors on my blog stats is kind of a thrill. The Sally Fields Oscar moment, “. . . you like me, right now, you really like me!”

Although I believe that WordPress skews my visitors. They must throw me a bone every now and then and auto click on my site just to string me along. Internet sites cry for content, content, more useless content. After all I’m writing my drivel for free and WordPress is buying it.

Also a chunk of my “likes” are linked to sites trying to sell me a money-making scheme by attracting a bigger audience. I ignore these claims and realize that these people don’t really like me.

Another recent revelation: I should stop being afraid of letting my friends read my blog. I have discovered that they won’t rush out and scrutinize every word as soon and as often as possible.

I should embark on a random blog-unveiling experiment. As I tell an acquaintance about my blog, I can watch their eyes glaze over with boredom and/or fear as I disclose my blog site location. Then they can only hope that I don’t quiz them on my blog’s content. Be careful what you ask for.

The Subversive Nature of Pens, Pencils and Paper

Pens and Pencils

When was the last time you wrote something substantive — a letter, a story, a journal entry, etc. — by hand? Could you ever imagine returning to a pre-keyboard era?

With a pen and paper, I am writing two drafts for my blog right now. I may or may not publish, depends how it goes. With a pen, I record every book I read in a notebook along with a short or long description and/or page reference to quotes that catch my eye. Also I do handwrite a few letters once in awhile.

My handwriting is horrible. Writing by hand helps me weed out more poorly written stuff. My crappy handwriting looks bad on the page and I can sniff out more stuff that sounds bad too. Stuff that looks bad in my opinion, you may say it’s all bad!

Everything looks pretty good on a typed computer screen. Looks great. Send. Publish. But looking good isn’t always good. Sometimes I think I should have waited and thought it out more. Even a great sentence looks like it needs revision when it is written in chicken scratch. Revise till you puke.

Also writing by hand feels more personal to me. No one else knows what I’m writing. (Unless there is a camera over there somewhere.) It’s all mine for a short time before it gets transmitted over the computer somewhere. Or it is all mine forever if I never commit it to a screen. It makes me feel a bit rebellious. So much of our lives are in the Internet loop, this one bit is free.

No data gathering, no key word search, no one else in my head. Until the machine begins to reside within my head?

Perhaps the blank page with pen or pencil will incite the rebel cause of the future to break free of the machine. That is if there are any people left that care about this kind of thing.

Instruments of Writing Destruction

I stabbed him. He pushed me to the limit. He kept pushing me while we lined up to walk to the library in the first grade.

The weapon: my freshly sharpened #2 pencil.

This elementary school stabbing elicited very little reaction from the teacher. Although she did give me the evil eye as she took my stabbing victim to the sink to wash off the lead mark I left on his arm.

My mother always told me I was too passive and sensitive and that I should stand up for myself. So I stood up and lashed out. Today I might have been suspended, if not arrested.

On another day, this same teacher’s lesson plan included a writing assignment. I listened to her directions and grabbed a piece of paper to start writing. In a misguided fit of enthusiasm, I pulled out my box of crayons instead of a boring (and deadly) black-lead pencil.

I carefully formed each letter on my paper, aiming for printing perfection. I alternated a different crayon color for each letter I printed. It was colorful, joyful, and beautiful.

After I handed in this assignment, the teacher pulled out my multicolored paper and held it up for the whole class to see. I thought she was showing off my stellar bit of work.


Instead of praising my choice of writing instruments and creativity, she used my paper as a prime example of what not to do. Emphatically she said, “Never, ever hand in a paper like this one.” Of course my name was boldly printed at the top of the page and everyone could see who the culprit was of this crayon-writing crime.

In addition to being called out as a coffee-swilling first grader, assault with a pencil and deviant-writing behavior was also added to my record. My public school education was off to a great start.

What the Pterygium?

The ophthalmologist said I have pterygium. Never heard of it. It’s also called surfer’s eye since many surfers develop it because the ultraviolet rays and the wind magnified near the ocean can create this problem. I’ve never lived by the ocean and never surfed so how did this happen?

My eyes look perpetually bloodshot. Bloodshot without the benefit of a heavy drinking binge the night before. They feel grainy, irritated, and my vision is cloudier.

Last year, my optometrist reground the lens of my new glasses twice because my vision didn’t seem right and I was sure my glasses were wrong. He finally said that my eyesight is as good as it’s going to get. Maybe the pterygium was developing at this point.

Pterygium has the same prefix as pterodactyl. Pter means one with wings just like that scaly dinosaur with its wings of stretched skin. I have a scaly growth on the inner corner of each eye.

Surgery is recommended. A surgery that stitches up the growth removal has a nearly 50% chance of recurrence. A newer form of surgery uses an amniotic glue to close up the scraping away of the growth and has about a 1% chance of recurrence. If too many surgeries are done, there is a chance that the scaly skin can no longer be removed and will eventually cloud up vision.

I have also learned that I have rosacea which has a connection to pterygium. By reducing rosacea flare ups, I can reduce the pterygium aggravation. Even with a perfect surgical procedure, an out-of-control rosacea can cause a regrowth of pterygium.

I always thought that rosacea was strictly a problem of vanity. I hope the rosacea/vision connection would get more exposure so that people can take note of the serious side effects. Red blotches on your face is one thing, losing your eyesight demands much more attention.

This is not good news for a reader like me. It is constraining my writing diversion as well.

Like Saul from the Bible, I need to have the scales lifted from my eyes. Perhaps I’ll find religion after the scales fall away. At the very least I hope my vision is preserved so I can read and write my way to the grave. What happens after that remains to be seen.

I Have a Bone to Pick With Language Teachers

Reading is my first love and writing is a second love. I have the wanna-be-a-writer disease even though I let few people read my stuff and receive no paycheck from my painstaking arrangements and rearrangements of those same 26 letters across a page.

So I’m no expert but I beg to differ with many experts that I have run across in the past. The language teachers I have met have given me both good advice along with some advice that I bristle against even to this day. Cases in point:


Almost Always

My high school composition teacher singled me out for both my good writing and bad writing. One time I used the phrase “almost always” in a sentence. I don’t remember the context, but there it was. He wrote the phrase on the board and said that this combination of two words is an impossibility and should never be used. Over the years I heard these two words used constantly in the electronic media and in literature. Sometimes these two words make perfect sense. I almost always use it in my day-to-day life.

Brevity and Clarity

That same high school teacher used “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White as a textbook. One time he asked the class a question, “What is more important, according to Strunk and White, clarity or brevity?” He then called on me to answer this question. I  believed that both writing virtues were important, but since I was given an either/or question I answered “brevity.” He said, “Wrong.” Clarity was more important and that I should have clearly known it.

According to the Introduction of the book, the importance of brevity is mentioned first. Then later on in the Introduction it is noted that,”Strunk loved the clear, the brief, the bold.” And that, “boldness” is perhaps the textbook’s chief feature. But boldness was not in my multiple choice. In my copy of the book: Chapter II, rule 13. Omit needless words; Chapter V, rule 16. Be clear.

I quickly rest my case.

How Goes It

My high school German teacher translated a sentence into English. He said that sentence meant, “How’s it going?” But the literal translation meant, “How goes it?” He proceeded to add that no one would ever say it this way when speaking in English. Over the years since I last set foot in that class, I have heard the phrase, “How goes it?” spoken in English many times. Then I hear Herr W’s voice claiming the impossibility of this utterance and I laugh.

To Boldly Go 

William Shatner has angered a college English professor in the Midwest. Ever since he spoke those words “to boldly go” in the introduction of the television show Star Trek in the 1960’s, people refuse “to go boldly.” To boldly go splits an infinitive. The powerful voice and popularity of Shatner and Star Trek have made her teaching life hell since she tries in vain to correct this error in her student’s writing.

In class we argued that this grammatical rule applied to Latin and not to English. Or this just sounds right even though it may be wrong. She refused to listen to our protests. As for me, I will almost always be ready to boldly go.

And Another Thing

A high school English teacher friend of mine gives poor marks to her students if they start a sentence with a conjunction. Conjunctions can be great transitional words. She didn’t like her students to end sentences with a preposition either. What’s the harm if it makes sense? Like a good cook don’t overuse one spice in your recipes. Let those kids mix it up.


I love the sound of the written word. I’m not talking about the sound of pen on paper, although I like that too. I love the way the written word sounds to the ear. I would rather break rules than offend the ear.

Or maybe I just want those teachers to leave me alone. Too much Pink Floyd coupled with my problem with authority.

So I will write boldly but won’t forget to be clear and brief. Stop me now before that word count climbs any higher.