The “Z” stories voting block is live and running . . . and still not getting much love (votes). At this point, I don’t know why . . . perhaps our readers don’t want it to see it end and are avoiding reading the stories, hoping that will forestall the end.

If you’ve been a loyal reader of our offerings and someone who votes, you have the writer’s unending gratitude.

Links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge Z-Stories” are HERE(link). Votes will be accepted until  Noon (Central Time) on Thursday, April 8th, 2021.

So, stuff . . . let me begin with WordPress making another change, this time to the Admin menu(s). You can read about it here (LINK). If it’s confusing, basically, they are making it difficult to find and use the Classic Editor again . . . still. Save your version of the link below to create new posts using the classic editor and to still be able to edit posts using the Classic Editor as described in THIS POST<<link. The menu mentioned in Step 5 of that post is now difficult (if not impossible) to get to via the menu options, but the direct link still works:

https://{blogname}.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit.php

So, for instance, I would replace “{blogname}” with “disperser”. In that menu, you’ll still be able to create posts using the Classic Editor, and edit posts created with the Classic Editor without having to convert them to the Block Editor. 

Note that WP will tell you the Classic Editor has been deprecated (they actually mean defecated on). They don’t tell you you can still use it, but you can.

OK, so what else?

The Alphabet Challenge “N” Stories are sitting there, looking pretty and waiting for readers (and voters). You could be a reader (if you’ve not already read the stories) and you could be a voter (if you’ve not already voted). And, guess what? Unlike the US elections, you don’t have to choose the lesser of two evils . . . you have three evils to choose from!

You have no obligation to do anything . . . but it sure would be swell — if you’ve not already done so — if you would read the stories and cast your vote for your favorite of the three. Links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge N-Stories” are HERE.<<<Link

Oh, here are a few photos before you go reading the stories . . .

That’s another photo from The Big Island. Specifically, an ocean-side memorial to a surfer.

The Alphabet Challenge “N” Stories are active and the stories are fiercely battling for supremacy . . . sort-of.

You have no obligation to do anything . . . but it sure would be swell — if you’ve not already done so — if you would read the stories and cast your vote for your favorite of the three. Links to the stories and the poll for voting for “Alphabet Challenge N-Stories” are HERE.<<<Link

Oh, here are a few photos before you go reading the stories . . .

That’s an offering to Pele<<link in front of a steam vent on the rim of the caldera at the Hawaiʻian Volcano National Park. The photo was taken after most of the activity had subsided . . . so, obviously, the offering worked.

Readers might be familiar with the recent writing challenges (The 1500 words challenge and Christmas Short Story Challenge). By the way, you can still (and should) vote on the Christmas Story Challenge if you’ve not yet done so.

One impetus for the challenges is — you guessed it — to write.  Writing is like any other activity; if you don’t practice it, not only won’t you improve, but you’ll degrade.

Warning: this is mostly about me, writing, and me and writing. If you are not interested in me, don’t feel bad; few are, so just move on. If you are interested in the writing craft or actual fiction, you’re not gonna get much of that here but there’s plenty of it elsewhere in the blog. Just search for Writing Stuff, or Writing, or Fiction, or Short Fiction. You get the picture.

It should be evident to anyone who follows this blog, and anyone who has a blog I follow, that I write a lot.  My comments are practically dissertations, and the same for my emails. Not all, but most.

I’ve been — on occasion and by people who know me in person — described as loquacious. Wait, that’s not writing. That’s just talking too much which, given I stutter, is both surprising and understandable.

It’s surprising because stuttering isn’t known to facilitate oral communication. I’m not kidding; it’s practically a pain to hear and it’s not much fun at my end, either. It’s understandable because — since I stutter — I’m way behind in stuff I want to say. Even more so because when I was younger the stuttering was much worse. In fact, I built up so large a reserve of unspoken words that I estimate I’ll probably be in my 90s — if I live that long — before I’ll go quiet as I rebuild said reserve.

What I meant to say was “verbose” which describes someone who uses lots of words (“wordy” also works but doesn’t sound as cool) and applies to both the written and spoken word

“I can’t speak for the other writers and we’ve agreed on no rebuttals but my criteria for enjoying something I read (or watch, or listen to, etc) is fairly clear-cut; I don’t want to be lied to, I want a complete story (beginning, middle, end), and I want to walk away from it fairly certain I didn’t waste the time I spent reading it.”

That’s a quote from the critique post. I want to expand a bit on that.

The pictures are here for the people who have no interest in reading or writing, no interest in what I read and write, and especially what I have to say about reading and writing.

. . . but haven’t for a while now. Maybe I no longer have thoughts?

Could be; I’m getting on in years and at my advanced age the cognitive functions decline at a frightful pace. Not to brag (or complain) but I was saddened by a recent article saying research reports cognitive decline in old age occurs at a faster pace in people who are bright.

I know, I know . . . it sounds like I’m bragging. Nope! I’m hoping I’m a dunce and thus, my brain function will remain approximately constant as I age.

Yes, another reworked image. Get used to it; more are coming.

Anyway . . .

If you haven’t yet done so — and if so inclined — please take a few minutes (about 15-20 minutes) and read the three stories in THIS POST and then, if feeling charitable, please cast your vote for one of them (the survey is after the stories).

Also, if you’re associated with the publishing industry (editor, published author, agent, etc.) and would like to volunteer as a judge to help us confer our Professional Recognition Award, please drop me a line or leave a comment. Thank you.

This is the last appeal, I promise, and here we go with more of my old photos reprocessed with Topaz Sharpen AI, Adjust AI, and Skylum Aurora HDR 2019.

This next photo was an interesting sight to behold . . . these Texas Longhorns were being unloaded from a carrier and released onto a grazing field. I missed capturing the part where they ran through the gate and dispersed onto the field; they seem happy to fatten up for the sake of future hamburgers. 

This guy kept circling above them, probably hoping for one of them to suffer a heart attack or accidentally — and fatally — stab a companion with them long and deadly looking horns . . .

If you haven’t yet done so — and if so inclined — please take a few minutes (about 15-20 minutes) and read the three stories in THIS post and then, if feeling charitable, please cast your vote for one of them (the survey is after the stories).

Also, if you are associated with the publishing industry (editor, published author, agent, etc.) and would like to volunteer as a judge to help us confer our Professional Recognition Award, please drop me a line or leave a comment. Thank you.

I’m sounding like a one-trick pony . . .

But with less hair and no tail.

The thing is, I got to looking at my old photos and got hooked on reprocessing them with Topaz Sharpen AI, Adjust AI, and Skylum Aurora HDR 2019. So, here are a few more . . .

If you haven’t yet done so — and if so inclined — please take a few minutes (about 15-20 minutes) and read the three stories in THIS post and then, if feeling charitable, please cast your vote for one of them (the survey is after the stories).

Also, if you are associated with the publishing industry (editor, published author, agent, etc.) and would like to volunteer as a judge to help us confer our Professional Recognition Award, please drop me a line or leave a comment. Thank you.

And that’s enough of that . . .

The following photos are the rest of the photos I had processed a few days ago. I posted the first set yesterday. Some of these photos show different poses of the same subjects . . .

And some are new subjects . . .

If you haven’t yet done so — and if so inclined — please take a few minutes (about 15-20 minutes) and read the three stories in THIS post and then, if feeling charitable, please cast your vote for one of them (the survey is after the stories).

Also, if you are professionally associated with the publishing industry (editor, published author, agent, etc.) and would like to volunteer as a judge for our Professional Recognition Award, please drop me a line or leave a comment. Thank you.

And that’s enough of that . . .

I’ve got this itch, you see . . . no, nothing medical. I have lots of pretty good photos (my opinion and not necessarily shared by the public) going back to 2002, when I purchased my first digital camera, the Nikon D100.

I’ve recently mentioned processing tools have exponentially improved since then and that has me looking back at photos I like but were marred by bad lighting, limited equipment, user error, and limited operator skills. Many of these I’ve already published here or on Smugmug, but always with the disclaimer and apology for the poor quality.

Well, I’m going back and revisiting some of these and processing them in Topaz Sharpen AI, Topaz Adjust AI, Skylum Luminar 4, and Skylum Aurora HDR.

For instance, this cardinal was photographed through a double-pane plate window at my Franklin (Michigan) home . . .

Prior versions have always been “soft” and somewhat unsatisfactory to my critical eye.

Twenty-three visitors viewed the 1500 words challenge post but only two voted. I mean, I get it; it was a holiday. An eating holiday, at that. In retrospect, that wasn’t what one might call good timing. Same for today; people immersed in a spending frenzy aren’t likely to spend their break reading stories and pondering on the relative merits of the narratives before casting a vote.

Still, them Readers Awards won’t mean much if there are no actual readers voting. So, if you can muster the physical and mental energy for it, please read the short stories and cast your vote before noon, December 4th. 

At 1,500 words, reading each story should take no more than seven minutes to read and I realize that’s a huge time commitment in these days of near-instant gratification.

And that’s enough of that . . .

Today’s post is about an old hawk. Not age-wise old; photo old, as in 2012. This was a rare capture for me; a hawk who dropped from above onto a random spot in the snow. I missed the actual moment, but I have the aftermath . . .

Wow . . . three posts in one day. Out of necessity, I’m sure.

Tomorrow is the first of November . . . November is Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

I’ve yet to decide if I’ll tackle writing another book — or, just writing 50,000 words of short fiction — in November. Sure, I’ve done books before. Three times, to be exact. Really, it’s super easy; barely an inconvenience. I’m leaning toward it, for sure, maybe.

The thing is, I don’t know that I’ll have the time. I know it sounds crazy but — as any retired person will tell you — something happens to time once you retire. It contracts, it slips away, whole chunks get lost somewhere and before you know it, it’s 1:00 am and it’s time for bed because you’re getting up at 7:00 am.

Wait . . . I should insert a random photo for them who only look at the pictures.

Anyway, cheese in the sandwich, as they say.

I’m retired, so I have a lot on my plate. Still, I occasionally take time out to think; to reflect on what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and whether I should continue doing it.

Everyone can benefit from stepping back, surveying the landscape, and charting their path forward; making sure they’re on the path they want to follow.

Sounds ominous, don’t it? I mean, it sounds as if something has gone wrong and needs fixing.

Nah! Well, maybe a little, but nothing of great consequence.

For them who don’t know, writing stuff down is a good way for me to focus my thoughts. It also makes it easier to catch flaws in my thinking once I read back what I wrote. It’s because when I read something, I’m focused on what it means, any implications of it, where it might offer either something useful or, conversely, lead me astray. Most of all, reading my thoughts affords me the luxury of checking if they make any sense. 

I also do that with the spoken word. What I hear goes through the same multi-layer analysis. I suggest the same practice to anyone wanting to catch errors in their thinking; write down what you think and then read it back — aloud, if need be — and check if it still makes as much sense as it did while still in your head.

Words — spoken or written — matter. 

That’s a warning the following is written off the cuff and not previously thought out in detail.

But, let’s begin with photography . . .

The New Moon – October 11, 2018 (click for larger version)

I mentioned in two previous posts (HERE and HERE)  about my struggles regarding going forward. By that, I mean what equipment I should use.