Out of Fear Comes Hope

It happens to young as well as old, affluent as well as poor, educated or not, professional or blue collar, and it doesn't matter what color the skin. Domestic violence can happen to any woman at any time, and it is always  no fault of their own.

You are in an abusive relationship with your intimate partner if he gains and maintains control over you. His pattern of behaviors can include emotional, economical, psychological and physical abuse, and ebb and flow in what is known as the Cycle of Violence. In other words, if it happens once, it will happen again.

As with battered women, batterers can be from any social, economic, ethnic, professional, educational or religious group. They don't have criminal records, and are never violent or abusive to anyone other than their partner. He is a Jekyll and Hyde - he appears to be a perfect, loving partner and provider and an upstanding citizen. At home, he becomes manipulative, unpredictable, possessive, jealous, unrealistic, and controlling.

But that's not all. He may abuse in many ways, including:

Physical Abuse: Punching, shoving, slapping, biting, kicking, using a weapon against partner, throwing items, breaking items, pulling hair, restraining partner.

Emotional/Verbal Abuse: Putting partner down, calling names, criticizing, playing mind games, humiliating partner, making partner feel guilty.

Financial Dependency: Keeping partner from getting a job, getting partner fired from job, making partner ask for money or taking one's money, expecting partner to support them.

Social Isolation: Controlling who partner sees and talks to and where one goes, constantly checking up on partner (calling or following).

Sexual Abuse: Forcing partner to perform sexual acts which are uncomfortable to them, engaging in affairs, telling partner they asked for the abuse, telling partner what to wear, accusing partner of affairs, criticizing sexual performance, withholding affection.

Minimizing/Denying: Making light of abuse, saying abuse did not happen, saying the abuse was mutual, blaming partner for abuse.

Coercion/Threats/Intimidation: Making partner afraid by looks or gestures, destroying property, hurting pets, displaying weapons, threatening to leave, take children, or commit suicide.

Last year, 30 women died at the hands of their abusive partner in Arkansas. In my little county alone 120 to 140 used the battered women's shelter to escape their abusive relationships. What is it like in your state and in your immediate area? Help raise awareness of domestic violence and reach out to help.

If you or someone you know may be in an abusive relationship, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline site, or call 800-799-SAFE (7233).

There is help, and hope. It's not your fault, and no, you don't deserve it.


Murphy and I are Related

I swear, I don't blush anymore. Too old. I grew out of it years ago. But, I think I did last night, and I hope it was dark enough that no one saw.

I had to cover a story at sunset last night, on the back lawn area of the courthouse. (Yep, this is a photo of the courthouse in question, thanks to Wikipedia, of course.) It was a somber, candlelight commemoration ceremony and quite shaking in and of itself.

It was cold! As soon as the sun set, the temps dropped fast and hit the 30s with no problem. I had on a wool blazer that was more than warm enough when I left the house, so I was more than ready to get into my truck and crank the heat up.

And that's what I did. High idle didn't last long, so I backed out of my slant parking space, put the truck in drive and...  Stopped. That truck stopped right in the middle of the street that runs behind the courthouse, blocking both sides of the street's parked cars. The truck died like a UFO had flown over and brought everything electrical to a screeching halt. But, no UFO to blame it on. I knew what it was though, so I popped the hood and jumped out of that truck faster than I've moved in years and jiggled the usual battery cable that is usually the culprit when I turn the key and nothing happens.

I left the driver side door open to hear the dinging when I get the connection made. Ah, there it is. By the time I made it to the door to reach in to crank the ignition, it went off again. So, back to the front to jiggle the ground wire again. Nothing. Damn!  So, I jiggle some more and harder, wishing I could kick the thing, anything to get it to connect so that I could get out of there before anyone notices the poor, hapless reporter from the local newspaper wrestling with her dirty pickup truck.

"Do you need a jump?" A sweet little voice behind me tells me in no uncertain circumstances that I did not get out of the situation unnoticed. I turned around in embarrassment to find a very well dressed, middle aged woman standing in front of her very new Toyota Camry. "I have cables if you don't," she says to me.

"I have cables. I don't know if it will help, but I'll try, and thank you so much!" Talking like a NYer who's had way too many cappuccinos, the words flew out of me in a rush - as I ran around the side of the truck (to hide) to dig for my jumper cables.

"Do you know how to do this? I sure don't. Will it hurt my car to jump a truck?" Ah, if she only knew how many vehicles I've jumped in my lifetime. "Yes, I know how. No, it won't hurt your car." And I proceeded to hook things up like a pro.

Ah, the ding ding of the warning-door-is-open-with-keys-in-the-ignition comes on. I reach in, turn the key and click-click-click-click. Contact made, not enough power, and back to nada. I didn't think it would work.

So, over comes a police officer that was a part of the ceremony. He jiggles my connections, flashes his uber flashlight on everything, then declares that my alternator is dead. So, he and the minister (I'm sure my face was neon red by now) push my truck out of the middle of the street and back into a parking slot.

I thanked and thanked the woman who donated her car battery to the situation over and over. And now, the reality hits. I have a dead vehicle and home is a good 20 miles away in the country. The minister offered to take me home, and then another well dressed with a new car woman came up and offered a ride. I almost didn't get into her car, it was so clean. (I get the same feeling when faced with white carpeting.) I wouldn't let her drive my dirt road as I could see she was having trouble driving at night on the highway, and I told her I would walk my road home. I thanked her profusely. Woe is me, no moon.  But, it was nice to walk anyway.

So, this morning, my son and I get a ride to my truck from a friend. Toolbox in hand and ready for anything we were. It took just a bit more jiggling, no jumping whatsoever, a little tightening of the connectors and the puppy fires right up.

Not only will my name be known around town for the articles I put in the newspaper, but also the one who's truck died at the courthouse. Wonderful. Just call me Ms. Murphy.

Oh, now my toolbox is a permanent fixture in my truck. Hindsight is great!


Imagine This

I'm a global thinker. I like to see the Big Picture and how each part fits in. It seems logical to me; even if a few pieces are missing, the Big Picture is still there, intact. The Big Picture is Life, all of it, which is all that exists on good ol' Mother Earth.

Lately, more than a few of those little pieces are missing or obscured behind a lot of crap flung through the air for the sole purpose of obscuring those pieces. By the time it's all said and done, the only thing left is supposition, conjecture, and the almighty projections.

That's exactly what we all need to do. That's all we can do.

Suppose that all of the negatives about the presidential candidates are true.
Suppose that Obama really does have Middle Eastern ties that have been funding his ridiculously rich campaign. Suppose he is anti-Semitic and has ties with not only radical groups in this country, but the PLO as well. Suppose there are an extreme amount of mixed ideas in his head from 20 years of listening to an extremist preacher. And, suppose he is the anti-Christ incarnate.

Suppose that McCain really is stuck in the past, still suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his war ordeal. Suppose that, for the first time in history, the role of Vice President is more than just to spend four years waiting for something to happen that would change who is playing the role of Commander and Chief. Suppose it is Palin's radical right thinking that rules the day.

Suppose that what happens in America doesn't have the huge impact on the rest of the world as it does today. Suppose that the radical Islamics carpe diam and run with this rare opportunity to rid the world of all the infidels. Suppose that China fully breaks down the walls of separatism and makes its own moves toward world domination.

Suppose that life as we know it comes to an end. Imagine getting to know your neighbors and your community, recognizing everyone by name. Suppose everyone got together to protect, feed, clothe and house everyone. Suppose it was just as important that a neighbor's child is as safe, fed and warm as your own.

Suppose we took responsibility for doing what is right. Suppose that everyone demanded to know the truth. Suppose that life as we have known it has always been a matter of force-fed lies and not much else.

Suppose that the Divine Principle is everywhere, in everything and a major part of everyone. It is the motion and matter that is life. Suppose that this realization raises awareness to comprehend the full meaning of responsibility that has been ours, that has always been each and every one of ours, but has been so artfully denied us for the sake of power and control.

Imagine what it would be like to know the facts. That is what we are facing now. Are you ready to let go of all the lies and face the truth?


Cataloging the Populace

Walking around the center of the city was the ultimate adventure, and the three of us set out with a bounce in our steps. There were sidewalks in this part of the city and glass window storefronts. One was a shoe store that we stopped at to say hello to a young, nerdy looking young man behind the cash register. Funny, there were more shoes in the display window than there were inside the store.

"Be careful!" followed us out the door and onto the street again. We turned right and resumed our adventure.

Others walking became more numerous. It seemed as though everyone was dressed in drabby colors, and all with scarves around their necks covering faces up to the nose and stocking caps on their heads pulled far over the ears.

"Would you look at this. C'mon, let's check it out," said the tall, fiery and blond woman that was the leader of our little group. A tall white sign was there, the writing obscured by a group of people standing in front of it. Walking through a glass door, there were tellers seated at a counter behind glass, but there were no lines so we were able to walk right up.

Having no idea what it was that was supposed to happen there, I raised my eyebrows when she slapped down a piece of paper in front of me headlined "Application for Passport" across the top and gave me a pen to write with. No harm in that.

I began to fill out the form, questioning the teller all the while. "This is cool, I've never had a passport before."

"We'd like everyone to have one. It'll make things so much easier."

"Do we get to choose the color of our covers?"

"Oh. No. There's no need for different colors."

"Will you be mailing it to me when it's done, or do we get it right away, now?"

"You don't get it. We keep it here, stored in lockers."

"How much do they cost?"

"Forty dollars."

"And, we aren't given something that we pay for?" I had stopped writing, now very interested in what the teller was saying to me.

"No. Everyone will have passports stored right here, once the law is passed."

"I'm not interested in paying you for something you have no intentions of giving me. It's not right."

"Oh, but everyone will be..."

"In fact, this is communistic. You are collecting information on everyone! That isn't right, and it's communism!"

"But, we'll be sending everyone money once the law is passed."

In horror, I stepped back from the counter with my application in hand, and tore it in half; both fists gripping the paper tight. "Stop, everyone," I yelled to the room, "this is a scam. They want to track and control everyone. It's communism!"

My two companions stepped away from the counter with large, round eyes and pale faces. It took them no time at all to realize that what I was saying was true. They were enticing people in with the promise of money, then collecting information on everyone who takes the bait. Reforming our group with the tall blond in the middle and the two shorter ones on each side, we headed back out onto the street.

I was fuming mad. Furious, angry, and on a warpath now. Soon, we came upon a large gathering of people sitting on large stairs, most with heads down and tucked into their scarves. I climbed up onto a stair and shouted out my tirade.

"Do you see what they are doing? They want to catalog each and every one of you, give you a number, and control everything that you do. They want to control everyone! It's communism! We'll all be captives!"

On and on I yelled. Heads raised and eyes began to flash with the same anger I felt. Some picked up and joined in with my yelling. Then a fight broke out, and once again, the three of us left the scene.

Back to the shoe store we went, only this time, when we opened the door, we didn't see the nerd behind a cash register - or any displays of shoes. This time, it looked like a corporate office with floor to ceiling stainless steel panels. Taken by surprise, I didn't see where the tall blond woman went, and only caught sight of the other short one as she appeared to walk through a wall a la Harry Potter's Room of Requirements.

Slowly walking up to the wall, I touched it. Yes, it was solid. The nerdy cashier appeared and led me into a room, and he told me to follow the waiter with a huge tray of bottled waters balanced on his finger tips.

"That lady sure is nice to buy all this water for her people," the waiter said as he walked toward another solid wall.

And that is when I woke up. I woke up hard and sat upright, swinging both feet to the floor. I've been having weird dreams for awhile now, but none so blatantly unrecognizable to me. I did not recognize a single person, and I don't remember ever walking through a large city in that way. Yes, it was in full color.

I usually never remember the chain of events in a dream like I have with this one, and most of the time, it is only minutes before the prevailing feeling from the dream fades. Not this time. This one was potent.


Spreading the Love in a Big Way

I just discovered that Grandy at Functional Shmunctional has awarded me the "Super Blogger" award!  Thank you, Grandy! Grandy is recovering from some pretty heavy-duty surgery and writing through the haze of her pain meds, but she's a trooper and coming along slow but sure.  Drop by and say "hi."  It helps her feel better. It really does!

A few weeks ago (my, how time flies!), Romy at The Lighter Side sent me the "I Love Your Blog" award. Thank you, Romy!  Forgive me for just getting around to posting about it now. Romy's fantastic children got her into blogging, and I must say she does a wonderful job. Give her a visit.

To pass these awards on, I'd like everyone that I've dropped on with my A Bumpy Path or eyebald card to choose one or both as an extra token of gratitude for continually being way too cool to miss. You see, to get a drop from me means that I truly do like and enjoy your blog. It would be agony for me to have to choose! So please, grab the graphics and spread the love!


The Warm Smell of Heaven

Riding in the back seat of a car driven by my aunt and uncle, all I could think is what every parent dreads: Are we there yet?  Only, I didn't ask. I knew we weren't there yet because the car was still moving down the same highway it had been going down for the last five hours. Years later, driving my own car, I found that Pennsylvania takes a long time to drive through, no matter which way you're going.

It was a horrible ride in that back seat. The coal mines in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre gave off a horrendous, rotten smell; a smell so bad that it stuck to your nose hairs for hours after. The highway in Scranton is always, always under construction or so rough that it seems like your car will never live through the experience of such deep potholes...

After Wilkes-Barre, the view out the window becomes rather boring. It's flat and sparsely populated, so even for a child that liked to observe how other people live from the back seat of a car, I was bored. I couldn't sleep because of the rough ride, and now had nothing to look at. Are we there yet? Only, I had no idea where there was. I had an idea that I was very miserable though.

Then, my aunt and uncle perked up in the front seat. They sat up straighter and started talking in low voices. I sat up and listened hard, but didn't hear, and what I did hear, I didn't understand. I looked out the window again and could see more farms and houses, and a ways up ahead of us, the hint of more dwellings.  Nope, we weren't there yet.

I sat back and started thinking, rethinking about how I thought Aunt Willy was my favorite aunt. She lived so far away that I hardly ever saw her, yet she was always my favorite. Oh, but this long, tortuous car ride was starting to whittle away at all the good feelings I'd always had for Aunt Willy. I was tired of sitting in that car, it wouldn't be too much longer before I peed my pants, and I was hungry. I was getting hungrier by the minute, too.

And, I was even hungrier the next minute. Sniff.  Sniff-sniff. Oh, that smells like the brownies Aunt Willy made the other night. Another long inhale confirmed it. She was holding out on me!  She had brownies up there in the front seat and she wasn't sharing!  I straddled the hump and pulled myself forward with the back of the front seat and popped my head between my aunt and uncle. I almost reached my hand out in a silent demand, but didn't.  There were no brownies! 

How can that be? Oh, the smell of chocolate was stronger, and it grew stronger by the minute. It now smelled like the richest cup of hot chocolate ever, and my mouth was watering. And, there it was. A billboard-sized sign that looked just like my favorite candy bar: HERSHEY.

We must be close to a very, very big candy store. I had no idea that things were "made" or "manufactured" or came from anywhere but the corner store. It didn't come together in my head. Not yet.

The car finally stopped, and when the doors opened to let us all out, the delicious smell of chocolate was overpowering. Oh, so sweet, so rich, so tasteful - and you could taste it. The smell was so thick in the air that you could almost touch it. We were there.  I still don't know where there was, but it wouldn't be long now.

It felt like a long walk from the gate to the door that we were supposed to go through. Then, when my uncle pulled open that door to let us all in, I stopped in my tracks.  I saw huge. There were huge things in there, all steel, all loud and moving, and I was terrified. My aunt grabbed my hand and led me up steel stairs with little holes in them. You could see through the stairs to what was below, and that concrete floor looked a long way down.

At the top of the stairs was a steel cat-walk, though I didn't know what it was called at the time. Just a steel mesh that didn't look strong enough to be holding us up. We walked on, our steps clanging above the huge sounds of all the huge things moving below.

Finally, I looked up when my aunt and uncle stopped walking. And there was this huge, huge vat of what looked like mud that the huge machines were moving back and forth in, making little waves in the mud. My aunt leaned down to my ear to yell, "They are making chocolate!" Mud is chocolate? But, I looked again, I smelled the air again, and it clicked. I understood now.  This was heaven for kids! I moved fast toward the rail of the cat-walk, and if my aunt hadn't had a hold of my hand, I would've jumped right into that gigantic vat of heaven.

Years later, I took my son to Hershey, PA too. You could still smell the chocolate driving into the city. But, touring the factory itself was no longer allowed. They made a ride of sorts that took you through large photos of the factory and very small simulations of how Hershey Kisses are made. It wasn't the same.

But, I'll never forget that delicious, warm smell of chocolate...


Yep, this is my 200th post on this blog!  200.  Wow, what have I written about? Well, everything.

Looking for an image to represent this post, I ran into 1976, the bicentenial year, and found Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones and some model #200 computer. Those didn't quite do it for me.

Then, I thought, well, how many things can I come up with that have to do with 200?  Um. Eh.  Let me see.  I have less than $200 in my checking account, I have way more than 200 books, and I know way more than 200 songs I've played over the years. It took me 2 days to take 200 photos when I first got my camera. I used to drive 200 miles in two days going back and forth to work. Oh, and it would be interesting to live 200 years. That's not saying I'd wish for that, but it would be interesting.

I'm a bit overwhelmed by that number! So here it is. My 200th post...


Shh, it's a Secret

If you've ever read the little blurb I have over in the sidebar next to my photo (which is years old, by the way; the only one I admit I have of me), you'll see I put intense and neurotic in there.  I am intensely neurotic or neurotically intense, whichever way you want to look at it, and I have a roaring good time all the way.

I can't believe I'm going to tell you what I did earlier today, and I will deny it if anyone asks me. You didn't hear it from me!

First of all, I live way out in the country, and this particular window I'm going to be talking about, why, someone would have to be able to see miles in order to have witnessed what I'm going to tell you I did.  OK?  OK.  My butt is sufficiently covered, at least for this part of the tale.

Prior to what I did that I will deny if you tell anyone I said I did, I went from very elated about a success I had to very worried at the consequences of that success.  So, I was intensely neurotic.  I made a few calls, found out everything was fine, and did one of those heavy-duty sighs of relief. Giddy relief, actually.

Yep, so giddy that I felt many pounds lighter (I wish that would happen more often!) and, with just my horse sticking his head in the window by my computer, I was completely alone with no one to witness me bouncing off the walls.  Reality intruded, and it was time to get ready to go out, so I just walked a few steps into my bathroom and derobed, so to speak, and turned the shower on.

Suddenly, another neurotic thought hit my head. My horse has never seen me naked.  I wonder what he'd do if he did. So, I stepped around the corner and back into the room where my horse still had his head hanging in the window by my computer.

The ears go back and forth, he turns his head to look at me straight on, then promptly goes back to what he was doing before I so rudely interrupted his nap.  Yep, he went back to sleep.  But, he did not run away!  I swear, I thought the sight of all my skin would scare him so bad that he'd plow through a fence or two during his exit run and I'd never see my horse again.

Scooting back into the bathroom where I should have stayed in the first place, I just laughed and laughed.  What a stupid, stupid thing to do!

But, now I know.  My horse isn't afraid of naked me.  I'm not sure what good knowing that will do, but now I know.  Little things mean a lot...


The All Arkie Army Magazine

The brainchild of our own Ethan Nobles, otherwise known as The Natural State Hawg (and quite well known, by the way), the All Arkie Army is shaping up to be the online magazine of Arkansas.

A small 'army' of bloggers make up the authors of satire, news, sports and commentary about life here in the Natural State, myself included. What you'll find is original, compelling content that describes life in our neck of the woods.

Hailing from upstate NY, I moved here in 2004 to find a very different way of life; one that is based more on community and involvement than I had ever experienced. This community evolves around schools and children, with High School football the highlight of every fall weekend. It fills the evening TV newscasts, is the major section in local newspapers, and is broadcast live on radio stations across the state. It is much more postive and inviting than just hearing about who did what that landed them in jail or how many car accidents there were like you see plastered all over the news in other parts of the country.

So, visit the All Arkie Army and experience a different perspective: One that publicizes and celebrates the positive side of day-to-day living. Oh, and tell The Hawg I sent you.


How to Make Your Content Attractive and Effective

You've read all the rest, now read about the 'why' and 'what for' behind design concepts.

There is nothing more important than creating content that is easy to read, whether it be for print or for online reading. Most of the basic design rules apply to both mediums. Whether it is a page in a magazine or a blog entry, you risk losing your readers, no matter how good your content is, if you don't follow a few, simple guidelines. The point is, you have to know the rules before you can break them.

Surprisingly, what you see on a web page or blog follows the same tried and true rules that were developed for print eons ago. Way back when editors "marked up" copy for typesetters is when the concept of consistent uses of fonts, font sizes and blocks of print became known as style sheets. The consistent use of styles not only made it clean and easy to read, but became a part of the publication's branding.

Posted on the typesetter's wall was a list of paragraph styles, fonts, element alignment - a map of directions to consistently style everything on a page, on each page of the entire publication. These styles remained consistent page by page, day by day, week by week and month by month. Make a change to that style sheet posted on the wall, and that change happened everywhere that element occurred from then on.


Let's start with balance. Because you can hold it in your hand, one print trick-of-the-trade is to turn the composition upside down and then look at it. That stops the eye from reading the content and frees it up to look at the balance of the whole page. Remember that the old typesetters used to take an article, headlines and ads all cut out from other pieces of paper (elements) and put those pieces together on a full page sized paper much like a puzzle. The content pulls the readers in, but the ads bring in the revenue, so this had to be balanced out.

White space (blank space) around the elements plays a big role in balancing everything out as this gives the eye a chance to rest. When the balance isn’t right, it looks like a bunch of crap was thrown in to compensate. The result is a jumbled mess that is very difficult to untangle, and most readers won't bother to put that kind of effort out. It's too difficult to tell just what the important points are, even to the point of frustration, which leads to lost readers, whether they turn the page in a magazine or quickly click to the next web site.

Block Width

It's the content that draws the readers in, and good content keeps the readers on the page. The longer a reader is reading, the more likely it is that the ads will be noticed, remembered and acted on. Around 22 percent of engaged readers will remember the brand in an ad and eventually buy the product advertised. Compare this to those irritating mountains of junk mail delivered by the mailman. The return on investment (ROI) for mailer ads is only expected to be around 2 percent on a good day.

What the print masters have set in stone is that the width of a block of text should be no wider than 4 inches. Anything wider tires the eye out, makes it difficult to remain on the line and even more difficult to track down to the beginning of the next line. Newspapers use half that, making the columns only 2 inches wide to allow speed reading. Magazines will use 3 or 4 inch width.

This same width of blocks of text applies to online reading too, and it is perhaps even more important because of the difficulty of reading anything online. Having light shot directly into the eye is very tiring, so it's best not to add to that - and lose your reader - by letting your text span the width of the screen. Stay around 500 pixels wide, and if in doubt, hold up a piece of paper with 4 inches marked off up to the computer screen.

Text alignment

We read left to right, so it is important for the blocks of text to be left aligned. When the eye reaches the end of a line of text, it moves down and to the left and will latch on to the consistency of all the next lines starting in the same place on the page. Blocks of text that are center aligned are very difficult to track since the eye has to hunt for the beginning of the next line. Fully justified - text that reaches the margins on both the beginning and the end of the lines - is OK if the width is no wider than 4 inches, and the blocks of text are small.

Newspapers and magazines will indent the first line of a paragraph to break up the text and add in that much needed white space to rest the eye. Again, because the eye is much more strained by light being shot into it, it is best to put a blank line between paragraphs for online reading, giving much more relief to the eye than is needed when reading print.

Huge, long blocks of a paragraph are extremely daunting when reading online. It's best to keep the paragraphs as short as possible without harming the idea in the paragraph. Scanners latch onto that first line in a paragraph, and maybe they'll stick around for the second. Paragraphs that are long are guaranteed to lose a reader without a great deal of interest in what is written, but shorter paragraphs will draw the reader in.


An old tried-but-true taboo that has carried over from newspapers and magazines is the rule that you should never, ever have more than 3 different types of fonts on one page. And that includes variants of the same font. So, if you use Times New Roman for the headline, and use it again in italic form as the subhead, you only have one font choice left.

Print is easier to read in blocks of text if it is a serif font, like Times New Roman, so the headlines used with it are usually a sans serif font like Arial. Cutaways, those little snippets of the article in bigger text in boxes, are usually the same font as the headlines. You’ll notice that when you look at a page in the newspaper, it looks like a jumbled mess if the ads use a lot of different types of fonts in the company logos.

Online, the opposite is true. It is much easier to read a sans serif font in blocks of text like Arial or Verdana. Headlines and sub headlines can be either a serif or a sans serif.

Use variants sparingly. For important words you want to stand out or emphasize, use either bold or italic. A lot of writers use italic to denote something thought, but not spoken out loud. A headline bolded will take precedence over a headline of the same font and size that is not bolded, giving you another way to denote hierarchy besides font size.

Keep in mind that italics are easier to read if the font is a serif font, like Times New Roman. This is a nice way to set off a quote you want to use. If what you want to set off is more than one line, only italicized serf fonts work. For italic sans serif, keep it to less than one line. This applies to both online and print.

Last point, ALL CAPITOL LETTERS IS VERY DIFFICULT TO READ. When looking at a word, the eye recognizes the shape of the word. That shape is defined by the letters that reach up, like "d" and "t" and the letters that reach below the line, like "p" and "g" and "y". Only when a word is not immediately recognized will the eye slow down to look at each letter. Never, ever use all caps. Besides, it's considered YELLING.

Posters and advertisements

The whole point of putting together a poster or ad is to make the main thing attractive immediately, to draw people in so that they will read the specifics in smaller print. That main thing also has to be very memorable and easily read at a distance for posters. That is your one, big chance to attract and hold attention. If you lose it on this main point, there’s no sense in even distributing the posters or ads. No all caps, no funky font, and no effects! In fact, you will never see drop shadows or embossing on text in any professionally done print job. If you do find the rule broken, you certainly won’t find any other rules broken in the same composition.

I’ve seen these kinds of stallion promotion things (see the image, click to see enlarged version) in horse magazines as full page ads, and when used as half page or smaller, the eye will look at the pretty horse and go on to the next element because it’s just too difficult to try to read.

Anything that slows down immediate recognition of any element should be questioned, and visual effects are never more important than what is being said. Just because these kinds of ads are used in horse magazines doesn’t make them “right” to use. Look at the ads for Purina horse feeds. If an ad can’t win at least as much notice as a Purina ad, then advertising money is wasted. The eye will always go to what is easily understood first.

Content is King

Newspapers and magazines have been around forever - because they know that it's the content that sells the publication, not the fancy fonts, graphics, colors or the paper it's printed on. Advertisers run ads in effective publications to build brand awareness and recognition that leads people to buy the product when seen on store shelves.

Content is king. There is no way to emphasize this point enough. Styling should not distract from the content.

What has been discussed so far is effective visual presentation of content, but all the design tricks in the book will only go so far if the content is crap. Check spelling, double check grammar, break up run on sentences... Nothing destroys validity and confidence in the author quicker than sloppy writing. One mistake may be written off as an oversight, two may be pushing it, and three mistakes and the reader has moved on.

Content is king. In newspapers and magazines, a writer submits to an editor who edits and double-checks with a fine toothed comb. If there are a ton of mistakes, the article is sent back to the writer for a rewrite, if the editor doesn't just throw it in the trash and fire the writer. The copy is sent to layout and a draft is printed for others to reread everything to make absolutely certain that no mistakes have slipped through. After all these double and triple checks, it finally goes to print.

Online content writers and bloggers usually don't have editors to double check and correct mistakes. What comes out of the typewriter, so to speak, is immediately published and viewable to everyone. Be careful!

Reread it again

When I put together a major article like this, I read and reread and reread again. I reread it here in the composer, I reread it again in preview, and I'll do it again after I hit that publish button. Still, mistakes leak through. Why? Because I wrote it, I've looked at it over and over, and I know what I was saying in that sentence. It's this level of familiarity that doesn't allow my eye to see the mistakes. I may have typed "made" when I meant to type "make" and every time I read it, my eye then sees "make" because that's what I meant.

This is the main reason that I do not have the option to subscribe by email. I'll hit publish, read it again, and then go do something else for awhile. I'll come back later for another read through, and I inevitably find mistakes and have to go back and fix them. If you subscribed by email, you'd have a full inbox in no time! I don't know for certain that Feedburner works that way, but I sure don't want to take the chance of losing any of my subscribers!

There it is.

And that's all she wrote. Whew! Yes, it's a lot. But, if you think about it, most everything here is common sense. You'll remember it. If you don't, you know where to find it again!

If you found this useful, give it a Digg!


Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty

With the intent of raising awareness and fostering global participation, this year's Blog Action Day is a day to focus on poverty and poverty relief efforts.

Lend your voice to the discussion. How do you define poverty? In what ways do relief efforts succeed or fail in alleviating poverty? What role does the current financial crisis play in the extent of poverty?


It's the Little Things That'll Get You

Why? Because they do mean a lot. Sometimes, it's just not in ways that you'd expect.

Like this coffee maker. I have been obsessing about getting one of these for months. Most of the time, I was able to forget about it, even when I walked by the stack of them at Wal-Mart.

Don't get me wrong. My old el-cheapo, $19.95 Mr. Coffee model was still going strong after four years, so I didn't really need a new coffee maker. I mean, the old thing was stained but the carafe was still in one piece, so I hadn't gone without coffee - ever. Dangit!

I once had a Ford Escort that was like that. That stupid car would not die and give me a reason to get something else. It was a boxy looking 4-door that was too heavy for its itty-bitty engine, and the stupid thing wouldn't get out of its own way. No risk of speeding tickets in that dumb thing. I still have nightmares about that car-that-wouldn't-go-away.

Yesterday, I could resist no longer. I bought the brew station coffee maker. It is cool! Where the old, stained Mr. Coffee sat is now the bright, shiny, new brew station. Ah.

Oh my, the coffee tastes so good!

Now I have to find something else to obsess about. Things just ain't normal without it. Any suggestions?


Looking for Old Lessons That Can Help Now

While the pundits continue to bat around the notion of whether or not the US is in a recession, I can't help but think that they should get past that and decide whether we're in a full-blown depression. If they did, we could all look back to look at the lessons learned that first time around and begin to adapt them to today's plight.

I never knew any of my grandparents, they had passed on before I was old enough to talk, and I know I missed out on a lot of personal history because of it. They lived through the Great Depression, and their wisdom would come in handy now.

My parents weren't too keen about talking about their times growing up either. My father was a son of an immigrant who felt that his past had nothing to do with me or my future. My mother just never talked, and I now believe it was because she was constantly running away from her past, whatever that might have been. They both experienced the Great Depression as young children into their teenage years. I have little snippets to draw from, dropped here and there while I was growing up, and not much more. The TV show, The Waltons, probably held more wisdom that I ever learned from my family. But, there were those snippets...

This photo was taken in 1962, on the steps of the porch of my grandfather's house that he bought through Endicott-Johnson Shoes, the company that recruited my father's father from Poland, and my grandfather spent his life working to pay that house off. House payments, just like the tab run at the local company-owned grocery store, were deducted out of his paycheck. The work was piece-meal, meaning that if he didn't bust his ass day after day, his paychecks could feasibly run in the red. I don't remember hearing about life during the Great Depression from my father at all, so I have no idea how it impacted my grandfather's arrangment with EJ Shoes. My mother's parents also worked for EJ Shoes most of their lives, but they were not immigrants.  All I know is that EJ Shoes made it through the Great Depression to remain in business well into my adulthood before it folded.

That house was pretty cool. My grandfather's wood rocking chair sat next to his magazine rack and a floor lamp, directly opposite the black and white TV. You could see the tubes glowing through the cloth meshing across the front of it. There was a black dial phone hung on the kitchen wall, and when it rang, it rang so loud that you could hear it ringing down the block. There was a massive dining room table that couldn't be taken out of the house because it wouldn't fit through any doors.

Our washing machine in the cellar was an old ringer type; the water squeezed from the clothes when fed through two large cylinders mounted on top. The bathroom upstairs was huge with an old claw foot bathtub, and my grandfather made me a wooden step stool to get up onto the toilet. In the back yard was a huge apple tree that produced huge yellow apples every year that my grandfather made into apple sauce.

I had a stuffed Huckleberry Finn and a teddy bear that were with me constantly. I wore one dress to school three days a week, and my second dress on the other two days. At the corner store, candy bars were a nickle, and a piece of licorice was a penny.

Things didn't change much when we built and moved into our house out in the country in 1964. Sundays became the special day of the week. We'd go to church in the morning, then come home. My father would nap while my mother cooked the early afternoon Sunday dinner, which was either spaghetti, Salisbury steak or roast beef. Spaghetti Sundays were my favorite.

Fridays were a bit odd. It was taboo to eat meat on Friday, so my mother would fix noodles and peas, a dish she said her mother fixed on Fridays too, remnant of the Great Depression. I love noodles and peas! That is the only way I'll eat peas, even to this day. If we didn't have noodles and peas, my father made potato pancakes. The only other thing I remember is a mention of lard, which I think was used instead of butter.

My mother would take a huge pot and made up a ton of spaghetti sauce. She'd make meatballs by hand, and buy sweet Italian sausage from a butcher in town. My father would add in pieces of beef and pig hocks, and the huge pot of sauce with all the meat in it would simmer for half a day at least. Once dinner was over and the sauce cooled, it was stored in plastic containers and frozen, to be thawed and used for other Sundays.

My parents would dish out the food and place the plate in front of my brother and I. Everything on it had to be eaten, no matter what, and there were never seconds. There were no snacks to munch on between meals at all. Once in awhile, on Sunday evenings, my father would drive us into town to eat at McDonald's, or he'd buy a frozen pizza and a bottle of Pepsi and we'd have that instead.

Clothes were bought once a year at the end of summer for school. I wasn't allowed to wear pants to school until I went to Junior High, and that took more than a little arguing to accomplish. Once pants busted through at the knee or became way too short was when they were cut off for summer shorts. We didn't get shoes unless we absolutely needed them. We got toys at Christmas, and that was it for the year.

Looking back, it's hard to believe how tough times must have been. But, I didn't know it at the time; it was my 'normal.' I made sure my clothes didn't get dirty or torn, learned to sew patches on my jeans, and never lost anything. That carried over into my adult life as I don't throw anything away in case I might need it again. I still have a pair of jeans I'll never fit into again that were bought as 7th grade school clothes. I have every single book I've ever had still, and all my violin music from the time I started playing in 4th grade. I even have the house plant my parents bought back in 1964, and I have the picture of Jesus hanging up that was my grandfather's. Yes, I'm a packrat.

I live frugally. It's just something I've never thought to change. What I need to do now is learn how to grow a garden and raise chickens.


Mother Nature is the Best Teacher

Meet Kimani. He is a very large, bull elephant that likes to raid farmers' crops in Kenya, which effectively destroys families' ability to make a living.

Since the elephant is close to being listed on the Endangered Species list, what the Kenya Wildlife Service has done is install a cell phone SIM card in the elephant's collar. This card will send a text message to alert them when the elephant nears the geoborder via GPS tracking, and they run out and chase the elephant away.

It appears as though elephants learn from each other and remember what they have learned, so this technique is effectively reducing the elephants' raids on farms - with a lot of persistence and patience. So far, they have run this particular elephant off 15 times, but he hasn't hit a farm in over 4 months. The result: Kenyans and wildlife are able to coexist.

Reading Wikipedia's entry on elephant intelligence was fascinating, with a lot of research revealing a very intelligent, altruistic, emotional and thinking/problem solving animal with specific social behaviors that get them through their average 70-year lifespan.

Time and observation resulted in a viable, workable solution for both human and animal. It's a simple, effective solution that is without harm and that protects both species to live a peaceful coexistence. Yet there are differences in this scenario not often seen.

Yes, people were afraid of the elephants and for the loss of their year's income, but that is the only emotion involved. There was no hatred or blame or anger; just fear of losing a basic means of survival. Wildlife officials, more than likely spurred to problem solve by the elephants' protected status, found other ways to deal with the situation than killing the animals.  Of course it's a bit late in coming, but they finally came up with a solution that works.

There are so many ways that we could utilize this basic structure of problem-solving between races, genders, religions, etc. Observe, identify the problem, identify the needs of both parties, and come up with a solution that benefits both parties. I'm not feeling overly empathetic toward the people that caused the latest financial crisis, but using this model, I just might be open to a viable, workable, equitable solution. And, I find my tolerance for the government and the election process dwindling away too. It would work there as well.

We are an intelligent species, and we were intelligent before we learned to be so damned greedy and materialistic. There is a lesson here, not least of which is problem-solving instead of hatred and obliteration. This way of looking at things jumps over and past racism, discrimination, differences, contempt and disrespect. It's simple.

Photos by the Light of the Moon


It's almost like there is something a bit odd about the moon coming up before it's dark. Birds and clouds are a normal sight, but the moon is an addition that doesn't quite fit in somehow. All the photos I took yesterday seem to have that touch of odd-ness to them...


There have been wildflowers of all sorts here the entire spring and summer, and oddly enough, there are even fall wildflowers. This time, they are tiny daisies about the size of my pinky finger fingernail. The camera picks up almost microscopic details.


Don't confuse beauty with brains. This is Chloe, who I rarely get photos of because she's usually circling around and around the horse. She's been kicked so many times that it's amazing she's still alive.


Do you remember A Tail in the Sky back in July? Well, Ethel is still here! I haven't seen Ed at all, but Ethel always manages to stop by to say hello whenever I'm outside.


There's no grand show of fall colors like what you'll find up in the northeast, but all the colors are here in all their glory, just at a smaller size.

Click any photo to see it at 800x600. Enjoy!


Hang Onto Your Drawers

Don't even get a wild hair going and think that I'm making light of cancer, because I'm not. What I do want to point out with this image is that it makes a good point. A very good point.

I know we're all looking at a huge meltdown in the way things have been.  I've lent a few moments of relief to help you through a few days ago, and it worked. For a little while.

What this "creative advertising" sign points out is that OK, things are bad for a few, but not for everyone. It will be very easy to fall into the traps set to get you in the next few weeks. There will be doom sayers, fear mongers and all the others seeking to pump up your behind what doesn't belong there.

There is not one single news story that you can hear or read that will have the Whole Story. No single person out there can have The Answer. Step back, take a deep breath, then tell yourself that you will sit back and watch awhile, take it all in, and look for the Big Picture. That takes time and patience, and if you insist on being upset, the only thing you'll find is thick fog. (I'm saying this as much for me as for you, ok?)

Realistically, the System is set up to fail every 75 years, if I'm remembering my college education right. That it has held together by duct tape and bootstraps a few extra years only means that politicos stepped in and muddied the waters and delayed the inevitable.

So what if life as we've known it has ended? We'll have a chance to build a new and better life!

The transition will be a lot easier if everyone keeps their shit together and calmly waits and watches. Good and right always tends to hover in the background, waiting for the dust to clear. And, those good and right things number in the millions, just waiting, while the hundreds of bad and wrong things pitch their fuss.

Light will prevail. It always does.

Photo: Makes You Laugh Cry Without It


Trains are a Mystery

Have you ever stood on the train tracks and looked both ways? Looking ahead, the tracks just disappear in the distance. Looking back, same thing. I remember my surprise when I bent down to touch the steel rail to find that it was warm to the touch, not realizing at first that the sun had warmed it all day.

They say if you put your ear to the track, you'll hear a train coming. That never seemed to work for me. They say that if you put a coin on the rail, the train will come off its tracks. That never worked for me either.

Where do trains come from? Where have they been? Where are they going? The railroad tracks give no clues.

So much about trains are a mystery. And, a loneliness.


Stop a Moment

Not two feet away, within arm's reach, yet separated by a glass window, I saw my newborn baby for the first time as they wheeled my gurney past the nursery. So tiny he looked, with a full head of hair and one fisted hand under his chin. Was he real? Yes, there was a little motion of his jaw and lower lip; a brief sucking motion. Across both eyes and the bridge of his nose was a deep purple and swelling - the evidence of a delivery gone wrong and the resulting C-section that brought us both through the difficult experience.

Like a monstrous rush of a bursting dam, I sucked in my breath hard and gave out a long wail. Out came all my anxiety and fear and pain and worry in a rush of relief, while at the same time came the overwhelming helplessness of seeing that my baby had been bruised and hurt and I couldn't get to him. That much emotion in one moment stopped my heart in my chest. I experienced unconditional love; a love that was so total and expansive that it barely fit in my body, heart and soul.

I've never had another experience like that, but I've had some that have taken my breath away, and for several different reasons. Thinking about these things broke through all the mind-boggling negativity and irrationality that the recent weeks of news have held.

It got me thinking. Just how do we all keep plodding through life bearing the weight of such negativity? So much is unknown. Everything is unknown. No one can even begin to project or predict based on the circumstances at hand. There's no way to prepare, to defend ourselves against the unknown. Just writing this is making me scowl.

I have the answer. I figured it would probably be best to go out and feed my horse, dogs and cats before sitting down to write, or I'd be feeding in the wee hours of the morning again, like last night. It's best to do that before I tell you what that answer is. I'll take you with me.

I put my nose into Odin's shoulder and smelled his wonderfully warm horse smell. I put my head down so that all four dogs could lick my face while I felt the breezes from their wagging tails. Cats were wrapping themselves around both of my legs and reaching for my hand. Odin stood still while I leaned against him to stay upright on my feet.

I laughed. And laughed and laughed. I laughed the entire hour or so that I was out there with my little zoo. I laughed with the pure joy of the moment.

I hadn't realized how much I had squashed myself into a tiny emotional space in self defense. I didn't know I wasn't living in the moment anymore. And, I hadn't noticed the absence of joy.

It's there. It's always there, waiting for me to get back to it. And, it's always there waiting for you too. Joy is not just in the huge, life-changing experiences. It's here in the moments, too. Have you found yours?


Give Me the Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But

Back in college, I could write up a storm. If I had an idea, it just came out of me and onto the paper in a rush. I never read what I wrote, and never edited, and everything came out exactly the way I intended it to enough to earn me a solid 3.79 GPA.

Then, graduate school came along, and suddenly, I was told to write only in the third person and the rush came to a screeching halt. It seemed a dishonest way to write. Instead of saying this is my opinion and here's why, I had to covertly give my opinion by manipulating the facts instead of owning and taking responsibility for my opinion. What I had to say was no longer important, and I felt as though all I did was spit out crap that wasn't my own. I still graduated with a 3.89 GPA, but there was a lot less joy in earning it.

Blogging has brought the love of writing back, and the rush happens every now and again. Writing for the newspaper keeps my chops up with third person writing, and I have come to love it as well. It is a challenge to observe and state the facts and put it all together in a way that won't put you to sleep. I have to be careful to put things in ways that no one can interpret as the paper's opinion, and I have to be sure I don't editorialize.

"Here's the facts, you decide," is one local TV station's news grab line. I never watch the news, so I have no idea if they're true to their word or not. But, it is my goal in writing for the paper.

That's a good thing, I think. Just think how it would be if more journalists and reporters and editors felt that way, especially during the past few weeks. Can you imagine how much easier it would be to choose a candidate or know what was going on enough to decide whether you should be royally pissed or not about this Wall Street bailout deal?


A fact is "knowledge or information based on real occurrences; or, something demonstrated to exist or known to have existed," according to dictionary.com. You collect your facts, sort them and then decide if you can form a hypothesis. Check it again, collect more facts, sort them out, and see if you can come up with the same hypothesis. If the results are the same, then you have a theory, or loosely, a conclusion.

Today, I read an article, "Onus on McCain to turn presidential race his way." The AP writer very blatantly collected quotes and presented her opinions using the people's voice she quoted. She didn't even bother including poll statistics to support her claim, but gave generalizations instead. Is it "news" that one camp is "optimistic" and the other camp is "discouraged, but not pessimistic"? The article should have been presented as an editorial instead of a news piece. That would solve everything, because it is only....


Dictionary.com says that an opinion is "a notion or conviction founded on probable evidence; belief stronger than impression, less strong than positive knowledge." Yep, that article is an editorial presented as news. It doesn't help me make my choice knowing her opinion. I don't know the facts, so I can't form my own conclusions.

The same can be said about the Wall Street meltdown, and why our elected representatives chose to ignore an overwhelmingly negative public response to the $700 billion bailout funded by taxpayer money. Something that large, that important and that controversial should have been put up to vote and decided based on that vote. And not by the electoral college, but by actual numbers for and against.

You know what? I know nothing, nada, zip, zilch about the stock market, the finance industry, hell, even the need for a stock market, and I sure have no idea at all about the current meltdown. Why? I've read everything that came across the news wires about it as I could. None of the news articles were overly heavy in stock market lingo or terms or phrases and I understood everything I read. I still came away knowing nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

The conclusion I came to is the same as most of the rest of the population - no, absolutely no bailout for a bunch of bottom-feeders that bit off way more than they could chew! A man can steal a loaf of bread for his hungry wife and children and be thrown in jail, but when these greedy bastards steal from everyone they come in contact with, they are "bailed out" and never even charged with their grievous wrongs. How can that be right? You just gotta love…


Back to dictionary.com for the sunshiny definition of politics, disregarding the tactics to manipulate for personal gain and power:
The science of government; that part of ethics which has to do with the regulation and government of a nation or state, the preservation of its safety, peace, and prosperity, the defense of its existence and rights against foreign control or conquest, the augmentation of its strength and resources, and the protection of its citizens in their rights, with the preservation and improvement of their morals.
It's ironic that the definition of politics includes no reference to the "government by the people, for the people." It's even more ironic to see "ethics," "rights" and "morals" with the goal to preserve and improve them as well. Forgive my ignorance, but I haven't seen any facts to support a conclusion that any of this definition is existent in politics today!

The other day, I read in a book by Dinesh D'Souza that most of the Middle Eastern and Asian cultures believe that it is ridiculous for the general populace to choose their leader. Some say it is because the lower classes are too ignorant to make that kind of decision. Others believe that the leader of a country is chosen by God alone. I can see their logic in these beliefs, especially back in the old days before mass communication existed. To me, it is not logical to assume that a 'government for the people, by the people' would not produce leaders worthy of leading, because in essence, all candidates are from the populace that is not supposed to be delineated by class lines. If I go out and earn the education and experience needed to qualify for the position, I could run for president too. That is the culture here. Right?

It is there, available to all, the mass communications needed to get all the information out so that everyone could make a solid, educated decision on who to vote for. The infrastructure is there and it works. You wouldn't be reading this if it didn't.

But, no real information, no substantial facts are disseminated. If any happen to squeak through, the facts are buried in opinion, manipulation, distortion and contortion. It's like the photo at the top of this post. I am screaming for real facts, real truth, real news!

With what has been presented via the news media, I am disinclined to vote for either party's candidate. What I really want to see in that voting booth come election day is a "NEITHER" level to pull.


Please Don't Litter

The bumper stickers and decals make it sound like a polite request: Please don't litter. I don't. I have proof in my truck. Trust me, there is a floor under all the garbage.

Drive down the road a bit, and you'll see a nice, white sign that reads "$100 FINE FOR LITTERING."

Nice and polite just turned into ugly and threatening. Why?

Didn't everyone's momma teach their children where to throw their trash? No, probably not, or littering is something teenagers do to rebel. Or maybe some people would rather not use the floor of their vehicles as rolling garbage cans like I do.

But, is it that big of a problem? Sure, it could be and it would be if everyone just forgot their good sense and started throwing trash wherever and whenever. I sure don't see it as that big of a problem, and it gives the prisoners a way to get out in the sun while wearing their fashionable striped outfits. And yes, if everyone thoughtlessly pitched their trash, it would definitely begin to have an impact on everyone's lives. So, as far as rules go, it's a good one.

I sure do like it a lot better when I'm politely asked not to litter. Not that I would anyway. But, I am tempted to rebel and toss something, anything out the window when I'm threatened with a fine or threatened with arrest.

Fear stops me dead in my tracks, and my rebellion dies down. If I did manage to get pulled over for littering, which I won't because I don't, I'd be a bit nervous, just like any other time I've been pulled over.

If I was doing something 'wrong,' I admit it right away and get on with the process. I was stopped twice for the same blown-out brake light. The first time, I was shaking in my shoes because I had no idea why I was being pulled over.

I was stopped one time after playing in a town over an hour's drive from home and because my eyes were shot from very dried out contact lenses, I had to go through the sobriety test. I was tired, my back hurt, it wasn't the best of nights playing, and I was worried about being too tired to drive. So, I got belligerent. I told the cop to wait a few minutes for my bass player who will be driving by because he's about as drunk as you can get and still walk, I was so pissed.

After another night of playing, I sat at this red light not a half mile from home, and the dang thing wouldn't give me a green. Again, I was tired, my back was killing me, and I had to pee like crazy. After sitting there for as long as I could tolerate, I looked around, saw no one, and went through the light and turned up my road. I get a couple hundred yards up the road, and you guessed it, I was pulled over. "I gotta pee, yes I ran the stuck light, just got done playing all night, didn't drink and please, if you want to talk with me, can you follow me to my house so that I can at least pee?" Flashlight hit my back seat with my guitars, microphone stand, chord bag, then straight into my eyes and then flashed onto the tags on my windshield.

I see a uniform and I am immediately uncomfortable. Casualty of my hippy days, I suppose. Hippies are always, always afraid of anything resembling The Establishment. I have no idea what that means, but I caught the fear of the uniform anyway.

What I don't get, what totally boggles my mind, is why it is illegal to drive without a seatbelt. I can understand suspicion of driving while intoxicated as a reason to pull someone over, and I'm damned glad that happens. A drunk could kill my son or me or you or your kids or pets or ... Idiots drive drunk. But to be pulled over, cited and fined for not wearing a seatbelt? Who does that hurt?

Only me. It wouldn't even have an effect on passengers in my car if I wasn't wearing a seatbelt. It sure doesn't have an effect on other drivers because I'm not driving impaired. So, what is the point? The Establishment is so concerned about my life that they feel I need to be pulled over, cited and fined for endangering myself? I doubt it.

You know, as soon as we start taking away a right, it becomes much easier to take away another and another and another until we are no longer free. As soon as you think that your rights are more important than my rights is when neither one of us are free.

Maybe none of this ridiculousness would've started if we had only listened to our mothers. And, goshdarnit, just throw your trash on the car floor!


Wednesday's Moment

Step Up to a Conversation of Character

Fall is in the Air

I usually do a synopsis of the previous month, but I'd rather just keep September out of my rearview mirror and thank my top Entrecard visitors:

Just Had to Do It

I couldn't help myself. It was driving me battier than usual looking at the same thing for so long. So, I jumped into the deep end and chose a new template for A Bumpy Path that has very little built-in changeability, which means that every tweak that needs tweaking involves tweaking the code. What a challenge!

What do you think of the new look? Would you let me know if you run into anything that doesn't work?