Too many words

too many wordsI regularly follow somewhere around 60 blogs and many of the bloggers I follow post daily. Not all of them, but quite a few do. And some post multiple times per day. So it takes time each day to go through the Reader to see what has been recently posted by the bloggers I follow.

I also like to link to the blogs of those who comment on my posts if I’m not already following their blogs — just to see who they are and what their blogs are all about. And that takes time, as well.

I confess, though, that I don’t read every blog I follow every time the blogger posts something new. I just don’t have the time. I do have a life outside of WordPress, you know.

First, there’s my job. And then there’s…okay, then there’s WordPress. But I do have to decide which blogs I want to read, which I want to skim, and which I want to skip without reading.

When you open Reader (or what I call “Preview Reader”), you see each new post with the blog name and the title of the post. Some show an image if there is an imbedded image in the post. And below the image are a few sentences of text, followed by a link showing how many more words there are in the post. It might look like this:


To be honest, if I see that the post more than 1,000 “more words,” I am less likely to click on that link than if I see it has fewer than 1,000 more words. Of course, if the blogger is someone whose posts I always enjoy, or if the subject matter is something that is of keen interest to me, or if the title of the post piques my interest, or if the image shown intrigues me, I will go ahead and click on the post’s title regardless of the number of words.

That takes you to the “full” Reader page for that post, where you can potentially read the entire post without actually going to the blog itself. Some blogs, mine included, however, can’t be read fully in the Reader. Again, there are a few sentences of text, maybe a few more than in the “preview” Reader, but you’ll also see a message that says:

sorry this postIf I’ve gotten that far and still see that there are 1,000 or more words remaining, unless it’s something that really grabs me, I’m may not go on and link to the actual post.

Short attention span

Maybe I have a short attention span when it comes to reading blog posts, because really, 1,500 or 2,000 words aren’t that many words. But for me, on that particular day at that particular time, it just may be too many words.

I try to keep that in mind when I’m writing my posts. I figure if I am a little less likely to read posts with a lot of words, perhaps others are too. I’m sure I’m not the only person on WordPress who is pressed for time. So I strive to keep all of my posts to 1,000 words or fewer.

I admit, I may be missing out on some great posts from truly amazing bloggers, but I have to be discriminating because I don’t have the bandwidth to read every blog I come across. And the metric I often use is word count.

I’m curious how others determine how to invest their blog reading time. Do you, like me, use word count as a factor in determining if you’re going to fully read a post? If so, how many words are too many words for you? What other factors do you use to determine which posts to read and which posts to pass up?

By the way, this post has around 650 words. But the good news is that if you’ve gotten this far, there are only… 3 more words


Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Blogging


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Do not disturb

do-not-disturbIt’s not that I’m an antisocial person. I’m not. But if I’m traveling alone, which means I’m either traveling to or from a business meeting, I really don’t want to engage in inane, time-wasting conversations with people I’ve never met before, will never see again, and about whom I couldn’t care less.

My ritual when I get to my seat is to put my iPhone in airplane mode, open up iTunes, insert the earbuds into each ear, turn up the volume, and commence reading a newspaper, a magazine, or an eBook.

I prefer aisle seats, so if I happen to get to my seat before those seated in the window or middle seats, I do have to get up to permit them to get themselves situated, but I avoid eye contact at all costs.

While I may not have a physical sign around my neck, everything about me exudes “DO NOT DISTURB.”

Yet some people seem to be oblivious to that which is obvious. The person next to me will invariably start talking. I can see him looking at me and I can see his lips moving, but I can’t really hear what he’s saying because of the music from my iTunes that is filling up my head.

I’ll look at this person whose lips are moving, point to my earbuds in my ears, shake my head, and make a clear gesture that indicates (1) I can’t hear you, and (2) I don’t want to talk with you.

But does that stop him? Of course not. So I take one earbud out of the ear closest to this annoying person, and before I can say anything I hear something like, “Are you heading home to Atlanta or are you going there on vacation?”

“Actually, I’m going there on business, and for most of this six-hour, cross-country flight, I will be working to prepare for my business meeting. But right now, I’d like to relax, listen to music, and read the paper.”

“I’m going there for business, as well,” the guy says with a wide, dumbass grin on his face, having now found a comrade in arms, another road warrior at his side. “What business are you in?” he asks. By this time, I have replaced the earbud in my ear and have resumed reading the newspaper.

Then I feel the tap on my shoulder. “Do you work for Amalgamated Industries,” I hear over the music from my iPhone. “You look so familiar.”

I pull the earbud out of my ear. “No, I don’t work for Amalgamated Industries,” I respond. He looks disappointed and then asks, “How long are you going to be in Atlanta?”

3a551-6a0115710fc794970c014e5ff4d534970c-320wi“Look, I don’t mean to be antisocial or to sound rude,” I say to this guy, “but will you please stop talking to me? We are both on this plane not by choice but because we have to be for our jobs.

“I just want to relax a little and then see if I can accomplish something productive on this flight before we land in Atlanta. I don’t know you at all. I don’t care to know anything about you and I’m not going to share with you anything about me. I’m not looking for new BFF for the next six hours. So you do your thing and I’ll do mine.”

At that point, I reinsert, yet again, the earbud into my ear and turn my attention back to the newspaper.

He looks at me with an expression that is a cross between disappointment, hurt, and anger. He actually made a harrumph-like sound, folded his arms across his chest, and stared straight at the seatback in front of him.

And then the baby in the row in front of me starts screaming and crying and the 8-year-old kid behind me starts kicking my seatback.

This post is in response to today’s Daily Prompt, which poses the question, “It turns out that your neighbor on the plane/bus/train (or the person sitting at the next table at the coffee shop) is a very, very chatty tourist. Do you try to switch seats, go for a non-committal brief small talk, or make this person your new best friend?”


Posted by on July 22, 2014 in Blogging


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A public service announcement

Remember the good old days when Congress passed the National Maximum Speed Law (NMSL)? It was a provision of the 1974 Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act that prohibited speed limits higher than 55 miles per hour in any state. Well, in any state that wanted its share of federal highway funds, that is. It was drafted in response to oil price spikes and gas shortages during the 1973 oil crisis.

Of course, the law was widely disregarded by motorists and not really enforced by the states. Ultimately, in 1995, the law was repealed, paving the way — get it? Paving the way — for each state to set its own speed limits.

And now it’s a freakin’ free-for-all out there, people. Take my word for it as someone who has just driven across the country.

So consider this post to be a public service announcement for anyone who plans to drive across state lines. If you do cross a state line, you will find that many states have set different maximum speeds limits.

6570Back east, where I started my road trip this past Wednesday morning, most states observe the 65 miles per hour speed limit. This includes Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania (at least the small portion between New York and Ohio near Erie).

Once you get into Ohio and Indiana, the speed limit bumps up to 70 on some sections of I-90 (what they refer to as the more “rural” stretches).

I switched to I-80 somewhere around Gary, IN. My brief drive in Illinois on I-80 was limited to 65, but the traffic near Chicago was so heavy that I was lucky to reach 45 or 50 there. Crossing over into Iowa, though, it was pretty much 70 all the way, except around Des Moines, where it was 65.

75Nebraska ups the ante on these “rural” portions of the interstates, which is good, because once past Omaha, most of the state is rural. And there’s just not that much to see in Nebraska. No offense to all of you cornhuskers out there, but it’s true.

When you cross over from Nebraska to Wyoming, everything changes. Flat fields of corn and wheat are replaced by hills covered with sagebrush. As you push further west, those hills turn into rock outcroppings, buttes, and then mountains.

And that’s where these western states have really exercised states’ rights. My rental truck had a speed governor on it, so once I hit 75, I could go no faster. But that wasn’t nearly fast enough for those lonely roads in Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada.

So, once again, as a public service announcement for those of you who have never driven through the states of Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California, I have posted copies of their official speed limit signs below.

western states speeds

Please be sure to share this public service announcement with anyone you know who will be traveling by car or truck across state lines.


Posted by on July 21, 2014 in Blogging, Humor


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Too tired to post today

exhausted-tired-wooden-figureAs some of you who follow my blog know, I’ve been driving west across the country in a rental truck filled with stuff I had in a storage unit back east. I’ve been averaging 10 hours and around 650 miles a day on the road since departing from Worcester, MA on Wednesday morning.

It’s taking its toll. I’m exhausted and I am too damn tired to try to be creative today or to even recycle an old post. I just don’t have it in me.

I spent my first night on the road in a town called Westlake, OH, which is a little west of Cleveland. The next night I made it to Newton, IA, about 40 miles east of Des Moines. Last night I got to Cheyenne, WY. I had a hard time finding a hotel room here because of some sort of Frontier Days Festival they’re having in Cheyenne. But I did manage to find a room at an inn.

My target destination tonight is Elko, NV, It’s yet another 10 hour, 670 mile drive from Cheyenne. And if all goes well, I should be back home in San Francisco by Sunday night.

And so now, at 5:45 a.m., it’s time to get up, take a shower, grab some of the complementary breakfast meal this hotel offers, and hit the road once again.

The only thing that is keeping me sane on this trip is listening to my iTunes music library on shuffle on my iPhone through the auxiliary jack on the truck’s radio. If I didn’t have that iPhone by my side, I think I would be crazy by now.


Posted by on July 19, 2014 in Blogging


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What’s in a name?

Going to hit the road early today, so here’s another blast from the past. The original post was titled “That which we call a rose,” and I posted it in March of 2011, which means that if didn’t repost it, you would never read it.

I wrote this post shortly after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops met and decided to make some wording changes to the Bible. And, you know how down I am with the Bible, right? So, of course, I had to say something. I always have to say something. It’s what I do.

by any other nameShakespeare’s Juliet said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

It appears that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has decided that Juliet did not speak the gospel truth.

There is a lot in a name, these Catholic bishops believe, particularly when it comes to the New American Bible Revised Edition.

For example, the word “booty” in the new version of the bible is being replaced by “spoils of war.” Apparently the Catholic Church would prefer its parishioners shake their spoils of war rather than their booty.

And it’s not just booty that is being shaken up. A “virgin” will now be referred to as a “young woman.” You know, I never realized that age was a factor when it comes to determining virginity. At what age is it that a woman is no longer a “young woman” as now being used in the Revised Edition of the New American Bible?

Does this also mean that the Virgin Mary will now be referred to as the “Young Woman Mary”? The “Young Woman Mary” doesn’t seem to have the same ring to it as the “Virgin Mary,” does it?

The Revised Edition has also replaced the word “holocaust,” which has taken on a whole new meaning since World War II, with “burnt offering.” Hmm. I do seem to recall something about ovens at Auschwitz. Burnt offerings? Seriously?

The Conference of Catholic Bishops has also apparently ceded the word “cereal” to Kellogg’s and General Mills. References to cereal in the Revised Edition are being changed to “grain.” I guess these Catholic bishops didn’t know that on the streets, “grain” is lingo for grain alcohol. Oops!

Proverbs31-10And in homage to today’s women, the name of Proverbs 31:10 is being changed from “The Ideal Wife” to “Poem on the Woman of Worth.”

Have you read Proverbs 31:10? It’s listen-up, men, “a good woman [wife?] is hard to find,” and she is worth far more than jewels. But that doesn’t mean she won’t love it if you give her some jewelry for her birthday, your anniversary, and for Christmas. Am I right, guys?.

According to Mary Sperry, an official of the Conference, women will like this last change because it shows that a women should be measured by her own accomplishments and not just from the perspective of her husband.

I don’t know about that, Mary. To me, no matter what you call it, it’s still a 2000 year old description of what men at the time might have considered to be the ideal wife.

But I’m sure that changing the name of the verse will make women very happy.

Because what’s in a name?


Posted by on July 18, 2014 in Religion


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My way or the highway

My way highwayMy drive back to the west coast got unavoidably delayed by two days, but I did take off from Worcester, MA yesterday morning at around 9 a.m. and arrived at some place in Ohio — Westlake, I think it is — by 7 p.m. last night. I drove a little over 600 miles yesterday. And doggonit, I’m going to do it again today…and tomorrow and the next day and the next one after that, too.

I do have some observations about today’s road trip that I’d like to share with you. Actually, these are more like irritants than observations. Are you ready?

Leisurely Left Lane Larry — You know Larry. He’s one of drivers who travels in the left lane on a four lane interstate highway (two lanes in each direction) and who drives at or maybe just slight above the speed limit and who refuses to pull over to the right to let faster drivers pass. Even flashing your headlights doesn’t seem to faze him.

When I encounter such drivers — you know, the ones who are too stupid to understand what “Keep Right Except to Pass” means — I wish my car (or in this case today, my rental truck) was equipped with a howitzer cannon. I’d blow those assholes right out of the fast lane and into oblivion.

Terry Toll Taker — I know, a lot of roads these days have tolls. Yesterday I traveled on the Mass Pike to the New York State Thruway through Buffalo before working my way briefly into Pennsylvania (no tolls) and then to Ohio (no tolls so far). The New York State Thruway tolls from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania are not insignificant.

truck heightBut what shocked me is that when I went to pay the tolls on the NYS Thruway, the toll-taker doubled the amount printed on the tickets that I picked up when entering the Thruway. Apparently the toll amount applies to two–axle vehicles up to 7’6”. My rental truck was 9’6”.

So they charged me twice the amount on the ticket. Why would they do that? It’s not like my truck took up more space on the road than a two–axled truck that was two feet shorter.

What possible difference could it make how tall a truck is in to justify charging double the listed toll? Sheesh.

breaking piggy bankSmall Change Charlie — It’s bad enough having to wait in a long line of cars to finally get to the toll booth to fork over a small fortune for the privilege of driving through a state. But then there was the guy who was right in front of me at a toll booth just east of Buffalo. He pulled up to the toll booth and paid a $15 toll with small change. Not quarters, mind you, but pennies, nickels, and dimes. I actually think he busted open his kid’s piggy bank to pay the toll.

Of course, the toll-taker had to carefully count out the handfuls of small change the guy was shoveling his way to make sure it covered the toll amount. I sat behind this asshole for ten minutes while this whole scenario played out.

It can waitTommy Texter — This isn’t an irritant as much as it is a sign of the times. Along the New York State Thruway they now have designated “Text Stops.” There are signs that read “It Can Wait — Text Stop 5 miles.” Didn’t these use to be called “Rest Areas” or “Service Areas”?

Maybe this is what the New York State Thruway Authority has been doing with those double tolls from vehicles taller than 7’6”. They’re using the extra tolls collected to create text stops and to pay for new, 21st century signage.

Max Speedroom — My rental truck has a speed governor on it. I discovered this while I was attempting to pass a big, old, 18-wheeler going up a slight incline. That’s when my truck tapped out at about 75 miles per hour. What the hell am I going to do once I get to Wyoming, where the speed limit is 180?

Gus Guzzler — A 9’6” tall rental truck has a very large gas tank and gets very poor gas mileage. Who knew that gas pump displays could accommodate triple digit numbers?

Okay, no more rants from this road trip. Unless something really rantworthy happens on the road today.


Posted by on July 17, 2014 in Humor


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Blast from the Past

I wrote this post, originally titled “The Incredible Shrinking Man,” almost five years ago, when I was just starting to turn into a golden oldie. And now I am one! Woohoo! I hope you enjoy it.

I went to the doctor last week for my annual physical exam and the news was not good. No, I am not dying. Not yet anyway. And I don’t have any serious or fatal diseases. Yet I was shocked and disheartened by what I learned. When the nurse took my height and weight, she told me that I was 5 feet, 11 1/4 inches tall. Omigod, I am shrinking!

TheIncredibleShrinkingMan_1957Okay, perhaps my reference in the [original] title of this post to the Fifties horror flick of the same name is a bit over the top. It turns out that what I’ve experienced — this shrinkage thing — is not only not incredible, it’s commonplace.

According to the New York Times, senior citizens do shrink. In fact,starting at about age 40, people typically lose almost half an inch in height with each passing decade. Shrinkage occurs even faster after age 70. Senior citizens may shrink as much as three inches.

Oh how it pains me to think of myself as a “senior citizen.” But as someone who is less than two years away from becoming Medicare eligible, I suppose I have to reconcile myself to the fact that I am, indeed, or at least very soon will be, an official senior citizen. On the sunny side, though, there are some decent discounts available for us old-timers.

But I digress. It seems that it’s not just height that we lose as we grow older. In addition to losing height as we age, we experience decreases in everything from hair and hearing to memory and muscle. And libido? No comment.

First my hair turned gray before I lost most of it from the top of my head. Those realities are easy enough to see in the mirror every day when I go to brush what is mostly no longer there. (I’m referring, of course, to hair, not teeth. I still have my original choppers.) And as to my hearing, I certainly am aware that my hearing ain’t what it used to be. Could you please repeat that?

With respect to my memory, I can’t recall if it is getting any worse. Ha! Get it? I can’t recall! I don’t remember! Oh my goodness, I am so witty. I certainly haven’t lost my keen sense of humor with age! Booyah!

Muscles? I never had too many of those in the first place, so you can’t really lose what you never actually had, can you?

Okay. What’s the big deal, you ask, about shrinking a few inches? Are you kidding me? What kind of question is that? There are documented advantages to being tall, especially if you happen to be male.

In his New York Times best seller, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, New Yorker magazine staff writer Malcolm Gladwell wrote, “There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that height — particularly in men — does trigger a certain set of very positive, unconscious associations.” This form of prejudice based upon a person’s height has even been given a name: “heightism.”

The fact is that I used be 6’1” at my peak height. But now I’m three-quarters of an inch shy of six feet! Could I actually have shrunk by nearly two inches? Yikes! Alas, I am losing my heightism advantage. I can no longer be described as a “strapping six-footer.”

Father time and mother natureIsn’t it bad enough that, as one ages, there are more maladies and everyday aches, and pains to deal with? When you look in the mirror each day you see more and more lines and wrinkles, and the skin on your neck begins to look more turkey-like than human.

Strange growths that were never there before appear at various places on your body. Your chest sinks while, at the same time, your mid-section expands. And while you lose most of the hair on your head, where it should be, the hair in your nose and ears, where it shouldn’t be, starts to grow like crazy.

And then, on top of all that, you shrink. Thanks a lot, Father Time and Mother Nature.


Posted by on July 16, 2014 in Blogging


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