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I want to start by acknowledging all the unbelievably kind and caring people I have met here on WordPress.  You are the best people I could have ever hoped to know.  You represent every race, religion and lifestyle imaginable.  You live in countries around the world.  You come from every conceivable background and walk of life.   Through you, I have come to know that we are so much more the same than different.  We are bloggers! 

I’m not talking about the big-timey, commercial blogs or the experts plugging their products and services.  We are the heart and soul of the Blogosphere.  We put our words out there for many different reasons, but mostly I think we do it to make contact.  We are the global village so talked about in years past.  There is no profit, but there is gratification.  There is no expectation, but there is hope.  We take the risk and we make ourselves vulnerable, but it is worth it when someone visits our site, “likes” a post, makes a comment, or does us the enormous honor of following our blog.  

You have brought me great joy these past few months.  I could never fully express my gratitude for the support you have shown me and this blog.  You have been a gift I could not have anticipated or even imagined.  “Thank you” is so inadequate, but they are the only words I have to offer you in exchange for the comfort and joy each of you has given me by being part of my blog community.

My life is such right now that maintaining this blog properly is simply impossible.   I had thought to say good bye in this post, but when I went to my e-mail and saw all the comments, likes and new followers, I just couldn’t do it.  Instead, I’m going to do what I can to keep it going.  I’m not sure how often I will be able to post.  I know I will not have time to answer all the comments and visit everyone’s blog with any regularity.  I’m going to break all my own rules until things settle in my real world.  I’m also going to turn off my comment moderation, so comments will post when they are made.

I hope . . . no, I know you will understand because that’s just how you guys are.  I’ll post when I can and I’ll be reading as many of your blogs as time permits.  So, here’s wishing all of you a happy new year and I’ll being seeing you when I can.

I would like to invite all of you to visit my awards pages.  I have the priviledge of drawing attention to some of the blogs I enjoy through the presentation of several awards.  The And the Award Goes To  page contains links to all of the different awards being presented.  If you haven’t time for all of them, I’d really like you to check out the 7 x 7 Link Award.  It links seven of my favorite blogs and seven of my older posts — the ones I consider Most Beautiful, Most Helpful, Most Popular, Most Controversial, Most Surprisingly Successful, Most Underrated, and Most Prideworthy.  I’m quite proud of them all, but that one in particular.

Regular posts will begin again in the next day or two.  Thank you all for your patience while I discharged my “Freshly Pressed” and blog award duties.  I’ll try to make the next post a good one.

Mountain View, California and Bangalore, India

I have a new blog friend, Ari. Okay I have a lot of new blog friends (hi!), but this one happens to live and work in Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India. Mountain View, California is called the Silicon Valley and I used to live in California. We’re practical related. Anyway, I found Arindam UnPlugged one day while I was out tag surfing. I came across his post The Indian Signal Spectacle and laughed my ass off. Read it, you won’t be sorry. Besides, it helps this post make sense. Well . . . maybe not, but read it anyway.

The whole time I was reading his post I was stunned by his client, Steve from Chicago. Mr. Chicago seemed to be shocked and dismayed by the traffic customs in Ari’s metropolis. “Surely, Steve has driven or, at the very least, ridden in a car somewhere in the US of A,” was the thought that replayed in my head all the way through the post. I just hate it when people misrepresent and now find I must correct Ari’s impression of driving in America.

The first thing to strike me as odd was when the man from the windy city asked why the other drivers at a long stop light were honking their horns. Really?

This question actually came from a resident of one of the horn-honking capitals of the world? Standard hand placement on the wheel of the vehicle accommodates one to steer and one to honk. Honking is practically a national pastime. Fines up $250 for using the horn unnecessarily have been implemented, but no one seems particularly concerned and the clamor of toots and blasts continues unabated.

Steve’s next moment of amazement came as the result of a cyclist cutting between vehicles. Come on Steve, you never wanted to “clothes line” the twerp in the latex shorts and plastic helmet dodging in and out of traffic? Please.

“Steve had come in from a culture where people are accustomed to follow lane discipline.” Oh yeah, we have exceptional skills when it comes to staying in our lanes. No one ever curses some nimrod motorist straddling the line or cutting them off after flying down the median. Perhaps commuters in India have figured out how to deal with a tight squeeze, but we’re still having a little trouble with that one.

We also have a quaint custom of communicating directly with our fellow drivers. We are passionate about it and make sure we practice every day.

This interaction can be verbal or non-verbal and conducted through the use of hand gestures, signs and, of course, the car horn. There are some media types that like to exaggerate and call it “road rage,” but it’s really just friendly conversation. Our way of letting our compatriots on the road know how we feel about their brilliant driving skills.

Yeah, driving in good, ole America is a walk in the park. Just make sure you have 911 on speed dial, your pepper spray close at hand and emergency foodstuffs in the trunk for those really bad traffic days. And please . . . don’t forget to honk if . . .

I don’t understand death and loss.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I’ve gone through the process any number of times and the length of my list of dead and gone is colossal.  I have had careers die.  I have had love and passion die.  I have had my trust and my heart stolen.  I have had friendships drift away.  I have had marriages end.  I have had family that I loved dearly taken away.  Gone are houses, more than a few vehicles, massive quantities of other worldly goods, innumerable pets and most of my sentimental memorabilia.  I have lost my art and my lifestyle, even my freedom for a time (no it wasn’t prison).  Most everything for one reason or another, at one time or another has left me. 

Sure, there were reasons.  It’s not like I don’t take care of or am lackadaisical with what is important and necessary.  I’m not a total loser, only a part-time one.  I’ve worked hard for what I’ve had, but there have been some nasty obstacles to overcome and it’s likely I could have made better choices at different times in my life.  I could make you weep with my tragedies, but what would the point be.  I stopped crying long ago and learned to find a way to keep living.  It’s not like there is really any other conscionable alternative.  You breathe in and out.  You place one foot in front of the other.  You put your big girl pants on and continue.

I’m certain everyone experiences loss and death during their lives.  It’s part of life.  I get it.  I just don’t understand why it has to be so friggin’ hard or why there has to be so much of it.  I mean, you work your ass off and poof!  I learned a long time ago not to hold anything too tightly.  Never get so attached to a person, place or thing that their loss will destroy you.  Not that I haven’t been devastated many times over.  I have simply learned it’s an unavoidable part of life.  Still, this last couple of years, I’m starting to feel like I’m enduring my own personal seven plagues of the Apocalypse and I gotta say, even I have my limits.  I mean . . . really?  When is enough, enough?

Okay, the house burned . . . not all of it . . . what was left of the possessions went into the basement and rebuilding began.  Hey, I got a return on investment for years of insurance premiums.  The basement flooded . . . salvaged what can be saved and moved on.  I had to leave my job . . . so what, I had more time to deal with the rest of the chaos and I’ll get another.  Right?  Oh yeah, the cars that burned with the house and had to be replaced . . . was it really necessary for a tree to fly out of the sky and smash one to smithereens?  No problem, nobody was hurt.  Forget about the furnace that quit working . . . piece of cake . . . it doesn’t get THAT cold and what else are sweaters for anyway? 

It’s just stuff.  Belongings I loved and needed, but things that can be replaced to some degree . . . over time.  Fire, flood, storm, destitution and deprivation . . . did I leave anything out?  None of it is anything I’m gonna lose sleep over and the little every day disasters don’t even qualify for honorable mentions.  Would I have rather not have gone through it?  Of course . . . part-time loser, not mental defective with masochistic tendencies.  To hijack the old saying . . . been there; overcome(sic) that; got the t-shirt; and donated it to the Goodwill years ago.

I’ve got to say I’m having a bit of a problem with the pestilence.  I call it pestilence, but it’s really the black death of our generation . . . cancer.  It has struck all around me like a pharaoh’s curse.  I’ve thought perhaps it’s just that I’m getting old enough to start anticipating my friends and loved ones will start dropping like flies.  Hell, I’m not Methuselah, just your average middle-aged woman.  I’m not yet so elderly to begin a daily perusal of the obituaries to see who checked out today.  I wouldn’t think I should be partaking of that particular oldster’s pastime just yet.  Besides, it’s not the variety of health issues we expect our elders and peers to experience as youth fades.  It’s just freakin’ cancer.

I know I’m not alone in my struggle.  All you have to do is turn on the tube to see the extent of suffering in the world today.  The media frenzy is crushing with the 24-hour-a-day, play-by-play commentary of the havoc being wrought by man and mother nature . . . earthquakes, floods, tornados, hurricanes, draught, wild fires, oil spills, nuclear meltdowns, government breakdowns, stock market crashes, fiscal failure, home foreclosures, environmental devastation, starvation, terrorism, war, revolution, riots, child and drug abuse, murder and all manner of mayhem. 

We do seem to be circling the drain and I – for one – am getting pretty flippin’ tired of this crap.  Even I need a bit of down time between catastrophes and I’m better equipped to cope than most.  It is incomprehensible to me how some of the peoples of the world are managing to survive at all.  Almost everybody I know is experiencing tribulation of one sort or another.  No one’s sorrow is more or less significant than another’s.  When it happens to you, it is the worst thing you can imagine.

I’m making a formal request and sending out into the universe. 

Do you hear me higher power that I’m not sure how to address properly?  If you’re listening, I know a whole lot of us down here could use a break, so if you could/would . . . please.  I know I’d appreciate it.  We could use a hand, big time.  Anything would be a nice start.

While I’m waiting on an answer, I don’t plan to just sit on my duff.  I’m going to care for those in my charge as best I can; help others whenever and wherever I may; and try my damnedest to just breath.  To that end, I’m going to resurrect this all but abandoned blog.  Writing is precious to me and I love blogging.  I just let the calamities in my life squeeze it out.  I’m doing it for me and hope it will not be morbid and morose.  It may seem trivial to some, but there isn’t much I really have any control over these days.  This I do, so I will.

Dear Readers, I wrote this the end of September with the intent of posting it then but just kept putting it off.  I decided I had stalled long enough.  I don’t know if my higher power is working on getting us a little relief, but you all have been vital in my efforts to revive this blog.  MDR’s rebirth has exceeded my wildest imagining.  I will never be able to truly show you my appreciation, but I do . . . Thank you.

Note:  The first smart ass that points out there are only six plagues here will immediately have a plague visited on them.  I’ve already made the arrangements.

A little history to get ya’ll up to speed.  My baby here . . . Miss Demure Restraint . . . will be four years old on December 1st.  She’s been a bit schizophrenic in the past, but she’s responding well to medication.  I guess in a lot of ways she’s a reflection of my personal head space.  So what does that say about me? Yeah, I’m a little on the crazy side, but then what sane person gets on the internet and blindly writes to an audience that may or may not be there? Only a whack job exposes himself to the potential rejection trauma such activities may and sometimes do result in.  I think being a little nuts is an inherent trait in the artistic temperament.  That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Anyway, MDR was rolling on down the road, enjoying the ride and ran head on into a block wall a little over two years ago.  An incident, I can only describe as a “cat fight” broke out between a couple of commenters on one of my posts.  I have to take responsibility as I had the power to not approve a comment, but was intimidated by the “acumen” of the commenter throwing the first punch.  Then I felt obligated to approve the offended party’s response.  Long story short . . . things got ugly . . . fast.  I posted an apology and removed the comments, but something was broken I couldn’t fix.   I struggled for a short time to continue, but it just wasn’t the same after that.  I pretty much quit blogging until the beginning of last month.

I have made every mistake known to man in this blog, maybe even a couple nobody ever thought of.  Some of the comments on yesterday’s post got me to thinking and that can be dangerous even painful.  Yes, the smell of burning brain cells fills the air as I sit pounding away on the laptop.  I figure I have from agonizing experience learned a few things which I feel compelled to share.   I have to start with a disclaimer . . . there is NO wrong way to blog.  What I offer here is just a little common sense (I know the ultimate oxymoron) and suggestions on applying the bloggy golden rule . . . treat your fellow bloggers the way you wish to be treated. 

  1. Turn on your comment moderation function.  You are responsible for the content of your blog and that includes the comments.  Comments can be rather like an untended child.  You take your eyes off them for a minute and they will run into the street directly in front of a bus.  There are trolls out there people!  They can overrun your blog in no time at all.  Some of you are fully capable of dealing with them, but make it a conscious decision to leave your front door unlocked.  Don’t imagine for a moment they wouldn’t do it to you.  Well, maybe not you Androgoth.  Any troll taking on a vampire king will quickly regret it.  You don’t have to approve a comment that is offensive to you, your readers or your other commenters.  Don’t fall into the trap I did of being intimidated into approving something you aren’t comfortable having as a permanent part of your blog.
  2. Respond to the commenters on your blog.  Come on, it’s not hard.  Somebody has taken the time to read your blog and leave you a comment.  That’s a big deal . . . for me it is.  There are many ways to accomplish this.  The easiest way I know is to reply to the comment on your own blog.  You can do it as part of the approval process.  If you have time to approve the comment, you can at least say “Thanks.”  I have known some people that send an e-mail response.  I just got one yesterday, as a matter of fact.  Still others will go to the commenter’s blog to respond.  I freely admit I have failed in the past to take this simple step.  I have no excuse, but stupidity and failure to engage my brain.  I’ve learned it is important to let people know their effort was appreciated by acknowledging them.  Duh!
  3. Comment on your commentors’ blogs.  I figure if they spent their precious time on me, it’s the least I can do.  I was never so impressed as when a couple of the “pressed to death” bloggers not only responded to my comments on their blogs, but actually managed to take the time to visit me and leave a comment.  Sure I hadn’t gotten to their blogs through “Freshly Pressed” and didn’t even see their “pressed” posts until much later.  Still, these guys found a way when they were dealing with an overwhelming response burden.  I think I can safely say we all love comments.  It feels good.  Payback people . . . payback.  Take the time.  Read a couple of posts.  Find something you can comment on.  The upside is you may find some interesting people and places you will visit regularly.
  4. Make relevant comments and don’t spam.  Read the posts you comment on.  Personally, I don’t want to sound like a lame, inappropriate blog monkey.  Get a feel for the tone of the overall blog.  I would never comment on Always Curtsy When You Sneeze or The Waiting the same way I comment on Angry Rant or Barking in the Dark.  It’s fine to say, “Love the post,” but try to say something pertinent about the post you are commenting on.   Never make a comment simply to promote your blog.  Its spamming, rude and jackassary in the extreme.  You have a link back to your blog when using your WordPress account or by providing your URL.   Set your Gravatar up to include your blog.  Don’t just show up and say, “You should see my blog . . . assclownspammer.com.” 

Okay, this post is now officially way too long, but I have to say one more thing.  The people you see commenting here are the best.  They have taught me to be a better member of the blog community and as different as each of them is, I believe, they represent what blogging should really be about.  They are also some of the best damn writers I’ve had the pleasure to read.

Play nice and people will play with you.  Be an ass clown and they will take their ball and go home.  Oh yeah, it never hurts to link to your buddies occasionally in your posts.  So, now for the fun part . . . its your turn.  What do you consider proper blog etiquette?  What are your pet peeves?

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