#WATWB – Your Monthly Shot Of News That Doesn’t Suck

For those who hadn’t noticed, the United States underwent a bit of a cold spell last week. NM got a lot of wind, cold temperatures, and some snow. Overall, it wasn’t that bad although it was weird seeing snow on the ground for more than a few hours. Normally, we get a snow storm and the white stuff takes a hike by late afternoon. When the ground was still covered a couple of days later it kind of freaked us out.

We got off pretty light. Power and gas stayed on and we stayed inside and ate hearty green chile chicken soup and drank thick beer. Don’t judge; it’s our way of handling adversity. The central part of the country didn’t fare quite as well with temps dropping toward 0 K. Most of the midwest shrugged itself into a parka and went about its business. Texas, on the other hand, turned into a frozen hellscape.

The problem was multifold. Partially, Texas just doesn’t see those kinds of temperatures very often and so they didn’t entirely know how to deal with all the weird solid water or the fact that the air was like breathing daggers. It’s a southern US state, more known being temperate than Arctic. As a result, most Texans don’t have the experience of dressing in layers, bundling up, and generally using the tricks that the northerners use to stay warm. Some people in parts of Texas don’t even own winter coats.

Now, when the temperature gets that cold and you don’t have a jacket, the best bet is to stay inside where it’s warm. Unfortunately, Texas had problems besides just the extremely cold weather outside. What started as rolling blackouts due to high demand rapidly turned into a Texas-sized clusterfuck with some homes losing heat and power entirely. The blame for that debacle is still being sorted out but despite some of the propaganda coming out it wasn’t caused by windmills. Natural gas supply appears to be the main culprit, but time will tell.

So, subzero temperatures plus no heat equals bathtubs filled with water were frozen solid. Pipes exploded. People resorting to setting up tents in their living rooms and huddling together to keep warm. In other words, it was a disaster. And no disaster would be complete without salt in the wounds in the form of massively overpriced energy bills, in some cases as high as $17,000. So, not only could you not get your lights to stay on, when they were on they cost a fortune.

So, yeah, total disaster. The final fallout from the winter storm will likely be in the billions plus the cost of lives lost.

In the midst of all this, Texans kept going. It’s one of the things they’re really good at. But in the face of a natural disaster, everyone could use some help. Lots of people have set up funds to assist those in need and some politicians even stayed in the country to help however they could instead of fleeing to Mexico. Even an Austin bakery got in on the action and gave away thousands of dollars in groceries. In other words, people came together. Just not the people who stood to make a massive profit off the problem. For those scavengers of human misery, one can only hope the federal government will issue a pride-obliterating smackdown.

Read the original story here

If you’d like to connect your blog and help spread a little joy (or snark, like I do), it’s easy to sign up. Just ask and ye shall receive. Or go check it out here: here.

Our lovely and talented hosts this month are: Roshan Radhakrishnan , Shilpa GargSusan Scott, Sylvia McGrath, and yours truly.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible. (Wow, I totally missed that mark this time around).

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To sign up, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

This is a Blog Hop!

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

And now your moment of Zen.

#WATWB – Your Monthly Shot Of News That Doesn’t Suck

New year, new you and all that.

It’s December 60, 2020 and things are slowly converging toward normalcy. Our politicians are back to quibbling over funding, hopefully leaving violent attempted insurrection in the past, vaccines are rolling out quickly enough that everyone should be fully vaccinated sometime in 2025, and a group of peasants took to the Internet with digital pitchforks and torches to burn the American oligarchy at their own game.

In other words, still pretty much the same old world. It’s just that it’s trending back to a less bonkers version of itself. Kind of like someone released a patch – World 2.1 – and it bricked the planet so we had to roll it back. Don’t worry, we promise we’ll get the code working this time.

That’s not to say good things haven’t happened. I mean, a vaccine rollout is a great thing and I’m happy with the results of the recent election even if it did feel like we had to move Heaven and Earth to get January 20th.

Normally, these posts are supposed to be about some treacly feel-good story to prove that the world isn’t a giant ball of suck, but I think anyone who just looks around can feel that the dawn of a new day is slowly rising. You can dig through the news these days without feeling that knot in your gut that spells apocalypse and that’s good enough for me.

If you’d like to connect your blog and help spread a little joy (or snark, like I do), it’s easy to sign up. Just ask and ye shall receive. Or go check it out here: here.

Our lovely and talented hosts this month are: Sylvia McGrath , Simon FalkShilpa Garg, Mary Giese, and Belinda Witzenhausen.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible. (Wow, I totally missed that mark this time around).

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To sign up, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

This is a Blog Hop!

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

And now your moment of Zen.

It Didn’t Have To End This Way

Unless you’ve been living on Mars, under a rock, with your fingers in your ears, you probably know the US has a new president. While I, for one, am extremely happy about that, there are millions out there who are less than pleased and hundreds of thousands who feel like they just got punched in the gut. The millions are the regular Republican voters who like conservative ideals. While I disagree with them, I don’t bode them any ill will. The hundreds of thousands are a somewhat different story. And there’s one person to blame for it all.

QAnon, those lovable conspiracy theorists, who believed the country was run by Satan-worshiping cannibal pedophiles suddenly found themselves on the wrong end of a stick Wednesday morning at about 12n eastern time. Yes, that is the moment Joe Biden became the current president of the United States. While many of the QAnon adherents probably have philosophical differences about the role of government, taxation levels, immigration and so-on, their underlying fever for revolution was primarily built on Q’s message that before Biden could be sworn in, the military would swoop in, arrest the Satan-worshiping cannibal pedos and usher in a new age of peace and prosperity.

As the minutes ticked down to zero hour, they got more agitated. Jittery with need. Where was the revolution they were promised? What was going on? Why was Trump on a plane to Florida when he was supposed to be lurking in the DC shadows managing the Storm?

Noon came. Biden got sworn in. The Storm never materialized. And the ranks of QAnon were thrown into chaos.

Now, I was never a Q adherent; the whole thing seemed far too silly for my tastes. Cannibals and pedophiles? Satan-worshiping. It all seemed a little too desperate for my tastes, like over-talking the villain in a bad novel. “He hates freedom. He wants to enslave you. He worships evil. And, and, and, he also eats babies and wants to ban any kind of fun whatsoever. And he hates dogs and kittens.” But to the QAnons, it was all real and they believed with the fervency of the devout. And it had to come as a gut punch when Biden got sworn in and none of what they believed came to pass. It would be liking coming home early one day and finding Jesus banging your wife. Or husband. Whatever. Ugly scene no matter who’s involved in it.

Through it all, the QAnons had stuck to their guns. They lost friends, they lost family, and in some cases – like the riot at the capitol – they lost their freedom. Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if there were suicides coming down the pipe. Yes, it’s that bad.

But it didn’t have to be that way. The one person the whole thing revolved around, the one guy who knew with absolute certainty it was all bullshit, could have ended the madness before it left a trail of broken lives in its wake. All it would have taken was for Donald J. Trump to say, “Sorry, none of this QAnon stuff is true.”

The fact that he didn’t speaks volumes about just how much he cares about his most devoted followers.

Dumpster Fires & Shitshows

For the first time in my life, I’m looking forward to a history lesson. Not of times I never saw, but of times I lived through. History is the final judge of the character of an era. It’s what will stick in the heads of people from the future as gospel truth and forever taint their views of the time in question. It is when lies and mistruths are carved in stone and we close the book on the era in question with a disappointed sigh and wonder how could people live like that?

2020 has, in most important ways, been a shitshow. Interestingly enough, “shitshow” is in the dictionary which I think technically makes it a real word. It’s defined as “a situation or event marked by chaos or controversy.” Based on the definition and the general crass nature of the word, I’d like to nominate it as 2020’s official word of the year. It’s perfect.

In addition to massive unemployment, corrupt and incompetent national leadership, and generally selfish behavior, we got murder hornets, wild fires, drought, QAnon, and endless lies about election fraud. In a way, it’s a perfect ending; a wonderful, pride-obliterating karmic bitch-slap for our choices. Oh, and there’s still a pandemic going on with a new and exciting strain of virus that appears to be easier to spread.

Yay, us.

Looking at the world through those eyes, shitshow is the only accurate descriptor of the year even though dumpster fire comes in a close second. But, here’s the thing: We’ve been through worse and pulled through. There are scars and torn muscles, but as a species we’ve survived. As of this writing, the worldwide death toll for Covid is about 1.79 million. Now, granted, that’s 1.79 million people that should still be with us, but after a couple of years of running roughshod over the world, the Spanish Flu had whacked 50 million. We learned from it. Well, most of us did, anyway. Some dumbass motherfuckers still think Covid’s a hoax and their religious freedoms trump your right to stay alive. Worse, apparently it’s illegal to punch those jackasses.

But we’ve seen economic collapses before. We’ve had natural disasters and incompetent leaders and wars and pandemics and general strife. At the end of the day, we survived. The sun goes down, the sun comes up. Gravity still works. There are still good people out there and the world still has a lot going for it. We may hear endless tales of the bastards and all their dirty dealings, but there are more good people quietly doing good things than there will ever be of the bastards.

To quote Colonel Bill Kilgore from Apocalypse Now, “Someday this war’s gonna end.” It’ll leave some scars, sure, but scars just mean you’ve lived. And, hey, if it means we get to keep working from home, that’s a good thing. After all, I’ve spent too much time in comfortable clothes to ever go back.

Right now, I have to believe there’s still magic in the world. This is just us living through history. Some day, the movie theaters and salad bars will come back. Some day we’ll put the masks safely away and do our best to make sure we never need them again. The world will likely never be the same normal as before, but we can make it a better normal because we’ve lived through it and now know how to deal with it. Go out there and write the history. Include all the blemishes and horrors. Tell the truth, no matter the cost.

Goodbye 2020. You were a vicious bastard but in the end, we beat your ass.

This Symbol Does Not Belong To You

Last year, Nike planned on introducing their Betsy Ross shoes. They were basically a variety of fancy red, white, and blue sneakers with the original Betsy Ross flag on them. Kind of cool idea; the sneakerheads dug them. Since they were Nikes, they were probably going to cost a small fortune, but be good shoes. That came to halt because of, among other things, a comment from Colin Kaepernick about the unintentional message of slavery and racial divisions that had become linked to that original flag.

Kool in an “I need orthopedic shoes” kind of way.

Now, I won’t debate Kaepernick on that. He’s probably got a lot more first-hand experience with racism than I ever will. Being a white guy in America, the closest I ever came to being on the receiving end of racism was when a truck was backing up and someone said, “Better move, white boy.”

That was it.

So, for me to say I have some in-depth understanding of racial division in America after one off-handed comment would be a lie. That’s why I’m happy to listen to the guy who found a way to protest systematic racism in this country in a peaceful and respectful way and lost his career over it.

There’s been a growing movement in this country for racist fuck-wads to adopt traditional American symbols – such as our flag – and claim they’re the only ones entitled to it. To claim they’re the only “real Americans”. But, the country was supposedly founded on freedom and equality and, in my mind, that means knocking other people down to feel better about yourself is anathema to being an American.

And that’s a problem because at the end of the day, we’re all Americans and you don’t get to point at someone and say, “You’re not American enough”. And, yes, I am fully aware that right now I am pointing at people and saying, “You’re not American enough”. The difference is, I’m not pointing at people because of the color of their skin or their sexual preferences or what religion they belong to. I’m pointing at all the motherfuckers that have managed to turn the flag of my country into a manifesto of white nationalism. I’m pointing at every dipshit who thinks only people in his or her party love the country. Yes, I’m pointing my finger straight between your beady little eyes and reminding you that I’m a liberal and I was proud of my country before every two-bit, knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing pieces of double-smoked butt-jerky decided it was theirs.

So, no. You assholes don’t get to keep the flag. That flag belongs to everyone in this country whether you like them or not. And I think it’s time we took it back from the bastards who want to keep it from us.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to remember what our country is supposed to stand for and be able to wear its symbols without giving handouts to the Nazi swine. We’re not a perfect country and we have a long way to go before we get the “Liberty and justice for all” part of our nation’s story. Until then, I’m going to at least rip that flag out of the hands of the ones who’d use it to beat the rest of us down.

WATWB – Your Monthly Shot Of News That Doesn’t Suck

There’s a lot going on in the world. In addition to riots and shootings, the continued threat of the Cronizzle, and most of California being on fire, we lost a great woman – the Notorious RBG – recently. All in all, not a great year. While it would be easy to get down about all these problems, we still have one very important thing going for us: There are still dogs and they’re still happy to see us.

It’s been known for a while that petting a dog (or a cat) for 10 minutes can reduce your stress. All they ask for in return is food, water, and the entire damned couch. Or maybe that’s just my dogs. We also know that their sense of smell is on the order of 10,000 times more sensitive than ours. Or, to put that in different terms, that means a dog could sniff out a single drop of something in two Olympic-sized pools.

In addition to reducing our stress and taking up all the space on the couch, dogs have been trained to use those keen sniffers to detect cancer, malaria, and other maladies. Now, researchers in Finland have trained dogs to sniff out the Cronizzle – that’s Covid-19 for those of you who aren’t hip and with it.

A couple of the major problems in dealing with Covid-19 are the potentially long burn time of two weeks before someone even knows they have it and asymptomatic carriers who will never know they have it. Pair those things up with an airborn, highly virulent bug, and you’ve got a recipe for a pandemic. While various tests have been kajiggered up in labs around the world, they still take time and money to produce results. A dog can be trained to react to the smell of the virus as it comes out in our sweat and can produce results nearly instantaneously. All they ask in return is that you get off the damned couch so they can really stretch out and would it kill you to get them a blanket and pillow?

You can read the original article here. While you’re out perusing the Internet for more dog-related activities, be sure to check out No Dog Left Behind, the wonderful folks who helped rescue dogs who were left homeless in the wake of Hurricane Laura and Bob The Dog, who’s just too damned cute for words.

If you’d like to connect your blog and help spread a little joy (or snark, like I do), it’s easy to sign up. Just ask and ye shall receive. Or go check it out here: here.

Our lovely and talented hosts this month are: Roshan Radhakrishnan , Shilpa GargPeter Nena, Sylvia Stein, and yours truly.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible. (Wow, I totally missed that mark this time around).

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To sign up, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

This is a Blog Hop!

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

And now your moment of Zen.

WATWB – Your Monthly Shot Of News That Doesn’t Suck

Okay, so I’m late this month. Technically, this post was supposed to be up Friday at midnight UTC and now Damyanti’s gonna have my legs broken. In my defense, I’ve got two things that prevented me getting it out on time. 1, I’ve got a new book that just came out (link over there to the right, Roadside Attractions. Great book. I’m very proud of it). 2. I’m lazy. In fact, I just now got around to putting the link to Roadside Attractions over there even though it’s only, like, a two-minute process.

What was that title? Oh, yeah, Roadside Attractions. Jeez, talk about your gratuitous plugging.

Anyway, I went back and forth on what to write about. On the one hand, Kuwait has relaxed its book censorship laws, so that’s a good thing. On the other hand, women in France are eschewing bras. Which is also a good thing. But, considering the coming civil war in America, I decided to stick with the homefront and remind everyone that it’s, like, totally okay to not be a dick.

If you live in an area where you can get on Nextdoor, you’ll find it’s something of a mixed bag. For those of you not in the know, Nextdoor is an app and website where everyone in the neighborhood keeps an eye on things. That’s a good thing. Unfortunately, a lot of folks on Nextdoor have nothing to do with their lives, so their posts consist of, “OMG, strange man walking down the street! WTFBBQ!”

For a country as xenophobic as America, strange people can raise our blood pressure to dangerous levels that can only be alleviated with automatic weapons and cheap beer. So, given that mentality, when a man sees a kid constantly riding a bike in his driveway, you can imagine what comes next.

He draws the kid a race track in chalk on his driveway. And updates it frequently so the kid has a new track every now and then.

See, just because someone’s reading something you don’t like or going around braless, or riding their bike on your driveway, doesn’t mean you need to haul off and be an ass about it. Sometimes, just drawing a chalk racetrack is the best solution.

Read the original story here.

If you’d like to connect your blog and help spread a little joy (or snark, like I do), it’s easy to sign up. Just ask and ye shall receive. Or go check it out here: here.

Our lovely and talented hosts this month are: Lizbeth Hartz, Peter Nena, Shilpa Garg, Roshan Radhakrishnan, Sylvia Stein.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible. (Wow, I totally missed that mark this time around).

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To sign up, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

This is a Blog Hop!

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

And now your moment of Zen.

WATWB – Your Monthly Shot Of News That Doesn’t Suck

Let’s start by facing a couple of ugly truths:

  • The Confederacy were a group of traitors who lost the US Civil War
  • The Nazis were a group of vicious bastards who lost World War II

There, now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can move on.

So, in case you’ve been living on Mars in a cave with your fingers in your ears, you might have noticed that United States is undergoing an upheaval. Which is a fancy, polite way of saying, “Shit’s on fire, yo.” Underlying tensions finally hit a boiling point and the resultant explosion has been felt around the globe. While the ongoing protests were officially kicked off by the death of George Floyd, the turmoil has been lurking there in the dirty underbelly of my country for a very long time. Frankly, it’s like unwrapping a bandage and finding maggots digging around a festering wound on your arm. No wonder everything was so itchy and painful. We had maggots. And festering.

While this post isn’t necessarily about the Black Lives Matter movement – I support it by the way, feel free to throw rotten fruit – it is about change. Now, racism is an attitude and attitudes are very hard to zero in on. While mainstream American culture decries racism, it’s always been there like those maggots in the festering wound.

Yes, that’s an ugly description. But it’s racism we’re talking about here, saying we found cute puppies in a box isn’t an apt descriptor. It’s an ugly thing and it deserves an ugly description.

Anyway, narrowing in how many people have a particular attitude is a tricky thing. Especially in the case of racist bastards who’ve learned to hide their beliefs under a thin veneer of respectability. So, how do you figure out if an attitude is changing if you can’t actually find it because it’s so well hidden? Well, one thing you can look for the active removal of physical aspects of that thing. When someone gives up Pokemon, they toss a mountain of cards in the trash. When someone gives up martial arts, they send their gi to Goodwill for the next generation to pick up. Not that Pokemon or martial arts are bad things, but they represent an attitude that doesn’t always have an outward representation. So you look for the removal of less-than-public affectations. In the case of racist beliefs, you check for the removal of tattoos. If there’s a sudden influx of people who want their swastika covered up with puppies (or Pokemon), you can safely assume there’s been a turning point in the attitude.

Interestingly, enough, exactly that sort of thing is happening. Maybe not in vast numbers, but it is happening. People are going in and getting their swastikas and Confederate flag tats covered up or removed entirely. Consider it a growing-up process, looking in the mirror and thinking, “Shit, dude, I’m not that person anymore. Maybe it’s time to toss this crap in the garbage.”

Racism isn’t going to go away overnight. It’s something that will have to be starved out of existence and, unfortunately, that’s gonna take time. And it’s going to require exposure to the sun. Those maggots and that pus would exist forever in the dark. Ripping off the Band-Aid ain’t pleasant, but it’s the only way to see the root cause of the crippling pain in your arm. So, while the country is tearing itself apart right now, it’s a necessary thing to get at the rot in the middle. Don’t worry, we can put it back together again. We’ve done it before.

Read the original tattoo removal article here.

If you’d like to connect your blog and help spread a little joy (or snark, like I do), it’s easy to sign up. Just ask and ye shall receive. Or go check it out here: here.

Our lovely and talented hosts this month are:

Yours truly, Susan Scott, Inderpreet Kaur Uppal, Shilpa Garg, and Peter Nena

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible. (Wow, I totally missed that mark this time around).

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To sign up, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

This is a Blog Hop!

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

And now your moment of Zen.

WATWB – Your Monthly Shot of News That Doesn’t Suck

It ain’t easy finding good news these days. We’ve still got a pandemic going on, one that scientists are finding is much uglier than previously thought. The riots are slowly dying down, but the underlying turmoil that drove them is still there. And American leadership is at an all-time low. On the plus side, the murder hornet subplot seems to have been ditched, so we’ve got that going for us.

All in all, 2020 has been something of a dumpster fire. That’s why next weekend, I’ll be tossing some candy into the streets, eating some turkey, passing out some presents, and calling the year done.

In the milieu of the year, it’s easy to forget there are some good things going on. I nearly wrote up this post on how Dolly Parton and Nina West are starting up a charity for LGBQT+ and children’s literacy because, hey, Dolly Parton. You can’t go wrong with Dolly Parton. I was also tempted by the very important story of how a topless woman saved a drowning family because topless woman.

In the end something a little more timely won out. Namely the fact that NASA renamed its DC HQ after Mary W. Jackson, the first black female engineer at NASA. Women have had a tough road to hoe in the sciences – even Hedy Lamarr who co-invented frequency hopping spread spectrum had to step back from her invention and let a man take the credit – but black women have had an even tougher road. Mary Jackson worked her ass off for NASA publishing twelve technical papers, working on high-profile projects like Mercury, and worked on helping women and minorities figure out how best to advance their careers by offering her insight on classes and career paths. In other words, someone worth looking up to.

So, while the world is changing, hopefully we’ll be able to see more stories like this. They won’t erase the past but maybe they’ll help us reinvent the future.

If you’d like to connect your blog and help spread a little joy (or snark, like I do), it’s easy to sign up. Just ask and ye shall receive. Or go check it out here: here.

Our lovely and talented hosts this month are: Sylvia McGrath, Susan Scott, Shilpa Garg, Damyanti Biswas, and Belinda Witzenhausen.

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible. (Wow, I totally missed that mark this time around).

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To sign up, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

This is a Blog Hop!

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

And now your moment of Zen.

Petrichor, Potvalor, Sapid. #vss365

I play some of the Twitter writing prompts every day. There are dozens of them out there. Some are good, some not so good, and some go through bouts of greatness followed by pits of despair. One of the biggest and longest running prompts is #vss365, short for very short stories 365 days a year. It’s big enough that there’s no chance in hell you’re going to read them all on a given day. Well, unless you have significantly more free time than I do.

The way these prompts work is someone posts a word and you can either dig through your existing works or write something new that uses the word. The idea is to use the word in some creative fashion. With some words, like machine which was the theme word for both #scififri and #satsplat today, it’s relatively easy. Machine can mean a lot of things from a physical machine to a metaphorical machine to Sharky’s Machine. There’s a lot of room to play with the theme word.

Then there are some of the words that have popped up on #vss365 lately: Potvalor, petrichor, and sapid. Among other things. Personally, I think it’s telling that Brave’s spell check is telling me all those words are spelled wrong, but because they’re so rare almost no one ever uses them. It’s like fustian or polyglot; outside of certain realms of communication those words simply don’t exist.

So, for those of you scratching your heads and wondering just what the hell potvalor, petrichor, and sapid mean:

  • Potvalor: Courage or bravery from resulting from drunkenness
  • Petrichor: That pleasant smell after a good rainstorm
  • Sapid: Having a strong, pleasant taste

There, now you can use your potvalor and describe your sapid drink and the petrichor next time you’re trying to seduce some hot little number at a party. You’re welcome.

Aside from the sensuous art of verbal seduction, what’s the good of trying to shoehorn potvalor, petrichor, and sapid into writing? Especially when you consider most writing should fall into about the sixth grade reading level. Well, here are two things to keep in mind: If you want to get good at something, do it a lot and if you want to get better at something, push yourself.

As with anything else, writing is a skill and skills can and should be developed and nurtured. You don’t hear about pro athletes saying they’re just naturally so good they don’t bother to train. Want to get better at punching? Punch something. Want to get better at cycling, get a bike and go ride. And each time you do that thing, pay attention and focus on getting better. If you want to get better at writing, write. And just like the athlete that pushes his or her boundaries, break out of your skill set. Write a different genre of story or a different style. If you’re an action writer, try your hand at writing a romance and vice versa. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but the act itself will illuminate things you’d never thought of before. For instance if you’re gonna try your hand at erotica, you’ll be amazed at how many euphemisms there are. Also, writing the word “cock” over and over gets boring. Dig deeper. Tease out those other words. Penetrate your own style. Trust me, the explosion at the end will be worth it.

Now, of course, none of this is to say I didn’t take a few cheap potshots at the #vss365 theme words here and there.

But ultimately, I like to think I rose to the challenge. Words like petrichor, sapid, and potvalor aren’t easy to incorporate, especially if you want them to be interesting and feel natural.

It’s all too easy to grouse at the challenges, but those challenges are what make you better. So, next time someone says, “Work fustian into a sentence without sounding like a pompous ass” you can do it. After you look it up, of course.

In fact, go do that and drop a line in the comments.