Thoughts on Black Friday

Just a few thoughts on the day after Thanksgiving.

Our Thanksgiving Celebration

We enjoyed a long anticipated family dinner in Madera at my nephew’s home Wednesday afternoon. He usually has to work on holidays, so the family often celebrates when he’s available. Family members live long distances from each other, so getting together at all is something to celebrate. Even so, my other nephew had school and couldn’t come. I enjoyed the family time with those able to be there. I never know when or if the next time with them will come.

Thoughts on Black Friday
Thanksgiving Pies

Since my family likes privacy I won’t post their photos here, but I did post a photo of the delicious pies (above). I sampled all three.

I hope all of you who celebrated Thanksgiving with your families enjoyed a stress-free day of connecting to those you love. If you were alone because you no longer have a family, are estranged from family, or you have lost someone dear to you, I wish you peace and healing.

The Trip to Madera and Back

The traffic was heavy going south on Wednesday. It was lighter for us going north except here and as we approached Fresno and Madera.  It was especially bad trying to get back on Highway 41 going north after making a pit stop near the intersection of 41 and I-5. (Where the photo below was taken.)That line of cars is headed south to the only signal light that can get people access to I-5.

The only way to make a left turn, which we needed to do, was to hope someone would create a space so you could squeeze through while traffic was backed up to a red light. You can see a truck stopped to let a driver through who needed to make a left into the street we were on . The traffic was lined up for about two blocks behind what you see here. A kind driver did let us through to make our left turn, too.

Traffic near I-5 and Hwy 41 in California
Traffic near I-5 and Hwy 41 in California

As we had hoped, traffic was much lighter as we drove home on Thanksgiving Day. We finally got home yesterday in the late afternoon. After unloading the car, I had to get back to work on the computer.

Black Friday Deals

I’m not much of a shopper, but I am an affiliate marketer. I had posted early access specials to my blog before Thanksgiving, but I still had to add all the bargains that actually did start on Black Friday to a blog post. I needed to get them all posted before they started at midnight.

Enjoy the rest of this holiday weekend, fellow Americans. I hope those of you from other parts of the world also have a pleasant weekend and can do whatever your heart is set on.

Do We Want a Future Of Instant Connections and Without Email?

Do we really want to do away with email in intra-company communications and replace it with instant communication?

I used to work in this office occasionally back in the 1970’s, in the days before computers were on every desk and hardly anyone used the Internet for anything. You walked over to someone to speak to him personally and you used the phone to talk to someone outside the store. It worked.

Barbara Gago envisions a completely different business environment to evolve by the next decade. She sees email being dead on a business network and being replaced with instant communication and video communication on enterprise social networks.

She sees more people working at home on their computers, making an office environment unnecessary. I can go along with that. I can also understand that a company CEO or manager might want to communicate by video with employees rather than calling everyone to be physically at a meeting. That saves time and energy for everyone involved.

What I’d personally find difficult is the instantaneous nature of this proposed network communication. If it doesn’t come by email, how does it come? Instant messaging? Will it be a constant barrage of dings on the computer screen as different people in the organization decide they have something important to say that must be said immediately? I can’t see all those interruptions encouraging productivity, since they break concentration as employees try to perform tasks. Nothing makes me crazier now when I’m trying to write or calculate or work in Quickbooks than hearing a ringing phone (that’s probably a sales person) or the ding of someone instant messaging me just to say “Hi.”

Another thing I don’t like about instant communication is that it allows little time to think over what one will say before sending or responding to the message. I’m guessing much will be said that would not be said if one had to walk to someone’s desk to say it, or even make a call. Each of us thinks what we have to say is important. The question I have is whether it’s all important enough to interrupt someone with, or whether it could wait until that someone is ready to check email during the next hour. Everything important is not necessarily urgent.

What do you think?

Rare Sun-bonnet Babies Book Sold

Are you familiar with the Sun-bonnet Babies, the creation of Bertha L. Corbett? I first met them in greeting card form, and then a few years ago, I met them in a book I had Acquired, published in 1900.

Every once in a while in a bookseller’s life comes the opportunity to acquire a special book. One of the special books I had the opportunity to own for a time was The Sun-Bonnet Babies.

Sun-bonnet Babies Introductory Picture
Sun-bonnet Babies Introductory Picture

Most people aren’t old enough to have seen this book by Bertha L. Corbett, since it was published in 1900. If you follow the title link above you will learn more about this book, which I sold yesterday. I thought of taking it down, but since I had such a hard time finding any information on it when I was researching it, I decided to leave it up for anyone else who might happen to come across it.

I probably could have gotten more than I did for this book, but I was feeling generous and did not make the buyer a counter offer. It is, after all, close to Christmas. I was not sure exactly what the true value of the book was, so I went by the old adage that a book is worth what a willing buyer is willing to pay willing seller.  If someone took advantage of me, so be it.

I suppose this book was special because in my days as a card buyer I met the Sun-bonnet Babies in greeting card form. The greeting card babies were in color, but other than that they looked like the ones in the image above, except they were larger. Have you met the Sun-bonnet Babies before seeing them here?

My Flip Camcorder Died This Week

I’m having to ween myself from taking video everywhere since my Flip camcorder died this week. I’m looking for a replacement. Any suggestions?

Shadow of Me and My Flip Camcorder in Action on a Walk Together
Shadow of Me and My Flip Camcorder in Action on a Walk Together

My Flip has gone almost everywhere with me for over a year. It has walked with me and recorded my conversations with people and the words of speakers at events. Just four days ago I used it to tape a pair of birds courting. Then, later in the day, I wanted to tape them in a different place and my Flip wouldn’t turn on. There was no friendly electronic chirp when I pressed the power button, but I was sure the batteries weren’t drained. Here I was, all ready to go for a photo walk, and my trusty Flip was incapacitated.  I haven’t walked without my Flip in so long I almost didn’t go.

On the walk, I regretted no one would hear the brook or the birdsong but me. Instead of being able to scan the tree with the broken branch so my blog readers could see it all connected, I had to break it into three separate pictures that didn’t really do the same job. When I passed the horses, I couldn’t get their conversation on tape. I almost felt I’d lost part of myself. For sure I lost an important tool.

So today I decided to see if there was any way to resurrect it. I called Flip tech support, hoping, I guess, for a miracle. After an hour with chat at the end of which my messages no longer went through, I called. I worked with phone support, who reminded me my camera was no longer under warranty. I did know that, but I’d hoped my camera would outlive its warranty. We tried deleting everything from the Flip and updating the software. We tried jumpstarting it plugged into the computer. Nothing worked. It was truly dead, after only about 14 months of use.  It’s now back in the box it came in.

My Flip Camcorder in the Box It Came In
My Flip Camcorder in the Box It Came In

Now I must replace it, since I’m supposed to be the videographer for an event in mid-April. I’ve spent  a good part of today reading reviews on line. Though I love my Flip, I really am hoping to get something that will last a bit longer. If you, my readers, have a suggestion for a simple to use and easy to carry camcorder, I’d love your suggestions. I prefer something that does not rely completely on a rechargeable battery pack that can give out in the middle of an event.

Meanwhile, I will have to rediscover traveling with only a still camera. Or learn to operate its video features — if I could only find the my English version of the manual.

What I’ve Learned about HubPages

Which is the better writing site? Squidoo or HubPages? Where can you earn the most with your writing? In which atmosphere will you be most likely to thrive? Maybe this comparison will help you decide.

I'm a Squidoo LensmasterBack in 2009 I started a series in which I introduced the various on-line writing communities I belong to. I got as far as Squidoo and stopped.  I stopped because I got so busy writing at Squidoo that I lost interest in the other communities. Now, after becoming a member of the Giant Squid 100 Club and becoming a Squidoo angel, I decided to go back and take a closer look at HubPages. I had not really done much on the site, and I wanted to determine if it was a good fit for me. It has much in common with Squidoo, and I read a very good hub that compares the two sites. You might want to look at Hubpages vs Squidoo if you are not familiar with one or both sites for writers and those who would like to be.  It is objective and will give you a viewpoint other than mine. Its only fault is that it’s not up to date, so I decided to write an update on the recent changes at Squidoo.

Today I would like to discuss what I have learned about HubPages and its potential for earning income by writing. In August, 2009, I wrote four hubs at HubPages on unrelated topics. Then I moved back to Squidoo, and didn’t come back to HubPages until September, 2010. A writing contest lured me back. I was extremely lucky and won a total of $150 in prizes for this hub: Great Short Hikes in San Luis Obispo County. I decided there might be a future for me at HubPages after all. After writing a couple more hubs about living in wine country, I concentrated my time at Squidoo again to participate in a Rocket Moms session. For the past two weeks, most of my time and writing energy has been focused on HubPages so that I could  learn more about the community. I spent several hours over two days reading all the hubs that would help me get more familiar with the policies, tools, people, and techniques on the HubPages site.

One happy discovery was that they had added a few more writing capsules to work with . When I first joined there was no poll, no quiz, no table, no map capsule, and no video capsule. These new tools make writing a creative hub much easier.  One reason I like Squidoo so much is that it has so many different types of modules or lens building blocks.

Another thing I found at HubPages were many fine writers, and I read as much by them about the HubPages Community as I has time for.  I begin to interact in the comments on interesting hubs, and was reminded again how much more interactive the comments section of hubs is than the guest book on Squidoo lenses. Hub authors not only read and approve comments as lensmasters on Squidoo always do, they return to reply to most comments, and conversations start. This doesn’t happen as much on Squidoo. It does happen on Gather, which is a cross between a social networking and a writing site, but many people on Gather leave generic comments just to collect points and a comment like “nice” doesn’t inspire many replies. I will discuss Gather in a future post.

So, if we are comparing Squidoo and HubPages, a writer will find more varied writing tools at Squidoo than at HubPages, but he will find more interaction on his hubs than he might on lenses at Squidoo. As a writer, I find this refreshing, since every writer thrives on feedback. A writer wants to know he’s been read and understood, or to have a chance to clarify if his reader has not understood something he wrote.

A very subtle difference between the two sites is Squidoo’s emphasis on charity. Most contests at Squidoo give half your prize to the charity of your choice — as long as you choose a charity they partner with.  You are encouraged to give at least some portion of what you make through your writing to one of these charity partners. Because so many do give some or all of their Squidoo earnings to Squidoo charity partners, you can feel a great deal of pressure to do likewise, whether you can afford it or not.  It’s the same kind of guilt you might feel when you see solicitors collecting for the homeless as you enter the supermarket.   You might rather feed the hungry in your own community through a local program than donate to the charities  Squidoo partners with, but there is a certain amount of pressure if you’ve been around Squidoo long, to donate parts of your lens earnings to their charity partners.

At HubPages, it’s more like any other kind of job in that it’s assumed that the main reason you are there is to earn money, and there’s no pressure to give part of it away by donating all or a percentage of your hub earnings automatically to anyone through your hubs. That’s up to you when you get it. If you want to tithe it to your church or give it to the local animal shelter or homeless program, it’s up to you.

The policies at HubPages reflect the reality that most people work for pay as well as satisfaction and that they naturally tend toward self-interest . Example. If you are a salesman (and most squids and hubbers are affiliate salespeople, if only for Amazon), you don’t normally encourage your prospective customers to go to the store down the street to buy a product you also sell. Squidoo encourages lensmasters to do something very similar by encouraging them to link to other people’s lenses and recommend them. This is supposed to promote cross-traffic. But affiliate programs normally leave a cookie on a visitor’s computer so that when he makes a purchase, the affiliate (the one who wrote the lens or hub) gets a small commission. It is the owner of the last site through which a visitor clicks who gets paid, even if the review he first  read on a previously visited site actually convinced him to buy. Let’s say Jim is thinking of buying an I-MAC. He does a search and lands on Pete’s Squidoo lens with a great review of an I-MAC.  He is pretty sure he wants one and has already clicked through to check it out at Amazon. He comes home after work and goes back to the lens he visited earlier, and sees a link to my lens about what one switching from a PC to an I-MAC needs to know.  He follows the link to my lens and has his last question answered and clicks through my link to buy the I-MAC. I get the commission. Pete doesn’t. He doesn’t even have the satisfaction of knowing he helped Jim make up his mind.

At HubPages, where it’s easier to earn AdSense money, you get a non-monetary referral fee, so to speak. If Pete links to a Hub I wrote and Jim follows it, Pete will at least profit from a portion of my page views that come from HubPages’ share — not mine. If you use your special link to send someone to another Hubber’s site, HubPages shares some of the pageviews for that hub with you. This gives Hubbers lots of incentive to promote the hubs of others — not just their own, and they may not mind so much sending prospective customers down the street.

About Links
About Linking to Affiliates

One big difference between Squidoo and HubPages is your ability to sell from your lenses and hubs. Neither site will put up with a lens full of spam, but at Squidoo it’s understood that people are often writing lenses to promote the products of their affiliates, or maybe even a business they own. They allow you to have up to 9 links to any one top level domain that’s  on their white list. Only very well known sites that are pretty much accepted by everyone as reputable are on the white list. There is also a black list of sites you can’t link to because their reputations aren’t as sterling.

HubPages allows only two links to the same top level domain in a single hub, and they also watch to see how many of your other hubs link to that same domain. So if your primary reason for joining a writing site is to promote affiliates, you are better off at Squidoo — as long as you write original content that explains why the products you are promoting are worth while. If your lens is full of spam, you may have your article locked at either site, and if too much of your work is locked, your account will be deleted. Spam is not welcome anywhere.

If you were to join the Squidoo community today, you might feel a bit of culture shock. You would be entering a world where friendly monsters pop out to tell you that you just got points for doing something good. You would hear other lensmasters referred to as squids, and you would be considered a fresh squid. If you write a better than average lens, you are likely to be blessed by a Squidoo angel. Sometimes you will be invited to go on a quest, which is a kind of game that encourages you to visit more of other people’s lenses and write more of your own.

You do not experience that same culture shock at HubPages. HubPages has a more businesslike atmosphere, with no gimmicks. Policies and guidelines are clearly stated as they might be in a workplace. At Squidoo there is a whimsical flavor to even many policy announcements. It’s more like an amusement park atmosphere than an office. Sure, you work. But it’s also supposed to be a bit fun.  There are more creative outlets and game-like activities.  When I want to write in a straightforward, no frills fashion, I go to HubPages. I’m not expected to do more than write at HubPages, unless it’s to make my hub more attractive by adding pictures, maybe a video, or, if appropriate, a map, quiz, poll, table, link list, or Amazon capsule. But when I want promote my Zazzle store or do something really creative or innovative, I write a lens at Squidoo or take a quiz or go on a quest. Variety is the spice of life. All work and no play gets monotonous.

HubPages, however, has  frequent contests instead of quests. It appears that they happen quarterly. During a contest, there are lots of daily and weekly cash prizes, with a grand prize at the end of a contest month. When you enter, you have a fair chance to win something. This makes up for the fact that it might be some time before you get a payout for your Google AdSensse earnings.

What I’ve learned about HubPages in this last two weeks has encouraged me to spend as much time writing there as I do at Squidoo. Between the two sites there is enough flexibility to happily write anything I choose. There is potential for earning at both sites. At Squidoo you will probably earn more through affiliate programs than through AdSense,  since you won’t get a piece of the AdSense pie there unless your lenses rank among the top 80,000 out of at least 340,000 — and that was last week. New lenses continue to be written every day to compete with yours for that place in the top 80,000. Any money you earn from lower-ranking lenses will be through affiliate income.

At HubPages, you can expect to make more through AdSense than through affiliates, since you can’t link as much to your affiliates. You do not, however, have to compete with other hubs to get a share of the AdSense earnings. You get all the income from 60% of your impressions, and any affiliate income through HubPages capsules that occur during your share of the impressions. HubPages gets all the earnings from the other 40% of the impressions.

I hope this comparison will help other writers who are trying to find an audience for their work on line and make a supplemental income at the same time. On either site it takes more than a few articles to build up this income. I recommend at a minimum to have 50 articles posted on a site before you expect to get to payouts monthly, and that’s assuming they are quality articles — not rewrites of something you have published elsewhere. Both sites reward original content — not overly promotional pieces you might have used software to generate.  If you plan to work hard, write well, and be patient, you will finally see your payouts coming in. If you would like to join Squidoo, please click my referral link here and have an idea ready to start writing.  If you’d like to join HubPages, please click here for a great article by another Hubber that will be very useful to you: What I Wish I Knew When I Joined HubPages.

Update on April 17, 2013:  Many more changes have taken place at both HubPages and Squidoo recently. I will be addressing these soon.

Sight Words or Phonics?

What’s the best approach to teaching children to read — sight words or phonics? Let’s take a look at Dr. Fry’s approach.

I just read a blog that discussed some of the virtues of rote memorization and it reminded me of the old question about whether children should learn to read by learning sight words or by learning phonics. Sight words are memorized and often learned by drilling on them. The late Dr. Edward Fry produced a lot of materials that help children learn sight words, but he also wrote materials on teaching phonics and spelling.

He recognized that some of our most often used words in English don’t follow the rules of phonics. He is widely recognized for his list of 1000 Instant Words which are intended for children to recognize by sight after a series of exercises, drills, games, flashcards, and other memorization aids. Some of these words, such as in, on, he, be and fish, also obey phonics rules and can be sounded out, but when a child is first learning to read, it’s discouraging to have to stop and sound out every word and lose track of the meaning. It’s very satisfying to be able to read a complete sentence or story without having to stop often and sound out words. Think what it would do to our adult reading speed and comprehension to have to sound out every word we read? By learning the most common words by sight, a child or illiterate adult can have the satisfaction of really reading, not just decoding words. She will understand “A doll is a toy.” if she reads it at a normal speed instead of struggling over every word.

On the other hand, as a child continues on the path of learning to read, it would be burdensome to have to memorize every single word he will ever need to read. Dr. Fry recognizes that understanding the sounds attached to letters is also necessary for a child to become an and independent and proficient reader. He brings these two approaches together seamlessly in his Spelling Book Grades 1-6: Words Most Needed Plus Phonics.

Let’s look at the first lesson for first grade. Only ten sight (or instant) words are introduced: the, of, and, a, to, boy, girl, man, woman, baby. Though the teacher is given teaching suggestions, this is not a workbook. The student pages may be reproduced for student use, but the teacher decides how to best teach the words.

Under the list of words is a list of phrases using the words so that the students can practice seeing and reading the words in context. Samples of the phrases are man and woman and to the boy and girl. Students could practice reading these aloud and the phrases could also be used for dictation exercises, since this book also teaches spelling.

The last parts of the lessons involve age-appropriate word study. In the first grade lesson we used as an example above, students learn about how the phonogram an is used in man, rancan, and pan. Then they learn in the phonics section below about the short vowel a. The included notes to the teacher in these sections spell out the rules and explanations, but I seriously doubt that the first graders will have to memorize, “The Closed Syllable Rule states that when the syllable ends in a consonant, the single letter vowel is short.” (Examples are taken from Lesson 1 of the book linked to above. ) At this stage of the game, the student may not know or care about syllables, open or closed.

That's me, with my book at the age of three.
That's me, with my book at the age of three.

When I learned to read I taught myself in much this fashion. First I memorized a very simple picture book my mother read to me over and over and then I read it back to her. She knew I’d memorized it, but I knew which word was which, so I had learned some sight words that I could recognize in other contexts. My mother would tell me about the sounds that the letters made until I was asking her for the ones I didn’t know yet. I started asking my dad about the letters I saw in the headlines of his newspaper. I was only three, but I could read. By the time I hit first grade, I was sitting in the class library section reading whatever I wanted while the teacher taught reading to all the rest of the class except another student who shared my first and middle name, who could also read.

My mother was a wise woman who realized that although I was reading above grade level, I had holes in my phonics understanding, so she sent me to a private school for a semester to learn phonics in a systematic way. (This was in the late 1940’s, when the “look, say” teaching method was in vogue.) After my phonics instruction, I flew in my reading skills. I think I would have thrived with Dr. Fy’s approach, since I would have learned the sight words in and out of context, as well as the relationships of the sounds to the words I learned every week. Seeing those relationships brings this method of teaching beyond rote memorization to understanding. I think Justin Snider, the author of the blog that inspired this one, could live with this approach. Maybe he will stop by and let us know.

Never Mind the Paper Trail! Have You Googled Yourself Lately?

…what you say on line tends to stay there. I try never to say anything I would be ashamed of if anyone I knew read it. I can see that when you start down the social networking road your name does get out there and stays out there

A few days ago I got an email indicating I needed to approve a comment on the Squidoo lens I wrote about the death of my daughter, Sarah. When saw I the comment and who sent it, I was floored. It was from a friend I’d lost track of for a few years — a close friend. Both of us had moved and begun new lives, and that tends to make people busy and disinclined to keep up with people they rarely see. The urgent tasks in the present tend to blur the past a bit, for better or worse. Although there was no last name, I knew that those comments could only have come from my friend Dianne. But I couldn’t figure out how she found that lens about Sarah out of the blue. She hadn’t even known about Sarah’s death until she read it.

I was able to answer Dianne back through Squidoo, and I asked her how she ever found me and the lens. She replied that she had looked me up on Google. We have exchanged a few emails since then, but I was curious as to what Google had revealed to her. Tonight I finally had a few minutes and thought I’d take a peak. Amazing! So far I’m on page six of at least 15 link pages where my name is mentioned. I would expect to see my name on my blogs, web sites, and social networking profiles, but I was quite surprised to see the other places my name appeared — so far. I found that one statement I made was quoted on several sites. One article from my web site was quoted and credited, but with no link back to my web site.  It was also  summarized on a Chinese web site. I had forgotten about all the comments I had left on other people’s blogs. I even found myself listed in the county records as the informant of my mother’s death, since I was with her to the end and did report her death. Just now on page eight I filled out a form that appeared to give me a chance to correct company information on a directory listing. When I hit preview, I discovered it was a come-on to get you to pay for an upgraded listing. Boo! On page nine the listings start to be mostly  really not me or repeats.

What I discovered is what many have already said —  what you say on line tends to stay there. I try never to say anything I would be ashamed of if anyone I knew read it. I can see that when you start down the social networking road your name does get out there and stays out there. I suppose I also have a paper trail, but most of what I write is no longer on paper.

Spam Rant

Sorting thorugh my spam folder is getting more time consuming than ever. It used to be that I could spot spam immediately by the subject header or return address. But now the spammers have gone on all-out attack with some of the following subject headers:

Important Message

Your order

Delivery Status Notification

Order Status

RE: I just received your email.

Some of these I can still easily delete without opening because the return address is an invalid one from my own domain. But since I do send a lot of emails in response to email inquiries from customers, when I get a delivery status notification I have to check and make sure my reply to a customer didn’t bounce.  Same with “I just received your email” and similar headings that might be from customers whose email addresses I might not remember, but rarely are. I have prepared automatic headers I will recognize from people who click links on my web site to email me, but a few customers have changed it in the past and I almost missed them.  So, I continue to scan the headers of about 300-500 messages in my spam and junk folders everyday so that I don’t miss the one valid email I need to get.

What I don’t understand is how these spammers get enough of the desired responses to make this a profitable business for them. Are there that many people out there so unhappy with their physical features who are also gullible enough to believe that these spammers will help them improve themselves or their love lives? Are people so desparate to make a fortune in a week or a month that they will respond to all those “get rich quick” emails? Do that many people want to buy drugs on line — or insurance, car warranties, and refinancing — and actually trust these sites to deliver the goods?

Then there are the off-the-wall headlines! These relate mostly to prominent politicians or celebrities or untrue disasters or terror attacks. Examples of these are subjects such as “Another Child for Brangelina?” or Sarah Palin just filed for divorce (I made that one up as an example) or _______ was just assassinated (you fill in the blank — the name varies). I suspect some of these lead to viruses if you click on any links.

What is interesting about spam is what it reveals about human nature,  It is assumed by the spammers that men are lecherous or  insecure about their manhood (or ought to be.) It’s assumed that women will do anything to improve their appearance. Another assumption is that we all want to make a fast buck with little effort, that we all need to refinance or extend car warranties, and that we live vicariously through celebrities. And, of course, we all want to be the first to know any bad news.

Some “spam” is legitimate, even though unwelcome. It is easy to delete and for me, at least, does not constitute the bulk of what’s in the spam folder. Some of it is targeted to my business interests — getting more web traffic, special sales from companies I have done business with, etc.

What I’d like to know is if there is a better way to manage it. So far training my spam filters by marking emails as spam or junk isn’t working well. And since I never know a customer’s email address before she makes an inquiry, I can’t add it to my address book before getting that first email. So address book based systems seem to be out. Filtering by words in subject lines just motivates them to come up with new words I can’t afford to filter out, such as “order.” And the return address in the “from” header is usually fake or only going to be used once.

If any of you reading this has found an anti-spam method that does not inconvenience a first-time customer with going to a web site to type in letters to prove he’s real, and your method doesn’t filter out people who aren’t in your address book, I’d really like to know about it. I’d appreciate your comments below. But please, no spam.

Begin at the Beginning

‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said, To talk of many things: Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax –Of cabbages — and kings. So I thank Lewis Carroll for my title, and you can expect to find me talking of many things in this blog.

Since I’ve chosen a blog name from Lewis Carroll, I might as well quote him in the title of this first blog. “The Walrus and the Carpenter” is one of my favorite poems. And I’m also rather fond of the Cheshire Cat. Sometimes when the moon appears as just a big smile in the sky, I’m reminded of the Cheshire Cat’s grin when that’s all that’s still visible of him. Another of my favorite scenes is when Alice encounters the caterpillar. I didn’t intend to talk about this, and I’ve no idea where my copy of Through the Looking Glass is right now, but I think these references are to scenes in that book.

'The Time Has Come the Walrus Said To talk of many things: Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing wax -- Of cabbages -- and kings -- And why the sea is boiling hot -- And whether pigs have wings.'

As the blog name indicates, the topics may change from day to day. I am a affiliate seller of new and used books, and most of them are for teachers or children. Others, especially the used ones, are about topics I’m interested in — gardening, cooking, biography, history, humor, etc. Because I read a lot of books, I’m likely to talk about them often. I may also share experiences I have had as a bookseller or a blogger. And if it’s been a beautiful day, I just might mention my garden or what I’ve seen on a walk. Likewise, if something has inspired me, or if I’m thinking over something, I might share that here.


‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
‘To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.’ (from “Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll)

And that’s what I will do in this blog — talk of many things.

I hope you’ll join the conversation by commenting and asking questions. Maybe you have a new twist on something I’ve said here.Feel  free to disagree with me, too. We can all learn from each other.