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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wintry Morning Musing

I'm not anxious to attribute forces in nature with human abilities to "think" and "preplan", but the storms hammering California also affect Nevada and they've landed at the evening commute hour each day this week. Today promises to be the same. I've half a mind to bitch about the inconvenience of it, but my mind turns to the possibility of desert vistas with cactus flowers in April and May. It shuts me right up.

It's no secret that deserts are arid, and its no secret that the desert southwest is in a years-long drought. For the past four years, we've been struck by how many fewer cactus flowers present, by how clearly distressed and progressively more distressed are the yuccas, the Joshua trees, the scrub and creosote. Then comes a year like 2005, when there was so much rain some of the topography in the Mojave Preserve was forever reshaped. One wishes for balance, but the climate in a desert is one thing consistently. It is extreme.

Tuesday night's pounding rain made for a beautiful Wednesday morning! When I pulled out of the driveway, I saw the most wondrous scene. Red Rock, the Spring Mountains and the Sheep Range - all seeming close enough for me to reach out and touch - had a light dusting of snow against the scorching red, orange and caramel rock formations. Although most of the valley was crystal clear, there were some insignificant wispy clouds over Red Rock. The sun came blazing up over Sunrise Mountain and painted those wispies peach, right before my eyes. It was damned glorious!

As I drove into the sunrise, my car dashboard screamed "ICY". Yes, I'd say so. A full 10 degrees colder than the last few mornings. As I descended eastward, I could see a thick blanket of fog along the Strip hanging lower than the tops of the casino buildings. When I stepped out in the parking lot, the air was cold. It was quiet (for a wonder, at the busy intersection where my office is located) and I thought of the word "crisp" as I pulled frosty air into my lungs.

I heard on the news this morning that the Las Vegas Valley got 1 1/2 inches of rain in 2009. That seems about right to me, based on my own observation. In the first three weeks of 2010, we've received .80 inches, with more storms promised this week and next. We hope for balance and we hope for flowers. Meteorologist Sherry said we are "in the black" for rainfall right now. I might say we are in the black for these three weeks, but that does nothing to offset the years and years and years of drought.

And this post is not meant to be all about the weather.

Some conversations have occurred between various bloggers in person, in e-mail, and on some of the blogs. These conversations are about meaning and etiquette and rules of blogging. The conversations were generated by observations of how various bloggers group up on certain blogs for one purpose, then split up into different groupings to go to a different blog for a different purpose. We perform our dances with an ever-changing cast of characters, all for everyone (who's interested) to see. And what are the messages we send with the songs we sing in our writing?

I'd be interested to hear what any followers or readers think about such things, and I started the conversation, so I'll toss out a few of my head-scratchers.

A few of my followers meet in one of their blogs to thoroughly chew on a particular subject. I like, follow and enjoy each of these bloggers, so I go to that blog and read it, too. These people are perfectly brilliant in their discussions. I'd like to join in, but I have nothing to add. I am profoundly stupid regarding the topic about which they are profoundly knowledgeable. Here comes the twisty part. I go, I read, I say nothing because I am intimidated. I want to shout, "Right on, 'tend friends, you're remarkable!" Mind you, I could go off and learn about what they're discussing, but I'm not sufficiently interested or motivated to go do that. And all of this makes me feel a bit like a stalker and rather inadequate. [Disclaimer: If some of this is just my own dumb shit, then commenters will either say nothing or will say, "Leslie, that's your own dumb shit."]

A favored follower said something to me yesterday that nearly made me fall off of the chair. This person is intelligent, funny, feeling and gregarious. Take this blogger to a cocktail party and sparkling conversations will ensue. When the blogger found my pink bus, she wanted to join in, but she felt there was a bit of a closed club atmosphere between me and several followers. Ironically, at the time, I was wishing more voices would jump on so my bus wouldn't seem like a closed club. She said she worked at putting her comments on and I was immediately welcoming, so she quickly felt at ease. But I ponder on her hesitation and I wonder why my blog sent out a "closed" vibe. And, yes, I've also hesitated to jump in sometimes because I'm unsure whether I will be welcomed.

A blogger felt a little unsettled because a follower who previously commented often had gone silent. The follower hadn't stopped following the blog, but no longer had anything to say in comments. The blogger was considering whether he had been offensive in some way or failed to be gracious, thereby silencing the follower. "Well, do you ever go look at her blog?" He does. "Have you ever posted a comment?" He never had. "Maybe she'd like you to add your thoughts and ideas about her posts, as she does for you." The question here is how much do bloggers want to give-and-take? Is it a courtesy or a favor to give as well as one receives?

Here's one I do know how to handle. Occasionally a blogger posts something that's not up to usual standards. Sometimes a great follower will post a comment that makes one think, "Did he even read what I wrote? Did he even get the point of the post?" One moves on and checks out the blog at the next posting. We all blog as a form of expression. We're human. Every post isn't going to be wonderful.

Those are the things that pull my brain cells today, dear readers. I'd thoroughly enjoy learning what you think about such things.

In my ears right now: Something fun!

Something that charmed me: Eleanor and Harry charm me. Eleanor strikes me as a chiquita who could dress out a deer while wearing that charming gypsy blouse and peep-toe pumps. And then go put up some peach preserves before cooking chow for 47 ranch hands, never disturbing one hair in that pincurl 'do. Harry's pencil-thin mustache draws my eye almost as much as the mismatched shirt and tie. I wonder how he ranches with those long fingernails, and the best part of his presentation is the three inch foldup at the bottom of his jeans. Well . . . . . the 52-inch belt is pretty remarkable, too. See you at Buck Lake Ranch!

Some photo credits: J. D. Morehouse


  1. My advice would be to go to a blog that the regualrs never visit, and leave a comment whenever you have something to say. That should lead either that blogger, or some of that blogger's regulars, to visit your blog. If they do, and they leave a comment, by all means answer if it's their first visit. That should lead to some variety in your comment section.

  2. @ Kirk ~ Good thought! Thank you.

  3. Les, this is very timely.
    1) i love talking about weather
    2) collective unconscious fascinates me
    3) mena trott on TED talks
    Mena and her husband founded typepad, movabletype and vox. She has quite a bit to say on blogging. This is a very engaging presentation.
    4)This is a post I need to think about a bit.

  4. @ Tag ~ thank you for ringing in. I particularly wanted to hear from you. Please add more as you consider it all. By the way, you're one who blows me out of the water when you get going on particular subjects. I just don't have the same knowledge base you do about certain things and I end up with no oxygen left in me to formulate words. We thank you for pointing out Mena.

  5. Les, it's me again, Kirk. I was re-reading what you wrote about not being knowledgeable on a certain topic. If you're ever unsure about what I'm talking about in one of my posts, just ask me, and I'll be happy to explain.

  6. @ Kirk ~ You are very generous and I am glad I found your blog. You already know at least one of the subjects where I feel unfavorably matched to your expertise. Next time I don't understand, I will be brave enough to say "Help me out, here, Kirk." This was like receiving a gift!

  7. Leslie - I'm so tired tonight (more of the mom stuff), but I wanted to chime in for a bit. First, I love the photos. I'm wondering if you took any of them since you only gave some credit to J. D. Morehouse.

    The whole blog etiquette thing could get exhausting if we let it. I'm going to have to read what Tag recommended, then I might have more to say. One thing I know for sure: I don't want anyone who has become a regular follower to feel obligated to comment on my blog and then say, 'that was great' when they thought it was crap. I really loved it when the richly-followed poet, Dave from the United Kingdom, stopped by my Redoing The Undone blog and said he really didn't like my Death Mask Tissue Dispenser. Not only did he not like it, but he didn't like it "at all." Now I totally trust him and glow inside when he says he likes something. Something else that comes to mind is the kind of lives some bloggers have. I've noticed that some of the blogs I follow only have posts about once a week. My ex-brother-in-law (a very busy Dr.) is very sporadic in his photo posting. Somebody dropping off the comment radar might have something going on in their other life - (I hesitate to say it) - their REAL life.

    I love the photo of the plane going off the runway. I'm wondering how you found that one to match your post. What words did you put in your search? I'm hoping I landed OK at this bus station.

  8. Limes, the red mountains covered in snow look surreal to me! How beautiful! I need to come see this in person. It's on my "some day" list. As for comments...sometimes I read, and like you, think there's nothing I could add. Sometimes I just do a quick skim but don't have time to post. It's so easy for me to get sucked into a time warp while sitting at the computer--so many interesting blogs and sites to read. I have to be firm with myself. "Get OFF the computer!" When I first started my blog I didn't know to comment back. And now... I need to disconnect and get ready for tomorrow. (Sound effect: Sucking noise as I pull myself away and re enter "real time.")
    WV--rexperms: Washing hair too soon after a chemical treatment rexperms.

  9. Who is Woo? Kirk asked me that question yesterday. Of course it's another reference to the Big Lebowski. Some one unfamiliar with the dude would be out of his element. No frames of reference, so would mark it a zero. For me the comments section are playtime. The time to use humor to connect with the blogger and others who comment.
    You and Kass can talk of Sugarhouse and I have no frame or reference except in that we grew up in roughly the same era and share some culture though mine does not include hoppy taws. But I understand Sugarhouse through that shared culture, your descriptions and Kass's photos.
    I will chime in to a conversation if I have something relevant to say, if I can add perspective and even if I just want to say yes I'm listening. But first I have to feel comfortable. That may take a while.

  10. @ Kass - Very good observations, all. You said a really important word. "Trust." When I read your comment, it struck me that blogging is much like developing relationships in person. We build a level of trust and go from there. Thank you for using that very word. And you're right, of course - peoples' lives do get in the way of blogging. I am glad you put your thoughts out here.

    I remember that exchange regarding the Death Mask Tissue Dispenser. The one that looked like me. ;~}

    None of my photos are on this post, but I don't take many photos. All of these were found on the internet except the cactus flowers and the snow at Red Rock. OK, this won't surprise anyone who knows me (actually or virtually). When I'm looking for an image to illustrate a post, I sometimes search using words for how something feels. I searched on "bad work" and the plane came up.

    You landed beautifully at the bus terminal ~ in fact, I doubt you could possibly misstep at my place. I don't have a problem with dissenting points of view or taps on the shoulder accompanied by "Les, you're off base here." It goes to that level of trust thing. I trust that you'll say what you think and not be unkind simply for the purpose of sharpening your teeth.

  11. @ Doozyanner ~ rexperms may be one of the best WV game entries I've seen! You make a really good point talking about how much time one can give to sitting in front of the monitor. You made me pause and reflect. I guess I have to say it is both my pain and my pleasure that so much of my time is spent that way. Note to self: seek balance.

    I wish you WOULD come and see Red Rock in the snow! You bring the banana bread. I'll grind the coffee beans and provide you a warm place to stay. That location isn't 10 miles from my home as the crow flies.

  12. @ Tag ~ Who is Woo, indeed!

    Tag, your thoughts are much valued here. I like what you had to say. We connect through some shared experience, time or place. We bond and we learn to trust. We become comfortable, so we comment. I, too, sometimes just want to say "I hear you" or "That must have been painful" or "Here's a sincerely offered hug". But sometimes I wonder if those kinds of comments make me appear inane. And I just had a revelation I'm going to put up as a separate comment to everyone who has chimed in.

    I am grateful you turned your attention to this!

  13. @ Doozyanner ~ This occurred to me to tell after I'd already commented to you. That photo of Red Rock in the snow was posted at a photography spot online. A person in Germany (who likely has never seen such a thing) commented that it had been WAY over-PhotoShopped. Ironically, it hadn't been PhotoShopped whatsoever. That's really just exactly what it looks like!

  14. Sorry, but I've never seen "The Big Liebowski" I understand it's about the blue-collar world, something I'm somewhat familiar with as I was laid-off from that world after 16 years. If it's on cable some day while I'm channel surfing, I'll watch it, but I'm not going to make any special effort.

  15. @ Kirk ~ Well, don't miss it if it falls into your lap. You'll either be nuts about it like some of us are (ahem, Tag and Badger) or it will leave you cold. I don't think there's any middle ground regarding Lebowski. However, Kirk, given your grasp for all things movie, I wager you'd find priceless nuggets in that film that all the rest of us have missed.

  16. Well, I liked "Fargo" by the Coen brothers, and a couple of other movies, so I may watch it some day. It's just that I hear "Dude" quite a bit in real life. I keep waiting for somebody to come up with some other slang term.

  17. @ Kirk ~ Yes, you've got the idea. It's Coen brothers quirky. It has a great cast ~ John Goodman, John Turturro, Steve Buscemi and Julianne Moore are not to be believed! For me, this is not one of the best performances by Philip Seymour Hoffman, although I really like him. Sam Elliott's character (narrator that we see from time to time) is funny. I thought Jeff Bridges was almost unnecessary, except he's The Dude. He has to be there. He's the linchpin of the whole thing.

    I agree about "dude", even though you've seen me write volumes about the home dudes. I don't use the word in any part of my life except at workk. I'm really taking a poke at the guys when I call them home dudes. That's what they call each other.I'M funning THEM about it when I use the term.

  18. Oh, Les, I wasn't even thinking about you calling them the home dudes when I wrote that. I don't want to be a word Nazi. I'll probably watch the movie someday. But when I do, don't expect me to talk like the characters. I like my own voice, as flawed though that voice may be.

  19. @ Kirk ~ I wasn't getting prickly, I was agreeing with you. It's way overused, which is why I poke fun at the homes for it. When I'm too pointed, though, they revert to "bro' " which I dislike even more. Plus, I can't be a bro' and I want to be in the mix. So "homes" or "home dudes" it is for us.

    You're too balanced to be any kind of Nazi, Kirk.

    Keep talking in your own voice. It's been said of me a time or ten that I like the sound of my own voice, too. It's also been said that I like to hear myself talk. Both things may be true. ;~}

  20. I like to hear you talk. At least online ;]

  21. @ Kirk ~ Well, I thank you, Sir. Ex literally used to put his hands out in front of him as if to repel my words which were his forces of evil, apparently.

  22. Hey - as one who is guilty of sporadic blogging - particularly of late - I apologise in advance! Um, I think it's such a subjective thing. I get that some people view it as a tit for tat thing...I comment on yours therefore...that sort of thing....I think I am overusing the word "thing"...basically I am thoughtless when I am tired and as blogging is the thing I am least afforded time to do (after kids, family, daily every other essential - inc bum wiping, writing...etc) I tend to only do it when I am in a state of fatigue. Thoughtlesness includes overuse of the word "I" and my immediate perspective. I hope people take what they want from my blog and don't feel pressured into engaging in conversations/debates if they aren't so inclined. I also hope that bloggers feel comfortable to tell me to stop spouting tosh and to challenge me at any given time when they don't agree, or even just to play devil's advocate. I have been "excommunicated" by two blogs - at least I took it that their not posting my comments to mean that they were sending out a strong signal of "back off, harridan!" but perhaps I misunderstood them. Either way, life's too short for such nit-picking and, frankly, school yard attitudes. If I had upset them I would have rather they confronted me and I could have either apologised or told them to get knotted but..hey ho...that said - if I have ever or do ever annoy, upset, offend you (and hope I haven't already because I've only just started to get to know you in a bloggy capacity and I sincerely hope my inter-bloggy-personal skills are not so guff) - PLEASE TELL ME! Please. If you want to..no pressure...

    I'm assuming that was the crux of the post...but what really fascinated me was the snow on the red rocks...I am actually amazed in the true sense of the word...I did not know it could snow in the desert...I knew it could rain and that it could be freezing - sheesh, it wouldn't have taken a great thoughmatician to work out that freezing water equals, um, ice....but snow!

    Your observations about the cliques was spot on, by the way, but I do think everyone is guilty of a little favouritism from time to time. There are worse crimes. I get bugged and elated in equal measures by some blogs and I bug myself with my own blog, so a lesson in tolerance works for me.

    Mostly I have no idea what you are talking about but I am interested enough in you to want to find out.

  23. Also, I think what happens with me, when I visit other blogs, is that I pick up on the tone of that blog and I lose a little of my own personality, momentarily, and over empathise (reads mimic) the tone of the other comments. I am conscious of this, however, and make an effort to correct it when I realise I'm doing it. Sometimes I'm plain antagonistic though ;)

  24. @ Rachel ~ Your comment "Mostly I have no idea what you are talking about but I am interested enough in you to want to find out." may be the most wonderful thing that's been said to me in a long time. Thank you for that!

    Re: the cliques - I like your use of "school yard attitude". I've used the word "adolescent" and one of my followers has asked "Are we in junior high school?" I think sometimes we appear to be indulging in favoritism when, in fact, maybe one commenter simply appears more often or has more to say or more to say that clicks with the blogger and the commenters than any of the others.

    Excommunication is a prickly subject. To have one's comments selectively rejected is a tough message to figure out, if the comments made were honest, fair and above-board. If someone is dropping in comments with some other agenda, then I'd say those should be rejected. I've had to do that most recently. I haven't enjoyed it.

    I like your call to simple, clear communication. Read my blog. Comment if you're so inclined. Cheer for me when I deserve it and call me out when I have that coming. Disagree reasonably and don't treat people badly. It's not human rocket science.

    I can tell you sincerely, your only effect on me so far has been to charm me! I like you. I like your clean-ness of spirit and that you have broad enough shoulders to take on dissent. On your blog, I like the passion you exhibit, the angst for other humans who have had bad things happen.

    And now, re: my desert. Yes, it snows rarely. Sometimes it even snows down in the city and stays for a few days. We're at an elevation of a little more than 2,000 feet and we're encircled by mountains. Our valley is shaped like a large bowl lying on its side and tipping downward. The place you see is at the high end of the bowl and at the edge of the mountains, so it's in a colder spot. For a further taste of our beautiful location, Google "Red Rock Canyon".

  25. " Our valley is shaped like a large bowl lying on its side"...I like this...I am off to google...

  26. @ Rachel ~ For a description of that glorious place exactly as it is today, here's the observation of a cyclist. I'm fortunate I'll be out hiking in it tomorrow. I'm hoping the snow will not have melted and made enough mud to suck my boots off of my feet.