Experimenting With an E-mail Signature Line Service

I’m experimenting with an e-mail signature line service called Wisestamp (external link). Here’s what my new sig line looks like:

I think a good looking e-mail signature line makes me look more professional. Wisestamp has a limited variety of templates and you can add your own photographs and images.

The neat trick in mine is that the sig line looks for my latest WordPress post. It is a clickable link. I think this is more compelling than a simple link to my website.

Wisestamp seems to work best with the Chrome browser and it gets complicated trying to put a sig line on a mobile browser like the iOS operating system. I haven’t, for example, yet attempted to put this sig line on my phone.

I am happy so far and I will keep trying different combination. I think there is a free offering but I have gone with a paid option that does not place ads.

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Essays and Lazy Writing

Many posts ago, I asked what a kind of writing style was called. (internal link) I’ve figured it out. They are essays, pretending to be reporting. I am frustrated by such writing in that they waste the reader’s time. With this style you must read several hundred words before finding out what the author is writing about. Rather than quickly defining a subject, essays disguised as reporting languidly and leisurely give out the facts. It seems most prevalent in sports writing but it is everywhere today. Now that the Olympics are here, essay writing is in full force.

Here’s one two paragraph example:

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — By my calculation, we are roughly 57.34 percent of the way through these Olympics, which means it’s time for me to get on the wrong bus. But that’s OK, because I knew that wherever I go, an American will finish fifth. If we have learned anything about these Olympics, it’s that an American always finishes fifth.

Have you seen the medal count lately? As of this writing, the U.S. is in sixth place, one spot behind Russia, which isn’t even officially here. I was pretty fired up about that. That’s like losing a bar bet to an empty stool. But then I realized the U.S. can catch Russia without doing anything at all, thanks to the Russian curling scandal.

The writer is in love with his own writing and wants to be part of the story. Who, What, Where, When, and Why, plus H for How, are the essential questions to answer for the reader. This should be done quickly. Plenty of time to set a scene after the fundamentals are addressed. I consider this essay style lazy and disrespectful journalism, especially when reporters like these are obviously capable of writing well and could easily be forthright.

Another example:

The Olympics you see on NBC are not the same as the Olympics that unfold in the mountains and ice rinks of South Korea. NBC tries to distill dozens of events into compelling television for a mass audience. In person, all you see is one event at a time, and you often don’t know if anybody is watching back home. Minutes earlier, Kenworthy had kissed boyfriend Matthew Wilkas at the bottom of the slopestyle course, unaware that NBC would broadcast it, causing a minor commotion in the States.

In attempting to cover the color of the games, sports reporters wander away from facts and finality. Essay writing has its place as not everything is a box score. A writer working as a reporter, however, must always be conscious of the reader’s time, their need to know, and our duty to keep out of the story.

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Pimping A Favorite Video — Sci-Fi Caper

This is Sci-Fi Caper out of Mendota, California. I know it primarily as home to a wildlife refuge. Sci-Fi Caper is a power trio, reminding me of the simple punk bands of my youth. In this video everybody seems happy. Unscripted happy. Which makes me happy, too.


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Another Article on Spec

Once again I am writing an article for Rock&Gem magazine on spec. I’ve written about this approach many times. (internal link). With spec, you don’t have a writing assignment, you are on your own to create a piece that with luck will be accepted.

While writing without a signed contract may seem frightening — what if my 2,000 words are rejected? — there’s also freedom in that you have no deadline and no fixed rules to obey on style or substance. You try to model the magazine’s editorial approach and you send your MS in.

Although no deadline is involved, I usually set one myself. That’s to keep the project from being open-ended and stealing time from other things. One can’t endlessly edit forever. I’ll give myself four weeks for this article and then off it goes. That should be enough time given the other writing and editing I have to do.

Right now I am sending off e-mails for help and I am also ordering books and magazines where necessary. Coffee is in order, too. I may speed off to Madhouse Coffee (external link), my favorite 24-hour coffee house in Las Vegas. Or I’ll put some on the boil here. Who knows? That choice is up for speculation.

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Next Time I’ll Make Sure That The Girl Will be Much Poorer

Two of my favorite Rolling Stone’s songs are from their Aftermath album. Aftermath marked the first time that Mick and Keith wrote all original material. Brian Jones, now an often unrecognized band member, powered the group during these early years. Some may say these lyrics aren’t particularly strong. An always asked question is whether mediocre lyrics can be rescued by inspired instrumentation. I say absolutely!  And, “Of course I’ll have a drink.”

High and Dry

[Verse 1]
High and dry well, I’m up here with no warning
High and dry well, I couldn’t get a word in
High and dry oh, what a way to go
She left me standing here just high and dry

[Verse 2]
A minute I was up there standing by her side
The next I was down there, well, left out of the ride
High and dry, oh what a way to go
She left me standing here just high and dry

[Verse 3]
Anything I wished for I only had to ask her – yes
I think she found out it was money I was after
High and dry, oh what a weird letdown
She left me standing here just high and dry

All right

[Verse 4]
Well, it’s lucky that I didn’t have any love towards her
Next time I’ll make sure that the girl will be much poorer
High and dry, oh what a way to go
She left me standing here just high and dry

[Verse 5]
High and dry, well, I’m up here with no warning – yes
High and dry, well, I couldn’t get a word in
High and dry, oh what a way to go
She left me standing here just high and dry

Well she left me standing here just high and dry
Well she left me standing here just high and dry

Flight 505

Well I was happy here at home, I’ve got everything I need
Happy being on my own, just living the life I lead
Well suddenly it dawned on me that this was not my life
So I just phoned the airline girl and said…

Get me on flight number 505
Get me on flight number 505

[Verse 2]
Well I confirmed my reservation, then I hopped a cab
No idea of my destination and feeling pretty bad
With my suitcase in my hand and in my head my new life
So then I told the airline girl, Well…

Get me on flight number 505
Get me on flight number 505

All right

[Verse 3]
Well I sat right there in my seat, well, feeling like a king
With the whole world right at my feet, Of course I’ll have a drink
Well suddenly I saw that we never ever would arrive
He put the plane down in the sea

The end of flight number 505
The end of flight number 505

All right

They put the plane down in the sea

The end of flight number 505
The end of flight number 505


Lyrics from Genius.com

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The Only Canines That Climb Trees

I’ve been on vacation recently, visiting Phoenix, Tucson, and Parker, Arizona. Perhaps the highlight was seeing my first fox in the wild. It was the Gray Fox of the Sonoran Desert, officially known as Urocyon cinereoargenteus. DesertMuseum.org (external link) says it is the only canine to climb trees although I did not see it doing so.

Instead, it was charging across the Pinal Pioneer Parkway as fast as it could go. This is a rural highway between Phoenix and Tucson. USA Today in 2011 said this stretch of road, Arizona Highway 79, boasted some of the highest speeds in the nation for any public thoroughfare. The top 5% of drivers on that road averaged 88 MPH. No wonder that fox was moving quickly.

“Gray foxes are the only canines able to climb trees (although a coyote sometimes manages to get part way up a tree with accommodating branches). They forage in trees, and can sometimes be seen sleeping up in cottonwoods or mesquites (safe from coyotes and other predators). Gray foxes breed in late winter; the pups are born in March or April. They often den in boulder piles, caves, and other natural cavities, or in mine shafts. Both parents feed the pups, but the father fox does not occupy the den with them. Instead he guards the den from a vantage point where he can watch for predators or other danger. The young foxes are able to hunt for themselves at around 4 months of age. Foxes often leave their scats in prominent places, such as on the tops of boulders, as territorial markers.” DesertMuseum.org

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From Rough to Refined

Gold prospectors should be open to collecting other things besides that shiny yellow metal. Are their gemstones at your feet?

My second Rock&Gem article was on chalcedony. (internal link). I focused on the Gemfield Gem claims outside of Goldfield, Nevada. To someone not acquainted with lapidary, it might seem that ground holds nothing but rocks with streaks and swirls of color. How could these be gemstones? It’s all in the process.

The upper left rock is what we call rough. It is exactly that, raw rock. That rough is first cut into 1/4 inch pieces which we call slabs. These flat pieces can be wetted down with a spray bottle or soaked in water, to give the cutter an idea how the rock may look when polished.

After slabbing, a metal template is run over the slab, moved around until the cutter finds a pattern he or she thinks best. An aluminum pencil is used to outline the chosen circle or shape.

The selected area is then cut out of the slab using a rock saw. Finally, a cabochon is fashioned using a grinding and polishing machine. This link shows what these machines  look like: http://www.diamondpacific.com/main%20machines.html (external link).

This rough to refined process is entirely similar for turquoise, moonstone, amber and countless other gemstones. So, next time you are out gold hunting, look  for any unusual rocks with colorful markings. Your local rock and gem club will have advice on how to work your stones. They may even have a workshop in which you can learn to saw rocks and make cabochons. Here’s a place to start: http://www.amfed.org/club.htm (external link).

Click on the image below for a full size picture.

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