The Art of Writing(?)

Writing is perhaps the first human technology, a critical tool for gathering, recording, interpreting, and storing information.

It’s not “writing,” per se, in all the cases I’m about to note here. But I’ve compiled a basic evolution of how we humans put some kind of object to another kind of object to communicate one thing or another. Now with this very “clear” communication, the following is what I mean.

Paintings on Cave Walls

Vestiges of ancient cave paintings show pictures painted with stone, charcoal mixed with animal fat, and various other dyes from fruits and vegetables. These drawings don’t mean anything to us now, but they left a form of communication that was understood among their people.

Pictures on Clay Tablets

Early administrative functions were recorded with a sharp tool drawing pictures on soft clay. This method of recording information was developed in what was Mesopotamia, now Iraq.

Reed on Papyrus

Reed pens were used in the 4th century BC for writing on papyrus and continued to be used for many centuries after.

Feather Quill on Parchment

Moving up in the technical world of writing was the feather quill and ink used to write on parchment paper.

Chalk on Slate

The earliest writing tools for math and alphabets in schools were chalk used to write on slate.

Pen and Pencil to Paper

Most of us (not all) grew up using these tools to record thoughts, assignments, letters, and general communication.

Fingers on Keyboards

This is what I mean when I say not all above, because Millennials, and Generation Z folks were mostly brought up putting fingers on keyboards as their only writing tools.

Thumbs on Phone

It is inevitable that at some future time, evolution will step in with some modification of today’s physiology because of the prevalent use of thumbs on smart phones.

Humans and AI

Artificial intelligence is blasting off its launchpad with promises and threats about how we humans  will use it to further communication.

AI and Humans

Finally, there is the terrifying possibility that AI may one day control humans, and all the communication we may ever seek to do.

Drinking Wine and Hearing Stories

We took a trip down to the Finger Lakes wine region yesterday to enjoy a wine tasting (and buying) experience. We chose the route along Seneca Lake, which is my favorite. It starts in the quaint little city of Geneva and snakes on down all the way to the magnificent city of Watkins Glen at the opposite end of the lake. We feel extraordinarily lucky to have this wine country gem of gems in our rhetorical backyard, and unfortunately only visit every couple of years.

The Finger Lakes area is full of life, lore, and of course, wine. It is a mecca for Amish and Mennonites who maintain pristine homesteads and whose horse and buggies go clop-clop-clop on all roads as their mode of transportation.  The lake itself is rumored to be bottomless because its murky, mushy bottom supposedly precludes the presence of finding a solid bottom.

There is the Seneca Army Depot – an abandoned military installation that was once home to the country’s largest arsenal of nuclear weapons. Another abandoned, and scary facility is the old Willard Psychiatric Hospital. With its Gothic exterior it does not welcome explorers.

The area is also rife with rumors and tales of its Native American original inhabitants that remain haunting and delighting visitors today.

But the real jewel of our visit to the wineries yesterday was our stop in a small, comfy, family-owned Prejean winery where we were served by the husband-and-wife owners. All of their wines were excellent, but one in particular was outstanding – both the wine and the story behind it.

The name of the wine is Bosun’s Mate, and here is its story.

In World War II, the original owner of the winery, and father of the current owner, fought in the Battle of Guadalcanal. He was injured, covered with shrapnel, and partially paralyzed. The bosun on the ship fastened an empty barrel to him and tossed him overboard to save him, as the ship was sinking. He survived, but he could never find out what happened to the bosun who saved his life. Today the owners hope to somehow locate the bosun’s family and present them with a bottle (or more) of their Bosun’s Mate wine, a delicious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. It blew us away with its characteristics of smoothness with berry and cocoa aromas and flavors.

There are many wonderful wineries in the Finger Lakes region, but if you want to combine your tasting with delightful homegrown stories, do make Prejean a required stop on your itinerary. Our next stop will be to return and learn the story of the name, Prejean!

Seneca Army Depot

When we drove home from taking one of our dogs to the companion animal medical clinic at Cornell University (another story), we passed what was once the largest military storage facility for weapons. This Seneca Army Depot is mostly deserted except for some small parcels that have been sold off.

Comprising a massive 10, 587 acres, the depot straddles the land between the two largest Finger Lakes – Cayuga and Seneca – which are the homes to the many wineries the region has become famous for.

Fascinated by abandoned places and the ghosts that inhabit them, this army depot is especially mesmerizing because of the role it played and the things it held in the time frame between 1941 and 2000.

Although some of the land has been sold off, more remains under lock and key, evidently still guarding whatever secrets remain buried there.

Populating the off-limits area are 500 “igloos,” the mostly underground storage huts that held ammunition, including the largest inventory of nuclear weaponry in the country. These huts were built to withstand the most unimaginable explosive forces.

Another feature is its airstrip, which is still in good working order and can handle huge aircraft. After scouring the Internet and several academic databases, information on this airstrip was scanty, at best.

Since the depot handled nuclear weapons, it also needed to dispose of radioactive materials. It developed burial pits for the radioactive waste as well as a 5,000-gallon tank that contained the wastewater from the clothes washed that had been worn by the workers in the nuclear areas. In 1987, the pits were dug up and the radioactive materials were transported to an approved waste site.

In the 1950s and 60s, metal components dubbed as classified were buried in the Miscellaneous Components Burial Site, and because they were classified, what these really had never been revealed. The materials have since been dug up and disposed of elsewhere, but the question remains – what were they?

An Incinerator Building, used from 1974 – 1979, was used to burn garbage and rubbish, and from there, it went into a cooling pond, from which waste ash was removed and deposited into the Ash Landfill. Nothing was used to cover this waste. Approximately 18 tons of refuse were incinerated weekly.

In 1990, the EPA placed the depot on its superfund program of the National Priorities List for a long-term cleanup project.

Finally, there is the herd of white deer that resides exclusively in the depot. It is the largest such herd anywhere.

So, why my fascination?

Where to begin…

    • Why is there a well-kept, ready-to-use airstrip that can handle the largest of aircraft?
    • Could there be more underground facilities in the restricted area?
    • What caused the deer to be white?
    • Was the depot a major target in WWII?
    • What were the classified metal materials made of?
    • Do any missiles remain somewhere, buried on the site?

    It seems I have just begun my research to find answers to these and other, questions about this abandoned site in the Finger Lakes.

    Doggie Daycare, No Care

    If you are a parent and your kid has ever been the victim of bullying or cruel behavior of some kind, then you know what I’m about to say. Yesterday was my dog, Dash’s, daycare day, and as usual, we went in and waited for a staff member to come get him. At first, no one was there, but then the office door burst open, forcing me and Dash to move hurriedly out of the way. No welcome, just a rude “There’s too many dogs here today.” I was flabbergasted, and even more so when this same woman went to the owner of the daycare, and again, rudely, and loud enough for me to hear said, “I don’t know what you’re going to do with him,” the “him” being my Dash.

    The ferocious maternal instinct roared to the surface, and with a tear in my eye for my boy, I turned right around, got in the car, and drove home.

    Besides needing to get this off my chest, I also tell the story for you pet parents to be careful where you take your pets. I have also taken classes here – and have gotten a lot from the owner/instructor. This woman has assisted in the classes, and I have found her to be crude and rude in the classes, but never had to really deal with her. Instead, we dealt with the owner and another instructor who was warm and caring.

    I guess it goes without saying. Check out the staff wherever you decide to place your dog and be sure everyone will treat it with care and respect.

    You Have Got to be Kidding!!!

    I cannot believe this, but then again, in this day and age, I can. All of these wonderful classics are being destroyed for the sake of … for the sake of what?

    I am sad, angry, and disgusted at the contingency of individuals who are making this happen. It appears the true art inherent in these classics is being destroyed for no other reason than to placate a group of senseless, clueless, and demanding bullies.

    Consider this:

    In Agatha Christie’s novels, terms like “Oriental,” “Gypsy” and “native” have been taken out, and revised versions of Ian Fleming’s “James Bond” books will be scrubbed of racist and sexist phrases. Classics by Roald Dahl have been stripped of adjectives like “fat” and “ugly” along with references to characters’ gender and skin color.

    According to this article, the driving factor is financial — do what you have to do to sell, therefore remove offensive language.

    But also consider the writers: Many will now be afraid of every word they write that could be offensive, therefore taking away the freedom of an artistic exercise.

    When I taught in the college environment, we needed to be extremely careful of everything we said, which was important to show respect for differences, but it got to the point where at times I was afraid to open my mouth.

    Winter Snow and Ice Storm

    After the ice storm
    After the snow storm — same trail as above, 10 years earlier

    It’s All About Dogs

    Take a look and read this article to for some astonishing facts about our most beloved canine companions.

    And, it’s all about dominance, right? Wrong!

    Trying to be “dominant” over your dog is not the best approach

    “Despite enjoying considerable popularity for many years, the “dominance” theory of dog training is finally seeing the truth come out. “You should never try to dominate your dog,” Hartstein insists. The idea that you need to show your dog “who’s alpha,” with methods such as eating before your dog, making sure you’re always in a higher position than them, or punitive behavior, is outdated and ineffective.”

    Of course, you need to set a routine and make sure your dog understands rules and boundaries, but avoid traditional advice about displays of dominance.

    Does Your Dog Eat Poop?

    With red face, I admit that my dog does indeed eat poop. However, I danced a jig when I discovered that poop-eating is not abnormal for dogs. I also learned that despite myriad and alleged fixes for this shall we say, disagreeable habit, the only real fix is to head out with a dog in rain, snow, sleet, etc., and pick up the little brown pile yourself.

    And here’s why dog’s do eat poop. Read on…

    Artifical Intelligence, i.e. ChatGPT

    I’m a writer and this is scary stuff.

    I’ve seen a number of discussions among fellow writers about the new artificial intelligence aps, and most of the comments have been, shall we say, negative. Not really understanding the whole gist, I decided to try it out for myself. So, the way this ap works is, you ask a question and it generates a response. I asked it, what are ways to avoid or overcome cabin fever in the winter, and this is what it said:

    Winter cabin fever is a common condition that is caused by being cooped up inside for long periods of time due to cold weather. Here are a few ways to overcome cabin fever during the winter months:

    1. Get outside: Even if it’s cold, it’s important to get outside for some fresh air and exercise. Going for a walk, run or hike can help to boost your mood and energy levels.
    2. Stay active: Try to stay physically active during the winter months. You can try indoor activities such as yoga, home workout, dancing, or even take an online class.
    3. Stay connected: Social isolation can worsen cabin fever. Reach out to friends, family, or co-workers by phone, email, or video chat. Join a virtual book club, or game night, or start a conversation in a social media group.
    4. Indoor hobbies: Take up a new hobby or revisit an old one. Consider painting, knitting, reading, writing, or puzzles.
    5. Get organized: Use the extra time indoors to declutter and reorganize your home, it can give you a sense of accomplishment and improve your mood.
    6. Light therapy: During the shorter days of winter, you may not be getting enough natural light. Try using a lightbox or going outside during the day to get some sunlight.
    7. Seek professional help: If cabin fever is affecting your daily life and mental health, seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can help you to manage your symptoms and improve your overall well-being.

    It’s important to remember that everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. So, try different strategies and find what works best for you.

    Wow … is it time to start looking for another job?



    Yep, I bought it. First day out and off I trotted to my local Barnes & Noble. I didn’t even want to wait for the Amazon 2-day delivery (?) so I paid $5 extra.

    Yep, I am fascinated by the royals. I was obsessed with Princess Diana and crushed when she died, as was the rest of the world. And like the rest of the world, I watched Harry and Willy as they emerged from awkwardness into handsome and talented young men.

    However, Will never did much for me. I think he is boring. On the other hand, he chose a gorgeous and wonderful woman as his wife, and now there is the fascination of watching their adorable children grow up.

    Harry – he is not boring. He has entertained and horrified with his antics throughout the years, but who can forget the little boy walking behind his mother’s coffin. Is there any doubt why he became the Windsor wild child?

    Then along came Meg. Beautiful, brilliant Meg. The nemesis of the royal family, but the woman Harry loves and married. The woman who has been slayed by every British rag as well as her staff in the royal palace.

    Quora. Do any of you subscribe to it? It has many excellent attributes and is credited with being a grassroots, authentic research tool. However, I’ve checked in on discussions about the royals, and am appalled at what is said about Meg. Most of the posts are unbelievably vicious and cruel, and these are from people who have never met her!

    Anyway, my point here is that I am salivating to get into the nitty-gritty of this book for the truth of what really happened to Harry and Meg.

    %d bloggers like this: