Is using quotations in a post an indication of intellectual candor and accurate attribution or merely the refuge of a lazy blogger? When I struggle to come up with a few hundred words to fill a post, I am habitually tempted to appropriate a few dozen from the endless supply readily at hand, even if they are not mine. This is likely acceptable if the quotation adds authoritative support to a point, provides an example of someone else’s point of view, represents a particularly clever turn of phrase, or otherwise adds to and extends the post. What if instead, the quoted text merely serves to bulk up the post or substitute for any actual brain work from me?

Sure, I’m going to do it. The arbitrary topic is “astrology,” for no better reason than it struck my fancy. I suspect you may have some experience with having your fancy struck so my picking astrology makes complete sense to you. If not, suffice it to say it was in the stars for me today.

It may be a stretch for you to get into astrology. You may figure Edward Abbey had a point when he said, “Who needs astrology? The wise man gets by on fortune cookies.” If that isn’t strong enough for you, Voltaire may have better captured your attitude about astrology when he said, “Superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy: the mad daughter of a wise mother.” Your opposition is even stronger? Perhaps Shakespeare himself has to be joined in your anti–astrology rant, “This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune (often the surfeits of our own behavior) we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and stif we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treacherous by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition on the charge of a star!” Wow, and he even worked in “foppery,” whatever that means. I seem to recall Nero Wolf using flummery which is not good either; but foppery is new for me.

Despite my plan to pad this post with words appropriated from others, I do have a small urge to at least pretend to be somewhat balanced. A passing nod to the pro–astrology set strikes my fancy. (I know but using it again was just too tempting. At least I didn’t say it was in the stars.) At any rate, Herman Melville summed it up quite well, “Look you, Doubloon, your zodiac here is the life of man in one round chapter. To begin: there’s Aries, or the Ram – lecherous dog, he begets us; then, Taurus, or the Bull – he bumps us the first thing; then Gemini, or the Twins – that is, Virtue and Vice; we try to reach Virtue, when lo! comes Cancer the Crab, and drags us back; and here, going from Virtue, Leo, a roaring Lion, lies in the path – he gives a few fierce bites and surly dabs with his paw; we escape, and hail Virgo, the virgin! that’s our first love; we marry and think to be happy for aye, when pop comes Libra, or the Scales – happiness weighed and found wanting; and while we are very sad about that, Lord! how we suddenly jump, as Scorpio, or the Scorpion, stings us in rear; we are curing the wound, when come the arrows all round; Sagittarius, or the Archer, is amusing himself. As we pluck out the shafts, stand aside! here’s the battering–ram, Capricornus, or the Goat; full tilt, he comes rushing, and headlong we are tossed; when Aquarius, or the Waterbearer, pours out his whole deluge and drowns us; and, to wind up, with Pisces, or the Fishes, we sleep.”

Melville calling us Doubloons aside, he does have a way with words. I think the point is complete. Packing a post with the words of others is to be avoided unless one is totally at a loss for originality. My muse left and still isn’t back on a predictable basis so I am left now and then with no better choice. She has dropped in on an occasional basis, though; so if you have time to read more, some of the posts are much better.

Which TATOR Are You? (Playing Office Games)

It is easy to start analyzing ourselves and others in our groups and organizations and to take what happens personally. A better way to look at what goes on is to understand that people grow into certain roles or styles and are usually just being whomever they are out of habit or just because that is the way their personalities are. They are just being TATORS. If we are able to understand this and accept them for the TATOR they are, we will be a lot more comfortable.

Which tator are you?

1. Agitator: Ajy likes to keep things stirred up, find fault, criticize, and make things seem worse than they really are.

2. Anitator: Anny likes to have the last word, always “gets his/her two cents worth in,” and always has an opinion on everything and likes to show others that he/she knows more than everyone else.

3. Commentator: Common likes to be sure that everyone knows everything that is going on, is in charge of gossip and “tattling,” and seems to talk all the time even if no one wants to listen or if everyone already knew about what is being said.

4. Dictator: Dick likes to take charge, boss everyone around, be the one who makes all the decisions, and generally be in charge of everything whether or not it is his/her business or responsibility.

5. Gravitator: Gravi is pretty much of a “couch potato,” always hanging around and there when others want a little privacy, and always seems to be too tired to help out, do things, or get out of the way.

6. Hesitator: Hezy can never decide, always waits to see what someone else’s opinion is and then uses that one, is very unsure of himself/herself, goes out of the way not to offend anyone or get anyone upset, and thinks that if he/she can please everyone all the time things will be okay.

7. Levitator: Leva thinks he/she is just a little better than everyone else, is sort of above it all most of the time, seems like he/she is looking down the nose at others, and feels pretty much superior to everyone else.

8. Meditator: Meda seems to take forever to do things because he/she has to think everything over very carefully before doing something, never wants to do anything quickly or on the spur of the moment because anything worth doing is worth thinking through carefully, and is usually hard to talk with because everything has to be analyzed and discussed in great detail.

9. Militator: Milla is always on guard and ready to go to war, will argue with anyone about anything anytime, never gives an inch, and is ready to stand his/her ground with anyone who tries to take advantage or confront him/her.

10. Precipitator: Precipi is one of those TATORS that is able to get other people into arguments and then walk away, say or do things that get others upset and then pretend like he/she is totally innocent, and seems to get things messed up or stirred up without seeming to have started it or without seeming to have been involved.

11. Spectator: Spec likes to stay on the sidelines and not really get involved, simply watch or listen without really participating, and just stays to himself/herself because that seems like the safest way of just getting by without getting involved.

12. Facilitator: Facili does not mind being out of alphabetical order because his/her job is to be helpful, to do things for other people, to be there when others need him/her, and to stay away from things that have to do with accepting responsibility, showing leadership, or running the risk of being blamed for what is done or how things turn out.

13. Baby Sweetator: Baby Sweet is the kind of TATOR that is always happy and cheerful no matter what, is too nice for anyone to get upset with even if he/she does something that they should get upset about, cries or has his/her feelings hurt very easily, and tries to get special treatment just because he/she is so sweet, innocent, and not really responsible for anything that happens that is bad or causes problems for others.

First Rate Version of Yourself

You have a job only you can do. The job you have is being you. At the end of each day you must take a test. Did you give being you your very best?

e. e. Cummings had some words that will take you pretty far. “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” The challenge is never giving your courage a rest. That's how you give being you your best.

Raymond Hull also had something important to say. “He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.” What that means you've already guessed. You have to be just you to give being you your best.

You can't be who other people want you to be. You can't be a spider or a bird in a tree. The spider has its web and the bird has its nest; but you have something special when you give being you your best.

Judy Garland didn't find her advice on a shelf. “Always be a first-rate version of yourself…;” and Johann von Goethe's message wasn't a surprise, “If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise.”

Confucius was a philosopher who knew how to depart, “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

Go north or south or go east or west. Wherever you go, give being you your best.

Now you know so there you go.


I was hanging out, priming the creative pump a while back. That’s what I like to call it when I am kicking back and relaxing with a good book. I found a rather compelling detective story titled Saratoga Headhunter by Stephen Dobyns (1985). I will leave the story for your discovery but hidden in there toward the middle of the book, I chanced on a shiny nugget, quite unexpected but thought stopping. The private eye come milkman was characterized as “an emotional joiner.” The idea is quite unlike being sensitive or empathetic. Think of a magnet. If emotions in others represent one pole, our protagonist represents the other. You cry, he cries. I’m supposing it happens with other emotions as well. You smile, he smiles; you get upset, he is upset. You get the idea: An Emotional Joiner.

My first thought was having Dobyns’ hero as the primary consumer of my blog would be totally terrific. He would pickup on the emotional subtleties and go with the flow, so to speak. Sure, there was a second thought. He would have no opinion about the post. He would just get pulled along, wherever or however it went. He would be incapable of critical feedback. What would be the point of that? A reader without the capacity for criticism may like the post but cannot appreciate it. There needs to be an independent potential for like and don’t like. A writer needs a critic.

As is my bent, I next went hunting for a wise saying or pithy quip about critics and criticism and came across this barb, “I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top.” It is attributed to an unnamed English Professor at Ohio University which happens to be my alma mater. Yes, that is an interesting coincidence but not all that remarkable. Here is what is remarkable. I think I may know the name of the unknown professor. I will lay odds her name is Miss Gray. If so, she is the same English professor who told me I was too illiterate to be a college student way back there in my impressionable, undergraduate days. What do you think? Does it sound like they may be one in the same visitor from a bad dream? Yes, I think they are indeed the same person. It’s either that or O.U. has a serious problem with gratuitously cruel English Professors.

I continue to think only writing for social joiners would be a fairly meaningless activity but am bummed to be reminded of Miss Gray. I said I wanted criticism and it still seems important but it can sometimes transition into brutality. Perhaps there is a mid point where social joining and legitimate criticism overlap. I think that is where writer and reader converge to create literature, the world where they are both engaged and fully participating. It is kind of a Hmmm place where we can both be surprised.

I write as carefully and as clearly as I can.

You sincerely try to understand.

We may never be the others fan.

But we always give each other a hand.

Journeys and PRIDE

There are many challenges and journeys for us, our families, our communities and our country. How we handle those challenges, how we make those journeys always matters. It's the difference between acting with PRIDE and just getting by. Let's listen and discover the secret to meeting our challenges and journeys with PRIDE and caring for ourselves and our neighbors.