Killing Batteries

Leif Pettersen, Travel Writer Extraordinaire

Travel writers tend to be a bloodless crew these days, which is why I find Lonely Planet writer Leif Pettersen such a delight. He is a specialist in travel to Romania and Moldova (you’ve always wanted to go there, haven’t you?). He is the author of a blog called Killing Batteries, which sends you to some of the more interesting pieces he’s written. My favorite posting is entitled “The 10 Best Lonely Planet Articles of All Time (That I Wrote),” which is a good place to start. It will tell you why Florence is not always the best place to go in Italy, delicious local foods that look ugly, rain and other travel buzz-kills, how to travel with friends (and not want to kill them), stuff you should never take on a trip (includes: children and pets), and best places to stage a cathartic breakdown.

One could read travel articles for information, but if Leif is the author, you will also enjoy them, because the man has a great sense of humor.

Pettersen has recently come out with a book entitled Backpacking with Dracula. Remember, he is an expert on travel in Romania. And he thinks one of the safest places in the world to have a cathartic breakdown is Bulgaria. So you can feel comfortable with Pettersen behind the Slivovitz Curtain.

Things I Don’t Really Want to Write About

Subject A

Subject A

It is difficult for me not to write about certain subjects, especially when I am so upset about them. But then, I have to think about you, my readers. However strong I feel about certain things, what if I really don’t have anything to add about what has already been said?

Anyhow, on to the list, in no particular ordure [SIC]:

  1. Presidential Elections. Let’s face it: Even the pundits whose job it is to opine on the political scene either have nothing new to say, or else they are in the business of influencing opinions.
  2. Donald Trump. You know what I think about the Cheeto-haired beast. ’Nuff said!
  3. Awards. Whether it’s the Oscars or the Nobel Prize for Literature, it’s all about politics, usually who hates whom.
  4. American Conservatism. It seems to be segueing into National Socialism (Nazism).
  5. Police Violence. Black lives do matter! All Americans matter!
  6. Terrorism. Everything we do emboldens the terrorists, so let’s just get on with our lives.
  7. Guns. Since when does a “well-regulated Militia” mean that crazy people get to play with Bushmasters?
  8. Ecology. Even if the Earth is on the point of being irretrievably poisoned, we gotta dig coal and chop down trees, no?

There are probably a handful of other subjects which aren’t worth ranting about, mostly because of the seemingly irresolvable split between the Union and the Confederacy. Occasionally, I will still blab out a post when I know I should keep my mouth shut. Please forgive me in advance!

Motor Mouth

My 1,000-Post Anniversary

My 1,000-Post Anniversary

This is my thousandth post on WordPress since I joined in 2012. That amounts to a little less than one post a day for almost three years. It amazes me that I had that much to say.

And—you know what?—I’m by no means done with all the things I mean to say. So look to this pot for a strange potpourri of the things I’ve read, thoughts that flitted through my brains, my Internet experiences, movies I’ve seen, places I’ve visited as well as those I hope to visit, scientific conundrums, humor, and God knows what else.

Tomorrow, for instance, I plan to write about my problems with the Chilean volcano Cabulco. (I plan to skirt the danger zone on my way between San Carlos Bariloche, Argentina, and Puerto Varas, Chile.)

 

Doohickeys

This Does Not Look Like Standard English

This Does Not Look Like Standard English, Does It?

Rick Steves refers to them as “little doo-hickeys over some letters that affect pronunciation.” I call them diacritical marks, a sure sign that you are dealing with a foreign language. Sometimes you find them in English in words such as rôle, coöperate, or façade.Then you might think, “Gosh but this is old-fashioned!”

More than just doohickeys, diacritical marks are extensions of other countries’ alphabets. A couple weeks ago, I wrote a posting entitled “Dysinventions”, mostly of my dislike of touchscreen keyboards. In the post, I wrote:

I feel bad enough that there are some Eastern European diacritical marks I can’t use, such as an anacrusis or the Hungarian double-acute-accent over the “o” and “u” to indicate an extended vowel sound. In time, I will figure this out. But not on one of those touchscreen keyboards. I can imagine it would be gruelling just to type an average paragraph shifting between upper and lower case letters and numbers, let alone diacritical marks.

If I can’t make it look as if it were typeset, I would just as soon forget the whole thing. It just wouldn’t be me.

Well, I finally did figure it out. There is a great Internet resource called Typeit.Org which enables me to quote directly from twenty-six different character sets, including: Currencies, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Esperanto, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Icelandic, thye International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) for English, the full IPA, Italian, Maori, Math, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Symbols, Swedish, Turkish, and finally Welsh.

Now there is nothing I cannot type with my keyboard in any of the above configurations. Just so that I can control the type font, there is one additional step: I paste the text into Microsoft’s Notebook, which strips out Typeit’s default font information, and then copy and paste the result into WordPress.

At long last, I feel confident that I can print in Hungarian without misspelling such passages as:

Bár külön beállítási opció nincsen rá, egy egyszerű szintaxis használatával lehetséges a régi szótárból ismert teljes egyezésre, bármilyen egyezésre, vagy akár szó végére is keresni.

Note in particular that word egyszerű with its doubly accented “u”.

Please don’t worry that I’ll go crazy with this new tool. After all, nem akarom, hogy ellenátkok. (“I don’t want to befuddle you.”)

 

 

Spare Me the Fame

Why Would Anyone Want My Help in Setting Up a Blog?

Why Would Anyone Want My Help in Setting Up a Blog?

Mine is not a particularly striking looking website, yet each week I get numerous requests for information on how I put it together, together with questions as to whether I would link to their website. The odd thing is that I don’t believe these people, especially since:

  1. Their e-mail address indicates they are in some dubious business, such as selling designer knock-offs.
  2. Instead of referring to a recent posting, they seem to be linking to my media file, especially to photographs from postings of several months ago.
  3. They never say anything that would indicate they actually read what I write—never any link to any actual content.

You never see these requests because I erase over 99% of the entries identified by WordPress’s Akamai (means “smart” in Hawaiian pidgin) Spam filtering system, and that’s where these usually end up.

Another group of pseudo-comments wants to see me get a lot more hits and to be at the top of Google searches. Why? Obviously, I’m not into blogging for the fame. If thousands of people daily visited Tarnmoor, my life would turn to crap: Imagine having to filter through hundreds of comments.

If you found this site because it was on page ten of a Google search, and you like what I do, you are most welcome. If you want to tell the world what a great blogger I am, I would think you would be doing me a disservice. If I have to spend all my time tending to this site, I would just as soon give it up.

In fact, I like to write. I like to use the process to think things through. And I like interacting with my friends. So don’t offer any suggestions how I could crud up this site by using clickbait the way that Weather.Com and most news websites do. There’s no clickbait here, and no advertising. If you like what I write, well and good. If not, there are other places you can go.

The Slow (or No) Road to Fame

The All-Too-Easy Road to Mediocrity

The All-Too-Easy Road to Stultifying Mediocrity

My congratulations to Brian Gordon of FowlLanguageComics.Com for a very funny cartoon.

I have gotten thousands of Spam e-mails offering cheap (pseudo-)pharmaceutical products and Louis Vuitton and other fashion knockoffs. Interspersed among them were comments that my website needed improvement. I was supposed to have a lot more pictures and a lot fewer words. And I was supposed to load much faster on Safari—whatever that is—than I currently do. Also I get a lot of questions from people asking for help setting up their own websites. (Good luck, guys!)

This website as it is is a reflection of who and what I am, not an attempt to get thousands of “likes” and “favorites” from people who not only do not mean anything to me, and with whom I do not necessarily care to interact.

Let’s face it: I’m a dinosaur. I don’t watch television, follow sports teams, listen to pop music, or give a flying f*ck about celebrities. Life is so pitifully short that I do not care to waste any of it going into the clickbait business. I have seen great websites fall into the click trap. When I feel I don’t have anything else to say, you can bury me. Until then, I will follow my different drummer to wherever he leads me.

 

In the Rant Room

Ranting Is Almost Inherent in the Act of Blogging

Ranting Is Almost Inherent in the Act of Blogging

Although I didn’t know it at the time, “Rant Room” is an anagram for “Tarnmoor.” But then, so are “Man Rotor,” “Roman Rot,” “A Mr No Ort,” and “Rat Moron”; so perhaps it’s not worth reading too much into this. Looking back at some of my older postings, particularly during election years (of which this is one), I see that I have frequently indulged in knee-jerk reactions of outrage.

Outrage is so much a part of our national political scene. There is a whole spectrum of the media that feeds on outrage and slings it back magnified and undeodorized. One result is that millions of Americans have lost the ability to communicate with one another, except through the use of buzzwords and loaded talking points. Just look at this partial list of hot buttons (in no particular ordure) that have been used to poison the national debate:

Abortion. Benghazi. Socialism. Prayer. Voter ID. Unwed Mothers. Sharia. Bible. Gay Marriage. Rape. Makers. Takers. One Percent. Tea Party. Cliven Bundy. Racism. Climate Change. Evolution. Ownership. Fox News. Obama. Obamacare. Solar Power. Creationism. Nanny State. Guns. Marijuana. Welfare. Immigration. Terrorists. Hillary. Taxes. Death Panels. Fluoridation. LGBT. Sovereign Citizen.

This is a highly partial list, but it is enough to fuel years of debate and cripple the nation.

I may find myself writing about some of the above, but not, I hope, out of outrage. Please, Lord, let me shed light rather than darkness in the places where I walk.