About This Journal

Hello and welcome to my Blog on LIVEJOURNAL.COM. I am a social diarist and write about many topics. I've been on Livejournal since 1999, but this journal is one I've had since 2001.

If you have a Livejournal account you can friend me, you can also watch my journal, and anyone can RSS feed my entries. If you do not have an account you cannot read private posts, but you can get an account for free by simply signing up.

You can post a comment even without being a Livejournal member. You can login with multiple identity accounts, such as Facebook, OpenID, etc., to reply to my entries. I cover a lot of ground here, from movies, to TV, to personal, to wine, to social commentary, and more. I am not a one trick pony, not at all.

So, welcome to my Diarist Blog and enjoy!


Lifting Masks

The mask mandate will lift for most situations on June 11th in Kentucky. The restaurant/bar curfew will lift too. Some businesses, however, will still be requiring masks, like Kroger grocery stores. Some won't keep that restriction.

Me, the mask is staying on, despite my being fully vaccinated.

Don't pee on my leg and call it brilliant

I love when people say things like, "Oh! The book was only a success because they made the movie! It was the actors that made the characters work!" - No. It was the book, the play, and screenplay that appealed so much that they wanted to make a movie or television series out of it. Actors do not create these characters, stories, and plots.

Writers are not simply a muse to the "talent", they are the ventriloquist and others are just sitting on their lap. Unfortunately, the only thing that ventriloquist gets is pee on their leg. They are highly underpaid in comparison to actors, directors, producers.

Happy Mothers Day, you mothers!

Today Mother's Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. Some people will give mom a card (or E-card) and a kiss (or a video kiss). Others will give their moms presents or do chores around the house, or cook her breakfast, or take her out to dinner. Kids in America will be on their best behavior for the day - Well, for a few hours in the morning, at least.


Some of us will simply make today a day of remembrance.

Happy Mother's Day, mom. I miss you greatly and wish you were still here. Yes, even in these modern times with quarantines and the worry of COVID, I do wish you were still here with me. It might not be the best of times right now, but I believe you'd enjoy it, nonetheless. I'd be able to spend more time with you in this locked-down world, shut into the house, and I'd not always be too busy working or doing my own thing. We'd have lots of time to spend together.

Now, wouldn't that be... A Wonderful World.

The Dystopia Series: The Walmart of...

      We commonly use Walmart as the example, or the poster child, to describe a company that comes into an area and community and kills off small and independent businesses. It is not the only company that has done that, but it is the one that accomplished it so very prominently. Local businesses could not compete with the prices or the variety of products, they lost customers and income, and had to close or sell their business. Small independent grocery stores, local pharmacies, clothing stores, toy stores, book stores, and more; Many and most closed their doors after years or generations of being in business.

Walmart always costs

There have been many similar companies that tried to do exactly the same thing as Walmart managed to do, just not as effectively. Big chain stores like KMart and Target, those companies had essentially the same products for sale, by the same manufacturers and distributors, but at a significant mark-up on prices than were offered for the same or similar items at Walmart. The reason the prices at those other stores were higher was due to many factors, but mostly because of long term contracts and old business models. You would have to take a very extensive course on economics to understand all of the reasons.

      Another company that did an earlier version of the Walmart model was Sears. When I was growing up it was Sears (or Sears & Roebuck) that was the one-stop place for most of what someone needed. It was a Department Store. People these days have forgotten that term, but it used to be very common in usage. Sears was by no means the only department store chain, but it was at one time the most known name for that type of store in my country.

Sears started off as a Mail Ordering Catalog company. People could request the Sears catalog to be sent to their homes and businesses, they’d read through it, find what they wanted, and could order those items by mail. It might surprise many, but catalog ordering by mail is still a flourishing business in our modern times. People receive the printed catalogs in the mail that they order from, have it shipped and delivered. Actually, many companies still do that in one form or another. Most allow people to order online from a website after viewing the catalog at home. Other similar companies are completely Internet based. The most well known of these is a company named Amazon.

That’s right. Amazon is indeed a modern version of a mail ordering catalog company.

    One feature that Walmart did that other Department Stores like Kmart and Target neglected to do was to include full grocery and fresh foods. This was by no means a new concept. In the past most big city Department Stores had some level of grocery products, however most people always have purchased their groceries from grocery stores in their own communities: People went to their local grocery stores, green grocers, butchers and delicatessens, bakeries, and fish markets.

     In many countries around the world food shopping is still done that same way, with individually owned businesses having their own store, or in part of Co-Operation (Co-Op) in a larger building or specified shopping area or district. What happened to that in the United States was business owners decided that it would make better sense to centralize with other similar food businesses into one building and all of the stores would benefit from the same customer base. It would be easier and more convenient for the shopper and the individual businesses. Little did those small business owners realize the danger they put themselves in.

In the beginning the green grocer would move into a set area within an established grocery store or department store. The baker would do the same. Butchers and Fishmongers moved into stalls within the store, all becoming part of the Co-Op. As time progressed those individually owned and operated businesses became integrated, bought out, or replaced by the primary store owner with their own after attaining the trade knowledge of those businesses and the customer bases. That is why when we go into a big chain grocery store there is a bakery department, deli department, fruit and vegetable department, and meat and fish department.

Those big chain grocery stores were the Walmarts-of-their-day. They swallowed up and forced small independent operation owners out of business. What companies like Barnes & Noble did to independent book stores, they did to green grocers and butchers and bakers and fish markets. It is what Microsoft and Google are doing to the software and computer markets.

Walmart is the end result of generations of centralizing diverse businesses under one corporate roof. It is by no means unique or original. If Sears could have done it, they’d have done it. If Target and Kmart had been able to accomplish it, they would have started doing the same business model as Walmart has without any hesitation. There are many reasons why those other companies failed to anticipate and stay ahead of Walmart, but the fact is that Walmart beat them to the finish line.

One of the reasons that Walmart succeeded so tremendously is due to us, we the people. Cheaper prices. More convenience. Careless and easy living, without it actually being carefree. We do worry about money, but without truly analyzing it. We’ve become less mindful of our own money, less careful, less concerned. We’ve become addicted to entertainments, to no effort to prepare foods, Starbucks coffee, going out to eat, and upgrading our smartphones and electronic devices (even when the current one works perfectly). We have less disposable income these days because we’ve already disposed of it.

I will be detailing some of the reasons why I believe this to be true in future blog entries: Why we are doing this to ourselves and what we’ve become completely blind to, or have been brainwashed into doing, in our modern society here in the United States.

Our Society Has Become Too Tamed.
Future generations will look back in shame,
At the consequences that their fore-parents called upon themselves,
And what the world then became,
All for the sake of instant gratification.

Copyright May 2021 – M. W. Van Dyke
All Rights Reserved

NOTE: You can post a comment without being a Livejournal member. You can login with multiple identity accounts, such as Facebook, OpenID, etc., to reply to my Blog entries.

A shot, a jab, and the Opera Singer

    I received my second vaccination shot today. I got in and out quickly because there were not a great many cars at the Stadium this time. I lucked out in many ways, by getting through it quickly, and not getting rained on, and making it home without too much traffic. All in all it was not a bad day.

My arm is a little sore. Slight twinges of a headache. Feeling lethargic. That's not too bad. I can manage with that if this is the extent of the side effects of getting the shot.

Google Chrome, that is what is bothering me. That is the thing jabbing my brain, not caused by the jab in the arm. Yet another webpage is giving me parts and functions that are not usable. Some input elements are not showing up on my screen, some data elements missing, and some plugins not showing. The webpage works fine in other browsers, just not in Chrome. It is very annoying to be working on a project and then have to open up Microsoft Edge or another web browser to complete that work.

Some people have told me, "Hey! Just use Edge. It is fine."

Yes, it looks good... when it works. I've had some bothersome times in Microsoft Edge where things go wonky or it won't save passwords or data. I don't expect much from Edge because it is made by Microsoft. That company can't stop buggering up Windows 10, so why would I trust them not to bugger up their browser. Pfft!

Long ago I used Opera as my web browser. I am going to try it again and sing the body electric. I have the girth to be an Opera singer anyway, and the pants to match. That's half the job done right there!

Opera Browser

      So far, I am liking it. It is less heavy on the system than Chrome is, has some interesting features and functions, and it is smooth. Dunno how long that will last but it worth the time to explore.

But I am still upset with ALL the web browser creators. I like how browsers used to be. I prefer a less complex bookmark system. I prefer the days when we right clicked and selected "view source" from a menu, not the elements and source popping up from a accidental keystroke or when we touched the mouse in an uncomfortable place. I do not need to edit webpages! I do not want my web browser also being a visual webpage editor. I simply do not. If I want to create or change a webpage, I will use a specific program to do that. The only thing I want to do in a web BROWSER, is to BROWSE the web. That's all.

Hmm. Maybe that 2nd shot made me more than a little moody.

No. It wasn't the vaccination shot. That is just me being me before enough coffee. :P

NOTE: You can post a comment without being a Livejournal member. You can login with multiple identity accounts, such as Facebook, OpenID, etc., to reply to my entries.

Lady Sherlock: Circle of the Smiling Dead

This is a very entertaining book. Funny, engaging, and a wonderful reimagining of Doyle's vision of Sherlock Holmes. And like in most of life, the women are truly smarter then the men. [*chuckles*]

It is very well written, with wonderous usage of words and concepts. This is an enjoyable read from start to finish. It was written by Brooks Arthur Wachtel, an Emmy Award-winning television and feature film writer. When you read his writing you get the full sense that he loves words and usage, and is very knowledgeable on the subject matter, genre, and in life itself.

I highly recommend the book and look forward to the next volume, which is now in development. Can't wait to read it! :)

Poem: The Dream, Unforeseen

      It has been quite a while since last I put pen to paper to compose a real poetic effort, other than to write fanciful and funny short fillers for specific purposes. I have written some light love poetry for my significant other, Maria - Not as often as I would like, or probably should, but like in most of life, I really have to be in the mood. And also, either have slept enough, or not enough, to be in that correct mood and frame of mind.

"The Dream, Unforeseen", I classify as a modern poetic sequence, even though it harkens to some darker odes of past forms and sequences. I will not attempt to explain it, what it means to me, or why I wrote it, because that would prejudice any personal connection or interpretation that a reader of it will form on their own. I only hope that readers will appreciate it for what it is.

The Dream, Unforeseen

The Dream, it seeds,
Deeply, it grows.
Colorful, it flowers and fruits,
It expands, changes and modifies.
It begins, and inebriates, with possibilities.

The path of its evolution,
That is what is never dreamed.

The dream, renamed:
Hope, it is the vintage.

It is a wine,
Fine, Delicate, and Flavor-rich.
But in it is an underlying bitterness,
And a bottomless hunger,
A desperation of thirst.

Ignorance often fills that glass,
With overtone flavors of
Desire, Jealousy, Envy, and Pride,
And long-suffering Indignity.

It is in essence, intangible.
Eloquently formed,
Attractively named,
It is sketched, revised,
Improvised and re-envisioned.

It is lost content.

The Dream,
It succeeds, in part,
It fulfills in part,
But never to the full glass,
Never nearing satisfaction.

Silently enchains and enslaves,
Advanced with age,
Seasoned with old anger,
The stolen sips of the mayfly life,
Of the hope called the dream.

It becomes an alcoholism.

The Wine: Vinegars.
The Glass: It empties.
The Hope: It lessens, without learning.
The Named Dream: Falters and fades.
But it always remains, dried and cracked,
At the bottom of the glass.

Age, modifies, and dissuades.
What the dream calls into existence,
That hope, it betrays.

The nights become too short,
The days too, but also weary and long.
Dust lingers in the hopeless room,
The mouth of those in it, dried.
The vision, darkened in lonely ways,
The eventide of the dream called hope.
Now renamed;

Daydream, Chance, Prayer, Wish;
A lottery of names:
Too expensive to play,
Too risky an ambition,
But hoped still, even with the different name.
It remains.

Like toy-less children we all become,
Reaching urgently, desperately, hopefully,
For another bottle of that sour vintage,
Never feeling the fullness of satisfaction.

Content is never called into existence by a dream.

At the ending, the last and shortened verse,
The drunken melody, always mournful and incomplete,
The music trails off and fades, ending on a long distant note.

The symphony never again playing that forgotten song.
The final lyrics of a life are,
In every case and in every occasion,
The very same:

Life is always far too short,
And the dream, always far too long.

Copyright May 2021 M. W. Van Dyke
All Rights Reserved

NOTE: You can post a comment without being a Livejournal member. You can login with multiple identity accounts, such as Facebook, OpenID, etc., to reply to my entries.

Morning Bean Juice

      I am getting ready this morning for the Kentucky Derby weekend festivities by drinking coffee and staring at Social Media posts and photos of people saying they are going to be doing this and that this weekend. Me, I will be doing exactly the same thing I am doing this morning: Drinking coffee and staring at the computer. There is my weekend in a nutshell.

* sips his cup of hot bean juice *
Hot Coffee

Hey! If soybeans and filtered water can be called "milk", I sure as heck can call coffee "bean juice"! [*heh heh heh*]

Truly, my only plans for this weekend are to mask-and-glove-up and go to the store to purchase more facial tissue. I am down to my last box of tissues and this feels to me like it will be at least a 2 box weekend. [*sniffs and sneezes*]

The weather is alternating between rainy and hot-muggy to cold-muggy: Lots of allergens blowing around with the wind. While many people will be out in public cheering on the horses that they just recently picked off a list and are now a fan of, I will be sipping bean juice and filling facial tissue with human juices. Hurrah!

On Monday morning I will be going downtown for my 2nd vaccination shot. It will be administered at a sports stadium parking lot. I won't even need to get out of my car. Hundreds of other people will be there too in their own cars, all of us driving through a queue, being directed by people from the military.

When I drove through it for my first vaccination shot the feeling I got was so surreal. It was like I was in a movie. I kept watching my rear-view mirror to see if zombies were suddenly coming up from behind my car. I do know that if I had seen any of those military people holding an automatic rifle instead of a clipboard or a camera, I'd have turned the car around and got the heck out of there.

I've seen far too many disaster and horror movies to be able to mentally handle that! [*chuckles*]

Cardinal Stadium Vaccination

      This Monday is also my eldest nephew's birthday. He is in town for that and also for the derby, My dad and I will probably see him once or twice before he goes back home. He is spending most of his time with his mother, which I applaud him for. I can't handle being around her for more than a few hours without needing additional blood pressure medicine and a lot of bean juice. I wonder if he will age significantly over this weekend. Good thing he brought his dog with him. *smiles*

So! To all and sundry I say: Happy Bean Day! Happy Derby! Happy Birthday! And Happy Facial Tissue Day!

The Game of Life: First and Second

      People who say that life is not a game have obviously never played card games, dice games, poker, or Chutes and Ladders. They also have never played or paid much mind to the game Mouse Trap. They are wrong. Life is a game. Not a fair game, not a clearly defined rules game, but it is still a game. You roll the dice and take your chances.

You might think that I am going to write about the unfairness of the game of life, but in that you would be wrong. I am not going to be writing about that at all. What I am doing is simply saying that life is a game - Because it is. That's not all it is, of course. But it is still indeed a game.

I will admit that for some people life is more a game than it is for others. Those others don't believe themselves to be in a game, but that does not matter. It is still a game that they are part of, albeit unknowingly.

So when people scoff and roll their eyes at me, saying very dismissively that my time spent in the virtual world of Second Life is a childish waste, is not important, because it is "just a game" and nothing done in it is real, I beg to differ.

I know full well that one day everything I've done in Second Life will come to nothing. It will all become meaningless, unimportant, will dissipate and disappear, but that is no different than what will happen in my First Life: Everything I've done, accomplished, said, or written, will be forgotten. That is true for all of us, whether we believe it or not.

I live in my First Life. Yes.

I also live in my Second Life. During the COVID pandemic I've been able to gather with people, sightsee, swim, ski, ride horses, dance, boat, fish, and more. I've designed and built landscapes, towns, and venues. I've lived outdoors most of the time, never in fear of disease or injury. While other people in my first life have been confined to their homes, stuck watching an endless stream of Netflix, I've been out dancing at a crowded concert with many other people. Which of us have lived, and which of us have simply existed? I think that I am the one who has lived.

Riding A Horse
Experiencing Second Life

      This Wednesday my Second Life wife and I will be celebrating our 4th Wedding Anniversary. We will be hosting a party at a venue that I designed and built from the ground up. There will be dancing, food, drink, wine, and of course music. We will be sharing the experience with our friends, with extended family, and some people we've never met before. Does it really matter that we are doing this virtually rather than in our first life?

I am sure that some of our first life relatives think so. They will get onto Facebook or a Video Cam and talk dismissively to others about how Mark and Maria are playing that game again, making believe that we are married, are living a real life, that doing it in SL is actually a real thing. They will scoff, they will mock, they will dismiss. They will laugh and they will sneer. They will be doing all of that by means of Virtual Communication.

Virtual communication is how people interact with others without being in the same room, same city, same town, or same country. Phone calls, cam calls, instant messaging, video teleconferencing, social networking, these are all forms of virtual communication. They are all also forms of virtual relationships.

        There is a long history of people who've had long distance relationships, most never actually meeting each other in person. Famous poets, writers, politicians, actors, and everyday people, sending letters back and forth with another person, exchanging thoughts and ideas, hopes and dreams, and also love. This is one form of a Virtual Relationship.

It is often the case that the person who is closest in your heart and mind isn't a person who is in the same room.

Second Life is a Virtual World, another existence. Yes, some people do treat it like a game, others consider it a game, and even more dismiss it as make-believe. It is not make-believe. It is just another form of Virtual Communication and Relationship. It is a Second Life you can exist in alongside your first life.

Yes, I am younger in my Second Life than I am in my First Life. I am younger, healthier, slimmer, and have more hair in Second Life. That is true. It is, after all my Second chance at Life. There are many debates concerning the differences between the virtual and the actual, and those too have value, but for me it boils down to the old saying, "You are as young as you feel."

My actual body is not young, but I feel young in my mind and soul. And while that is a truth of my life, it is almost impossible to actualize it in my first life. My body, endurance, health, and age, doesn't allow me to enjoy the potential of that. In my Second Life, however, I can and do use all of the potentials and ability of that youthful mind.

John O'Donohue was an Irish poet, author, priest, and Hegelian philosopher. He wrote this most quotable quote [From Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom]:

"You are as young as you feel. If you begin to feel the warmth of your soul, there will be a youthfulness in you that no one will be able to take away from you."

      No one will be able to take away from you, yes, but they WILL try to. And the one who will try most often is yourself, if you allow it, and pay heed to those other people. They will continually talk about how you need to "get real" and live in the real world. They will say this after posting something on Facebook, or hanging up a video call, and then turning on the television while also adjusting the fit of their adult diapers.

They will sit there scoffing at your Second Life, while shifting around in their own piss and poo, telling you that you need to get real. Well, that real life isn't for me. Sitting through an entire TV series on Netflix while not having to get up to go to the bathroom, that really isn't for me.

I will live my Virtual Life and Love Life and enjoy it.

Life is a game, be it actual or virtual. All life these days is virtual to some extent. It is how you live it that matters. I live it well in both worlds, as much as I am able to, and for as long as I am able to.

I will not waste either chance at life, even though I know that all life is transitory - both the first, second - And beyond.

Mark and Maria