Featured blogger: Suzan Khoja

Suzan is a young blogger who lives in India. She is a confirmed book lover who also tackles serious subjects on her blog, like body-shaming.

https://magicalbooklush.blog/

Anyone who has ever visited her blog or has been lucky enough to have her as a follower will be aware that she is fully-engaged, lively, friendly, and very entertaining. Her book reviews range from childhood favourites like comics, to serious classic novels such as Orwell’s ‘1984’. There is definitely something for everyone on her blog.

This is what she has to say about herself.

Be Free!!
These days all I hear is people don’t have time to read or don’t know what to read. People feel shy reading in public because they get labelled as ‘Nerds’ and are often insulted. Athletes and social butterflies who love reading hide to avoid embarrassment. I am here rebelling against those human shaming people that force readers to hide their love. They actually forget that they read everything including text messages to time on their watch. It’s a rebellion against the racism created by the cool people for the love of BOOKS, for ourselves. Join me in this rebellion, help me spread my word, help me encourage readers, help me bring out their best and loveable side. Books are the imaginary world we all need. It solves half of our problems. Click on that tiny button and join me for not only book reviews but many more things like reviews on apps, fashion, technology and the situations that usually occur in our lives. Join me for a nice chat with a cup of coffee and all your problems on the table.

She has some regular features, like ‘Bookish Friday’.

BOOKISH FRIDAY || IT’S READING TIME!!! {10}.

And ‘Literary Monday’.

BOOKWORM IS BACK!!! || LITERARY MONDAY.

There are author interviews too.

LAILA BHAIDANI’S INTERVIEW || AUTHORS’ INTERVIEWS.

More about her.


Hey guys, if you are reading this, thank you for your precious time. I love books, they have been my life since childhood. As I am the only child, I don’t have anyone to share my views, opinions and discuss what I like and dislike. This blog is like my mirror image. I post all my opinions about books, society and everything that comes to my heart. So if you like my blog please share it with me. Discuss your opinions on my blog and tell me your suggestions, I would love to hear you all. Thank you once again for reading.

Suzan also posts about Indian culture and celebrations, as well as family life, and the day to day routine. During the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, she has also written about the impact of the virus on India, and her own city.

Please take a moment to read more of her blog, and get to know her better.

Featured Blogger: Pete Springer

American blogger and writer Pete Springer is a retired teacher. He has only been blogging for less than two years, but has already become a great asset to our blogging community.
https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com/

He has published a book that he hopes will interest and inspire new teachers, based on his own memories of a lifetime as an educator.

Here is one of his recent posts, giving some idea of what you will find on his blog.

An Impressive Young Man

There are times in a teaching career when you wonder, “Was it all worth it? Would I do it again?” My answer has always been a resounding “yes” to those questions, but I don’t think there is a teacher alive who hasn’t wondered about those things on occasion. All teachers inevitably have bad days, and it can leave you feeling, “What am I doing? I must be the world’s worst teacher.”

One of the mysteries of teaching is that you can have one of these awful days from nowhere. With experience, you learn that these things can happen randomly for no apparent reason. Many times, it has nothing to do with you but difficult situations that are going on in your students’ lives that you are unaware of. Sometimes you discover why things went amiss, but many times you don’t. Just as often, the following day, everything goes according to plan, and you feel like the consummate professional. Such are the ups and downs of being an educator.

I’ve written previously about some of my favorite post-teaching moments. One post was entitled The Delayed Rewards of Teaching https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com/2019/08/15/the-delayed-rewards-of-teaching/ and, most recently, an article called Our Future is in Good Hands. https://petespringerauthor.wordpress.com/2020/07/09/our-future-is-in-good-hands/

This past week I had one of those beautiful post-teaching experiences that reminded me why I became an educator. When you’re in the middle of a school year, you have these memorable experiences when you see a child accomplish something remarkable or observe a fantastic transformation in a child’s academics or behavior. While these accomplishments are rewarding, the big payoff often comes years later.

I taught Samy Awwad in third grade several years ago. He was a bright and sometimes mischievous (never mean) boy with a great deal of potential. I had the pleasure of teaching Samy’s brother the year before him, and his younger sister two years after I taught Samy. They all were exceptionally bright students with promising futures. Unsurprisingly, their parents set an excellent example by being educated, kind people, who put tremendous value on education.

Just because a student is intelligent is no guarantee of future success. I saw bright students get sidetracked for various reasons as they became young adults. The most common reasons were dysfunction in the family, childhood trauma, lack of motivation, hanging out with the wrong peers, or substance abuse problems.

Then there are students like Samy Awwad, who not only do well in school but take their natural ability and run with it. Imagine being a sixteen-year-senior, having already received preadmission to Stanford, and starting up a nonprofit organization for young people.

Awwad’s nonprofit is called IMMUNIGLOBAL. http://www.immuniglobal.org/ His primary focus is to bring education and awareness of the importance of vaccinations to the community in fighting preventable diseases such as the measles or flu.

Immuniglobal is not a small undertaking. Awwad built his nonprofit from the ground up, including website design and development, workshops, outreach, and phone education.

He approached the problem of vaccine education logically by first building his website from scratch to provide information regarding immunizations. A couple of the most startling facts on Awwad’s website are that according to the World Health Organization, between two and three million deaths are prevented each year by vaccinations. According to the CDC, a savings of an estimated 42,000 lives occur in the United States per year.

Awwad sees the big picture and comprehends that real change comes at the grassroots level while also understanding the need to work with huge companies. He has partnered with large organizations and institutions such as the CDC, CLOROX, and UCLA.

The level of thought and action that Awwad has taken is inspiring. He recognized the lack of immunizations that were happening in Humboldt County, his place of residence. Humboldt was recently ranked 54th out of 58 counties in California in terms of vaccination rates.

So why do some people choose not to get their children vaccinated? There appear to be several reasons. According to The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics, the four most prevalent anti-vax philosophies are:

Religious Reasons
Personal Beliefs or Philosophical Reasons
Safety Concerns
Desire for Additional Education
According to a National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) survey, the top reasons for not getting a flu vaccine are:

36% feel they are healthy and do not need the shot.

31% do not like needles.

30% do not think it works.

27% worry about the risks.

While 70% believe it is vital to get an annual flu shot, only 46% say they typically get vaccinated.

Perhaps what is most troubling is that diseases that were once mainly under control are becoming more prevalent again. Measles cases are on the rise. The majority of people who get measles are unvaccinated.

Beyond the probable life-saving gains, vaccines have an economic benefit and cut medical costs throughout the world. When diseases occur, more hospitalizations are the result. The COVID-19 pandemic has added considerable costs and added higher risk to medical professionals.

Awwad realizes that one of the most effective means of communication is to take his knowledge to the community directly. He has made several presentations in K-12 classrooms in Humboldt County. (Most of these have been at the high school level.) His approach helps young people become more educated about vaccines and encourages them to become involved in vaccine education and other current critical issues.

One of the most important local programs that Awwad became involved with was a vigorous vaccine education program at McKinleyville High School. He organized an Adolescent Immunization Poster Contest with the Humboldt County Department of Public Health and some local pediatricians.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, the importance of developing a vaccine has come to the forefront. Worldwide deaths have now reached over 600,000 people with several times more than that becoming ill. Even those who make a full recovery from the Coronavirus may have long-term health effects.

Awwad looks at the present and the future to see how he can use his talents and energy. Once a COVID-19 vaccine is released to the public, he would like to present a series of vaccine-related workshops and activities in schools and other places around Humboldt County.

As far as what comes next for Samy Awwad, the possibilities are endless. He is one of thirty undergraduate fellows selected recently at Stanford’s chapter of an organization called “Effective Altruism.” The goal for this two-month fellowship will be to identify the most pressing issues in the world and then decide how best to implement this resulting knowledge in his career.

Awwad plans to take a gap year to continue his work with ImmuniGlobal before enrolling full-time at Stanford. The most likely path for him will be a future in medicine as a physician. Another possibility is for Awwad to study and conduct research in the field of brain diseases. He is always thinking several steps ahead and has several other irons in the fire unrelated to vaccinations. He hopes to use his voice to help minorities and find ways to tackle important issues such as racism and classism.

I find great inspiration from Samy Awwad’s selfless acts to improve his community and make a difference throughout the world. I can’t wait for the next chapter in his life, and I know that his teachers are all proud of the young man he has become. If ever you doubt America’s youth, perhaps Samy and others like him will help change your mind.

Please find some time to check out Pete’s blog, and get to know him and his writing.

Cheryl Oreglia: Too Much Time On Our Hands

I featured American blogger and writer Cheryl in a guest post late last year, and now I am very pleased to once again bring her to the attention of everyone in our great community.

Here is what she has to say about herself.

ABOUT ME
Living in the Gap is a lifestyle blog which appears randomly as I corral the time to write and reflect on the mundane. I do have a life outside of my head and it squeezes between me and my keyboard like a frightened child. What can you do? On the surface my life is common, I’m married with children, a high school teacher who lives for weekends at the lake, but just below the surface is a unique voice, one that I hope will resonate with you. Living in the Gap, customized, over the hill, gritty, complicated life. Wouldn’t have it any other way. Join me. Living in the Gap has over 100,000 views and is syndicated by The Good Men Project. Contact me at cheryloreglia@aol.com

Here is a link to her blog.
https://cheryloreglia.blog/

This recent post from her own blog gives a flavour of what you can expect to find.

TOO MUCH TIME ON OUR HANDS

Is there such a thing as too much time on your hands?

Yes, I believe so.

And there is also a thing about balancing how you spend your precious time.

Larry and I have been spending just about every waking hour together, and I’m discovering things about this man that I never knew, and believe me when I say you can’t unknow what you’ve come to know.

For example, I discovered Larry has a morbid fear of dishwashers (he can get a dish to the sink but no further), he’s taken to wearing a headband out to dinner (and people compliment him?), and oddly enough he can not resist a worthy challenge.

I found this old photo of Larry and me, I believe it was premarriage, but you can’t be sure. Clearly, we were in our early twenties, obviously tired of backgammon, and forced to discover new forms of entertainment.

The impetus for getting ourselves in such a pose had not been fully established but what I do know is Larry is looking down my shirt!

How rude.

We were staying with his parents at their Kono Tayee estate, I assume one of them snapped this photo, and it’s been sitting in a basket up at the lake ever since. I glance at it ever now and then, shake my head, and return it to the basket.

Recently I decided to make a copy of the image, thinking I’d frame it, and hang it up at our lake house. You know, for posterity and all, a reminder that we were young once, and remarkably agile.

I don’t know why, but the image always makes me smile, and sort of sigh as if nostalgic for the good old days.

So we’re sitting around the house, thumbing through the plethora of programs now available on Netflix, and I said something banal like, “I wonder if we could pull that off at our age?”

What was I thinking?

Larry says, “I’m certainly strong enough”

“Really honey? Are you insinuating there has been a shift in my anatomy? And besides, we don’t have a beanbag!” Not to mention I’m a total fail at balancing and have a minor fear of heights?

“A beanbag?”

“You know when you recreate an old image by wearing the same clothes, getting in the same position, with a similar background, except you’re decades older? It’s a thing.”

“Never heard of it.”

“I’m shocked, hey, do you still have that shirt?”

“That shirt – No”

“I definitely don’t have my shirt, which you are looking down by the way.”

“I’m focusing on keeping you airborne.”

“And smirking?”

He looks me up and down, “I think I could hold you?”

“Not reassuring.”

“Yeah, I could do it.”

“Well, I guess we’ll never know, will we?”

It’s the “will we” that got me into trouble. Before I know what’s happening he’s on the floor balancing a pillow with his feet.

“If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”
–Bruce Lee

He says, “nothing to it.”

I don’t have the heart to tell him I weigh slightly more than a pillow, as he kicks the fluffy square into the air, narrowly missing my plant!

I muddled something under my breath about the status of our health insurance but Looney ignores me.

“Come on we have nothing to lose.”

“Only my dignity, and my ability to walk, and breath, other than that, we’re all good.”

“Can I just advise, if you feel like you’re falling, lean to the left.”

Famous last words…


“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Maya Angelou

I’m Living in the Gap, practicing Acro Yoga, with Looney as my partner.

What are you all doing with your spare time?

Anecdotes:

“Opportunities will come and go, but if you do nothing about them, so will you.” Richie Norton
“Live is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Helen Keller
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” E. E. Cummings
“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” Unknown
Instructional video for you adventurous types, please drop your pics in the comments

Please take some time to check out the rest of Cheryl’s blog, say ‘Hello’, and welcome her to the community.

Blogger’s Books: Ann Harrison-Barnes

Today I am featuring a book from North American blogger and writer, Ann. She is totally blind, yet manages to write professionally, and help out many others by promoting them on her blog.

Here is her bio.

Ann Harrison is the author of The Spirit of Creativity: Inspirational Poems for the Creative at Heart. Three of her previously published books are in the process of being revised and rebranded. She has also been published in several anthologies, including a devotional entitled God Things: Hope for the Hurting, alongside Jen Lowry and fifteen other authors. Aside from her work as a Christian fiction author, Ann is a professional freelance writer. She also hosts the Inspirational Journeys Podcast, where she gives authors, creative artists and entrepreneurs a platform to share their stories. When she’s not interviewing special guests, she hosts solo episodes providing book reviews, reading selected poems, and sharing tips and encouragement for aspiring authors.

Her featured book is a collection of poems. Here is what she has to say about it, including a link where it can be purchased.

The Spirit of Creativity:
Inspirational Poems for the Creative at Heart

Ann Harrison’s first book of poems delve into her creative journey, given to her by the Holy Spirit. The first section, entitled A Writers Life, covers her journey from writer to creative dreamer, until she blooms into a published author.
The second section, entitled Seaside Poems, will take you on a walk along the seashore, where the Holy Spirit and your muse awaits to fill your heart and mind with inspiration, pulling you out of your creative slump. Allow the Holy Spirit to help you fill page after page with words, pictures or fill your hands with whatever creative task you strive to undertake, as you read these verses, which come straight from the author’s heart.
The third and final section entitled Poems from the Heart, describes the journey of a lost soul as he gives his heart to Jesus and finds a new beginning. Others describe a narrator’s sorrowful tears melting into joyful music and singing. Some of these verses touch on the author’s spiritual walk with the Lord and the music God has placed within her soul. Open your heart and let your mind wander as the Holy Spirit speaks to you through each verse within these pages.

Purchase link:
https://books2read.com/TheSpiritOfCreativity

You can discover more on her blog, using this link.
https://annwritesinspiration.com/

Please take some time to connect with Ann, and welcome her to this great community.

Blog Feature: Usual Muttwits

Some readers may recall a blog started by one of my oldest friends, Julian. It was full of amusing stories about the doggy residents of an imaginary town, and their feline arch-enemy. Well that blog has been revamped, and now has great new illustrations by Zozo alongside the amusing stories.

Each character now has their own feature too, with the drawings summing them up perfectly.

Whether lamenting about the lack of available food, or investigating new canine arrivals, the antics of the Muttwits gang reads like a wonderful soap opera of the activities of all the pets in the town of Westley Piddle. If you own a dog, have ever owned one, or just love them, I am sure you will find this blog a delight. There is also a book in the works.
Dogs tails from Westley Piddle

So check out this new blog, treat yourself to some great illustrations, and a good laugh at the stories. Perfect Lockdown relief!

Featured Blogger: Gary Holdaway

I am happy to feature Gary again. He has completely revised his site, and offers stories to read, as well as services like ghostwriting and copywriting.
https://gdholdaway.com/

A young writer from the UK with big ideas, and an even bigger passion for words. A multigenre author of both novels and short fiction, Gary has a flare for the suspenseful, the frightening, and the unknown.

His post today is a fictional short story.
(It contains some swearing)

Morrisey’s Last Symphony
By Gary Holdaway.

Like most fresh recruits, Morrisey had grand visions of his military prowess on the field.With a Captain-America-like finesse he’d breeze through war zones with excellence and ease, quickly rising through the ranks to shine out among the others. Eventually he’d lead his own unit, and they’d claim victory after victory for his country.

Morrisey could not have been more wrong. He passed out of Lympstone by the skin of his teeth, shocked, though accepting of the fact, that the physical side of things was much harder than it looked. The three year delay before enlisting to start his family had softened him. He hadn’t accounted for the mental and emotional exhaustion that came alongside ‘becoming the best,’ or the longing for home. None of them did.

Now he sat panting with his back pinned to a tree barely wide enough to shield his shoulders, stuck in the middle of a shit-stinking mountaintop gunfight with blood pulsing from a hole in his shoulder. His clavicle was shattered, he could tell from the cold sweat and nausea that rose from the shock.

Afghanistan was a monster all of its own. Not only did the sun draw out every bead ofhydration from each available pore, but the rocky earth tore feet to shreds as if each separate boot-ridge were carved into the skin. All in that moment it became abundantly clear that ‘becoming the best’ meant fuck all against hundreds of untrained insurgents with AKs —some of them no more than teenagers, barely able to take the weight of the gun let alone handle the recoil. They’re kids. Just fucking kids.

His wound painted the dry earth with deep red splatters, his vision blurry through the buildup of tears and dust. He could just make out the features of Tait, or maybe Lilley, a few metres south, firing off ear-shattering rounds from behind an equally pathetic tree. They were done. Mission failure. Already in the fucking earth.

Bullets whistled through the air, smashing bark from trees. Magazines pounded out bullets from M4s, AKs, and whatever else the bastards could get their hands on, empty shells clanging against the ground like metallic raindrops. The impact between bullet and flesh, the thud of lifeless bodies slamming to the ground, played like bass and snare drums to a song nobody wanted to hear.

He drifted to the edge of his consciousness along a torrent of haphazard scenes from the war-movies Jennifer had him watch. He had always struggled with movies. He didn’t hate them, but could hardly sit through a full one without shuffling around, checking his phone, pausing to get food, or engaging in some other interruption that turned a two hour activity into a four hour one. But there was one that hooked him, scared him even, and he couldn’t shake it. Lone Survivor, with Mark Wahlberg. What a fitting movie to dredge up from the darkest corners of his mind while he found himself in a situation of certain death.

He entered a dreamscape between life and death, a surreal blend of memory and movie and book and music. His mind danced between cuts of his short existence, some as recent as yesterday, others distant and scarcely recalled, like slides in some corporate presentation. Lines and moments from a more random collection of movies flicked in and out of his mind. Arnold Schwarzenegger calling the predator an “Ugly Motherfucker’ while Martin Lawrence looks into a fish bowl and slurs the famous line: “This is a nice fish… Big fucking eyes, but a nice fucking fish.”

The sounds of battle around him twisted themselves into Schubert’s most beautiful symphonies, his mind resting on scenes of him typing freely on his laptop, creating escapist worlds of fantasy and horror. He loved to write. He’d spend hours creating vast universes and vibrant characters, with nothing but the delicate sounds of piano playing in the background. Now his mind created the same scene for him, in a transcendent universe where he was able
to watch himself at his desk, content and swaying with the music.

He’d never write again. And how would he write this story anyway? He supposed it’d go a hell of a lot like Lone Survivor, except without the surviving part.

His consciousness pressed on in this fashion, presenting anything but the pain, the noise, the screams and the winces of his brothers-in-arms as they were closed in, shot at, and hit bad. He was acutely aware of those things, like the background noise of Sarah and Freddie running around the house while he clung to that extra ten minutes of sleep each morning. Like the two or three times Jennifer tried to wake him with a cup of tea, her words heard, but not acknowledged. The dream was too captivating for the real world to penetrate its defences.

His eyes closed as he saw their faces for the last time. Each expression, each freckle, analysed and explored. The too-close-for-comfort BANG of a grenade set the inside of his eyelids to burst into multicoloured shapes. A rainbow shattering like a mirror, each fragment a separate screen playing memories of his family and friends.

He heard their voices say ‘I love you, Morrisey.’ He said the words back, as raw and as real as they could ever be said.

Morrisey’s body relaxed as he drifted into nothingness, the expert fingers of Schubert playing in tune with his final breath.

Featured Blogger: Shaily Agrawal

I am once again very happy to feature some poetry from Indian blogger, Shaily Agrawal.

Autumn Leaves

Autumn leaves adorn you.
Sleep deep, my love.

Sleep without regrets to fill every
Waking moment lying on the bed.

Sleep without nightmares to haunt
On cold, long, lonely nights.

Sleep without waking on a pillow
Wet with tears shed for lost love.

Sleep so memories can’t reach you
Deep under the ground.

I will see you there someday too.

I love you. I still do.

This is her short personal bio.

About me: Shaily Agrawal is an Instructional Designer, a mother, and a small town woman. She is notorious for her skewed perspective.

If you would like to read more from Shaily, or give her some encouragement in these troubled times, here’s a link.
https://fishinthetrees.home.blog/

Featured Bloggers: Tony and Margie

I am happy to feature the blog of a Canadian couple driving around their country in a motorhome. Ths post includes recent experiences since the Covid-19 outbreak.

We just hit our sixties and will retire soon (moving target) so that we can travel more. In the meantime, we just travel whenever we can for as long as we can.

Follow us as we follow the road, and yes, the destination may or may not matter. We will share with you stories and tips on campervan travel; DIY fixes, hacks, life on the road, beautiful vistas, cooking in the van. We may also contemplate life in general.

Tony is a contractor/carpenter and Margie is a recovering archaeologist/manager, so we may come up with some surprise, off-topic articles as inspiration may hit us.

We’d love to hear your ideas, your experiences, and how you handled certain camper-vanning situations, so drop us a line!

We would love to share our latest post with you:

Coronavirus Diaries – People Watching

Our world is changing rapidly. Just when we thought we hit bottom, we observe in disbelief how life imitates art while we run the script of every post-apocalypse movie we’ve seen and search for parallels to our bizarre situation.

People watching
We like people watching, but in times of social distancing we can only people-watch online or from a safe distance in places such as the supermarket, which is pretty much the only outing we get.

The spectrum of reactions and behaviour patterns is fascinating; some are scared, some recklessly careless. Some are kind and thoughtful and some selfish and cruel.

Some are sharing posts and links to help others get through the isolation. Some are in their element—isolation is their middle name—while others still post negative stuff about, well, everything.

Yet others are digging their heels even deeper into conspiracy theories, denial, and rumor spreading. Is this how the ignorant masses self-medicate, or are the ones who follow new instructions are the ignorant ones? Is it easier for some people to deny and come up with alternative realities, or is it something more sinister?

Who will survive?

Other are being quiet. Maybe too quiet? Vulnerabilities can intensify during times like these and some of us may need extra help. How do you provide help and encouragement while keeping your distance and protecting both yourself and your loved ones?

Some are coming back from trips cut short, and others still leaving for new ones until the borders were shut for non-essential travel. and they no longer could.

Some were returning from Europe and other hot spots and going about their business as usual while freaking out everyone around them. Why are you not self-isolating?

The new heroes are supermarket clerks.

Our perspectives are slowly changing.

Some people are buying toilet paper yet others are buying ammunition. There is shortage of both for the time being.

Interesting. There are already reports of break-ins into cars to steal toilet paper and groceries.

A recent trip to the supermarket was like walking in zombieland. No one was making eye contact and except for a few forced smiles there was no interaction. Everyone was focusing on finding their goods before they are gone while trying to keep a good distance from potential infectors.

The broad spectrum of the human condition…the reality that across continents, religion, race, age, and gender some of us are kind, compassionate and are open minded, while some of us are selfish, cynical and prefer to bend the facts to suit their needs. Yet, some of us are somewhere in the middle—swaying in the wind.

Some people step up to the occasion and some stoop low.

Our reaction to the possibility of toilet paper shortage highlights the excess in our life. The overly stocked shelves and endless variety…dozens of kinds of everything for every possible occasion. Will this change once we go back to normal?

We are such a strange species.

So What we’ve been doing
We finished building the new bathroom in the basement and arranged the basement as our new travel destination. It’s pretty much as far as we travel nowadays. We may follow this blueprint and create an elaborate wine tour. I am not sure who created this image, but thanks for the inspiration, Linda!

Making good use of Duolingo and learning a new language. We have Chinese and French on the go and there are some strange sounds emitted every now and then in this house. We are not just grunting, we are practicing.

This is a great time to start a free university course on one of the many online platforms. I would recommend the Science of Wellbeing, which may be even more poignant, and perhaps even helpful during these times of uncertainty.

We are reading.

Instead of planning our next trip, we started planning a spring vegetable garden. Hey, you never know…remember those dystopian scenarios mentioned earlier?

Movies! We are so grateful for movies. We are currently binging on Jackie Chan and Jim Jarmusch movies. Interesting combination you say? We agree, but it works

We cook a lot.

And we walk in the forest.

Our language is changing. We started using words that were not in our vocabulary; words like hunker down, shelter in place, social distancing, self-isolation, and wash your hands are the new buzz words.

We are trying to guess what will be the word/phrase of the year. Right now we put our bets on social distancing. We are also trying to come up with Man of the Year. Up until the COVID-19 pandemic, we would have put our money on Nancy Polusi, but now? Maybe Dr. Li Wenliang?

We are overindulging with pictures of cute animals and watching Arnold Schwarzenegger’s hilarious videos with his menagerie. We will not apologize for it.

Tony’s visits to Home Depot are restricted to the absolute necessary ones and he has to make do with what he already has.

With an official State of Emergency, we may have several months of somewhat organized chaos ahead of us, so we’ll definitely get more creative and perhaps more practical. We’ll try to write about it since writing about our travels seems a bit irrelevant and trivial at the moment.

Maybe we’ll adjust our behaviour just a bit onceall of this is over. Maybe not.

One thing for sure, we will never be as funny as they can be in Wales!

So with this in mind, our last word of advice is step away from the bin!

We hope you are all coping. Let us know what you’re doing!

Here is a link to their blog. Why not check it out and see what else they have been doing.
https://backroadsandotherstories.com/

Do you use Google Plus?

I have had a Google+ account for a long time now, ever since I started blogging in fact. I use it to promote my blog posts to a different audience, and I also follow the Google+ accounts of some people who only use that platform. It has another very useful feature, as it allows me to ‘sign in’ and comment on other platforms, like ‘Blogger’. It can also be used on some commercial websites, saving me the chore of creating additional accounts, and new passwords. All in all, it is quite handy.

So naturally, Google is about to close it down.

They cite ‘lack of use’ as the reason for scrapping it, and we don’t get a say in that of course. As well as no longer being able to use the features it provides, it will also mean that every comment I have made using it will no longer exist, and any images I have added there will be deleted too, unless I trawl through and back them all up. When Google decides to ‘clean house’, it doesn’t mess about. So if you didn’t know about this imminent demise on the 2nd of April, here is the email confirmation I received this morning. Let’s hope that Gmail isn’t next for the chopping block.

You’ve received this email because you have a consumer (personal) Google+ account or you manage a Google+ page.

In December 2018, we announced our decision to shut down Google+ for consumers in April 2019 due to low usage and challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations. We want to thank you for being part of Google+ and provide next steps, including how to download your photos and other content.

On April 2nd, your Google+ account and any Google+ pages you created will be shut down and we will begin deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts. Photos and videos from Google+ in your Album Archive and your Google+ pages will also be deleted. You can download and save your content, just make sure to do so before April. Note that photos and videos backed up in Google Photos will not be deleted.

The process of deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts, Google+ Pages, and Album Archive will take a few months, and content may remain through this time. For example, users may still see parts of their Google+ account via activity log and some consumer Google+ content may remain visible to G Suite users until consumer Google+ is deleted.

As early as February 4th, you will no longer be able to create new Google+ profiles, pages, communities or events.

See the full FAQ for more details and updates leading up to the shutdown.

If you’re a Google+ Community owner or moderator, you may download and save your data for your Google+ Community. Starting early March 2019, additional data will be available for download, including author, body, and photos for every community post in a public community. Learn more

If you sign in to sites and apps using the Google+ Sign-in button, these buttons will stop working in the coming weeks but in some cases may be replaced by a Google Sign-in button. You’ll still be able to sign in with your Google Account wherever you see Google Sign-in buttons. Learn more

If you’ve used Google+ for comments on your own or other sites, this feature will be removed from Blogger by February 4th and other sites by March 7th. All your Google+ comments on all sites will be deleted starting April 2, 2019. Learn more

If you’re a G Suite customer, Google+ for your G Suite account should remain active. Contact your G Suite administrator for more details. You can also expect a new look and new features soon. Learn more

If you’re a developer using Google+ APIs or Google+ Sign-in, click here to see how this will impact you.

From all of us on the Google+ team, thank you for making Google+ such a special place. We are grateful for the talented group of artists, community builders, and thought leaders who made Google+ their home. It would not have been the same without your passion and dedication.