Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘blogging

An Idea

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I’m thinking of trying something different for posts next week while on my annual biking and camping trip.

I will post a picture a day using my phone. The last time I tried posting by way of the small touch screen it frustrated me to no end, but hope springs eternal and I will give it another try.

So, today -while my internet connection is still throttled to almost useless speed- I am constructing a test post to see if this idea seems workable for me.

Maybe I’ll learn a thing or two about effectively navigating my nemesis the touch screen.

Old attempt at a selfie with Delilah

That is a photo that I mined from the archives made available to me after following prompts.

If this works for me now, it’ll give me confidence to try it again on the road next week, subject to signal availability and battery life.

Just an idea for continued daily chronicling of my ongoing adventures.

Written by johnwhays

June 14, 2022 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Thinking Thinks

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Some thinks I was thinking while walking the dog recently.

  • Of all the great things in this world, think about a time when you blinked your eyes and they failed to open again for an awkwardly long time as sleep was trying hard to bring you under its spell. When this happens and you are free to give in without a care, it is just the absolute best. Let sleep win.
  • With the wind blowing rather fiercely as I walk along the slippery, muddy trail, my eyes are fixed on picking a place for each step. High above me, I could hear the dramatic clacking of branches smacking into each other out of my view. Unnerving, to say the least.
  • I have been seeing the tiniest hints of spring growth becoming evident throughout our forest. It seems like it takes a long, long time to reach this point, and then it seems like the growth explodes in a matter of days. That is the point when I wish I had accomplished more pruning in advance.
  • No matter how much control I think I have over managing our landscape, the natural world is infinitely more complicated in its functionings. I cut and prune and sometimes plant things anew, but everywhere trees and plants are growing and dying in innumerable ways beyond my comprehension. We have a variety of new mosses growing on our pathways this year.
  • I estimate we are just days away from being able to give the horses access to the back pasture and front hayfield for grazing. It’s a week later than we opened those gates last year. I wonder if the horses will run like they did that time.
  • I’m contemplating the “No Mow May” campaign to help pollinators coming out of hibernation but I can’t imagine how my mower will cope with how tall and thick the grass will be by June if I participate. I also wonder if I can stand the appearance of neglecting our property. I take pride in keeping things looking well kept.
  • It’s only been one week since Cyndie’s surgery but I’m deeply missing her company when walking Delilah. Cyndie would share her viewpoints on tending to property issues and possible improvements which helped direct our attention to what we should do next. I definitely miss splitting the jobs of feeding and cleaning up after the horses twice a day. I feel bad she doesn’t get to watch from up close the growth explosion of new buds and opening leaves. Our landscape will look so completely different by the time she starts walking outside again.
  • If it wasn’t for Cyndie’s surgery, I probably wouldn’t be having so many solo thinks while walking Delilah. I would have to come up with something else to write about. Hee!



Written by johnwhays

April 25, 2022 at 6:00 am

Life Stories

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I have begun reading some of the stories Nathan Vass has written that describe scenes he has witnessed and exchanges he has had with others as a Metro bus driver in Seattle. From his words, I can immediately sense the love and respect he holds for the people he describes from his encounters. It swiftly pulls me toward loving them, too, more than a thousand miles and multiple years away from the origin of his stories.

Most of my stories lately end up describing the weather, my projects, our horses, or our pets. Occasionally, Cyndie’s or my embarrassing foibles provide fodder for a re-telling. It is hard for me to know if my tales are relative to something for those of you following, but I hope you sense the love I have for the range of subjects chronicled.

Over the holiday, I found myself on multiple occasions sharing descriptions of my experience with depression, the circumstances leading to a diagnosis, and the success of my subsequent treatment. The earnestness of my listeners flushed out more detail than I would normally venture to burden any one person with at a social gathering.

In one case, there was a surprised interest in the concept of depression being curable. I tend to consider myself “depression-free” with the adjunct of practicing a life-long antidote of daily thoughts and actions to maintain good health.

Writing something about my life every day is one component of my regimen, but I don’t write about my experience with depression every day. My stories are more of a reflection of not being depressed. That doesn’t make me forget about what it is like to struggle with depression.

I suppose that is one reason I feel love for the lives depicted in some of Nathan’s stories. When the situation he describes reveals symptoms of depression, I empathize.

There are moments of depression in almost every life at one time or another. We should all empathize.

Similar to the legend of feeding two wolves inside us, good vs. evil, and whichever we feed wins, I posit that bathing our brains in a chemical bath of positive, loving thoughts will produce much more desirable results than generating the chemicals of anxiety and negativity.

Consider this as you lay your head down to sleep for the night. What brain chemistry would you like to have generated as you are fading into dreamland?



Written by johnwhays

January 4, 2022 at 7:00 am

No Story

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There is no story here. No beginning, middle, or end. No dramatic challenge or rewarding resolution. It’s the first Wednesday in November of 2021. November 3rd, in fact. Happy Birthday, Elliott. I’m commuting to the day-job another time. The same challenges that have been burdening us at work for the last two years will be waiting anew.

Weather is stable for the time being. Past, present, and future are all where they need to be. Everything just is, from where I am sitting.

Every time this happens, I am struck by the thought of how many others are enjoying no such luck at this same moment. The people who are refugees stuck where no country wants them. People caught in endless cycles of poverty. People struggling against terminal illnesses.

I’ve got it easy.

Even when it feels hard to me, I have it embarrassingly easy compared to the trials and tribulations others face.

My response is to send thoughts of love out into the world, confident in the power it wields.

I practice gratitude. I accept there are things I don’t understand.

We tend to our animals with attention to their needs and appreciation for their wisdom.

We marvel over the natural world living and growing around us.

I strive to be in the moment. Where is the story in that?

Okay, never mind. The story I’m not telling is my pending retirement from the day-job. My goal of ending the need to drive 65 miles away from our home for work. I’m not writing about the angst of trying to successfully transfer the details of my primary daily tasks to others before my end date arrives.

The challenge of figuring out Cyndie’s and my health insurance options before my employment ends.

Since it has been my intent to maintain a healthy distance between details of the day-job and this blog, the command of my headspace by work issues often leaves a gap in my blogspace. It can tend to leave me with no story available to tell.

I will admit to longingly looking forward to soon having that headspace released from the responsibilities of employment with hopes of replacing it with pursuits more aligned with my creative interests.

The story is, I will be retiring from my day-job in December.

There. I wrote it.

I gotta say, it gets a lot easier to write when there isn’t a great big something I’m busy trying to not write about in my personal blog. Otherwise, it makes me feel like I’ve got no story to tell.

And that’s just unlike me.



Written by johnwhays

November 3, 2021 at 6:00 am

Disinformation Averse

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I assume that no one intends to become misinformed but it sure seems like there are a lot of people with a propensity to gobble up disinformation like it was candy. Speaking of candy, has it become universally recognized yet that early health campaigns by the sugar industry weren’t on the up and up when it came to weight gain?

In the 1960s, the sugar industry funded research that downplayed the risks of sugar and highlighted the hazards of fat…

Those of us (me) at Relative Something do our (my) best to avoid spreading false information and always avoid using algorithms to direct my most outrageous posts to the forefront. There are no angry emoji’s added to trigger more engagement and keep eyes on these pages for the sole purpose of gorging on profits.

While I will admit to occasionally enhancing reality when it comes to tales involving our amazing wonderdog, Delilah, I strive to describe our Wintervale adventures with utmost accuracy.

Like that giant tree that slammed to the ground across one of our trails yesterday.

It must have made an enormous crashing sound that probably worried our neighbors, if any of them were out. I love that Cyndie described the location as “cow corner” when she texted me the photo. This is near the one corner of our property where four different owners’ fence lines meet and the pasture diagonal to our land is home to a good-sized herd of cows.

I try not to get tangled in the ongoing, always see-sawing debates over whether coffee is good or bad for health, or eating eggs every day, or one glass of red wine, or reading in low light or on a lighted mobile device. Should gerrymandering be allowed or not? Is pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps really a viable fix for what ails us? Does hypocrisy in a politician reveal a flaw in their trustworthiness? Is the uncontrolled urge to scroll social media apps detrimental to our healthy productivity?

It all depends on who is financing the research, no?

If U.S. lawmakers somehow actually succeed in getting our wealthy citizens to pay a reasonable share of taxes, will it be rich people who have the greatest say in where the funds will be used?

Luckily, there is no confusion about the logic of vaccinating or the risks of uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels for decades on end.

Those topics are totally disinformation averse. Yeah, no.  -_-

You can trust me to be genuine because I know how to make things up that don’t bring me political power or financial gain.

Unbelievable, I know. Like how I needed to risk my fingers prying Delilah’s jaw open to force her to give up the shard of bone she found from what was left of that deer leg as we were about to depart from the lake. Suddenly my hands –all fingers intact– were covered with a stink that triggers a gag reflex and the water had just been shut off in the cabin.

Some things I write actually happened.



One Thing

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Or another. I was thinking about writing “The Thing” for the title of this post in a riff off the idiom, “Here’s the thing.” My software indicated I’d already used that title once before on Relative Something. I try not to reuse titles if possible. Seriously, though, I was thinking, “Here’s the thing…”

Did you know Alec Baldwin hosted a public radio show and podcast interview series by the title, “Here’s the Thing?” I didn’t.

Makes sense though. That’s a great title. I tried a couple other pairs of words and found I’d already used them, too.

I prefer the pattern of holding my titles to two words, but after more than ten years of blogging, it gets hard to come up with a unique pair.

Whether it’s one thing or another, here’s the thing… I never expected that one day, I would live in Wisconsin.

Maybe I should have titled this post, “Never Expected.”

There are innumerable things I never expected to experience in my lifetime. I never expected I would witness stupidity being proudly espoused as publicly as is common in this day and age.

I never expected the burgeoning of private military companies into global powerhouses offering services to nation-states.

I never expected that I would be alive during a years-long global pandemic that would cause the amount of death COVID-19 has, even though I had read books and watched movies about similar biohazardous calamities.

I never expected private companies would create space crafts with reusable propulsion modules that make pinpoint landings on floating platforms in the ocean, especially modules with video capture abilities allowing public viewing of the feat from multiple angles.

I never expected to find out microplastics are everywhere, including inside both animals and humans.

I didn’t expect that so many things imagined for science fiction stories would become realities, ala Star Trek communicators and today’s smartphones. I never imagined that mobile phones would be able to rival cameras to the level of making professional-quality movies.

I remember thinking touch screens would never work. Folding screens? Not possible.

I don’t want to think of how many other things I deem not possible will become reality in my lifetime.

During my technical career in industry, I was on a development team that designed a custom machine for making coated optical discs that the customer boasted would be able to fit an entire volume of encyclopedia for viewing on a computer screen. Even as I worked on the electronics and vacuum chambers of the machine that would make this possible, I struggled to fathom the enormity of digitizing all the information in those books.

I never expected to come to the realization about how much human suffering results from religious conflict when simply loving others solves conflicts, heals wounded souls, and sows peace for all.

I never expected so many of you to read the words I write.

Here’s the thing, overcoming depression opens a world of possibilities.

This I know: It’s always one thing or another, whether you expect it or not.



It Seems

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It seems to me today that I can’t add anything that you don’t already know. What would be the point of describing how oppressive the hatch of mosquitoes has been since the last long ago rainfall? Despite how fast the grass around here grew after that last dosage of water from the sky, I ended up deciding not to cut it, because the days have been nothing but hot and dry ever since. I didn’t want to stress the grass at a time it was again enduring another stretch of hot, dry weather.

Maybe we’ll get another batch of moisture on Friday, but I can only imagine what that will do for the mosquito population. I’m thinking about mowing this afternoon when I get home from work.

As I turned the last corner onto our street coming home from work yesterday, I was passed by a farm tractor coming from the opposite direction. Then another and another. Ten, then twenty, maybe thirty in a row. Every variety of manufacturers, some with a single passenger beside or behind the driver looking almost board, many with flags attached. A few had cute canvas canopies over the top for shade.

I guess that was something you didn’t know about. I certainly didn’t know anything about it. Some sort of parade out in the wide-open countryside on a Wednesday afternoon when few people might be around to notice. I didn’t see any signs to convey a message. Maybe they were headed somewhere to congregate and make a point. Protest at the steps of the county courthouse over the lack of rain?

My positive momentum is fatigued due to the constant waves of angst flowing from Afghanistan / Taliban / Wildfires / Earthquake / Tropical Storms / Delta Variant / Mask Mandates / Booster Shots / Political Blame / Shouting Matches / Criminal Trials / Sick Pets and every other challenge to peace and harmony that is vibrating so strong these days.

A certain feeling of guilt over the blissful beauty of our immediate surroundings needs to be processed before getting on with the beaming of healthy love out into the universe from the heart.

When I walked up to the paddock gate Tuesday evening to see the fallen snag first hand, Light responded to my presence instantly by purposely crossing the length of the small paddock toward me to make a brief connection. She inhaled my scent, paused, and looked around. I extended a hand to offer a scratch but she had stopped out of my reach. She breathed in again with her nose on my hand, then slowly moved on to join the rest of her herd near the overhang.

You probably didn’t know about that exchange, either.

Seems to me, the old adage about writing what I know tends to work out even when I don’t realize there is anything new about which to write.



Written by johnwhays

August 19, 2021 at 6:00 am

Exercising Memory

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My memories are fading, but as I revisit many of them, the details I review slowly grow more memorable and probably less accurate with each iteration.

I remember what my life was like before my eyesight declined to the point of needing glasses to see with functional clarity. Those memories often arise in response to needing to clean my glasses in the present day.

I remember how free life was before the coronavirus pandemic.

I remember when there were no personal computers.

I remember getting my first mobile phone when my workplace at the time made them available to all employees for personal use.

I remember how awkward it always felt to walk alone in front of the entire length of the high school bleachers on the way to get a bag of popcorn from the concession counter.

I remember how much I liked the popcorn purchased at those basketball games in the high school.

I remember using our basement for a kitchen in our Eden Prairie house while we were having the upstairs remodeled.

I remember putting a vinyl Crosby, Stills, & Nash record on the old hi-fi phonograph with the sliding glass woodgrain top panels when it was in the closet of my boyhood bedroom and then laying on my bed to listen until I fell asleep.

I remember when the impacts of the greenhouse effect on our planet were hardly noticeable and mainly the subject of scientific predictions.

I remember when we first set foot on the property we eventually purchased in Beldenville, Wisconsin. I will always remember walking one of the trails near the house and coming upon the gnarly oak tree that remains the most prominent.

I remember when the sky turned a deeper blue during the two times when air traffic was greatly reduced: After the September 11 attacks and when the pandemic lockdowns stopped almost all travel around the globe.

I remember the morning I called our health clinic to ask to be seen in my first step of treating my depression.

I remember how moved I felt after learning about the extent of hidden added sugars in processed foods that occurred with increasing frequency throughout my lifetime.

I remember tying one of my deceased mother’s handkerchiefs to a branch as a prayer flag in the Himalayan mountains around the highest elevation I achieved during the trek I did in 2009.

I remember my son inspiring me to start a blog to chronicle the trek I would be doing.

I remember learning I was an asthma sufferer during my physical that was required by the adventure travel company before the trip began.

I remember waking up stressed from breathing the smoke that had leaked from the woodstove all night when we slept in the lodge of the Sherpa sirdar guiding our trek.

What I can’t remember is any reason I started this exercise and whether or not I had a point in mind. Having a point would have come in handy when it came to reaching a conclusion.

This reminds me of how often I find myself laboring to come up with a closing line for daily blog posts.

Sometimes, I just want to “Say goodnight, Gracie.”



Written by johnwhays

August 12, 2021 at 6:00 am

Yep Indeed

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Trying to capture the essence of my adventures of last week on my abbreviated version of the Tour of Minnesota has been difficult due to instantly being transported from one world into another. I am still immersed in the second phase of my vacation, the Friswold family gathering at their lake place, which keeps me distracted from pondering long enough to write about either experience.

I was born on this day back in 1959, and that fact, combined with the focus of this weekend –the one-year anniversary of Cyndie’s dad’s passing– is keeping things spinning faster than my writing brain processes.

And that’s okay. It’s just that I really want to tell my stories and exercise my writing muscles. A lot of life-affirming experiences have occurred for me of late. The occasion of my birthday is the least of them.

Julian has given me another wonderful present in the form of his coding expertise that astute readers may have already noticed this morning. The random wayback feature that I love so much is now a permanent option available on the margin, or trailing the initial posts on mobile devices.

Maybe if the dreary cloud cover that has arrived over Hayward this morning will lend itself toward my finding a quiet corner to collect some words to describe my adventures from the last week. Maybe not.

I’m going to go with the flow. Right now we are in the sunroom with windows all open and family stories and belly laughs are frequent. Breakfast is nigh. I’m sitting here trying to multitask between participating and typing.

Until now. If you want more, click the wayback machine for a random archived post.




Written by johnwhays

June 26, 2021 at 8:37 am

Had Enough

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Have you had enough of the wayback machine by now? Since I am on vacation, all these wayback posts were formatted and scheduled before I left. At that time, I didn’t have a sense of whether they would be met with an appreciation or come across as a repeating annoyance.

It’s a random results generator. I’m guessing your response will have everything to do with which posts from the archive showed up for you.

I had thought about curating my own pick of ten old posts for the duration of my vacation but didn’t have the time it would take to scour the thousands of possibilities to come up with ones that seemed worthy. And worthy to whom? It’s a big world out there on the interweb where these blog posts can be found. Posts about chickens? Optimal health? Trekking the Himalayas? Words on images? Destigmatizing depression? All things love-related?

Okay, I suppose I could have found ten topics like those and horses and Portugal, and posted a gem for each, but remember that thing about not having time?

When the idea came to me for a random generator, I liked the thought that each reader would end up with a unique old re-post. Everyone would end up seeing something different.

When Julian successfully pulled off his manipulations of the coding in the span of one short phone conversation, I was giddy with delight. It was so much fun for me to use, I decided it didn’t matter if anyone else liked it.

I liked it.

Go ahead. Take another spin. You might find a gem.



Written by johnwhays

June 24, 2021 at 6:00 am