Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘blogging

Ten Tidbits

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• When publishing a list, always put a quantity in the title.

• If there is no story to tell, a list actually tells a story.

• Not every clementine in a bunch is as good as all the others.

• A degenerating disc doesn’t need an obvious activity to begin to bulge.

• When ordering day-old chicks online, you never know when you might end up with a rooster.

• If the industrialization of our planet creates exponential increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the weather will get weird.

• History is only as interesting as the interest one puts into it.

• It is really nice to be able to work outdoors when sanding wood sculptures.









• The most amazing thing about video recordings of interesting events that have occurred is that someone thought to record it at the time.

• Unexpected audio suddenly blaring unexpectedly when the phone is set on silent is a very unwelcome jolt to the senses.

• It doesn’t really matter how many tidbits you include when putting a quantity in the title.

• The pandemic won’t end all at once with some specific point, but will gradually disappear over time.

• Lists of tidbits don’t share that same trait.



Written by johnwhays

March 12, 2021 at 7:00 am

Quiet Here

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There isn’t much happening, which is a good thing, really. But it takes a bit of the wind out of my sails when it comes to chronicling the hilarious goings-on around here. Last night under the dramatic glow of the big moon it was all calm and quiet.

I tried to understand short-selling and all the excitement over the wallstreetbets sub-reddit escapades. We turned on a rerun of “Vera” on the local PBS station. I assembled the border of a new puzzle while Cyndie put together another scrumptious dinner featuring a homemade lentil soup that was aromatically simmering on the stove when I walked in the door after work.

Delilah harassed Pequenita in-between grinding her fangs on a beef knee cap treat. Only two eggs appeared in the coop nest boxes for the day.

The television news featured citizen reports of difficult attempts to get vaccine shots. I talked back to the tv, imploring them to recognize demand out-paces supply. If you want to be one of the first to get a shot, it will involve extensive effort or brilliant luck. The other option is to be patient and wait for the supply to increase.

Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

If one chooses to be patient and wait, it is good form to avoid whining and complaining about things at the same time.

By the time sleep pulled my eyelids closed at the end of the night, all was quiet on the homefront.

You won’t hear (read) any complaints from me about that.



Written by johnwhays

January 29, 2021 at 7:00 am

RS Interview 4

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Picking up where yesterday’s post left off, the Relative Something interview with *The* John W. Hays continues on the topic of love and more…

RS: Love seems like a worthy topic!

JWH: Love is my religion. It is one common theme woven through all world religious beliefs. Love is universal. When situations require a decision, using love as a compass to guide that decision will make the world a better place. No dogma required. Love doesn’t necessarily provide certainty, it accepts mystery. Love is all we need.

RS: Is this a change for you, the focus on love?

JWH: Well, I suppose there has been a transition over the years. I think the primary significance for me was learning to love myself enough to overcome negative self-talk. A secondary shift came about as I grew weary of the abuses and hypocrisies that were being exposed in organized religions. The way political parties wield religious beliefs like weapons. The fact that religious faiths would go to war against other human beings who worship differently.
Humans defining a deity seems like the ultimate hubris to me. And a horrible construct the powerful use to control others and gain wealth. Especially horrible because it is usually masqueraded under a veil of love. Love deserves better. The best response I see to that is to keep the love and leave the rest behind.
I’ve learned to love myself in a more healthy way and use love beyond the confines of organized religion to navigate my interactions with others in the world.

RS: What is something people wouldn’t know about you from reading what you write?

JWH: Not much. I’m embarrassingly transparent. Basically, they won’t know what I don’t write. For some reason, I haven’t been writing about the fact that it’s been so long since I last played guitar that I can’t remember when the last time was. And I probably haven’t written about it because I don’t really know why I stopped. I wonder if it has anything to do with the way I am aging, mentally, and physically, but the influences are too intangible to explain it with one simple pat reason.
Thinking about it, which is what happens when I try to write on the subject –and not writing about it has meant I could avoid thinking about it– I suspect it is related to the amount of time I have been commuting to the day-job four days a week. Exhaustion saps my creative energy. It also leaves less oomph to want to pedal my bikes up hills and into winds. I did not ride a bike at all this summer. When the pandemic canceled the annual June week of biking and camping, I lost that incentive to do conditioning rides. My attention defaulted to property maintenance on our acres. There is always more that can be done than there are hours and days.
The good news is that I have been incredibly happy to do that. I question myself about the health risks of not making music or riding my bikes, but maybe my version of aging is one of working on our property and then nestling inside our gorgeous home to type out my thoughts on a computer.
I have an inkling that a day in the not-so-distant future when that thing called retirement happens, my recreational pursuits could return with a vengeance. I think that would be absolutely lovely.

RS: Amen to that.

Thank you, JWH for agreeing to be the first interviewee in what Relative Something hopes will become an ongoing occasional feature in the years ahead. *This* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences involves and is influenced by innumerable others. This will provide an opportunity to expand the narrative. Because, why not?



Written by johnwhays

October 18, 2020 at 8:46 am

Yard Birds

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********** (Yesterday, an otherwise wonderful Sunday morning, I failed in my battle with learning the new “block” system of editing a WordPress post. I lost my temper, threw my computer, and went outside without publishing a post, where I would be able to work on projects I could control.

Try as I might to format the text and images to achieve my intention, the results consistently foiled me. After repeated unintended results which looked ridiculously wrong, from which I could not find the “undo” option that would at least return to the previous look, I boiled over.

Without going back and striving to accomplish my goal, I am, for now, resigning myself to living with whatever result this new editor mode produces, whether I like it, or not.

The following is the text and images I wanted to post yesterday morning, not as I intended it to look, but as the WordPress software allows me to present.)


The pullets and Rocky are still confined to a fenced courtyard attached to the coop, but the big girls –a buff orpington, an australorpe, and a wyandotte– wander the property freely.

Saturday, while Cyndie was cleaning up the pine needle aftermath left from our removal of another dead pine tree, the three hens showed up to get in on the action.


Never one to pass up an opportunity to offer food to her loved ones, Cyndie had a treat ready to serve.

The girls rarely pass up the offerings of anything edible.

I think it shows in their not-so-svelte silhouettes.



Written by johnwhays

October 5, 2020 at 6:00 am

Change’s Sake

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My immense aversion to changes in software that was working just fine for me leads me to think that perhaps I am getting old.

Is it a problem for you, dear readers, that I don’t have little icons on this blog for sundry social media sites of the latest trend? Has my neglect to format the appearance to best suit the portrait orientation of mobile devices left you frustrated?

Ever find yourself wondering why my blog doesn’t include links to sites for purchasing products I promote, or a button allowing you to donate money to sustain my lifestyle?

These are all features that I have chosen to ignore, despite frequent WordPress marketing messages encouraging me to incorporate.

In March of 2009, I searched for a platform to publish my “take on things and experiences” and found a template ‘theme’ that matched my tastes. I’ve seen no reason to change since.

The word-cloud I selected for the side margin of my posts slowly changes over time, not always to my ideal, but it’s simply a reflection of what I write about the most, so I let it go.

Truth in advertising.

After some trial and error tinkering, sometimes requiring mystery clicks on vague icons with unclear popup titles, I have reached a mostly functional equilibrium that reasonably matches my previous editing experience.

I do miss the running word-count information that previously displayed at the bottom of my view as I typed.

With time, I will learn whether or not that’s a feature I can add back, as I explore the myriad other repackaged ways WordPress has changed my blogging experience to make it so much better.

Okay, never mind. I just clicked the “help” icon at the bottom of my view and learned I can click an information icon at the top of the screen to find that information.

That was at 308 words, if you care.

Which is more than enough to call for an end to my whining about change for change’s sake.

How about a bit of boasting about the other burden I so often face as the spouse of one who loves to bake?

I keep getting asked to sample and review the latest delicious morsels being baked under a constantly changing mix of ingredients and techniques.


My judgements might be influenced unfairly by the fact I usually enjoy the advantage of performing these tests on goods fresh and warm from the oven, but the taste analyses are probably universal.

Cyndie is gaining proficiency with each refinement she makes.

We make a pretty good team.

I credit our ability to change with the times, albeit sometimes kicking and whining all the way.



Written by johnwhays

October 3, 2020 at 8:28 am

Planting Acorns

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When all around you the world appears to be unraveling in every direction, try planting a tree.

In our case, we’ve decided to take a crack at planting many. Last week we buried over a hundred acorns in a line outside the fence of the paddocks.

Since nature does such an amazing job of producing oak sprouts everywhere on our property, we decided to see if we could organize some of them to pop up right where we’d like to have them growing for the shade they would eventually provide.


Note: WordPress has done another update to their format, changing the look of my editing space and eliminating options that I previously used when formatting my posts. I do not have the control I once had, so things may appear different from what you were used to seeing until a time when I figure out a new way to achieve the results I desire.

Already, I miss the good old days of composing my posts.

Disgruntled-ly yours,




Written by johnwhays

October 2, 2020 at 6:00 am

Several Routines

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As I was going through my usual work-week routine last night, preparing my breakfast and lunch for today, this is what I observed: I have a tendency for routine. Every night before work, I take steps to support my quick departure the next morning at an early hour to beat traffic in my long commute to the far side of the Twin Cities.

In the morning, all I need to do is get dressed and go, after waking and going through my planking and stretching routine. My clothes were selected the night before and my breakfast and lunch foods prepared in advance.

My process for preparing my foods for the workday is equally routine.

I precisely measure my serving of cereal for the morning breakfast to stay below my threshold for added sugar. The amount of yogurt that I serve with my cereal is only a fraction of the amount in a typical “single serving” package. There is a perfect-sized spoon I like to use for this small serving of yogurt.

Since I do this routine repeatedly, I don’t simply put the spoon in with dirty dishes when I am done with it. I wash the spoon and place it back in the silverware drawer, but not just anywhere. I slip it beneath all the other various spoons of that style so I can be sure to find it the next day.

Some have a smaller scoop. Some have longer handles. Those aren’t the ones I want.

I do this because, if I leave it right on top, the odds are high that Cyndie will take it next time she is looking for a spoon.

Seems simple enough at this point, I hope. However, this plan doesn’t always produce the desired results.

Very often, when I reach in to grab “my spoon,” it’s not there on the bottom anymore.

Why not?

I’ve talked with Cyndie about it, and she has no clue.

In my head, I picture her reaching in and grabbing whatever spoon is on top at the time. This shouldn’t mix the order enough to dislodge my carefully stowed particular spoon.

Must be some other mysterious law of physics I know nothing about.

Now, by this point, you must be imagining any number of easy alternative solutions to avoiding this problem of keeping track of one specific spoon. I could tie a ribbon on the handle. I could place it in a different location away from the other spoons.

I know.

But, honestly, this situation doesn’t even deserve the number of words I’m wasting on it here. If I seriously fretted over this, I could easily come up with a more permanent solution. It’s become more of a game for me to see if the spoon will be there, or not.

I’m intrigued by the odd phenomenon.

And look, it provided fodder for another of my ROUTINEs: writing a daily blog post.

Obviously, I have a tendency for routine.



Written by johnwhays

July 16, 2020 at 6:00 am

Say Something

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Have you received a lot of unexpected emails from businesses recently? There is a common format you may begin to recognize. A communication professional, Karen G. Anderson, offers tips for organizations that want to email their primary audience with assurances in the face of the ongoing pandemic.

  • Say Something
  • Talk About Customers (Not the Organization)
  • Send Links
  • Make Sure People Can Contact You
  • Message Should Come From Individual

This morning I received this very message from a business I made one online purchase from years ago for a replacement bowl to match a long-discontinued tableware pattern. It struck me for it’s classic adherence to the recommended guidelines for prudent good practice in times of a national emergency.

It was the 5th or 6th such message to show up in my inbox in the last few days. Being a natural contrarian, my mind quickly jumps to concern about all the entities that haven’t contacted me yet. Why haven’t I heard from them? Are they not all on the same side when it comes to taking all the precautions to keep everyone safe?

Well, let me just assure you, my dear readers, I am fully aware of the risks and ramifications that have materialized from the worldwide spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 and I am taking specific steps to control the spread. Before I started writing this post, I sanitized my keyboard and made certain to maintain plenty of space between myself and Cyndie, Delilah, and Pequenita.

To be doubly cautious, you might consider wiping the surfaces of your devices before you read my posts.

There is a discussion conference in my online community where members write their life stories. Yesterday, I posted this:

I was alive during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. At first, it was a news story about an illness that was spreading in China. At that initial phase, the impact on my life was zero. At work, we wisecracked about the possibility of our supply chain experiencing some future delays.

After the spread of the illness reached other countries of the world and increased at alarming rates in some of them, the reality set in that eventually we would be impacted more directly.

When the financial industry started to fall at a record pace, the idea set in that we were at risk of suffering from not just our health but from economic pressure, too.

Then, billion-dollar professional sports leagues canceled their seasons and shit got real. Just as quick, concerts and plays were canceled, schools closed and life fell apart before anyone I knew had been positively identified as having the virus.

By the middle of March that year, I was in a waiting game for the moment when I might feel the first sensation of having a fever. Each morning when I woke up, one of the first thoughts I had was to assess how I felt.

Since the belief at the time was that the incubation period was between 5-days and some undefined larger span of time, I never knew if I might have it and be contagious, or not, let alone whether those around me were.

Cyndie’s brother wasn’t able to take advantage of the tickets his brother finally scored for them to go to a major golf tournament for his 60th birthday celebration. Our friends had to cancel their long-awaited family trip to one of the Disney resorts in the last year before their daughters grew out of their prime childhood fascination with the idea.

At that point in March, it wasn’t the fear of illness that burdened our minds, it was the disruption of life as we knew it and the complete uncertainty over how much worse it could possibly get and whether or not there was any hope of it all being just a temporary disruption.

I remember the time as feeling like a moment of historic milestone, but without any ability to measure it adequately against some comparable reference.

I didn’t think about it while originally writing those words, but just now it gave me the impression I might have been composing that now in case I wouldn’t have a chance to do it later. That was not my intention. I just thought it would be interesting to mess with the time frame and write about the present moment as it might be perceived in a distant future.

Maybe that came from my recent writing about what my parents’ lives were like 75 years ago.

I’m not just social distancing myself, apparently, I’m time-distancing, too.



Written by johnwhays

March 15, 2020 at 10:36 am

See It?

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Alright, you jigsaw puzzlers… can you see what happened to me here? (You may need to click on the images to get a better view.)









As I made progress on the lower right corner, it became increasingly obvious that something was wrong. Certain pieces weren’t meshing properly, despite the majority of obviously matched pieces in the immediate vicinity and beyond. I can understand having one piece occasionally placed incorrectly, but this implied there had to be many pieces wrongly placed.

I took the picture on the left with the intent of describing my plight here, but after posting that image, I noticed the obvious open pattern in the upper right corner. Could it be?

I went back and checked.

Yep. Six pieces across on the right, for about three-quarters of the height of the puzzle, needed to move up two positions. The image on the right was taken after I fixed the problem.

This puzzle has a lot of pieces that are cut too similarly in addition to enough repeating patterns of darkness that it has me struggling a bit to ensure I’ve placed them in the correct spot.

Regardless, I continue to enjoy it immensely and was able to use some of my reclaimed blogging time of the previous few days to puzzle, in between tending to all the other responsibilities of the ranch and my day-job while Cyndie is in Florida.

The little break I’ve taken from daily blogging has served me well thus far.

Thanks for bearing with my change to a less predictable posting routine!



Written by johnwhays

January 29, 2020 at 7:00 am

Slowing Down

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I’m going to try something new. With apologies to those of you who have told me how much you enjoy checking in every morning to read or view my daily “relative somethings,” I have decided to readjust my energies to free up time that I have been holding in reserve every day for over a decade.

I am not going to commit to how this change will play out, other than to announce that I am moving away from my old priority of striving to assure a new post every single day. This isn’t the first time I have considered making this sort of change, so I already have some ideas I may try out going forward.

One possibility I have favored in the past would be to post a single picture. That seems like it wouldn’t take much time. However, I have learned from experience that my picture-taking often goes in spurts and days can pass when I don’t get out with the camera. If I committed to posting a daily picture, I would still be in the mode of reserving some time every day to achieve that.

There are also fewer daily stories to tell about our adventures here since we returned the horses and Wintervale activity has dwindled, so, to spare you repeating versions of ‘me walking Delilah’ or ‘me plowing snow’ (two things that have commanded my time and energy recently), allowing some quiet time between tales will hopefully germinate new content of more intriguing substance.

One can hope.

Of course, one other option I considered was to just cease blogging altogether, but being so “all-or-none” extreme was an older trait of mine that has softened with time. There is no reason I can’t keep this blog space open for use as more of a periodical. Weekly? Monthly?

Who knows?

That sort of mystery is one of the fun aspects of creativity. I will be creative about slowing down my rate of publishing posts.

Before I step away for my initial pause from daily posting, I’ll leave you with two images that made their way onto the SD memory card late yesterday afternoon…









No critters were harmed in the recording of that adventure (but not for lack of intent).

I’ll be back before long. In the meantime, send your precious love out into the world during the minutes you would have been perusing new Relative Somethings in the days ahead.




Written by johnwhays

January 24, 2020 at 7:00 am