“They would talk of nothing but high life, and high-lived company, with other fashionable topics, such as pictures, taste, Shakespeare, and the musical glasses.”–Oliver Goldsmith

Though I don’t pretend to be able to talk about these topics listed above in any comprehensive sense (not even Shakespeare, because I haven’t read as widely in him as I would like to), there are a few other topics I would like to get to today.  It’s a sort of miscellanous day because I’m covering more than one topic, but I would like to be understood as saying that the topics themselves are individually important, and have only been covered in this way because I like to give my readers a good longish chunk of text for each day, to offset the disadvantages of some of the arrangements I’ve made for my site so far, such as the fact that due to financial obligations elsewhere I haven’t yet gotten around to buying various helpful upgrades which could improve my site.  I could do with a lot more widgets, for one, and though the Pilcrow theme arrangements are very varied, I needed not to use too many sidebars because of the way I wanted my posts and pages to appear.  So, I’ve made a few concessions.  Maybe in time I will think of a better arrangement, but for now, I don’t mind taking a day now and then (for example) to cover in positive critical fashion other websites which due to my not having a “blogs I follow” link for readers can’t been seen from my site; nor do I mind commenting on revisions made to my posts which you may have seen/missed.

First things first:  let’s get to the other websites.  Since I last wrote about the first 5 websites I’ve been following, I’ve found 2 others which are valuable to me, and which are also different from each other and from the other 5.  An embarrassment of riches, as it’s known!

The first of the 2 new blogs I’d like to mention to my readers is one showcasing a new book which has come out on the market in etiquette (and lest you assume that this is etiquette only for those born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouths, you should know that this presentation of highlights from the book gives tips not for setting a table for 100, but pointers for keeping one’s own family and friends satisfied and happy with one).  So commonsensical and thoughtful is this production of advice that anyone might wonder why he or she didn’t think of it first; yet  these are some of the points most often overlooked in a sort of affectionate myopia when family and/or friends are expected for a visit or plan to visit.  The blog is entitled “The Art of the Visit,” and takes its title from Kathy Bertone’s new book–(she pronounces her name correctly as “Ber-town,” in case you want to recommend the book to all of your dear ones)–The Art of the Visit:  Being a Perfect Host, Becoming a Perfect Guest.  As you can see from the clips from some of Kathy’s television and radio appearances, she really has the jump on projecting a warm and welcoming personality.  She puts her points forward clearly and concisely with a minimum of straying from her topic.  Kathy shows both realism and a sense of humor in her remarks about why you should follow one path and not another in your dealings with family and friends, and keeps always in sight as her goal getting along with family and keeping (and gaining) friends.  In a few years, I can easily see Kathy Bertone writing yet another book with the same universal appeal this one has, perhaps entitled “Good Manners for a Shrinking Planet,” or something of that sort.  After all, keeping in mind always the dictates of generosity in dealings with others is just as good for the world family as it is for your own, a point Kathy herself makes.   I urge you, go to Kathy’s blog and see her presentations–you have nothing to lose but potential quarrels and animosities with those you love, and you have much to gain.

The second site I’ve also begun to follow is elliptically named “TheElephantHouse,” and it is at first distinguished by a fine array of cartoons and quips about elephants in all their shapes and forms (which are always recognizably elephantine, of course).  My favorite quip from this site reads something like, “If it doesn’t have to do with elephants, it’s irrelephant!”  Very cute.  I can’t wait to try to trip up my constantly punning brother with that one so that he will be forced to make the “buh-bump!chhh!” sound he makes (like drums and cymbals) when I make a successful joke.  I know one thing:  this time he can’t give me the gradually descending “wahn, wahn, wahn” failure-of-joke sound he makes (like a trumpet with a Harmon mute).  This blog is one that has a few grammatical mistakes/omitted words, but the writer gives the impression of being fluent in another language, and we all learn by doing:  I’m not worried, I plan to keep following the site.  For one thing, I listened to a truly moving and clever discussion on it from someone named Kathryn Schulz, on the topic of “Don’t regret regret.”  As Kathryn points out, the philosophical currents of our time sometimes try to teach us that regret is a waste of time and thought; actually, regret is a humanizing influence that we need to pay attention to in ourselves and others.  She notes that sociopaths feel no regret.  From this platform or taking off point, the blogger of “TheElephantHouse” launches a discussion entitled “Non, je ne regrette rien,” contributing to the thought on the subject.  As to how it affected me as a person?  It not only made me feel less regret about feeling regrets in the past (a meta-philosophical state if ever there was one), but it encouraged me to feel no regret at all for having gone to look at “TheElephantHouse” (and I think that sociopaths wouldn’t get the point of myriad decorative elephants anyway).  I hope to see more on this site which is as important and considering as what I’ve seen so far.

My second major topic for today is really a bit of a minor confessional note.  I do go back sometimes and re-read what I’ve written (and already published the day before) because something suddenly pops into my brain from the work of the day before (that’s called really being self-obsessed!) which doesn’t sit quite right with me.  Sure enough, in yesterday’s post on Cutting for Stone, for example, I found an awkward sentence and went ahead and revised it this morning, a day later.  That’s why I think writing and composition is made for natural and non-clinical obsessive-compulsives.  And to take a note from the paragraph just above, it’s because I “regret” having made the mistake.  “Well, don’t you use the copy-checking option in your program?” some may say.  My answer is, “No, I don’t.”  I took typing classes (way back when they were called that) in high school; I’ve spent years revising my own writings and helping students revise theirs:  shame on me anyway for letting a mistake get past me!  So, as a sort of practice, I do re-draft, but I don’t rely on the editing program on the computer; I do it laboriously myself.  We all have our forms of (non-literal) self-flagellation.  So if by chance (and I’m flattered even if this has happened) you have looked at a post one day and then seen it the next and think something looks a little different, this is why.  Let’s toast to some regrets and losses that it’s possible to change!  Shadowoperator

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