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Ghost writer, essayist, marketer, Zen Buddhist, academic refugee, living in Athens GA, blogging at A Quiet Normal Life: https://www.quietnormal.com/

If you think you know, you don’t

Two young women in knit dresses and floppy hats talking and laughing
Two young women in knit dresses and floppy hats talking and laughing
Image by Pexels

Lord have mercy, if I have to hear another Yankee say that “bless your heart” is Southern for “you’re an idiot” — or worse — I think I might just blow a gasket.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t entirely blame non-Southerners for this misunderstanding. I have a sneaking suspicion that much of the blame lies with Southerners themselves who enjoy blowing smoke and making folks feel like they know something when they don’t just to play with them.

The reality is, “bless your heart” is a linguistic chameleon. It can mean…


It’s tasty, healthy, good looking, and almost sinfully easy

Table with potluck dishes including boiled eggs, tuna salad, stuffed olives, brie, hummus, and asparagus wrapped with ham
Table with potluck dishes including boiled eggs, tuna salad, stuffed olives, brie, hummus, and asparagus wrapped with ham
Image by congerdesign (edited)

There’s times you really want to pull out the stops for a potluck and fix that specialty dish everyone asks for — rum cake at Christmas, three-tier dip for the Super Bowl bash, hot and spicy deviled eggs for the family reunion, that sort of thing.

Then there’s other times…. Like when you forgot to put the neighborhood block party on your calendar and you’re so covered up you’ve barely got time to think.

OK, I hear you — just bite the bullet, you say. Go and pay an arm and a leg for the sandwich tray in the deli…


Let’s all take a step back on this ET thing

Wooden telephone pole with a streetlamp attached to one side and a sign attached to the other showing the image of an alien spacecraft and the words “Self Parking”
Wooden telephone pole with a streetlamp attached to one side and a sign attached to the other showing the image of an alien spacecraft and the words “Self Parking”
Image by Martin Str

Ever since government records were released in June of 2021 concerning “unidentified aerial phenomena”, more commonly known as unidentified flying objects or UFOs, America has oh so predictably done what it does best — plunge headfirst right down a rabbit hole of pure nonsense.

Now I know all y’all ET believers are champing at the bit to throw the facts at me, which you have at the ready and in abundance. But sorry, I’m not going to get down in the weeds with you. …


Social is a waste of time for most creator’s goals

Woman with a finger over her lips, surrounded by social media symbols
Woman with a finger over her lips, surrounded by social media symbols
Image by Gerd Altmann

I’ve been making a living “creating content,” as they say these days, since the 1990s. Never had a professional social media account.

So I’m something of an odd duck. But it’s not because I have any philosophical stance against social, or because I’m stuck in the 20th century. The ROI simply hasn’t been there for me. And I guarantee you, a lot of creatives would be better off without it if they dared buck the accepted wisdom that creators “have to be on social media.”

What I learned from my mother, who spent $0.00 on outreach

My mom was a stenographer, one of those folks you see typing everything down on…


It’s not just ON the flag, it IS the flag

City hall building with cars parked outside and three flags flying out front: the US flag, the state flag of Georgia, and the city flag of Sugar Hill
City hall building with cars parked outside and three flags flying out front: the US flag, the state flag of Georgia, and the city flag of Sugar Hill
Image: Public domain

Last summer I heard a radio journalist say Mississippi was the last US state with a Confederate emblem on its flag. That flag has since been retired, but the reporter was wrong. The Confederate “Stars & Bars” still flies over one US state to this day.

Now first I should correct a common misperception about the Stars & Bars. This ain’t it:


A dozen words you never knew you needed — till now

A blackboard covered with overlapping gaffiti in various colors of chalk
A blackboard covered with overlapping gaffiti in various colors of chalk
Image by Si vonSasson

Back by popular demand, it’s even more very useful words you never heard of. Use them in good health, and may they serve you well ….

Plurble (PLUR-bl), n: The little noise a cat makes when you wake it up unexpectedly

Oopsecond (OOP-sek-nd), n: That almost imperceptible pause before responding to a friend, which reveals that you think what they just said is totally batshit crazy; often paired with an oopstare.

Shogle (SHOW-gl), v: To follow an attractive person with your eyes without moving your head while wearing sunglasses

Dammitgap (DAM-it-GAP), n: The space between a car seat and the…


North and South have each spun their protective mythologies

Black and white photograph of 14 men in Union uniforms standing outside a tent. Most carry drums, some carry fifes. The man standing front and center holds a sword in front of him with the point on the ground. Two of the drummers appear to be black; the remainder of the men appear to be white.
Black and white photograph of 14 men in Union uniforms standing outside a tent. Most carry drums, some carry fifes. The man standing front and center holds a sword in front of him with the point on the ground. Two of the drummers appear to be black; the remainder of the men appear to be white.
Union regimental fife and drum corps, including African-American enlistees (National Archives)

At half past seven on a chilly spring evening in 1861, Confederate Vice President Alexander “Little Alec” Stevens pronounced from the stage of the Savannah Theatre, to the raucous enthusiasm of the crowd spilling out onto Chippewa Square, the central doctrine of the newly formed Confederate States of America:

The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution — African slavery as it exists amongst us — the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution….

Our new…


Simple secret makes egg shells peel perfectly

Deviled eggs on a white plate, against a background of a wooden table with a white and red checked tablecloth
Deviled eggs on a white plate, against a background of a wooden table with a white and red checked tablecloth
Images by Michael Sylvester and Engin Akyurt via Pixabay

In the American South, deviled eggs are nearly a contact sport. I know a pair of sisters who maintained a seventeen-year feud over paprika. (Don’t ask.)

Indeed, many a church supper’s been silently plagued with pride, envy, gluttony, covetousness, perhaps even inklings of lust over deviled eggs. (In all fairness though, I mean seriously, how can she keep showing her face with those sorry things she drags in here on that scratched up old Tupperware looking like something from the corner mart?)

But hey, I’m no different from anybody. I do love deviled eggs, but for years I wouldn’t make…


Take this step to allow your pets to properly grieve

Orange tabby cat nuzzling a small white dog on a bed of green plants
Orange tabby cat nuzzling a small white dog on a bed of green plants
Image by Pixabay

My father’s dogs were fiercely protective of him. We’d managed to keep Dad at home during his last days, in a hospital bed we set up in the front room, and when he died we were worried how the dogs would react to strangers taking him away.

As it turned out, we didn’t even have to put them outside. They sat quietly by as the men moved my father’s body from the bed to the gurney and wheeled him out the door. …

Paul Thomas Zenki

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