Divide and Conquer (Your Prose)

Every time I read The Daily Post I learn something.

The Daily Post

Reading, like breathing, is a continuous process that’s made up of numerous discrete acts. (If you’re like me, the same is true of eating gummy bears.) Whatever style we write in — from the most traditional to the more experimental — our job as writers is to make the experience so smooth for our readers that they don’t even notice the little seams that hold it all together.

We do this in ways both big and small. We make sure our grammar doesn’t call attention to itself (unless we want it to, like in some forms of poetry). We keep our posts clean, and their format easy on our readers’ eyes. We embrace the screen’s white space.

Dividing your text into smaller units is another way to make the reading flow and engage and push your audience onward. I’m not talking about breaking down walls of text into paragraphs — unless you’re James Joyce you’re hopefully doing this…

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For the love of local newspapers —

I interpret the blogging 101 daily assignment for today as to write to my audience. I am not sure I have an audience, but just in case …

I want to thank the newspapers I read daily (well a couple of them don’t have daily editions) and which add so tremendously to my daily fix of knowing what is going on.

To be clear … I also read a lot of digital content … Daily Beast, Politico, The Guardian, The New York Times, the Washington Post, sometimes the Daliy KOS, and almost everything published by Mother Jones.  Most of those we subscribe to and we donate to Mother Jones.

It is to the local print newspapers that I dedicate this post.  Thank you for sitting

My cuppa and my paper
My cuppa and my paper

through the endless meetings of governing bodies, for tracking down sources who rarely go on the record and mostly say only the polite things, for getting those photos of the record breaking bass and turkeys  (is bass singular or plural ?), for working to put news stories in some context so that readers know how the report relates to earlier or future events, and for printing so many letters-to-the editor from absolute nutters.  To the publications which will do it, thank you for printing meeting announcements and endless weekly photos of speakers receiving their Rotary pens from the Prince George Rotary President in front of the Rotary banner and the bar full of wine and liquor bottles at Rosa’s Italian Restaurant.

I confess that I have a commitment to supporting my local press.  I subscribe to all.  I subscribe to all for delivery and for digital access.  I share their articles on Twitter, Facebook, and, yes, on WordPress.  So to you all … I thank you for the effort from reporting, to layout, to publishing, and  to slipping it in my paper box in this rural environment.  You enrich my life.

Now for the shout outs:

richmond.com  @RTDNEWS

progress-index.com  @ProgressIndex

hopewellnews.com  @HopewellNews

princegeorgejournal.com  @PGJournal

Why am I blogging?

The ‘who am I?’

If one can believe it, I am an outgoing introvert.  Much of my life I have been a lawyer, so my role has been as a somewhat public figure,  experience successes, as well as make my mistakes in public, and be an advocate for my clients.  The public role has always been counterbalanced by the need for reflection, quiet, and mindful purposelessness.

A few years ago I stumbled into blogging because I wanted to know more about it and I wanted to see if I could demystify the technology surrounding it.

Initially, I used my primitive blogging mostly to learn more about the process of writing (blogging).  I learned how poor a writer I am, but I am working on that.

Later, blogging became more of a communication tool for me.  I am an active Rotarian and a very active Democrat so I used special purpose blogs to communicate with my respective organizations about issues and events.  Wordpress became an almost daily platform for me to meet those goals.  I still blog at princegeorgevadems.com  and at 7600advocates.wordpress.com.

My ‘personal’ blog is princegeorge.wordpress.com which I have titled as ‘Xena of Prince George — a laconic rural warrior princess writes’.  Clumsy, isn’t it?  There, I write on a variety of topics on an irregular basis, but without any real focus.  It is really aimless at this point.

Now, my professional life is almost at an end … taking down the shingle this month.  I will still be engaged publicly, but I want to write for the pleasure of writing.  I want to kick it up a notch so that I elevate the reward of a ‘well written sentence’ and an idea communicated.  Did I mention I want to have fun learning and doing it?

Public rather than Private?

Feedback is a great motivator for me and will help me continue on the learning journey. Sounds like fluffy nonsense, but I prefer a walk with a friend than a solitary stroll.  Each has its place, but human connection matters to me.

I am hoping that feedback will help me both technically and substantively.  I noticed that I use Chateau for all three of my blogs.  I do like how it is organized, but really, couldn’t I show a bit of adventure?  I am afraid of trying any markup language for embedding purposes?  Commas scare me.  Are sentence fragments ever OK? Is it OK to make up words?

So, public is the venue for me.

In defense of selfies … cliche or art?

The tide is turning on the art of selfies.  After Ellen, President Obama, and other celebs started participating in the absorbing process of taking pictures of themselves and then posting on various social media sites, the novelty of selfies wore off.  In some circles selfies have become ‘old school’, hackneyed, and subject to ridicule.

My daughter, who seriously lifts, takes selfies of herself before and after workouts and often has her trainer take snaps of her in process.  She posts these images frequently with words of encouragement to other lifters and, probably, to herself as well. The pics, I now understand, are for her a pictorial record of her progress.  A picture speaks a thousand words or is that a thousand pictures speak thousands of words.

Because of her mom’s seeming obsession with selfies, my granddaughter recently challenged her mother to desist from the selfie taking on a long holiday weekend excursion together at a water park.  My daughter agreed, reluctantly.  What is one to post on Facebook if one’s most available model, oneself, is no longer available?

My daughter basically succeeded but instead had others take pictures of her and many of these got posted.

Around that time I came across the article below about an art student who used selfies in a novel way to re-stage various Old Masters (remember the heavy, rather dark dutch paintings) using selfies for each person posed in a given painting.  This project was part of her university studies.

W&L graduating senior perfects the art of selfies – Richmond.com: Virginia News And Politics.

This article reminded me that Rembrandt and Van Gogh, in particular, had drawn or painted many self-portraits of themselves through their lifetimes.  Even Rockwell did at least one self-portrait.  These ‘selfies’ are treated with respect and as masterpieces in some cases.  Are those works trite?


So let’s not be so quick to demean selfies.  It just could be an art form.


Hopewell, Virginia … less than meets the eye

A friend forwarded this website to provide more accurate data on Hopewell, Virginia, the small city on the northwest corner of Prince George County.


Xena had written that Hopewell was larger in footprint and larger in population than these figures report.  This 10.2 square mile city has 23,000 population as compared to Prince George with 260+ square miles and approximately 37,000 population.

This issue of size arose in a recent post on the relative ability of localities to recruit and retain top-notch employees if residency requirements were adopted.  Hopewell is set to have a public hearing on the matter on Tuesday evening, May 26th.

Immediately at issue is the hiring of a new City Attorney.  The strongest candidate to whom an offer has been made, is a resident of Chesterfield County, another large county contiguous to Hopewell.

For non-Virginians, cities and towns are independent of counties, having their own charters and varying duties and rights to tax and govern their own localities.

Should all Hopewell officials be required to live in the city?

This article in the Progress-Index on Wednesday morning raises an issue that is re-arising in Hopewell, but has been at issue in many localities, including Prince George.

Should all Hopewell officials be required to live in the city? – News – The Progress-Index – Petersburg, VA.

The article lays out some of the arguments on both sides and all may have some merit. For many localities which are rural and distant from nearby populations centers which might serve as pools for recruitment, it has always been a thistle of concern.

In this case Hopewell is a small urban center of much less than 20 square miles and a population of  33,000 people.  It is within a thirty to forty minute drive of large population areas so it has reasonable access to skilled individuals to fill city positions, unless the person(s) is required to live in the city.

Some recent discussion with folks who are moving out of the city cite the lack of available quality housing options, the struggling school system, and the lack of cultural, dining, and shopping options. This all before the issues of crime and the general deteriorating commercial and residential base of the city.  The alternate positives are the history of the city, the Library System, and the access to the James and the Appomattox Rivers.

The reality is that Hopewell, like many localities, (Prince George included) does not have its own pool of highly qualified people to fill professional positions.  It must turn to professionals and skilled labor from other nearby localities to fill these important roles. Requiring them to relocate to Hopewell might require them to uproot a working spouse who may have residency or commuting issues that come into play, uprooting children from their familiar school systems, and may require that the employee move his or her family  into housing stock not up to the standards to which they are accustomed.

Xena’s opinion.  Residency requirements for pubic positions are antiquated and out of touch.  It is reasonable to factor that issue into the hiring decision, require modifications to work hours or required commuting time to the locality, and to make exceptions for certain types of law enforcement, public safety, or other similar types of positions, unless the candidate can make some reasonable accommodations to relieve this concern on the part of the locality.

What do you think?  Leave a comment.


Shout Out to Appomattox River Regional Park

The Appomattox River Regional Park, 800 Folar Trail, N. Prince George, VA 23860, is a 67 acre jewel in Prince George County.  It has about 1.25 miles of looped walking trails, exercise stations, a fishing pier, an environmentally low-impact canoe/kayak launch, educational and picnic pavilions with grills, benches, and comfort stations.

This park, located between on the west side of 295 and behind the Riverside Regional Correctional Facility, is actually a county park, maintained by the Prince George Parks and Recreation Department. The existence of the park, however, is due to the stewardship and regional efforts of the Friends of the Lower Appomattox River (FOLAR) and the vision of few sturdy individuals, one of them being Wayne Walton.

phoca_thumb_m_fish 1




FOLAR is a 501 (c) 3 tax exempt organization. The Crater Planning District serves as its fiscal agent and within the last year, recognized non-profit catalyst Wendy Austen is on-board FOLAR as a grant writer, volunteer coordinator, coffee-maker, and tireless cheerless cheerleader. Visit FOLAR at http://www.folar-va.org, on facebook or on twitter @folarva

Wayne is a Hopewell City Councilman and and more than full-time volunteer with

Wayne Walton
Wayne Walton

FOLAR since his retirement about 15 years ago.  The grand vision of FOLAR and Wayne is to have a continuous greenway/blueway along and on the Appomattox River from City Point in Hopewell all the way to Lake Chesdin.

With FOLAR’s outreach area organizations such as area Rotary Clubs, military organizations from Fort Lee, and area industries have contributed expertise, materials, supplies, and labor to enhance the park resources.

2015-05-16 10.14.27 HDR

If you live in the area or have interest in healthy rivers consider visiting the Appomattox River Regional Park.

AOL … not so fuddy-duddy afterall

The news is abuzz with the probable purchase of AOL by Verizon.

Dear Reader:

The news of the pending purchase of AOL by Verizon for $4.something billion has amused me this last day or so.

A few years ago a headhunter told my husband to not use an AOL email address in his resume or business cards because it would make him appear technologically stodgy. Hubby is a technologist in the computer services industry and didn’t quite buy into that opinion, but he did create a gmail address.

He told me about the advice and I snorted.  I jumped from CompuServe in 1994 to AOL when it became an ISP and, also, I may have had a crush on Steve Case.  Initially, a person’s screen name was limited to 7 characters. When it was possible I changed to a longer screen name  so that I could be more easily identifiable.  Yes, I have had an email address on my business cards since 1994 and before that I had my CompuServe ID number on my cards.  Do you remember those long stringy number IDs?

I needed to maintain a certain continuity in my email address for professional reasons, thus I stuck with my AOL address as my primary address through all these years.  I have two email address pet peeves.  People who change email address often and then use complain that they are not being included on communications.  The other pet peeve has to do with those cutsy (or so they think), inane, email addresses that give no clue as to the identity of the owner …  “squawwoman” and “mustangannie” come to mind. Maybe as I wind up my practice, I may become”xenachick”.

So I stayed with AOL as it morphed from ISP to content provider, to publisher, to entertainment portal, to news portal and now as internet video innovator.

AOL and I  may not be so stodgy, after all.



What’s in an address?

Where does Joe Preston live?

Who is Joe Preston?  Well, he is purportedly a resident of Petersburg from which he was elected to the 63rd Virginia House of Delegates in a special election last Fall.  Subsequently, he has entered the Democratic Primary race for the 16th Virginia Senate District to which Rosalyn Dance, formerly the 63rd Delegate, was elected, also in a special election, last Fall.

Joe’s supposed credential is that he is the true Democrat, not that the Prince George Democratic Committee has ever seen him at a PG Dems meeting, other than at our post election social last December.

Why would one expect to see him at a PG Dems meeting?  Well, though it is only a small portion, the 63rd and the 16th both have footprints in Prince George.

Further, Joe has lived in and still maintains a residence in Prince George County.  His home is in the upscale Jordan on the James subdivision on the rivah.  The address is 10465 Jordan Parkway.  Neighbors in Jordan on the James have noted him returning to the residence late and night and leaving early in the mornings.  Why might this be one might ask?

Easy, 10465 Jordan Parkway is not in the 16th Virginia Senate District.  It is not even in the 63rd Virginia House of Delegates District.

Hmmm …  to be sure, Joe will have an explanation.