Journaling versus Facebook, Twitter

One thing I  have noticed about Facebook and Twitter is both can be used for detailed, meandering ventures into TMI Land.

TMI, of course, stands for “too much information”.

One person who was in and out of a short marriage (and is currently getting divorced), posted Facebook messages openly to his wife asking her to reconcile, then, posted updates of himself at a bar getting drunk and giving up. This continued a few times, making me think their stormy, brief marriage probably needed the help of Dr. Phil and Jerry Springer.

Some seem to think Twitter is the ideal place to post the mundane aspects about their life. Ashton Kutcher is said to once have posted about “heading to the grocery store to get fixins for salad”. It’s a good thing I wasn’t operating heavy machinery when I read that.

Myself, I use both for political views and obscure thoughts and connecting with friends. As for my personal life, that goes into my journal, where it belongs. Sure, journals can get opened, but once something is posted online, chances are it’s there for good. I prefer to save my venting for journals, just because often it’s enough to just get it written down and out of your system.

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Reading Edgar Allan Poe and other classic literature

In my junior year of high school, I took Honors English. During that year and during half of my senior year when I was also in Honors English, I read many stories and authors that, due to my short attention span, I was not able to really absorb what I read. Among those stories and novels: The Great Gatsby, A Separate Peace, Beowulf, Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Villette. I have since been preparing to gear up to re-read these stories.

Interestingly enough, I enjoyed reading Robinson Crusoe, Huckleberry Finn, Jane Eyre, To Kill a Mockingbird and even Great Expectations. I also read, for a book report, George Orwell’s A Clergyman’s Daughter and enjoyed that one also.

And, so, last night, I read Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Fall of the House of Usher.

After I bore down, I surprised myself and finished reading it in about two hours.

I find Poe’s autobiography very fascinating, but his writing style is definitely a complicated acquired taste. For me, it’s a lesson in strengthening my reading skills to understand and appreciate classic literature.

Poe’s style is to occasionally throw in French and Latin terms (such as Edmund Morris did in an annoying frequency in his authorized biography of President Ronald Reagan). He also uses words I’ve never heard of, perhaps words that were commonly used at the time but have fallen into disuse among modern English readers.

As for Usher, here’s what I understood: a man rides to a bleak, ominous mansion and spends time with an old friend whom he’s not seen in many years. What we learn of the Ushers suggests to me that incest has taken place within the family. The old friend’s sister dies and is buried in the wall. But, as the two men read stories and encounter one about a woman buried alive, they realize that the sister has also been buried alive.

And then, as the storyteller leaves the mansion, it collapses.

Yes, I will definitely have to re-read this again someday. While, admittedly, Poe’s writing style is far from my favorite, I suspect it’s the first step towards one of my biggest goals in life: becoming a well-read person.

Richard Zowie is a writer who believes a day should not go by without exercising his fingers on his keyboard. Post comments here or e-mail Richard at

Caffeine and the writer

This past week, I finished my newspaper assignments at about midnight. That gave me about four hours of sleep before getting up for my second job at the gas station.

Fellow 40-year-olds remember that commercial jingle, “Thank goodness for Chef Boyardee.” Well, for me, thank goodness for caffeine.

When staying up late getting deadlines or other writing done, it’s always a good idea to have a full gallon of ice-cold tea and a couple of two-liter bottles of diet soda.

In the past, I’ve finished assignments and had maybe half an hour of sleep before going to the newspaper. Thankfully, these days, that has not been the case lately.

One college friend mentioned that his wife gets up around 3 a.m. and spends a few hours writing in the nice quiet time she has while their six kids are still asleep. I wonder if she indulges in caffeine or if she has some other sort of mechanism.

When it comes to caffeine, I prefer iced tea. Diet Coke or a decent store brand is second. Coffee can be nice, I suppose, except that I’m not a huge coffee drinker. Unless I’m trying hard to stay warm during the winter, I’m not a big fan of warm or hot beverages.

 Richard Zowie is a writer who believes a day should not go by without exercising his fingers on his keyboard. Post comments here or e-mail Richard at