More questions. More help. Introducing Mastering Table Topics Second Edition.

Retiring the Links page

My website header from 1999

Program note: I had to retire a long-time feature of my website, the Links page.

I started this website back in 1996. (You can see a copy of my site from 1999.) Before Google and search engine optimization, we promoted websites by exchanging links. Today, I get most of my visits from searches and social media. Although Links pages have gone the way of the VHS tape, I kept mine to promote sites I found useful and interesting.

In recent months, I received a lot of requests to add links to sites that are not related to public speaking, writing, and other subjects covered on this site. I accommodated those requests for a while, but the list of unrelated sites was becoming larger than those related to this site. I also had to take time to review these links and found I was being asked to promote commercial sites for free. I asked that people only send links to related sites, but I was still getting requests to link to unrelated sites.

So, I decided to retire the Links page. I can use the time I’ve been spending on maintaining the page and dealing with requests to provide you with more content. Thank you for your understanding and for supporting this site.

Darkest before dawn

The Flying Nun seems to confirm all the stereotypes we have about the 1960s. What else besides massive drug use can explain its basic plot of a nun with aerodynamic headwear who can fly around Puerto Rico when the wind is right. (Sure, the show was based on the book The Fifteenth Pelican by Tere Ríos, but still.)

Yet, as a child in the sixties, I loved that show. My mom bought me the soundtrack album that featured Sally Fields singing, “Things are always darkest before dawn.” Fifty years later, that song still has special meaning — especially now.

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Lessons from a town hall meeting

I attended my first town hall meeting last night. It was a teleconferenced town hall, which was a pity because I had a funny protest sign in mind. This town hall would also disappoint those who like shouting and screaming. I could only stay for the first hour, so I might have missed some good stuff after I signed off.

I learned some lessons from the experience. You may find them useful regardless of who your elected representative is and how much you agree or disagree with that person.

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Writing Reseda: Free fallin’ (and risin’)

Reseda High School front gate in 1955 and 2014

In previous installments, I cited scenes from movies about Reseda. Here’s another scene set in Reseda from a book I hope you’ll see soon:

Whenever I drove into the heart of Reseda, I felt like I was going into my past. Stores and restaurants had new names and bright coats of paint, but they still looked like the places where I used to go with my friends after school.

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Banish boring words

Does your writing bore you? You might be using boring words. Words like happy and sad are repetitive, and they don’t express your complete feelings.

Donna Norton of Custom Writing provides this infographic listing alternatives to 28 boring words. Use them to make your writing more expressive and interesting.