Where I have moved

I have moved to Blogger (Blogspot.com). It’s owned by Google, so it might have a lot more stability than what I currently find at WordPress. Here’s my first post:

Star Wars & George Lucas urban legend

Vocal, part 2

Well, I’m 100% certain that I won’t be using Vocal.

I tried to publish a story but there weren’t enough words in it. Minimum number of words is 600. That kind of means that there would be no picture posts.

Next, once I got the minimum number of words and submitted my story for publication, it took them 24 hours to tell me that there was a “technical issue” and that they would be contacting me within the next 24 hours.

They contacted me and said that due to the “technical issue,” they had created a new draft and asked me to re-create my post. Well, I did. I was extremely fortunate that I had created it in Word, and saved it.

After pasting everything into the new draft, I submitted it for publishing. It was approved. Unfortunately, here’s what they approved:

Seriously? They couldn’t even be bothered to removed ‘NEW DRAFT -” from my title.

Unfortunately, one cannot edit one’s stories. One has to contact Vocal and ask them to edit it. Well, I have requested them to edit it twice now. Today I got an email stating that their offices are closed for the weekend and will re-open Monday.

So here I am with a published story—my first—that makes me look like an absolute idiot.

Nope. Vocal is too onerous for me to try to do something with it. Amazing that in today’s world with all this instantaneous stuff we do, there still is a site that makes you wait 24-72 hours for appropriate service.

Nope, nope, and nopitty nope.


I miss blogging but I’m just not happy with anything about WordPress right now.

I spend a lot of time on Facebook, and I recently mentioned blogging in a comment there.

Almost immediately, an advertisement for Vocal showed up in my news feed.

Vocal apparently is so new that it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page yet!

There currently at about 21,000 members at Vocal.

It sounded interesting, especially the part about getting paid to blog, so I checked it out.

I signed up for one year, which cost $99, which is the exact same cost that WordPress was charging me each year for my own web site.

Since I’m retired and not interested in SEO anymore, I don’t need my own web site.

I just want to write and share pictures of places, things, experiences….

There are free and less costly versions of Vocal, too.

It’s just that they don’t pay as much.

So I went all in.

Vocal is located at https://vocal.media

“Nature’s Geometry: Succulents” by Russel Ray

"Nature's Geometry: Succulents" front cover

Several people told me that they would like to have a copy of my book but postage from the U.S. to their countries was too expensive. So………..

I have been trying to make a “Nature’s Geometry: Succulents” flip book but no luck. They either cannot make a good flipbook from a PDF, or they want thousands of dollars and several months to re-format my book to fit their requirements. Nope.

I do have a very nice PDF that works on Windows, iPad, and Mac, now in my Etsy shop with my printed book. Print book is $35 with free shipping to U.S. locations, and the PDF is $15 as an instant download. Both will make great Christmas gifts!

Here’s the link to my Etsy shop:

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/RusselRayPhotos

Nature's Geometry: Succulents back cover

"Nature's Geometry: Succulents" review

I think WordPress will finally lose me….

I have tried the new block editor several times this year and found in clunky and time-consuming.

This morning, however, WordPress is forcing it on me.

My annual subscription expires in January.

I’m thinking that I won’t be renewing this time.

I can use that $99 for some margaritas.

Added with edit: I have definitively decided that I am going to cancel and terminate this blog. I don’t need the Google juice anymore since I’m retired. Over the next three months, I will be deleting posts, beginning with the oldest ones. If any of them have information worth saving, I’ll copy it to a text file. I already have all of the pictures.

If anyone wants to follow me elsewhere, I am at Facebook, Liker, and Etsy.

If we ever get back to in-person meetings, I’ll be creating a private website for my books and calendars.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/russel.ray.3/

Liker: https://www.liker.com/rusel6945/wall

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/RusselRayPhotos

Big 3-0 next year!

A Piece Missing

Dawna Melene Brinley KirkToday would be the 90th birthday of my birth mother….

….or 89th….

….or 86th….

….or 85th….

….depending on the source.

I know definitively that she died in 2012, but throughout my life she said she had been born on September 30, 1931. That would make her 19 when she got married. I also know that she was pregnant with her first child—I’m #3 of 5.

John Ancel Kirk, Jr.I also know that my dad was born in May 1930, which might explain some things.

If mom was born in 1935—the date that comes up most often—she would have been 15 when she got married. Since dad was 20, and my mom was pregnant, I do believe that would be statutory rape if she was 15. So she decided to change her birth year….

Interestingly, apparently as soon as they learned that mom was pregnant, they eloped to Mexico and got married. Mexico was only about 100 miles south of my hometown of Kingsville, Texas, but Mexico marriage certificates were not recognized in Texas at the time. Shortly after that marriage, they eloped to Comanche, Oklahoma, 545 miles from Kingsville, and got married again.

For some strange reason, it appears that they didn’t want to get married in Texas. Maybe they didn’t want anyone to know that they were having a shotgun marriage. That doesn’t make sense, though, because they went right back to Kingsville and moved in with my mom’s parents. On December 18, 1950, dad joined the Air Force, leaving his pregnant wife with her parents.

Mom also told me throughout my life that she was born in Helena, Montana. I have not been able to find a birth certificate yet. I had thought about having the Twitler Crime Family find it for me, but since they never were able to find Barack Obama’s Kenya birth certificate, I left them alone. They had crime to commit.

I am 99% certain that mom was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, since every single obituary notice says that. They don’t agree on her birth year, though. Not sure why lying about one’s birthplace was important to her. Maybe she knew that no one would ever find any birth records if they went looking in Helena, Montana.

After the State of Utah removed me from my mom and stepdad’s home in 1965—possibly both for child abuse and for me being one of Utah’s greatest juvenile delinquents, I only saw my mom once, in 1994 in New Orleans where she and most of my siblings were living at the time. I came out to them during Mardi Gras that year.My wise old grandmother

If my wise old grandmother had not adopted me in December 1965, I believe I would currently be serving live in prison in Utah or dead at the hands of a Utah law enforcement officer. I was that bad.

I shall continue to search for missing pieces of her life to determine if today would have been her 90th/89th/86th/85th birthday….

Someone more famous than me once said, “If you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it.”


I have decided that I was born on March 11, 1991. Big Three-O next year!

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

Grateful Dead fans should love this!

Did you know?

Seems like 2020 has brought us some really weird creatures, such as murder hornets.

Today I discovered Uraba lugens, the “mad hatterpillar.”

mad hatterpillar

Indigenous to Australia’s eucalyptus forests, it stacks its molted heads atop each other, creating a morbid headgear that servers as diversion when predators come a-callin’.

Fans of Grateful Dead should love this little one.

Out & About—Fishies out of water

Out & About

For the first time in 2020, I got in the car and went to explore San Diego this past week.

I had some ideas of where to go based on some articles in recent editions of the San Diego Reader, and I’ll have posts in the future about three of the places I went.

On the way home , I found this mural of beautiful fishies at the corner of Harbor Drive and Cesar A. Chavez Parkway.

Mural in downtown San Diego

Mural in downtown San Diego

She can stand!


Little Queen Olivia has been with us since June 25, 2019, meaning that I have well over a thousand pictures of her.

I have maybe 5 pictures of her standing because whenever she sees me, she immediately flops and rolls over to have her tummy scratched.

Well, today I got a close-up picture of her standing.

Just a second later, she was flopped on the floor, and her chief of staff was rubbing her tummy.

Little Queen Olivia