Welcome to My Writer’s Sketchpad

Ruminations is where I share works in progress. Please follow the pointers below to learn more about me and the stories you’ll find on these pages. Thank you for visiting. Please return and tell a friend.

Who is Tom Abate and what does he write about?

Eclectic notions arising from my experiences and observations.

Stories and commentary based on research, interviews, and observations.

Satire, fiction, humor, and advice from the Dead Blogger’s Society.

Experiences and events that formed my character and inform my work and beliefs.

The world’s most generous giver of free advice

Decades after it dawned on me that this wasn’t a compliment, I struggle to restrain the impulse to advise. Why?

One day in the early 1990s, while working in the newsroom of the San Francisco Examiner, I had a revelation that haunts me to this day. It came while I was scanning the news wire, which printed out on long, continuous rolls, like paper towels, only wider, stronger, and a yellowish tan.

A story about a sociological study caught my eye. It found that people who thought themselves funny usually weren’t. Suddenly, I recalled how a college friend had dubbed me the world’s most generous giver of free advice. Like the self-deluded jokester, until that moment I’d taken it as a statement of grudging admiration.

… there are some people who have something to say, and there are some people who have to say something …

But I learn from my mistakes. I’ve gone on to admit to myself that that no one appreciates the sound of my voice as much as me; to understand that silent is the anagram of listen; and to realize that there’s so much free advice on the internet that this tongue-in-cheek put down isn’t the superlative it used to be.

Yet, I write a blog, which is a forum for dispensing free advice. Why, when the greatest likelihoods are of being ignored, or being considered foolish, or getting myself into trouble? Whatever the cause, one of my father’s favorite utterances suggests that unsolicited verbalization has been a lifelong compulsion.

“Thomas,” he would say, and the use of my given name signaled that something profound was to follow: “There are some people who have something to say, and there are some people who have to say something.”

And my only sadness is that he is no longer here to tell me whether he thinks that I am one, or the other or, most likely, a bit of both.

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