to: personal storyteller


About Me and these Websites

by Bill McGaughey


I, Bill McGaughey, am a 75-year-old white man (soon to turn 76) who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I am married and live in an older house just west of downtown with my 58-year-old African American wife and her (our) grandson, Dale, who is three years old and half native American. Although we live downstairs, I work upstairs in a cluttered office at a computer where I create and service these websites. Now you know a little bit about me.

Day to day, I live an odd life. I think it started with self-publishing books. I published my first, a treatise on work hours in 1981. Since then, I have self-published seven other books, most recently in 2004. (That’s 13 years ago.)

My focus since then has been on creating websites. I have produced twelve websites in total. The first,, was created in 2001 to support my writings on world history and, in particular, the book “Five Epochs of Civilization” which I self-published under the imprint of Thistlerose Publications, my own firm. Some of the subsequent sites were focused on political campaigns that I ran unsuccessfully in the early 2000s. The concept of world history has, to an extent, been replaced by that of “big history”, a type of history that also encompasses events in the natural world beginning with the Big Bang. I have an as yet unpublished book in that field.

I work on website production mostly alone. My wife generally stays downstairs tending to her business. However, my little Fox-terrier dog, Do Do, is always at my feet. From time to time, Dale comes up the stairs to visit me. I often shoo him away since I have more important things to do. Or do I?

Back to the web sites. Creating material for them has become my main activity of late, especially since I returned from trips both to Europe and the west coast last year (2016). I now have twelve different websites. Many are inactive - relics of previous political campaigns - but some, especially, are still being maintained. They are the focus of my creative activities of late.

For the record, these are the websites that I presently own and maintain: (multilingual) created in 2001 (English only) created in 2003 (English only) created in 2003 (English only) created in 2003 (English only) created in 2006 (multilingual) created in 2007 (multilingual) created in 2007 (multilingual) created in 2007 (English only) created in 2009 (multilingual) created in 2010 (multilingual) created in 2014 (English only) created in 2015

The last web site,, was created in a hurry to replace, whose domain name I gave to someone who promised to put resources into developing the site and building a “progressive Republican” movement. (Instead, Donald Trump came along.) I decided to replace the site with a tribute to a much maligned figure, Richard Nixon, at but have since done little to maintain it.

With respect to the other eleven sites, some are dormant. They include,, and Another,, is related to political struggles which landlords in Minneapolis waged between 1992 and 2003 under the direction of Charlie Disney and until 2015 under other people’s direction, including mine. The site,, is also political in that it advocates for shorter-workweek legislation. Finally,, is based on a fantasy that a point system, giving credit for political work, could revolutionize the political process through its power to motivate.

Other than this, the above set of web sites was created primarily to promote my writings in the field of world history and, more recently, big history, which encompasses events since the dawn of creation 13.8 billion years ago. I self-published a book of world history, “Five Epochs of Civilization”, in 2000. A prospective book in the field of big history, “History of the Triple Existence”, has been written but I have not had the resources to proceed to publication. I am looking for a commercial publisher to take on this project.

Otherwise, the site with the greatest activity of late has been my personal web site, There is information about me and my personal background along with other writings. Check it out if you have time.

What may be unusual about this collection of web sites is that many of the pages have been translated from English into foreign languages. Six of the twelve sites are multilingual. They include:,,,,, and The other six appear in the English language only.

Of the multilingual websites, most have texts in the following languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, and Italian. A few of them also have texts, besides those just mentioned, in the following languages: simplified Chinese, Indonesian, Turkish, Polish, Dutch, and Russian. Do I know those languages well enough to produce translations? Of course not. I used to speak passable German (having lived in West Germany for a year in 1961-62) but the other languages are less familiar. I used a machine translator, either Babelfish or Google translation, to produce the foreign-language text for these sites.

For all of this communication or attempted communication, I have little idea of the extent to which my message has been received. There has been little or no communication with readers. Perhaps that is well since I might otherwise be spending much of my spare time addressing concerns raised by persons who browse the web sites.

As I sit here, a white-haired cat named Sherbert (from among the five that roam the upstairs unit of my home) has just jumped up on the back of my chair. Perhaps that is a reminder that he needs to be fed. Do Do, too, could use some food but for the moment he sits docilely under the table at my feet.

Such a life! I’m a hermit in my own home, chasing idiosyncratic dreams. I would argue, however, that this is better than watching CNN, MSNBC, or some other news program all day or watching dramatic productions on television. At least, I am communicating my own thoughts even if few others seem to be paying attention.

It’s currently in the dead of winter and I live in Minnesota. There was a light covering of snow on the sidewalks this morning which required shoveling. That meant that getting back to my work upstairs had to be delayed for a half hour or so. I have a list of projects related to the web sites. Today, the focus has been on creating parallel pages in foreign languages for existing materials on the sites.

How do I do this? Again, I use a machine translator - - to feed English-language text into the site. Out the other end comes foreign-language text. I then paste this text onto a page created by Dreamweaver and - voila! - there is a page written in a foreign language. In my opinion at least, my writings deserve worldwide attention. I’m making it easy for the people who don’t speak English.

Seriously, I do think that world history, big history, or whatever I am trying to communicate through the internet could be a topic of conversation, or even study, for a number of people even if they do not receive academic credit for having thought about those things. The internet ought to be a tool to bring like-minded people together everywhere, even those with idiosyncratic interests such as mine.

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Without having done a study, I believe that I have one of the largest collections of personally created writings on the web. Let me try to explain how the websites are produced.

First, I produce a text in English with my word-processing software. Then I create a web page pasting this text into a Dreamweaver file that has been produced by copying another, existing file. I need to make sure that it is under the right website.

Dreamweaver also has a feature allowing titles and key words to be placed subliminally in the file. I press “code” in the upper left: The following categories of entry appear: title, description, and keywords. In this case, the title is “About me and these websites.” The description is “My life goes into creating expressions on the internet”. The keywords are “Bill McGaughey, web sites, foreign-language translations, life at the computer, connecting electronically’. Because I have copied this page from an existing file, the page headers and bottom material are already there. Finally, I save the newly created file by going to “file-save” in the top bar. The file name in this case is “mywebsites”.

I also want to upload this file in translation from English to the following languages: French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, and Italian. Such translations are a special feature of my websites. I translate the text itself using Google translation. There are two parts to this process:

(1) copying the “mywebsites” file into each of the five languages mentioned above by going to “file-save as” and pressing “save”. I use “ mywebsitesb” for French, “mywebsitesc” for Spanish, “mywebsitesd” for German, “mywebsitese” for Portuguese, and “mywebsitesf” for Italian.

(2) creating the foreign-language content for each of the newly created files. This is a lengthy process. Let’s start with French.

(a) I use Google translation ( to translate the text of the website from English to French (or whatever language). The English-language text is pasted into a space at the left in the Google-translation website and, if French is highlighted, a French translation will appear in the box at the right. Unfortunately, this translator takes only 5,000 characters of text so that, if I wish to translate a longer text, I will need to do it in segments, translating each 5,000-character segment separately and then joining them together. When the complete French translation has been produced, I copy it from my work file to my new file, “ mywebsitesb”, in the main area.

(b) Now, because the materials at the top and bottom of the website are in English and the new file is in French, I will need to find an existing French-language file in the same group of files - in this case, - and copy the materials at the top and also the bottom, pasting them over the English-language texts. A sentence at the top warns the reader that this is a text translated from English by a machine. There is also a copyright notice at the bottom as well as a place to translate the website into five other languages by clicking on the name of the language desired. Finally, I translate the texts to be placed internally: title, description, and keywords. These go in the appropriate places internally in the French-language website. Now I have a French-language website almost ready to be posted.

(c) Once the other four foreign-language sites - Spanish, German, Portuguese, and Italian - have been created, I complete the links listed under “click for a translation into:” (or, in French, “Cliquetez pour une traduction de cette page dans:”) Each named link requires locating and clicking the “mywebsites” file in the appropriate foreign language so that a connection is established. Since there are five named languages for each of six “mywebsites” file, that means making 30 different connections - a fairly time-consuming task if the desired file is hard to find in the list of Safari files accessed under “file - open file” commands in the top bar towards the left. But now the page is complete.

(d) I need to list this page under a top-level page for my website,, providing a link to it. (That way, people can find this page.) In this case, after the English-language and French-language web pages have been created, I will need to find a place for the “mywebsites” file. I will put it in the “personal storyteller” (storyteller.html) group of files, right at the bottom, after “a message to Harold Stassen’s granddaughter”. To facilitate this, I first copy that file (stassen.html) from the storyteller.html page and then paste it right underneath where the new text can go. After removing the link to the Stassen web page, I paste the new title (“About me and these websites”) over the larger lettering to the left and the description (My life goes into creating expressions on the internet.”) over the smaller lettering just to the right of it. The date is the current year, 2017, when the web site was created. I use a feature “Writing tools - show statistics” available for the Pages word-processing file to get the word count, after the appropriate text has been highlighted. Now I have all the required information for this line - major description, minor description, date of completion, and word count. The final step is to add “5 languages” at the right to show that this French-language page is linked to pages in five other languages.

Well, that’s it. A new web page has been created in English and in five other European languages. But now I aspire to create the same page in six more languages - simplified Chinese, Indonesian, Turkish, Polish, and Russian. I go through much the same process as before, with an additional wrinkle.

The wrinkle is that my software will not accept certain characters in (simplified) Chinese, Turkish, and Polish texts. Instead of a completed text in translation, question marks (?) appear. This will not do. I need complete foreign-language texts if they are to be published.

There is a way to eliminate the question marks in the simplified Chinese and the Turkish texts which appear after the texts have been posted in Dreamweaver files and been put on line. First, you highlight the character (that cannot be translated) in the Dreamweaver file and then go to “Edit” and then “Find” using the bar at the top. This will bring up a small screen “Find & Replace” to the right. Copy the foreign-language letter that cannot be shown in the Dreamweaver file in the space to the right of “File” and the same letter without accent in the box below it to the right of “Replace”. Then click on “Replace all” at the bottom left. Miraculously, this will replace all the letters that could not be shown with a near equivalent. Do this for all the missing letters and you have a presentable text.

For the record, these are the letters that need fixing -

In simplified Chinese: a, e, i, o, u, where there is an accent mark above the letter, generally a small u-shaped mark or a horizontal line, which should be eliminated

In Turkish: a distorted s, i, or g, which should be replaced by the undistorted version of these letters

In Polish: most letters with accent marks above them, including l (with a horizontal line cutting through), s, z, e, a, c, where the accent marks need to be eliminated

Once these untranslatable letters have been replaced in the simplified Chinese, Turkish, and Polish texts, we have another set of five translations to be added to our website. The translations into Indonesian and Dutch do not need to be fixed since no question marks appear in their texts. This gives us a total of twelve pages that are in English and eleven other languages.

Well, anyway, think of what it took to produce the foreign-language pages the next time you look at them. My recent life has been spent in that pursuit. Whether it is worth the effort I do not know. It might have been worthwhile if a significant number of persons who speak one of these other languages but not English visit the web sites and find something of value in them.


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Click for a translation into:

French - Spanish - German - Portuguese - Italian

simplified Chinese - Indonesian - Turkish- Polish - Dutch - Russian