Marooned In The Catskills (For 24 Hours)

Hello once more! This is a ridiculously early post, New York time. It’s before 5:30 am.

Ugh! It’s also called “jet lag.”

Yes, yes, it’s great to be back in the Catskills for a bit:

Windham Mountain in the distance. [Photo by my, 2015.]
Windham Mountain in the distance. [Photo by my, 2015.]

I wrote most of two novels here. Now you see why! ;-)

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The Old-Fashioned Mail

I know this has been received in the old-fashioned mail. So I may now post it here in no danger of the recipient seeing it on the net BEFORE having received it:

The old-fashioned way. [Photo by me, 2015.]
The old-fashioned way. [Photo by me, 2015.]

Remember when birthdays meant actually remembering them and not having a reminder pop up?

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The Difference Between “Friends” And, Uh, “Friends”

I stumbled on two thoughtful recent Guardian pieces on internet friendships. They seemed worth sharing for a Saturday post. The first: “How do you tell who’s a real friend and who’s just a ‘Friend’ on the internet?”:

….Being eliminated from a friend’s life used to mean ignored phone calls and mutual, public recriminations to third parties; today, it’s as easy as untagging yourself from an ussie and clicking unfollow on Twitter. On the other side, you’re at even more of a loss when you click on the profile of a Twitter friend with whom you’d had a long and fruitful online discussion the day before and see a blank space where it used to say “FOLLOWS YOU”. Every time you log-in, wherever it may be, you could find yourself invisible to someone you thought was your friend, and found out was only a fair-weather follower.

We live on the internet now. That whole idea about how we have to look up from our phones and digital devices to have real lives and experiences is over. There isn’t always a difference between emotion and emoticon. Our challenge now is to integrate our humanity into our online lives….

Then there was this one from early February on Internet “loss”: “How do you grieve when you lose an internet friend?” – and the author is not talking here about merely being “unfollowed”:

….In an age where the internet acts as a force-multiplier for sociability (if only for those who are native to it), it is now possible to develop friendships with people we’ve never met at all. Twitter is more than just a conversation; it is a schoolyard, a lunchroom, a water cooler. “Internet friends” are still friends – at least as much as “friends” on Facebook who we haven’t seen in years.

I found out that my friend had died late at night, and reflexively direct-messaged her boyfriend on Twitter. The next morning, I wasn’t sure if I’d made a mistake: I was a stranger to them, really….

It is fascinating what has evolved in only a decade or two. Once upon a time my (internalized) general rule was a “friend” was someone I knew in person and could call on the phone and he/she would NOT be stunned to hear from me. But if any of our mobiles rang right now and on the other end (without pre-planning of course) happened to be someone who “follows” us and whom we also “follow,” but whom we’ve also never met, let’s be honest most of us would probably think something was, umm, not quite right here. ;-)

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“Time for a (no added sugar) Ribena”

I noted the other day that I felt I had been “in the zone” while writing. It was flowing pretty easily, and I hoped it would continue. And it has. I’m back on my daily treadmill pace of 3 to 5 decent pages minimum.

If you can keep that up within about “100 days” you’ve almost got yourself a book. (Proofing, editing, etc., follow of course.) I tend also to write in spurts of about 30 minutes to an hour, and recently read we’re most work productive generally in bursts like those. So I can now say that, yes, that does seem to apply to me.

From Psychology Today,  "Best Rest Practices for Optimal Productivity and Creativity," April 30, 2012 [Screen capture by me.]
From Psychology Today, “Best Rest Practices for Optimal Productivity and Creativity,” April 30, 2012 [Screen capture by me.]
I’m sometimes so focused I’m returned to the present day from my fictionalized mid-1990s only when I realize…. “Ouch, I haven’t moved in over half an hour and my right leg is now asleep from sitting on it.”

Then I think, what’s up on the iPad in social media world? I’ll take just a second and have a look….

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“Private” Exchanges

You may have seen something on the massive Sony Pictures hack. Films, emails and all sorts of data have been dropped into the “public space.” Buzzfeed shares some “juicy” bits of several emails, including how, in one, a prominent producer wrote a Sony executive what he thought about actor Angelina Jolie:

Buzzfeed screen capture [by me].
Buzzfeed screen capture [by me].

Reading the piece, my reaction is those film people spout privately like many of us do of course. They certainly also write like my crime novelist uncle has emailed, and speaks privately with me – “God, she’s younger than my daughter!” Even his semi-public posts on Facebook can include choice harsh words, as several did the other day when he was debating U.S. policing and got into a dust up with a film guy he knows well: he called him, among other things, essentially, a “space cadet.”

So is it actually any shock that those execs “rant” too? Do you? I admit I have at times, because to me emails and private exchanges are often simply chatter – “informal conversation.”

What those Sony execs and producers were doing was “thinking out loud” privately while working in an environment in which hundreds of millions of dollars may be at stake in any given project, and they need to be sure those they green light are going to make the company a profit, not bankrupt it. They likely don’t see each other face to face across a table often, and phone calls are not always convenient. They do their jobs often by “firing off” emails to each other.

Gee, that said, I’d hate to think what some people may have written privately about, uh, me? (“You see that recent book he wrote? Who the hell does he think he is? God, he’s so tiresome.”) ;-)

On that optimistic note, have a good day, wherever you happen to be reading this in the world. :-)

If You Use Twitter….

….you aren’t necessarily following someone you may for a moment think you are. Twitter is slipping in follow suggestions among people you actually do follow. Yesterday, I noticed this:

Twitter, slipping in a "follow" suggestion among your actual follows.
Twitter, slipping in a “follow” suggestion among your actual follows.

I’m a fan of India, and follow some India-sourced media. That may be why “Make in India” was parachuted in for me as a suggested follow. But still, Twitter’s gettin’ increasingly Facebook-like slippery and “sneaky” at times, ain’t it?

Oh, and don’t you sit there being all judgemental at my following new! magazine. In an often all too ugly, nasty world, we all need some vacuous stuff now and then in our timelines. You may know already I follow Closer as well. ;-)

Try to have a good Tuesday, wherever you are….

Want To Be Goodreads Buddies?

If you are on Goodreads, and are interested in being friends, send me an invite and I’ll “friend” you back. Thankfully, Kate Colby has broken the ice. I’m glad.

Passports: Atlantic Lives, 1994-1995

I’ve been negligent of that site. Early in the year, I’d gone through all of the “approved author” vetting, and signed up. Yet I have done almost nothing with it since: my authoring “social media” energy has been directed here, and to Twitter.

My main Goodreads problem is the same as I, uh, face with Facebook. Goodreads is for my pen name, so I can’t “like” and “invite” anyone I know under their real names as Facebook friends in case they also “follow” the Crime Novelist. Given he’s on Goodreads too, he’ll notice me for sure, thus destroying my pen name “cover.” ;-)

This dual identity stuff is exhausting after a while.

Clocks have gone back here in Britain early this morning. I’ve been so out of touch, I don’t know if they’ve gone back in the States yet. Eh, maybe I’ll wake up my parents in Pennsylvania with an early phone call and find out! :-)

What Country In The World Best Fits Your Personality?

It’s all settled: we’re moving to Wiltshire – about 3 hours west of London. We spent a long day yesterday traipsing around the area, looking for a house. We found one, and now have to organize the move. We’re hoping for October 17.

Tired, last night I happened to try this game. I thought I’d share the findings with you here:

What Country in the World Best Fits Your Personality? ch country in the world best fits your personality. From http://playbuzz.com. Via Facebook.
What Country in the World Best Fits Your Personality? From http://playbuzz.com. Via Facebook.

Oh, good grief. I’m not saying which country that is. Let’s just say, it doesn’t include Wiltshire.

That’s enough now. [Clap, clap] Back to work everyone. Stop messing around on the internet! ;-)

Onwards And Upwards….

….although, as we know, matters are rarely so “straightforward” of course. My wife shared this with me on Facebook. It seems too good not to pass on:

From NEVER NEVER NEVER GIVE UP!!! Non-Profit Organization. Via Facebook.
From NEVER NEVER NEVER GIVE UP!!! Non-Profit organization. Via Facebook.

Yes, how true. En route to our “goal”…. we always encounter reality. :-)

Always A Bit Of The Outsider

It’s a perennial issue. How does one best fit in when you are not from where you are? We all attack the matter in our own ways.

I try to go about my business without making a spectacle of myself. Still, one does have to open one’s mouth. The other day, when we were walking the hound, a woman fellow dog walker we’d bumped into and chatted briefly with several times recently, apparently felt confident enough to ask me where my accent was from.

On Facebook a few years ago, I posted a short video I had shot of my wife having a laugh chasing our dog around our house in Christchurch. Our hound loved to steal newly delivered mail off the floor after the letter carrier had been pushed it through the letterbox. My voice was naturally all over it.

Hearing me in the background, one of my cousins, who lived in New Jersey and whom I had not seen since I was a teenager (but with whom I had become Facebook friends), commented that I had sounded “so English.”

I commented back to her that that would have been news to my wife. “When I start speaking fast,” I joked, “she says I start to sound like Jerry Seinfeld.”

In turn my cousin came back roaring laughing – insofar as anyone can laugh loudly via Facebook, of course.

One thing I’ve learned is that most people speak “softer” here than in most of the U.S. – especially compared to New York – and I have always tried to “mimic” that. But don’t kid yourself. If you are not from somewhere originally, you will never 100 percent “fit in.”

My overall take is always to appreciate that as long as I accept I will never entirely “fit in,” that it doesn’t matter. I aim simply to try to be respectful of how others live, and not to try to impose my own standards on someone else. However they do “it” back “at home” is irrelevant: I’m not “back at home.”

Another thing to do is always to try to enjoy varied, local beverages :-)

Old Jamaica Ginger Beer. [Photo by me, 2014.]
Old Jamaica Ginger Beer. [Photo by me, 2014.]

So you know, there is NO alcohol in that, okay. It’s a pleasant soft drink that I haven’t found on a supermarket shelf in the U.S.; at least not in New York. Great to sip while writing. :-)

Have a good Tuesday, wherever you are….