Was It My “Blog Mob?”

We had a laugh yesterday. You may recall Tuesday’s Purple Parrot post. About 8:45 AM UK time, I had posted about store-owning friends in Chipping Sodbury, near Bristol, who’ve said they will stock my novels.

In doing so, I had linked directly to their site. About 11:30, I got an email from the Mrs. half of the store-owning duo, pounding happily on her keyboard that she had been inundated with web site visitors. About a thousand of them, she wrote.

She wrote that on an entire normal day, they do far fewer than that. The only explanation, she asserted, was me. My post was the only thing that she could ascertain had been materially different yesterday morning.

But I was stunned and shocked too. I wrote back that I wished I could’ve taken credit for it, but I get nowhere near 1,000 visitors daily – and certainly NOT by 11:30 AM. I took a quick snapshot of my internet-sourced visitors from midnight to that time yesterday morning:

My internet visitor stats, Tuesday morning. Not exactly a mob scene. ;-)

My internet visitor stats, Tuesday morning. Not exactly a mob scene. ;-)

I usually finish the day at around 50-100 max. Looking at those, I told her no way that her sudden “cyber mob” could have come from me.

But I also know many of you follow here via the WordPress reader. (Thank you!) I know I also sometimes kid about WordPress’s reader, but I do like it – it makes following blogs easy. Still, there is no way all those visitors could have come to them via my reader followers either.

We finished off just scratching our heads. Who knows what happened? It’s the net. However, if you did visit Purple Parrot yesterday, uh, thanks! :-)

OLD CARY GRANT FINE

The Winds of War novel arrived on Sunday. More reading! Lots more!

The Winds of War,

“The Winds of War,” by Herman Wouk. [My photograph.]

The first order went astray, so Amazon.co.uk dispatched another. The historical timeframe in which Winds is set got me thinking about how, pre-internet, pre-blogs, I’d have informed you I’d received the book at last. I might have sent you a telegram:

WINDS ARRIVED FIRST LOST WILL READ WOW VERY LONG MUST STOP

Telegrams were once probably the best means for non-telephonic near instant communications. They were common pre-war and during World War II. How quickly we forget.

And, if I recall correctly, they were used in Winds. You paid by word, so tried to keep messages concise. This below is a classic about how a telegram could be “misunderstood.” In 2013, the BBC told us:

A reporter wanting to know the age of actor Cary Grant sent: HOW OLD CARY GRANT.

The actor’s supposed response?

OLD CARY GRANT FINE. HOW YOU.

Hilarious. A bit of a smile for a Monday. :-)

“Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane”

With my Dad doing better than we’d expected, Sunday afternoon I took an opportunity to venture up to the Catskills to check our house, and use Monday to mow the lawn and deal with anything else that may have needed dealing with. I admit I could also have called it my “24 hours of tranquility” away from the rural Pennsylvania Seinfeld episode in which I am currently trapped! ;-)

We have no broadcast TV in the house right now. Quickly I decided on an evening in front of the DVD player. I treated myself to the first few episodes of Mad Men from the very first series/ season.

Okay, trivia question: What are Roger Sterling’s first words ever said on the show?

Answer: “Morning girls.”

When I returned to my parents’ place last night, chatting I happened to tell my mother. She had worked in midtown Manhattan as a secretary herself briefly – pre-marriage – in the early 1960s. She laughed:

It’s true. They were my father’s age. That’s actually what they used to say to us.

Around the same time, she had also actually considered becoming a Pan Am “stewardess” – she who had never (and still has never been) on a plane. We discovered that when she revealed it to us at some point while the Pan Am TV show had been on the air. I still can’t believe it.

But I digress. Although there was no TV in house, I did have mobile internet. I wasn’t totally, uh, “cut off in the Catskills.”

However, pardon me here for maybe seeming a bit out of touch in this way. Recently I’ve been seeing bits on the net here and there about a site called “SoundCloud.” I did again on Sunday night.

I finally decided to click over and have a good look around on it…. and a listen. Noticing what was on the site, how it generally seemed to work, and with time to kill (after having overdosed on Mad Men), I searched for a couple of songs that were running through my head recently courtesy of radio (oldies) play. As a new novelist, I thought maybe I’d find cover versions by “unknowns” who might be worth a listen?

For “The Letter,” I stumbled on this singer. Incredible. Well, I just HAVE to share this:

In Barba Gwen31's stream on Soundcloud.

In Barba Gwen31’s stream on Soundcloud.

Barba Gwen31 has **some** voice. As we know, the web lets us now independent/ self-publish books. (Which, after all, is why I’m on here! ;-) ) Now it also allows singers to be heard globally whom we otherwise probably would have never heard of.

One frustration, though. I’d PAY, iTunes-like (yes, I’d separate myself from some money) to download and own it. However, I can’t figure out how? I don’t see how to do it? Ugh! :-)

Have a good Tuesday! I’m writing this post at my parents’ kitchen table. Near the sink, time to take his pills, they are on at each other…. again. Apparently he’s too inept to take them without her careful oversight:

“I love you, dear,” he told her off as she read the directions to him yet again.

“Read the rest of it!” she barked, handing him one bottle.

“It says, ‘Take one a day,'” he pointed to it.

“Old people get crazy taking medications. Oh, s-it, see what I just did!” she yelled as she took another of the bottles. “I’ll mix them up!”

“You’re an old person!” he shot back.

“Angie Gonzalez [an elderly, now deceased, relation] used to mess up her medication….” my mother droned on. “Oh, no one’s listening to me.”

“Mom, I am. Please stop now.”

A few more days remain in my Seinfeld episode. “Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane….” ;-)

Messing Around

Happy Saturday! If you’ve dropped by here via the web in the last couple of days (and not the WordPress reader), you may have noticed the templates keep changing. I’ve been fiddling with them. Although I may never quite nail it, I’m trying to hit (what I consider to be) a better “tone” for the site.

I like stability and try to avoid altering the page too much. I’m sure some of you find constant messing around off-putting. Then again, I know some people love change.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of an internet web browser link.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of an internet web browser link.

So I ask your indulgence. I will settle on something soon. I’ve not suddenly gone off my internet rocker. :-)

And The Wifi Code Is….

Hello from South Carolina – on a stopover. Quick question: Have you noticed how much one aspect of routine U.S. travel has changed vastly in hotels in just a few years? It seems to have progressed sorta like this:

c. 2004: “Wifi? What’s that?”

c. 2009: “We have wifi available in the lounge. The password is in your guest directory in your room.”

2014: “Here’s your room keys. The room’s wifi code is on the back [of the paper key sleeve].”

That last greeting was what we received at the check-in desk at the hotel where we stayed just off I-95. You don’t even have to bring it up anymore. They simply thrust the code at you…. here, no need to ask, style.

image

Also, I realize I can’t recall the last time I made a phone call on an in-room hotel telephone? ;-)

“I’m not being unsociable, I’m working…”

I’m finding one of my better moves has been pulling together a combination of the iPad, a bluetooth keyboard, and a word processor app that can be shifted into a standard Word document.

The convenience of the iPad means it’s easy to get sudden ideas into written form almost immediately. A laptop is now, actually, “awkward.” No longer do you need to be tethered to a desktop PC (thank goodness). And a typewriter? What’s that?

20140426-104107.jpg

As we know swiping and tapping is now commonplace both at home and in public. Yesterday, I got the core of a chapter down in about half an hour. I did so while having a coffee at my in-laws’ kitchen table.

I’m sure you have family who are much the same: current technology sometimes baffles them. Bank cards and pins are fine; but my father-in-law – a bank manager who retired some two decades ago – still occasionally wants “to speak to the top man” at the branch. (Bless him, he was born probably about three decades too late.) Sky satellite is okay too; but they are also probably among the last of the breed in which operating the TV remote can still present a challenge. (Don’t even mention Sky Plus.) Their shared mobile phone (a Nokia, c. 2004) is lying around somewhere and possibly usable (assuming they haven’t lost about the 12th charger); but it’s never on, and forget leaving a voice mail (it will probably never be retrieved), and even resorting separately to leaving a message on the landline will likely prove problematic. (“It’s doing that beeping dial tone again. It’s been doing that for weeks now. Do I press, uh, that 1571 now?”)

So you never quite know what will prove a tech stumbling block. They know of the internet of course: you can buy things on it. But their kids and grandkids are the ones who actually have to make the online purchases on their behalf. “Oh, isn’t that marvelous,” my mother-in-law is apt to remark, pleased, when shown airline tickets just bought online, or the Amazon purchase that will arrive the next day, or the lottery ticket numbers played.

On another day, all of that experience has been forgotten, and we have to start all over again. Have you seen Groundhog Day? While watching TV, seeing us around her on tablets or iPhones, the disdain in her voice is unmistakeable:

“What is on those things you’re all so fascinated by? How did we ever live without them?”

Usually I leave the retort to my wife. However, if I desire to feel ridiculous, I may actually try to meet the challenge and attempt to explain…. again:

“You managed as everyone always has, but not as efficiently. It took longer to do everything. Right now I’m flicking through about ten newspapers at once. And CNN. [I stand up, walk over and show her the iPad.] And here’s the BBC. Here’s France 24. I’ve got my manuscript open here. [I then tap that so she can see it.] There’s lots more. Being chained to a desk and a landline is over for many; that’s how your sons work from home now and then. [I return to my sofa seat.] In most jobs you can’t cope today without technology. The world of a bank manager having his secretary typing out paper memos is gone.”

Still, I often get a puzzled look in return:

“We can’t handle all of this change. We’re old. How do all of your brains not hurt? Robert, when you go out, would you please stop in at the newsagent and buy me a newspaper?”

By that, she obviously means the newspaperliterally.

I hope you’re having a good weekend, wherever you may be. :-)