It’s Not A Blog…

It’s a weblog column. Something that comes out regularly and has a complete set of thoughts in it. My thoughts.

It is not a poem, though there have been times when I’ve written it in poetry.

It’s not a novel. Nothing novel at all. Indeed, there are some very old things in it.

It’s not a connected story – it bounces around as new things are discovered. People say things in the street that eventually become columns here. Wait until you read ” Hey! Bring back my purse! Police! Police! “. ( Good purse but there was nothing of much value in there. Still, it goes with my tan shoes.)

It’s not a rant. One of my columns is a commercial one advertising for a shop and the IT specialist who set it up characterized it in the sidebar as a ” rant “. That actually offends me, but since they do nothing to remedy the situation I merely raise my rates for the jobs I am asked to do. The extra money assuages my injured soul.

So what is it? This one’s a daily essay based upon observation and humour. One of the others is a similar thing devoted to photographic matters – a third revolves around scale models and toys of all sorts. I am happily long retired from my first profession and need not write about teeth and jaws.

Who are my readers? You, for one. And many more, though I cannot exactly figure out how many are constant. I suspect many of the ones that notify me that they like a certain post are using their own weblogs as commercial enterprises and may have automatic programs to throw out electronic grappling hooks. I don’t mind – I do read their connection emails  at least once and have actually added four of them to my daily reading. A couple more seem to have dried up – I mourn that as they had interesting things to read.

Why do I write these columns?

a. It lets me speak freely. That’s not possible on many social media platforms.

b. It lets me crystallize thoughts and memories. If I remember it, I write it, and vice versa. At 70, any mental agility is welcome.

c. I can debunk the myths I have invented for myself and finally be a plain person. That’s hard – even the Amish have to work like devils to be angelic. I need to look at me, and reading what I write helps me to do it. Unfortunately I find others looking over my shoulder and I am aware that no admission ever really vanishes from the internet. But as long as the authorities do not find out about the incident with the chicken necks and the tax inspector I should be fine.

d. It lets me play a part that real life would condemn. The Backstabbers Guild of Australia is a wonderful haven of vile behaviour. The BGA doesn’t have a Speaker of the Senate or a Pauline, but we do have horrid practices nevertheless.

 

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Synchromesh

If you never learn another thing…learn to shift gears smoothly.

The people who have automatic transmissions miss this skill – they jerk their T-bar into ” D ” and just accept whatever the unseen mechanism decides to do. In some cases this is flawless work, but in some it is a drag upon their resources.

And it can be worse if they are steering a motor car. Those car transmissions need a lot of maintenance.

What? You though this was all about motor cars in the first place? Wrong – it is about life.

You’ll do lots of things in life that happen at different speeds and under different loads; you’ll be a little kid one day with no responsibilities and a school student next day – with the weight of the world on your shoulders. If you cannot shift smoothly from a 4-year-old centre of the universe to the 5-year-old who is in line and quiet, you have trouble.

Likewise when you transition from grade school to high school – high school to university or trade training – and so on through your lifetime. Be assured that you need a good deal of strategy and patience to make the leap from employed person to retired one. You need to plan to speed up one set of gears while you are slowing another down to get them to mesh properly – you need a mental Synchromesh.

My transition involved writing these columns  as well as hobby interests gathered over the years. I selected a couple that still resonated with me – ones that I could afford and could manage on a physical level. The result has been a smooth transition with no loss of traction. No gears grind and no teeth have broken off the idlers.

If I travel slower than before, and do not surmount such high hills of achievement, I can still take some comfort from the smoothness evident in the ride. It’ll stop one day, of course, but hopefully not from idleness or inattention.

What Do You Do When A Writing Deadline Approaches?

You either barricade yourself behind a wall of completed work…or you retreat into excuses – both are perfectly valid.

The first means that you have not disappointed your readers – at least not any more than you normally do. If your entire readership is composed of disappointed people, you have my sympathy.

But by fulfilling your obligations or promises, you only make a stick for your own back. Do good and they’ll expect it of you all the time. Keep topping yourself and one day you’ll be over the top.

On the other hand, if you retreat into whiney excuses for non-performance people will be disappointed in you…oh, wait…they were disappointed in the first example as well…

Have you thought of getting a better set of readers? People who are less judgemental? Might be a thought…

But anyway, let them down occasionally and they will not be on your ass so hard each day. This will give you time to gather new material for a glorious comeback. Because that is the real secret – if you cannot break a writing block you need to go out and find something that breaks it for you. It can be any person, event, place, or experience that makes you mad, sad, glad, or bad. If you are sweating internally, you have a live topic. And you can make it go for ever so long as the powerhouse for your work.

As you explore it and draw from it, the readership will respond. Some will agree, some will not, and some will be disappointed. That is the best indication that you are back in the groove. Go on – give ‘em what they don’t want. They’ll love ya for it.

The Next Best Thing To Sliced Bead

The next best thing to sliced bread is not, as the advertisers would have you believe, a new electronic gadget or app. It is not an item of clothing or a kitchen appliance. It is cheese and pickle.

Thus another popular saying ( here in Australia ) goes for a Burton. North American readers can also go for a Burton but they’ll have to hunt out an English pub or beer shop to do it. Elizabeth Taylor went for a Burton…

Do you think that popular sayings and buzz-phrases are getting to be clichéd? You’re not wrong, Narelle. And we are being bombarded with more of them every day, thanks to the very screen you are looking at. They can become a burden after a while and we long for good old-fashioned communication like you got before the War. When men were men and women were women and the ABC announcers dressed up in suits and ties to read scripts over a radio microphone.

I think it is time to take back this level of earnestness and style. To re-assert the right of everyone to be elegant. Therefore:

a. Henceforth this column will be written while fully  the author is fully dressed. No more old green bathrobe and slippers. No more typing while wearing nothing but a wet towel. Or less.

b. No more buzz phrases – or at least none that are currently in use on Facetwit or that other slightly profane site; Instadamn.

c. All words will be correctly spelled and supplied in correct grammatical form. And the correct spelling may not be what the biased Spell Checker at the top of the WordPress menu would have it. I have been watching this suspect program and seen several howlers pass its scrutiny. It may be time to finally decide whether British English or American English is to prevail…though the Canadian compromise might be adopted for the sake of convenience. Whichever one is chosen, there will be protests from the grammatically arrogant.

d. Colourful local words and phrases like ” Crikey ” and ” Stone the crows ” will be permitted but must be put in the mouths of colourful locals. Direct quotes only, preferably from a scaffold.

e. I have no objection to foreign words creeping in as long as they then creep out again.

f. No-one would expect to have a brain surgeon or waist gunner perform their special tasks while eating a Subway  tuna-fish sandwich. Likewise the readers do not want their literature bedaubed with taco sauce or biscuit crumbs. Henceforth the desk will be cleared of plates while the column is being typed. This will have the added benefit of not requiring a new keyboard after Spaghetti Night.

g. I shall occasionally introduce a new word or phrase to cover a particular point of communication and then repeat it enough times over different platfoms to set it in the public mind. Most of this will be done in a spirit of jollity and kindness, with the appropriate amount of savagery. This process of forcing language upon the unwilling shall be known as motting the rubes.

I do not expect them to be grateful, but I shall be satisfied when they start doing it to each other.

Bear Baiting For The Faint Of Heart

The trick is to find something to bait other than a bear.

In any intimate social circle of friends there will be people who can be attacked with impunity. We all know a mass murderer or sex offender or someone who wears socks with sandals. They are the legitimate targets of our hate, righteousness, and scorn when we are feeling out of sorts.

We can pillory them to our heart’s content on the internet with no danger of reprisal. But then so can everyone else, and that means that we just blend in with the braying crowd – no-one will know how virtuous and cool we are. Easy targets get no gongs, as they say in the Air Force. They may get more than their fair share of 1000 pounders, but that is no consolation when we want personal publicity. We need worthy enemies that can be vanquished easily while the light is good and the cameras are rolling.

Trouble is,  worthy enemies – again to use the Air Force analogy – are armed with flak and fighters, and are not easy targets. If you get a whipping while you are trying to do that to someone else you are not going to benefit. So what we need are targets that appear tough but are made of rubber or straw.

In the social scene these can be found amongst the rich and entitled or poor and defenseless – provided they are far enough above or below our own social standing as to render us invisible. If we can be mean from behind a double-blind of false identity it is even better. This may be the real benefit of identity theft.

Of course things can change in time. The Nigerian scammer of last decade may well become the new government of this one. Likewise the politician we all vie to hate may be proven right. We must make some provision to retract our statements, or at least to retract our signature on the libels. For this purpose we advocate the good old disappearing ink beloved of spy novels.

The safest way of all – at least on WordPress or Blogger – is to include free-form poetry or advice on how to make money from home in each post. What is never read cannot be sheeted home to you in court…

 

 

The Wonderful Weblog Column

Allow me to pour praise upon the WordPress organisation and the wonderful works of charity they do. They have enabled me to have the time of my life for the last six years for essentially nothing at all.

I write four separate weblog columns. I’m paid in money for one of them ( not a lot, I assure you ) and in pleasure for the other three. I’ve tallied the statistics from them and find that I’ve been able to bend people’s ears, so to speak, 5260 times, and on each occasion I have been given the floor exclusively – no one has interrupted me. I hope I have not abused the privilege.

I am a little saddened to read other weblog columns that seem to have gone nowhere – ventures that looked to be so promising, yet faded within a month. I guess there may have been good reasons, but it is still frustrating to see someone who probably has something good to say go silent. Unfortunately it leaves the Facebook parrots to meme whatever they find on the net and then think that they have made an intellectual statement of it. I have never been so glad of a snooze button in my life, and the unfollow lever is kept greased and in good working order too.

People decry weblogs as minor affairs…but they then praise other artistry that may be just as obscure  – merely on the chance that it eventually will become known. Goodness sake, people – read and praise what is fresh before your eyes and recognise the talent that is out there. I’m not saying that the talent is me, but occasionally I get off a good one and it’s worth wading through the rest of the stream to be there when it happens.

The future? I will still write using the free themes until the picture storage capacity is used up – then I’ll pay WordPress for an elegant revision and combine all three columns into one. It will not be a case of cutting down on content, but it will have multiple sections each day. No-one will be deprived.

I receive prompts to ” monetize ” the columns, together with impossibly complex social networking plans and strategies. None of this interests me, as I have nothing to sell but thought. And that is generally going at very low prices anyway. Bring a paper bag and I’ll fill it up for you…

Dancing The Facebook Hornpipe

Yesterday I got a message from the WordPress people saying that the current links between the weblog columns I write and Facebook was in peril – FB apparently change their play today for some arcane reason. The explanation was suitably vague, but the end result was another three hours of computer churning to create a ” page ” as well as a ” profile “.

Well, the electrons flowed back and forth and eventually it settled into the new pattern – but with all the old people and pictures. I suspect it is a ploy to make another platform to sell advertising in sidebars and pop “suggested posts ” into my stream of consciousness. As long as I can throw ’em out as fast as they appear, I’m happy. I need all the consciousness I can get here at home.

The all-pervasive nature of FB and the sudden peremptory announcements – caged sometimes in gobbledygook – are starting to make me nervous. I recognise the follies of some of my friends on the service by the memes and propaganda they push – they can recognise mine by the weblog posts that drift over. As long as we do not engage in arguments, all is well.

But must everything be the province of Facebook?