So, Now, I’m in “The Loop”

Ha! Somebody finally gave me the heads up on something happening in enough time that I can actually paste the appropriate happy/non-horrified look on my face when I “officially” hear the news later on. If I do hear the news, later on. It’s not a given.

Someone I knew a while back is pregnant.

We have heard this via Cluster-Fbook and the current topic of conversation at the moment is math. Exactly how long is 9 months, and can the baby be due in (month) if girl is x months pregnant right now, and if we assume that the current boyfriend is the father?

Have I mentioned that I work in a cess pool of gossip?

I work in a cess pool of gossip.

Cluster-FBook does not help.

**shudder** 

Deep down inside, one of the things I love most about WordPress is that it’s not a least-common-denominator platform. It’s not the default, which means that the people who are on it tend to be smarter than average. (Love you guys.) And it tends to attract people with real-life interests, and hobbies outside of people-watching.

Being quite honest, I also love the fact that I don’t automatically have to friend or un-friend my third grade teacher, my second cousin twice removed, or my snoopy co-workers. And while word of the pregnancies does, eventually reach me, I usually get to skip the potty training stories, and the bad haircuts.

People ask if I’m on Cluster-FBook on a fairly regular basis. I’m fairly sure that no one (except a few close friends) has ever followed that question up with “Or, you know… a self-hosted, free-standing WordPress Site?”

And it’s weird how often I say I’m not on Cluster-FBook, only to hear someone defend their own use of the site. I only use it to trade recipes with a few people, or I get ideas for crafts. I’m in an antique group. I use it to keep up with my grandkids.

That last one always hits me as a little sad. Keep up with the grandkids? Really? You’re reading your grandkids’ lives in newsletter form? Don’t they… ya know… visit? Call? Paint you crayon drawings?

The long distance kids thing can be a little on the accusatory side, too. Wait… you mean you don’t want to hear about how my kid made a poo-poo in the potty? But I have pictures. IN COLOR!!!

And never mind the way it enables the bad times to snowball on you.

I’m just not a fan. I see what’s in it for a business, and I even see what could potentially be in it for my business. I’m not sure I see what’s in it for me. and I’m not sure that I see it as anybody’s first choice.

On Blog Hops and Challenges

April is shaping up to be a slightly above average month. It’s not fabulous, and it’s not dismal… just slightly above average.

I’m doing the A-to-Z challenge this month, which, all things considered, is not all that much of a challenge, since I make blogging a part of my daily routine, anyway. My theme is the letter M. No, I don’t know what I was thinking. The general idea is that each day, there’s a post with a different letter of the alphabet, and also an M. It’s not a bad idea. It keeps me from settling into the familiar, and I’m learning new things, mostly by diving into wikipedia at the last moment and searching for something—anything–that fits the theme.

I started the month with a modest spike in traffic. Several days a little bit higher than I usually get. And now, that seems to have trailed off.

The past couple of days, I’ve actually been lower than usual. That may be that my readers don’t really want to hear about basketball or physics, and it may be the fact that tracking down those subjects took me longer, so the posts weren’t out anywhere close to my usual time. I’m not sure.

I’m expecting another spike at the end of the week, when I do the StoryTime blog hop. Which, by the way, I’ve worked out a way to fit into the A-to-Z challenge. (So much easier when you get to make things up! Thank you, fiction!)

So, all in all, April will wind up being slightly above average. I’m not knocking it.

The thing is… I’m not sure to what extent it’s the challenge or the hop, itself that drives the numbers. I’m starting to think it may be the interaction, the going out and meeting people. The enthusiasm for it. The sheer convenience of having people listed in one neat, orderly place.

I wind up with good results, whenever I’m out there, starting conversations. But when I do it on my own, I’m looking for people I have a lot in common with, instead of just working down a list.

And I’m usually working on my own blogging platform, so it’s easier for people to follow me and interact than it is when I’m on somebody else’s list. (No, I don’t know whether that’s a good thing in the long run. From time to time, I’ve thought about running a mirrored site, so that one or two of the other platforms get in on it. I don’t know.)

So, I’m thinking about what my next steps should be, and honestly, I think they’re going to be more seeking out people than blog hops or blogging challenges. I know I need to get out there more often.

What do you think? How have you grown your websites and blogs?

A-to-Z Challenge: Quantum Mechanics

So, my q for the day is yet another topic I know little to nothing about, but have happily twisted to support both this blog and various nifty plot developments in my novels. On the bright side, I’ve heard people say that if you think you understand Quantum Mechanics, you don’t. So, clearly, I’m right up there with the best and the brightest.

At least when I throw a party for time travelers, it’s wildly popular, they show up and bring space drugs. Anyway, that’s the way I remember it. And that one guy was a hell of a bongo player.

So, basically–and anyone who was ever a child will understand this–the rules for small things are different than the rules for large things.

Quantum Mechanics would be the set of rules that appear to–but might not–apply to very, very, very small objects. Yup. That does sound familiar.

It also sounds like a great name for a band–if you just added a little sex–something like the Quantum Tantric Mechanics–or for the guy who fixes your space ship or your time machine when you break your drive shaft somewhere in the horse head nebula.

The last book I picked up on the subject–a used copy– happened to be signed by a science-fiction writer who didn’t write the book.

A-to-Z Challenge: Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic is a basketball team based out of Orlando Florida. Basketball is a game for very, extremely tall people, in which they attempt to launch an orange projectile through a net located somewhere in the lower stratosphere.

I was tall, myself, once… and then, the coach realized I was five years older than he thought, and wasn’t on the team in the first place. My parents chuckled for a week, after I asked for money to play this particular sport, and somewhere along the line, my fascination with it died.

Back to Wikipedia.

Apparently, the team has three whole uniforms. There are diagrams. (Okay, so I’m a fan of sports with more minimalist sartorial tastes. Who isn’t?) Sorry, girls. All three uniforms are basically variations on burlap bags.

Blah, blah, blah… started in 1989, and the team mascot is a dragon called Stuff.

You’d be surprised what a short jump it is from basketball to sexual fetishism on wikipedia.

Nope. I have no attention span for statistics, although there are clearly plenty of them..

If anybody has anything to add, go right ahead. I don’t think this particular M caught my attention the way some of the others have.

 

A-to-Z Challenge: Norma Miller

Norma Miller is a dancer. Lindy Hop way back in the early thirties at the Savoy ballroom in Harlem. She’s a classic, and a little bit of everything else. The woman dances, writes (songs and books), directs films, and acts (film and stage.)

As you might be able to tell, I’m an actual fan. I’d probably be a puddle on the floor, if she ever actually talked to me.

Her autobiography, Swingin’ at the Savoy is well worth the read, and be sure to look up her films. She’s still alive and well at 97, so buy new, and send her a note to tell her how amazing she is.

Here’s a scene from Hellzapoppin’ (With dancers labeled by name.) It’s one of the great dance scenes of all time, but it is from a bygone era, so you may want to give it a quick run-through before you watch it with children.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

A-to-Z Challenge: Lise Meitner

Lise Meitner was a physicist who laid some of the groundwork for the atomic bomb. She studied independently, since the university of the time did not accept female students, and ultimately took an exam to prove she understood the material. I happen to think skipping the hassle of university classes sounds like a swell idea, personally.

She worked with Max Planck and Otto Hahn (sometimes for free), served as a nurse in World War I, before returning to her research in Berlin.

She lost her job as acting head of the chemistry department at the Kaiser Wilhelm institute after the rise of Hitler, and his race laws, and escaped to the Netherlands.

The fact that she did not share the Nobel Prize with Otto Hahn for work on Nuclear Fission is contributed largely to her gender.

Oh, Wait. Today is Sunday.

I just finished my H entry for the a-to-z challenge. It didn’t occur to me that today is Sunday, until I went to look for my H badge, and it wasn’t there.

I’m working my way through the remaining scenes in my novel–in an orderly and premeditated way–and due to the fact that I write them longhand, first, I’m currently drowning in a sea of tiny yellow legal pad pages. At some point, I will have to type.

I found a Twitter tag (I’m sure most people knew before I did.) dedicated to the women who typed up famous male authors’ books, and made other contributions (up to and including writing the damn thing for him.) So, I’ll pass that on before I get out of here for the day: Thanks for Typing

A-to-Z Challenge: Bode Museum

You’ll be happy to know I’m taking the high road, today, and skipping the obvious scatological choice.

It took me a lot of effort to come up with a good, clean, Sunday-School B-M word, so you’ll appreciate the Bode Museum in Berlin. It’s also going to take me a lot of effort not to cheat and do all Museums for this challenge, so appreciate that while you’re at it.

So, let’s be honest. The first thought that popped into my head when I saw this place (the picture of this place) was Hadrian’s Pumpkins.  It has that dome-y, latter day Pantheon look to it. **sigh**

Conveniently, the museum has provided a virtual tour via You Tube.

And as if that weren’t proof enough that the Bode Museum wants to be my BM…. er, my M for the letter B, that is…

Here’s a second B… uh… M for the letter B. An E-normous coin called the Big Maple Leaf was stolen from the museum, and they’re still hoping for the 100 kg lump of gold to be safely recovered.

That more or less has to be a sign, doesn’t it?

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

Thoughts on Matters of Size

Recently, one of the literary agents who is fairly high on my “List” moved to a new agency. I can mention this because agents move around a lot, and by the time I get that query letter written, I’m sure every last one will think I mean them. (Which I do, BTW.)

Moving on, though… the two agencies are very different. One is much bigger than the other. And one of them “specializes” in the area of… well, my manuscript. So, in short, it looks to me like one of them is more personal, and the other is more powerful. The difference between the two agencies’ approach is fairly obvious, when you look at the way they present the same person.

One bio is long, detailed, and funny. And the other is much more… business, business, business.

So, there’s my moment of clarity for the week.

I’m crawling back in my research hole to think about how much the agency specs matter to me, and what my ideal agency would be, although the truth is, that’s probably a gut-reaction type decision, where I already know the answer, and now I’m just figuring out the reasons why.

So, what are your preferences? Small and personal or big and powerful? What makes you feel that way?

Diplomacy Is My Bag, Baby…

I have been maintaining a positive relationship with my co-workers, lately…. by which, what I mean is, keeping my mouth shut. Damn, that’s tough! And–since apparently, I have a very expressive face–going through all kinds of social gymnastics to keep from looking at them when certain topics come up.

And under no circumstances whatsoever am I asking any questions. Questions are pretty much first cousins to fist fighting, don’t you know?

So, the thing about small towns in the United States is that they tend to have ethnicity (Settled by Germans, French, Polish, etc.) And they also tend to have a specific time. You know… the point in history that most of the people immigrated. So, the collective memory of the old country will be focused around one time period. You wind up with entire towns that identify as descendants of countries and towns that no longer exist, and idealize times that passed long ago.

So, I have a co-worker… and she’s the same general ethnicity as most of the town (German) but she’s the wrong time period. (1945? Who the hell immigrates in 1945? Okay… in fairness, there are quite a few 1945’s here. I’ve been told they choose the place based on the number of German names in the phone book.)

I happen to be the wrong ethnicity and the wrong time period, and at one point, she asked me about that. (I can trace my family’s history in the United States all the way back to a Boeing five whole years before I was born.)

Well, you know small talk. It’s not all that long before I’m asking her the same questions.

And between the fact that the answer included the word Ar.gen.tin.a and the general level of defensiveness (I hadn’t uttered a word before she informed me that lots of Germans went to Argentina after the war. Woulda had to start over, anyway. Perfectly normal. Lots and lots and lots and lots…) I’m going to guess that her story (if I ever manage to pry it out of her) is all kinds of interesting.

Right now, and for various reasons, the Weimar Republic keeps coming up in the political commentary, and the creative imagination. And… well, my co-worker always seems to pop up right as I’m reading the news on my morning break.

I’m getting very good at taking a sip of coffee and saying “How ’bout them Huskers?” instead of “So, where were your family during—?”