Bot-tender

I followed my robot vacuum around today. Using it for spot-cleaning, I’d move it, turn it on, and then stand over it like a football coach on OTAs. “Move left,” I’d tell it. “Get that fur. Come on, pick it up, pick it up. That’s it. Good job.”

Doing this presented me with a feeling that I was cleaning, but I also felt empowered. I controlled the bot.

Maybe, too, I was seeing the future. Robots and automation are taking over more jobs each day, with plans for greater shifts on the near-horizon. But bots and automation might require intervention and guidance, as my Roomba does. We may have a new job category opening, bot-tender.

It could be the hot new thing, but I don’t think it’ll pay much.

Tricks of the Mind

I ran into a friend who is also a writer. She and I, along with a few others, used to meet for drinks and conversation. All writers, we talked about what we were writing and our writing processes, and complained about the non-writers and our struggles with them. Non-writers are rarely interested in our WIPs and processes. I can appreciate that. I’ve gone into eyes-glazing-over mode when others have gone into explanations about their processes about things like making soap or quilting.

Our outings were wonderfully healthy and happy times. Everyone in the group moved, though, leaving us to find other avenues or go without. I turned to posts like these to help me cope.

When we encountered each other on the street, we resumed our writing relationship, spending fifteen minutes catching up. Both had elsewhere to go, though, so we had to cut the encounter short.

One thing she revealed was that she’d begun using a typewriter to write. She’d slowly stopped writing as much as she used to write, and thought that part of her issue was that she found herself editing as she wrote when she used a computer. That process curtailed her productivity. Typing the work in progress, at this point essentially defining the concept, helped her because she held tangible evidence in her hand each day.

It was an interesting issue and approach. I can relate. Sometimes, when the writing way becomes denser, as it has in the current chapter in progress, tangible progress seems elusive. I type, think, edit, revise, and repeat. It’s not as much fun, but I discover that I still achieve about fifteen hundred words a day. That’s not an amazing amount, but it’s tangible progress.

Once in a while, I’ve returned to writing in a notebook. I consider that much rawer and intense. I’ve done so when I feel like I’m stuck. I usually felt stuck when multiple paths to pursue were available, paralyzing me with indecision and doubt.

In the end, I applaud her typing effort. Whatever it takes to goad yourself to keep writing, you know?

Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Older

I’ve noticed that as I’ve grown older, the span of years among my friends is much greater. I have several good friends who are older than my parents. That enlivens some conversations when I say, “Mom is getting older.”

I struggle with imagining having a friend who was twenty-five years older than me when I was, say, five, but if I wrote a novel about it, I’d probably call it, Her Oldest Friend.

Floofvine

Floofvine (catfinition) – of or related to a feline deity; supremely catlike.

In use: “With carefully created ears and a long, floofy tail that twitched back and forth, her orange and white Halloween costume was floofvine.”

Tuesday’s Theme Music

When I think of this song, I don’t think, wow, this song has been out for twenty-five years.

But then, I was taken aback that Demi Lovato fulfilled a childhood fantasy by singing with Christina Aguilera. I thought, “What…? Aguilera hasn’t been around that long.”

Yeah, in my mind world, Taylor Swift Twenty-one Pilots, Drake, Ed Sheeran, Imagine Dragons, Adele and Meghan Trainor are all fresh new voices. Hard to believe they’ve been on the scene for years. Even the Bieb has been around almost ten years.

So forgive me for thinking of this old song as new classic rock song. Time changes, when you get to be my age.

Here is Yes with “Owner of A Lonely Heart,” from way back in 1983, before Drake, Adele, Demi, and the rest of them were even born. At least Christina was born when this song came out.

Crank it up like it’s supposed to be heard.

Sizzle

Have you noticed that the world is sizzling more?

No, this isn’t a climate change post about the world’s increasing average temperatures, melting and disappearing glaciers, rising sea levels, and more frequent and violent storms. We can’t do anything about that, so let’s not talk about it.

I’m talking about marketing sizzle. We can’t do anything about it, either, but many people are already talking about climate change. Not many are talking about the marketing sizzle.

The sizzle comes from that expression, “You don’t sell the steak, you sell the sizzle.” Most companies are selling sizzle. We called it vaporware in the software business. It’s the stuff they tell you is so frigging miraculous that you won’t believe you ever did without it, the stuff that rarely lives up to the promise.

Television shows are big on selling the sizzle. “It’s the most mind-blowing episode ever! You won’t want to miss it!” They’re not usually the most mind-blowing episodes ever to me. I can usually get up during the show, go make a sandwich, feed the cats, and answer the phone, come back and find that I’ve missed nothing of substance, only a little sizzle.

Television is a sizzle pioneer, but all the companies are catching on that they’ve got to sell the sizzle. “Look how fast our car is,” many commercials claim, showing people grinning from ear-to-ear as they race through a city like Jason Bourne escaping his government buddies. “Look how much fun it is to drive! Look how free this people feel.” Weird how there’s no other cars in that city.

Beer and soda commercials aren’t slouches when it comes to selling sizzle. They now love to show healthy, athletic people surfing, singing, playing guitars, mountain climbing, or hiking. Then they stop to have a good old cold soda or brew. None of these people have problems. None are diabetic or overweight. The commercial’s slug rarely address the people, though. They speak of the beverage. “The world’s most refreshing beer.”

They state it without evidence. That’s the way it goes. Sizzle doesn’t need evidence. Just fire it up and let the hungry masses know about it, and they will come and buy, like, “The fastest broadband service ever seen.”

The government is proud about how these companies sell sizzle. They don’t want to do anything to reign in the sizzle. These companies are doing the world a public service. If it wasn’t for the sizzle, we’d be worried about things that don’t sizzle, like the wealth imbalance, corrupt politicians, investigating Russians, rebooting our routers against hackers, rising white supremacy movement, white and male privilege, the contamination of our food supplies, the growing plastic islands in our seas, increasing war and tensions in the middle East, our dwindling fresh water supplies, rising cancer rates, the Italian government and EU economy, or police officers attacking people over parking situations, escalating events in fear of phones.

It’s much better to think about the sizzle.

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