Time, Hackers, Projects & Watching

I’m late to the party. It’s been a busy few months.  Time is always my scarcest commodity. I sit down to write today and notice the calendar on my wall is still on January. Ooops!

I’m four months into the new year before starting the traditional New Year blog entry. Okay then, make the best of it. I’ll start a unique tradition of writing my New Year post in April, after having given myself a few months to see how the new year is working out!

Thoughts on a New Year

new yearI don’t do resolutions. I’ve never been very good at them – so it seems ridiculous to set myself up for failure in that way. The popular weight loss/diet objectives are lost on me. I know myself better than that!

The other cliché self-delusions drop to the side and disappear as well – no get-rich-quick schemes, no rearranging my personality, and I’m certainly not going to promise to be nicer to others or better at anything!

Marking time is a way for us to analyze and understand ourselves and our world. The New Year, like a birthday or wedding anniversary, can be a time to celebrate where we are, the gains we’ve made; or it can be a time of sadness, marking the loss of others from our lives or the promise of potential we failed to fulfill or attain. It’s a ritual we love. A way of considering who we’ve been and where we’re going.

So, here’s my takeaway:  I’m satisfied with last year and ready for the remainder of this year. Here’s to a new chapter in the book of me that is still being written. Happy Belated New Year!

A Plague of Hackers

Hackers, who I’m convinced are either the evil Jinn of legend or demons from the pits of Hell, have plagued me relentlessly this year. My Yahoo and WordPress accounts are inundated with Acacia Berry Ad emails or other such nonsense with links that friends, coworkers and readers inadvertently open. So, a note to all, I Will NEVER send you links in an email or post a post with ONLY a link. These high-jinks are the work of evil invaders! Beware and do not open or follow!

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I’m fighting this horde of evil attackers as best I know how. My accounts have so many levels of protection that I need a notebook filled with directions to use them!

Several friends have mentioned the linking of various social media accounts as an entry point for the evil Jinn. Others say certain astrological signs predestines one to attack! There are tons of crazy theories out there too! Me? I’m simpler than that, I’m here to use the technology not to spend all my time chasing down the forces of evil.

So, I’m hopeful we’ll soon assign this problem to some of our greater minds for the solving. You know, the same guys who figured out how to kill the zombies. Maybe in the near future we’ll be able to buy a Demon-destroying Hacker Survival Kit. With luck, it might be on the market by the end of the year!

Projects Public and Private

A writer works on projects both public and private.

The Blog is a public project – ideally, a straight-from-the-gut type of endeavor that gains a readership due to style and quirkiness as much as content.

Professional Bloggers may disagree with me, along with those in the business and marketing communities, because they see the Blog as the newest, most powerful form of written media in the modern world. They are entitled to that belief. However, as an old fashioned journalistic writer, I see the Blog as a different entity – one as much about style and positioning as content and relevance. It is immediate, live in real-time, and Public by nature.

Literary or images (16)journalistic work – such as short stories, essays, memoirs, and novels – are by necessity private projects, requiring hours of alone-time staring out windows and writing three sentences a day for months on end.

A good window is well-known to be the number one requirement for a successful writer. Mental illness, alcoholism, and creativity are always fighting for their places in the kingdom hierarchy (and it’s anyone’s guess which of them wins on a given day), but the window is always the King.

I’ve spent the past eighteen months in front of my window working on those private projects. Writing, crafting, editing, re-writing pieces for publication. It is a consummation that continues and makes me realize the need to apologize to my blog readers – forgive me this time I must take away from public writing.

Thank you for continuing to read when I do post – I will try to write a few more pithy, remarkable pieces for your amusement as time permits!

warningWarning! Writer at work! Periods of delirium and a general withdrawal from human interaction may occur.

 

Watching: It’s What Writers Do

I have a new GSM at work who is delightful and funny. (He’s also intelligent and witty…ahem, in case you’re reading this Charles!)

He prides himself on accurately “reading” people and has mentioned this skill several times.  Of course, always a good sport, I felt it necessary to test his abilities.

I asked him last week to share his impressions of me. There were some interesting revelations, but the primary thing he said that struck a chord was that I enjoy 55“watching.”

It was a profound observation because on my “day job” I perform in a vibrant, peacock stage personae. The Colleen of the sales floor a very different person from the Marissa of my writing career. Score a solid point for Charles! Most people are blinded by the false eyes on the feathers and miss the deeper truth of who I am as a complete person!

I cannot remember a time before watching was central to my character. I watch and listen and pay attention to everything. It’s what I did before I ever understood that it’s what writer’s do. It’s one of those “things” that makes a writer different. I believe it might be the most integral and important skill to develop as a writer.

Language, mannerisms, movement — all are necessary elements of story. And all writing is in some sense story. Consider the trend in recent years toward “Creative Nonfiction” in the journalistic realm. Even our news stories are STORIES! We want a little back story, some dramatization of events, and some quirky personal details with our news now, Thank You.

The man burglarized an apartment and stole a necklace, but was quickly arrested by police no longer satisfies our hunger for story.

Instead:

The young man with biker tattoos on his left arm, a sleeve of skulls and roses, stalked the Burrows house for three hours before finally making his move. He pulled the heavy rock from the bag, smashed the picture window in the living room to bits, then crawled inside, snagging his jeans on the ragged glass. The pearl necklace, Mrs. Burrows most prized relic from a long-dead grandmother, was on top of the cherry chest. The culprit snatched it up and ran down the hall and out the back door. He was apprehended a block away by police. A concerned neighbor wburg2ho heard the glass break dialed 911 and reported the incident just in time.

Now that, folks, is news the way we want to read it! We no longer want reporters who reports the facts. Rather, we want writers who make the facts interesting by way of story techniques. This requires the skill of watching, the ability to see the most minute of details, and then the further ability to transfer what was seen by the writers eyes and imprinted in his brain to the reader.

A Writer learns as a child does – by mimicry. A tone or dialect is heard, sounded out, memorized, and then recreated. The details of a scene – the type and location of a tattoo, the style of clothes someone wears, a particular twitch or movement – are noticed, memorized, recreated. The nuances of everyday life, people, and culture are captured and frozen on the page for others to share.

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Isn’t it amazing how our eyes watching become the seeing eyes of another?

Isn’t it wonderful that we are able to capture the world inside and outside of ourselves through words. Then, share that with other people regardless of time and place. How very beautiful is the eternal.

Happy Writing, Happy Living… Marissa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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15 Recent Bank Scandals That Show Just How Powerless You Really Are

Thought Catalog

1. In September 2013,JP Morgan Chase announced they will pay $970 million in fines to US and British regulators and made a rare admission of wrongdoing over action involved in last year’s “London Whale” trading scandal. Additionally, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that JPMorgan Chase and Chase Bank have agreed to pay refunds totaling $309 million to more than 2.1 million customers after the Office of Comptroller or Currency  “found that Chase engaged in unfair billing practices for certain credit card ‘add-on products’ by charging consumers for credit monitoring services that they did not receive.”

2. The LIBOR scandal came into focus last year when it was discovered that banks were allegedly falsely inflating or deflating their interest rates so in order to profit from trades, or to give the impression that they were more creditworthy than they actually were.The Libor is an average interest rate calculated through…

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Are You Leading?

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There’s a neat little post by Vineet Nayar over at HBR Blog Network worth checking out on The Differences Between Managers and Leaders. It’s a quick read covering three main differences:

1. Are you Counting Value or Creating Value?

2. Do you create Circles of Influence or Circles of Power?

3. Are you Leading People or Managing Work?

 

The topic of leadership v/s management is more prominent than ever. The old belief in these being two different terms for the same thing is outdated, unrealistic, and untrue. Most employees are looking for true leadership from their management. It’s up to us to lead the troops we have as best we can. Nayar’s example of Ghandi is excellent and I totally agree that we need more people in these positions that can offer leadership with vision and inspiration.

Well, what are you waiting for? Follow the link and read his post!

Categories: Psychology | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

A 20-Year-Old’s Ode To The Motor City

Hooray for some positive talk about Detroit!

Thought Catalog

“You’re staying in Michigan this summer?” “Really? Detroit?” “How did that happen?” “But…why?”

They say that a great relationship brings out your best qualities. You become a better person when you’re together; the most amazing parts of your identity are empowered and encouraged in their presence. You feel happier, stronger and more important when they’re around. The relationship adds a whole new significance to the life you once considered complete. I’m in a relationship with Detroit. That’s why.

Entering into the second decade of life is a rocky transition. The quarter-life crisis reveals itself and exposes the most daunting and unanswerable questions. What am I doing here? Do I matter? Can I, will I, ever do anything worthwhile? It’s inevitable that at some point we all become swallowed by a cloud of fear and uncertainty about the future; we’re at a cross-road where the path ahead is no longer paved…

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The essence of intelligence is feedback

Mind Hacks

Here’s last week’s BBC Future column. The original is here, where it was called “Why our brains love feedback”. I  was inspired to write it by a meeting with artist Tim Lewis, which happened as part of a project I’m involved with : Furnace Park, which is seeing a piece of reclaimed land in an old industrial area of Sheffield transformed into a public space by the University.

A meeting with an artist gets Tom Stafford thinking about the essence of intelligence. Our ability to grasp, process and respond to information about the world allows us follow a purpose. In some ways, it’s what makes us, us.

In Tim Lewis’s world, bizarre kinetic sculptures move, flap wings, draw and even walk around. The British artist creates mechanical animals and animal machines – like Pony, a robotic ostrich with an arm for a neck and a poised…

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Nowhere | Tin House

Subaru of America

Subaru of America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Here’s a cute Friday Flash Fiction from Tin House on a Subaru! Funny! Nowhere | Tin House.

 

 

 

Categories: On the Road, Psychology | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Car Dealer Ordered to Pay| Brooklyn Daily Eagle

In what New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called “a victory for consumers” a judge has ordered the owner of four Bay Ridge car dealerships to pay back a total of $294,500 to customers after it was found that the auto dealer had engaged in deceptive sales tactics. (Read the full story at | Brooklyn Daily Eagle.)

Categories: Dealer Operations, Legal | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Just for fun…..

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Credit Report Errors Costly to Consumers

There’s an article over at The LA Times that brings bad news for consumers. A recent study shows errors cost consumers money, and there were more errors found during the study than expected.

While the 26% error rate was high, not all of the errors resulted in changes in credit scores that would cost consumers money, the study said. Of the 2,968 credit reports studied — about three for each consumer — about 2.2% had errors that were likely to change their credit score enough to cause them to pay higher rates for loans and other products.

Read more at: http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-credit-report-error-federal-trade-commission-20130211,0,864079.story

 

 

 

 

Categories: Marketing, TV Commercials | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Hypnotic Sales Techniques

A different take on sales – worth the read!

Dehypnotize

Sales can be a very grueling process…when you’re not making money.  However, when your mojo is clicking and the sales are coming in there’s no better feeling.  How do the most successful sales people do it?  I worked in sales for a number of years and made a pretty decent living at it, I wish I would’ve known then what I know now about human behavior.  We were required to attend sales training seminars and the speaker would go through the processes of how to identify a potential client, when to talk and when to shut up and so on.  They provided valuable information but they never significantly improved my numbers so I just went for the free vacations…thanks!

First realize that whenever you talk to someone you’re selling them something or they’re selling you.  Whether it’s an idea or convincing you that what they’re saying is right, it’s all sales.  So, how do we incorporate this…

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