A friend of mine eagerly confessed that he had just set up a twitter account, but had not yet worked it out. He was confused about when to use #hashtags and when to use the @ sign.
The @ sign was pretty easy to explain; its role, like that in an email, is to denote an address for someone. The #hashtag I thought I had sussed, and explained it was used when you wanted to join in on a conversation or if you wanted to expose your comment to others who were watching that #hashtag. He asked me to give an example, so I gave one that I commonly use; Chapter three finally finished, so glad I #amwriting.
NOOOoooooo! Bemoaned another friend with an #eyeroll, that’s not how you use it. The #hashtag isn’t incorporated into the sentence, you append it to the end to expand on what you have just said: A whole day shopping with the girlfriend #torture #thethingswedo
I then expressed my opinion that with only 144 characters you don’t have a lot to play with, so I couldn’t see what was wrong with incorporating my #hashtag into the sentence. At which point I was informed that I was ‘doing it wrong’.
It struck me as bizarre that people would want to put rules upon one of the ultimate tools of free speech. It’s okay though, I’ve been #torturing him with #inappropriately placed #hashtags all week.
I often think I have the best friends and family in the world, and last night confirmed it. A group of my nearest and dearest surprised me with a birthday celebration that had been months in the making. And I genuinely had no idea until I walked through the door.
So I want to say thank you so much to my family for conniving on so many levels, and setting up such an elaborate sting. I’m sorry for the couple of spanners I inadvertently threw in the works as I changed plans over the last few weeks, but from what people were saying, that just added a bit of adventure to the conspiracy.
Thank you to my friends, some of whom travelled a long way to be there last night, and those who couldn’t make it sent beautiful and funny birthday wishes that made me realise I am just so ridiculously lucky.
Finally, thank you to the god of post-30s hangovers who seems to randomly apportion head-splitters and stomach turners based on some mysterious alignment of the stars rather than volumes of booze drunk, because despite the multiple champagnes I put away last night, I was not made to suffer this morning.
This week my office did a personality test. I passed, I have a personality, but it unnerved me how close it came to who I am based on some forty random questions. What alarmed me even more was those who protested that the test got them wrong were wrong about the test getting them wrong. The test knew them better than they knew themselves. So I guess I have to conclude the bits I thought were wrong are perhaps not so wrong.
The point of it all was to get us to understand each other a bit better and help us with our team communication. I don’t know that it really will, we have been working together for a long time and pretty much had everyone pegged. It was only the outliers themselves that were surprised about their position in the group, the rest of us were always nodding.
But it got me thinking. Are we really so formulaic? Supposedly I could do this test at any time in my adult life and get approximately the same result. It is only my emotional score that could change (I was the outlier here, having the least emotion in the group. I like to think I pour all my emotion into the page and don’t waste it on the frivolities of real life).
I felt a little like a robot after the session, but clearly that didn’t upset me much as I am a bit lacking on the emotional front, but it unnerved me. While we are all being stars of our own movies, we like to think the best of everything human is secretly lurking in us somewhere and when we don’t express it that is just because of circumstance.
This test makes me wonder if maybe the truth is some of us are just assholes, some people are inherently generous, some people will always be driven and some are just passing time, and this won’t change. Is this why it takes a disaster to make some people re-evaluate their belief systems? I wonder if anyone has done one of these personality tests before and after a life-changing event?
I like to believe we can all grow into better versions of ourselves, but then again, my personality type was a bit of an idealist…
Hello, my name is Natalie, and I am a bookaholic. Last week I bought three books. This week I bought three books. I also borrowed one from the library. I have now returned it.
We have the best kind of curse near me; a cheap, well-stocked, high-turnover second-hand bookshop. They have so much stock that they even have a freebies rack out the front with slightly damaged or sat-in-the-shop-too-long books.
Their kid’s books (including YA) generally range from 50 cents to a dollar, adult books from about four to six dollars (even for hardbacks). I generally spend about $10 when I visit, and now my bookshelf is bulging. Even going to two and three layers of books deep it is full.
For any of you who are in Adelaide, this book shop is called The Book Shed and it lives at the back of the car park for the shops in Stirling, near Apex park. I would highly recommend you drop by, unless you have flown in and you didn’t pay for luggage. You’ll need it for your return trip if you visit the Book Shed.
What’s even better is that all the money goes to charity and all the workers are volunteers who are also lovers of books. They are always happy to have a bookey chat, or help you find what you are looking for. It’s like going to a library where you pay the late fees up front and never have to worry about returning the books.
Which now lands me in a wonderful dilemma; how on earth am I going to read all of these books? I might just have to give up television, housework and maybe eating so I can get all my reading in. What a wonderful problem to have.
My name is Natalie, and I’m a bookaholic, but this is one addiction that I have no desire to kick.
Back in the 80’s I was in the Ash Wednesday bushfires. I didn’t lose my house, but my school got evacuated, we saw the flames in the distance, and my Mum and I had to prepare the house (tennis balls in the gutters then lots of water everywhere) in preparation to flee – my father did not come up and help us because all the roads into the hills were cut off by fire, including the freeway.
That was fear.
This week, for the first time ever recorded in May, a fire raged through the Adelaide hills. It was no Ash Wednesday, but it has burned down buildings and killed countless native animals. The smoke has been so strong at times that smoke detectors are going off in people’s houses around me. This morning ash peppered all the spider-webs around my house. Despite knowing how far away the fire is, it sets off a churn of uncomfortable emotions in my stomach.
What truly amazes me is that while I sit comfortably miles away in my home and get nervous, there are staff and volunteers going out and risking their lives; driving down tracks which may get cut off; going into areas that are as dry as tissue paper with flames and cinders raining around them as the smoke turns the day into an eerie twilight.
The Country Fire Service (CFS), like a million other quiet organisations that rely on volunteers, are what makes living in our community possible, and I don’t know that we really appreciate how lucky we are to have them until we need them. They are such wonderful, courageous, generous people that you can’t help but rediscover your faith in humanity.
Just for the record, as of my writing this on Saturday night, it has just started to rain and the fire is contained, let’s hope it is enough to let the fire fighters get a well-earned rest.
Recently I have been thinking a lot about the universal drive to find happiness. There are happiness tests for kids, happiness scores for whole countries and in any self-help section of the book store you will see a whole shelf of various guides to happiness. We are becoming a little obsessed.
It was only when I read ‘The Antidote – happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking’ by Oliver Burkeman that I considered that perhaps we should not be looking for happiness, but rather contentment? Happiness, like sadness, is an extreme in the spectrum of emotions. It is something that we pass through, and it can often be triggered by external factors over which we have no control. Is it natural, or even possible to be in a state of happiness all the time?
For the first time in about 15 years I am in a place of contentment with my work. I enjoy what I do, it challenges me each day, and I get to mix with a lot of intelligent and friendly people. I don’t bound out of bed each morning with joy in my heart and a song on my tongue, but I don’t dread the alarm and prey for traffic congestion on my way in either. I am content, and I have to admit, I like it.
So I decided that contentedness is something we could strive for instead of happiness. Having reached this conclusion I thought my pondering could come to an end and I could move onto the next big question in life… Until Monday.
Sunday night for me is usually mellow-out time, but last Sunday I wrote a flash fiction story from start to end. I went straight into editing it, and by bed-time I was pretty pleased with what I had produced.
Then Monday morning came. I was doing the same work, with the same people, but I was restless. Really restless. Achingly restless. Each time I walked between meetings, or as I watched my lunch spinning around the microwave, all I could think of was that I’d rather be writing.
I really like my job, I do, but I think that drive for happiness is what makes me sit down, turn the computer on and write. Writing does make me happy, even if only fleetingly, but it is a wonderful feeling that you can get addicted to.
I know several writers now who have ‘made it’ and were able to give away their day jobs. I’m under no illusions that these writers are happy all the time, or even any happier on average than I am now, but I’m sure they get those moments of happiness when a cool idea hits them, or they write those magical two words ‘The End’ –and I would like to feel that more often.
So really, what’s the harm in chasing happiness as well as contentment? I think I’ll try for both!
Maybe there are some down sides to being a collector of end of the world predictions. Several of them coincided last week and there was just a part of me wondering if I would have to worry about finishing off all my novels after all.
Most of us heard about the near-miss asteroid long before it had its little fly-by with earth, but on the whole the media were pretty quiet about it. Some underground groups were saying the near-miss was going to be an extinction level event, but the world governments were keeping it quiet so our last days would not be spent in chaos.
It was easy to dismiss them as a bunch of crack-pots (while secretly working out the fastest way home should said chaos descend while I was at work). But then the other end of the world prediction clicked into place; the pope resigned.
It wasn’t so much the resigning bit that set up the portent (being the first time in over 600 years it would be hard to argue with that prediction) but in 1139, a man called St. Malachy predicted the list of popes between then and the end of the world. His predictions have been uncannily accurate and the second to last pope named was Benedict.
Fortunately the election of the new pope has been set for a date long after the asteroid near-miss. Had it occurred before I might have started sussing out where my closest crackpot group was hiding out in the hills and petitioned to become a new recruit!
Then the Russian meteorite happened, only when it was first reported, due to the vast numbers of videos, it was said to be a ‘meteorite shower’. That’s the beginning of the Mayan end of times, and let’s face it, that date wasn’t so long ago and our calendars are known to be inaccurate…
But it wasn’t a meteorite shower, the pope hasn’t left the Vatican yet and the asteroid has sailed pass without so much as a puff of smoke, but it has led me to think quite seriously about something; I need to turn my interests toward fluffy bunnies, doily making, or cup cakes, because last week was just a little too freaky for my liking!
I didn’t like the theme month. While I did like talking about flash fiction, I didn’t like being obliged to do so. I read a great book in January that I wanted to tell you about, but I couldn’t because it wasn’t flash fiction. I had a really interesting conversation with a friend about sequels, which I wanted to share with you, but I couldn’t because it wasn’t flash fiction.
I know, I could have written the posts and then used them some time in the future when (if) they did fit into my theme, but what would happen if I had some amazing insight or piece of inside information about flash fiction given to me THIS month? I wouldn’t be able to share it with you because the flash fiction theme was done in January.
Besides, some ‘themes’ just didn’t warrant four blogs, a single post would be enough. So I won’t be going on with the theme months any more, it was an experiment, I’m glad I tried it, but let’s just put it behind us now and pretend it never happened.
In an effort to do something non-flash fiction related, I added a new page to my site to track the books I’m reading. I have always believed that a writer must always read and read widely. So now you can follow what I deem as reading widely, and please feel free to suggest books. I’m also going to add the books as soon as I pick them up, so you will also get to see what I don’t finish, when that happens I’ll try to explain why.
I hope you had a great first month of the year, and that you managed to stick to your resolutions if you made them.
I promised myself that I would get a bookcase before the end of the year. I might have been cutting it a bit fine on the timing, but I have finally got one. After nearly a year of living with books piled in my wardrobe, on my study floor and under my desk, I (at last) have somewhere to put them where I am not at risk of falling over them.
The funny thing is that even though I’ve been thinking about it for nearly a year, it took me over two hours to put my books into the shelves –and I’m still not happy with the result. I just didn’t know how to group them.
There are the obvious groupings; horror, sci fi, fantasy, but even those categories left me scratching my head about where a particular book actually fit. When I added literary fiction, popular fiction and non-fiction (travel, biography, biology, finance, computing, writing, weird UFO and crop-circle stuff) I found too many books could fit into nearly ALL the categories.
And don’t even get me started on trying to keep the books of one author together, have you seen how many genres Stephen King has dabbled in?!?
Maybe I should have done what a friend of mine did when she put her books in the shelf… she put them in colour and size order. There is no denying it looked great, but if you wanted to find a book you would be in trouble if you couldn’t remember what colour the cover was.
- The final stack – for now
I hope you finished all the tasks you set for your 2012, if not there’s no better time than now for writing your 2013 task list. Have a safe and happy New Year!
Yes, we survived. Who would have thought? Now I’ll be eating canned tuna and rice for the next six weeks, but it is a small price to pay for the world not ending.
So I’ve decided to celebrate the new b’ak’tun (that’s what it’s called when it rolls around from 188.8.131.52.19. to 184.108.40.206.0. in the Mayan Long Count calendar) by starting all my New Year’s resolutions early. A new b’ak’tun seems so much more significant than just another new year.
Thus far I have been pretty good, but the first few days are often like that. Some of my resolutions are going to be a bit tricky to stick with through Christmas, but if I can stay with them over the next week then they might stay with me well into 2013.
One of my resolutions is to start putting some structure around this blog, so January is going to be dedicated to Flash Fiction – writing it, reading it, and appreciating it. I’m a big fan of flash fiction, and probably 70% of my publications are flash, so I’ll share with you what I can.
As for the rest of the year, well I’ll think about that… Structure doesn’t mean having to be anal about my planning, it probably just means less koala photos, unless I do a koala theme month.
So have a Merry Christmas, and be sure to stop and think about how lucky we are. It is very easy to lose sight of how blessed we really are in comparison to so many on this planet.
And finally; congratulations on surviving the nopocalypse!
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