Thoughts, maybe

I was going to write more about the waiting game, where it is the peak hour for shoppers and there’s only two cash registers open, or the bank tellers at lunchtime …

On and on.  Nothing will change except for some of us, an increase in grey hair.

Time to move on, and get off my soapbox.

Perhaps we could delve into the online world of customer complaints.

It’s an interesting place,  when I want to buy something, or see something that is too good to be true, I hit the computer, dial-up google, and go into investigative mode.

But, here’s the thing,

The only people who go online, by and large, are there to complain. Yes, there are a few positives, like out of five stars, then the numbers show up for four stars, three stars, etc.

You get the impression that the owner of the product or service had written several 5-star good reports to counterbalance the negativity, which sometimes all belabor the same point.

For a long time, when I saw the bad reports and very few good reports I thought the product was no good, but recently, when talking to someone whose product was for sale, and had a few bad reviews, they said if a customer is satisfied, why did they need to file a report.  People had expressed their good opinion but had not added a review.

That might well be the case.

As an example, I looked at several river cruises in Europe, and the operators.  I then went online to check the customer ratings because these river cruises are very expensive, so you need to know you’re getting value for money.

Nearly all of the reviews were bad, but lacked any credible numbers.  I’m sure more than 46 people have been on those river cruises, considering how popular they are.

But, those that were on the site were critical of the food, the hygiene of the staff, the inability to get more than 1 ‘free’ drink with lunch or dinner, and substitute boats that were terrible.

Against this, however. is the word of mouth reports we have had from many people and is they are excellent.  So the theory of satisfied customers not bothering to add a review holds up.

Food and wine were the heart of this cruise, as well as cabin comfort, and the last thing you need is to be sick for the duration of the cruise.

I have to say, after going on the internet, I was put off.

Perhaps I might revise my policy of looking for information on the internet.  It seems that it sometimes can be quite misleading.

A strange hour of the night

It’s 1:20 am on this side of the world.

It’s a time where most people are in bed asleep, but it’s the curse of being a writer that I’m sitting here, cursing the keyboard, and wondering where the next word, sentence, paragraph, page, chapter is coming from.

Left field?

Maybe it will come down in the next shower of rain, which, by the way, is part of a cell where we have light rain turning into heavy rain turning into torrential rain, then becoming drizzle like before there is no more rain.

Then, repeat.

It’s distracting, it’s peaceful, it is loud, I can hearing pouring down the path beside the house like a babbling brook.

OK, you get it, the rain is distracting.

This time of night is usually productive, a sudden thought that came to me in the shower is now being fleshed out as the next major scene in the book.

Someone is being shot, run over, tortured for information, or laughing in the face of the hero, or heroine, just before he or she learns a lesson in not aggravating the hero or heroine, as the case may be.

Maybe the rain will help, someone is standing outside, in the rain, getting very wet, running surveillance. Maybe they are in a car, and the rain is so deafening they can’t hear themselves think, or their boss on the phone telling them to go home.

Maybe I should just go to bed, and start again tomorrow, oops, in the morning!

Conversations with my cat

Reading to correct errors and grammar

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This is Chester, he helps with the proofreading.

It’s not his favorite job, and truth be told he’d rather be outside being chased by a dog.  But that’s why he’s not allowed outside.

He mistakenly wanders into my writing room ready to take up a spot on the seat near the window.

I watch him, and he’s pretending not to care if I’m watching him.  A wide yawn, and a dour look in my direction.  Yes, I can hear him now, “do your worst.”

For a moment while I read, trying to the right amount of inflection and accent into the voices of the various characters, I realize that some of the conversational pieces seem a little awkward.

I think, judging from the expression on Chester’s, face he agrees

Stilted, forced, or ‘mate, you’ve got a bloody awful accent, that sounded nothing like an Italian using English as a second language’.

OK, so I can’t write accents very well.  Note to self, find an Italian and spend some time talking to them.

The conversation needs a little rework, moving on.

The next part is a little descriptive, just to set the scene.

‘Flowery’ is the word Chester uses.  Flowery?  It isn’t describing a garden.  Oh, overly descriptive with too many comparisons.

What’s wrong with the sky is as blue as the ocean?

Have you seen the ocean?

Yes.

I doubt it.  The ocean is green.

How do you know?  This cat is starting to annoy me.

A gentle shrug, he gets up off the floor and heads towards the door.  A condescending look over his shoulder and he’s gone.

What’s the definition of madness?  Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

It’s official.  I’m mad!

Thoughts, maybe

Waiting

It seems that we spend nearly as much time waiting as some of us do sleeping.  In fact, I’ve been known to be sleeping while waiting.

What is it in this era of mechanization and computerization that we still have to wait.  Is it the human element that is still holding us back?

But, hang on, isn’t it the human element that creates the mechanization and computerization?  Perhaps we are building in redundancy so that we are not replaced by the very things we are creating to make our lives easier?

We don’t have robots who can perform the same tasks as a GP doctor we still need the human factor, and since one size does not fit all, no consultation can ever be fit into a specific time frame so there will always be waiting especially as the day wears on.

We cannot automate phone call answering except for the part where you are put in a queue and told your call is important while forgetting you are there, waiting.

There will always be hundreds of calls in a queue and only a few people answering the phone.  Once again only a real person can respond to the randomness of callers questions.

Artificial intelligence is not quite at the level it can cover as many bases as a human brain.  It might not, ever, though we still seem to believe it’s possible in science fiction.

Then there is the time we spend waiting at traffic lights, and then, even when the lights are with us, in traffic jams.  We are still stumped by trying to find an all-conquering answer to moving masses of people, either by the roads or by public transport.

The latter is all too frequently suffering delays and congestion due to the number of services and decaying networks and infrastructure, all of which is only going to get worse, with, of course, longer delays and more waiting.

Maybe the answer is to work from home but sadly the internet, that so-called answer to all our off-site networking, is not going to cope, and in fact, in this country, our latest update is a retrograde step on speed and availability, ie more waiting and less work.

Waiting, it seems we are stuck with it whether we like it or not.  Good thing then our lives are longer.  But, if we delve into the mystery of longer lives now against what they were back when there was less waiting, maybe we still have the same amount of life, and the fact we’re living longer is negated by all the waiting.

I’m sure we didn’t have to wait very long for anything a hundred years ago.

Just saying.

The word ‘double’

I was watching a TV program and the words ‘double standards’ kept being thrown about with little attention being paid to what it really means.

Like statistics, words can be used in any manner to support or debunk what someone else will call a fact.

Fact, of course, is another word that’s thrown around like a football.

But double standards, what does it really mean?

“a rule or principle which is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups”

Put simply, if you own a cat, and I hate cats, I’m likely to say to you I like cats because of who you are and what I might want from you.

It has far more reaching consequences in reality because some of us might profess they regard everyone as being equal ‘in the eyes of the Lord’ but have a very different private view.

Personally, I believe everyone should be treated equally.  The problem is, a great many people around me do not, and it seems that I am slowly becoming a minority in my own country.

How do we rectify this?

I don’t think we can.  Politicians are now running scared in their own constituencies because of the increasing multicultural population, and cannot be seen to favor one group or another.

Until lobby groups come into play, campaign funding to the politician is discussed, and very subtly, votes are bought.

Does your political representative work on the basis of double standards?

Maybe it’s time to find out before it’s too late, and you too will be living in shanty huts on a reservation.

Conversations with my cat

Character development

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This is Chester, he thinks he is an expert on people

He has meandered in checking out what I’m doing, or maybe he’s here because the room is cooler.

He gives me the ‘What are you doing’ look.

It doesn’t matter how many times I’m a writer, it’s like talking to a brick wall.

I say I’m working on developing a new character.

Name?

I’m thinking of John.

A shake of the head and the eyes roll.  Can you be a little more inventive, like, well, Chester?

Predictable.  How about Xavier?

Would you call your kid Xavier?  He’s going to have a very rough time of it at school.  Unless this character has a tortured soul.

Good point.  How about William?

Bill, that’s what you get in the mail.  Another shake of the head.  You’re not very good at this, are you?

Apparently not.  Haven’t you got some mice to catch?

He yawns, then curls up on the seat.  Wake me when you’ve got some better ideas.

Maybe not.  I’ve come up with a name, Daniel, and I don’t care what he thinks.

For now.

Questions

These are what can dumfound the strongest man, and terrify the most resolute woman.

Simple sentences of words placed in a particular order that designed to elicit a response.

Of course, no one tells you that your life may depend upon the answer you give.

So, when a man is asked a simple question like, ‘do I look good in this dress’, there are so many wrong answers that no matter what he says, the marriage, relationship, romance is over.

Similarly, that simple question, ‘how do you feel’, can be like opening the floodgates, or met with stony silence, or, more than likely, met with a dismissive ‘I feel good’.

There are questions asked in examination papers, the sort that is based on the year’s work, or what was supposedly covered in study groups.  As children, these questions hold varying amounts of terror, if you have failed to study.

There are questions asked at job interviews, and sometimes these don’t quite make any sense. For instance, ‘If you were in a store serving a customer and a man came in brandishing a gun, what would you do.’  I’m not sure what answer they are looking for.

Then there is that terrifying question you hoped would never be asked, ‘what do think your weaknesses are?’  I was fine with strengths, that’s easy, but weaknesses, that’s where the job application ended.

There is one other that has a simple answer but it often met with silence, a witticism, but rarely the truth.  Asking a woman, ‘what is your age?’

That’s a romance killer right there.  Right up there with, ‘where were you on the night of the 14th between the hours of 6pm and 12 pm.  You can hardly say you were in bed with your best friends wife, can you?

Can you see the bare bones of a mystery coming on?

20 questions for each suspect and witness, if any, then plot the crime from these testimonies.

I need a few days away from my current book and it seems a good idea for a short story.