Archive for the ‘#mondayblogs’ Tag

Quality Improvements   3 comments

October 16, 2017 – Things you want to see change in your industry.

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This is a hard post for me because I don’t consider myself to be much of a prophet and I subscribe to the “be careful what you wish for” philosophy of life. “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched” and “I really didn’t mean THAT” are cautionary for a reason.

So what changes would I “want” to see in my industry?

Oh, boy!

Related imageHigher quality books by independent authors would make my #1 spot on the list. Conversely, I’d like to see all the “quality doesn’t matter” crowd take an extended vacation. Go edit your books and learn how to format and come back in a year. That should leave the minority slice of the indie field free to really surprise people with the quality of our books. I don’t fear competition from high quality books. I fear being lost in a sea of poor quality, so that it is hard to break the surface and shine forth as a truly worthwhile author.

More collaborative marketing efforts. I don’t know how that would work itself out and there are certainly authors doing that now with bundles, freebies, samplers and collaborative ads. I’m always willing to cross-promote on my blog. I think there is power in numbers, especially for people who have limited advertising budgets. I am not a great idea person in the marketing arena, but I would certainly join with authors who wanted to do something. I just wish it were easier to connect and the quality was high enough that you could be assured of a good showing.

A reduction in social media. I’ve never been a social media warrior. I feel the huge time suck. Unfortunately, because everybody else is doing it, I sort of have to … but I think that social media mania may be waning. I hear of some authors reducing their social accounts. I see that as a good sign. Right now, we’re all shouting into the echo chamber and canceling each other out. Surely there is a better way to do this. What? I don’t know. Someone make a suggestion.

Getting away from paid review services. As a reader, I’ve never trusted them. An author/publisher paid for those glowing kudos. I’ve never bought a book on the recommendation of Publishers Weekly and I never will. I do, however, check out what readers have to say about the book.

Authors getting real about time lines. There are tons of books being published daily, so nobody should expect to be on the Times Best Sellers list two days later. Our books may sell well, eventually, but it’s going to be a more long haul affairs with a lot of work before it happens. Spend your budget dollars wisely. Don’t blow it all in the first week. Plan for the long haul. The converse of this is that advertising venues might want to come down on their prices a bit because it will now take two, three or four ads to get the same sales as one used to garner.

I’d love to see online editing tools for published ebooks, so typos can be fixed without having to re-upload files.

How about a place for matching writers with cover artists, editors, beta readers, and formatters?

The book discovery process could be refined. Amazon recommends titles once you have a buying history with them, but I remember the old days of accidentally discovering a great book while browsing the stacks of the local bookstore. Surely, something could be created to mimic that in the digital universe.

I want to see new genres. I’m not saying let’s get rid of the old genres, but that more choice is a good thing. I’m old enough to remember when fantasy was grouped with science fiction and marketed as science fiction because the Big 5 thought they had to trick people into reading fantasy. Now, it’s a standalone genre that has several subcategories.

I think that’s about it. No, I’m not offering any solutions to how we achieve these improvements. I think Amazon probably has some IT guys who can work on some of it.

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Posted October 16, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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What Tools Do I Use?   4 comments

October 9, 2017 – My favorite business resources.

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“Real” businesses have resources and business plans. For my husband’s maintenance company, the resources are, largely, his skills and licensing, his truck, and a Google ad. He asks me to do flyers for him occasionally and he has his business card pinned in places where people might be looking for companies that do maintenance. Above all, he tries to treat his existing customers well so they will keep calling him and let their friends know that he does good work.

Image result for image of writers resourcesA lot of people feel authors are not “real” businesses. I struggle with this concept too, because although my books (mostly) pay for themselves, I’m investing my own money in getting them going. Still, I am a business … or my books are. What resources do I have and use and which are my favorites?

First, there are the resources I really can’t stand. Twitter. Ugh! But it does sell books, so …. I am marginally less turned off by Facebook, but …. It’s not that I hate the people I interact with on social media. I actually enjoy interacting with fans and friends when there is interaction. It’s that I hate the time sucks both represent. But they are necessary for marketing books in this day and age, so ….

Amazon is probably my most useful resource. KDP allows some promotion and, hey, self-publishing is the greatest resource an independent author has. I try to ignore the exclusivity required of KDP. I would like to be all over the self-publishing spectrum, but I’ve discovered it is harder to sell books that way than it is to be exclusive to KDP. If I ever have a book that doesn’t sell through Amazon though ….

Anthologies are a great resource. Rather than look at them as time sucks and distractions, I see them as marketing tools. Write a short story, get it accepted into an anthology and sometimes other authors’ fans will discover you next to their favorite author and now you’ve made a few new fans who might come buy your full length books.

Thunderclap.it – I don’t have a big advertising budget. I have to do it myself with limited funds. I’ve built my social media network up to 18,000 now, but with Thunderclap.it, I can borrow the social media networks of hundreds of other authors and market my books to many, many more potential readers than I can alone. All it requires is that — ugh — time-sucking interaction. But it’s worth it.

My local writer’s guild. I get great ideas from them because some of the writers there have been self-publishing for decades and know a thing or two about how to market in ways I have never even thought of. And, we hold our monthly meetings in a local art gallery, so it’s a visual feast as well.

That’s probably about it. I could list a bunch of little stuff, but those are the big resources that I use.

Learning From History   3 comments

September 25, 2017 – Tell us your biggest business lesson learned. If you were to start your writing career all over again, what would you do differently?

Image result for image of adventure canoeingHere in Alaska’s Interior, some rivers meander through gently rolling hills, occasionally changing their courses, creating slow-moving sloughs with a trickle of water flow that eventually become oxbow lakes stranded from the main channel. Other rivers run through the broad, mostly flat Tanana River valley in miles-wide multi-channeled braids, occasionally divorcing sloughs that might only have water in them every decade or so. When you’re canoeing or riverboating, sometimes you end up going down a slow-moving slough and get stopped by a big logjam or gigantic beaver dam, so you have to turn around and paddle back upstream to take another route. What does this have to do with our OP? It’s a metaphor.

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My writing career has been long and varied and I’ve learned a lot from the many mistakes and writing sloughs I have taken. I started out as a creative writer, scribbling for my own pleasure in elementary school and junior high and then submitting to school literary publications in high school. But I knew that I couldn’t make a living doing that, so I majored in journalism in college. Newspaper reporting was fun, low-pay and frustrating as the politics of the editorial staff began to dictate what facts were allowed to be reported. Throughout the rest of my career, I’ve done a lot of technical writing – editing grant documents, producing newsletters and excelling at desktop publishing. Different kinds of writing are useful in different parts of my life, so I can’t call any of them “sloughs” or “mistakes.”

Image result for image of alaska braided riverThroughout all of it, I’ve always written for my own amazement and I am now mining my back catalog of tales written for myself to publish.

I have no regrets writing-wise, although if I had to do it all over again …

  • I’d have jumped on the self-publishing bandwagon sooner. It doesn’t mean my books are lesser quality. It just means I have a smaller advertising budget.
  • I’d have embraced Facebook and Twitter for marketing sooner.
  • I’d have started socking small amounts of cash into my Pay Pal account earlier so that I would have a larger cash-flow stream now.
  • I’d have paid closer attention in art class to improve my book covers now.
  • I’d have worked harder at teaching myself to write Alaskana – it sells, but I struggle with it (which is why I haven’t published any … yet).
  • I’d have not taken a 25-year hiatus from writing short stories. They’re a great marketing tool for the novels if you can get them into good anthologies.

Overriding lesson – write for your own amazement and you might find other people enjoy it as much as you do, but also do things sooner, don’t be so slow to adopt great ideas … be adventurous. You’d think an Alaskan would already know that lesson about adventure.

 

Posted September 25, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Can We Stop Fighting Yet?   9 comments

September 11, 2001 – Where were you and what did you do when you heard about the 911 attacks? What did you do to move on?

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So I have previously blogged about my experience on September 11, 2001. I don’t wish to revisit those times, but to instead focus on healing, though as I typed this, four GA airplanes flew overhead in less than an hour, starkly reminding me of that day when the only planes in our hunting season sky were fighter jets.

Image result for image of 9-11Like virtually everyone else in the country, I was shocked, numb and confused on September 11. By September 12, I was grateful for everything I had. By September 18, I — along with almost everyone else in the country — was angry and wanted some payback.

A friend of mine had an uncle who had just retired from a financial firm with offices in the Towers. He had chosen “semi-retirement” as a mentor and he was supposed to be there that day for a morning meeting, but the weather was lovely and he decided to be decadent and go for a walk in the park instead. Thus, he was having breakfast when an airliner obliterated the boardroom where all of his colleagues were sitting. They never even got a chance to flee the building.

A coworker of mine had a brother who worked in the Pentagon building. His office was a long way from the center of operations, in the outside ring. He was invited down the hall for coffee and donuts to celebrate a coworker’s birthday and so he wasn’t in his office when it was destroyed by the terrorists using an airliner as a missile.

I live in a big military town, so I knew men and women who were almost immediately deployed to Afghanistan and who later returned emotionally and physically shattered.

I’ve also known at least a half-dozen contractors who spent time in Afghanistan and Iraq. One friend’s brother was killed over there. He was an unarmed electrician working to restore power to a city Saddam had deemed didn’t need power some 20 years before. He was up a telephone pole hooking up a transformer when a sniper shot him in the head.

Alaskans fly a lot and I am much more cognizant of what’s going on within an aircraft cabin than I used to be. I hate that I occasionally feel a moment of concern when certain types of men are on board. They’re probably innocent of what I am silently accusing them of. I get over it and I move on, but I won’t pretend it doesn’t happen. I’m told by two friends (one an immigrant from Iraq and another from Egypt) that they feel the same way in similar circumstances. They know they are not terrorists, but they aren’t so sure of Middle Eastern strangers, especially if they are speaking in Arabic. Our friend from Egypt can speak Arabic, so she says she always eavesdrops and always has had her fears allayed. She expresses sympathy for those of us who don’t have that skill. We’re not wrong to have those concerns, because we know for a fact that there were Middle Eastern passengers bent on our deaths. It’s foolish to think it can’t happen again.

But here’s the thing – over time, my anger waned and I began to realize that what we were doing “over there” wasn’t making us any safer and was probably making us less safe. My daughter and son are now of draftable age (women aren’t required to register yet, but they can be drafted – thank President Obama for doubling down on stupid) and I worry about them, which makes me more aware of the other mothers’ sons and daughters who might die or be maimed in wars that the United States has no business being in. You can disagree with me, but now that fracking has given the US the ability to  be a net exporter of oil (not that we are at the moment), why are we conducting these wars on foreign soil? We don’t need to. About one-quarter of the US debt is attributable to these wars we seem to have no intention of ever getting out of. The larger that debt grows, the more likely the country is to enter a Greater Depression from which long-term recovery is unlikely.

I had a Muslim coworker (Amisa) who I prayed with on that day 16 years ago. She is a nice gal who never meant anyone harm and she was as upset with what happened as we were. I knew “Mark” (Mahmood is his real name) for more than a decade before 9/11. I knew not all Middle Easterners were terrorists and I’ve had that long relationship to bring me back to sanity. I have since met Christine, who is from Egypt. I know other Middle Easterners on the Internet or through friends. My daughter belly-danced with some. I don’t excuse the behavior of terrorists, but I know they are a small fraction of the larger population. So I’m not angry at Middle Easterners or Muslims in general.

My faith teaches me to forgive and to hope for the future and I have tried to put that into practice. The world is probably no more dangerous than it was September 10, 2001. It just feels more dangerous. Human nature has sucked since the Fall. Why am I surprised that human beings can be so inhumane to human beings? I no longer want payback. I think my initial impulse was a mistake, but I also think the terrorists had payback coming and that the Afghan government should have gotten out of our way as we pounded Al Qaeda. Then we should have left and let them deal with the aftermath because at some level, the Afghanis were co-responsible for what happened. But 16 years of war … it shouldn’t have been longer than 16 months.

So, how did I get over it? I don’t think we as a nation or I individually are over it. It’s not over until we can move on and we can’t move on as long as we are continuing to devote blood and treasure “over there.” But, for myself … I don’t fear Muslims anymore than I fear other potentially unstable people. I carry concealed now in situations where mass shootings might occur and I’m not going to apologize for that. If someone opens up in a movie theater while you and I are watching a movie, I might just save your life. I am reminded of dark thoughts every time the TSA feels me up so I can get on an airplane. I object, but Alaska is not connected to the Lower 48 in a way that makes driving somewhere feasible, so … it seems a shame that we have to submit to sexual molestation in order to travel because we refuse to  effectively handle the threat that still exists. There are better ways to do it than treating law-abiding American citizens like potential terrorists, but ….

I’m writing a series about terrorism. I haven’t revealed who the terrorists are, but some of them are Middle Easterners and some of them are another cultural group or three. I incinerated 30 million people in the first book. But I also have a lovely Egyptian immigrant in the third book. Why? Because I don’t think Middle Easterners are all responsible for what happened.  I try to show people working together is the norm, but I admit, in the third book, that might not always be the case. In some sense, Transformation Project grew out of the events of September 11, 2001, because those events made me ask:

What would happen if …?

I think after 16 years, I am largely over 9-11, but let’s be honest here … none of us can really be over it until we finally stop killing Middle Easterners who object to our invading their countries. Then and only then will true healing actually begin.

Posted September 11, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Edit Ruthlessly   2 comments

As writers, we’re also readers. What is a common mistake you see in many books? Offer suggestions for making a change. You can even share a paragraph from a book and correct it.

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Image result for image of manuscript editingI love to read and when I’m not writing, that’s often what I am doing. I love books by indie authors, but I also have favorites among the authors you’ll find in a mainstream bookstore.

Because I was trained in editing and have made my living at least partially editing the writing of others, I tend to notice errors and if they’re in a published book, they drive me crazy because I can’t fix them and, depending on the author, I wonder how they got past the professional editor.

Errors?

I have no opinion on the Oxford comma. They are forbidden in journalism writing, which is why I rarely use them, but it’s not technically an error to use it. If you don’t know what an Oxford comma is, google it. It’s useful information. My rare usage is reserved for those times when absolute accuracy matters.

So, what do I consider to be errors?

Well, there are the standard ones – were, where … there, they’re … it’s, its … affect, effect … lie, lay, laid, lain  — yes, those are different words with different meanings. Learn to use them correctly, authors! Grammar and spelling really do matter. Not all your readers are going to have editing skills, but they will enjoy your work more if grammar and misspelling errors don’t disturb their experience and that pays dividends. Learn the difference between a possessive word that ends with apostrophe then “s” (usually, with some exceptions like “its”) which is different from a contraction that might also end with an apostrophe “s”. Then there are plural words which still end in “s”, but have no apostrophe … ever. That frustrates me.

A while back, I was reading a novel by a traditionally published author and he had a huge continuity error in his book. Remember how in Lost the hatch took a lengthy hike to get to originally, but once they were using it all the time, they seemed to get to it in a few minutes of walking? That bothered me and this author’s error was similar. The rest of the book was good and I wouldn’t say don’t read it (which is why I’m not identifying it), but it did somewhat spoil my enjoyment of it.

In a similar vein, avoid anything that might knock the reader out of a willing suspension of disbelief. I was beta-reading a while back and the author used the American terms for currency throughout a fantasy novel. I understand why she did it, but it completely threw me out of the story. She admitted she did it for convenience sake and put some thought into a currency system for her world that will appear in the published book.

#1 Pet Peeve?

When I learned American Sign Language, I had to accept that some very similar seeming signs that sometimes have similar ways of speaking in English gloss very different concepts. For example, “see” and “look” are similar looking, but very different concepts and Deaf will laugh at you if you get them wrong.

  • “His eyes dwelt on her form.”
  • “His eyes ran along the floor.”
  • “His eyes were fixed on the sky.”

Well, let’s hope not. The hero should keep his eyes in his head. His gaze dwelt on her form. His gaze ran along the floor. His gaze was fixed on the sky. Let’s not give readers the word picture of eyes rolling around on the floor, cloud-hopping and/or groping maidens.

#2 Pet Peeve?

The overuse of the word “that” annoys me. For example, “that” isn’t needed after “said” about 99% of the time, yet even my graphic above uses it when it isn’t needed.

  • “It has been said that words are like inflated money …”
  • “It has been said words are like inflated money …”

There is a simple test for this. Can you think of any other verb that is normally followed by the word “that”?

  • “He climbed that the tree …” Nope
  • “She sang that the song …” Nope

You get my point, right?

Okay, so now you know. These things annoy me as a reader and I hope I avoid annoying others with same issues. Yes, we all make mistakes and an occasional typo making it to the finished book is understandable, but be ruthless with yourself so that you eliminate as few errors as possible.

Setting the Table   4 comments

August 28, 2017 – Favorite Foods. What are your favorites, something you could eat weekly or more often. Feel free to share a recipe.

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My parents were restaurant workers. Dad was a chef and Mom was a diner waitress. They even owned a restaurant together for a time. So, I grew up with a tradition of bravery with food and food preparation.

Do I have a favorite dish? Wow, that would be a tough one. I have a favorite broad cuisine – Asian/Oriental. I like a smattering of dishes across the continent. I’m not fond of really hot curries, but I do like milder curries. I’m frankly nervous of sushi because raw fish done wrong will kill you, but I do eat it sometimes. Generally whatever the equivalent of pad thai is in a specific country cuisine is my go-to meal option if dining in a Asian restaurant. I figure if they get that right, I’ll come back and try other dishes at a later time.

I’m fortunate to live in one of the most diverse states in the union. Asian/Oriental restaurants outnumber almost all the other cuisines combined. Oddly, most of these restaurants are owned by Koreans, but they offer other Asian cuisine and do a good job at it. But we also have Italian, Greek, Mexican (by real Mexicans), American Pub Style, Middle Eastern, Seafood, Cuban, Fusion, and, of course, American steakhouses. We even have some vegetarian restaurants. Because Alaska is such a unique place, we have Alaskan-style restaurants which concentrate on what can be flown in fresh by Alaska Airlines. Chena Hot Springs resort also specializes in greenhouse grown veggies from their onsite greenhouses.

Image result for image chinese fried riceBut the truth is, we don’t like to spend a lot of money, so we don’t go out to a lot of restaurants. Instead, I make a lot of meals at home. So, our admin suggested a recipe.I have tons, but this is my son’s favorite.

Chinese Fried Rice

  • Make several servings of rice the night before and allow to cool. This is very important. You won’t get good results with warm rice.
  • Cube up Chinese barbecue pork (you can use any meat, but Kiernan likes barbecue pork). This should be tiny pieces.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil in a wok. Beat eggs with water and make a thin omelette in the wok. Remove from wok and shred into bite-sized pieces.
  • Add more oil to the wok – you could splurge and add sesame oil. Don’t skimp. You want enough oil to coat the individual grains of rice when added.
  • Add a chopped up yellow onion to the hot oil. Add enough soy sauce to double the pan liquid — you can cut it with water if it’s too salty (or use low salt soy).
  • Chop up a red bell pepper (it could be any color, but again, Kiernan likes it that way).
  • Add spices. My favorite are chile powder, ground mustard, tumeric/curry powder, cinnamon. Flavor to taste. I can’t give exact measurements, but I’d guess about 1 tsp each.
  • When the onion is translucent, the pork and a bag of frozen peas and carrots. Stir. (Using frozen makes this a simple recipe. You can use fresh, but you will need to cook before adding to the rice which turns a 15-minute meal into an hour or more)
  • Add cold rice. Break up chunks. Stir to coat individual grains with spices and oil. Add the eggs.

Let mixture warm through. Serve hot.

 

Now my favorite weeknight meal. It takes 25 minutes.

  • Oil in the wok. Canola or vegetable will do. I find sesame is too strong for this dish.
  • Start rice enough for who you plan to feed.
  • Add cubed up pork (could be chicken, beef or shrimp) to the oil when hot.
  • Add onions and peppers. (I buy these as a frozen mixture for weeknight ease).
  • Add soy sauce (I preferred brewed).
  • Add spices. Tumeric, chile, ground mustard, ground ginger, cumin, cinnamon. Experiment for taste. Stir.
  • When meat is almost done, add one or two bags of frozen Asian vegetables. Stir. We also like to add kale, bokchoy or mustard greens to this, but it’s not necessary and is probably an acquired taste.
  • Pour some bottled sesame-ginger sauce over the warming vegetables. (I make my own, but that’s a lot work for just one meal, and the store brand isn’t bad).
  • Put the wok lid on and turn to low. Come back when the rice is ready. Put stir-fry mixture over rice. The melt water from the veggies and the soy sauce combines with the sesame-ginger sauce to make a great sauce that soaks into the rice.

Image result for image pork stir fryIf it takes more than a half-hour to prepare, you’re doing something wrong or making brown rice, which is a valid excuse. The coolest thing about this is that you can change up the flavors with different bags of vegetables or swap the rice for thin noodles (I prefer whole wheat durum thin spaghetti over Asian noodles, but you can do it YOUR way.) Sometimes we use chow mien noddles, adding them to the top of the dish while the veggies are reducing. It gives a crunchy-soft mix to the flavors.

 

Posted August 28, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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The Times … They Are Changing   1 comment

List some of the things that you have seen change or develop in your lifetime.

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I used to marvel at my grandmother’s generation. Born in 1887, she entered a world without cars, airplanes, phones, electricity, running water, radio or television. Women didn’t have the vote in almost any country and they wore dresses down to their ankles and corsets were considered modest. By 1971, when she died, there were cars, airplanes, phones, electricity, running water, radio and television and women were barely wearing clothes in the country at the time. Imagine how thoroughly exciting the pace of discover and development must have been in those 84 years.

Image result for image of changing times

My own lifetime hasn’t changed that much, but there have been a fair number of changes since I drew my first breath.

In 1960, the US was in a Cold War with the Soviet Union, each busily dividing up the world based on their individual philosophies. The Civil Rights movement had already begun, but had yet to be felt throughout the nation. Women had long had the vote, but women who worked outside the home in jobs independent of their husbands were few and far between. Kids were respectful of their parents and what their parents wanted them to do as adults. Religion was seen as a net benefit to society. When my mom in Fairbanks Alaska called my grandmother in Seattle Washington, they had to scream to be heard across the 2000-mile line and a 10-minute phone call cost a half-day’s wage. Computers filled warehouses. You didn’t need a passport to travel to Mexico or Canada. Everybody smoked and, in Alaska, everybody including the kids, drank alcohol, but almost nobody had heard of cannabis. Cars didn’t have seatbelts … at all. Baseball was the national pasttime. Almost no Americans had ever played soccer. Unless you lived in a big city, your television (often black-and-white) only got a handful of local stations. Everybody in the nation watched Walter Cronkite at 6 o’clock and families sat down to watch general-age programs together after dinner.

So, what’s changed?

Almost everything.

In 1960, my parents created me outside of marriage and being a mature adult in her late 30s, my mother considered having an abortion. Fortunately for me, abortion was illegal at the time and the only doctor in Fairbanks who would perform one was a drunk, so she asked my dad for traveling money to go to Anchorage to “take care of the problem” and found out that he was happy with being a first-time father in his late 40s. My parents didn’t really have an option to prevent pregnancy. Condoms were highly unreliable and so were diaphragms. Today, options abound and they are extremely reliable if used correctly. Why this generation continues to fail at that simple task is a mystery to me, but I count effective contraception as a major achievement in my lifetime. For the record — anti-abortion and pro-choice – I just believe your choices should occur before you create a child.

Today, I can call someone in Africa and have as clear a conversation as if they were right here in Fairbanks. More than that, we can Skype as if we’re talking face-to-face. Video conferencing didn’t exist when I was born and for most of my adulthood it was hurky-jerky, but today, it’s seamless. And virtually free. If I Skype, it’s included in the price of my Internet connection. If I call long distance on my cell phone, it’s paid for with my subscription. Even using my landline, it costs only pennies to talk for significant amounts of time.

Of course, that ease of communication is born of the computer age. In 1960, the University of Alaska Fairbanks installed a Honeywell computer the size of an aircraft hangar with a computing capacity comparable to the laptop I am typing on right now. When I graduated high school in 1979, the personal computer was only four years old, you had to build them yourself and do all the programming as well. I remember going over to my cousin’s house in winter of 1981 to see the first Apple. My computer teacher in college, one of the original Bell Labs programmers, referred to the personal computer as a “fad”. I can order a laptop from the Internet for about a day’s wages and it comes loaded with tons of software and will fit in a briefcase. I have more computer power in my smart phone than that Honeywell number cruncher had. It’s a major technological change that has transformed society and made it possible for people like me to become authors and publishers.

I could go on about the Internet of Things, the gig economy, streaming and social media, but if you’re reading this post, you already know about those things.

In 1960, politics were pretty ho-hum. My mother, a fiscally conservative independent, and my father, a staunch Democrat, could congenially argue about their opposing viewpoints and not feel the need to end their relationship. In Alaska, politics was an indoor sport and everybody was permitted to participate. Even kids were expected to have an opinion, which the adults would try to sway us from. Starting in the late 1960s, politics became a divisive issue where people could no longer reasonably debate the various topics and points of view. I blame the first half of my own generation (I’m a boomer) for this. My older brother and his friends felt very passionately about what they believed and their inability to consider the alternatives to their viewpoints or to follow those viewpoints to their natural negative consequences has led to the polarized entrenchment of our day. When you start insisting that everybody ought to walk in lockstep with you toward a mythical utopia, sooner or later someone is going to point out that there is a cliff ahead and refuse to keep monkey-walking with you.

Frankly, because I was raised in Alaska, I didn’t experience the Civil Rights or Youth movements in the same way I would have if I’d lived in another part of the country. Alaska passed a civil rights bill in 1945, so we’d already been desegregated 15 years when I was born. Our schools and neighborhoods were already mixed race. Alaska is considered among the three most racially diverse state in the union. But we did have a few protests in support of the Lower 48 Civil Rights movement and some of the people who came up from other states really didn’t get that nobody here much cared about race. Of course, you can’t dictate what is in people’s hearts, but you can ostracize idiots and it worked pretty well. But in 1960, even racially liberal Alaskans couldn’t have foreseen that there’d be a black man as president within my lifetime. That alone ought to be a testament to some huge changes in our culture and the fact that some people think otherwise suggests there is another kind of racism in the works today..

In 1960, my mother was an odd duck – a “married” woman who worked outside the home in a job not attached to her husband.  This was partially because my parents never married legally, but it was more because my mother had learned from her first marriage that having your own income was a good thing … even a necessary thing if your husband was a fool with money. She enjoyed working and she enjoyed being able to direct her own economic life and my dad was all right with that. They were able to buy two houses and fund a retirement because she worked. But only about 8% of married women in 1960s worked outside the home in an independent job. Today, it’s about 68%. My mom was seriously bucking a trend and she took some flak for it. Today the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak. People tend to look down on women who stay home with the kids. The times shifted and will shift again. Women in the workforce is here to stay, but hopefully we’ll learn to accept that women aren’t being subversive when they decide to tend the home fires instead.

I think the thing that has changed the most in our culture since 1960 is the concept of morality and the value given to those who adhere to morality. In 1960s, pastors were respected and churchgoers were coveted as employees. People might not be regular attenders, but most people belonged to a church and it was considered a gauge of integrity that you attended. Today, many people distrust churches and subtly ostracize people who regularly attend them. Although employers are not legally permitted to discriminate on the basis of religious affiliation, many employers make it difficult for faithful employees to continue with regular attendance and/or any acknowledgement of faith in the workplace. Companies owned by Christians are increasingly under pressure to ignore and violate long-held Biblical principles and practices. They’re told they should keep their beliefs out of the workplace, which is a PC way of saying stopping believing what the Bible teaches. Discrimination against Biblical beliefs and those who hold them is considered by some to be a worthy goal, something to be stated proudly in public. On the other hand, we have had vast improvement in accepting non-Christian religions and their right to express what they believe in the public square. The first is a deplorable mistake. The second is a positive development.

Times always change and I expect my children will be able to write a similar post with different details in 30 years. I don’t think the world has changed as much in my lifetime as it did in my grandmother’s, but I still have 30+ more years to live. What will be different then?

Maybe everything and maybe not much. You know the Proverb, right? “There is nothing new under the sun.” The more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s because, despite the technological and social window-dressing, human nature remains stubbornly the same throughout history. The details change, but we do not.

Posted August 7, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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