SOCIAL MEDIA FOR DUMMIES

Last weekend I attended a writers’ boot camp to help me learn how to market my writing.  We were told that in today’s climate, writers needed to spend 60% of our time writing and 40% of our time on social media.  Why is it I have to spend 40% of my time doing something I hate in order to do what I love?  Why aren’t there “people” who will take care of that dreaded 40% for me so I can concentrate on what I want to do?  Well, I suppose there are—for a hefty price.  So far, my writing as been a big negative in terms of monetary reward.  So I opened my aging brain and set out to learn everything I could.

The problem is when it comes to technology, these workshops are taught at a PhD level and I am in kindergarten.  They use words and acronyms that apparently everyone in the world except me knows.  We started with building platforms.  Okay, I’ve been to several of these “platforming” sessions, so I have a vague idea of what that means.  I just don’t have the foggiest idea how to go about it.  This is what I need from these seminars:

Step one:  How to turn on your computer.

Step two:  How to maneuver the mouse (no, not an actual rodent—that oblong thingie you hold with your hand that attaches mysteriously somewhere into the back of the computer).  This is how to attach it.

Step three:  This is what social media is in terms that even Ellen, can understand.

Step four:  Let’s start with Twitter.  That’s the little blue birdie picture thing.

Step five:  This is what you can do with Twitter.

Step six:  This is how you Tweet.

Step seven:  This is how to actually open a Twitter account—step-by-step with big color illustrations and a real live person sitting next to you to show you where to click—without accidentally signing up for hundreds of dollars’ worth of services you will never understand or use.

Step eight:  This is where Twitter goes in cyberspace.  (I still don’t “get” who is going to receive my Tweets).

Instead, this is what I got:  I need a Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Linked-in, and Pinterest account and I need to be active on all of them.  I need to use a scheduler, such as Buffer or Post Planner and load it.  Hello, can we please go back to Step one above?  I need to build an e-mail list by funneling something or other and I need Mailchimp. (Is that like an actual monkey?  Why do all these computer things have animal names)?   I need to create opt-ins and lead magnets and export these as PDFs.  I need to place Facebook and Instagram Ads.  I need to do book sweeps.  I need to leverage all my connections. (Say what)? I need for all my social media platforms to demonstrate growth.  I need to pull my blog content out to post on all social media.  I need to get on Zoom, Screenflow, Cantasia, or iMovie and record myself and put it on all my social media. (Yeah, that will probably go viral on the Twilight Zone website). I need to set up automations and ask all my email followers to whitelist me.  (I think).  I need to get an app to resend email if it’s not opened.  On my website I need a back button.

Okay, can we please go back and repeat all the above in English? At the end of the session my head felt like it was going to explode.  All I could think of was, “I need to go home and google exactly what Twitter is.”

I am not a millennial or tech savvy. I was only recently dragged kicking and screaming into Facebook and I’m still not sure I’m using it right.  Plus up until a few months ago I didn’t even have a Smart Phone.  I’m still too dumb to figure out how to use it, but I have one.  So. . . for us old dogs trying to learn new tricks, can we please start off with “sit” rather than, “go tell Dad Timmy’s fallen in the well?” I can do this if I start from the beginning rather than the middle.  After all, I’m not stupid, right?  Don’t answer that.  But the depressing fact is even if I do manage to get a handle on all this foreign-to-me stuff, everything will change in a few months and leave me out in the cold once again.

Besides, who in their right mind wants to read fifty posts from me a day?  I don’t think anyone cares if I’m at Walmart or cleaning up dog poop in the dining room. Couldn’t someone out there take pity on me and just do all this for me so I don’t have to mess with this stuff I don’t understand?  My feeble brain can only take in so much new information. I’ll be happy to pay double what I have earned as a writer!

 

“. . . the time of the end many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall increase.” Daniel 12:4 (King James)

Look for my blog online at the Northwest Florida Daily News.  Click on “Sections” and find blogs in the drop-down bar.  Newshttps://www.nwfdailynews.com/

Watch for my Tweets.  I have no idea where they are!  LOL!

 

 

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day

Last Thursday, as I’m sure you already know, was Valentine’s Day.  I have mixed feelings about this “holiday,” which most men believe was dreamed up by women to make them thoroughly miserable by stressing over how to deliver on the romance.  Let’s face it.  Most men are not all that romantic and the very idea of having to come up with the perfect gift, date, words of passion, etc., make them break out in a cold sweat.  The difference between men’s idea of romance and women’s idea of romance are poles apart. (We women already know what men’s idea of romance is and it has nothing to do with candy and flowers).  Men know if they fall short of their significant other’s expectations, they risk the dreaded cold shoulder which only women are capable of exhibiting with any degree of finesse.  To make matters worse, women never clue men in on how they failed, leaving them clueless and helpless so as not to accidentally repeat the offense.  It is quite simple, really.  We ladies want our men to act like the heroes in our romance novels and romantic movies.

In reality, however, have you ever known a man in actual life to behave like those heroes in romance novels or movies?  No, no, and no.  This is why romance novels are exclusively written by women for women.  How many men do you know who read romance novels?  Yeah, I thought so. To illustrate my point on the differences between male and female ideas of what constitutes romance, have you ever read a token romance scene in an action novel written by a man? There’s not much about the electricity that shoots up his arm at the accidental touch of their hands or the softness of her lips brushing against his.  There are no scenes where the male characters’ knees go weak at the mere sight of the lady he has his eyes on.  No, a male novelist’s romance scenes are more along the lines of porn, which just goes to show they have no clue.  Their female characters always act like cats in heat.  I won’t go into detail.

This is perhaps why Hallmark movies are so popular with women.  We know they are strictly fantasy, but, hey, who cares?   It makes us feel good with our fairy tale happily-ever-after Prince Charming, who will never leave his dirty underwear on the floor or the toilet seat up.  We can dream, can’t we?  But, seriously, how many women do you know who were standing at the altar with “Mr. Not Quite Right, But Good Enough” when “Mr. Right” burst through the back door of the church declaring his undying love and inability to live without her?  Although it does kind of beg the question of why “Mr. Right” waited so long.  And do you know any woman who was ready to board a plane to parts of the world unknown in order to forget the love of her life, when suddenly “Mr. Love of Her Life” crashed through the security gate begging her not to go?  That is, assuming he got that far with airport security all over him.  One can only surmise the couple will pick up from where they left off after he is paroled.

I would venture to say that  few of us have had that kind of drama on our journey to finding true love. In my case, my husband finally asked me out on our first date with the hopelessly romantic words, “I have a coupon for a two-for-one dinner at the officer’s club which is getting ready to expire.  Would you like to go with me?”  All I can say is it worked and the rest is history.  He is now my chunk-of-chunk of burning love, who knows not to waste money buying me flowers on Valentine’s Day.  After all, you can’t eat flowers.

And now abide these three; faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love. 1st Corinthians 13:13

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ellenfannonauthor.com

 

If Memory Serves Me Correctly

I have learned in over twenty-five years of marriage not to lock the door behind my husband when he leaves for work—or anywhere else for that matter.  The reason is he invariably forgets something he needs and comes back to get it.  If the door is locked, he has to go to the trouble of digging out his keys, assuming the keys weren’t what he forgot.  Usually I am safe to lock it after he has returned to the house once, although on occasion, he has come back twice before getting out of the driveway.  This is if he remembers the needed item(s) before he gets that far.  I can guarantee if we drive to church separately, I will get a call asking me to bring whatever it is he forgot, like his sermon notes or his Bible.  He kept leaving his coffee thermos at work when he needed it at home, and vice versa, so I bought him a second one for Christmas.  Guess what?  Now they are both either at home or at work.

You might infer from the above that my husband is one of those people who would forget his head if it weren’t attached.  But that’s not the case.  My husband has an amazing memory.  For example, he can tell you every place he has ever stopped for gas on a trip—something I find a bit odd—and he can also probably tell you how much he paid for the gas.  He can tell you, in detail, about every flight mission he ever flew.  He can tell you every idiosyncrasy of every airplane which was ever made in the world, starting with the Wright Brothers.  I would bet money he can recite every phone number from every place he has ever lived.

It is simply a matter of what is important to him.  I have to admit that some of the things he retains in his brain should have been booted out years ago to make room for more relevant information, but, hey, it’s his brain and he has to live with it.  However, I will never let him forget the story about the best Reuben sandwich he ever ate.  He was going on at length to some friends about the best Reuben sandwich saga.  He remembered every detail—where he ate it, what specifically was so good about it, how it compared to the second best Reuben sandwich he ever ate, probably what time he ate it, how much it cost, and what table he was sitting at.  The setting was a Cracker Barrel in Columbus, Ohio on February 13, 2003.  The reason we were in Columbus at such a dreadful time as the middle of winter was for the wedding of his older daughter.  At some point in the conversation, I interrupted his Reuben rhapsody.

“Doug.  Why were we even in Ohio?”

He thought a moment.  “For Angela’s wedding,” he replied, triumphantly.

“And what color were the bridesmaids’ dresses?” I asked.

He looked annoyed, as if anyone in their right mind should be expected to remember such a trivial matter.  “I don’t know,” he answered, in a voice that conveyed the sentiment of, “Who cares?”

“Well, then, who were the bridesmaids?”

I will admit that this could have been an unfair question, as I would doubt a lot of men would remember who the bridesmaids were at a wedding.  However, we had picked up one of the bridesmaids on the drive from Florida to Ohio, so she was in the car with us for several hundred miles.  One of the other bridesmaids was his younger daughter.

“I don’t remember,” he answered.

“So the highlight of your daughter’s wedding was the Reuben sandwich you ate at a Cracker Barrel?”

He sputtered to work his way out of that one.  “We weren’t talking about Angela’s wedding.  We were talking about a Reuben.”

Still, I knew I had him.  That Reuben was, indeed, the highlight of the wedding.

I should be grateful he remembers my name, as one of the things he has a lot of trouble remembering is people’s names.  But I am one of the fortunate people who have crossed his path in that he actually wrote my name down when we met so he wouldn’t forget it.  He wrote it down wrong, but still it’s the thought that counts.

 

 

Have a Super Sunday!

As I’m sure most of you know, it’s Super Bowl Sunday.  And for those of you who know me well, you know that I’m not a particular fan of football.  Now please don’t start sending me hate responses telling me how un-American I am.  I like baseball, so there!  Besides, football is played outdoors in miserable weather and I greatly dislike the cold.

Anyway, last Sunday’s comic strip, The Born Loser, had me laughing out loud, as it was so “me.”  For those who missed it, Brutus and his wife, Gladys, are watching the Super Bowl.

Brutus says, “I’m glad you joined me.  It’s so much nicer having someone to share the experience with.”  Gladys says, “I’m glad I joined you, as well.”

Brutus replies, “So, you’re actually enjoying the Super Bowl?”

She says, “Absolutely!  And I would enjoy it even more if they didn’t keep interrupting the entertaining commercials with the stupid football game!”

Now in my defense, I want you to know that I went to every football game in high school and in college.  I had to.  I was in the band.  To me, that is what a football game is all about—the pregame and half-time shows, as well as the rousing pep songs when the team is taking a time out, which seems all the time.  (This is particularly annoying when there are only two seconds left on the clock).  The band, socializing, hitting up the snack bar, and hanging out with your friends are the whole purpose behind enduring a football game. I also went to most of the Lewis Middle School and Niceville High School games when my older son was in the band.  Now I dutifully go to all the Rocky Bayou games to watch my other son, who is one the team’s hydration monitors (water boy) hustle out to re-hydrate the team. I cheer when the fans cheer.  I chant with the cheerleaders.  But the fact is, I have never really “gotten” how the game is played.

Yes, I get that the point of the game is to get the football past the other team, who is lined up and waiting to mightily injure you, so you can get it to the end of the field and score a touchdown.  It doesn’t matter that you ruptured your ACL in the process. The only thing that matters are those six points.  I guess that’s where the term “take one for the team” originated.  But  it’s such an arduous process.  Unless one player manages to break away and run ninety yards to the goal line,  the majority of the game is spent setting up the sides, hiking the ball, and playing for two seconds until the ref’s whistle blows.  Football is the only game I know where it takes two hours to play five minutes.  And let’s face it—it is just plain boring watching a game played in two second increments, minus the fifteen second adrenaline rush when one player runs ninety yards for a touchdown.  To me, that fifteen seconds isn’t worth sitting on a hard, cold bleacher for four hours. My eyes are constantly drawn to the clock begging it to just count down and not stop every two seconds.

But after attending literally hundreds of football games, I made a concentrated effort to learn a little more about the game recently.  Now I “get” the four attempts to move the ball ten yards.  (I think).  I used to just yell, “First in ten, do it again,” because everybody else was yelling it.  I had no idea what it meant.  Again, arduous process.  I even learned (don’t laugh) that there are offensive and defensive players, and they don’t play at the same time.  I thought they were all out there together.  But that’s about it.  Sometimes I hear a word I don’t understand, usually in connection with some infraction on the field when I didn’t see anything wrong, and I ask my husband what it means.  His response is usually, “I don’t know.”  Seriously?  Isn’t football programmed into the Y chromosome?

Of course these are local school games, where it is normal to get into the spirit of rooting for your team (even if you secretly wish you were at home watching a Hallmark movie).  Professional football is even more difficult for me to understand.  Unlike their rabid fans, these players have no particular team loyalty.  They play for whichever team offers them the most outrageous sum of money.  They’ll even give up “taking a knee” if paid enough money.  Apparently even standing up (or kneeling) for your beliefs can be bought.  But this is America.  Where else in the world can you dis the country that pays you millions of dollars?  Pro-ball players can literally get away with anything, including murder (not naming names, here), as long as they can play football.  Hopefully they are smart enough to sock their millions away when they’re young, because all their body parts will give out from years of abuse by age thirty.

Gosh, I really didn’t mean to rain on your Super Bowl parade.  I’ve really tried to like the game, but I just can’t drum up the enthusiasm.  I realize that makes me a pariah among the vast majority of the people in this area.   So, please, just ignore me for the football-less freak I am, enjoy the game, and root for your choice of the Rams or the Patriots (for crying out loud can’t they ever give another team a chance at the big game)?  See?  I’m learning already!

 

 

 

The Criminals Among You

The other day I went to pick up a prescription for my son.

“I need to see your driver’s license,” the clerk informed me.

Usually, I use my military ID card for identification, but in this case, she specifically asked for my driver’s license, so I fished it out and handed it to her.

“This is expired,” she informed me.

“What??” My stomach plummeted to my knees.

“Yes, in November.”  She handed it back.

Oh no!  Another one of those things I’m supposed to remember—like all those passwords for hundreds of websites that I visit every two years.  How am I supposed to keep track of all these things I’m expected to do?  At my age, my brain is full!  It can’t be responsible for squeezing in any more information.  Of course, it would be nice if the state of Florida sent a reminder that our driver’s license is about to expire and needs to be renewed.  But we are talking about a government department.  Why should they do any more work than necessary?  Besides, if they sent out reminders, they couldn’t collect the late fees on people who forget to renew their licenses.

The realization that I had been driving around with an invalid license sent a wave of terror down my spine.  At any time during the past two months, I could have been in an accident or pulled over by a policeman and potentially carted away to jail.  I’m a law-abiding citizen, for crying out loud.  How would I explained this to my Sunday school class?  I was suddenly paralyzed with the fear of driving home.  I just knew something bad was going to happen during the two mile trip. By the grace of God I made it home with the guilty knowledge I was breaking the law.  But I refused to drive to church that night.  I had to go with my husband, which meant getting there early and staying late—with a business meeting, no less.  Probably my punishment for being a criminal.

The next day was my husband’s birthday, which fell on his day off.  Instead of sleeping in, he had to get up and take our son to school and then drive me to the tax collector’s office.  There is a sign on the door that says, “Welcome to the Tax Collector’s Office.”  Somehow, that seemed like rubbing salt in an open wound.  Does anyone actually enjoy a trip to the tax collector?  Or feel welcome?  Usually it’s worse than a root canal without Novocain. Fortunately, however, there was no line and the lady who processed me was very nice.

So now you’ll be happy to know I’m driving legally again.  But who knows how long it would have taken me to realize I was driving around with an expired license if it hadn’t been for that astute clerk at the pharmacy?  Hopefully not as long as I as it took me to find out I had an expired DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) license.  It seems that when I quit my job at one veterinary clinic and moved to another, my mail didn’t get forwarded to me, so I never received notice of renewal for my DEA license.  I discovered this when I went to change my name on my license after I got married in ’91.   Apparently my license had been invalid for seven years!  I asked the representative in the government office what I should do until my new license was issued.  (This was back in the old days before instant online renewal).  She replied I shouldn’t write any prescriptions for controlled drugs until I got my new license in about three weeks.  Even though I hadn’t been caught for seven years, I was so nervous I didn’t write prescriptions for anything!   Just imagine what might have happened if I hadn’t gotten married!  My husband not only saved me the fate of being an old maid and a crazy cat lady, but also the fate of being a felon!

Help! I’ve fallen and can’t get up!

As I get older, there are a number of things I have begun to worry about which seemed way too far off in the future to concern myself with in younger years.  Of course when I was younger, I was never going to reach “old age”—although the alternative isn’t so appealing, either—and even if I did, I was going to be one of those cool old ladies who takes up rock climbing or white water rafting at the age of ninety.  But there is one thing I have prayed I would never become and that is one of those frail old people who falls all the time. That, along with about five hundred other things about aging, is one of my worst nightmares.

To that end, I try to stay active, exercise as much as my schedule will allow, and take calcium supplements and medication for my aging, osteoporotic bones.  So it was with a sense of dismay that I found myself flat on the floor the other day, like one of those old ladies in the commercials groaning, “Help!  I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”  Actually, I didn’t say those words.  I just lay on the floor and groaned.

What precipitated my fall was the need to return a pair of scissors to the desk drawer.  It seems I’m the only one in the house who is capable of returning anything to its proper place, and if I wanted to see those scissors in the future, it would be up to me to return them to where I could find them again.  I picked up said scissors—I don’t remember which hand they were in or which way they were pointed, but as I’m generally a careful person, they were probably pointed correctly.  As I started across the bedroom, the evil cord from the electric blanket on our bed reached out and grabbed my right foot.  The next thing I knew, I had face-planted on the hardwood floor and stabbed myself in the left ear with the scissors.  I wasn’t even running with scissors!  I knew it had to be bad since the sound of my body slamming into the floor actually roused my twelve year old son away from his Wii game to come see what happened.

“Are you all right?” he in fact asked. There might have even been the tiniest tinge of concern in his voice.  However, it was probably more geared toward hoping I said I was perfectly fine so he could get back to his game.

“No,” I panted.  “Look and see if my ear is bleeding.”  Having had extensive experience with cut ears in my animal patients, I know they bleed like stuck pigs.  I could just visualize a scene that resembled something out of a hacker movie.  If so, I was done for, as I can’t stand the sight of human blood, especially mine.  (I know, I know, I treat grisly animal emergencies and do surgeries for a living. Human blood is different, trust me).  As it was, I was feeling rather queasy from having the wind knocked out of me, shearing the skin off the side of my left hand, and the pain of stabbing myself in the ear.  The only good thing in this whole episode was the pullout shelves on the desk were shoved in, as my head would have made kindling out of them on the way down.  As it was, my head missed the desk by about an inch.

Two seconds later, my husband called to tell me he was on his way home from work.

“Answer the phone,” I instructed my clueless son, who stood there staring at me, letting the phone ring.

He answered and told his father I couldn’t come to the phone because I was lying on the floor where I fell.  Of course my husband immediately demanded to talk to me, so I panted and gasped out the whole story to him.

“Is your ear bleeding?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I whined.  “I’m afraid to look at it.”  Or even touch it, for that matter. For all I knew, my whole ear was lying on the floor in a pool of blood.

“Well get something and—”

“Just come home!” I cut him off and disconnected.

Somehow, by the time he got home, I had made it off the floor and onto the bed.  My son was back playing Wii.  The sensation that I was going to faint had pretty much gone away, and my face was no longer ashen and covered in cold sweat.  Although I felt beat up, I realized I wasn’t seriously hurt.

“Well, I’ve done it,” I complained to my husband.  “I’m now officially one of those old people who falls.  At least I didn’t break my hip.”

“You didn’t fall,” he pointed out.  “You tripped.  There’s a difference.”

“You’re right!”  My attitude brightened.  “I’m not old.  I’m just a klutz!”

 

 

 

Waste not, Want not

It has occurred to me more than once as I’ve gotten older that I’ve become my mother.  Not that it’s a bad thing—my mother was a remarkable woman.  But she was also a product of the Great Depression, which meant that literally nothing was ever wasted in our house while I was growing up.  A leftover teaspoon of vegetables at dinner got tossed into a large container in the freezer.  When the container was full, she made vegetable soup.  My sister-in-law once commented that my mother’s vegetable soup never tasted the same twice.  Little did she know.

Growing up, we recycled boxes, Christmas wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows. This meant gifts had to be opened carefully so as not to tear the paper.  I can remember reusing the same paper for several years in a row.  Throwing out a cardboard box was an offense punishable by death.  (Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit.  You just wished you were dead after the tongue lashing for wasting a perfectly good box).  We had a whole collection of boxes in the attic—nothing that was ever the right size or shape for what you needed, but nevertheless, a shrine to cardboard.

It has taken me years to actually throw out salvageable wrapping paper after opening a present.  I finally rationalized that I can buy several new rolls of paper on sale after Christmas for half-price, which cost next to nothing.  The boxes have taken me a bit longer.  When I couldn’t get into the storage room over the holidays because of all the empty boxes, I made the bold and painful decision to get rid of half of them—but only half.  Baby steps.  I even threw out a few oft recycled gift boxes, which had been repeatedly taped to hold them together.  I’m sure my mother is turning over in her grave, but my storage room looks much better.

I admit I will occasionally recycle plastic silverware after running it through the dishwasher.  Old ratty clothes which are too worn out to take to Goodwill get left in the closet.  I can’t stand the thought of throwing away clothes.  Besides, I might need them for painting projects and such.  Yes, I really need all fifty stained and holey shirts and pants.  And leftovers don’t get tossed out unless they are no longer recognizable or resemble a science project.  The one thing I have put my foot down on, however, is reusing plastic bags.  I simply refuse to wash out baggies and reuse them as my mother did.  In the first place, I can buy a box of 100 new baggies at the dollar store.  In the second place, it is a tedious waste of time to wash and dry baggies.  In the third place, it grosses me out to think of reusing them.  For some reason, my mother-in-law did the same thing, so it must be generational. However, she went so far as to reuse Styrofoam drinking cups.  I don’t care how many times those things went through the dishwasher, there was still an “odor” that lived in the porous material of those cups.  Plus teeth marks.  As gross as reused baggies are, they don’t compare to the grossness of reused Styrofoam cups.

So what got me thinking about this topic?  It seems I spent a good forty-five minutes with my salad shooter today grinding up old bread heels into bread crumbs. Nobody in our house eats the heels, so into the freezer they go.  When I can’t find anything in the freezer because of all the bread heels, I take them out and make bread crumbs out of them.  It saves a lot of money.  Well, actually, I can buy a can of ready-made bread crumbs pretty cheaply, so I probably saved us about $1.59 for all my effort today. I don’t know how long bread crumbs last in the freezer, but I have enough for the next couple of years or so.  These bread crumbs will never be thrown out, no matter how frostbitten they become.  As my mother taught me, waste not, want not.