Alleviating Email Issues

Alleviating Email Issues
Image provided by Megan Amaral
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mamsy/

I can remember when I used to wish that advertisers would stop sending mail. You know, those things with envelopes. I’d walk to the mail station down the street to retrieve the bills I needed to pay along with, hopefully, a real letter from someone I care about. Lo and behold, my little compartment would be filled with junk mail.

Sure, some of it I’d scan: catalogs, coupons, and local events. Most of it, though, was tosses into the waste paper basket immediately. Even most of the items I glanced at got dumped as well. I lived frugally. I still do.

Now, I have even more junk mail thanks to the internet. It isn’t just the post person dropping garbage off at my home. It’s even coming in through the wires and air! –Depending on if I’m using my PC or laptop.

I guess I could just close my email account. I’d still have the social media sites to bring me news. Most of the blogs I subscribe to are connected to sites where I can read notification at those host sites: WordPress.Com, LiveJournal.Com, and Dreamwidth.Com.

Still, I do love getting email in the morning. I especially love the ones from friends and family. I read as much of it as I can while I drink my first mug of coffee for the day. My email site, Gmail.Com now, tries their best to keep the junk out of my folders. They do a better job at this than Outlook.Com was doing. At least with Gmail, I can rat on the jerks who are sending me spam and know with some certainty something will be done. Outlook says they do this but they need myriads of improvement. The spam problem with Outlook upsets me a great deal. I had hoped Microsoft would have a better handle on this situation in cyber space. I really did want to stay with Outlook. I was trying to limit my use of Google as much as I could because of their determination to become an internet monopoly. I’m totally against that–obviously.

To say the least, I’m sorely disappointed in Microsoft.

Surfing the blogosphere can get rather time-consuming. Having the notifications come by email helps out a little. More often than not, they come trickling in so I can read a few in the morning, a few a lunch, and more after dinner without my inbox getting overloaded. I know that some people get things so organized within their email account that they have all email of one type going to a specific folder found just below the inbox. It does make the account look cleaner, but those people are still seeing how many emails are waiting for them. It can get quite staggering. They better not take a vacation from this daily chore–or a sick day.

Gmail has made it a little easier to organize the inbox. There’s tabs above where the list of emails show, giving me the option to use the ones they provide or add my own. I never have to look at all of the emails in the list at one time. That is except for at the sidebar. Right after the word, Inbox, there the TOTAL number of emails staring at me.

I couldn’t imagine being the only one who feels the anxiety of the large number. After all, there’s only so much storage in these email accounts. Sure, I don’t have to scan each and every email. In fact, I barely glimpse at the ones in the spam folder before I dump them all. Still, the hankering to read each one that makes it to my inbox can keep me glued to my seat. I’m sure there are others who are like me.

With these thoughts in mind, I created a newsletter for my blog. It’ll be delivered to subscribers’ inboxes once a month, the last Friday of each month. There’s a short article you may or may not want to read. The important element of it is the list of posts from the prior four weeks in the sidebar linked to the posts themselves. The people who subscribe will be able to stop the notifications from WordPress.Com, thus lessening the number of emails in their inboxes by a small but significant three per month from yours truly.

True, probably quite trifling in the big scheme of things, but if more bloggers offered this, the email inbox won’t seem to daunting.

Anyway, the sign up is at the top of the page here on the sidebar if you’re so inclined to subscribe to my newsletter.

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P.S. Jacqui Murray asked about continuing my series of #weekend coffee. Jacqui, one of the posts will be just that. This means one post each month will be a little late so it coincides with Daily Post’s Weekend Coffee Share.

Blogging is great, and I read blogs all day long. However, my goal is really to have a deep, meaningful discussion with people. For some reason, I’m able to accomplish this best via email. —Jason Calacanis

 

The Online Amenities

The Online Amenities
Image provided by Michael D Beckwith
https://www.flickr.com/photos/118118485@N05/

On August 29th, Today’s Author posted a piece asking what are the online resources their readers use in their writing. This is one of the most glorious aspects of the technical age, in my opinion. Money and time are cost to the bone for a writer because of the availability of resources now.

We have talked in the past about important tools for writers such as software or specific kinds of notebooks and pens. Today we’d like to hear what kinds of online resources and tools you find helpful to your writing. Are there specific websites you use for research? Online tools to inspire you to write? What do you find invaluable on the internet when you look at your writing life? [Today’s Author]

As little as twenty years ago, many writers had shelves upon shelves of books in their wring space just for resources and references they’d need at a moment’s notice during their writing sessions. I think this was one of the things that stopped me from taking up writing as a serious venture. I didn’t know where the book fairs were so I could put up the needed knowledge at a lower cost. I’d need to win the lotto to afford what I need for my own private library.

Nowadays, all I have to do is click on my little Firefox, and I zoom to the Internet for the information I need.

Dictionary: Remember that big bulky book you could usually find on a  pedestal at the library? Now I just go to one of the dictionary sites to find out if I’ve spelled a word right or if it’s even the word I thought it was. Sure, many of the word process programs have this built in, but the definitions are often lacking–a lot.

Thesaurus: I could not even attempt to write without this resource. The short-term memory loss I have would do me in before I even got started. Without the thesaurus, I write like the fifth grader–maybe. The paperback of this resource is adequate and affordable. However, because of my right arm and hand not working, trying to keep that small book open and type or write the possible words to use is futile. Again, most word processing programs have this feature too, but the list of synonyms is rather short–puny actually.

Encyclopedia: When I was a kid, some parents bought the Encyclopaedia Britannica for their children’s education. It was a hefty price to pay but it usually included updates to the volumes as information was obtained or changed. Being a fireman’s daughter, this wasn’t an option for me. The closest branch library to my house was eight city blocks away. I’d hoof the hill to it when I had to and when weather would permit. It was either that or wait until I could get to the library at school. Now I just have to decide which encyclopedia I want to use and click to the site.

Editing: I haven’t used this tool yet but I know I will eventually. This, of course, is just for grammar and in-depth spelling. I’m a member at Grammerly.

Writing Groups: I live in a small town in the Tennessee mountains. The closest local writing group I’ve found is in Nashville, two hours away. Someone suggested I start my own here in Crossville. I have yet to find any writers here. I wonder sometime about who is writing the articles in the Crossville Chronicle. Are they writers who don’t feel a need for comradery? And I can’t find them in the white pages. Where do they live? Anyway, because of this dilemma, I belong to two online writing groups. It isn’t as helpful as I was hoping for, but a little is better than none, right?

Blogs: The blogs of writers is one of my main sources of inspiration, motivation, and lessons in the skills of the craft. I probably would have given up long ago on any serious writing without these sites.

Email: I have a couple of close writing friends I email every once in a while. I know I should write letters to them more often, but time slips away from me so quickly sometimes I even forget what day it is. They’re a little farther along on their writing journey than I am. I rely heavily on them for support and hope I’m giving enough to them.

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According to the post at Today’s Author, I should specify certain sites. I only named one. Preference can differ too much and I’m sure the sites I frequent are so diverse from other writers even though they’re within the same categories. Each to their own. 😛

Do you have other types sites that are useful? Please share in the comment section.

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” ― Mark Twain, The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain

 

Barriers of Good Intentions

Image provided by Peter erwig https://www.flickr.com/photos/flex-art/
Image provided by Peter erwig
https://www.flickr.com/photos/flex-art/

The last few weeks I’ve been fumbling and thrashing with pretty much my entire life. In short, I’ve been flat-out dissatisfied with how most things are progressing, if they’re moving forward at all.

I would think that the warmer months would have put me in high gear, making leaps and bounds in whatever I’d pursue. Instead, I find myself wanting to dump much of what I’ve started into the nearest trash receptacle. The urge to delete line after line of whatever I write is almost irresistible. Going through my daily list of blog subscriptions in my email in-box, I have this compulsion to lightly skim over each post, exclaim to myself, “Oh, well, that was interesting.”, delete the notice, and go on to the next one on the agenda. I drag through the household chores, wishing I could have a robot to do all of them. I get through them though because I firmly believe I’ll feel better within cleaner surroundings. Astonishing, I usually do, if only marginally. Food is uneventful. I don’t taste it. I just chew and swallow. It’s as if I’m taking in air that somehow has substance.

I hear you whispering out there. “Clinical depression, the signs are there.” This could be, although I’m wondering if what is really going on is I’m getting ready to commence on a forty-five to one hundred thirty-five degree swivel of direction in my life journey. I can sense there’s something barely out of sight and, of course, out of reach as well that is mine for the taking if I can get to that point where I can put my fingers on it and grab whether I can see it or not.

Concededly, I did have a change in medication a couple of weeks ago. I would think I’d be balancing out by now, but maybe my pea-brain is taking its sweet time. Word to you who are able-bodied. Do all that you can to stay that way. Drugs are annoying to life in general. Take my word for this.

Yes, these barriers of my natural inclinations are affecting my attempts to write coherently. I feel a tug to go back to the pre-writing, designing the story’s world better, writing more notes about each main character in hopes of acquiring the sensation of walk in their shoes, and elaborate more on the details of the plot. Yet, at the same time, I want to keep on pounding on the keyboard, always moving forward on the project. True, to an extent I can wobble back and forth as I see the need for added development in a character or setting. I may be able to do it with the supplementary plot details too, although I’m hoping these elements will slide into place as I write. As my progress is right now though, I feel as if I’m in quicksand, afraid to reach too far for a branch of some sort, living with the possibility of sinking further under to the land of no return.

I have a second project going, and I am past the dreadful first draft. Howbeit, there’s too many holes in the writing. I try to envision what I need to plug up these holes. I even write what I think will do the job, but only to discover my writing ability is receded, hopefully only temporarily. How repulsive can this get? The concept of this venture is brilliant, yet my mind is resisting the beauty of its simplicity.

The summer is going to be long and stodgy. There’s no doubt in my mind about this. To ease the tediousness of it all, I’m purposefully making small adjustments in my routine. For most of you out there in the blogosphere who read my dribble on occasion, you won’t notice much difference, if any. Still, those of you who know me a little better may see a slight drop in online activity from me. No need to worry. I’m still here and only an email away.

Somehow I must wrap my head around deliberate thinking. Somehow I must get back to those intentions I deem imperative. Life without purpose is just existence.

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Note: I didn’t write this to gain sympathy or advice. This is a psychological exercise designed to get my thoughts flowing and remove the mountains of the debris that’s in the way.

Desperation is the raw material of drastic change. Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape. ~William S. Burroughs

That Contrite Decision

That Constrite Decision
Image provided by Karim Moukalled
https://www.flickr.com/photos/karimmoukalled/

Have you ever been in that state of mind where you’re certain you can make the situation better with just a few tweaks? Nothing major, mind you. They’re the types of adjustments that show little on the surface, if at all, but you’re positive the changes will greatly improve your life in so way. After the choices are set in place, you may feel a little relief, giving you a sense of feigned tranquility. Of course, you don’t realize the calmness as being fake at the time.

I did such tweaking a few weeks ago. My hopes soared envisioning better organization. A diverse system of how I’d receive and send email depending on the reason for the transmission sounded ingenious to me. Individual compartments for different functions in total isolation from one another struck me as the way to go to help with the cognitive muddle that sometimes fogs my brain.

I set up a second email account at Gmail to handle all correspondence from WordPress.Com. The account I already had with Google, I designated for personal conversations. I set up my Outlook email account to receive and send from Twitter and blogs not affiliated with WordPress.

I felt a little off doing this adjustment though. There was a  personal paradoxical element to the matter. I’m not a fan of Google. Despite having an account at Google+ that I intend to keep and having that first email account with Gmail, I despise how the company tries to control the whole damn internet, making site owners jump through hoops of regulations and analysis tactics. Who decided their search engine had precedence over any of the others? But this is a whole other topic and I only bring up this much to explain the irony of my actions.

Five days ago I noticed how Google sites were sticking if more that one Google site was open in my browser. When a person has more than one Google account, the person has to open one in one of the next tabs while the one first opened is still in use. The person needs to click on his/her icon to do this. Just opening up another tab doesn’t work. You’ll end up back at that first account. Yes, ludicrous. The second tab of Gmail was sticking, forcing me to close my browser. True, I’m not using the Chrome browser. Windows doesn’t play well with Chrome anymore. My assumption is Google is trying to force me into buying a Mac or a Chrome book. Sorry fellas, but I’m poor. Besides, I hate Google trying to force me into doing anything at all. I refuse to let them become a monopoly. I deviated again. Sorry.

I finally had enough of the syrupy gooey mess associated with Gmail a couple of days ago. I changed my WordPress emails back to Outlook and forwarded all correspondence from the original Gmail account over to Outlook. The second Gmail account won’t be used. I’m just waiting for all the stragglers that may show up in that inbox so I can deal with them and delete that account.

Outlook isn’t fantastic by any means. It doesn’t always catch the junk before it dumps into the inbox. The options of design are minimal at best. Still, I like the setup there, which is, or in my opinion is the most important when choosing an email carrier site. I have two accounts with them although I just use the one. If I was ever to require the use of that second account, it could be done without ever opening another tab or window each time I’d want to use it. A much more efficient setup than at Google.

The idea of unrestricted separation to assist my mental shortcomings was a flop. This isn’t the first time I’ve tried doing something like this and I can’t expect it to be the last. I get in these moods of wanting to change something in the hopes of making everything better. It’s a complete emotional reaction to something that should be rational. Where it comes from is a mystery to me, except to say most thoughts of any kind that I have must go through the right side of my brain before hitting the left. I can’t even figure out when I get these zany ideas. Do they pop up when I’m trying to get out of a funk? Possibly, but I don’t know how that could be. Do they appear when I’m feeling exceptionally brave? I don’t think so but then again… Do these notions creep in what my brain needs a break from my WiP? Another possibility, although I can find better ways to spend my time.

I should pay more attention to this phenomena and maybe write about it.

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What do you think?

I have made decisions that turned out to be wrong, and went back and did it another way, and still took less time than many who procrastinated over the original decision. Your brain is capable of handling 140, 000 million bits of information in one second, and if you take hours or days or weeks to reach a vital decision, you are short-circuiting your most valuable property. – Jerry Gillies

 

Writing Time Misplaced

Image provided by darthmauldds https://www.flickr.com/photos/darthmauldds/
Image provided by darthmauldds
https://www.flickr.com/photos/darthmauldds/

I’ve recent embarked on a project in addition to my WiP Novel. I dare not say anymore about it because of a superstition I acquired long ago when I was a young teenage. If you want something to happen–if it’s close and dear to your heart–Do Not Talk About It! Don’t even mention it to loved ones who would just going to support you in the matter. If you do, the chances of your dreams falling into ruin are much more likely. You can talk about it all you want only after you’ve obtained whatever it is you’re pining for.

This new venture started late last week and I was a little shocked at how it grabbed me, not letting go for anything. it commenced with an email I sent to my writing buddy, in which I was questioning my writing skills. In the second email she sent back to me, she throw an idea at me that felt as if it had knocked me off my feet. It lead to eight other emails back and forth, elaborating on the possibilities.

By the time Saturday evening arrived, plans, strategies, and tasks were swirling and churning in my mind. All day Sunday–Easter, no less–I was working on arrangements to get this idea in full swing without letting go of the other tasks on my daily agenda. (Easter was uneventful this year due to minor illness.)

My WiP Novel is an endeavor of earnestness to me. I probably shouldn’t have broadcast it through my blog. I just may have jinxed the project. Still, I won’t let go of it. I’m prodded through my own dreams to complete it. I give myself at least four hours each day to plow through as many sentences as I possibly can. As much as I love this new idea, I will not, under any circumstances, let my WiP suffer.

I’ve read about writers who let their surrounding and themselves get dirty, grimy, and smelly. I could never be one of those writers. There are times when I long to have that kind of focus, but it’ll never happen with me. If I don’t clean up the kitchen after meals, I find myself waking up in the middle of the night to do that task. With three indoor cats, the fur flies 24/7. Fur on anything other than the animal makes me think of filth. I must vacuum and dust. I feel raunchy if my body, teeth, and hair aren’t clean. Therefore, personal hygiene is a must. This new project is one I, most assuredly, will get done, but not at the expense of a dirty house or a disgusting appearance.

I’ve had this particular blog since 2013. It’s gone through some major changes in topics and numerous design revisions. I’ve become quite attached to it and the value it has bestowed on me. It’s become my avenue into the world that would otherwise be meager and depressing.

In order to feel confident with this new intention, I feel I must be able to keep what I have going, which means figuring out how and where to add this in my daily life. By Sunday night, I thought I had it all pretty much decided. I was tired and drained.

Monday morning, I woke up early with an annoying sore throat. It didn’t deter me though. I was all revved up to attempt my routine for the day. I did my normal–check the email inboxes (three of them). There was little to scan, let alone read. This was my time to get busy on this new venture. I started collecting the data I’d need to rework. When the notice I set up on my PC to remind me it was time to work on the novel popped up, I closed the folder and opened the one showing my yWriter files.

I worked two hours before getting to the laundry that needed folding. After that, I realized I had a little time to do some more gathering of information before my next WiP writing session. When dinner time rolled in, I felt like I had done a fair day’s work. The throat was still irritating and I had developed a raspy cough. Still, I was rather pleased with myself.

My whole demeanor changed at approximately eight that evening. I realized I had abandoned all thought of any kind of blog entry for the following morning. Come on now, what kind of  doofus am I? One who can’t remember something she’s been doing for three years at the same site. The shame hit me with force that I couldn’t deny.

Yes, I’m quite aware that I’m not a perfect human being and I should give myself some slack. After all, my blog isn’t one to accompany a business of any sort so there isn’t any income to be lost. Nor are there any clients that are going to go elsewhere for services if I don’t maintain my blog perfectly. My blog is purely personal where I devolve glimpses of my personality and my life. No one will die if I don’t have that Tuesday post up for the few who follow my trifling adventures.

Still, because of personal principles, I have this self-concocted guilt about the missing post of this last Tuesday. I didn’t achieve something I knew, for certain, I could do; if for no other reason, I’ve don’t it numerous times before. I can’t imagine being the only one who feels this way after a blunder. I am not an image of Paul Simon’s song, I am a Rock, I am an Island, after all.

I can’t wipe the failure away, but I have a proven method to get rid of the guilt. I own up to the fault, misdeed, or, in this case, the omission and carry on from that moment. I can’t say it worked every time, but it works often enough that it’s the first thing I try to get my mind on an even keel.

So, sorry I didn’t get an entry in for this last Tuesday. I have a couple of good excuses, but, as with most failings, no good reasons.

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Do you have a way to put your bungles behind you?

I write because I’m afraid to say some things out loud. ~Gordon Atkinson, reallivepreacher.com