Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Damn! It Has Happened Again

In the years I have been writing I probably have had one hundred first lines pop into my head.  Maybe two lines.  On rare occasions a whole concept emerges.

It happens like this.  I am sitting watching the news or a favorite TV show or reading a book.  Something triggers a thought and I know I have to write that down.  But first, I have to finish whatever it is I am doing.  Then it happens.  The first line is either gone or the story that was supposed to follow it doesn’t materialize as I hoped it would.

Well, here I am again with a first line.  No, I’m sorry.  That first line disappeared and I am stuck with the one you see at the head of this article. Damn!  It has happened again.  This time, however, I decided to go ahead and see if starting to write would reproduce the “creative” urge that first struck my consciousness just a short while ago.

What follows may turn out to be the ramblings of an aging person who cannot string even a few words together into a meaningful sentence, or if I am lucky, I may actually tell you what is on my mind.  Let’s see what happens next.

Every story has a beginning, a middle and an ending.  Without those three elements it is unlikely that what is written or told will make much sense.

Here is a beginning.

What I am generally feeling when the urge to write strikes is a connection or a lack of connection where I feel one should exist.  It may be about a person, an idea or an experience.  It surges up within me as strong emotions that are difficult describe, but clearly understood within my being.  I think one of the articles I have written in the past that most closely approximates those feelings was after I had watched the annual Kennedy Honors Program in 2006.  I wrote about the experience in my book, Moments.  After hearing the story of each of the honorees, I had almost indescribable feelings of love flood my whole being.  I felt a closeness, not only to the characterization of those being honored, but to my family members and friends whom I have loved through the years and the experiences we shared.  The connection was beyond my ability to put into words as clearly as I felt it.

For some, love is easy to understand.  It is something that is just there.  No explanations are needed and no qualifications are required.  Love is!  For others love may represent the toughest of times.  It may surround a loss of some kind.  It may seem unrequited, unfulfilled.  And for yet others there may be the tragedy of being so bound to another person that unbelievable abuse is tolerated until one somehow breaks free.  I know that not everyone will see these as examples of love, but for the person so involved at that particular time with their particular state of being, that may be all they know.

Here is the middle.

I have experienced many levels of love and loss.  I know I am not the only one who has. They have produced impressions on the slate of my soul that are like the certificates of accomplishment of a job well done or the scars of some abuse.  In all honesty I have to admit to recognizing the scars of some form of abuse, mostly those I have been responsible for inflicting, more than any supposed certificates of merit.  There are heavy emotions associated with those events.  I am sure the depth of the emotions has much to do with the fact that the experiences behind them are unresolved, unfinished.  What else could be the reason that they surface so emphatically that they sometimes bring tears to my eyes when they happen? 

I can hear someone out there saying, “For heaven’s sake, man, get a life!  Get over it.”  I hear you.  I know some of the many ways in which one could bind together these unraveled ends of life events and “get over it.”  After all, I have spent most of my life dealing with, exploring, using and enjoying a philosophy of life that seemed to bring results that satisfied.  Then the story line was interrupted and I have not yet been able to reconstruct the point at which the fabric of my life began to unravel.  So the healing has not come forth.  Worse than that, there are times I really don’t care.

This is where the ending should occur.

This is where I should be telling you how I worked everything out and remembered what was so important in the first place.  At the beginning of this article I said,  “I decided to go ahead and see if starting to write would reproduce the ‘creative’ urge that first struck my consciousness just a short while ago.”  Well, I never quite got back to where I thought I wanted to go.  The emotional content seemed to evaporate like a wisp of smoke.   Sometimes life is like that.  You think you are heading toward point A and somewhere along the path you change directions and are heading for point B without knowing if that is really where you intended or wanted to go.  There is a point C in the offing.  If I choose to head there, will it be where I hoped to go? 

As you may note, I have not succeeded in explaining, at least to my satisfaction, the emergence of the “connecting/disconnecting” emotions.  Such events will continue to come, I am certain, and I will continue to experience and attempt to understand them.  When the opening sentence, or paragraph, presents itself I will offer it an opportunity to take fuller form.  In the meantime . . .

Sunday, May 6, 2012

So You Think the Privacy Policy Protects You Online?

I couldn’t figure out why the price of a product I was considering buying from an online vendor changed from $64.99 to $99.00 when I clicked on the “Buy” icon on the website.  What happened was the website, which was not Amazon, presented a review of the product I was interested in and showed a “special” price in the upper left corner of the page along with the “Buy” icon.  When I clicked on “Buy” I was ushered to and the listed price was $100.00 with a $1.00 discount.  I went back to the original site and tried to buy by selecting a different shopping icon on the page.  It still went to with the same inflated price.  This had nothing to do with the three options offered by Amazon:  “New, “Used,” or “Refurbished.”

In today’s Oregonian I found out why this was happening.  A reader had contacted “The Desk” with a complaint about the same issue.  The editor explained that it is now a common practice in online shopping to see a “sliding” price on a product from the time you first view it until you actually “check out.”  The price change is from the information that is gathered online about YOU due to other online activity you have participated in.  Every time you give information to an online site it is added to the body of information about you.  This demographic of YOUR VIEWING HABITS provided the basis for focused advertising and pricing.  

Have you noticed that after you searched for a product or bought one on line that suddenly on your Facebook page the advertisements also are geared to that product or other related products?  I have.  When I was searching for dentists I suddenly saw advertising on my Facebook page about dentists in my area.

There is no such thing as being anonymous on line.  I am very careful about privacy issues and public information, but the truth is that those “policies” are so lengthy and so complex that hardly anyone actually reads them.  Taking the time to review some I discovered that you are actually giving away your ownership of your own information when you choose to accept a privacy statement.

There is probably nothing we can do about this in this “information-centered” society now, but I felt it was worth making a statement about it, in case you were not aware.