Happy Saturday! Those of you who have been reading the JQ blog for a while might recall my affinity for unusual products. This may not be a Sky Mall review, but since we’re entering the holiday season, I thought I’d share some unique items I’ve come across recently. You might want to take note for those hard-to-buy-for people on your shopping list.
The Ostrich Pillow was designed to help people on the go nap anywhere at any time. Who can argue with that? http://youtu.be/7wWgGj3gg84
Poo-Pourri “The before-you-go” bathroom spray. I probably wouldn’t have given this little gem a second glance if I hadn’t stumbled across the following video. I must warn you, it’s a bit crude…but pretty darn funny. http://youtu.be/ZKLnhuzh9uY
Bed of Nails is a “relaxation” mat with 8,820 non-toxic, 100% recycled, plastic spikes that stimulate acupressure points. The manufacturer claims that with 10-20 minutes of daily use, you can significantly reduce or eliminate conditions such as stress, headache, constipation, tiredness, insomnia, tension, back pain, muscle aches, and general malaise http://youtu.be/pKP4pPtvMGg
No Place Like Home Shoes have a built-in GPS system. Click your heels together and the shoes will tell you which direction to go. The manufacturer says the right shoe measures how close you are to your destination, while the left shoe points you to the direction where you’re supposed to go. http://youtu.be/j48hVTskZTE
I own one of these products. Want to guess which one? I will post my answer tomorrow along with a winner from those who guess. That person will receive a book from my backlist. So…which one of these crazy products is mine?
I just finished two back-to-back deadlines. Normally, when I finish one book my body hurts after a marathon at the keyboard. This time, technology saved me. I’ve been using the voice recognition software Dragon Naturally Speaking. It’s made me more productive and, for the first time since I began writing, my hands, forearms and neck don’t ache.
However, as with all technology, it isn’t without its quirks. One of Dragon’s best features is that over time — and with “training” — the program begins to understand your voice and particular turns of speech. Dragon and I aren’t quite there yet. While it greatly enhanced my output and saved me physically, it had a tendency to misunderstand me. I had to carefully review each sentence to make sure it heard me right. I’ve become very conscious of enunciating and speaking slowly. Still, sometimes (especially when I was tired) the misinterpretations were pretty funny. Finally, I started keeping a list. Here are some of the more entertaining mistakes:
What I said: What are you doing? What Dragon heard: Whatcha doin’?
What I said: mustering What Dragon heard: must stream
What I said: Good morning What Dragon heard: Good Mormon
What I said: Tatiana Island What Dragon heard: talk to you on an island
What I said: ladies and gentlemen What Dragon heard: 80s and gentlemen
What I said: call it a night What Dragon heard: culinary right
What I said: Don’t you think? What Dragon heard: Dutch you think?
What I said: Kids have a natural BS meter
What Dragon heard: Kids have been asked me to her
What I said: Why don’t you have a seat over there?
What Dragon heard: Win a java seat over there?
What I said: his craving for her What Dragon heard: his creeping her
What I said: heck of a time What Dragon heard: heckuva time
My personal favorite:
What I said: Kinsley’s gasp was audible, surprising even herself.
What Dragon heard: Kinsley’s gas was audible, surprising even herself.
Incidentally, it spelled “Justin Bieber” correct on first try. I just had to see what it would do with the word Bieber. Dragon is obviously fluent in pop culture.
Now that the books are finished, I will keep training because the benefits are well worth the adjustment time. How about you? Have you encountered any challenges with technology lately? Was it worth taking the time to figure it out or did it frustrate you to the point that you threw in the towel? I will give away a free copy of one of my backlist books to someone who comments.
I’m continuing Kathy G’s TV theme from yesterday. Thanks for the idea, K!
I’m pretty selective about what I watch on television. I would rather read than watch TV, but I do make time for some shows. Nice shows, mostly. The respectable ones we talked about yesterday when Kathy blogged. Today, however, let’s talk about the darker side of television. Are there any shows you hate to love? Ones that you’re compelled to watch even though you know you shouldn’t…for one reason or another? We’re all friends here. No one will judge you, I promise.
In fact, I’ll fess up first.
Recently, I’ve found myself in throes of a show that isn’t typical for me. Not at all. I like to laugh. I don’t condone crime. I abhor violence. This show isn’t funny. It’s all about breaking the law and not only getting away with it, but getting rewarded for it. It takes violence to a level so disturbing that if it weren’t in its final season and ending THIS Sunday night – FOREVER – I would stop watching it.
Really, I would. I swear.
Even though I’ve already watched every single episode and haven’t been able to look away yet. Well, except for the time that explosion happened and part of the guy’s face fell off. I did cover my eyes. Okay, so I peeked. Ew. This is not the stuff you find in romance land.
The show is Breaking Bad. I got sucked in because someone told me I looked like a character on the show (the general consensus is that I do not look like her and that’s fine). But gosh, now I’m totally addicted to the show.
First, I have to give the cast and writers props: the acting and writing are superb. Off the charts, Emmy-winning great. Right…and that, children, is how they get you addicted.
At first, it seemed like a great character study. There aren’t very many heroic characters on this show. Yet, I found myself pulling for the high school chemistry teacher who starts making and selling meth with one of his former students. Nice guy, huh? A parent and law-abiding citizen’s worst nightmare.
But come on, Walt has cancer and shockingly poor health insurance. If he doesn’t do the expensive treatment he’ll die and leave his pregnant wife and their special needs teenager with debt that’s already caused him to take a second job just to make ends meet. If he gets the treatment he needs, treatment that might – MIGHT – save his life he will be hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. What if he dies after getting this treatment? He will leave his poor pregnant wife and their special needs teenager saddled with crushing debt. So what option does he have but to make and sell meth? See? See?? You feel his pain don’t you?
He’s a drug dealer, people! How can we love him?
Well, I don’t. Not anymore. I want Walter White and all the miscreants that have wormed their way into his once normal life to go away. Or at least I think I do. After the finale on Sunday. But with all the loose threads dangling, I can’t even fathom how they’re going to wrap up five seasons of BAD in one last episode. The show has made so many unexpected twists and turns that – much like this blog, where I can’t remember if I’m talking about TV shows you hate to love or paradoxical characters — one minute you hate it and the next it takes such a turn you say, “What? Oh, good grief, I have to watch next week to find out what happens. Unless you’re like the Norwegian, who after watching twenty minutes of one episode, got up and left the room uttering, “I hope they all die.”
Breaking Bad? TMZ? Bridezilla? The Jersey Shore? Real Housewives? What’s your TV drug? What are you compelled to watch that horrifies you?
How They Met Themselves, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, watercolor, 1864
Not long ago the Norwegian and I were out for dinner when a complete stranger approached me and asked if I had seen the show Breaking Bad. I hadn’t, but he told me that Anna Gunn, the woman who plays Skyler White on the show, was my doppelgänger.
I looked her up when I got home. I could see a vague resemblance in the photograph. Of course, it piqued my curiosity about the show, especially since it has garnered so many awards. I started watching it and now I joke that I have a serious meth addiction. Really, I don’t. And I know drug addiction is no laughing matter, but the show’s writing is incredible and the acting is superb… But I digress.
They say everyone has a double. I guess mine might be Anna Gunn – sort of. We’re not identical. Our noses are completely different, and once I started watching the show and saw a more dimensional version of the actress, I thought she and I resembled each other less. Sometimes I think mannerisms and certain expressions make people similar even if they don’t look alike. In fact, that’s one of the story lines in my book, Celebration’s Baby, which will be out in April 2014. A secondary character, Maya, lost the love of her life years ago. He died in an accident and she hasn’t been able to love since. Fast forward years later, a man who reminds her of her old love shows up. She can’t decide if she’s attracted to him because he reminds her of her dead lover or if her heart is truly ready to love again.
He’s not exactly a doppelgänger, not in the true sense of the word. Then again, the meaning of the word has changed over the years. In folklore, doppelgängers are perceived as sinister versions of a person – an evil twin. In the old days, when you saw your doppelgänger, it was a harbinger of bad luck or an omen of death.
But, of course, the contemporary meaning of doppelgänger is simply a look-alike. Doppelgängers are a running gag through the sitcom How I Met Your Mother: at one time or another, the characters have spotted uncanny look a likes of each other, except for Barney (Neil Patrick Harris’s character). The absence of his doppelgänger is used as a significant plotline, which I won’t spoil in case you haven’t seen the show and want to.
Who’s your doppelgänger?
Celebration’s Bride is available now!
RT Book Reviews gives Celebration’s Bride 4.5 stars and says, “Thompson’s reality TV show setup rocks the pages with its quirky cast. Her couples’ imperfections make them realistic and alluring….”
Celebration’s Family - February 2014
Celebration’s Baby - April 2014
In January, I read a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It’s an account of how the author spent one year “test-driving” the theories and practices of happiness. Before starting her research, she’d had an epiphany: “The days are long, but the years are short.” She realized time was passing and she was not focusing enough on the things that really mattered to her.
The book resonated with me. As a writer, life is a constant juggling act. I’m always mindful of striving for balance between family and work. More often than I’d like to admit, life gets out of balance. The result: my family and I get very unhappy.
Enter The Happiness Project.
I loved Gretchen’s method: after analyzing what made her happy, what made her unhappy and what felt “right” and what could be a better fit, she identified twelve areas of her life that needed attention and devoted one month to exploring each in an effort to enrich her life and make her truly happy.
Among practical and profound tips for living a happier and more fulfilled life, the book also made me realize that all my New Year’s resolutions and goals didn’t necessarily have to be tackled at once. Why not break them down, assign them specific months in 2013? Why not look at it as my own personal Happiness Project? It seemed like a good way to make it easier to achieve my goals without feeling overwhelmed Also, I hoped to keep each ball in the air as I add others (after the previous goals had gained traction). As we prepare to enter the last third of 2013, I wanted to review what I’ve done so far and what I have left to tackle in the final third of the year.
Here’s what I’ve been working on:
1. January – Set office hours and guard them
I have definitely been more mindful of “reporting to work.” Because of that, I’ve been more productive this year. I’ve met my Special Edition goals and have been working on some other projects, too.
2. February – Limit social media time to make room for other things in life
This is a struggle for me. I can get *so* caught up in social media – especially FaceBook and Pinterest. I’ve had to really reign myself in. Sometimes I fall off the wagon, but I get right back on. Many of you know I’ve been MIA on FaceBook recently. I will continue to strictly limit my time until after I meet my October 1 deadline.
3. March – Learn to say, “No, thank you”
Another difficult task. However, I’ve started to look at time as currency and I’ve been on a pretty strict “budget.” This, along with maintaining my “office hours” had helped me be more productive.
4. April – Mental declutter: Let go of what weighs me down/doesn’t make me happy
This was one of the best things I’ve done for myself. However, I’m often plagued by “mind squirrels.” I use affirmations to keep the under control.
5. May – Refill the well: dedicate at least one hour once a week to art journaling
As much as I hate to admit it, this one had been hit and miss. I need to focus on it more. See, by revisiting these goals, I’m reminding myself what I need to work on.
6. June – Make more time for reading
This had been going well. I should’ve kept a list, and I think I’ll start. I want to concentrate more on the classics – one of my goals (not on this list, but on my actual list of 2013 goals was to read all of Jane Austen’s works this year. I’ve read three so far… I have some catching up to do. Right after I finish MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick. It’s one of the best books I’ve read all year.
7. July – Physical declutter part 1: tackling my closet
Just in time for RWA! I did go through my closet and try on EVERYTHING. I sent donated fifteen bags of things I no longer needed. Then, of course, I went out and purchased things for the RWA conference. Not fifteen bags worth, but I didn’t feel as guilty adding more to my closet.
8. August – Physical declutter part 2: tackling my office
This had been interesting. I’ve been deep in deadline since returning from the RWA conference. So, I’ve used the Fly Lady’s suggestion of throwing away or donating seven things every day. It’s a slow method, but I can see the progress. This task will probably stretch to the end of the year.
That’s it so far. I still have the following on the list:
9. September – Time to get healthy: yoga, water and vitamins
10. October – Continuing education
11. November – Gratitude
12. December – Take inventory and plan for the new year
I’ll check in toward the end of the year and report on my progress. In the meantime, have you revisited your 2013 goals? Or what would you like to accomplish between now and the end of the year? I have some books that I brought back from the conference to give to a couple of people who post.
Nancy’s book CELEBRATION’S BRIDE is available now. RT Book Reviews gave it a fabulous 4.5 star review, saying ” Thompson rocks the pages with her quirky cast. Her couples’ imperfections make them realistic and alluring….” I hope you’ll enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.