Talking to a Facebook Friend in Real Time

I’ve met a lot of wonderful people because of opening up and blogging about the loss of my life mate/soul mate. One woman, Shannon Fisher, has become a good friend of the Facebook variety, and tonight I will have a chance to talk to her in real time. I am going to be the premier guest on her new radio show, “The Authentic Woman”. I hope you can turn in at 8:00 pm ET.

Although we won’t we talking about grief (or not much, anyway) that is something we have in common, losing our soul mates. Shannon’s wisdom helped me get through many lonely nights. One night when we were messaging each other about the realization that although we felt connected to our soul mates, an important step in grief (sometime during the third year) is the realization that we are not our mates, Shannon wrote:

That’s the toughest part – realizing that their death has nothing to do with us and that we are all, while connected through a web of energy, uniquely created beings following our own individual path. Regardless of how connected we are to some people in some ways, their path is theirs and ours is ours.

When I felt that disconnect, I was suddenly okay. He was gone. I was here. And it was okay. The fear of letting go is what keeps us in the mire. We let go when we are ready to do so, and not a moment sooner.  Our partners are gone.  We can either live in this world without them, experiencing a full, active life…or half-live a life while we are still connected to our dead great loves through the ether, which we can’t navigate or understand this side of death.

It isn’t a choice; you can’t “just get there.” But you will get there. And everything will suddenly feel new again. You will see possibilities as something toward which you want to leap, and you will suddenly feel untethered and able to make that leap.

Well, I’ve made many leaps during these years of grief, and this radio show interview is just one more leap into the untethered future.

The live show begins at 8:00pm EST here at this link: http://tobtr.com/s/6078195. If you miss it live, then use the same link for the podcast, available immediately after the live interview.

Call ins are welcome. 347-884-8266

AW

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

The Academy Awards and Me

The Academy Awards are on tomorrow night, and so am I! I won’t be on television with all the stars, of course, but I will be the star of a radio show that runs at the same time. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit about being a star, but they are billing me as a special guest, so that has to count for something. I’m also the first guest ever on this new show, which is a great honor.

AW

The Authentic Woman is a weekly radio show that will be airing Sunday nights at 8:00 pm ET, beginning March 2, 2014, on the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network. The show will be hosted by Shannon Fisher, a writer, civic leader and social justice advocate who strives to enact positive change in the world one day, one issue and one person at a time. On her show, Shannon will explore every aspect of the female experience.

Interviewing both well-known public figures and everyday Janes (and Joes), Shannon will delve deeply into the world of writers, artists, community leaders and celebrities. Each week, Shannon and her guests will immerse themselves in themes that have sculpted their own personal perspectives — and their cultural and societal experience as a whole.

Sounds heavy, doesn’t it? But since I’m the guest tomorrow, the show will be conversational. Just two friends talking. And if you call in at (347) 884-8266, then it will be three friends chatting! We’ll be talking about my book A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my life experiences, and my latest interests. (I’ll bet you will be surprised to hear what those interests are! I sure was.)

The live show begins at 8:00pm EST here at this link: http://tobtr.com/s/6078195. If you miss it live, then use the same link for the podcast, available immediately after the live interview.

I can hardly wait! It should be a fun evening.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Just When You Thought Facebook Couldn’t Get Any Weirder

Facebook is so massive, it’s like a whole internet unto itself, with games, photos, chats, groups, and a ridiculous amount of promotion. Because of all that constant activity, it’s not surprising that shady folks have managed to find ways of scamming members of the site.

I have never liked liking things on Facebook except occasional posts from people I know. I especially don’t like liking candythings and sharing things if they are sentimental and sugary sweet. Such posts seem manipulative, as if I am being forced to have an opinion about something I have no opinion about. There are plenty of awww-some moments in real life — I don’t have to go looking for the awww factor on FB.

As it turns out, my instincts were correct. Although many such posts are real, others are scams. For example, I remember once seeing a photo of a young girl with a bald head, wearing a cheerleading uniform. The tagline on the photo said that the girl had chemo, and asked people to like or share to show her she was still beautiful.

The trouble is, that was a scam. The photo was real — the girl’s mother had posted it on Photobucket years before, and she had no idea that the photo was being used by scammers — but it was used simply to gain likes and shares. (This is called “like farming”.) Since Facebook’s algorithms are set to promote the most popular posts, likes and shares on such posts can increase exponentially. Sometimes, once the scammers have built up a page with likes, they switch content and promote a product. Or they sell page on the black market. Or they use it for phishing expeditions or even to spread malware. (Just liking a page can’t spread malware to your computer, but clicking links on the page could.)

Is this a good time to ask you to like my FB page? Probably not. And anyway, I don’t post much of anything except links to this blog, and you’re already here, so you don’t need to see the link there. But, if you insist, you can find my page at https://www.facebook.com/PatBertramAuthor. I promise I won’t scam you.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Doorways and Exploding Eggs

So often, it seems, we get up from our chairs in front of the computer to do something or get something in the next room that seems relevant at the time (yes, there is life away from the computer!!), but when we get where we are going, we have forgotten why it was so important to go there in the first place. Sometimes, if we go back to where we were when we got the inclination to do or get that something, we can remember, but other times the memory has completely disappeared.

Gabriel Radvansky, Sabine Krawietz. and Andrea Tamplin, a team of researchers at the University of Notre Dame, have shown that walking through a doorway makes us forget. They postulate that our brains are wired to keep the most relevant information handy until the need for it expires, and then oudoorr brains purge those details in preparation for new “need-to-know” information. (Please excuse this tangent, but I am laughing and had to share the joke. I just checked synonyms for “information” on MSWord, which I am using to write this post, and the only synonyms MS gives are: “in order,” “in sequence,” “in turn,” “in rank,” and “in a row.” Apparently, MS thinks “in formation” is a single word. Or maybe they think information is in such scant supply that we don’t need a synonym.)

According to the Notre Dame researchers, going through a doorway signifies that whatever information being held at the ready in our brains is no longer vitally important, and so our brains purge that information. In other words, we forget. Makes sense — we can’t keep every thought at the forefront of our brains, especially since a lot of what we learned in the past is no longer relevant. For example, we no longer have to remember how to crawl or how to let our mothers know our diapers need to be changed. Nor, in this digital age, do we need to remember where to put decimal points when multiplying percentages. For that matter, we don’t even need to remember how to add and subtract.

I have a hunch hallways are much like doors. Cross a threshold, walk down a hall and through a doorway into another room, and we are lucky to remember who we are, let alone what we were doing.

In the past couple of weeks, I have managed to blow up two pans of eggs I was hardboiling. Yep. Blew them up. Loud cracks of explosions. Bits of egg all over the kitchen. I do know how to make perfect hardboiled eggs, of course. The problem is that I do not have the patience to stand around waiting for the water to boil (I know for a fact watched pots do boil, it just seems like they don’t). I planned to set the timer, but the timer was next to my computer where I left it the last time I used it (because that’s where I was when the timer was set to go off, of course. What I said above about there being life away from the computer? Ignore that. I spend so much time online, I’m not sure it’s true.)

To set the timer, all I had to do was walk from one room, down a hall, and into another, and in those few seconds, I completely forgot about the eggs. Forgot to set the timer. It wasn’t until I heard the loud cracks of the explosion and went to investigate that I remembered. (I’m not sure why the eggs exploded. The water had long boiled off, so perhaps the heat conducted by the stainless steel pan was so great the moisture inside had turned to steam, and since the shell couldn’t expand with the steam, the egg exploded.)

The explosion wasn’t my fault, of course. It was the fault of a faulty memory system that doesn’t allow us to retain a thought from one room to the next. Yeah, that’s it. Not my fault at all.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Gone Fishing

I’m going to turn off my computer for the next twenty-four hours and take myself on a fishing trip. Not to fish for fish, of course — such a hobby is only peaceful for the one fishing; the poor fish are scared, hurt, and fighting for their life — but to fish for life. See what happens when I am disconnected from my usual online pursuits. Just take off for a day. See what I can see. Feel what I can feel.

If you want to contact me, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you tomorrow. Or whenever.

fishes

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

“If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place . . .”

Google is running a doodle contest for young artists — “If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place . . .” Of course, since it’s a Google contest, the doodle needs to incorporate their logo, which seems oxymoronic. What does Google have to do with the world? Google certainly doesn’t make the world a better place, it just makes online life easier to navigate, which makes me wonder if Google thinks the internet is actually “the world.”

peaceIt seems to me that the real, offline world works fine just the way it is. Earth spins on its axis, travels around the sun, and hurtles through space in an orderly manner. The sun comes up in the east every morning and sets in the west every evening. (Well, no, the sun doesn’t actually rise and set except from our perspective. To the earth’s perspective, the sun is always “up.”)

There are deserts and rain forests, mountains and oceans, lakes and rivers galore, which all make the world a wonderful place. The soil is fertile (or would be if we didn’t over use it) and water is plentiful. Skies are blue when the sun is shining, and vivid reds and oranges when it sets. Sometimes, there is even a flash of green in the tropical sky or vast waves of colors in the northern hemisphere.

Can anything invented by a human make any of this better? If humans really wanted to invent something that would make the world a better place, they would have to invent something that removed humans from the world. The world exists just fine without us. It is we who need the world. There is a story about a Native American shaman who almost forgave the white men for the terrible problems they brought because they also brought horses, and horses make the landscape more beautiful. Has anyone ever said that humans out in the open make the landscape more beautiful? (I’m talking bodies here, not gardens.)

I admit I’m being picky. I presume Google’s contest is about inventing something to make the human situation better, and even then, I don’t know if there is anything we could invent that would make our world a better place. I don’t know if there ever has been anything . . . well, except for indoor plumbing and toilet paper. Energy that doesn’t destroy the earth has already been invented (or discovered, rather.) There are ways of pulling energy right from the earth, but the problem is the energy purveyors have yet to figure out how to make money off such energy. There would be no wires or conduits, no meters, just a simple and inexpensive piece of equipment, similar to a small television satellite dish.

It would be nice if someone could invent a pain pill that actually worked, that had no side effects, and wasn’t addictive, but if someone invented ways of preventing pain and ill health and death, the earth would soon be so overrun with humans, someone need to invent something that would gradually remove humans from the world.

It’s a good thing I don’t have to invent anything that would make the world a better place, because I wouldn’t. All that the major inventions did was allow for bigger buildings, more genetically modified food, more vehicles, more incursions into once isolated lands, and in the end, more humans. What would make the world a better place is if people were kinder to each other, but that’s not something we can invent. All we need to do is do it. So today, be kind to someone and make the world a better place.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Upgrading to a Smartphone

My poor old dumb phone finally decided it had enough of being at my peck and call, and it quit working. Although I have never wanted a smartphone, that’s what I ended up with, and oh, my. I thought the internet consumed time, but that phone could pretty much eat up my days if I wanted it to.

For starters, it took a long time to find my way around and get it the way I wanted. It’s not that the actions were complicated, but in many cases, it was hard to find the instructions.

One of the things I didn’t like was that all texts ended up in the inbox of one of my online email accounts. Yikes. It wasn’t bad yesterday when I had only a couple of texts, but some family members cphoneorrespond with me strictly via text, and I had visions of spending hours deleting such items from my inbox. Also, all contacts from certain email accounts ended up as contacts on my phone, and most of those people I’m not close to. I certainly don’t want to be carrying them with me wherever I go.

And then there was Facebook. I downloaded the app, got it all set up, even downloaded the app for Facebook pages, then went to add something on the calendar on my phone and found it flooded with events and birthdays from people on FB I don’t even know. I found a way to empty the calendar, but it immediately filled up again. It wouldn’t be a problem since I have never used ecalendars (I’m not always on the computer when I need to check my schedule), but I thought I’d try the one on the phone. I found no way to unsync all the FB info, so when it turned out to be a choice between FB or the calendar, I chose the calendar. So I uninstalled the FB app. If you’re one of my FB contacts, you won’t be inundated with silly status updates. Aren’t you glad?

I found a cool calculator that works like its unvirtual counterpart, and a colorful game — Blendoku. I have always loved the way colors shade and fade into each other, so the game is a natural for me.

I’m sure there are hundreds of other apps that I would find fascinating — for example, I saw an app that supposedly identifies stars and such in the night sky — but for now, I’m limiting myself. The whole thrust of my current life is to live the real world, not the electronic one (though apparently, the so-called real world is also just a series of electrons connecting us one to another).

Still, I will be using the phone for more than making calls. I just wanted to let you know in advance that any errors in my posts and emails are due to the phone. I, of course, don’t make errors. :-)

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Yay! I’m a Winner!

Today I received the following email:

Google Security Department®
Belgrave House,
76 Buckingham Palace Road,
London SW1W 9TQ,
United Kingdom.

Dear Lucky Winner.

We wish to congratulate you on this note, for being one of our lucky winners selected this year. This promotion was set-up to encourage the active use of the Google search engine and the Google ancillary services. Hence we do believe with your winning prize, you will continue to be active and patronage to this company. Google is now the world leading search engine worldwide and in an effort to make sure that it remains the most widely used search engine, an online e-mail balloting was carried out on the 21st of December 2013, without your knowledge and was officially released recently.

We wish to formally announce to you that your email address was attached to a lump sum of ?750,000.00 {Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand Great British Pounds Sterling} only.

A winning Cheque will be issued in your name by the Google Promotion Award Team, and also a certificate of prize claims will be sent alongside your winning Cheque.

Your Award Winning Details.
Code Number: GUK/3554749405GK
Ticket No: GUK/1008272745GK
Winning Number: GUK/99334353734GK

Information’s required from you are part of our precautionary measure to avoid double claiming and unwarranted abuse of this program. To claim your won prize, please contact the Google Award claims Manager (McCarthy Robert) neatly filling the payment release form below.

PAYMENT RELEASE FORM.

*First Name
*Last Name
*Residential Address
*Telephone/ Mobile
*Nationality/Country
*Age
*Sex
*Occupation/Position
*Amount Won
*Alternate Email
*Have you ever been an Online Winner?

You are advised to contact your Foreign Claims Manager with his private email details below to avoid unnecessary delay and complications:

**************************************************

GOOGLE AWARD CLAIMS MANAGER.
Dennis Morris
Google Security Department (United Kingdom)
E-mail: mailoffice1a@yahoo.co.jp

************************************************

For security reasons, you are advised to keep your winning information’s confidential till your claims have been processed and your money remitted to you. This is part of our precautionary measure to avoid double claiming and unwarranted abuse of this program. Please be warned.

Note: You can fill your payment release form by printing and manually filling or you can fill directly on mail, or provide the details on Microsoft Word.

Please do not reply if you are NOT the owner of this email address.

Congratulations from the Staffs & Members of Google Board Commission.

Yours Sincerely,

George Wilkins.

Regional Coordinator,
Google United Kingdom.
©2013 Google Corporation.

I sent them all the information they requested, and will soon be rich!!

Well, no. I didn’t send them the information. This is a scam. But I got a blog post out of the deal, so I actually am a winner after all, just not a rich one.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Online Dating: Diane Lane I am Not

Until the last month or so, the only thing I ever knew about online dating sites and services was what I’d heard second or third hand and seen in movies. I thought you signed up, paid a fee, filled out a questionnaire, and they found a perfect match for you.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who presumed the same thing since such a scenario seemed to be a major plot point in the movie Sneakers. The collaborators needed to bypass a voice recognition security device, so they had Mary McDonnell pose as a computer date for Stephen Tobolowsky and record the necessary words. All goes well until Ben Kingsley discovers that Mary is supposed to be Stephen’s date. He says, disbelieving, “A computer matched her with him?” And so the story took a turn for the worse for the collaborators.

Now that I know the truth about computer dating — at least the sites I signed up for — the movie seems a bit less riveting.

To the extent that the computers are matching me with anyone (it doesn’t seem as if they are really finding matches, just notifying me of a random mix of people in my current geographical area), they seem to think I am looking for an inarticulate, overweight, tattooed smoker who rides a motorcycle. (Um, no.) The two characters in the movie were a much better match for each other than any I’ve been paired with. In fact, when I was watching the movie, I thought that very thing, that the two characters had a lot in common — both were educated, fastidious, articulate, and lived well.

Another movie that deals with online dating sites as a major plot mover is Must Love Dogs. Diane Lane seemed to find plenty of dates almost immediately, yet after five weeks, I haven’t managed to connect with a single person. Of course, she is Diane Lane, and I obviously am not. Also, the photo used for her profile was her high school photo, and pretzelsthat makes a big difference. As I wrote before, a woman’s desirability online peaks at 21. At 26, women have more online pursuers than men. By 48, men have twice as many online pursuers as women.

What started out as a sort of a leap into the future or maybe even just a fun dating game has fizzled into . . . nothing. One or two men did manage to tear themselves away from their motorcycles long enough to send impersonal replies, another two or three approached me and begged for my phone number and email address first thing as if they thought I were so desperate that I would pass out such information like pretzels at a singles bar. Such tactics might even work — apparently, a lot of people think the computers on the sites have more insight than they do, or the members are so psyched to go out that they go on a date with the first person who makes any sort of move.

I’m used to meeting people online who live on the other side of the mountains, the other side of the country, even the other side of the world, and it is a bit disconcerting to think I am making myself known to locals. Sometimes I wonder if anyone would recognize me if they saw me on the street, but I don’t think they would. So far, I’ve managed to remain invisible, both online and off.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Why I Signed Up for an Online Dating Site

I never thought I’d join an online dating site. I’m not particularly interesting in dating, and I don’t really care if I never fall in love again, but I would like to have friends. The sad truth is, after a certain age, meeting people is difficult, especially if you’d like to make friends with someone approximately your own age and with approximately your level of fitness. It isn’t necessary to be with someone your own age, of course, but it is nice to be with someone who has the same general memories you do. (What the heck does an old man talk about with a much younger woman, or an old woman with a young man? But maybe talking isn’t the point . . .) And it’s nice to be able to do things together. So often, one of a couple is active and the other inactive, which adds an extra bit of frustratidetectiveon to the relationship. For example, if one person wants to go out dancing and the other wants to just loll around watching television, they either compromise, grow apart, or never grow close in the first place.

When you’re young, people your own age are everywhere. If you attend a big state college, for example, you live in a world of tens of thousands of people about your own age, the vast majority of whom are not married. Everywhere you go, you see people your own age, talk to people your own age, connect with people your own age, bump into people your own age, make friends with people your own age, meet potential mates your own age.

And then all of a sudden one day decades later, you wake up to find yourself in a world where no one is your age. Ever since the death of my life mate/soul mate, I’ve met a lot of people in a grief support group, the Sierra Club, yoga and exercise classes. Guess how many people approximately my age I’ve met during the past four years. 4. That’s it. 4. Three women, one man. If you forget the chronological age and just go by relative fitness age — people who can walk, move without a lot of pain, have relatively few physical limitations — that number is also 4, just a different 4. All women.

My life mate/soul mate died relatively young, leaving me in a strange twilight world. Most people my age are married and married people generally do things as a couple and are friends with other couples. Guess how many people of any age or gender I’ve met who I can call up on the spur of the moment and ask to meet me for lunch (or whatever). 0. Even those who aren’t married are in committed relationships or are taking care of an aged parent or young grandchildren. Many have jobs, as would I if I weren’t here to look after my father.

I’m not interested in dating for the purposes of mating. Nor am I playing the dating game to find love. But I do not intend to be a hermit the rest of my life, and the way the society is set currently set up, unless I go out and actively search for people to be friends with, I am doomed to a life of aloneness.

I’m extremely personable, able to talk to or listen to anyone in just about any circumstances, and I have a radiant smile. And yet, despite my various physical activities, social events, and familial obligations, I spend most of my time alone or online. It would be nice to meet someone I can call up late at night when I am most lonely and just say hi.

Actually, I’m even getting used to the aloneness and loneliness, which is a good thing. Even though I have joined three dating sites (one paid and two free) I have yet to make a connection with anyone. (Which seems strange to me, considering how many friends I have made online over the years.)

I don’t know what the answer is for me or anyone in my position. If I could, I’d go home to my life mate/soul mate, but that is not an option, so I can only go forward, and in this cyber age, online dating sites, with all their limitations, seem to be the way to go.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook

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