AFS Publishing https://afspublishing.ca Welcome to AFS Publishing Sat, 31 Jul 2021 16:19:58 +0000 en-CA hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7.2 https://afspublishing.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/cropped-AFSP_Logo_for_letterhead-3-32x32.jpg AFS Publishing https://afspublishing.ca 32 32 28. Dreams https://afspublishing.ca/28-dreams/ https://afspublishing.ca/28-dreams/#respond Sat, 31 Jul 2021 16:19:57 +0000 https://afspublishing.ca/?p=2359 I dream. A lot. I’m not sure I dream any more than anybody else but I seem to remember my dreams more than the average person.

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Do you have dreams? 

Or maybe I should be more careful of my wording, do you dream?

Or even more accurately, do you dream while sleeping, as opposed to while waking?

We should all have dreams, even though the nature of one’s dreams may have changed with age – our dreams today may be quite different from those of 30 years ago. Time has a way of forcing you to revise your dreams. Certainly mine have.

It is said, not sure who said it, maybe Bertrand Russell, the formula for happiness is having someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to. ‘Something to look forward to’ may seem somewhat modest compared to ‘Dreams’ but may have the advantage of being relatively immediate and likely to happen. They hold the prospect of immediate happiness, and happiness is nothing if not now. Big Dreams are too far off for happiness (though the striving itself may provide the happiness). Unfulfilled dreams, like unrequited love, can be mighty disappointing.

But I’m not talking about those kinds of dreams

Nor am I talking about day dreams, or even free imagination.

I’m talking about night dreams (or even nightmares[1]), that neurological experience we have while sleeping. 

Neuroscientists are still trying to figure out why fauna need sleep; evidently our bodies only need rest to repair damaged or dirty cells but why does the brain need sleep to accomplish whatever goes on up there during sleep? And most of the time that’s very little of anything. Think dogs. Trying to explain sleep is one thing but explaining dreaming is quite another. Evidently they are connected – you need to be asleep to dream, but you don’t need dreaming to sleep. 

We’re told that everybody dreams, that dreaming accomplishes some very important housekeeping in your brain. Without dreaming, and access to permanent memory, you might be suffering other mental or physical ailments.

Dreaming appears be the brain’s way of processing the day’s events and filing the ‘relevant information’ away in permanent memory (‘who’ decides what is relevant?) in order for it to be retrieved at some future time. If we can understand what goes on in the brain during dreaming we might come closer to understanding what goes on in ‘consciousness’.

Everybody may dream but most don’t seem to realize it: in sleep studies 14% of people report dreaming every night, 25% report dreaming frequently and 6% never. So what about the remaining 55%? 

I dream. A lot. I’m not sure I dream any more than anybody else but I seem to remember my dreams more than the average person. 

My mother claimed never to dream, which might put proof to the argument that failure to dream is symptomatic of other health issues. My mother suffered from depression (and various forms of anxiety) and at times in her life this was fairly acute. The only time in her life (late) she experienced and reported dreaming was when she was on some anti-depressant drug. She didn’t much like it! She always worried her life would end in dementia and it did, though probably not of the Alzheimer’s variety she feared most.

Regardless, my mother claimed never to dream. More likely she did dream but was a sufficiently deep sleeper that she was never aware of her dreams.  Or maybe it was the opposite – she was a very light sleeper and never got into extended alpha sleep and so never emerged into REM sleep either. Anyway, most people don’t recall their dreams. Dreams are not coded in memory. Even when we wake up and recall the dream the details are fleeting, and unless we write down as much of the dream as we can recall, as soon after waking as we can, the dream disappears from memory altogether. 

Okay, Doktor Freud, my mother is not the only woman of consequence in my life but I must report that I don’t recall ever discussing dreaming with Marlene. She must have dreamed but she didn’t report on them, nor nightmares either. Carmen reports that she does dream but not often. I suppose that is because she is of good conscience and a sound sleeper. And besides, she’s awake at 4:00 a.m. and up and at ‘em. Dreams have to fight for her attention.

Most dreaming occurs during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. During REM our brains are emitting high levels of electrical activity, our heart rates and blood pressure can become highly elevated, I mean HIGHLY Elevated[2], we can have ‘night sweats’, all the symptoms of a high stress experience. Curiously, while our eyes are highly animated the rest of our bodies are rigid. During sleep the brain emits a hormone that intercepts signals at the brainstem arresting all bodily movement. This appears to be an evolutionary advantage, preventing our dreaming ancestor monkeys from falling out of trees while dreaming. All well and good for the monkeys, but some people waking from an active dream have had the horrifying experience of not being able to move.

I haven’t had that experience, exactly, but I have had night terrors in which I am desperately trying to scream and yell a warning but can’t get a sound out. In reality, as testified by my awakened sleep partner, I have been emitting incomprehensible shouts and moans.

Normally, we have 3 – 5 sleep cycles per night, at frequencies of 1.5 to 2.5 hours. If you follow proper preparing-for-sleep rituals you should drop off to sleep in about 10 minutes. You then fairly rapidly fall into deep alpha sleep. (Neuro-scientists still have little understanding of what is going on in the brain during alpha sleep, possibly nothing as the electrical signals would indicate, but more likely chemical cleansing – your brain lives on glucose and all that excess oxidized carbon has to be evacuated.) Assuming you are aiming for the recommended 7 – 8 hours of [preferably uninterrupted] sleep per night, you should expect to have at least 3 rounds of REM, like an Olympic boxing match, except that you should be refreshed at the end of it. If your schedule has you asleep by 11:10 you should be into your first REM round around 1:30 a.m., your second round around 4:00 a.m. and your last one around 6:30 a.m. If you recall your dreams it is usually this last one you will become aware of because you are nearing the end of your sleep cycle and in REM we are very close to actual consciousness/wakefulness, and you wake up wondering where she went. If you wake up with a dream around 1:30, it suggests your brain was highly aroused with that dream and you emerged into wakefulness rather than return to alpha sleep. Usually this middle of the night dream reflects highly stressful events in your actual life. And the worst of it is, once awake, it is often hard to get back to sleep and you end up dragging your ass all the next day.

And here’s a thought, do you wake up at 2:00 a.m. to pee? Or are you emerging from a REM dream and then you have to pee.

I used to wake a lot with dreams at 1:30 – 2:30 a.m. Most of those dreams depicted some bizarre stressful event. I guess I was living a stressful life and trying to sort out where to file the stressors. For that matter, most of my remembered dreams were unsatisfactory in some way or other. I rarely have pleasant dreams, even the one’s in dawn’s early light.

I know I’m not alone in this but it sure feels lonely at 2:00 a.m. 

Modern neuroscientists have pretty much dismissed dream interpretation psychologists (amateur or otherwise), and Freud and Jung’s theories have no scientific basis. Despite this, wondering what that dream meant continues to fascinate. Most western world people seem to have a lot of similarity in their dream patterns, especially their stress dreams about ego and adequacy. (Notice I said ‘western world’ – African and Asian cultures don’t seem to have the same dreams as occidentals; maybe that’s because they haven’t been exposed to the same cultural norms and memes, yet.) Who among you have not had some form or other of the failure dream (you’ve skipped class all year and now exams loom); the public nudity dream (sitting on a bus wearing only a shirt); the irrelevancy dream (you’ve been away from the office for ages, you’re welcomed back but you have nothing to do); the coitus interruptus dream (speaks for itself don’t you think? But to be clear, you’re reaching that critical point and someone barges into the room.).

Okay, maybe it’s just me. Maybe I should be glad those Jungian archetypes are just that, types. Maybe I should get a new therapist and stop blaming my mother for my fears, failings and faults. 

I have more to say about dreaming, but I am out of space (or more accurately, you are out of time). So I shall continue in next post in a fortnight.

Doug Jordan, reporting to you from Kanata Ontario

© Douglas Jordan & AFS Publishing

All rights reserved. No part of these blogs and newsletters may be reproduced without the express permission of the author and/or the publisher, except upon payment of a small royalty, 5¢. 


[1] Now that’s an interesting word. Funny how we use words every day and assume we know their derivation but when we actually investigate we are often in for a surprise.  Why would a mare actually visit us at night and scare the be-jesus out of you? (Luckily, it’s mostly children who have nightmares, for adults it’s called life.) Well, it’s not I that sort of mare. Maere is a female evil spirit; the male version is incubus, which you should look up for yourself!

[2] I once participated in a drug trial for a anti- hypertension drug. A baseline measure of my average and sleeping BP was taken, then a six week trial of the drug, or placebo (it was a double blind trial) followed by a second round of BP measurements. During my sleepover in the hospital with my bp being automatically measured every 30 minutes my BP measurements peaked at 210/150. I wonder what I was dreaming about?

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27. Humour in the Midst of Despair https://afspublishing.ca/27-humour-in-the-midst-of-despair/ https://afspublishing.ca/27-humour-in-the-midst-of-despair/#comments Wed, 14 Jul 2021 15:49:38 +0000 https://afspublishing.ca/?p=2346 So, to assuage my melancholic mind I have turned to reading lighter stuff, and viewing ancient Johnny Carson YouTube videos. I’m reading Alexander McCall Smith’s quirky series about a seriously cloistered university professor of philology, 2 ½ Pillars of Wisdom, including Portuguese Irregular Verbs; and Bill Bryson’s, Notes from a Small Island, an Affectionate Portrait of Britain.

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July 16 is the 3rd anniversary of my first emotional breakdown during my grieving years, and since I am prone to paying attention to milestones (see last blog post, On Birthdays!) I naturally am aware of this past significant event in my life. I don’t consciously choose to remember this unhappy time but I have little choice. Memory is a curious thing that way – it isn’t selective about what it remembers (suppressed memory is a myth) it just stores it all away. And the memories return whenever some external event calls them to mind. The images and elements that comprised the [original] event, even though distorted over time by the many revisions we have made to the original mental model, are still there. They are packed away in our neural vaults for use whenever it becomes necessary to retrieve them, assuming we can retrieve them (but that may be the subject of a future post – problems with memory in the aging brain).  

Even though this blog post is on humour (eventually), having a mental breakdown is no laughing matter. The events themselves were shocking, debilitating, distressing – and memorable. They are vivid in my mind (they? – I had two more breakdowns in that period three years ago, in August and October; after the last one I was merely crazy) vivid, yet the specifics are quite fuzzy.

Since they were debilitating events, and the memory of them only slightly less debilitating, my friends advise me, ‘just don’t think about it’. But this is empty advice, a philosophical and physical impossibility. You cannot not think of something. You either think of something, or you do not think of something, but you cannot will yourself to not think of something. More than that, memory is ‘triggered’ (as much as I loathe that overworked sympathy seeking word) by external events. Your mind doesn’t troll your brain constantly reviewing all your memory banks (or maybe it does but we aren’t aware of it, except possibly in remembered dreams). Instead, your sensory neural networks scan the external environment constantly seeking to satisfy basic needs[1] (sustenance, security, sex); it evaluates the incoming stimuli, ignores most as not relevant, but tweaks to incoming messages that might pertain to one of the above critical criteria. It compares the incoming stimuli with things stored in memory and then, being a predictive machine, guesses what might come next and acts accordingly. But note, it’s not the memory that causes the action, it’s the incoming stimuli which in almost every case is a random event[2].

(I know what you’re thinking, not all stimuli are external, surely. Surely the sense of being thirsty is internal. Well yes, the sense of thirst may be internal to ‘you’ but external to your brain. Somehow the body detects low water levels, sends a signal to the brain with a demand to get on this problem. The brain consults memory and recalls where the best place is to get a drink (of water!) in these here parts[3].

Memory is associative. [Long term] Memories are stored all over the brain (though mostly in the components of the limbic system (hippocampus, amygdala) assigned according to the brain’s storage algorithms (mostly in the hippocampus).  These memories are somehow synaptically connected depending on similarity and usage – things frequently recalled appear to be clustered in the same parts of the brain, things less frequently referred to are off on some lonely tendril, which is why you have trouble remembering Nancy’s name, but not Monica’s mammaries. When an external stimulus comes into your sensory processors a memory is triggered, but not just the memory of the previous stored similar/same event but any number of associated memories. This is why when you smell a freshly baked apple pie, you also think of gramma; or you hear an old favoured tune and you remember the time you danced with your lover to that song. 

So, I don’t try to remember those moments of despair – I may be melancholic but am not into self-harm – they are thrust upon me. A song, a body shape glimpsed on the street, a date on the calendar – and the memory pops up. July 13, 14, 15 and 16 figure highly in my memories (as do a number of dates in August, yet to come). I can’t stop time and so these dates will come. I suppose I could destroy all calendars and try for temporal oblivion but I think that a hopeless quest.

If I can’t stop the triggers, and the consequent memories, what can I do to self-sooth? I‘m finding more and more that eating is not a good strategy. Drinking has become less and less appealing. Sex might be a perfect solution if the object of my desire was not twelve thousand miles and twelve hours distant. 

Distraction is the next best remedy. Mind-absorbing projects has been my go-to strategy but lately I find finding flow difficult, call it Covid ennui. Reading has real value as a mental distraction but there is only so much reading tired eyes and mind can tolerate. I muse about music, but that is merely a constant companion, not a distraction. I find searching for an interesting program on tv very frustrating and soon give up, promising myself, tomorrow I’ll finally get that Apple tv appliance. 

But humour. There is the solution.

Curiously, humour has to do with the brain/mind being ‘surprised’ by what just happened. The brain processes information constantly and compares it with already known things in order to evaluate and act accordingly. Consequently the mind anticipates outcomes when the patterns become evident. Then comes the punch-line, the unexpected event, the surprising break in the pattern. When synapses are tickled, the mind laughs. 

The Readers’ Digest used to have a regular instalment entitled, ‘Laughter, the Best Medicine’ (maybe it still does but I haven’t seen a Readers’ Digest in decades). Personally, I think loving sex is the best medicine but maybe the Readers’ Digest is more readily available.

Read any on-line dating service and you’ll see that women expect men to have a good sense of humour. I doubt men ask for the same in women. (I wonder how many men go without dates because they lack a good sense of humour.)

Is it possible some people don’t have a sense of humour? I often thought my mother, severe serious Mom, may have lacked a sense of humour, but then, she likely thought the same of me, and she thought my dad ridiculous. I used to opine that It also appears sense of humour is correlated with intelligence – fast processing synapses. (I say ‘used to’; these days that is probably pic.) The more sophisticated [subtle, dry] the situation, verbal or otherwise, the more the receiver needs to be tuned into it. I hate to say it, not all of us are blessed with a really ‘wicked’ sense of humour – some stuff just goes over our heads. Conversely, intelligent people may not find ‘low-brow’ humour funny, [What’s funny about slipping on a banana peel?][4] and probably would be embarrassed that they actually laughed at someone else’s misfortune. (I hasten to add, my mother was very intelligent; maybe she was just missing the humour gene. My father on the other hand…)

Does having high intelligence give you a sense of humour?, or does having a sense of humour make you merely appear intelligent? But what kind of intelligence? (Are these serious questions? Maybe I’m just joking with you.) Or as Woody Allen has said, maybe a sense of humour is just a freak of nature.

So, to assuage my melancholic mind I have turned to reading lighter stuff, and viewing ancient Johnny Carson YouTube videos. I’m reading Alexander McCall Smith’s quirky series about a seriously cloistered university professor of philology, 2 ½ Pillars of Wisdom, including Portuguese Irregular Verbs; and Bill Bryson’s, Notes from a Small Island, an Affectionate Portrait of Britain

Buried in the irreverent Bryson is this pearl of wisdom (and I paraphrase, slightly): ‘The way I see it, there are three reasons never to be unhappy: First, you were born… being born was the most remarkable achievement of your life: Each time your dad ejaculated (and lets face it, he did that quite a lot), he sent roughly 25 million spermatozoa into the world. But most of the time they had nowhere to go. In the rare event you (your spermatozoon self) were actually given the chance to swim the English Channel of your mother’s vagina competing against 24,999,999 contenders and first ashore at the fertile egg of Boulogne, as it were, well that’s a bloody miracle.

‘Second, you are alive. For the tiniest moment in the span of eternity you have the miraculous privilege to exist. For endless eons you did not. Soon you will cease to exist once more. That you are able to sit here right now reading this, eating bonbons, dreaming about having hot sex with that scrumptious person in accounts (or maybe more than dreaming), well that is wondrous beyond belief.

‘Third, ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon round the Old Oak Tree’ (or pick your own worst song – mine is Paul Anka’s ‘You’re Having my Baby’, gag) will never be number one again!’

Who said, ‘laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone’? I think she was right; laughing alone is pretty hollow. And that, friends, is why we must get back to social contact again. We need to have a few laughs, with friends, and forget our unwelcome cares.

Doug Jordan, reporting to you from Kanata Ontario

© Douglas Jordan & AFS Publishing

All rights reserved. No part of these blogs and newsletters may be reproduced without the express permission of the author and/or the publisher, except upon payment of a small royalty, 5¢. 


[1] Despite Maslow’s hierarchy of higher level needs, as far as the brain is concerned, the three s’s are the only ones that matter. What the mind thinks may be another matter.

[2] Which reminds me, I’m now reading a delightful, perhaps mildly cynical, book called The Drunkard’s Walk, How Randomness Rules Our Lives, Leonard Mlodinow

[3] I was thinking of this problem, how mechanical the brain really is, while gazing out the window at my backyard bird sanctuary when I spotted a bright yellow finch swoop down to the birdbath and take a sip. I’d seen him there before so evidently he had stored in memory the existence of my watering hole. But how did he know he was thirsty?

[4] “The clearest indication of character is what people find laughable.” – Goethe

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26. On Birthdays https://afspublishing.ca/26-on-birthdays/ https://afspublishing.ca/26-on-birthdays/#comments Tue, 29 Jun 2021 17:15:28 +0000 https://afspublishing.ca/?p=2328 Marlene rather liked birthdays, her own included, but she wasn’t especially effervescent about it. Not for her, ‘birthday week’. She liked modest celebration of her birthday but was not strange about it as I am/was. She revelled most in the fact that on my birthday she was now a year younger than I, for three days.

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We all have birthdays, and for most of us that’s a good thing, considering the alternative.

Still, birthdays force a certain reckoning upon us.

And remembrances of people in our lives, past and present.

There are two main waves of birthdays in my personal history, one at the end of June/early July, and the second in August/early September. I’ve offered my [unsubstantiated] claim before that the highest incidence of birthdays in the calendar year, at least in the northern hemisphere, is August (and maybe spilling into September). The thesis was that with the increasing short days of approaching winter, accelerated by Standard Time, long dark evenings meant earlier bedtime, even if the bed-goers weren’t especially sleepy, merely bored. This may be more the case for my parents’ generation than now, before tv and video games, but you get my point. (And of you don’t get my point just get out a calendar and start counting the months, or go ask your father.)

June (and early July) is marked by five birthdays in my family. My dad’s date is June 25. (Or do we say ‘was’? He may be 19 years dead now but his Birthday is still June 25 and I still mark it, if I remember.) His great-grandson, and namesake, William Jordan’s birthday is June 27. Dad never knew William (the 7th (at least)) as Dad died in 2002 and William VII was born in 2008. Great-granddaughter Madelyn was born June 30, 2002. Dad knew about Madelyn but never saw her; he was ‘confined’ in hospitals with c-difficile. Son-in-law Mike’s birthday is July 6 and granddaughter Erin 4 days later July 10. 

The August contingent is more populated: my own birthday is the 27th. Marlene was born August 30 (I say ‘born’ so I can avoid the dilemma of ‘is’/’was’). Her father, George, was also August 27. (Now there’s the was word again; maybe it’s not a matter of past tense but merely subjunctive.) There are many others I know well whose birthday is August 28, but I forget who they are. My daughter-in-law’s birthday is September 1 and my second son-in-law’s birthday is September 13. See, there was a lot going on in the previous Novembers.

(My thesis holds even stronger when we consider my Filipino family – their birthdays are scattered throughout the year, which make sense since sundown comes around 6:30 pm twelve months of the year.)

Curiously, none of my own kids were born in either month, instead it’s February, December, and April. I guess Marlene was not relying on bed with me for entertainment in the Novembers of the 1970s, she preferred Masterpiece Theatre. Conception came on her own schedule.

Marlene rather liked birthdays, her own included, but she wasn’t especially effervescent about it. Not for her, ‘birthday week’. She liked modest celebration of her birthday but was not strange about it as I am/was. She revelled most in the fact that on my birthday she was now a year younger than I, for three days.

It’s not that I’m against birthdays, quite the contrary. I think it important to acknowledge milestones of family and friends, it’s a gentle way to remind them, and yourself, that these people are important parts of our lives. Furthermore, I think birthdays should be celebrated on the actual day, not commuted to some other day for convenience sake.

No, I don’t eschew acknowledging birthdays, merely my own. And everyone in the family knew it. I remember the year I turned 55 (2002), my annus horribilis. And I think I had good cause to make that claim. Not only did I turn 55 that year (should I be retiring? Remember ‘Freedom 55’?!?) and therefor I must be old, but that was also the year my dog (Spencer) died; and my dad died; and I become a grandfather. Not that being a grandfather was a bad thing – it wasn’t Madelyn’s fault – but it meant I was now sleeping with a grandmother. Well even that fiction needs to be corrected: I snored pretty heavily, apparently, though physical evidence was never presented, and had long been banished from Marlene’s bedroom.

To avoid family celebration of our birthdays, Marlene and I began to plan our travels to coincide with our birthdays in late August: in 2006 we were in Northern California; in 2007 in Gaspé et Charlevoix; in 2009 in Jersey (not New Jersey!) and Paris. But by 2012 the family began to conspire to celebrate Marlene and my 65th birthdays. Marlene was sent to feel me out, as it were, and I surprised everybody by agreeing, rather enthusiastically. Family and friends gathered in son Ryan’s backyard as gaiety and abandon ensued. I recall especially reading to the assembled guests, laughing uncontrollably throughout, George Carlin’s monologueabout the many symbolic milestones in the pantheon of birthdays: ‘turned 30, like bad milk, made it to 60!’

Birthdays aren’t the only milestones to be celebrated. Apparently countries have birthdays too, though as far as I can tell this only includes Canada. Every other real country has a national holiday: Independence Day, Bastille Day; even the Quebec ‘Nation’ calls its national day after its patron saint. The Philippines has half a dozen commemorative days and none of them are called Philippines Day. But in Canada, we have the eponymous ‘Canada Day’, which is awkward even to say. Celebrate our national day we should, but spare me the sophomoric exclamation ‘Happy Birthday Canada!’ Our national day should be acknowledged with dignity and respect. Bring back our Dominion Day[1] I say.

I wonder if Canada minds celebrating the 154th anniversary of its Confederation (or a half hour later in Newfoundland). The date of its birth may be more illusive.

Or is it just me who gainsays birthdays?

Regardless, Happy Birthday today Madelyn. And may you all tomorrow have a pleasant Dominion Day, to remember the accomplishments of our forbears and to wish ourselves good fortune for an uncertain future.

Doug Jordan, reporting to you from Kanata Ontario

© Douglas Jordan & AFS Publishing

All rights reserved. No part of these blogs and newsletters may be reproduced without the express permission of the author and/or the publisher, except upon payment of a small royalty, 5¢. 


[1] The Globe & Mail used to champion every year in an editorial, driven by Michael Valpy and William Thorsell, but last printed in 2004. The link is only good for subscribers though, so I give you this link to an article in the Huffington Post, oh the irony. Nevermind, here is anyway: On July 9, 1982, the House of Commons smuggled through a private member’s bill abolishing a 115-year-old piece of Canada’s heritage, with less than two minutes of debate. Their haste spoke volumes, however, of the legislation’s rationale: that the symbols of people are merely playthings. So was born Canada Day, a name of happy-face banality. To call ourselves a Dominion never was a statement of colonial servitude. It is a proud and beautiful name we chose for ourselves and gave to the world, drawn from the 72nd Psalm, “He shall have dominion from sea to sea,” whence also comes our national motto. Only those ignorant of poetry and history could fail to understand this. That is what is really at stake here: can we conceive of our nation in eternal now, not daring to imagine a greater future, not caring to remember a glorious past? Give us back our Dominion Day.

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25. On Certainty https://afspublishing.ca/25-on-certainty/ https://afspublishing.ca/25-on-certainty/#comments Tue, 15 Jun 2021 21:38:33 +0000 https://afspublishing.ca/?p=2313 It’s amazing how we put off doing what we know we must, somehow hoping to buy time and maybe a miracle. It’s certain we have to do our taxes. (Though maybe not for everyone – I’ve heard of people who avoided filing tax returns for years, maybe even know some of them, and I’m pretty sure it’s not because they have no taxable income.) It seems just as certain we have to accept our own demise too (though maybe those serial avoiders also know something about certain death the rest of us don’t).

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I was going to give this post the title, ‘Death and Taxes’ but I guessed many of my readers are getting a little tired of my obsession with death, and who wants to talk about taxes. So I called it ‘certainty’ instead, as in, nothing is quite so certain as death and taxes. (This quote yet again attributed to the prodigious Benjamin Franklin, though he himself likely borrowed it from the general memes of the times, likely in this case begun by Daniel Defoe.) 

I had good cause to talk about death, or more aptly, grief, that great consequence of death, and then also taxes. As you know, Bonnie met her demise at the hands of The Grim Reaper’s veterinary agent, aided in the betrayal by Judas Jordan, trusting devoted poodle that she was. I was surprised at the blue funk I fell into over the subsequent two weeks, I thought I was inured to grief and I had easily rationalized the necessity of letting Bonnie’s struggle with pain and immobility end humanely. (Curious word that: humane.)

Despite the certainty of the having to do my taxes, I had procrastinated on filing my 2020 tax return for weeks – I’m not late, I have the privilege of being self-employed and so have till June 15 to file, which is of small advantage as one must still pay taxes owing by April 30. But Bonnie’s dying and my subsequent funk brought me very close to the deadline. My 2020 vision of timely filing was becoming myopic. Moreover, I also had the [self-imposed] looming deadline of posting my semi-monthly blog post on the 15th. I was stressed, I didn’t sleep well. I didn’t do anything about it.

I’ve never really enjoyed doing that burdensome chore, filling and filing the tax forms, but the latent clerk, or penitent, in me somehow drew a sort of perverse pleasure in the task. For many years this deeply personal administrative task was done by hand of course, and then the last 20 years or so with the aid of tax software. (Maybe that’s why it’s so stressful, finances is personal, with lots of implications.) I had an annual ritual, taxes were done on Good Friday. Sometimes Good Friday fell in March, well ahead of the due date. I would hope for rain, a suitable gloom for the double significance (for me at least) for the day. I’d get to my desk by 9:30 (it was after all a religious holiday and I was entitled to luxuriate a while in the morning Globe and indulge myself in a second cup of coffee), and then start in, collecting all my documents (Ha!), and open the forms, or software. The task got harder and lengthier when I became self-employed in the ‘90s, and longer again when Marlene had returned to the workforce and had to file her own taxes. Again, Ha! She was intimidated by forms and was very good at delegating. Five or six hours later I was be done, exhausted, and stressed out to here. The kids cleverly made themselves scarce. In later years I swear they even resorted to getting themselves married and avoided coming over on Good Fridays. 

It’s amazing how we put off doing what we know we must, somehow hoping to buy time and maybe a miracle. It’s certain we have to do our taxes. (Though maybe not for everyone – I’ve heard of people who avoided filing tax returns for years, maybe even know some of them, and I’m pretty sure it’s not because they have no taxable income.) It seems just as certain we have to accept our own demise too (though maybe those serial avoiders also know something about certain death the rest of us don’t).

I suppose the only remedy for the certainty of taxes is the certainty of death, though even in death your executor has to tie up all the loose ends you left and file one last return; how sad for her or him.

It’s paradoxical, our attitude to the certainty of death. Death may be certain[1] but we are rarely prepared. That may be because we are not sure exactly when that dread day will come. And as a consequence, we put off preparing properly for it. Of course in death we fear for the loss of our future but I’m not sure that is the greater fear. It’s the ‘not knowing’, for sure, what comes after death that troubles the mind; maybe it is the horror of uncertainty that keeps us avoiding our obligations. I oft recall Woody Allen on death: ‘I’m not afraid of death, I just got don’t want to be there when it happens!’ 

I’ve read a lot about death, and all its philosophical, religious, and emotional aspects, even long before I came face to face with it with Marlene’s end of life, not to mention all the dogs. We have strong attachments (see here for my reference to attachment theory) to the ones we love and I think dogs have reciprocal feelings; when it comes to feelings, dogs may be as ‘conscious’ as human beings, just not prescient. Bonnie had no idea what was about to happen to her, but Marlene surely did. We (Marlene and I, not Bonnie and I) never really talked about her inner-most fears, but right up to almost the last moment of her consciousness she likely believed she would still recover. Luckily for her, her last eight days were in a coma. 

But since we know death is certain, why do we put off making arrangements? We ought to face up to it and be prepared, even to the point of scheduling our own final hour, as I did for Bonnie. But really, when it comes to it, will I really be prepared for that much certainty.

I believe in MAID and fully intend to act on it when my time is closer to certainty, assuming nothing accidental happens in the meantime. (Curious acronym, MAID (Medical Assistance In Dying), I guess MAD was felt inappropriate, even though many think it apt.) And in the meantime, I should have all my affairs in order: my banking reserves sufficient to meet all my obligations; my funeral arrangements made, including music; a note to my executor so she can locate all my necessary documents, and passwords! But I know I am not as prepared as I should be.

So, certainty. The human mind craves certainly, it abhors ambiguity and uncertainty. I said ‘mind’ out of habit, memes, cultural vocabulary. We suffer under the illusion that we have a mind, that somehow our ‘minds’ are magically separate from our brains. But how can that be? What is mind? What is that ego-sense we have that we are in charge of ourselves, that there is a mini-you inhabiting your brain, a homunculus calling the shots? It is one of the great mysteries of the universe. Whether you believe in ‘mind’ or merely ‘brain’, in either case uncertainty is the enemy. If you are out of your mind, your brain’s architecture, its billons of neurons and trillions of synapses nevertheless churns away at its biological purpose; it is a memory and predictive machine; it processes environmental stimuli, compares it with existing mental models (or not, often it skips this step) and acts/reacts. If it took correct action it moves on to the next step; if not, it tries something else, less familiar in its repertoire, and assesses what happens. If it was a positive outcome the brain learns from its own experience[2] and files it away for future reference. (if it gets it seriously wrong of course it’s game over.) The memory of the stimulus, and the action, are associated with a ‘feeling’. And the feeling causes an action when the same or similar stimulus occurs again. In this way the brain deals with uncertainty: it is compelled to act. Even if it ignores the stimulus, the lack of action is a sort of action, and may have a consequence; it also generates a ‘feeling memory’. Lack of action to the stimulus may momentarily resolve the uncertainty for the brain but the uncertainty problem itself also gives rise to a feeling, or feelings. For the non-conscious brain the price of uncertainty is anxiety, but the solution is to act. (I imagine your brain hurts now after having read, even re-read, that paragraph. How do you think I feel? I had to write it!)

If the notion of a non-conscious brain is too upsetting for you you can always fall back on your conviction that your mind is more than your brain and it is up to ‘you’ to assess the situation and take, for you, some sort of action. Your mind seeks certainty and acts to reduce uncertainty. From its lived experience your mind evaluates the situation and takes considered action, or not. In deciding what to do your mind is somehow calculating risk[3]. (And some people have a higher risk tolerance, and capacity to evaluate risk, than others.) The course of action you take may not be fully rational but it is your choice. Or so you think.

But this uncertainty, this trouble we have of calculating risk, and deciding on what action to take, including taking no action, drives so much of our neuroses, and sleeplessness. We wake up at 3 a.m. in a cold sweat, toss and turn for a while, maybe a long while; we write down on a note pad what we’re going to do about it in the morning and so trick our ‘mind’ into leaving us alone so as to get back to sleep. Samuel Johnson has famously said, the prospect of one’s own demise concentrates the mind wonderfully, but I’m not sure he’s right; for some it may make them even more frantic about the uncertainty that is coming. On the other hand, as Julian Barnes said in his wonderful book, Nothing to be Frightened Of, death is nothing to be frightened of; but what does he know, did his dad send him a card?.

So why are we so frightened? Death and taxes, it’s the uncertainty of it all.

You may be relieved to know that I did finish and file my [2020] tax return on Saturday. You may also be churlish enough to smile at the information that I owe Her Majesty’s Government $15000. Now that’s a certainty to be frightened of. My ‘mind’ knows I had the ability to deal with this problem differently but ‘I’ didn’t heed. The question now is, has it learned anything? ‘I’ certainly doubt it.

Doug Jordan, reporting to you from Kanata Ontario

© Douglas Jordan & AFS Publishing

All rights reserved. No part of these blogs and newsletters may be reproduced without the express permission of the author and/or the publisher, except upon payment of a small royalty, 5¢. 


[1] The certainty of death begs the question of the what comes after death; that may be the topic of a future post.

[2] though even some of this ‘knowing’ many actually be inherited, imprinted in our DNA, our brains already programmed for some actions improving our chance of survival. For this reason people are innately xenophobic, and have a fear of snakes.

[3] (In current usage the word risk has lost its meaning, it now is a synonym for danger, whereas, statistically speaking, risk is the product of probability of an event happening, and the consequences if the event happens. Something of high probability but low consequence (positive or negative) is low risk; it is also low risk if it has low probability and high consequence, but many people don’t see it that way.)

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24. Pavane pour une Infante Défunte, II https://afspublishing.ca/24-pavane-pour-une-infante-defunte-ii/ https://afspublishing.ca/24-pavane-pour-une-infante-defunte-ii/#comments Sun, 30 May 2021 17:19:31 +0000 https://afspublishing.ca/?p=2291 The problem of death for the mourner is the pain of loss. It is not the loss of the past – the past is already past, and we still have our memories and photographs. The grief of loss is for the loss of future experience of the loved one – the promise of the future is that we can live again the present we take for granted. But with death, we have no more presents, we can no longer enjoy the company of the lost loved one.

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Pavane pour une infante defunte – dance for a dead princess – is a slow melancholic melody by Maurice Ravel and induces, for me at least, reflective thinking on life. I wrote an elegy for a young woman last June, a young Filipina whose life was tragically cut short, too short, by cancer. 

Now I write a post for another princess near and dear to me, though I can’t claim she leaves us too soon. Still the pain of loss is heavy. Philosophers for millennia have wrestled with the problem of pain, from Aristotle to CS Lewis, balancing pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow. I have talked of this problem at some length in Travels with Myself, my personal journey with grief.

The fact that I have a princess to mourn is itself, ironically I suppose, a gift. If I had not had her life in my life to amuse and entertain me, to care for, to love and be loved, I would have missed a lot of joy, and that easily balances the sorrow of her loss, although in the minutes and hours and days after her life ending it doesn’t feel like an equal offset. We could protect ourselves from future sorrow I suppose if we keep all attachments out of our lives, but then, what sort of life would that be? Mere existence.

The princess in this case was yet another gift from another princess in my life, Marlene. 

Bonnie was very special. She was the result of a series of surprise decisions Marlene made that brought joys, and sorrows, into our lives – the family poodles. Born in the makeshift delivery room Marlene had contrived in the upstairs family bathroom, Bonnie was virtually indistinguishable from her six siblings until we marked them with nail polish on various body parts – head, shoulder, tail – but by day three she (head) was already squirming over her siblings and the barricade of towels and headed for the stairs, prompting the early migration of the litter to the basement kennel I had devised. Within weeks she was the first to try to climb over the 18-inch lattice fence, and soon succeeded; she was the first to climb the stairs from the basement and the first to discover the freedom of the backyard to do her business, leading a parade of puppies down the hall. I hated to see the others go to new homes but we kept Bonnie for Show, as she showed by far the most spunk, a quality most prized for success in the ring. She became a Canadian Champion and won Best Puppy in Show three times, just like her mother, Hallelujah. When her show days were done Marlene and I had to face the fact we couldn’t really keep three Standard Poodles (mother Hallelujah, and uncle Max) in our suburban Nepean house. Luckily daughter Alison agreed to give her a trial run and see if husband Tim’s acute allergies could tolerate poodle dander. (Poodles are allegedly hypo-allergenic because they have hair instead fo fur, but…) Tim toughed it out and Bonnie stayed with Alison for the next nine years of her life, with more than a few occasional visits and long stays with the ‘grandparents’. It was heart-warming, and at the same time embarrassing, to see that bundle of black personality show abject submission whenever she saw me again, and pee on the floor. We learned to greet her on the porch before letting her in the house. Was she showing feasance to the alpha dog, or merely echoing appreciation for all the days and nights I spent swabbing the basement kennel.

As the years passed Bonnie found her life becoming more and more stressful – she had to find her role in Alison’s growing family, protecting and herding, first Victor and then Miles. And then tragedy and crisis struck: five days after Marlene succumbed to her cancer and lepto-meningeal disease, Bonnie was afflicted with an episode of gastric dilatation-volvulus (‘bloat’). A hard decision had to be made: at almost 11 years old, should she have emergency surgery or be euthanized? We opted for surgery – she was an active and healthy dog, she deserved a chance to live a little longer. She survived the surgery but her recuperation had to be with Grampa, away from the tumult of life with Alison’s busy boys. Her stay with me lasted almost four years, apart from a seven-month separation while I did a tour in the Philippines with Carmen Beauty in 2019.

At 14 and a half, a dog is getting pretty old, maybe 101 in human life terms, and the ever-eager Bonnie was beginning to slow down. Bonnie was still keen to take her three-times-a-day walks with me, and because she was increasingly quiet and attached, I let her walk freely while I carried her leash. I often think if Bonnie hadn’t come to live with me four years ago, my life, my mental and physical health, would have been a greater struggle than it was. 

Because Bonnie was a show dog, we always kept her in fancy cut; not as fancy as her show days, but still, pretty showy. She visited the salon every six weeks; she was an expensive princess. She had her last hair-do in early February and she looked like her glamourous show-days self. 

Bonnie at The Polished Pooch 2021 February 10.

Bonnie in the Office

But her appetite was starting to lag. She had always been a lean dog and a picky eater but she was beginning to worry me. I tried different foods to entice her, even fancy canned food. Nothing appealed to her for long, except people food. Then she started to limp. I blamed myself for inadvertently stepping on her foot. But such a minor injury does not cause a tumour.

And so began Bonnie’s own slow pavane with death. I changed the bandages on her ravaged foot daily, I walked a ‘three-legged’ dog every day – she was still eager to go, though roaching was exhausting for her and the walks became shorter and shorter. But Monday I had to carry her home the final leg of her nightly walk around the block. Tuesday I called Claire Place Veterinary Hospice (Mobile Services); we couldn’t take any more suffering and I couldn’t wait for my regular vets at Lynwood Animal Hospital. Bonnie’s suffering came to an end Wednesday at the hands of Dr. Dorothy, a kind and gentle hospice vet, MAID for dogs at home. But mine continued.

The problem of death for the mourner is the pain of loss. It is not the loss of the past – the past is already past, and we still have our memories and photographs. The grief is for the loss of future experience of the departed one; the promise of the future is that we can live again the present we take for granted. But with death, we have no more presents, we can no longer enjoy the company of the lost loved one.

So today I mourn my lost future with Bonnie. I look out in my backyard and see her ghost taking her morning pee. I see her bowls and her bed and know I need to put them away. I walk the routes we daily walked, leash in hand but no dog at the end of it. I explain to neighbours when they ask where my dog is. I tear up every time, despite my claim to an enured heart.

Maybe my much scarred heart will soften. Maybe I can find new tomorrows with another dog, maybe as Grampa to Alison’s new poodle puppy, when she is ready. But for now we remember that beautiful black princess, Ch. Valmara’s Highland Fling Bonnie Doon.

Doug Jordan, reporting to you from Kanata Ontario

© Douglas Jordan & AFS Publishing

All rights reserved. No part of these blogs and newsletters may be reproduced without the express permission of the author and/or the publisher, except upon payment of a small royalty, 5¢. 

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23. The Challenges of Blogging https://afspublishing.ca/23-the-challenge-of-blogging/ https://afspublishing.ca/23-the-challenge-of-blogging/#comments Sun, 16 May 2021 18:22:36 +0000 https://afspublishing.ca/?p=2262 Still it’s the 50% of regular ‘openers’ of my notification emails who don’t click through I wonder about – why don’t they stop and read my wonderful stuff?!? But then I recalibrate my ego and allow for the fact that many of these people have busy lives, and competing interests, and haven’t the incentive (the title doesn’t appeal to them, nor even the excerpt) to click through to my blog and actually read it. I have to accept that people, even covid cloistered people, are not sitting at home counting the days until my next blog comes out.

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Bloggers are writers. Some are excellent writers. Some are clumsy, inept. Or maybe actually ept but rushed to meet a deadline. Some write just for self-pleasuring. Many write knowing that their works are merely trees falling in a forest absent sentient beings. 

Some write as a pure marketing strategy, trying to draw attention to themselves, or what they have to sell. They link social media sites to their blog sites, thus attracting readers to their website and the real reason for the blog – buy a book. This works if you have thousands of followers, and even if only 5% actually click through to your blog, you may get some sales; and even still, google and ping notice, thus attracting even more traffic to your site. Some bloggers blog as a direct way to earn income by collecting micro commissions from the sponsors on their page.

And some write because they genuinely want to be read. They believe they have something interesting to say, and try to say it in an interesting way, and meet readers’ needs somehow. To entertain, possible to educate; or the opposite, to educate, possibly to entertain. Some perhaps write to preach, possibly to convert, but that seems rather elitist to me.

I confess I write for all these reasons, especially seeking fame and fortune, but mostly because of the last reason (not the John Wesley part) – I write in the hope that I will be read and be appreciated for my efforts.

And some do seem to appreciate my efforts. Or perhaps more satisfactorily, appreciate my results. (Sounds like a sound management practice to me, we don’t reward for effort but for results, the effort should be its own reward (Frederick Herzberg).) 

A theme throughout these pages, ‘Travels With Myself’, has been my transformation from being a Human Resources Professional and Consultant to being an Author. Writing has always been part of my sense of self, and I’ve always been a lover of words and good writing, but being a writer and author is a new identity I have adopted only in the last half dozen years or so. I have discovered I enjoy writing for its own sake (though there are times when I think it is more masochism) but I know that I also crave approbation for my work. Equally and opposite, I also fear reproval. It may not be reasonable but it is human, perpetuated by ambitious mothers no doubt.

I work hard on my blog posts – and of some I feel considerable satisfaction, others, ‘need improvement’. These posts take many hours to write, and polish, and post, at least 10 hours. Quite a few take many more than that. Most improve with editing, some get worse. But overall I think my writing improves with each outing. But the proof of this is in the reading, and the feedback (which as we have reported before is itself another fraught undertaking).

I post a post every fifteen days and for some posts it takes fifteen days to get it done, for some merely two days. My last post took only a day and a half, under pressure of deadline. And some of my readers thought it one of my best. This post is one of three I’ve been working on at once, not sure which I want to release, and serious doubts about this one.

So it can be somewhat discouraging to know (or merely think) that few of my ‘followers’ actually read my blog. My broadcast email software, Directmail for Mac, gives me some data as to which of my subscribers open the email (usually between 60-70%), and who actually click through to the blog site (usually around 15%, but not always the same 15). I only have about 100 subscribers on my subscribers list so this means only 15 people are clicking through to my actual blog post, and of those 15, how many actually stay long enough to read through the entire post?

Of the ‘Openers’ about 50% are regulars, the rest occasional, but it’s not always the same occasional ‘openers’. So there are about 20 habitual ‘non-openers’ it seems. I think of deleting them from my mailing list and then I get surprised when a long absent person suddenly is seen to ‘open’, even if they don’t click through. Usually this happens, I have learned, when the person has been cleaning their spam folder after many months. And so I don’t delete from the mailing list. It takes no time to maintain the list, and a person who wants to unsubscribe can easily do so.

I recently had my webmeister put up an RSS feed link (RDF Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication) on my blog so that people who have RSS activated on their computers can bookmark my blog and every time a new post is posted they automatically get a notification, though I would never know it. I may have dozens of anonymous readers like this. Cool. Not likely says my webmeister, RSS is already a passé technology. Such a scary thought, I just found out what that little icon is recently.

Still it’s the 50% of regular ‘openers’ of my notification emails who don’t click through to the blog I wonder about – why don’t they stop and read my wonderful stuff?!? But then I recalibrate my ego and allow for the fact that many of these people have busy lives, and competing interests, and haven’t the incentive (the title doesn’t appeal to them, nor even the excerpt) to click through to my blog and actually read it. I have to accept that people, even covid cloistered people, are not sitting at home counting the days until my next blog comes out.

I don’t have a counter on my blog itself so I can’t know how many visitors actually go there, and even if there are visitors, one can’t know who actually take the time to read the blog. There are analytical tools that tell you how long a visitor actually stayed on your site, but I don’t consult the tools, not sure why not; most visitors are browsers and only stay for seconds at most, obviously not staying to read. Even so, I can be pretty certain that most visitors are merely bots, and as indicated from the reports I get from WordPress security, there are hundreds, even thousands, of bots. Lately there are a lot from Bulgaria and Spain! What’s even more amazing, judging from the spam comments I get on my blog site, is how wonderfully inarticulate those bots are.

My sense is that most of my readers (families and friends, and other parties who previously expressed interest) are more interested in news of me and not so much the wonderful erudition of my blog! Overall I find it quite discouraging – tender ego that I have.

When I explore other blogs on the web this seems to be a common pattern, there are lots of blogs that haven’t been updated in years. Like me, perhaps those bloggers after a while found the effort to write something good with a certain frequency becomes too big a burden. It makes me pause to think what the purpose of my blog is after all: a) a marketing effort for my products and services (mostly my books), hoping my web presence multiplies? b) A genuine exercise in expressing what’s on my mind in hopes that provokes new insight in some readers? c) Self-indulgent mental masturbation? d) A desperate plea for recognition? Or should it be e) forget the blog and merely send a newsletter only, reporting on the current condition of my dog?

I used to think, and still find some justification, that the answer is a), or should be. But then I think most of my readers are not there for reason a) and probably think I write for reasons c) & d). And charitably most of those would prefer I write for reason e). (Some readers of the broadcast email reply to the email but evidently don’t actually go to the bog post itself.) But the 15 or so faithful blog readers, some of whom reply or and a few even post a comment on my website, make me want to continue because of reason b). 

I am very gratified by remarks such as this to my last post, Pandemic Ennui.

‘l really enjoyed this blog [post]. It’s extremely well written and a sentiment we can all relate to in our own and unique way. It was an emotional read yet so enjoyable, insightful and inspiring. There’s a recent New York Times article titled, “Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing” which shares a similar perspective. I encourage your readers to give it a read.’

And then I think, how many others might have got value from my post but never realized what they have missed because they never clicked through. My wonderful post falls into an empty forest, but such is life.

I subscribe to a number of blog posts myself, and sheepishly admit, I rarely click through to honour their work. Shrug.

Doug Jordan, reporting to you from Kanata Ontario

© Douglas Jordan & AFS Publishing

All rights reserved. No part of these blogs and newsletters may be reproduced without the express permission of the author and/or the publisher, except upon payment of a small royalty, 5¢. 

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22. Pandemic Ennui https://afspublishing.ca/22-pandemic-ennui/ https://afspublishing.ca/22-pandemic-ennui/#comments Fri, 30 Apr 2021 14:27:34 +0000 https://afspublishing.ca/?p=2254 Ennui is not quite the same as boredom... Ennui is more than that, a general feeling of lassitude and listlessness that dulls the mind and torpefies the spirit, and persists. It is this feeling of ongoing sameness that enervates; even people exhausted by their heightened workload and demands of the pandemic and its consequences are suffering mental fatigue. It’s a hamster wheel with no joy.

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I hesitate to write about something that has itself become a big bore. Far too much has been written of it already and no-one wants to read more. We are all suffering pandemic ennui in some form or other and no-one wants to read about someone else’s misery.

But since this, Travels With Myself, is my blog, what else should I write about but what I am thinking or doing, or in this case, not doing, during this perpetual cycle of waiting. 

None of my readers have to deal with that dread question our fathers (and mothers no doubt) faced: ‘what did you do during the war Daddy?’ In the years ahead it will be, ‘what did you do during the pandemic Mom/Dad?’ and the answer for many of us will be, ‘nothing!’ Even if we wanted to do ‘our bit’, for the most part we haven’t been allowed to sign up. Unless you were already a front-line worker it was too late to volunteer. ‘Our bit’ mostly meant staying home, waiting it out. At least we didn’t have to black out the windows.

I’m not suggesting that I’ve been doing nothing. Nor you. Nor am I even suggesting that I am bored, exactly. But a feeling of inertia, stuckness, seems to dominate my days.

‘What did you do during the pandemic Grampa?’ ‘Not much, Son, but I remember having to pull myself together and drive myself to the pharmacy for some shampoo once. Oh, and I had a devil of a time cutting my own hair in the mirror.’ 

I’m not suggesting that everyone is feeling the same way I am. Some people, I think, are quite content with their current lifestyle and living under the current social constraints and protocols. And some people are very busy dealing with consequences of covid rules, whether they are front-line healthcare workers, so-called essential services workers, or merely busy people whose day jobs have become more complicated under covid conditions, their lives even busier than before. These people are not bored, but they may be exhausted with the seemingly never-ending stress and demands on their days, and their nights. 

A certain pall has settled over everything, ennui of an insidious persistent type. 

Ennui is not quite the same as boredom. This wonderful French word somehow goes beyond mere boredom, connoting more lethargy than apathy. Boredom is short-term, that empty afternoon feeling we have of children, or ourselves, seemingly having nothing to do, and discontented, but no ideas as to stimulate and entertain themselves. Ennui is more than that, a general feeling of lassitude and listlessness that dulls the mind and torpefies the spirit, and persists. Dull depression with a touch of anxiety. It is this feeling of ongoing sameness that enervates; even people exhausted by their heightened workload and demands of the pandemic and its consequences are suffering mental fatigue. It’s a hamster wheel with no joy.

I think everyone is tired of the constant constraints on our freedom. I’m not saying we have sacrificed all our freedoms, or that some of our suspended fundamental freedoms won’t return (though there is a risk of complacency), what I mean is we have lost the freedom of spontaneity. The constant reminders of the need for compliance, whether you think legitimate or not, takes away from our sense of empowerment. The withdrawal of so many services and diversions – all in the name of limiting social contact – takes away from our sense of choice. This creates a feeling of powerlessness, and impotence, so that even though we hate the mental state we are in we stay stuck. The psychologists call this learned helplessness.

Helplessness increases with loneliness. It takes a lot more discipline to encourage oneself to action than if you have a partner or group to perk you up and sweep you along. It’s like exercise, or any activity, where to have a companion who has expectations of you gets you going. It’s easier to go to the gym because you don’t want to let down somebody else than it is to get yourself to the gym for fear of letting yourself down. In fact, this is my best argument for getting down to my boxing gym in the basement two or three times a week – ‘you’re going to be disappointed in yourself later if you don’t’. I rationalize this failure by way of my daily default – walking the dog.

And it’s not as if I am completely without a companion. Even though I video-confer with Carmen 3-4 times a day via Skype or Messenger, it’s not quite enough. I am reminded, and then resentful, of that old advertising slogan, ‘reach out and touch someone’. Ha! And it’s not spontaneous – a major part of the ennui of powerlessness – it’s scheduled: we have to accommodate the 12-hour time difference between Ontario and The Philippines. But conversation, especially with the limitations of language, is not enough to overcome ennui, it needs activity. Oh, I could play solitaire or do a jigsaw puzzle, online or otherwise – but I would prefer cribbage or black jack, with the loser losing a garment. 

I also have my faithful and devoted companion, Bonnie, but she has very little sense of my needs, only her own. She doesn’t remind me it’s time we went boxing, or to bed. She sleeps all the time, except for our three walks per day. And at 14 years, and encroaching health issues, even that routine is becoming constrained.

I sometimes wonder about people in ‘retirement communities’ – at least that sounds better than ‘rest homes’ – and their increasing thrall, more and more confined to their small worlds. I think of my mother, a hugely proactive and productive woman in her active years even though living alone, but whose world shrank more and more with each passing year; and this well before the horrors of covid in ‘homes for the aged’. Like inmates in another sort of prison their ennui must be debilitating. Not for me a ‘retirement home’, though living in my daughter’s basement has no appeal either.

In an earlier blog I waxed on about purpose in life and the formula for happiness, pandemic or no pandemic. I said knowing and deploying one’s best talents to find moments of ‘flow’, is the way, and this is often best done though ‘projects’, especially if the project involves and benefits others. 

I have tried to take my own advice. And for that reason I have worked diligently on completing my novel (The Treasure of Stella Bay) and getting it out there. I have no paid consulting work but I have put many hours into facilitating the Canadian Authors Association with producing its 2021- 26 Strategic Plan. It has been demanding and very satisfying work – and reminds me that I am making a difference through my skills and experience, insight and energy, and still have value. I refuse to be retired.

So why do I still feel pandemic ennui?

Doug Jordan, reporting to you from Kanata Ontario

© Douglas Jordan & AFS Publishing

All rights reserved. No part of these blogs and newsletters may be reproduced without the express permission of the author and/or the publisher, except upon payment of a small royalty, 5¢. 

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21. Dealing with Feedback https://afspublishing.ca/21-dealing-with-feedback/ https://afspublishing.ca/21-dealing-with-feedback/#comments Thu, 15 Apr 2021 20:29:35 +0000 https://afspublishing.ca/?p=2246 And then there is the problem of giving and receiving feedback. Giving feedback is hard to do, which is why it is seldom actually done. Receiving feedback is hard because of our tender egos – but we self-protect by not listening, or rationalizing, or dismissing. Accepting ‘constructive’ feedback from social sources is especially hard. Who really wants ‘constructive feedback’? What we want is complimentary feedback, lots of it. How nice to have affirmation of our terrific traits and talents. But then, in the backs of our minds, there lies doubt.

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Feedback is kinda like Change: it’s good for you, emphasis on the YOU. Feedback is a bit like Christmas presents – it’s better to give than receive. Or maybe Feedback is a bit like the view of the great comedic philosopher, Woody Allen, on Death – I’m not afraid of [feedback], I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

For someone who has spent his career giving feedback – 20 years in HRM and then 20 more in Executive Coaching, you’d think I would be good at feedback, know everything there is to know about feedback. And I do. 

In my book, The Dynamics of Management, I wrote a chapter on feedback, (and then a whole section on 360 feedback). Short of reproducing the entire chapter here is what I had to say:

<People fear feedback and rightly so – positive feedback provides for ego gratification, negative feedback hurts. But the brain needs feedback; no pain, no gain, I guess. The brain is a learning organ. It picks up information from the environment; it asks questions of itself for greater understanding; it attempts some trial behaviours and observes what happens: if the outcome was not desirable, it tries something else; if the outcome was desirable, it repeats and reinforces the behaviour. This is growth. Repeating the same behaviour expecting different results is insanity (Einstein). 

<Hence, the brain learns through feedback. The mind – and self-esteem – benefit. 

<There are two sources of feedback: social and non-social sources. Non-social sources of feedback usually come from mechanical indicators – the speedometer on your car, for example. Social sources, as the name would imply, is feedback that comes from people – the police officer who stopped you for speeding! In work situations you get information from the job itself: data tracking on the achievement of some task, such as expense reports, and signaling as it happens – spell-check in a word-processing software. Social feedback, either directly or indirectly, verbally (face-to-face or in writing) and/or non-verbally through body language, is information you get from other people: the annual performance appraisal from your boss, or the quizzical look from a colleague. 

<And there are also two types of feedback: negative [corrective] feedback, and positive [reinforcing] feedback. People generally prefer positive feedback from social sources and corrective feedback from non-social sources because this is less damaging to self-esteem.>

And then there is the problem of giving and receiving feedback. Giving feedback is hard to do, which is why it is seldom actually done. Receiving feedback is hard because of our tender egos – but we self-protect by not listening, or rationalizing, or dismissing. Accepting ‘constructive’ feedback from social sources is especially hard. Who really wants ‘constructive feedback’? What we want is complimentary feedback, lots of it. How nice to have affirmation of our terrific traits and talents. But then, in the backs of our minds, there lies doubt.

I recently invited a few of the faithful to review my manuscript of The Treasure of Stella Bay. Two have supplied me with fulsome feedback, two have declined, with very defensible excuses, a fifth has assiduously ignored my emails (but to be fair, this person – a long-time resident on Amherst Island, a referral – doesn’t even know me), and one is still reading and ruminating. Meanwhile I am on tenterhooks waiting for my date with destiny[1]. Of course I am grateful for their positive comments and generous reviews, but then I must suffer through their constructive comments, correctly pointing out shortcomings, problems, mistypes and differences of opinion. Of course I want and need those bits of warnings and advice, but I nevertheless take each and every one as disapprobation. I punish myself for my failings and faults and I have nowhere to turn – ridiculous to become defensive against the very things I asked for. I’ll need to revisit my notes from my hours of consultations with my therapist who reminded me that my relationship with my mother was mostly positive and she only wanted the best for me.

And in at least one case, a brilliant ‘save’. It’s one thing to wince at a typing error once the book has gone to press, it’s quite another to find a factual error of the embarrassing kind. There is a chapter in the TSB in which Alex and his friends decide to take in a Saturday afternoon matinée. It’s the summer of 1962 and I wanted to pick a movie that everyone would recognize from the era. I chose Lawrence of Arabia. Something nagged away at my mind about the date of that movie. So I googled it and was very gratified to learn that Lawrence of Arabia won the Oscar for Best Picture for 1962. Yes! Nevertheless one of my reviewers cast doubt on whether Alex would have watched that film in the summer of ’62. I was all set to counter him with my proof but first I thought to recheck Wikipedia. Lawrence of Arabia was released for distribution in Britain in December 1962 (and hence qualified as a 1962 film), but it wasn’t available for viewing in Kingston until the summer of 1963! Argghh. Now I’ll have to reconstruct that chapter. Ah the bittersweet reality of feedback.

And it’s not as if this is the first time I have sought and received feedback from courageous colleagues on my manuscripts, though some of them are not so close to me as they once were…

And then we come to reflect on the comments on the cover for The Treasure of Stella Bay. And here we are reminded of the distinction between responsibility and accountability, a problem every manager struggles with daily. You give an assignment to someone and you try to make your expectations as clear as you can. And then you let them get to work on it: they are responsible for rendering the solution to the problem but ultimately the assigner is ultimately accountable for the final result. Of course it would be so much easier if the manager could just do it himself/ if I could actually draw decently myself, extract the embryonic idea in my head, put the pencil to paper and then render the idea into a  sketch, and then reflect on it, rework it, and then revisions, and the colourization, and the subsequent revisions, all would be up to me. But I can’t and so I delegate to someone who can. I then have to allow my illustrator to get into my head and tease out my half formed (half-baked?) ideas and render the sketch as well as she can, give me a gander, absorb my feedback (carefully and tactfully given) and make revisions; and repeat. Okay, there we go, pretty good, pretty close. I let it ferment a while, and then send it to 110 or more of you for a little taste.

And the taste is sweet, or in some cases bitter-sweet, and in some cases, bitterly off. I find myself pleased for Katy for the praise of our efforts, and also defensive of her from the critics. Maybe Katy doesn’t need my protectiveness; maybe Katy has a much thicker hide than I. But overall the feedback is useful, even if I can’t (or won’t!) use all of it. I’ll be going back to Katy with my list this week and we will be closer yet to a final design.

Ultimately, as I narrated in an earlier blog post, the cover is intended to catch the attention of the prospective buyer and most of you have responded with that goal in mind. The hallmark of true friendship is to provide genuine feedback when no one else will.

Penultimate version?

So thank you all for your feedback. 

I’m pretty sure most of you still qualify as friends.

Doug Jordan, reporting to you from Kanata Ontario

© Douglas Jordan & AFS Publishing

All rights reserved. No part of these blogs and newsletters may be reproduced without the express permission of the author and/or the publisher, except upon payment of a small royalty, 5¢. 


[1] Maybe a brief explanation is required. For most of my life I thought tenterhooks was spelled tenderhooks and imagined it meant hanging a leg of beef from a hook by a tendon. Ouch. Talk about suspense. But tenterhooks only means drying cotton on hooks like a tent. Same amount of waiting I guess but hardly any drama.

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20. Life is What Happens https://afspublishing.ca/20-life-is-what-happens/ https://afspublishing.ca/20-life-is-what-happens/#comments Sat, 03 Apr 2021 21:12:59 +0000 http://afspublishing.ca/?p=2213 Today’s post, already three days late and a dollar short, is not on the topic originally planned, but to quote John Lennon, life is what happens to you while you are making other plans[1]. My plan had been to continue my series of posts about the writing and publishing process. Being a deliberately planful person, …

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Today’s post, already three days late and a dollar short, is not on the topic originally planned, but to quote John Lennon, life is what happens to you while you are making other plans[1].

My plan had been to continue my series of posts about the writing and publishing process. Being a deliberately planful person, and optimistic (unrealistic?) in regards to completion schedules, I had intended to write about the art of receiving feedback, with particular reference to dealing constructively with reviews on my writing, receiving comments from my editors on my manuscript, fourth draft, of The Treasure of Stella Bay. My project schedule had me finishing the Fourth Draft by the end of March (check) and in the hands of volunteer editors (check), with feedback from them by mid-/third week in April, and racing to the publish line as planned by the end of April.

That may yet happen but my blog schedule was ahead of itself. How could I write about getting feedback at the end of March when I wouldn’t have it until the late April? Obviously that post would have to wait another month. But what shall I write about to keep my semi-monthly regimen? March 31 was fast approaching with nothing yet committed to my hard drive. The pressure was on. I hold myself to a high standard of obligation; I have a sacred duty to my fans and readers (even though many of them are phelgmatic and few wait with bated breath for my next missive); I nevertheless feel a moral imperative to them and the stress increases daily as my deadline approaches. It’s a doubly demanding duty if the quality of the post is not to suffer from haste. 

Not only do I feel the pressure of getting my blog out, semi-monthly, on the 15th and 30th of each month (excepting February!) I had two other major deadlines bearing down on me for the end of March: the R3 of my draft manuscript, and compiling the compendium of survey responses for the strategic planning exercise I am facilitating for the Canadian Authors Association. But I wasn’t concerned. I got my March 15 post out on time and I was confident that the muse will visit me in a timely fashion, that I will find the necessary hours to pull the idea into a commendable draft, polish it, post it, and promote it to my readers.

But then Fate, to paraphrase John Lennon, or maybe Publilius Syrus, c 43BC (‘Homo semper aliud, Fortuna aliud cogitat.’) stuck her foot in my plans. 

And Fate is a cruel mistress. Not only is she an uncontrollable force, and a random actor, she comes in threes! It doesn’t rain, it pours.

On March 13/14 my eldest daughter Shannon suffered a sudden cardiac[2] incident. She had emergency angioplasty and was released for home care two days later. I knew immediately I had to go to Markham to attend to her and her family. But I had to attend to other things in Ottawa first, and not just to get the March 15 blog post out. I had to take my dear dog Bonnie to the vet on March 17 to address a problem with her foot. We, Bonnie and I, were on the road to Markham on Thursday March 18.

Bonnie limped and hobbled and slid around Shannon’s polished ceramic tile and hardwood floors, hotly pursued by the Christner family herder, Darcy, the Shetland Sheepdog. He’s actually quite lucky Bonnie was ailing, yet still agile enough to jump up on couches and thus evade her relentless admirer, else he might have had his face bitten off.

Despite these family calamities, I was still confident that I would be able to meet my production deadlines. I had brought my computer and files with me and would be able to continue work on my manuscript, recruit reviewers, finish the CAA survey, and get out my blog.

I set up office on Shannon’s dining table, found an extension cord, plugged in my aging MacBookPro. I pressed the on switch. It didn’t come on. I pressed that start button several times, each time with increasing panic. I’ve learned long ago that panic is no remedy for problems, despite Greta Thunberg’s advice. I took deep breaths. I called my granddaughters, Madelyn and Erin, and asked them if they would like to accompany me to the Apple Store at the sleek and modern Markville Mall. They did, and thirty-five minutes, and $3100 later I was the proud owner of a new 2019/20 MacBookPro (Intel processor) 16-inch portable computer. (It was a lucky thing I had First-year Queen’s student Madelyn with me as the Apple Sales Agent was more than eager to offer me the 10% student discount.) A brand new computer is useless without the files to work on and in my haste to leave Kanata I did not bring backup files with me. I had brought a flash drive but failed to remember to transfer the files to it. So I needed to get the files off my dead MacBookPro’s hard drive onto my new MacBookPro.

The Apple Store doesn’t do this. They won’t touch such an old dead computer, but referred me to a service company who is licenced by Apple to do these sorts of data recovery. I phoned the agency, got an answering service who took my information; a while later I got a long e-mail with a quote: $1114, shipping included! I was to ship my computers to the agency, and get them back in 10 days. Talaga!

Lucky for me, my ever-resourceful son-in-law, Michael, referred me to a wizard repair guy his company uses for their computer needs, located in Markham west, Peter Wong of Computer Square Inc. Off I went Saturday morning down the 407ETR to find Peter’s shop, trying hard not to show my desperation to granddaughter Madelyn. We arrived at his shop at the designated opening hour of 12:00 noon, to find him not there. Nor was he there at 1:00. Evermore despairing we went back home to wait, and worry. Peter did answer his phone at 2:00 and I drove again down the 407 to Woodbine Ave. to meet Peter amongst his benches and rows and rows of shelves with bins of every known and unknown electronic parts. 

I gave him my computers, my new 2019 MacBookPro and my old 2009 MacBookPro.

“Can you transfer the files from my old computer hard-drive to my new computer?”

“Ah yes, but why you not just transfer with cable?”

“Because my old computer not turn on,” I said, noticing I was already slipping into pigeon-English with a Chinese accent.

“Oh, lets see. Much better if it can turn on.”
After a few minutes of fruitless touching of power button, and plugging plugs he pronounced,

“Motherboard dead.”

“As I thought. It already had some issues. You can fix?” I inquired, not quite frantic with an admixture of hopefulness and doubt. “You can install new mother board?”

“No,” he said “not new. Used. This is old computer, not make new boards.”

“Yes, but can you fix?”

“Yes, sure,” Peter said, “but first we must transfer files from dead computer hard drive to new computer. To be sure.”

“Okay. Let’s do it. 

“When can you do this?”

“Maybe Monday. Maybe Tuesday.”

“How much will this cost.”

“I think $135,” said Peter. First good news of the week!

Peter called Monday afternoon, “computer ready.”

“I’ll be right over.” Another trip down e-toll 407, and making a mental note about how many tolls this was going to be, I arrived at Peter’s to claim my computers.

“You want old computer fixed?”

“Yes sir if you can. I have systems on my old computer that won’t operate on the new one because of old OS.

“How much for new motherboard?”

“Not new. Used. I have to order from supplier.”

“How much?”

“Maybe $300.”

“Okay, when do you think you will have it?”

“Maybe next Monday.”

I left my dead MacBookPro with Peter and took my new MacBookPro home to Shannon’s; Tuesday I set up the new computer on the dining room table, stumbled around my new MacOS environment looking for files and apps so I could get to work. Took all day.

Friday he phoned, “computer is ready.

“But there is problem. Battery not charging.”

“I was afraid of that, it has been unreliable for a few years now.
“Can you get new battery?”

“Oh sure, but not till Monday.”

“How much for new battery?”

“Not new, refurbished. Maybe $100.”

“By the way,’ Peter continued, “I showed you, your old power adapter not safe, you need new one.”

“How much for new adapter plug”

“Not new, used. Maybe $50
“Go ahead.

He called Monday, “your computer is ready.”

I raced down 407 one more time.

I paid Peter $559.35 including HST. Might have been less if I had thought to bring cash.

But now I have two almost new MacBookPros and can finally get to work.

I’ll have to wait another few weeks to find out how much the ETR tolls cost me.

On Sunday March 28 I sent my manuscript off to two trusted reviewers. I’ve promised them outrageous fortunes if they provide me with encouraging reviews for the cover of my book. I’ve reached out to another luminary of my acquaintance who is equivocating on doing a review for me, and I am seeking contact with radio personalities at Radio Station CFAI FM.

Meantime Shannon has been thriving, well as much as fear and her latest handfuls of drugs permit – she is to be quiet, no excitement, no exertion. This can be difficult for my highly extroverted daughter, especially when I’m around, despite my best efforts. Still I took her off to two appointments and picked her up after her telephone consultations with her other attending physicians. On Wednesday March 31 I said goodbye to Shannon and the girls, promised I would be back May 1 to see all the tulips we had planted last Thanksgiving. There were no tears, except maybe from Mr. Darcy. I drove home to Kanata with no hope of getting my semi-monthly blog post out on time. But I had an appointment for Bonnie with Lynwood Animal Hospital for Thursday April 1. It was no joke. Another $595 for consultation and meds and another two week watch. And the prognosis is not particularly good – elder poodles are prone for cancer in their toes, and I won’t have her foot amputated if that turns out to be what is the matter. Bonnie is a lot happier now – must be the codeine – she thinks she’s a young dog again though she still avoids putting weight on her socked foot.

Friday I finished my CAA survey report and sent it off to the Strat Planning Task Force in advance of the facilitation session scheduled for April 9/10 (volunteers can only work weekends it seems).

That’s a lot of life packed into two compacted weeks, when I was planning other things.

And here it is Saturday April 3 and I am issuing my semi-monthly blog post, three days late and a dollar short.

Doug Jordan, reporting to you from Kanata Ontario

© Douglas Jordan & AFS Publishing

All rights reserved. No part of these blogs and newsletters may be reproduced without the express permission of the author and/or the publisher, except upon payment of a small royalty, 5¢. 


[1] But where did John Lennon get the idea, or the quote? https://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/05/06/other-plans/

[2] For the truly curious of you, she had a SCAD (https://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart-disease/conditions/spontaneous-coronary-artery-dissection) which is a rare and dangerous condition of uncertain cause found mostly in premenopausal women and highly corelated in RA sufferers.

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19. Writing for Reviews https://afspublishing.ca/19-writing-for-reviews/ https://afspublishing.ca/19-writing-for-reviews/#respond Mon, 15 Mar 2021 21:13:54 +0000 http://afspublishing.ca/?p=2206 Not only should the cover have a clever and pithy summary of the book which entices browsers to pick it up the and browse through it, it should also have a couple of short and sweet blurbs from noteworthy reviewers recommending the book to hesitant readers. And let’s not make too fine a point of it, anybody who makes the cover of a book with a recommending blurb must be noteworthy to the otherwise ignorant browser.

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If there is one crucial element to marketing your books, reviews are it.

Human beings are notoriously timid and generally avoid making decisions entirely on their own. And I’m not just talking about buying books. Buying anything, making any decisions. They prefer recommendations, or someone else’s advice, even if they don’t take it. <’Did you hear about that new restaurant that just opened. Great review in The Citizen. Too bad about covid.’> <‘I heard that new film running at the Cineplex is great; too bad about covid.’> <‘Do you think I should subscribe to Netflix?’> <‘Hey, what did you think of that boy we met at the bar last night?’ she asked her girlfriend.> (Men tend not to ask their male friends their opinion on a new prospect; maybe they should.)

Anyway, reviews are crucial to getting your book noticed. And not just word of mouth reviews. Reviews on various websites are crucial, and not just because a potential buyer wants to know what others thought of the book, the damned Amazon and google algorithms rank your book higher in the listings depending on the number and recency of the reviews. I say damned algorithms but of course I praise them when/if my books get noticed. That’s why authors shamelessly beg for reviews from already devoted followers, and sometimes from perfect strangers. 

Goodreads is a social media site of sorts devoted to readers willing to tell the world about the books they are reading, have read, or want to read. It started as a ‘social cataloging’ (whatever that is) site in 2006 but was acquired by Amazon in 2013. Ah, there’s the rub. Members can review any book they’ve read, even if it’s a classic and long out of print (though Amazon seems less interested in those). I’m sure there must be a limit on how long the review can be on Goodreads but I’ve seen some that go on for hundreds, maybe thousands of words. This is a long way from the sort of essence I talked about in my last blog post <https://afspublishing.ca/18-writing-for-essence/> I have myself written many reviews of books I’ve read in the last 18 months or so but I’ve tried to keep them short and pithy, and perhaps clever. After all, my slogan for my personal brand is, To entertain, possibly to educate. I’ve had many perfect strangers ‘like’ my reviews but I’m not sure that translates into them finding my author page and investigating my own books; but, in marketing, all possible avenues to exposure are to be investigated, and exploited if relevant, and free (or at least cheap).

Like Facebook, there are many ‘Groups’ of like-minded people on Goodreads. Authors are readers too of course and can join groups on Goodreads but some of these groups are devoted to soliciting reviews for their books. These requests are offered for the mere cost of a copy of your book, or even a pdf copy of your manuscript. Submitting a copy of your manuscript raises some risk – some unscrupulous person may try to rob you of your creative endeavour – which is why even a manuscript must be copyrighted and registered with an International Standard Book Number. There are also dozens of ‘organizations’, I suppose we can call them, who, for a fee, will promote your book on various social media (mainly twitter) and via email lists with short cliché blurbs. These spammy services seem pretty sketchy to me, and since I have some experience of spending a few hundred dollars on these services a few years ago with no discernable return, not very efficacious.

So, to help emerging authors along, dear reader, please take a few minutes and post a review of a book you have read on any of the relevant sites you like: Amazon, Goodreads, google e-books, even lulu. (There’s not much point in posting on Indigo books: even though it sells on-line it’s mostly a chain of bricks and mortar bookstore and relies on reviews of the old fashioned kind – blurbs on the covers of the books.)

Which brings me back to the discussion of essence in my last post, particularly blurbs. Not only should the cover have a clever and pithy summary of the book which entices browsers to pick it up and browse through it, it should also have a couple of short and sweet blurbs from noteworthy reviewers recommending the book to hesitant readers. And let’s not make too fine a point of it, anybody who makes the cover of a book with a recommending blurb must be noteworthy to the otherwise ignorant browser. 

I am very appreciative of the willing reviewers of my past books. Their wonderful words made this author’s heart swell with gratitude. No pecuniary promises were made in return for the reviewers’ remarks, except perhaps one but that promissory note did not pass to his estate, and no animals nor arms were harmed in the production of these blurbs.

As of this writing I am now at the point of submitting the manuscript of my latest opus, The Treasure of Stella Bay, to reviewers for feedback and commentary. Two eminent fellows have agreed. I have requests out to others, though none are O of C recipients nor celebrities. But time is of the essence. I am on track to publish this wonderful little novel in April and I need those pithy poignant blurbs for the cover. Please let me know if you want in.

Doug Jordan, reporting to you from Kanata Ontario

© Douglas Jordan & AFS Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of these blogs and newsletters may be reproduced without the express permission of the author and/or the publisher, except upon payment of a small royalty, 5¢. 

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