Archive for the ‘Medium’ Category

If you have to ask…

Posted: 25 May, 2018 in Grammar, Language, Medium, tea
Tags: ,

(Originally published on Medium)

It’s 7:30, and the temperature has already begun its climb towards its predicted high of 84. That might not be such a big deal to you folks in the South, but here in Rochester, NY, it’s kind of a big deal — after all, we had snow on the ground less than a month ago.

Both the current temperature — 66 — and the predicted high might make some of you wonder: “Why on earth is she drinking a cup of hot tea?” To which I reply, “If you have to ask, you know nothing about tea, and even less about me.”

To say I’m obsessed with tea would be an exaggeration; on the other hand, we are in a committed relationship.

Many people have specific morning routines, rituals if you will. I’m retired, and so I’m in the perfect place to exercise my own morning ritual: tea and Medium. I stumble downstairs to the kitchen, fill the tea kettle, and put it on to boil. Next comes measuring out the proper amount of leaves. This amount may vary, depending on how sleepy I am.

Finally, the water comes to a full boil, and I pour it over the tea leaves (only rarely do I use bagged tea, and even then it’s a premium brand), set the timer, and sit quietly as the minutes and seconds count down. I remove the leaves from the pot, carry my cup to my easy chair, take the first sip, and open Medium on my iPhone.

As I said, I’m not obsessed with tea, and I don’t follow this ritual religiously. Sometimes I’ll be up for more than an hour before I start jonesing for my fix. And it’s almost always for a cup of strong black Assam tea, grown in the foothills of the Himalayas and then packaged and shipped to my favorite local Indian food store.

In Rochester, we’re blessed with several Indian restaurants and food stores; my favorite is The Spice Bazaar, just a short drive from my house. It’s my source for fine teas, Basmati rice, and Tea Masala spice blend.

I’m on my soapbox now…

…so pay attention, class. There is no such thing as Chai tea! Yes, I know the so-called experts call it that (I’m looking at you, Starbucks), but here’s the secret: Chai is Sanskrit for tea. So when you’re ordering your Chai tea, what you’re really saying is “I’d like a cup of tea tea, please.”

What you really want is a cup of Masala spiced tea, Tea Masala being the particular blend of spices used to make that delicious cup of tea.

Okay, enough pontificating

No more soapbox. I agree: I can be a real jerk sometimes. But I’m a writer, so the nuances of language and grammar mean a lot to me — as they should to you if you’re even on Medium in the first place.

That’s not to say that I think you need to be an expert on writing in English if it’s not your first tongue; it is indeed a difficult language to master. So difficult, in fact, that many who speak or write in it as a second or third language do a far better job than a lot of native speakers. And HEY! everyone I’ve encountered on Medium is far better than I am in, say, Mandarin. So I make allowances.

Disclaimer

You can find my standard disclaimer right here.

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings."
The Walrus and the Carpenter, Lewis Carroll

To which I would add "And to ask myself why the fuck am I still on Facebook?"

Do you remember the early days, when Facebook was the best way to chat with friends? To reunite with family members? You know what I’m talking about: the time before it became a toxic waste dump of advertising, lies, and politics? Or is the use of those three words in a single sentence considered redundant?

Like many of you, I used to check Facebook several times during the day. Hell, at one time I would even check it in the middle of the night when I got up to pee.

Well, droogs, I’ve had enough. Facebook has started to suck the life out of me. Instead of being a communications tool, it has become a psychic vampire, a tool for manipulation, and a disseminator of lies and disunity.

I’m tired of waiting for Facebook to grow up. After all these years, it still can’t decide what it wants to be when it grows up. Hell, it can’t even decide if it wants to grow up!

Security breaches. Stolen data. Refusal to accept responsibility. Facebook is the Han Solo of social media: “Hey, it’s not my fault!”

In short, Facebook has gone over to the Dark Side. It has joined the armies of Sauron.

I deactivated my account once before, and then thought better(?) of it and came back, only to discover things had gotten worse. This time, I have not just deactivated it—I’ve actually cancelled it.

If you need to talk to this humble Hobbit, I can still be reached by email, via this blog, or on my Medium.com account.

On Writing For Medium

Posted: 21 February, 2018 in Blogging, Medium, writing
Tags:

How To Find Your Voice and Become a Superb Writer

Save your work, then step back and preview it. Periodically, as I am going along, I “listen” to what I have written. This ensures it still sounds like “me”, that it flows and represents the way I want my story to come across. –Enrique Fiallo

This is a crucial step, and given today’s fast-paced cyberspace, perhaps the hardest. I spend far too much time on social media, with the result that I feel pressured to respond to the latest Facebook post or Twitter tweet and so most of my responses are flippant, with no real thought behind them.

But Medium is different. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that I’m different when I’m in Medium. I like to think it’s because my visits here have taken on a somewhat ritualistic flavor: I spend time brewing a fresh cup of tea (using whole leaf tea, naturally) and engaging in deep-breathing exercises while it brews.

I then sit down with my mug of tea and open the Medium app, usually on my iPhone. I peruse (yes I do know what the word means) article titles, and click on ones that seem interesting. Sometimes – as in this case – I’m prompted? inspired? to write a response.

But this isn’t Facebook and it’s not Twitter. This is Medium, and I don’t want to come across as some young smart-ass punk (can I even be that at 67 years of age?), and so I do my best to respond in a deliberate and thoughtful voice. (I save my smart-assery for my blogs.)

Once I’ve finished my response I then go over it, making sure it is coherent and consistent. I delete a comma here and add one there, change a word to one that makes more sense or gives more clarity.

Above all, I want to communicate clearly, and if doing so requires me to break some arbitrary rule of grammar, so be it.

After, it’s my voice.

Consider this an experiment. I’m creating this document in Scrivener, then I’m going to copy/paste it into Medium and see if it retains my formatting.

The Problem

Do I rely on technology too much? Right, I know this is a strange forum for discussing technology, when one considers that without technology this forum wouldn’t even exist.

But here’s my problem:

I access Medium—at varying times of thee day and depending on my location and mood—either by my laptop, my iPhone, or my IPad. I find my laptop gives me better control over formatting—not to mention a greater source of images—than the other two options. But I don’t usually use the laptop until I’ve been up and functioning for a few hours. Instead, my default device is my iPhone. Yes, it’s easier to type on the iPad’s larger keyboard, my my iPad is a few generations old, and is rather slow. And I get impatient as I wait for my tea water to boil so I can brew my first cup of soothing, calming tea.

So the iPhone it is. It’s much newer than the iPad—it’s a 6S Plus that’s a little over a year old, so it still is fast enough—and it handles the latest updates to iOS without blinking. But I’m really unhappy with the lack of formatting options on the iPhone through the Medium app. And I’m not above admitting that it may very well be the ID Ten T at the keyboard. (Write it down and you’ll see it becomes ID10T.)

Enter Scrivener

 
I’ve been using Scrivener for well over a year now, and I’ve never bothered to truly delve into all of its secrets and wonders. Rather than using it to compose my writing—mostly blog posts—I create and edit everything in Open Live Writer, then copying them to Scrivener, which serves as an archive. But I’ve recently decided to get my money’s worth out of Scrivener and use it as it was mean to be used: to create, edit, and save one’s writings.

So this is the first test. As I said, I’m doing everything in Scrivener, then I’ll see how well it it transfers into Medium.

Well, THAT sucked. A simple copy/paste lost all of my formatting. And no, a Google search didn’t yield a Medium-specific editor.

So it’s back to the drawing board.

I’ll keep you posted.