Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Monday, August 14, 2017

"Slow down the hiring process to develop a winning team"/ Graham Buksa

Jun. 5, 2017 "Slow down the hiring process to build a winning team": Today I found this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail:

Here are four quick ideas to consider about hiring: It’s better to leave a position unfilled than to make a bad hire. You should be spending 20 per cent of your time – one day a week – on hiring to improve your odds of success.

Your next great hire is likely to have no experience in whatever business or industry you operate. Play down the many job description criteria you normally develop to assess applicants and focus on four elements: Attitude, accountability, past related job success and cultural fit.

That advice comes from Adam Robinson, co- founder and chief executive officer of Hireology, which offers software tools to help improve hiring techniques. Based in Chicago, he notes in an interview that nobody teaches managers how to hire, with 75 per cent reporting they struggle.

Their hiring instincts – and the practices of people around them they might emulate – are often weak. And that hurts: “What more important activity does a builder of teams have than selecting new members? You need the right person in the right seat and it doesn’t happen randomly.”

Usually, hiring is rushed. Not enough care is taken to find proper candidates. And the person perceived to be the best is brought on board, even if there are huge alarm bells. Yet a bad hire means endless problems down the road. So slow down. Be willing to start the process over. It’s better to leave a position unfilled than to make a bad hire.

That leads to a second important dictum from the author of The Best Team Wins : Spend one day a week on hiring. Give proper time to interviewing, increasing your involvement in early screening interviews – which most managers delegate – and be willing to take an extra round interviewing and assessing the best candidates.

As well, scout for good people even when you don’t have openings and they aren’t planning a job move; develop a relationship so that you can call them or they can call you if a change in circumstances occurs. Don’t have the time for all of that? He says that’s probably because you are drained by dealing with all your bad hires over the years. “Would you rather spend one day a week on hiring or five days a week dealing with poor hires?” he asks in the interview.

Think broadly with those hirings. He says 50 per cent of the factors predicting career success have nothing to do with experience in your industry. He urges you to focus instead on what he calls the four “super- elements” of success:

Attitude. You want people to have a positive disposition to work – not just with your company or the job you are offering but the act of working itself. That outlook is unlikely to change over time.

Ask what was frustrating in their previous job or what makes it harder to do their job. Individuals with the desired attitude will go out of their way to be positive in answering.

Accountability. You want people who feel they have control over the outcomes of their work and take responsibility for results rather than those who blame external factors.

Ask about the last time they set a goal for themselves that was not achieved and listen carefully to whether they see themselves as accountable. Past related job success. Check whether they have met formal goals in past jobs that are similar to the goals of the job they are applying for.

A barista at Starbucks is constantly monitored. A salesperson probably had a quota. People who haven’t had such monitoring can still be successful. But the odds are with those used to such a work environment.

Cultural fit. Does the candidate share values and work style with the organization? This can be a grey area; it therefore involves understanding the culture yourself, so you know what to seek.

Also, determine if the candidate truly wants the job or just will take it as a placeholder until something better comes along.

Finally, consider the math of recruitment. Just as selling requires a funnel with lots of prospects at the start of the process, since many won’t work out, you need to be sure that you draw sufficient interest in the job to get the ideal person.

You want 130 résumés to review and 27 people to quickly screen with phone interviews, leading to nine in- person interviews. From those nine, aim for three finalists you re- interview in depth to choose the winner.

Hiring isn’t easy. But it’s crucial to business success, so consider integrating his ideas into your approach.

The Ladder: Graham Buksa: Today I found this article in the Globe and Mail:

Graham Buksa is founder and owner of Rayne Longboards, a North Vancouver-based manufacturer of downhill racing skateboards.

When I grew up, I had friends that were into skateboarding but I never got into it. When I was 20, I got a longboard because I needed transportation to school and between classes on campus.

I took engineering in university and enrolled without having a good grasp of how much work I was signing up for. I simply wanted to build things. Design competitions allowed me to take sketches of things I wanted to build, develop them to samples and build business plans around them. These competitions put me on the edge of my comfort zone. They tested whether I actually had good ideas, whether I could articulate them to an audience and win them over.

I volunteered to get my hands dirty doing welding and fabrication work for the Autonomous Robotic Vehicle Project [AVRP] at the University of Alberta. Because of my earlier design-competition skills, I was made leader of this project for two years and managed the team of 40-plus students.

I was both in love with the experience my first board gave me, but disappointed in the performance. During university, I worked at a ski shop and was inspired by the technology in skis and snowboards, and decided to build a longboard using ski technology. Because I was fabricating bodywork for the ARVP project, I worked with the U of A Industrial Design program quite a bit.

When I started to build my own equipment to design a board, they provided a lot of advice and even helped make my first moulds. From there, I made boards in the basement of the engineering building using ARVP’s equipment until moving my operation into the back of a garage I rented nearby.

The industrial design department saved me a ton of headaches and, after my first small production run, I packed up a truck and drove to 50 shops in Alberta and B.C. to do some market research. The trip to talk to actual buyers was the most important part of the process. They told me, “Your product doesn’t meet our sales standards in these ways.” I should have started there.

I started writing business plans for design competitions. Later, I wrote plans for ARVP and finally I took a business-plan class that I used to write the first draft for Rayne. My professor, Ted Heidrick, took me under his wing and encouraged me. He made sure our plan was rooted in reality.

With my first draft in hand, I continued to perfect it. I was lucky enough that all of the pieces fell into place. I met a supplier at the U of A during a career week seminar; a friend who saw me working on my business plan during exams gave a small investment; and my parents never said no. With their blessing, I was set. I never looked for another job and focused only on longboards.

The first obstacle was moving to Vancouver and finding acceptance in the burgeoning longboarding community. There was already a community fiercely loyal to another brand. I had to have a thick skin, develop my own longboarding skills to gain acceptance and then build new equipment that helped riders become better.

I had to learn how to ride a longboard really fast. In 2004, there was no YouTube to show you how, or even what downhill longboarding looked like. We had to figure it out on our own.

Rayne just turned 13. We’ve had such a good ride. Our boards have won the world championships multiple times. We have an almost zero-waste production facility in North Vancouver and ship boards globally and we innovated many of the longboard designs on the market. Those are some of my biggest business achievements. I’m really proud that I took the time to try compete in the World Cup before I got too old.

I don’t ride as much as I used to, but I still compete, about two races a year. I just got back from a race in China which was pretty crazy: 10 per cent to 14 per cent grade, and cliffs on the other side of the hay bales. I love that there are still places out there to be explored.

As told to Brendan McAleer
This interview has been edited and condensed.

"Radical transparency"/ "How to prevent the institution from killing inspiration"

May 31, 2017 "The upside of corporate 'radical transparency'": Today I found this article by Brenda Bouw in the Globe and Mail:

Transparency is of the latest business buzzwords, but few companies take it as far as Buffer, a San Francisco-based social media software company that makes its salaries public.

All of its 70-plus employees – from the CEO to the so-called “happiness hero” customer service representatives – have their annual incomes published online. The company also publishes revenue in real time, and last year it openly discussed the reasons behind its decision to lay off 10 employees.

“People were quite shocked about how we shared our financial details for that one,” says Buffer spokesperson Hailley Griffis, who is based in Toronto.

The so-called “radical transparency” approach helps attract and retain employees that fit with its open culture and also helps to improve the business. For example, when the company started sharing its monthly recurring revenue numbers online, a reader pointed out they were calculating it wrong. It was quickly fixed.

“When you put something out into the open, there’s a lot of feedback that comes in,” Ms. Griffis says. “It has opened up a really great dialogue.”

While few organizations go as far as releasing employee salaries (with the exception of requirements for some government workers and leaders of publicly listed companies), more are taking bold steps to publicize key financial metrics such as sales, profit and customer retention rates. By being open, companies are hoping to get employees more involved in the business and build customer loyalty and trust.

While there are risks, such as revealing data that can be used by competitors and potential impacts on employee morale (especially if the business isn’t doing well), experts believe the pros outweigh the cons.

“I think it’s a positive trend,” says Ann Frost, an associate professor for organizational behaviour at Western University’s Ivey School of Business.

She says increased transparency forces companies to be more accountable and can empower employees to pitch in and make their company more profitable.

“People like to see that what they do on a daily basis makes a difference,” Ms. Frost says.

More transparency also helps companies build a stronger corporate culture and attract top talent.

“You are indicating this is an open transparent [company] and you don’t play games,” Ms. Frost says. “But you need to have that culture for transparency to work.”

Toronto-based Fiix, which makes maintenance software for equipment and asset management, doesn’t share salary information but is open with its 50 employees about a number of key metrics including financial results, targets and how much money it has in the bank. Employees are also allowed to sit in on executive meetings.

Fiix CEO Marc Castel says being more open gives employees confidence about the state of the business. When times are tough, they can also help it do better.

“When you don’t know how the business is doing, you get nervous about the future. You end up spending a lot of time talking and worrying about things that you shouldn’t,” Mr. Castel says. “Transparency turns every employee into a mini CEO who can take personal ownership and responsibility for the health of the company.”

Fiix also publishes its quarterly revenues on its website for customers and stakeholders to view if they want, as well as corporate social responsibility goals and programs and product updates, both good and bad.

Mr. Castel doesn’t see any downside to sharing the information and is open to feedback.

“You have to be big enough as an employee and as an executive to take the good and the bad,” he says. “Not everything you do is going to be terrific. There is nowhere to hide when you’re transparent. If you get called out, you have to deal with it. It makes people more accountable and more responsible and ultimately builds character and better judgment.”

Waterloo-based Axonify doesn’t share much information outside of the company but is open with employees about its finances, targets, expenses and any hiring challenges it may have.

“Employees need to understand how the judgment calls and decisions they’re making add up financially to what we’re all trying to achieve as a company,” says Axonify CEO Carol Leaman. “From an overall financial-results perspective, I think it’s essential that people know, otherwise they guess – and when they guess, usually it’s in a negative way.”

She says some potential hires also want to know about the company’s finances before they accept a job.

“They want to know there’s enough cash to feel safe,” Ms. Leaman says. “It has almost become necessary that, to attract people, if they’re going to jump ship from somewhere else [they want to know] that you’re going to survive.”

Ms. Leaman says transparency builds trust with potential and current employees.

“If people trust you and they understand how their contribution adds to the overall results, they will go to the end of the Earth for you,” she says. “From a cultural and loyalty perspective, it is highly effective to be open and honest with people.”


5 hours ago

No one has the right to know what my company makes but my wife and I.
We risked the capital. It is our business.
We deploy our capital, not someone else's, so it is our concern.
This millennial hugfest shows a complete lack of balls.
He's gonna find out that employees have their own interests in mind more than his.
Also, if he's receiving venture capital I'd be questioning my investment as an investor.
The deployment of capital is not employees concern.
Its their job to do their job.

1 hour ago

Can we get the Illuminati to embrace this transparency maybe start with Fidelity, Vanguard and Slate Street?

"How to prevent the institution from killing inspiration": Today I found this article by Roy Osing  in the Globe and Mail:

Roy Osing, former executive vice-president of Telus, is a blogger, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.

First of all, institutions don’t kill anything; people do.

That said, every leader wants to grow their company; it is the imperative of their strategic game plan.

The founder of a startup has a vision that they can only realize when a larger and larger market consumes their product or service.

The organization to support the increasing demand grows; infrastructure increases along with the employee base.

What started out as a two-person crew with a pledge to solve a problem and make a difference suddenly becomes a large machine with all the attendant challenges of complexity and bureaucracy.

Under such conditions, how does a leader preserve the inspiration that created the organization in the first place?

How do you prevent the machine from suffocating the small entrepreneurial engine?

1. Take a look at yourself. You may have been successful launching your startup and creating the momentum needed to gain traction in the market, but you may not have what it takes to lead the business through the stresses and strains of growth.

Let go of your ego and make the right call for the future of what you started. Find someone who can turn your brave idea into a real deal.

2. Create a “rules and policy system” that minimizes rigidity and restrictions and maximizes degrees of freedom for employees.

Don’t look to best practices for direction; this will only propagate what large organizations do. You don’t want to act large. You want to maintain the nimbleness of small.

3. Recruit as many folks as you can from small business. You want practical thinkers and people who have a proven track record of getting stuff done.

4. Develop execution as the competitive advantage of the business.

It’s not your intellectual capacity that will set you apart from the competition; it’s what and how much relevant stuff you deliver to customers.

An organization that executes brilliantly can only do so if it is lean and mean, with simplicity as a core value. This will hold off the pressures to add unnecessary complexity to the business.

5. Stay close to the front line. The fuel to think big but act small comes from the people who take care of customers day in and day out.

Keeping the inspiration alive requires keeping it real in terms of how customers feel about the business through every touch point and every transaction.

Set up a front-line guidance panel to provide insight and direction to keep the customer in the driver’s seat of your business, informing your growth activities.

6. Adopt a “servant leadership” style. People are inspired when they are connected to what the organization is trying to achieve and there is a support system in place to help them do their job and deliver what is expected of them.

Servant leaders ask “How can I help?” often and everywhere and use the answers they get as the critical instrument to keep the organization fresh and vibrant rather than stale and rigid.

Inspiration can dominate institution as the lifeblood of an organization, but it requires a specific culture to keep it alive.

If words like inspire, feel, execute, small, fast, “do it”, front-line, simple, less and customers define the conversation in the organization, inspiration is winning the war.
If not, you might be doomed.


2 days ago

Having an ex-VP from Telus (or any CDN Communications Company) writing about innovation is like asking a house plant who they plan to vote for.

"The politest crash"/ "A Q&A with Adam Sternbergh"

Oct. 12, 2015 "The politest crash": I cut out this article by Michael Hingston in the National Post on Dec. 1, 2012.  Hingston writes for the Edmonton Journal and he mentions NDP premier Rachel Notley before she became the premier.  Here's the article:

Into the Abyss By Carol Shaben
Random House Canada
311 pp; $29.95

In the evening of October 19, 1984, a small Piper Navajo plane crashed in the frozen wilderness outside of High Prairie, Alta. Six of its passengers died in the wreckage, including long-time Alberta NDP opposition leader Grant Notley. The four survivors, meanwhile, spent 15 hours huddled around a small fire in sub-zero temperatures before finally being rescued; among them was Larry Shaben, the province’s housing minister.

Those few details were enough to get the story picked up in newspapers around the world — including the Jerusalem Post, where Shaben’s 22-year-old daughter, Carol, came across a tiny, 50-word story. By that time, the crash had happened a full two days earlier. “We were going to call,” her mother tells her, “but it’s been crazy and, well … we didn’t want to worry you.”

The younger Shaben’s initial shock of discovery kicked off a fascination with the tragedy that has culminated in Into the Abyss, an account of the crash and its aftermath.

There’s certainly a lot of historical significance tangled up in the event. Larry Shaben was Canada’s first Muslim cabinet minister, and later became a leading voice for civility and interfaith dialogue in the wake of 9/11. Notley’s daughter Rachel is now also an MLA for the Alberta NDP (I used to live in her district). And the crash itself would later help set a legal precedent, as the first time citizens successfully sued the federal government for negligence of its regulatory duties.

The circumstances of the crash, too, are undeniably compelling. The identities of the four survivors are divided along stereotypical lines almost too good to be true: a pilot (Erik Vogel), a politician (Larry Shaben), a cop (Scott Deschamps) and the prisoner he was escorting into custody (Paul Archambault). And it’s Archambault alone who’s in good enough shape to build and sustain the fire that would keep them all alive — by a stroke of sheer luck, he’d convinced Deschamps to go against RCMP protocol and remove his handcuffs during the flight.

But then, surprisingly, nothing much happens. The crash doesn’t break down social barriers and let these men see one another for who they really are, as you might expect, because the stereotypes don’t line up. Larry Shaben was never a hoity-toity, out-of-touch aristocrat; Deschamps and Archambault already saw eye to eye with one another before they boarded the plane. All four men are uniformly polite and supportive — wonderfully Canadian traits that nonetheless seldom make for gripping drama. Nobody even gets mad at Vogel when he eventually admits he was behind the wheel, exhausted and overworked; they’re all instantly assuaged with promises of chocolate chip cookies from his flight bag.

To make up for this essential lack of tension between her protagonists, Shaben pads the narrative with a whole lot of peripheral bombast. Epigraphs from Seneca, Da Vinci and Joseph Campbell appear alongside single-word chapter titles like “Buried,” “Missing” and “Abort.” A quick glance at Part IV — home to “Hero,” “Fate,” “Atonement” and “Return,” among others — may have you wondering whether you’ve stumbled into a how-to manual for aspiring screenwriters by mistake. The Jon Krakauer-esque title is also no accident.

The tone of Into the Abyss is similarly overreaching. When Larry speaks, his voice is “deep with emotion.” Erik doesn’t just try to remember something: “a wisp of something forgotten feathered the edge of his consciousness.” Earlier, we’re told he “was banking flying hours like bonus points in a pinball game.” What this means, I have no idea. Quickly? Cumulatively? Is there an Addams Family theme, somehow?

Sometimes, this method even distorts the facts of the case. When the military’s air search-and-rescue team joins the search, for instance, Shaben writes that they had “the colossal task of covering more than 10 million square kilometres of land, as well as the world’s longest coastal waters extending offshore to the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.” Well, OK, but presumably they weren’t sending planes up to Baffin Island, or out to New Brunswick, for this particular mission. In fact, the very next page pinpoints the crash site to “between 30 and 40 kilometres south of High Prairie.” Such misleading does the book no favours, and diminishes the real scope of the tragedy.

My biggest complaint, though, is more of a missed opportunity. As Larry’s daughter, Shaben has a unique perspective on the crash that gets hinted at, but never put to proper use. The author has said she didn’t want the book to become a memoir, but by far the most interesting part of the book is the introduction, where Shaben touches on her relationship with her father and how difficult it was to assemble the material, including getting her hands on a handwritten manuscript that Archambault wrote before his untimely death in 1991. (Larry died of cancer in 2008, during the book’s early stages.)

In fact, by not fully embracing her subjectivity, Shaben’s proximity to her subject matter starts to look more like bias. There’s a long section on Larry’s life and accomplishments post-crash that feels almost suspiciously celebratory — especially compared to the realistically checkered portraits she paints of the other three men.

So sometimes Shaben slips into the first person, and Larry becomes “Dad.” Mostly she keeps her distance. Not only is this flip-flopping confusing, but at one point it also leads to an identity crisis, as Shaben has to awkwardly treat herself as just another character. At one point she writes: “Carol, [Larry’s] second-born, [was] working as a journalist in the Middle East.”

Now that just won’t do. Even an author can’t exist in two places at once.

Dec. 28, 2015 "This fuzzy- wuzzy hero burrows into your heart": I cut out this article by Katherine Monk in the Edmonton Journal on Jan. 16, 2015.  This is a movie review for the movie Paddington.

I watched the cartoon in 2000.  This may be the show:

Years later, tragic circumstances force Paddington to take up the offer, landing him in the middle of London’s Paddington Station with little more than a suitcase and note around his neck that reads “Please look after this bear. Thank You.”

The image was inspired by the thousands of children who were put on trains to escape the ravages of the Second World War, and as such, it carries an abstract emotional weight, suggesting everything from shared responsibility to universal love, two commodities that seem sadly out of fashion in the era of artificially enhanced avatars and selfie sticks.

Jun. 9, 2016 I was rereading my magazines and I found this website.  It looks good:

"Because originality is at the heart of creativity, to be creative takes courage. As a result, great ideas still have to be fought for and the process of doing so can feel anti-creative – another brief to solve, problem to fix, deadline to meet.

And in the midst of the battle, sometimes it’s easy to forget why you’re doing it at all.

We do it because creativity is a powerful force for business, for change and for good.

Cannes Lions’ mission is to champion creativity, and this year, we invite creative people the world over to join us in saying thank you for the difference it makes.

Not everyone can come to the Festival, and only a few will win a Lion, but the inspirational moments that happen in Cannes can and should be shared. That’s why we’re making some seminars and winning work accessible to anyone and everyone . It’s our way of saying ‘thank you, creativity’. We hope you’ll pass it on."

Jun. 17, 2016 Writer's Chronicle: Have you heard of this magazine?  I got a few issues when I was in Professional Writing college program in 2006.  I have a few issues.  Now I'm going to get rid of them.

"For over four decades, the Writer’s Chronicle has served as a leading source of articles, news, and information for writers, editors, students, and teachers of writing. Published six times during the academic year, the Chronicle provides diverse insights into the art of writing that are accessible, pragmatic, and idealistic. Each issue features in-depth essays on the craft of writing, as well as extensive interviews with accomplished authors. Readers can also find news on publishing trends and literary controversies; a listing of grants, awards, and publication opportunities available to writers; and a list of upcoming conferences for writers, including AWP’s Annual Conference & Bookfair. Our pages are for those who love reading and writing."

Jun. 10, 2017 Book review: Today I found this article by Jade Colbert in the Globe and Mail:

The Old World
By Cary Fagan
House of Anansi/Astoria, 304 pages, $19.95
Cary Fagan’s latest collection, 35 short stories each based on a found black-and-white photo, is a study in storytelling about the past. In the title story, two black children stay inside as a result of some sort of unrest in the street. To placate her kid brother, Kathry tells a story of the “old world”: their family’s rural life before they moved to the city.

In Kathry’s telling, the country becomes a promised land – the desire to turn this past into a paradise saying much about present circumstances. Fagan’s old world – the world of these photographs, the past as a whole – is far from this ideal: surprising, jaunty, colourful, but no Elysium. Bloody Tuesday, a spaghetti western told by a white child, is full of comical misunderstanding until the “Sheriff” reveals he’s learned the lesson of cowboy stories: The white boy’s life is worth more than his Native American friend’s. It’s arguably the most horrific moment in this collection about – not history – but the kinds of stories missing from history: a photo album of the personal monologues that make up the old world.

Jul. 15, 2017 "A Q&A with Adam Sternbergh": Today I found this in the Globe and Mail:

This excerpt introduces readers to the Blinds, a place that seems to be part sanctuary, part prison. What else can you reveal about it?

At its essence, the Blinds is a human experiment built around a simple question: What makes you who you are? Is it the sum of all your past actions – or the product of your next decision? The town’s residents are all either heinous criminals or witnesses to horrible events who’ve been stripped of their worst memories and given a chance to start again. But experience can imprint on you in different ways. Just because something is forgotten doesn’t mean it’s gone.

Fans might have expected a third Spademan novel, but this definitely isn’t it. What motivated you to head out in a new direction?

I’m very keen to write a third Spademan novel, but the idea at the centre of The Blinds got its hooks in me and just wouldn’t let go. Plus, after spending two books in the world of Spademan, which is rooted in a claustrophobic, dystopian New York, I wanted to try something more expansive, in every sense: From the prose style (not nearly so spare) to the POV (third person limited) to the wide-open plains of Texas where The Blinds takes place.

In the same way Shovel Ready and Near Enemy oozed elements of classic noir novels, The Blinds seems to be paying homage to westerns. What do you admire about the genre?

The funny thing is, I hated westerns growing up – because I thought of westerns as being about John Wayne, cowpokes and campfires, and spurs that jingle-jangle-jingle. It took me forever to realize that many of my favourite things – from Star Wars to Cormac McCarthy to the TV series Firefly to a recent film like Hell or High Water – are basically westerns in disguise.

As a mythology, the western has proved incredibly flexible and resonant – this notion of frontier characters forming an improvised morality in the context of an institutional ethical breakdown. It’s no surprise to me that the western is having another moment. In America right now, it definitely feels like we’ve entered a new and unsettling frontier, where we’re trying to figure out what the rules are, who will follow them, and how exactly we can go forward.

My week:

Aug. 7, 2017 Bubble tea job interview: I went to this interview 2 weeks ago.  The company hasn't opened yet.


1. It was 2 busses to get there.  It was at the north end, but the busses come frequently.

2. I like bubble tea.   I haven't had it in years.  The last time I had one was back in 2006.  I don't really buy drinks like coffee or pop.  I applied at one of their other locations earlier this year.

3. It is day shifts.

4. The pay was min. wage, but it may have some tips.

5. I can do the job like cash and cleaning.  The young woman who interviewed me said that after 3 days of training, I need to be able to make the drinks in 1 min.  

I may be able to do that.  I need to practice though.

Cons: None.

My opinion: I would work there if I got hired.  However, they emailed me and said I wasn't hired.  They did say they will have my resume on file.

"The invisible one": I found this life essay by Vickie Fagan on Aug. 2, 2017 in the Globe and Mail.  It was about a job interview.  

She mentions that in the middle of the interview that the senior marketing position is about going door-to-door sales.  She and the other two interviewees left.

Credit card: I got this offer for the Infinite Visa card.  I decided to call about it because it mentions 6% cash back for everything you buy.

It turns out 6% cash back for the 1st 3 months and then it's 1%.  It's only for gas and groceries.  After the 1st yr, you have to pay $120 annual fee to have the credit card.  I don't travel so no point in getting Aeroplans.

I will stick with my 1% cash back.

Aug. 8, 2017 Work: Last week I got called in to work today.  I thought I was one of two bussers.  Also I thought I was to only work in the morning.  Instead I was the only one and I worked all day. 

I then took a bus home and slept on the bus.  I had a good nap and was energized.  I then put that energy to reading the business section of the newspaper and the news outside.  I then put an hr. into my job search.

Aug. 5, 2017 "Natural- born liars": Today I found this article by Ian Leslie in the Edmonton Journal.  I looked up the article and found my blog post about him:

I can't find the article.  However, here is his book on Amazon:

Aug. 7, 2017 A cop stopped a car for speeding — then pointed a gun at a passenger for more than 9 minutes: 

A video taken during a traffic stop in California is drawing debate over the officer’s decision to keep his gun pointed at the passenger for more than nine minutes.

The stop took place last Wednesday morning along U.S. Route 101, south of San Jose, after an officer noticed a car pass him going 85 mph, according to the Campbell Police Department.

After stopping the car for speeding, the officer requested the driver’s license and additional paperwork. The driver and passenger spent several minutes looking for the paperwork before the officer walked back to his motorcycle to write a citation, police said.
It was at that point their stories diverged. According to police, the passenger began reaching “under his seat.”

“It is not clear why the passenger chose to reach under the seat since the officer was not requesting any other paperwork,” Campbell police said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the passenger’s unexpected movement towards the bottom of the seat, caused the officer to perceive a threat and draw his handgun.”

However, a man sitting in the vehicle’s passenger seat — the target of the officer’s gun — maintained throughout the incident that he had simply been reaching for some papers on the floor to try to find the vehicle’s license and registration, as requested.

A video that apparently was recorded by a woman in the car begins as the male passenger is expressing incredulity that the officer has pulled a gun.

“Wow,” the passenger says in the video, laughing. “We’re looking for the f—ing paperwork, bro. Oh my God.”

Police said they had reviewed footage from the officer’s body cam, which included the beginning and end of the incident not shown in the Facebook video. The department did not release any footage from the officer’s camera and did not immediately respond to an email Sunday.

“We are thankful that this incident resolved itself with no one getting injured and hope that this additional information provides clarification,” police said.

My opinion: I had to click on it to see if the people in the car were black.  I see the driver was a white woman, and the passenger was a black guy.  It's good to record this and show for everybody to see it.  I only watched a little bit so I can see the race.
Then I stopped.  I was getting a little too angry at it.  When I watch and hear something on TV (like the news), it gets me angry.  When I read the news, it doesn't have that much of an effect on me.  I can skim and scan it really fast.

Aug. 8, 2017 Mom left daughter in desert: 

Ashley Denise Attson, 23, took her 17-month-old child to a secluded spot in Navajo Nation – the United States’ largest American Indian reservation – last September.

She then inexplicably left the toddler alone for four days and nights in a buggy before retrieving her body and burying her in an animal hole, the US Attorney’s Office said.

Attson had only just regained custody of the child two months ago after she was taken away because she was found to have methamphetamine in her system when she was born.

My opinion: If you didn't want to have the kid, give the kid up for adoption or foster care. 

Aug. 14, 2017 Rip Curl at West Edmonton Mall is closing down: I was there yesterday and the store sold most of their stuff for 75% off.  It's unisex and sells backpacks too.  I already put this on my Facebook status update.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

"A man possessed"/ "Stories don't come from apps, novels don't come from routines"

Mar. 4, 2017 "A man possessed": Today I found this article by Christopher Shulgan in the Globe and Mail:

Christopher Shulgan on his not-so-secret life as a ghostwriter

It was late at night on a dirt road in the Michigan wilderness. An auto industry executive and I were driving to his vacation home to hole up for a few days to work on a manuscript. Then the headlights illuminated a tree the snowstorm had blown onto the road. The two of us tramped out into the cold. On a count of three, we heaved at the trunk – and succeeded in moving the thing just a couple of inches.

My client looked at me and grinned.

“I don’t suppose this is in your job description?”

The thing about being a ghostwriter is that it doesn’t really have a job description. I began this line of work by accident. More than a decade ago, I called up the media relations manager for a company that I’d profiled for Toronto Life.

The company had posted the article on its website, a violation of copyright, and taken my name off the story. I’d prefer if they just posted a link to the original article, I said. Sure, the manager agreed. No problem. And by the way – the company sometimes needed a writer. Would I be interested?

Sure, I shrugged over the phone. Why not?

What started with essays and op-eds segued into speeches. I ran an e-mail newsletter that required collaborating with a half-dozen professionals per month. Then came an offer to ghostwrite a book.

Turns out ghostwriting fits well with my abilities. It helps to be impervious to criticism. And psychic when it comes to interpreting editorial feedback. I happened upon the key skill early in my career when I ran a magazine that relied on a handful of volunteer contributors. With more empty pages than writers to fill them, I would dash off articles myself and slap a pen name at the top. The practice helped me develop the ability to write comfortably in a variety of voices.

“A ghostwriter, huh?” an Uber driver asked me recently. “You must be a really good writer.”

And I suppose I am. But that’s not the service that I’m selling to my clients. A few years back, I judged one of CBC’s Canada Writes short story contests. I read hundreds of entries created by amateur writers, and time after time I was blown away by how good the contributions were.

The experience deflated my ego. A distinct voice, a fresh turn of phrase, a well-told anecdote – sure, I manage each one pretty well, but it turns out plenty of people have those abilities.

Once, at a party, somebody asked me why I do it. Didn’t I want my name to be the big one on the cover? “I do it for the cash,” I said. The line earned a guffaw, but like a lot of cheap laughs it wasn’t strictly true. I really enjoy the work.

Aside from therapists, whose job mine sometimes resembles, ghostwriters hear the stories that no one else gets to hear.

People have various ideas about the job. The name, ghostwriter, suggests some sort of subterfuge. Over the 12 or so years I’ve been doing it, I’ve worked with … Oh, hell. I don’t know. Fifty? Let’s say 50 clients. Only a handful have insisted on complete secrecy. Most of them are happy to admit that they’re working with me.

My latest book, The One-Minute Workout: Science Shows a Way to Get Fit That’s Smarter, Faster, Shorter, was written with the McMaster University time-efficient exercise expert, Dr. Martin Gibala. Working on that book was basically my ideal experience. It started when I was interviewing him for another client. Once I was done that job, I called up Marty and mentioned to him that I thought he should do his own book.

“Oh,” he said. “I’d never have time.”
“No,” I said. “I could write it with you.”

I explained the way I worked. We’d meet every week, for about an hour at a time, and just talk. Then I’d edit the transcript of our conversations. He’d read the result and offer feedback. I’d revise, and we’d repeat until both of us were happy.

Marty is a smart guy and, really, he could have written the book himself. Except it would have taken him a lot longer. Because, like most of my clients, he’s also a busy guy – a research scientist who runs a major physiology lab, and the chair of one of the most renowned kinesiology departments around.

Which brings us to the service that I’m actually providing to my clients.

Writing a good book requires big blocks of time. Scads of it. A certain kind that doesn’t exist for most people. The kind without interruptions. Long spans that aren’t punctuated by text messages or e-mail pings, Instagram notifications or Twitter DMs.

My career has confronted me with some remarkable experiences. I’ve suffered altitude sickness on a Himalayan mountaintop, sprinted across an active driving range in Aix-en-Provence and, for an upcoming project in Silicon Valley, ridden in the world’s most advanced self-driving car minutes after interviewing the men who designed it.

Then, I head to my office and I do something that’s not available to most of my clients. I stay off e-mail and avoid social media, and type away on my unnetworked computer for hours at a time.

Many of my clients can write well. Many of them are smarter than I am. And at least one of them can manage to work with his ghostwriter to heave a fallen birch tree off a remote Michigan road, inches at a time.

What they don’t have is the ability to disconnect from life.

Who does but a ghostwriter, these days?

Christopher Shulgan lives and writes in Kensington Market in Toronto.

Children's book: Today I found this blurb by by Anna Fitzpatrick in the Globe and Mail:

Walk With Me

By Jairo Buitrago and Rafael Yockteng, translated by Elisa Amado

Groundwood Books, 32 pages, $19

Writer-and-illustrator duo Jairo Buitrago and Rafael Yockteng are the modern masters of writing simple stories for young people with sophisticated subtext. Walk With Me is, on its surface, a lovely little tale about a girl and her imaginary pet lion.

The lion is a gentle but imposing figure, towering over the humans in the story. He provides companionship to the young girl as she walks home from school, strutting down the street while other people stare at the giant creature with looks of comical terror on their faces. The details in the picture tell a more troubling tale.

The young girl is walking through violent neighbourhoods, picking up her infant brother from daycare and cooking dinner while waiting for their mother to come home late from working at a factory. The lion is more than her security blanket – he is her key to functioning, surviving and thriving in a world where the circumstances are stacked against her and her family.

Apr. 6, 2017 "Stories don’t come from apps, novels don’t come from routines": Today I found this article by Russell Smith in the Globe and Mail:

There is a lot of talk about how to write books these days. Not about what is in them, but about how to write them, in the most literal sense: about how to sit in a chair at a table and type, as if this is a skill humankind seems to be forgetting.

Recently I saw a lot of online argument, among writers, over the merits of a “writing app,” a commercial program, which you would pay for, that apparently puts you on a schedule to write a novel in an astoundingly short time.

The app received free publicity last month in a widely circulated Guardian article about a successful author and how he used it. The article was about the British novelist Wyl Menmuir, whose debut novel was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize last year. The piece was titled How To Finish A Novel but it didn’t exactly deliver on the headline’s promise.

The app used by Menmuir, called Prolifiko, is essentially a productivity tracker: It aims to help you produce a certain number of words a day or month. It claims to be based on psychological research about productivity.

It produces graphs and charts for you to show how you have been meeting your daily word-count goals. Menmuir shared with the Guardian his peaks and troughs, why he faced procrastination and self-doubt in certain periods, and how he overcame them (long walks on the cliff).

It turns out he did write the novel in a short time (just over a year), but whether his word-counting computer software was a decisive factor in this speed remains unproven. He doesn’t talk at all about how he came up with his story in the first place.

The objections that then unfolded on social media focused on the thing that writers always obsess over: the unpublicized value of time. An app that tells you to devote a certain number of hours a day to writing is all very well, if you have those hours.

If you work full-time and have small children, no app in the world is going to provide those hours for you. A far more useful app for writers might be a babysitting exchange. Or a program that applies for grants.

For let’s be honest: Anyone with this amount of free time likely is in a place of financial security. If you are in this place, an app might be great. But this is like recommending a stereo for your Porsche. It’s gravy.

I teach novel-writing myself and have my own objections to productivity-focused systems.

It is odd to me that so many of these apps and guides stress process over product, as if merely writing a certain number of words a day is going to ensure that you invent a gripping story.

Coming up with the story is not some kind of preliminary step, like priming your canvas: It is the crux. Writers will agonize for weeks and months and even years about what exactly happens in their story, filling notebooks with questions to themselves

(“How does Z get the invisible letter back to D without exposing her robotic arm, and how does D read it if he died in the previous chapter?”). This is before they even start writing the chapters. Apps don’t invent characters for you, nor do they imagine their secrets.

My experience is that if you have a clear idea for a story, including a pretty clear idea of how it’s going to end, the daily writing is not the agony that is commonly imagined. There is no “blank page” to stare you down; there is a series of notes to follow. An outline is a far more powerful motivator than a timer.

Here’s a professional writing tip: It doesn’t matter when you write or how often. It’s not yoga.

You can write for nine hours a day three days straight and then do something else for a month. Your editor, and your public, only care what comes out at the end. It’s not prayer; it’s not therapy; it’s not a spiritual journey. The only thing that matters is the collection of pages you submit for your deadline.

Why, then, do so many writing courses and programs focus on daily routines instead of on ideas?

Possibly because, as the philosopher Blaise Pascal said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Pascal thought that was tough in 1669, and he didn’t have electric light, let alone Pornhub. Now concentration – a facility destroyed by computers – requires a computer program. Many of these helpful programs tell you to turn off all the things that computers do so well.

A more puzzling question might be: Why does there seem to be such a growth in writing apps and guides at all, at a time when the novel – its sales and readership – is by every measurable indicator declining? If no one wants to buy novels, why does everyone want to write them?

The answer to this is also related to technology. It may be hard to write a novel, but it is easier than ever to publish it.

It takes about a half-hour and a few dozen keystrokes to sign a contract with Amazon and post your novel as an e-book; you can start selling e-copies that same day. And this is a great thing. Why should we not all be novelists? This would be a sign of a civilized and peaceful society.

There is a myth that the age of the amateur is diluting the quality of global letters, that too much bad literature is being written and this swamps all else. This is not true.

Ask literary editors if they have too much to choose from these days and they will say nope, there is still not enough. They will say they would publish more books if they could find more excellent manuscripts.

Start telling your story, I say, if you are lucky enough to have the time. And for that, you don’t need an app, or a “writing practice” – you need money.

dwight steadman
2 days ago

Great piece! I think there so much emphasis on the 'industrial' aspects of writing, on production and time management because creativity is a scary thing, it's intangible and eludes the kind of control demanded by the business world. It's also frightening because ultimately (I know I'm going to be excoriated for this), writing a GOOD novel may not be within everyone's reach.

If you want eventually to write a true, moving piece of work (and not just fill 300 pages with ink), the principles of project management won't help you much . In fact, 'wasting' time you may get there a lot quicker. Try reading, daydreaming, taking long walks.
8 Reactions

1 day ago

On those (few) occasion where I have a flash of creativity, it always seems to be linked to downtime. I agree with you. Stop planning your life as a means to avoid "wasting" time. Get outside and let your mind play with your thoughts in the background. You'll likely come up with something. And it's good for the soul and psyche to be outside.
7 Reactions

G Rumble
19 hours ago

And write by hand at first in a small notebook constantly at hand.
4 Reactions

Matt Hughes
2 hours ago

"There is no “blank page” to stare you down; there is a series of notes to follow. An outline is a far more powerful motivator than a timer."

Established authors do a disservice to beginners when they tell them they must outline. I never could. If I'd believed what Mr Smith says, I might have quit before I really got started.

I start with a character in his/her normal situation then create an event that propels that character into a conflict. Then I see how it works out. I'm often halfway or even two-thirds the way through a novel before I know how it's going to end.

And it doesn't take me a year to write one. At a thousand words a day, working most days, I can produce a novel in four months -- and that includes revisions and polishing. I've sold nineteen novels, to publishers large and small, and ghosted three more for other people, to be published under their names.
I'm not rich and famous, but George R.R. Martin did call one of my books "a tremendous amount of fun."

1 day ago

Mr Smith is right on. When it comes to creating any kind of culture either through stories, objects or music we need time and money.
1 Reaction

G Rumble
22 hours ago

But machines will tend to stop you writing 40 word sentences.
Number of Words within Sentences: 1035
Number of Sentences: 55
Average Number of Words/Sentence: 17.542
0.0 0.5 1.0
|****|****| | | | | | | | |
1 Reaction

Rich Mole
1 day ago

Why stop at novels, I wondered?

It doesn't matter what it is you write--biography, self-help, annual report, historical comes down to the same thing that also occurs in other very different lines of endeavour: if you've got three months, that's likely what it'll take to do the job. If you've got a year...the writer will take a year--unless there's another compelling idea/concept/contract that intervenes. And then it's "get this done quick" to get to the "other stuff."

It's a human condition. The external "do-this-or-else" deadline is a great motivator. Self-set deadlines, though...hmm, not so much.
2 Reactions

Dickie Crickets
3 hours ago

If you are like Mishima you don't need an app to get up every day at the same time and write no matter what.
If you're like George R.R. Martin an app won't be able to force you to do so.