Facebook Memories...

Read this article in the New York Times about the FaceBook function that let's you download what FB has stored from you. Thought I'd give it a spin for my private life account, too. 

Facebook Data Dump Alex Ames 2018.jpg

An interesting feeling. Seeing your life spread out on the screen in neat little packages. Of course it is not my complete life. It is not like a diary that follows your emotions, encounters and places in a much more detailed fashion. This is FB, the snapshot of a digital social life of things, events, places and chats between people who you feel connected to in a special digital way. You browse through the different categories that FB provides, a life sorted in neat little drawers. A glimpse here, a recognition there. And many times, pure blanks. After reading through that social stream of concience, we should be posting more. Much! MUCH! MORE!

50+ Singles - Meet someone special today!
— Timeline Screenshot of an Email received December 2016

What a perfectly targeted mail. I am 50+. I am not single, but I presume this shows the true spirit of dating sites...

One word posting: “Huh?”
— A photo of a signpost on a boring green lawn "Creative Green - Gardening and Landscaping"

The timeline, an endless stream of one sentence exchanges with mostly people you don't have regular contact anymore. Most of them around our birthdays. At first (2008 as the earliest entry) text only, later enriched with emojis. 

Is catching up on admin stuff to go into vacations
— December 2008
Is holding hands with a baby that refuses to go to sleep
— January 2009
Strängest of experiences: 31 degrees, Christmas decoration, Tarantino movie about Nazis
— November 2009 (from Sao Paulo, Brazil)

Interesting, too: the list of friends and when you befriended them. Last new friend: already a year ago, the graphic designer Anna for my Teen Monster Hunter cover. Is Facebook dead? Or just social friendships? First friend ever: Markus from Switzerland April 2008.

Even more interesting: declined friend requests. Some colleagues who are fitting for LinkedIn but not for FB. Some complete unknowns, the most obscure one: 毛华军  (November 2014)

Had to press the “Like” button because there was no “Fear” button available.
— January 2011 (after watching a video of an MIT robo dog jumping over a fence)
Finished my Steve Jobs tribute evening - thanks to all Youtube contributors to enable us to remember a great man evolve from 1978 (hilarious video filmed before Steve’s first TV appearance, inquiring the way to the restroom) over the years through Apple, Next and Pixar to the latest and greatest achievements. Hearing the startup sound of my first Apple Macintosh Classic which I had bought from one of my first salaries is still burnt into my brain.
— October 2011 on the evening of Steve Jobs passing
Gave up watching a dreadful movie (Get Smart)
— February 2009

How can a movie with Ann Hathaway be dreadful? Probably Steve Carell! 

101 useful iPhone tips - #34: Today in the office we suspected that the refrigerator light switch was broken so that the light was on constantly even when the door was closed. There is an app for that: switch on the video camera, put the iPhone into the fridge and close the door (for a second or so!).
— Message posting June 2012
I’ve traveled to 89 cities in 18 countries. How about you?
— October 2012

There are even outstanding requests that I sent to people who never answered, oldest from 9 years ago!

Some categories in the friendship section are completely obscure:
"Followee" - a section that includes WTF: Mark Zuckerberg? The Mark Zuckerberg?
"Friend Peer Group" - Established Adult Life 

"Established Adult Life" - Whut? WTF is this? Opposite to "Aimless Youth Party"? Or "Winding down retiree tiredness"?

Santa Fe, a song by Beirut on Spotify.
— August 2012 (after linking Spotify to Facebook)
Jet lag compensation Starbucks visit. Local 21:30 equals 2:30 home equals a blinking 0:00 internal clock.
— March 2014 with the status: Alex is feeling tired at Princeton University
Am I stuck in the 90ies if I still like Jerry Seinfeld?
— June 2014 (after watching my first episode of Comedians in Cars...)
Can’t stop. Won’t stop. I covered some serious distance. Map your runs with Nike+.
4.29-mi run
— May 2015 (Autobot message from my Nike+ App into FB)
4 upcoming tour dates:
Frank Sinatra, David Bowie, Green Day, Death Cab for Cutie
— November 2015 (Autobot message from one of my apps, maybe Bandsintown?)

Frank Sinatra? 2015? Really? Zombie time?

Advertising topics selected for me:

  • Bavaria,
  • The Police,
  • Food truck
  • Compliation Album (I hate! compliation albums)
  • Fast food  (Man, that cinches it together with "Food truck")
  • Pro-Ject  (sic!)  No idea, what is this? A pro-duct of sorts?
  • States of Germany  (Was facebook even around before 1989?)
  • David Grohl
  • Madchester
  • American Folk Music
Estimated location inferred from IP 48.36, 10.848
Created: Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 12:37pm UTC+02
IP Address:
— Security log entry from today

The security logs show each and every IP address, MAC address plus some attempt of geolocation. BTW: The geolocation shown in the example was more than 1 mile away from my actual location that day.

List of Applications (excerpt):

  • frents - the social library - No idea. Sound early 2000, judging from the clever name
  • tape.tv - Ah, the now defunct service that helped me discover some beautiful bands
  • iPhoto - Ah, iPhoto, RIP.
  • Shpock - not even by name I have an idea what this was.
  • Music Glue
  • Lookfantastic  - one of these complete unknown applications! No recollection of "linking" this one

All About Eve...

Writing like crazy on three items at the same time. And then, as if there was nothing better to do, I would stumble tonight on the TV over "All About Eve". It had been a while since I last saw that one and I was immediately riveted again. Witty dialogues, wonderfully atmospheric, carefully staged and incredible cast. I am usually not a nostalgic, but 'they don't make movies like that anymore!'

Wikipedia "All About Eve" under Fair Use Policy

Wikipedia "All About Eve" under Fair Use Policy

So what is going these days? My rom-com chick lit start-up novel got the treatment a second round. I put in a lot of work in order to complete and edit and then decided to stop once more. The story is good, but not good enough yet. There are three women who in the course of the story will fall in love with three men. That is the easy part. But I have not figured out yet how to make the three fall-in-love cases unique. So far all three cases are pretty much the same. The male is the dominant one, making the female realize that her way is the wrong way and that she should put trust in steady relationship. Once is fine. Two maybe with a little variation acceptable. But three in one book in one fifth act is too much. As I ran out of ideas and lack the right tactic, I decided to shelf the book for now. 

What happens in the meanwhile? The next Teen Monster Hunter novel is in the making. Teen Vampire Hunters is going well, I am not measuring yet, but all chapters are defined and in place, so it is all a matter of writing and sticking to the formul. The first Teen Monster Hunters book was indeed the first one, introducing the main characters and the story format. But Teen Vampire Hunters will be the first one out of the regular story stack that will be sequence agnostic, meaning: you can read them in any order you like. There will be no overlap and no development that makes it necessary to stick to a sequence. All in "the formula". 

And then there is the German translation of "Teen Monster Hunters". Mostly to the benefit of my youngest son and his school peers. One of my books is always an appreciated gift or token, so the German version will go well with the locls. And maybe gives me opportunity to organize a reading one of these days, locally.

The long march...

Writing is a lonely profession, especially when you are stuck at 47.000 words. My latest project, another romantic comedy, let's call it project RomCom2, so I don't need to give away anything, is coming along. I wrote the base storyline which centers around three girlfriends who start-up an online company, and I wrote some of the romantic entanglements. Did the word count on Sunday for the first time, just to get a lay of the land. Shocked: 47.000 words. As comparison: my previous romantic comedy "Five for Forever" came out in its first version at around 110.000 which I painfully had to reduce to 100.000. A lot of dear scenes went out of the window. 

Excerpt "RomCom2" (Working Title)

Excerpt "RomCom2" (Working Title)

With RomCom2, I am now halfway there. Only halfway. How much more romance can I pour in? How many scenes do I need to make this a full length novel. Admittedly, 100.000 words for "Five for forever" resulted in a thick book. So, I give myself a target: 80.000 words for RomCom2. Let's do some quick math: 80.000 words target minus 47.000 words status quo equals 33.000 words missing. 33 chapters at 1000 words each. 16 chapters at 2000 words each. 24 chapters at 1500 words. Well, you get the drift. 

Let's break it down structurally on the basis of 24 chapters. I have three major characters with romantic developments and entanglements. So June, Carlotta, and Gracie receive eight chapters each. This gives me a lot of development room, as most of them already have their first and last acts already drafted. So eight chapters for each of the protagonists second, third and fourth act. Hope the quantity in relationship melee does not affect quality.

Let's do it. The long march...

8. February: 47.000 words down, 33.000 words out there...

Heroes — Lloyd Cole Live in Munich

Three thing we can say for certain after this evening of Lloyd Cole’s Songbook tour: we all got older, there are not many of us left, and Mr. Cole’s songs are not meant to be played on a single guitar.

We all got older, indeed. Lloyd at fifty-six still has a lot of hair, the most hair of any male in the room—what is his secret? He even mocked us by flattening his post-reading glasses "wings". Youth to spare! This proves that Lloyd, despite being the first hipster from a time when he occupied a then-niche single-handedly, has no following in the very today-scene he had helped to create in the mid-eighties. The absence of massive facial hair in the audience did not bother us at all. And it showed us that even if all of us are BOFs by now, we’ll always have him, the one prophet to look out for us and explain us the delicacies of love and life. And he takes us seriously! It was my first pop-rock-folk concert in what, twenty years?, where chairs were prepared in ten neat rows. We don’t want any cardiovascular episodes in the target group, don’t we?

I had estimated / hoped at breakfast that one-thousand people showed up, but the crowd was closer to two-hundred. A hard sell. The whole first set was basically for nothing. Not sure that it brought anything to Lloyd, it certainly didn’t bring anything to us. His songs do not have the substance to be played by a single songwriter with a laid-back attitude and a British temperament. Where a solo-guitar Billy Bragg brings an edgy aggression to the microphone, or a Ben Watts is able to generate an emotional depth with a broken voice and a minimized arrangement, Lloyd Cole’s songs are simply made to be played by a band. Period. The second half of the set was proof of that. One more guitar in play, congenially celebrated by his son Will Cole, improved the songs by 100 %. And the investment of the audience by the same amount. Too bad he hadn’t brought his current band, ‘The Leopards’, along.

Imagine, it took me years to find someone who looks like me when I was younger...
— Lloyd Cole's introduction of his son Will

And of course Lloyd Cole remained the wise-ass he had started out to be, the book-reading intellectual, writing songs with literary depth. His comments during the set were as wry as anything, his demonstration of soap opera avoidance by leaving the stage and closing some curtains in the back of the room was a little overdone. After that the audience was so shellshocked that no one dared to visit the bar during the rest of the set in fear of Lloyd taking away the drink personally. The set concentrated on the early years from 1984’s “Rattlesnakes” up to 2004’s “No more love songs” with all Commotion hits present, the first album played completely. I maybe missed some pop-cultural bits, but I caught the nice Norwegian Wood reference at the end of one song and the last bars of ‘Born to run’. Two encores, ending with a wonderful ‘Forrest Fire’ sent us on our way again.

If we get caught in this wind, then we could burn the ocean
If we get caught in this scene, we’re gonna be undone
It’s just a simple metaphor
It’s for a burning love
Don’t it make you smile like a forest fire
— Forrest Fire - Lloyd Cole