Blog Potpourri (pt. 1)

How to Make Potpourri” –

Potpourri (n) : a mixture of dried petals and spices placed in a bowl or small sack to perfume clothing or a room.

The dried petals and spices with which I will perfume my blog this evening are a series of partial and half-baked ideas that might get a more complete treatment later in the month.

As Kenan Thompson reminds us “It’s 100 floors of frights, they’re not all going to be winners”

With that said, I think there’s something important about taking time to make note of ideas that merit further exploration. It’s not something that the world usually gets to see, but I imagine notes of this kind are a common behind-the-scenes feature of many writers processes.

How does the relationship between author and audience figure into an explanation of what makes a good story?

I often think about why I am drawn to certain stories and not others. A well-crafted plot, characters with integrity, and a captivating world are all part of it. But there is another ingredient in the mix that is less like a cherry on top and more like the baking soda; without it, the story will be flat and stodgy. The name for this is something like “the degree to which the author (or director or game creator) trusts the audience to pick up on certain details that they include and the subsequent payoff the audience feels for having picked up on said details”. A mouthful, I know. I think there is something delicate and important there, and I’d love to tease it out.

What is it like to be a kidless adult interacting with other people’s kids?

In the Spring of 2020, as the pandemic was getting into full swing, I started offering lessons in guitar and what would probably best be described as “Language Arts”. Before I knew it, I was giving Zoom lessons to four to six different elementary-school-aged children each week, learning their quirks and challenges, trying my best to keep their attention as a talking head on a screen. Last February, we moved in next to a family with two energetic boys of 2 and 5 who are always eager to explain the details of their latest invented Lego Ninjago. In less than a year, I went from interacting with almost exclusively adults my age and older to spending a non-trivial amount of time each week hanging out with kids. I enjoy teaching, and I find it a rewarding challenge to try and sneak some philosophical skills into our hour-long lessons, but I was as surprised as my partner was when I found myself crying at the news that one of my families couldn’t afford to continue our sessions. I guess I had really gotten invested in watching those kids learn how to think and express themselves. To not be able to continue to be a part of that journey felt like a real loss. It would be worthwhile, I think, to unpack the impact that this time has had on my life, especially as I consider whether to continue offering my tutoring service next year.

Is it rude to add sauces and additional seasonings to dishes that your friends/loved ones have prepared?

I get bent of shape when my partner reaches for the soy sauce before she’s taken a bite of the tofu and veggie bowl I’ve spent the last hour preparing. At the same time, I know deep down that however I seasoned the bowl, she’ll probably enjoy it more if its just a little bit saltier and a slightly more moist than I would prefer. But this knowledge does little to keep from scowling as she reaches for the Kikkoman. Am I being neurotic or is there something to be said for experiencing a dish as your loved one intended it to be experienced? This feels like it belongs on Reddits r/AmItheAsshole.

Can we just get on the same page with read receipts?

For those of you still communicating via carrier pigeon, a ‘read receipt’ is a small icon, sometimes with a timestamp, that pops up next to a message when your recipient has read it. It’s a built-in feature for many messaging services but it can be turned-off in others. I have two or three friends that use this feature when texting, and the rest (including me) don’t. When I’m communicating with those that do, I feel pressure to respond as soon as I see their message, even though they don’t get any read receipts from me. Bizarre. I wouldn’t be opposed to this feature if everyone committed to using it. As much as folks tend to stress out about seeing the read receipt with no response, I think we could all learn a little patience and trust if this feature was just ubiquitous. At the same time, given that the majority of folks in my life don’t seem to want to use these things, it throws me for a loop when I text with people that do use them. I might need to sit down and do an interview with one such friend in order to get the right perspective for a full post about this.

How effective are email marketing campaigns in reality?

I’ve unsubscribed to more email bots than I can count. Just about every online account I make leads to a few weeks of meaningless advertising emails that populate my inbox with unhelpful information and attempts to get me to engage with that site’s content. It’s frustrating to receive such emails and tedious to unsubscribe from those lists. I doubt it leads to these companies making more money off of me. But at the same time, if these campaigns weren’t raking in huge swaths of cash, nobody would run them. I’d love to really look at the numbers regarding how much traffic email marketing campaigns bring in for a sight. Maybe I am just an oddball and everyone else is impulsively clicking on every link that pops up in the inbox. Wouldn’t be the weirdest thing that’s ever happened.


That’s all for tonights potpourri. Hope things smell a bit fresher around here.

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