Friday, November 17, 2023

Ready for My Close Up?


 This past week I gave a talk to a Facebook group.  I wasn't sure how it was going to be since I was supposed to talk to a screen for an hour.  Unlike Zoom where you can see the other people attending, all I could see was me.

It's lucky that I never had  any aspirations to be a performer because I have never been comfortable in front of a camera.  Even a still one.  We had a family friend who was a professional photographer who took photos of me in his studio when I was a kid.  If you look at the proof sheet, my eyes were closed in a lot of the shots. This was one of the good ones.  I was also a model for him for some publicity shots.  I did better at that since it didn't feel like the focus was on me.  But that's a whole other story.

Times have sure changed.  Kids now are so used to having their photos taken, they all know how to pose.

I had to do a test for the Facebook talk to make sure I could go live. There was a count down from three to one, but no noise or change when I was actually live.  It turned into a deer in the headlight moment for me as I stared at my image on my phone and my mind went blank.  I finally babbled something and ended it quickly.

Part of the issue was using my phone.  No matter how I placed it on a stand, the view was looking up.  I don't think it's just me, but it's not a good angle on your face.  Think double chin even if you don't have one.  The view behind me wasn't great either.  I was sitting in front of bookcase where I had strategically placed some copies of my books and my Sherlock Holmes doll along with the lion I crocheted and the worry doll from one of my books.  You couldn't see any of it with my phone.  What you could see was the top of the bookcase.  I considered putting an elf that sits on the edge of shelves up there to at least add something amusing.  The other option was holding it the whole time so there was a better angle.  But I knew that would be a disaster. I tend to talk with my hands and I knew that I'd forget I was holding the phone and end up waving it around. 

The day of my appearance,  I tried switching to my laptop, but the ancient (10 years old) Macbook was a problem.  Safari didn't support the camera and when I tried to add Chrome, I ended up going in circles. It was getting closer and closer to the time for me to go live for the talk.  My desktop has no camera.  I tried an old PC laptop, but it was so slow and I was running out of time.

Finally, my son offered his Macbook which already had Chrome.  It worked perfectly and I thought I was home free except.  The screen went off and when I got it back on, it asked for a password.  It was literally a few minutes before I was supposed to go live and he wasn't here. I tried calling him with no answer.  I had an idea what the password might be, but the thing with Apple stuff is that you have a limited amount of tries before they lock your device.

It looked like it was going to be back to using my phone with the bad view.  There wasn't even enough time to haul out a ladder to add the elf. 

I tried calling him again and this time he answered and I got the password.  I found my way to the group and the live button, but before I pushed it, I saw that I needed to rearrange the stuff on the bookshelf behind me.  I did a little juggling and tried to compose myself, worried anew that my mind would go blank.  I was worried that I wouldn't be able to talk that long if I got past having a blank mind.

And then it was showtime and  I hit the live button, hoping for the best.  Miracle of miracles, I was okay.  Except the minute I went live, one of my cats jumped on the table and swirled around the computer and I expected that any second she would walk across the keyboard with who knows what kind of consequence.  But then with a flick of her tail, she lost interest and jumped off the table.

After that, all went well.  I'm sure I said way too many ums and uhs, but when I looked at the clock on the computer I was at 58 minutes.

The cool thing was that once I finished, I was home sitting at my dining room table.  I celebrated with a cup of espresso.


Patty Jenkins said...

Good morning -- Sounds like a fun experience!! One thing I've noticed on Zoom calls and the like is that there are objects behind a person that look like something sprouting from their head -- very strange sometimes!! I've seen books about how to Zoom your room. My daughter, a 4th grade teacher, has been doing parent-teacher conferences via Zoom -- so much easier than parents having to come to school.

We're eating at my son's but I'm doing most of the cooking for Thanksgiving -- chicken breasts and thighs, cheesy mashed potatoes, and the favorite cherry-pineapple dump cake for dessert. Someone else is making cranberry sauce and a green bean casserole -- I can't stand green beans!! I can remember the days when my grandma was up at the crack of dawn, getting a 20-lb turkey in the oven, making yeast rolls, baking pumpkin and mince pies -- we'd have 20 people eating dinner plus extras who dropped by during the afternoon. She always had plenty of food.

Are you working on a new Molly book at the same time as the new crochet/tea room book? You could throw another Writer for Hire book into the mix -- I really enjoyed the four I read.

Lots of crocheting for me today -- finishing a blanket for Project Linus, then starting a shrug as a Christmas gift.

Enjoy your day, the weekend and the coming holiday.

Betty Hechtman said...

I never thought about it looking as if objects were sprouting from my head. It's a whole new world of communication. My grandson's school still does in person conferences, but when my son couldn't get there, he was able to participate on his phone.

I used to cook Thanksgiving, but once I became a vegetarian (over 35 years ago), I couldn't deal with cooking a turkey even if I wasn't going to eat it. We're going to a friends and I will make at least one dish to bring I like the way your grandmother celebrated with people coming by.

I have the next Molly book in the back of my mind, but still have to finish the rewrite of the Yarn Retreat book. I have been working on the pattern I'm going to include and still have to make a sample of the recipe I'm going to include. The characters from the crochet/tea room series are dancing around in my head, waiting in the wings. I don't think there are going to be anymore Writer for Hire books, though I really like those characters, too.

So nice that you make the blankets for Project Linus. I can imagine how grateful the kids are who get them. I was just looking at a pattern for a shrug.

I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Wow, I'm impressed, Betty. I don't think I could talk for a whole hour by myself, let alone do it online, even with help. Congrats!

Patty Jenkins said...

My son just asked me to make an artichoke frittata for Thanksgiving -- it was a dish that his dad always liked.

Every Sunday was the same when I was growing up -- a big dinner and lots of people stopping by. They knew Mother (I called my grandmother Mother) would have plenty of food. She was one of nine children, seven of whom lived in Lincoln with their children and grandchildren. We had the biggest house, Mother was the best cook so all celebrations were at our house. I don't remember anyone bringing food -- she prepared everything -- all from scratch and no written recipes. I wish she would have written a cookbook but she said that would just be a nuisance to look at!! She did use Campbell soups -- tomato to go with our grilled cheese sandwiches which were a Saturday must-have, vegetable to put over porcupine balls, and chicken gumbo to put in sloppy joe mix. I still do the same thing -- don't mess with a good thing.

Just about my afternoon nap time -- my concession to my advancing years!!

Betty Hechtman said...

It helped that people left comments as I was talking and I didn't worry about giving a perfectly organized talk.

Betty Hechtman said...

It was such a different time. Growing up, my mother worked, made dinner every night from scratch and washed the dishes by hand.

Naps are good. Enjoy.

Sally Morrison said...

Video interviews are so stressful because you don't pick up the energy of the audience and you feel like you're babbling to yourself. Prior to retirement I coached people on how to set up their room, equipment, and themselves. It's a process for sure.

I think it is the future. Our grandchildren will do many interviews that way. I guess we'll all get used to it.

In reality, you probably did better than you think because your audience picked up your energy even if you didn't have theirs.

Have a great weekend.

Betty Hechtman said...

Sally, I agree that it is the way of the future. You are right. The video things don't share the energy of the speaker and audience. But I also didn't have to see anybody with their eyes glazed over in boredom LOL. It was also nice to be able to do it from home. Interesting that you coached people on how to set up for video chats. It is definitely a good idea to consider the background and the angle of the screen.

I have done group Zoom things and I found it hard to get a chance to speak as I couldntt give a visual cue that I wanted to say something and I was worried it would come across as interrupting someone.

chkntza said...

I love the picture of you when you were little. I'm on the shy side so the only time I talk on a zoom meeting is when somebody asks me a direct question. I don't like looking at myself on the screen. I'm sure you did a great job on your Facebook meeting. Authors can do no wrong in my book. You are so interesting. At he beginning of the pandemic all the teachers at my school had to learn how to teach on zoom. It was a new experience for everybody. I was volunteering at the time and I was amazed at all the possibilities.