I read to fall asleep. If you also indulge in that pastime, you may be familiar with the situation when you just can’t put down the book so you read late into the night when you should be sleeping and then when you stop reading you cannot go to sleep. Insomnia is not the outcome I want when I read in bed.
A week ago Friday I started reading The Likeness by Tana French. As with any of her books, right from the first enticing chapter her characters looped their arms through mine and transported me into their world. Realizing I had reached my bedtime reading limit the next night when I almost dropped my iPhone several times after I dozed off, I closed the Kindle app ready for a good sleep. The reading potion had worked it’s intended magic.
Or so I thought. I tossed. Covers off. I turned. Covers back on. The last time I looked at the clock, it was 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning. I blamed my inability to sleep on the nine boys who were having a sleepover at my daughter’s house next door, celebrating my grandson’s thirteenth birthday. There wasn’t much sleeping accomplished that night by anyone in the house as the nine boys roamed outside in the yard and in the park across the street then retired to the room about three feet from our casita. By the sounds of it, a good time was had by all!
Sunday night we were all in bed early. I was close enough to the end of The Likeness that if I could stay awake long enough I’d be able to finish it. My favorite part of reading a mystery is when I hit my “sweet” spot–about 75% of the way through the book-which means all my questions will be answered by the time I fall asleep.
By midnight I had reached the end of the book. Exhausted from Saturday night’s abbreviated sleep, I should have easily snored my way into dreamland at that point.
The last time I looked at the clock was at 2:30 a.m.
I blame it all on Tana French (not on teenage boys or plain old insomnia). Her psychological twists and thriller turns must have made me too worked-up, or anxious, or over-stimulated, to fall asleep. With that in mind, on Monday evening I found an innocuous historical mystery with which to read my way to sleep. Worked like a charm. Guess I don’t need Tylenol PM just yet.
My fellow oldsters talk a lot these days about how scary Google is. Sometimes the scary thing is called “The Cloud” or just “They”. What’s worrying my buddies is the idea that somebody out there, Mr. Google for choice, is amassing information on them from their computers, secret stuff, that will be used to sell them things, and soon after that, to mess directly with their minds. These conversations usually end with firm resolutions, if not oaths, that they never have and never will purchase anything except on the most rational principles of usefulness.
I got a little antsy about Mr. Google myself, before my grandson put an ad blocker on my computer. I’d been looking online for a dress to wear to a family graduation. Didn’t find one. But for weeks afterward, every dress I’d clicked on kept popping up on every site I went to.
Featured! Sale! Today Only! It wasn’t that I minded having Them know that I’d considered that dress. I minded having Them think I’d buy anything if they waved it under my nose enough times.
The ad blocker solved that problem. Lately, though, I’ve been taking note of what my digital friends try to make me buy on their own sites. I thought Mr. Amazon liked me, because I buy so many books from him. So many, in fact, that I never even glanced at his recommendations – I didn’t have space on my shelves for what I was buying anyway. Then one day I just happened to look down….
Do I sound to you like a person for whom the ideal book would be Horton Hears A Who?
That was Mr. Amazon’s #1 pick for me. Besides, I’ve already read it. Many times. Out loud. To myself.
All right, all right, that doesn’t make my case, does it? Then consider the #2 choice: the Bible. Could be a compliment, could be an insult. I opted for the second interpretation when I noticed that the #5 recommendation was also the Bible.
I do buy cozy mysteries. I like Miss Marple a lot, anything by Ngaio Marsh even better and Dorothy L. Sayers best. Amazon entered my purchases into its complex algorithms, turned the crank and out popped John Grisham’s A Time to Kill.
That was the only mystery suggested, except for The Likeness by Tana French, which I had already bought from Amazon.
After that came The Scarlet Letter. So I was right about why they put in the Bible.
YouTube must be using the same algorithms. Long ago, I worked for investment management firms as an economist, and I still keep up on the subject. Mr. Google knows that I have a bookmark to a site that gives stock market quotations. He must have told Mr. YouTube. I’ve been known to buy books on the subject online, too. Mr. Amazon is in the loop. So what is my first recommended video on YouTube?
At this point, I began to form algorithms of my own. Take two or three books on the economy, add two or three or four dozen on fantasy worlds, elves and so forth, divide by The Companion to The Name of the Rose, and you get irrefutable proof that the Illuminati were behind one side of the Brexit vote and the Freemasons behind the other. I didn’t watch the video just because I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. But it does worry me. Not that YouTube has my number, but that there’s somebody out there who made that video.
In fact, I have occasionally searched for clips on YouTube, so Mr. YouTube was able to take his own notes. For instance, I’m working on a book that has pet ferrets in it. I clicked on videos of ferret owners showing off their weasly little companions. I admit that I even clicked on one that had “cute” in the title. Naturally, YouTube now always recommends ferret videos. In the last lot, they saw fit to include:
You can see the connection to ferrets, can’t you?
“Cute” earned me a flood of links to animals claiming that distinction. It also got me:
I didn’t watch that one, either.
So you tell me: have the Illuminati of the Internet got my number yet? I figure I’ll be long dead before the Exalted Grand Masters can sell me so much as a peanut.
Readers: what are the computer geniuses flogging to you these days?