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Thursday, June 28, 2018

“The Ghost Returns” • Bruce Bethke

I didn’t intend to ghost. Heck, I didn’t even know that “ghost” was now a verb; shows how out of touch I am. Ghosting, ghosted, to ghost: still sounds funny to me.

I did intentionally back away from social media in early May, in one part to nip in the bud the Facebook-induced OCD I was beginning to develop and in nine parts to free up time to solve some behind-the-scenes technical problems with RLP. The problems we were experiencing with e-contracts turned out to have a simple root cause: Adobe was working on improving their integration with Microsoft Office, with the predictable result that, yeah, sure, it now works better with Word and Outlook—and worse with everything else, and sometimes simply doesn’t work at all.

Have I mentioned how much I hate Outlook? I mean, since yesterday?

Anyway, we now appear to have the e-contract issues resolved, so we should be getting all the promised contracts out to authors within the next few days.

After the intentional social media hiatus (SMH), there came an unintentional SMH, as we took off to Iceland for a few weeks for our first actual vacation in nine years. I didn’t intend to drop off the grid, but it turned out that once we got out of Reykjavik, comms were very spotty. I still have the message that popped up on my phone when we touched down at Keflavik airport. “Welcome to Iceland! Your [provider] phone will work here and you can expect up to 2G speeds!”

So my laptop was pretty much a paperweight the entire time. Surprisingly, SMS text messaging worked pretty well, though, so when we had a thunderstorm and power outage followed by a heat wave back home, I was able to walk our house sitter through the process of resetting the circuit breakers and rebooting the central A/C by text message, from about 40 miles south of the Arctic Circle.

Wow. Technology. Cool stuff. Definitely beats sending messages by pounding drums, like we did when I was a kid.

I have lots more to say about Iceland, which I’ll save for another time. Looking at all the photos I took, they seem about equally divided between idyllic pastoral landscapes and photos that could be postcards carrying the message, “Greetings from Mordor!” Fascinating place. Fascinating people. Fermented shark tastes every bit as vile as you imagine it does.

When we returned from Iceland I was jet-lagged all to Hell and gone but refreshed, energized, inspired, and ready to get back to work. Unfortunately, I then did get back to work, and the moment I walked into the office, I discovered that the project I’d thought was in decent shape when I left had gone to Condition SHTF while I was gone. So that’s consumed pretty much all available time since. The reactor leak is locked down now, though, so I am cautiously optimistic that life is at last returning to normal.

Finally, I want to publicly congratulate The New Intern and the minions on the great job they did with handling submissions while I was gone. They kept it flowing: the slush must flow. With a bit of distance, I can see that we need to make some changes to improve our processes, and we’ll be making those changes as quickly as we can. More to follow on this.

In the meantime, though: hi. I’m back. Judging from the pile of accumulated messages, Facebook missed me. I wonder how many of those messages are actually ads?

Bruce Bethke
editor, Stupefying Stories

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