Archive for the ‘Bufo’s Life’ Category

Amazon’s 100 Biographies & Memoirs to Read in a Lifetime

February 18, 2015

Amazon’s 100 Biographies & Memoirs to Read in a Lifetime

Lists of books are popular features.

It’s interesting to me that that is the case.

After all, I doubt I’ve ever seen a list where I didn’t think there were omissions and questionable inclusions.

Perhaps that’s the point.

They spark a reaction, and reactions can mean engagement…and engagement can mean purchasing.

Not all lists are about purchasing, of course, and even an Amazon list of books like the brand new

100 Biographies & Memoirs to Read in a Lifetime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

isn’t about immediate conversion of sales.

In some ways, it’s about Amazon’s positioning as knowledgeable about books…knowledgeable and credible, which are not synonyms. You can be knowledgeable and have no one believe you (ask Cassandra), and you can be credible without having a lot of knowledge on a topic.

When I’ve trained trainers, I’ve even taught the latter…how to be credible.

A few quick notes on that:

  • Use numbers…that always impresses people. For example, if I was teaching an Excel class many years ago, I could be in front of people who thought they knew Excel quite well. I could say (back then), “There are 256 columns in Excel…does anyone know how many rows? 65,536.” That gave me instant credibility…even if it was just a memorized fact. It doesn’t have to be a complicated number: “There were seven castaways on Gilligan’s Island.” That may get people counting to confirm…and when they do, they are impressed with you
  • When in doubt, use big words. That also makes you sound credible…not approachable or relatable, necessarily, but it does help with credibility. :) That’s only true if you use them correctly…well, if somebody knows what the word actually means, that is. I have to reset my reaction when someone uses the word “decimated” (often “absolutely decimated” or “completely decimated”) to indicate a nearly complete reduction. “Decimated” technically means “reduced by one tenth”. If there were 100 soldiers, and you reduced it to ninety, you decimated that group. At least, that’s what it used to mean…my now adult kid who is a linguist has convinced me that it is usage that matters. I still have the emotional reaction, but I can reset it :)
  • Use the jargon. I work with medical folks, and when I can use a word that they use appropriately, it really ups my credibility
  • Speak quickly. Again, this is just when you are establishing credibility, not when you are training a concept. Most people don’t think you can lie at high speeds…that you have to think about what you are saying too much. If you excitedly say something, smashingallthewordstogether, people will think you are being honest. Don’t believe me? Try saying something really slowly and deliberately out loud…it will likely sound even to you like you are lying
  • Be imperfect. Pause, use an “um”, look to the ceiling (up to the left, typically), laugh at yourself for what you just said…those can all make you seem genuine, and not rehearsed

Now, clearly, you can’t just follow techniques to gain credibility…you need to be reacting in the moment and have empathy for what your audience is feeling.

That said, I come across as credible in person…and it can be a problem for me.

I’ve been a boss.

I’ve said to people something like, “Now, I don’t know yet if this is going to happen, so don’t hold me to it, but it’s possible that we are going to xyz.” I’ve then had people telling others we were going to xyz, and saying, “Bufo said so.”

That means I have to be careful about what I say. :)

I was being observed by one of my favorite managers, and in debriefing a class, the manager said at one point, “Then you did that hypnosis thing you do,” and just went on to another point.

I said something like, “Wait, what? What hypnosis thing?”

I realized later that I do use something like “guided imagery”.

Never, by the way, for nefarious reasons!

It’s just as important and difficult (sometimes) to make people believe in something which is true and good for them as it is to make them believe in something which is false and bad for them.

That said, let’s talk about this list. :)

I do like biographies and memoirs, but I like a lot of things. ;)

Here’s the list from Amazon, and whether or not I’ve read them:

  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers: no
  • A Long Way Home by Ishmael Beah: yes
  • A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway: no
  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson: no
  • American Caesar by William Manchester: no
  • American Lion by Jon Meacham: no
  • American Prometheus by Kai Bird: no
  • American Sniper by Chris Kyle: no
  • American Sphinx by Joseph J. Ellis: no
  • Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt: no
  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: yes
  • Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy: no
  • Autobiography of Mark Twain by Mark Twain: yes
  • Ball Four by Jim Bouton: no
  • Black Boy by Richard Wright: no
  • Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin: yes
  • Born Standing Up by Steve Martin: no
  • Born to Run by Christopher McDougall: no
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey: no
  • Cash by Johnny Cash: no
  • Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie: no
  • Chronicles by Bob Dylan: no
  • Churchill: A Life by Martin Gilbert: no
  • Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose: no
  • Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron: no
  • De Profundis and Other Personal Writings by Oscar Wilde: no
  • Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller: no
  • Dorothy Parker by Marion Meade: no
  • Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama: no
  • Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp: no
  • Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston: no
  • E-Mc~2 by David Bodanis: no
  • Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert: no
  • Endurance by Alfred Lansing: no
  • Everybody Was So Young by Amanda Vaill: no
  • Helen Keller: The Story of My Life by Helen Keller: yes
  • I Am Malala by mlala Yousafzai: no
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou: no
  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer: no
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith: no
  • Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain: no
  • Knock Wood by Candice Bergen: no
  • Life by Keith Richards: no
  • Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela: no
  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius: no
  • Mortality by Christopher Hitchens: no
  • My Life in France by Julia Child: no
  • Naked by David Sedaris: no
  • Napoleon by Andrew Roberts: no
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass: no
  • Night by Elie Wiesel: no
  • Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin: no
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac: no
  • Open by Andre Agassi: no
  • Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen: no
  • Personal History by Katharine Graham: no
  • Robert A. Caro’s The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro: no
  • Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs: no
  • Savage Beauty by Nancy Milford: no
  • Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand: no
  • Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan: no
  • Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov: no
  • Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson: no
  • Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman: no
  • Tennessee Williams by John Lahr: no
  • The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone: no
  • The Andy Warhol Diaries by Andy Warhol: no
  • The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein: no
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X: no
  • The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll: no
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: no
  • The Color of Water by James McBride: no
  • The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman: no
  • The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: no
  • The Diary of Anais Nin by Anais Nin: no
  • The Diary of Frida Kahlo by Carlos Fuentes: no
  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: no
  • The Gulag Archipeligo by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: no
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot: no
  • The Kid Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans: no
  • The Last Lone Inventor by Evan I. Schwartz: no
  • The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr: no
  • The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara: no
  • The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester: no
  • The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris: no
  • The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder: no
  • The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer: no
  • The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston: no
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion: no
  • This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff: no
  • Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow: no
  • Touching the Void by Joe Simpson: no
  • Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck: no
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand: no
  • Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes: no
  • Updike by Adam Begley: no
  • Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) by Stacy Schiff: no
  • West with the Night by Beryl Markham: no
  • Wild Swans by Jung Chang: no
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed: no

Well, I’ve only read five of these, but I have to say, I was very impressed with some of them. The Helen Keller book is amazing. A Long Way Home was devastating, but great. The Mark Twain book was so modern and so clever.

Certainly, though, there are many others I might list which I have read and which in some small way, let me live someone else’s life for a while.

Amazon knows that, and one of the synergies of their having purchased the social reading website Goodreads, is that they can do a curated list like the above and let people contribute to a crowd sourced one…which they have done:

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/85102.100_Biographies_Memoirs_to_Read_in_a_Lifetime_Readers_Picks

You can vote on and add titles to that one.

Without at all claiming that they are the best, here are some other biographies/memoirs which come to mind for me:

  • A Zoo in My Luggage by Gerald Durrell…and indeed, several of the Durrell books (not available for the Kindle)
  • A Job for Superman by Kirk Alyn…Alyn was Superman in the serials, and this book has some great stories! I bought it from Alyn at a science fiction convention, and that may have colored my perception of it. :) Still, I remember some of the stories easily. There was one where Alyn is talking about a scene carrying, I think, Lois Lane out of a burning building down steps. “Action!” Runs down the steps, but they have to reshoot the scene (smoke or something). Another take. Another problem. Another take. Another take. Another take. Eventually, the director says, “Superman, you’re slowing down.” Alyn explains that the actor is heavy, and the director says something like, “Actor? You’re supposed to be carrying a dummy!” That was part of the perception of Alyn on set as being Superman. Two more. :) Superman is animated flying, but they are standing around (very common on a set). Alyn asks what is happening, and they say they are trying to figure out how Superman is going to take off. Alyn, who was a ballet dancer, says, “I can jump over the camera.” Well, this is a tall camera! They don’t believe their star, but Alyn does it. Alyn points out, amused, that Superman takes off from a ballet position. ;) The last one was when They did have to do a close up of Superman flying. What they did was build a chest plate with wires, and Alyn would lay in it with legs (and hips) held straight out. That’s right…the plate didn’t get to Alyn’s hips! Picture doing that for a minute or more while they did the shot. Better, lie down on a table with your hips off the edge and try it…
  • Books by John A. Keel and Hans Holzer…very different people, very different writing style, sort of connected both writing about “paranormal” things. They are both field investigators and both bring you a feel for what it is like being there
  • Philip Jose Farmer’s “mythographies” of Doc Savage (Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (at AmazonSmile*)) and Tarzan

I could keep going. :)

One last thing, so those of you with Kindle Unlimited can read biographies and memoirs at no additional cost as part of your membership:

Kindle Unlimited Biographies & Memoirs sorted by most reviewed (at AmazonSmile*)

Don’t have Kindle Unlimited yet? It’s worthy of consideration, in my opinion:

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

What do you think? What are your favorite biographies and memoirs? I know people who say they don’t like to read non-fiction…what books do you think would convince them? These sorts of books also fit into Common Core…does this show the value of that program? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Bonus deal: pre-pay for three months of Sling TV ($20 a month) and get a Fire TV Stick for free, or $50 off a Fire TV!

Sling TV and Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

That’s the “cable cutting” way to get some TV networks at a cheaper price than paying for a full cable package.

Don’t want Sling TV? The Fire TV is also $15 off at time of writing, making it $84 instead of $99.

I use a Fire TV every day, and a Fire TV Stick some days.

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #285: reading declines, Kindle Unlimited expands to Canada and Mexico

February 13, 2015

Round up #285: reading declines, Kindle Unlimited expands to Canada and Mexico

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Kindle Unlimited launches in Mexico and Canada

As a publisher (I only publish my own works…which I would guess is true of most Kindle Direct Publishing authors) who has books in

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Amazon just informed me that KU is expanding to Canada and Mexico!

That’s exciting…I like having it very much. It’s an “all you can read” plan, $9.99 a month in the USA. Here’s the link for the information page

Kindle Unlimited in Mexico

where it is 129 pesos a month, and for

Kindle Unlimited Canada

where it is $9.99 (Canadian) a month.

Chri

Echo videos from Phink, one of my readers

One of my regular readers and commenters, Phink, recently got an Amazon Echo, Amazon’s ambient computing device. It’s an always on voice input device which plays music, answers all kinds of questions, and more.

Phink has posted what I think are a couple of the best videos I’ve seen so far about the Echo. They aren’t really reviews, they are demonstrations of what the device can do. If you are interested in the Echo, I think they are definitely worth watching to see what your experience might be like.

I appreciate Phink sharing these! I’ll be happy to write about the Echo, but my delivery date still says between May 27th and July 2nd.

Publishers Weekly: No Panic Over 15 Percent Drop in Christian Fiction Sales

Christian fiction has been a strong category of seller, but from 2013 to 2014, according to this

Publishers Weekly article by Ann Byle

sales dropped 15%. The article goes on to say why the publishers aren’t worried about that…I guess they have faith. ;)

Video news

I thought I’d group a couple of things together here…a mini-round up. ;)

First, this is just odd to me, but Amazon Studios is working with Sid and Marty Krofft to do a reimagined pilot of one of their series. The Kroffts were really gonzo “kids’ show” producers in the 1970s, although they did a lot more than that.

So, what gets the reboot? The most popular H.R. Pufnstuf? The wacky Lidsville? Electra Woman and Dyna Girl? Nope…Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. This may take a lot of reimagining…Sigmund’s parents were parodies of Archie Bunker and Phyllis Diller, and I just don’t think that’s going to fly with today’s audiences. Hoping they stick with the Johnny Whitaker theme song, though. :)

press release

Second, Fire TV, which is both the

Fire TV Stick (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and the

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

have added a bunch of apps, including the much talked about Sling TV (which may enable some people to drop cable…by paying for a much more focused package), TED (great, though-provoking lectures…this one is free), and Fox Sports GO.

press release

Only 40% of 17 year olds read at least one a week for fun

I do think that e-books have enabled and encourage a lot of people to read more, but stats like the ones in this

EBOOK FRIENDLY post by Ola Kowalczyk

are troubling.

It’s nothing particularly new…as kids get older, fewer of them report reading for fun.

Part of that may be that they have to read so much more for school…a high schooler presumably has a lot more assigned reading than a nine-year old. If they are enjoying that reading, it would probably still not be reported as “reading for pleasure”.

What’s troubling is the decline across age groups since 1984.

It’s possible that there was a big decline (let’s see…video games, maybe?) for a while, and that e-books are, in fact, increasing reading.

Still, the Common Sense Media data reported on here (and shown in an infographic) is not especially encouraging. On the good side, more than a quarter of homes have an EBR (E-Book Reader…they mention Kindles and NOOKs. That would not include tables, like the Kindle Fire).

Big update for Kindle for iOS (4.7)

In this

Kindle Forum thread (at AmazonSmile*)

an update for the iOS (Apple mobile…iPhones, iPads) app is announced.

It includes eTextbooks and the “Book Browser” feature that brings you information about the book (new for iPhones).

Flipboard redesigns Flipboard for the web

This is a big improvement!

I’ve written about my free Flipboard magazines here before.

I read it in the

Flipboard (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

app, which I read every morning on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

For my readers who didn’t have Fires, though, I know the experience trying to read them in a browser on a PC wasn’t great.

Well, if you’ve tried it before, check it out again at

https://flipboard.com/

I like what they’ve done it with it: it looks much better, and seems to be less resource intensive.

Hope you enjoyed my birthday! ;)

We had a great time…we went to Point Isabel in Richmond (rated as one of the top ten dog parks in the world)…our dogs love it there! We also get about an hour walk, two or three miles. I went to doctor yesterday for an annual check-up, and to the DMV to renew my license. When I did the DMV thing, I realized that my weight is down about 55 pounds since I last did a driver’s license! I’m down about 40 pound in the last two years, thanks to the free app I reviewed here:

Review: MyFitnessPal

Well, that, and a lot of work. :) I figure another year and I’ll be in good shape.

Then we tried a new restaurant, and the food was good.

After that, we saw The Theory of Everything. That’s one of the Best Picture nominees we hadn’t seen. I thought it was good, and was glad I had done my personal

2015 BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness)

predictions before I saw it. When you think a movie is good, it can skew your predictions…you tend to think the Academy will like it better than you might if you had not seen it.

I also got a book…always a good thing! I’ll wait until I’ve read a bit before I say anything about it, and I’ll likely do a Goodreads review.

Hope it was a great day for you, too!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

*When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Happy my birthday, 2015!

February 12, 2015

Happy my birthday, 2015!

February 12th is my birthday, and continuing a tradition, I’m giving you presents!

This is to thank you for making another year of my life richer. I have a lot of fun writing this blog, and I sometimes get to help people…and what could be better than that?

Part of KDP Select (the program through which users of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing make books available for eligible Prime members to borrow through the KOLL…Kindle Owners’ Lending Library) is the ability to make books free for five days (they need not be consecutive) in a ninety-day period.

Please check that a title is free for you before buying it.

I have asked Amazon to make them free on February 12, but I can’t say exactly when it will happen. I think they may also only be free to customers in the USA.

Some might be fun to give as a little Valentine’s Day present…you can buy it today as a gift, and schedule delivery for the 14th.

So, you can click on the titles before, but please make sure it is free when you click the 1-click buy button.

The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

When this one was first published in December of 2012, it was the number one bestselling book of quotations at Amazon…including paper! That didn’t last long, but it was fun while it did. :)

Love Your First Generation Kindle Fire: The ILMK Guide to Amazon’s Entertablet (at AmazonSmile)

This one has been a bestseller. It was written before the Kindle Fire HDs and HDXs, so it doesn’t match up exactly with those. If you do have the first generation Fire, though, I think you’ll find it useful.

The Kindle Kollection: Three Early Books about the Kindle (at AmazonSmile)

This one combines the three below into one volume:

* ILMK! (I Love My Kindle): Being an Appreciation of Amazon’s E-Book Reader, with Tips, Explanations, and Humor
* Free Books for Your Kindle
* Frequently Asked Kindle Questions

ILMK! (I Love My Kindle!): Being an Appreciation of Amazon’s E-Book Reader, with Tips, Explanations, and Humor (Revised Edition)(at AmazonSmile)

This has some fun stuff…and other things that are out of date. If you want The Happy Little Bookworm, this one has it. :)

The Collected I Love My Kindle Blog Volume 1 (at AmazonSmile)

This is the first 101 posts in this blog. :) I did 101 posts so I wouldn’t cut off Doctor Watson’s Blog: A Kindle Abandoned (which is a four-part story). I’m coming up on the five year anniversary of the blog, and I’m considering doing a “best of” book. I’d include the posts that are less time-dependent, I think…if you have any opinions on ones that you remember, feel free to let me know.

Remember, double-check that they are  free to make sure before buying.

Happy birthday! ;)

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

*When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Do you have a reading plan?

January 27, 2015

Do you have a reading plan?

I will die without having read all the books I want to read, or even all the books I should have read.

That’s simply the probability.

It’s possible they’ll extend life significantly…perhaps if what makes me me can be digitized and still be self aware, I might have a very much longer time than would now appear reasonable.

That seems unlikely.

Even more unlikely is that I stop wanting to read books. ;)

Given that, I now shy away from having a “reading plan”.

What’s a reading plan?

It’s when you have a set goal:

  • “I will read every Hugo best novel”
  • “I will read every book in the Great Books of the Western World series”
  • “I will read a book written by an author from each country in the United Nations”

I used to do that sort of thing, and I think that may be more common when you have a longer life expectancy in front of you.

Certainly, I completed some things like that.

I read all 181 of the original Doc Savage adventures.

I read an unabridged dictionary cover to cover…not quite the same thing, but that was a plan.

Now, I’m more aware that my time is limited…no reason to think that’s a near future thing, in case you are concerned (and thank you if you are), but it can happen at any time.

If I was following a plan like that, and there were twenty books in that group and I died having read nineteen…well, I can’t face that idea. ;)

So, I tend to bounce around.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve gotten value out of every book I’ve read. I don’t think I’ve ever regretted reading a book.

I think it’s good for me to shake up my thinking…to try things I might not otherwise have tried.

That may be one of the best things books can do for you.

That means I’ll read books where I really don’t know how good they’ll be ahead of time, perhaps because I have no relevant experience with which to judge them.

That might be as simple as reading an author of which I’ve never heard.

It could be an entire genre I’ve never explored…although that’s not super likely. When I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, I suggested to my employees that they read a book from each section in the store, to be able to better help customers. I suggested they ask a regular for a suggestion.

I did that myself, and discovered some interesting things that way!

That’s when I first read

Jude Deveraux (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and

Jerry Ahern (at AmazonSmile*)

two authors I enjoyed.

On reflection, I did read them because of a plan…to read a book from each section in the store. That was a plan that promoted eclecticism, but it was a definite plan. I would have been disappointed if I had almost completed that task, and then became incapacitated. I wouldn’t want to be aware of the goal, and know I wasn’t going to reach it.

I’m sure for a lot of you that’s silly. Not embarking on a quest because you might fail may seem…I’ll go with timorous, although some might use a stronger word like cowardly.

I think one of the differences for me is that I don’t need a linear goal to stay focused. I’m not a linear thinker, really…I love chaos.

I also love organization (like alphabetizing shelves), but I think that may be because it isn’t natural for me. I’m fascinated by timelines, although I don’t have a good sequentially chronological memory.

I’ve lost about forty pounds (over the course of maybe a couple of years…it’s been a good, safe pace) using the MyFitnessPal app (which I reviewed in this blog).

For me, though, it’s important not to have a “goal weight”. I just want to do it because it is good for me (and by extension, for others…my family, my co-workers, my readers, who benefit in some way from me being here and well functioning).

If I set a goal, I’d get more frustrated with my progress…and what would happen when I reached it? What if I’d underestimated the weight loss which would be healthy? What if I got in great shape, but I actually started gaining weight at some point because of muscle mass increase?

No, I don’t think that’s the best approach for most people, but for me, not having a goal makes me more likely to stick to something.

What about you? Do you have a reading plan? Do you mind sharing it? I’m sure some of my other readers might appreciate it…even be inspired by it. What reading plans have you accomplished in the past? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Spot check #1: five books from my shelves

November 9, 2014

Spot check #1: five books from my shelves

The USA Kindle store is likely to hit three million titles by the end of this month or so.

I’ve been noticing more of the books on the “backlist” (not new titles, but ones which might still be purchased) showing up in the store.

In particular, I was struck by seeing some that I own.

Thinking of that, I got curious.

What would happen if I just picked five random books out of our floor to ceiling home library, and checked them in the Kindle store? Would they be there? How many would be in

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

? What would they cost?

I decided to do the experiment. :)

The choices weren’t truly random, but I didn’t know at all which specific books I would select. That was important: I could, for example, take five Shakespeare books, and they’d all be in the store.

What I did was come up with a number. It had to be large enough so I couldn’t easily predict where it would end up (I do know my library pretty well), but small enough to be a manageable search item.

I went with thirty-four. I figured I wouldn’t do this again this year, so I added twenty to fourteen (for 2014).

Then I closed my eyes, touched a book on a shelf, and started counting until I reached the thirty-fourth book.

I started on different shelves. I could easily have gotten just science fiction and fantasy books, I didn’t want to do that.

I was a little trepidatious going into…I’ll admit, some of the books on which I landed might change your perceptions of me. ;)

Here’s what I got:

Sky Pirates of Callisto
by Lin Carter
Printing date: January 1973
Dell mass market paperback
Original price: $0.95
Not available

While I didn’t find the Callisto books, a

search for Lin Carter in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile*)

did turn up quite a few titles, including Thongor, some Cthulhu, and some Conan. A few of the books were available through KU.

This is space opera, along the lines of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom series. Lin Carter wrote quite a bit of this type of material…not, by the way, making fun of it, but there is perhaps a tinge of meta.

When Do Fish Sleep? and other imponderables of everyday life
by David Feldman
Printing date: 1990
HarperPerennial trade paperback
Original price: $10.00
not in KU
available through Kindle Matchbook for $2.99

When Do Fish Sleep? (Imponderables Books) (at Amazon Smile*)
Price at time of writing: $8.00
published by Harper

These are fun books…the basic premise is that they are about things you can’t figure out just by thinking about them. You can’t “ponder” your way to the answer.

THE UFONAUTS
by Hans Holzer
Printing date: 1976
Fawcett Gold Medal mass market paperback
Original price: $1.75
not available

When you do a

search for Hans Holzer in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile*)

there are about ten real results (searches often find things that mention that for which you are searching, but aren’t really matches)…and a number of those are in Kindle Unlimited. This one intrigued me: Holzer really popularized “ghost hunting”, and this was the author’s take on UFOs. It’s not unreasonable to speculate on whether the two things might be related…

Drama: Principles & Plays
edited by Theodore W. Hatlen
Copyright date: 1967
Meredith trade paperback (textbook?)
Original price: unknown (none printed on the cover)
not available

No Hatlen books in the USA Kindle store (but you can buy some of the books in paper…you’ll pay a lot). I bought this used…there is a twenty-five cent price penciled inside, so that’s probably what I paid for it. ;)

Tragic Prelude: Bleeding Kansas
by Karen Zeinert
Copyright 2001
Linnet Book hardback
Original price: unknown
not available

You can buy it a used library bound book for a penny. I don’t think I ever actually read this one. It’s a non-fiction account of the formation of the Kansas Territory in 1854.

While only one of the five books was actually available in the Kindle store, I like that there were books by three out of the five authors. Finding Lin Carter in KU was nice: I’ll add some to my KU wish list at Amazon (which makes it easier for me to pick more KU books to add when the time comes.

This was fun, and I might try it again! Let me know if you found it interesting by commenting on this post…

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Literary city: San Francisco, books, and baseball

October 25, 2014

Literary city: San Francisco, books, and baseball

I’m going to the World Series game today!

I’m also a lover of books.

I wanted to tie those two together…and since I’m going as a San Francisco fan (we live in the area, but not actually in the City), I thought I’d do a post pointing out some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s literary highlights…and other little cultural nuggets.

First, though, let me say a bit about baseball. I certainly can’t claim to be the Giants’ biggest fan. I don’t watch every game throughout the year, but I do keep casual track of it and tune in when we get to the post-season. Now, some people would say that’s not unlike the Giants themselves, but that wouldn’t be fair. ;)

I’ll be wearing a cap from the 2000 season, celebrating Pac Bell Park (now AT&T). Somewhere around the house, I have a “Croix de Candlestick”, the “medal” we got for surviving a game in that  park. :) We did go to see Matt Cain pitch in one of our recent World Series (yes, that’s right…we have multiple recent World Series. Somewhat like Star Trek movies, even years/numbers have been good for us). ;)

We didn’t buy the tickets to the games, though ($500 apiece is about what you would expect when they first go on sale). My parents generously buy tickets for the family to go…there will probably be twelve of us there today (including them).

My Significant Other’s father was offered a pitching contract with the Seals (who were in San Francisco before the Giants). It was at the same time he became a plumber, though, and the money was the same (this was some time ago). The family blames my SO’s older sibling, who was in the womb at the time…and that was the deciding factor. :)

So, yes, I’m a Giants fan…but if you think that they are a bigger part of your life than they are of mine, you are probably right.

As to San Francisco and books…I should say why I’m including the whole Bay Area (and even here, we debate about what “the Bay Area” includes). Out here, we are inclusive. San Francisco spills down the peninsula like an overflowing soy latte, but the community pride also goes South  to San Jose (and beyond), East to Oakland (and beyond), and North to Marin (and beyond). Some people (especially those outside the Bay Area) hated the baseball caps which are split down the middle…half for the Giants, and half for the Oakland A’s. They yell at us: “Pick a side! You can’t have two teams!”

In the Bay Area, you can…we don’t judge your lifestyle. ;)

Now, of course, if you are from L.A. and are a Dodgers fan, that’s different. ;) Even with that, we might say we hate the Dodgers…but for the most part, S.F. fans will welcome Dodgers fans to the game. In a meeting at work yesterday, there was a lot of Giants  paraphernalia…but when one of our team members shouted, “Go, Royals!” it wasn’t a dicey moment. We laughed…and knew that person came here from that area.

A native San Franciscan is a rare thing (my SO is one), and that’s a virtuous circle: we both welcome outsiders and are influenced by them.

Here, then, are some literary San Francisco facts (and I use the  term “facts” loosely) as well as some other cultural factoids to help you enjoy the games:

  • We usually call it San Francisco, but it is also commonly called just “The City”, even though San Jose (about 45 minutes South) has a bigger population. Some people are adamant that it not be called “Frisco”, but others defend the name. The late columnist Herb Caen even wrote a book called Don’t Call it Frisco (not available for Kindle)
  • Bay Area authors (they don’t have to have been born here…but they may have, or may have moved here, or just written about here) include: Scott Adams (Dilbert); Isabelle Allende; Peter Beagle; Michael Chabon; Dave Eggers; Allen Ginsberg; Dashiell Hammett; Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket); Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner); Shirley Jackson (The Lottery); Jack Kerouac; Maxine Hong Kingston; Fritz Leiber; Jack London; Armistead Maupin; Charles M. Schulz (Peanuts); Amy Tan; Walter Tevis; Mark Twain; Alice Walker; and Laurence Yep
  • One way we can tell if a TV series, movie, or book which is set in San Francisco actually has its origins in Los Angeles (or somewhere else) is that we don’t say the word “the” before the numbers of our freeways (although again, we aren’t completely dogmatic about it). For example, we wouldn’t say, “I took the 4, then headed South on the 680″. We would just say, “I took 4, then headed South on 680″. I’m not entirely sure why…that “the” doesn’t seem unreasonable. I wonder if all of the Russian influence we have around here has something to do with it…they stereotypically find using English articles a challenge
  • One big literary convention in the area is LitQuake…we consider earthquakes part of our heritage, and don’t hide the fact that they happen. The vast majority of earthquakes don’t cause any (or much) damage…those can be kind of fun. The biggest ones can be tragic disasters, but those are rare. A lot more people are killed and a lot more damage is done on the East Coast each year by the cold than earthquakes do out here
  • Speaking of which, we like to say that we do have four seasons here…we just have them all in one day ;)
  • There used to be a three-story tall used bookstore in the City, called Albatross Books. That was a destination for me…even though it was in the Tenderloin, a dangerous part of town. The Bay Area has many famous bookstores…and not just in San Francisco proper (although “San Francisco proper” seems like an oxymoron). ;) Berkeley has several (Moe’s, Dark Carnival, Pegasus), but I couldn’t mention bookstores in the area without mentioning Kepler’s in Menlo Park. I used to go there quite often. We respect bookstores here: we even have a plaque honoring the opening of the first one in San Francisco (in 1849). In fact, we are good at honoring books and authors generally…after all, one of the big tourist attractions in Oakland (right across the bay) is Jack London Square
  • I’m pretty sure that AT&T Park must have been one of the few places in the world where you could get both edamame (soybeans…a popular snack in Japanese ballparks) and Krispy Kreme donuts ;)
  • There are so many books set in San Francisco, that a search for “books set in San Francisco” on Google results in more than 100 million hits. I like the Buzzfeed list, but there are also lists from Goodreads (now owned by Amazon) and Wikipedia
  • We call our (partly) underground train system BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). Again, we don’t say “the BART”…just BART. “I took BART to the game”, not “I took the BART”. Strangely, though, we don’t say, “I took bus to the game”, but “I took the bus to the game.” Isn’t English fun? ;)

Well, there you go! That’s just a small taste of both San Francisco and literary San Francisco! You never know what is going to happen a San Francisco game…and we are really looking forward to it.

Update: SPOILER ALERT (if, somehow, you are interested in the World Series and haven’t heard about or watched last night’s game yet, you might want to skip this until you have). It was a great game! Actually, the spoiler alert may be  unnecessary, because I won’t say too much about what actually happened. It was, though, typical Giants. ;) I just wanted to say that the crowd bore out what I said. We were in the bleachers, and of course, the vast majority of people around us were Giants fans. There were, though, Royals fans, all dressed up to support their team. Sure, people sometimes turned around when they cheered…but never with animosity.

Update: Oh, I wanted to mention…I am loud out there in the stands. ;) When they say “Make Noise”, I do. :) One “call” I haven’t ever gotten to catch on, but I keep hoping it will. It’s when Posey is at bat. One person would call out, “Who ya gonna call?” and the crowd response is, “Go, Buster!” Feel free during the next three games…and hopefully, for some time after that.

 Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Google takes action on infringement?

October 16, 2014

Google takes action on infringement?

I’ve run into situations before where someone has infringed on my copyright.

About three years ago, after an alert and kind reader let me know about running into some of my work in a book purchased in the Kindle store (not one of my books), I let Amazon know and the book was removed:

Infringement, plagiarism, and Amazon to the rescue

As I said then, “…I’m not a big person for punishment, public shame, or revenge.  I usually just want the situation fixed.  :)”

I mentioned recently that my posts (in their entirety…and every one of them in sequence, at least the latest ones) were appearing on a site without my authorization.

I named the site then, because I couldn’t see any way to contact them…and I figured, hey, if they are publishing my material, they are probably reading it. :)

I gave them a couple of days to remedy the situation (and a way to contact me privately, if they wanted to arrange permission…I have allowed some things before, even without compensation).

That didn’t happen.

I saw that they had ads (making this a commercial enterprise), powered by Google’s AdSense.

I clicked the link for AdSense, and they nicely had a specific way for me to report the infringement…it even automatically linked back to the website. I stated I was the copyright holder: I am…I obviously don’t register the copyright before I publish these posts, but copyright in the USA is automatic. You don’t need to register it to have protection, although registering it gives you more options. I have registered some copyrights in the past.

Google said, in part in this short excerpt: “We will promptly review this website to ensure that it complies with our policies and, if necessary, take the appropriate action.”

Well, I’m pleased to report that while the infringement is still happening at this point, the ads are gone from the site.

Hopefully, this will get them to remove my material, or contact me for permission. Since they aren’t profiting from it via the Google ads any more, and they’ve been informed of the infringement (I think the vast majority of infringers are simply ignorant of the relevant law), I’m hoping  the situation is fixed soon.

I’d really rather not take additional action…that’s no fun for anybody.

I see at least one post from someone else I (virtually) know on there…I’ll alert that person, although, of course I’m only assuming that they didn’t get permission.

I’m quite confident that Google removed the ads…thanks, Google!

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

A Day in the Life of a Kindleer 2014

July 21, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Kindleer 2014

This is one in a series of posts which I write about once a year. I do this primarily to give my readers some ideas they might use to get more out of their devices. I also think it’s interesting to go back and look at the previous ones, to see how much things have changed…and it’s always a lot.

I usually wake up between about 3:00 and 3:30 AM. That’s hours before I need to go to work, but I get a lot of things done (including writing) during that time.

I know what time it is because I have my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

set up next to the bed as a clock. I use the built-in clock app, set in nightstand mode. There is no problem at all in reading that in the dark, although it would be quite dim (it’s lit in red) in a normally lit room…there are other clock options for other situations. The battery will have gone down about 40% since I went to bed.

It’s in the

Origami case (at AmazonSmile)

from Amazon, in a configuration that makes it stand up. I did think that case was expensive (it’s $39.99 right now…$10 less than I paid for it in October of last year), but I have to say, it’s held up very well and I do use its features.

I pick it up facing me, so it won’t bother my Significant Other (it wouldn’t anyway, but I’m just being cautious) and head for the bathroom.

The two dogs we have now (both new since last year) don’t get up when I do that: they can be incredibly active for an hour or so at a time…but they also sleep better than most humans. ;)

I have a Cloud Collection with my morning apps. I’ll prop the Fire on the towel bar, and start with the

ABC7 News San Francisco (at AmazonSmile)

That’s the free app from my local station. I check that first in case there is anything that’s going to mess up traffic, but it is quite well designed. For one thing, I can flip articles from there into my

free Flipboard magazines

and e-mail articles easily to people if I want.

Oh, I should mention: before I start using the apps, I turn the wireless back on (I leave it off at night), increase the brightness from the lowest possible setting to about 25%, and turn off the orientation lock (I don’t like the clock flipping around while I’m carrying the Fire to the bathroom). I do all that by swiping down from the top.

After that, and while I’m doing some other morning tasks, it’s on to the

CNN Breaking US & World News (at AmazonSmile)

app. Again, I can flip and e-mail from there. I typically read the following sections:

  • Home
  • Featured
  • World
  • Entertainment
  • Tech
  • Health

I won’t finish all that before I head for the kitchen, dogs thumping on to the floor and “shaking it out” (I hear the dog tags jingle) to follow me. Well, we don’t go to the kitchen first: we all go outside for a bit. I start my morning exercise there. I do about 45 minutes, twice a day…as the baseline. I track that with the free

Review: MyFitnessPal

app. Over the course of more than a year, I’ve lost more than forty pounds. I’ve been a vegetarian for a long time, and eating wasn’t really the issue for me: it was doing regular exercise. This app has kept me on track with that, entering my food and my activity.

We come back in and I feed the dogs. I eat a small bag of almonds myself (Trader Joe’s sells these “handful” size bags), then back to finish the exercise. I set the Fire up on the entertainment unit and keep reading while I work out. That’s not always convenient: I can only really change the pages between reps or sets (I’m doing my own brand of calisthenics, really…I walk with a cane, so I need to come up with things that will work and still burn the calories).

I’ll run out of CNN before I run out of exercise, usually, so it’s on to my morning

Flipboard (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

read. Again, this is a free app. I highly recommend it: you can customize what you see, and it very much fills the void of having a morning newspaper. I flip articles from into my magazines also.

Somewhere in here, I finish the exercise, and make and eat breakfast…still reading Flipboard usually.

I also have CNN on the TV…with the sound muted during some of this. There are exercises where I just can’t read my Fire…so at least I can read a news crawl. ;)

After Flipboard, it’s on to the

WordPress (at AmazonSmile)

app. That’s where I’m going to approve your comments.

I honestly like to have seen the news myself first, before I get comments on it. That gives me a better perspective, and often makes it easy for me to make a valuable reply. I love it when a reader gives me a heads-up for something which I haven’t seen yet!

I’m not quite writing replies, yet, unless something urgent arises. If that happens, or if big enough news was revealed in the free apps, I’ll go to…a desktop. Yep, an actual desktop computer. While the built-in dictation app on the Fire works remarkably well (easily translating my spoken words into text), it’s faster for me to type on a full-sized keyboard.

Next is the Maxthon browser. I’m pretty sure I got that from Amazon originally, but it isn’t currently available for the KFHDX. It is my favorite browser, and the one I also usually use on the desktop (I’m using it right now). I believe you can get it at 1Mobile for the Fire. I like the privacy mode, and I like how it syncs my favorites easily between devices. I also have Chrome, Dolphin, and Silk available to me on my Fire, but don’t use them much.

I hit some favorites in Maxthon:

  • I go Amazon and get the free app of the day (almost every time)
  • I check the Kindle Daily Deals
  • I check BoxOfficeMojo
  • I check my Flipboard magazines reader counts (I now have thousands of readers for them)
  • I may check IMDb.com news, but one negative for that is that I can’t flip from there into my magazines…for that reason, I may wait until I’m on Chrome on the desktop…and that’s the main reason I use Chrome, is for the Flipboard extension

One more morning stop: the built-in e-mail app on my Fire, where I check my incoming e-mail. Again, I won’t tend to respond there, but it’s a great place to read the mail.

Now, let me point out: I’ve been reading the Fire for over an hour at this point…and it’s all been free items.

Then, it’s usually on to the desktop to write. I may have the Fire open alongside that, but usually not. At this point, it’s charging. It doesn’t take it very long to charge to 100%…I don’t think it’s an hour. I use the

Pwr+® 6.5 Ft AC Adapter 2.1A Rapid Charger (at AmazonSmile)

I like it a lot! I broke one (not the device’s fault…the Fire slipped off the arm of the couch and slid between the arm and the cushion: that, not unreasonably, bent the jack) and replaced it.

If I have more time to read before I leave, it may be sight-reading a book (some times borrowed from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, or now, from Kindle Unlimited). I may also read Fortean Times using the Zinio app, which you get from the Zinio site. I pay for that, and I may have paid for the book I’m reading (or I’m reading it because of Prime or Kindle Unlimited…that’s no additional cost, but there has been a cost). I also do read books I’ve gotten for free. Oh, and I also read

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY Magazine (at AmazonSmile)

I’m not averse to paying for content…it is nice that a lot what I like is available for free to me. :)

Heading off to work (and my commute varies, since I go to different places…it can be an hour), it’s text-to-speech in the car, so more book time. :) My adult kid did get me an Audible subscription recently…I used my first credit to get a Pimsleur beginning Japanese course. I’ve listened to that in the car (using the Audible app), but it’s much more likely to be TTS.

I have my Fire with me all the time at work. I can sometimes get by with that rather than with my laptop: I work in cramped spaces sometimes, and it’s a relief.

I use

OfficeSuite Professional 7 (at AmazonSmile)

sometimes (which I got as a Free App of the Day) to do viewing and light-editing of Microsoft Office files), and I use

ColorNote Notepad Notes (at AmazonSmile)

(yet another free app) to make quick notes, often using the dictation feature again (speech-to-text).

I have Evernote, but I’ve never gotten into it, for some reason.

Mainly, though, I’m reading at breaks and at lunch. :) I am not normally connected to wireless, so I use my phone to approve comments and check things. Starting later this week, that should be my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile)

I’m excited for that!

When I get home, I turn airplane mode back off, and it’s back to e-mail, checking the web, and reading.

It’s probably worth noting that I use the

Safeway (at AmazonSmile)

We do seem to save a lot of money with it (it’s free)…and it lets us know what savings it has on things we have bought before. That’s very convenient!

As a nightly thing, I switch to the

Kindle Paperwhite (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

for actually reading in bed before going to sleep. I’m usually asleep by 9:00…I get about six hours sleep a night. Just two years ago, I regularly got eight hours (9:00 PM to 5:00 AM), but I don’t know if it’s the lost weight or just getting older, but I don’t need that much any more. I wake up naturally…no alarm.

One more thing which I use a lot more on the weekend than I do during the week:

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I do use it some during the week. In one of our rooms, we do not have cable access at all: we just use the Fire TV. I watch Amazon Prime video on it. For one thing, I’m working my way back through

Red Dwarf (at AmazonSmile)

Some of it is quite ahead of its time! I just got to enjoy some SmartWatch jokes…with the AI (Artificial Intelligence) in the watch not enjoying what it sees when, for example, the wearer puts hands in pockets. ;)

I also use Netflix, and a couple of apps which didn’t come with it:

AOL On (at AmazonSmile)

Once again, it’s free…and it’s a good source of news stories (I like keeping up with the news). I can start a category of news story, and it will play them like a playlist…not that different from watching a news channel. There are some ads, but it’s not like the amount of commercials on a cable channel. The only annoying thing is that you may see the same short commercial over and over again. One tip: if it, or any app on your Fire TV locks up, you can go to Settings – Applications, and similar to on a Kindle Fire, clear the cache and/or force stop it.

YouTube (at AmazonSmile)

It’s a decent interface (although I wish it had voice search), and it’s good for something short. I usually check was trending, and I may search for something, although it is often obscure (I recently watched Frank Gorshin doing impressions on the Dean Martin show, for example).

Let’s see what else I use on the Fire:

Oh, I use

AccuWeather (at AmazonSmile)

every day…consider that part of the morning routine. I didn’t think of it at first, because I don’t invoke it: it’s in my notifications. I find it to be pretty accurate…and again, it’s free. I have it set in centigrade: I decided to convert to that a while back. I have trouble thinking of the temperatures in Fahrenheit now, so it’s nice that it has the option. Centigrade is just simpler: zero is literally freezing, ten is cold, twenty is fine for most people, thirty is hot. That’s rule of thumb, but works pretty well.

I tend to use the calendar on my phone, rather than on my KFHDX, but I will check an app which is no longer available. It shows my Google calendar: I could do that in the built-in calendar app, but this one had a nicer format.

I also suggest you use

Clean Master (at AmazonSmile)

I use it more than once a week to clean up junk files on my Fire, and it seems to work very well. Guess how much it costs? ;) Nothing…

I also use

Fandango Movies – Times & Tickets (at AmazonSmile)

on the weekend (not to purchase tickets, just to get times), and without thinking about it I use

Battery Doctor (at AmazonSmile)

The only reason I even notice it is it places a little tone when the Fire is 100% charged: nice to be able to hear it when I’m working on the desktop.

There, I think that’s about it! I do some shopping from Amazon it, but I think that gives you a sense of a day in the life of this Kindleer…2014, and pre-Fire Phone. :)

New! Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Keepers

July 8, 2014

Keepers

Yesterday, I mentioned the book

 Alas, Babylon (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Hopefully, some of you bought it then…you could have saved $7 over today’s price. :)

One of my regular readers and commenters, Lady Galaxy, mentioned that a former student still had the copy they had used in Lady Galaxy’s classroom…close to forty years ago.

That got me thinking…

I have some p-books (paperbooks) where I have held on to the specific copies for years.

Of course, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve held on to all of my p-books (unless I bought them to give them away), but still…these are different. :)

For example, I have one copy of Tarzan of the Apes which I’ve had for longer than Lady Galaxy’s student has had Alas, Babylon.

I have lots of other copies, but this one is special to me (even though it is falling apart).

Clearly, it’s intended to be a copy for kids…and I got it when it was age appropriate for me.

It does have something special in it.

It has an English-Mangani dictionary.

The Mangani are the “apes” that raised Tarzan. I put “apes” in quotation marks, because, if you read the books, they clearly aren’t any of the ape species that we know…and are most likely to be a different species of human (than Homo sapiens…that’s us).

There were rumors of “hairy bipeds” in Africa (as there are in the USA with Bigfoot or Indonesia with the Orang Pendek), and I’d be surprised if Burroughs didn’t intend them to be genus Homo rather than being pongids.

For one thing, they have a language.

Fortunately for us, as far as I can tell, the syntax is pretty much like English. ;)

There are quite a few words in the books…enough so that I’ve been able to translate things into Mangani.

I’ve also in the past made up new compound words. For example, I used “unk-dan-sopu” for a car. “Unk” is Mangani for “go”, and “dan-sopu” is a nut (from “dan” for “rock” and “sopu” for “fruit”). A car reminds me of a nut with a shell (and many cars do have a nut in them…at least, based on the way they are driven). ;) and it goes, so…

So, even though you can find interesting Mangani-English dictionaries on line:

English-Mangani/Mangani-English Dictionary by Peter Coogan

from

Philip Jose Farmer’s Wold Newton site

I still want to hang on to that particular copy.

Yes, despite having several other editions of Tarzan of the Apes.

Part of me feels like that is wrong. That book might have the same impact on a child today that it had on me…am I denying the book to someone else because of my sentimentality?

However, there are two mitigating factors for me.

One is that the book is not in good shape…it would likely fall apart if read enthusiastically while hanging upside down from a tree limb…or while skateboarding through a concrete jungle. ;)

The other is that Tarzan is readily available free as an e-book…legally.

So, I feel like my copy wouldn’t be worth that much to a child, and that the book is widely accessible. You can get e-books free online and through public libraries.

I did give away a Kindle earlier this year

Give a Kid a Kindle

and I may do that again (maybe in the last quarter of the year). There didn’t seem to be much interest in it, though…I didn’t do it just to engage an audience, it felt good to do. However, if the opportunity to get the Kindle isn’t reaching very many kids, it reduces the chances that a kid who could change the world because of having had that vast free library gets it.

I don’t have a lot of copies like that…in most cases, if I could replace the books with e-books, I would. I might even (breathe! breathe! Inhale…exhale…inhale…exhale) donate my books if I could do that.

I’m not quite there, yet, emotionally.

Looking at that, though, it’s interesting that I’m okay with only owning e-book versions of the new books I get. Why shouldn’t it be that once I have an e-book of a p-book I own, I’m okay with getting rid of the p-book?

Maybe some day. :)

What about you?

Are there particular copies of books that you want to keep forever (or pass down to  descendants)? If so, what is it about them that makes them keepers? Is it who owned them, or gave them to you? Is it your specific memories of where you read them? What’s the longest that you’ve owned a specific copy of a book? Do you have any that you “inherited”? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Judge a book by its jury

June 18, 2014

Judge a book by its jury

I’ve been on three juries in the past ten years.

That’s right…not just being called to jury duty, but actually serving on juries.

My most recent trial just finished today. That’s why I mentioned to a couple of you that I had an open-ended commitment that was taking up a lot of my time (and concentration). You don’t know how long they’ll go: I showed up for jury duty on this one on May 28th.

Being on a jury isn’t easy. In my case, my day job has good benefits, and I get my normal pay (that’s not true of everybody on every jury). It’s not about that for me.

On the previous trial (in 2010), my Significant Other said it was like I had PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I had nightmares, and didn’t sleep well. It was a really bad case.

You listen to sometimes horrifying testimony. In that case, the perpetrator (there was a conviction) was also really glaring at us throughout the trial.

The hardest part about it is that you can’t talk to anybody about it. That’s not to say that talking to someone is more important than the work of the trial, but that’s a really big coping mechanism taken away from you. I’m used to talking to my SO about everything…so you have to picture being in this really stressful situation, and not being able to discuss it.

All three of my cases have involved serious, serious crimes…and the last two have had child victims.

I was surprised, though, when my adult child said, “You hate jury duty.”

I don’t.

I actually am trying to get on the jury.

Most people are trying to get excused…why do I want to serve?

I think it’s the most important thing someone in my position can do for the community…and I think I’m good at it.

Don’t get me wrong…lots of other people are good at it, too. Not everybody, though…and that includes people who actually serve.

I was part of a terrific jury this time. We had very different backgrounds, and even different approaches. However, we all took it very seriously, listened to each other, went over the evidence, asked the judge questions, and eventually, unanimously decided on all counts (we deliberated on multiple days).

I think a good jury knows that each of them have individual prejudices…and is able to decide based on the law as instructed. At its heart, a jury stands between the accused and the state (at least in the USA). A defendant comes into the trial “presumed innocent”…they don’t have to do anything at all. Hypothetically, the defense could choose to call no witnesses…they don’t need to present a case. The state has the “burden of proof”…if  you are on a jury and you believe that the person committed the crimes as charged, but the District Attorney (or other prosecuting attorney) didn’t prove it, you have to find the defendant not guilty (which should read “not proven guilty” in my opinion).

However, if you believe that the state did prove its case “beyond a reasonable doubt” (that’s the burden in criminal cases…and it’s not beyond all possible doubt, just reasonable doubt), then you must find the accused guilty. Regardless of what you think of the law or the punishment, that’s what your responsibility is.

I had a good illustration of “reasonable doubt” today. When I got up this morning, my work iPhone was on the couch. It was in a place where the dog puts things (yes, we let the dogs on the couch) quite often. Now, it is possible that someone snuck in the house and moved my iPhone (it was on a part of the couch where I don’t sit)…that is possible, but it wouldn’t really be reasonable in this case. It’s basically not reasonable if when someone presented the explanation, you would raise eyebrows, tilt your head, and say, “Dude” in a disbelieving manner. ;)

While the jury selection process is not very dramatic, and listening to all the testimony can be lengthy, the whole trial makes for a good basis for literature (and that includes non-fiction).

While I “decompress” a bit from my service, I thought I’d mention a few books where juries play an important part.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

by Lewis Carroll

While it certainly isn’t the most positive portrayal of a jury, I think it’s a way that a lot of people first encounter the concept in any meaningful way. Without spoiling much, Alice is a witness in a trial which has a lot of the structure of a real world trial, with evidence presented…but it all goes a bit wrong.

Twelve Angry Men (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
by Reginald Rose

This one was originally a teleplay, and in 1957, became a great movie with Henry Fonda (there were many stars, but I thought Jack Klugman particularly stood out here). It really does show what the dynamics in a jury room can be like.

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile)
by Harper Lee

Finally coming out as a legal e-book on July 8th (it can be pre-ordered for $4.72 at time of writing), the jury here is represented as less a set of individuals and more as a symbol.

Those are three that spring to mind, although there are thousands of novels featuring juries (including some by John Grisham, of course.

If you are interested in non-fiction, there is actually a separate category for that in the USA Kindle store:

Kindle Store : Kindle eBooks : Professional & Technical : Law : Procedures & Litigation : Jury (at AmazonSmile)

There are actually people who are consultants on picking a jury, and certainly, lawyers are usually very careful about the choice. That’s why it can take so long. I’ve been told that one of the reasons I’ve been on three juries in ten years is that my first one reached a decision (actually, all three have). Having a hung jury isn’t good for either side, so that makes you desirable. I have a sibling who is quite math oriented (a physicist and an astronomer), and pointed out that there is so much chance before you even get to that point that my experience was still unusual. You have to be called in, then there is a lot of randomization before you get to  “voir dire”, where the attorneys question people looking for juries. I’m thinking that I tend to pass that part…but there probably isn’t a ten percent chance that I’ll get to it.

Do you have any favorite books with juries in them? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

My new free Flipboard magazine, The Weird Old Days features vintage articles on ghosts, sea serpents, psychic phenomena, and more http://flip.it/ZtmYw

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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