Archive for the ‘Bufo’s Life’ Category

Power out

August 7, 2016

Power out

Someone apparently stole a car and crashed into a power pole near our house last night. So we have been without power for about 10 hours. That obviously means that I won’t be doing as much online I normally do. Hopefully I will be back up soon and have normal operations.

Update: it wasn’t a car, it was a truck:

IMG_0240

Here’s the story, and it will relate to this blog in some ways.:)

I was in the garage, taking clothes out of the dryer and folding them when I heard a bang and the electricity went out. My Significant Other in the other room heard it, too.

We both thought it was a transformer blowing at first.

This was around 7:00 last night.

My SO does insurance claims for a living (working for a broker…my SO often helps claimants get the money by finding coverage. It’s a “hero” job), and asked me to go outside to see if it was on fire. It was still light at this point.

When I stepped out there, I could see other neighbors coming out on the street…for blocks around.

A neighbor had some sort of police scanner, and said two people had stolen a truck and crashed it into a power pole (and knew the street).

My SO went up there to see if they could help the homeowners with any claim which might happen.

I heard later that there were police, fire, and PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) up there already…in fewer than ten minutes, I’d say. The people in the truck had run away, reportedly.

Okay, here’s how this story might help you: what were we going to do without electricity?

It means for us:

  • no lights, power to the refrigerator/freezer, stove, air conditioning (fortunately, it was a relatively cool night…it’s been quite hot lately)
  • no internet
  • no phones. We don’t have a landline, and we only get phone reception through a mini-cell tower AT&T gave us because the service is bad. We can go outside a half block or so and get reception

The bad thing is that a relative got me a back-up power supply (a UPS…uninterruptible power supply) so we wouldn’t lose phones…and I just had never set it up.

The good things…

I have a small Doc Savage worthy tiny hand-crank flashlight next to the bed. You would need Doc Savage’s muscles to use it for much, since you have to crank it a lot to get bright light for long.😉 I was a conga drummer, though, so I can crank it for a while.

Using that, I retrieved a booklight from the library (we have it there for guests)…and got a charged power bank and cord from my laptop case. I keep it charged enough for emergencies: that means we could have used it for our phones the next day and then some. I strongly recommend having one in what we Californians call a “go bag” (for earthquakes and such).

I normally would have been using my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX, but I switched to reading my

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile*)

only had about two-thirds of a charge, it could last weeks. My Fire would last a lot less.

It was interesting: we did get decent illumination from our Kindles for other uses.:)

So, the Paperwhite (or Voyage or Oasis) is great in a power outage.:) If you don’t have a power bank, I’d recommend one.

By the way, we could also have charged things in the car,  if necessary. We could also have gone to our offices to charge things.

One other unrelated thing: I’m finally giving up on our Tivo. I think we’ve had it for ten years, and it’s been great. It’s been acting up for some time, not always switching to the right channel in an unpredictable manner.

For the past week, it hasn’t been recognizing that it has a network connector, although it does. That means it was running out of the ability to get program information.

Today, it basically said, “I was about to blow up, so I shut down instead.”😉 Not exactly…but it did say it was overheating.

I’m going to give up on it altogether.

I recabled things a bit, but I’ve got more to go to restore control to everything. The TV ran through the Tivo first, so our

Logitech Harmony Home Control – 8 Devices (White) (at AmazonSmile*))

isn’t set up properly to control our TV…until I fix that, we’ll use the Harmony for controlling our

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

and the cable box TV for non-Fire TV content.

I was surprised that my SO thought just having the Fire TV would be fine. My SO isn’t super techie, so I thought “regular TV” would be more appealing.

We could cut the cable altogether…but it’s pretty much included with our internet, so  we’ll keep it.

The power came back on after at least ten hours (we were at the dog park when it happened).

One other nice thing: our Ikea refrigerator/freezer apparently has a good seal…we had just shopped for groceries that day, so it was great that everything appears to have stayed frozen for that whole period! We don’t have meat (we are vegetarians) and very little dairy, so we didn’t have to throw much out. We were careful not to open the freezer: keeping the refrigerator/freezer closed during a power outage is important!

An interesting adventure…

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* 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.

The Olympics are in Brazil…and so is Amazon!

August 5, 2016

The Olympics are in Brazil…and so is Amazon!

Brazil has a rich literary history, and reading is a strong part of its culture.

However, it wasn’t until late 2012 that it got a Kindle store of its own…more than five years after the USA. This

Amazon press release from December 6, 2012

began with this paragraph:

“SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Dec. 6, 2012– (NASDAQ:AMZN)—Amazon today launched the Brazil Kindle Store (www.amazon.com.br) with the largest selection of the most popular books, including the most Veja best sellers and lowest prices of any eBookstore in Brazil. The Brazil Kindle Store offers over 1.4 million books, now available to Brazilian customers priced in Brazilian Reais (R$), including more than 13,000 Portuguese-language books, 49 of 60 Veja best sellers—the most of any digital bookstore—and the most free books in Portuguese. In addition, Amazon announced that Kindle—the world’s #1 best-selling e-reader for five years running—will go on sale in Brazil in the coming weeks with a suggested retail price of R$299. For more information, and to begin shopping in the Kindle Store, visit https://www.amazon.com.br/. “

With the opening ceremony for the Olympics on Friday, I thought I’d take a look at the Brazilian site to get a sort of current sense of play.

I don’t speak Portuguese, by the way, but I used to speak some Spanish. I’m guessing I can tell enough to be able to identify navigation and sections, but I’ll use a web translator if I need to do that.

The first thing that struck me is how much it looks like Amazon.com…really pretty similar, which helps with the navigation.

The second thing is that the new version of the Kindle is $299…the same price as when it was introduced more than three years ago. The 1st generation of the Kindle in the USA was $399 and you can get the

All-New Kindle E-reader – Black, 6″ Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

for $79.99.

However, that’s not the best comparison. The technology of the Kindle improved considerably from 2007 to 2012 in the USA. The new Kindle in 2012 in the USA was $69.99 (for the ad-supported model)…so it’s been similarly stable, with increase (and some subtractions) in capability and hardware during that period.

In terms of books, that seems very different.

The monetary unit, the real, is roughly three times the US dollar.

The number one seller in the store (not just the Kindle store) is the new Harry Potter play. The list price (what the  publisher says is the “normal” price for the book) is R$99,07. In the USA, the list price is $29.99…so it’s relatively higher in Brazil.. In the USA, the book is discounted to $17.99 in paperbook (p-book) at the time of writing…and in Brazil, the discounted price is R$89,90…relatively much higher than the conversion rate.

The other thing? No Kindle edition in Brazil…and the USA has it for $14.99:

USA Kindle edition of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (at AmazonSmile*)

That might seem odd…that the p-book is in both countries at the same time, and the Kindle edition isn’t. It could be that the publisher of the p-book in Brazil (Arthur A. Levine) doesn’t have the e-book rights for Brazil.

Looking at the Kindle store in Brazil, there are 4,373,482…that compares to the USA at 4,686,432, which is quite close.

Looking at the best sellers (Mais vendidos), it seems similar to the USA, but the top 20 gives me a few different impressions.

  • None of the top 20 are close to $30,00…which would be about $10 USA. I’m guessing they are all independently published. In the USA,  four of the top 20 are over $10
  • All of the top 20 e-books in Brazil are in Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s subscription service. In the USA, only six of the top twenty are in KU
  • It was interesting to me that a classic, Jack London’s Sea Wolf, is in the top 20..and at R$24,85 is relatively expensive

So, my guess here, and my Brazilian readers may be able to clarify, is that as far as the Kindle store goes, they’ve really embraced the indies (independently published books). They do read some books published outside Brazil…and even English language books can be best sellers.

There’s a little Kindlish background on Brazil as the Olympics’ opening ceremony is almost upon us! This is the strangest Olympics I’ve seen, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be interesting and that I won’t watch.

By the way, I have been to Brazil…and it was the site of my most interesting “traveler’s tale”, but to be clear, this is real. Also, I’ll warn you: it can be disturbing.

We were on a houseboat on a tributary to the Amazon (just as tourists).

More of the local people than was normal weren’t coming back from hunting. There are a lot of risks, so not everybody comes back, but this was unusual.

They had some possibilities: giant catfish (a couple of meters…six feet) were supposedly one possibility.

Well, in addition to the houseboat we had a couple of little boats.

One of them hit some logs…and a body came up.

They could tell by looking at the body, that the killer was a caiman…like a crocodile, sort of. Caimans can’t move their jaws side to side, just up and down. Crocodiles solve that problem with the “death spiral”; grab a limb and spin around to tear it off.

Caimans put you somewhere until you get soft.

They asked us to help look for the caiman.

At night, we went out with other people from the houseboat with flashlights (we were all in boats). We were supposed to be able to tell how big they were (it had to be a big one) by how far apart the red dots were which were their eyes. We were terrible at it…one of my siblings thought they saw a big one…and a crewperson brought it over to us, at about a meter long.:)

At one point, they told us to go back to the houseboat.

We did.

The next morning, the Captain told us what had happened.

They thought they had the right one (I’ve never known how, and what was going on was quite emotional, so I didn’t interrupt the story and ask).

The captain said something like, “I got in the water and–”

At  that point, we did interrupt!

“Why did you get in the water?”

Captain: “If I am in the boat and I miss it, I don’t know where it will go. If I am in the water and I miss it, it will come after me, and I will get a second shot.”

This was all said quite matter-of-factly.

They cut it open at the site and confirmed there were human body parts in it.

They brought back the head for us to see…it was about a meter/yard by itself.

They told us that from the tip of the tail to the tip of the snout, it was about 5 meters…about sixteen and a half feet.

It was certainly a tragedy…and really shows us how differently people live their lives around the world. That one of the amazing things about reading…it gives us, in some small way, a chance to experience the thoughts and feelings of people from around the world.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* 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.

A Day in the Life of a Kindleer 2016

July 18, 2016

A Day in the Life of a Kindleer 2016

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…last year, it wasn’t that much,  but this year there are a lot of changes. In part, that’s because of the Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)…actually the whole family of Echo devices. I didn’t have one last time I wrote one of these…I now use three typically every weekday. Also, my Fire Phone (now discontinued) died…I replaced it with a Galaxy s7 Edge. That didn’t just affect my phone use…having the Play Store has meant that I’m not using the Amazon Appstore as much. Okay, let’s start a typical weekday in the Life of a Kindleer.

I usually wake up between 2:00 AM and 3:00 AM. That’s not with an alarm or anything…it’s just when I naturally wake up. I usually try to be asleep at 9:00 PM (although tonight it will be a bit later, due to writing this). That means I get five to six hours sleep a night. I’ve talked to my doctor about it twice (it’s been going on for more than a year), but based on the fact that I haven’t really seen a decrease in how well I function and I’m not falling asleep during the day, we’re not worried about it.

I no longer use my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX as my nightstand clock: I use my Galaxy S7, which can display a clock while the phone is asleep, and that takes very little power…usually about 3% of the battery charge lasting my whole sleep cycle. It also gets dim in a smart way, which works for me.

I go in the bathroom and open the

CNN Breaking US & World News (at AmazonSmile)

on KHDX. I want to be clear, my KFHDX is still a great device for me! I’ve bought the current generation of Fire tablet as well, but I like my KFHDX better…partially, that’s the interface.

I can “flip stories” from CNN into my

free Flipboard magazines

and e-mail them to people I know. I do that quite often.

I usually get through the Home section before I’m going to move into the family room.

I turn off the lights in the bathroom (I see quite well in the dark, apparently related to my color vision deficiency…colorblindness) and head out. Oh, and I’ve already turned on the light in the family room using the Wink app. I have it on my Fire, but I use the Galaxy S7…that’s easier, so I don’t have to leave the CNN app.

One of our dogs will have still been in the bed, as is my Significant Other (who doesn’t get up as early as I do). That dog will follow me.

The other dog, and we don’t know why, has decided to sleep in the family room rather than in bed with us. We think maybe Patty is protecting the house out there…or maybe Elf claimed the bed somehow. They get along very well, but I could see that happening. We  are always amused when Patty is sleeping on a blanket on the couch, and Elf comes up and very deliberately pulls the blanket out from under her.:)

Once I get out there, I take the dogs outside with me for a bit (only Elf usually comes with me…Patty wakes up more slowly). They get a snack, and I get a bag of almonds. I’ll switch to reading the KGO News App on my phone…for some reason, it’s stopped working on my Fire. I’ll play around with that, but given that the Fire is a discontinued model, I might not get it going again.

Then, exercise…and I can read on my Fire while I do quite a bit of it (by setting the device on a shelf at eye level). I exercise, on average, over two hours a day, including walking…it’s a baseline of ninety minutes of my own routine, sort of like calisthenics. I have a chronic condition which affects what I can do, but I seem to have a pretty effective fitness routine. I used to use the

Review: MyFitnessPal

as I’ve reported here, and I lost about 40 pounds…but I don’t use it any more. It seems to have taught me what I need to know. I’m not perfect on fitness, but in pretty good shape at this point…and have been for a couple of years.

When I do exercise where I can’t read CNN or

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

any more, I fire up (so to speak) the

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

in the family room, and listen on Bluetooth headphones while I do exercise which takes up more room. That’s typically CBSN, the CBS news app.

Flipboard, CNN, and the Fire TV will have gotten me through exercise and breakfast…and my SO will be waking up.

We still use Comcast, so I’ll switch to CNN on cable. I like that better than the news app, which will eventually run out of stories.

Next, our

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

in the family room is part of the plan for the day. I’m typically asking for the weather, although I may do other things, too.

Back in the bedroom/bathroom, I use our

Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*)

and our

Echo Dot (at AmazonSmile*)

I usually watch the Popular on YouTube feature on the YouTube app (I like to stay up to date on pop culture).

I take our

Amazon Tap (at AmazonSmile*)

to work. The first time I did it, it was sort of an experiment…but I ended up using it a lot. I may listen to music, or something like the Kindle Chronicles podcast. I also use it to set alarms, among other things.

In the car, I listen to text-to-speech on my KFHDX, through my car’s audio system.

On a break or at lunch, I may sight read a book on my KFHDX.

 I use the Tap and my tablet throughout the workday.

Once I’m home, I also use the Echo to turn and off lights.

At home, I sight read on two devices: a

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

and a

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

I read the latter in bed before going to sleep. I’m loop reading the original 14 Oz books on that device. By that mean I read it until I finish it, then start over. I’m trying to go to sleep, so it doesn’t hurt to read something familiar.:)

So, I’d say the Echo family is a big change since last year. They have become a significant part of my day.

I think those are the key things. I also may

  • use the shopping list feature on the Echos
  • read Entertainment Weekly on my Fire
  • read The Fortean Times in the 3rd party Zinio app on my Fie tablet
  • use some other apps

Well, I hope that helps! If you have any questions, or want  to share your Amazon device day with me and my readers, feel free to do so by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* 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.

Thank you to my high school teacher, Mrs. Church

May 4, 2016

Thank you to my high school teacher, Mrs. Church

This week (May 2-May 6 2016) is Teacher Appreciation Week.  With yesterday being Teacher Appreciation Day, it got me thinking about a very influential high school teacher in my life, Mrs. (Jeanne) Church.

I’ve always loved learning, but I think I had a good understanding of what works for that when I was quite young. My parents are educators, and that was the family business.

I think like a lot of people, I was smart enough for high school, liked parts of the high school experience, and didn’t always get great grades. If something was somewhat non-structured, I did well. If you were supposed to follow specific rules, that didn’t always work for me (although I am a rule follower now…not sure about that conflict).

It particularly dismayed me when I came to the conclusion that the way English was generally being taught was slowing down my reading speed. There was a lot of emphasis on the micro, and not so much on the meta. When you took a test, you had to know who did what when…not why they did  it. The tests were, perhaps, more about proving that you’d read the book than that you understood it.

However, I was lucky enough in my high school that we could take some “electives”.

One of those was Science Fiction (I think it might have been the History of Science Fiction, actually), taught by Jeanne Church.

There were maybe eight to ten of us in the class. We were pretty much social misfits…we weren’t the jocks or the brains or the theatre people or the popular kids or the stoners or the hippies or the radicals. We were used to what we read (Heinlein, Asimov, Burroughs, Piers Anthony, and many more) being dismissed by our English teachers.

Mrs. Church was different. It wasn’t that Mrs. Church just embraced science fiction. It was that it was respected in that room…which meant that we studied it. We looked at the evolution of science fiction, and the influence. It wasn’t treated with less or more respect than a more traditional literature class would have done.

I learned that evaluation and enjoyment can go together: that you don’t have to analyze the life out of something, but that you can learn more through examination of something you love.

I remember discussing the same books together, but also being given a broad range of titles from which to read, and being able to argue for reading titles of our choice.

This class wasn’t just about reading, though. We formed a science fiction club, with Mrs. Church as the requisite sponsor. We eventually were given a small store room, like a closet, which we used for a library (I was the club librarian). Perhaps just as importantly, we wrote. We published a magazine…two different ones over time, as I recall. We actually sold Paradox-1…for 50 cents a copy.

That was my first experience as a writer for the public. We had an editor (that wasn’t me). We had discussions about the title, the appearance, the lay-out.

Not every teacher would have done that.

I also appreciate that Mrs. Church would correct me. I remember once saying that I was “raised in the South” (I lived in Virginia until I was four years old), and Mrs. Church saying (in a put on Southern accent), “Cotton is raised, you were reared.”😉

I can’t guarantee that this recollection is correct, but my memory is that Mrs. Church was being given a short ride around the parking lot on a student’s motorcycle and fell off and suffered a head injury that may have ended classroom teaching (and perhaps it did something worse, I don’t remember for sure). Not everybody wore helmets back then, and this was impromptu.

I owe a lot to Mrs. Church. When I was being turned off school and literary analysis, Mrs. Church was an inspiration. I learned that discipline and devotion can walk hand in hand. I learned that being respected doesn’t mean being coddled. I learned that science fiction was a worthy type of literature, with a long history. I learned to work with others in creative endeavors, which is a difficult lesson indeed.

Thank you, Mrs. Church, for all you did that you didn’t have to do.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

*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.

Authors are nice people

April 21, 2016

Authors are nice people

I originally considered a more “click-bait” title for this post: “Are authors nice?” I decided not to do that, because from my own experience, some certainly are.

It’s interesting…writing is, generally, a non-social activity. Most writers, I’m sure, write in isolation…maybe with the door closed. We see fictional representations of authors’ families knowing not to “disturb” them while they are writing. Those stories are written by, well, authors, so you would think they would know.😉

I can write with my Significant Other in the room, typically, but it can really bring me out of the flow if I get asked a question.

Fiction authors can “create their own friends”.😉 Of course it isn’t the same, but it’s a complete misunderstanding that authors completely control their characters. For characters to be effective, they need to have character…which includes them “refusing” to do something out of character.

It seems very likely that some authors become authors in part because they are uncomfortable with flesh and blood people. They aren’t comfortable socially, but they are still instinctively driven to explore social situations.

Some authors appear to fit that stereotype, perhaps becoming virtual recluses (J.D. Salinger, Harper Lee, Emily Dickinson, Thomas Pynchon…).

It’s different for contemporary authors. In today’s social media climate, many authors communicate regularly with fans, and are much more open. Amanda Hocking comes immediately to mind…one of my favorite Twitter feeds (although there hasn’t been as much textual content recently, it seems).

There have always been nice authors, though.:) Writing fiction (and even much of non-fiction) requires empathy…you have to understand how people feel.

I’ve had  a few experiences where authors were kind to me, and I wanted to share them with you.

I want to be clear here: these three experiences had nothing to do with me being a writer. In each of these cases, I can guarantee you the authors were already established…and had no idea who I was.:) I was just part of the public…I say that to eliminate any possibility that they were being nice to me because of what small influence I may currently have as a blogger.

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

I’ve been interested in “cryptozoology” since I read Gardner Soule’s The Maybe Monsters when I was in elementary school. That led to an interest in all sorts of things “Fortean”, and in critical thinking and why people believe what they believe.

Loren Coleman is a titan of the field, having written several truly significant and bestselling books. The author appears on television shows and radio.

Importantly, Coleman is also dedicated to public service, and is famously generous with other interested people (well-known and not)…not always the case in that topic (or in many others, of course). One example? Creation of the

International Museum of Cryptozoology

which is currently being expanded in Maine. Loren is often there in person, speaking to schoolkids and adults alike.

The museum didn’t exist many, many years ago when I started an online presence which I called “Weird World”.

It turned out that Loren Coleman had already used the name for (as I recall) a TV pilot which didn’t go to series.

It would have been easy for an established author like that to simply make me, at the time a “nobody”, stop using the name.

Instead, Loren gave me permission to use it.

That wasn’t necessary. That didn’t give Loren Coleman any advantage. It was just an act of creative generosity.

I did start calling it “Bufo’s Weird World” to differentiate it, but I’ve never forgotten that act of unnecessary kindness.

Forrest Ackerman (at AmazonSmile* )

“Uncle Forry” was a science fiction fan from the 1930s. Forry is credited with having been the first “cosplayer” (wearing a costume to one of the very first science fiction conventions), coined the term “sci-fi”, and was most legendarily the editor of “Famous Monsters of Filmland”. I’m sure my love of puns comes in part from “4E”, although Oz and Alice helped as well.

There are many prominent filmmakers today who credit Forry and Famous Monsters for inspiring and encouraging them.

I was young and at a World Con. I had a ride to the airport…so I spent the remainder of my money on the last day in the “Dealer’s Room”.

Then my ride left without me.

I had no way to get to the airport. I didn’t have credit cards…I had nothing at that point.

I saw Forry across the room (I was a Famous Monsters subscriber).

I had some Super 8 rolls of film I hadn’t shot yet.

Not sure what to do, I went over to Forry and asked if this celebrity wanted to buy some of my unexposed rolls.:)

Naturally, Forry asked me why, and I explained my dilemma.

“Uncle Forry” gave me ten dollars.

No way to know I wasn’t scamming. No way to know I’d actually use it to get to the airport. Just out of…humanity.

Years later, I happened to see Forry Ackerman at another convention…and returned that $10.

Perhaps most heartwarming to me, Forry said, “Oh, you were that [person].” I was surprised that I was remembered…it had certainly been a few years.

Sort of like Loren Coleman, Forry had a museum…the family house.:) It was called the “Ackermansion”, and strangers would be taken through to see thing like a real Bela Lugosi Dracula cape, or an armature from King Kong.

The irreplaceable  collection was eventually broken up and sold off…something that can still spontaneously strike me with sadness. That’s right…out of nowhere, I can be sad about a garage sale. I think they may regret it now, but I’ve always been  disappointed that one of the millionaire “monster kids” of the 1960s who became huge successes in later decades, didn’t buy it and keep it together.

Michael R. Hicks (at AmazonSmile*)

This situation is a bit more modern, and perhaps different…but I’m still very grateful.

When I wrote my first book for the Kindle store, I didn’t know much about formatting an e-book. I’d taught computer programming, so I do know tech, but each technology is its own thing.

I didn’t know how to do an Active Table of Content (AToC), where you can click/tap and go to a chapter.

As I recall, Michael Hicks answer my question at what was then Amazon’s DTP (Digital Text Platform), now Kindle Direct Publishing.

Again, no selfish reason to do that for Michael Hicks…it was just being kind.

Out of that kindness, I did read the In Her Name book…which is what converted me to reading on a Kindle. It was a great book (the series as since been…reconstructed, so that particular volume isn’t available that way).

In all three of these cases, it was simply an author being nice to a stranger…proof for me that (at least some) authors are nice.:)

What do you think? Do you have stories of authors being nice to you? Feel free to share them with me and my readers by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

*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 perfect storm for writing

March 28, 2016

A perfect storm for writing

I’d better keep my fingers limber this week!:)

Actually, before I tell you why, I’ll tell you about a hand limbering exercise. I was never a magician myself, but I knew somebody who was in the Society of American Magicians.

Take a rubber band. Put your thumb through it, and make sure it gets down past the ball of your thumb. Now stretch it behind your fingers (you are hooking it over your pinkie…so pinkie, behind your hand, and over your thumb), and move that below your knuckles. You’ll figure it out: it should have some tension on it.

Now, take it off…but only by using that hand.:) You can’t use your other hand, and you can’t rub your hand on anything. You do it just by flexing your hand.

Okay, so why do I need to be limber?

The end of this week is a perfect storm for writing for me!

On Thursday, the 31st, our

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

and

Amazon Tap (at AmazonSmile*)

devices are set to arrive.

I’m going to want to test them and write something up pretty quickly (certainly, within a few days). I think the Dot is going to be a big hit, more popular than the original Echo. I expect the Tap to be less so…not to do poorly, but I see it as more of a gadget while the Dot is more practical.

CNN is also starting its series The Eighties on the 31st. When they did the Seventies, I did two pieces…one for this blog, and one for The Measured Circle (which more generally covered geeky culture):

I Love My Kindle: Books in the 1970s

The Geeky Seventies

I like to do that again. The Eighties had some very interesting trends in literature, and general geek pop culture was fascinating as well.

Then, it’s the first of the month.

I do my Snapshots on the first of the month, and that takes, oh, an hour and a half or so. It’s one of the most labor intensive posts I do, and not the most popular…but it’s one of my favorite parts of the blog.:)

Snapshots

I’ll also be following my regular posting routine throughout this time.

Finally, I’ve set April 2nd as the day I promote

 The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project

outside of my own circle (which includes you).

I’ve been making real progress on “retrofitting” existing entries, so you can get something out of them. I’m happy with how many of them work now: you can click on a book and read it right in the browser in many cases, if it’s in the public domain. If it’s under copyright, I’ve been linking to a search at Worldcat, so you can find the book in a public library.

For authors, I’ve been pleased with adding YouTube searches and Twitter searches. I’ve found some really cool videos by using the YouTube search (author interviews, for example), and the Twitter search gets much more diverse results than I would have expected (pictures of collectibles, for one).

It’s going to keep getting better, especially when I get some collaborators (I won’t do that before April 2nd, but if you are interested, let me know).

When I started it, I focused too much on quantity (although that is a goal), and not enough on quality…I’m fixing tht and that includes how I put entries into TMCGTT.

Oh, and every Saturday, I do a box office thing on The Measured Circle…that takes, oh, 45 minutes to an hour.

All of that doesn’t mean we won’t do our normal two hours at the dog park…unless it is raining. We did see Batman v Superman ^\/^v\S/ yesterday…and that’s  a long movie!😉

Should be a fun week!

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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.

 

My February 5th interview on The Kindle Chronicles: the annotations

February 6, 2016

My February 5th interview on The Kindle Chronicles: the annotations

I am the featured interview on Len Edgerly’s The Kindle Chronicles podcast for Friday, February 5th, 2016, and you can hear it here:

TKC 392 KINDLE BLOGGER BUFO CALVIN

It was a great experience!

Len and I exchange occasional e-mails, and I’ve been on the show a couple of times before. We’ve never met in real life, though…our mutual admiration comes from each other’s work.😉

I also have to say that I think Len did a terrific job editing our interview! We actually spoke for well under an hour, so it wasn’t so much cutting out things as it was polishing them. I did make one mistake, and referred to our adult child by a gender specific term, which I don’t do here in this blog (I’ll explain in a moment). Len was nice enough, and skillful enough, to edit that out for me when I mentioned it.

On this blog, I don’t identify inherent characteristics, such as my own gender. There are some other things I don’t reveal as well. There are two reasons for that.

The first is that I want this to be a place where people can participate based solely on their ideas and feelings. When people make comments (which I always appreciate), I don’t want them to feel that they should reveal gender, or marital status, or age…or anything they don’t want to do.:) They are welcome to do so if they want, but if I do it, I think people would be less comfortable not doing it.

The second reason is that it’s a challenge and fun.😉 I’ve taught people how to use the same skills we use in improv to have better interactions at work. One of those is the ability to think about one thing while you are doing something else (for example, thinking about how what you are saying will affect someone at the same time you are saying it). One thing I’ve had people do, with no warning ahead of time, is stand up and talk for thirty seconds about what brought them to this place in their lives…without using the word, “I”. Great trainers (that’s my “day job”) can all do that pretty smoothly. Most people have a very difficult time.

While I definitely would like you to listen to the show, and I think I was completely fairly represented, I thought that some annotations might be helpful.

Here’s the first thing:

You can hear one of our dogs on the show.😉

What you actually hear is Elf squeaking a favorite toy, a plush mustache which is about the same length as the dog (who, while a rescue and undoubtedly mixed, turned out to apparently be primarily Portuguese podengo pequeno wire-hair). It’s pretty quiet, but you can hear it in the background at one point. Elf will squeak it repeatedly for minutes at a time….I actually encourage that by saying, “Squeaky! Squeaky!”

Two things about that, and one which is not just about me.😉

I did the interview at home. As I said, it took under an hour, so I blocked some time on my work calendar, recorded it during what was basically my lunch break, then went to my nearby office.

The second thing, and Len and I were both impressed with this, was that I did my end on my now discontinued Fire Phone (I was one of the few who paid the initial about $200 for one) with the earbuds and in-line microphone that came with it.

The sound quality is quite good! I use those earbuds at work, but I haven’t recorded anything for broadcast with them before.

We did the interview via Skype, and I tried a couple of other configurations first, including a headset I got for use with Dragon (a very popular speech-to-text program…you talk, it types)…but this was the best.

You aren’t going to buy a Fire Phone at this point, but you can buy the headphones:

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

At $14.99 at time of writing, I think they are a good deal. You could use them with other SmartPhones and devices…you know, unless the next iPhone drops the headphone jack, which is a rumor.😉

We covered a lot of topics, and they tie back into five things you can read from me. Two are previous posts in this blog:

The first one we discuss explicitly. The second one addresses the idea of “inheriting” e-books…I wrote it back in 2009, but the basic information should still be current.

There also a question and some discussion about

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

which you can read as part of

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

or it’s available in the USA for $0.99.

My other blogs came up a couple of times. I mentioned a funny statistic about my Sherlock Holmes blog, and my broader pop culture blog was named. Those are:

Another item that was mentioned was one of my sibling’s first novel

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

I didn’t mention it by name, because I didn’t want this interview to feel like I was promoting items, but I did refer to it.

Not something I’ve written or that a family member or someone I know has written (you can see those at I know these authors!) but that I referenced was software that can give you a virtual background when you are on a video call. I’ve used

ManyCam

It’s free, and a lot of fun!

I do want to clarify something about that part of the conversation.

I said that I had used it at work to have an office background, and jokingly told Len not to tell my company.😉

I’m a very honest person, as I think my readers know. I never did this to trick anybody. I was actually authorized to test out the technology for possible use at my company. Yes, I did “fake” an office background, but I would always tell them before the end of the call to get their feedback.

One question (about public libraries) was asked by a reader who was named on the show, but I didn’t get that question directly here, so I’m not naming names…I’ll just say thank you, and I’ll name you if you like.:)

I want to make very clear my gratitude to people who subscribe to this blog through the Kindle store! I mentioned that they really make it possible for me to do this, but I don’t think I said the words, “thank you”, so…thank you!

Finally, I mentioned a project I have that I will make public on February 29th. I think readers of this blog will find it interesting, and I’ll announce here it here when it is ready.

I’d be interested in any feedback you have for me about the show, or additional questions about topics we didn’t cover. Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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! :) 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.

The four books I’m (actively) reading now

January 8, 2016

The four books I’m (actively) reading now

I’ve mentioned before that I read more than one book at a time.

That’s always been the case with me…and it’s one of the reasons I like e-books and the Kindle so much.

I used to leave books in different rooms in the house, and just read whatever book happened to be in the room I was in at that time.

I know a lot of people don’t do that (my Significant Other doesn’t). You get one book, and read it straight through, then just go on to another book.

Just not my style.  :)

I never get the books confused. I think reading them in different contexts probably helps with that…I’m reading the same book in the same setting.

As a trainer, I know how important context can be.

There was a great study where they taught people something when they were standing in water (I think up to their waists). When they re-tested people, those who were standing in water again could do it much better than those on dry land.

Here’s a context memory trick I give people.

Let’s say you are in the car and you hear something mentioned on the radio: a phone number, a website, or maybe a book title. You want to remember it later, but you can’t write it down or record it easily.

Slap your leg, then say what it is you want to remember out loud.

When you get home, sit down again…simulating the car. Slap your leg (same hand, same leg) and you’ll probably remember it.

I also had a great example of it. I was helping someone at their desk in an office. They said (approximately), “I don’t know why I can’t remember how to do this…I knew it before.”

I looked up and said, “Was there a picture behind your computer before?” There had been, and it had just recently been removed.

That was the problem.

If we had gotten the picture back, the person would have known how to do it. As it was, we had to retrain…

So,  I like reading multiple books at once, and don’t have a problem with that.

Right now, I’m actively reading four books…by actively, I mean I read all of them just about every day. There are a number of other books I’m reading…but that’s more catch as catch can. I’ve been rationing

Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

because I like it a lot, it’s short essays, so it makes a great transitional “emergency book”, when I’m between other books.

I only read it maybe once in a month, so I don’t consider that one an active one.

Here are the four I am actively reading…and why these.:)

I’m re-reading an omnibus edition of the fourteen original Oz books by L. Frank Baum. The edition I have is no longer available, so I’m not linking. I’ve never been a re-reader, so this is a bit of an experiment for me. I read it on my

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

when I’m going to sleep…usually not even completing a chapter at a time.

It is interesting: I am seeing new things as I re-read them, even though I’m a big fan.

At home, I’m also reading

Who Goes There? (at AmazonSmile*) by John W. Campbell

on my

All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile*)

This work (shorter than a novel) was the inspiration for the science fiction classic The Thing (from Another World), and other versions (including John Carpenter’s gonzo adaptation starring Kurt Russell). I’ve never read it before, and one non-spoiler but that surprised me. One character seems to me to clearly be Doc Savage! The character is described very much like Doc, and it would make perfect sense for Doc Savage to be in this situation under an alias.

When I’m out on the road, I’d usually be focused on one book…but a gift that I got,

The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half-Baked Heroes from Comic Book History (at AmazonSmile*) by Jon Morris

has some great excerpts..typically, a cover or one page from these mostly public domain works.

Text-to-speech is important to me, and I don’t want to miss the illustrations, so this isn’t my book for the car. I’m reading it on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX. I’m loving this one! Good scholarship and context, and the right amount of snark.😉 Not disrespectful, but pointing out some of the ridiculousness of some of these characters. I mean, with many of these origins, the hero survives something which should have killed them, but somehow imbues them with incredible powers instead. I guess what doesn’t kill you makes you super…

In the car, I’m listening to

The Man Who Fell to Earth (at AmazonSmile*) by Walter Tevis

I’m reading this one as a borrow from

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

I certainly knew about the book…I think I own a paper copy, but I’d never read it.

At this point, although it is certainly worth reading, I’d say like the movie better. I’ll also say that David Bowie was perfectly cast….

Well, those are my actively reading books (I’m also reading a couple of  magazines). What about you? How books are you actively reading? Are you happy just reading one book at a time? Feel free to me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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 #311: Orwell, Open Road

October 29, 2015

Round up #311: Orwell, Open Road

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

Getting comfortable with the 7″ Fire tablet

I’ve had the

Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $49.99

for about a week now, and I feel like I have a pretty good sense of it.

I would describe the device itself as serviceable, and the Fire OS 5 (which will come to some older models) as superior.

I certainly miss having dictation for the keyboard, and trace typing (like Swype…you drag your finger around to make words). I use both of those a lot on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX 7 (which is still what I’ve been using most of the time.

The biggest problem I’ve had with it, and I called Kindle Support to check it with them (no almost instant onscreen Mayday help), is that I can’t use it as a nightstand clock.

My Kindle Fire HDX is my nightstand clock. I have it (unplugged, just running on battery) next to the bed. The native clock app has a nightstand mode. The numbers are red, it’s dim, and it stays on all night. It takes about half the battery charge, which is fine…it charges up quickly enough in the morning.

With the new Fire, the clock app has a Night Mode…but it doesn’t override the autosleep timing! In other words, when I’m sleeping, it’s sleeping, too: no display. I don’t know about you, but I want to be able wake up groggily in the middle of the night, glance over, see what time it is….and decide if it’s appropriate to wake up the rest of the way and get out of bed. I don’t want to have to wake up the tablet to decide that.

One issue is that you can’t set the autosleep on the device to “Never”, which is my preferred setting. I’ll put my devices to sleep when I choose.:)

It’s a minor irritation, and I’m still using my KFHDX7 next to the bed.

Outside of that, it’s pretty good. I’d feel fine with having it for a guest or in  doctor’s waiting room. We don’t call them that any more, by the way…it’s a negative connotation.. They probably say you are “in the lobby”, in the “reception area”, or just “out front”. I loved a cartoon that I saw years ago which has a patient saying to the doctor, “If you want me to be more active, why have I been sitting in your waiting room for forty-five minutes?”😉

Jane Friedman sounds like someone I would like to know

Jane Friedman is the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Open Road Media.

That’s been one of the best publishers for e-books. They typically publish backlist titles (older titles…the books that aren’t in the front of the catalog), and they secured the e-book rights for those when the bigger tradpubs (traditional publishers) were still hadn’t really awakened to the need.

In this

The Bookseller post by Porter Anderson

Friedman talks about the philosophy of the company.

I agree with a lot of it!

It’s definitely worth a read: this is a company that is still “…chasing profitability”. It has a clear-eyed view of the glory of resurrecting p-books (paperbooks) for the digital era. Plus, the good-humored CEO has close to 10,000 p-books at home…I can empathize.😉

Orwell again

One of the most infamous incidents for Amazon and the Kindle was when they removed copies of a certain edition of George Orwell from customers’ Kindles.

No doubt, the irony of it being George Orwell added to the coverage of it.

Amazon apologized, compensated customers, and even Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos called it “stupid”. They said they wouldn’t do the same thing in the same circumstances again, and to my knowledge, they haven’t.

Now, my understanding is that what happened was that a publisher had this book in the Kindle store, but specifically for the Australian market where the books are in the public domain (no longer under copyright protection, so no permission is needed). Amazon apparently accidentally made them available in the USA, where they were (again as I understand it, unintentionally on the publisher’s part) infringing on the rights of the estate.

In trying to rectify that, Amazon reached into customer’s devices, and deleted the unauthorized file.

Possessing that file on your Kindle, by the way, was not illegal. In

Dowling v United States

the Supreme Court of the U.S.A. found that possession of infringing copies of a copyrighted work was not the same as possession of stolen goods (despite people commonly conflating the terms “theft” and “infringement”, they are different…that’s not to say that one is less “bad” than the other, but they aren’t the same).

One of my first posts, more than six years ago, was a parody about this situation:

All’s Well That Orwells

Well, recently, there’s been another story involving Orwell’s works and alleged infringement.

In this

TorrentFreak post by Ernesto

it’s reported that “internet radio host Josh Hadley” had some designed removed from an online retailer (one I’ve used) because of a complaint supposedly from the Orwell estate.

The design had the number 1984 prominently, and I think most people would see it as a clear allusion to the Orwell book.

However, allusions are not illegal…and you can’t copyright a title.

You can trademark it, but that doesn’t seem to me to be what’s being suggested here.

On the basis of the limited information in this article, it does appear to have been an overreach…the kind for which Disney has been famous.

The retailer is within their rights (and may be wise) to remove an item when they receive a legitimate looking claim of infringement.

They are under no obligation to carry anything. If they did continue to distribute something after having been told it was infringing, and that did turn out to be the case, they could be liable.

So, irritating as it might be, someone can make a claim of infringement, and most retailers would, I think, remove the item.

I’ve made a claim like that myself to Amazon, and a work (which was infringing) was removed.

I did have to attest that I was the copyright holder, and I had to send them evidence. Amazon could have hypothetically gone after me if I had lied to them (and I didn’t and I don’t).:)

Just based on what I’ve seen, Hadley was probably within rights to make the design.

The retailer was within rights not to carry it.

If the estate did not file the complaint in good faith…I’m not sure what the legal ramifications could possibly be. Restraint of trade?

I’ve had the same sort of thing happen to me a couple of times when I was reasonably sure I wasn’t infringing.

One was a t-shirt design where I used a public domain illustration. Somebody complained, I guess, and it doesn’t even have to have been the rightsholder.

I basically shrugged about it.

The other one was more amusing.

We did a t-shirt that said, “Frickin’ panda heads”. Yes, that was a reference to playing on the Wii Fit. I don’t think that’s an infringement…but, oh well.

It might be different if I was designing t-shirts for a living…if my family depended on it. Then, it might be worth fighting for it.

For me, it wasn’t.

Supergirl and Pat Savage

I know some of my readers are fans of Doc Savage, who is one of my fictional heroes. If you are, you might be interested in a piece I recently wrote in The Measured Circle:

Supergirl is a hit! Thanks (again), Doc Savage

What do you think? Should I have fought the takedown notices, in order to defend people who do rely on it? What should retailers do with infringement claims? Do you use a tablet a nightstand clock? Do you have an app you like that overrides the global sleep setting? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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.

Tinder prerequisite: name 5 women authors you’ve read

August 13, 2015

Tinder prerequisite: name 5 women authors you’ve read

Regular readers know that I don’t identify gender on this blog, generally.

I try to write in a way that doesn’t use gender-specific pronouns. I don’t identify my gender, or the genders of my friends and family (I use “Significant Other”, “sibling”, “now adult kid”, that sort of thing…I also often use somewhat more awkward writing, by using proper nouns rather than pronouns. That means I may use someone’s first or last name several times in a paragraph).

I’ve explained this before, and I know not everybody endorses the idea of it, but I think my readers generally accept it…in some cases, maybe, just as an eccentricity of mine.:)

I do it so that people can feel free to comment on this blog without revealing intrinsic characteristics (I also don’t make explicit other things, like race). If I don’t do it, it’s arguably more convention for other people not to do it.

I would say that’s my favorite thing about the internet: the ability to be judged by what we say, not by who we are.

I also believe (a lot of sentences starting with “I” this time! That’s because I am, so far, talking about me…that will become somewhat different as I continue) that some of my readers think it is important to promote contributions by people who might face a lack of recognition because of who they are.

For example, I’m sure there are people who by default assume authors are male. It used to be much more true, I believe, that women authors would have a tougher time in the mainstream marketplace. Female authors sometimes had pen names designed to disguise their gender…either by using, say, initials instead of a first name, or by choosing a deliberately male name.

In English, many speakers assume the default is male.

We no longer tend to use the term “authoress” and people don’t say “lady doctor” much any more. I don’t use the term “actress”, unless I have to quote something, like the categories in the Oscars. To me, it singles out female actors as different from “regular actors”. There isn’t a term for male actors like there is for female actors. If you say that the play calls for ten “actors”, that means both the female and male roles. If you say it calls for “six actors and four actresses”, the generic term refers to the males, meaning that “male” is seen as “normal”.

I’ve had readers assume that my now adult kid is male…since that’s the default, I think. I haven’t said either way.:)

So, I found this

TNW (The Next Web) post by MIC WRIGHT

interesting.

It’s about Tegan (AKA BellJarred) who asks men (the article specifically says men) who want to connect to name five female authors they’ve read first.

Actually, the article is a bit confusing. The article says “five books written by female authors”, but part of what they show seems to suggest it is “five female authors”.  That makes a big difference. Anybody who has read the Harry Potter series has read five books written by a female author (Jo Rowling…although the books were published with the gender neutral J.K. Rowling, and I understand that was because of a concern that boys would be less likely to want to read books written by a female author. I find that an odd argument: it’s likely to be the parents/legal guardians of a young child who would make the book buying purchase decisions, especially for something that was relatively expensive like the Harry Potter books. They may have been right about the marketing…but certainly, most book buyers knew that Rowling was female after the first book or so, and the sales did not go down).

The only challenge for me on this would be remembering which authors are female.

I don’t make a book buying decision based on that. I don’t make a book reading choice based on that.

I’m generally not big about an author’s biography…except, perhaps, when it informs nonfiction. If your autobiography is about having been a child soldier, than having been a child soldier is important.:) If it’s a novel, well, for me, it just doesn’t matter.

I experiment with my own mind.:) Years ago, I made an effort not to identify people I met in person by gender. I succeeded. I met someone, and later could not identify their gender to someone else. I know, though, that’s unnatural. It took a form of…self-hypnosis, I suppose, to achieve. I didn’t maintain it, though.

That ability has certainly been useful at times. I don’t like being annoyed (apparently unlike some people on the internet)😉 and I don’t like conflict. If I find something that irritates me, what I usually do is change that irritation into amusement by reframing it. Then, I’ll smile when I encounter what was a former irritant.

I’ll give you an example.

My Significant Other, who I love very much, tends to put things into places I use as workspaces. We are having our kitchen redone right now…we hadn’t had a working stove for many years, and there were a lot of other issues. We refinanced, and we’re having the kitchen done by Ikea (the look of it and the price of the cabinets are both good…the experience with the contractors, to whom we were connected by Ikea, has not been). That means we have no cabinets, no counter space.

I keep a few spaces clear for food prep. For example, a little corner of a table where we have the microwave and a “third burner”, not even a square foot, is where I prep my oatmeal.:) I put a plastic bag on the lid of the garbage can, so I can put some things there. We have a half wall where I set the dog dishes (small dogs, small dishes), as I get the canned dog food out of the refrigerator (which is in our living room). Next to the sink in the bathroom, I have an area where I clean dishes.

My SO has left things in all of these spaces, I think.:)

That’s not done on purpose, consciously, to mess me up. We both need empty spaces…I think these are just convenient.

I used to be irritated to find something in a “clear space” like that.

I reframed it for myself as being like a cat getting in your “warm spot” on a chair when you get up to get something.:)

That charms me…and now, I smile when it happens.

My point on all this is that identifying people by gender is natural…arguably, even a species survival requirement (although perhaps, not in all circumstances).

Making the effort to identify female authors I’ve read, I then found it not difficult at all to come up with five. I would guess I could come up with fifty without much effort. Coming up with more than fifty of anything can be difficult.😉

That goes back to when I was a child, and straight on to the present.

I’ll just throw a few out here, making the point again that I didn’t read them because they were female.

I’m currently reading

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

having just re-read

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile)

Hm…the name “Harper” isn’t particularly female to me…I wonder if most people who read the first book when it first came out were even aware  of the author’s gender. Sure, TKaM had a female protagonist…but Harry Potter has a male one. Arguably, it’s much more common to find women writing male protagonists than vice versa, though.

I’ve read tons of Agatha Christie.:)

I read the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich.

I think I’d better just start listing some:

  • Anne McCaffrey
  • Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Constance Whyte (nonfiction)
  • Olivia Butler
  • Elaine Morgan (nonfiction)
  • Ruth Plumly Thompson (the second Oz author)
  • Jane Austen
  • Louisa May Alcott
  • Mary Wollstonecraft (and not just Frankenstein)
  • Suzanne Collins
  • Kim Harrison

I could keep going on and on.

On all of these, I’m pretty sure they are female.:)

Looking at what came to mind, there is some diversity of topic/genre there, although clearly, fantasy/science fiction is up there, and there isn’t as much nonfiction. That may be more a reflection of what I’ve read for fiction (rather than what’s written/published), but I read a lot of nonfiction. I suspect that might actually reflect a publishing…tendency, although I haven’t looked for an analysis.

What do you think? Is requiring that people have read a certain type of author before messaging you a reasonable thing to do? Do you think if someone can name five female authors they have read, it’s predictive of how well you will get along with them? Could you quickly name five female authors you’ve read? How about five authors of a given race? National origin? Is it different to ask the latter two questions than the first one? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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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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