Archive for the ‘Bufo’s Life’ Category

Round up #187: new Dr. Seuss, Amazon Day

March 6, 2019

Round up #187: new Dr. Seuss, Amazon Day

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

Help the environment and plan your week with Amazon Day

It’s super easy to order things from Amazon with 1-Click. In fact, I’m a little surprised that isn’t a new idiom…instead of “As easy as pie” (and pies are not that easy), things should be described as “As easy as 1-Click”. 😉

We can even order things using an Alexa device…or, um, “No-Click”?

There is a disadvantage to this, though, and I’ve certainly done it.

It means that I tend to just order things when I realize we need them…and that realization may come several times in the same day! It might be spread out over days.

This means I might have placed several orders in a week, and so, we may get Amazon boxes literally every day, with maybe one or two things in them.

Amazon has just introduced

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

which is only available for

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

in the USA currently.

What happens is that you designate a day of the week (say, Saturdays) as your Amazon Day. Unless otherwise instructed (which is easy to do), Amazon will group your orders together and deliver them on that day.

Even before this was officially released, Amazon says it has saved tens of thousands of boxes.

This also has the advantage of you knowing when things will arrive. I will admit to some dismay when a package has arrived a day early: I may have carefully planned the arrival of an item for a day when we would be home (we do have a mail theft issue in our area).

This doesn’t affect the Amazon Lockers (which we use a lot…but some items can’t be shipped there, and sometimes the locker is full).

You can choose to have a specific item arrive on one of the other six days of the week (to get it sooner, presumably), or switch the Amazon Day when you want.

There’s also a parallel here with the Alexa shopping list we use…my Significant Other and I feel very differently about that. I want to add things to the list when I think about it; it might be days before we need it. If my SO sees it, they think they need to go right now! We kid about it, but we know: I don’t like the list to be empty, my SO doesn’t like to have things on it. 🙂 It’s like how I feel about the laundry hamper: it should always have something in it. Otherwise, it feels like it is taking up space for no reason. 🙂

Now, with Amazon Day, we can do it both ways…add things to the Amazon Day shipment (the list equivalent), or have it resolved right away.

Amazon to open another grocery chain

According to this

Business Insider article by Rebecca Ungarino

and other sources, Amazon plans to open a second grocery chain (in addition to Whole Foods) with lower-priced offerings.

That honestly makes more sense to me.

Amazon has done well with lower-priced (but not bargain) items that do the job but aren’t luxury. They haven’t done as well with the high-end items. It’s also an opportunity for Amazon to really innovate, maybe doing checkoutless stores, such as those with which they have already been experimenting.

I don’t picture them as having aisles long enough to land an airplane, like some stores, and a million choices.

My guess is that it will be a lot of Amazon brands, also mainstream brands, but pretty narrow focused. Sort of like the Amazon 4-Star Stores:

My trip to an Amazon 4-Star Store

A smaller selection of high-value items.

It’s reasonable to wonder if that would work for a grocery store: don’t people want to get everything in one store?

Well, we don’t do that…we shop at several stores. Part of that is being vegetarians; no single store has a great selection.

I also think of it kind of like a 7-11, and that’s not meant to be disparaging. It may be the place where you just run in and grab a few things you want (including pre-packaged lunches).

Amazon may also arrange it as a pick-up location: you order maybe ten things, and then they already have it boxed when you get there…

New Dr. Seuss book coming in September 

While it isn’t listed for pre-order yet in a Kindle edition, it can be pre-ordered in hardback:

Dr. Seuss’s Horse Museum (at AmazonSmile*)

Dr. Seuss died in 1991, which is quite some time ago…and this one is, well, interesting. It will be Dr. Seuss’s (I’m adding the terminal “s” the way they did) words, but it will be illustrated by Andrew Joyner. According to this

auburnpub.com article by Kaitlin Gates

there will also be “cameo” appearances by other Dr. Seuss characters, like The Cat in the Hat. That, honestly, doesn’t encourage me…it seems a bit gimmicky. Still, I’ll have an open mind and be hopeful.

My recovery

I had hip replacement surgery on January 17th, and got back to my day job yesterday. The change has been amazing! I’m walking without a cane for the first time in years…I keep looking for where I put it, when I actually didn’t bring it at all. I can also do stairs again, which means I get to rework my paths.

It was a lot of work; literally hours every day of PT (physical therapy) and wound care. I’m a very compliant patient…I definitely follow the rules, and I think that helped. I was also in relatively good health for the surgery, and a newer technique was used (the direct anterior approach with the Hana table…don’t look up videos if you are squeamish, but it typically shortens recovery time).

I thought I would get more reading and writing done, but that work was disruptive, as well as taking naps (which they said would happen). I don’t feel chronic pain much, so I (with the agreement of my surgeon) only took a half a pain pill the first night.

I did get some pictures digitized…I’ve been meaning to do that.

Anyway, I’m hoping I can get back into writing more narratives now…

What do you think? Are you looking forward to the new Dr. Seuss book? Do you like character cameos in books? What would get you to go to yet another grocery store? Does Amazon Day sound like something you’ll use? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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

Bufo’s Alexa Skills

* 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

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But wait, there’s more! Another giveaway for my 12 February birthday!

February 12, 2019

But wait, there’s more! Another giveaway for my 12 February birthday!

I already wrote about giving away two of my books for my birthday:

It’s my birthday…but I’m giving you the presents

 

but I haven’t done a non-e-book Amazon giveaway in a while…so I decided to give away a set of Echo Buttons!

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/4d2d284ea4c0fceb

While these are mostly used to play games (by seeing who “buzzes in” first), you can also use them to run Alexa routines (note: you need a compatible Echo/Alexa device for this to work.

Partially, I wanted to see how much Amazon Giveaways have changed…and they have, a lot! I’ll write more about that later (birthday/family stuff, you know), but I did want to get this out to you, my readers…and I’ll tweet it as well.

Good luck!

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

All aboard 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! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

It’s my birthday…but I’m giving you the presents

February 12, 2019

It’s my birthday…but I’m giving you the presents

February 12th is my birthday, along with

  • Judy Blume
  • Charles Darwin
  • Juanita Coulson
  • Donald Kingsbury
  • Cotton Mather
  • George Meredith
  • R.F. Delderfield

among many others (I’ve tried to stick mostly with writers in this listing…I’ll tweet geek-friendly actors & such as part of my #OTD in geeky history…).

As has become an annual tradition, I decided I wanted to celebrate by giving you something. 🙂

After all, you readers (and especially the subscribers…hello, subscribers!) give me so much.

Amazon allows us to give our books away as part of Kindle Direct Publishing (although there are restrictions on how much you can do it for each title).

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

I have asked Amazon to make them free on February 11th, 12th, and 13th…I figure that gives my readers more of a chance to get it than if I do it just the 12th. I think they will also only be free to customers in the USA.

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

This year, I decided to do these two books:

The Collected I Love My Kindle Blog Volume 1 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

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).

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

When it was first published back in 2012, I believe it was the most popular book of quotations in any format at Amazon…for a really, really short time. 😉 The focus is on geeky books/movie/TV and I know they aren’t the most profound quotations for everybody, but I really enjoyed doing this.

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

Also, if you are just interested in reading them (not owning them), they are both available through

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

Happy birthday! 😉

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

All aboard 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! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

Round up #183: Alexa Guard, saving small businesses

January 22, 2019

Round up #183: Alexa Guard, saving small businesses

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

My recovery

To get this out of the way (don’t worry, I’ll do some newsier stuff after this story):

Walker with I'M BUFO license plate

I had hip replacement surgery on January 17th, and that’s why you’ve been seeing “reprints” (re-posts, actually). This is the first fresh thing I’ve written for the blog since, although I’ve been tweaking the Bookish Birthdays.

Knock virtual wood, it’s been going remarkably well! I don’t feel pain much; that’s nothing of which to be particularly proud, it’s just a thing…like being tall. Since the surgery, I took half a Norco and a Celebrex (I took the latter because I thought it was more for swelling). This is all with consultation with my surgeon, and those are all the pain meds I’ve taken.

I am taking aspirin (81 mg twice a day), but that’s to lessen the chance of blood clots…so I take it for six weeks.

I’m up and around with the walker…that “license plate” was a gift from our adult kid for my wheelchair. I used to have a personalized one like that on a car I owned, so I thought that was very thoughtful!

I’m actually sitting at the kitchen table right now writing. The first day or two, I didn’t get out with the dogs, which was very hard for all of us. Now, I can be out here, but I have to be constantly aware. That’s the weird part, and where my lack of feeling pain is a disadvantage: it is quite possible to dislocate the replacement at this point. There is bone growing, which will take a long time…my leave is set for seven weeks.

I read a lot and watched a lot of videos, so I have a good idea what not to do. It’s some weird things; if you turn 90 degrees, most people leave one foot still pointing forward, so it ends up perpendicular…and then, pop! So, I have to take little steps, like an eighth of a circle at a time. I was referring to that as my “Arte Johnson Shuffle”, for the old man character (Tyrone) Arte played on Laugh-In who took very short strides.

So, a moment’s inattention could put me back in the Operating Room.

Fortunately, I have very good kinesthesia and self-awareness: many years ago, the most money I ever made in the theatre was being a stunt coordinator (often for children’s shows). I also used to go barefoot whenever it was legal…and you have to be aware of your feet in that case. I always remember I was walking barefoot in the rain through San Francisco’s Japantown. As I passed, one older person leaned to the other and said quietly, “Samurai”. 😉

I probably won’t need to wear shoes for some time. I also keep my hair professional for my day job, and I’m letting that grow out…hey, I’ve got to have some fun with this, right? 😉

Amazon has definitely been a big part of my recovery! I already pre-wrote

As a writer who is also on social media, this gadget is my best new tool in years!

about the

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

which has been simply amazing! Even though my Significant Other (ironically) doesn’t like tech much at all, we got a second one…my SO doesn’t thumb-type well (neither do I), and although it won’t be used much, it will make a difference. The thing that convinced me? Adding items to the Alexa shopping list. Yes, it could be spoken, but my SO also doesn’t like to talk to tech all that much (but will set timers and play music with Alexa).

Another gadget we bought, which has been really worth it, is this:

Asgens Power Strip,6 Way Outlets With 4 USB Port Charger 110-250V Charging Station Smart Power 2 Layers Socket Tower With 9.8 ft Extendable Cord (at AmazonSmile*)

That seems like a little thing, but my SO doesn’t like cords showing. This thing is vertical: sort of looking like a Coleman Lantern. You can wind up the main cord inside it. You can also turn outlets off on and with a button. Each outlet is plenty large to handle the biggest wall adapter I have, and it has USB ports. When I’m not using it, it sits very nicely on a window sill.

Alexa is helpful; setting timers for my walking laps around the bed (per Physical Therapy, and with the walker), for example. Amusingly, I also “dropped in” on my SO once…from the bedroom to the family room. 🙂 I tried texting, and that didn’t work, so I used the video call from my Alexa app on my phone to our

Echo Show (at AmazonSmile*)

That link is to the 2nd gen, although ours is a first gen. The 1st gen is no longer offered new from Amazon, but you can get used ones for under $100. I also put our

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

in the bedroom, but it was just easier to use the phone (the Spot is on the headboard).

By the way, I’m not saying that our dogs are spoiled, but for the beginning of my recovery, I was confined to a bedroom, and they had the run of the house. 😉

As for entertainment, device-wise, it’s all Amazon. We have a

Fire TV Stick (at AmazonSmile*)

and a

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

in the family room.

Would it have been easier for me if it was the other way around.

Yes.

However, I didn’t want to change the arrangement. That would be harder on my SO, and I didn’t mind having the motivation to get back in the family room. The cube controls our TV; in the bedroom, I have a remote.

We watch Amazon Prime/Hulu/Netflix, and then as an indulgence, I got the

DC Universe app (at AmazonSmile*)

Okay, with the free trial and $7.99 a month (+tax), it’s not much of an indulgence. 😉 They have quite a few older series, which is what I wanted to watch more than the new shows (I like non-dark DC better). I may write a whole review in the The Measured Circle, but I will say that the interface is a bit clunky. It doesn’t always start (meaning I need to force stop it in the Applications part of the Settings on the Fire TV), and it often doesn’t realize I’ve already seen an episode, but the content is worth it to me.

Oh, and of course, I’m reading! I do it on a Paperwhite & a discontinued Kindle Fire HD tablet. I got a few books at the holidays, and I’m enjoying that, plus magazines. I may do something different on that, but this is long enough for now!

Thanks for all the well wishes!

Now, on to other things!

Alexa Guard mode

While this is something which may be wonderful, and we may literally get anecdotes about it saving lives, Amazon has to be very careful with something that you can request now (although that doesn’t mean you automatically get it).

According to this September 20th, 2018

press release

it will do a number of things, including switching lights on and off when you are away so it appears you are home.

I think the standout feature (at least right off) will be its ability to alert you when it hears troubling sounds…breaking glass, smoke alarms, that kind of thing.

While that’s undeniably a good thing (assuming there aren’t too many false positives), it does change a fundamental thing about your Echo device that Amazon has said many times.

It will now be responding to something other than the wake word…and presumably, recording audio.

I don’t know that, but I assume it will record some audio when it hears something “suspicious”, than play it for you remotely. That way, you can assess the actual danger. I can think of many false triggers…you could be watching a show which has breaking glass, and that’s part of some ceremonies which have been in the movies/TV.

I’ve already requested it myself. If you want to do that, go to the settings in your Alexa app. If you are eligible to request it (I think that depends on the kind of hardware you have), you’ll see a listing for “Guard” most of the way down.

Once you’ve done that, you are on the list, and they’ll let you know.

I don’t want to write about someone’s relationship

Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos have been getting a lot of coverage recently in somewhat unusual places, due to their announced change in relationship status.

All I want to address (briefly) is how this might affect Amazon and us as customers.

There seems little doubt that Mackenzie will get credit for her participation in the foundation and at least the early years of Amazon. It is certainly possible that Jeff will lose some power with the company (and Mackenzie could gain it…getting stock, perhaps), but I think that will be handled in a way that doesn’t hurt the company. One choice might be a buy out: cash value instead of the stock. Another might be some sort of non-voting stock. The key thing in terms of continuity is that Jeff’s position as a stockholder is essentially unchanged. That may not be what happens, though.

Here is one article about it:

Yahoo Finance post by P.H. Madore

Who’s going to save small and medium businesses from Amazon? How about Amazon?

Third-party sales growth at Amazon is higher than Amazon’s own sales growth, according to this

press release

There is a lot of data in the press release, all indicating how powerful Amazon has been for small and medium businesses lately. One interesting thing: they said that they thought small and medium businesses selling through Amazon created 900,000 jobs worldwide.

You may have noticed

Amazon Storefronts (at AmazonSmile*)

The feel of the promotion to me is somewhat like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. If they pick your needle out of their haystack, you can really soar. They have curated collections, which are basically departments, but they also let you focus on things like “Artisans” or “Family-focused businesses.”

I’ve talked about Amazon wanting to be the “infrastructure of the internet”, and these are sales made through the internet (even though Amazon pointedly refers to “stores” rather than “sites” throughout the press release), but of physical objects.

This month’s First Reads

Prime members can get two of the following books as Kindle books, prior to their February 1st publication to keep for free:

  • The Killer Collective by Barry Eisler (thriller)
  • The Forgotten Hours by Katrin Schumann (family drama)
  • The Snow Gypsy by Lindsay Jayne Ashford (historical fiction)
  • Blood for Blood by Victoria Selman (mystery)
  • Smoke & Summons by Charlie N. Holmberg (fantasy)
  • Rock Needs River by Vanessa McGrady (memoir)

In the past, people have sometimes wanted to know what I’ve chosen. I’m going with bestseller Barry Eisler (not the only bestseller on this list) and Charlie N. Holmberg (author of The Paper Magician). While Blood for Blood says it’s a mystery, it sounds pretty violent, which isn’t always something we like Sure, Eisler is probably violent, too, but that goes better with “thriller” than with “mystery” for me.

Writers need empathy, but not necessarily sympathy

This came up for me on Twitter recently (I’ve been a lot more active there of late), and I thought I’d share my thoughts on it here.

Someone was asking how they could write about flirting when they never flirt.

My response:

“The same way a pacifist can write a murder scene. 😉 Writers should have a highly developed, generalized sense of empathy, which lets you imagine motivations for different scenarios. ‘Why’ shouldn’t be an issue, but ‘how’ may require research…movies, TV, & books can help here”

What did I mean by that?

My definition of “empathy” is being able to tell how people feel (or how they will feel in a given circumstance). I considered it an essential quality when I was hiring trainers. A successful trainer has a lot of empathy…even just preparing material, they can tell what is going to be difficult for someone to understand. They can figure out for which things they will need to use more real world analogies, for example.

When doing the training, they need to be able to have a sense of the room…are they going too quickly? Are they going to slowly?

Sympathy, on the other hand, is related to feeling the same way as someone else…nowadays, that usually means feeling their pain or suffering by realizing how something is going to affect them.

Those two are very different.

It would be possible for someone with clinically no sympathy to be a successful trainer. They would need to see the value in getting people to understand, but they wouldn’t have to feel bad for someone who wasn’t. On the other hand, someone with no empathy would likely be a terrible trainer…they couldn’t adjust as needed based on the emotional state of the students.

It’s similar for writers.

They need to be able to imagine how someone would feel. Let’s say someone is writing a very violent character when they themselves are non-violent (the “pacifist” in my tweet above). They don’t have to align their feelings with the character…they don’t have feel what they feel. They just have to imagine how that person would feel.

That might be by equating the joy of the violence with, say, the joy the author felt in winning a tennis game…but there need not be a personal analog at all.

I should emphasize: that’s just how I feel about it, the way I use the words. Empathy is intellectual, sympathy is emotional. Here’s what Dictionary.com says:

Empathy vs. Sympathy: Which Word To Use And When

What do you think? Would you use Alexa Guard? What would you want it to do if it hears a sound…remember that it has directional hearing? Maybe it could just take a picture of that area (if pointed that way)…maybe it could lock the doors, turn on your Ring camera to record anybody near the front of the house, or yell, “Intruder alert!” What’s your scenario for Amazon’s first big bad PR out if it? Do you have any concerns about Mackenzie and Jeff’s change? Do writers need to feel sympathy, or just empathy…and is that how you use the terms? Is it possible to have one without the other? 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!

All aboard 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! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

 

I’m having major surgery on Thursday, January 17th

January 16, 2019

I’m having major surgery on Thursday, January 17th

I’m scheduled to have surgery in the morning of Thursday, January 17th. My left hip is being replaced, using a direct anterior approach with a HANA table. If you don’t know what the latter is…well, you can see videos on it pretty easily, but I wouldn’t do it if you are squeamish. 😉 I’m fine with all of that, and I’m not concerned about the surgery…I’m probably at bigger risk on the road to the hospital than the surgery itself presents.

There is a risk, of course, and I’ve used this as a specific impetus to get things in order…increasing my life insurance, refreshing my will, doing donations of books, that sort of thing. Nothing I shouldn’t have done before. I’m surprisingly comfortable donating the books: I had always imagined they would be donated after I died, but that would be a giant burden to my survivors…and we might as well get the tax write-off now.

So, how does this affect you?

Even if things go as well as the odds would say (I think I’m in relatively good shape for the surgery, but my arthritis is particularly bad…I’m at the highest level), I doubt I’ll be able to write right away.

They do think I’ll get home the same day…I’ve worked with medical people for a very long time, and quite legitimately, people who can do so heal better at home than in the hospital.

However, everything I hear says they’ll really want me on serious pain medicine at first. As a quirk, I don’t feel pain very much generally, so I don’t tend to take as much pain medicine as most people. People who have had this done, though, tell me I really should take it for as long as they say (3 days? A week? I don’t know yet).

I may not be able to write under its influence…and if I tried, I can’t be sure about what I’d say. 😉 It might also really change my sleep patterns.

To prepare for that, I’m going to schedule posts for each of the days of the week after the surgery. That will be in addition to the Bookish Birthday posts, which I’ll also schedule. They’ll probably all be reposts, but I think you’ll find that interesting…sort of a “best of” series.

Just wanted to give you the heads up. I’m actually hoping that, after recovery (they figure seven weeks before I can get back to my day job…that’s average), I’ll be back to doing more narrative writing in this blog. I haven’t been able to get around much, which you would think would give me more time, but the reduced function…complicates my “activities of daily living” considerably.

During the aftercare period, I’ll probably have quite a bit of physical therapy. Our adult kid and Significant Other are also going to come visit for about a week. Even so, I think there’s a chance I’ll be able to write quite a bit before I can get back to work…here’s hoping!

Thanks to all of you! I’ve been writing this blog for more than nine years now, and I’ve really enjoyed the intellectual exchange with you. Everyone of you that I’ve helped in some way has really made this all worthwhile!

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

All aboard 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! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

My complicated relationship with profanity

January 5, 2019

My complicated relationship with profanity

I don’t swear.

Not ever, at least not spontaneously. Oh, I can quote someone else using profanity…I’m not afraid of the words, or incapable of using them. I suppose at some point, I made a conscious choice not to do it, but it’s natural now.

I’ve had people ask about situations where I would hypothetically respond reflexively…when injured or angry. Nope, not then, either.

That seems to suggest that I have to make a mental effort to prevent profanity from erupting, and that’s simply not the case. I don’t notice that I’m about to swear and stop it…I don’t have the urge in the first place**. I know I have an unusual amount of self-awareness and engagement of the superego. Maybe that comes from having been an actor years ago, or my decades as a trainer in front of people…I’m very conscious of the impression I am making on other people…my kinesthetic awareness tells me if I’m crossing my arms, covering my mouth, and so on…just about all the time. From having successfully trained many trainers, I can tell you that the vast majority of people don’t know those things.

I’m not saying that they should, by the way! It makes it sound like a superpower, like a spidey sense…but it also does potentially reduce spontaneity.

The same is true about how I feel about swearing. I have no problem with other people using those words. I don’t think there should be any legal restriction on any individual words…and yes, that would include ethnic slurs. If writers use the “F word”, even in the context of sexual activity, in movies or on TV, that should be fine.

I would like warning, so I can choose not to watch that show, but it shouldn’t be prohibited.

Would I choose not to watch that show?

No. I watch shows and read books where I know those words will be used.

I just don’t use them myself…well, not “just“, and that’s where this begins to affect you in some small ways.

I’ve been doing a lot more on Twitter in the past…oh, I’m guessing six months (although I’m not good on time). Twitter clearly doesn’t censor “four letter words”. I don’t tend to retweet those, even if I otherwise think it’s an interesting post. I don’t tend to follow people who put those words in their profiles (whereas, generally, I’d say I’m a prolific follower…I follow a lot more people than follow me).

Even stronger than, say, the “F word” for me are “profane” words that target specific groups, even those may be seen as more mild for most people. Perhaps the best example is the “b word” (the one that rhymes with “twitch”). That one has a context in which it has none of those connotations…it describes a female dog (and some other species). I’ve always found it odd that comparing someone to a non-human animal can be seen as a great insult. I’ve pointed out that a direct analog to the common insult which SOB abbreviates is “puppy”. However, I don’t think most people would feel the same if a character in a book said, “I’m going to get that puppy,” the same way they would if the character said, “I’m going to get that son of a b**ch”.

Even though some now use it for males, it’s specifically targeted at females…it’s basically the definition of the word. So, even if there is someone I commonly retweet (which doesn’t necessarily mean that I agree with what they say…it means I find it interesting, and think others might. In many cases, though, I do agree) says something like, “I’m sticking to my diet…I’ve made chocolate my b—-“, I won’t retweet it. That use of the word, meaning that you completely dominate it, particularly bothers me given the female context (women, who are a majority, have traditionally in many societies had less power).

I just ran into this with an article I “flipped” into one of my Flipboard magazines this morning. It was recommending apps, some of which seemed very useful. In the last review, though, the author used the “S word”. I still flipped it…but I wouldn’t have retweeted it if it was a tweet (the magazines seem different from tweets…more “opt in”).

That word has become much more acceptable. That happens over time: words which you would never have heard on TV in the 1960s are now commonly used. It’s still “on my list”, though.

So, I don’t want anything that stops anybody from using profanity in any context. Words are different from actions. I had a headshaker when someone tweeted an apparently sincere question suggesting that writing a fictional child sex scene was the same as producing child pornography (photographs or video)…the latter in which actual children are victimized, presumably. That’s as if there is no difference between thoughts and actions. I have to presume that the same person would say that someone who writes a murder mystery should be tried for murder… 😉 I know that’s likely not the case, but people should be able to write fictionally about anything, in my opinion. Again, I’d love warnings about content, but that’s my preference.

However, writers use of profanity may mean that I don’t share it in the same way, even if I otherwise would have.

One more point: I saw suggested recently that some words being acceptable and some not (feces versus the “S word”) had roots in classism…that words used by the less educated (and typically poorer economically) class were considered “bad” and the ones used by the elite were “good”. I need to look into that, but it’s an eye-opening perspective if true.

What do you think? Do you use profanity in your day-to-day life? I responded to a tweet where someone asked if there was anybody out there who didn’t, since they had never met anybody. If so, under what circumstances? Does knowing that there will be profanity in a book affect whether you would read it or not? Does it affect how you share things? If you don’t think you (or other people, say, children) should be exposed to profanity, what do you want done about it? Should restrictions be made by the government? Do you want content warnings…and if so, who should decide what they are? 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!

All aboard 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! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

A Day in the Life of a Kindleer 2018

September 17, 2018

A Day in the Life of a Kindleer 2018

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…the biggest device changes this year had to do with introducing the Echo Spot (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping) at work and the Fire TV Cube (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) at home. Okay, let’s start a typical weekday in the Life of a Kindleer.

I wake up between about 2:00 and 3:00 AM…sometimes closer to 1:00 AM, sometimes a little later (but I haven’t slept past 4:00 AM in years). As I explained last year, it’s not from an alarm or anything, it’s just my habit. I’ve had it checked out medically, and it seems to be fine. Asleep at about 9:00 PM, up at about 2:00 AM…that’s between five and six hours usually. I also may fall asleep out on the couch maybe around 7. I don’t fall asleep during the day, by the way!

When I wake up, I pick up my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (that’s been my daily use device for something like five years now), which is back to serving as my nightstand clock. I really don’t like how they changed the nightstand clock a while back…the minutes are very small, and the time moves around on the screen. I see really well in the dark (connected, I think, to my color vision deficiency), but I have always awakened a bit slowly…it takes me a while to get processing information. So, making it hard for me to read the clock doesn’t help. 🙂

I also pick up my Galaxy S8, which is next to the bed, too…face down. It’s there as a back up. There is an alarm set on it for 5:00 AM, but I never use it…I let it go off, mostly as a reminder that it’s getting to that point in the morning. It used to be because my Significant Other was going to leave then, but my SO has retired since the last time I wrote one of these.

I go in the bathroom and do some wake-up things. On my Fire, I start my morning

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

read. That’s a big part of my morning, not just for myself, but for flipping articles into my free Flipboard magazines, including the  ILMK magazine at Flipboard.

I also use my Galaxy S8 before I come out: I check WordPress for comments on these blogs, Twitter (I’ve gotten to be a lot more active on Twitter in the last year, including with my #1TweetExpert) I use the amazing Dark Sky weather app (not available through the Amazon Appstore)…remarkably precise and accurate, and worth $2.99 a year, and start checking my local news on the

ABC 7 News San Francisco (at AmazonSmile*)

app. I can also flip from there…many places I go allow me to flip. The ILMK Flipboard magazine has tens of thousands of viewers and is at more than 60,000 stories. The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard magazine is well over 200,000 stories…it has a broader scope. Our dogs’ Butterscotch Chaos and Friends magazine has over 100 followers. 😉

A change since last year: I don’t turn on the lights with my phone, I do it manually. At one point, my Wink hub just stopped working (I think it was updated into obsolescence), and I haven’t connected my lights back to my Alexa. My SO never liked using Alexa for the lights. Also, I talk a lot as a trainer during the day, and I know how to take care of my voice. I hum and do vocal warm-ups before I do much talking.

Next, I head out to the family room…and one of the dogs gets off the bed to come with me (I love hearing the dog do the shimmy, then land on the floor). The other dog is often already in the family room. They aren’t as habit-based as they used to be as to where they sleep, though.

Our

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

is also in a sort of sleep mode, but still displays the time. I think it senses I’m moving around out there and wakes up. 🙂 When I’m not reading during the first part of my exercise routine (I exercise for about 45 minutes before I go to work), I glance at it. I really like what shows up on the display: the first event on my calendar, the weather, but also headlines.

After I’ve fed the dogs, I’m doing that exercise and reading Flipboard on my Kindle Fire.

I get to a point in the exercise where I can’t read (I can’t stand that close to the entertainment unit, where I stand up the Fire in its Amazon Origami cover). That’s when the

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

first comes into play. It replaced our Fire TV…and it’s really a big step forward! It doesn’t make too much of a difference early in the morning, but the ability to just ask it to show a particular program and have it do it is great when we are both awake. Just in the past week or so, a couple of apps have stopped working on it…I think there may be a problem with how the FTVC passes my credentials to my cable company. I use my Bluetooth headphones. Currently, I might use the apps for BBC News, NBC News, Great Big Story, maybe Hulu…

[Side note: since I started writing this, one of those apps, a 24-hour news one, just started working again. I think that would be quite bizarre for someone from 100 years ago (1918). They had exposure to a lot of tech back then (after all, WWI was actually fought with powered aircraft), and I think the idea that something would “heal itself” would be strange. “Aren’t you going to fix that?” “Nah, if I wait a few days, it might fix itself”. ;)]

When I’m done with my exercise, I have the headset on, and I’m back to the Kindle Fire. If I finish Flipboard, it’s WordPress, Maxthon browser for the

Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and the IMDb app (IMDb is owned by Amazon).

I’m certainly also getting some writing done! I like to have TV on when I’m writing, and on reflection, I find it astonishing that I have these options. Lately, I’ve been watching The 1970s The Incredible Hulk series (I’m just about done with it) on Hulu, with Star Trek: The Original Series in rotation. I also watch Kung Fu, but just in the other room. That idea of “geo-specific” has pretty much always been with me. I read multiple books, and in the “old days of paper books” 😉 I would just leave books in different rooms and read whichever one was there while I was there. Kung Fu (which is on Prime) holds pretty well. Interesting to see how Caine has evolved between season one and season two…more confident, which makes sense. Prime has some good nostalgic background series…as I write this, Celebrity Bowling is on with Max Baer Jr., Sue Ane Langdon, David Canary, and Gloria Loring…I’m doubting that many of you could name “best known for”s for all four of them! I don’t watch all old TV: I tried Altered Carbon and thought it was okay. My SO and I do watch a lot of contemporary competition shows…

Whenever I’m going to head back for my shower, the more intellectual of the two dogs has a very cute “trick”, and this is my SO’s favorite thing of the day. I say, “Wake up call!” I open the door, and the dog (all 14 pounds) leaps on the bed and vigorously licks my SO in the face!

Eventually, I go back to the bedroom…I do some exercise there, too, and that’s where I get dressed and such. In that room, we have a

Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*)

and our

Echo Dot (at AmazonSmile*)

That’s where I’ve been watching Kung Fu. 🙂 I also listen to my Flash Briefing, but only part of it…not enough time.

I do some more reading while I brush my teeth (which I for about twenty minutes…I’m pretty obsessive on that), but that’s likely to be on a

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

I’ve recently read

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (at AmazonSmile*)

for the first time. It’s interesting: I try really hard to avoid spoilers, but of course, I knew something about the story. I thought it started out slowly…there was a lot of world-building. However, I can see how that would have unfolded effectively for someone who went into it with no knowledge. Once we got past that and we got more to the individual story, it was much better.

When I finished that, I starting reading

Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella (at AmazonSmile*)

I have to say, by stopping where they did when they adapted it for Field of Dreams, it’s a brilliant adaptation! The rest of it was good, but I think they made it a much better movie by sticking to “Act One” (or maybe the first inning, in this case).

If my SO has gone to the gym, I’ve been having some fun recently having the FTVC play music. That way, when my SO comes home, there’s some theme of music playing. However, that does mean that I don’t use Prime Music at work any more. We don’t pay for Amazon Music Unlimited, so only one stream of music can play at a time (although it could be on more than one device at once). At work, I’ll use Google’s free music…it has some interesting songs, but I can’t get it to just play the artist I want, like I can with Prime Music.

In the car, I’m listening to books on my Kindle Fire, most often using text-to-speech through the car’s sound system. Unusually for me, lately I’ve been listening to an audiobook:

Dracula by Bram Stoker, read by Alan Cumming, Tim Curry, and others) (at AmazonSmile*)

I don’t like to listen to an audiobook unless I’ve already read the book (which I have here, more than once). The book is astonishingly good…very complex, with multiple scenes, many characters, and clever foreshadowing. Even though I’m a big fan of Tim Curry, the acting doesn’t help the story at all for me…I would have preferred text-to-speech.

At work, I use our

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

That’s a great work companion! I play Jeopardy while my work computer boots up and I get set up. It’s so much better to be able to read the question (on the Spot’s screen) rather than just hearing…it’s more like the show. I don’t always get them all right, but I’m usually top 1%. I also sometimes listen to my briefing (I’m a bit of a news junkie), set timers, and so on.

On the way home, I may listen to the book more. It depends on the distance (I work different places). I don’t usually start up the book for a short trip. It the trip is going to be at least half an hour, I’ve recently been listening to Old Time Radio. I haven’t found a good Alexa Skill for that, so I use an app on my phone called Old Time Radio Player. I’m listening to Inner Sanctum, which I really enjoy! Raymond is a punny host, making lots of jokes about murder and the undead, not unlike many TV Horror Hosts. The writing is good, and many famous actors appear. Be aware that it can be really creepy! I may also listen to the Flash Briefing…and that can last more than half an hour.

At lunch, I’m usually in virtual reality doing floor work…that helps with my chronic condition. Oh, and I might as well tell you now: I’m going to have major surgery, probably in January. I think I’ve said it before: I have an arthritic hip, and I’m at the most severe level. I’m really excited to be getting a new hip! My impression is that it shouldn’t make me miss much writing during the recovery period, and in fact, I may get more writing done.

When I’m home, we usually watch Hulu for those competition shows. Counting the weekend, we may also watch Hulu, Tubi, news apps, and HBO on DirecTV Now. I’ll also write for sure!

Once I’m actually going to sleep, I read on our

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

I’m still re-reading the original fourteen Oz books.

That’s basically the weekday routine.

At some point on the weekend, I may listen to the excellent

The Kindle Chronicles podcast by Len Edgerly

Hope that helps! If you have questions or comments, 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!

All aboard 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 you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help! 🙂 

I thought my books and I were “’til death do us part”, but now…

April 21, 2018

I thought my books and I were “’til death do us part”, but now…

For just about as long as I can remember, I’ve defined myself in part by the books I own.

Not just the books I’ve read: arguably, the books you read can truly shape who you are.

No, by the books I own. Most of those are also books I’ve read, and I don’t own books with no intent to read them ever, but having them has been part of my identity.

Our now adult kid had quite a revelation one time when we moved…our kid realized that “…the books always get a bigger bedroom than I do.” 🙂

True.

Our floor to ceiling shelved library is one of my favorite places in the world. I shared pictures of it before:

Our library with photos

I’ve often mentioned in the blog that I have something like 10,000 p-books (paperbooks) on shelves in our home.

However…

I’ve recently been rethinking my scenario.

I had always pictured that I would keep accumulating p-books until I died. Then, they would be donated.

Much of what I have would be considered ephemera…something with no lasting value. I didn’t know who would want to preserve, catalog, and share my books…I didn’t think that through enough.

I considered myself a preservationist: it wouldn’t surprise me if I have one of the very few copies of some of the works I have…some were basically self-published, and again, were never popular.

We have had a big change in lifestyle recently, and that has gotten me to re-evaluate a number of things.

I can tell you, it would be a burden on our kid (or whoever dealt with the estate) to figure out where to donate the books (and they wouldn’t have a whole lot of value). I’m sure the “next generation” wouldn’t want to keep them…houses in the future won’t even be built with the idea of massive bookshelves (which were initially actually part of a plan to sell more books).

It also seems…selfish to keep them just sitting on the shelf when they could benefit other people the way they have benefited me.

A big turning point for me: I donated a “Jenny Haniver” to Loren Coleman’s museum:

Going to Loren Coleman’s International Cryptozoology Museum? See my Jenny Haniver

I only recently met

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

in person for the first time (I did the donation before that), and that meeting really reinforced my sense that things I donated to the ICM would be respected.

If that’s the case, isn’t it better for the world that the books go to someone who will do with them now what I wanted someone to do with them after I died, however many years from now that might be?

We could also use the tax write-off, small though it might be. 😉 Refining the house is also something we are doing now: straightening things, streamlining, and doing some redesign of display.

It also made me really, really happy to see the Jenny Haniver very briefly appear in a trailer for the new documentary

Cryptozoologist

It’s not in the current version showing there, by the way…I saw it at a special event in San Francisco.

So (deep breath), I’m going to start looking at things to donate.

Cryptozoology books to the ICM; that’s an easy choice. That includes “cryptofiction”, and cryptozoology movie-related items (somewhere I have a giant theatrical poster for The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, which fits that). Fortunately, the ICM also takes other books on the “unknown”, and that’s where I have some collectible items as well. Loren suggested the

The J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies

for purely UFO items, and I’ll consider that.

I hope to find a place for pop culture items which don’t fit my “Bufo’s Weird World” materials. I have a Buckaroo Banzai jacket, a promotional radio record for Blazing Saddles, that sort of thing. If you have a suggestion for an established non-profit (where we can get the tax write-off), I’d be happy to hear it!

I’m sure I never would have gotten here without the Kindle and e-books. We do have over 3,000 of those, and our adult kid is on our account and will therefore have access to them after I’m gone…and they won’t be any kind of burden.

Am I going to get rid of all my p-books? I’m not sure…my Oz books would be tough to do, and books I’ve owned since I was a child, or that were written by people I know…hm, I’ll think about it.

What about you? What is your strategy on your p-books? Have you already reduced your library? Did you donate them? Sell them? Give them away? Do you have a post-mortem library plan? If you inherited a lot of books, what was that experience like? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


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

All aboard 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! :) 

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, 2018! I’m giving you presents!

February 12, 2018

Happy my birthday, 2018! I’m giving you presents!

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?

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…for somebody on your account. I don’t think you can get them for people not on your account through this one-day promotion.

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 (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. :)

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

They are largely out of date now…think of it as a collector’s item. 😉

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).

Feel free to spread the word on these freebies…there’s no limit, as far as I know, to the number I can give away on this day.

This one is a “big” birthday, so people have been asking me if I’m doing anything special. I’m not, really. 🙂 I’m not at all ashamed of my age…I always figure every of those years helped me become who I am. I don’t mention it on this blog, because I like people to feel like they can comment here with no need to identify themselves by intrinsic characteristics.

I did take the day off of my day job, and I am getting my annual check-up. I like to do that on the actual day when I can. It won’t be my best check-up…my chronic condition has deteriorated noticeably (I’m getting a disabled placard for the first time from the DMV…I won’t use it most of the time, but I can’t do stairs, and sometimes, the special parking places are the only ones without stairs). I’m just about recovered from that nasty virus, but I still have some symptoms. I’ve also gained maybe ten pounds of unhealthy weight, but I’m still in pretty good shape. I’ll lose that weight…I’ve been indulging myself a bit while sick (which for me means things like eating two apples in a day instead of one), and I’m having to rework my exercise regimen because of decreased capability. However, I do still exercise on average about 90 minutes a day.

I am more aware of my mortality, though, so we are doing something special…we are getting a Safe Deposit Box. Even though that’s sixty dollars a year and our income was recently reduced, I think it’s worth it. The big thing that will be in there will be a way to get into all of our accounts…our now adult kid will have access to that if we die. That’s what I figure will preserve my writing, and our Kindle library.

The tentative plan is that I work in my day job until just after May 31st, 2025. That will give me twenty years in the job before retiring…and then I expect to be writing a whole lot more. 🙂

I have a thing that I write on my own time, but I publish at work (I own it…I don’t do it for work), which has to do with celeb birthdays. People seem to like it, and after I have a solid year’s worth, I may do something else with it. For fun, though, here are some other people born on my birthday…how many can you identify?

Happy February 12th birthday to Radric Delantic “Gucci Mane” Davis, Tara Strong, Mike Posner, Bill Russell, Jennifer Stone, Charles Darwin, Christina Ricci, Jesse Spencer, Scott Menville, Josh Brolin, Aaron Sanchez, Arsenio Hall, Louis Renault, Anna Pavlova, Lincoln LaPaz, Wallace Ford, William Collier Jr., Ted Mack, Joseph Kearns, Gordon Lee “Tex” Beneke, Lorne Greene, Forrest Tucker, Franco Zeffirelli, Joe Garagiola Sr., Charles Van Doren, Vince Montana Jr., Costa-Gravas, Annette Crosbie, Gene McDaniels, Ray Manzarek, Ray Kurzweil, Michael Ironside, Simon MacCorkindale, Joanna Kerns, Joe Dever, Chynna Phillips, Darren Aronofsky, and Judy Blume!

I had somebody at work ask me why Abraham Lincoln isn’t on the list…it’s because it’s a work thing, so I try not to list people known primarily as politicians…it’s just less controversial that way.

Have a great day…happy my birthday!


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


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

All aboard 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! :) 

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.

In the Country of the Web-blind

January 7, 2018

In the Country of the Web-blind

Let’s get this out of the way first: yes, this is 1WP (1st World Problems). 😉

There are many people who have much worse situations, even in this country, just in the past twelve months. I was peripherally involved with the Santa Rosa fires in Northern California, for example. We did donate as well to hurricane relief…we like to help when we can.

Okay, with that bit of perspective established…

Up until a few minutes ago (around 9:00 AM Pacific), we had been without the internet at our house since about 5:00 PM Pacific Thursday night.

That takes us down!

It doesn’t just mean that we can’t visit social media.

Without the internet (which is provided by cable):

  • We don’t have phone service. Our reception here is not good, so AT&T gave us a MicroCell tower. I’m not the only one where that has happened. If you have AT&T and your reception is bad, go to the AT&T store and tell them. What happened for us, and what I’ve heard has happened with other people, is that they can check your address. If reception there is bad, they just give you this device. Without that, we don’t have cell reception. We have it a couple of blocks away, but when we get to the house, it dies. You can also buy those towers…I see them used at Amazon for about $120, and I’d heard they were about $300 when we got ours
  • We don’t have TV. We almost never watch anything except through our Fire TV family (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) devices. That requires internet. We also don’t have non-Fire TV. However, we did get a bundled over-the-air antenna for $5 recently…it’s normally $19.99. AmazonBasics Ultra Thin Indoor TV Antenna – 35 Mile Range ( at AmazonSmile*) . I hadn’t set it up, but did yesterday. When I did the scan, we got (drum roll)…two channels! 🙂 One of them seemly oddly appropriate: a channel called Decades. It’s all nostalgia TV…they were “binge showing” (running a marathon) of Get Smart! A movie also was on before that with Richard Dreyfuss playing Al Haig when President Reagan was shot. I couldn’t look it up easily in that situation, but I now know it was called “The Day Reagan Was Shot”. I have no idea how accurate it was, but it was interesting. The picture would sometimes break down into squares…I moved the antenna a bit this morning, and it seems better
  • We don’t have Alexa, which we use…a lot! One of the big things is that our Echo family (at AmazonSmile*) controls our lights. In one situation is particular, the light is very hard to reach to turn it on and off manually. That was quite inconvenient

No TV. No phone. No internet.

Yow!

It meant that I “missed a deadline” yesterday, although it’s only my deadline to do a Bookish Birthday every day. I’ll do the one for yesterday today…I do have a lot of catching up to do! I could just let it slide, but it will be easier next year if I already have it done. That was frustrating.

Now, an obvious question is why didn’t I just go somewhere else to use the internet?

I had to be home for the cable repair person.

When my Significant Other (SO) called Friday morning, they gave us an appointment for noon on Saturday.

I didn’t want to take a chance that they would call and say they could show up early, so I didn’t leave.

Good thing!

I checked online how long the window would be for an appointment (I’ll explain how shortly), and it said two hours.

Well, they hadn’t showed by 2:00 PM yesterday. I was able to go out on the street and get texts (and that’s how I checked the appointment window, but that type of search was very spotty), so I texted my SO who was at work. My SO called…and they said that because it was an outside line, not the house, it was a twelve-hour window from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm!

Might have been nice if they’d told us that at first, but I would have been okay…if they showed up at all.

They didn’t.

My SO is retiring Friday (January 12) and is reasonably at the office both weekend days this weekend, helping prepare the transition for the office (my SO is a swell person 🙂 ).

That’s why I had to be home to meet them.

When my SO called this morning, they said that our appointment was canceled yesterday (no techs available), but they didn’t have a phone number for us, so didn’t let us know. This is despite that they get a phone number from us whenever we call them, and I would bet it’s on the account somewhere…I haven’t checked for sure yet, though.

That’s frustrating (even though I’m a very calm person…it was frustrating in the sense of stopping me, and yes, I had some emotional reaction to the whole situation). I could have gone to my office yesterday and worked if I’d known.

The tech showed up this morning at about 8:00 AM, and zap-zoom, it was done in under half an hour!

The first thing I did when I was told I had the internet? Ask Alexa what time it was…nice to hear that voice again! 😉

It’s worth noting how the

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

dealt with it.

It still showed the time. 😉 Our cable box didn’t, by the way.

One weird thing is that it continued to show the same calendar reminders, which in this case, happened to be for medication for the dogs (they get monthly meds). It kept telling me that it was due “tomorrow”. Since I alone give the meds, to avoid any confusion, there wasn’t any risk…but I can see situations where it could have been a problem.

A really nice thing it does, though, is show an orange line at the bottom of the screen when it doesn’t have internet…that was my canary in the coal mine for status.

What did I do for a full day without the internet?

I read. 🙂

I finished several issues of Fortean Times, which I read on the Zinio app on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX 7. Fortunately, I had already downloaded some.  It is consistently the best writing I read, including books. I did read books. While I keep almost everything in the cloud, I do always have some books on my Fire (and on my Kindle EBRs…E-Book Readers). I keep a couple of long “emergency books”, just like I used to have p-books (paperbooks) in the car and on my person.

I would go out to the end of the block (but I could still see the house, in case they showed up) and I could get a couple of bars…not enough for some functions, but it would pick up my e-mail that way. Text always seems to be the easiest thing to get, and I sometimes got those in the house.

I think that gives you a pretty good sense…and I’m starting to feel more normal again.

Oh, I did want to talk about Friday morning!

When the internet went out on Thursday evening, I assumed it was just an intermittent outage. We did get the house rewired in 2017 which was supposed to limit those, but the weather hasn’t been great, and I thought it might be connected to that.

When my SO was leaving for work, it was a boomerang exit. I was told there was a cable down. I went out to look, and yes, a line at least 15 meters (50 feet) long was down…and it crossed in front of our driveway. My SO parks at the curb, so could leave without touching it, but I couldn’t. I had my SO drive far enough away to get a phone signal, and call PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric). I wasn’t positive it wasn’t a power line, or that it didn’t also indicate that a power line was compromised.

We asked about public safety and we were advised that I should keep people away from it until they got there.

So, I stayed outside…in the dark…for about an hour.

I could grab some supplies and still see the street (we “stage” our dog park trips in the entryway). As a geek, I was very happy I had a small “emergency beacon” flashlight that I could put where the end of the cable was.

I have exceptional night vision (I think that’s connected to my color vision deficiency), but my SO doesn’t. I put on a knit cap with a “headlamp” in it my SO uses, so people could see me and I could warn them off.

What I didn’t have?

Shoes.

With my arthritic hip, which I only recently revealed to my readers (not visually…just verbally 😉 ), putting on my left shoe is one of my biggest challenges each day. One of the things I’ll be doing with the internet today? Ordering “no-tie shoelaces” from Amazon.

Also, I just don’t like shoes. 🙂

I used to go barefoot pretty much all the time, unless it wasn’t “legal” (and I use that term loosely). I remember being amused when somebody suggested to me that driving barefoot wasn’t safe…as if you could feel the pedals better through shoes!

I also recall walking through San Francisco’s Japantown when it was moderately raining. As I passed an older person, they said sotto voce to someone else (not for my benefit…I don’t think they expected me to hear it), matter-of-factly and to identify me, “Samurai.” 🙂

I used to go into Japantown to buy “tai chi shoes” for about $5 a pair. They had an elastic top and plastic bottoms, and counted as shoes if I had to go into a restaurant or something.

That leads to one more story, then I’ll get to writing other things.

Once, my SO had surgery. I went to pick up my SO and for some reason, I was in my SO’s car, rather than the one I usually drove. I think I wanted to have the bigger, more comfortable car.

I got to the hospital and realized…I didn’t have any shoes! I kept a pair of tai chi shoes in my car, but not in this one.

Well, I’ll give you a bit of my SO’s perspective. My SO saw me drive up and I should have been up to do the pick up in ten minutes or so…it was more than half an hour, which was puzzling.

I found that my SO had shoes in the car, so I wore those (you can’t be in a hospital without shoes, for good reason). Unfortunately, my SO’s feet are maybe 2/3rds the length of mine. 🙂 That meant I minced up there, taking tiny little steps. Fortunately, in a hospital, people don’t expect you to always have a normal gait…

That’s enough for now! I’m planning to do at least two more ILMK posts today…

It’s good to be back!


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* 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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