Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

R&D presentation at Be-Leaf-Er

April 19, 2016

R&D presentation at Be-Leaf-Er

Scene: a parallel universe. Johannes Gutenberg’s family was killed in the uprising in 1411, and movable type and the inventor’s other innovations did not see realization in that period. Movies were introduced 100 years ahead of our time, and visual media became the main way of communicating ideas. Reading and writing existed, of course, but it wasn’t the way anybody did business. Nikola Tesla, working in an unlikely in our world ongoing partnership with Thomas Edison, made motion picture cameras with sound household items by the start of the 20th Century. At the dawn of the 21st Century, a new technology arrived which was able to mass produce many pages of the written word bound together, and the paper book as part of pop culture was born. Each book was expensive…an individual copy of a novel could cost $100. Since the Industrial Revolution had still happened, and there was no special demand for paper, there aren’t forests designated for publishing the way there are in our reality. One company, Be-Leaf-Er, has dominated the nascent paperbook market. They did this in part by trying something about which there had been a great deal of skepticism: original works, rather than adaptations of movies. “No one will want to spend hours reading a story unless they are already familiar with it,” was a common objection. Books went from being twenty-page movie summaries to something more closely resembling the novels we know on our Earth. As we join our story, the R&D (Research & Development) Department is about to unveil their latest generation of the paperbook…

In a small conference room at Be-Leaf-Er headquarters, “Flicks”, the Vice President of Engineering, is smiling broadly and nearly bouncing up and down, even though seated at the table. Nikoleen Eddson, CEO, is watching a video on a small screen which has automatically popped up from the tabletop. Also present is Marketing Chief, Greene Bawkes.

Nikoleen:  “Okay, Flicks. I’ve watched your report…I’m anxious to see the actual item.”

Flicks: “Do I just show it to you, or should there be some sort of protocol…?”

Greene: “This isn’t a sales pitch, Flicks. I want to see what your team’s been whispering about for the past six months.”

Nikoleen: “Actually, Greene, I wouldn’t say this isn’t a sales pitch…”

Flicks swallows nervously

Greene: “Oh, come on, Niki…we’re already committed. If you didn’t think we were going to do it, you shouldn’t have teased it in that vidnail.”

Nikoleen: “I still want to be sold. I’m going to get a lot of questions about this…I have to be enthusiastic.”

Greene: “Just get on with it, Flicks.”

Flicks: “Well, here it is…the Sliver.”

Greene: “We’re not calling it that…it’s not a very pleasant thought, is it? It’s the Whisper.”

Flicks: “Um…okay, here’s the Whisper.”

Flicks hands the Whisper over to Nikoleen

Nikoleen: “I don’t…whoa, what just happened?”

Flicks: “You rotated the spine. I’m really proud of my team on that one. See, if you go from sitting up to laying down, you can turn the spine so you can keep the text perpendicular to the wall in any position.”

Nikoleen: “I’ve never seen anything like that. That is cool.”

Greene: “Why is that better than tilting your head? Who lays down and keeps their head in the same position it was in when they were sitting up?”

Flicks: “Well, they never could before…maybe now they will.”

Greene: “Keep going…what else does it do?”

Flicks: “I’m sure you can tell, CEO Eddson.”

Nikoleen: “I don’t see it. Bawkes, you try it.”

Bawkes takes the Whisper and feels the pages carefully

Bawkes: “Are the pages waterproof? People have really been wanting that.”

Flicks: “Nope.”

Nikoleen: “Stain proof? Washable?”

Flicks:  “No, they are still paper. It is the pages, though. Give up?”

Nikoleen: “Just tell us, Flicks.”

Flicks: “You’ll love this, Bawkes! The pages are 20% thinner then they were before!”

Bawkes: “Thinner? I’ve looked at something like 47,000 customer vids…no one ever said the pages were too thick.”

Flicks:  “But…this was really hard to do! We managed to maintain the tensile strength…I think we’ve even improved it with a multidirectional grain which resists tearing. No more paper cuts and the book is two percent lighter!”

Nikoleen: “I thought you said twenty percent.”

Flicks: “The pages are 20% thinner, but most of the weight of the book is in the spine. The rotating spine added some weight, but we not only compensated for that we improved on the overall strain on our customers.”

Nikoleen: “Bawkes, have people complained about the weight?”

Bawkes: “A few…statistically insignificant. Not as many as complain that they can’t find the volume buttons.”

Flicks looks crestfallen

Bawkes: “I can tell you some things I do hear about. People don’t like that you took away the index and the table of contents…are those back?”

Flicks: “They would add to the weight.”

Bawkes: “Niki, have you given any more thought to letting people read it out loud?”

Nikoleen: “It’s not worth fighting with the modios about it…they are worried that if we let people read it out loud, they’ll start acting it out and turn it into something you share with other people, like your kids. They don’t want the competition.”

Bawkes: “That doesn’t give us much to work with.”

Nikoleen: “Relax, Flicks…you’re not in trouble. It’s as much my fault as yours. Next time, Bawkes, I want you working with the design team from the beginning. I want you sharing with them what you hear from our customers. I take responsibility for this…I’m the leader, it was up to me to guide this process. The question is, what do we do now? Flicks, how does the production cost compare to the Twigless?”

Flicks: “It’s a lot less! We can produce them for about 63% the cost.”

Nikoleen: “Maybe if we introduce it as a budget model…”

Bawkes: “No way! We’re going to raise the price! Tack a hundred bucks onto it…making people think it’s really special! I mean, it is…unique. Yeah, we can do something with that. It’s like those weird Blur Shoes or the Ergo-Fork. They’re expensive because…they take more work to make, not because they work better.”

Nikoleen: “Bawkes, I like it. Start working on a press vid. Put some sculptors in it…they get paid a lot of money for what’s basically a hunk of rock. They’ll get it. Yeah, it’s a work of art…”

Flicks: “CEO Eddson?”

Nikoleen: “Yes, Flicks?”

Flicks: “Do you want to look at our folding pen now?”

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.

AFD News: Amazon introduces ‘Narcissus’, augmented reality mirror

April 1, 2016

AFD News: Amazon introduces ‘Narcissus’, augmented reality mirror

April 1, 2016 (AFD News)

Amazon (AMZN) announced an addition to its consumer hardware products today, an augmented reality mirror named “Narcissus”.

“The Narcissus allows our Amazon customers to see products in their homes and themselves in products before they buy them,” said Malcolm Franklin Issent, Amazon V.P. of Narcissus Development.

As demonstrated at the launch event, the Narcissus looks like a full-length mirror, surrounded by a number (17) of small cameras.

While it does function as a mirror, it is also a Wi-Fi connected screen.

Using the Narcissus app on a SmartPhone, http://www.amazon.narcissus.com, or an optional voice remote, the customer asks to see a product.

The product appears in the screen, while the screen continues to reflect the room.

For example, a customer can ask to see a lamp, and the lamp will appear in the mirror, and in an appropriate place, such as on a nightstand.

“Narcissus uses an artificial intelligence program named Willis to work within a map of the room. Willis is able to recognize thousands of household surfaces, and understands through a contextual neural network where a given item might belong,” said Issent.

When we were able to get five minutes with the Narcissus, we found that Willis worked remarkably well. When we asked for a jewelry box, it appeared on a dresser next to the closet. Even more impressive, we could rotate it, and the image in the mirror would change, as well as being able to move it to another place in the room.

The Willis feature will be available when the Narcissus ships to Prime members who pre-order it for delivery on May 12th.

Issent went on to describe two future features which will be available in “the coming months”.

With the Narcissus Dressing Room, customers will be able to see how an article of clothing will look on them, even as they move around and try it with items they already own.

The other major feature is Narcissus Spotlight. While no demonstration was available, an animation showed that a video, such as a movie or TV show, would be running on the Narcissus screen and the customer would appear to be in the scene. There didn’t seem to be any interaction, but the size of the customer was appropriate to other characters. While it is an interesting concept, we will have to wait to see the implementation. The CW was announced as a partner.

Similar to Amazon’s successful Alexa Voice Service, initially available on the Amazon Echo, there will be a third party developer platform, called “Narcissus Views”. Among the companies announced as having Narcissus Views in development were Rovio (maker of Angry Birds), the Marvel division of Disney, and National Geographic. Pupvizion had a demo which allowed us to see a puppy of one of six breeds of our choice (and a mixed breed) in the room with us.

For more information, see

Amazon Narcissus

Oh, and…APRIL FOOL!

There is, of course, no Amazon Narcissus…although honestly, I wish there was.😉

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.

Denver vs. Carolina: the super books

February 7, 2016

Denver vs. Carolina: the super books

I’ll freely admit that I’m not the biggest sports fan in the world. Oh, I have a basic knowledge of what’s happening in all the big sports. I’m a very broad based consumer of information: as the Doctor (on Doctor Who) once said, “Everything’s important.”** I know it’s an impossible goal, but I like it to be that I’m at the level where it’s not embarrassing in just about any endeavor.😉

However, of the big American sports, in my life I probably have followed football more closely than any other (well, except the San Francisco Giants).

I’ve had this discussion with people several times: I think football is the most intellectual of the big sports.

I get pushback on that right away, because some people conceive of it as just big people crashing into each other, but that’s not it at all.

Name another sport where they stop every few seconds to discuss what they are going to do.😉 I’ve seen a stat that in an NFL game, the actual time played, from snap to down, is about eleven minutes. I use that when I teach time management and project planning.:)

When people Monday morning quarterback, they don’t say, “We lost because they were bigger than we were.” They say, “They shouldn’t have gone for it on fourth down” or “What were they thinking, throwing that pass?”

Now, I will entertain an argument for baseball being as or more intellectual, since they do decide every pitch what to throw, who should throw it, where everybody is going to stand in the field, and so on. It feels to me like baseball may be more tactical (a move and response) and football may be more strategic (how does what we are doing now affect what happens several moves from now), but baseball does have some of that as well.

I’ll just put it this way: American football is an intellectual sport.:)

So, as someone who is certainly not an expert in today’s game (I do know the mythology of Newton vs. Manning), I thought I’d switch it up a bit.

Let’s look at the authors from the two cities, and see how they measure up!

The first thing I did was find the city for the Carolina Panthers.:) Why are they named after the state instead of after a city? Is the thought that there will ever only be enough room in North and South (they don’t even differentiate that) Carolina for one football team? Anyway, it’s Charlotte, North Carolina.

Denver is Denver, Colorado.

Taking the field first are the authors from Charlotte!

Actually, I’m surprised at how few authors born in Charlotte I could find. There are certainly famous authors born in North Carolina (O. Henry, for one),  and Carson McCullers has a connection to Charlotte…but that’s not quite the same thing.

Writing children’s literature, it’s Newbery, Edgar, and National Book Award winner

Betsy Byars (at AmazonSmile*)

From works as varied as The Summer of the Swans, Wanted…Mud Blossom, and The Keeper of the Doves, Byars is a versatile competitor.

Next up is second generation author

Brendan Reichs (at AmazonSmile*)

Son of Kathy Reichs, they have co-authored books featuring the great-niece of the older Reich’s famous character, Temperance Brennan (Bones). Brendan is currently working on a solo Young Adult novel, due in 2017. Arguably less well-known, look for Reich’s modern thinking to throw the Coloradans…and the relative rookie might just go “Virals”.

Those are probably the two best known authors from Charlotte (there are others).

Now entering from the West side of the field…Deeeeeennnnnnnvveeeerrrrrrrrr!

With a massive eleven Hugo Awards and seven Nebulas, it’s SFWA Grand Master

Connie Willis (at AmazonSmile*)

Having written about time travel many times, Willis’ mastery of the clock should spell Doomsday (so to speak) for the team from Charlotte!

You don’t get much more Denver than our next “play”er Pulitzer Prize-winner playwright

Mary Chase (at AmazonSmile*)

With only two children’s books, the former Rocky Mountain News reporter might seem to have a lack of experience, but the massive hit Harvey just might let Chase pull a rabbit out of a hat!

===

For the half time show, here are lists of books set in the two cities:

Enjoy the game! I’ll have it on, but mainly for the commercials and the performances…and so it isn’t embarrassing for me when it comes up on Monday.😉

What do you think? Have I left off your favorite Charlotte/Denver author? I didn’t talk much about the stories set in those cities…any recommendations there? Do you read fiction set in a city/country before you travel there (I have)?  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! :) 

** Harriet Jones (played by Penelope Wilton): “Is it important?”
The Doctor (played by Christopher Eccleston): “Everything’s important.”
The Beast Below episode of
Doctor Who
screenplay by Stephen Moffatt
collected in my book, The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

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.

Surviving “The End”: advice for literary characters (part 3)

November 25, 2015

Surviving “The End”: advice for literary characters (part 3)

“Good afternoon! I figure you all know this by now, seeing as how this is the third lecture in this series, but my name’s ‘Tack’ Carlson. I’ve learned a couple of your names, but I have to tell you, I’m pretty good with faces. I think that’s  part of  being a lawyer, at least of  the courtroom variety. We’re pretty good observers, and right decent at telling how you feel about things. After all, that’s my job: to get you to feel a certain way about the facts, and I can’t change your feelings if I can’t tell what they are now.

I don’t see any unfamiliar folks out there…did you all attend the first two talks? Great! Don’t worry, there isn’t going to be a test. You’ll get those in your regular classes here at Fictional Character University…I’m just  a  guest speaker for an elective.

Let’s just do a little review first.

The name of this series is Surviving ‘The End’. Everybody in here is a lead character in a first novel which is still in a draft. I’m hoping to help you get past that first novel and on to a second.

I’m not going  to claim to have all the answers, but I’ve done it myself, and I can humbly say, well as much as a lawyer can ever be humble, that  I know something about the topic.

In the first talk, I told you about

Rule #1: You have to accept change.

I explained how long-lasting characters usually have some kind of stress in their first novels, or just before the novel starts. It’s part of your origin story, and helping the real-worlders get to where you are…at least in their heads.

In the second one, we discussed

Rule #2: Be the same.

Anybody remember what else I called that?”

“The principle of ‘Ride the same horse'”.

“Yep! Antares, isn’t it?”

“You grok.”

“Just knowing somebody’s name is a pretty low thresholding for grokking,  isn’t it?”

“Maybe I didn’t say it just because you knew my name.”

“Maybe not. I remember we had a nice piece of dialog. Ready to ride with me a bit further?”

“Sure.”

“Well, I’m  pretty sure Antares knows the answer, but what’s the topic of today’s talk?”

“Have interesting friends?”

“Yes…friends and enemies, for that matter. Thanks for giving Antares time to respond to some texts…although I’m guessing you’ve been doing that all along. What’s your name?”

“Sujay Rodriguez, but they call me ‘C.J.’. I’m a safety inspector.”

“Do you inspect anything in particular?”

“I used to work for a state agency, but my job got eliminated. I got a decent severance package, so now I freelance…anything, anywhere, any time.”

“How does that work? How do you have all that knowhow?”

“Most safety issues involve the same thing…somebody doing something stupid. That usually isn’t the guy who gets hurt…it’s the guy who told the guy who got hurt what to do.”

“I see.”

“The rest of it’s just a matter of doing the research.”

“I understand doing research. Not sure I’d want to have you on a jury in a negligence case, but there’s nothing wrong with that. I wouldn’t want to have most of us characters on a jury…we have a tendency to take over. You know, a lot of strong personalities.

That brings me to today’s topic.

We have those strong personalities, but that’s not enough. We need to have other folks around us, too…and interesting folks.

They can be a lot of things: sidekicks; bosses; friends; lovers; enemies…there are a lot of choices.

Here, let me demonstrate with something I call the ‘And Chain’.

We talked about Sherlock Holmes before. If I say, ‘Sherlock Holmes and…’, and you know I’m talking about another person, what would you say? ‘Watson’, right? Let’s keep going…give me a different answer. Holmes and…”

“Professor Moriarty.”

“And…”

“Mrs. Hudson.”

“And..”

“Inspector Lestrade.”

“And…”

“The Baker Street Irregulars.”

“Good answer! We  could keep going. All of these characters are memorable. All of them have appeared in more than one Holmes title. Real world readers know them.

How about a more recent example…Stephanie Plum. Stephanie Plum and…”

“Lula!”

“Morelli!”

“Grandma Mazur!”

“Ranger…he’s hot!”

“Well, it sounds like the class generally agrees with you. Let’s keep going. Stephanie Plum and…”

“Uh…Vinny?”

“Yes, he owns the Bail Bonds business…and he’s Stephanie’s cousin.”

“Rex!”

“That’s not a character!”

“Actually, I would consider Rex, the hamster, a character…and I reckon my horse Seafounder would agree with me. Characters don’t have to be human beings…heck, dogs and cats have been main characters, along with a whole slew of other species. There are other human characters, and if I name off a few I think most of you will recognize them: Connie, who also works in the Bonds office; Grandma Bella; Moon-Man Dunphy;  and that’s not even counting crossover folks and one-timers.

The point is, you might be super interesting, but you aren’t enough.  Humans are social animals: it wouldn’t seem realistic to the real-worlders, so to speak, if you existed in a vacuum. Besides, some people are going to read your books just to catch up on those other characters…and them reading your books is what’s going to keep you alive.”

Speaking of staying alive, shouldn’t Rex be in the Guinness book as the oldest hamster ever?”

“Well, he’s not as old as Sherlock Holmes, and he is still going strong. I wanted to introduce you to somebody. Come on out! This here’s Catherine Ketcham, better known as–“

“Catch ’em Kate!”

“Thank you, Antares. How many of you have heard of Catch ’em Kate? Great! How would you describe the character?”

“A female bounty hunter?”

“Just a bounty hunter will do, mister. My sex ain’t got nothin’ to do with it.”

“Easy, Kate. I’m sure that’s how Stephanie Plum get described, too.”

“That don’t make it right, Tack. What’s wrong for me is wrong for that Jersey gal.”

“Gender and diversity is an issue that we can save for another time.”

“Ain’t it always?”

“I wanted to give it a full session, that’s all. You know I’ve never treated you any differently.”

“That’s for durn sure.”

“Um…where was I? Right, the importance of having other characters like Kate with you in your stories. What I do as a lawyer would be pretty tame…Kate runs them down, and that brings a needed boost of adrenaline to the Courtroom Cowboy novels.”

Yep…and then you get them bonded out again.”

“If I do, that just gives you another chance to bring them in, right? Twice the bounty.”

“Them’s lawyerin’ words. You always did know how to turn scat into flapjacks.”

“Does anybody have any questions?”

“Where’s Dusty Ambush?”

“I was hoping for a question for Kate, who was kind enough to join us today.”

“Tell ’em, Tack.”

“Okay, Kate. It is educational, even if…emotionally uncomfortable. Dusty was too weak to make the trip. While I’ve been lucky enough to keep getting new books and stories published, not to mention the adaptations, and to have Kate’s assistance, Dusty…well, Dusty hasn’t been in a new novel for, oh, thirty years or so. You’ve heard about characters fading into obscurity…that’s what’s happening with Dusty. He’s getting weaker and weaker…some days, it’s hard to even make out what he’s saying.”

“Sad.”

“That’s  something you all have to understand. As long as real-worlders are reading you, you’ll stick around. Having new stories for them helps, but if they are reading your old stuff, that will keep you strong and vital.”

“Tack!”

“Gerry Carlyle! Sorry for the interruption, class. This is Gerry Carlyle, from the Interplanetary Hunter stories. Gerry, can this wait? I’m in the middle of a lecture.”

“Sorry, no. It’s an emergency.”

“Did you need Kate?”

“We could always use another strong arm, but we also need a lawyer…and that means you, ‘Professor'”.

“I guess that ends today’s lecture, then. I’ll have the school let everybody know if we need to reschedule the next one. Gerry, can you at least tell them the nature of the case?”

“Rather not.”

“Who else is with you?”

“Jimgrim, Edward Malone, Frank Reade, and Mrs. Paschal.”

“Sounds like you’ve got plenty of room for me and Kate. Let me ask you: that spaceship of yours have room for a few observers?”

“There’s room.”

“Thanks! I’m sure you don’t mind if I bring along a few of these students…it would be great for them to see a real adventure, and I think they could be helpful.”

“As long as they aren’t just deadheading.”

“Oh, they’ll work, I’m sure. Everybody’s signed field trip releases, right?  Or had their legal guardians give approval? Good. Antares…the baker…and let’s bring the cat. As for the rest of you, I want you to think about those three lessons: embrace the change, be the same, and have interesting friends and enemies. If you have any questions, send me an e-mail.

One last thing…Gerry,  I hate to ask you this, but–“

“Seafounder’s already onboard in one of the holding pens.”

“That horse is a durn sight smarter than Tack, anyway.”

“You know, Gerry, if you aren’t sure there’s enough room to take all of us, maybe Ms. Ketcham…never mind, I’m just kidding. Kate’s right about Seafounder…although it sounds like my legal education might be of some small use in this instance.”

 “I told you we needed you. Look, we need to go now…you two can argue after we blast off.”

“I’m sure we will…it wouldn’t be much fun if we didn’t. I hate to leave the class in such suspense…can’t you just give them a hint?”

“Professor Challenger’s been arrested.”

“Where are we going? I’ll need to study up on local jurisdiction on the way.”

“Barsoom…”

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.

Surviving “The End”: advice for literary characters (part 2)

November 14, 2015

Surviving “The End”: advice for literary characters (part 2)

“Welcome back!

This is the second in my lecture series on how to survive your first novel here at Fictional Characters University. If you missed the first one, well, you might want to have a talk with your placement counselor.

Here’s a link to the recording of the first one, in case you want to review it later:

Surviving “The End”: advice for literary characters (part 1)

You’ll find it in your reference materials, and online at my FCU homepage.

Just to refresh your recollection, I’m Thackeray “Tack” Carlson. I’ve been in 23 novels, and a heap of adaptations, and I made my first appearance in 1936.

You might think 23 puts me into a rarefied category, but you know what? Just being in two novels does that. We characters don’t have much of a life expectancy…not one percent of us make it past our first novel and on to a second one.

You’re all here because you are hoping to be one of the lucky ones.

Well, let me tell you…there is a lot of luck involved.

Sure as daylight in Dallas, though, it’s not just luck. There are things you can do to up your odds. There are no guarantees: it doesn’t matter how good a case I’ve made in court, you never know what’s going to happen in that deliberation room.”

“Professor Carlson?”

“Tack is fine…I’m not on the faculty here, just a guest lecturer.”

“Um…I was wondering. As a fictional lawyer, don’t you know you are going to win every case?”

“Well, let’s just say I’ve won my fair share…some people might say more than that. No question, I’ve got it easier than my real world counterparts, but I’ve lost a few cases. I guess the difference is that when I lose, something good always comes out of it. Wouldn’t satisfy my fans if it didn’t. As I was saying, there are some guidelines for getting to number two.

Last time, I talked about embracing change. You need an origin story. You see, we fictional folks are extraordinary. That’s what makes us worth reading about. People are going to want to know what made you that way. They want to see a path from every day to once in a lifetime. That doesn’t mean they want to walk that path…most of them are just fine with the troubles and tribulations they have now. It just helps them sympathize and yes, believe in you, if they can see how you got there.

Does anybody remember what I said I was going to talk about this time?”

“Be the same.”

“Yep. Thanks for paying attention last time…or for cheating off the website on your SmartPhone. Either one shows initiative.

You see, I don’t want to set you up just to get to two books…I want you to do a series. You have to figure out what makes a reader want to find out more about you…and what makes them satisfied when they do.

What’s your name, ‘be the same’?”

“Antares Nebula”.

“Science fiction?”

“Young adult. My name’s meta: I’m a kid from a hunter/gatherer culture who got adopted by geek parents.”

“Okay. You knew the topic of today’s talk…do you mind if I use you to illustrate a point?”

“Go ahead…I’m used to that.”

“What’s the name of the Lone Ranger’s horse?”

“Silver.”

“I’m impressed! I wasn’t sure you’d know.”

“I’ve got the internet. Besides, my parents taught me to be interested in everything, and John Reid’s one of the original superheroes.”

John Reid? Are you sure?”

“I wanted to keep it simple. I’ve found I have a tendency to confuse people.”

“Got it. Well, the point is, you knew the name of his horse. Lots of people do. Does your family have a car?”

“No. We’re part of the sharing economy…we don’t like to own stuff.”

“I understand. Do you know anybody who has a car?”

“Some people at my Mom’s work.”

“What are the names of their cars?”

“You mean like the model?”

“No, the individual car. Since we’re talking about the Reid family, like the Black Beauty.”

“I don’t know.”

“Has any of them had more than one car since you’ve known them?”

“Sure. My Mom’s co-worker totaled hers.”

“That’s too bad.”

“It really wasn’t…long story, and one I probably shouldn’t talk about in class.”

“We don’t want to get anybody in trouble. Did she get the same kind of car?”

“No.”

“Was anybody shocked that she got a different car?”

“Not really.”

“What if the Lone Ranger drove that same car?”

“The Lone Ranger doesn’t drive a car.”

“Exactly, thank you. The Lone Ranger doesn’t drive a car. The Lone Ranger rides a horse named Silver. The Lone Ranger also wears a mask. The Lone Ranger uses silver bullets, and doesn’t shoot to kill. All of those are things that make the Lone Ranger, well, the Lone Ranger. Readers expect to see those elements when they see the Lone Ranger.”

“What about Tonto?”

“Hold on to that thought…I’m going to come back to that.

Real worlders aren’t defined the same way…they are much more complex. Think about it: how many words describe one of us when a reader first meets us? How many data points? It would be unusual if readers knew more than about five things about us after that first encounter. I’m a mixed race lawyer cowboy with a horse named Seafounder. That defines me.

When a real worlder meets another real worlder, they have probably a hundred data points or more: height, hair color, eye color, accent, shoe brand, where they sit in the room, what car they drive, brand of clothes, perfume or cologne or whatever, and so on.

Change one of my characteristics and I might be twenty percent different to the average reader. Change one characteristic about a real worlder, and it’s only maybe one percent.”

“Question?”

“Are you asking one, or did you want me to ask you one?”

“Um…asking. It’s not really important, though.”

“I was just kidding you…let’s let the class decide what’s important. That’s what the readers do when we speak, anyway.”

“I was just wondering: why is your horse’s name Seafounder?”

“Well, I don’t know about everybody else, but I think that’s a great question…especially since it lets me give you a great answer. My original author’s name is Buck Tooson, but as I mentioned last time, her real name was Mary Prydudd. Anybody know what kind of name that is?”

“Welsh?”

“You got it. Anybody here speak Welsh? No? Worth a shot…I’ve noticed every year that these classes are getting to be more diverse. ‘Cyfiawnder’ is Welsh for ‘Justice’. Buck figured, rightly I think, that folks would have anglicized that, so Cyfiawnder become Seafounder. Now, I know a lot of you probably don’t see a connection between being a lawyer and justice, but Buck did, and I do, too. Good story, right? Thanks again for asking.

Let’s see…oh, yes.  So, you don’t to go against what people expect to see. I call the principle, ‘Ride the same horse’.

Does that sound boring?

It doesn’t have to be…although be careful about what your author wants to make part and parcel of your main characteristics. You want it to be flexible enough to work in a lot of situations. Remember, you can refuse to pick up that buggy whip, if that’s what the author wants you to do. If you are really uncomfortable with it, they can tell.”

“I don’t want to be the same all the time.”

“There are some options for taking a personality vacation every once in a while. You can go undercover as someone else. You can have a dream sequence. You can go off canon…you know, in parodies and fan fiction, unofficial adventures. Just don’t overdue it.

Now, who asked me about Tonto?”

“That was me.”

“What’s your story?”

“I bake cupcakes that change people’s lives. You see, I have deep insight into the problems people have, and I bake a specific cupcake with particular flavors, ingredients, and decorations that act as a catalyst to send them in a new direction.”

“That’s different. Who else is in the bakery with you?”

“I’m pretty much it, at least as the story goes so far.”

“Do you see the same people, after you change them?”

“No.”

“Nobody helps you? There are no recurring characters besides you? You don’t have a Tonto?”

“Not in eleven short stories, and not in the latest draft of the novel. Is that a problem?”

“Let’s just say that’s going to be the topic of my next lecture in this series: Rule #3: have interesting friends and/or enemies. See you all then!”

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.

NASA: Mars mission astronauts to have Prime Music, Alexa

October 16, 2015

NASA: Mars mission astronauts to have Prime Music, Alexa

October 16, 2015 (AFD News)

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) announced today that they have entered into a contract with Amazon (AMZN) to  provide a wide variety of music to astronauts on the planned 2035 mission to Mars.

Mission Project Manager Dr. James Kelloway explained that the space agency did not want to limit any stranded astronauts to “1970s disco music”, an obvious reference to The Martian (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)  and the current #1 movie in the world, The Martianstarring Matt Damon.

In both the book and movie, astronaut Mark Watney is accidentally stranded on the red planet. Humor is mined from the only music available to him being the captain’s collection of 1970s music, including the Swedish group ABBA and “Queen of Disco” Donna Summer (LaDonna Gaines).

“Prime Music is proud to have something for everyone,” said Steve Boom, VP of Digital Music at Amazon. “From the latest chart-topping hits to classical music, multicultural selections, and even sound effects, the Mars Mission crew will have whatever they need to stay focused and keep up their morale during what we are sure will be a successful scientific adventure.”

“This is so cool!” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

In addition to the music, Amazon will provide their Alexa Voice Service, currently available on the

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

and the second generation

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

and

Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*)

Greg Hart, Amazon’s VP for the Amazon Echo, said: “While readers loved the science in Andy Weir’s book, many of them and some bloggers questioned the lack of conversational software. The isolation that Mark Watney felt would have been alleviated to some extent by having someone to talk to. Hearing jokes, playing games, and asking pop culture questions would have had a positive psychological effect.”

In a short Q&A afterwards, an Amazon spokesperson confirmed that the music would not actually be streamed but would be downloaded and that two-day delivery to the Mars habitat would not be available, refuting an earlier story reported on several tech blogs.

Note: this post is humor. AFD News is short for “April Fool’s Day News” which I normally use on April 1st. I thought it was appropriate here. This parody weaves in some real facts, but none of the quotations are real. 500 trivia points to you if you recognized the name James Kelloway!

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! :) 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.

Surviving “The End”: advice for literary characters (part 1)

October 15, 2015

Surviving “The End”: advice for literary characters (part 1)

“Welcome to this afternoon’s lecture at Fictional Character University. Just to make sure you are all in the right session, everyone here is appearing in their first novels, right?”

“Do short stories count?”

“No. While short stories are an excellent medium, it’s really not the same as a novel. How many of you have appeared in a short story? More than one story? Look like about 25%…I’ll make sure to address those differences, then. If you have any additional questions, you can e-mail me after class.

Let’s go ahead and get started. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Thackeray Carlson, but I’m usually called ‘Tack Carlson’. I’ve been featured in twenty-three novels, one hundred and four short stories, a comic book, movies, and a TV series that I guarantee you none of you saw.

I’m the son of a freed Caribbean slave and a disgraced British diplomat.

My nickname comes from two things.

One is my expertise in caring for horses. I’m guessing some of you haven’t spent much time around a barn…’tack’ is what we call the equipment we use with our horses…saddles, bridles, reins, or as my horse Seafounder would call it, ‘The original wearable technology.’

The other one is that it’s short for ‘Tactic’. While I’ve done my share of fighting in my adventures, both hand to hand and with weapons, it really comes from legal tactics. Yep, I’m a lawyer. Oh, that’s another name you might know: I’m called the ‘Courtroom Cowboy’, even though the closest I usually get to an actual cow is on a supper plate.

My first publication was as a minor character in a Dusty Ambush short story in Thrilling Western. My author is Buck Tooson…or to use her given name, Mary Prydudd.

That was in 1936.

After a bunch of short stories and a couple of anthologies, I hit the big time with The Courtroom Cowboy #1: The Sagefire Case.

Now, if I’d been like most characters, that would have been it. No reason to expect I’d survive that first novel and get on to a next.

But I did.

Then I did it again…and again…and again.

Eventually, I even outlived Mary…uh, Buck.

Yep, some of  you might be worried about what will happen when your author dies, but that doesn’t have be the end of it. I’ve had six different authors over the years…and that’s just talking about the books.

The odds are, you are going to meet your end way before your author does.

Now, I’m not trying to scare you…just being realistic.

There are things you can do to give you a better shot at book number two…and that’s why we’re here today.

Plenty of folks have made it over the years, of course: Sherlock Holmes; Dracula; Nancy Drew…heck, even H.G. Wells’ Time Traveler has been in more than one book, and if you’ve read the first one, that might be a surprise.

Let’s get started

Rule #1: You have to accept change.

That’s one of those differences between a novel and a short story. All you short story vets out there: it’s possible you are exactly the same as you were in the first one. You come in and solve the case, or get the guy, or whatever. You are completely comfortable and predictable.

In a novel, it can’t be the same. I’m assuming here that you are the star of it, not just a background character. You’ve got too be different at the end of the book than you were at the beginning.”

“Professor Carlson?”

“Tack is fine…of course, if you want to call me ‘esteemed counsel’ or ‘pardnuh’, I’m okay with either.”

“Yes, sir. I never thought Sherlock Holmes changed much…that was one of the things I admired about the character. He knew who he was from the beginning.”

“Holmes is a great example of my point. What happens in the first book…if we leave out the case itself? Holmes moves in with Watson. That is an absolutely life changing event for Holmes. Part of the joy of the book is seeing Holmes and to a lesser extent, Watson, adjusting to that situation, and each other.”

“Tack, what about Dracula?”

“Another great example. Don’t get confused by the movies, where they act like the evil count has been around since the beginning. It’s pretty clear Dracula hasn’t been revived for all that long in the first book, but let me ask you: what’s the other big change?”

“Van Helsing’s arrival?”

“Sure, having an enemy can be a good thing…readers love a good bad guy! I was thinking of something different, though. We see the book through Jonathan Harker’s eyes, at least originally. Anybody know what he does for a living?”

“He’s a lawyer, right?”

“Good enough. He’s there to help with a real estate transaction…the Count is moving. What’s more stressful than moving? For Dracula,, it’s a fate worse than death…literally.

That’s something to think about. Stress makes you an interesting character. The best way for readers to see who you are is when you are pushed out of your comfort zone. They also have their own challenges, and they’ll be sympathetic to you. If you get through it, they’ll admire you.

Nobody wants to read about somebody whose life is perfect and static.

Do any of you know the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory? No? This link will be in your reference materials:

http://www.stress.org/holmes-rahe-stress-inventory/

 It doesn’t have a connection to Sherlock, as far as I know, but it’s a list of the most stressful life events.

This slide has the top ten:

1. Death of spouse
2. Divorce
3. Marital separation from mate
4. Detention in jail or other institution
5. Death of a close family member
6. Major personal injury or illness
7. Marriage
8. Being fired at work
9. Marital reconciliation with mate
10. Retirement from work

Think about the long lasting characters. How many of them had one of these thing happen to them in their first novels, or just before the novel, but driving the events?

Now, you might think I should be talking to the authors about this, but you have to embrace the idea of this. We all know: authors can’t make us do anything we don’t want to do…at least, good authors can’t. It’s a whole lot harder to make your author go somewhere they weren’t planning to go…but you can dig in your feet and refuse to go where they plotted. It’s a little like being a bratty three-year old: you can’t get the adults to try a new restaurant, but you sure as heck can make them give up going to that sushi place!

We’re just about out of time for today, so let me ask you all: how many of you have a major change in that first novel? Looks like most of you. How many of you have something from that top ten list? Okay. For those of you who raised your hands, you’ve got a leg up on those who didn’t. If you don’t have that change, think about what you can do. Your author wants you to smile and hold hands with your Significant Other while you walk down the beach on the perfect family vacation? Refuse to do it. Just don’t take that hand…let your author figure out what that means. None of your books are finished yet, or you wouldn’t be here. If you wanted to be around longer than that, you’ve got to be smart.

Alright, that’s our time. Next time, I’m going to talk about what might seem like a contradiction based on what I’ve just told you. Rule #2: Be the same.”

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.

U.N. Security Council votes on Amazon’s “Independent Nation” status

April 1, 2015

U.N. Security Council votes on Amazon’s “Independent Nation” status

April 1, 2015 (AFD News)

Update: since this article was originally published, both China and the United States of America have used their vetoes on the vote discussed below. China cited concerns from tech company Alibaba, and President Barack Obama is expected to discuss the decision during his appearance on the special live version of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.

The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to vote today on a special resolution naming the internet retailing giant Amazon as an independent nation.

The controversial proposal has been in the news since it was first announced January 12, 2014 (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ 50th birthday).

As outlined by Rupert Mountjoy, II, Amazon’s Vice President for Nationalization, the plan would give Amazon tax immunity and exemption from Federal regulation, the latter enabling the company’s Prime Air delivery by drone program.

To help our readers better understand the situation, we have prepared these

Five Questions about “Nation of Amazon”

Q. Where would the land come from?

A. According to Mountjoy, no land would be used. aNation would be the first country to exist entirely in cyberspace. Instead, Amazon facilities, such as the headquarters in Seattle, Washington, and fulfillment centers around the world, would be declared aNation embassies. Just as the American embassy in France is considered American territory, the headquarters, warehouses, and other locations would fall under aNation’s jurisdiction

Q. Would I need a passport to visit the headquarters?

A. No one is allowed to visit the headquarters now without special permission: a similar process would continue to be followed

Q. Would I have to pay sales tax on items I bought from Amazon?

A. Internet sales are considered to take place where the purchaser is, so you would still be responsible for your local taxes. However, Amazon would not be required to collect those taxes from any country, state, or city from which its customers order products

Q. What makes Amazon a country and not other businesses?

A. Again, according to Mountjoy, Amazon already has more employees than some recognized countries have citizens. It has a central authority and an infrastructure. It already has agreements with many other sovereign nations. Mountjoy said there would be no barrier to other companies of a similar size and scope also applying to the United Nations for recognition

Q. Surely, this can’t be a serious proposal?

A. It’s not…Happy April Fools’ Day! Oh, and don’t call me Shirley…😉

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.

E-books are books

December 8, 2014

E-books are books

Sigh.

I keep thinking we’ve gotten past the literati rejecting e-books as “not real books”.

I haven’t had someone sneer at me in years for reading on an e-reader.

In my experience, it’s simple: the more you love books, the more you love e-books.

However, it happened again.

In what I thought was otherwise an insightful

Thought Catalog article by Kim Quindlen: “11 Things To Know Before You Date A Bookworm”

the third thing is (in part):

“…Discussing e-Readers is not a thing we’re interesting in doing. Please don’t tell us about how they’re so much more practical and convenient…”

Look, if you are an actual bookworm (technically a booklouse of the order Psocoptera), I get it. E-books don’t have the binding paste on which you feed, so you are justified in not liking them much.

If you a human (Homo sapiens) and it is the actual words on which you feed, an e-book is just as nourishing as a p-book (paperbook).😉

As an inveterate reader, I can’t imagine not wanting to discuss anything which had to do with reading.

I will, though, Kim, respect your desire for ignorance. I’m sure there must be things of which I’d prefer to remain ignorant, although nothing comes to mind…and hasn’t yet in my life.😉

If you did want to discuss it (and you are free to do so by commenting on this post or in another blog…I assume I’d see the link), I’d hypothetically mention some things to you:

  • There’s no reason you can’t enjoy both. Don’t you want access to books in every possible way you can? Certainly, you might love that nostalgic feeling of holding the book that was given to you by a grandparent when you were a child…and had been their ancestor’s before that. That doesn’t stop you from wanting access to the thousands upon thousands of books which are only available as e-books
  • E-books mean much of the world’s great literature…for free. I suppose you can be a booklover and refuse to read Dostoevsky or Dickens or Doyle unless they come in a particular physical medium and you have to pay something for them…
  • I will make no presumptions about the age of someone writing a dating tips post. Let me just point out that people “of a certain age” are statistically more likely to have print challenges. E-books have given many people the ability to read again who had found it increasingly difficult. The increasable text size, without paying extra for Large Print books (when those are even available) can be important. If you are not having any issues with your eyes or your ability to physically hold a book and turn pages, I’m genuinely happy for you. For others, e-books are the adaptive technology for literature…and since you may end up needing them at some point, I’d suggest an open mind…which reading typically tends to give to readers
  • I also understand the sensual nature of p-books…that’s why people spend hours on a lazy summer afternoon, flipping the pages of a blank book, right?😉 However, I think my Significant Other had the best line. Years ago, someone dismissively said to my SO (upon observing my SO reading on a Kindle), “I like the feel of a book in my hand.” My SO replied, “I like the feel of a hundred in mine.”:)

That’s enough for now, since we aren’t discussing it, per your request.😉 Let us simply join metaphorical hands in our shared love of reading!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have several books I’m reading…I’d like to get back to one of them.

Oh, and if you actually are a literal bookworm…enjoy your lunch!

😉

 Join over a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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

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

All I Want for Christmas Is an Echo

November 25, 2014

All I Want for Christmas Is an Echo

All I want for Christmas is an Echo
That, for me, would be the perfect gift
Don’t wanna get an iPad or a gecko
and if I did, you know that I’d be miffed

I can’t wait to ask it my query
Even though it probably doesn’t know
I realize I could just ask SIRI
But now that seems a retro way to go

All I want for Christmas is an Echo
That, for me, would be the perfect gift
Don’t wanna get a painting by El Greco
and if I did, you know that I’d be miffed

[tempo change]
I don’t really care about the treetops glistening
All I really want is a monolith listening
To everything I say whether I know it or not
Because that’s one thing I haven’t got!

[old sprightly temp]
I’m gonna have it play me all my music
Though I never listen to it now
Telling me the weather is a new trick
I’d look outside, but I just don’t know how

All I want for Christmas is an Echo
That, for me, would be the perfect gift
Don’t wanna get a lamp that’s art deco
and if I did, you know that I’d be miffed

Hey, Alexa, please tell me a joke
Make sure that it is one with lots of corn
Good looking with a great sense of humor!
I think that a new romance has been born

[All together!]
All I want for Christmas is an Echo
That, for me, would be the perfect gift
Don’t wanna get an iPad or a gecko
and if I did, you know that I’d be miffed

[repeat with the sound quieter and quieter with each iteration like a…like a…hey, Alexa: what do you call that sound you hear after you make a loud noise in a cave?]😉

Join over a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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

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


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