Sunday, May 1, 2016

Movie Deja vu



    A movie watched, or a book read in a particular location, can forever  remain associated with that location.    I haven't found this to apply when the location is  home, work or business but only with a vacation destination.  It also works only for the first viewing;  repeats don't seem to count.

     I can clearly recall watching the movie, Chocolat, with   Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp  in San Juan, Costa Rica.     For me, the city wasn't particularly attractive;  perhaps it has changed in the past ten years.   We were staying in a two star hotel that was frankly a bit of a disappointment, on the first day of a GAP tour.  The walls were painted a disappointing green and the television was an antique vintage.

     But the film, set in a French village, was charming and evocative and along with three members of my family we were starting a vacation together.   Now whenever I come across the film on a cable network, I have a momentary reverie.   It's a little like an almost forgotten scent or fragrance that  recalls someone or something you thought you had forgotten.  I suppose the title doesn't hurt, either.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

At least I can say I tried . . .

From a Prompt from my writing group:
(We are given the prompt (the title) and fifteen minutes to write before sharing or not)



     "At least I can say I tried," he said in a melancholy tone that somehow managed to irritate me.

       "Yoda said - Do or do not, there is no try,'" I replied.   But I said it under my breath and it went went unnoticed.   Those who seek affirmation do not hear negative responses.

       The devil in me  continued  in a non-committal tone, "Tell me what you have tried.   How did it turn out?"  I strived to sound conversational.


     I repeated my query knowing I had strayed from the conversational expectation.  I was aware my dinner partner's efforts had been half-hearted and the 'try' had been mostly wishful thinking.  Would he suspect I was on to him?   I adjusted my expression to reflect what I thought would appear to be genuine interest.  Would he squirm out of this one? 

     "It's too painful to discuss," he replied and made a weary gesture meant to be infused with all the angst and suffering that was supposed to substitute for actually having done something difficult.

       Oh, the usual conversation stopper employed by such people.  I felt justified in returning to my cooling meal.

Monday, April 18, 2016


I love quotes, even some of the corny ones on posters.


Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
– Calvin Coolidge

     Great things have been achieved by those who persist in a working towards a goal.   There is no guarantee,  but odds are increased exponentially.

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

                                                    -Wayne Gretzky

Except I sometimes see a lot of hopeless flailing around and wild shots at the goal when I watch hockey.  


                                                                                    Ambition is the path to success.

                                                                             Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in. 

                                                                                                                       - Bill Bradley

If your ambition includes wanting to be rich and you persist in buying lottery tickets, it's probably a ride to nowhere.

              But since I have a habit of questioning everything (one of the benefits/detriments of advanced education)  I have to consider the converse side:

Never let your persistence and passion turn into stubbornness and ignorance.

                                             - Anthony J. D'Angel

  In the face of an obstacle which is impossible to overcome,              
                                                            stubbornness is stupid. 

                                                                                                 -  Simone de Beauvoir

Check out other interesting quotes at Brainy Quote.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Seller's Remorse?

In preparation for moving, I decided to purge some unneeded furniture.   The nicest was a horizontal teak entertainment unit.    You could put your television on top and the shelving below could be used for various media, books or decorative pieces.   We had bought it over thirty years earlier for about $250.  It had languished in our garage for the past five years, somehow not fitting with our current furnishings.   I had found that, in the living room, it tended to become a receptacle or dumping ground for various household flotsam and jetsam.    There were various scratches on the surface and I had opened my car door on it a few times.   

I had quick response when I advertised it on the ubiquitous Craigslist.   Someone came by the next day, by arrangement, and paid the full $50 I had asked.   No quibbling.   I was pleased with myself.

Less than a week later, while checking the status of the other unsold furniture, I came across my former entertainment unit.   It had been polished, maybe sanded, maybe re-stained.    This time the description included measurements and the photograph included the appropriate books, records and decorate vases.   What I had considered dated was described as 'vintage'.   And the price . . . $225.

I must confess that a series of emotions ensued:   dismay, annoyance, embarrassment . . . giving way before much time had passed to grudging admiration and acceptance.   My purchaser had done what I had not:   added value to the product.   He had spent time, skill and had the equipment and materials and marketing know-how that I do not.   Why should I feel tricked?   Even knowing what I do now, I don't think I would try to duplicate his efforts.   Rather, I might hold on to the piece of furniture and let it reside in our future garage.   

Sunday, April 3, 2016


From a Prompt from my writing group:



A dream
but not reality.
The sun's too hot
The air seems stale
Trash strewn on the street.

The movie stars have gone away
If they were ever here.
Palm trees line the boulevard
But traffic doesn't move.
the California of my dreams
Has gone.
But where?

You forgot to take Mickey Mouse.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Will the scams never end?


     The books I have written, featured on the shelves above, are listed for sale  a number of places such as Indigo, Barnes and Noble and some European distributors as well as the ubiquitous Amazon. A forward thinking company, no doubt,  Amazon regularly seeks to improve not only their bottom line but also their customers' experience.   (I receive no benefit in stating this, basing it on my experience as a customer as well as a vendor).

     A year or so ago the  Kindle Unlimited program was introduced by Amazon.   Like Spotify for music, Kindle Unlimited, or KU, is a subscription based service.   The reader/customer pays $9.99 and has access to closing on a million  books whose authors/publishers have entered them in the KU program.   Authors/ Publishers share in a pool of money, which amount is set after the end of  each month. (This amount has been slowly declining)  The subscriber pays nothing more than the monthly fee regardless of how many books are read. (or started)  Similar programs, like Scribed or Oyster, have excluded Romance books from the subscriptions as it seems that readers of Romance are more voracious readers than other those who prefer other genres.   These leads to a potential problem.

     The subscription based model can only work for the company offering  it if, overall, subscribers read fewer books  in a month than the total amount  paid to the authors/publishers for the right to sell their product.  Last fall, in an earlier iteration of KU, the renumeration per book was  about $1.35.    Writers of long books felt short changed in that they received the same amount as very brief books.   This led to a flurry of authors breaking up their books into short segments so that the same book now incurred six (or more)  payments.   This made no difference to the KU subscriber but Amazon was paying six times for the same product.   An industry arose writing brief scamplets  (short for scam pamphlets), increasing font size, increasing spacing, and various other tactics.  Complaints ensued.

     Kindle Unlimited version 2 was the eventual result.  This time, authors/publishers were to be paid based on pages read.    Short stories would get their eight cents and epic tomes would receive as much as $4 per book.    The condition now was that the book had to be read.   If the reader gave up, for whatever reason, payment was calculated based up to the last page read.   There were grumbles about quality vs quantity and writers of  children's illustrated picture books felt hard done by.

     Never underestimate the ingenuity of those out to scam the system.   These aren't really writers;  they are people who traverse the economic landscape looking for opportunities.   Somehow it was discovered that, by putting the Table of Contents at the back of the book or by putting a link at the front to a contest entry at the back of the book, readers would immediately skip to the very back to look at the table of contents or enter the contest.   This led to the e-book immediately registering as 'read', all one thousand pages of it.   Whether the reader subsequently stopped reading at page 10 made no difference.   In fact, perpetrators of this scam did not actually  write a book.   The inside might contained foreign language material or recipes lifted off the internet or indecipherable babble generated by overseas 'content farms.'   It didn't matter.

     KU subscribers may have stopped reading in disgust but as they weren't out any money, there was no need to complain and ask for a refund.   Perhaps it was only when some opportunists, not satisfied with the thousands received from Amazon, decided to sell their method on You Tube and other venues so that others could profit. Soon many knew that Amazon's system did not actually keep track of customers' reading habits, it only registered the ultimate paged attained.

     The KU system is being tweaked again and Table of Contents must now be at the front of the book.      I guess that will help a little.   But then there's the problem of scammers setting up Reading Circles, buying KU memberships for say ten people, and employing them to buy and then 'read'  a couple of hundred books a day by opening the book and flipping to the last page and then on to the next.

      I am not in the Kindle Unlimited system and therefore not directly affected but the reputation of the writing profession  can't benefit from tricks like the foregoing.



Sunday, March 20, 2016


From a Prompt from my Writing Group:


  When I was very young, maybe four or five years old, I played Hide and Seek with the neighbourhood children.  Somehow I believed that if I covered my eyes so that I could see no one, then I would also be invisible.

     It didn't work.

     A few years later, I used to pretend that there was a plausible reason I hadn't done my homework.

     It rarely worked.

     As a young married couple, we used to pretend we had won a lottery and we whiled away many pleasant hours in contemplation of our magically transformed life.

     It didn't work.  We never won.

     When girls are young they pretend they are older, at at least legal drinking age.   As we age, we let little half truths or evasions slip to acquaintances about our age and search their faces to see if we are believed.

     It rarely works.

      Our persistence in unsuccessful endeavors must mean we haven't learned to drop the pretence and face reality.   But who wants to do that?