New Year’s Eve and Day

Ron’s investigations with the AT&T store near his office revealed that I could get a new 16 GB iPhone 5C for $100 and a two-year commitment to my contract. And the way the contracts run, which is by phone/number, not by whole bill, we can wait and upgrade Ron’s in a month or so.  The store near home was only open until 5:00 on New Year’s Eve, and the store in Vernon Hills was going to be open normal business hours New Year’s Day, so the plan was to go out in the morning and procure my new phone.

Tuesday night Ron printed up some calling cards for me, while I played around on the computer with laying out short poetry on smallish pieces of paper. I set the type for and Ron printed “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat” by Lewis Carroll:

Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you’re at!
Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea tray in the sky.

Then we went to bed, well before midnight.

Yesterday morning I decided I wanted to procure some patterned paper for bookbinding experiments. The paper crafting store at Deer Park Towne Center was closed for the holiday, but Dick Blick in Schaumburg was open, and there is an AT&T store nearby. So off we went.

I should have called to confirm the hours for the AT&T store. Normal Wednesday opening time is 10:00, but they were opening an hour later yesterday.

It worked out, though, as Robin wanted to hit a fabric store or Hobby Lobby, Robin wanted to get another couple slinkies for print drying racks, and I was in quest of a Monster High doll, and the Hobby Lobby and Toys R Us were both open. Robin got a half-yard of green fleece (instead of felt) for making forest blobs for wargaming, and I found some decent fabric remnants for my costuming thing at MuseCon at Hobby Lobby.

Ron found Slinkies at We Be Toys & Shit, but I struck out on Monster High dolls – they didn’t have any single dolls, only more expensive playsets. Not many Barbies, either – no more Pink Aisle of All Things Barbie. Even Robin was aware that Monster High and other dolls were taking a bite out of Barbie.

On to the AT&T store, and only a few minutes wait for them to open. I got my new phone, without the salescritter wasting too much time trying to sell us UVerse or other things we didn’t want. I got a blue phone, and a blue and green Otter case for it, which was half as much as the phone. And a new cable for at work, since the new phone uses the new tiny connector. A cable I promptly forgot this morning, oops. In the Otter case, the new phone is about as thick and as wide as my old one in its cover, and a little taller.

Had lunch at Olive Garden, then hit Dick Blick. The designated “bookbinding paper” was stupidly expensive ($15 or more for an 18″x24″ sheet{, so I got a couple sheets of “gift wrap” instead (same size, $3.50/sheet). I may be willing to buy the more expensive paper later, but for the first attempts, cheap is just fine, thanks. I also got some pH neutral white glue, bookbinding cloth, and another exacto knife (since one has permanently moved to the printing bench). I did not buy an awl, needles, thread, or bone folder, as we have those at home. I may have to split the linen thread I have down by a ply or two, but that’s OK.

Got home, and while Ron went upstairs to come up with calling cards for Xap, I went hunting for shorter poetry by Kipling. I decided on two Seal Lullabies from “The White Seal” in “The Jungle Book”:

Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o’er the combers, looks downward to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, then soft be thy pillow,
Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas!

and

You mustn’t swim till you’re six weeks old,
Or your head will be sunk by your heels;
And summer gales and Killer Whales
Are bad for baby seals.
Are bad for baby seals, dear rat,
As bad as bad can be;
But splash and grow strong,
And you can’t be wrong.
Child of the Open Sea!

I decided to do the first lullabye. I ran into two problems. The first one was that the lines of metal type ended up shorter than the lines in the digital font I used for layout in InDesign. That was relatively minor, it just would have meant a little more fiddling about setting up the press.

The second problem was more serious.

Over the weekend Ron had written a perl script to count characters, but I didn’t run it. I counted the lowercase As in the poem I was doing, and compared it to the count of the font I’d planned to use (metal type for English has a fairly predictable distribution of letters, so they’re sold as x-A, y-a fonts, where x and y are however many of each type of A). I thought I’d be fine.

As you’ve probably guessed at this point, I wasn’t. After the first four lines I was looking at the number of lowercase Es I had left and getting worried. Ron counted Es left in the tray and I counted Es in the last four lines. Then I pouted while putting the type I’d set back away, because there weren’t enough Es left.

I’m not sure if that font has an add distribution of letters, if the poem does, or if I checked the a-count on the other size of that font.

I suppose this means that I should start the quite possibly long tedious process of counting all the letters in all our fonts and entering it into my type spreadsheet. Or at very least, count the upper and lower case As for every font – the fonts we got with the presses we’ll have to do that physically, the ones we’ve bought separately we should have at least the A-counts in the listings. Grumble.

And we probably need to pick one font and buy a bunch of it, so that we can set more than an 8-line verse at one time.  Like these from Kipling:

HARP SONG OF THE DANE WOMEN

What is a woman that you forsake her,
And the hearth-fire and the home-acre,
To go with the old grey Widow-maker?

She has no house to lay a guest in—
But one chill bed for all to rest in,
That the pale suns and the stray bergs nest in.

She has no strong white arms to fold you,
But the ten-times-fingering weed to hold you—
Out on the rocks where the tide has rolled you.

Yet, when the signs of summer thicken,
And the ice breaks, and the birch-buds quicken,
Yearly you turn from our side, and sicken—

Sicken again for the shouts and the slaughters.
You steal away to the lapping waters,
And look at your ship in her winter quarters.

You forget our mirth, and talk at the tables,
The kine in the shed and the horse in the stables—
To pitch her sides and go over her cables.

Then you drive out where the storm-clouds swallow,
And the sound of your oar-blades, falling hollow.
Is all we have left through the months to follow.

Ah, what is Woman that you forsake her,
And the hearth-fire and the home-acre,
To go with the old grey Widow-maker?

LUKANNON

 

 

I met my mates in the morning (and oh, but I am old!)
Where roaring on the ledges the summer ground-swell rolled.
I heard them lift the chorus that drowned the breakers’ song—
The Beaches of Lukannon—two million voices strong!

 

The song of pleasant stations beside the salt lagoons,
The song of blowing squadrons that shuffled down the dunes,
The song of midnight dances that churned the sea to flame—
The Beaches of Lukannon—before the sealers came!

 

I met my mates in the morning (I’ll never meet them more!);
They came and went in legions that darkened all the shore.
And through the foam-flecked offing as far as voice could reach
We hailed the landing-parties and we sang them up the beach.

 

The Beaches of Lukannon—the winter-wheat so tall—
The dripping, crinkled lichens, and the sea-fog drenching all!
The platforms of our playground, all shining smooth and worn!
The Beaches of Lukannon—the home where we were born
!

 

I meet my mates in the morning, a broken, scattered band.
Men shoot us in the water and club us on the land;
Men drive us to the Salt House like silly sheep and tame,
And still we sing Lukannon—before the sealers came.

Wheel down, wheel down to southward! Oh, Gooverooska go!
And tell the Deep-Sea Viceroys the story of our woe;
Ere, empty as the shark’s egg the tempest flings ashore,
The Beaches of Lukannon shall know their sons no more!

THE POWER OF THE DOG

 

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
But when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

 

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie—
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

 

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find—it’s your own affair,
But … you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

 

When the body that lived at your single will,
When the whimper of welcome is stilled (how still!),
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone—wherever it goes—for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

 

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long—
So why in—Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

THE RETURN OF THE CHILDREN

 

Neither the harps nor the crowns amused, nor the cherubs’ dove-winged races—
Holding hands forlornly the Children wandered beneath the Dome,
Plucking the splendid robes of the passers-by, and with pitiful faces
Begging what Princes and Powers refused:—’Ah, please will you let us go home?’

 

Over the jewelled floor, nigh weeping, ran to them Mary the Mother,
Kneeled and caressed and made promise with kisses, and drew them along to the gateway—
Yea, the all-iron unbribeable Door which Peter must guard and none other.
Straightway She took the Keys from his keeping, and opened and freed them straightway.

 

Then, to Her Son, Who had seen and smiled, She said: ‘On the night that I bore Thee,
What didst Thou care for a love beyond mine or a heaven that was not my arm?
Didst Thou push from the nipple, O Child, to hear the angels adore Thee?
When we two lay in the breath of the kine?’ And He said:—’Thou hast done no harm.’

So through the Void the Children ran homeward merrily hand in hand,
Looking neither to left nor right where the breathless Heavens stood still.
And the Guards of the Void resheathed their swords, for they heard the Command:
‘Shall I that have suffered the children to come to Me hold them against their will?’

Headdesk, headdesk, with a side of AAARGH!

Last week Wednesday I had my sleep study. Blech. This week Wednesday I called the surgeon’s office to see if there were any (epletive) more tests that would be necessary. Person A followed up on a couple things, then called me back to say that everything appears to be in order, I should be getting a call Wednesday/Thursday to schedule the surgery.

Yesterday my new-to-the-position boss (internal promotion) came up to visit the office for the first time since becoming our boss, so in hopes of being able to give him an actual date, I called the office about lunchtime to see about that whole scheduling thing.  A told me that if I didn’t hear by B by 2:00 today (Friday) to call her.  Later in the afternoon the pulmonologist’s office called to arrange for pickup of my CPAP. Well, that was unexpected.

Today, 2:00 came and went, and I held out a little longer (almost 20 minutes), called, got put on hold, and hold, and hold, transferred, not transferred, transferred, transfer didn’t work again, tried to leave a message the old-fashioned way, and finally ended up with B. Who seems to have not been appraised of the fact she was supposed to be calling me to schedule. She said she’d get my paperwork together, move it up the pile, and call me back by the end of today.

Color me less than optimistic. Is my paperwork roaming their office like a bunch of feral cats?

I went to the restroom. I figured that would trigger the phone call. Nope.

I watered my plants, so she could call while I was away from my computer/calendar. No luck.

OTOH, I came back to find my computer re-booting. I was only gone long enough to get water and water one small plant! I assumed I’d juuuuust missed a 2-minute warning or something. Nope, one of the co-workers came by, and his computer rebooted with what amounts to no warning (if windows flicker by too fast to read/click, that’s not warning). So now we have Office 2010. Color me less than enthused.

And still not optimistic about getting a call back before 4:15 (normal quitting time). I really dislike taking calls while driving.

Growf.

Weekend Catchup

Cleaning:

Saturday Robin was a lot of help cleaning up the dining room, more natter about that and pictures on the Otter Blog. Part of that project was going through the things I’d evicted from the kitchen a week and a half before, most of which did not return to cluttering up the counters. That in turn ended up extending to going through the stash of spices and seasonings. I threw out a bunch of McCormick bottles of great age and dubious remaining flavor.

I wasn’t able to bring myself to be quite so ruthless with the stuff from Penzey’s, but I did end up with  a big pile of empty Penzey’s jars to wash, which one of these days we need to refill from the stash of things still in zippy bags.

Sunday morning we picked up the living room. It still needs a date with the vacuum cleaner, but the mess has been beaten back a bit.

In the last week my side of the bedroom has been overwhelmed with clean laundry in need of folding. What fun.

Other Natter:

Had a MuseCon meeting Sunday. When it came time to discuss how MuseCon sponsorship of the Cafe went, I think a couple people were surprised to hear Ron, Xap, and I, wearing our Capricon hats, pronounce it not a perfect success. The food was great, and several people put in amazing amounts of time and effort running the fan table, demos, etc., but there were some bugs in terms of staffing for the regular Cafe operations.

Ron and I had yesterday off. Ron spent some time in the morning and bits of time in the afternoon working on getting the shopping cart system set up for this year’s MuseCon classes. I worked on a leather project.

Van Dyke socks (toe-up) are up to the heel turn. Being sport-weight and a pattern that was fairly easy to memorize they move pretty quickly, when I’m not distracted by leather projects.

This morning Pippin stole one of the sandwiches Robin had made for his lunch. I believe the sandwich had been left, unwrapped, on the kitchen counter while Robin went upstairs for something, so I wasn’t terribly sympathetic.

I have checked out and read an e-book from the library, and have several more on a wish list on my library account. The web interface they use (Overdrive “My Media Mall”) is not the greatest, and as of last night was driving Ron around several bends and up and down trees, but at the same time free is good. I also had to install Yet Still Another E-Reader on my iThingy, which is also somewhat annoying, and sign up for an Adobe account. Ron has an Adobe account, which is what I usually use, but I thought it might cause issues to try to tie the same Adobe account to two different library cards/accounts.

Food Recap:

Friday dinner: Aloo Gobi, which in the Indian cauliflower and potato dish I referred to Friday. Rendered shocking yellow by tumeric, it was mild, and tasty. Marmaduke was over for dinner, so it ended up being a side dish with bratwurst.

Saturday dinner: Finally did the stuffed shells. Filling was ricotta and spinach, with some nutmeg. Italian-ish food without garlic just seemed so wrong, so some garlic paste also snuck in. I used Prego mushroom red sauce, which was too sweet. I stuffed the shells with a spoon, which was a mess. I should have put the filling in a big zippy bag, cut one corner off, and used it as a piping bag. But I didn’t think of that until for too late. I could have cooked the shells a bit longer before stuffing them, but they finished off in the oven OK.

Sunday dinner: Thai Brisket. The sauce had some Thai flavor, but the meat alone was just . . . brisket. Not bad, just not memorable. We also did salad, mostly ignoring the instructions of “Salad of the Day” and making our own dressings. I re-discovered that mustard oil has kick, by putting too much on my salad.  Oops. Mayonnaise helped, but I didn’t quite finish my salad.

Monday dinner: Coconut Curry with Winter Vegetables. A vegetarian curry, with winter squash, sweet potato, and I substituted potatoes for celery root, as Ron and Robin weren’t any more enthused about trying celery root than I was. We added onion, as it seemed Just Wrong not to have onion in curry. Squash was butternut instead of delicata (which is an acorn variant, I think?). Just before serving lime zest and juice were added. We used an entire 4-ounce jar of red curry paste, instead of just two teaspoons, because the red curry paste was anything but spicy. Interesting, a little sweeter than I expected, definitely more Thai flavor than the brisket. We ate it over rice, Ron and I took leftovers today.

Dinner tonight is probably chickpea curry. Stopping at the grocery store for chicken, because I don’t think I can do vegetarian two dinners plus plus the breakfast and lunch between all vegetarian. Or maybe we’ll do Thai grilled lamb salad (which I need to get lettuce for, so I’m stopping at the store either way). Yeah, we seem to have hit a south-Asian-ish streak in the recipe books, considering we’re skipping things like Tentacles ala Somebody or Other and Fancy-Schmancy Scrambled Eggs (aka Cheese Souffle – I made a cheese souffle once. Tasty scrambled eggs, but a hell of a lot of work).

Bonus Food Things:

Friday night I threw together a breakfast casserole, mostly of Capricon baking binge or Cafe leftovers: eggs (only not-leftovers), buttermilk, bacon, cheese, and bread cut into cubes, which we had Saturday morning. Usually I include onions, but that was more work than I wanted to bother with.

Sunday afternoon I made scones, with some some fairly dried out currants we’d found on the cleaning binge. Just a single batch! My right shoulder complained at me. Well, one giant scone, that we broke pieces off of and nommed. Apparently I was not scarred, other than shoulder grumpiness, by the pre-Capricon scone binge. The currants re-hydrated and the giant scone was yummy. We ate it as snack before the MuseCon meeting and as dessert in the evening.

Oh, For the Love of Cod…

Continuing in our relenting drive to mosey slowly into the 21st Century, my office now has a scanner, and we have permission to submit leave requests by the following process:

  1. Open up an interactive PDF of the form and fill it out
  2. Save (well, I save an electronic copy, not sure cow-irkers do)
  3. Print out a hard copy
  4. Sign
  5. Scan
  6. E-mail to Timekeeper

Previously, we’d replace steps 5 and 6 with “Fax to Timekeeper”. Scanning and e-mailing is, I think, marginally faster.

Today I did that for the first time. I scan things at home, and so as I do at home I cropped the scan area down to just the important bits of the form, un-checked “color” and checked “greyscale”, as well as one for text enhancement. The form itself is only about a half-page in size, why waste time scanning white space, right?

Then, I let it save in the default file format, JPEG.

E-mail to Timekeeper.

Get a response that can be boiled down to: “AAARGH! No! Bad! Can’tmake it  print portrait! All slips in the book must face the same way!”

Oh, for the love of Cod…

I’m guessing Timekeeper tried to print the JPEG right out of the e-mail software. Or something. I really don’t want to know.

Go back, re-scan form (still cropped and set to sensible color/text settings) but save it off as a PDF. Open PDF to confirm portrait orientation. Send to Timekeeper. Make note to self that agency has still not arrived in 21st Century.

Progress & Book Review

Turns out that one of the fabrics I ordered was out of stock. The one that I was hoping would match some brocade I have, of course.  No further progress on sewing, although I did raid the bins of fabric for doll clothes this morning, to cut out something for Licentia. I’m thinking knickers-like hakama relatives, like the ones shown here:

http://www.iz2.or.jp/english/fukusyoku/wayou/29.htm

Not sure what I’m going to cut out for the top half.

Still waiting on my pattern from Reconstructing History.

Mostly we’ve been hiding from the heat, and yesterday I advanced some more on the Program Book Death March.  The end of the death march is in sight – my plan is to get it to the printer Monday, maybe Tuesday. Yesterday I got the grid done, despite the Drobo flaking out. We’re hoping it was only suffering from the heat, as Ron was able to successfully run a backup this morning. Fortunately, after shutting itself down the Drobo came back up long enough to synch with my laptop, so I was able keep working from my laptop’s local drive (was working off the Drobo).

I’m really glad we got Chrono Synch a couple years ago – I was looking for something to synchronize data on a USB drive with a hard drive, and although it was overkill, it was what I decided on, as most lighter programs seemed to push data one-way only. Besides synchronizing data, Chrono Synch will do automated backups, yadda yadda. And a year-ish ago they came out with Chrono Agent, which makes it even easier to set up automated synching between machines. I have Chrono Agent installed on my laptop, and when it starts up, it goes and looks for the desktop machine and synchronizes auto-magically if it can. Before I got Chrono Agent I had to manually fire off synchronizations. Mac-only, last time I looked, though.

This morning Ron went to fetch Robin, who’s been off dog-sitting since Friday. In a house that is, IIRC, air-conditioned. I’m getting tired of the bedroom. Not that I’m complaining, it’s better than no A/C at all!  Today is also a holiday for Ron’s office, and he’s taking off tomorrow, as are most of his co-workers. Not sure what his plans are for today and tomorrow.  He was nice and told me to take the truck today and tomorrow. I wasn’t unselfish enough to argue, since there’s nowhere he *has* to go. Hopefully he and Robin got home before it got too hot (no A/C in the Kia).

After getting the grid done yesterday, we went to see “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer”. It was a fun, fairly brainless, summer movie. Ron says it’s fairly different from the book, and that the book is better. We’ll probably go see “Brave” this weekend (checked yesterday to make sure it would still be at our preferred theatre), we waited until Robin got home since he wants to see it too.

Earlier this week I read “Unorthodox: the Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots”, by Deborah Feldman.  I’d looked at it a while back, and then Ron mentioned hearing an interview with the author, and he thought it was one I’d enjoy. He was right. I think I went through it in about 24 hours.

What “Unorthodox” is not: an ethnographic study of a modern Hasidic community, or a dispassionate dissection of her experiences. You do learn a few things about the particular sect the author belonged to, but mostly because it either relates directly to her life (how much schooling girls get), or incidentally. It also doesn’t strike me as a tell-all marvel-at-the-freaks book. She wasn’t happy living that life, and is critical of things, but it is a very self-reflective story.

Some parts of the book just made me cringe: when she’s contemplating her impending marriage she thinks about she and her fiancee will break free of stifling traditions, etc. You know that it’s just not going to happen, and you want to tell her she’s setting herself up to be let down.

I don’t get the impression that the author hates the Hasidic members of her family. Not necessarily loves all of them, but although I don’t think she ever says it, I’d guess she still loves her grandmother, who raised her after her own mother left the Hasidic community. Or maybe I want her to still love Bubby, because Bubby is just as much a victim of the society as she is.

Currently reading “The Crossing Places”, by Elly Griffiths; the first in a mystery series with a modern archaeologist/forensic pathologist protagonist. I seem to have developed a thing for British mystery authors. Probably related to watching BBC mystery/detective shows. I’ve also read and enjoyed a couple of the Midsomer/DCI Barnaby books by Caroline Grahame, and most of the “Simon Serrailer” series by Susan Hill (although the reviews of the current one aren’t good, so I haven’t bothered with it). The first “Bryant and May” or “Peculiar Crimes Unit” mystery by Christopher Fowler was also good, need to get more of those.

I’ve figured out one thing with series like these – I need to  not read them too quickly. A few years ago I started the “Sookie Stackhouse” series and enjoyed them, but read too many too quick, burned out, and haven’t read any more.

Blech – sick

The middle of last week I came down with an Upper Respiratory Thing, aka A Cold. Blech.  Although I made it to work Thursday and Friday, I wasn’t exactly in top form. Saturday I slept in, took a nap, then we went out for dinner with Xap and the Xaplings, then to “The Pirates of Penzance” at Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre. It was much fun. Many thanks again to Xap for getting the tickets! Bits of the Modern Major General song and the Constable’s song (can’t remember the proper title) were updated, amusingly. The production was in the round, and worked really well. It was fun evening all around.

The purpose to celebrate impending graduation for Robin and X1, but Robin’s name is/was mud, grade-wise. We shall speak no more about it at this time.

Friday night I declared I wasn’t cooking (actually, I haven’t had anything to do with meal preparation since Thursday), we didn’t want pizza or thai (best delivery options), but pancackes sounded good, so we went to Walker Thingies. After that we went to the Apple Store for my birthday present and Ron’s.

Yes, this is a little early for Ron’s birthday, but it makes sense – we got iPod upgrades. We got a new 64GB iPod for Ron, so he can play with photography stuff, and I got his almost-new 16GB iPod. My not-so-new 1st generation iPod was passed on to Robin. Yes, I understand that you may be experiencing some cognitive dissonance with the grade issues (ok, we’re speaking about them again I guess), but he realizes that he’s only getting my old one as a hand-me-down, not as a “Robin gets an iPod”.

Anyway, still suffering from this cold, on Sunday I slept in, took a nap, went to bed early, and still didn’t have trouble sleeping. Yesterday I got up at the normal time, stayed home and almost but not-quite napped, and generally was a lump until Ron took me to the grocery store. Then I came home and was a lump some more.

Such excitement.

Less dopey today. In part I switched from Mucinex DM to straight Mucinex, which doesn’t have the makes-you-sleep cough suppressant, but still not fully awake.  I suspect by the time I get home tonight I’ll be back to the “lump” status.

Finding Books

The other day, for no apparent reason, I remembered a couple-three books I read umpty years ago. Along with remembering them, I wanted to find them again.

One was a book (actually a two-volume set) about Michigan history, lots of pictures. The other was a time-travel story, young-adult-ish, where the kids of a family end up back in time living with Native Americans.

Thinking about it, I was pretty certain they were from my Junior High library – the fiction book was a little too young to have been in the High School library, and the history books  were past grade-school level. I did a little googling yesterday, but struck out.

Today I decided to try my Junior High library – got to the school district website, then to the pages for the Jr. High, and found that the library (sorry, “media center”) catalog is available on-line.  A little more poking, and I had a couple candidates for the history books. I started plugging information into Google, and quickly ID’d the books I wanted – the cover image on the editions I read had a Petoskey Stone on the cover.

“Pictorial History of Michigan” by George S. May.

I little more poking and I found the fiction book; as soon as I read the title I remembered it:

“Potawatomi Indian Summer” by E. William Oldenburg.

On the one hand, I’m kind of surprised that the library still has the books. OTOH, it isn’t like the fiction one would exactly go out of date, and even if there is a gap between the latest thing the history books cover and today, it doesn’t invalidate the interest of the images. Packrat librarians made my search easy, in this case.

Anyway, come payday I’ll probably see how much they are at ABE.

A Response for Modelmaker

Yesterday our friend Modelmaker posted to his blog about e-book pricing (http://www.pensbykris.com/ponderings/?p=155). I was going to leave a response there, but I’m running into some odd issues with doing so (his WP blog wants me to log in to leave a comment, but it won’t accept my free WP login, and I don’t see a way to create one for his blog), so I’ll post my comments here.

First up, Modelmaker said “I would guess (I have done no research) that the profit margin on an ebook is MUCH higher than the printed version.”

From what I’ve read, mostly during the Amazon/MacMillan spat, the cost differential between paper and ebooks is in the 20-25% range: the cost of paper, printing/binding, and warehousing/shipping is something the big publishers have been dealing with for a very long time, and so they’ve figured out how to get it down to a surprisingly (to me) small fraction of the total.

Why would a publisher charge $2 more for an ebook than a paper book? Because the market will bear it – or at least they think it will.

Although some of us geeks have been reading ebooks for a decade (Project Gutenberg on my Palm Pilot…), in terms of the mass market and the general public the ebook market is a fairly new thing. Both sides are still trying to figure this new thing out. As such, publishers and distributors* are trying different price points to see where on the curve the optimum is.

To break it down to the simplest interpretation: If the majority of ebook purchasers won’t buy ebooks that are more expensive than paper, ebook prices will end up below paper. If the majority are like me, who don’t compare to paper prices and just go by “looks reasonable”, ebook prices may end up being higher than paper books.  Where will prices end up?  My WAG is that the market will settle down to a model where ebooks are around hardback price on first release, eventually dropping to about paperback price.

My profit margin on belts is greater than that on pouches. Should I drop the prices on belts so that they match the profit margin of pouches?

* People knowledgeable about the industry say that Amazon is more interested in selling Kindles than ebooks, and so are willing to sell ebooks at a loss in order to drive Kindle sales.

Life Lurches Along

Last Sunday evening I uploaded the WindyCon program book to the printer, so last week I kinda had a life again.

Except that Robin has karate Monday night, and then I have class (Variable Data Technologies – aka personalized Junk Mail 101 ) on Tuesday nights.  Skipped VS on Wednesday, Ron’s tummy was off.

Thursday was Robin’s 18th birthday. Insert mother-of-18-year-old angst here.

We were planning to go out for dinner to celebrate this weekend, but things got in the way.

Friday Ron and I both stayed home with oogy tummies.  Ron’s is/was diverticulitis, with a whopping-great side of antibiotics for said diverticulitis (or to prevent infection because of it). Saturday was continued tummy unhappiness, although in my case eating very small amounts of bland food seemed to be forcing mine into submission. Sunday was more of the same for Ron, although my tummy seems to be better. So we’re postponing dinner at Lal Qila (Indian/Pakistani place) for a week.

And this morning Robin called me when I was about halfway to work, now he’s feeling green.  🙁

But the weekend was not all upset tummies and boredom.

Friday night we went to the school play, “Harvey”. They did a good job, it was enjoyable.

Thursday I went to The Drum Pad to get one of the new heads they’d ordered put on the Darbuka I’d bought. None fit. Comparing it to theirs, we suspect it isn’t the brand it was claimed to be.

As a consolation, Ron took me back to the Drum Pad on Friday and a different drum followed me home – not a darbuka/doumbek, but one like an oversized tambourine. I believe this particular one is supposed to be Brazillian, but drums-with-jingles are a worldwide thing.  While we were there Ron tried the 18″ djembe he’s eyeballed several times.  That was a mistake, it followed us home on Saturday.  It’s the big-big-brother to my djembe.  And much deeper.  Come summer and open windows I think the neighbors are not going to be in any doubt that there’s drums in the house.

Saturday and Sunday was back to the WindyCon Publications Salt Mine. Making a low-res PDF for on-line was easy, but  making EPUBs was a lot more time consuming. Even the one that’s all the same contents as the PDF requires converting everything to single column, some reformatting, then figuring out the conversion in CS5.5 – Things have changed since CS4, complicated by issues with I suspect were related to the beta of the Lion-compatible version of Adobe Digital Editions crashing and burning, which the shutdown-restart  between Saturday night and Sunday morning resolved. Also, iBooks is fussy about extra non-breaking spaces, and bitches about them, a find-and-replace script I was running wasn’t pulling them out like I thought it was, which we tracked down yesterday.    I also made a schedule-only EPUB, which required more cutting (and a bit of pasting). Hopefully those will be shipped off to be posted to the WindyCon website soon.  Then I can start on the pocket program.  I’ll be glad when I’ve got all the pubs done, it really seems to be a drag this year.

Small cooking binge yesterday – rice pilaf with chicken for me and Robin, and mashed potatoes for Ron. At least that was the plan, but Ron and Robin each had both pilaf and potatoes.  🙂  I also put together legume soup for tonight –  chicken/apple sausage (in big enough chunks Ron can eat around them), carrots (although why I bought and used canned instead of the fresh in the fridge is a mystery…), canned zucchini in tomato sauce, Veg-all (yes, I was feeling lazy), red split peas, yellow split peas, lentils, chicken stock, Rogan Josh seasoning, ground cumin, I think maybe some Fox Point seasoning (or was that just in the pilaf?) and probably something else that escapes me now.  I didn’t add the chicken stock until this morning, when I put the crock pot on. Hopefully I didn’t over-lentil it.

I have determined that I’m only buying ebooks through Kobo as an absolute last resort. They do use the same DRM scheme as Sony, which means we can get them into iBooks. OTOH, they never mention that their desktop software requires Adobe Digital Editions (see rantlet below), and we had issues actually downloading the file.

On the one hand I totally understand why authors, publishers, etc. want DRM – they don’t want to get ripped off and deprived of their income by pirates.  Which is why I don’t hate DRM, and will buy DRMed books. I want authors to get paid so that they can keep writing. OTOH, I’d really like to be able to (re-) read all my ebooks with the same application, not have to remember which one this or that book was in.  Sooo, it may happen from time to time that things happen in our house to get books into the reader of choice, and if I want to loan an ebook to someone, that means loaning them the device to read it.

Related to that, Robin’s Literature course this semester (or whole school year, I forget) is all SF. Currently they’re running through some of Burroughs’ “John Carter of Mars” books, they did “The War of the Worlds” earlier, and I forget what else.  So Robin has finally been sucked into the world of ebooks, by using one of our Sony Readers for the public domain titles.

Oh yeah, the Adobe Digital Editions (Adobe’s ebook software) Rant.  It’s actually a rant to both Adobe and Apple: The Venn diagram for your customers has a really big overlap.  Learn to play nice!  Get your carp together and coordinate OS/software updates so we’re not left with software that won’t run!  And nooo, the trial of Digital Editions 1.8 does not run under Lion.  I’ve uninstalled, deleted, emptied the trash, shut down, restarted, re-installed, and it still crashes on startup.  Mutter mutter mutter, damn kids, get off my lawn!

And to finish up, here’s a picture of Robin on his birthday, in the new kilt that was his present. He cleans up rather well, I must say. Even with bed-head.  🙂  Click to embiggen (very big).

I haz an Arduino!

I got my Arduion! I got my Arduino! Happy happy happy!

Ahem.  Yes.

I was a good grownup, I stopped at the grocery store on the way home, and after dinner I made meatloaf for Wednesday, chili for today, and did dishes. After that I could goof off for the rest of the evening with a clear conscience.

Then I waited for UPS some more.

Finally I got my package!

Had some initial fumbling around while we figured out get the  board and my laptop talking to one another, then off we went!

I made an LED blink.  I made it blink at different rates.  I made it say “S O S”!

Not particularly impressive when compared to the 2D Kits blinkies, but it’s a beginning.

Ron did point out that I’m learning two things at once – (basic) electronics, and the Arduino IDE programming language.

I clearly hang around with the wrong/right kind of people.  My SOS code offends me, it needs to do loops or subroutines or something less bulky . . .

Anyway, here’s a little video of my board saying “Help me! I’m being held captive by a clueless nOOb!”

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