Yesterday, I was at The Coffee Place, or the coffee place, depending on my mood. I laid my burdens on the big black enameled table and ordered a cafe’ au lait with my usual swagger. The coffee came and I took my seat and unpacked my little mobile office. I ride a gas powered scooter (Chinese made 150cc gy-7 with 16" rims) so I’ve learned to travel with a couriers bag and a computer case smaller than most purses. But out of these I can soon fill a large desk with pages of manuscript and electronics.
Sadly, I had covered the large table and, realizing I was being bad neighborly, I asked the woman at the next table if I might have the empty chair next to her to pile on some of my stuff and clear room for others to share. She had her purse perched in the chair in just the same way, but after an awkward negotiation where I declined the chair and she pushed, I finally stacked my courier bag, and helmet in the chair and cleared the table except for my netbook and my computer case (the little one).
Thus situated I decided to check my Skype, before getting down to work. A friend had shared this story about a four-year-old Mini and her precocious imagination and the embarrassment it cause her mother. The story was funny and touching and a quirky commentary on the paranoid judgmental culture that is America today (or when Mini was four). When we got to the part where Mini was explaining proper water-ride etiquette to her exhausted mother, I burst out in laughter.
It was spontaneous, but the septuagenarian at the table next to me jumped nearly out of her seat. Apparently she’d been watching me and paying an inordinate amount of attention to what I was doing. Rather a funny coincidence given the story I was reading.
Since I’d disturbed her, asking for the chair and again with my laugh, I decided to give a short, very short, explanation of the conversation tween Mini and her mom. I was quite terse but hit the high points regarding infectious water and water ride etiquette, (you really should read it). That done I said, “Well, I best get back to my writing.”
Okay technically I was reading, but I was nearly finished with the entry and about ot move on to writing. I had a short story to finish–about a mysterious traveler forced by local bandits and an ignorant police inspector to investigate a murder he is illegally charged with. With the aid of an array of anachronistic inventions–you get the picture. But now I was stuck in one of those conversations.
Ah, yes. Those conversations. They are a pitfall of the coffee house. The large number of aging boomers and homeless who congregate as the coffee house have a tendency toward garrulousness that approaches the level of social disorder. They are a real impediment at times. It’s very hard to write bout faeries and steam powered interstellar craft, when the guy next to you won’t stop regaling you with the details of his motion for conservatorship over his father, or her forbidden love with a Mexican celebrity who she must watch from afar using Google Satellite images of his villa in Yucatan.
In this case it was the movie she’d seen with her son. How disgusting! It was one of those juvenile romps where an adult who should know better, goes out and acts like a teen-ager on break in Cancun in the eighties. Of course there was the obligatory, unwanted insinuation we should go see a movie together. I listened politely making concerned noises and even sharing a quick anecdote from my own life to show my basal concern for her as a person, before excusing myself and getting back to writing. Remember that, it’s the reason I’m even at The Coffee Place.
That’s when things take a decidedly distasteful turn. In the course of the movie discussions, Siskel and Ebert came up. Of course she felt the need to stress the tragedy of Roger Ebert’s disfiguring cancer. I pointed out that Gene Siskel had been a bit of a healthnick and still died far earlier than Ebert. Rather than allowing me to return to my computer, she continued talking as if I had simply made a bad joke. Now she began to try and get personal information about me. I tried to be polite but I did again remind her I was there to work. She quizzed me about my computer, tried to drag me into a critique of the ethics of dumping beta tech on an unsuspecting buyer at Fry’s. And used colonoscopy recommendations as a means to try and get me to tell her my age.
Mind you, it never occurred to her to simply ask for the information she wanted, or to have an frank conversation. She was too busy playing at pushing to get anywhere with me, and her lack of subtlety only made it worse. Bearing in mind I’m a heterosexual, I’ve been hit on by both men and women. Not that I’m a George Clooney or Brad Pitt, but it happens. This is the first time, however, I’ve ever encountered:”Have you had a colonoscopy yet, they say every man should have one at fifty,” as a pick-up line. My advice don’t use it.
I approached Timothy GM Reynolds aka Alex T Crisp, a rather prolific writer whom I think we can forgive for being Canadian, and asked him to comment on my new book of children’s Rhymes. Nope, not the German musician, or the expressionist painter. Tim was gracious enough to look over Penfeathers, despite his busy schedule and the egregious (my word not his) demands on his time and personal resources. The following is his response, which I deeply appreciate.
Firstly, thank you for letting me read your collection. It certainly took me back to my childhood. So, here is something I hope you can use for the back cover, although what you have there already is quite good:
“In Penfeathers, Richard Fredric Grenville has captured some of the liveliest Mother Goose rhymes with an uncomplicated, unadorned folk-art-style of illustration which nicely accompanies this selection of classics without overshadowing them.”
~Timothy Reynolds, author of ‘Dragons in Suburbia’ and other short, dark tales.
After the He also forwarded some extremely helpful critique which I appreciate, greatly. He is a real gentleman and a great writer. I suggest that after you have purchased Penfeathers, you then pick up a copy of Shanghai Steam, or Dragons.
It is disturbing when any medical practitioner abuses her position to do harm. But this is a startling example of inveterate sociopathy. This woman was a Board Certified Emergency Room specialist, why was she practicing oncology, homeopathy and New Age hokum? The simple answer is that she could, and it paid well.
What I find even more disturbing is the fact that she had a “Snake Oil” sale selling her New Age magical potions on Trinity Broadcasting Network, a primarily Christian religious cable network. Not that New Age practices and theologies are unknown to TBN where the Word Faith or Christian flavor of “the secret” is commonly flogged.
But there are unsubstantiated reports on the Huffington Post and in the LA Times, that this woman was an ordained minister, either Evangelical or Pentecostal, reports vary. The subtle suggestion that her faith caused her to be a fraud is just submerged enough to avoid liable, but it persists.
I take exception to that because, similar practices by self identified pagans and witches are never prosecuted. In fact prosecuting a witch or other pagan for using holistic medicine, even if that medicine turned out to be little more than beef broth and preservatives, would never come to court. The ACLU would tie it up in injuctions and motions while the witch continued to practice.
Let’s take it another step, make the hypothetical a Muslim, an MD, and the network a major Broadcast Network–and the hypothetical becomes a celebrated expert and guru to one of the most influential figures in Talk Television. No one questions the snake oil no matter how absurd or unscientific.
Make no mistake I’m glad this woman was convicted and that she’ll spend years in prison for a crime that I argue is manslaughter. But her conviction and sentence however just seems to smack of double standard. When will the FBI, AMA and Medical go after a the quacks of other flavors. Where is all the money going that the Tea Party complains of, maybe a good portion of it is buying krill and paying internists to treat heart disease with yoga! Just a thought.
Now honestly. I have so many disparate responses that it’s hard to put it into words. I see a man in A Sailor Moon suit and I have to ask, is this a fetish or a hobby. The immediate response is to assume fetish, at least if you have grown up in the United Oper States of America during the lifetime of the Millennials. The immediate response is to assume he has some diabolical labyrinth of tunnels and cells where he keeps little Sailor Girls sewing skirts for him and darning his socks.
But what of middle aged Americans dressing as Darth Vader, or a random Airship Pirate and going off to comic con. The comparison is obvious but is it that they are as pathetic as him? Or is it that He’s as pathetic as they. But then there are the UoS or British Civil War reenactors. Where is the value in pointing muzzle loaders at one another and firing puffs of smoke while everyone lies down for a nap in fancy 17th century dress.
Ah but not all renactors are playing to a script! What about the Society for Cruddy Accoutrements? They really hit one another, and then there are the jousters and the ones who use live steel, albeit blunted, usually. Now those guys are for real so it’s not crazy right? Except didn’t some guy get killed in the utility tunnels under UC Berkeley back in the ’70s playing Chainmail the original LARP form of D&D? Oh wait we’ve come full circle haven’t we.
Like I said it just makes my head spin. Have a nice lunch and read a book.
A friend urged me to dig out my old Mushroom loaf recipe’. It had issues–word to the wise, don’t mix minced raw mushrooms with minced raw meats or meat byproducts, unless you particularly like muddy lavender colored foods–so I made some repairs and here is it. If you like it you can thank me, if you hate it blame Kevin.
1 lb mixed mushrooms, minced (I recommend chanterelle, crimini, and all American white)
½ lb mushroom caps, whole without stems
1 cup beef broth
2 packets unflavored gelatine
¼ large onion minced. (you can use a whole golfball sized onion but the taste will be a bit mild)
3 cloves of minced fresh garlic (recommend fresh or wet from a jar. If you must use dried reconstitute it with the wine before saute)
⅓ cup California Merlot. (you can substitute that other Merlot from that French place west of Switzerland but the recipe calls for Cali Red)
2 eggs beaten
2 cups bread crumbs (panko will blend with the loaf flavors best)
¼ cup cornstarch
2 tsp sesame’ oil
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp chopped basil
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
½ cup whole or chopped pecans
Add gelatine to cold broth and set aside until blossomed. Saute mushroom caps with with ghee or a mix ½ and ½ of olive oil and butter. Don’t use margarine since the emulsifying effects of butter are needed. Set caps aside to rest. Saute minced mushrooms until they release their liquid, then add onions and garlic and continue saute until onions sweat. Deglaze with wine and simmer until wine reduced by half. Add mixture to caps and allow to rest. Toss mixture with gelatine solution, sesame oil, basil, salt and pepper. Add eggs and mix by hand, folding in cornstarch and bread crumbs.
Mixture should resemble a loose meatloaf. Grease a loaf pan or oven safe mold with olive oil and mold loaf. Place pan in an oven preheated to 350 deg F and bake for 1 hour or until firm. I recommend lightly browning each slice and serving with a bit of hollandaise, bottled brown sauce or gravy.
I use OpenOffice exclusively. It’s not because I don’t have access to MS Office. I simply like it better. Much better. An odf file is a fraction the size of an rtf or even DOCx with ALL the same formatting and advanced layout.
In fact I only use MS Office to convert files to rtf, something which OpenOffice has chosen not to do well (for political reasons it seems). I was a bit concerned when Ooo became a property of Oracle, not because they don’t have good products, but because they tend to enjoy unnecessarily obscure interfaces and documentation.
Then I look one day and Ooo has become an Apache property. If anything that seemed a lateral promotion, and I had been counting on Oracle to finally make Base a viable DB design and coding platform a’ la Access™.
But tentatively I installed it and crossed my fingers. Voila! Suddenly Ooo opened as quickly as regular software. Where was the extensive, struggle with clunky ECMA interpreters and GDI. Surely, without a quickstarter and half a dozen COM/CORBA services you couldn’t have a REAL office software suite! But it seemed I did. (I disabled the quickstarter).
Then that fateful day came when I needed a thesaurus. Trying to provide the Teirans with a religious system that made sense I needed to borrow a term that I could substitute for the common one. So I hilighted a word, clicked Tools\Language\The– But it was disabled. I had no Thesaurus!
After poking through options\languages twice, attempting to press and rebooting I still had no thesaurus. I work where I have no wifi available so what was I to do?
Frustrated I searched for add-ons and no joy. I searched Yahoo, and found a reference to a similar problem but it was on Mac (OP) and none of it was helpful.
Then I found where a PC user had hijacked the thread, bless him. In remonstrating him for his terrible etiquette, the moderator actually let escape a bit of helpful information in the form of another thread.
This thread took me through the ninety percentile solutions that we all know to perform without prompting. But near the end of the list was an entry that was troubling. “Have you stopped and restarted Ooo and the quickstarter? If so and the thesaurus remains disabled, you have a serious problem with a corrupt dictionary and should start a new thread.”
A new thread? It was that bad that the pedant couldn’t even suggest something to try? Rather than sign up for yet another unwanted membership in an online Phishing trap, I decided to poke around the folders where Ooo 3 was installed. Finally, I discovered the location of the oxt scripts that install Ooo dictionaries (C:\Program Files\OpenOffice.org 3\share\extensions\install). On a whim I reran the en_US and dict-en oxt’s. Voila I now have Thesaurus for Typosaurus and can play to my Saurian delight. With the thesaurus working, I have to say that 3.4 is the best version of Ooo to date and I am very happy with it. I hope it will set the tone for Apache’s custody of Ooo.
PS Closing Quickstarter, killed the thesaurus again. With Quickstarter Ooo opens on its own every time you reboot.
I recently bought a Scooter from Sunny Motorsports in Chino. Simple story intro. auspicious could go any direction, but this is real life not a story so it seems to go every direction.
I wanted a scooter because under California Vehicle Code a scooter is little different from a pedestrian. Now you can’t ride one on the side walks and you have to keep right. There are some very complicated and frankly ludicrous rules for turning at busy intersections, but a motorized scooter is defined as a two-wheeled vehicle with handlebars and a floor board, which may or may not have a driver’s seat (so long as you are able to stand on the floor board), and may or may not be human powered in addition to the motor. I thought this is what I was buying from Sunny.
There’s a whole new section to the vehicle code and the preamble says it’s purpose is to reduce traffic and pollution by encouraging scooters. Any Cali DL is sufficient and no insurance required. However when it arrived, the VIN plate said motorcycle. That had me puzzled.
The Vehicle code was specifically amended in 2008 to remove any engine size stipulation for scooters. So the fact my scooter was 150cc shouldn’t have mattered. There was the floor board and the handle bars. It had two wheels. I know cause I counted em twice. What was up?
I began reading the DMV website for more info. AHA! The vehicle code says “may be human powered” however the DMV has taken it on itself to alter that to “must” be. Interesting.
I read further, Scooters may be licensed (bycicles may as well), but aren’t required to be. I reread the scooter definition. Yep both the state legal site and the DMV agreed, scooters were not Motorcycles, Motorized Cycles or Motorized Bicycles. Now I got the first and the last, Motorcycles and Mopeds. No brainer. One has peddles and I was pretty sure that was the latter. SO what was this Motorized Cycle?
Fortunately the Vehicle Code defines these. Simply put it’s a motorcycle, but with less than 150cc engine. Less than. hrmmm. That reminded me of a first who had one of those little Honda MV5 bikes back in the 80′s. So that was pretty clear. WE all know a motorcycle when we see one. It has handle bars and pegs for your feet (no floorboard) and a bike frame with a gas tank and motor that snuggle between your knees and crush you in an accident. My scooter had a gap ther to step through and a floorbaord to rest my tootsies on. Nice and safe, with fram and farings to deflect fast moving steel in an accident. Mine was a scooter.
But then I read closer. The driver’s seat on a scooter can’t obstruct the rider from “standing up while operating it.” Could I stand while operating my scooter? After several tries I decided that the clear answer was no. But not because of the seat. The seat is quite comfortable and place far enough back to give me plenty of room for my size 12s. and theoretically I could stand on the floorboard while in operation without any interference from the seat whatever. However, the handlebars are far to short to allow such tricks.
If I were 20years younger and still had knees, I might manage just fine. But as it is I cannot stand with my knees bent at 30deg to save my life. Just can’t happen. SO. It remains true I can’t stand while in operation, but the seat isn’t the culprit and I find myself at an impasse. The inability to stand causes the DMV to declare it a scooter, while I maintain that it is a scooter, because handlebar height is not an issue in the actual code.
So I have a motorcycle (I don’t stipulate this only observe the registration in my hand) and all I can say is at least it’s 150CC so I can actually take it outside the city. At 150cc it is a motorcycle. I wonder if the “angels” that hang out at Deer Lodge will ever start replacing their sportsers and softtails for Vespas?
Recently I tried a foray into self publishing. I have had some items of non-fiction published in the past, but my current work is a somewhat dark fantasy and it’s a struggle to get read. On the other hand, I have seen some success stories in self publishing. So I thought I’d try testing the waters.
In the past I’ve viewed self publishing as vanity publishing, POD as an expensive version and dedicated publishers as a necessity. But In my search for the right agent and/or publisher to love my work and put the effort into helping me refine and market my manuscripts as published works, I stumbled onto a couple of individuals who were committed to self publishing. Prolific writers (I’m the slow plodding sort) who work hard to make a presence that is bigger than their work and who have gradually moved from self publishing to minor indie publishers.
This inspired me to at least dip my toe in the waters and see what the process might bring. ePublishing got me some small response, so I thought I’d tree print with POD. Just as I made this decision a major POD changed their prices and fee schedule and I was amazed at how easily one could simply publish and be available for bricks and mortar as well as libraries and ed. institutions. So once more I got to editing and soon I was evaluating proofs and buying preparing to launch.
One thing I tried was contacting a major indie book store. Ironically, this store has as one of it’s facilities a POD of no small skill and no small fee. If purchases their services, then you are given space in the storefront, however I had already published. I had my LCC and my very own ISBN-13 and a beautiful trades paperback to call my own.
It took a couple of weeks to hear back, and this is the core of what I was told”
We do not carry self-published books, those printed by vanity presses or print on demand titles. Previous sales tests have shown that, while our customers are interested in all subjects, they are much more likely to browse and purchase titles like this at their local bookstore or on-line rather than carrying them with them on their travels.
Now I didn’t understand the point about carrying them on their travels. Yes people buy books to read on flights and trains and ships. But a bookstore is about books. Also I immediately saw the way they lumped vanity (first), self-published and POD into a single entity. That rankled. It hit my pride. I wasn’t a vanity published author. I was a real writer with a good book and it was real. How dare they make that comparison.
And then– it hit me.
Life, what a concept.
If you like a good story with some thought provoking undercurrents or you just like real old fashioned fairy tales, get Neverwas.
New Print Release coming in January. We’ve taken the plunge and Neverwas is going to print this month. It will be available on Amazon, but we’re hoping to get exposure in brick and mortar. If you want a print copy and don’t want to pay shipping you should be able to order it through your local bookseller. That’s assuming it’s not on shelves. . . . Well that is a fair assumption. But help us bring it to those who don’t eBook, tell a friend or buy it for a friend!
As a writer, rights to my work are important. Anyone who copies my work and doesn’t pay me for it literally takes away from my ability to care for elderly parents as well as myself. Writing is hard work. So is practicing long hours with musical instruments, or painting, drawing singing, etc. Hard work, harder in some cases than selling rainforest kitch, flipping burgers or building electronics.
On the other hand the spread of facisim in the west has brought about an unholy union between big content producers and government that is choking the life out of the freedom of the consumer. DRM and digital media restrictions are making it criminal to own and use your own copy of an artist’s work. With paper, canvas and vinyl, we allowed artists and producers to create “licenses” to content, but the media was property. If I bought a book, the words belonged to the author or his assigns (publishers heirs etc.); the paper, ink and binding was mine. I owned the book, the copy. If I wanted to share it with a friend I handed it to him and he read it. Libraries exist for the sole purpose of collecting books and lending them for the use of patrons, whether on site or off.
With digital, paperless, initiatives we have a problem. Can I own the electrons on a flash card? Is it possible? And if I send it to a friend he has it, but I still have it too. I’ve been accused of an intense grasp of the obvious. But the obvious seems to have escaped the legislators, producers and consumer public. The obvious is that DRM or Cloud storage infringe on the consumers rights as they have existed for just as long a tradition as those of the copyholder. DRM cannot be allowed to be a means of simply removing the ability of the consumer to loan or sell his media. This is a one-sided draconian approach that infringes on the majority rights in order to protect the minority. Unequal protection. For Americans at least, a huge no-no.
This case, a conflict between a programmer and Silicon Valley powerhouse Facebook ®, is a clear case of big business content producers attempting to circumvent the like a book doctrine and force the consumer to relinquish traditional rights to control, manipulate and warehouse their privately owned media. A quick review will probably leave most readers ambivalent at best.
The issue will continue to be a matter of struggle as we try to figure out how to insure media control “like a book” while preventing piracy. A start, would be for consumers to have the good grace to “just say no” to Pirate Bay.