Aura Cookie Hoosier

As lately most always seems to be the case it is just amazing the food that turns up on an image search for aura cookie hoosier.     I saw no photographs of auras or cookies,  though I suppose that many of them might have been residents of Indiana and thus actual Hoosiers.    That this very striking fried green Bacon Lettuce Tomato sandwich,  which appears on a blog about Italian wine,  in an entry about a week spent in the “flyover” of Indianapolis was on the third or fourth page of results has an aura of serendipity to it.   Or so it seems to me.

It was not cookies but pies that I became known for,  for a while.   I would often post a pie picture to someone else’s Facebook wall and leave it with a cheery message.    It’s a great way to get Likes from lots of your friend’s friends assuming they like the picture.   But honestly,  after awhile I was tired of being known as the pie guy,  so I have mostly abandoned pie pictures.    And doing the image search for each day’s words has been great,   precisely because it does so often connect me to to great blogs whose content I can feel pleased to link to.

I have received my new tablet–an  ematic Genesis tab.     The plastic screen is definitely the cheaper kind,   unlike the capacative glass screen on the tablet that died on me.   I gave it to Rick and he somehow managed to get it charged up.    I told him I didn’t need any files off of it.   All of my ebooks are on the Amazon and Smashwords servers.    Indeed it was trivially easy to download a Kindle app,  sign into Amazon and every ebook I’ve ever read is right there in My Library,  and it’s just a click to download any of the books I own.     Total time to change to a new ereader device.   A minute or two.      While the screen is much worse than my old one,   the unit itself seems to be more powerful and more stable and the ice cream sandwich functions rather better than what I had on the Cruz tablet.

I can play Angry Birds,  although the tough screen makes it a bit harder to be accurate.   I was also pleased that I can easily hear and listen to music through this device,  which I discovered by playing a sample song that was pre-installed.    I wasn’t able to get Pandora to install and also ran into trouble trying to play a video from You Tube.    There’s a pre-installed music service installed but it requires a credit card to install and I’m certain I can’t afford a 19.99/month fee after my trial so it remains to be seen if and how I will actually be able to listen to music on it.    And,  I bought a copy of Susan Wells Bennett’s  New Life,  which is the fourth and latest installment of her wonderful Brass Monkeys series.   And I have very comfortably read almost the entire novel already and whatever else it can do,  this ematic Genesis is definitely a functional eReader.

And finally today,   thanks to my friend David Forbes  who suggested these three words.


The Day The Tablet Died

April til November.    That’s how long my 100 dollar Curz Velocity Android tablet lasted.     About a week ago,  it seemed to lose it’s ability to take a battery charge through the 110 volt cord to the electric outlet.    However when I plugged it into my laptop it did take a charge from the lappy.    While re-charging through USB was very slow,  it did get up many times to 80 or 90 %   and I could take my eBook to the bathroom or bedroom and it was all good.    But then yesterday it stopped taking a charge from either of its cords.    And then finally it completely ran out of juice.   and though I still have it plugged in to the lappy,  it will not come on.      I am sorry to say that I have decided that the tablet is dead.   And must be replaced.

So somewhere online Ron found a tablet that sounds like it has decent specs and claims to be running Ice Cream Sandwich  (which is android 4.x  I _think_).    And I wonder frankly if it will have any more power than the (disposable it seems) 100 dollar Cruz,  which was great for eReading but mostly lacked the power to do most of the other things I might have wanted to do with my tablet.    I also find myself thinking that at 59 dollars,  I would feel even less bad than I do at the moment,  if I only got about 7 months of use out of it.     The part of me that is constantly hearing phone users talk about all the amazing things their droid can do,  is very tempted to try the 59 dollar tablet,  which Ron tells me I could afford to order now.   And have it here sometime later this week.

Or,  if I want I can replace it with Amazon’s latest Kindle Fire,  which sells for 159.   But if I need to spend the extra hundred bucks,   it will have to wait until next month.    So I can either buy a cheaper cheap tablet to check it out and see what it can do,  and hopefully have a working eReader  (I read from my eReader pretty much All The Time).     Or wait and spend a bunch more money and try instead Amazon’s severely tweaked version,  to see if it proves to be a better tablet solution.    The fact is,  I read most of the eBooks that I read in Kindle editions,  whether obtained free directly from Amazon– I follow a Facebook page that let’s you know what’s free NOW.     It’s frequently updated and I really do get a lot of free books.    It is also very easy to borrow books from my local public library and get them right into my Kindle app.    But even though I really tried to appreciate other eReading options,  the fact that the Kindle (on my droid)  really suited me,  makes me really wonder why I would want to pay 100 more,   and go a month without my eReader  to get more locked into Amazon,   which I’ve at times criticized for being a bit of a monopolist.     The fact is the Kindle eReader on most any platform or device is the best eReading experience currently available.

If I were more social or more committed to blog promotion,   I would put a poll here and ask you,  my dear readers,   to suggest whether I should go for the cheap tablet NOW or wait a month to buy a much more expensive one from the scary Amazonians.     But honestly,   I don’t think I can bear to be a month without an eReader.   So I will almost certainly ask Ron to go ahead and order my ice cream sandwich.   Real soon now.

Banana Monitor Crystal

The post title had me imagining a display screen like you might see in a hospital,  connected by those little ekg pads to a bunch of bananas,  displaying some fruity equivalent to various human physiological measurements.   Then when you look really close you realize they are not fleshy living bananas but very artistic crystal replicas.   Sadly my image search  turned up nothing of the sort and I was reduced to using a picture of a perfectly ordinary bunch of bananas.

I am quite certain that at some point during the years I worked at the library I read and reviewed an excellent non-fiction book about bananas.   I remember reading about all the different varieties that grow in different places,  about the work of the plant breeders who did a great deal of experimental cross breeding on the road to creating the pictured Cavendish banana which has become a standard supermarket staple.   However searching and searching my book review blog I can’t seem to find the post,  leaving me to wonder if perhaps I read the book but for some reason didn’t blog about it.   I have to say it is rather disconcerting not to be able to find a post I feel certain I did write.   Though I fear this will sound to my non-blogger friends a great deal like  ‘the dog ate my homework’.

I have this month treated myself to not one but two new 99 cent books.     On my friend Holly’s recommendation,  I downloaded and read The Corner Cafe:A Tasty Collection of Short Stories.   The stories varied a good deal both in length and quality,  although several of them were well written and mostly I did enjoy this volume.    Unfortunately the BBT Cafe authors have not made this title available on Smashwords.    Since Amazon does not pay any commissions on eBook sales,  and the title is not offered through Smashwords I can not possibly make even a tiny ten percent commission off the book,  so I am not reviewing it or selling it.   (And am making the umpteenth mental reminder note to check and see if a title is available on Smashwords before spending 99 cents and reading it.)   The other book I just bought is Ann Charles’ Nearly Departed In Deadwood.    This is one in a series of books,  and I got a later title in this series free,  and enjoyed it enough that I was willing to fork over the dollar and eight cents  (here in WA state, Amazon does charge sales tax).   I will have to see if it is available through Smashwords and possibly review it.

You Get What You Pay For

Prices are both funny and fleeting it seems to me.   For example the list price of my Cruz Velocity tablet is about three hundred dollars.   I would be very, very unhappy with this tablet if I had paid that price for it.   The little device simply does not have enough power in it to play videos  such that you can watch them or even to stream audio and play it loud enough for this deaf guy to hear.    I have never been able to download and install any games on this tablet.     If I had paid three hundred dollars expecting it to do all of these things I would be bitterly disappointed and would feel horribly ripped off.    Despite it’s list price, however,   I paid a bit less than one hundred dollars for my tablet.   If I recall correctly it came to $97,  including taxes, shipping and whatever else they charged.

I have a friend who has an Android phone.    It’s pretty top of the line he tells me.    I believe the list price or retail price for the phone is about $900.   And with the monthly 4G contract,  my friend will pay about $3300 over the course of two years to have and use his phone.    Sometimes,  I have to admit I do feel a little annoyed– like when he keeps multi-tasking and does four other things on his phone,   while I am struggling to type him a short message from my tablet.    That he can just play Angry Birds,  stream video and never even slow down.   On the other hand,  I always try to remind myself–  he is spending 33 times more for his phone than I am for this device.

Given that I did not pay much more for the tablet than my spouse did for his bottom of the line Kindle reader,  and given that I can not only buy eBooks both from Kindle and from other online stores–  I just today bought my second paid eBook  through the Kobo app that came pre-loaded on my tablet.    I am enjoying the novel and am thoroughly pleased to be supporting both the novelist and Smashwords while paying a reasonable price.    I know that I myself am never going to pay ten dollars for an eBook of a backlist novel.     And there really isn’t anything that the Apples and Amazons can do to change the price I’m willing to pay from three bucks to ten bucks.     But I think there is a marvelous opportunity there for writers and publishers who embrace  a consumer friendly price point to build a huge audience of fans and devoted readers.    If but we more of us just say no to the monopolists who are trying real hard these days to control eBooks.


Some days are just….frustrating and eBooks continue to be, I’m sorry to say,  a bit strange.    I think authors and publishers need to be very cognizant of the fact that pulling eBooks off sale through different channels,  whether to try an exclusive with some vendor or for some other reason has several negative consequences.

First of all you need to be aware that anyone who has purchased your book  (including with a free coupon)  will still own the book.   The website they obtained the book from will still show it in their libraries and allow them to re-download it any time they want.   And sometimes,  some of these people,   if they liked and enjoyed your book,   may try to pass those links to your work on to other people they know.    And the thing is,  with those direct links their friends may be able to see the complete listing for your work.   Only to be told it is not available through this outlet at this time if they try to buy it.      This is not a warm fuzzy experience for prospective readers.      “Damn,”  they might think,  “these eBooks are just flaky and unreliable.”

The fact is that experiences are cumulative and every time any one of us contributes to someone having a very negative experience with an eBook  makes the overall market for all eBooks just a little bit tougher.     In the past,   it seems to me,    authors and publishers truly invested in their relationships with book sellers.     These days the very idea of being a bookseller seems almost antiquarian.    Everyone and his brother has their web sites set up to link to that big company in Seattle that pays a pittance to any webmaster who drives traffic to their vast online stores.     But making money by selling books that other people write?  Very few would even attempt such a thing these days.

I had started off today talking with an author I really like very, very much,   and idly planning a future promotion for a series of books she wrote.     And spent so much time fussing with my tablet and trying here there and every where to get the information I wanted to I could buy and download and read another of these wonderful novels I’m genuinely excited about promoting.    And I find myself all caught up in how badly smashwords sucks on my Android,  and how frustrating it is to know you are searching with the correct title and author and to have even spelled them right on the relatively tiny android keyboard only to keep getting a blank page and it just doesn’t work today.

I am continuing to re-read Rita Mae Brown’s  Loose Lips  (in a wonderful hard cover edition I picked up Somewhere).    I know there will be days I will again whip out my tablet,   buy and download a great book and read away with great pleasure again.    Today is Not that day for me.        Here’s hoping it’s a nice weekend in your world.