A Couple Quick Notes for Amazon

I have turned into an electronic reader. I almost exclusively read books on my iPhone and e-reader now1. I have a Kindle, therefore I use Amazon as my primary source for ebooks. Amazon makes it quick and easy2 to buy books and deliver them to your devices. But they’ve got some serious work to do if they want to be the leader in ebooks.

For one, here’s text from their help site, with my emphasis:

Loan a Kindle Book from Manage Your Kindle
You can loan eligible Kindle books to a friend from the Manage Your Kindle page.

In the Actions menu, select Loan this title. If Loan this title is not an option, lending is unavailable for the title.

So, I can loan books&ellip;unless I can’t.

That reminds me of this infographic about pirating movies vs. paying for them. If you don’t make it easy to use the property we just bought, we’ll just steal it.

So, instead of “loaning” this book through the Kindle library, I’ll probably strip the DRM from it and just email a mobi copy of the document to the friend to whom I want to loan it. Therefore you’re not doing your job, Amazon. Or, perhaps, you’re not doing your job, Random Publishers. This is my book and I will loan it to who I damn well please. By restricting my ability to do that, you’re just guaranteeing an additional uncontrolled electronic version out in the wild.

Another thing, Amazon, just as a quick improvement, please let us send the Kindle version of a purchased book to all devices with one button push. I hate having to do it three times for the iPhone, the Kindle, and the reader on my PC.

Thirdly, there’s a huge gap in the experience of readers that no one has addressed yet: The Browse.

I’m used to, and so is everyone else, going to a bookshelf and just running my eyes over the spines or covers and eventually selecting something. I do this at home, and at the bookstore3 but I can’t do it with my ebooks. The ability to do this would greatly enhance my ebook experience and I would pay for that. Off you go, whomever.

Anyway. Amazon, until you get your act together an put some usability analysis on your kindle site, I’ll keep using Calibre, and I think you know what that means.

  1. A few years ago I stated that I was making the transition but didn’t see me ending my paper book purchases. However having an entire library on my iPhone is just…awesome. There’s no other word for it. Whereever I go, I have books. []
  2. For some values of “easy” which I’m addressing here. []
  3. Although, see footnote 1 []
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First Food

Hello

Griffin got his first solid food tonight. By “got” I mean we pushed some into his mouth with a spoon whereupon he mostly mushed it around and spit a lot out. Perhaps some got swallowed.

I call it a good first attempt.

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Baby Proofing

Baby stuff is like Wedding stuff: it’s both expensive and marked up due to the specialized nature.

I'm Standing!

Griffin is standing himself up now by holding on to things and also crawling around like a maniac, therefore it’s time to make some things in the house less dangerous to his still clumsy self.

Things like the corners of our coffee table. Which are nasty enough for adults, much less small children.

Baby Proofing

But I mentioned that baby stuff is expensive. TOO expensive, to my taste. At least for things that can be made with a bit of ingenuity. For example, a visit to The Home Depot and wandering through the aisles can yield surprising brainstorms. Such as these:

Baby Proofing

From these less-than-a-dollar babies can come this!

Baby Proofing

Of course, I can’t promise that we’ll leave these on forever. They are a bit white-trashy. However, you can’t beat the price of a pack of sponges and some duct tape. And if we get sick of those, we can always go to Walmart and buy some hoity-toity edge cushioning (after I clean the duct tape residue off the coffee table.

That’s not the end of the baby treatment I got from The Home Depot. No, we also have a deathly stone hearth that is guaranteed to send a toppling baby to the ER for stitches. That was my primary reason for wandering Home Depot because they really don’t make things that would cover the edges and faces of the stone hearth in the manner I wanted. I came up with this:

Glorious Hearth Wrapping

That’s counter and/or shelf rubber matting and white duct tape. So far, it’s working pretty well. It won’t keep the kiddo from bonking himself hard, but it will keep him from rubbing the skin off his head or face if he comes tumbling down. That’s pretty much the goal.

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Welcome to Etiquette Hell!

I had a spike in viewership today, alerted by my stats facility, and I discovered that someone had linked yesterday’s post in the Etiquette Hell forums.

Welcome everyone! Enjoy the visit.

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Neighborhood Fun

Some of you reading this may disagree on the amusement aspect of the described events, but let me emphasize up front that the parties involved made/make every effort to discourage people from unsafe decisions.

IMG_2504

I live in a neighborhood that looks like this when it snows. We don’t get snow very often here in the northern Atlanta suburb that is Cobb County. When we do, you wait for it to melt. There aren’t enough snow treatment equipment to deal with every secondary and tertiary road out there. That’s just a fact of the budgetary process and the likelihood of winter storms around here.

Just up the road, the road I and Jenn would normally use to get home, there’s a hill. Here’s the view from the top.

IMG_2524

It’s steep and you don’t want to be using it during an ice condition. That doesn’t stop everyone. When I got home on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning from my 15 hour commute, I passed near this hill and saw around eight cars piled into ditches on it. Here’s the view from the bottom on Wednesday evening after some cleanup had occurred.

IMG_2508

Where does the neighborhood amusement come in? At the top of the hill, the local homeowners come out when it gets like this and put up cones and signs that say, in no uncertain terms, DO NOT USE THIS HILL. They also stand out there and tell people to not do it. They invite people to walk to the top of the hill and look before deciding to go. There is, after all, other ways to get down to the bottom of the hill. I used one of those alternate routes on Wednesday morning. But, just because people are warned repeatedly doesn’t mean they won’t try it anyhow. So they have a block party, to watch kids sled on the other hills, and to see if people will do stupid things (like use that hill).

IMG_2523

After someone crashes, they go help out.

I don’t know about you, but even if I were determined to get down that hill, if I saw a bunch of people standing around with hot chocolate and beers, anxiously anticipating my decision, watching for me to do something, I’d probably think twice about my decision.


Yes, I meant it when I said it took me 15 hours to get home on Tuesday/Wednesday. If you haven’t followed the news, read here or just do a google search.

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Banner Day for Griffin!

Yesterday Griffin crawled for the first time. At least, by our definition of crawling. He’s been commando crawling a.k.a. “naga-ing” for a week now. Our crawling threshold was “two repeats of hand-foot, hand-foot” movement. He did that yesterday.

Run for the hills! It’s time to baby-proof the house.

Update: Whoops. I put the embed link on the wsywig editor. That doesn’t work. Fixed now.

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Classic Movie Night

We’ve been having fun with a monthly movie night at our place for the past while. It’s a good opportunity to have friends over and watch various “classic”1 movies or movies that everyone should see. So far, over the course of a year, we’ve watched:

These have been themed about half the time. For example, with Griffin coming due in July, Snow White was deemed appropriate for an early-childhood-memory food theme. For Breakfast at Tiffany’s we did breakfast food and PJs. For An American in Paris, we did French food.

Unfortunately, speaking for myself and not being into the Scholarship of Cinema, I’ve disliked several of these films. Vertigo got a thumb down from me and Bringing up Baby made me want to strangle Katherine Hepburn so she would just. Shut. Up!

After watching Snow White for the first time since childhood I realized that that movie is kinda crazy. There’s all this buildup and then it just skips to the end with the prince. What the hell?

I’ve already mentioned that The Italian Job and The Thomas Crowne Affair got universal panning from the people who viewed it with me. It’s like the director of The Italian Job was on speed while the director of The Thomas Crowne Affair was on downers. Neither movie made a whole lot of sense to my modern movie sensibilities.

And I just tweeted the other day about Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

I also kept wanting the guy in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to get a life and move on and don’t mess around with this obviously broken woman. I was done with her when she kicked the cat out of the car.

However, we’re not watching these necessarily because we expect to like them. We are watching to experience some old movies with friends and have something to talk about while eating and having fun.

Next month is The African Queen, which I happen to know I like. I’m looking forward to it.

  1. Our rule for the definition of “classic” is that the movie must be old enough to run for president. []
  2. With a Triple Feature because both of those movies had such terrible endings, we watched the remake of the Thomas Crown Affair with Rene Russo and Pierce Brosnan, just so we could watch an ending. []
  3. By the way, if you watch Nosferatu, make sure to get the digitally fixed and remastered version. The one that’s on Neflix and Amazon Prime will give you motion sickness. []
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Georgia General Assembly 2014

The 40 most dangerous days of the year are about to start. The Georgia General Assembly is back in session this coming Monday, January 13, 2014.

It will be a short 40 days this year, however, because the primaries are on May 14, 2014.  Why does that matter? Because this is an election year and the legislators cannot raise money while the Legislature is in session. All state senators and representatives in Georgia serve two-year terms so they’re all up for reelection. That also includes Governor Deal and his likely main opponent State Senator Jason Carter this year.

The legislative session is always longer than a strict 40-weekday schedule would have it because there are recesses for budget negotiations and for other issues. I think last year the session ended on March 28, 2013 (Sine Die) which was 53 weekdays after the start.

I don’t expect much out of this session. No one will want to introduce any controversial legislation in an election year. Governor Deal certainly is not going to tackle any thorny topics like transportation funding. I imagine that ethics will be discussed and maybe even acted upon, with Senator Balfour’s sterling example still staring them in the face.

I haven’t looked at the prefiled bills yet, to know what fun things are waiting to die in committee, but I happen to know, and am delighted to share with you, that the Georgia General Assembly operates on a two-year basis. Any bill that wasn’t voted down last year is still alive an available for resurrection. Mostly that doesn’t mean anything; lots of bills get filed and go nowhere, but some have traction and just don’t get the muscle to be passed before the session runs out. I have to go review what’s sitting around from 2013.

We’ll see what our legislators have in mind for us this year come the next few weeks.

1-9-14 Update: After my above passive bashing State Senator Don Balfour, he had an interview in which he promised to do better and that he might be interested in criminal justice reform. I find this to be a clear line of bullshit, but he’s not my state senator. If he gets reelected by his constituency…well that says something about his portion of Gwinnett County. If he is given any positions of power in the Senate this legislative session I will be deeply disappointed in this GOP party. His actions, while perhaps not jailable offenses, are clearly unethical by a Christian definition of ethics, a standard to which almost every GOP lawmaker here in Georgia is proud to cling.

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Marietta National Military Cemetery

Gateway Arch and Rostrum

I took a stroll through the Marietta National Military Cemetery on Saturday morning. This cemetery, located in the heart of historic Marietta, was created to bury approximately 10,000 Union dead from General Sherman’s Army of the Tennessee. Immediately after the Civil War, the owner of the property, Henry Cole, wanted to use it to co-bury both Union and Confederate dead as a way to help heal the differences. Apparently, that idea didn’t fly. Instead it became a US National Cemetery and now has almost 19,000 graves within its boundaries. The cemetery contains two recipients of the Medal of Honor, as well as several monuments and memorials dedicated to various things. It is worth a visit to see the grounds and the resting place of so many military dead and their families. All of the pictures I took are at their Flickr set, but here are a few notable ones.

Rolling Terrain

The majority of the headstones in the cemetery are what I would consider “normal” military gravestones. However there were a few graves that had been replaced by other styles. These stood out.

Not like the Others

During the holiday season, wreaths are placed/allowed-to-be-placed on the headstones.

Wreaths

Private Dennis Buckley, US Army

From http://www.history.army.mil/moh/civilwar_af.html#BUCKLEYD
BUCKLEY, DENNIS
Rank and organization: Private, Company G, 136th New York Infantry
Place and date: At Peach Tree Creek, Ga., 20 July 1864
Entered service at: Avon, N.Y.
Date of issue: 7 April 1865
Citation: Capture of flag of 31st Mississippi (C.S.A.).

Corporal Lee Phillips, US Marine Corps
From http://www.history.army.mil/moh/koreanwar.html#PHILLIPS
*PHILLIPS, LEE H. (ed. note: The * indicates that Cpl Phillips was killed in action.)
Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, Company E, 2d Battalion, 7 Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.).
Place and date: Korea, 4 November 1950.
Entered service at: Ben Hill, Ga.
Cpl. Phillips was killed in action 27 November 1950.
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a squad leader of Company E, in action against enemy aggressor forces. Assuming the point position in the attack against a strongly defended and well-entrenched numerically superior enemy force occupying a vital hill position which had been unsuccessfully assaulted on 5 separate occasions by units of the Marine Corps and other friendly forces, Cpl. Phillips fearlessly led his men in a bayonet charge up the precipitous slope under a deadly hail of hostile mortar, small-arms, and machine gun fire. Quickly rallying his squad when it was pinned down by a heavy and accurate mortar barrage, he continued to lead his men through the bombarded area and, although only 5 members were left in the casualty ridden unit, gained the military crest of the hill where he was immediately subjected to an enemy counterattack. Although greatly outnumbered by an estimated enemy squad, Cpl. Phillips boldly engaged the hostile force with handgrenades and rifle fire and, exhorting his gallant group of marines to follow him, stormed forward to completely overwhelm the enemy. With only 3 men now left in his squad, he proceeded to spearhead an assault on the last remaining strongpoint which was defended by 4 of the enemy on a rocky and almost inaccessible portion of the hill position. Using 1 hand to climb up the extremely hazardous precipice, he hurled grenades with the other and, with 2 remaining comrades, succeeded in annihilating the pocket of resistance and in consolidating the position. Immediately subjected to a sharp counterattack by an estimated enemy squad, he skillfully directed the fire of his men and employed his own weapon with deadly effectiveness to repulse the numerically superior hostile force. By his valiant leadership, indomitable fighting spirit and resolute determination in the face of heavy odds, Cpl. Phillips served to inspire all who observed him and was directly responsible for the destruction of the enemy stronghold. His great personal valor reflects the highest credit upon himself and enhances and sustains the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

And of course, these photo strolls are an opportunity to see what pictures come from serendipity.

Sunrise

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Blog Comment Spam

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