Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mid-Year Check

Making the food list last year turned out well for me. All I had to do for the mid-year check this week was eye the list and add the items expiring before September to my shopping list. After shopping, it was easy to dig out the items to be replaced from the plastic bin because I put things in chronological order by expiration date so those items expiring sooner are on top. Then, I moved them to the space for current use and put the new purchases in the preparedness food bin after writing the expiration date on the front or top with a black Sharpie so it's easy to see.

Replacing the water was no big deal. All I did was buy more and move the jugs reserved for preparedness so they can be used for current needs which I pretty well do whenever I buy spring water by the gallon for my tea, anyway. The only difference this time was that I did it on purpose because it's the mid-year check, not because I needed to buy water which means I'll have more water than usual in my regular supply for a while. I'm unsure of the sense of doing things this way except it ensures my preparedness supply of water is fresh whether or not I use my regular supply.

What's new is that I started thinking about medications for a preparedness first aid kit (FAK) and bought an extra box of allergy pills, generic pain relief, and other basic first aid medications. I usually wait until I need these before buying them because I've stocked them in my home FAK before only to discard them after the expiration date without ever using any, but decided that a period of tumult is not the time to be needing a drug store that may not be open during a disaster.

The allergy pills won't be wasted because I can rotate them into current use and buy a new box for the preparedness kit when my daily supply needs to be replaced, and I should add a multi-vitamin and multi-mineral supplement to aid good health in whatever stressful situation this preparedness kit is to see me through, but I expect to take a hit on the cost of the rest since they are more likely to expire than be used.

Finally, I decided to store the FAK meds and my Katadyn Micropur water purification tablets in an insulated cooler bag designed to hold four cans. Since I don't know whether a preparedness situation might be too cold or too hot, either of which may degrade the chemicals, I figure it's better to play it safe by storing them in a cooler.

Besides, I wasn't using the bag for anything else. I originally bought it on sale for air travel because it folds flat for easy packing so I don't have to buy, then leave behind, a cheap Styrofoam cooler at every destination just to keep a few beverage cans cold. It'll do fine in my Grab & Go bag and for road trips, but I'll have to think about what to do for preparedness issues when I travel by air since it can't fold flat when full. It's easy enough when I travel by car, but air travel requires paring down to the bare minimum especially when trying to use only a carry-on bag.

I'm becoming increasingly aware that going on vacation doesn't exempt people from disastrous situations. Vacationers and business travelers should have basic preparedness kits with them in order to survive the unexpected just like anybody else, probably more so since they're away from their home turf in unfamiliar surroundings.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Book Pricing

When I went to the store last week, I was pleased to find "The Brass Verdict" by Michael Connelly back on the shelf and displeased to find it US$2.00 more than in February.

Still, the $7.44 price is less than the cover price of $9.99 which was two dollars less than the ebook price of $11.99, now up to $12.99, which is why I wanted to buy the paperback instead of the ebook. It's simple economics.

What I don't understand is why the publisher wants more money for the ebook than for the paperback instead of less since no trees are killed in the making of ebooks and no oil is consumed to truck ebooks to the distribution points of sale.

One might assume that the publisher is taking advantage of ebooks to cash in on their rising popularity. It isn't only Connelly's publisher that's doing it because I've seen higher prices for the ebook version of other best-selling titles, too. Even the typical $9.99 is too much for an ebook because it costs so much less to make and distribute compared to a paperback.

One might also deduce that by pricing ebooks higher than paperbacks and releasing ebooks several weeks after books printed on paper, publishers are trying to retain their traditional control over authors' works by discouraging readers from buying ebooks through delayed availability and over-pricing.

Once an author realizes that s/he can receive more money from a self-published ebook or print-on-demand contract than through a traditional publisher which takes approximately 52% of the price of the book, there might not be enough incentive for an author to try for the traditional route. Already, publishers are experiencing the desertion of writers, although not yet in the droves one may expect due to the lingering stigma of the vanity press.

The advantage for readers is that with traditional publishers losing control over the writers who are going for independent publication, they're also losing control over what is available for readers to read. Censorship by editors rejecting manuscripts solely because of personal bias, such as the editor who rejected a novel containing capital punishment only because she is opposed to capital punishment, is being eliminated by authors bypassing the traditional publishing houses in favor of the independent route. This makes the digital revolution the best expression of freedom of the press we've yet to experience.

What's surprising to me is how traditional publishers are fighting against and trying to resist the inevitable change after seeing how newspapers have declined and blogs have flourished instead of trying to figure out how to work with the transition for everyone's benefit. It's always difficult for those in power to step back and give up even a little of their power when the normal attitude is to gain even more power.

These certainly are interesting times.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Kindle Games on Sale

In case you didn't know, beside reading material, there are games to play on the Kindle when we want a break from reading including a variety of Sudoku games and New York Times crossword puzzles plus free games like Blackjack, Every Word, Mine Sweeper, Shuffled Row, and Video Poker. Occasionally, some of the games go on sale which is, of course, the best time to get them. At this time, several games are available until March 27 for only US$0.99. Unfortunately, some are not available to residents outside the U.S.

So far, the games I enjoy most are:

Maze A Thon (regular price $0.99)

Slingo (regular price $3.99) and

Solitaire (regular price $3.99).

This week, I picked up:

Chess (regular price $2.99)

Hangman 4 Kids (regular price $1.99)

Mahjong Solitaire (regular price $3.99)

Scrabble (regular price $4.99) and

Texas Hold'em (regular price $3.99)

saving nearly $13 off the regular prices. Score!

Score your own by checking out your favorite games or find new ones you might enjoy while the sale lasts.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Free MP3 Bible

A couple of years ago, I downloaded the book of Jude from the Firefighters for Christ which offers a free MP3 KJV Bible, read by Stephen Johnston, as part of their ministry for those who want it on their computers or MP3 players.

I downloaded it to see if it's like my Bible on cassette (it is) because I like Stephen Johnston's narration with faint background music between the chapters and books better than Alexander Scourby's narration with no background music of my CD Bible. I forgot about it because I've been waiting to buy an MP3 player when I really need one. Finding Jude on my laptop while looking for an MP3 file to try out on my Kindle, I realized that maybe I didn't need to buy the TTS Bible.

However, since the complete MP3 Bible is 1.1 GB, and since the Kindle's 3 GB is shared by ebooks, magazines, Audible files, MP3 files, and personal documents, the MP3 Bible may be larger than anyone might want to keep on a Kindle.

Fortunately, individual books may also be downloaded.

As a result, I downloaded the New Testament, 231 MB, one book at a time during last month's snow storms and am enjoying it on my Kindle. An important point I learned in the process is that everything has to be moved to the Kindle at one time to keep everything in order. When I transferred another book later, it didn't get appended to the end but was inserted somewhere else, chapters straying at random.

I'm thinking about transferring the entire Old Testament to my Kindle as well because I can always delete ebooks I've read and restore them from my Kindle Archive.

Also, I can free up Kindle space by deleting the MP3 Bible after I get an MP3 player. I think I still need to get an MP3 player eventually because I have over 15 GB of music on my laptop and don't like having to hook it up and turn it on just for music on the road. My road trip mix folder alone is over 6 GB.

Last week during my day trip to lunch with my friend, I tried listening to my Kindle but found it too soft for the ambient road noise. Fortunately, I also took along the cassette adapter from my Sony Discman. Setting the Kindle's volume to the max enabled me to listen to the New Testament through my car speakers just fine.

As usual with no buttons being pushed to keep my Kindle awake, the screen went into Sleep mode but the audio kept playing. After reaching my destination, I slid the power switch to awaken the Kindle and turned the audio off by pressing Alt + Space before powering the Kindle off. Tucking the unit into its case then into my handbag, I headed into the restaurant and had a great visit with my friend.

My Kindle's turning out to be everything I hoped it would be.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Visiting with a Friend

I had a funny experience on Facebook a few weeks ago when a friend now living in South Dakota was talking about her daughters' Girl Scout cookies.

Being facetious I asked, "Do you deliver?" and it turned out she was planning a trip close enough for me to drive over on a day trip to meet her. As it turned out, her husband came instead and we met for lunch last Thursday at the Red Lobster restaurant in one of the larger cities.

We talked about lots of stuff from the last time he ate at Red Lobster (when he proposed to his wife on her birthday) to driving in San Francisco (We agreed the thing to do is not drive - park your car and use the excellent public transportation to get around instead.) & L.A. to our beliefs and how some people like to ignore the scripture and make God out to be what they want Him to be, in effect, turning Him into a man-made god. Our backgrounds are different, but we're pretty close in many of our beliefs when we're not spot on. He gave me some things to look into the Bible about and I believe he got some from me, too.

Somehow, our conversation inspired some changes I've been wanting to do on my websites and I've been busy incorporating them. One has to do with the copyright notice. I had made one using JavaScript which makes it maintenance-free for me, but part of it won't show up if visitors don't have JavaScript enabled in their browsers.

Another modification is to change a drop-down menu into an include file so I won't have to upload all the other pages whenever I add a new page. By using an include file, all I have to do is upload the edited drop-down menu and the new webpage.

Suddenly, it dawned on me. Putting my copyright notice into an include file will solve the issue. I'll have to edit and upload only one little file one time each year I modify my websites and it won't matter if visitors have JavaScript enabled or not.