Attention span of sorts or shorts

Here we were, designing the newspaper of tomorrow. Meaning the next day’s editions.

As for the newspaper of the future?

Never thought it would be built around the dimensions of a computer screen or even a smart phone or have all of those links to follow.

The changing economics and business model are another subject altogether.

How are you getting your news?


What’s off with Microsoft’s log-in algorithm?

You know, the changing photo that keeps appearing when you log in. The calculations have no idea, really, of what I like or don’t. My sensibilities are far more complicated than its simple “mountains” or “seashores” calculus.

In one photo, for instance, a single bright-colored backpack at the bottom of the scene threw off the entire wilderness message. It looked like trash. That sort of thing. I didn’t like the particular photo for that reason, but I loved the bigger landscape.

It’s like living with a painting and one day you finally observe something that becomes a flaw. You loved it up to that point. And then?

It’s a binary switch rather than a scale of one-to-ten.

For now, I’m finding some comfort in that, sensing they still aren’t outsmarting me.


Not that I see anyone using theirs

I always wondered about the practicality of outdoor window shutters, which were a staple on old houses, even back in the Midwest.

Now that I’m living along a coast that for months has had small-craft or gale warnings in our forecasts seemingly daily, the appendages make a lot more sense. They’re not just decorative. Objects blow about like projectiles, for sure, but more than that, a layer that breaks the icy wind before it slams up against the glass panes and worms through the sash into the house definitely adds some relief.

Of course, our Cape has only one remaining shutter, and it’s too small for the window beside it. Purely decorative, it’s nailed securely to the siding. Hopefully, it provides some extra insulation there.


Excellently crafted just a few blocks away

Holiday wreath-making provides much-needed seasonal employment in Sunrise County. It starts with the signs saying “fir tippers” needed – no, it’s not about gratuity payments but rather clipping a specified length of greens from fir trees. There’s an art to it, I’m told, and a drought can add complications.

Then there’s the manufacture and shipping of the wreaths themselves across the country in time for Christmas.

On our back door.

Ours wasn’t made by one of the wreath factories in the county but rather a skilled neighbor. The finished wreaths are sold in the front yard on an honor payment, 12 dollars apiece.

If it were a painting, it would be a study in gray and green.

Happy Holidays!

Cutting the book’s trim size cut my royalty

You might think it’s a minor thing, deciding whether your new book should be 9-by-6 inches or the usual trade paperback 8½-by-5½ inch dimension, but the smaller trim size does look and feel more professional, even elegant.

It’s easier to retrieve from some of my bookshelves, too.

It comes at an added cost, though – an additional $1.40 or so, out of my royalty.

You wouldn’t expect that for the smaller size, would you?

At some point, that might be the swing factor in raising the cover price.

For now, I simply want this one to be just right. Besides, it will still take a lot of sales for that difference to add up, and we are dealing with the story of a small faith community which just might not have that much interest for anyone else unless this takes off like, well, something about covered bridges in Iowa.


Having a back cover, too

One big difference between paper books and ebooks is the back cover. The digital versions simply don’t have one – the blurb has to go on the retailer’s website instead.

Yes, the two formats have their differences. An ebook is more like a scroll, but one that can be easily searched and rewound.

A paper book, on the other hand, is more like a box, with the covers working like the wrapping on a present, full of enticement. Even the lettering on the spine can work that way.

Better yet, the back cover can start talking to you even before you open the pages. “Come on in,” you can hear it address you, even in a crowded bookstore.