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.

 

We’re getting a glimpse of a most incredible cruise ship

We were anticipating the expedition cruise ship Roald Amundsen’s arrival at the Breakwater today after it had circled Alaska, crossed the Arctic Ocean, and visited Greenland and Baffin Bay on an intrepid voyage from Vancouver, British Columbia, across the Northwest Passage – albeit from the west.  But when that itinerary was halved, and the second leg shortened, we were crossed off the ports of call. At least we were then added to a shorter round of New England stopovers that followed.

So now the Amundsen is expected to show up today and you can bet that the locals will be lined up for a personal look. This is not any floating resort.

With global warming, Northwest Passage trips are being offered each year for bold, well-healed, bucket-list travelers desiring to go where few have ventured before. This opportunity requires ice-breakers, not just any cruise ship. The Norwegian-flagged Amundsen is one with style and luxury.

The visit should heighten our anticipation of its return next September as part of a remarkable 94-day Pole-to-Pole adventure that will continue to Antarctica.

Sounds like a historic journey to me.

Here are ten more facts.

  1. In 2019, the new, 530-passenger, 459-foot, stylish state-of-the-art vessel joined Hurtigruten Expeditions’ fleet.
  2. It is propelled by environmentally sustainable, innovative hybrid technology that reduces fuel consumption and CO2-emissions by 20 percent.
  3. The ship is specially constructed for voyages in polar waters, where it serves as a comfortable base camp at sea.
  4. Unlike a typical vacation cruise, an expedition is for curious minds and explorers, focusing on the geography, biology, cultures, and histories along the way. To serve that aim, the Roald Amundsen has a science center packed with banks of stereoscope microscopes and related laboratory gear, as well as touch screens, lecture spaces, a small library, and areas for workshops in photography, biology, and similar interests as guests, staff, and crew mingle and generate a heightened understanding of the landscapes being explored.
  5. It’s not your utilitarian research vessel but posh, with all cabins having outside views. Half even have private balconies. Aft suites include private outdoor hot tubs for enjoying spectacular views.
  6. Its three restaurants are inspired by Nordic and Norwegian heritage.
  7. The ship is named after the first explorer to reach both the North and South Poles.
  8. Passage through the Panama Canal takes roughly 12 hours.
  9. Arrival in Antarctica will be late spring there, when the Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins will be at the start of their courting season, while the Adélie penguins may have already laid their eggs and be nesting.
  10. Fares for this expedition started at $57,000 – or $600 a day. I doubt that any of those are left.

If you had the money, is this something you’d love to do?

When the superyachts come to town

Each summer, a few superyachts make their way from the Bay of Fundy into Eastport and tie up for a night or two at the Breakwater pier downtown. They usually draw an envious gaggle, as well as pure curiosity and gossip.

I love the built-in love seat hidden by the pillar, although I wouldn’t mind one of those captain’s chairs for my workstation at home.
The welcome mat was more for changing shoes to keep the interior clean. Note the bikes under the tarp, too.

Some of them even blog about their travels, referring to each other first-name only and touting the “good friends” they made in port.

Uh-huh.

Charters for $130,000 a week plus expenses and fees.
It’s 130 feet long, holds ten guests in five room, takes a crew of seven, and cruises at 12 knots. The waitstaff was pretty impressive, even from a distance.
Includes his and hers bathrooms in the master suite, a jacuzzi, and a gym.

Some are flagged in the USA, while others come by way of tax havens.

An evening cruise around the bay can put on the ritz.

 

NIMBY can be a manifestation of racism, no matter how subtle, but true

This time, it’s a Not in My Backyard reaction triggered by opposition to a wind-energy farm 20 miles offshore because it “would spoil the view.”

From what, the yacht?

Get real!

I’m sure they wouldn’t be as vocal if it were a coal-fired plant going up near neighborhoods next to industrial wastelands – the places poor people live.

The people and the places they’re trying to escape, along with the shared responsibilities and real community. And poor people are largely envisioned as Black, no matter that many are white.

Well, the NIMBY crowd might pipe up if they can see the development from the expressway into town. Heavens!

The fact is that if we want electrical power or sewers and water or trash removal, it all has to happen somewhere. Shipping it off to the less fortunate rings sour in more ways than one.

Less fortunate, indeed.

Just don’t try to put them in you-know-whose backyard.

New phone, just as my old camera was dying

Just putting those two items in the same line sends me spinning, as if it’s natural they should ever be synonymous.

Let me proclaim I’m a true conservative, unlike those pretenders using that label. Not that I’m ever confined to tradition.

Take gift-giving in our household, for example, it doesn’t always happen on the intended date, whether Christmas or birthday. And I should point out (again), that it’s often a conspiratorial effort.

One example I’ll give is my new cell phone, which they’d been threatening to impose on me for several years now. They’d given me the previous one maybe a dozen years earlier, replacing the flip phone I had accepted only in case of a midnight emergency somewhere in the wilds of New Hampshire on my commute home from the newsroom.

So much for the history. Perhaps you remember I happen to be somewhat of a neo-Luddite, in no rush to learn yet one more new technology. I’m more interested in spending those hours doing something at hand other than retraining on a new device, like an endless loop of abuse.

Our move to the island was heightening the rationale that I really needed to upgrade. T-Mobile’s coverage here is spotty, and often nil off in the neighboring wilds, and whenever my text messages were arriving through Canada, which was often, they’d get turned into zip files that took forever to download. Photos were even worse.

Blogging, by the way, had prompted my photo shooting hobby years ago leading to the purchase of cheap Kodak point-and-shoot, which they eventually pressed me beyond by having me unwrap the Olympus that has provided many of the visuals here at the Barn. Over the past few years, my wife and elder daughter have been insisting I could do better with a good cell phone, and their many fine photos had me reluctantly agreeing. It’s just that I have a workable system going, ya know, and already have thousands of shots that need further sorting. Can’t I finish that first? Besides, shouldn’t photos be taken by cameras?

Well, no.

Last Christmas, everybody piled on the upgrade-Jnana bandwagon.

I didn’t know I needed the little LED ring to illuminate my face during Zoom meetings. OK, I finally “got” the idea that the lamp was supposed to clamp onto my laptop and glow on me, but I found that bright light in my was face annoying and visually taxing. But that lamp is rather nifty attached to the little bookshelf over my desk, and other Zoom participants have expressed their preference for the warm light setting rather than the clinically cold one. So maybe I’ve needed it.

Nor did I know I needed a short camera tripod, but there was the “lobster” in one of the next boxes I unwrapped. OK, cool, it would work for my Olympus, but what about the next two – the remote selfie button and the macro-micro lenses, both definitely cell-phone attachments?

That’s when they broke the news to me that time was up, the new phone was definitely included, or would be, as soon as they could haul me up to Calais to sign up, something that finally happened in late April.

As you might imagine, I was in no rush, but my Olympus was starting to act wonky. The zoom lens (yeah, zoom as in getting a closer look rather than pressing mute or chat) was getting stuck and failing to deploy, meaning my real, albeit digital, camera wasn’t working. Change would be inevitable, even if I am no longer pressing for a return to film, which I could never afford, anyway.

Off to the UScellular store we went, and I was instructed not to look at any of the prices. I’m still shocked by what we were paying for the family plan we were on, now that it’s been revealed to me.

OK, the new phone, a Galaxy S22 Ultra (does that impress you?), is a vast improvement over the S4 or earlier model it was replacing. The latter had no trade-in value, except maybe to a collector of obsolete technologies. The sales associate was rather kind in calling it a classic and keeping her laughter lighter than a sneering snicker.

Only after we were in the car and on the way home did my wife tell me my new phone retails for a thousand bucks. That’s enough to frighten me from touching it. Oops, a figure oil smear! And kids wear these in the pocket behind their butts? I’m never going there, I’m toting mine securely in the pocket of my messenger bag, next to my nitro pills. Keep your hands off.

Flash ahead, Slim and I are getting acquainted, gingerly, and I’m starting to play with the camera half, too. Hate to admit it, but I’m impressed.

Now, what am I supposed to do with my old phone and my old camera? I can’t just junk them, can I?

Confessions of a booklover

Looking at my book purchases over the past few years, I’m finding that most of them are ebooks. The new paperbooks in my collection are mostly gifts, gratefully received, augmented by a few used volumes purchased online.

Cost is a factor, admittedly, but so is shelf space. We still have a thousand or more titles to cull from our collections before moving the remainder up here, and keeping them in storage ain’t cheap. My own practice of the past decade requires me to say adios to one copy every time I get a new one, and I find the swapping to be heart-rending. Books really are personal, and who ever wants to let go of a friend?

Among the harder aspects of putting our old house on the market was one we hadn’t anticipated. Our Realtor told us the bookshelves couldn’t be jammed, as ours were, but that buyers were entranced when shelves were only half full. We didn’t want to repulse them but, well, we had several walls to go through on that point.

That meant buying a lot of boxes from U-Haul to pack. Buy boxes? They stack better, for both transport and storage. Worth the price.

~*~

When it comes to how I’m now reading, I do find a distinction between ebooks and paper.

If it’s a page-turner being devoured quickly for pleasure or else an authority I’m using for background reference, I prefer digital. The digital search function’s very helpful, believe me – much better than relying on an index – and if I’m quoting something in a writing project, cut-and-paste beats keyboarding any day and is less likely to include typos. On the other hand, if the text requires slow reflection and digestion, traditional paper moves to the fore. Krista Tippett’s Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living is a prime example, along with Robert Alter’s The Art of Biblical Poetry and The Art of Biblical Narrative.

Maybe the divide even comes down to whether it’s something I want to read hands-free or hands-on.

~*~

These also play into my considerations in my own publishing strategies.

As I looked to outlets for my big nonfiction project, Quaking Dover, I realized it was the kind of volume most readers would want to have in their hands or even wrap as a present.

It was one I’d want to place in bookstores and libraries, but that became a big hurdle.

If I put it the book up at Amazon’s KDP, the bookstores would back off. As for libraries? Dunno.

The alternatives I saw were prohibitively expensive for what would be a niche item, unless it magically took off on the charts, even as print-on-demand.

The plot thickened when my ebook haven, Smashwords, announced it was being absorbed by Draft2Digital. Yeah, the promises of no changes were there, but really?

Yet from what I’m seeing, maybe not. Maybe this is the big challenge to the Amazon juggernaut.

Upshot is, that’s where I’m planning to place my print version.

‘Congratulations! You are qualified to get better services and a better rate.’

This is what I got in the mail from our cable company, a month or so after it had hiked our broadband fees by 30 percent. He they were now, returning with a pitch to cut the monthly bill to $5 under what we were paying earlier but with television channels included.

The first problem? We don’t have TV and don’t want it!

“Redeem your upgrade today.”

Who are they kidding? You can bet that a year from now that monthly bill will skyrocket. Trying to scale that back to where we were would be with just the broadband becomes the second, and bigger, problem.

Of course, the third problem overshadowing all of this is the inefficiency of unchecked monopoly. Where are the Teddy Roosevelt Republicans when we need them?

How do these companies justify their rates, anyway?

Imagine what Marx would have said about Putin

Or even Stalin.

The revolution was supposed to be about liberating the people, not obliterating them. Well, we have seen more than a few of them run amuck. The guillotine was one example.

As for wealth being the cause of war and class oppression?

It’s time for a devoted Marxist to stand up and expose the old spymaster. I was going to say “from the left,” but that distinction loses all meaning in our time. He’s going to brush off any criticism from capitalist countries, in part because of his Communist roots.

The tyrant’s grounding and career, let’s be clear, were largely party-line Communist, which claimed to be based on the teachings of Karl Marx. So somewhere in that philosopher’s matrix imprinted in Putin’s mindset may be the key to turning him around. Maybe even call him to repentance.

Just what manifesto is today’s czar wannabe following, anyhoo? Does anyone want to remind him what happened to the last one?