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?

Looking at the closet

First off, I should explain that few old houses in New England actually have much by way of closets. So I’m actually talking today more about personal wardrobe and style.

One of my long-term planning notes was this, for my shift into retirement:

Focused look: new jeans (black/green/gray); sandals (fewer socks; also, they travel better); blazers for the pockets.

What actually emerged was quite different.

I shifted from denim jeans to tan cargo pants, for their pockets, especially.

Instead of my customary oxford shirts, I wore turtlenecks in winter, and Aloha shirts in summer. (I still largely avoid T-shirts.)

Instead of that blazer, I rely on a messenger bag to hold my reading glasses, cell phone, emergency cardiac prescription, choral music scores, and so on.

My style, such as it is, has emerged from yard sales, mostly. These days my focus is on wearing them till they give out while also downsizing. You’d be surprised how many compliments I get.

So much for one game plan

As I’ve been revisiting my earlier planning for retirement, I started to scold myself for not looking more carefully at finances. Then I remembered something I had anticipated but never noted: adding an overtime shift or two each month during my final five years of employment.

For years, management always seemed to have those openings, and the pay was good – time-and-a-half, often with a nighttime or weekend differential.

In the last five years, the kids would be on their own, for one thing. We would really build up our savings – by 25 to 50 percent, as I’m now calculating.

What happened instead was that the newspaper found itself increasingly financially strapped, to the point our pay was actually being cut. Officially, I was the copy desk chief, except that in the end there were no longer copy editors. They were all wearing other hats as positions consolidated. As for those overtime hours? We agreed to allow the hiring of part-timers.

So much for the big plan.

At least the stock market hadn’t crashed when my wife and I closed out our IRA to purchase the house in Maine.