some things are best not written down

“Some things are best not written down.” That’s how I started my speech at Toastmasters two weeks ago. And that is why I gave a speech instead of writing a blog about that particular topic. I pointed out that what you put out there on the internet is there forever—even if you think that you’ve deleted it.

The subject in question had to do with the behavior of a family member that was, well, inexplicable, and the repercussions that resulted from that behavior. It made for a good speech; I received the best speaker ribbon and people were visibly moved. But I made the speech and now it is lost to the ether. It was not recorded in any way.

Which makes me think of a pledge I made here some years ago. I was listening to a series from The Great Courses about writing nonfiction and I had read about works published as nonfiction that were in fact mostly fabricated. (Conversely, some novels are actually more memoir than fiction.)

My pledge was that everything I tell you is the truth. I will, not, however, tell you everything.

That pledge still stands.

Best Speaker ribbon


reading Kindle books, keeping my paper books

bookshelfEver since the advent of the e-reader there has been a lot of discussion, sometimes coming close to religious fervor, about e-books vs. paper books. I owned two different early Kindle devices and now read almost all of my books on the Kindle app on my iPad. Terry reads paper books. Yet I love my library of physical books and have no intention of getting rid of them.

A friend of mine, who once upon a time blogged under the pseudonym Boston Pobble, wrote that both/and is a perfectly acceptable mode of behavior. More recently, in the “By the Book” interview in the New York Times Book Review, Janet Malcolm stated:

quoteWhy have a large library and not use it? Why keep books, if you are not going to read them more than once? For the décor? The answer isn’t entirely no. A book-lined room looks nice. I like walking into my living room and seeing the walls of books with faded spines that have accreted over many decades.

There you are. Who am I to argue with Janet Malcolm?


a once a year kind of thing

A couple of years back I sold my internet domain csquared.com which I had owned since about 1996. I wasn’t particularly interested in selling but finally, after some weeks of back and forth, the broker, with approval from his client, made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

I used some of the proceeds to buy a new iPad, as my old one was, well, getting old. As part of the package I had to get a new keyboard, as my old keyboard wasn’t compatible with the new iPad.

The new keyboard has worked out well. What impresses me is how often I have to recharge it. Once a year. That’s it. Really. Just once a year.

The LED starts blinking amber, I plug it into the USB port on my desktop, and I’m good for another year.

How very cool is that?


a simple tech fix

I wrote a while back about buying a second Roku for the bedroom so I could watch streaming programs while Terry was watching something else in the living room. I mentioned that the television in the bedroom is an inexpensive not-smart TV with only two HDMI ports. Since one port is connected to the cable box I had to disconnect the Blu-Ray to connect the Roku.

HDMI switchI didn’t like the idea of the Blu-Ray being disabled, however, and I thought that since there are USB hubs for computers there must be HDMI hubs for televisions. There are. And they’re not that expensive. The HDMI switch I found on Amazon was $9.98 and using my Amazon VISA points the device cost me $1.63.

That means I just punch the button on the HDMI switch to toggle between the Roku and the Blu-Ray.

How cool is that?


my recipe software dilemma

I have been using the Living Cookbook recipe software for some years now. When I was first thinking about computerizing my recipes the most popular recipe software was MasterCook, But at the time it was between owners and not supported, so I went with Living Cookbook. Now the opposite is the case.

I really like Living Cookbook. I like the format the program uses to print out the recipes and I like the way I can search on any number of criteria. However, Living Cookbook hasn’t issued an update since 2014 when it released Living Cookbook 2015. I would periodically check the web site to see if there were any updates, but there were none. Then the web site was gone.

I worry about the accessibility of my data should something happen to the software or should my laptop give it up. Based on suggestions from folks in my kitchen appliances and pressure cooker Yahoo groups, I downloaded trial versions of both Paprika and Cook’n. Both support the import of Living Cookbook data, but I didn’t like the look and feel of either and I didn’t like the format of either for printing recipes. That leaves MasterCook, which does not provide a trial version, but does seem to have a pretty straightforward user interface.

Really, I don’t want to spend the money for a new program when I like Living Cookbook so much. But the question, again is what about the accessibility of my data in the event of a problem? MasterCook allows you to import a Living Cookbook database by using a third-party program called cb2cb (that is CookBook to Cookbook). I can export my Living Cookbook database to an .fdx or .fdxz format and use cb2cb to convert it to the latest MasterCook .mz2 format.

So here’s my plan. I’m going to keep using Living Cookbook, but whenever I add a recipe I will export .fdx and fdxz files from my laptop to my desktop. That way, if something goes south I can buy MasterCook and still have all of my recipes. Not optimal but workable.

But Living Cookbook, did you have to leave without saying goodbye?


the value of our Roku

About a year ago I wrote that I had bought a Roku device so we could get the CBS All Access streaming service in order to watch Star Trek: Discovery. That series, the first season at least, was an absolute disaster, so bad that I cancelled CBS All Access before the end of the season. (We are hoping for a better season 2 and expect to re-up in January.)

Roku packageThe Roku has been great for other reasons, however. It gives us simple, easy access to Netflix and Hulu. We get access to streaming movies through Fandango, Vudu, and Redbox.

The Roku also provides access to the CBSN streaming news service. I have been watching more news since the democrats won the House of Representatives, and I watch CNN and MSNBC, both of which show a bias against that guy with the orange hair who lives in the White House. That is more than fine with me, but it’s nice to have CBSN for their more down the middle approach.

Then there’s NASA TV. With the excitement around the Mars InSight mission I thought perhaps Roku might offer NASA TV. In fact, they do. How very cool is that?

The Roku was an inexpensive purchase. We are getting more than our money’s worth.


our instantaneous world

It is an instantaneous world out there. We sometimes take it for granted, but it was not always so.

When I was growing up I would sometimes buy books by mail order. I would fill out the order form, give my dad cash that I got from my paper route and he would in turn give me a check for the appropriate amount to include with the order. When I worked for B. Dalton bookseller, special orders for customers took six to eight weeks. We would fill out a four-part form using carbonless paper and put the original in the daily U.S. Mail envelope that went to the general office. When the publisher processed the order it was shipped book rate to the store.

The world is very different today. The debit card I use to buy groceries at our discount supermarket has that they call card controls. That means that the second my transaction is processed at the checkstand the text message app on my iPhone chimes and alerts me that the transaction has occurred.

We’re all familiar with Amazon Prime and how we can get packages in two days, or the next day if we pay an extra $6.99. That can be very useful. The technology is impressive if you stop to think about it.

5-hour EnergyWhen we were coming up on Terry’s knee replacement surgery I knew that I had a challenge. I had to have the energy to get her the thirty-three miles home from Kaiser Hospital after the surgery, but given my own medical condition and the medication I’m taking I get tired easily. It occurred to me that I would do well to have a bottle of 5-hour Energy in the car. It was Sunday and Terry’s surgery was Tuesday. I was standing on the energy drink aisle of said discount supermarket. They had no 5-hour Energy. I had neither the time nor the inclination to run around town looking for it. I pulled out my iPhone, opened the Amazon app, and did a search on the product. I found a flavor that could be shipped to arrive the next day. I ordered a case. With twelve minutes to spare. It arrived on Monday and I put a bottle in the car. The day Tuesday was much longer than either of us had anticipated. That little bottle packed quite the jolt and saved the day for our drive home in rush hour.

It’s an instantaneous world these days.