Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday Meanderings - 12.11.2017

Well, the big news around these parts is the Blizzard of  '17! Yes, it actually snowed here in Austin (and southward as far as the coast)! What made this snowfall so remarkable is that the weatherman was completely wrong - "No snow in this front! Maybe a flurry, but no accumulation! Nope! Not going to happen!" Then it started snowing,and remarkably, the farther south you went the greater the accumulation. Naturally, all the school, city and government agencies did the predictable thing - panicked and shut everything down. That's the ATX way.

But the really big news is that my audio book passed QC and is "live" - listed on Amazon and Audible.com. There was a little hiccup during the checking process; ACX, the Amazon company that handles all the audio book preparation kicked out the opening credits file because I also had a forward and dedication recorded there. It seems they only want prescribed, scripted opening credits - if there is a dedication or some front matter it goes in another file. Whatever.

I corrected that and re-submitted the file and then I heard nothing from ACX for a long, long time. I was getting a little antsy but all is good and the book is now out there, poised to earn me fame and fortune. Well, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. Because, frankly it's not a very good book (even if the narration is stunning). Okay, in fairness, it is not the sort of book I would buy. Or any one I know would buy, though as of this post some soul did actually buy a copy, and since the author and I each get free promotional copies the purchaser is probably not even family. Who knew?

I learned a great deal about producing audio books during all this. Primarily, I learned that it is a lot of tedious work and that every 3rd breathing person is now in the business of producing audio books. Including, it would seem, me.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Monday Meanderings - 12.4.2017

Wow. How did it get to be December already? Seems like we used up this year pretty fast. I guess it's time to get out the Santa hat and see what kind of trouble I can cause this season.

Speaking of Santa, I was chatting with the person next to me before class yesterday and someone mentioned his son's Christmas list. I asked about the list and the guy said, "Take a look at this," whereupon he pulled up a Google Document on his phone and showed me what his 8-year old had created.

The kid's list was about 8 pages long, grouped by price range and in order of preference. Not only that, each item had a link to an online seller! So much for the old mark-the-page in the Sear's catalog.


I have mentioned the Austin Chronicle before; a free newspaper that takes a non-traditional stand on just about everything. Of special note are the ads on the back page. For things like:
  • TAP DANCERS WANTED - Performance group age 50+
  • KID ENTERTAINERS - Will Train
  • TAROT READINGS - Clear Answers
  • MOTORBLADE.COM - Poster dude puts fliers in 200 legal spots
  • Come Race With Us - Soap Box Classic
  • Harmonica Lessons


Monday, November 27, 2017

Monday Meanderings - 11.27.2017

I'm well into a tryptophan-induced haze as I write this; that's what turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce, green beans, sweet potatoes, Waldorf salad and a slice of pie will do to you. $11.49 at Luby's for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Pecan pie 75 cents extra.
Yep, we joined several hundred of our closest friends for our Thanksgiving meal again this year. No cooking, good food, no clean-up and thankfully no leftovers. Or more importantly, no siren calls from those delicious pies left on the counter, just begging for one more slice to be eaten, with a double scoop of ice cream, of course. One simply does not throw out un-eaten pie.

And we again thought of that very first Thanksgiving, just Barb and I in Abilene. We had invited some college students over - kids who lived too far away to go home for the holiday. From somewhere, we had received a cooking tip about putting the turkey in a brown paper bag before cooking. Sounded good, so we got up at the crack of dawn to start that process, tucked the bagged bird in the oven, and went back to bed.

It wasn't too long before we woke to a house full of smoke and a turkey bag burned down to the juice line! We don't know what we did wrong - let the bag touch the oven, or something, In the mean time we have a scalding-hot, ash-covered, partially-cooked turkey to deal with, and guests on the way. We salvaged dinner, as I recall. Thankfully college students aren't picky, and it ended well. At least that's our recollection, and I'm going to stay with that version.

If you read blogs, I  recommend Sean of the South to you. Sean Dietrich is a columnist, and novelist, known for his commentary on life in the American South. Here's a bit of his biography:

"As a child, I liked to write. I filled up notebooks with tales of the high-seas, shameless vixens, and steamy scenarios combining both of the aforementioned. My fifth grade teacher found one of my notebooks and scanned through it. She told me I wrote with too many commas, and encouraged me to pursue a career in construction work.

That, old, woman, never, liked, me.

Years later, I learned my teacher had left the school. She took a job at the Piggly Wiggly as a cashier. I went to visit the old girl, to show her the man I’d grown into. She seemed genuinely glad to see me. And I was just as glad to find her wearing that red apron for a living.

After visiting for a few minutes, I realized something I’d never noticed before. Beneath her hardshell exterior was a regular lady, working from nine to five for pennies. She was doing the best she could with her life. Just like me.

Before I left, she asked me what kind of work I did.

At the time, I worked in construction."

Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday Meanderings - 11.20.2017

Okay, I got the heading correctly spelled and properly dated. For the record, I will not be writing this blog in 2701.

Don't you just love those days spent in overcoming technical challenges? For several years I have used a password manager that sat quietly embedded in my favorite browser. I had my log-ons and Barbara had hers and everybody was happy. Until Firefox followed Chrome's lead and kicked most browser extensions out, including my password manager. So everything had to be updated - and merged - no more separate files - and it's a pretty cludgy interface! And there was great wailing and gnashing of teeth in all the land.

Speaking of technology advances, the other night my phone began barking! Not the little yap, yap that you find in the ringtones - this was the attack Doberman in full throat! It seems my fancy doorbell purveyor has added a neighborhood watch to its app. When a neighbor posts an alert of suspicious behavior, the Doberman lets us all know!

And one more. Being a lawful driver, I often use Siri to accommodate my hands-free requests, such as add an appointment, or make a call. After one such request the other day, Siri said, "What would you do without me?"

Well, the author has approved my narration and the audio book is in the hands of Audible's quality control department. It's nervous time for me. I've jumped through all the technical requirement hoops that I know of; if they say it doesn't measure up, I'm not sure what else I can do.

It has been quite a learning experience for me. I far exceeded the 5-to-1 ratio of production to narration, but if I do this again (and that's a big if) I'll know how to go about it.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Monday Meanderingd - 11.13.2107

At the Learning Ally studios, the readers take a break at the mid-point of their session, and gather in the break room for a time of camaraderie and discussion. The sessions usually start off with "What are you reading today?" Wednesday, one of the readers was lamenting that his current book was chock full of Russian words and names - all of which have to be researched for proper pronunciation.

Another reader, an elderly, white-haired little old lady - soft-spoken, dignified and the epitome of Southern gentility - spoke up and said, "When I was with the CIA, they sent me to language school to learn Russian." Wait! What? We all looked at each other and almost in unison said, "You were with the CIA?" I don't think we could have been more surprised if she had said, "When I was President..."