What's in my wallet, part two

Six weeks ago or so I wrote a post about an unredeemed, and somewhat magical, pawn ticket that I’ve kept in my wallet for the past sixteen years. You’ve seen those TV advertisements for the “credit card” mafia front called Capital One. “What’s in your wallet?” they ask. Well, I used to have a Capital One so-called “credit card”1 in there , but I canceled the account last year –I’m still paying down the balance– so I have nothing with their name on it in my wallet to remind me that I’m still their bonded serf. In addition to that Magic Pawnbroker ticket I have this my wallet:

Some of the words are water-blurred, so here’s a transcription:

“Life’s challenges are determined by our thoughts and actions. Choose willingly and be proud. ‘I live, I believe, I love, I share, I laugh, I motivate, I fly, I run, I hike, I swim, I surf, I ride, and, most of all, I smile every day’”.

It’s a reproduction of a card that was found in the effects of an extremely close friend of mine, a former professional athlete (snowboarding), who died, much too young, of ALS, nearly two years ago. He indeed lived up to this credo, and, as I said in a eulogy at a memorial service for him in a packed-to-overflowing(non fundie, non-evangelical) church in his adopted home town of Colorado Springs, “he was a happy man until the day he died.”

Continue reading

Acts of the Apostles in convenient ebook format

For nearly ten years, my book Acts of the Apostles has been available for free download from this site, and lately, from lots of other sites. I figure that it’s been downloaded at least ten thousand times, and perhaps a lot more. There’s really no way to tell at this point.

Recently I’ve been getting a fair number of requests for other (that is, not PDF) formats, such as mobi for the kindle and epub for other devices. After much, much, much too much ado, I’ve finally made different versions available on Smashwords for $4/copy. I’ll be curious to see what kind of sales I get, especially since the PDF is out there for free, and people can convert them if they feel like going through the hassle.

As I wrote in an earlier wetmachine post, I consider format conversion, for example from PDF to mobi, to be making a “derivative work” and therefore prohibited by the Creative Commons license. Not everybody agrees with me about this, and the matter really rests in an indeterminate state until such time as a court of law makes a pronouncement on it.

In the meantime, I don’t think $4 is much to ask for such a great book!

The hassles I went through were largely caused by my mule-headedness and lack of understanding of Microsoft Word. The Smashwords site itself is a relative breeze to use. I do plan to make Cheap Complex Devices also available on Smashwords, and I think the process of converting that book will be a whole lot smoother than the first one was.

R.I.P. Jon Swift — a good man gone

The funny, kind, decent and fiercely democratic (note the lower-case “d”) blogger Jon Swift has died, much too young. See Tom Watson’s appreciation here. Swift, whose “real world” name was Al Weisel, was a friend to Wetmachine, having twice or thrice blogged about this site as “a great site you’ve never heard of” or similar. I never met the man in person, but in email correspondence he was kind and helpful to me. As a blogger, he was an inspiration.

In honor of Al/Jon Swift, this week is Blogroll Amnesty Day at Wetmachine. If your blog is not spam, porn, or blatantly offensive and you’re willing to put Wetmachine on your blogroll, I’ll put you on ours. Leave details in the comments or send me a note to [my first name] at [this a-here website].

Entering the E-book age, kicking and screaming

So after a nearly a decade of giving away PDFs of my first two books, I’ve decided to sell them as ebooks in different formats.

The technical hassles in so doing are bigger than they should be, although most of the problems are perhaps more in my head than in the format-conversion technology.

Mainly, I’m trying to convert PDF versions of my book to MS Word .doc format.

Any help in making me un-stupid in this process would be much appreciated.

Continue reading

Of a Fire in Christiantown

I’m a member of the volunteer firefighting company of Tisbury 651, a ladder truck that also goes by the nickname Tisbury Tower One, on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Saturday morning, three days ago, my company was called out to a fire on Christiantown Road in West Tisbury, a town that borders on Tisbury, under a mutual aid arrangement between the towns. The fire was at the home of Danny Prowten, a 63 year old thirty-year veteran of the West Tisbury Volunteer Fire Department. Mr. Prowten, whom I never met, died in the fire.

Many of the firefighters, EMTs and police who responded to the call, and all of those to first arrive, knew Danny Prowten well. Some of them had been his firefighting companions for twenty years or more. As I came to learn, he was reknowned for his courage and selflessness.

Newspaper accounts of the fire appear here and here and here, but they all say pretty much the same thing (and anyway, it’s not at all clear that any of these outlets actually had reporters on the scene — or if they were there, that they were allowed to stay anywhere nearby. I certainly didn’t notice anybody who wasn’t fire/police/EMT or family.)

I spent about seven hours on the call, and about two and a half hours at a “critical incident debriefing” Sunday, so the events of this past weekend are very much in my mind today.

Below, a few bloggish remarks slightly edited from notes I jotted Saturday & Sunday nights–just my way of decompressing.

R.I.P., brother Prowten.

UPDATED I have added and deleted some things since first posting. Please see the first paragraph after the fold.

Continue reading

Sunset makes me think of Google teeth I coulda maybe shoulda bashed in

So today, depending on how you reckon such things, more or less marks the end of the legendary Silicon Valley company Sun Microsystems, where I worked from January 1986 until April 1994 (badge #1387). Here’s a photo (taken today) of me behind a giant-sized beer mug that I got from Sun on my 5th anniversary. It says, “In appreciation for five years of service in the Kingdom!”

photo of giant sun beer mug
In addition to this beer mug, Sun gave me a fantastic education in hardware, software, management and office politics; a chance to spend at least one night in every hotel on the entire length of El Camino Real from Sunnyvale to Burlingame; lots of good friends and fun times; money, and most of all an inspiration for Monty Meekman, the nastiest villain in the best. novel. evar written about Silicon Valley, my very own Acts of the Apostles.

Below the fold: The day I almost put (Google CEO) Eric Schmidt’s teeth down his throat.

My dear wife says this post makes me sound a whole lot angrier than I in fact am, and she’s right. I just thought it was funny that two of the most arrogant bigwigs I encountered at Sun went on to become bigwigs at Google, an outfit that’s known for its. . . arrogance. Most of my memories of Sun are of good friends and interesting challenges. (And a whole lot of airplane travel and hotel rooms.)

Continue reading

What's in my wallet, Part One

You’ve seen those TV advertisements for the “credit card” mafia front called Capital One. “What’s in your wallet?” they ask. Well, I used to have a Capital One so-called “credit card”1 in there , but I cancelled the account last year –I’m still paying down the balance– so I have nothing with their name on it in my wallet to remind me that I’m still their bonded serf. What I do have in my wallet is this:

photo of warn and folded pawn ticket.
It’s the pawn ticket from when my wife pawned her jewelry, including her wedding ring & family heirlooms, for cash to keep us going when we were homeless in 1996 when I was writing Acts of the Apostles.

Continue reading