Kevin Moriarity

Books. I Read a Lot of Books. I Like Trains Too.

June 21, 2017: Thoughts on Nature

Normally I abhor nature. I am a city boy, far more comfortable on concrete than on grass. Decades ago, when I lived in California and Alaska, I entertained thoughts of living out in the country, but I was always more comfortable in town than I was on a trail. However, today is a stunning day in Illinois. The sun is out, the temperature at 9 AM is 69 degrees and the humidity is at a comfortable 68%. It couldn’t be a whole lot better. The backyard is looking good – the plus being I can just take a picture of it and not feel compelled to do any actual work, though I do have to clear seed pods out of the gutters today before the rains come again Thursday night. As I’ve said before, home maintenance never ends.

On Monday, nature invaded my kitchen. I awoke to find many, many little tiny ants on my kitchen counter. They do not belong there. I got out the chemicals and eradicated the little bastards. I have no qualms about using whatever technology works best once they enter my house. Within minutes the problem was solved. As I found their trail back to the kitchen window, I sprayed that area intensely and they have not returned. You will never completely win the war against ants, maybe just a battle or two. That’s enough for me.

We also have nesting doves in the birch in front of our house. The nest had baby doves earlier in the year and they already departed. Now we have two more! I don’t know a thing about birds, though this surprised me. I figured once they had their babies they were done for the year. This could be another momma bird I suppose. They all look alike. The nest is perfectly placed for viewing or pictures, though we tend to avoid hanging around too long as it appears we get the little ones upset.

Technically, the summer solstice was at 11:24 (Central time, the only time that matters) last night. Seems kind of stupid to have summer solstice, celebrating the day with the longest amount of sunshine, at night. But what do I know about it? So little. I do know we will have light for a long time today, so try and get out an enjoy it.

June 20, 2017: Living in a State of Niche-less-ness

I have made a commitment to myself to write at least 250 words per day. I should be writing my 250 words in the book I’m working on, but blog entries count too.

I would like to make some money writing, but that seems almost impossible to me. I read blogs about blogs and all of them say the same thing: to make money blogging you have to choose a niche and find products to advertise within that niche. That makes sense to me. My dad told me something similar when I was in college. Pick a niche and milk it. I did that and it worked for a long while, until it didn’t. Then I had to pick a different niche, which was OK. Now I’m niche-less, which if you are reading this on my blog you are quite aware. I’m all over the map. I write about political stuff and even there I stray from liberal to moderately conservative, depending on the issue. I write about books. I love to read and I read a lot. I thought book reviews, with links to buy the books might make some money. And it could, but we’re talking pennies, literally pennies, every time someone clicks a link on my blog and buys a book I recommend. That’s not likely going to help me pay the outrageous health insurance bill (there I switched to politics again). I like trains and planes and boats, like a little kid. I can’t see a way to exploit that niche for money.

Maybe I should just write whatever pops into my little brain. Yea, I’ll stick with that and try and forget all the “make huge money blogging” schemes! Back to my book…

Monday, June 19, 2017

A summer rain. Thunder. A steady hard rain falls. I’m sitting on the screen porch. With no wind right now, I’m staying dry. It’s quite pleasant. I love the sound of the falling rain. We need the rain too. We started out with a pretty wet spring, but June has been pretty dry and the flowers and lawn need this. Although I do notice I probably have to clear off tree seed pods off of one of my gutters – home maintenance just never ends.

I also like rain because it keeps the lawnmowers, weed-whackers and leaf blowers in the garage. Yesterday was sunny and gorgeous. However, one of our neighbors decided it was a good day to set up his table saw in the driveway and cut wood. He cut wood from 10 am or so to 5 pm. He had a whole trailer of wood and he just cut and cut. I live one street away and the noise was loud. I can’t imagine what his immediate neighbors must have thought. I can’t imagine what he was going to build with all that wood either. It was father’s day – both neighbors to the west had their dads over, out in the backyard barbecuing – the noise seemed so obtrusive to the celebrations. But, it was his right to saw wood on his own property if he so chose, and he did.

The rain is slowing now, but there are still plenty of clouds and sounds of thunder in the distance, so I doubt this is over just yet.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

I saw Scott Pelley on one of his last newscasts on CBS. It wasn’t his final show, but he was in his final week. He was offering commentary on the latest mass shooting – the one at the Congressional baseball game. His main point was that we need to think before we talk. I think many of my problem moments in my life stem from my inability to keep my mouth shut. I seem to have a fear of silence and often rush to fill the void, often to my disadvantage.

But, now stifling your speech is considered being politically correct. If you can’t say what is in your mind, unfiltered and immediately, then you are being PC. Trump is certainly in that category, whether speaking or tweeting. Of course, this is crap. Our parents taught us: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” And there used to be a more prevalent concept of politeness. I think the anti-PC crowd is often just rude and impolite. Manners seem to be a thing of the past, much to our disadvantage. We need the strong, silent type back! It would sure make our politics more civil and, probably, more effective.

June 17, 2017

This has been a rough week for justice.

A Minneapolis police officer was found innocent of charges in the killing of a black man. The killing was captured on video by the man’s girlfriend. It looked really obvious from the video that there was no reason to shoot the man, much less seven times. I’ve never been a policeman, or faced that kind of danger, so I don’t know what it’s like. But, my reaction under those circumstances is not the least bit relevant. Policeman are supposed to be trained and know how to handle situations that I would not be able to deal with. Hardly any police officers get charged when they shoot someone, black or white. And I suspect they do protect their own. I find it hard to believe, given the plethora of video evidence that has been shown over the last few years, that a hefty percentage of these shootings were not justified – that there had to be another way to handle that situation without killing someone. Like I said, I’m not a policeman, never have been, so I don’t know what I’d do, but I would hope that their “training kicks in” during a situation and that prevents a life from being lost.

The other miscarriage of justice concerns Bill Cosby. So far, sixty women have come forward to claim he sexually assaulted them. How can he end up with a hung jury and a mistrial? What is wrong with our system? What is wrong with juries? Maybe the juries are the issue! I read in the Washington Post this week that perhaps 7% of the population, about 16 million people, believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. Maybe there are just too many stupid people in America. That explains a lot really.

Book Review: Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist

Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century EconomistDoughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist by Kate Raworth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book made me feel more optimistic about our chances for the future. Way back in college I wondered about the underlying assumptions in my economics classes. The concept of continual growth made no sense to me. The supply / demand curve overlooked so many common-sense facts that I couldn’t take it seriously. I got a good grade, but I thought the mathematical emphasis of economics was wrong – far too limited in its capabilities to explain what is really going on. Here I am, 40 years later and now I find I wasn’t the only one!

View all my reviews

The AV Geek at Waterline in May

I wasn’t at the microphone this show. I got to be the AV geek! Much thanks to Rick Veague for his invaluable help with the wireless mics!

Book Review: Voice In A Whisper

My friend Lynne Handy reviewed Voice In A Whisper by Frank Rutledge:

This book is a little gem, wonderful for carrying around in a purse, for quick glimpses into the human condition. In A Poet’s Glossary, Hirsch tells us that haiku, with its primary focus on nature, “…seeks the momentary and the eternal,” while senryu, dealing with human nature, is often satiric. Frank Rutledge’s Voice in A Whisper, a collection of haiku and senryu poems, is filled with expressions of love, nature appreciation, and whimsy, with asides into music, literature, and art.  There is irony in Rutledge’s work, and gasps of sorrow when he chronicles personal loneliness and loss. Some of the poems embody folk wisdom, emanating from his southern roots. He is a musician, as well as a poet and I hear his music in pieces like “a pause in our talk/she cries tears—sounds like crickets/over the cell phone.” Voice in a Whisper is a welcome addition to poetry collections.

Funny Science March Sign

Radish: Something Old Made New Again

Some days I want the world to stop changing, but no one listens to me. 🙂 Apparently eBooks like the Kindle are on the way out and phones are the future. The concept of serialized novels goes way back and is now very popular in China, Japan and Korea. A relatively new company, Radish, is attempting to bring this concept to the US. I don’t think this works for every writer, but some, especially those who can write chapters with “cliffhanger” endings, might want to look into this format. You have to submit your work; this isn’t a self-publishing model. The articles state you are not giving up your eBook or paperback rights, so you can publish here and still put your work out on Amazon.

Articles about Radish:

http://www.independentpublisher.com/article.php?page=2169&urltitle=From%20the%20Tech%20Desk

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/Apps/article/72652-radish-uses-serialized-genre-fiction-to-attract-readers-investment.html

https://www.fastcompany.com/4068517/get-to-know-radish-the-serialized-fiction-app-bringing-novels-to-smartphones

From the Fast Company article:

The way it works is that anyone can get access to early chapters of Radish’s 700 authors, but if you want to keep reading, you have to pay, anywhere from 20 to 40 cents per chapter. (Those with patience, can wait until those chapters are made available for free a few weeks later.) Revenue generated by these payments is split 50-50 between Radish and its writers. As a result, Lee says the app’s top writer earns $13,000 a month. … “Thanks to Candy Crush and other games,” says Lee, who has the youthful face and windswept hair of a pop star. “People have gotten really used to mobile micro-payments. So we said, why don’t we apply that model to books?” … “The future of e-readers is the future of iPods. You’re not going to hold on to these devices,” he says. “You’re just going to convert to phones … “Reading as a vertical isn’t going to go away,” he goes on. “It’s competing with VR, video games . . . But reading is an everlasting format. So how do you reinvent it on the phone?”

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