The Boomer Magazine (as in "baby boomer") posted an article July 18 on its website about my books. It was a "5 Questions" interview article, and it publicized my July 20 book signing at Barnes & Noble in Richmond.
Here is a link to the article: http://www.theboomermagazine.com/5-questions-for-a-local-boomer-author/
Thanks for reading.
July 2, 2013
Illustrated Guide to Riverscape Photography, my how-to e-book, is now available in all e-book formats, including Epub, Kindle, PDF, RTF, LRF and Palm Doc.
Although intended for beginners, this book contains tips that even seasoned pros can benefit from. Easy-to-read text puts digital concepts into layman's terms. This book shares information I learned while publishing two hard-cover “coffee table” books of riverscape photos. Subjects covered include composition, shooting techniques, equipment, exposure, digital editing, file management, and more.
This book began life as Chapter 9, “Tips for Photographers,” in my first book, James River Reflections, published in 2011. “Reflections” has triple meaning for me in the title of that book—reflections in the water, to be sure, my thoughts (reflections) about the river, and the fact that all photography is and always has been all about reflected light. I thought that “tips” chapter was a bit too long, so I condensed it somewhat for my second book, My Virginia Rivers (2013). But a curious thing happened between those two books. People who are not professional photographers began telling me how much they appreciated the way in which the tips were presented. I tried to write them in language that amateur photographers would understand. Encouraged by comments from readers who said my tips helped them, I decided to expand the work into this book.
The book is currently available on Smashwords.com, but should also be available at Amazon, Apple and other online e-book distributors within the next couple of weeks. More information and download links are available at www.smashwords.com/books/view/331253. The e-book costs $4.99.
Information about my other books is at www.willdaniel.com. Thanks for reading.
© 2013 Will Daniel
June 14, 2013
Following is another excerpt from my e-book, Observations of a Grumpy Old White Man, just because I have nothing else to write about today.
Things we didn’t have when I was a kid:
- Personal computers
- Electronic calculators
- Microwave ovens
- CDs (both electronic music and money saving instruments)
- GPS satellite navigation systems (in space or on the ground)
- Electronic billboards
- Soft drinks in recycled plastic bottles
- Shampoo and conditioner in the same bottle
- Gas stations that serve cappuccino
- Gas stations that serve food
- Electronic filing of tax returns
- Mickey in Orlando
- Wheels on grandma’s walker
- Wheels on suitcases
- Debit cards
- Haagen-Dazs ice cream
- Ben and Jerry’s ice cream
- Seat belts in cars
- Club Med resorts
- Gay ocean cruises
- Gay TV
- Gay rights
- Gay rabbis
- World Wide Web
- Permanent press fabrics
- Cell phones
- Cordless phones of any kind
- World Wide Wrestling
- “Rocking the Vote”
- Flat-screen TV
- Color TV
- Teach for America
- McDonald’s and Burger King. The McDonald’s name didn’t catch on right away with my crowd. We just called it “that 15-cent hamburger joint.”
- Pearl Jam
- Girls on Little League Baseball teams
- Nintendo Game Boy, Wii, etc.
- Employers empowered to do credit checks on employees
- Caller ID
- Voice mail
- Living wills
- Iced tea in cans and bottles
- Water in bottles
- Free soft drink refills
- Space travel of any kind
- Ear thermometers
- Charter schools
- iPods, iPhones, iMacs, iPads, iTunes
- Occupy Wall Street
- Tea Party
- Traffic lights that were red on top, then amber, then green. Color-blind drivers went nuts trying to figure out what to do at a light.
Can you add to this list? Please leave a comment.
© 2013 Will Daniel
June 7, 2013
Someone at Costco must have read my e-book, Observations of a Grumpy Old White Man. In a June 6 Business Insider article as reported on Yahoo, Costco CEO Craig Jelinek is said to be closing all of the chain’s self-service checkouts. At the same time Costco is moving away from self-service, Wal-Mart is reported to be installing 10,000 such systems in its stores. It’s obvious that no one at Wal-Mart read the book. Hooray for Costco; piss on Wal-Mart.
As a general rule, self-service is the bane of my generation. But I have exceptions. I love automatic teller machines, but use drive-through bank tellers when I can. And, since I no longer trust postal clerks to give me the correct rate for mailing my packages, I nearly always use the 24-hour machine in the lobby of my local post office. For a while a couple of years ago, I was sending the same-weight package to dozens of people. It was one DVD in a bubble-wrap envelope. I paid several different rates when allowing postal clerks to handle it, but one consistently lower rate when I used the machine. That is a valid reason to use self-service instead of the incompetent employees.
Following is an excerpt from the e-book that outlines my distaste, if not downright hatred for self-service checkouts.
I hate and refuse to use the self-service checkout in supermarkets. First, they take away jobs and secondly, they force customers to do for themselves what employees are paid to do. Admittedly, I am coming at this from a generational perspective. Don’t care.
One day I was in the express line at Kroger with my son-in-law Fernando to buy two gallons of milk for the rug rats. A Kroger guy came up to me and said, “I can check you out sir.”
OK, that’s great—we followed the guy. He took us to the self-service lane and asked Fernando to scan the milk. Being a polite person, Fernando dutifully performed the employee’s task for him. Then I went to hand the guy a credit card and he asked me to go through the self-service payment routine, whatever it is at those things.
“Nope—you do it,” I insisted. I gave the guy a mini-dissertation about why I hate those things and never use them, and reminded him that he was the one who volunteered to check me out. Furthermore, I told him he should hate them too because it takes away jobs from people like him. “You just should have left us in the express line,” I told him.
He was cool—very polite and apologetic. But he acted as if he was totally unaware of some people’s negative thoughts about those things. I am sure that whenever I refuse a supermarket employee’s invitation to move to the self-service lane, because I am an old fart in the young employees’ eyes they think I am afraid of their high-tech checkout equipment. They have no clue what’s really on my mind.
I had a conversation about it one day with a more mature, intelligent supermarket employee. Because the lane I was in was moving slowly, she thought it wise to escort me to the self-service lane, and dutifully offered to help me there. I politely refused her offer. Because the line was moving slowly I had time to explain to her why I don’t like those things. It has nothing to do with technology, I told her. It’s just that those things put people like you out of work, I am not the only one who thinks like this, and you should tell management how we feel. She smiled and nodded in agreement. As I moved along in the line, she returned to tell me about a conversation she just had with her manager. “You are right,” she said. “The manager told me that eventually all of the checkout lanes here will be converted to self-service, and we’ll have fewer employees.”
Self-service gasoline revisited
For what it’s worth, I always felt the same way about self-service gasoline. But my generation lost that battle a long time ago because we simply gave up on it and let the gas stations have their way with us.
For those of you who are too young to remember, there was no self-service 50 years ago. You drove into a gas station, sometimes known as “filling” stations, and the attendant came up to your window and asked how much gas you wanted and whether you wanted your oil checked. While the tank was filling, the attendant always washed your windshield for you.
Yup—definitely a generational thing. Some of us grew up paying for employees to do things for us that they now expect us to do for ourselves with no cost savings whatsoever (full service gas costs less in New Jersey, where self-service is illegal, than self-service costs in neighboring states).
Some of us feel this degradation of customer service is a slap in the face.
The most significant issue here is the fact that we’re performing labor that we are paying someone else to perform, and yet we are not getting any financial reward for doing the labor ourselves. Doesn’t that bother you?
(Observations of a Grumpy Old White Man is a 99-cent download at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/107485. Also available at Amazon.com, but at a higher price.)
© 2013 Will Daniel
June 6, 2013
First, let me get two biases of mine up front, just so you know:
1. I am a huge fan of all manner of remakes (covers) when it comes to music. I have always thought, and may have expressed to some of you, that if an artist couldn’t remake a song better than the original, why would he or she bother? Until today, the main exception to that for me has always been the original “Kansas City.” Dozens if not hundreds of artists have covered that song, yet not even the Beatles could do a better job than Wilbert Harrison.
2. I am absolutely not a fan of Kenny G. I think his brand of smooth jazz gives elevator music a bad name.
Having said all that, today on my way to work I heard a tune on the Sirius XM smooth jazz channel that was more than vaguely familiar to me. It was “Stranger on the Shore,” originally a 1962 clarinet solo instrumental by Mr. Acker Bilk (he prefers to be referred to with that courtesy title). So why, you ask, would a ‘60s hipster rock ‘n’ roller like me dig a clarinet solo instrumental by Mr. Acker Bilk? Well, for one thing I played clarinet – well enough to make senior band in my freshman year of high school, but not well enough to make the senior band at the next high school I went to in my second freshman year. I believe it was in that second freshman year when “Stranger on the Shore” went to No. 1 on the Billboard chart. It sits in that rarified category of instrumental music to make the charts – it almost never happens.
A few years ago, I bought a couple of new Van Morrison CDs. You know, the new, mellowed out “bluesy” Van Morrison as opposed to the 1960s rocker Van Morrison (Sharon and I like both Van Morrisons – saw him in concert twice). On a song titled “Somerset,” on one of those Van Morrison CDs, some cat lets loose with a wicked clarinet solo in the middle of the song. I couldn’t help but think, “Wow – that guy has been influenced by Mr. Acker Bilk.” As the clarinet played a bit longer I recall thinking, “Wow – that guy has been really influenced a lot by Mr. Acker Bilk.” Then I read the liner notes: Yep, it was Mr. Acker Bilk playing that clarinet on “Somerset,” by Van Morrison.
So, on my way to work this morning I heard, you guessed it, Kenny G playing “Stranger on the Shore.” At first I thought it was interesting. After all, I have this strong penchant for covers. This cover had some very nice background music accompanying the solo Mr. G, but it wasn’t strong enough to make me like it. The Kenny G who gives elevator music a bad name continued in that vein on his rendition of “Stranger on the Shore.” The soprano saxophone he plays sounds just enough like a clarinet to make one think he is playing a bad clarinet badly.
OK, you get the idea. I’m glad I got my biases out of the way up front. Thanks for reading and please leave a comment.