October 6th, 2005

hopper_summer_evening

Chirp

As it was a bit warmer tonight, I was able to spend some time watching the stars in shirtsleeves (meaning I was in shirtsleeves, not the stars, which would just be silly.) That lone cricket who yet survives was chirping most of the night. It must be a remarkably hardy little bug, to have lasted this long. Its chirp grows louder and deeper as it ages, too, so it clearly is not suffering decline as a result of its advanced age. There's nothing wrong with the insect's hearing either. Whenever I crush underfoot one of the dried leaves which now decorate the yard, it stops chirping briefly, until it is sure that no danger approaches. If this cricket has procreated, I expect that its progeny will flourish next year, and that their music will fill many nights.

I was expecting to go out and do various monthly errands yesterday afternoon, and rose early for that purpose, but my plans were derailed. Thus, I must wake early again this afternoon, for the third day in a row. I fear that this accumulating sleep deficit will have dire consequences.

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caillebotte_the orangerie

Stuff

Got my head lightened today. They removed a bunch of that stuff that grows on it and gets all soggy every time I shower. I've heard that it can be removed entirely, but that this is likely to lead to sunburn, to which I am particularly susceptible. I'm comfortable with the amount remaining, which provides some protection from the elements and is yet not demanding of great maintenance. Also, it no longer tickles my ears.

Two things: First, Manassas, Virginia (locale of two famous Civil War battles) has become the first place in the U.S. to have city-wide access to broadband over power line Internet service. The municipal utility company's power lines are used to transmit data. The company which provides the Internet service charges $28.95 a month for households, more for businesses. Not bad, considering that you can plug in to any electrical outlet in your house, which makes it almost as flexible as wireless when it comes to choosing where to stick your computers. Also gives you more flexibility in telling Comcast where to stick their cable broadband service.

Second, Lulu is not a stripper from the 1920s, but an Internet-based self-publishing (AKA vanity press) site. They will publish books, calenders, audio, video, and images. No setup fees or minimum order. You choose your own design, the type of copyright you want, and decide how much you want to charge for your work (Lulu adds for itself a 20% markup to whatever royalty fee you charge buyers.) If you waive your royalty, then customers will pay only the production cost of whatever they buy, which will depend on the medium-- books being fairly costly to produce, and downloads of e-books being free. Various services, such as design, formatting, proofreading, and marketing are available for a fee if you don't want to do them yourself. They sell stuff on-site, ad also through on line retailers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It's an interesting operation. Perusing their list of 100 top books gives a good idea of the range of stuff that's being self-published. The variety is quite remarkable.