Getting gas this afternoon & so was one of the 3 guys who helped us empty the storage lockers yesterday. He was excited to offer me a huge bag of tomatoes that were picked at the farm just today. I took a lot fewer, as we’re moving. We sure made a friend in giving him work!

We did Step #1 in our move today. Six of us put in 48 man/woman hrs & got everything moved from our 3 storage lockers into the 28 ft container that will be driven to our new home. Sat we will clean out locker #4 an hr away, then we’ll empty our 2 bdrm apt & be on our way!

Today they brought the giant truck (28’ x 8’ x 9’) that we will fill up with all our stuff, so they can then drive it to our new home. I think we’ll have room to spare, my wife is not as sure. It should be on it’s way in a week or less and we will follow soon after in the car. :)

Songwriters Everywhere! Oh Mama, Can This Really Be the End?

I’m thinking the purists of the literary world who objected last year to the selection of Bob Dylan must be feeling mortified to read the winner of the Nobel for Literature this year, saying in his first interview on the Swedish Academy’s own website, “it’s great to come one year after Bob Dylan who was my hero since the age of 13. He’s probably my biggest hero.” And if they look into the story of Kazuo Ishiguro, they’ll find that when he first started writing, what he wanted most of all was to be a songwriter!

If you want to see extraordinary performances by Bob Dylan, follow the You Tube account of Elston Gunn. Here’s an example, My Back Pages, one of my favorite Dylan songs for over 53 years, rarely performed like this, with violin.

I spent time researching the latest Kindle readers, even the one that would read to me out loud. Then played some You Tube videos showing it in action. No thanks! Installed the latest version for the PC & it is very nice. But for bedtime my old Paperwhite is still okay!

This morning, I got to show my Thai wife how a car heater works. I moved the slider to the right & she immediately switched on the fan. “No, not yet, we gotta wait for it to warm up!” Cars have no heaters in Thailand, as rarely needed. Big smile from her when the air blew warm.

Remember When We Used to Read the News, Instead of Watching It?

I just read a Melody Kramer article about text only news sites making a comeback. When I started using the Internet, I would set my browser for text only, images would not even load. What a great idea to go back to that! I can read just fine. I don’t need anyone to spoon feed me with videos or pictures. I’ll start with the NPR feed and see how it goes. It actually looks like a static version of Dave Winer’s Rivers of News, except when you click on an item in one of Dave’s rivers, you get the full blown article, complete with images, videos and pop-ups. With Thin NPR, you click on the item and you can quickly scan/read the whole article in text. Text: clear, unencumbered, lightning fast, quiet text!

Just think, no super fast, powerful phone would be needed to consume the news this way. But obviously this wouldn’t be for everyone, just for those who can read. As Kurt Vonnegut said in his conversation about writing with Lee Stringer, “when we think about what reading is . . . it’s impossible. Literature is idiosyncratic arrangements in horizontal lines in only twenty-six phonetic symbols, ten arabic numbers, and about eight punctuation marks. And yet there are people like you who can look at a printed page and put on shows in your head — the battle of Waterloo, for God’s sake. The NewYork Times says that there are forty million people in the United States who can’t read well enough to fill out an application for a driver’s license. So our audience cannot be large, because we need a highly skilled audience, unbelievably skilled . . . Thank you for learning how to do this virtually impossible thing.”

The new Google wireless headphones do real time translation in 40 languages. A new technology that could be very useful to me, with a native speaking Thai wife! But I doubt that Thai is included in the 40. Basic Google Translate does include Thai, so maybe one day!

Well no one seems to have clicked through to see my great theme song & the high kicks. Would you click through to see a child musical prodigy who’s getting compared to Mozart? Alma Deutscher Or maybe go back & see the leg kicks!

Red Letter Day
Today I made my first mortgage payment in many years and my last rent payment ever (this lifetime), the former being almost $1,000 less than the latter. My prize for over fifty years of hard work.

The Russians Were Early Settlers in What is Now California

My scholar friend from Cambridge traveled north from SF, writing “Fort Ross was brilliant.” The area, now in Sonoma County, CA was the southernmost Russian settlement in North America from 1812 to 1842. They were Russian explorers & settlers from Siberia. They eventually sold their land to John Sutter, who also owned the lumber mill in the Sacramento Valley where gold was discovered in 1848, which triggered the Gold Rush, putting California on the map for good. It is interesting that the Wikipedia account of John Sutter’s life makes no mention of his connection with the Russian outpost.

Small Business Advice from The Week, Issue 9/29/17, pg 34

In an economy increasingly dominated by mega-corporations, the more focused and personal a company can be, the better. The most profitable small businesses are often in service industries that require special expertise and one-on-one attention to clients; they also have low overhead. These firms aren’t always flashy. Accounting firms, such as bookkeepers and tax preparers, had the highest profit margins among small businesses over the past year, according to financial-data company Sageworks, followed by lessors of real estate and providers of legal services.

That Is Ron Chester!
Not flashy, but expert one-on-one tax help for Americans and a 96.7% gross profit margin!

Special Bonus, No Extra Charge

Bookkeeper and its variants are the only English words with three consecutive repeated letters. I am not hoof-footed, but I AM sweet-toothed.

The Edit Feature is a Major Upgrade to Microblog. Preview Next?

I post directly on Microblog using the web UI, which Manton has recently upgraded, allowing more than 280 characters and a title to the longer form posts, the title being what appears on the Home timeline. Last night I wrote by far my longest post here yet, with external links to numerous images. I was pleased at how easy it was to do. But I mangled a URL and got a 404 error on one image when it posted, which would have annoyed me greatly before. But Manton had made a provision for editing a post after it was already posted. It took me 2-3 edits to get it properly fixed, but it didn’t have me tearing my hair out, or just deleting and starting over.

I’m impressed with the progress in the gradual upgrading of the web UI. Manton is doing an excellent job. I think he has the perfect temperament for his work, always businesslike in his comments and replies to folks. And thankfully the changes are not decided by some committee, but by one person who seems to have some sanity about him, as well as a good sense about what is needed for improving the blogging experience.

If I end up writing a lot of the longer form posts here. I think it would be nice to have a Preview option, to be able to see how a posting will look before committing to actually posting it for the world to see. I would especially find this helpful for deciding whether to include bold or italics on any part of the text.

Keep up the good work, Manton!

A Big Day to Remember

Our day in San Francisco with my friend from Cambridge was even more awesome than I had imagined. It was the first time we had ever met in person in 23 years of friendship, anchored by our mutual love and fascination with the life work of Bob Dylan. Example: in our first few minutes of chatting, I asked him, “So what are we gonna do at City Lights Bookstore?” He immediately gave the correct answer: “We’re gonna have our picture taken together in the alley.” And we did, as the day approached sunset. For two Dylan friends, this choice was obvious, A Necessity, fun and a confirmation of our like minds.

I knew of his expertise about Buddhism, but his clear, spoken commentary on ancient art pieces at the Asian Art Museum was a delicious surprise, bringing two thousand year old art to life. We are both book people and this easily grew into talk about book projects. Perhaps my lack of knowledge about the basics of Buddhism will one day make it easier for folks to understand the precious art around them.

Then a drive across the Bridge & back, taking in glimpses of the Bay, the Rock and the City, followed by a stroll back in time to my brief career as a tourist attraction in front of Aquatic Park, beside the Cable Car Turnaround, across from the Buena Vista. Two old guys who don’t drink alcohol, got back in the car with Paula, and after some trial and error found the correct entrance for a drive down the crooked Lombard Street and then on to the landmark bookstore, a parking space magically appearing right nearby. We got out, hiked a bit up the hill and soon we were taking in the familiar comforting feel of a great book place, history on the walls above the books. Then before we lost our light, we got those pictures taken in the alley.

Back to the car and the hotel, followed by a walk through the evening streets to a delicious dinner of Indian food and then a tired walk back to the hotel, but with some energy left for a bit more chatting about mutual friends, strange and colorful characters around us in The Caf, and some dreaming about contributions we might make to the exploration of the life work of the awesome Dylan.

Today we drive to San Francisco, a city that seemed magical when I lived there. I was young, a whole life of possibilities in front of me & driving a BMW motorcycle. Easy to park anywhere! Now, not so much. But the Bay and the Bridge are still there to inspire the heart.

We got our first monthly bill for the mortgage payment at our new home. Kinda exciting, the first mortgage payment I’ve had to make in well over a decade. And it is for a small fraction of the rent I’ve been paying every month for many years. Finally a homeowner again.