July172014

DVD drive for Robin Balzer!

From http://jerrodbalzer.com/dvd-drive-for-robin-balzer/

Hello, friends! For those following the recent news about us (if you haven’t, simply look at the past few posts), you know that Robin will be going to a home facility soon, within the next month or so. We toured a place today that seems to be a winner. It’s safe and secure, and yet it has a pleasant and caring atmosphere.

Ugh, I’m still having trouble talking about this but trust that I’ve been extremely picky about Robin’s upcoming home and she needs to be happy about it, as well. Given the circumstances, she is.

She loves to chill out and watch TV and movies. It’s a nice distraction from the voices, etc. I had hoped that there would be Internet access in the rooms so she could watch Netflix and such, but there is only access in the activity room. So we’ll be setting her up with a TV and DVD player (DVDs because they’re easier to replace than blu rays should something happen to them).

For storage convenience, I’ll be putting DVDs in some nice big binders of sleeves that zip up. She can then reserve a dresser drawer or something for them. We have a decent amount of DVDs though we’d been downsizing a lot, so we don’t have near as many as we used to, and we’d replaced several with blu rays over time. Still, I’ll be able to provide her with some great stuff from home like all of the Buffy and Angel seasons that are essential to her, the entire seasons of Little House on the Prairie, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Buck Rogers, Sliders, etc.

So I was thinking, especially with her birthday on the way (August 14th), wouldn’t it be neat if others were to send some DVDs to her? It would not only be a great act of generosity, but it would be a way of showing her some support during these troubling times. You know, let her know there are others rooting for her.

The DVDs don’t even need to be in cases, since they’d be put in CD/DVD storage binders. Heck, if they’re shipped in a storage binder, even better! Whatever you want to do, really. A lot of blu ray lovers get DVDs with the purchases and have no use for them. Well, here you go!

And if we get more than one of the same movie, I can sell the extras in a garage sale or ebay, using the money made to get Robin anything else she wants or needs. And I’m trying to stick with original copies only because burned movies might raise eyebrows in the establishment.

So, what does she like? Robin isn’t terribly picky, really. Language/nudity/violence is not an issue. She doesn’t get offended so long as it’s entertaining. Due to her trouble concentrating, however, subtitles are a no-no, and any films that might be confusing for her -extra deep.

Horror: She loves horror but nothing too gory and no bugs or worms! She’s schizophrenic, remember, and she sees enough of that with her hallucinations. She really likes horror comedies and despite what I said about gore, etc, she’s into zombies. She especially loves The Walking Dead and we don’t have the DVDs for that series. She also loves True Blood and needs DVDs for that.

Comedy: Bring it on! She doesn’t like Seinfeld or The Office, but loves things like Everybody Loves Raymond, How I Met Your Mother, and Friends. With movies, she’s really into romantic comedies.

Drama: Romance, of course, is one of her favs, and period pieces. Some of her favorites include The Notebook (she needs this DVD again), Somewhere in Time, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and Four Feathers (Heath Ledger’s version). In fact, she adores anything with Heath Ledger.

Sci-Fi: She’s a total Firefly geek (and needs the DVDs again). She’s also a Trekkie and lover of Planet of the Apes and, well, she’ll watch about anything sci-fi.

Fantasy: Like Sci-Fi, she’ll watch about anything in this genre. She loves things like Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, Princess Bride, Legend, Dragonslayer, the Hobbit and LOTR films, Narnia, you get the idea.

Superhero: Yes, please. She lurves ‘em all.

Music Videos: She would really enjoy music DVDs of country, 80s pop, soft rock, and the like. Among her favs are Stevie Nicks, Cranberries, and Sarah Mclachlan. No real need for CDs, though. I’ve got her iPod all filled up.

Animated: Definitely! Disney, Pixar, she can never get enough of that. They’re also safe for her to watch, regardless of the kind of day she’s having.

Action/Adventure: Absolutely! She likes Jason Statham movies, Arnold, Stallone, Bruce Willis, new and old. It’s all good to her.

Classics: She’s a nut for Little Rascals, I Dream of Jeannie, Gilligan’s Island, and any other light-hearted shows and films from way back.

Well, you should have a pretty good idea. And even if you’d just like to drop an encouraging note to her, it would mean worlds.

For those who don’t know, Joss Whedon wrote her into a Buffy comic book a few years back, which we’ll always be so incredibly proud of. In there, she is a “Minder,” a person chosen to control rifts in reality so demons can’t come through. You can read more about it HERE. The reason I bring it up is because mentions of that in correspondence to her really brightens her day on top of everything else.

And she could use it these days.

As for me, I’ll get through things better if I can see her smile more.

I thought about having everyone contact me for my address, but it’s easy enough to find it online in the White Pages (which says I’m over 65 years old!), so why bother with all the secrecy? Things can be sent to our house where she still resides for at least a month yet, and anything that arrives afterward, you know I’ll get it to her. I’ll be visiting her often.

Robin Balzer

153 Clark St.

Kahoka, MO 63445

July162014

Divorce papers filed

From http://jerrodbalzer.com/divorce-papers-filed/

The paperwork is done and turned in. We only had to walk across the street. It was the same place where we picked up our marriage certificate on February 7, 2003. They’ll wait 30 days before they set a court date for the judge to grant it.

Afterwards, we went to the Medicaid office to ensure we had to wait until that was all official before they could update our benefits, and naturally, we do. Being single, Robin will get more financial support in a home and I’ll get more help like nurses to come by and look after me while my mother is away. And if all goes well, I’ll at least improve enough that maybe I can get by without as much supervision. I can be doing fine for the majority of the day and then drop from a seizures. You never know.

And once the Medicaid is improved, she’ll be clear to move to a group home.

Before coming home today, we stopped inside an ice cream shop for a treat. After we were seated and enjoying what we’d chosen, we realized that we had come to the same building that we’d gone to after getting married, except it was a German restaurant at the time. We were even sitting in the same place. It was so strange.

Feeling pretty numb right now. Just trying to keep my mind distracted, for the most part.

July102014

Terrible news - Robin and I are parting

From http://jerrodbalzer.com/terrible-news-robin-and-i-are-parting/

This is such a difficult thing to write, so please bear with me.

Robin and I have been together for over 15 years, married over 11. We weren’t together long before her alcoholism was made apparent, but she stopped it… for me. But that’s when the real problems became apparent. She’d been self-medicating her bipolar, paranoid schizophrenia, and without the alcohol, the real sickness was coming on full force. I got her to a psychiatrist and she’s still with him. He keeps her just medicated enough to stay in reality the best she can, but without being so doped up that she can’t try to enjoy life. He’s a firm believer in staying functional, which is why I admire and respect him over other doctors in the field that would rather zombify their patients.

But therein lies the big problem. Robin is barely in reality. I’ve remained vigilant all these years, convincing her that there were not people with no skin or covered in blood, surrounding the house and trying to get in. Whenever she starts throwing plates and flipping chairs at the little gremlin creatures skittering around on the floor after her, I lead her to another room to calm her down. When she claws at her face to get the bugs off, I pull her hands away and help put lotion on her skin to feel better.

And the voices. Oh, the voices! When they told her to drink bleach if she wants to get rid of them, that’s when I had to lock away all cleaning products. When they told her they were just under her skin, I had to lock away all knifes because she was slicing herself up. And when they told her that by taking all of her pills, they’d go away, which resulted in an overdose, I put them all in a locked tackle box. The keys remained on a heavy chain hanging around my neck at all times.

That chain is sort of symbolic, in a way.

Then there are the sleepless nights because I never knew when she would try to run out the door to meet a train, which by the way, was covered in barbed wire and carried its passengers on meat hooks. Men in purple suits would be coming for us, according to her, to put us on the train.

Fifteen years of this, 24/7 with no break. I would work on the computer any chance I got – that was my only escape – but she would walk in the room and blurt something out at me at full volume, always making me jump damn near out of my skin. Over and over throughout the day she would startle me while I was in deep thought. At one point, I turned my desk so I was facing the doorway, but that didn’t work. If you’re focusing on the computer screen, your heart will still leap out of your chest if someone yells, “Honey!” out of the blue or talking as though you’re in the middle of a conversation in a noisy room. There was no quiet voice because everything, regardless of how trivial, was urgent to her.

Eventually when this would happen, I began to freeze up and fall out of my desk chair, even striking my jaw on the way down.

That was the beginning of my Conversion Disorder (more details of the first year of it can be found HERE) four years ago. I kept attributing it to an old head injury from a car accident in 1992, and I still believe it had a hand in it, but there are no doubts in any of my doctors’ minds that the main cause and continuing trigger is Robin’s illness.

I want to always ensure that this part is crystal clear: this is not Robin’s fault. She is not to blame here. It’s her illness.

Even with my own health issues, I’ve been going hard at it for four years, trying to keep my head up and care for her regardless. Four years of constant seizures with every loud outburst she makes or when I answer a question for the fifth time in a row within a half hour. Yes, the majority of my daily seizures are, indeed, caused by her (resulting from her illness). It’s only on occasion that I get one from a dog bark, a ringing phone, or simply over-exertion. I’m usually being brought out of one with liquid Benadryl and Robin apologizing. Anymore, with all the horrible pain I deal with every single day because of this, I’ve begun answering with, “Don’t say you’re sorry unless you intend to stop doing it.”

I know that sounds bitter, and yes, it’s her illness, not her. Try to imagine, however, if someone beat the living crap out of you at least a couple times a day. I’m talking twisting you as far as your body and wrists can turn and kicking you repeatedly in the stomach and head until you’re ready to beg for a bullet, and then they say, “I’m sorry” each time. Eventually, after years of it, you might stop responding with, “It’s okay. You can’t help it.”

So here is the current status:

Robin is on the maximum levels of medication that her doctor can comfortable put her on, and her windows of coherence each day are getting shorter. Even when she seems to understand something, she’ll ask about it again later. The last time she was in the hospital for a possible medication readjustment, there was nothing to adjust. She has pretty much reached her limits.

I visited my neurologist a few weeks ago and it’s the last time I’ll see him because he’s going out of the country next month. He noted that while the meds he has me on help my seizure frequency (they were 5 or 6 a day before he got involved) and keep the pain from being so intense, my condition is remaining unchanged, if not slowly downgrading. However, he said it can improve drastically if my “situation” changes. He means if my major trigger was no longer around me 24/7.

Robin’s doctor has said, years ago, that one person should not take on so much, that it’s impossible without also taking on damage due to chronic stress.

My therapist has said that I’m mentally sound but in an extremely trying “situation” that’s been pounding my stress barriers into nothing, and then steadily beating on me so that those walls can never rebuild. So long as I remain in this “situation,” I’m spinning my wheels as far as improving.

So…

Together: Robin is unchanged; I am actually getting worse, with appetite problems coming on now. For hours after a seizure, food now tastes like gasoline.

Apart: Robin is unchanged while I have the chance to get better.

I feel so guilty, and I’ve been hanging in there for the last four years because I’ve been willing to sacrifice myself to be there for her, but… damn it! I’m getting worse! I can’t take care of her or even myself at this point.

I only wish I was stronger.

We’re looking into group home type places for Robin in the area. It’s difficult because so many only take developmentally disabled or seniors, or they’re simply full. Also, I’m picky about places that are too cramped, crowded, or noisy for her.

The option was considered about her going to Florida to be near family, but after talking to them… I’ll just say they’re not capable. Please don’t ask or comment any more about that.

To improve both of our benefits so she can get the best treatment possible, we will be getting a divorce.

I was dreading the moment when I’d reached that word on this post: divorce. So I think I’ll just stop there. I’ve typed enough so I guess you get the gist of it. I can’t continue right now but I felt it needed to be told and I hope people understand.

I should say, however, how Robin is taking it. She understands and agrees, though she is naturally very sad. Every now and then, she’ll say something like, “And if you get better down the road, I can come back!” Then it’s like a stake in the heart because I have to keep replying, “Sweetheart, if I get better, it’s because we’re apart, and we’d need to stay that way.”

July52014

Amazon is EVIL! And here’s why:

From http://jerrodbalzer.com/amazon-is-evil-and-heres-why/

amazon focus_keyword  Amazon

Down on your luck? Blame Amazon!

Things have been changing a lot these past few years as the digital revolution – or perhaps “evolution” is a better word – took over nearly every moment of our lives. As one would imagine during such a radical change in industry, many businesses have refused to adapt and were thus, left behind. Others were unable to grasp how it all worked and found themselves spinning in place… and left behind. Before long, many who failed were unable to admit their own faults, so they turned blame toward a successful business who was running commercials with a URL on the screen before most people knew what a URL was:

And they’re right for casting the blame. This new head risen from the Illuminati should be exposed every chance we get! Here is the best piece of evidence (source), so let’s break it down so you know there are no doubts about it.

amazon is evil focus_keyword  Amazon is Evil

Okay, the top part only talks about how quickly it grew to success, and continues to grow. We get a sense, though, that it’s evil because of the word “STRANGLEHOLD.” That word is only good when it’s a Ted Nugent song, which is available HERE. Coincidence? I think not.

Then there is a bar graph illustrating  what it said, and it’s called “Amazon’s Hold.” I guess there wasn’t enough room to put “Stranglehold” there and understandably so. Even the song is over 7 minutes! Or was it 8? You’re going to look it up now, aren’t you?

Back to the chart! Back to the chart!

Next, it discusses its “Grasp.” It starts off saying there have been news reports and lawsuits about the horrible working conditions at Amazon’s 69 warehouses.

At one, there is even (reportedly) an ambulance hanging out in case an employee collapses!

These are clear reasons why the titles of that first section is called, “Work your employees to the bone.” A quick search for the class-action employee lawsuits shows how it was all about being worked to the bone, indeed! Take a look at THIS ONE and HERE about the heat. What is OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) doing about it?

I have some personal experience working at factories, handling things that were several hundred degrees (Fahrenheit) hot. I’ve seen fingers chopped off and heads crushed and very little compensation save for medical expenses covered. The guy with his head crushed lived. I think he was able to do some work at a tire shop.

And the best instance was when this factory bought plastic material from North Korea because it was cheaper. When people began to get nosebleeds, they made us all wear those cancer-testing badges. After a few days, the results came back and they removed all traces that the material was ever there. That’s nothing like working at Amazon, however, dealing with the hassles of security checks before and after work. However, I’m pretty sure all of the above was a figment of my imagination.

The hard-working employees at foundries and well, any factories or warehouses all over the country thankfully never have to deal with extreme temperatures or head offices trying to weasel around injuries (like when shavings were blown into my face and around my safety glasses, scratching my eyes – the company was right; the fault was my soft contact lenses). We need to figure out what’s so different about Amazon’s warehouses and stomp it out. Make it a priority, people!

Next over is “Free-ride on the services of brick-and-mortar stores.” This one is about as underhanded as you can get. The Big Evil “A”  has this app that encourages you to enter physical stores and scan products. They’ll then let you buy the product online from them, instead, and sometimes offer $5 dollar rebates! That’s absurd!

No other store has ever been this evil in the history of capitalism. In fact, the only time I can think of where other stores have come this close is when, for decades, they would hold promotions telling customers to bring in competitors’ coupons, where they’ll either match or beat ‘em. I’ve seen this with department stores, grocery stores, auto dealerships… but this thing with Amazon is unique. I mean, they don’t have a store to bring anything to, unless you count onli– Well, it’s just different and evil. ‘Nuff said.

Finally on that row is how they “Make sure consumers have no other choice.” They say it best right from the start with “Anyone who wants to read a Batman comic or any other e-book title from DC has no choice but to acquire a Kindle and buy it from Amazon.”

Now stop and think about that for a moment. Allow the horror to settle in that you are completely unable to read a DC-owned digital title unless you acquire a Kindle. Can’t afford a Kindle or someone doesn’t want to give one to you? You are SCREWED! Want to read a Kindle e-book on your phone or iPad, SCREWED! Pretty much, if you want to read a Kindle file on anything but a Kindle, you are most totally SCREWED!

That part goes on to say how Amazon is cutting exclusive deals so customers have nowhere else to go but them to buy certain products. Once again, the evil is filled to the rim, doing things never thought of before because everyone else had higher morals in business. Before Amazon, exclusive brands never existed. It simply didn’t happen. Companies shuddered at the mere thought of such a thing.

Okay, what’s next after that? A row of graphs? Goody! I love those.

First is one showing “Jobs Per Millions in Sales.” There’s one person representing Amazon, five for Big-Box stores, and a whopping eight for Independent stores! What’s amazing is how Independent stores are employing so many more people despite being killed off by Evil “A”! That’s quite a bit of awesomeness, don’t you think?

I certainly do my share to support the Independent stores. I buy from them all the time, and from all over the country! Granted, I’m unable to travel for such purchases. See, I buy from them through this place on the Interweb where they can all gather together like in a mall, but instead of where malls demand crazy rent whether sales are good or poor, this place takes a reasonable percentage from each sale. To make things even better, this mall-type place allows the Independent stores to ship their products for storage in their warehouses. Then the place handles the customer orders. All the store owners have to worry about is collecting the money!

This ability to reach people worldwide is likely the big reason why Independent stores have been on the rise again, and yes, why they’re still able to employ more people than Evil “A”. If you want to see where this wonderful place is that’s literally saving Independent stores from extinction, go HERE. They’re sure to blow that nasty monopoly out of the water soon enough (you know, Amazon… grrr).

Okay, on to the next graphic. This one is “Author Events Each Year.” It shows 200,000 held by Independent Bookstores and Zero by You-Know-Who. And let me tell you, it makes a huge difference! The average author’s book signing at a physical store will earn enough for gas home if it’s a good turnout. If it’s a great turnout, the author can hit up some Kentucky Fried Chicken later. Meanwhile, the gas-free royalties made from Kindle royalties mean diddly-squat.

Because of the lack of events on Amazon, authors have to go elsewhere, like perhaps the wealth of author event tools available at Goodreads (*cough*owned by Evil-A*cough*). If you add that with the ability to sign e-books via Authorgraph (formerly Kindlegraph) and the worldwide reach can equal a bit more than a chicken meal – no car fuel required.

But none of that counts as an “Amazon event” so the graph is legit.

The final graph is another example of how the Market is caught in the Stranglehold bay-bay!

Hey, we’ve reached the bottom! We’re going to discuss the company’s “Grab.”

In “Get a sweetheart deal from the government,” it talks about how they don’t have to pay sales tax in most states since it’s an online store. This gives it a leg up on brick & mortar stores regarding the ability to offer better prices, etc. And hey, this would also mean that for each town a customer lives in, they’re getting a sweetheart deal from that city and county since a brick & mortar store would be paying property taxes just to be there to sell stuff! And in every location that a sale is shipped to, they’re getting a sweetheart deal from the electric companies, water departments, and probably a long list of other places because a physical store would have to pay all that if the customer shopped there instead of ordering online.

Amazon must have a separate warehouse just to hold the documents for all these sweetheart deals they’ve been making! It truly boggles the mind. Selling things online where there is no sales tax can’t possibly be legal. Perhaps if we asked other companies to look into it, they could be a big help. You check with Google, Yahoo, and Apple and I’ll ask Microsoft, Sony, and Steam.

Okay, next it tackles how the company “bullies” their suppliers, like when a publisher “resists its demands for deeper discounts,” the site will remove the “buy” buttons until they give in.

This is a very important issue that needs some careful explaining. For those who don’t know the full story, there have been multiple times when a big publisher refuses to lower the price of their e-books for Amazon, so the “Buy It Now” button will disappear until they come around. There is an article about it HERE.

See, print books cost a lot of money to maintain. There is the money to print them, store them in warehouses, distribute them, not to mention staff required to format the books so they’re ready for press. When a book is sold, the bookstore takes a large chunk, the author/agent gets a cut, and the publisher gets a little bit of profit per sale after all the expenses put into it are covered.

E-books… not so much. The publisher formats it into a digital edition and uploads it to Amazon and everywhere else they want it available. There is no other overhead. With each sale, the bookstore takes its cut, the author/agent gets theirs, and the publisher gets what is left.

But see, the big houses didn’t like e-books, especially Macmillan who thought they could punish people for buying theirs. Hopefully, customers would then snap out of it and come back to print. This was done by charging much higher prices for digital copies than for print.

Given that overhead to make print copies is higher than digital, it makes perfect sense to hike up the price of digital, right? And it’s the publisher’s product; they should be able to charge whatever they want! Amazon is just a store; they only have the choice of selling what they want. If they don’t like it and think the publisher is trying to screw customers, they don’t… have…. to… sell… it.

It’s evil! Moving on!

Next it discusses how they sold their products at a loss. Using “Wall Street’s deep pockets” it sold below cost for nearly a decade to crush the competition. During this time, it lost “a staggering $3 billion”!

Well, I had trouble finding that information on the Interweb. In the comments of the source page, the creator of the infograph, Stacy Mitchell, says, “Amazon posted losses for its first 8 years in business before it began turning a profit. The losses totaled $3 billion. Can you imagine if Wall Street handed independent bookstores $3 billion?”

Hmmm, still not finding anything to back it up, but she’s been on the ball so far. It’s gotta be here…

Ah-ha! There is something HERE! It offers nice details on the history of the Evil-A business, and it looks like they did report losses for a while there, and also while expanding rapidly, a little too rapidly. It was when Wall Street analysts warned that it was on shaky ground that Bezos put on some brakes and saw better numbers. And that was the only mention I saw of Wall Street. But if the chart says this guy, who left a million-dollar-a-year job to start Amazon, made it on Wall Street handouts for the first eight years, then itMUST be true!

Anyway, we all know new businesses never report losses for the first several years. They’re all highly successful from the beginning, and Evil-A making deals with companies like Yahoo and Toys-R-Us in its first few years wouldn’t have given it the boosts needed to keep going. It had to have been something like selling below cost and getting money from some dude named Wall Street. Business logic simply does not apply here.

Quick little factoid: The company did sell a bunch of Kindles at cost (not below but at cost) with hopes that by making the reader more accessible, more money would be made in Kindle book sales. This method proved successful and not only helped Evil-A but all the publishers & authors involved.

And finally (yes, FINALLY finally) it says Amazon is so popular that people go there instead of using search engines, and also people like to sell through them… which is evil because…

Oh, I give up! This is too much stoopid in one graph and my melon hurts!

amazon focus_keyword  big bang sheldon paper throw

amazon focus_keyword  Scared Baby

Just keep following the whole Amazon is Evil wagon because hate is fun.

June232014

Spider-Man dream last light

From http://jerrodbalzer.com/spider-man-dream-last-light/

spider-man focus_keyword  spider man

Last night, I dreamed about a very realistic Spider-Man costume.

It was right after Christmas and I’d received a number of gifts that I was happy about, like a new surround sound system that Sony came out with, but there was some other thing that I didn’t want. That other thing had brought me to a mall to return it.

$106 in my pocket – cool!

Then my mother said to me, “This is a good chance to return the Spider-Man costume, too. Are you really going to wear it all that much?”

It was this amazingly realistic costume of the Raimi version (pictured above), and it was then that I realized I was wearing it, right there in the mall. Though it was over my clothes, it appeared nice and snug like out of the movies.

Still, Mom was right. I was sure it was expensive and I had bills that could be paid with it. I walked around until I found the store selling it, and thought, I can’t go in there wearing it and ask to return it!

I stepped away to a corner and began working my way out of it. Wow, was it hot underneath with a full set of clothes! The memory popped into my head that I’d actually been wearing it for a week. WTF?

It surely reeked of sweat, though I was unable to smell in the dream. I couldn’t return it like that. I checked its tag and couldn’t see how it was to be washed, and that’s when I realized that as I’d removed the costume, my clothes had come off, too!

I was all musty and in my boxers in the mall. It was going to be one of those dreams! Well, that type hadn’t bothered me since I was a kid. I simply started to get dressed again. As the pants went on, I noticed the Spider-Man costume was already wiggling about to go on along with it. There would be no returning it.

So if you ever see me in public, wearing a stinky Spider-Man costume, it’s not because I’m crazy. I just can’t get rid of the damn thing.

June152014

The Dead Island 2 trailer is so awesome!

From http://jerrodbalzer.com/the-dead-island-2-trailer-is-so-awesome/

I admit it, the Dead Island 2 trailer floored me.

It’s not because I was expecting to be disappointed. I didn’t even know it was coming out. I may have heard some mention of it and thought they were referring to Dead Island: Riptide, the sequel to the original.

Well, I’m excited now, for sure, and I love this trailer! I have the other two games and I’m playing the first one a second time before moving into Riptide, but then I’ll have this one to look forward to. There is also an online MMO in the works, though I’m unsure if I want to mess with it. Every time I try to get into a free-to-play online game, I usually get sidetracked away.

Regardless, I highly recommend the first Dead Island and if you can manage to get your hands on one, I highly recommend the limited rigor mortis edition of Dead Island: Riptide. It’s sweet!

Dead Island 2

But anyway, I keep watching the Dead Island 2 trailer and laughing a little more each time! I can’t wait for that to release.

12PM

The old digital eBook vs print book debate - my thoughts

From http://jerrodbalzer.com/the-old-digital-ebook-vs-print-book-debate-my-thoughts/

RV AJ296 EBOOKS D 20130104182250

Honestly, I think people should spend less time arguing about eBook vs print, and more time reading.

That said, I’ll cover points I’ve heard way too many times and offer my opinion. If there are other points not covered, be sure to tell me in the comments and I’ll try to update to address them.

Before I begin, I should give you some information about myself so you can see where I’m coming from. I’ve always loved to read and I currently surround myself with books. Being disabled and stuck in a recliner most of the day, I find comfort in looking around and seeing my favorite titles a short distance away. I have both fiction and nonfiction, and while I take great pride in my antique and signed/limited editions, I also read them. I believe books are meant to be read, not placed on a shelf like some museum artifact. If a valuable book gets some wear from my using it, it’s because I was bonding with it, and that’s special to me.

My disability issues include migraines and questionable vision throughout the day, as well as problems with concentration. This naturally limits my ability to partake in my favorite pass time: reading and writing – especially reading because if the font size is fairly small, the eye strain worsens my migraines, and my vision… well, that’s obvious. Also, simple light glare off of a printed page adds to the strain. It’s not as bad as a computer screen, but it’s there. I think it’s often why reading makes us sleepy; our eyes are worn from the glare and font strain.

When I got a Kindle, this helped tremendously. The E-ink has zero glare so I can read much farther than I normally would without any strain. I can also adjust the font if my vision begins to change during a reading session. I absolutely love it! We bought one for my mother, who loves to read but once she’s finished a book, she never wants it again, so it does no good to buy them for her. She was getting them from the local library but she’d gone through the type she liked that they carried. They were happy to order more but she didn’t have specific requests. She was just like, “Give me some historical romance, that’s all!”

When she received it, she cried, but not because she was happy. It was because her stupid kids paid too much money on some gadget she didn’t want! Well, I explained that it was on my Amazon account and whenever a free book in her genre came about, which was all the time, I could click to add it and she’d have an everlasting supply of books. It paid for itself in no time! She was hesitant at first but now she takes it everywhere and goes on about all the great stories that she’d never hear of from the local library, and we pay for several of her books that look like something she’d love. Just don’t tell her!

Okay, I’ve rambled enough. You can see how much I love both sides in the eBook vs print debate, but since I usually see most of the hate going toward the new guy, I’ll be mostly biased toward eBooks.

eBook vs Print #1: There’s just something about holding a book in your lap and turning the pages, even bookmarking your spot.

I keep my Kindle in a leather case that feels just like holding a real book, so no issue there. Pages are turned with a push of a button. Seriously, I think that’s a silly thing to be concerned about. I don’t miss lifting my fingers for a moment from a new paperback only to have it all spring back closed so that I’d have to find my place again. My Kindle also bookmarks just fine, or simply remembers where I was reading last on any book it’s carrying.

eBook vs Print #2: I’ve got to have that smell. ZOMG, the smell! Oooh, that smell! Can’t you smell that smell?

I hear this one so much and it about drives me insane. Both this “point” and the first one are so ridiculous, imo, that it makes me wonder if the speakers even read any books. I understand the appreciation of how an old book smells, but isn’t the content more important?

That “old book smell” is because a tree pulp property known as lignin breaks down in the paper over time. When this happens, it gives off a vanilla scent. In addition to getting high from tree rot, you’re also smelling any other chemicals degenerating within the book, along with whatever the book has been exposed to over the years, such as animal dander, smoke, dead skin, body oils, and the like. Breathe all that in and sigh with ecstasy.

Or you could put your Kindle in a leather case, as I have, and give a little spray of vanilla perfume to the case material. Bingo! Old book smell achieved. You don’t even have to turn the Kindle on if the actual content is unimportant to you. Just open it up and inhale.

eBook vs Print #3: Print books have more collectible value and autographs are more important.

I completely agree with this point. An original first edition of a popular title, signed by the author, or perhaps a limited edition, is most certainly going to be more valuable than its digital counterpart, even if it’s signed through authorgraph. For something to have collectible status, it needs to be tangible, right? One needs to be able to collect it, as in pick it up.

However, this is still no different than the previous points. It is desiring books for an entirely different reason that what they were created for: to read, to spread information, to share ideas with others, to stimulate the imagination.

Collecting is for hobbyists, investors, hoarders, or simply those who need an ego boost when visitors come over. Regardless of the reason, reading them is generally low on the priority list. Even if you buy something because you’ve read it in another version and you love it so much that you want the best possible format out there, it’s still unlikely you’ll read that copy because you want to keep it nice.

Sometimes people buy the collector’s edition and read cheaper versions, like paperbacks or eBooks. Still, they’re not reading the nice books. And content is the most important part of a book, or else it would simply be an attractive paperweight, the equivalent of a museum artifact, as mentioned earlier.

And yes, I’d said I own several nice editions, but I also said I read them. Value is an afterthought. I merely want them to look nice on my shelf when I’m not reading them, so I get the nicest versions that I’m able, and then treat them like any other. So then, value isn’t the issue in this case.

Thus, when the value as a collector’s edition is taken out of consideration, the content is still the same as an eBook. The true value, imo, is still there.

eBook vs Print #4: You don’t own the eBooks. They can be taken away too easily.

I am very much against DRM (Digital Rights Movement). It gives sellers and publishers too much control over a product after it’s been bought. When you buy a print book, you take it home. A store manager can’t walk into your house, claim there were some rights issues that came up between them and the distributor, and pluck it from your shelf. The same should never occur with eBooks, though it has already.

For the record, we don’t put DRM on our books at KHP because we believe if you buy a book, you should own it and be able to do whatever you want with it. If you want to use the free software called Calibre to convert a Kindle book of ours to epub so you can read it on a different device, you can! You paid for it, so knock yourself out. Enjoy it.

And when you have Calibre, there is a plugin found here that you can use to strip the DRM from any of your ebooks. Then you can store them on your computer, cloud, or wherever and read from that batch without any worry of them disappearing on you, ever.

So while you’re taking ownership back of what you paid for in just a few simple clicks, pretend the DRM people are in front of you while you laugh and say, “F*** me? No, F*** you!”

eBook vs Print #5: eBooks are locked in to whatever device you buy them for. Once it’s obsolete, you have to buy them all over again in a different format.

That would suck if it were true. Thankfully, see #4 above about stripping the DRM and converting to whatever format you want.

Also, Sony recently closed down their Sony Readers and the store associated with it. They then transferred everyone’s accounts to Kobo, so the books were never lost, only moved. There is never a guarantee that a business will be as thoughtful to their customers as Sony and Kobo were, but as you can see, this is a non-issue, either way.

eBook vs Print #6: eBooks can be stored by the thousands in the palm of your hand while there is never enough room for print.

Have you ever taken a print book along for a trip and realize it’s not all that good? Even if you brought some back-up books, have you thought about this one left at the house and darn, if you had just brought that one? With an e-reader, you can have everything right there. If a book you’re reading is no good, you can move on to the next with a click. Or if someone mentions a book that interests you during your running about, you can pull it up and buy it.

I remember the days of carrying a tattered book bag around for long road trips. Never again.

eBook vs Print #7: One accident and the e-reader is shot.

That’s a valid point. Drop it in a pool or spill something on it. Step on it, perhaps. They’re tough but they’re not impossible to break. Or they might just short out.

Of course, print books aren’t invulnerable, either. Cat pee can do a number on one, that’s for sure. I had a beautiful signed leather book that I was reading until a pipe burst in the ceiling right above my desk at work. The next day, it was thought to be fixed but happened again to someone’s laptop. Guess what? It dried out and still worked. I had to order a replacement book for $120 (back when I had that kind of money, lol).

Now think about this: say you buy an e-reader for $69, because you don’t need to spend more for all the fancy extras. We’re talking about reading here, not checking your email and playing games, surfing Facebook, and occasionally reading. eBooks, if they’re not sold by a crooked publisher, are much cheaper than print books, so you save a lot of money there, not to mention trees. When you figure in all the free eBooks available out there, then your e-reader has paid for itself many times over in no time at all. If an accident should occur down the road, you can replace it, sign in, and all of your books are there again. The same can’t be said for the books I lost during a flash flood about ten years ago.

eBook vs Print #8: Your sight might go with age, but your books can stay.

I had a friend once who had many cherished books, but as he got older and his health deteriorated, he could no longer read the average font size found in most books. Reading glasses didn’t help, either, so he began giving away his collection with a heavy heart as he replaced what he could with large print editions. Many titles weren’t available in that format, to his disappointment.

If only e-readers were more popular before he passed away.

And as I’d mentioned early on, I have trouble with my own sight, so Kindle helps me by being able to enlarge the font.

eBook vs Print #9: I want to read without being bothered by emails, messages, and ads, etc.

I don’t really get this point, or why people feel the need to buy the more expensive e-readers with all the extra abilities like watching movies, playing games, surfing the Internet, etc. I hear Kindle Fire is a nice, inexpensive tablet so I can see that, and being HD and color would be handy if you’re reading books with full-color illustrations, but otherwise, what’s the point?

What I’m saying is, again, the point is to read, not all that other stuff. If you don’t want other distractions, don’t pay all that extra money to have them!

As I’ve said earlier, I own the basic Kindle, and it’s the basic Kindle with ads. Since I bought it, the Paperwhite has been released and it looks cool, but I’m perfectly happy with what I have. The ads only show on the screen when I turn it off, and at the bottom when I’m on the menu screen. They never show up when I’m reading, so no big deal at all. And because I didn’t pay extra for all the bells and whistles, I don’t have the distractions.

The only way I could get distracted by emails, phone calls, this or that would be the same way as with a print book: by reading near the telephone or computer.

Seriously, I keep imagining someone buying the most expensive e-reader possible and doing everything but read a book with it, then complaining that it’s too distracting, and I don’t know whether or not to laugh or cry.

eBook vs Print #10: Allergies and something else for hypochondriacs

One very unfortunate thing about print books is they are dust and dander magnets. I’m very allergic to dust, etc, and often when I open a book, I get migraines, swollen eyes, and sneezing fits. This is more so with older books where the paper deteriorates as well, as opposed to newer, treated books.

And speaking of sneezing fits, one downside to buying used books or checking them out from libraries is all the hands they’ve passed through. Think of all the body oil seeped into the cover and pages from sweaty hands, not to mention dead skin, even on microscopic levels. How many times have the open books been sneezed into? Were hands washed before each handling? Doubtful.

If you think I”m over-reaching on this one, check out this article where professors discovered traces of herpes and cocaine on a library copy of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Needless to say, this is all less likely from an e-reader.

Well, that’s all I could think of for now with the big eBook vs Print debate.

Again, let me know of any more points to tackle in the comments, or perhaps points mentioned that I should expand on better.

June102014

S.D. Hintz takes on White Castle!

From http://jerrodbalzer.com/s-d-hintz-takes-white-castle/

It looks like somebody on Twitter had a craving:

Twitter sdhintz WhiteCastle I shall cross ...

I love the things that come out of S.D. Hintz‘s brain! Even wilder, White Castle must have liked it because they retweeted it to their 57,000 followers. Nice one, buddy!

In other news:

I unfriended and unfollowed Facebook and Twitter last week, in case others have noticed my absence. I’m just getting too sick for them. The seizures, etc, are making my windows of being able to do anything narrower all the time. Something had to give and I chose the least productive. Still, there are other things I enjoy doing, and I hope friends will keep in touch here are via email.

I wrote a new article for Interweb Says the other day. I lend my sarcasm toward the lemon wedge scare that’s gripped the nation for the past few years. For those who don’t know, I started that site to make fun of things that go viral and have little to no truth to them. Friends Ray Garton and Adam J. Whitlatch also contribute.

I haven’t added any new games to that KHP Arcade in over a month, but I’ll fix that soon. There are currently over 450 games on there, so plenty to enjoy. I’ve mostly been improving things on the back end, lately. I have a ton of games on my hard drive to add to it, though, so I’ll be busy on it for a long time to come. Do me a favor and spread the word around on that. It’s expensive to run but higher traffic can help in the long run.

As for KHP Publishers, Inc., we’re working on the creation of a new imprint and I just got a new title processing with some ebook stores, so that’s humming right along. I’m so proud of everything we do there. Each member of the team is essential in their own way and the goal is always treating the authors and readers the best we can. It’s as it should be.

Anyway, now I’m hungry for some White Castle.

May302014

My take on some recent events.

From http://jerrodbalzer.com/events/

In 1983, a dark, disturbing Charles Bronson movie came out called 10 to Midnight. I was seven years old and believe it or not, my father took me to see it in the theater. I enjoyed it.

For those unfamiliar with it, it’s about a college guy who gets sick of being rejected by all the women he likes, so he strips naked, stalks the women, and kills them while they’re having sex with some other guy. Bronson is tracking the killer with a special concern because his daughter is one of the ladies being stalked!

Does this sound like something that recently occurred? Probably because it’s nothing knew. There are certain types of crazies who are narcissistic and fill up with rage if they don’t get everything they want, or feel they deserve. History is filled with world leaders with this problem, let alone regular society.

My point is all these blogs blaming current sitcoms or whatever are just stupid. Crazy is crazy.

#yesallwoman is a nice, well-intended exercise in feminism. I’ve nothing against it, though I do believe if there was a #yesallmen started with all the examples where nice men have been made to feel predatory, simply for being male, then I think it would be treated as some sort of hostile response or not taken seriously at all.

To further illustrate my point, take a look at this social experiment HERE.

But here is my perspective on it: it all brings to mind THIS scene from the movie Heathers. A terrible tragedy has happened. In addition to placing the blame anywhere but a terrible sickness of the mind (as mentioned above), society focuses on themselves and each other for a love-in, an “emotional outpouring of emotion,” as mentioned in the film. This also brings out people who are against the love-in, so now they all fight among themselves… during a love-in.

And all the while, the deceased at the heart of the tragedy are being completely ignored.

May202014

5-20 Recap

From http://jerrodbalzer.com/5-20-recap/

Well, I spent a good chunk of today traveling to see my cognitive behavior therapist, which went well. I got to brag about how I was able to stop a seizure on my own yesterday. It was after twenty minutes but still.. yay! The only problem is most of time, I can’t concentrate well enough during one to be able to do it often.

See, I happened to have been twisted up in such a way that I could see outside a window to some trees out back as the top branches, filled with bright green leaves, swayed in the wind. I pictured myself hovered up there, just above them. I think the feeling of displacement, outside of this body being racked with pain, helped my mind calm, and in return, everything else settled down.

And the rest of the day was spent having violent seizures (so many sudden noises today! Sometimes, I want to be closed up inside a soundproof chamber so the world can leave me alone) and dealing with Photoshop updates that kept crashing things.

So hopefully, tomorrow will be more productive and maybe Mr. Pain’s bear hugs won’t squeeze as tight :)

← Older entries Page 1 of 49