Douglas L Perry, The Author blog

September 15, 2010

Reader Comment

Filed under: Books,Writing — douglaslperry @ 7:52 pm
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I just got a message from a reader who was pretty upset. Not for my fiction book, but for one of my computer language textbooks. It wasn’t about the actual content of the book, but the way that it was printed.

By the indignant tone, it seems the reader must think that I have have a set of quill pens in a backroom where I hand print each page, carefully glue them together and give each one a final hug, before they are sent into the wild.

Let me give you a hint. I don’t do that.

What I actually did was type a bunch of characters into a word processor and emailed the files to the publisher. A little while later, I received some galley proofs, which I looked over, and waved a rubber chicken over them to bless them for publication. That was it. End of story.

I had no input on the cover image, the margins on the page, what type of paper was used, what color ink was used, what font was used, the line spacing, whether or not it was translated into Swahili first, nothing else. So to complain to me that the printing looked of inferior quality, doesn’t really help all that much. Yes, I can and will complain to my editor, but at the end of the day, I’m not really expecting that my comment will go very far. It won’t be for lack of trying, but honestly, I’m pretty far removed from where those type of decisions are made.

Given today’s economic woes, I can imagine that publishers are trying to cut costs, and maybe the quality of the printing is suffering. If so, I’m not happy about that and I will do my best to fix it, but at the moment, I’m feeling pretty powerless.

I don’t fault the consumer for complaining if the product is substandard. I would do the same. But talking to me about it is like telling a musician that his CD sounds like crap. It doesn’t really help. Once he plays the music, it’s pretty much out of his hands.

If you don’t like the quality of a book, CD, or other manufactured product you should complain, but complain to the guy with the printing press, not the artist.

September 11, 2010

When you’re right, you’re right

Filed under: Thoughts — douglaslperry @ 8:44 pm
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On the upcoming anniversary of one of the most deadly attacks on American soil, this post made me smile and nod my head. Tam always has that effect on me, but today I nodded even harder.

I have no idea why 9 years after the attack, we are just barely seeing signs of life at the site. I went to the NY Trade Center site in July and was amazed at the lack of progress. What I expected to see was a gleaming new building that epitomized the spirit of the American people after such a tragedy. Instead, I saw only the beginnings. You would think that 9 years would be plenty of time, but I guess a few people had to talk about it for a while, or 9 years or so.

September 7, 2010

Call of a Lifetime

Filed under: Books,Stories — douglaslperry @ 12:41 am
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I got to talk with a real live Hollywood Producer about my book the other night. I wrote about it here. Go check it out.

September 3, 2010

Lunchroom Posters

Filed under: Thoughts,Writing — douglaslperry @ 11:16 pm
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I crack up everytime I see one of them in a lunchroom of a company. I mean, who reads those things?

You’ve seen them. They say stuff like “watch where you’re going while traveling up or down staircases”, or “wear appropriate shoes for the type of job you do”, or “There are five classes of fire”.

OK…. the first couple sound pretty much like common sense to me.

And for the third one, I’m not quite sure what good does it do me to know that whether a grease fire is a class K, while a fire in a refrigerator is a class C. If there’s a fire, I’m pretty much grabbing the local fire extinguisher and squeezing the life out of it while pointing it in the general direction.

And if someone is choking in the cubical next to me, do you really think I’m going to take the time to run to the lunchroom to read the notice on how to do the Heimlich maneuver and run back in time to save my neighbor. Either I’ve been trained to do it and can immediately apply it, or I can call 911 and hope for the best. Any other solution is pretty much pointless.

So why are companies required to have these notices in their lunchrooms?

Pretty much to cover their asses if something bad happens to one of their employees.

Company spokesperson: “We’re sorry that Mr Smith choked to death, but we had the proper signage in our lunchroom”

The ideal solution of course would be to have people at the company who are trained to perform the appropriate safety functions, so Mr Smith gets the help he needs right away, but the last thing I would want to see is that “regulated” into being. Companies already have enough anti-business regulations to maintain, they don’t need more.

I’m just saying that the poster basically provides no value other than it allows the HR person to check off a box on a form that the proper signage is located in the proper place. No one reads it, and if an emergency situation happened where someone had to apply a technique from the poster, it’s too late. They don’t have time to figure it out.

August 30, 2010

Snake Puns

Filed under: Thoughts,Writing — douglaslperry @ 5:56 pm
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While watching the news this morning, Fox News was making a big deal about the fact that an extremely deadly rattlesnake had escaped from the Atlanta Zoo, even though they had all kinds of safeguards, etc.

Me: Is that what they call a reptile dysfunction?

The wife answered without even cracking a smile.

Wife: I think they have a pill for that.

I’m going to slither away now thank you very much 🙂

August 27, 2010

Scary Thanksgiving

Filed under: Stories,Writing — douglaslperry @ 4:52 am
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A few years ago I was in LA for Thanksgiving at my, at the time, sister-in-law’s place. It was the night before all the food, and we were sitting in the family room watching TV. I don’t have a clue what was on, but all of the sudden I heard a helicopter come over the house very low, and I saw a bright light through the windows.

At first I didn’t think much of it, but then I heard it go by again. I immediately knew what was happening.

I jumped up, shut off the TV, and ran around the house turning off the lights. I ran to each of the doors and made sure they were locked. I told everyone to be quiet and we sat in the dark watching the helicopter trace back and forth across the sky.

It was erie hearing the whop whop of the blades increase in tempo as the chopper flew towards us, then slow again as it went past. The searchlight looked like something from an alien ship as it traced its beam back and forth from above.

A few minutes later we heard police sirens, lots of them, and a few moments after that, they suddenly stopped. I stared out the front window not sure what I would find, but I saw nothing.

After 15 minutes or so, the helicopter flew off, and the neighborhood went quiet. We sat in the dark for another half an hour or so, until it finally seemed like everything was over. We went to bed, and wondering what the heck had happened.

The next morning I went out to retrieve the paper and there it was on the front page. The police had been chasing a suspect on the street near my sister-in-law’s house, he had lost control of his van and crashed into a light pole. He exited the vehicle, jumped over the fence in her gated community, and ran down her street. He entered a house just down the street where they had a party going on. The fugitive entered the house, went to an upstairs bedroom, pulled out a handgun, and shot himself.

Needless to say, we were shocked. I knew when I saw the light, that the police were looking for someone. I wasn’t sure that he was in our neighborhood, but I thought we’d better be careful just in case. I’m not sure if our efforts prevented him from coming into my sister-in-law’s house, but I’m sure it didn’t hurt.

August 21, 2010

The kindness of strangers

Filed under: Thoughts — douglaslperry @ 4:12 am
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Saw something really cool on the way home from work tonight. A old yellow Plymouth Duster (I remember when they first came out) was sitting by the side of the road on my commute home. Back in the day it was one of my favorite cars, though I have to admit these days, it’s looking a little old.

As I pulled beside it, the hood was up, and I noticed fire was burning near the left side of the engine compartment. I think at the same time that I saw it, the truck in front of me noticed it as well. He immediately pulled off to the side and headed for the burning car.

I thought about stopping myself, but realized that I didn’t have a fire extinguisher, or even a water bottle in the car, so I wouldn’t be able to do much other than stand around in the way.

As I continued on, another 5 cars behind me pulled off as well, the drivers yanked open their trunks, and came running over with fire extinguishers. It was the coolest thing I’d seen in a long time.

If this had happened in South Dakota when I was growing up, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. Things like that while not commonplace, would have happened from time to time. Here in California, this never happens. Usually people are whizzing by on the freeway so fast that they don’t even notice people having trouble on the side of the road.

It was really great to see that kind of caring from people out here as well.

July 28, 2010

What a job

Filed under: Thoughts,Writing — douglaslperry @ 4:38 am
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A friend of mine has a friend, who writes software. Not your garden variety software, this software is used as the platform to display a lot of porn on the internet. That’s a little different, but that friend has another friend who works at the same company doing quality assurance. His job, if you can believe it, is to look at porn sites all day to make sure they are working properly. That’s pretty weird if you ask me.

I know some guys would love that job, but not me. If I was forced to, I might last a few hours, but then it would get ugly. Not the women necessarily, but I’d get sick of it pretty darn quick.

The software company gets a new benefits plan, and an HR coordinator visits to discuss their benefits. She goes through the standard pitch on the medical plan, the dental plan, the vision plan and moves onto workplace etiquette. She describes abusive situations, things that you are not allowed to do in the office, and finally moves on to computer screens. She describes the things that you can and cannot have on your computer screens, for instance, pornography.

Apparently, no one filled her in as to what the company does.

June 3, 2010

Airline Annoyance

Filed under: Thoughts,Writing — douglaslperry @ 11:44 pm
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Is it just me? or are airlines bugging the heck out of you on every flight these days?

I just came back from a visit to my brother and I don’t think I’ve ever been as annoyed by constant stupid airline announcements. It wasn’t just that there seemed to be way more of them, it was also the tone.

It’s gotten to the point where the flight attendants treat you as if you were still in second grade.

“Put your bag under the seat.” she glares down at you  “No, push it in farther.” she says in a tone that implies if you don’t, you’re going to the principals office.

“All electronics need to be turned off, right now. That means iPods, laptops, cellphones, headphones, anything with an on and off switch.”

Well Duh, I think I know what constitutes an electronic device, though I’m not believing the whole “it’s to prevent electronic interference” thing. The amount of power that a dinky little ipod generates is so minimal that even if everyone on the plane has one going, it’s not going to affect the flight instruments. Otherwise, why would they let you turn them on once at altitude. They just want to have control over you so that they can “have your complete and undivided attention” while they drill the safety information that you’ve already seen nine million times.

I know they have to do this because some dipshit lawyer probably sued the airlines years ago for not fully briefing some passenger on the safety aspects of the airplane, the idiot got hurt because they did something stupid, and here we are, suffering through the monotonous drone.

I have a solution. I think that before you get on the airplane, and you are checking in on one of those little computer terminals, they should show you the safety features of the plane on the screen. If you hit the OK button that you get it, voila, they let you on the plane. If you don’t, you get to keep going until you do. If you can’t answer the questions right, then you don’t get on the plane. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than the current system where the flight attendants have no clue if you understand or not. Their only indication is if they don’t think you look like you’re listening, they walk over, and glare down at you with stink eye until you smile up at them like a school kid. But I’m sure, that given the current environment, that system would somehow be viewed as discriminatory against stupid people or something.

But just think, once you’ve answered the safety briefing correctly a few times in the last few months, they don’t show it to you the next time. You already know it. You’re good to go. Those that fly a lot, never have to sit through it again.

But no, instead, once the flight attendants finally get through their drill, and give you three more warnings that electronics need to be off, then it’s on to discussing your seat back, then your tray table, then how you need to be paying attention to them, then you have to read the safety information card, and after all of that, the captain comes on and starts talking.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to hear the captain talk, as long as if it sounds like he knows what he’s doing, but if he’s not quite sure where we are going, maybe I wanna be on a different flight.

See the problem is, what I really want to do, is forget about the fact that I’m on an airline flight. It’s such a pain in the butt to get through the traffic, park the car, suffer through rude ticketing agents and annoying TSA people who seem to look at you as if you were a microbe under a giant microscope, that all I want to do, is relax, and go to sleep. But I can’t, because all you people won’t just shut up and leave me alone already. I already have my luggage stowed, I have my seat back up, I have my electronics off, I’m sitting here doing nothing but diligently listening to you prattle on about stuff that even a second grader already knows, or could figure out in a couple of seconds. All I want you to do is let me relax, read my book, and get some sleep.

I’m tired of being treated like a second grader. I’m tired of the constant annoying announcements, let’s face it, flying in today’s cover your butt regulatory nightmare, just plain sucks.

May 25, 2010

Picked up at Starbucks

Filed under: Stories,Thoughts — douglaslperry @ 7:53 pm
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I’ve decided that people don’t just go to Starbucks to get coffee, it’s also a meat market.

My wife was attending classes to which I drove her, and I tried to work in the hotel. Unfortunately the hotel internet has the same IP numbering scheme as my current consulting client, so I could not connect to my machine through the VPN. It was hugely annoying, but with no solution I had to wander off to the local Starbucks to get hooked up…. to the internet.

Unfortunately for some reason a couple of ladies decided that they wanted to get hooked up… to me. It’s not like I am a dashing gigolo or something, I think it was more that they were desperate. That’s the only reason that I can think of. I have a big wedding ring in the right spot and wasn’t soliciting their attention.

I guess next time I have to work at Starbucks I’m going to have to ditch the work clothes, not shave, and forgo the shower. That should keep them away.

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