Monthly Archives: December 2010

Cheaping Out

It’s hard to imagine how many Kindle ebook readers were left under Christmas trees this year though I’m sure a little research could find the number. Confirmed Luddite and practicing contrarian that I am, I don’t have one or any of the others like the iPad, etc. And I’m probably not going to ever get one, either. I’m not a gadget fan and I laugh (HAH!) at the idiots that stay up all night in the freezing cold to be the first in line to get the newest digital toy to hit the market.

I’ve been quite content with listening to my books from Audible.com. Unfortunately there are several authors I enjoy whose books are available from that source with narrators I just can’t listen to. I’ve downloaded a bunch of books from the Gutenberg Project and have enjoyed them immensely recently having read Mark Twain’s “Roughing It” which I highly recommend.

Naturally the availability of English language books is limited here in Panama though there’s a very good second-hand bookstore, The Bookmark, in Dolega and you can special order new releases and wait for their arrival.

Now, I’m not saying the Kindle is a bad thing. In fact in a lot of ways I think their wonderful and I hope millions of people buy them because I plan on releasing my book in digital form and look forward to people actually buying it through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. But, again, I’m not going to buy one myself.

However, I DO want to be able to read some of my favorite authors and so I downloaded a FREE program called Kindle for PC. It emulates the hand-held Kindle with all the features of the real thing. I’m not sure I’d want to read books sitting at a desk staring at the monitor of a desk top computer, but it’s not too bad doing it on my notebook. I can take it outside and sit on the porch and read, but, I grant you, it’s got to be a lot bulkier than the Kindle and though my notebook has pretty good battery life I bet it can’t compare with a dedicated ebook reader. I downloaded a couple of novels that I paid for and several free books from Amazon and was rather dazzled by how fast they were delivered. Almost instantaneous. So, now I have another way of wasting time when I should be doing something productive.

If you’re like me you can download Kindle for PC here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd?docId=1000426311

And if you’re a Mac user you can do the same thing here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_mac_mkt_lnd?docId=1000464931

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Miss Me Lately?

People who visit this blog regularly have probably noticed that I haven’t posted since Christmas. There’s a reason, of course, and it has nothing to do with health, thank goodness. No, and while one of the basic mottos I follow is: Procrastinate NOW! That’s not it, either. I’ve been working to fill an old prophesy and a promise to myself. Let me explain.

Back in ’65 when I was going to college in Missouri I was very good friends with my English professor and his family and was one of his star students in his writing classes. One of those was a play writing class where each of us had to write a one-act play. These were later staged at the school. My play was entered in a contest among colleges in Missouri, Iowa and Illinois and my play took second place. Of all those plays submitted, however, mine was the only one that went live again, this time performed at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois.

Sometime during that year the author Erskine Caldwell who wrote the infamous Tobacco Road came to give a lecture at the school. The professor, the late Joel Climenhaga, invited me, and I believe my good friend, Dennis, to dinner to meet Mr. Caldwell. Somewhere towards the bottom of the evening’s second bottle of Jim Beam Joel made the pronouncement to Caldwell that, “of all the students I’ve taught if one of them ever writes a book it will undoubtedly be Philbrick, here.”

People who go to sea are usually great readers. There’s damned little else to do between watches. I’ve been a reader all my life and worked for a number of years earning a living putting words to paper. I wrote numerous articles that were published in national magazines, none of which any of you have ever read, I’m sure. They weren’t big name magazines but what I earned from them helped pay the rent. I even wrote a novel once that no one wanted to buy but it did garner several hand-written rejection letters from publishers but most were simple printed-form “no thanks” rejections.
When I started working on boats I stopped writing. I kept a journal through the years, though, but that was about it except for my blogging.

Books and articles about writing advise prospective authors to “write what you know.” This is, in my opinion, pretty much bullshit. Admittedly authors like James Lee Burke “knows” about south Louisiana and writes about it so beautifully I can “see” those places he writes about because I’ve been there. Carl Hiassen and Tim Dorsey “know” that Florida is inhabited by one of the largest collection of loonies in the world and capture them well in their books. But what the hell does Rowling “know” about wizards or Rice “know” about vampires? I think a better admonition would be “write a book you’d want to read.”

There has been a book like that festering in the few functioning brain cells I have left and when I moved to Panama I started working on just such a book. It’s sort of like the narrator of the story was “channeling” through me and then for a couple of months the bastard clammed up. I couldn’t get him to say a damn word. Recently, though, I haven’t been able to get him to shut up. So that’s what I’ve been doing instead of posting lately.

The book’s time line is broken into three distinct segments. I’ve completed the first and am into the second part now. With the development of ebooks through such outlets as Amazon, Apple store and others I won’t be going through the regular old-style form of book publishing but will be going the developing “indie author” route. I’ll let you know when I get it done.

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The 2,010th Christmas Morning Sunrise in Potrerillos Arriba, Panama

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Nice To Be Remembered

I am spending Christmas up on the side of the mountain in Potrerillos Arriba. The owners of the house and a couple from Montana who have a house a little way up the road are taking a small vacation to an island about an hour drive and a half hour boat ride away and asked me if I’d come and take care of the dog while they’re gone.

I left Boquerón about three yesterday afternoon and rode into the terminal in David and missed the bus to Arriba by about two minutes. The bus to Abajo came shortly after and I decided to take that and bum a ride from the Montana couple who were also invited to a Christmas dinner prepared by the lady of the house.

As it happened my bus passed the Arriba bus just after we passed Dolega and we arrived at the stop where the road diverges to the two small pueblos well ahead of the bus I’d missed. I’d called ahead to the Montana couple when we left the terminal and they agreed to pick me up. Now I couldn’t back out on them and as I was waiting and the Arriba bus arrived the driver got out and came over to me and asked where I’d been since he hadn’t seen me in over a month. I thought that was very nice. Real small town stuff and it’s a good feeling to know that in some small way, just riding up and down the mountain I’d become an actual part of the community at large.

I said I’d be back in the middle of May, we wished each other a “Feliz Navidad” and he got back in his bus and continued on his way.

We had a great meal and I once again got to sit out on the front porch with my morning cup of coffee and enjoy the incredible view down to the Pacific Ocean below. Life has been good this past year here in Panama. I’m looking forward to 2011.

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Sarah Palin Explains The Reason For The Season

I doubt there’s anyone in Boquerón who ever heard of Sarah Palin which is probably a good thing. Wish nobody in the Lower 48 had, either.

But here the residents have decorated the town square.

The Pentecostal Church submitted this:

Don’t you love the snowmen in 90 degree weather?

Santa’s guaranteed to lose some weight sweating it out here.

Recycled drink cartons make interesting tree decorations and it’s nice to see them here instead of on the ground.

Have a Merry Christmas. I’m going to be spending it in Potrerillos. The owners of the house are taking a few days vacation to the beach and asked me to stay at the house and take care of the dog.

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What Retirement Is REALLY Like

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Info Plaza

Info Plaza

I’ve made plenty of references to the Info Plaza here in Boquerón that I visit on a nearly daily basis when I’m in need of an internet fix. A couple of days ago I brought my camera along so you can see it.

The sign says “Closing The Digital Gap” and they’re doing a pretty good job of it, too.

There are eight modern computers available to anyone who wants to use them and, as I’ve said, the fee is an extremely reasonable 35¢ an hour. A WiFi connection is also available which is what I use.

The girl on the right in the photo is Karina, one of the two who share the duties of running the place. She’s the one who never charges me more than 35¢ no matter how long I’m logged on.

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