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|Monday, February 8th, 2016|
|What happened to Project Project Gutenberg?
Almost a year and a half ago, after reporting on Service's The Spell of the Yukon
, I briefly mentioned that my Nook's battery was failing, and that there would be a "brief pause" in Project Project Gutenberg, my silly-but-to-me-fun project for reading things in the order that they were digitized by Project Gutenberg.
I've explained what happened, in person, to at least one of my readers. Now I suppose I owe an explanation to the other one.
I bought a new Nook "Simple Glow", essentially just like the reader that failed, but with a back-lighting option for reading in the dark. I learned that I could not begin
using the new reader until I had agreed to its terms and conditions (by tapping a virtual button labeled "I agree").
The license agreement was almost two hundred screens long. I didn't mind the legalese -- I can mostly understand it as a second-language reader. But the sheer volume was daunting, and as I got into it, I became angrier and angrier at the terms I was required to agree to. Basically, I was not allowed to rely on the reader performing its most basic function: apparently Barnes and Noble, not I, the purchaser, own the right to determine what lives in the reader's memory. They could, with no excuse, claw back any digital content on the machine. Now, remember that I will be using this reader to read public-domain epubs that I download for free from Project Gutenberg, a charitable nonprofit that uses volunteer labor for all its digitization. As far as I can tell, Barnes and Noble would be within their claimed rights to even claw back that
content from my reader.
Furthermore, they would not guarantee that the license agreement's terms and conditions would remain constant. It would by my
responsibility to keep myself current with the agreement, by checking back at a website periodically. If the terms changed, and I did not like a new condition, my options were limited to not using the reader any more. No mention of a refund.
I doggedly read about a third of the agreement. The reader had no function whatsoever except to be an agreement-viewer, until I agreed. I was quite bemused by that -- there was no feature of the object I had just bought that the manufacturers would let me use unless I agreed to all their conditions, most of which applied to use of their online service (which I wasn't planning to use much). Then, I noticed a hotlink in the text -- a thing that you could tap, presumably, to see a certain Barnes and Noble web page. Since the link appeared to be active, I couldn't resist tapping it, to see if this
function had been disabled, even though that would compromise the device's utility as an expensive agreement-viewer.
It was worse than disabled. Tapping the link crashed the reader, hard. I had to power it off, leave it for an hour or so, and then power it on.
It had forgotten where I was in the agreement. I had to start from the beginning. There was no fast-forward option -- I had to tap through every screen. I caught up, and continued reading. About 2/3 of the way through, I hit the "I agree" button by mistake instead of the "next page" thing. Now I was in a weird situation. I did not
agree. I had indicated my agreement with what claimed to be a binding agreement by mistake
. But the machine was unlocked; it would now let me use all its functions.
Working up to buying a new reader, and laboring through the agreement, took months, most of which were spent procrastinating and fuming. Finally, after that last mishap, I talked to my son, who was then a second-year law student. (He will be graduating this summer!) He assured me that agreements of this kind were almost-universally considered to be bullshit. Their numerous divergences from classic contract law (conditions favoring only one side, without consideration for the other side, flawed evidence of "agreement", and much more) have simply never been tested in court. Apparently, it's 99% bluster and he informally recommended that that I simply continue using the darn thing. So finally I did.
It's been quite a few months since then, but mostly I've been using it to read things to Dr. Wife (most recently, Brust's Viscount of Adrilankha
series, and Rushdie's Luka and the Fire of Life
). In the meantime, my own reading has been quite random. I reread Doc Smith's ancient Lensman
series, sort of the founding work of "space opera". I reread all of Harry Potter. Now, for some reason, I seem to have started to read David Hume's History of England
, which he worked on up to the end of his life in 1776. I can't remember what got me started on this. Oh, I know. I also read the Penguin History of England series, and found it too heavy on the social analysis and too skimpy on the pure storytelling which is what I most love about history, so I resolved to read something in a more classic vein.
It'll be something of a long read, but I will get back to Project Project Gutenberg after that.
|Friday, February 5th, 2016|
|Saturday, August 29th, 2015|
|Nineteenth and twentieth runs of 2015
I ran on Thursday and forgot to blog it; I did 28 laps in 81:54
. This morning I went out again, and went a little slower, finishing in 82:29
While I was running, three guys came out carrying a few hurdles, and I thought, "Aw, they are going to take over a couple of lanes for hurdling and I might have to move." But then they started taking pictures of each other; mostly one guy was taking shots of another guy, with the third guy kind of helping out. They would pose with the athletic equipment. The "model" would even pose as if he was running, though he never actually ran. He didn't look very athletic. He was tall and a little overweight and had curly hair but was way too young to be Weird Al. But thinking "photo shoot for a goofy album cover" made the whole scene make sense to me, so that's my guess.
|Saturday, August 22nd, 2015|
|Eighteenth run of 2015
I did seven miles in this morning in 84:10
, which is a big improvement, but I did it by mostly ignoring my heart monitor, which persistently read higher than I have been historically comfortable with. I didn't feel bad, though; it was a very pleasant run. No fiddlers or talk-show hosts, though.
|Wednesday, August 19th, 2015|
|Seventeenth run of 2015
This morning as soon as I started running, my heart monitor started freaking out. I think it's running out of batteries or monitronium or something. Anyway, I decided just to run at a "reasonable pace", and I finished in 88:58
, almost ten minutes faster than Saturday. Maybe it's my monitor that is holding me back.
|Saturday, August 15th, 2015|
|Sixteenth run of 2015
I sucked only slightly less than Wednesday on this morning's run, doing my 28 laps in 98:02
. I am comforting myself with the thought that this might be real improvement, not just random variation, because I have now run three times in eight days, which is way better than I have been doing recently.
While I was running, there was a young man at the track in a green Tulane tee who was multitasking in the most peculiar way I have ever seen, if everything was as it seemed. He was running laps, considerably faster than I was, while loudly talking on his cell phone. Not just talking, but giving advice. Not just any advice, but advice about how to live, how to reconcile one's family life with "Josiah", who after a few examples I deduced to be either Jesus or someone like him. And not just giving godly advice, but occasionally yelling out, "Cut to commercial!" Yes, he was conducting an evangelical call-in program over the phone, while running laps. Most of the time I could hear him, he was talking to somebody he called "Joe in New York", whose side of the conversation I would have liked to hear, because Joe seemed to be getting a bit hot under the collar. "Yes, yes," said the jogging radio preacher. "We understand
that you are angry." At one point he remonstrated with the caller, saying, "No, Joe, I'm not in Chicago. I'm right outside your fucking office!" For one thing this could not have been true, because the evangelist was running on a track in Watertown, Massachusetts, with no offices in sight. For another, I hope that the host's producer kept his finger near the bleep button, because this guy was pretty salty for a Christian.
|Wednesday, August 12th, 2015|
|Fifteenth run of 2015
I ran on a weekday morning! Yay. But I was very slow. Boo. 98:51
for seven miles.
On my last few laps I was astonished to hear a fiddle being played near the tennis court. When I was done running I walked over and found a woman playing a few tunes for a little girl who I think was her daughter; they were part of a small gaggle of adults accompanying their children to tennis lessons. She introduced herself as Ellie Buckland, a member of The Wiles
, a sort of folky trio whose stuff I will certainly be looking at soon.
|Monday, August 10th, 2015|
|Fourteenth run of 2015
I forgot to mention that I did get out on Saturday, and did 7 miles in 89:36
. I continue to flounder on the same plateau because I have only been running once a week.
|Saturday, August 1st, 2015|
|Thirteenth run of 2015
Pretty awful. I'm proud I finished, because it was pretty hot out, but my time was horrible, 99:50
. I didn't ever drop down to a walk, though. But wow, slower than 14 minute miles.
|Twelfth run of 2015
Last weekend I actually did get out to the track, and I ran seven miles in exactly 85:00
, but I neglected to blog the achievement right away, and then forgot about it. I only discovered my lapse just now, a week later, because I was getting ready to go out to the track this morning and discovered that my watch's stopwatch function was still displaying my run time from then.
I'm headed out again now, and will post about my thirteenth run when I get back.
|Saturday, July 11th, 2015|
|Eleventh run of 2015
I did my seven miles this morning in 86:53
, which isn't terrible. I have decided that I need a new heart monitor; do either of my readers have a recommendation? I've been using a chest-strap Polar.
|Wednesday, July 8th, 2015|
|Tenth run of 2015
Extremely slow, 28 laps in 94:34
. I don't think it was the heat; no idea what the problem was. At any rate, I'm declaring victory because I managed to get out there on a weekday.
|Friday, July 3rd, 2015|
|Ninth run of 2015
It's a fairly warm day, so I expected to have a terrible run, but it wasn't bad: 28 laps in 84:20
, my third best time of the year.
Some organization had set out inflatable bouncy slides on Victory Field (around the perimeter of which Paul Bartley Track runs), and they had to run power cables for the inflation fans, and a water hose for the wet slide, across the track. This was slightly annoying, since once each lap I had to pay closer attention to my footing than I ordinarily must. But it was a very minor annoyance, and it was fun to watch the kids play on the slides.
I think I may have called Victory Field "Liberty Field" on a few prior occasions.
|Saturday, June 27th, 2015|
|Eighth run of 2015
This was a nice run, continuing the trend of very gradual improvement that is probably indistinguishable from random variation. 28 laps in 85:48
Usually, on Saturdays, Liberty Field is full of kids playing soccer. Today it was comparatively deserted.
|Saturday, June 20th, 2015|
|Seventh run of 2015
Just got back from the run I promised in my last post. Seven miles in 86:19
, a bit better than last week, but I think it was cooler, so it's not a real improvement. I really won't be able to improve, I think, unless I manage to get out more than once a week.
I think modern media is impeding real life sociality. I can't say "good-morning" to people with things in their ears; today that mostly meant I couldn't say "good-morning" to anybody at all.
|Sixth run of 2015
I did go out last weekend, but neglected to blog it for some reason. I think it was Sunday the 14th. It was hottish weather and a slow run, 28 laps 91:17
, but it didn't feel bad. For about 8 laps near the end, a young woman stayed ahead of me, not running, nor even power-walking, but simply walking briskly. I wondered whether I could go faster
by dropping to a walk, but I decided that I was exercising the way I wanted to exercise, and that continuing to run would be better for my training in the long term. Probably it didn't matter.
Now I'm getting ready to head out for another one. I still haven't been managing midweek runs at all; not getting up early enough.
|Sunday, June 7th, 2015|
|Fifth run of 2015
28 laps in 86:48
, which is quite a setback from the last few runs. Obviously I can't expect to improve if I only run once a week, but I've been worrying about some hip soreness, and waited for it to get mostly better before running on it again. I hope it doesn't keep me from running a lot this summer; otherwise I really will have to get it cared for, and my expectations for the kind of care I can expect are not high.
|Sunday, May 31st, 2015|
|Fourth run of 2015
My computer is finally back in working order so I can enter yesterday's run on a real keyboard.
It was a very good run by this year's standards, seven miles in 79:50
. 77 minutes is a kind of milestone, an average of 11 minutes per mile, and it looks like I will achieve that soon if I continue just getting out there.
|Wednesday, May 27th, 2015|
|Third run of 2015
I really have to call Micro Center today to find out what's happening with my computer. This cellphone blogging is the pits.
Today I ran my 28 laps in 84:17, a good improvement over last time but historically terrible for me. Also, my heart monitor was acting up. My theory is that it can entrain itself to the rhythm of my footfalls instead of to my pulse. Anyway, I wasn't able to control my level of effort very well. Have heart monitors improved any in the last few years? Should I be considering getting a new one?
There was no sign of the reincarnation of Julia Child today.
|Monday, May 25th, 2015|
|Second run of 2015
My computer is receiving Last Rites at Micro Center; I am hoping forlornly that my data can be salvaged. In the meantime my cellphone must serve.
I ran my seven miles this morning in 84:39, considerably better than last week. There were two ladies walking together at the track, one of them close to a head taller than me. Her general body shape reminded me of Julia Child, and as I passed her and overheard a few words, her voice was also very reminiscent of Child's. On the next lap I made a point of catching a few words, and (I swear I am not making this up) she was saying to her companion, "... a kind of mushroom salad, with different sorts of sauce ... We tried the scallop empañadas, but they were fried ..." Soul tranference or something. WGBH, she probably lives in Watertown.lauradi7
, I don't dislike running. It's just a matter of time budgeting and sleep schedules. I don't organize my life well.