Ain’t technology grand?

 

A few moments ago I just had a three way internet chat with a fellow author of mine in Nigeria and with our mutual editor in Australia. Ain’t technology grand? It was not so many years ago that something like that was in the realms of science fiction and completely impossible.

A couple of decades or so back in the dim distant past, the concept of ‘conference calls’ via telephone emerged only to be superseded by video conference calls. Before that we relied on snail mail, then the fax machine until the concept of personal computers was fully and finally appreciated by the then major computer manufacturers like IBM, whose senior management firmly believed that the world’s population would never want to have a computer in each and every home. How wrong they were.


These days we have a staggering choice of computer programmes available that can put us in touch with one another across the world. In its simplest form we have the email system which is rapidly reducing the need for pen, paper and postage stamp. It costs nothing and is practically instantaneous.


Next comes the Web Camera and its attendant software, where you can not only talk to those distant relatives and friends, but also see them to.


What will be next I wonder, Holographic projection into your friend’s living room? Leave it to our collective imagination to work out technology’s next step in the field of personal communication. After all it wasn’t so many years ago that if someone had suggested that one day we would all carry a personal telephone in our pocket or purse, that he or she would have been seriously considered a candidate for the funny farm!


Whatever the next step may be, I for one, look forward to its happening…

 

 

  


Jack Eason – author of Onet's Tale

jackeason5@gmail.com
jackeason5@googlemail.com
Blog: http://akhen1khan2.blogspot.com/

To Kindle, or not to Kindle, that is the question 

How many times over the years have you, like me, lent one of your precious books from your personal library to a friend or colleague, never to see it again? If you are a book lover, you feel violated, let down and downright annoyed that the copy of a book you sought out from the many displayed on your local book shops shelves, has vanished forever.

But a book, especially a paperback edition, is merely a thing and therefore not important – correct? Wrong! Someone took a great deal of time and energy creating that precious manuscript for your reading pleasure. Plus books were never ever designed to be read and then disposed of. Nor were they ever meant to be treated roughly by having their spines broken, a practice I abhor.

Just look at the sad sight of misused and abused books available in the plethora of second hand bookshops, the graveyard for terminally ill copies of literary works,  be they fiction or fact, within your own nation. Many have torn pages. Many have terrible wounds inflicted upon them by unthinking people who have bent them backwards, or folded the top corner of a page instead of inserting some form of bookmark to mark their place within the novels pages.

Well, all those disgusting and downright unthinking practices can now end forever. No longer will you need to replace your lost copy to fill the gap in your book shelf. No longer will your precious books be subjected to the unthinking and callous misuse by the moronic sector of the world of readers.

I give you the answer to all of the above – Kindle and its sister version of the EBook reader, Nook. Amazon brought out Kindle, and Nook is the product of Barnes & Noble. There are others out there, far too many to mention.

Here I make the case for Kindle as an excellent example of the way books can now be purchased and read. Progressive book sellers like Amazon now offer the reader two ways of buying that ‘must have’ book. You can either order your physical copy, whether it is hardcover, or paperback, then within a few weeks it will arrive through your letterbox, or you can do what I do.

Either buy yourself a Kindle Reader, or as I have, simply download the totally free version of Kindle for PC. Next all you have to do is find the Kindle version of that ‘must have’ book, and with one click, within the space of one minute, you have the book sitting in front of you on your Kindle Reader or your Kindle for PC programme. No lengthy lead times, no “Currently this book is out of stock”, and best of all, your precious book is out of reach of those serial book abusers for all time!

Try it; I guarantee you that you will not regret it…


Jack Eason – author of Onet’s Tale

jackeason5@gmail.com
jackeason5@googlemail.com
Blog: http://akhen1khan2.blogspot.com/

A question of packaging


Why in this age of ‘saving the planet’ do supermarket chains insist on adding their own totally unnecessary and non-biodegradable plastic packaging to their products? Take for example the humble Banana. Nature has provided this delicious food with its own sturdy thoroughly biodegradable packaging and yet when you by a bunch of them from your local supermarket, some spotty-faced managerial individual decided in their infinite stupidity that it had to be repackaged to preserve its freshness.


Fact No:1    Firstly in the supermarket it aint fresh. It was shipped in a green unripe state across the world to the distribution point where it was artificially ripened before being sent to your store, apples et al.


Fact No:2    Secondly, because of your stupid management interference, all you have succeeded in doing by embalming the banana bunch in its plastic tomb, is to accelerated the artificial ripening process, effectively reducing its ‘use by date’ by a factor of 50%. This may be good for your profit margin but it is a complete waste of money for us, the consumers.


Next I turn to the other woeful practice prevalent in the supermarkets these days – plastic trays and their thin plastic covering. Tomatoes, mushrooms, grapes – you name it, all are presented to us sealed up in the above mentioned non-biodegradable packaging – Why?


Placing a pre-sliced loaf of bread into a package is understandable; it would fall apart. It has by its very nature an extremely short shelf life and should be eaten within a minimum of two days tops, but tomatoes are available in the packaging that nature provided and will last a considerable time, eggs to. Even my lettuce was wrapped in its plastic tomb – why?


Most of us in this day and age have a refrigerator to keep our supply of fresh food in, in which items like tomatoes, lettuce, mushrooms, apples etc can be stored in the compartment designed for the purpose, I give you the humble ‘crisper’, thereby negating the need to buy on a daily basis.


As for supermarket shopping bags, get rid of your stocks of them, don’t palm them off on your customers. No matter how you look at it they are non-biodegradable and litter the streets, roads and hedgerows of the world. A well-known supermarket chain here in the UK hit the headlines yesterday when they announced that in the interests of the planet they were reducing the thickness of the bag.


Complete Balderdash! All that has done, you dimwits, is to anger your customers because the damned things self-destruct even before items are placed in them!


If you are genuinely interested in the environment supermarket spotty Herbert’s, prove it by ceasing to use any form of plastic packaging, and for god’s sake don’t try to improve on nature’s own packaging from now on.


Don’t even get me going by making mention of your other completely insane practice of the accursed ‘use by date’! Grrr….  


Jack Eason – author of Onet's Tale

jackeason5@gmail.com
jackeason5@googlemail.com
Blog: http://akhen1khan2.blogspot.com/

Remember when humour was truly humour?

 

Every night at 7pm I switch channels on my television to BBC Radio 7 for an hour of good old fashioned belly laughter. Last night was the turn of the Goons in the form of ‘The Great Moriarty Murder Mystery’ evoking childhood memories of the time before television dulled the senses and your imagination ruled.


For those not born within the days of ‘steam radio’, you have my deepest and most heartfelt condolences. When people of my generation wax lyrical over the cerebral thrills of a murder mystery or an exciting adventure like ‘The Wake of the Red Witch’, or the completely hysterically funny joys conjured up by Spike Milligan, Peter Sellars, Harry Secombe aided by Wallace Greenslade, Larry Adler, Eric Sykes et al; take it from one who knows, today’s so-called comedians are not a patch on the men of yesteryear. Seldom does even a mild titter spring forth from me when being subjected to the latest generation.


Remember Benny Hill, Dick Emery, Les Dawson and Frankie Howard? No? Well you should check them out. Go back even further to the heyday of the Goons and rediscover Michael Bentine who stood alongside Spike and Harry when the Goons were first broadcast. While you’re there, look out for Jimmy Edwards, Tony Hancock, Kenneth Horne, Kenneth Williams. Listen to Frank Muir and Dennis Nordern on ‘What’s My Line’. Nordern and Muir were past masters at belly laugh comedy. They were responsible for many a radio comedy programme back then.


If you are a television couch potato however, change channels to BBC Radio 7 at 7pm nightly for an hour of proper belly laugh humour, not the rubbish that passes itself off as humour these days. Tonight being Friday night, I shall be sat with my eyes closed as I did in my youth imagining the characters portrayed in tonight’s episode of ‘The Navy Lark’, starring Leslie Philips, John Pertwee, Ronny Barker and Dennis Price…


Jack Eason – author of Onet's Tale

jackeason5@gmail.com
jackeason5@googlemail.com
Blog: http://akhen1khan2.blogspot.com/

The day my laptop caught a cold

 

Yesterday afternoon while I was surfing the net for something or other, I inadvertently opened the webpage from hell. Before I knew it my poor little laptop had contracted a dread disease in the form of malware.


Despite rapidly trying to prevent the unwarranted intrusion into my laptop’s hardrive, I was way too late. My proprietary spyware and computer antivirus system did nothing except complain. Did it seek out the intruder? No. All it did was state the bleeding obvious – you have been invaded!


I rapidly disconnected my laptop from my provider and then tried to get my antivirus system to search and destroy – fat chance. All it concluded after scanning my laptops system was that all was running as normal.


Foolishly believing what it told me, I once again reconnected to my ISP and then tried to open one of my files – my Facebook page. It tried but I was told that it was now classed as privileged access. In other words the damned malware had decided that all of my internet files were now off limits. If that was not enough, it also totally stuffed my proprietary antivirus programme. In short, its firewall was now nonexistent.


After once again disconnecting from the internet, I restarted my laptop. After inserting my password, my laptop sprang back to life, seemingly behaving normally, at least until I tried to get back on the internet. All my pages were still inaccessible. So I turned to Windows 7’s best feature – Windows Defender. Within a couple of minutes it had found and deleted the mischievous little beggar that was causing all the problems, giving it a swift kick into oblivion.


Now I tried starting my proprietary antivirus software – no luck. The malware had eaten it for breakfast. After about an hour and a half and £25 later, my antivirus system was downloaded and reinstalled.


Thank goodness for Windows Defender and its bloodhound ability to hunt out any and all malicious miscreants hiding away on your computer’s hardrive. I have one question however, why didn’t Windows Defender automatically leap into action to save the day and my bank balance?

 

 


Jack Eason – author of Onet's Tale

jackeason5@gmail.com
jackeason5@googlemail.com
Blog: http://akhen1khan2.blogspot.com/

Where does dust live?

or

Nature abhors the vacuum cleaner

 

Why is it that despite all your best efforts, as quickly as you remove dust and other assorted detritus, it can’t stand the fact that you have just removed its brethren with either the vacuum cleaner or by the judicious use of the dustpan and brush? More to the point, why is it that your hair silently sneaks off of your head or other parts of your body and forms itself into untidy masses in the corners of the room, or beneath each and every piece of furniture you possess?


I have a theory which I would like to regale to you if you have the time. After a lifetime of living with the stuff, I am of the opinion that dust, dirt, discarded bodily hair and the like, are in reality aliens in disguise. There I’ve said it. Now you can make that phone call to the men in white coats to come and take me away.


But before you do, consider this; no matter how house proud you may be, however hard you wage war on the pesky little beggars, they always reoccupy their place in your home when your back is turned. Don’t believe me? Then look out of the corner of your eye moments after you have just sucked them up in the vacuum cleaner. If you have sunlight beaming down through your windows you will see the little blighters parachuting in on those self same sunbeams. When the weather is cloudy you can’t see them reappear until it is too late.


Clean the house before you go to bed, and by morning they are back once more sniggering to themselves, hiding under the sofa, or idly rolling about on the merest zephyr of air, defying you to try to remove them ever again.


Since our ancestors first trod the earth, dust and the like have also cohabited with us. Why look to the stars for alien life when it is alive and living alongside us in our homes, hiding in every corner, nook and cranny of our existence. No matter how hard we try, dust and its many other cohorts are here to stay. Dust has silently colonised the world. It has successfully invaded and won…   


Jack Eason – author of Onet's Tale

jackeason5@gmail.com
jackeason5@googlemail.com
Blog: http://akhen1khan2.blogspot.com/

Nothing manufactured lasts these days…
Whatever happened to quality control in the manufacturing world? These days, consumer items have often reached their sell by date long before you buy them. Take my recliner chair for instance. My suite of two chairs and two seater sofa were bought second hand. They were old when I bought them. But they still have many years good use left in them. My new recliner chair however, is a different kettle of fish.

While it is sturdily constructed, probably somewhere in China or the like, it has one serious flaw in its construction. I refer to the mechanism for lifting your legs up and allowing you to push back to totally recline. Behind the lever is a wire contraption firmly attached to the operating lever hidden beneath my seat. But, at the business end directly behind the lever, its other end is, or was until recently, glued to the back of the lever!

Why in god’s name didn’t they repeat the sturdy attachment at this end to I hear you ask? Who knows? Perhaps after constructing the whole armchair it was getting close to the end of the working day and they couldn’t be bothered doing the job properly.

I’m not sending the damned thing back for repair or replacement – why, because it would simply be binned and an identical replacement would be sent to me with exactly the same problem.

So now whenever I wish to recline I simply rock my very comfortable recliner back on its haunches and reach underneath for the mechanism, release it and then climb aboard in time to watch my favourite television programme, or to write in comfort on my laptop.

Apropos of modern day so-called quality control; a few months back I bought myself a new DVD player with all the bells and whistles – 5.1 surround sound et al. I won’t mention the brand, but suffice it to say the damned thing has finally died. I am now ‘surrounded’ by five mute speakers. The contraption’s DVD player ceased to operate within three months of purchase. I didn’t mind that so much as I could still make use of its sound system while watching my favourite DVD’s via my PS3 which I had connected to my sound system. But yesterday the sound system went the way of all things modern and died to. Will I be sending my deceased sound system back for replacement? No, for exactly the same reason as for my recliner armchair; why go to all the trouble involved only to receive a replacement with exactly the same inbuilt faults!

Designed obsolescence is one thing, but there is no excuse for shoddy workmanship, nor the use of inferior components, merely to work to a price. Bring back pride in manufacture; get rid of accountants running businesses in favour of the old style family run companies of yesteryear who took pride in never ever allowing a product that fell woefully beneath their high standards to leave their factory.
 
Oh well, never mind, at least my television is still working – touch wood…
PS       My mobile phone decided all by itself to stop receiving text messages a few weeks back – doh!


Jack Eason – author of Onet’s Tale

jackeason5@gmail.com
jackeason5@googlemail.com
Blog: http://akhen1khan2.blogspot.com/

Running on Empty

 

            It’s only now in 2010 that I have been able to begin to think clearly since I returned to New Zealand back in 2003 for a few months to write my first published novel’s manuscript, uninterrupted by all the daily nonsense’s that get in the way of the driven writer. I’m a Piscean therefore a thinker, dreamer if you will, I’m also a loner. Some may say I think too much, I leave it for you to judge for yourselves.

 

Don’t skim through these words and don’t jump to quick or trite conclusions, nothing is ever black and white. There are no finite answers to any given situation. Placing people in pigeon holes does not help. Whatever you may think from reading the following heartfelt words, it is the way I feel and where I am right now and I make no apologies for that, nor is this a cry for help. It may go some way to answering all the questions that I have been unable to find answers for till now. Now read on and don’t condemn me, not all of us are the same, some of us are cut out for what life throws at us, and others are not.

 

            At the beginning of your life everything that surrounds you is a source of wonder and enjoyment. As you get older and enter the school system you are preparing for your role in the scheme of things conditioning your mind for what is ahead. But unfortunately things do not always go the way you plan them.

 

When you first enter the working world, the people that control the way you will spend the greater part of your life are already hard at work exploiting you for their own ends, and when you are no longer able to contribute at the pace they demand you are thrown on the scrap heap, or you burn out. Burnout is what happened to me.

 

            I was forty-three when it first happened in nineteen-ninety one, I’m now sixty-two, and since then I have been running on empty. All the signs were there for the world and me to see, and ignore. Since that traumatic time I have had the tendency to give away everything I own; things mean very little to me, and try to find my true place in the world, if indeed I have one.

 

Nothing that the rest of western society holds dear seems to matter anymore. Because of the burnout and my age, I can no longer hold down a job due to debilitating mental stress. Saving for my old age is impossible since the government of the country I spent the greater part of my life in, spirited away that selfsame pension via government legislation in the dead of night to pay the country’s overseas debt.

 

            The only things that really matter to me now are seeing the sun rise in the morning and set at night, plus writing short stories and the odd novel, whether they are published or not.

 

            Unless you have been through the traumatic experience of collapsing from stress and being hospitalised by it, you cannot possibly understand just how devastating it really is. Since that time, my life and everything I have experienced has made me realise that most people in the western world are living a lie and more importantly that I am ill-equipped to survive in it!

            My parents’ generation do not understand just how much stress there is in trying to keep your head above water in this day and age. Such phrases as ‘buck your ideas up’, ‘get yourself into a pension scheme’, or, ‘get yourself a job you lazy good for nothing’, are their only and inevitable reaction. They have absolutely no comprehension of how things have changed since their day. Yes they went through the depression of the thirties and the Second World War, but they also had backing by government and employers who believed in the “cradle to grave” mentality.

 

These days all that has gone for good. Companies no longer value the things I was brought up to believe in like loyalty to your employer, and relying on others to be as honest as you are. These days they take advantage of anyone like myself who still holds to that view, at least while it suites them or until the contract ends, then it’s the scrap heap for you my boy and think yourself lucky! How long will it be before companies demand their workers pay them instead of the other way round?

 

            “If you can’t get a job, sign on idiot!”

 

Have you ever done that? So far I have signed on three times, the first time through naivety on my part and the bad advice of elderly relatives who because they were retired, neither understood the world outside their house nor took part in the world at large, the second and third, out of sheer desperation. All three times I was made to feel as if I was a burden on society.

 

It didn’t seem to matter that throughout my entire forty year working life I had been paying taxes, doing everything that society demanded of the individual; holding down a steady job, attempting to save, participating in jury service, obeying the law of the land, paying my bills on time, arriving at work early and leaving late to please my employer, and for what?

 

            At times like this you find out who your friends really are. They say that you can count the number of “real friends” on the fingers of one hand. Because I’m a loner and don’t make friends easily, in my case I number just four people, two in New Zealand, one in Australia, and the other in England as true friends.

 

Of the four, the one in England is possibly the only other person in my life who really understands just what it is I’m going through, and he is an alcoholic and terminally unemployed because of his stress related breakdown.

 

My friends in New Zealand unconditionally opened their home to me while I needed a place to get away from the world and write my second novel, which I am happy to say is now published, thanks to my friend and editor in Australia, and for that I shall always be in their debt. They and their family are kindness itself.

 

Trying to get a book published is like pushing the proverbial up the hill with a toothpick. If you are running on empty, constant rejection by publishers inevitably takes its toll. Each time I have sent off the manuscript I have been ‘up’ for a few days. Then when the rejection comes I am once again back ‘down’. If I’ve learned anything in the last few years it is to realise that writing fiction, be it short stories or novels, is my forte.

 

I did manage one good thing for other people by my writing during those few months in New Zealand after I had finished the first draft of my novel; I fell back on my other writing skill, that of travel writing, and had nine articles plus accompanying photographs published by an internet website for Malta. I wonder if that will be my epitaph – “he contributed to Malta’s economy.”

 

My CV bears testament to my working life and the few qualifications I have gained along the way. But in its entirety, it only fills one foolscap page; I think that truly says it all.

 

The world is such a beautiful place; it’s a shame that mankind and the god Mammon rule. How many more will join me out there running on empty I wonder? In the old days, people were able to enter the cloistered halls of a monastery to withdraw from the pressures of the so-called civilised world, but if you are not a believer in god where do you go in this day and age?

 

Writing has become everything to me. While I find it impossible to convey the way I feel, or what my needs and desires are to others in spoken words (with the possible exception of Ben in England, because like me, he is still going through the same thing), I can at least put down my thoughts and feelings on paper, in this case via my laptop.

 

My friend in New Zealand asked me once whether I could speak the way I write, I think this may explain why I cannot.

 

Not all good guys win, Ben and I can testify to that. We’re both worn out. In Ben’s case, all his knowledge gained in life is cheerfully passed on over a pint, and in mine, via the medium of the written word. Watching the sun rise and running on empty is all either of us has left, maybe it’s enough, only time will tell…

 


Jack Eason – author of Onet's Tale

jackeason5@gmail.com
jackeason5@googlemail.com
Blog: http://akhen1khan2.blogspot.com/

Something’s Missing!

 

            Deciding to return to New Zealand for a while after three years in England, back in 2003, I booked a one-way ticket and handed in my notice. The few weeks I had left in England soon passed. The Friday night before I left, I had a farewell drink with my friends at my local pub. The next morning the taxi arrived to take me to Terminal 4 at Heathrow.

 

            Once the taxi entered the M25, we began circling clockwise around the vast international airport until eventually we turned off and drove past areas under construction at its western end. The taxi dropped me off and I staggered my way into the large building with my two heavy bags.

 

            Because of my early arrival, the check-in desks were still closed. I waited beside my bags and eventually checked in and watched my bags disappear. The flight to New Zealand meant changing planes at Los Angeles. Once I had arrived inside the huge waiting area I looked at the monitors to check which gate we were leaving from. To fill in the time I bought a couple of expensive beers and sat beside a window in the bar staring out across the busy airport. Perhaps someone can explain why it is that buying food or beverages at an airport is so expensive. Before I left, I exchanged a few pounds for New Zealand dollars ready for arrival at Mangere in Auckland.

 

            The departure gate was twenty minutes walk from the departure lounge. I thanked my lucky stars that I didn’t have to carry my luggage! At the appointed time, we were shown to our seats onboard the Air New Zealand 747-400 and I took my window seat beside the gaping maw of the left-hand inner engine. The tug pushed us out and disconnected its tow bar and we taxied out to wait our turn. The four massive engines built up speed and soon we were climbing through the almost permanent cloud cover that England lives beneath, out into the sunny blue sky above.

 

            The long haul across the North Atlantic took us over Iceland and Greenland in daylight. Although we were flying at over thirty thousand feet, the view of the pack ice between Greenland and the eastern coast of Canada was awe-inspiring. You felt you could simply reach out and touch it below where you sat; what looked like tiny pieces of ice, not much bigger than a hand span, where in reality many dozens if not hundreds of miles across!

 

            Flying across the vast landmass of western Canada and the United States in daylight, you begin to realise just how large the North American continent really is. Between the patches of white fluffy clouds, you can see the thin ribbons of the major transcontinental highways crossing the dull green-brown landscape with the sun glinting on an eighteen-wheeler semi as it travels to its destination. Occasionally a small cluster of buildings indicated a town along the shining ribbon thousands of feet below. As we gradually headed southwest towards California, ranges of snow covered mountains thrust up towards us from their firm rocky bed below.

 

 Descending over the outer edges of Los Angeles towards LAX was like flying over a gigantic computer circuit board, with the neat rows of houses in the suburbs looking like banks of electronic components, and the massive freeways crisscrossing the urban sprawl like the solder tracks that connect the components.

            Because of the heightened security within the United States after the tragedy that was September 11th, numerous checks were made both of you and your luggage. The painstaking way in which my luggage was scanned, dusted and searched, reflected the way the Americans now view all travellers, whether they are simply passing through, as I was, or are landing in the United States on business or for a vacation. I counted at least six maybe eight times that I was checked as I made my way through the corridors of LAX to the departure lounge for New Zealand. But like all security, there was what seemed to me to be one glaring weak point. As I followed the signs to the departure lounge, I found myself outside the terminal walking along the footpath beside the ranks of yellow taxis. No one challenged me; I could simply have got into a taxi and disappeared somewhere deep inside Los Angeles!

 

            The second half of the flight to New Zealand left LAX around nine pm. For this leg of the trip, there were only a few of us onboard, which meant you could spread out across the seats, and get some sleep. Because my body clock was in turmoil, I only caught snatches of sleep during the long haul back across the Pacific, spending hours with my face glued to the window staring out into the darkness.

 

            As we flew across the orange glow of Auckland’s streetlights before dawn, and lined up for our landing at Auckland International Airport, the heavens opened up and the plane and the runway were awash. Sometime around 5.30am, I pushed my trolley with my two bags out into the public waiting area to be met by the smiling face of my best friend Graeme. I had one problem however; perhaps I should have reported it to the authorities. Something was missing; I had lost Sunday! But as I had acquired a spare Saturday when I went to England, I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much…

 


Jack Eason – author of Onet's Tale

jackeason5@gmail.com
jackeason5@googlemail.com
Blog: http://akhen1khan2.blogspot.com/