Consumer Nirvana – a short list

All hope abandon, ye who shoppeth here.

All hope abandon, ye who shoppeth here.

Being a consumer makes me anxious and hostile. I go into a store, see shelf after shelf of choices and I don’t revel in having options. I just want to get my laundry soap and get out of here. I become loyal because overwhelmed. I stick with products that slightly work for me because I can’t bear another round of label reading or comparison shopping. Consumer-wise – except for the shortages – I might have done okay in the Soviet Union.

But – there are some times when I glory in being part of a consumer society, when I am enjoying the luxuries that have become necessities because I love them so frigging much. My top two consumer necessities are:

1) the iPad. It captures the essence of all that is charming and easy and cool about Apple products, while allowing me to read and write in the dark, such as on patios on summer nights. I write my first draft novels on my iPad now, and only switch to a laptop because iPad text editing remains at a Neanderthal stage.

2) the automobile seat warmer. Although my last couple cars have had them, it took me years to toggle the on button. The concept seemed weird and pointless, and reminded me of a failed toilet attachment from long ago called “Butt Spa”. Then I tried one (a seat warmer, not a Butt Spa). Now I look forward to driving in frigid weather. And yes, even in southern California it gets cold enough for a seat warmer — if you want it to.

Image from electronicproducts.com.

When Computers Are Obsolete

Today’s Daily Prompt said to envision life without computers.  At first I went Luddite and imagined a low-tech existence but that makes no sense.  I am not going to scrap the incredible capability and connectedness that I have gained from computers hand-in-hand with the internet.

When I get rid of my computer it will be because a more advanced technology has arrived.

I already know what I want. It is essentially an iPad with a great keyboard and ginormous screen.  Specifically, I want:

  • a screen of fabulous quality with a weight that is lighter than light. The screen will fold to the size of a credit card and expand to become enormous. There will also be the option to project holographically.
  • a keyboard that is as comfortable to use as a late model electric typewriter. This will be a virtual keyboard that I can set on a desk or in my lap or on a wall. The keyboard will serve as a guide when I type but my post-computer device will sense the movement and positions of my fingers rather than my touch on the keyboard.

Please let me know when my new device is ready to ship.

DIY Writing Career

The latest Weekly Photo Challenge focuses on nostalgia and these photos conjure nostalgia in so many ways!

Fake fur chair by a Los Angeles designer named Harry. Back in those days, I worked in Hollywood and supported only me, so I had money for such things.

My writing room. Tile floor by me. Fake fur chair by Los Angeles designer Harry Segil. Back in those days, I worked in Hollywood and supported only me, so I had money for snazzy chairs.

In these photos is a tile floor I laid myself. Laying the floor took a long time, but not nearly so long as coming up with a design I liked. When I did the floor, I listened over and over to two record albums by my favorite band  the Replacements: Tim, which had just come out, and Let It Be.  There is still a bit of grout on the LP labels.

This was the room where I did my writing, and I wanted it to be special. I furnished it during the first of the mid-century revivals. I loved writing in that room. It was here that I wrote my psychological thriller about split brain research*,  ?Was It A Rat I Saw?, under contract to Bantam-Doubleday-Dell. BDD gave me an advance to write ?Rat?, so for a year, my only job was writing. Bliss!

I published ?Rat? then I stopped writing novels for a long time, until I resumed with Scar Jewelry, my novel about family and music, which I wrote on weekend mornings in between everything else. I had forgotten how great it is to have writing as my only work, until the last couple weeks:  I am laid up convalescing after hip replacement surgery and am getting a ton of writing done. More bliss! In fact, I expect to complete a first draft of my new fantasy detective novel, Frames, before I have to return to the d-a-y  j-o-b.

I am writing Frames on my iPad, as I recently posted. I wrote ?Rat? on a technology of equal or surpassing greatness, the IBM Correcting Selectric typewriter. Kids, you had to be there to appreciate it.

More of my tile floor, and the world's greatest writing machine: the IBM Correcting Selectric typewriter.

More of my tile floor, and the world’s greatest writing machine: the IBM Correcting Selectric typewriter.

P.S. Contrary to what this image shows, the desk did stand plumb with the floor. I “digitized” these old prints by photographing them with my phone and that introduced the skew.

*P.P.S. Another post-op project has been to convert ?Was It A Rat I Saw? to an e-book. That new edition should be available in 4-6 weeks.

P.P.P.S. Harry still makes amazing furniture, worth an oogle regardless of your price range.

My Writing Companion

With much enthusiasm – and no shame – I contribute to the Weekly Photo Challenge using my worst photos ever. This week’s topic is companions, and despite the lack of viable photos I have to do a shout-out to my beloved writing companion, my iPad. I recently wrote my novel Scar Jewelry on my iPad, and now am close to finishing a first draft of my fantasy detective novel Frames.

With my iPad I write on my patio on a balmy sunny night. With my iPad I carry my words and ideas around just about all the time, keeping them in the glove compartment in case I get a spare moment to write. And with my iPad I can slip over to play a few games and think things through subconsciously when my writing gets stuck.

Below are my writing apps in action. I wasn’t sure that screen shots should count as photos so I snapped these photos with my phone. Hence the unforgettable quality.

Early version of my latest novel, as planned out using presentation slides instead of notecards.

Early version of my latest novel, as planned out using Keynote’s presentation slides instead of notecards.

I organize and reorganize elements in a scene using the mindmap software Poppplet.

I organize and reorganize elements in a scene using the mind-map app Poppplet.

The writing itself I do with Pages.

The writing itself I do with Pages.