Audiobooks and writing.


DSC_0888

For those of you that follow my blogs, you know that I am a big fan of Audiobooks reserved strictly for listening whilst out driving in the car. I do not listen at home with the single exception of when I am in the hot tub relaxing after a long hike and then sometimes, I will bring out the portable speaker as I soak and unwind.

Even though I write a blog and to date have posted over 700 articles, I do not consider myself a writer in the strict sense of the word. No, I am a reporter that can write an interesting (I hope) narrative of something that has occurred that usually, I have been involved in. Whether it be a hike or an Austin Pond Society Meeting or a poem, they are all things that I have been a part of or lucky enough to witness. Sometimes, I will get on my high horse and start ranting about something that I find disturbing that is happening in the rest of the World outside of my little part of it. I like to think I have an interesting style, enough for my readers to enjoy but as we are all different, I can only hope.

Which brings me to the reason for this blog. I have tried several times to write a novel and in a couple of cases have even written over 500 or more pages on a story but have never been very happy with the end result and have never pursued it further. As I listen to a story on Audiobooks, a part of my mind is trying to figure out where the story is going and what might be the next step the hero or heroine will take. Sometimes, I get it right but most of the time, my mind is just not devious enough to figure things out. Some of the twists and turns I would never have expected and when they go in a particular direction, my mind is in awe of the writer’s ingenuity. I guess that is what makes some writers truly great and some stories super interesting when nothing is as it seems.

What will I write about when I can no longer hike and have given up my interest in ponds as a hobby? Does that mean that I will also give up writing (reporting) as I will no longer have these things to write (report) on or will my mind grow more devious as I age? I suppose that in all probability, my mind will also deteriorate as I get older along with all of the other physical aspects of living. Maybe I will lose the ability to put one word after another to make an interesting story. This will pretty much solve the dilemma of writing or reporting if I will not be able to do either. I can probably fall back to writing bad poetry as a few disjointed and mangled or missing words here and there will not be noticed.

Who knows what the future may hold. With limited time left on this earth all I can hope for that other than getting more and more forgetful, the rest of the brain still knows how to act and will continue to function until I no longer care. At that point, goodbye world.

AND I can listen to Audiobooks on my way out….

Written 9/28/2017

Advertisements

A Few Thoughts…


Life-Love-Quotes-Time-Has-A-Wonderful

The temperature has dropped. We are probably through with the 100 degree plus days for this year. Now it is only 90 degrees but the humidity is high making it feel much warmer and very uncomfortable. I only have to walk around and I start to sweat. Heaven forbid that I do any actual work out in the garden other than the necessities to keep the ponds operating smoothly.

I planned on getting up early to go for a hike but instead, stayed in bed trying to sleep while the dogs were play wrestling all around and all over me. In the end, I gave up and got up. Maybe, I’ll hike tomorrow as it is forecast to be a bit cooler. Maybe…

I had a fish die and following my usual practice, tossed it over the fence into the woods behind my property for any of the carrion type predators to feed on. Natural re-cycling I call it. Needless to say, the buzzards moved in as they usually do, several of them at a time, perching in the trees awaiting their turn. This drove my little dogs nuts with those big black things perched up there and totally ignoring their frustrated barking from on the ground. The buzzards sense of smell and keen eyesight must be really phenomenal for them to locate a dead fish that is in a wood and hidden from their view a hundred feet below them. Plus, it’s not like they hover to locate anything. No, they are swooping around on the spirals and probably flying at a good rate of speed and yet they zoom in with unerring accuracy.

I spent some time reviewing the posts and bloggers that I follow on my own blog site,  http://pondblog2011.mlblogs.com/. There are nearly 500 of them and the list was becoming unmanageable as I could not read them all every day. So, I began to click the “reject” button on a few of them which included those that posted more than a couple of blogs a day or had subject matter that I was just not interested in. I had one blogger that posted 31 times today and have several that post anywhere from 4-6 times a day. Go figure…I felt a bit hypocritical “Liking” a post just in the hope they would “Like” mine especially when the subject matter was not something I was interested in, Religion for example.

Like all bloggers, I desperately need everyone to “Like” my site to increase the number of followers. We judge how good our writing is or how well our pictures have turned out by that magic number of “Likes”. We might even conclude that a particular post was successful because of the “Likes”. The problem is that it is sort of a self fulfilling prophesy as regardless of what the content of the others persons blog and whether we have a real interest in the subject, we automatically click the “Like” button in the hope that the blogger will reciprocate in kind. Most of our “Likes” are from other bloggers.

The same can be said about “Comments”which is another way of letting the Author know that you like (or dislike) the subject matter and that you have taken the time to comment. So, ideally, bloggers want lots of likes and lots of comments to make them feel good.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a few sites that I am interested in and really follow them but for the rest, it is a two hour daily exercise in futility clicking their”Like” buttons, in the hopes they will reciprocate just to push up my own magic number.

It’s interesting what people like to read. Stuff I write that I think is pretty good is often ignored by my readers and yet, other posts which to me are rather ordinary or run of the mill get good reviews (Likes). I think it’s a visual thing as the posts with lots of pictures gets good and are well liked while the poems and other writing about various and different subjects are only treated as so-so.

As I mentioned many times in the past, I like to listen to Audiobooks. I find it very relaxing to hear a good story especially if the storyteller is talented with many voices to change the characters. My main interest is in the writing of the story itself and how the different authors are able to take something and turn it into a story with plots and sub plots, life and death and drama beyond belief with his or her well thought out words. My mind is just not devious enough to put together anything more than a straightforward story or a reporting of something that I attended and/or filmed or took pictures of.

That doesn’t mean I should stop trying. Who knows, one of these days I might get it right and end up with hundreds of “Likes”.

Computers, Audio Books and Hamilton Pool.


It was a little chilly outside so I sat indoors this morning and worked on my computer trying to locate some audio books that I had downloaded but not yet installed onto my smartphone. I was concerned that they were on one of the audio programs that I have just cancelled due to the expense of that particular service. I listen to books from several different sources and the cost can be expensive, depending on your choices.

It took me a couple of hours of fiddling around and getting sidetracked here and there as I found things to read or others things that caught my eye but I finally located the books and am happy to say, they are not on the service that I have just discontinued.

It occurred to me just as I was about to shut down just how much times have changed. Fifteen or more years ago, a retired person like me would not be messing around with a computer spending time on trivialities. There may have not been such thing as Audiobooks and the only books available were those that required sitting still and reading and although I still do that when I need to, I much prefer to listen to someone else read me the story especially if I am in the car and even more so if the narrator happens to be good at imitating voices and dialects. I have a 2015 car that I bought January 1 this year and I have managed to put 26000 miles on the clock  a lot of which I spent on just driving around and listening to good stories. I’ll bet I have put several thousand of those additional miles by doing that.

I enjoy working out at the gym and do so pretty regularly every couple of days just so I can listen to whatever book I happen to be on at that particular time. The time flies by and I don’t notice it and in the meantime, I am either on the treadmill walking 3-4 miles or exercising my muscles. I use a set of Bluetooth earphones when I am in the gym.

The one thing I have not done and never will, is to listen when I am outside either working on the house or on the ponds and garden. I much prefer the solitude of nature or the sound of the running water. Neither do I listen if I am out hiking for the same reasons. In my mind, there is a time and a place and for me, it is mostly when I am driving although if I happen to be at a very interesting or exciting place in the story, I may listen while I am in the house where I use a Bluetooth speaker. I can often be seen sitting in my driveway after arriving home and not making any attempt to get out. If anyone happens to be watching and wondering, they are not to know that I have arrived at a very interesting part of a story and just have to know how it plays out.

Like I say, times have changed. Whether it is for the good or not is a very debatable subject. One thing is for sure, there is no stopping progress and what I did as a kid to keep me amused is nothing like what today’s younger generation has. For me, it was the great outdoors and sports.

Who knows what it is for today’s kids…For example, I visited Hamilton Pool in SouthWest Travis County yesterday and as is often the case, paused to let others by as the trail was narrow and difficult. A large family of several generations came down the rocky steps as I waited at the bottom. In the group was a young boy of about 12 or 14 who had brought an electronically controlled model car with him and was driving the thing over the rocks as he came down the steps. Maybe I am old fashioned, no change that, I am old fashioned but it seemed to me that there is a time and place to drive a model car and going out with the extended family to view one of the wonders of nature at Hamilton Pool was neither of them. Obviously, his interest had nothing to do with Nature or the beauty of what he was about to see. Such a shame  as he was missing out on a valuable learning experience of both the beauty of the place and the appreciation of the natural world around him. Oh Yeah, Don’t get me started on if he should have been allowed to bring it with him on the trip.

You could say that I have the best of both worlds. As a child, I grew up with a much simpler life with none of the modern day distractions (as long as you don’t count World War 11)  as compared to today’s kids whose very existence is governed by computers in both their personal lives and in everything that goes on around them. Today’s world is computerized and even old men like me have had to at least learn enough to get by.

The truth is, I like computers and what they are able to perform and I am lucky enough to have a good working knowledge of how to make them operate.

 

And I like to spend a couple of hours just checking things out that I randomly come across. Like I said, times have changed…

Audiobooks and working out.


Logo

Logo

Since the invention of smart phones and Bluetooth, it makes sense that the next logical step was for someone to think up a way to provide Audiobooks. What that meant was that people like me, instead of having to turn pages and make the effort to read and understand the words, am able to listen to someone else making that effort for me for which I am very grateful.

Audiobooks are now to me, a great source of pleasure and I listen at every opportunity. I even look forward to working out at the gym every other day so that I can continue with the story of the moment.  I put my I-Phone in my pocket and put on a very nice set of Bluetooth earphones and I’m ready. It is not unusual for people to give me strange looks or move to a different piece of equipment further away from me because I have suddenly burst out laughing at something I just heard.

When I bought my new Ford Escape at the start of the year, I knew it had Bluetooth capabilities but did not realize just how good it is. Now,

2014 Ford Escape Titanium

2014 Ford Escape Titanium

when I am going anywhere at all, I press a button a female voice answers me and asks what it is I want. Usually,it is one of two things at least when it is something to do with Entertainment. One command is “Bluetooth Audio” at which I get a response and before I know it, my story is on and starts at the exact spot that I previously left off. The other command is for channel 90.5 which brings up the local NPR station with the latest news. Sometimes either I or The Voice gets it wrong and I have since learned the quickest way out of that situation is just to say”Cancel”. It’s a good job that she cannot hear or understand when I vent loudly at her stupidity for not understanding me. Must be my British accent, or what’s left of it as it can’t possibly be me saying the wrong command. One of the reasons I bought the car was for the fuel economy but I am not helping things much as I have taken to driving around a lot more just so I can listen to the Audiobooks, especially if it is a really good story. I stop at Starbuck’s, (another of my bad habits and my only real vice), buy a non fat Latte and off we go. Twenty or so miles later we arrive back home.

I like to think that all of this listening helps to make me a better writer which I honestly believe it does. Listening to writers like Stephen King and Tom  Clancy and how they can unwind a story with plot after sub plot to me is  absolutely amazing. Just when I think I know where the story is going, it zips off in a totally different direction. I’m afraid that my mind does not work that way. I’m good at reporting things because all I am doing is putting into words what the brain has visualized. To be truly creative, one has to do it the other way around. Maybe I’m not devious enough. I have recently discovered a writer by the name of Janet Evanovich with her main character, Stephanie Plum, who is very amusing in the way she writes. She is the one that made me laugh out loud. I have also just completed a story by Robert Crais called “Suspect” all about a German Shepherd police dog. It was a very gripping story and the ending almost brought me to tears.

The most important people are the storytellers some of whom are very clever and not only use different intonations and inflections in their voice but also manage to imitate some very convincing dialects. How they can remember which voice and or dialect for each character is way beyond my thinking. Then there are some who absolutely spoil the story and a couple so bad that I stopped listening and never did hear the ending. I think that the really good ones do this for a living and are like the story tellers of old that recanted history to the people except they  are in modern times with modern equipment and I guess, modern stories (most of the time).

all you can books

all you can books

So far, I have resisted the temptation to listen at home but I have been sorely tempted sometimes, especially if there is no soccer to watch on the television. Of course, none of this is free. It is possible to get some of the Classics for free but most of the time, there is usually a fee for the book which sometimes can be pretty expensive. I’m always looking for deals as I search the three or four web sites that provide the service, sites like Audiobooks, Ambling Books and Allbooks. The other cost is to buy enough bandwidth to allow the streaming onto the I-Phone or whatever smart phone you may have.As usual, all of the good things in life are not free whatever else you may have heard.

If my neighbors are ever watching, they will sometimes see me pull up in my driveway, open the garage door and then sit there for ten minutes. What they don’t know is that I am usually at a good part of the story and want to hear how that part plays out before I shut it off. I can’t actually drive into the garage as all of the car alarms are going off warning me that I am too close to the trailer parked there or the wall in front of the car. When the alarms are sounding, the radio automatically mutes hence the driveway routine.

So, when I get to be one of the fittest men on the planet and live to be a ripe old age, I will tell everyone that my secret for longevity is not drinking wine, taking vitamins or eating spinach and walnuts, it’s listening to audiobooks which made the work outs so enjoyable.

Back to my “Normal” Routine’s


Planet Fitness at Oak Hill

Planet Fitness at Oak Hill

Yesterday, I went to the gym for two hours
so what is special about that, you say
it used to be a routine for me
every second day working out this way.

Then my ponds on the tour were volunteered
and preparation got under way
every day for  months at a time
I did not have any time to play

I did get a workout on the ponds
for some of that work like lifting rocks
is the same as lifting weights in the gym
with a little more risk and a lot more knocks

The Pond Tour came and was quickly gone
one day to show off all that work
three hundred people came to view
with lots of fine comments as my due

But wait you say, that was only one month
what happened to the other two
I’m glad you asked as the rest of the time
was taken in writing and videos too.

For Editor of the Ripples is me
a reporter of sorts and cameraman too
as videos I took of all twenty ponds
to show the members in review

It took a month and a half to complete this task
with ten-hour days on many a time
no physical work did it take
and no workout  either for my sake

Hooray it is done I’m happy to say
and I live to spend another day
back to the gym is where I belong
working out, pushing weights to make me strong.

With the hope that all this effort for me
will help me live for eternity
well, maybe not quite that long
but at least to a fine old age and still strong.

Bring on the weights and the exercise machines
now I have time for my regular routine
back to the gym every second day
is my idea of fun and play

Oh yes, I forgot that while I work out
my earphones are on and listening to
an Audiobook with authors so fine
Tom Clancy, Stephen King come to mind.

One of the reasons that I like to work out
is to listen to authors much better than me
to learn from them as the stories they tell
in the hope that a writer like them I can be.
and though I know that as much as I try
the gift I don’t have is the reason why
but still I have words that want to come out
and so I write them in verse so there is no doubt
that although a great writer I never will be
having fun with words is my destiny.