I published a book on Amazon!

Posted by on January 30th, 2020  •  1 Comment  •  Full Article

I’ve been working a lot on my book. I’ve been studying online about the requirements of the Amazon publishing system. I’ve decided on a fixed layout epub book, while simultaneously publishing as a “print on demand” paperback. I was ready to publish tonight but when I tried to login to Amazon, I found that my account uses two factor authentication. The other ‘factor’ is my old cell phone number…which I walked away from 2 years ago.

Amazon requires two factors, and I only have one. I have to call them tomorrow and try to sort it out. Rumor has it that you have to provide proof you are who you claim to be.  There is a facebook group about Amazon publishing. One of the things I learned there was that half inch margins are required. Because I only hand out pdf’s, I got sloppy. I spent an entire day corralling all my pages inside half inch margins.

I got Amazon sorted out by calling a semi-secret number. A real person answered and asked me a bunch of questions to verify my identity, then allowed me back into the account. Uploading the fixed width ebook went smoothly. I had to import the InDesign pdf into an app called Kindle Create, choosing  fixed layout. Kindle Create exported a file with a *.kpf extension. Which I then uploaded to my brand new Amazon KDP account. The book works perfect as an epub in the Apple ‘books’ app…so I guess that’s progress. InDesign has an export as fixed layout epub function.

After the ebook was published, KDP asked me if I wanted to do the paperback version. I said yes but it turns out their standards are much stricter for paper. They need a 5/8″ margin on the inside 0f the two page spreads. 0.5″ is ok on the outside.  So a total of 1.25″ inches of blank paper across the spine before any words or pictures can show. That meant another trip through all 209 pages, nudging the content 5 shift clicks outward. My book has nicely aligned master page artwork all set to half inch margins. If I ever write another book I’m going with 0.75 inch margins all the way around.

Another gotcha was when they ask if your book bleeds. I said yes because my cover does bleed. Turns out they really meant: “Does your manuscript bleed?”, not the cover. There are too separate pdf uploads…but the question was only asked once.

When I went to the online proofer, all 209 pages showed errors. I was frantically going through every single page and saw nothing wrong. What was Amazon complaining about? Then I looked at the cover proof and the light went on. It was all messed up. The cover bleeds natively, if you build it correctly in InDesign. You don’t have to choose bleed up on the Amazon site. So, I unchecked bleed and finally, finally got a green light, 24 hours later.

I learned soooo much in this process. There is a helpful facebook group for self publishing…some really nice people are on there giving out free advice.

I’m waiting on my author copies to arrive in the mail now. I’m hoping they aren’t a total trainwreck. My book has always printed flawlessly on color laser printers in the past. And it looked flawless when I downloaded the PDF proof. So, fingers crossed everything should be fine if they are using quality paper and modern on demand printing presses. I really need a break from all this unpaid work.  The book has taken over my life since I got back from jtree.

I have to say though, seeing my book go live on Amazon put a huge smile on my face. I may have even done a little happy dance.


Speidel Twist-O-Flex watchband for Apple Watch – review

Posted by on January 11th, 2020  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

When resizing your Speidel Twisto-Flex watchband to fit your Apple watch, read the PDF directions first on the website. Do not rely on the YouTube video. YouTube is wrong.

I wanted the black band but read reviews that the paint would wear off over time. As a rock climber and back yard mechanic I knew I’d beat up the watchband…so it was a no brainer to get the silver brushed metal band. Paint will always wear down to metal, even if it’s anodized paint. Might as well start with bare metal.

The width is perfect for my Apple Watch Series 5. The ‘slide in and snap’ ends on the band are flawless, right up there with standard Apple quality.

I ordered the XL band for two reasons:
(1) I didn’t want to take a chance on miss-measuring my wrist
(2) I wanted lots of extra links to practice on while resizing it

It arrived with two inches of extra band, I could have warn it on my legs. There are 3 youtube tutorials about resizing a Speidel band. I tried it that way initially using a bright light and magnifying bifocals but it was uber frustrating. I began to wonder if I’d have to give up and take it to a jeweler.

After a long walk to let my brain cool off I remembered there was a scan-able code in the box to directions online. Low and behold, the pdf was amazing! I was doing it all wrong.

This Twist-O-Flex band has a double top side, face plate, that is removable. When you follow their directions and pull that off, it cuts the work down to one quarter of what it was following youtube. You only have to unbend two end tabs, and on reassembly, just one end tab and one u clip. Super easy. A standard small pocket knife, small needle nose pliers and set of mini screwdrivers is all you’ll need.

Once the watch band is in two pieces, lay it on your wrist, pull it snug (not tight) and note where it overlaps. Mark with a sharpy pen where it needs to be ‘cut’. If in doubt, go a link shorter. You can see my fading pen marks in the photos. My band sits on my wrist snug, but not stretched. I nailed it first try. It’s tight enough that all the apps work, such as exercise rings and sleep monitor.

The silver brushed metal looks fabulous on my gray watch, which is covered with a black rubber otterbox. No more fighting with buckles to take the watch off. I can slide the watch up to my elbow to get it out of the way, and putting it on is as easy as pulling on a sweat band.

When I’m climbing at the gym, skiing, or working on cars, I cover the watch with a slide on nike elastic sweat band. Any watch band can get badly scratched or knocked loose, and I don’t want to lose a $600 watch because of my active lifestyle.

A River Runs Through It, Xmas at Joshua Tree

Posted by on January 10th, 2020  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

I drove down to Jtree December 14 arriving in 30 hours to camp in BLM land the next 3 nights. Jim’s friend Mark the SAR ranger saw me walking around solo and brought me a partner named…Cole? We had a great two days  of climbing before I ran into John G who had a parking spot in 30. That is the 3rd time John has hooked me up.

I did the dawn patrol the next morning and lucked out with a couple boulderers who were leaving site 15. After that Chad showed up and we were golden. Dennis showed up and immediately hooked up with Angeli, another solo climber. The three of us climbed together for a couple days while Chad got over a cold. After that we played mix and match as more people showed up including Anni, Liz, Ken & Christine and Cam & Carmen.

Weather stayed very nice until Xmas day when I picked up Sue and Lisa at the airport. It snowed 14″ the next day then stayed cold for 4 days. We took one  or two days off at the hot springs, and spent another day at Indian Cove where it was warm. On the third day after the snow we were able to climb Hands Off and Toe Jam but it was frigid! My 5.9 skills were more like 5.6 with frozen fingers under windy overcast skies.

Our ten year old REI winter tent leaked an inch of water in the bottom. We had to buy a tarp to line the floor to keep our down bags out of the lake/river. There are no flat sandy stake-able tent platforms down there. They are either lake beds or rivers, choose one. Both of our tents were literally in rivers of water melting off the nearby formations. When new that tent had a bathtub floor that worked. Now it’s in the dumpster and we are day dreaming about a Four Wheel pop up camper on a Tundra…though that will have to wait until our ship comes in. The people sleeping-cooking in vans and pickup campers looked perfectly comfortable.

Tents normally work great if they are new on a good campspot in light rain. We’ve never needed anything more. But this extreme weather has changed the game. I was very glad I’d driven down with my studs in the RAV4. We saw numerous people get stuck on the compact snow and ice simply driving around the campground. Two funny guys were driving around the snowed in roads of the campground in a jeep towing  a kayak. He was balancing with his paddle on the careening kayak as the whole campground cheered. I’d look up from cooking my eggs and there he’d go around again.


Extraordinary cover band

If you’ve not heard these people, set aside a couple hours, you’re in for a treat: