I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Friday, September 28, 2012

You Don't Really Own Any E-books

When you click the "Buy Now" button,
you aren't really buying an e-book.
I met a friend from church on Wednesday for lunch and I gave him a copy of one of my favorite books. Not long ago, I purchased the e-book version of the same book for my Kindle, so I felt free to pass my hard copy along. But as I drove away after lunch, a couple of questions popped into my mind.

What happens if I just want to give somebody an e-book I purchased? The technology should allow me to transfer an e-book from my Kindle to somebody else’s e-reader. So far, that is not an option. And what happens to my e-books after I die? Is it possible to pass them along to somebody?

I did some research regarding both questions and I didn’t like what I found.

The AARP did a story recently called, appropriately, “What Happens to Your E-books When You Die?” In part, the article says, “What many people don’t realize is that with most digital content, you don’t actually own the content when you buy it. Instead, your purchase simply gives you a license to use the books or music.”

The article references Amazon’s license agreement for the Kindle, which says, in part, “Kindle Content is licensed, not sold, to you by the Content Provider.” The agreement goes on to explain what that means: “Unless specifically indicated otherwise, you may not sell, rent, lease, distribute, broadcast, sublicense, or otherwise assign any rights to the Kindle Content or any portion of it to any third party.”

Finally, the article connects the dots, saying, “In short, that means Kindle content can’t be resold or left to an heir – it cannot even be given away or donated.”

By the way, this applies to the Nook (see provision number three) as well.

I know this will prompt e-book naysayers to jump in and say, “This is just another reason not to get a Nook or Kindle! Death to the e-book craze!”

First off, calm down.

Secondly, the e-book craze is here. Book publishers know it, retailers know it and authors know it. Avoiding it or pretending it doesn’t exist is naive, at best. If you are an author who submits a book proposal and then lands a contract with a royalty publisher, your book will be released in electronic form.

Thirdly, the goal of an author is to write a book that moves, motivates or informs readers. Who cares what medium they choose to read your words? The point is, they are reading your words.

Enough of that. Now back to the real topic – our current inability to pass along e-books to heirs. The problem isn’t e-books, it’s the licensing agreements. They need to be changed. Take a look at the screen capture above. It comes from a page on Amazon.com for an e-novel I am going to order. Notice that the purchase button says, “Buy now with 1-click.®”

That is completely misleading. If I click on the button, I’m not buying the book. I’m buying a lifetime rental of the book.

I do not accept that.

How about you?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Naming Inanimate Objects

“Gigi told me to tell you she forgives you for setting her down a little roughly last week,” I told a friend in my bowling league last night. “She wanted to text you to tell you that, but she doesn’t have thumbs.”

“Umm Lee, if you are wondering why you are still single …” my friend’s wife said without finishing her thought. It was all in good fun.

I frowned. “What does that mean?”

“It’s just kind of creepy that you name your pen.”

I bring a G-2 pen to bowling each week, and really, everywhere I go because you never know when inspiration is going to strike and you might need to jot down something. I’m a little particular about my Pilot G-2 pens and my friends kid me about it, probably justifiably so.

The Gigi idea is new and it just came to me last week after bowling, thinking that G-2 is like saying the letter “G” twice. So G-2 becomes G-G and that becomes Gigi. Maybe you just had to be there, but I thought it was funny.

“How is naming a pen creepy?” I said. “I think it’s endearing.”

She wasn’t buying it.

I’ve never been one to name my car or other possessions. But a few years ago I bought a GPS and during a trip with a friend, he began calling her Garmina (which is just a take on the Garmin brand name). I liked it, so it stuck.

Once in a while, I’ll tell Garmina that I want to go to Starbucks. She’ll lead me to a building that used to be a Starbucks but is now a Hardees. When Garmina leads me astray like that, I get a little upset with her and her call her out by name. It’s more fun that way.

The used van I bought last year is beginning to have some mechanical problems. As I was thinking about those problems a few days ago, a name for her popped into my head: Samantha.

I don’t know where it came from, but it seemed to suit her. When I looked up the meaning of the name for this post, it made even more sense. According to this website, Samantha is Aramaic and it means “listener.” What car doesn’t know a lot about its owner – from the music we like to the conversations we have?

Yeah, it’s all a bit silly. But it is one of the ways I let my hair down around friends. Does that make me creepy? I hope not. What do you think? Do you name inanimate objects? I’d love to hear a good story from you about names you’ve given your cars or some other possession so I don’t feel like I’m off my rocker.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Nougar, Manscape and Photobomb

Photo: Stickpen
I’ve been out of touch with young people’s culture for a long time. That was never more apparent than when my 15-year-old niece asked me to buy her some air heads and bug juice in 2005. Yes, I blogged about that.

This past week, I learned three new terms – all of which have more to do with my own generation. I’ll try to keep up as long as I’m able. But at some point, I’m guessing I’ll throw my hands up in the air, and wave them around like I just don’t care. [How’s that for dropping a little 1979 culture on you: “Rapper’s Delight“]

Here are the new terms:

Nougar. According to this blog post, here’s the definition: “Typically in her early to mid-30s – about ten years younger than your average cougar – the nougar (which stands for new cougar), refuses to grow up, ‘take dating too seriously and thinks that because she’s still living like a 20-something she might as well go out with one, too.’”

I’ve never been fond of the term “cougar.” Can’t say I’m particularly fond of “nougar” either. Movies are made (“Failure to Launch“) and songs are sung (“Forever and Always“ by Taylor Swift) about men who are “scared little boys” and refuse to grow up, but I don’t think we’ve hung a demeaning label on them yet.

Maybe we should all just grow up, huh?

Manscape. Somehow, the definition of this word has already made it into the Oxford Dictionary: “The removal or trimming of hair on a man’s body for cosmetic purposes.”

I first heard about this when Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan were talking about it earlier this week on TV. Apparently he shaves his chest hair. I’m not going to judge.

I will say this though, I inherited my dad’s inability to grow chest hair. He used to say he had three hairs on his chest and he made sure to keep one hand over them while in the shower to protect them from falling out.

So, other than an occasional ear or nose hair that goes rogue, Warren men do not need to manscape.

Photobomb. The Urban Dictionary defines it this way, “To drop in a photo unexpectedly ... to hop in a picture right before it is taken.”

Here is a website with a bunch of examples. The photo in this post is another. Somebody intended to take a photo of some sort of weird looking green fish and the orange fish got in on the act as well.

If you have 20 minutes to waste spare, then Google “photobombing.” You’ll laugh at most of the pictures and be creeped out by others.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Third Lap

Last week I reached the one-third mark of my 100-mile walking goal from August 7 to the end of the year. The first 33 miles have not come without difficulty.

One overcast day I got up early and my body wasn’t all that thrilled about walking a mile. My back hurt, my hips were sore and I walked with a slight limp since overcast days tend to aggravate my bad leg.

I popped my headphones on, pressed play on my iPod and walked anyway.

The park was empty except one middle-aged man. He was on the softball field, taking practice swings in preparation for an apparent game or practice.

On my second lap, the man had moved to a spot close to the walking track where he was tapping a tree with his softball bat. I had no idea what he was doing. Simulating contact? Steadying his swing? Preparing to attack me?

I was cautious as I passed him. Once I knew I was in the clear, I stopped trying to figure him out. My body was still protesting my decision to walk. I pressed on anyway.

Half way into the third lap, my pace picked up and my arms began to swing a little harder, and mysteriously, the pain in my back, hips and leg were gone. The final lap and a half were easy. I just had to push through the first two and a half laps to get to that point.

A former co-worker once said I spend too much time talking about what needs to be done and not enough time doing it. After considering what she said, I knew she was right (note: I had to spend time thinking about what she said before concluding she was right). But knowing she was right and doing something about it are two different things.

Contemplation is in my nature.

I need information and then I need to process it before I act. I mull over major decisions from every angle. And I like getting feedback from people I know and trust. I talk myself into beginning every new work project – not because I’m lazy, but because I want to do it well, and to do it well, I need to figure out my approach.

But when I finally do push past the point of contemplation to the third lap, I always find a rhythm. I just need to make sure I get there as quickly as possible.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Touching Wounds

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. —Henri Nouwen

Jillian Jensen’s audition on the season premier of the X Factor USA on Wednesday was memorable for so many reasons. She was bullied in middle school and she carried the pain with her as she walked on stage. If you have twelve minutes, here is what happened:

Jensen chose the song “Who You Are” by Jessie J. The lyrics, and the way she delivered them, are haunting when you know her story (more on that in a minute):
I stare at my reflection in the mirror:
“Why am I doing this to myself?”
Losing my mind on a tiny error,
I nearly left the real me on the shelf.
No, no, no, no, no...

Don’t lose who you are in the blur of the stars!
Seeing is deceiving, dreaming is believing,
It’s okay not to be okay.
Sometimes it’s hard to follow your heart.
Tears don’t mean you’re losing, everybody’s bruising,
Just be true to who you are!
I did a little digging to find out the story behind the bullying Jillian endured. I found a website she started called Overcoming Bullying on which she shares her story about her first day in middle school when a classmate tried to sell her drugs and she turned him in. She was no longer known as Jillian. Instead they called her snitch.

She says other rumors, which were not true, spread throughout the school. She began crying herself to sleep every night while attempting to hide her torment from her parents. She was embarrassed and didn’t know what to do. “How I wish that I would’ve had someone like myself to talk to about everything that KNEW exactly how I felt,” she says on her website.

The bullying led to her “hurting herself.” Cutting, probably. Words and music were her only true refuge. But as you watched her X Factor audition, you got the feeling her refuge had not led to healing. It protected her, allowed her to survive and gave her a safe place to create. But she still needed someone to touch her wounds with a warm and tender hand.

The audience did that when they made the heart symbol with their hands and swayed back and forth to her song. Demi Lovato did that when she left her judge’s chair and embraced Jillian onstage. The other judges did that by the compassion they showed her.

And the power of the human touch began its healing work.

“I feel like I can just push away those ... those ... those terrible things and really just go on and do what I want to do, and really be happy and not think about it anymore,” Jillian said after the audition.

Maybe if we stopped trying to offer so much advice, solutions and cures, and instead touched more wounds, as Nouwen suggests, we could see real healing

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On 9/11 and Filling in the Gaps

Photo: Kenji Ross
The boy, who looked to be about four, tugged on his Chicago Cubs cap and took several practice swings. A man moved in close and tossed him an underhanded pitch. The boy swung and missed.

He missed the next four pitches as well, but did not appear the least bit fazed.

While this appeared to be a competitive game of softball, showcasing talents of people of all ages, exceptions were made for little ones – no strikeouts allowed.

On the sixth pitch, the boy made contact – a dribbler toward the shortstop.

The girl who was playing short, who looked to be maybe 13, was thin as a rail, but she has the arm of Derek Jeter. She threw out grown men on several occasions. So, the play looked to be routine for her.

All of this took place as I walked around the park and I was screened from the play, so I didn’t see what happened next, but the girl with the cannon arm didn’t field the ball cleanly or the ball found a hole. Either way, the boy slid headfirst toward the first base bag, barely beating the throw.

People cheered from the stands as the cloud of dirt settled. The boy stood up, tugged on his cap again, and got ready to advance to second as the next better stepped into the box.

I’m just guessing, but I got the feeling that this was a church group out enjoying a Sunday afternoon at a local park. People of all ages, races, shapes and sizes played. It was beautiful to see. There was something so innocent about it. And then it struck me.

The little boy has no recollection of the events of September 11, 2001. He wasn’t even born yet. And the girl with the cannon arm would have just been two. So, she probably doesn’t have any recollection either. That’s good and bad at the same time.

When they reach an appropriate age though, the people around them will need to fill in the gaps about what happened that day. Otherwise, the events that changed our country will not seem real to them.

My grandmother used to keep a photo of her husband on a stand by her front door. He died 17 years before she did, but she always kept his memory front and center. One of my nieces was born five years after my grandfather died, but she will tell you that she feels like she knew him. The pictures and the stories we shared made her feel that way.

Filling in the gaps for the generation behind us our is responsibility. If we don’t do it, the stories, dreams, beliefs, struggles and triumphs of all the previous generations will die with us.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Dance in the Moment

Sometimes you just have to pull away from
everything so you can dance in the moment.
Photo: Aunt Owwee
I flipped through the radio dial on a road trip a few years ago and stopped when I heard “Hotel California,” by the Eagles. I’m not a huge Eagles fan, but one particular line from this song has always intrigued me. I listened for it that day.

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends / She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends / How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat / Some dance to remember, some dance to forget

Some dance to remember, some dance to forget.

That line brings back memories of high school dances gone by. In those days, I danced to forget that I was an overweight shy teenager who had little confidence that I could ever attract a member of the opposite sex. Even when I did, I always had the feeling I wouldn’t be able to keep her. But there I was, dancing to a Billy Squier tune in a Catholic high school gymnasium with my girlfriend.

When we get older, we dance (both physically and figuratively) to remember those high school dances, or some other period in our lives when things seemed simpler – better somehow.

We take photos to remember. We listen to music to remember. We journal and write and blog to remember. We read to remember. We celebrate to remember. We drink to remember. We gather with friends at backyard barbeques to remember. We upload photos to Facebook to remember.

Of course, there are times in which we also do those things to forget. I certainly do both, depending on the mood I’m in.

But we shouldn’t forget to dance in the moment.

In the movie Elizabethtown, Claire sends Drew on a 42 hour and 11 minute road trip by himself to deal with his self doubt. She provides him with a scrapbook that includes a map, some photos, and a set of pre-recorded CDs with songs about her and instructions about where to go and what to see. As Drew escapes the pressures he is facing, he begins to relax, and that allows him to get beyond himself and his concerns. 

He talks to a man who has owned a sundry store in Memphis for 38 years. He stops for a bowl of the world’s best chili. He visits national landmarks. He gazes at the stars. And when he is tempted to get drawn back into the cycle of dancing to remember or dancing to forget, Clare makes this statement on one of the CDs, “Sadness is easier because its surrender. I say make time to dance alone with one hand waving free.”

Drew pulls off the road, finds an empty path among some trees and he heeds her advice. He dances alone with one hand waving free. And for those brief moments, he finally seems to understand what it means to dance in the moment – no trying to remember or forget, just a state of being.

There is power in that.


For the record, I know that Mercedes Benz is spelled with a Z, but every lyrics website I visited spelled it the way you see above.

Oh, and if you missed the series of posts I did about Elizabethtown a few years ago, here are the links:

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Why Going Positive is Inspiring

Don't tell me how bad the other guy's
mountain is ... inspire me to reach
new heights on your mountain.
Photo: Cristian Bortes
Most of us say we are tired of political candidates who go negative. We say we would rather hear about what they want to do, not what they say their opponents want to do. “Give us substance,” we say. “Give us a reason to vote for you rather than against somebody else.”

I’m in that camp.

But why stop with politicians? Aren’t they just doing what so many businesses do?

Here in Omaha, Cox Communications routinely runs a commercial that shows a family with DirecTV attempting to watch television, but are unable to do so because of a storm. The ad shows a fuzzy screen and a frustrated family, and it ends with this voice over: Really? Satellite TV? In Nebraska? [Our weather is all over the place.]

And conversely, DirecTV runs commercials showing depressed men who won’t be able to watch their favorite football teams because they have cable. But if they had DirecTV, and $200.00 for the NFL Sunday Ticket, then all of their football watching dreams would come true.

Wendy’s is running a commercial in which Wendy Thomas is touting the “Wendy’s Way,” saying, in part, “Some places use beef that travels halfway around the world. Frozen. On a cargo ship. Not Wendy’s.”

A commercial for Advil PM starts with a man saying, “I’m doing my own sleep study. Advil PM or Tylenol PM?” The commercial shows two men in a room – each covered in a blanket with the names of the respective medications. “The Advil PM guy is spending less time lying awake with annoying aches and pains, and more time asleep,” continues the man who is supposedly doing a sleep study. The actor under the Tylenol PM blanket grabs his shoulder and rubs it while the Advil PM actor is crashed.

Contrast those commercials with this one from Brawny:

I’m not inspired by Cox’s running down of DirecTV (even though their negativity is true – storms do disrupt my DirecTV service) or vice versa. I’m also not going to rush out to buy a burger from Wendy’s or a package of Advil PM based on their commercials. All of these ads are self-serving, at best. But the next time I’m at the store, there’s a good chance I’ll buy Brawny paper towels.


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