My Books on Kindle Unlimited

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Looks like all I have to do to make my e-books available on Kindle Unlimited is to make them exclusive to Amazon/Kindle. However, if they’re exclusive to Amazon/Kindle, that means they’re not available on Apple or Nook. Which would be better – I don’t know. So I selected a few of my books to be exclusive on Kindle. These are my books which are available on Kindle Unlimited:

If COVID-19 had happened when

I hope that others will also reflect what it would have been like if this pandemic had happened at some prior time in their life. This is what my life would have been like if COVID-19 had happened when I was a Senior in high school.

First off, I wouldn’t have been sorry to have missed my senior year in high school. I was good at school studies, but that’s not to say I enjoyed it. I didn’t really have many friends, other than my card-playing buddies. I was on friendly terms with the rebel element – those against school admin and government running our lives. The strongest kid in school was my friend. And one of the bullies and I were, well we weren’t enemies any more. But I wouldn’t have missed them that much.

I think the rebels would not have rebelled against social distancing and stay at home orders that made sense. As for breaking curfew, I was already doing that. But the police new it, and I knew that they knew it. They may have thought I was older than I was. I looked like I was 30. They may also not have cared since I was alone, and was not a person of color. As it was, they made sure, I got home safely.

I worked at a Grocery Store, so I may have been an essential worker. I would have been able to work more hours and save more money for college if I hadn’t been in school. That would have been fine by me. I was out after curfew because that’s when I got off work. I sacked groceries and carried them out to the cars. So, I might have been one of those people to bring your order to you.

I would have played lots of frisbee with my two younger sisters. My older sister would have been busy making lists. Dad had a garden. I’m sure I would have had to do more gardening. The only real gardening I did was picking gooseberries and strawberries. I also had to mow the grass and weed the lawn (by hand). I probably would have been tasked with washing the cars.

I helped out in the kitchen – dishes and cooking. I enjoyed that more than working in the yard.

My mother was recovering from a long illness. So, we would have had to make sure she stayed healthy.

I would have missed going to Spain for Spring break. I probably would have also missed the return trip that summer. Both of those were for educational purposes, but I still enjoyed them.

There was no internet. We only got 3 TV stations – CBS, ABC, NBC. PBS came in every so often, but not very well, and nothing we ever wanted to watch. We had to figure out ways to keep ourselves entertained. My older sister did that by reading as many books as she could from the Library. She wouldn’t have been able to do that anymore.

Dad was a school teacher, so he would have been home more and given us more chores to do. He would have been the one to go pick up KFC or McDonald’s or Burger King or Wendy’s. Those were our choices for drive thrus. I would have been the one to grocery shop since I worked at the grocery store. But that would have meant Mom or Dad would have come to pick them up, since I could only carry two bags when I was walking or biking home. Nobody else in the family had their driver’s license yet.

We all went to church regularly – Sundays and Wednesday nights if possible. Dad might have held church at home. There wouldn’t have been any zoom meetings for that.

Living through COVID-19 back then would have been tough. But we would have survived.

Fixing/Modifying Table of Contents

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I write my books using Microsoft Word. I publish them by uploading them to Amazon (through kdp.com). But sometimes the Table of Contents isn’t quite what I want. So, i have to modify it. Sometimes it looks fine in Word, but Amazon changes it when I upload it. Or they complain that it’s not right. So I fix it.

The easiest way to fix that latter problem is to save my word document as a pdf. Then I upload the pdf to Amazon. The typical complaint from Amazon is that the page numbers are past the margin. They look fine in word, but not in Amazon.

The most common thing that I want to change in my table of contents is the heading. I want it to say something other than Table of Contents or Contents. That’s ok, let word generate the Table of Contents (under the References menu). Then just change the heading. Reformat the heading if it’s not to your liking.

Some people don’t like to have the Table of Contents heading show up in the Table of Contents. I don’t mind. If you want things that way, you’ll have to create a separate section for your Table of Contents (and anything else you don’t want included). There’s also squabbling over whether to start number your book pages after the Table of Contents or not. Those are topics I’m not going to cover in this blog post.

I sometimes want my chapter titles styled differently in my Table of Contents (TOC) than the default styles. To modify those, I go to the Reference menu, choose the Table of Contents drop down, then Custom Table of Contents. Then I click Modify. I select the TOC 1 entry and click Modify again. Then I increase the font size if this is a large print book. If I just want a different font, like perhaps my heading font, I change the font. Click OK. When I’m asked if I want to replace the current Table of Contents, I say yes. Actually, I say, Why do you think I went to all this work? But that’s the equivalent of yes.

One recent book, I had originally written as 8.5 x 11. Amazon books are typically 6 x 9. The table of contents didn’t resize correctly. It looked fine in word, but Amazon complained. So I saved it as a pdf and everything was hunkydorey.

I added an About the Author chapter, which I wanted to show up in the table of contents. I uploaded the new word document and Amazon complained. I thought, this time I’m going to figure out how to fix it in word! And I did.

Two things were off. #1 the … weren’t showing up. #2 the page numbers were too far to the right in Amazon or were dropped completely.

#1. I don’t know about you, but with my astigmatism, it’s hard to tell which page numbers go with which heading without those …. In a word TOC, those … are called tab leaders. To fix those, do a custom TOC. Modify TOC 1. Click Format, choose Tabs. Change the Tab Leader to …..

#2. Fixing where the page numbers appear is a similar fix. Again, format the tabs. This time, clear all tabs. Then enter a new position for your new tab. For 6 inch wide books with a one inch margin on both sides, that would be a 4 inches. If your page numbering goes past 99, use 3.75 inches instead. You should be able to use 4, but 3.75 often works better with Amazon. Choose Right. This is a right tab because the page numbers are aligned to the right. Chose … for the tab leader. Click Set (not necessary, but feels like word might actually do what I want if I click Set). Click OK.

That’s it, problem fixed. Amazon’s happy. I’m happy. Hope you’re happy. And if you want to buy one of my books, they’re at Stubbart.com

The Dancer

The Dancer lives to Dance. That’s what she’s all about. For her, Dancing is the answer to life. But she’s fond of two guys and is torn trying to decide between both of them.

The Director has a surprise in store for her in the next dance. He won’t say what it is. All she knows is that she will be dancing with those two guys.

She spins from one to the other and back again, faster and faster each time. At a certain point in the dance, the surprise is supposed to happen. She’s almost there when her super-fast spinning burns a hole in the dance floor and she falls into another world.

And that’s when the story gets weird.

Join the Dancer and all of her friends in this 5-part series. Available as paperbacks and e-books. Now also available as a audio books. Wonderfully narrated by Jordan Scherer.

Inviting the Writing Muse

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So, you want to be a writer. Or perhaps you want to write better. Maybe you’re in the middle of writing something and you’re just plain stuck. Time to invite the Writing Muse into your life.

There are all sorts of mechanical things you can do to improve your writing skills – learning to spell better, taking grammar and  writing classes, joining a writer’s group. You can write something in Word and then do a spell check. If you have set your options to provide the reading level Word will tell you the Reading Level and Reading Score. You should shoot for 6th Grade or lower and for a Score of 70 or higher. If you’re not hitting that score, try breaking apart long paragraphs and sentences.

Those are all good to do. You can also read more. However most best selling books follow one formula or another. Those formulas is designed to sell more books. I find that books written using those formulas to be boring. The pattern is too obvious and usually it involves too much sex and violence.

What I do is work with the Writing Muse, even for my reference books. Both the Writing Muse and I like to write. We both enjoy it. I can’t say that it brings me lots and lots of joy. However, I enjoy it enough that I’m working on book #99. Writing is a vehicle for this things that I really, really enjoy.
The Writing Muse and I have a intimate relationship. That means we really enjoy spending time with each other. For some, that relationship can be to the exclusion of all else. I have written like that. But I prefer keeping my boundaries. There are other things in life besides writing, even when I’m writing.
Having an intimate relationship means, not keeping myself distant from the story. It means, allowing the story to be a part of my life. It means interacting with the characters in my story, rather than just observing them. It means seeing what they’re seeing, feeling what they’re feeling, experiencing what they’re experiencing. Those who read my stories often express how deeply the stories touch them, how they feel like they’re a part of the story, how I’ve drawn them into the story.

All of my books are available at Stubbart.com. Get ready to not be bored. Get ready to let the stories touch you. Get ready to enter the stories. Get to know that cast and become part of the cast. Get ready to enjoy. And possibly you’ll meet the Writing Muse while you’re reading these stories. After all, the Writing Muse is the co-author.

Two-Factor Authentication – The Good, The Bad, and The Questionable

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Two-Factor Authentication simply means verification by two methods. One-Factor Authentication simply means you enter your user-id and password to log in. Two-Factor usually means that once you enter your user-id and password, a one-time (one-usage) code or pin is sent to you either by email or by phone. Then you have to enter that code as part of your log in procedure.

Enhanced One-Factor Authentication

The problem with One-Factor is that people tend to use the same user-id and password everywhere they log in. They also tend to use something easy to remember for their user-id and password. Thus, if somebody gets your user-id and password for one website, they have it for all websites. You can limit that by using separate passwords for each site, but that gets tedious.

Now, most log ins require you to use a combination of uppercase and/or lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters like @ or # in your password. These are harder to guess. Even harder to guess are password phrases like My cat has green eyes with black pupils. Those are even harder to remember.
Some sites do not allow you to use your email address as your user-id. Some sites do not allow you to use any part of your name as your user-id. Others make you include numbers in your user-id.

Enhanced One-Factor Authentication may make you input three things log-in. It may make you answer security questions (unless you check that the device you’re using to log-in is your own private device). Inputting three things to log in is good.
Another form of Enhanced One-Factor Authentication tries to prevent your device from becoming infected with a virus, especially one which would compromise your log ins. This may be in the form of you choosing a picture from a list. This picture is displayed when you log in. This assures you that you’re on the correct website. Some bank websites ask you to download and install IBM Security Trusteer Rapport. This is an added layer of security for your computer. I did that at one point, but it slowed my computer way down. I have plenty of security on my computer without it. Many clients that I work for insist that the computer I use to work for them has a virus protection program of their choosing.
Also, you may need to verify that you’re human and not a robot. You do this by entering some barely legible letters and numbers which are shown on the screen. Alternatively, you check certain types of pictures like those which contain a street sign.

Two-Factor Authentication

Two-Factor Authentication sends you a one-time code  or pin to enter as part of you log in. This code is sent to your phone as a message, or the sending computer can call your phone with that number, or you’ll receive that code in an email. Two-factor works well even though it is one more step for you. You also have your choice of how you want to receive that code.
Two-Factor may also come in the form of your device staying in sync with the website’s computer. In this case, you install a tokenizing app on your device. The website’s computer generates a random number. If your device’s tokenizing app is in sync, it has the same random number at the same time. Don’t ask me how this works. This form of Two-Factor is enhanced Two-Factor because your device also has to know a pre-agreed upon pin.
The problem with Two-Factor is that hackers may be able to steal your phone number or email address. Then they can intercept that code and log in as you. So, don’t plaster your phone number and email address all over the place, at least not the one you’re using for verification.

Three-Factor Authentication

And here’s where it gets questionable. I recently logged in to my Trusted Traveler Program (TSA). But now, your log-in information is verified by a different website where you have to have a log-in.
This is ridiculous because just one year ago, the log-in website changed and I had to set up my log in info again.
This new website required Three-Factor Authentication. In addition to my log in info and my Two-Factor Authentication, I had to choose a third way to verify that I was who I said I was. The first choice made the most sense to me. That meant installing an app which would receive the code. I reasoned that if somebody stole my phone, they would have that app. So I installed it on my laptop instead. There were two choices for that app. The first cost 6$/month. The other was free. Now I just have to remember what that app was and make sure it’s running the next time I need to log in to that site. Also that app was not easy to use. The help information was different from the actual screen.

Patterns, Biometrics, etc.

Some devices allow you to log in using a pattern or biometrics – fingerprint or iris print. I recently set up a new laptop for somebody else. Windows preferred that a pin be entered, rather than a password. This other person preferred using a password. So I figured out how to change their set up, so that they could do so.

Cellphones usually allow you to enter a pattern to log in. You can make it harder to log in to your phone by adding a second lock (log in) screen. If you want to do this, I suggest using Microsoft’s Next Lock Screen as your first log in screen and your phone’s as your second.

Some devices and kiosks allow you to use Biometrics to log in. This may be in addition to your log in information, though usually it isn’t. Some require both fingerprints and iris scans, but most only require one or the other.
There are problems with this. You may not have fingerprints. We’ve all seen spy films where fingerprints were lifted with scotch tape. And most of us have seen the movie where they stole the President’s eyeball.
Other types of Biometrics include voice recognition and face recognition. In the future you may encounter vein recognition, hand geometry authentication, and DNA recognition. Those are currently being used in limited situations.

Here Come the Canadians

My wife and I recently visited Northeast England over the Christmas Break. We went to see friends whom we hadn’t seen in years. Now they live in the UK, so what better reason to visit. We were all just the same as the last time we had seen each other. Well, other than now their daughters are adults.

Many things were familiar in England. Some were different. Others, including the language was familiar yet different.

It was cold and I don’t like the cold. So I wore my biggest heaviest winter coat. And I wore a hat to keep my head warm. My wife was similarly attired. Some young boys playing in the took us for RCMP – Royal Canadian Mounted Police. When they saw us coming their way, they shouted Here Come the Canadians! and off they ran.

Please join us in our adventure by reading the travelogue: Here Come the Canadians – Traveling in Northeast England.

I Lost Me Britches

How I Lost Weight Without Really Trying

Half of the people who are reading the title of this book I Lost Me Britches – How I Lost Weight Without Really Trying are thinking, Oh sure! I’ve heard that line about losing weight before! I’m not going to fall for that scam again. This is just some ad for a diet-pill or for a weight-loss program.

The other half of the people who are reading the title are thinking, Well sure, losing weight is really easy for some people. But it’s never easy for me!

But you, oh Most Astute Reader; yes, you are thinking that there really must be something to this. And you know, beyond all knowing, that there is a secret in this book that only you will find out. And that secret, oh Wise One, will enable you to lose weight, simply, honestly, and best of all, with little effort at all.

So to you, Most Savvy Reader, read on!

True Story

This is the true story of how I lost weight 30 pounds and 4 inches (off my waist) in 9 months. I did that by practicing a little known secret. Well it was little known to me at the time. I also discovered other secrets along the way which will help me keep that weight off forever.

If you’re ready to join me in the community of lesser selves, buy my book. https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Me-Britches-Weight-Without/dp/B083XT1J8W
You know you want to.

Excel Weekly ToDo Calendar

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I’ve got the Calendar in Outlook. I’ve got a Calendar for my travel in Excel – one row for each week. But I needed a weekly or rather 7 day todo Calendar. Yes, I could put my Tasks in Outlook. However, I think Excel is easier to modify. And since I’m a procrastinator, I tend to keep moving tasks later and later.

Here’s what I did. First open a new Excel Spreadsheet. Select columns A-H. Since I’m working on a laptop, I was able to set the Column Width for these columns to 20. Your column width may be different. Right-Click, Column Width, 20. Also change these columns to Wrap Text while you’re at it.

Select column I – set column width to 1. This way, if I tab out of H into I, it doesn’t cause Excel to shift to the next set of columns to the right. Column I is still on the main screen as A-H.

Label row 2 (I’ll get to row 1 in a second) Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, thru Saturday. Label H2 Other. That’s because I have items in the future or items without dates – ones I just get to as have time.

Label A1 with the date for the Sunday of the current week. I prefer the Short Date format dd/mm/yy in the US. That is not the default, so I have to change the format. Grab the lower right corner of A1 and drag to the right thru G1. Now all your columns have dates.

Bold the top two rows. Select the third row – View Menu, Freeze Panes, Freeze Panes. This will keep your first two rows frozen on the screen as you scroll down.

Now, here’s the tricky bit. Select A1 thru G1. Home Menu, Conditional Formatting, Color Scales, Other Rules. Change the minimum color to yellow and the maximum color to orange. This way the minimum date is highlighted in yellow. The other dates will get slightly more orange.

OK, but I’m in the middle of the week. That’s OK. Change the date for Sunday to whatever that will be. Then grab that lower right corner of A1 and drag to the right until you get to yesterday. This is called filling or drag filling. Every time a week changes you’ll need to replace the Sunday date. Every time the day changes, you’ll need to drag fill the previous date to today – or type in today’s date.

Now you’re set. Just fill in the tasks for the appropriate day. Have a task which doesn’t fit in the current 7 days, place it in the Other column. Have a lot of Other stuff, add another worksheet (tab) to this spreadsheet. That way you’ll be able to store that stuff until it’s time to place it on your main worksheet. The highlighting will focus you in on today. It will also allow you to easily see that the Wednesday stuff is next week rather than this week.

This ToDo Calendar really helps because, Just because I procrastinate, doesn’t mean I’ll never get around to it.

Eco-Friendly Technology That Can Help You Live Greener

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Is eco-friendly technology really all that important? Well, when you consider that the U.S. population uses up 25 percent of the world’s resources and produces 258 million tons of waste, half of which winds up sitting in a landfill, it’s easy to say that going green is pretty important. It slows the progress and effects of global warming and pollution, creates clean energy, and creates an overall lifestyle and mindset that is conducive to a cleaner and happier planet. If you’re looking to incorporate some green tech into your home, the following are some great ways to start:

Smart Thermostats

One of the biggest reasons homeowners switch to a smart thermostat is for the savings on their pricey energy bill, but a smart thermostat helps the environment, too. A smart thermostat is able to learn your temperature setting preferences and general routine over time, and automatically adjust your temps throughout the day. “This allows them to reduce energy consumption at peak times of the day, lower electricity bills, and reduce carbon emissions into the environment,” Climesense explains. There are plenty of smart thermostats on the market such as the Nest, Honeywell, and Ecobee, so your decision ultimately lies in their reviews and your budget.

Streaming Devices

Who knew that the way in which you choose to stream your favorite shows and movies could be helping the planet? According to research by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), streaming devices use between 2.3 and 3.3 watts of power, which is 10 times less than a traditional DVR system. By switching from your regular cable box to a streaming device, you can save energy as well as reduce power plant pollution, not to mention you can save money by lowering your cable/satellite bills. You’ll also benefit from having a much smaller device that you can take with you and use pretty much anywhere, unlike a DVR box.

Energy Star Appliances

Have you ever thought about how much your daily appliances cost you? A 300-watt dishwasher averages 34 cents per month, the coffee maker runs you a monthly bill of 60 to 85 cents, and your refrigerator comes in the highest at $5.90 a month. Sure, they’re small amounts, but they add up when you consider the annual cost. If you want a clearer picture of your energy cost, use an appliance energy cost calculator. It factors in your average daily kilowatt hours (KWH) for any given appliance as we well as the cost per KWH set by your electric company. There are ways to lower costs, increase savings, and save energy, one of which is with Energy Star appliances. Your washer and dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, and other appliances can be made more energy-efficient if you replace them with certified Energy Star appliances..

Change the Toilet Game

What’s something you use every day, multiple times a day? The average toilet uses 1.6 gallons per flush, which adds up to a lot of water when you consider your household size and the number of times you go. Switching to a high-efficiency toilet could lower that number to 1.28 gallons, but that will require a new toilet completely. Another water-saving option to consider is a dual flush toilet. By installing a valve in your current toilet, you only use about 1.6 gallons for solid waste and 0.8 for liquid waste, reducing your overall water usage by as much as 30 percent. In addition, make sure you educate yourself and your household on what items not to flush to cut down on the objects that end up in sewage plants and ultimately make their way to rivers, lakes, and wildlife. Some of the common culprits include wipes, medication, paper towels, and feminine products. Just like we all strive to lead a healthy lifestyle, a green lifestyle should be an important goal as well. Make that goal a reality by incorporating some eco-friendly technology in your home. Not only are you saving the planet, but you’ll also save money in the form of major energy savings. It’s a win-win!

Article by Ginger Reid, Our Precious Resources.org