Dyslexia Information

December 16, 2012

If you or someone you love suffers from dyslexia, I would suggest you drop by Fiona Phelan’s informative website.


Be sure to check out the free OpenDyslexic typeface set that can be used in many applications.



A few years back a good friend patiently explained something to me. “There are two parts to becoming a published author. One is the craft of writing and the other is the business of writing. They are two entirely different skillsets.” He was quite right.

These days, the business of self publishing not only includes reading the fine print, but also preparing your book so that it can be easily read on multiple devices. The problem is that authors are the unwilling pawns in a war between the media distribution giants. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and other companies require totally different formats for their books. The reasoning is simple. They want to be your only source for new reading matter on their proprietary devices.

If you are going to self publish, then you will need to convert your original document into four or five totally different formats. While this can seem intimidating, it’s really not that difficult.

Read the rest of this entry »

Space Travel

Fair Warning: This segment and the next one of An Author’s Journey are going to wax a bit technical.
Robert A. Heinlein stated that “Once you reach Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO), you are halfway to any place else in our solar system.

Jerry Pournelle goes into much more detail on why this is a truism with his page on Getting to Space. http://www.jerrypournelle.com/reports/jerryp/gettospace.html

Read the rest of this entry »


Last week, I posted a brief tutorial on how to use Audacity to create your own audiobooks. Now, I’ve decided to share some of my experiences during the creation of my latest project.

First, a little background… I’ve recorded some short tales and a friend’s poem in order to test and hone my skills. This process has taught me a few things.

#1 Use a decent microphone. I have been using the same $20 headset and boom mic combination that I’ve used for Skype. It works. But the sound quality is just not that good. A couple of week’s ago, I broke down and purchased a Blue Yeti.

#2 However long it takes you to read a chapter slowly and distinctly, translates to four to five times that long to create the final MP3. Yes. The post-edit process is time-consuming. Plan on it.

#3 I’ve started recording Shifter Born, the first book in my Shifter Series. I’m on chapter ten of thirteen. As I finish reading each chapter, I’m doing the basic noise-reduction and editing out the screwups. That’s it for now. I’m going to leave the rest of the post-production, such as adding spacing, music, titles, copyright, and overall level balancing… until all the chapters are in the can.

It’s just the start. Feel free to ask questions along the way.


This is a call for help to all the friends and fans of Joe Bethancourt.

As reported by Robert Zucker:

On Saturday, April 30th, Joe’s home in Phoenix was heavily damaged by fire. Joe, his wife Cher, their rescued animals and Joe’s instruments all made it out safely. The house will have to be completely rebuilt.

A Benefit Concert will be held on Saturday, May 14th from 1pm to 4pm in the Big Room at Fiddler’s Dream in Phoenix to help Joe and Cher with living expenses while the long and involved process of getting the house rebuilt takes place. Admission to the event will be a requested minimum donation of $10.

We need you, Arizona’s music community, to:

1. Volunteer to play 2-3 songs
2. Volunteer to help at the event
3. Tell all your fans that they should attend this event
4. Tell other musicians who have not received this e-mail about the event

ALL PROCEEDS from the event go to Joe and Cher Bethancourt. The folk’s at Fiddler’s Dream arranged for the room and AMAZ Radio will cover the cost of renting the room as a donation.

If you want to play or volunteer at the event, e-mail Mr. Zucker at rzucker@amazradio.org.

To make this event a success we need all of you to use your own promotional resources to spread the word and get your fans and friends to attend.

To those of you who are in the media and are receiving this note; please do what you can to get your media resources to help publicise this. Tell other people in the media about it. Mr. Zucker is available to answer questions from any media outlet.

Many have filked his tune, True Story, about the FBI investigation of the society in the 70s.  I’m sharing this in my blog as he was a huge influence on myself and others in the early days of the S.C.A.

Ioseph of Locksley, mundanely known as Joe Bethancort..


Joe Bethancourt is an Arizona treasure. He is also a friend. Let’s show Joe and Cher that we are the friends and the music community they can count on in a time of need. Thanks for your help.

Robert Zucker
AMAZ Radio
P.O. Box 1554
Queen Creek, Arizona 85142



Old Cookbooks!

May 7, 2011

I recently found a set of old cookbooks that are long out of print and out of copyright. I thought my fans might find them amusing.

Click this for the download page.

I would love to hear from anyone who actually tries some of the recipes and will let us know what they think.


If you have any interest at all in creating independent video productions, then you need to check out this new group. By independent productions, I mean anything from a simple book trailer to a full-length movie.

The Creative Commons Film Group is dedicated to using Free and Open Source tools to help visual artists achieve their dreams.  From the webpage:

“We want to bring together all the people that make movies so that they can help each other in a very helpful and friendly way.”


Old Farts!

March 29, 2010

I’m passing this on as I did not want to be the only old fart receiving it.
Actually, it’s not a bad thing to be called, as you will see. Old Farts are easy to spot at sporting events; during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. Old Farts remove their caps and stand at attention and sing without embarrassment. They know the words and believe in them.
Old Farts remember World War II, Perl Harbor , Guadalcanal , Normandy and Hitler. They remember the Atomic Age, the Korean War, The Cold War , the Jet Age and the Moon Landing. They remember the 50 plus Peacekeeping Missions from 1945 to 2005, not to mention Vietnam
If you bump into an Old Fart on the sidewalk he will apologize. If you pass an Old Fart on the street, he will nod or tip his cap to a lady. Old Farts trust strangers and are courtly to women.
Old Farts hold the door for the next person and always, when walking, make certain the lady is on the inside for protection.
Old Farts get embarrassed if someone curses in front of women and children and they don’t like any filth or dirty language on TV or in movies.
Old Farts have moral courage and personal integrity. They seldom brag unless it’s about their children or grandchildren.
It’s the Old Farts who know our great country is protected, not by politician’s, but by the young men and women in the military?serving their country.
This country needs Old Farts with their work ethic, sense of responsibility, pride in their country and decent values.
We need them now more than ever.
Thank God for Old Farts!
Pass this on to all the Old Farts you know.
I was taught to respect my elders. It’s just getting harder to find them.


January 25, 2010

Like everyone who ever spends time surfing the net, I run into things that are really neat and I want to share with my friends. So, I’m going to start adding posts like this one. From now on, when you see the subject line NeatNetNews, the content will be a handful of links that may or may not be related, but which I found interesting. Just remember, your mileage may vary.

A neat idea from NASA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhpPhvWvLgk&feature=player_embedded

A model spaceship with history behind it: http://up-ship.com/blog/?p=5137

Some music and two great short stories by Frederick Pohl and read by Spider Robinson. It is a great way to kick back and enjoy an hour: http://cdn3.libsyn.com/spiderweb/SOTW053.mp3?nvb=20100125185016&nva=20100126190016&t=0ac0dc77806458a67d540

Current Energy Prices per Million BTU: http://alfin2100.blogspot.com/2010/01/cost-of-energy-comparison-per-million.html#links


The Price of Experience

January 23, 2010

My wife is not a computer geek. Neither is she an engineer, mechanic nor captain of industry. She is however, highly skilled at several crafts that leave me in awe.

Her day job is in a fabric and craft store. From experience, she can attest to the fact that the great majority of folks are friendly and considerate. Occasionally, one runs into a self-centered fool who has no concept of how the world really works.

The other day, a fellow showed her an old leather jacket with a damaged zipper. He had taken it to a tailor and was incensed that they wanted thirty-five dollars for labor plus the cost of a whole replacement zipper. Instead, he wanted to pay six dollars for an El Cheapo zipper and was proudly announcing he would toss an extra four bucks to my wife if she would hand-stitch it on for him. When she said that her schedule was too full to take on any new projects and that even if she did, her labor would cost at least thirty dollars, he stomped away in a huff. She learned later, that he had approached several other employees with the same offer and when he got nowhere, had stormed off in disgust.

Now granted, the guy was a fool, but similar incidents are way too common to be ignored.

I suggested that, when presented with such a demand in the future, she ask the person what they do for a living. Are they a doctor, lawyer, computer system administrator, mechanic or engineer? Chances are, they have some skill set that has cost them a great deal of time and money to acquire.

Just to give one, blue-collar example, a qualified auto mechanic needs at least a couple of years of experience and training. If you take your car for work in our area, the average small shop charges seventy to a hundred dollars an hour while a dealership charges no less than one hundred and twenty an hour. If you know how to replace an automotive waterpump, then you can pick one up at most parts houses and save yourself two hours of labor. If you don’t, then you have to pay someone with the training and experience to replace it for you. That is how the world works.

If you know how to replace a hard drive, update the RAM and install a new operating system in your computer, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars at a computer store. If not, then it is generally cheaper just to buy a new computer every three to five years. That is how the world works.

Which brings us back to the fool with the old leather coat. My wife has years of experience as a seamstress. She told me, that due to the type of zipper and backing materials, it would take between forty-five minutes and an hour of work, using a machine. If it was to be hand-sewn, then figure twice that amount of time.

He had mentioned that he could purchase a new jacket for a hundred bucks. It wasn’t worth spending almost half that to fix the old one. So, he was in effect, offering my wife and her friends somewhere around four or five dollars an hour (less than minimum wage) to perform a highly-skilled repair job that he was incapable of doing himself.

If the man had such knowledge and experience, he might get away with a six dollar zipper. If not, then forty bucks or so would be cheap. That is how the world works.

Just because someone doesn’t have a college degree or a string of initials after their name, doesn’t mean they are unintelligent or unskilled. Chances are, they have knowledge and skills you don’t. What is the price of training and experience beyond your own abilities?