Rushing Into Skynet – Why I Hate Self-Checkouts!

Okay, so the telephone rang tonight and a recorded voice informed me that they were recording this conversation…

Really?

I don’t know WHAT the conversation was about. I hung up before we even got that point in the game. I mean, what person in their right mind would sit there and listen to a recorded conversation that was recording your responses?

Of course, I was sitting there watching Netflix, and you could argue that meant that I was already listening to recorded dialogue – but that really isn’t the point, now is it?

Just a couple of weeks ago I walked into a local Superstore. I was heading for the walk-in clinic, suffering with a bad case of bronchitis. I had some time to kill and I thought that I might buy myself a little treat to help pass the time. Only none of the cash registers were open – none, except for the self-checkout machines. Two customers were standing there being guided patiently by two semi-almost-next-to-middle-management-staff who were eagerly working themselves out of a job.

“Well,” I said to myself. “Skynet is coming.”

Terminator

Did I buy anything?

Nope. Not me. I am no collaborator. I am not about to surrender myself to the dehumanizing digitized digestion of society.

You see, I’ve had experience with this sort of phenomenon, from a long time ago. Back about 25 to 30 years ago I worked in a furniture making factory over in Burnside. We made furniture for Ikea. That meant sawing up great sheets of particle board. The first cuts were made by handloading sheets onto a gigantic panel saw. It was a five man team, with two loaders, one chief, and two unloaders.

That’s five gainfully-employed laborers. Ten or fifteen if you count shift work.

Then, one day they built a great big computerized panel saw.

POW – that five man team was cut down to a two man team, just like that.

Just like that, three fellows were out on the sidewalk, looking for another job.

I think about those three guys, every time that I see one of those damn self-checkouts.

Heck, one of my very first jobs was retail. I worked twelve years at two different Canadian Tire stores, running the plumbing section, the hardware section, the warehouse, and for many years I was in charge of the Christmas section.

To this day I still cannot listen to an Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas album without flinching.

So I don’t use self-checkout machines.

I don’t talk to robots who phone me up in the middle of my Netflix binge-watching.

In all honesty, I do use an ATM for simple withdrawals, but if I have any real banking to do, I prefer to talk to a teller.

It is just hard to get around this sort of creeping social infection.

Just a couple of weeks ago I walked up to a desk in the Halifax Public Library. Three people were standing behind the desk and I figured that one of them could help me check out my books. I knew that there was a check-out desk on the main floor, but I was on a higher floor and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try.

“We don’t do check-out up here,” the lady at the desk told me. “But I’d be happy to show you how to take out your own book at the self-check-out machine.”

I did not want to be rude, so I let her show me.

Then I told her that I probably wasn’t ever going to bother using one of these machines.

“Why not?” she asked me, not rudely, just in a curious kind of a way.

“Well,” I said. “I look at one of those machines and I just see an unemployed librarian.”

“Oh,” she said. “Well, they wouldn’t fire me. I do other work besides checking out books.”

I swear, that’s what she told me.

I wished my memory was strong enough to have quoted this verse to her – but I will let her rip for the sake of the blog – and yes, I cheated and used Google-Fu to pull up this version.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. 

Martin Niemöller

So, what do I say to Skynet?

Not today…

Self - Checkout

Yours in Storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

 

 

The Greatest Trick by Steve Vernon

It’s funny but I had almost forgotten about writing this story. I’m glad that the reviewer enjoyed the ending. I wish to heck I could remember how I ended it, but I know where to find a copy on my bookshelf.

Earth and Skye

Overview

Evolve

Title: The Greatest Trick
Author: Steve Vernon
In: Evolve (Nancy Kilpatrick)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves:Politics, Vampires
Dates read: 3rd March 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Edge
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: He didn’t have that much in his wallet.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

We all know that politicians are blood suckers. But what happens when a vampire wants to become one too?

Thoughts

I’m not really into politics. Or politicians or really
anything of the sort. I think that I should be a little more involved, but
realistically, it’s just not going to happen. Which made it kind of fun to read
a story about a bloodsucker going into politics. Literally.

The entire way throughout this story I was waiting for the
punchline. There had to be some kind of evil, ulterior motive to a vampire
running for office. Which there…

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Fighting the Mind Killer

Fear is the Mind Killer

I’m on my last day of antibiotics and the bronchitis has cleared up and I am hoping that I have seen the end of this shit. I am pretty sure that I have figured out where this infection is coming from. I believe my CPAP is full of funky germs that infect while I sleep. So I’ve bought new hoses and a new nozzle and new filters. I’ve bathed that sucker in strong vinegar and sung to it and I’ve hit it with two back-to-back ozone blasts, and I am hoping that killed all of the funk.

But I am scared.

Fear is a natural part of a person’s life, especially as they get older. Life becomes a little more precious. We have got more to do with our time and less time to go around. Things have begun to pile up.

A friend of mine online described a recent experience with fear. He had misplaced his glasses. They were expensive glasses. Heavy-duty prescription jobbies that were just too darned expensive to keep a second pair around. So he freaked out a little and then he found them and everything was cool again except that he was left with the lingering fear that he was getting old.

You have to understand that he just retired, so that thought was looming over his lizard brain just naturally, without the worry of losing a pair of expensive one-of-a-kind glasses egging it on.

So I told him this.

I told him not to worry about it. I told him that as a fellow gets older he has got more crap built up in the attic. Makes it harder to find things. Doesn’t mean that you’re senile. Doesn’t mean that your cerebral circuits burnt out. Just means that it took you a while to process the thought – and then, while you were taking a while you freaked out.

Fear is the mind killer.

Fellows our age are full of fear.

(and yes, I know that women are full of fear as well, but I just can’t help but use the masculine terminology, just because I find that I think clearer if I don’t get all caught up in being grammatically and politically correct about things. So I still say “he” and “fellow” when I am referring to experiences that reflect my own life)

I told my buddy that fear is only a natural experience. I told him to not give it anymore weight than you need to. I set down my glasses all the time and stomp around the house waving my arms like they were fucking magic antennas and then I trip over my glasses and feel like ten kinds of stupid and I think to myself “Shit, I’m getting old.”

Damn.

I am so freaking wise, sometimes.

Why in the hell can’t I ever seem to remember all of this deep and spiritual wisdom when I am running around the house and waving my stupid magic antenna arms, trying to find my goddamn glasses?

I dedicate this blog entry to my wife, who always seems to know where the fucking things are – especially when I don’t.

Fear 2

Yours in Storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

If you enjoyed this blog entry why don’t you grab a copy of CAT TALES #1? https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NW919M3

 

 

 

 

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY (Season 1 Review)

The Umbrella Academy

 

Okay, so I’ve been home for the last couple of days with a bad case of bronchitis and I curled up in front of the television and binged through Season 1 of THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY.

Let me give you folks a quick review of my thoughts on the series.

First of all – it REALLY helped a lot that I had already read the first graphic novel a couple of years ago.

Umbrella Academy comic

Let me start with the actors.

TOM HOPPER, as Luther Hargreeves or Number One or even Space Boy (the big dude with the shoulders) delivers a fine job of acting and I really liked what they did with his makeup. Luther is kind of the Superman of the series, a big strong dude who leads with his heart and is willing to make any sort of sacrifice in the name of the common good.

David Castañeda, plays Diego Hargreeves, known as Number Two or the Kraken . He is kind of the lone wolf Batman character who has a real talent for throwing knives.

Emmy Raver-Lampman plays Number Three or The Rumor – and I really wish they had shown us more of her super power. She has the ability to say something – like “I heard a rumor that you bad guys decided to drop your guns” and all of sudden those bad guys drop their guns. It’s mind control and I found it to be one of the more unique qualities of her character in the comic book. I’m sorry that they decided to downplay it.

Robert Sheehan plays Klaus Hargreeves or Number Four or Seance (in the comic book). He has got the super cool ability to see dead people – kind of like a reverse-Deadman in the comics. Sheehan is endlessly entertaining and of all the whole team I felt that he put on the best performance.

Aidan Gallagher plays Number Five, sometimes known as the boy. He has the ability to teleport through time AND space.

Very cool.

Lastly, Ellen Page plays Vanya Hargreeves or Number Seven or The White Violin – a kind of Jean Grey Phoenix-style character.

I wish that I liked Ellen Page. She is a maritime and I know that a lot of folks in Nova Scotia think highly of her work but I find that she always plays one single flat note – which is kind of ironic when you think that her character is supposed to be a concert violinist. She always looks tired and bored and slightly medicated – not just in this show but everything that I have seen her in. I just really don’t get her appeal as an actress. She only looks vaguely scary at the finale when they are CGI-ing the heck out of her. I also did not like that they decided to omit her wildly visual costume from the comic book.

2009 Jeff Lemire - White Violin copy

That’s Jeff Lemire’s rendition of The White Violin.  Jeff is the artist/writer behind THE ESSEX COUNTY TRILOGY – and if you dig hockey you REALLY ought to hunt this trilogy up.

I enjoyed the whole concept of the series. The idea of a band of children being raised and trained to be superheroes echoes Doc Savage, the X-Men, Batman, and a few others that I just can’t think of.

Also, the use of music in this series truly rocked. I likewise enjoyed the opening credits which were a little different with every episode.

It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, but I still enjoyed it an awful lot.

Of course, that might be the antibiotics talking.

 

Yours in Storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

Quote

Over-Ambitious Writing Goals for 2019

Joynell Schultz writes sweet scifi/fantasy romances. Take a look at her writing plans for 2019. I’m hoping to get this ambitious in about four and a half years or so, after I’ve retired. My full-time job and household responsibilities are keeping me just a little pressed for time these days, but I am getting my ducks in a row.

 

via Over-Ambitious Writing Goals for 2019

KOBO WRITING LIFE Podcast – Writing and Translating Tips for BRENNA AUBREY

Okay, so I don’t talk enough about Kobo.

So let’s remedy that omission.

For starters, Kobo is my second-fattest market for my indie-published books. Kobo makes it EASY to promote your work and it is a great way to tap into the Canadian market.

And, as an indie author, you REALLY ought to be following Kobo Writing Life.

Check out this episode for starters!

https://kobowritinglife.com/2019/02/20/kwl-ep-138-brenna-aubrey/

 

Yours in Storytelling

Steve Vernon

My Year Long Experiment with AMS Ads (Amazon Advertising) …the results might surprise you!

Does anybody out there have any sort of luck with Amazon ads?

Grace Risata: Indie Author and Fountain of Useless Knowledge

Hello, everyone.  For regular readers of my blog who have come to expect entertaining posts about bizarrely random occurrences in my life, you might be advised to sit this one out.  It’s geared more toward writers, but you’re welcome to give it a read on the off chance you’re considering entering the publishing world.

This time I’m going to put on my Independent Author hat and talk about something called Amazon Advertising (Also known as AMS Ads) and discuss my year long adventure while trying to ‘get rich’ selling more books.

If you’re an indie author, you’ve undoubtedly laughed after reading the above sentence because you know there’s no easy path to getting rich by selling books.  It takes a LOT of books, a LOT of time, and an immeasurable amount of blood, sweat, and tears.  Sure, maybe the rare exception, the .001% statistic, one lucky soul might crack the…

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