Sunday, January 22, 2023

Big Snow Still Isn't A Record?

 One of the significant measurements of this season's snowfall so far (November to mid-January) says the Tahoe Basin has gotten 30 feet of snow.

No small thing, that!

What's interesting to me, is that amount isn't a record. Just another mid-season measurement in a very snowy place!

We're eager for a period of sunny days to get streets cleared up.

But come another week or so, we'll be ready for more. 

Bring it on...

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Too Much Snow

 Other places in California have too much water. The rivers can't carry it away fast enough, so it floods.

In Tahoe, we have too much snow. The snowplows push it into huge berms. Then the rotary plows shoot it into dump trucks. Long lines of dump trucks. But they can't carry it away fast enough. So the streets clog up.

We have many neighborhoods where there are only a few narrow one-lane paths. They produce gridlock because cars can't fit by each other in the street.

The snow is pretty, and it is wonderful to ski on and play in. It is also wonderful that we are building up a decent snowpack.

But we're hoping for a break in the weather so we can clear it away.

If you come to Tahoe before that happens, you may be profoundly disappointed. As a 32-year local, my recommendation is to wait.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Want To Enjoy Tahoe? Then Come Some Other Time

 Lots of snow is great. But we have too much at the moment. The streets aren't cleared, there's no place to park, and you can't go anyplace without chains. We have laws that basically say, if you get stuck in the snow, it's your fault and you will be ticketed and towed. And if the plow comes by and buries you, you will have a major problem retrieving your car, which will be damaged. None of this adds uip to a fun ski getaway.

When the storms pause - next week? the week after? - Tahoe will be the greatest. Come then. You'll be glad you waited.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

How Do They Know The Drought Isn't Over?

 This last storm has dropped much rain and snow, and next week a new set of wet systems is supposed to head our way.

Add to that a previous, significant set of storms that made skiers and ski resorts happy.

From appearances, it appears the drought/no drought issue has moved into the 'If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck...' category.

So why do they say the drought isn't over?

It all gets down to the reservoirs. A few of the state's reservoirs look pretty decent. Folsom Lake for example. But the big ones, like Shasta, Trinity, and Oroville are still mostly empty. How much rain and snow will it take to refill those? LOTS.

So we'll enjoy the moisture we get, and the meteorologists will still say we're in a drought until those reservoirs fill up.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Christmas Free Kindle Book Is Live

 If you're on my email list, you know this already. If not, my most recent title, TAHOE MOON, is free on Kindle through December 29th. This is a savings of $4.99.

If you'd like to download the free Kindle book, please click on the link above. That will take you the book page on Amazon, where you can get the book.

Some of you have wondered if this means I don't get paid for free book give aways. That's true. BUT, it helps me even more to have you download my free book, because Amazon compensates authors in other ways. So please take advantage of this offer, and email the info to your friends as well.

Thanks again, and have a great holiday!

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Coming December 25th: Free Kindle Book

One week advance notice... On Christmas, my latest book, TAHOE MOON, will once again be free on Kindle. If you don't have the Kindle app, you can download it for free onto your phone, your tablet, your computer, etc. Just do a Google search, i.e., "Kindle app for iPhone" and you should find an Amazon download. (For safety, I'd only download it from an Amazon site.)

TAHOE MOON will be free for five days. 

For what it's worth, this doesn't cost me anything. It actually helps me with regard to how Amazon presents their search results. So even if you've already read TAHOE MOON, you may want a copy in your Kindle library. Go for it. Send this info along to your friends as well.

Thanks again for your continued interest in the world of Owen, Spot, and the rest of the gang!

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Bring It On

The last storm left 3 feet on the walkway and almost 4 feet in the yard where it is shaded and wind-sheltered and the snow doesn't sink down so fast.

As this gets posted on Sunday morning, we'll be in the middle of what could be the biggest snow so far in the season. 3 more feet or so? One weather report said it was within the realm of possibility that we get 5 feet above 7000 feet (which is usually what we get at our house).

Hard to shovel but fun to play in. And so very pretty.

Here's hoping the Earth mother keeps it up.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Self-Published Actors? Yes

The other day I heard yet another person make a disparaging comment about self-publishing. This is an interesting prejudice. Are the people making negative judgments simply repeating comments they heard in grad school, where there is a strong sense that the only valuable stories are those published by New York publishing houses? Or are they writers who are so insecure, they can't feel good about their own work unless a New York editor gives them the stamp of approval? Or do they still subscribe to the myth that being published by a New York house is the only way to make money? The reality is that except for the top tier of New York-published writers, self-published writers may well be making more money. For example, 50% of all Amazon bestsellers are now self-pubished. Those writers keep most of the money from sales. For the other 50% of bestsellers, the New York-published writers, their publishers take 90% of the income from sales. So you can see why many self-published writers may be doing much better.

Nevertheless, some additional perspective is in order. First, a qualifier: As regards self-publishing books, I’m not talking about the so-called internet “self-publishing” companies, which, in many cases, should be called vanity presses. By many measures, many of these companies are no good at anything beyond taking money from writers with stars in their eyes. If an author pays a company to publish them—no matter whether a low or high price—that isn’t self-publishing. Are they scams? Ask all the successful self-published authors who've seen their friends get trapped in the no-control world of paying for publication.

Self-publishing is publishing yourself. All the advantages that accrue to real self-publishers are dependent on the author making the decisions. All the decisions. The reasons for pursuing real self-publishing are many and obvious. You have control over every aspect of your book, which means you can pursue the best choices to enable your success. You control the story, the editing, the cover, the formatting, the marketing, the review submissions, the back copy, and—after the book comes out—the fixes and the adjustments. You keep all of the money a publisher normally keeps. You alone are in charge. And you maintain control. More than anything else, it is that control that enables you to find success.

Another qualifier: It is still very difficult to make money in the book business. Self-publishing may allow you to keep most of the money coming in, but it doesn't guarantee that there will be any income at all.

It should be noted that a few years ago, the Author's Guild reported that the average New York-published author makes $17,000 a year. That's pretty much poverty. To make it worse, the average New York-published author is dropped after their books don't hit the bestseller lists. When a New York-published author is dropped ("orphaned" in some parlance), their options are few-to-none. But it should also be noted that many resort to self-publishing, and some of them end up getting wealthy with books that their former publisher didn't want.

The detractors of self-publishing think that you need a big company’s editor to take over all these important parts of the process. In addition to their control, they also take 90% of the income. Technology has made it so more and more authors are abandoning their New York publishers because they see the advantages of keeping that control and keeping the money.

As many know, musicians and actors have had to struggle like writers to cope with big businesses who control their output, their schedule, their very careers. But, like writers, musicians and actors have now taken over their own careers, as well.

Now comes the point of this blog.

Let’s look at the change in the movie business. In the early days, actors, writers, and directors got a contract from one of the big Hollywood studios. This was similar to writers looking to New York publishing companies. But the change in the acting world may be even greater than the change in the writing world.

Perhaps more than anyone else, Clint Eastwood got the self-publishing ball really rolling. He wasn't the first to take over his own career, but he may have been the most successful.

In 1967, Clint Eastwood started a production company called Malpaso Productions. Since its first movie, Hang ‘Em High, nearly every movie Clint Eastwood has been involved with was produced by Malpaso Productions. In other words, Clint Eastwood has been self-published for over 55 years, nearly all of his career. This has given him the freedom to do the kind of movies he wants and do them the way he wants. Owning the production company means he was also able to do his own directing, no small thing, that! In addition to control over his career, he kept most of the money. (There are other directors, such as Woody Allen, who have also controlled their own output.)

This was a new approach in the world of movies. It has worked so well that hundreds of actors and writers and other people in the movie business have followed suit.

Here is a partial list of people who have their own production companies:

Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Will Smith, Elizabeth Banks, Will Ferrel, Kerry Washington, Tina Fey, Tom Cruise, Sophia Vergara, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Tyler Perry, Margot Robbie, Adam Sandler, Reese Witherspoon, Leonardo Dicaprio, Viola Davis, Sandra Bullock, Billy Crystal, Courteney Cox, Alec Baldwin, Drew Barrymore, Lawrence Fishburne, Lisa Kudrow, Ben Stiller, Ice Cube, Spike Lee, Warren Beaty, Queen Latifah, Jackie Chan, Natalie Portman, Danny DeVito, Charlize Theron, Ben Afleck, Alicia Vikander, Bradley Cooper, Eva Longoria, Salma Hayek, Robert Redford, Gal Gadot.

How’s that for self-publishing success? In addition to all the actors with their own companies, many actors have produced their own films (a second cousin to having their own production companies.) Jennifer Lopez, Tom Hanks, Eddie Murphy, Jodie Foster, Barbra Streisand, Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey… The list is nearly endless.

In a musical addendum, I recently read that the song goddess Joni Mitchell has a $40-$100 million fortune. Yes, she is the greatest. Yes, she is a genius. Yes, her music sold, and still sells, very well. Yes, Rolling Stone called her album BLUE one of the 500 best albums ever recorded. But $40 million is possibly beyond what you'd expect from someone who sold 8 or 9 million albums. So where did all her money come from?

A little more reading explained it. Unlike most of the other musicians from the 1970s on, Joni self-produced all 19 of her albums. She took most of the control of her career away from the record companies. And with that control comes money.

How could any person who consumes entertainment of any kind doubt the appropriateness of creators deciding to take control over their creative output? Kind of a no-brainer, huh?

It gives a new perspective to people who look down on self-published artists, whether actors, musicians, or writers.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Which State Do People Love To Hate?

We've just had a run of unbelievably beautiful weather. 

It's even more amazing considering it's early winter. Gorgeous sunny skies. Snow-covered mountains. Winter days in California are often beyond perfect. And summer days in much of California are temperate and have low humidity. Like Italy in Europe, California may have the best weather in the United States. Add California sights to the weather, and it's a pretty sweet combination.

Yet I've seen multiple media stories about how much people love to hate California.

One wonders why.  

Yes, we have high taxes. But if you do a Google search on states with the highest overall tax burden, you find that by many measures, New York, Hawaii, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Oregon and even Minnesota have similar tax burdens, maybe even higher.

Yes, we have lots of stuffed-shirt politicians. It could even be argued that some of our politicians are certifiable idiots. But that's the same as every other state.

Yes, we have terrible forest fires and earthquakes. But we don't have tornadoes or hurricanes.

Yes, we have lots of people and the traffic that comes with them. But take an area of equal size on the East Coast and it will have twice as many people and the traffic to match.

Yes, we have very high housing costs. But we also have the 5th highest income of all the states. And if you don't insist on living in the Bay Area or L.A., you can find houses at semi-reasonable costs.

Yes, we have the largest tech companies in the world, Apple, Google, Facebook, and those companies can irritate millions on a continuous basis. But do people want to give up what those companies provide?

I'm guessing that much of the reason some people have antipathy for California is shown in these photos. I'll sum it up in a single word at the end of this post.

Do people hate California beaches? I think not.

Redwoods, the world's tallest trees?

Tahoe, the most beautiful, purest, high altitude lake in the world?

Mount Whitney, highest mountain in the lower 48 states?

Some of the best surfing in the world?

Some of the best skiing in the world?

Some of the most beautiful coastline in the world?

Some of the grandest city views in the world?

Yosemite, with several of the highest cliffs and waterfalls in the world?

So what is the reason why anyone would love to hate California?
One reason might be envy...

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Biggest Holiday Travel Season In Years

The Tahoe Tribune ran an article saying that travel business experts believe we're about to have the biggest travel season in many years, maybe ever. If you don't have your reservations, you might need to hurry up!

Here's the article:

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Ski Areas Open?! Yes!

 Current news is that Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood are opening early. As always, check the websites before you go. In this new world, you have to purchase your tickets online and in advance. You can't just show up and expect to ski. But the new advance purchase means fewer crowds, so it's a good thing.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Two Big Events Coming

The San Mateo Harvest Festival is coming next weekend, Friday November 11 through Sunday Nov 13. 

The show is in the San Mateo Event Center on Saratoga street. The hours are 10 - 5 Friday and Saturday, and 10-4 Sunday.

The following weekend will be the Sacramento Harvest Festival, November 18, 19, 20. 
The show will be at Cal Expo, and the hours are the same. I hope to see you at either show!