A dream. A memory.


She came to visit me again last night. I don’t remember if I was laying in bed or sitting in a chair in this dream, but there she was, climbing into my lap. No, not climbing. Pushing. She could be like that. Very pushy.

Her name was Turtle, and I lost her almost two years ago to old age. (Such is the heartbreak with pets.) I’m not sure if I called her to me last night, but I think I may have. I remember thinking how she immediately climbed into bed with me to snuggle as close as possible – meaning, she draped herself across my face – at nighttime. But I’ve done that before. I’ve asked her to return and not received an answer. Until last night. There she was, insistently pushing her way onto my lap and refusing to settle down until my arms were firmly wrapped around her. She wanted to be held. She missed being held.

So I held her…until the dream slipped away sometime before dawn. And when Paco seemed extraordinarily pushy in wanting extra cuddle time after breakfast, I put aside my chores and let him claim ownership of my lap.

Love your pets while they’re with you. You may not get the chance in your dreams.

Crisis Management 101

Bender_blogThe trackpad on your MacBook Pro begins to malfunction, making it nearly impossible to navigate through your hard drive, let alone through the internet. What do you do?

1) Resist the urge to throw the computer across the room and/or out the window.

2) Repeatedly swear at computer.

3) Feeling a migraine attempt to explode behind your right eyeball, give up, take medication, and go to bed.

4) Get perhaps three hours of sleep before your brain wakes you up with a “pssst….hey, you have an old trackball plugged into the much older non-functioning desktop over in the corner.

5) Try to sleep anyway. Not much success.

6) The next morning, try plugging in the trackball. No success.

7) Borrow laptop from very nice neighbor and finish the paper about a fictitious disaster along the Mississippi River for your “Crisis Management Law” class. Turn assignment in. Get a 92% (That’s an “A”)!!

8) After perusing the Apple User Forums, you take MacBook Pro to Apple Store where it is diagnosed with a bad battery (bad battery! bad!). When batteries go bad, they swell and – being located directly underneath the trackpad – place pressure on the trackpad, confusing it. New battery: $140.

9) Start working on next assignment for your “Crisis Management Law” class. The cat – the most sweetest, calmest tabby ever – sitting at your feet suddenly flips over onto his back and makes like a turtle which has been flipped onto its back and can’t right itself. Seizure lasts nearly a minute.

10) Forget homework. Rush cat to vet. Battery of tests: $300. Results negative.

11) Hope it’s a one-time event. Cat has another seizure three days later, doing the “drunk walk” like his back half and front half aren’t speaking to each other.

12) Rush cat back to vet. More tests and x-rays: $300. Results negative. Most likely diagnosis: neurological. Conclusive results would require $1500 MRI at neurologist. I don’t have $1500.

13) Put cat on phenobarbital to control seizures. Hope for the best. Drugs: $40

14) Suffer through series of tension-related migraines during the next couple of weeks.  Run out of migraine medication.  Order more: $15

15) Only with the help of the calming influence of acupuncture, manage to complete the next “Crisis Management Law” class assignment. (And some really nice friends who proofread.)

16) Start working on final research paper for “Crisis Management Law” class and discover the MacBook Pro’s problems have not been completely solved by replacing the battery.  Symptoms not as disruptive, but still damn inconvenient. How’d you like it if your computer spontaneously minimized windows you were working in, or thinking you had clicked on something you hadn’t?

17) Decide to work on WordPress blog posting instead. Malfunctioning computer “publishes” the blog before it’s finished despite the fact that I never clicked on “publish.”

18) Delete half-finished blog and do it over again.

19) Resist the urge to throw the computer across the room and/or out the window.

20) Instead, go give love and attention to ailing cat.

August Roundup

The latest update from the authors at XC Publishing:

Cheryl continues working on the third book of the Gauntlet Trilogy.

Erotic, kinky tales occupy Deb’s time…with more to be published for her eager fans soon. (She promises!) And who could think of a more fun way to occupy one’s time anyway?

Janet has released the 2nd Edition of her horror/dark fantasy anthology “Skin and Bones” to include a new story titled “Zombitos” (yes, zombie bobitos – if you’ve ever been bedeviled by those annoying flies in Baja – this story is for you!)  “Skin and Bones” also sports new cover art. Find it for sale on Amazon.com

Janet also released a new piece of erotica “Ivy League” (sex with plants!) which you should find on Smashwords.com, as a free introduction for you to try out her stories. (Note: it can also be found on Amazon.com, but Amazon has not yet changed its price to “free,” so go to Smashwords first.)

Xina has been very busy promoting her “The Cat’s Guide to Human Behavior” as well as an audiobook “Out of the Bag and Other Quirky Short Stories” (tales of romance, science fiction, and fantasy by Deb, Janet, and Xina). You can find the latter on Podiobooks.

She’s also put together “The Ruling Elite and Other Stories” as a free teaser to introduce you to the fantasy stylings of herself and Janet.

We’re all hard at work blogging and writing new stories for you to devour.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent


As I promised with my previous “Dear Apple: I hate you” posting, here’s my follow up:

All of my problems began with changing my email service provider two months ago (and my Apple ID).  Reconnecting to my iTunes and iCloud accounts proved to be exceedingly onerous because of the difficulty in getting my iPhone and iPad to stop autofilling the old Apple ID in the wrong places. After much effort and help from the true Apple geniuses (the folks on the user forums), I resolved that problem, only to have it rear its ugly head once again when I had my phone reset last weekend.

The reason why Apple makes this such an incredible hardship was explained to me by an employee at the Emeryville Apple Store: Apple’s bottom line. Yes, the multi-billion dollar corporation is obsessed with the idea that its iTunes customers are nothing more than criminals-in-waiting, just biding their time for the first opportunity to come along and rip them off!!

Apple insists that all content (apps, songs, etc.) purchased under one Apple ID (your email address) will forever, in perpetuity, belong to that Apple ID.  They can never be transferred to another Apple ID. This is to prevent you from changing the email address associated with your account to someone else’s and thereby illegally transferring your iTunes purchases to some scofflaw, thereby depriving Apple of its share of the profits. Sure, you can say they’re also protecting the creators of those apps and the musicians, but considering their monopolistic control of what’s available to you, and their steep cut (30%, is it?) of the creators’ profits, do you really think their motive is altruistic?

The end result is that, for example, you’ve had one email address for ten years, under which you purchased hundreds (or thousands) of apps and songs.  Then you change your email address and continue to buy more apps and songs for another year.  So, 90% of all your iTunes content is forever owned by that first email address; 10% under the new email address. There is no mechanism for you to ever transfer that 90% to the new address/Apple ID. This is what was explained to me by the Apple employee that ill-fated Monday afternoon. When I asked if this will continue to haunt me (every time I needed to reset my iPhone, or purchase a new iPhone or MacBook Pro, or iPad), he said yes. Seriously? This is ridiculous.

Please do not suggest I use an Apple-related email or some other generic email not tied to a specific service provider. Who I choose to have an email account with is not to be dictated by Apple; it’s none of Apple’s business. And anyway, it’s too late for that because 90% of everything I ever bought still belongs to my earthlink-attached account because they won’t let me transfer it. (Oh, and dear Apple employee, I caught that smirk on your face when I mentioned I was now using Comcast. Not a professional move on your part.)

I am not a criminal. I do not illegally share my iTunes purchases with others. I do not believe in doing so, not only because I think it is wrong, but as a writer, I want to set an example that artists (writers, musicians, app designers) all deserve to be paid for their work. I hope that others respect my copyright as I do theirs.

Dear Apple: the content I purchased from you (songs, movies, tv shows, apps) is my content. I paid for it. I legally downloaded it. It should not be restricted to whichever email address I purchased it under.

You need to create a mechanism for your loyal, law-abiding customers to permanently transfer ownership of all legally purchased content to new email addresses.  (Face it: people do change email accounts. Get with the times.)  Because, frankly, this experience makes me never want to buy another Apple product ever again.

Dear Apple: I hate you

images-2Two months ago, I changed email service providers (and, thus, my email address). Simple, huh?

Wong. If you are an Apple customer, with iTunes and iCloud accounts, your email address is synonymous with your Apple ID. After going through the tedious process of notifying various friends and businesses of the email change, I discovered I could no longer access my iTunes or iCloud accounts.  Why, you ask? Because every time I tried, it kept directing me back to my old Apple ID (the old email address).  I repeatedly was confronted and confounded with screens which wanted my password, but would not let me change the related Apple ID.  iTunes and iCloud would not recognize the old password or the new password.  Hunting through “settings” on my iPhone revealed no place to change my Apple ID (it was always grayed out).

I turned to the online Apple User Forums. Wonderful folks! They directed me on how to fix the problem. I don’t remember all of the steps I had to take, but they included: temporarily switching back to my old Apple ID (fortunately, I had not yet cancelled the old email account so Apple could perform its due diligence in verifying me); turning off find my iPhone; deleting my iCloud account and starting all over again; and doing a hard reboot of the iPhone.  I then had to repeat all of these steps (yes, there were more) for my iPad.

Although my frustration remained (why is it so hard just to change your email address?), the problem was solved. I had access. Or so I thought.

Fast forward to this past week, Apple announced a “limited recall for certain iPhone 5’s” and, since the battery life on mine was really sucking, I checked my phone’s serial number on their website. It says it qualified. So I scheduled an appointment with the Apple Genius Bar staff at their Bay Street store in Emeryville, CA. images


Upon arrival, they checked my battery, and discovered that it is still good despite being in the designated batch (not every battery in the batch will actually be bad, they explained). I complained that it must be because my battery life sucked. He took another look at the phone and discovered there was some corruption to the iOS software which, admittedly, was my fault. Like a lot of you, I repeatedly double tap the home button to get to the app switcher and quit apps by swiping up. Guess what? You’re not supposed to that! The employee explained that even though the apps appear to still be running, they are dormant and taxing the battery in minute amounts. That process is only for quitting apps that are frozen.  So – don’t try that at home kids!

He offered to reset the phone in order to wipe its memory (and the battery’s memory). I said yes. My mistake. We went through that process, he ran me through how and where to look on the phone for the button that chooses which iCloud backup to restore from when I got home when I was on my own wi-fi network. I left the store.

I got home. Discovered that when I chose that restore option, the next screen it led me to wanted my password re-entered (for obvious security reasons) but…guess what? It pre-populated the Apple ID for me. You know what’s coming next, right? It was the old Apple ID coming back to haunt me!

The phone did offer me the opportunity to continue on without restoring from that iCloud backup (so that the phone would be functional) but warned that it would not give me all of my purchased content and, of course, I still wouldn’t be able to access anything in iCloud.

Furious, I called the store. Could not get a live human being on the phone. (I later found out the trick to do so: don’t respond to the recording with anything like “my iPhone is broken,” rather ask a retail question like “how much is the new iPhone?” or “does the store have the new iPad Air in stock?”  You’ll thank me later for that advice.

Still furious, I drove to the store. Encountered a very nice young woman who navigated to the screen where she was able to change the Apple ID to the correct (new) one, and began the download of my iCloud data for me…over the store’s wi-fi…which is very slow to say the least. She warned me not to leave the store because it would cancel the download and I would have to start all over again (but be back at the same initial problem of having the wrong Apple ID confronting me).

So I stayed. And I stayed, and I stayed. Until they kicked me out at closing time. Because of the limited number of stools available in the store, I was on my feet for over three hours. The only plus side to this incredible time sink was that I had brought my textbook with me, and I did all my reading.

They told me I could stand outside the store and still be connected to their wi-fi, which I did for a little while, until I just couldn’t take it anymore. I said screw it, and even if I lost the still-not-retrieved-photos, left.

Guess what happened next? You got it. I walked in my door, pulled my iPhone out of my pocket, set it on the counter, and glanced at it. Without me pushing any button or selecting anything, it had automatically connected to my home wi-fi and resumed the download of my photos and apps. And it did so at near the pace of lightning.

So. Approximately four hours of my life wasted that I will never get back because the Apple Genius Bar employee isn’t such a genius after all. And don’t get me started on how many times she kept telling me “we respect your time.”  Gah!  I can think of at least one Apple employee who needs a new job.

Of course all this wouldn’t have happened if Apple didn’t make changing your Apple ID such an incredible hardship.

There are reasons for that, a different employee explained to me, but I will address that topic in my next blog posting which will be titled “Guilty until proven innocent.”

In the meanwhile, thanks, Apple, for the migraine I suffered a sleepless night with, thanks for making me run out of migraine medication, thanks for the heartburn, thanks for wasting my time.

The Apple slogan of “It Just Works” is bullshit.