Saturday, November 23, 2013

The “Present Legacies” of Reconstruction

I recently read Hodding Carter’s The Angry Scar, an easy-to-read overview of Reconstruction written by a moderate Southerner with a knowledge of history and obviously possessed with an interest in the “whys” of what happened—particularly after Reconstruction—and into the twentieth century. I’ve had the book for several years, but about to delve into the sequel to my most recent novel, Camellia Creek, I finally took time to sit down and read it. One book in THE MAINSTREAM OF AMERICA SERIES published back in the 1950s, the entire set sweeps American history from the discovery of the New World up to, well, the 1950s. I intend to ferret out other books in the series to see if they are as good as this one. Then again, perhaps it is simply Hodding Carter’s writing I like.

An editor of the Greenville Delta Democrat-Times (Greenville, Mississippi), Carter wrote a slew of books. This particular work comes replete with an extensive bibliography for further reading. Yes, I like older works, written before the revisionist has polluted the record by the mores and values of his present day (and yes, I know that same revisionist would argue the older works are polluted by the heat and passions of times too close to events). But it is the heat and passions and truths, such as the people living during those times perceived them to be, that I’m trying to capture in my insignificant works of escape fiction.

Hodding Carter ends the forward of The Angry Scar thus: “...; and my overriding purposes have been to separate truth from myth and to link significant past events with the present legacies of those events. In attempting to do these things I have become convinced that it has been almost as unfortunate for our nation that the North has remembered so little of Reconstruction as that the South has remembered so much.”

Today, so much of the myth is irrelevant to where the focus of the argument should lie, and spouting it undermines the rightness of the South’s cause. It simply is not needed; substantiated truth more than fulfills that goal. For all the right reasons the South was right, and in my opinion the “present legacies” prove it.

During my pre-teen years, through high-school, college, and even into my early days in the Navy, I was a football fan. One might even say that football was the man in my life. (Bear with me here. I do have a point.) In late summer, I could “smell” football in the air and see it in the changing blue of the sky. Yeah, it was really the approach of fall, but to me it was football. The demands of the Navy interrupted my weekend-long sojourns in front of the television. Then I got married and had a real man in my life, followed by his children. My interest in football, if not the unrequited love, faded away. Occasionally, when talking with my oldest son, I’ll slip and place the Colts in Baltimore. Hell, Johnny U is still the quarterback.
Now, to my point:

In the last chapter of The Angry Scar, Carter highlights all the old “myths” I grew up with regarding the South’s fight for independence and the degradation and humiliation of Reconstruction and the justification for all that came after. It’s easy to read between the lines and suspect he’s putting forth those old arguments tongue-in-cheek, as if maybe he doesn’t quite believe them himself, or more likely that he does and they simply don’t matter anymore (the book was published in 1959 at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, and he was a Kennedy man). When I read those arguments, as real to me today as when I learned them growing up, I ask myself, “Are you in as big a time warp on this subject as you are in regards to the Baltimore Colts?”

Maybe, but I really do know that the Colts are in Indianapolis and Johnny Unitas is a football legend passed on to Glory. I’ve been out of the Navy and back home now for as long as I was in. I don’t live in a vacuum. I’m very much aware of the party that controls the White House and who or what controls the Congress of the United States; of universal suffrage and an electorate that votes into office corrupt men and women who pilfer the earnings of working Americans to feed their dissolute government handout programs and perpetuate the cycle of non-working recipients voting them back into office; of costs driven so high by the perverse injection of tax-payers’ dollars and federal regulations into private programs such as healthcare and higher education that even younger, working tax-payers are forced to accept government support in order to make ends meet.

I heard it said not long ago that public memory was around five years. So, theoretically, in five years people will struggle under the onerous weight of Obamacare as if it’s always been part of us, just like the huge socialist programs and federal interference enacted by LBJ fifty some odd years ago have “always” been part of us as has the misinterpreted “retirement plan” known as Social Security inacted under FDR and the income tax under Woodrow Wilson. Those programs are all twentieth- and, now, twenty-first-century Constitutional violations attributed to democrats, but the republicans have done nothing to eliminate them. This huge expansion of Federal control links directly to the South’s defeat a century and a half ago. That concept is regarded as a joke these days, yet things just keep getting worser and worser.

This brings me back to Hodding Carter’s forward—the North’s remembering so little, the South’s so much. It’s good to remember for the sake not only of the South but even more so for the Republic. As critical as the delegation of powers between the three branches of the Federal government, so too was the delineation of powers between the federal government, clearly limited by the Constitution, and that of the States—broadly interpreted by the Tenth Amendment and insisted upon by the states upon ratification of the Constitution. No, I do not believe the War was over slavery. I do believe people use such lofty arguments to excuse the things they do, but I do not believe populations kill and sacrifice their lives for philanthropic purposes. Economic self-interest, offensive or defensive, couched as such, yes. I do believe the South seceded to protect its economic interests in the face of a hate-filled section of the nation that enacted repeated threats to Dixie’s interests (not to mention darker, more nefarious threats to her people) for the betterment of its own. And yes, I do believe the South had a right to secede to protect its interests, its way of life, and its people. No, I do not believe the South started the War, despite the provocation at Sumter—Lincoln, not Jefferson Davis, chose war. And yes, I do accept Lincoln prosecuted the War better than did Davis (oh duh).

And finally, yes, I do have lofty dreams, which any of you who know the history of then and of the time since can understand, if not necessarily appreciate. Those are no less than the nullification of the Fourteenth Amendment, the striking of paragraph 2 from the Fifteenth, and repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment. That should put the correct powers back into the states where they belong, end that “anchor baby” bullshit, and cut off the exorbitant capital the Federals require to fund their give-away programs and the corresponding bureaucracy to operate them, while at the same time holding the States hostage for taxpayers’ dollars. Of course, to be on the safe side, the sixteenth amendment should probably be replaced with something else clarifying that income tax is not apportioned—it wasn’t in 1789 and it isn’t today—to keep Congress from continuing to pilfer the working man’s dollars by perverting Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. And just another little point regarding the sixteenth amendment—the controversies regarding the actions of way too many state legislatures reported to have ratified that thing makes it, in my humble opinion, worthy of nullification vice repeal—can states nullify what they passed in violation of their own constitutions? I don't know the answer.

Good luck with all that, right? Tongue-in-cheek aside, I wonder what Hodding Carter would think of the looming power of the Federal government, fueled by a corrupt democracy, today?
Yep, those “present legacies” just keep getting worser and worser.




Monday, August 5, 2013

By That, He Meant Brazil, Right?

      I fear not. I think he really was making a perfidious reference to the Deep South of the Southern United States. That would include my Mississippi, folks, and I’m not taking it lying down. 

I recently visited North Carolina, a state with which I have ancestral ties that go back so far as to exist only by word of mouth, that being the existence of a redheaded, blue-eyed Scotsman (that would be the Russell side) who came from the “Carolinas.” Ever so often he returns, my daddy told me as I was growing up. My grandmother Russell had two redheaded sons (my father wasn’t one of them) and I, too, gave birth to him twice, but my sons don’t bear the surname Russell; that’s my maiden name. Though I’d always suspected the “Carolinas” in this case referred to North Carolina, tentative research strongly indicates the family did indeed travel from North Carolina into Tennessee, then Georgia, briefly Alabama, and my branch has been in Mississippi for four generations now—six if I count my non-Russell offspring and their offspring. 

But, let me get back on point. My visit was to Buncombe County in western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Ashville specifically, a lovely, quaint little city favored by artists and flocked to by tourists and historically by those in need of the healthful mountain air to relieve whatever ailed them. I went with my daughter’s mother-in-law to visit old friends she wanted to see there, and they, knowing my interest in history, made a point of taking us to some of the local historical sites. What provided fodder for this particular blog were comments made by a tour guide at the birthplace of Zebulon Baird Vance, 37th and 43rd governor of North Carolina. His first term was during the War for Southern Independence, and he is beloved by the people of North Carolina for being “War Governor of the South.” 

Zebulon Vance was the second son of David Vance, a veteran of the Continental Army that sent the Loyalists packing at King’s Mountain. The elder Vance either built or bought the house in 1795. The family ran a wealthy, slave-owning farm. Here is what got my goat. This young man, our guide, went off on a brief tangent highlighting how slavery was different in North Carolina, where more valuable skilled slaves were the norm vice the less valuable field laborers from the more southern states, where labor was cheap and the slaves were “worked to death” then replaced. He threw his hands out in front of him and said, “No big deal.”  

I beg your pardon? Where did this double-standard, hypocritical, hogwash come from? Quentin Tarantino? Perhaps it was Harriet Beecher Stowe, but to believe the latter, I would have to credit the young man with having made some effort to research the history of slavery. I, in fact, use those same words—“worked to death”—referring to slaves, in my most recent novel Camellia Creek, spoken from the mouth of a hate-filled, bigoted abolitionist witch who didn’t know what she was talking about. There were plenty of skilled Negro slaves in the Deep South, and all slaves, skilled or not, certainly were costly, considering the slave-trade ended in 1808. Even assuming we in the Deep South were sub-human and cared nothing for human life, working slaves to death would have been economic suicide. I’m not saying such never happened, but it was not the norm and would have been as likely to happen in North Carolina as Mississippi. 

I was hoping the thoughts espoused by the tour guide were his own, but subsequent discussion with my host indicates this “slavery in North Carolina was kinder, gentler” has become a common thread among those who wish to apologize for slavery’s existence in that state. Of course, I don’t know that those North Carolinians, whose roots go back to the beginning, really swallow that “bunk”, pun intended. I hope not. My host, who is not a Southerner, snickered when he gave me that “kinder and gentler” line. I can only surmise that such tripe handed out during tours is the result of federal funding or is an effort by the politically correct crowd to whitewash something it appears to be ashamed of. To those individuals I say whitewash it if you feel a need, but do it without defaming your sister states, whose ancestors were sure the devil no worse than yours, no matter where they hailed from.  

Better yet, I would argue that when giving a tour of Governor Vance’s birthplace, place emphasis on the man himself and the time he lived, rather than gloss over it. He was a man who believed a state was sovereign, vis-à-vis a central government, in all things except those limited areas where said central government held precedent (a prominent characteristic of a number of North Carolina statesmen going back long before the War). Something all state governors should remember now, something governors in the North should have remembered then and the dark years following the War--something they all should have remembered in the 1960s. That belief is what the people of North Carolina fought for (in numbers that exceeded all others, I should add, all the while resisting Confederate conscription policies in the name of those same rights), not slavery. That autonomy as well as the inviolability of the Constitution are what were lost with the South’s defeat, and as regards the health of the Republic, those two things alone eclipse the radical and irresponsible dissolution of an institution doomed to extinction within a relatively short period of time. For all the right reasons, the South was right, something Southerners should remember and be proud of instead of hanging their heads in shame and prevaricating in the face of liberal propaganda and federal extortion.




Saturday, July 27, 2013

If Only I’d Known at the Start, How Simple It Would Have Been: KindleGen

I think I’ve figured out KindleGen, the Amazon-approved creator of .mobi books for its Kindle devices. As it turns out, KindleGen is, in my opinion, simple. Simpler, in fact, than MobiPocket Creator. I wouldn’t have said that when I started, but my difficulties were the result of “mechanics” and not the program itself.

I began my effort trying to use KindleGen’s “command prompt” feature and after two days of failure, used what some bloggers consider the easier process of uploading the book files into Amazon’s Kindle Previewer. After an hour or so of trying to figure out how to use the Kindle Previewer in this capacity, I did build my book. After sleeping on what I’d done and considering the files used during my success with the Previewer, I returned to the “command prompt” screen and tried that method again. It worked, too.

I’m gonna briefly describe my ordeal, then show you the steps I used to create my book using both the Previewer and the “command prompt” line in my computer. Keep in mind, this post isn’t meant for those who understand the workings of computers and command prompts or even the placement of files in folders, though you folks might enjoy a good laugh from the read. Any helpful comments from that audience are appreciated, too. No, this post is intended for folks like me who are “clueless” when they read a blog or forum post that takes for granted the reader understands what the writer is talking about, without step by step instructions. I hope my new-found discoveries prove helpful to some of you out there. I use the term “discoveries” on purpose, because I do not necessarily understand what I have done.

KindleGen is a free download from Amazon (more on that below) and uses a “command prompt”. You may remember the “command prompt” from the dawn of personal computers, when the owner had to boot-up the computer on a black screen using letters and symbols (i.e., < > : \ \). Despite the fact that computers now magically boot-up themselves without the help of the computer helpless, command prompts are still in vogue with those who know how to use them (not to mention know where to go to find that black screen). I’m told the “command prompt” is a powerful feature in the right hands. As regards, myself, however, I spent the better part of two days  struggling with the guidance provided by the ebook formatting company eBook Pioneers in its March 2013 blog  and could not get Camellia Creek to build. I did attempt the methodology used by a couple of other bloggers, similar to, but different from that of eBook Pioneers. The results were no better.  

I had created five files to “build” my book: the .html of my book; its .opf; its toc.ncx; cover graphic; and logo graphic, and I figured they all needed to be in the “prompt” line. I considered with each fail that I was not listing my files in the “command prompt” correctly or I was placing them incorrectly in folders. I also thought the problem might be Windows 7. I swear, as many times and as many permutations I completed trying to make that “command prompt” work I was sure I had to have the “prompt” line right at least once. As stated in my last post, I finally zipped up Camellia Creek’s five files and uploaded that to the Kindle Direct Publishing’s digital text platform (DTP). Hardly mastery of KindleGen and most unsatisfactory for one who considers herself a serious publisher, albeit of only my own stuff. Misfortune offered me an opportunity to redeem myself. 

While uploading Camellia Creek to the DTP, I noticed on my publishing page that Epico Bayou (which had gone “live” over a year before when I uploaded the MobiPocket-created .prc), for some inexplicable reason, had fallen into a “draft” status. Like my recent experience with Camellia Creek, I could not get that original MobiPocket Creator-crafted .prc to re-upload and when I zipped up Epico Bayou, replicating what I’d done with Camellia Creek, Epico Bayou’s navigational table of contents (the .ncx file) didn’t work. I wanted to sit down and squall. Instead, I resolved to master KindleGen and at the same time fix Epico Bayou’s shortcoming.

My effort to build Epico Bayou using the KindleGen “command prompt” mirrored that of Camellia Creek two weeks earlier. Nothing I did worked. The “command prompt” window couldn’t “find a file” (always the last one in the list—I know because I switched them around). I now know there should not have been a “list” of files, which brings me back on point. I didn’t know how to write a command prompt.

At the beginning and the end of that eBookPioneer blog referenced above, the author suggested the easiest thing to do was to forgo the “command prompt” evolution and upload the files, along with the KindleGen execute file, kindlegen.exe, in the Kindle Previewer. I’d seen this sentiment expressed by others on the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) forum.  So, I opened the Previewer.

Where? Where, when I open the Previewer, was I supposed to load the darn files? There was nothing that said “build book.” Nobody had explained how or where to drag and drop those files into the Previewer, and it took a little guessing for me to finally figure it out.

I clicked on “open kindle book,” primarily because there wasn’t much else to click on. What opened, of course, was the library listing the books that are already in my Previewer. I went one folder up: Local>Amazon>Kindle Previewer and it is that window into which I dragged my book file—that is the “Kindle Previewer window,” right? Clear as mud! Then I clicked my book file to open. Low and behold, the .html file and the .opf file appear in the folder. The others aren’t there.

Now, I already suspected from other vague comments in the forums that the .opf file was the key, so I clicked on it and, much to my amazement, a window opened up and said the Previewer was compiling a book. Sure enough, seconds later the window changed, said a book had been created and to view it, click here [not a live link]. I clicked and was taken to a window that showed me Epico Bayou as a .mobi book, and when I opened it—now in the Previewer—not only was my old, familiar Epico Bayou there, its .ncx worked.

I wasn’t completely out of the woods. Though I had Epico Bayou in the Kindle Previewer, I still had to find that file in my browser so I could upload it to Amazon’s DTP, and the address given in my browser showed that it was residing down a long link of folders, some of which were unfamiliar to me, so I couldn’t follow them back to find where the book was stored. That meant a search. I did find it, quickly as it turned out, in My Kindle Content folder. In one forum, a fellow stated he found his in My Publications. I have a My Publications file, too, but as I said, Epico was in My Kindle Content folder. Obviously, where a Previewer-created book resides is not set in stone. Just to see if the Previewer method would work a second time, I made Camellia Creek into a .mobi using the same methodology. It took seconds. Previewer stored that baby away in My Kindle Content, too.

Realizing the .opf file is key to building the book compelled me to try the “command prompt” again—hey, I’m slow, not stupid. This time, I put my five files (.html, .opf, .ncx, cover, and logo graphic) into one file and added the kindlegen.exe to it. Here’s the prompt I used: 

      C:\users\Charlsie>c:\KindleGen\kindlegen.exe C:\KindleGen\EBWord.opf  

I hit “enter” and the screen filled with line after line of data and at the end it said “book built successfully.” I blinked in astonishment, then looked over at the open window displaying my book’s files. Sure as shootin’ there sat in the folder with a little blue book symbol on its left. I opened it in Previewer, and its .ncx worked, too. 

Now, I think the “command prompt” window is simplest. 

Okay, let’s go through both methods step by step, but before I start, I’m making the assumption you are building an ebook for uploading to the Kindle Direct Publishing’s DTP and have created the required files needed to work on all Kindle devices—that is your goal, right? If you have only a book file, you probably won’t encounter the problems I did, anyway.

The files I’m referring to are your book itself (mine is in .html format); your book’s .opf file; your toc.ncx file (this is a table of contents that makes navigation through the book easy for the reader and creates the “tick” marks at the bottom of the kindle screen so the reader knows where he is in the book); and all graphics saved as .gifs (Kindle wants .gifs, not jpgs). If you need further reference regarding creation of the ancillary files, see my old blogs dated 1 December 2011-3 February 2012. 

Previewer Method: 

1. Create your book files and put them together in one folder:

    a. All graphics, saved as .gifs

    b. The book itself (I do mine in .html)

    c. Your .opf file

    d. Your .ncx file 

2. Download your free KindleGen at: 

KindleGen is a .zip file. Unzip it and copy and paste the kindlegen.exe file to the book folder you made above. While you’re at it, make several copies of that .exe file and store ’em for future Kindle books. 

3. If the KindleGen Previewer didn’t come with the KindleGen download, find it here: 

4. Open Kindle Previewer. 

5. Go to “open kindle book” on homepage of Previewer.  

    a. You should now be in your library. 

    b. Go one folder up. The browser at the top of the window should read something to the effect: Local>Amazon>Kindle Previewer. No matter what comes before it, you want the window for the “Kindle Previewer”. 

6. Drag and drop/copy and paste your book folder into this screen of the Kindle Previewer. 

7. Click on your book to open it. You’ll see the .html (or whatever format you have your book in) and the .opf. 

8. Click on the .opf file. A window will open telling you Previewer is compiling the book. 

9. When the compilation is done (seconds), a window will come up and tell you the book has been created and to click here to review it. Go ahead, feast your eyes on your new baby. 

 10. Back in the book folder, you’ll see that another file has been created called book’s name converted.opf. That’s your book.

Command Prompt Method

1. Download KindleGen here: 

2. Make sure you have the Previewer and if not, download it from here: 

3. Go to Computer or My Computer by clicking the Start button at the bottom left of your computer screen (or you can use the icon on the Desktop). 

4. Amongst that list of program files and users, make a new folder and call it KindleGen. 

5. Return to your KindleGen download and open the folder (it’s zipped). 

6. You only need one file out of this folder—kindlegen.exe. 

7. Copy it, then go back to your KindleGen folder in your “Computer” folder and paste kindlegen.exe there. 

8. Find all your book files: .html, .epub, whatever you’ve called it; .opf; .ncx; graphics; and anything else you have associated with your book. Copy and paste each into the KindleGen folder with the kindlegen.exe.

9. Go to All Programs/Accessories and open Command Prompt 

 10. A black screen will appear with a starting line something to the effect of : 

                          ↑ This name is probably you or whoever owns the computer you’re on 

 11.  Now add the highlighted section: 

  C:\Users\Charlsie>C:\KindleGen\kindlegen.exe  C:\KindleGen\EBWord.opf
                                                substitute the name of your .opf file, of course ↑

 12. Hit enter and the book should build and will, within seconds, appear in your KindleGen folder as title of your 

 13. Click on it, and it will open in the Previewer

I chose to put my KindleGen folder in Computer because that’s where eBook Pioneers suggested I put it way back when I started this evolution, but you can put it wherever you want. And you should probably be more specific with the name of the KindleGen folder so you will one day be able to distinguish one book folder from another (i.e., KindleGenEpicoBayou, KindleGenCamelliaCreek, and so forth); just remember to type it as such in the “command prompt” line when you build the book.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New Adventures in Mobi Creation

No, not the whale, but the program that creates the digital book for Amazon’s Kindle (though at the moment I’m ready to put the great white whale’s last name to the whole evolution and refer to it by the crude vernacular). Since readers have their accounts set up and click a button to download their Kindle Book to their Kindle device all in a matter of seconds, an author needs her book in the Kindle Store. To get it there, she must create her masterpiece in .mobi format.

Getting my latest novel, Camellia Creek, a gothic mystery/suspense set against the backdrop of  Presidential Reconstruction at the end of the War for Southern Independence, into mobipocket, .azw format, took days, untold hours I wish I’d actually recorded so you could more clearly understand how absolutely anal I am. For those of you who have looked at my blog for “technical” advice, no matter how unintentionally spurious, you know that over a year ago I blogged extensively about my creation of the files required by MobiPocket Creator to build a mobi book. With those files—sitting in the folder for each individual book in the “My Publications” folder associated with MobiPocket Creator—I managed in 2011-2012 to upload my first four books and get them in the Amazon Kindle Store. Camellia Creek, thought I, will be a piece of cake.

Wrong. Oh, I created the files easily enough based on templates I’d created from my first four books—the .html version of my book, the .ncx file, a proper version of the .opf (MobiPocket Creator creates an .opf file automatically from whatever data one feeds it—if one feeds it no extra data, it creates it from the .html file itself and it always overrides whatever .opf file you place in the folder so you have to keep checking and cutting and pasting your good one over the one it makes. Suffice it to say, that evolution is time consuming and frustrating.). Then I added my only two graphics—the cover and my logo.

For four days I tried to get MobiPocket Creator to build my book. Now, I didn’t sit in front of my computer uploading and re-uploading the same files over and over during that time with the expectation of one time getting a winning result. That folks, is the definition of stupid. I’m just sorta stupid for sticking with it all that time. I’d make changes to the .opf and tried different renditions; I checked and rechecked all my files, my headers, my content, my “#$!%” html. I even removed MobiPocket Creator and reinstalled it—on both the computers I own with access to the internet. One thing I did discover was that every time I took the “failed” build and removed the .ncx from the mix, the book built. I knew the problem was with the .ncx or the .opf (which references the .ncx). I went to the online forums and studied and tried to replicate individual methods of inserting files into MobiPocket Creator and overcoming the Creator’s frustrating habit of messing up my .opf. At one point I created a .zip file of Camellia Creek’s files and attempted to insert that into the My Publications folder. That didn’t work either—works for epub, but not mobi. I kept the .zip file anyway.

Finally, on the fifth day, I removed the publisher version of  MobiPocket Creator and downloaded the “Home/Family” version. The MobiPocket Creator website said it was simpler to use. Personally, I didn’t see much difference from the “use” angle, but one thing that simple little sucker did when it, too, failed to build on my first try was point out one tiny error in the spelling in the “content src” for chapter seventy-four in my .ncx. I’d spelled “seventy” “seveenty”. I fixed it and Camellia Creek build on the next try, .opf, .ncx and all.

I don’t know that the misspelling caused all those wasted hours, not to mention stress, but the results rendered after its fixing indicates that was the problem. So why didn’t the “publisher” version point it out to me when the “simpleton’s” version was so quick to do so? Maybe the publisher’s version thinks publishers should know how to spell or are such thorough proof readers there is no way they’d let a screwball thing like three “e”s in seventy get by—this in a work of 79 chapters and an epilogue (Camellia Creek is twice the length of my previous books).

Oh, and now comes the really, really good part. I start uploading to Amazon—I get to Part 5 at the “Upload Your Book” window. The little pinwheel is purring, there’s a window there that says “uploading your book, this may take a few minutes” and wahlah—the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) platform rejects it. The window says, simply, that I used software other than that approved by Amazon. I’m confused—I sent them the .prc. KDP didn’t need to build my .prc. I SENT it one already done, darn it! And fifteen months earlier the KDP platform had accepted four of my .prc books built the same way—ok, this one was built with the “simpleton’s” Creator, but what the heck.

I go to the “formatting guide” offered in the rejection window. Sure enough, .prc’s aren’t listed. I go to the Amazon “techies”. “Yes they are,” the “techies” say. Two day’s later the “techies” have it figured out—I needed to use KindleGen to build my .prc, not MobiPocket Creator.

During that two-day interim, I went back to that “zipped” file I’d fortuitously saved during my nightmare of working with the publishers version of MobiPocket Creator and uploaded it at Part 5 of the Upload Your Book window. It uploaded fine. Camellia Creek is at the Kindle Store.

Next, my pathetic adventures using KindleGen.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

And Which “Big E” Was the First To Have “N” Associated With Her “CV” Designation?

The USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65) completed her final voyage last fall. She will end her fifty-plus-year career as scrap. Outside the rather dubious end of being lost at sea, I’m not sure of an appropriate fate for an outmoded platform short of making a museum out of her. That would require a sponsor, and she would certainly be expensive to maintain. Using tax-payers’ dollars would, in this Tea-Partier’s mind, be inappropriate. Me? I would happily make annual donations to that cause, but it’s something I’d do on my own—and it would take a lot of “me’s”. Still, it’s a sad day for the United States Navy and for the Americans who know their nation’s history and the history of its military. Though indirect, the ENTERPRISE (CVN-65) played an important role in my life. 

I first learned of her near the end of my third-grade school year. There was an article about her in my Weekly Reader (do elementary schools still have those things?). Anyway, that should have been 1959. In the article she was under construction and would be, at completion, three football fields long. Now I didn’t know do-diddly-squat about aircraft carriers, or any ships for that matter, but I did know a little about football and a football field was long—and we were talking “three” football fields! The first thing I, Weekly Reader in hand, told my daddy when he came home that night was about that ship—he knew about football fields, too—I was a daddy’s girl, and we loved Ole Miss together. 

He acknowledged the name ENTERPRISE and immediately took control of the conversation. Once, he told me, he’d served on an ENTERPRISE. I can still remember my disappointment that my massive ship had been overshadowed by his knowledge of another ENTERPRISE. I asked, “But was it three football fields long?” 

“No,” he answered, “but she was big in other ways. Let me tell you about her.” 

And being daddy’s girl, I listened.  

I didn’t stop with his war stories. I augmented what he told me with research of my own. By the time I began high school, I knew the entire history of the war in the Pacific from studying the exploits of his ENTERPRISE (CV-6) from her fortuitous late arrival at Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1941 (she’d been due at 0730 on the morning of the 7th) until she returned to Bremerton in 1945 after Tomi Zai flew his Japanese Zero down her number one elevator shaft at Okinawa. In earlier battles, in a war made for aircraft carriers and a Navy with dwindling numbers of the crucial platform, her damage control crews patched worse damage while evading Japanese bombers so she could recover her returning aircraft, and those of her sunken sisters. Aircraft is the carrier’s primary weapon, its purpose. The seasoned pilots, even if one is able to set the human aspect aside, are equally valuable. The loss of aircraft and pilots, after completing their sorties, due to the lack of a flight deck to land on, means the devastating loss of an offensive weapon system. But when Tomi Zai hit ENTERPRISE in 1945 she wasn’t just one of one or one of two carriers in the Pacific. The industrial might of the United States, which she’d played a critical role in defending, had by then put other carriers to sea and damaged ladies such as she could go home for repair. The war ended with her in the repair docks in Bremerton and my father home in Braxton, Mississippi on leave. 

From the age of seventeen when he’d hunkered down on a seaplane ramp on Ford Island that fateful Sunday morning in 1941 (he didn’t transfer to ENTERPRISE until February 1942) until the age of twenty-one when the ENTERPRISE was knocked out of the war in August 1945, Charles Russell fought in twenty of twenty-two major Pacific battles. With the end of the war, (mirroring the future history of her namesake) CV-6, too, became outmoded. Back-fitting a flight deck meant for F-4s, F-6s, Dauntlesses and Devastators to take jet aircraft was impractical and unnecessary. I can remember reading the end of Admiral Stafford’s book The Big E when she was being cut up for scrap and crying as bitterly as I had when Jack the dog died at the beginning of the second Little House on the Prairie novel (Hey! I was eight). I never read another word of any Little House book after that. 

Despite my youthful grief, I didn’t “shut the book” on the United States Navy, because, after all, there was a bittersweet epilogue. At the same time chunks of the old ENTERPRISE were being hauled away as scrap in New Jersey, the United States’ first nuclear carrier was being built in Newport News, Virginia—the same yard where CV-6 had been built over thirty years before. The pride of the fleet, she was christened with its most decorated name.  

I joined my daddy’s Navy out of college. I was an officer, he’d been a boatswain. I stayed for twenty, he for seven. But I never fought in the first damn battle, much less twenty, and that’s not counting Pearl Harbor 

And now I’m all teary-eyed again. When I read in the Patriot Post last fall ENTERPRISE (CVN-65) was making her last deployment, the news momentarily took my breath away. No, I didn’t break down in tears, not yet, but I haven’t read anything about trucks carrying great chunks of her away to the scrap heap, either—but this time there’s no bittersweet epilogue. 

My Navy without an ENTERPRISE is as strange to me as a president who tells the Navy brass that its requirement for 315 ships will be met with 285 and informs his opponent (in front of the nation) that those numbers will work because we now have submarines and aircraft carriers, which makes how the Navy does things different. Right, if he intends to leave defense of the Pacific Rim to his new friends in Moscow and Beijing.

I fear, given his lack of historical reference and disrespect for all things military, President Obama will foolishly sacrifice our strategic advantage in pursuit of delusional ideas vis-à-vis ruthless opponents who do not suffer anything in the way of delusion. What they do suffer is the lack of strategic advantage, which past generations of Americans have denied them at great sacrifice to themselves. These disadvantages our leader is purposefully eradicating for…. Gee, I’m not sure why a “leader” would do anything so foolish to his people, and I’m not convinced ours knows. The only thing more pathetic than Romney not challenging the man’s flippant remark about carriers (been around since the 1920s) and submarines (made the scene during the War Between the States and came into their own during World War I) is the fact that Obama said something so ignorant to begin with.  

Oh, and in answer to the question asked in my title—it was the old ENTERPRISE. In December 1944 she set sail as the first carrier certified for night operations, dubbed USS ENTERPRISE, CV(N)-6.
Thanks for reading.