November 2020 newsletter: Grumpy Old Man Says, ‘I Blame Technology!’

November 6, 2020 – Running a little bit late this month. I blame technology.

Never mind that my education level when it comes to the particular type of technology that bogged me down the past week to 10 days was , let’s say … not high enough to employ the technology to its greatest benefit. Nope. It’s the technology itself, and I’m sticking to that story.

“Why does everything have to change?” asks the grumpy old man in me.

One particular change that recently fueled my angst against technology was a change in the method of uploading books to one of the printing/distributing sites. Ingram now has the audacity to made me send ePub files for the ebook version of A Dead Rat for Thanksgiving?, a children’s book by Angela Childs of Tacoma, Washington, that we just published. This is a file format I’ve never used before. That means I need to convert other types of files I’ve used, such as Word documents or PDFs, into this ePub format. It’s not as simple as it sounds … at least for a first-timer.

Angela Childs’ book, A Dead Rat for Thanksgiving? that I just published via PathBinder Publishing.

I had to find a program that would open these files, download that program, convert the files, then hope that everything converted properly in translation. Which it didn’t.

But I finally figured it out how to open those pesky ePub files. Pesky. He, he, he. I like that word. And after learning what the error messages meant when Ingram said “Nope, can’t do this. You messed up,” I learned how to edit those pesky files and do a bit of pesky coding. Which was one big pesky pain in the you know what.

But now I know. So the next time, this will be a breeze.

I also found out that my home WiFi, while good enough for just about anything I’ve tackled in recent years, isn’t good enough to upload a 28-page children’s book with roughly 20-some, full-page color pieces of art. I did get the file loaded from home once, only to find out there was some color setting I needed to change. That was easy enough to fix. But then, the darn thing would not load. Ever. I got the progress bar of death. I got the spinning wheel of death. I pretty much got death, death, and more pesky death!

I mistakenly figured it was something I did (perish the thought!) instead of me just needing stronger, faster WiFi. So I spent hours changing settings and uploading, only to have progress time out after ten minutes or so each and every time.

Albert Einstein once said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” So, I being Einsteinian, finally got the brilliant idea to go to a WiFi paradise … a place where WiFi was free for the masses, was stronger than a locomotive and faster than a speeding bullet, and nobody would look at you askew for sitting in a parking lot with your wife’s laptop uploading book files to Ingram while munching on an apple and sipping at a travel mug of coffee.

You can edit and otherwise manipulate ePub files in a program called Calibre. There are others, I have been informed.

This paradise was found basically around the corner from me, in the parking lot of Indiana University Purdue University – Columbus. I couldn’t even get three bites of my Honeycrisp apple swallowed before the files loaded. Sixty seconds! Sixty freaking lousy seconds! After nine pesky days off and on of trial and error.

But now I know. So the next time this will be a breeze.

Anyhoo … Angela’s book got up online three weeks before Thanksgiving, which is good because it’s a book that centers on that holiday. It also talks about passing down family traditions and other things. Plus, there’s that pesky dead rat thing.

More Publishing Stuff

Gary D’Amato penned this book about growing up in the 1960s in middle class middle America, otherwise knows as St. Francis, Wisconsin.

The book PathBinder Publishing released before Angela’s book was Gary D’Amato’s A Perfect Childhood: Growing up in the 1960s with Baseball, The Beatles, and Beaver Cleaver. Gary just told me he’s going to be on the radio in Milwaukee talking about his book on the morning of November 9. Gene Mueller, whom I used to listen to in Milwaukee when he was teamed up with Bob Reitman as the morning DJ duo of Reitman and Mueller, will interview Gary on WTMJ radio 620 AM. That’s cool. Gary is not pesky, by the way. Cause some of you were probably wondering.

We’re also going to be publishing a book on the 1995 Northwestern University football team by Tim Chapman. That team won the Big Ten title and played in the Rose Bowl as the No. 3-ranked team in the country, breaking a 23-season losing streak that included four winless seasons. Tim interviewed several people associated with the team and reports lots of great detail and color.

PathBinder is also going to publish a book about a particular red coat that my wife, Kimberly S. Hoffman, wrote about based on something her mother experienced in the 1930s.

Some other projects in the works, too, most notably the return of Fritz Franke and The Savior Project series, with three books of the eventual nine having already been published.

The cover of Rob McCuen’s next book that I’ll be publishing under my 18% Gray Publishing imprint.

And it won’t be long before my 18% Gray Publishing imprint (the one I started before I bought PathBinder) will publish its second book by longtime Milwaukee musician, Rob McCuen. This one is titled Tales from the Crypt of an American Working Class Hero and comes on the heels of the March 2020 release, Shut Up and Listen: Me vs. Me – Confessions of a Bipolar Rock and Roller. It will be Rob’s third book overall.

Authoring Stuff

No time for authoring these days; that pesky publishing is keeping me peskily busy (yeh, I said “peskily”). But if you know of a nonfiction/true crime/mystery fan and would like to get them a gift for the holidays, you can get my books online everywhere, at your local bookstore, or from me because I have a bunch sitting around the house. If you want an autographed copy of either Murder in Wauwatosa or Wicked Columbus, Indiana, shoot me an email at, and I’ll give you the details.

I did get to do my first in-person author talk in ― geez, I can’t recall how long ― in October. It took me and the executive director of the senior center forever to get the pesky PowerPoint to show up on their movie screen (we later found out it was a pesky WiFi issue) in time to present it at a Kiwanis meeting.

My books – Wicked Columbus, Indiana and Murder in Wauwatosa – are available everywhere. I mean everywhere. Your local bookstore can order them if they’re not on the shelves.

Reading Stuff

Still reading Beauty in the Wreckage, by my fellow Columbusian … Columbusite … Columbian (what is the proper word here?),Brandon Andress. I’ve got a stack of books on the shelf to choose from after that. And my pesky author friends keep writing good books!

Ailment of the Month Stuff

This month’s ailment is that pesky anxiety. I’m not normally an anxious person. Well, not as bad as I was a few decades ago. But … pandemic, election, death in the family, vitriol, divisiveness, etc.

My aunt/godmother passed away the last week of October in Wisconsin. She was my mom’s only living sibling. And I couldn’t go see my uncle, nor my mother, nor cousins, nor anyone because Wisconsin is the epicenter of the coronavirus right now. Seems like annual plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas vacations at my parents’ house in Wisconsin will most likely be scrapped, too.

I will accept donations of butter pecan ice cream, grande peppermint mochas (nonfat, no whipped), vanilla brandy, and Xanax. I’m almost sort of kidding about some of those.

Miscellaneous Stuff

My fried bologna with pepper jack cheese form Rohde’s Family Restaurant.
  • Many of you are entertained by my social media posts that focus on my walks, the money I find on those walks, and the photographs I take while walking (well, most of the time I actually stop when I take the photos). My October total was $12.11 worth of spare change found. That’s the second best total of the year. Perhaps one day, I will analyze all of my found money statistics. (Slide show of some of my walk photos above).
  • I have reacquired my taste for bologna sandwiches. Except now, I get the bologna sliced at the deli counter instead of prepackaged. I even went to a restaurant for lunch with two fellow journalist co-workers, and we all ate fried bologna sandwiches. I got pepper jack cheese on mine to spice things up a bit. There was key lime pie, too. It was my first time actually eating in a restaurant since March.
  • I’ve managed to keep my (mostly) weekly coffee talks with my former boss, Doug Showalter. At one time he was dead to me because when he retired, they didn’t replace his position, and I had to do both his job and my job. But he picks up the coffee most of the time, so I forgave him. Plus, I quit that job. It is at this time that we get caffeinated and solve all of the world’s pesky problems, of which there seem to be many these days.
  • My wife and I are still going to movies at The Historic Artcraft Theatre in Franklin, where every other row is blocked off and we wear masks except to partake in our concessions. In October, we saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Abbott and Costello Meet and Mummy. At the latter of those, we were treated to a visit by Indianapolis TV horror host Sammy Terry. Sammy was in perfect character … and that ghoulish laugh is totally priceless. We were also prize sponsors for the movie, and Kimberly put together a great assortment of prizes for the lucky ticket holders. I think the do-it-yourself mummy kit went over best.
  • We’ve managed to get all five of our daughters (and whatever significant others there are) at a family picnic. A good time was had by all, as they say. I didn’t take an official vote, but nary a discouraging word could be heard.
  • Speaking of daughters, one of them had originally planned on getting married on Halloween, which is also her birthday. But those plans were nixed by the pandemic. So, we’re now looking at a June wedding now.
Sammy Terry at The Historic Artcraft Theatre.

Future Stuff

The Artcraft’s Christmas themed movies start the third week of November with The Bells of St. Mary’s, followed Thanksgiving weekend with The Santa Clause. Christmas movie season is always a grand time at the Artcraft.

Looks like Christmas in Columbus for us, so we’re inviting our pesky kids to come over when they can around then. Hopefully, I’ll have a few more books published by then; that’s the goal anyway.

Wait. Did I call our kids pesky? I surely did not mean that.

That’s it for this month. Have a good one!


Helpful Links

PathBinder Publishing website

PathBinder Publishing on Facebook

PathBinder Publishing on Instagram

Paul on Instagram

Paul/PathBinder Publishing on Twitter

Paul J. Hoffman author page on Facebook

If you’d like these newsletters to show up in your email inbox, find the SUBSCRIBE link at the top right corner of this (or any) post on this website and click it. It’s just that easy!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: