Many things that defined my growing up, college, graduate school, and the present, have changed with the creation of and continued expansion of the internet. Over the years, it has changed much of how I learn, watch movies, read, get the news, purchased things, my daily routines in life. It has had a significant change of how our society has evolved. Some of it has NOT been for the better in my opinion.

One of the many things that is debatable in this electronic age is the loss of magazines. The loss of books. The loss of privacy, of oratory and the spoken word. The converse may also be true. The internet allows me to share my thoughts. Put into words what I am thinking. The ability for it to be shared with anyone and everyone. This post is the manifestation of that.

Growing up, grade schools and high schools often raised money for student activities by selling magazines. I think Publisher’s Clearinghouse still offers annual contests for millions of dollars! In graduate school, much time I spent in the library reading chemistry journals. As a serious professional (a chemistry nerd), much money was also spent subscribing to the various ACS (American Chemical Society) and getting their journals delivered monthly. Now all of these can be obtained by paying for an electronic subscription. For the record, I think I stopped receiving those journals about 5 years after graduate school. It is still much easier to go to the library. They took up too much space in a one bedroom apartment. Moving many boxes of dead weight was a hassle. I don’t even think I saved the copies of the published issues where I actually published my original research articles. Alas, I can look them up on-line.

When I travel for work, if I don’t have a book to carry along, I will stop at the magazine store at the airport to pick up one for the trip. Of late, that has been either a sailing magazine or woodworking. Thinking about the next 50 years.

However, I still get magazines delivered to my home. When I got serious about making money and investing, I had to have every magazine out there. From BusinessWeek to MONEY to SmartMoney to Kiplinger’s to Cooking Light, Real Simple, even Men’s Health and Playboy. Over the years, I had several magazines delivered. Yes they take up space. I saved them before recycling them. Slowly, over the years, many of these magazines have migrated to an all electronic format. MONEY has been that way for about 18 months now. Note to son – sorry, but I got rid of the Playboy subscription and magazines before I met your mom. Replaced it for Coastal Living for a few years. I get a periodic e-mail reminder of what’s new in MONEY. I guess they make money by online advertising. It still has the same format.

Somehow, it just doesn’t fill all of my necessary sensory needs. With Kiplinger’s, which I still get sent to my house monthly, I have the feel. I can feel the paper, smell the paper, look at the pictures, read the articles. I can roll it up if I have to hit the dog, or the kids, or myself. I can recycle it. I can take it to work and leave it at the lunch table for others to read. I can even take it to the bathroom to read it. Every month, it comes to my mailbox and every month, I read it. Cover to cover. Takes maybe two days, cover to cover. I have it. I own it.

I used to get the Wall Street Journal every day, the same way. The stacks of paper would pile up. You still can, but several years ago I opted for the electronic version only. I think that the electronic version is quickly becoming overpriced at $38.99 a month. I find that the quality of the presentation is less, more typos, errors. It no longer prints the daily stock quotes as near as I can tell. They have a web site for that. The same article can appear electronically in different versions for several days. Corrections are easy, updates to articles are easy. But it is convenient. During the COVID19 situation, I wished that I still had the paper copy, especially on those days when toilet paper was in short supply. But I read it every morning on my iPad.

Garden & Gun April/May 2020.

The inspiration for this post was that I received and finished, my April/May 2020 issue of Garden & Guns about a week ago. I have found it to be the best printed magazine out there today. I know that I have June/July on my table to read next. I read it cover to cover, all the time. Why would a 59 year old man born and raised in the Northeast, who lives in the Southwest, enjoy a magazine about the South? It has great articles, photography, recipes. The advertisements make me think of places to add to my bucket list if I ever want to get away from New Mexico, even for a few days. Articles about guns, horses, dogs, the culture, music, cooking, cities, towns, decorating. This month features include Saving the South. Articles about 30 heroes, from musicians to chefs, farmers, cowboys, conversationalists, and others who are making the south a better place. I find it has something new, enlightening, enjoyable to read. A new recipe to try when I feel the need to practice some at home Chemistry.

The website has the June/July issue already up for your viewing pleasure. I cannot wait to sit and read it from cover to cover. To feel the paper. To gaze at the pictures and to contemplate the mouthwatering recipes. For Memorial Day (yesterday), they posted on Instagram a picture from Arlington National Cemetery (see above). Many other magazines follow this same format. They have an on-line presence, linked with their subscriptions. In my opinion some just do it better than others.

Yes I can get the copy electronically, sent to my iPad. It loses its meaning to me in some ways. So as long as I can continue to get the printed copy, I feel added pleasure. I can hold it, get a paper cut, enjoy the turning of every page.

ramblings of a madman

Internet services

The internet has changed a great many things about everyday life. From how we do our jobs to research and communication, music, entertainment, and of course buying things. The buying of things has been a significant change. Directly or indirectly, Walmart stores have been blamed for the decimation of Main Street USA. Many of the brick-and-mortar stores that did not or could not embrace the internet have failed because they were already weakened by Walmart. I saw it first hand in my hometown in Pennsylvania. Walmart, and a few other stores have been able to survive the Amazon juggernaut by competing directly against them. They have had to figure out how to fold the internet into their stores. Main Street continues to survive, albeit in a very weekend condition.

Over the past several years, I have shopped less and less in a brick-and-mortar store, and it is easier to order something online. That said, it has not been without frustration. This subject is indirectly tied to my frustration. I find myself on business travel this week. Thus, I have to board my dog this week. The place that I have chosen allows me to access a webcam in their room. The problem is that you have to know which room, and what the camera password is. That said, I have tried the password, including multiple spellings, upper case versus lower case, across all 20 rooms. No luck. Of course, it is after hours and no one is there, or at least no one is answering the phone. I have to assume that there is someone there with the dogs. My dog has stayed at this place four times. I have seen a deterioration in the service in this area in my last two trips. Not happy with the service at this juncture. I do my best to support local small businesses, but the person-on-person interaction is key.

Conversely, I have had very good service from E-Bay, but Amazon has been hit or miss. It is difficult to gauge the quality of the product from Amazon. They provide information, but good luck trying to determine if it is “Made in the USA”. In some categories, Amazon offers the same quality as I have had with E-Bay, but that has been only in a few areas. With either website, I have yet had the experience to return a purchase.

Buying things on Facebook has been a completely frustrating. I have had three items that I have purchased from a Facebook ad never arrived and months in some instances to get a refund; and two items that were purchased and took months to be shipped. The one item has several websites devoted to the fraud associated with the product. Two years and no refund or shipment of the purchase. I have given up on it. It is clear to me that Facebook takes limited responsibility on the vendors, the quality of the ads, or trying to satisfy those who purchase from sites that advertise on their website.

I know lots of people who do not purchase stuff online. Others prefer going to a store and purchase items, often after researching the item on the internet. I like that approach as well. The great unknown in the internet is that people can get credit, purchase things, and the debt just continues to suck people in and have less and less for necessities. The internet fails to make a direct connection with people, who are necessary to create the service.

What do you think. I could go on and on about this. I am not an expert, but I know what I like and do not like.