A book, some Baci and the ocean… What could be better?

Recently, I was in the San Francisco area. I was by the ocean, went into a very small book store. Small bookstores are wonderful, they have a more interesting choice of books. Usually, many local authors, which I like.

As I went to purchase The Cat Who Saved Books, they had the Italian Baci candies at the check out. What a treat! I haven’t had them for so long. I thought it was a lovely idea to buy a book, a few Baci chocolates, then head to the ocean and start reading. I bought three!

This story sounded interesting about a boy who is depressed when his grandfather dies. He meets a talking cat and goes on quests to “save books.” I was curious about the talking cat and saving books, how/where and what kind?

I’m at the beginning stages of reading this book, so no book review yet. Summer is coming, I think this will end up in the beach bag for summer reading. Life is so busy right now, no time to read.

What small bookstore have you found lately? We do need to support them, I try!

Have you seen Pepper (Microsoft robot)?

3E7428A0-58A8-4FE8-8DA8-29921390913FThis weekend I met “Pepper.” He… although, I think it looks like a “she,” was working for Microsoft. I was curious and wanted to see what the robot could do. The Microsoft Sales Rep said that Pepper was new to the company. So, I decided to give it a whirl. Basically, Pepper welcomed me and brought me to a Main screen where I could click on different links that would describe products, a Q&A section, services and so on. It was interesting.

While I could not engage Pepper in a normal human conversation, he did sense my movements. If I moved to the left, his face would follow me. When I moved closer or further away from him, his hands would open and close, face would move and the color of the lights in his eye would change colors too. Blue was when you could ask a question.

While the interaction with Pepper was fun for about 5 minutes, it certainly did not replace interaction with a real human being. Pepper was not meant to sell the product, mainly there as an interactive information screen. I was amused when I saw the robot. If I was in the market for a computer, maybe I would have stayed longer. So, Pepper did attract my attention, and I entered the store, kudos for that.

A few years ago I worked for an electronic manufacturing company and one of our projects was a telepresence robot, which was called, “Anybot.” While there were a lot of issues with getting the Anybot robot to function properly, it was fun, because it was so darn cute. Back then I was doing research on robots and many of them are created in Japan.

Using a telepresence/humanoid robot is not cheap. Visiting Pepper’s website (SoftBankRobotics.com), I saw that he sells for $25K, our Anybot robot was selling for $15K. Pepper was built by a Japanese company that merged with a French company and they are now called, “SoftBank Robotics” working out of San Francisco.

So, what do you think… would you like to have Pepper help you with chores around the house or serve you coffee, tea? Those days might come sooner than we think!

Books in Vending Machines… thanks to JetBlue and Random House

Jetblue Vending Machines1

Photo from ABC News story (Sept. 12, 2016) by Danielle Genet, “JetBlue’s Soar with Reading Book Vending Machine Program Expands to Florida.”

Like many people, I love books! As a child, books changed my life. They allowed me to escape from school, chores (when I convinced my Mom I was actually studying), dream, explore, learn — BOOKS were wonderful!

My Italian mother read books constantly. She insisted that her children read and learn about the world. One of the first really interesting books she gave me was an historical novel by Mika Waltari called, “The Egyptian.” I was glued to that book and next was ALL of Pearl S. Buck’s books about China. That’s how I fell in love with China.

Today I was reading through the latest Publisher’s Weekly newsletter and they had this exciting story about JetBlue and Random House teaming up to offer summer books to children in underserved communities through vending machines. I was thrilled about this. The photo I have above is from an ABC News 2016 “news clip.” You can see these are beautiful vending machines with a variety of books.

Jetblue Vending Machine 2Summer 2016 this book program was in Detroit. This summer they are in Florida. The program called, “Soar with Reading” was created to offer summer reading to children in communities where there are no books, which they call “book deserts.”  The program has been successful in Washington, D.C. and Detroit. Children have started book clubs and parents/teachers say children have increased their vocabulary too.

If you believe ALL children should have a book, then CAST YOUR VOTE!

Go to Soar with Reading and PLACE YOUR VOTE for the next city where JetBlue should donate books. Your options are Boston, San Francisco, New York or Los Angeles.

Right now, Boston is winning!

Come on San Francisco, let’s help OUR city!

VOTE TODAY — Spread the word about this great program!