Out, out, piles of unread boring books

Books piled up

Maybe it’s because I just had a birthday or maybe it’s because I find myself surrounded by piles of unread books yet find nothing I actually want to read. Sunday I decided it was time to purge. If I live to be 110, I won’t have time to read all of those literary journals, anthologies, heavy history books, how-to-write-better books, and the various gift books people have bestowed on me that have been sitting there for years. There’s nothing wrong with any of these books, but I just want a good story to get lost in, preferably attractively bound and printed in type that doesn’t hurt my eyes. I read on Kindle, too, but I prefer paper.

I want to read dessert first for a change. I do not want all these books guilting me for not reading them yet. That doesn’t mean I’m going to start reading Harlequin romances, but it does mean that if a book makes me tired, I’m going to toss it. Yesterday, I found several that had bookmarks a little ways in, meaning I started to read them and pooped out. I’m giving them away, along with other books I realized I’m never going to want to read—even though they seem to be wonderful books.

I love books. I’m the kid who read Dickens for fun in junior high. I will take the time for a long novel with a strong story, beautiful language and old-fashioned careful editing. But something tossed out and full of typos, no. Books that change characters with every chapter so I need a spreadsheet to keep track of them, no. Nonfiction full of surface psycho-babble, no. Poetry collections I can’t make sense of, be gone.

The literary magazines wear me out. They’re full of great writing. I’m delighted when I can be published in them, but I can’t read them all. I just can’t.

I know I’m not the average reader. I read a lot, at least a book a week. I read many books as research for my writing. In addition to the piles of actual books and more books collected on my Kindle, I have an overflowing folder with lists of books I want to read. I read as a writer, considering more than just the story, looking at how the writer writes and criticizing the faults I see. I love it when I can forget all that and just enjoy the book.

I grew up in a house where my mother, brother and I read all the time. We got our books at the library and took them back in two weeks. We did not pile them up at home—with the exception of my Nancy Drew books and my brother’s Hardy Boys mysteries, which we donated to younger cousins years ago. There still aren’t many books at my dad’s house. That doesn’t mean we didn’t read. We just didn’t collect unread books. We checked them out, read them, checked them in. That didn’t earn the authors a lot of royalties, but it kept our books from weighing us down.

On New Year’s Eve, I promised myself that this year I would read all the piled-up books, but I have changed my mind. I will read the ones that still appeal to me and send the rest to new homes. Life is short. Read the good stuff first.

How about you? Do you have a lot of unread books? Do you keep books after you read them? Does anybody want a lot of literary magazines? I’m happy to share.

I thank everyone for the birthday wishes. Another birthday survived. Whew.

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Revisiting Stories Grandma Never Told

Stories Grandma Never Told_justified text.pmdOnce upon a time there was a journalist with long curly hair, big glasses, and a penchant for blazers with padded shoulders who traveled around California interviewing Portuguese women. She carried a steno pad, a micro-cassette recorder, and a heavy Minolta Camera with extra lenses and a detachable flash. She used Tri-X black and white film. The women wondered why she might find them interesting, but they welcomed her into their kitchens, living rooms and shops. The result was a book, Stories Grandma Never Told, published by Heyday Books in 1998.

The day the book came out was the day this young journalist felt like a real author. It was released at the annual Dia de Portugal festival held at the San Jose Historical Museum. As Portuguese music played, young queens in white paraded, and crowds feasted on Azorean pastries and linguica, she sold book after book after book. Women bought them for their mothers, sisters and daughters. People featured in the book came to have their pictures taken with the famous author. Her whole family was there. It was heaven.

That was my third book but the first one that was my idea, my words, my pictures, me on the page. I had gotten the idea while writing The Iberian Americans, an overview of Portuguese, Spanish and Basque immigrants. Very little had been written about Portuguese women. I could see how I was a direct product of my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and beyond. I had never asked for their stories, but now I dove in, starting with everything “Portuguese” listed in the telephone book. It was a long process, and I had a hard time finding a publisher. I was about to give up when Malcolm Margolin at Heyday offered me a contract.

Sue interviewing MarieBalshorThe book came out 21 years ago. Heyday did a great job producing and promoting it, but they decided after eight years and three printings to let it go. I republished it under my own Blue Hydrangea imprint. Decades later, it’s still selling better than my other books. To increase distribution, I am republishing it this month with Ingram, the company that supplies most bookstores. This means that if you request this book at any bookstore, they should be able to order it for you. Amazon.com will not be the only place to get it.

To bring “Grandma” up to date, I have been looking up the women I interviewed. A lot has changed. Many of the older women I interviewed have died. I’m grateful that I was able to capture their stories. Otherwise, they’d be gone. Some of them documented their lives for their children and grandchildren, but others never thought it was important and the kids didn’t ask, just as I didn’t until I started working on my book.

Finding people is a lot easier these days. I didn’t have Google or Facebook back in the 1990s. I collected my interviewees by word of mouth—“you should interview so-and-so”—by showing up at events, and by many hours taking notes by hand in various libraries.

So many of these women became friends. They felt like family. We exchanged letters, Christmas cards, and phone calls. We met every year at the Dia de Portugal, where they’d wear their Azorean costumes with full skirts and white blouses as they peddled food or marched in the parade. It’s hard to lose them. I already knew about many of them, including my Aunt Nellie, Aunt Edna, my mother, and my college mentor Dolores Spurgeon. I mourned the loss of my buddy Marie Gambrel. Now I know that Virginia Silveira, Edith Mattos Walter, Bea Costa, Pauline Correia Stonehill, Doris Machado Van Scoy, Maree Simas Schlenker are also gone.

But I also know that former student Krista Harper is now a college professor, that Katherine Vaz got married and lives in New York, and that former Sacramento news anchor Cristina Mendonsa now broadcasts across the United States. It has been a long time, but many of the younger women are still celebrating their heritage the way they used to.

Books on Portuguese Americans occupy a lot more shelf space than they used to as a younger generation of immigrants go all-out to tell their stories. Portuguese Heritage Publications of California and the University of Massachusetts Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture have both put out numerous books about the Portuguese. But Stories Grandma Never Told was one of the first.

I’m proud of that young curly-headed woman who pushed through her natural shyness to make the phone calls, take the trips, and ask the questions that resulted in Stories Grandma Never Told and of the stubborn older woman I am today who refuses to let those stories disappear.

The new Ingram edition, with a return to my favorite cover, will be out on my birthday, March 9. You can still buy Stories Grandma Never Told in print or as an ebook at Amazon.com, too. That version will soon be updated, too.

God bless my Portuguese ladies.

MY MIND WANDERS INTO THE LAND OF ‘WHAT IF’

Thiel Creek 12218BSometimes I think about moving back to California. Hold on, coastal friends, I’m only thinking. If you know me, you know I think about a lot of stuff, but keep living the same life.

On those days when I’m tired of the cold, I yearn to live someplace warm, someplace where I could grow tomatoes and roses and sit in the sun in February. When I talk to my father and think about how much better his life might be if I were there to help him, I think I need to be in San Jose. When family members get together without me, I think what the heck am I doing up here alone in Oregon? That’s what my family thinks, too. They don’t understand why I’m still here now that my husband is gone.

If not San Jose, maybe I could relocate to Merced, near my brother’s family and not too far from Dad. It’s warm there. Okay, in the summer, it’s damned hot. It’s cow country, conservative, possibly sexist, and my allergies would probably go nuts. But they do have a Catholic church where I could sing. There’s a writer’s group I could join, a community college where I could teach, and all the stores we don’t have here. I could make it work.

But after 22 ½ years on the Oregon coast, I’d have to start over, wouldn’t I? Here, I run into people I know everywhere I go. When I step out the door, my neighbors wave hello, and it continues in the nearby towns up and down Highway 101. Friday night, for example, I went to listen to friends playing music at Canyon Way, an old bookstore where two of its rooms have been transformed into a nightclub. My friend Renae, outside grabbing her last pre-gig smoke, hugged me on the way in. My friend Debbie found me a seat with Twylah, a woman I hadn’t met yet. We had seen each other all over town, and now we are friends, too. I got many handshakes, hugs, and smiles. I came alone, but I didn’t stay that way. I can’t imagine this happening in San Jose.

On Sunday, after playing music at two Masses at Sacred Heart, where I knew almost everybody, I attended the Oregon Music Teachers Association concert at the Performing Arts Center. I had friends on stage and friends all around me. Again I came alone, but I didn’t feel alone. Of course I also got drafted to sing at an event this week, but that’s okay.

When I think about the crowds in the vast theaters in big cities, I get nervous. Talk about feeling alone. I probably wouldn’t know a soul, and I’m not the kind of person who chats easily with strangers. And yet I know all these wonderful people here on the coast. In a small town, that happens. Even if we don’t know each other, we talk in line at the J.C. Market or in the waiting room at Grove Veterinary Clinic.

When Fred died, my father and brother were amazed at how many people came to the funeral. The chapel was full. Friends sang and took care of the food, so I didn’t have to do anything. I was not surprised. That’s how it is here.

In Oregon, people know me as a musician and a writer, the identity I have carved out for myself. That and Annie’s “mom.” They know I worked for the News-Times, taught at the college, have published books, performed at various events, and sung and played at Sacred Heart for years. They know me from yoga class, the Central Coast Chorale, the Nye Beach Writers Series, Willamette Writers, and the vet’s office. They see my name in the paper. They know I used to be married to Fred. Except for the part about being married to Fred, most people in my family don’t know any of that, although Facebook helps.

How many of our families really understand who we are?

Back in California, I’m Ed and Elaine’s daughter, Mike’s sister, his kids’ Aunt Sue, and cousin to a bunch of people who barely know me. It’s sad but true. I love my family and wish I could spend more time with them. Commuting to San Jose to be with Dad is exhausting and expensive. I wish the family would come here sometimes. I-5 does go both ways. They have their reasons.

Sometimes I truly hate the weather here. Cold, wet, windy, icy, bleh, but oh, when the sun shines, it’s glorious. I love the ocean. I love the trees. I still look around and say, “It’s so beautiful!”

I always get this feeling when I cross the border back into Oregon that now I can breathe and be myself. I didn’t grow up in a family that sang together, attended poetry readings or plays, or considered the arts a worthy investment of time. I was the odd one, but here, I have found my tribe. Also a place with no yellow jackets, no poisonous snakes, no poison oak, and no real traffic, except the occasional slow-moving motorhome.

A week from Saturday, I’ll be 67 (yikes!). Do I want to start over again? I don’t think so. I might move into a smaller home nearby with less maintenance. I wouldn’t mind a vacation to somewhere sunny and warm, preferably with a handsome man who could pay for it all. But this is where I live.

The house across the street from my father, built around 1950, an ordinary post-war tract house, just sold for $1.5 million dollars. It’s nuts down there in San Jose. So when I think about moving, I’m just thinking, not doing. No worries.

Look Out, the Dog is Watching You

Annie 1717A

Dogs don’t watch TV. They watch us.

No matter how often we shout, “Look, Spot, there’s that great commercial with the dancing dogs!” the dog just sees us pointing at a box. If I point at a rainbow or a starry sky, the dog glances at me then goes back to chewing weeds. But if I’m chopping meat at the kitchen counter, she’s right there. If I try to sneak a cookie, even if I don’t make any sound, she knows I’m eating something and insists I share. Even when she seems to be sleeping, she knows what I’m doing.

If the phone rings, she looks at me to answer it. If I go out the front door, she jumps up to join me. If I warm up my singing voice, she knows I’m getting ready to leave. If I change my shoes, we’re going for a walk. If I say, “No, later,” she growls and pushes my hand off the computer mouse until I give in.

If I change my routine at all, she’s like, hey, what’s going on?

Think about it. What does the family dog have to do besides watch us and bark at the UPS truck? Eat, sleep, pee, poop. That’s it. We’re like Hulu for dogs, all-day entertainment.

It’s quite a responsibility, especially with pups like mine who spend 95 percent of their time with us and have nearly forgotten how to be dogs. Annie still seems puzzled as to why I would ever close the bathroom door or why I wear clothes, but she spends her whole day waiting for me to pay attention to her.

Annie loves to snuggle. When I sit in the love seat, she throws her 77 pounds of dog-love at me. I pet, kiss, and tell her how great she is (wish somebody would do that for me). After a while, I get busy writing or watching a video on my tablet, and she rolls over on her back. If I don’t pet her stomach, she paws and pokes until I do. I can either surrender or walk away. Of course I surrender. I’ve got two hands.

In dog school, trainer Sue Giles Green told us we had to be the boss, had to maintain an attitude of authority. Oh well. Annie does “sit,” “stay,” “down,” and “leave it” like a champ. She’ll “come” on command only if she feels like it. And “hey, you’re a dog, go outside,” not so much. How can she when I might do something fascinating? Or give her one of those Beggin’ Strips that make her eyes roll back in her head with ecstasy.

Sometimes I wish I had other people around for her to watch. It would take the pressure off me. But it’s good to know someone cares what I do and even mourns when I’m gone, someone who never thinks I’m fat or getting old. Like my Mom, she thinks I’m perfect just the way I am.

Annie turned 11 on Saturday. Hard to believe my six-pound puppy is now 77 pounds and the equivalent of 77 human years. What a great friend she has been. Happy birthday to the smartest dog in the whole world, even if she does roll on dead mice and deer poop. How many other dogs won’t eat until you say grace?

Really? An Award for Me? Not Really

Caller ID showed a number from Bend, Oregon. I don’t know anyone who lives in Bend. But I was doing a puzzle instead of working, so I answered.

I could barely hear the woman over the background noise. She called me Sue and said something about an award. An award? Hallelujah. I’ve already received 11 rejections this year. About time someone recognized my genius.

I told her I was having trouble hearing her. Could she shut off the noise? “I wish,” she said. But she adjusted her microphone and got louder. Her name was Carol. She sounded friendly, with a heavy New York accent.

She was calling from Marquis Who’s Who. They were giving me an “Albert Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award” for my work. Carol asked dozens of questions, verifying my accomplishments, my book titles, and my work all the way back to the Milpitas Post in the 1970s. I told her about my husband dying, and she sympathized.

She said she was gathering information so their biographers could write up my story. It would appear on their website and in their books. That sounded nice, but I had to ask. Is there a cost for any of this? She hadn’t mentioned money or bank accounts, but I was beginning to wonder.

She hesitated, talked around it. I asked again. She admitted that there were fees for all of it, $200 for this, $400 for that. Even the certificate wasn’t free. But of course I would want to share this great news with my family and friends. Of course it would put my name right at the top of the online search engines.

Hold on, hold on, I said, interrupting her. I’m not paying a cent for this thing I didn’t ask for. Saying she would email me information because I would surely change my mind, she said goodbye.

Grrr.

I want awards for my work. I want them bad, but not bogus ones.

It was just one of many fake offers I have gotten these days. People call to offer me free vacations, solutions to my financial problems, and better health insurance. One woman keeps calling to offer me a low-cost brace to help with my chronic pain. What pain in what part of my body, I want to ask. And of course, there are those lovely spam emails that offer me millions of dollars.

The thing is, despite Carol fooling me for a while, I can usually tell the difference between real offers and phony ones. Most of the time I don’t answer the phone if I don’t recognize the number. But not everyone can tell phony from real. My father, age 96, takes every call seriously. He can’t understand why the robo-callers don’t respond when he asks questions. When he gets one of those calls about credit cards, he makes himself crazy checking his records and calling his banks to make sure there isn’t a problem. If a caller says, “This is in response to your inquiry,” he thinks he might have made such an inquiry even though he hasn’t.

Once, after getting one of those “your grandson is in trouble in Mexico” calls, he went to the bank to transfer money. Luckily, the people there stopped him. I’m sure he’s not the only one who falls for this stuff.

The callers, both live and computerized, count on fooling some of the people. That’s how they make their money.

I feel for Carol. Clearly she was working in a call center. That’s why it was so noisy in the background. She sounded like an older woman, a nice person. Get out of this scum job, I wanted to tell her, but maybe she saw no other choice.

I wish there were no scam calls, no robo-calls. I wish it was as easy as the callers say to get out of debt, obtain good health insurance, win free vacations, and receive awards. I wish we didn’t always have to be on guard.

Experts say the simple act of answering the phone will show that someone is attached to your number and cause the scammers to keep calling. They also warn that they can take your words out of context to make it look as if you agreed to something. If you do answer, don’t say yes, okay, all right, or sure. It’s sad that we have to be suspicious, but if you don’t know the number, let the phone ring. If the call is legit, they’ll leave a message. If I call, my name will show up on the screen and I won’t ask you to buy anything.

Marquis Who’s Who is real. The printed directories go back to the 1800s, but now you have to pay to even look at the online listings. If anyone wants to look me up and shoot me a copy of my listing, I would love to see it, but I am not giving them my money.

Clearly I’m not the only fool who would love to receive a lifetime achievement award. Check out these posts about the award I allegedly won.

Are you plagued with scam calls, too? Have you or your loved ones ever fallen for one? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Maybe I’ll See You at the Grocery Store

Grocery shopping conceptLet’s talk about grocery shopping. That was the subject of a workshop at the Newport 60+ Center on Saturday. Dropping in between playing piano for a funeral and a regular Mass, I was a little overdressed in velvet and jewels. But can you be too overdressed to talk about strawberries and broccoli?

Mike Stephenson, who spent many years as a produce manager at Safeway and Savemart stores, shared some of the backroom secrets grocery store owners may not want us to know.

Do you know why the meat and dairy are usually in the back? That’s so shoppers have to walk past all the other items and be tempted to buy things they hadn’t planned to buy. That’s also why you often find the bakery next to the produce. You’re loading up on healthy greens and fruits, but the smell of fresh bread or donuts is driving you crazy. Right? That’s what they’re hoping.

The stores are like a giant Monopoly game. Some aisles are big-ticket spots like Boardwalk and Park Place while others are the lowly Baltic Avenue. Stephenson estimated stores make 30 to 40 percent profit off produce, 20 to 25 off meat, and 45-60 percent off non-food items.

Did you know that companies like Pepsi and Starbucks pay for the shelf space where their items appear? Double profits.

Have you noticed the security cameras everywhere? Theft is a big problem at grocery stores. It’s hard to catch the culprits and they cannot be legally apprehended until they leave the store.

Being a produce expert, Stephenson had lots of advice about buying and storing fruits and vegetables.

For example:

  • Buy what’s in season. Right now, it’s things like grapefruit, avocados, kiwi, oranges, pears, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and yams. You might find peaches and strawberries in the stores, but they won’t be as good, especially here on the Oregon coast where all the produce comes from other places.
  • Buy organic berries grown without pesticides. It’s nearly impossible to wash the regular ones well enough to be safe.
  • Wash everything before you eat it, even fruits like oranges that seem to be safe in their heavy peels. As soon as you cut into them, whatever is on the outside goes in.
  • Take your berries out of the container and spread them out. Otherwise, if one gets furry in the middle, they’ll all go bad.
  • Those bags of mixed greens (like the one in my refrigerator) are already on their way out when we buy them because they’ve been cut up and separated from the nutrient-giving base that holds the leaves together. Make your own salad. The ingredients will last longer.
  • If you shop when you’re hungry, you will buy more. Eat first and stick to your list. But you knew that, right?

For years, I hated shopping because I didn’t have enough money. Now the challenge is buying enough but not too much for just one person. Package of six pork chops? Why would I need that? One crab? That just sounds sad. I want some cake but not a whole one. God bless the stores that offer single slices and smaller servings.

Do you use coupons? I don’t. They’re never for what I want to buy. I do try to time things so I get the J.C. Market’s Tuesday senior discount, 10 percent off the entire bill. Fred Meyer stores offer a senior discount too, but only on their own Kroger brand merchandise.

My mom and now my dad were strictly once a week shoppers. Always in the morning. For the most part, I shop weekly, too. When Fred was alive, he loved to do the grocery shopping. I made him an aisle-by-aisle checkoff list. How often do you shop? Do you use a list or decide as you go along?

What’s the biggest challenge for you at the grocery store? Can you find everything you want at the same store or do you have to shop around? Do you stock up at Costco or stick to local stores? Do you love grocery shopping or hate it?

Let’s talk about groceries. And then let’s have a snack.

***************

The clever photo is from pixelbliss via 123rt.com stock photos

 

 

Stories lost in the floppy disk graveyard

I took the old laptop out of its nifty leather case and stared. Was it always that clunky looking? So square? Like an old Volvo. Instead of a mouse, it has a marble-sized trackball. The screen is about the size of my Kindle screen. And what’s with the giant box with a little plug sticking out of it?

This thing doesn’t have a USB port, but it does have a place to plug in a telephone line for the modem. Suddenly the old backup computer has become an historic artifact. But it’s my only hope to find out what happened to Roberta and Frank.

I’ve been reading through short stories I wrote back in the late ‘90s. Some are so awful I’m relieved no one wanted to publish them. But some are still good, especially this one about Roberta and Frank, who run into trouble while traveling in their motorhome. I was thinking I should polish it and send it out. It’s not too out of date. Look, Roberta, even has a cell phone. She doesn’t know how to use it, but I can fix that. I got to the end of page 5. The ambulance is coming and–where’s page 6? Where’s the rest of the story? I have a vague memory that Roberta stops being such a wuss and saves the day, but I don’t know the details anymore.

I have to leave for church in five minutes. I tear through my files. I sent it to literary journals back in the days before we submitted everything online. I have to have more paper copies of “Runaway Dream.”

I find maybe 50 short stories. Lord, I was prolific. But not that one.

Okay, look through the pile of CDs. Nope, too new. Where are those old 3.5-inch floppies? The only computer with a floppy drive that I still have would be that laptop I bought in 1993. There it is back behind the unsold books.

Epson ActionNote 700 CX. I plug it in. The poor thing is beat up, the F7 key coming off, the screen part separating from the keyboard part (unlike a lot of today’s laptops, it’s not supposed to). It turns on. Gray screen, words and numbers. DOS. Oh crap. Does anybody remember the DOS operating systems that preceded Windows?

Press F1. Okay. Setup failed. Press F12 for setup utility. I get a screen full of choices and no idea what button to push. The date shows Jan. 1, 1990. Memories of Y2K. Remember how we thought the world would fall apart because all our computers couldn’t make the leap to a new millennium? Most of them did but maybe not this one.

I decide to take pictures so I can show you all this historic computer. I close the top to shoot the outside. When I reopen it, all the words and numbers are gone. The computer doen’t even hum. When I push the power button, nothing happens. Old ActionNote seems to have passed away while I was trying to take its picture. But how does Roberta get off that deserted road? Does her husband get to the hospital in time?

Wait. Do I have another laptop, an interim between the Volvo and my current HP, a Honda maybe? Can’t find it, but I find some 5.25-inch floppy disks. Short Stories 1 and 2. Great! Oh. I have nothing that can read them. I have always backed up my files, carried copies in my car, and put them in the safe deposit box at the bank. It’s all useless nonrecyclable plastic now.

But wait, the Volvo didn’t die. The plug got super hot and the computer turned itself off. After it cools, I plug it in again. Green light. Must act quickly. Setup. Change the date. OMG. Windows 3.1. Insert disk. Horrible wailing noise. It can’t read the disk, can’t read any of my old disks, but hey, here on the hard drive is the old version of my novel Azorean Dreams. Hello, old friend.

“When the alarm shrilled at 7 a.m., Chelsea groaned and covered her eyes against the light pouring in the bedroom windows.” The whole book is there. Wow.

What else is on this thing? There’s the unfinished novel about a quadriplegic named Daniel. And something called deaderma.wps. Oh, I love that story. Reporter goes to do an interview and finds the subject dead in the rose bushes. Being a reporter, she gets nosy . . .

No Roberta and Frank. I created these people. I need to find out what happened to them, even if I have to retype every blinking word into the new (ish) computer.

I’m still looking. And no, I do not want to write a new ending. The moral of this tale. Print everything out. I still have poems, stories and essays I wrote on manual typewriters 50 years ago, but I can’t read what I entrusted to my computers in 1997. Even 2007 is iffy. Paper lasts longer than modern technology. We’re putting all of our information into machines that will be obsolete before I pay off my Visa bill. Is anybody thinking about that?

Do you have antique computers and antique media hanging around? Ever try to use them? What is going to happen to everything we have entrusted to our computers in five, 10, 20 or 30 years? Are writers the only ones who care?

I could tell you a whole other story about the days I spent last week sticking slides into the old slide projector. I thought I would get them digitized, but then I thought, why? Even my own slides bore me now. It’s been a dusty time in the Lick household lately as I try to sort things down to manageable levels. Within reason. Marie Kondo, queen of throwing away everything that doesn’t give you joy, can’t take my stories away. She’s not even getting the old laptop. Not yet.

Here are some interesting links to read about the history of laptops and the history of data storage.

Laptop history in photos

Another history that is better if you mute the music

Check out this video on how to prevent “data rot” No music, cute guy, but skip the ad after he gets to the stone tablets

You might also want to mute the music on this history of data storage

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwJfERnF30g
Fascinating, but the music is a bit much