Monday, March 29, 2010

Happy Birthday to Charlie

CharlieToday would have been our dog Charlie's twelfth birthday. I have been thinking about him today, as I still do every day, even though he died almost two years ago. Yesterday, I watched his YouTube video again, and it made me teary, just like it always does. He was such a good boy.

A little over a week ago, I was a guest on Wisconsin Public Radio's "At Issue with Ben Merens" to discuss the lessons we learn from our dogs, using "The Lessons of a Perfect Dog" from Raising Charlie as a starting point. Ben had just had to put his dog Maestro to sleep earlier that week, so it was an emotional hour. Listeners called in with their own dog stories, mostly in commiseration with Ben, and it became clear to me that everyone who has been through the loss of a beloved dog shares the same grief. Our dogs are family and losing them hurts as much as losing a family member.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Welcome to Grand Junction!

Jimmy Carter billboard in Grand Junction, Colorado with caption: 'They can't call me the worst president anymore!'Last month, when I read about the billboard in Wyoming, Minnesota, that featured a smiling, waving George W. Bush, with the caption, "Miss me yet?", I thought it was one of the most ridiculous things I had ever heard of. But the good citizens of my fair city, Grand Junction, Colorado, must have taken it as a challenge because one of them recently one-upped it in a big way. Yes, the billboard above is real. It sits near the intersection of 1st and Grand, about two miles from my home. Go ahead and click on it if you want to see the full 800x600 view.

The thinking behind this message is so foreign to me that I didn't even understand it at first. Obviously, Jimmy Carter's thought bubble is meant to imply that our current president, Barack Obama, has taken over the title of "worst president," but Obama has only been in office for just over a year. It's a little too soon to be making that kind of judgment, unless you're basing your opinion on factors other than job performance, like the man's skin color. Racism is alive and well here, and it was on full display at candidate Obama's rally in September 2008 and at President Obama's town hall meeting on health care in August 2009.

The more difficult thing for me to understand is Jimmy Carter in the role of previous "worst president." I will grant you that I didn't vote for him in either 1976 or 1980, but I most certainly did not vote for Gerald Ford or Ronald Reagan either. I voted for Independents in both of those elections. But Jimmy Carter as worst president? I don't get it. Like President Obama, he inherited an economic mess from the previous administration, and he was unlucky to be in office when the Iranians decided to take some Americans hostage. Still, he narrowly lost to Reagan in 1980, so how bad could he have been? Former President Carter is now widely regarded as the most effective former president in history, acting, along with his wife Rosalynn, as America's ambassador to the world.

I don't care how much Karl Rove tries to sugar-coat it in his new book, George W. Bush will go down in history as the worst president ever--far worse than even Andrew Johnson, the first president ever to face impeachment. We will be living with the unconscionable economic and political damage of the Bush years for decades to come. President Obama was elected to begin the repairs, but he has no cooperation from the party that helped to wreck things in the first place. Yesterday's purely partisan vote on health care reform is clear evidence of that.

A more realistic billboard might show Republicans Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Mike Pence laughing hysterically and giving us all the finger. Now that's a message I could understand.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Odd-yssey

Despite assurances from Editor Sue at Latitudes & Attitudes magazine that she would publish it eventually, it has been almost two years since I submitted the following article from our somewhat ill-fated Odyssey trip. St. Patrick's Day seems as good a day as any to post it on the blog. Don't tell her you saw it here first!

The Odyssey: Temple of Poseidon at Cape SounionThe Odd-yssey

When Capt. John Kretschmer mentioned that he was thinking of re-creating the Odyssey by sailing from Troy to Ithaca, I couldn’t believe it. What a great idea! We were at the end of a successful passage from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas and back, and we were feeling that sense of accomplishment that makes you think you’re ready for whatever’s next. Follow in the footsteps of Ulysses, one of history’s greatest adventurers? Sure, why not? If he did it in a primitive galley, we could surely do it in a modern sailboat. And if it took him ten years, we could certainly do it in two weeks. These thoughts sustained me through the fifteen months of planning and preparation leading up to our voyage, which began on April 23 of 2008 and ended on May 7.

The Odyssey: Quetzal anchored at Cape SounionThere is much to be said in favor of spontaneity. Decide to do something and then go do it. No hesitation. No second-guessing. The fifteen months between the idea and the execution for the Odyssey trip gave us too much time to consider and then reconsider our plans. The original plan, based on the route detailed in Tim Severin’s The Ulysses Voyage: Sea Search for the Odyssey, called for us to fly into Izmir, on the west coast of Turkey, and then travel up the coast to the marina at Ayvalik, where we would meet up with Capt. John and his forty-seven foot 1987 Kaufman cutter, Quetzal. Our crew would consist of John, me, my wife Nan, and Harry and Velinda from the Bahamas trip. Since there are no marinas near the ancient ruins of Troy, in the furthest northwest corner of the Anatolian peninsula, we would travel overland to pay homage at the site of the Trojan War and its famous horse before retracing our route to begin our sail.

The Odyssey: Harbor scene at Gavrio on AndrosFrom Ayvalik we would sail west along the north coast of the island of Lesbos and then roughly southwest toward the Doro Channel between the islands of Evvia and Andros. Ulysses (called Odysseus in Greek) had carefully worked his way counter-clockwise around the northern Aegean Sea, sailing during the day and camping on shore at night, but we wanted to get to the locations where the main events of Homer’s epic tale had reputedly taken place, starting with the Cyclops encounter on the southern coast of Crete. From there we would sail to the island of Gramvousa, off the northwest corner of Crete. The Odyssey: Wet sailing from MykonosSeverin postulated that this was the place where Aeolus, the Ruler of the Winds, gave Ulysses the leather bag of wind he would need to cross back to the Greek mainland. After working our way west and north around the fingers of the Peloponnese peninsula, we would sail right past Ulysses’ home island of Ithaca, as he had also done, into the area where his encounters with Circe, the Clashing Rocks, the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis had taken place. We would then retrace our route south to Ithaca before sailing north again to end our voyage in Corfu.

The Odyssey: Judas hanged in effigy in Kirikos on IkaríaBy December the plans had changed. Instead of starting in Turkey, which would require greater travel expenses and the customs complication of arriving by plane but leaving by boat, it was decided that we would start in Athens and make a quick trip across the Aegean to Troy. John had worked a deal to have the Travel Channel film the voyage for a TV documentary, and they were counting on getting footage of us at Troy. John had also added another crewmember, Kevin.

The Odyssey: Judas effigy on fire in Kirikos on IkaríaNan and I arrived in Athens a few days before we were to set sail so we could tour the city and see the sights, including the Acropolis and the Parthenon. The evening before our Wednesday departure, we met up with everybody at the marina in Piraeus for dinner and a chart briefing. It was good to see John, Harry and Velinda again, and to meet Kevin. Nan was meeting them all for the first time. Over wine and authentic Greek food, we discussed the trip ahead. Everyone was excited to get going, even after John informed us that the deal with the Travel Channel had fallen through.

The Odyssey: Judas burning with Quetzal in the harbor at Kirikos on IkaríaAfter final fueling and provisioning, we were underway before noon the next day. Almost immediately, we experienced engine trouble. John had replaced the alternator the day before to correct a charging problem, and the belt slipped, filling the cockpit with burned-rubber smoke as it disintegrated. We sailed slowly along in the light winds as John worked in the engine compartment to replace the belt, but it was his last replacement so we agreed not to run the engine at more than 2,000 RPMs, the equivalent of five knots, for the rest of the trip.

The Odyssey: Boardwalk scene in Pythagoria on SamosIn the late afternoon, we arrived at Cape Sounion, about twenty-five miles southeast of Piraeus, and anchored within sight of the Temple of Poseidon. This was the first of our touchpoints with the Odyssey route, but we were coming at it from the wrong direction. Ulysses and his men stopped here on their way from Troy.

On Thursday morning, we set out early with the idea of making an overnight passage northeast to Turkey. By afternoon, the wind from the north had picked up dramatically and we were tightly pinched to make headway against it in eight-foot swells as we approached the Doro Channel. We were beginning to wonder if the meltemi, the strong northerly winds that occur every summer in the Aegean, had arrived early. John had purposely planned the trip early in the season to avoid the meltemi, but there was no getting around the fact that the wind was going to prevent us from getting to Turkey as planned. We steered toward the closest logical landfall at Gavrio, on the southern coast of Andros, but even the leeward harbor offered little protection as the winds continued building to gale force. The Odyssey: Marina in Kusadasi, TurkeyOur Med mooring put us perpendicular to the wind, requiring several lines from the boat to the quay just to hold us in place. Relieved to be safely ashore, we found a cozy taverna for dinner and a discussion of our options. We all agreed that if the strong winds continued, we would not be able to continue our northeastern tack. John proposed sailing east instead, staying in the lee of the Greek islands to temper the wind, and arriving in Turkey at Kusadasi, almost 200 miles south of Troy. The implication was clear: we would not be going to Troy. To ease the disappointment, John suggested we take an extra day in Turkey to visit Ephesus, the ancient Greek ruins located a short drive north of Kusadasi, perhaps figuring that some ruins were better than none.

The Odyssey: Street market in Kusadasi, TurkeyThe wind was still howling on Friday morning, pinning us in place for the day. We wandered around Gavrio, shopped for provisions and killed time in an Internet café. Nan and I checked into a harborside hotel, hoping for a better night’s sleep and a decent shower. That evening we all watched as the local people celebrated Greek Orthodox Good Friday by parading through the streets carrying their church’s tabernacle and playing the funeral dirge on bugle and drums.

There was a small window of opportunity the following day, so we carefully exited the harbor and headed southeast along the protected coasts of Andros and Tinos. The wind picked up predictably as we crossed the gap to Mykonos, where we spent our fourth night at the new harbor north of town. It would have been worth the trip into town to see the distinctive “Greeky” architecture of white adobe buildings with bright blue trim for which Mykonos is known, but we lacked ground transportation and it was still off-season for most businesses.

The Odyssey: Emre, Velinda and Nan at Ephesus, TurkeyWe awoke to rain on Sunday morning. The winds had moved on, replaced by dark clouds. We motored most of the distance east to the island of Ikaría, named for Icarus from Greek mythology, and arrived at Kirikos as the town was preparing to celebrate Greek Orthodox Easter. While we were tying up in the town’s small harbor, some local people were busy hanging Judas in effigy at the end of the dock. Later, when it was dark enough, we watched from a harborside taverna as they set the dummy on fire. The gathered crowd cheered as the fireworks stuffed inside were ignited, sending rockets in all directions. We had to admit we had never seen an Easter celebration to rival this one.

The clouds cleared but the wind didn’t return for the next leg of our trip east, to the island of Samos, just west of the Turkish coast. We moored at the new marina east of Pythagoria, the reputed birthplace of Pythagoras, the ancient mathematician credited with the theorem that bears his name. We made the muddy hike up and over the hill that separates the marina from town and were rewarded with a beautiful stroll along a stone boardwalk lined with tavernas on the one side and pastel-colored fishing boats on the other.

The Odyssey: The Library at Ephesus, TurkeyThere was still no wind for our final push to Turkey on Tuesday morning, so we motored with limp sails while dodging the many cruise ships going to and coming from Kusadasi. We arrived in the early afternoon and were immediately captivated by the place. Turkey was very much like Greece in its terrain and climate, but everything about it was more pleasant. It was cleaner and better organized, the people were friendlier, and the food was better. There was a noticeable sense of pride and patriotism. All of this was clearly evident at a neighborhood street market we stumbled upon as we wandered the city streets. Despite the language and culture differences, and the fact that we were the only Americans in the crowded market, the merchants were happy to assist us in buying spices and souvenirs.

The Odyssey: Venetian castle at Methoni, GreeceEphesus, our substitute Troy, was made memorable by Emre, our personal guide. He admitted at the beginning of our day trip the next day that he was hung over from drinking too much raki, but that didn’t prevent him from filling our heads with all the known history of the famous ruins, everything from the significance of the bull busts that topped one ancient wall to the fact that Marc Antony and Cleopatra had celebrated their honeymoon here.

Our couple of days in Turkey were the highlight of our trip, but it had taken us a full week to get there. We needed to be 500 miles to the west, all the way to Corfu, within another week to make our travel connections. We would need to hurry. Crete, the site of the most memorable Odyssey events, would need to be skipped. Not only that, we would need to make a series of overnight passages, with very few landfalls.

The Odyssey: Group shot overlooking Vathi harbor on IthacaOur first passage had us leaving Kusadasi before dawn and sailing continuously for more than 300 miles over two nights and three days to reach Methoni, at the southwest corner of the Peloponnese peninsula. We spent the night anchored offshore from the beach that draws summer crowds to this scenic town and its well-preserved Venetian-era castle.

Short on fuel from frequent light-air motoring, we were lucky to find a fuel truck willing to deliver on a Sunday morning when we pulled into the harbor at Pylos, just a few miles up the coast from Methoni. Then it was north to Ithaca on our second overnight passage.

The Odyssey: Cave of the Nymphs on IthacaEarly the next morning, we anchored in the beautiful harbor of Vathi on Ithaca. Not counting Methoni and Pylos, where Ulysses and his crew must have stopped on their way north, Ithaca was only the second touchpoint of our Odyssey trip after the Temple of Poseidon on Cape Sounion. We planned to make the most of it, renting cars to drive to the Cave of the Nymphs in the northern part of the island, where Ulysses hid his treasure after returning home. The cave had collapsed during the 1953 Kefalonia earthquake so there was not much to see, but standing at the shore below, it was easy to imagine Ulysses washing up in the crystalline waters of Polis Bay after twenty years away from home.

We headed north in the afternoon for the island of Corfu, our last overnight passage and the last leg of our trip. The capital city of Corfu, with its imposing Venetian citadel and Great Cross, were a welcome sight through the mist the next morning. We sailed past the city a few miles to the town of Gouvia, where Corfu’s primary marina is located, and Med moored for the final time.

The Odyssey: Bust of Ulysses / Odysseus on IthacaNan and I went off in search of the hotel we had booked for the next three nights, and John went off to see if he could clear us in to Greece at the marina’s customs office. We had cleared in and out of Turkey at the Kusadasi marina, but since leaving Turkey, we had never been in one place long enough or during business hours on a weekday to clear back in to Greece. When Nan and I returned to the boat to pack up and move, John informed us that since it was off-season and the marina’s customs office was closed, we would all need to go into Corfu city to clear in. Tired, hungry and grubby, Nan and I stood with the others at the bus stop, regretting that we hadn’t made a detour to Samos or somewhere right after we left Turkey to take care of this necessary detail. Three hours later, after trudging through the rainy cobblestone streets, visiting first one office and then another and then yet another, and waiting interminable periods in sterile waiting rooms, we were cleared. Nan and I caught the first taxi we could find back to the marina, packed up and caught another taxi to the hotel.

The Odyssey: Venetian citadel on CorfuAfter showers, clean clothes, an excellent meal and a good night’s sleep, we felt human again. We ate breakfast at the hotel and then walked back to the marina. John was preparing the boat to be left on its own for a few weeks, and he and Kevin were packing up so they could catch a flight to Athens that afternoon. Harry and Velinda were going to stay on the boat for a few days to take in the sights of Corfu. We talked the nice owners of the Hinckley next to us into taking our picture, then we exchanged contact information, shook hands and hugged. Our Odyssey was over.

The Odyssey: End of trip in Corfu marinaWhile it is certainly true that we in no small way duplicated the voyage of Ulysses, I believe that our adventure in his part of the world more than lived up to Capt. John’s hope for it when he wrote in an email message before the trip: “I am searching for the spirit of Odysseus as much as anything.”

Sunday, March 14, 2010

George Carlin's "The Planet is Fine"

Comedian George Carlin died almost two years ago. If he were still alive, I'm sure he would offer us his unique perspective on the recent earthquakes devastating parts of the planet. But since he's gone, we'll need to settle for one of his finest monologues, from August 2007, to explain our current situation:
You got people like this around you? The country’s full of them now. People walking around all day long, every minute of the day, worried about everything! Worried about the air. Worried about the water. Worried about the soil. Worried about insecticides, pesticides, food additives, carcinogens. Worried about radon gas. Worried about asbestos. Worried about saving endangered species.

Let me tell you about endangered species, all right? Saving endangered species is just one more arrogant attempt by humans to control nature. It’s arrogant meddling. It’s what got us in trouble in the first place. Doesn’t anybody understand that? Interfering with nature. Over ninety percent—over, way over—ninety percent of all the species that have ever lived on this planet—ever lived—are gone. Whooissssht! They’re extinct. We didn’t kill them all. They just disappeared. That’s what nature does. They disappear these days at the rate of twenty-five a day—and I mean regardless of our behavior. Irrespective of how we act on this planet, twenty-five species that were here today will be gone tomorrow. Let them go gracefully. Leave nature alone. Haven’t we done enough?

We’re so self-important. So self-important. Everybody’s going to save something now. Save the trees. Save the bees. Save the whales. Save those snails. And the greatest arrogance of all: Save the planet. What?! Are these fucking people kidding me? Save the planet? We don’t even know how to take care of ourselves yet. We haven’t learned how to care for one another! We’re going to save the fucking planet? I’m getting tired of that shit. Tired of that shit. Tired. I’m tired of fucking Earth Day. I’m tired of these self-righteous environmentalists, these white bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is there aren’t enough bicycle paths. People trying to make the world safe for their Volvos. Besides, environmentalists don’t give a shit about the planet. They don’t care about the planet. Not in the abstract, they don’t. Not in the abstract, they don’t. You know what they’re interested in? A clean place to live. Their own habitat. They’re worried that some day in the future, they might be personally inconvenienced. Narrow, unenlightened self-interest doesn’t impress me.

Besides, there is nothing wrong with the planet. Nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The people are fucked. Difference! Difference! The planet is fine. Compared to the people, the planet is doing great. It’s been here four and a half billion years. Did you ever think about the arithmetic? The planet has been here four and a half billion years. We’ve been here, what, a hundred thousand? Maybe two hundred thousand? And we’ve only been engaged in heavy industry for a little over two hundred years. Two hundred years versus four and a half billion. And we have the conceit to think that somehow we’re a threat? That somehow we’re going to put in jeopardy this beautiful little blue-green ball that’s just a-floating around the sun?

The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through all kinds of things worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles, hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages. And we think some plastic bags and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet, the planet, the planet isn’t going anywhere. We are! We’re going away. Pack your shit, folks. We’re going away. And we won’t leave much of a trace, either. Thank God for that. Maybe a little styrofoam. Maybe. A little styrofoam. The planet’ll be here and we’ll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet’ll shake us off like a bad case of fleas. A surface nuisance.

You want to know how the planet’s doing? Ask those people at Pompeii, who are frozen into position from volcanic ash, how the planet’s doing. You want to know if the planet’s all right, ask those people in Mexico City or Armenia or a hundred other places, buried under thousands of tons of earthquake rubble, if they feel like a threat to the planet this week. Or how about those people in Kilauea, Hawaii, who built their homes right next to an active volcano, and then wonder why they have lava in the living room.

The planet will be here for a long, long, long time after we’re gone. And it will heal itself, it will cleanse itself, because that’s what it does. It’s a self-correcting system. The air and the water will recover, the earth will be renewed, and if it’s true that plastic is not degradable, well, the planet will simply incorporate plastic into a new paradigm: The earth plus plastic. The earth doesn’t share our prejudice towards plastic. Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn’t know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old philosophical question, why are we here? Plastic, assholes!

So. So the plastic is here. Our job is done. We can be phased out now. And I think that’s really started already, don’t you? I mean, to be fair, the planet probably sees us as a mild threat. Something to be dealt with. And I’m sure the planet will defend itself in the manner of a large organism, like a bee hive or an ant colony can muster a defense. I’m sure the planet will think of something. What would you do if you were the planet trying to defend against this pesky, troublesome species? Let’s see. What would…? Hmm. Viruses. Viruses might be good. They seem vulnerable to viruses. And viruses are tricky. Always mutating and forming new strains whenever a vaccine is developed. Perhaps this earth virus could be one that compromises the immune system of these creatures. Perhaps a human immune-deficiency virus, making them vulnerable to all sorts of other diseases and infections that might come along. Any maybe it could be spread sexually, making them a little reluctant to engage in the act of reproduction.

Well, that’s a poetic note. And it’s a start. And I can dream, can’t I? You see, I don’t worry about the little things. Bees. Trees. Whales. Snails. I think we’re part of a greater wisdom than we will ever understand. A higher order. Call it what you want. You know what I call it? The Big Electron. The Big Electron. Whoaaa! Whoaaa! Whoaaa! It doesn’t punish. It doesn’t reward. It doesn’t judge at all. It just is. And so are we. For a little while.
Thank you, George!

Happy Pi Day! And happy birthday, Albert Einstein!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Formatting a book for Kindle

I just finished formatting Raising Charlie for Amazon's Kindle reading device, and it wasn't easy. At first, I wasn't sure I would even be able to do it myself, but then I was looking at my Author Central page on Amazon's website and saw a link titled "Publish your content on Kindle". It brought up Amazon's Digital Text Platform, a step-by-step process that I could follow to publish a book for Kindle and have it be available for sale through The fill-in-the-blanks part of the process was simple enough, except that I needed to purchase a new ISBN number for the electronic version of my book, which I did through Bowkers (

The difficult part of the process was converting my original manuscript so it would look right and work correctly on the Kindle. There is a note in the "Upload & Preview Book" section that reads, "For optimal results, please upload files in MS Word, HTML, or PRC format." The manuscript was in Microsoft Word format, so I thought I would try to upload it in that format first. The preview, which appeared in a small, onscreen version of a Kindle, looked terrible. I went back to Word and did a "Save As" to "Web Page" format to convert the manuscript into HTML. When it was uploaded and previewed, it looked better than the Word version, but my embedded images were missing.

An extensive Google search on "Kindle images" brought up all kinds of advice about resizing and formatting, but the best advice I found was to use a free software application called Mobipocket Creator. It creates the PRC format that Amazon mentioned in their note and gives the user the greatest control over how the finished file will look and work, including the ability to add a front cover image and a table of contents. My first few uploads and previews using the new software were big improvements over Word and HTML, but my images were still missing. On a whim, I tried using Word's "Web Page, Filtered" format, and when I imported the resulting file into Mobipocket Creator and then uploaded and previewed it, there were my images. They were much too big, of course, but that was a relatively easy fix.

At this point, I realized that I was not going to be absolutely confident about how my book would look on the Kindle unless I could see it firsthand, so I ordered one from Amazon. It arrived on Wednesday. Before I continue, I need to say that the Kindle is the coolest device I have seen since the iPhone came out. If you're a serious reader and you travel frequently, you owe it to yourself to get one.

After I figured out how to operate my new Kindle, I downloaded my first book, What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell, to see how a Kindle book should look. I also connected the Kindle to my computer so I could copy over the latest PRC version of my manuscript. It didn't look too bad, but it needed some final tweaking before it would look as good as Mr. Gladwell's book.

I opened the manuscript in Word again and deleted any page breaks that were there for the purposes of the printed book. The Kindle has its own unique way of handling pages, and it doesn't even use page numbers. Instead, I inserted page breaks only at the top of text sections that should begin on new pages, while also deleting any hard returns and indents that were there for appearance only. I resized the paw-print and dog-bone separator images by fifty percent, using Word's built-in image formatting, and was pleased with the results. I found that the twenty photos in the middle of the book resized well automatically if they were in landscape orientation but were too big if they were in portrait orientation. Some of these large images worked well at a seventy-five percent reduction and others at sixty percent depending on how much caption text was beneath each one. Finally, I added a chapter header for the photographs section so it would become an item in the table of contents rather than just be a series of pages at the end of a chapter, as it is in the printed book.

The upload and preview process took a tremendous amount of trial and error. I probably uploaded at least twenty different versions of the manuscript, first to Amazon's Digital Text Platform and then to the new Kindle, before I was finally happy, uploaded the finished version, and clicked the Publish button. Having the Kindle to use for previews was the key. It doesn't make sense to self-publish Kindle versions of books without one.

Amazon does a final review of every book submitted for Kindle publishing, which takes two to three days, so Raising Charlie should be available in Kindle version by early next week sometime at Look for it there!