25 July 2011

Kindle Pro and Kindle Con

Yes, I bought one.

And then Borders announced they'll close the remainder of their stores. Commentators said this is related to the rise of on-line retailing, of which eBooks are fast becoming a significant portion.

I have very mixed feelings about all of this.

I was buying most of my books used, before I bought the Kindle. And since I bought it, probably 99 percent of the books I've put on it were either free or 99 cents. So it's not clear that moving to Kindle, for me, has impacted the paper book market (yet).

One Kindle, though made out of plastic and powered by electricity and probably bound in (environmentally toxic) leather, is probably still an environmental lightweight in comparison to printing and shipping the 3500 books it is supposed to hold (and theoretically unlimited books, if you remove books from the device as you finish reading them).

I can see that as technology evolves and improves, I'll be able to upload, read, and annotate books, pdfs, articles, whatever, rather than printing everything out and scribbling notes in pencil and hoping I'll be able to read them a week, or a decade, hence. (No joke: the tiny notes I wrote in books I read in grad school? Today, I need a magnifying glass.) I won't need yards and yards of bookcases to store the books I've read, and I won't need to dedicate living space to book storage. These are also environmentally beneficial aspects of the Kindle.

But browsing for books in an actual store -- holding actual copies of books, leafing through them, reading portions -- is still, for me, a far more satisfying experience than searching for books on an on-line retailer's web site. For The Offspring, it's up there with visiting the library, though after a trip to the bookstore he's likely to own a book, frequently paid for out of his saved-up allowance.

I suspect by the time The Offspring is an adult, eBooks will be fully integrated into his reading experience. But what might the unintended consequences be?

19 July 2011

On the Parkway

The North Haven service station on the Merritt Parkway has recently been renovated, and they put in dual-flush toilets and solar panels.

According to the Connecticut DOT, they've also used better insulation and more energy-efficient heating and cooling units, and the goal of putting in a Subway is to provide healthier food. (So why is there also Dunkin' Donuts? Just wondering....)

Apparently, the plan is to do similar renovations along the Merritt Parkway and on I-95 through Connecticut. All good stuff.

08 July 2011

Environment and the Presidential Pledge

Michele Bachmann has signed The Presidential Pledge. Want to read the whole thing for yourself? Check it out here.

The Washington Post reported some of the most offensive passages. They missed the reference to "vulnerable women ... and the rights of fathers," and references to "anti-scientific bias." Then there's this:
...robust childbearing and reproduction is beneficial to US demographic, economic, strategic and actuarial security.
Uhh, no. Robust reproduction is not beneficial, not to the United States, and not to the rest of the world. Back in the 70s, people were actually trying to promote Zero Population Growth by encouraging two-child families in which each parent would be numerically replaced.

Since then, the world's population has nearly tripled.

More people means more food, more transport, more greenhouse gas emissions, more global warming. Why do I suspect that the anti-scientific bias of the people who wrote the "Pledge" would lead them to insist there is no such thing?

07 July 2011

Inspiration = Breathing-In

Wheelchair Dancer challenged me the other day. She challenged me to find the joy in disability.

My first reaction: NO WAY.

The emotions that cascaded over me as we sat over coffee included emergency-room fear, frustration with the process of getting back into shape from zero yet again after another winter of difficult breathing, worry about what the future will bring and the family I support, despair over the knowledge that illness will recur, though I don't know when.

Today, I went out for a run after sitting in traffic for 2 1/2 hours on the way back from the office. (It's my disability off-season. The lights are dark, the performers are elsewhere.) I started out slow; my back was stiff and my legs felt heavy.

As usual, I noticed the gimpy, the asymmetrical; I saw those who were struggling for whatever reason. Here or there eye contact; a small nod of recognition.

And I found, for just a moment, the joy. Today, I can do this. The weight room has given me strength, running has given me stamina; my back loosened up and my legs found lightness and I was, simply, running, a runner, wind off the East River cooling my face, my body meant to move across the miles.

Thank you, Wheelchair Dancer. Thank you for inspiration.

06 July 2011

From Bare Feet and Brennessel

I am from bare feet in the summer, from a Volkswagen squareback and from tunnels dug through snowbanks.

I am from the tall white house set back from the street, pine tree out front leaving pitch zwischen meine Finger, on my knees, in meine Haare, on my clothes; I am from the quiet house above the sea, und aus dem Garten mit einem Kirschbaum.

Ich bin aus der Brennessel, the tiger lily, the crack of Donner on a hot August afternoon promising relief from the heat; from the pigweed, the Pusteblume, the trickle of snowmelt in mud season.

I am from gathering Steine and reading too late into the night, from Paul and Gisela and Ruth and Erika.

I am from travelers and from wandern im Wald.

From more than one way to skin a cat, from use your noggin, and from Übung macht der Meister.

I am from fire und singen und skepticism; I have found home among people of the book.

Ich bin aus Ostpreußen und England and Maine, from lobsters und Königsberger Klöpse.

From family stories: the teenager who listened to Harriet Beecher Stowe reading from Uncle Tom’s Cabin and went off to join the Union Army; the mother who passed children through the windows of a crowded rail car and then begged the soldiers to let her in with them, from fighting, from the tank that exploded on a land mine, from the shoe factory, from stories edited and burnished and just plain made up.

I am from Auburn and Harpswell and perhaps an archive somewhere in Deutschland, yellowing pictures curling from walls, librarians charged with remembering, moldering details buried for the forgetting.


This is from Magpie Musing, and she says you should go to Schmutzie to link up yours. The template/prompt is here.

02 July 2011

The Value of a Digital Edition

Julia over at Lotsa Laundry recommended Sheena Iyengar's The Art of Making Choices. And when Julia makes a recommendation, I listen, because chances are it's intelligent, thoughtful, and wise. (You don't get all three of those for the price of one very often.)

So I went over to Amazon to check out the availability, and found this:
The screen shot is a little fuzzy, I know. So here's my problem: the paperback is now available for $8.61, but to download the Kindle edition, it's still $9.99. And if I wait a year or so for used copies to flood the market, I'll be able to get it for under five bucks from Better World Books. (Yes, the library is another option.)

I can understand the $9.99 Kindle pricing (Nook is the same, by the way) when the book first comes out in hardcover. But once it's out in paperback, shouldn't the Kindle be available for less, reflecting the fact that the publisher doesn't have to pay $4 or so per copy for printing and binding?

Horror of horrors: does the digital edition now have greater market value than the book?


This morning, I said to The Offspring, "Close the book and come to the table." He objected: "I'm not reading a book, I'm reading Kindle." I maintain it's still a book, even though the format has changed. What do you think?