Archive for February, 2009

I have become an iSheep

I’d been eyeing up a Kindle for about a year. I was ready, committed. I was getting a new tech friend, that would let me read endlessly; shop for new books without a pause in reading; allow me to store my books on memory cards to organize them for work and for fun. Then, when I was about to click Checkout in my cart, the Kindle 2 came out.

The sleek new simple design was alluring-so thin and light! None of the 80’s angles that made Kindle 1 so, umm, ugly? But, also, no memory card slot…or replaceable battery…or cover! After a year of reading reviews, checking on the price, researching options, the Kindle 1 passed out of existence into the limbo of eBay. And the Kindle 2 just didn’t light my fire the same way.

So, in my grief and mourning over the loss of something I never had, I looked at other electronic reading possibilities. Netbooks were terrific but too big and with a laptop I already loved, there was just no room for another, albeit small and unassuming, computer. Then, I read a review of the Kindle in which an iPod Touch owner wondered why people would pay $359 for a Kindle that would read books well, surf the internet and play music badly, and not do much of anything else, when for $100 less you could get an iPod touch that did all those things perfectly, with a touch screen AND had the ability to be used as an eReader? Sure the screen is smaller, but you get used to it, said the review. I had my doubts- it’s really small for reading, I thought. It’s just a glorified mp3 player. And, after all, it’s an iPod.

Caving into Apple and their Matrix-like iTunes control center is a big step! I rejected the idea and read reviews about Sony’s new eReader. It has a touch screen! But the cost is even more than a Kindle 2, and the eBook store is the same one you can go to with the iPod. The eReader has no wireless connection at all. Snyc or die. But, the iPod keeps track of my calendar, music, photos, books, games, you name it. It was starting to seem like a no-brainer. But still, me with an iPod? Me, inside the box?

I had to push my pride out f the way and admit it. I was wrong. I was wrong to refuse to partake of the Apple table for so long; perfectly good iPods had been at my disposal for years and I had disdained to touch them, even looked down on what they had to offer.

So, with a hanging head, I went to Costco and bought my new technological best friend, an 8GB iPod Touch, joined the herd and became an iSheep.


Book Review-A Long Way Gone

The memoir of a child soldier from Sierra Leone, Ishmael Beah.

Even though I wouldn’t say this was a book I loved, it is a must-read. And, even more, it’s a must-tell so others will know what has happened in Sierra Leone and what continues to happen, over and over again, because of greed, poverty and power. Most of the book is about running from or recovering from soldiers’ brutality. It’s a coming of age story in a place where coming of age for a young man means drugs and violence, period. The only other possibility is death.

My son chose this book-if any of my kids ask for a book, I buy it. He’s about the age of the boy in the story. He’s a privileged kid, and not a reader. It languished in his room for months. I thought he wasn’t going to bother reading it after all. Then, he brought it to me one afternoon and said “this was really good”. Nothing else. Now, my kid can talk-he tells story after story after story about school, his friends, his homework, the bug on the wall, why his shoes smell bad, why he needs a new xbox, etc. So, I pressed him for details about why the book was good, and all I got from him was “Read it yourself, it’s really good.” I have, and he’s right-if you’re the least bit interested, read it yourself; it’s really good.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly.” (KJV 1 Cor.13:12)

I’m turning 40 this year-in just a few weeks. I made peace with that last year when I turned 39 and decided to start saying I was “almost 40” to get used to the idea. Because I grew up in a situation that was based entirely around youthful activities-scholastic sports, specifically-then chose to work around kids in another setting outside of the school systems I’m used to all adults being “old”. So, since I’m already old, turning forty doesn’t have quite the same impact.

 BUT, a couple weeks ago I found out I need glasses. That is having an impact. Not only do I need glasses for the first time in my life, but I either need two pairs, one for close and one for distances, or I need bifocals. Yes, I realize anyone can need glasses; my 12 year old son has been wearing them since he was five (and there’s a whole other post on my felt-inadequacies). My weekly blog-alarm has been going off all week telling me that I’m really behind and in the meantime, I’m avoiding the computer because the headaches I thought were regular stress headaches were caused by my deteriorating eyesight.

I remember when my Mom got glasses for the first time. She was in her early forties, but at the time I was about 11 and she was Mom-old. It’s hard to imagine reaching the Mom-old stage but the evidence has been piling up. I have a son in high school and my other three kids will all graduate from either elementary or intermediate school within the next two years. I think about the economy, politics and taxes occasionally. A few of my students are married or getting close. Maintaining the car seems kind of important lately. As does replacing the windows with more energy efficient ones. And so we decend into the dark side…

On the other hand, I am a MUCH better videogame player now….