A Single-Tasker I Love: Amazon Kindle

I got a Kindle for my birthday. I’ve been reading books electronically for years, so obviously as e-readers became more accessible, it was inevitable I’d want one.

I really, really like it. I’ve already read a couple of novels on it (I’m in the process of re-reading Snow Crash). I’ve also explored several of its features, but for me, it’s about the books.

All my Baen Free Library books, as well as several I’d bought from Baen are already loaded on it. Basically, if it was in a format Mobipocket could read and is not DRM protected, you’re golden. Yes, yes, you have to use the USB cable to do it, rather than download it directly to the device, but I don’t consider that a major problem.

And, of course, I’ve a plethora of books from the Gutenberg Project. They’re also happily nestled on my device.

That being said, yeah, yeah, I’m buying and downloading from Amazon, too. But it’s less than 15% of my electronic collection.

So, how’s the device versus the way I’d been reading on the netbook and my Android?

It’s superior the netbook and my phone for reading a book. The e-paper display does imitate a book better, and the fact that the screen is not backlit does make it much nicer to read in bright sunlight. It also means that there’s less of a battery drain. I read for hours at a time, so this is very significant. It’s lighter than my netbook, and has a larger screen than my phone – better imitating the positives of the paper book experience. It has 4GB of memory, but that’s effectively a little over 3GB for the user. To give some perspective? I have 197 novel-length books on my Kindle right now, and still have 2.8 GB free.

The Kindle also has a lot of “nifty features” that I probably won’t use much. Text to speech? I’m an audiobook addict and all, but it doesn’t replace a human performance. Oh yeah, audiobooks! I have an Audible account that I did wind up linking to my Amazon account. However, I’ll probably be pretty unlikely to use the device for listening to audiobooks. I still want a more portable device for that, as I tend to listen to audiobooks while I’m doing chores. Also, it doesn’t have a sleep timer, so it doesn’t serve my habit of listening to audiobooks as I fall asleep.

You can browse the web some from it. It’s okay, but my phone serves that purpose better for my on-the-go needs.

So, I don’t love the Kindle for the add-ons. I love it, but I love it because it’s very, very good at what it was designed for – to read books!

How Smart Phones Ruin Shopping

One of the delights of being Da Mama is to send a husband and child out on a shopping trip. Watching them screw up is fun. There is nothing more enjoyable than the anticipation of a soul-cleansing scream at the family for Doing It Wrong when being sent out shopping.

My parents understood this perfectly. Mom would write out a list on the back of an envelope and hand it to my father. Dad would take the envelope as importantly as a five year old sent to the corner store and go to the grocery store. The list would say:

  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Cream
  • Chocolate chips[1]

Simple, yes?

Well, we usually ate margarine on our bread, but Dad realized vaguely that margarine and butter weren’t quite the same thing. He’d stand perplexed in front of the dairy aisle for at least 20 minutes, while time was dribbling away to get the damned Toll House cookies done so that we could have food to feed our ravening hoard of relatives come some sacred holiday.

Daddy, a Captain in the Overthink Army, would get some weird oil product we’d never bought in our lives. Never mind that for the past 20 years of marriage, his wife had always used butter and only butter to bake those confections of delicious goodness, chocolate chip cookies.

Eggs were another conundrum. Should how many should he get? And what size? Does the color of the shell matter? These things are a terrible dilemma. Getting it wrong meant that he was not being a Very Useful Engine and a fate not to be borne.

As far as chocolate chips? Look, there’s only one type of chocolate chip. We all know that if you’re making Toll House Cookies, you only use Nestlé’s semi-sweet chocolate chips, even if they are encouraging third world mothers to starve their babies using watered down formula. You gotta have standards, people.

Did Daddy understand this? He did not. As far as he was concerned Hershey’s was the final name in chocolate[2]. But Hershey’s chocolate chips do not have the piquant bite of Nestlé’s, and the cookies would be All Ruined in the eyes of his children. Really. There’d be tears, weeping and refusal to eat cookies. Honest.

So, all in all, that was a lot of pressure to put on a man who might be able to program a missile to follow an escaping Godless Commie spy out of honest American airspace, but was helpless when he was faced with the complications of kitchenry.

The eyerolling at home was wonderfully entertaining.

Do I get this pleasure? No, I do not. If my son (to pick a person at random) in a fit of forgetfulness while contemplating whether Sonic the Hedgehog could beat Starscream in a battle to the death forgets to bring his grocery list with him, I just get a text message and a request to email it. Worse? If the guys aren’t sure what they’re supposed to bring home, do they guess like any normal male so I can roll my eyes at how little they understand about how the home is run?


I get a phone call.

I am deprived of the little pleasures. Pity me and my sad existence.


[1]Mom only sent Dad out for small lists when she was in the middle of doing Serious Baking in anticipation of guests arriving the next day.

[2] Households with interfaith marriages do have their challenges, don’t they?

Why I Love Bento

I’ve been working very hard the past six weeks or so. Now, I’m cool with working hard, but sometimes you need something to lift your spirits. I’m finding that Bento are great to give me a little charge during the day to keep me going for the afternoon.

Now, I don’t make anything all that special. Half the time, my bento are repurposed leftovers. Another quarter of the time, it’s a chicken drumstick, some carb (rice or pasta) and some fruit and veggies. The thing is, when I make them, even though I’m often putting them in some sort of flat plastic container, I’m still paying some attention to color and layout.

Opening one of those babies up in the middle of what you know is going to be a long day? It’s really pretty comforting. It’s just lunch, but by Golly, it’s a pretty lunch and that little capsule of attractiveness does a lot to make my lunch break something restorative.

I begin to understand why my guys are so happy to get them. It’s not that the food is amazing or anything, nor is it that they can’t make their own lunch. They can. But opening up a tasty and attractive box can be very comforting in the middle of a long day.