Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Newest Obsession

I have a tendency toward obsession. No, really, I do. And it usually expresses itself with me spending all of my time on whatever is obsessing me at the moment. The result is often that other things (possibly other things that have been an obsessions themselves in the past) become ignored and neglected in their turn. This blog is an example of things that get moved down the priority list, but have been an obsession in the past. Twitter has been a recent casualty also, as have many of the blogs I read thru Google Reader. Farmville (and Facebook in general) is currently enjoying an exemption, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. ;p

My current obsession is very insidious as it involves the one and only obsession that I have returned to again and again and again throughout my life. Books! No matter what else has caught my attention over all the many years of my life, reading books has always been in the background. Oh, I might move from reading a couple of books a week down to one of so a month, but I always return to my love of books. Often summer, with its wonderful outside opportunities will distract me, but winter, with it’s long nights and cold outside, will draw me back and increase my word count.

One of the drawbacks to loving books is that I have collected many, many, many books over the years. Even though I buy very few hardback books (paperbacks are smaller, easier to carry around, and –bonus- cheaper), storing books has always been an issue. If I enjoyed a book, I tend to hold on to it. Also, if a book is part of a series, I will be hesitant to let it slip thru my hands because many times the newest book in a series will bring about the desire to reread the earlier books, particularly if it has been a long time since the author last graced us with a book in that series. I buy less books when I have access to a good library, which makes my wallet happy, but they are still one of my favorite and most frequent expenses.

Every since I first became aware of e-books back in the early 90’s, I thought that they were a wonderful idea. A wonderful idea in theory, but in the execution of the idea…. not so much. To read a book on a computer screen is not an optimal reading experience. While a textbook, or technical manual, would benefit from the ease of searching on the computer, a fiction book would suffer from the inability to easily transport the book and/or the ability to curl up in bed and read about the newest adventures of my favorite characters. Even if you have a laptop, the experience left a lot to be desired. Printed books were still the best way to consume and enjoy fiction.

The advent of dedicated e-readers seemed to be a step in the right direction, but they offered their own set of problems. The first readers, which many don’t realize came out waaaaay before the introduction of the Amazon Kindle and it’s dedicated bookstore, suffered from a lack of books published for them, a relatively high price, and the fact that most people were just discovering computers and just weren’t tech savvy enough for them yet. They mostly crashed and burned. I waited.

Then, Amazon got into the game with the Kindle. I looked, I drooled, I coveted…. but I did not buy. While it finally brought e-books to the masses by making them simple to use, easy to buy, affordable, and –using their power as a major distributor—finally getting many, many books available in e-book form from publishers, the price for the reader was prohibitive, and the e-reader itself very proprietary… thus making it difficult to read anything not bought thru Amazon’s very own Kindle store.

I watched, I waited, I coveted.

Other e-readers entered the market, and competition started bringing the prices into reach. Other companies started adopting something called e-pub, a more universal format that allowed you to buy books from other places and still be able to read them on different platforms. Still… price/availability/ ease of use, not there yet.

Then came my 50th birthday and my hubs desire to get me something a bit more pricey than our standard birthday gifts. He made a proclamation. I had until my birthday to look at all of my options (Kindle, Sony, Kobo, Nook, Ipad and others) and to choose one. That would be my present.

I researched online.  I went to stores where I could get a hands on feel for the ones available locally. I read what others said. I researched some more. The decision wasn’t easy. The Sony, Nook and I-pad were available for me to touch, feel, try out. The Kindle wasn’t available locally (although that has changed in the last week –Target now carries them) but has a wonderful following of early adopters, who all seem to love it, including a couple of people I know personally. The Kobo had a great price point, but was only available thru ordering. Each one had it’s good (and bad) points. My final decision came down to ease of use, ability to borrow books in e-format from my local library, and….. superficial, I know, but the way the reader looked and felt.

Finally it was my Birthday week and a decision was demanded. I made my choice……. Welcome to my newest obsession:



I have owned it for less than a month and I have already read 4 books borrowed from my local library, 2 books I have downloaded from B&N for free, and I have several books waiting in my TBR list. both in my wish list on the Barnes&Noble e-book store and the one with my local library.

I adore my newest little obsession. It is light (weighing about what a paperback does), it will hold up to 1500 books in it’s built in 2 gig of memory –plus I am able to add memory with a memory card, adding up to 16 gig more. memory. It will display my own pictures (although only in black and white) as screensaver/backgrounds. Because I bought it just before Father’s day, and right before the price drop **sigh**, it came with a $50 gift card toward purchase of books. The price dropped by $50 a few days ago, but I don’t feel too bad since I got the gift card with mine, making the actual cost about the same. It will also play music/podcasts/audio books with it’s built in audio player, and even offers a rudimentary web browser (think cell phone).

It feels very like reading a paperback because G also bought me a cover for it to protect it from bumps and scratches that is a very soft leather and opens up and folds around it while reading and makes it about the size, heft, and feel of reading a paperback book. It gives me a choice of 5 font sizes so I can increase or decrease the size of the words based on where I am reading, available light, or other factors. Barnes and Noble offers several free books (about 95,000 –many are books out of copyright, but some are ‘sample’ books from some really good authors they want you to try so if you like them you will buy there other books!) in addition you are able to ‘sample’ any book before buying. If you see a book, but aren’t sure you would like it, you are able to download the first couple of chapters to read for free. I am also able to buy books thru Borders, Sony, and any other outlet that sells with the e-pub or pdf file formats.

Currently I am reading Bullet by Laurell K Hamilton, which I borrowed from the library for free. One of the conveniences of my Nook is ease of obtaining my next book. Earlier this evening I finished the book I was reading (Flirt, also by Ms Hamilton). I had several options at this point. I have some books already on my reader I haven’t read yet, I could bring up the Barnes & Noble e-store right on my Nook and search for/buy/ and download a new book using my wi-fi connection (or if a wi-fi connection is not available using the FREE 3G cellular connection built right in) or I could grab my laptop, go online and choose a book from my Library’s e-book selection, download it, and ‘side load’ it on my Nook. It actually takes longer to type that than to do the  download and move the book over from my laptop :)  I chose to browse my wish list from the library, saw that Bullet was in and available for download, and decided on that…. all without leaving the comfort of my couch. Yep… obsessed and, quite possibly, in love!

Sunday, June 06, 2010


Hello?!? **cough** **cough** **knocks down cob webs and chokes on all of the dust**

Wow! It is  dusty in here. I’ve really been neglecting my poor little blog. The bright shininess that is  Facebook drew me in and I was distracted by the new. It’s not that I forgot about AofanEM. It was more I would think “Wow, that would make a good blog post”, and then it was just so much easier to throw up a line or two on Facebook… or even on Twitter… than to actually pull up Live Writer and go thru all the steps of posting. It just seemed like too much trouble. Oh, I could blame Facebook… or Twitter… or even the fact that it was a long, cold Winter, but the truth is I have just been being lazy. I think it is time for me to pull this blog back out, dust it off, maybe even do some remodeling.

I wonder if anyone even still has this in their RSS reader? Hello, Beuller… Beuller… How about a roll call? If you are out there and are actually seeing this…. make a comment! How’s that for begging for attention?

So, Why now? Why Today? Why? Why? Why? Hmmm.. Well, it’s my 50th birthday (and no, that is not a bid for birthday wishes, I’m actually thinking about not having anymore birthdays.. the whole getting older thing is NOT working for me!) and I was thinking about what I’ve done since this time last year and what I would like to accomplish this year. Kind of like New Year’s Resolutions! Oh wait… I already did that. If you look down one entry you will see that my last entry was about the things I should be doing. That  was ummmm…. 5 months ago? Yeah..So much for good intentions. Did I mention it was a cold, ugly Winter? Oh yeah… I used that excuse.

So, Here’s the question. Help me out! Should I just revamp this blog as is and go on from here, or should I scrap it, keep the Blog name and URL and start over as if it was a brand new blog. Delete all of the old entries (except this one), and start from scratch, or just start posting from here and try to just fix some of the things that were\are bugging me.

What exactly has been bugging me? Let’s see: I have some broken links to old pictures and things from the AOL debacle. I’m still pulling my blogroll from my –old- RSS reader and not the one I am currently using. My RSS feeds are a whole other issue, they really need to be cleaned out and streamlined. I’m bored with my blog design, but am not sure where I want to go with it, and my ‘labels’ and categories lists are a mess.

So… suggestions? Ideas? Complaints? Requests?



Friday, January 01, 2010

A New Day and A New Year…

I don’t have many traditions for New Year’s Day, but I do try to watch the Rose Parade and at least consider what the New Year will bring and what I would like to work on during the next year from a personal point of view.

This year, as per usual for the last few, one of those things I would like to work on is my weight. I am not a lot over weight, maybe 5 to 10 pounds, but I would like to nip this in the bud before I AM! Instead of a diet, I am going to try to just get us to eat healthier this year and raise our activity level up….. and obviously I mean for all that to start later on because we spent today eating a lot of junk and watching TV! LOL! I also want to get back into the habit of exercising at least 4 days a week. I’ve really neglected both the eating healthy and the exercise during the Holidays, but it is time to get back on track!

My other big ‘plan’ is to try to spend more time working on my photography (and maybe having something to post here… I used to post a lot of my pictures/experiments once upon a time). I have this really nice camera and I don’t do enough with it anymore. I took very few pictures last year, and did even less with them. I need to ‘find my muse’ again. And, I don’t want to just work with my camera, I also want to try to spend a little more time nurturing my artistic side. I’m going to try to do a few more of the memes out there and try to remember how much I actually enjoy getting out there and taking pictures!

Nothing world shattering, just a hmmmm, that is the direction I need to be going in. I like that better than Resolutions, because the minute I say a will do something it is as if my whole psyche sets out to find a way not to do it…

What are YOU planning for the New Year?

Thursday, December 31, 2009

And Another Year Bites the Dust!



I just wanted to take a few minutes and stop in here to wish all of my Peeps a Happy & Healthy New Year. I hope that 2010 is full of Magic and brings you all the most Wonderful Things and is everything you Hope and Dream it will be!

This is a special New Year’s Eve because not only is it the last day of the Year, but it is also a Blue Moon. Blue Moon’s are rare, and to have one on New Year’s Eve is incredibly Rare! In addition to the Blue Moon, there will also be a partial lunar eclipse. I’m hoping that these are good omens and means that the coming year will be incredible. After all, good things happen “Once in a Blue Moon”!

I am spending a quiet New Year’s Eve at home with the Hubs and the furbabies. This has become tradition for us over the last few years. The desire to get out there and brave all the people celebrating is long past. I am much happier curled up in my PJ’s, eating an assortment of bad for us snacks, and watching TV. At Midnight we will flip the channel over and watch the ball drop in Times Square…. or at least I will, G often doesn’t make it all the way to Midnight anymore. A far cry from when we first met. Our very first New Year’s Eve (The big 2000! We weren’t together, just at the same place/party) was spent in a train yard, setting of fireworks, dancing on the tops of trains (umm… no, that –wasn’t- allowed and there are no pictures, so you have no proof!), drinking and generally carousing till the wee small hours. We would soon be a couple… Now, ten years later, we are boring. LOL!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Celebrations of Light and Hope

It has become tradition that on Dec 21 I repost this entry from my first year of blogging. It originally appeared on my AOL Journal in 2004. This is the sixth year that I have 'reprinted' it. It still says what I want to remember about this time of year, so I am repeating it again this year. Some of the circumstances have changed... G and I are now married, we lost our beloved D.K., but have opened our hearts to a new kitty this year who is making her ‘big sister’ Morgan’s life interesting, we’ve changed jobs and homes a time or two…. still, although it will be 3 days before Christmas this year due to work and other obligations, we will be making our annual trek to spend a day with my brother and his family. Things change and yet some things remain the same. I hope you enjoy my annual Celebration of Light and Hope.

Today is the shortest day of the year... and the longest night. It is the first day of Winter. It is the celebration of Yule. It is an acknowledgement of Hope. That Light and Warmth and other good things will always return after the darkness. It is the day that G. and I celebrate as our personal Winter Holiday. In ancient times, this was the festival of the rebirth of the new god and a promise that after today the days would get longer, the nights would get shorter, and warmth and Spring WOULD come.

Yes, secularly we, like so many others, celebrate Christmas. In the United States, Christmas is no longer just a religious holiday. With the gift giving, and Santa, and the decorations... Christmas has become more, and less, than what was originally intended. Everyone takes the pieces and parts of the holiday that works for them. Some embrace the religious parts, and try to ignore how secular it has become... others embrace the secular with it's parties, lights, Santa, and presents and ignore any religious beginnings of the holiday. But, at it's heart, it is still a Winter Holiday.. A celebration of Hope. And every religion/belief system seems to have a celebration of some type that embraces this.

I grew up in the States, and therefore my memories of a Winter Holiday include all of the above. And Christmas itself is as much a melting pot as the United States itself. The Christmas tree is German, and Santa is the culmination of a blend of traditions from many countries. Mistletoe? Druid. Christmas Cards? England. You see what I mean. G. and I will be celebrating with my brother and his family on Christmas Eve at his house. That's the day we all have off together. Christmas Day G. is working so a co-worker can be home with his small children for the all important Santa Claus ritual <g>.

I think what I'm trying to say is that it doesn't matter who you are, or what your core beliefs are... There is a place in the Winter Holidays for all. But, please, take a moment this season, whether you celebrate Kwanzaa, Chanukah, Yule, or Christmas, to remember that the REAL reason for all of these celebrations is to celebrate HOPE in all of its forms

Christmas Candles
graphics by useless graphics

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I am a NaBloPoMo Dropout…

Le Sigh! I did not manage to post every day in November, so I guess I am a NaBloPoMo failure. But, I have an excuse don’t I always! I looked back over the posts I was making and realized that I was posting things I normally wouldn’t just so I would have a post for that day, and I wasn’t happy with that. I would rather post less often and post something interesting not boring semi-interesting than to post a bunch and not be happy with it. So, I am going back to posting things when they strike my fancy. LOL!


In the spirit of stuff striking my fancy….. I give you a computer they have taught to think like a cat. Now, at first, I thought “Cool!”. Then I took a moment and looked at my cat considered the implications of having a computer that thinks like a cat. Really…. consider it… do you really want a computer who thinks like a cat? My own cat is capricious, does what she wants, does strange things for no apparent reason, and I have seen her tease the dog, just for fun. Oh wait… never mind! My computer –already- acts like a cat at times, doing what it wants instead of what I want it to!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Procrastination… or Just Pure Laziness?

I have espoused the wonder that is LiveWriter before, and probably will do so again. Anyone who is blogging should at least give this FREE program a try. It not only gives you a WYSIWYG interface, it allows you to post to more than one blog with ease and the touch of the mouse, and it makes the handling of links, catagories, pictures, etc simple and requires absolutely zip knowledge of HTML, CSS, or any other acronym.

With the above paragraph fresh in your mind, you would think that I would be using the newest version of my favorite program, especially since (as before mentioned) it is free. You would be wrong.

I recently turned a returning Blogger on to my very favorite posting miracle and when she had questions, I promptly answered them…. only to have her e-mail back that her version didn’t have a button or some such in the spot I said it was. Turns out that I had an older version of the program on my machine and that the older versions do not check for updates on their own.

So…. the moral to this story? If you have (and love) LiveWriter, you might want to pop over and make sure you have the newest version. The version I have now has a ‘Check for updates’ option under the Help menu. Something that my previous version did not.

End of Public Service Announcement – Oh, and if any one from the government wanders across this endorsement, let it be perfectly clear that I receive nothing from Microsoft for endorsing their product… although I am open to any monetary recompense they would like to pass on to me at any time and for any reason……