Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Unemployment Chronicles, Vol. 2 (a photo AND video blog starring KINDLE)

Here's how this is going to work.
1) I'm going to post some silly photos I took of my Kindle.
2) I'm going to post a substandard video I shot with my substandard digital camera while playing around with my Kindle.
3) I'm going to talk about the Kindle for those of you who actually want to know about it!

Let's begin.

Once Kindle is turned on, it can be turned "off" into a power saving mode or off completely. If turned "off" into power saving mode, a photo is displayed (a different one each time Kindle is turned "off"). 85% of the photos are of famous dead authors. I was tickled pink when Oscar Wilde came up. Ah! The witty genius who penned my MySpace headline:

My nephew was just plain frightened by Kindle's awesomeness:

He also found it to be tasty:

Kindle taking a nap after a long day:

Kindle playing on the kitty condo:

Clearly, Kindle does more than just act as an amazing storage and display device for reading material.

I made a video.

Not that kind of video! Get your minds out of the gutter! In the following video, I appear briefly (it mostly features my sister). It's a good thing, too. If it were longer, the complex I have given myself would be worse. You see, I wasn't even "acting" which leads me to wonder if I always make those kind of facial expressions when I talk. Sigh.

Check out this video: Kindle Silliness

About Kindle:

-It is, in fact, exactly like looking at a page in a book and not at all like looking at a computer screen. For this reason, it is not back lit and, like a regular book, requires a book light or other lighting to see the screen.
-Because I ordered at Christmastime, when Amazon (unbeknownst to the public) was changing over to Kindle 2, I did get a Kindle 2. It is thinner than it's predecessor, has a longer battery life (can read for 2 weeks without charging), more storage (up to 1,000 books, magazines, etc.), and reads out loud to you in your choice of a male or female voice.
-It comes loaded with an Oxford American Dictionary. While reading, you can cursor to any word on the page and its definition pops up at the bottom of the page. Or you can access it from the table of contents and use it like a regular dictionary.
-It uses the same wireless network or whatever as a cell phone so you can download from anywhere without ever connecting to a computer. You pay to download the book (less than purchasing an actual book) or subscription to magazines, newspapers, or blogs, but not for the wireless service. Included is unlimited use of Wikipedia from the Kindle. If you access the internet, you will likely be charged, but Amazon is rather vague as to what those charges are. It is quiet. As a mouse. It literally doesn't make a sound, even if you've been playing with it for hours.
-It's fast. Pages turn and load quickly. Books (even the Holy Bible) download in seconds (they say under a minute, it's much faster).
-It is so much more user friendly than I expected.
-I am in love.

It will not replace real books for me. I will use Kindle to purchase more contemporary works that are recommended to me or that I read about and think I might like and continue to purchase my canonical readings as books since they make my bookshelves look handsome. But I can keep Kindle in my purse and always have something to read. Always.

Today, I downloaded a subscription to The New Yorker. I couldn't decide on my first book, but my sister decided for me. She stumbled into a menu stocked full of free downloads and downloaded The Holy Bible. To my Kindle.

In the meantime, I've downloaded sample chapters (free) of the following books to get me started. The fourth is on recommendation from CJ.
1) The Accidental Tourist: A Novel by Anne Tyler
2) Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
3) The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
4) Oblivion by David Foster Wallace

Okay, I shall now return to heaven where Kindle is worth every penny I (and my loving family in the form of gift certificates) spent on it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Unemployment Chronicles: Vol 1

As I twiddle my thumbs waiting for my substitute teacher certification to be complete (all the while kicking myself for not getting it done a looooong time ago), I am doing my best to keep my days full so as not to get depressed sitting at home all day.

For the most part it hasn't been so bad.  My sister and SJ keep me entertained Monday through Thursday while the kids are in school.  My children and the new boyfriend fill the weekends.  I've had little things here and there, the ever constant Vintage night on Thursdays (hallelujah!), coffee dates, Valentine's parties at the kids' school, etc. that keep me sane.  Two days ago, there was a day trip to IKEA.  Before I go there:

(Why on Earth did I spend that much money on lunch when I'm unemployed?!?!  Good god, what is wrong with me?)

My sister announced last week that she wanted to take a drive to IKEA.  We have one IKEA in MI and it's an hour and a half away.  She wanted to get kitchen supplies, like measuring cups.  When grilled about why, in spite of IKEA's low prices, she would waste that much gas for measuring cups, she aptly pointed out that I had nothing better to do.  So we went.

Sarajane and my mom didn't have anything better to do, either.  So they went.
SJ and I decided sushi was in order and plotted that into our day.
My mom and sister wanted nothing to do with the sushi, so it was all ours!  Mwahahaha!  The sushi:


In spite of my Asian's insistence upon only ordering nigiri, I always order a roll anyway.  The Alaska roll:


Halfway there:


All the way there (empty bottle of sake, or "cups of cum" as my sister called them with a wary eye):


My sister was a trooper.  Not only did she eat her shrimp and vegetable tempura (not ALL of it), she tried the roll:


...and ate some of my mom's food so my mom wouldn't look like an American whiny baby!


Mommy no like Japanese food:


After stuffing ourselves, we were off to IKEA.  If you've never been, it's an awesome shopping experience, if you're into that sort of thing, which I'm not.

Upon arriving, my mom went right to the cafeteria for some down home American food, chicken strips and macaroni and cheese:


The main floor of IKEA is the actual item selection area.  The second floor is the showroom.  Kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms, etc.  SJ and I had fun in the children's area:


My mom had fun cooking in an IKEA kitchen:

SJ and I had more fun. 

Scissoring on an IKEA bed:

Getting a massage:


My sister had fun, too.  Ultimately, I do believe that she made enough purchases to justify the gas money.

I'm still left short justifying my lunch bill.

P.S.  Kindle will be at my door in 6 days!!!  Just in time for "Unemployment Chronicles:  Vol. Two (a photoblog starring Kindle)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

There's a Fine Line Between Irony and, Well, Irony.

A couple of weeks ago, I promised CJ a blog about irony.  It has occurred to me that irony is what stops me from reaching my full intellectual potential. 
For, in the beauteous world of literary terms, irony is like the creepy uncle who's missing a thumb.  You just don't know what he wants and, unfortunately, sometimes you don't even realize he's there until you look over your shoulder and see him leering at you.

At least, that's how it is for me. 

I'm certain that, if I could only detect irony, I would go from being smart and awesome to being more smart and awesomer.  Certain.

Thankfully, I know that there are some people who employ irony regularly, like CJ, and I expect it.  This way, I can snap out of it when I begin blushing at his superficial compliments.  I know he only does it to amuse himself.  It's not that I don't have high self-esteem (let's face it, I do), it's that I'm fully aware that C knows that, in spite of my views on superficial compliments (they aren't as flattering as more abstract compliments; still, in all their emptiness, we derive so much worth from them), I'm just as guilty as the next awesome person of letting them boost me up.

Anyhoot.  Irony. 

It's what helps me make sense of some of the things CJ writes about while simultaneously making me wonder if that means everything he says is the opposite of what he means while simultaneously getting thoroughly irritated and confused. 

If I'm not looking very specifically for it, I wouldn't know anything, aside from the obvious-type crap that Alanis Morisette sings, about if irony bit me in the ass.

This is problematic because I'm missing out on some good intellectual fun.
In its textbook form this is irony:  the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning

Seems simple.  It's kind of like sarcasm.  But when writers are really good at irony, it can suck to be a reader not of supreme intelligence.  What I wouldn't give to be of supreme intelligence so I could chuckle more!

Essentially, I've determined that irony is used to classify people by their levels of intelligence.  It's like a grammar quiz.  It starts out easy with questions about "to" and "too" and graduates slowly to the correct usage of "hanged" and "hung," etc. 

So you "get" the Alanis song?  Good, good.  Do you fake-laugh and occasionally real-laugh when watching The Daily Show?  Super!  Do you think The Importance of Being Earnest is so genius that you've stolen a line from it for your MySpace headline?  Ha!  We're on the right track!  Okay, but when someone says, "If we prostituted our daughters out like they do in *insert name of foreign country where there's a dominant sex trade*, *insert social evil of the day* would be cured," do you know what they really mean?  No, no I do not.  

See?  That wasn't even a good example because I can't get to that next level.  Thus, I'm missing out on stuff!  Maybe even good stuff! 

Irony assumes that the audience has some minimum level of understanding about the general subject matter.  If the audience does not, they won't see the irony.

And to you, my darling friend from California, land of the dysfunctional Stepfords, if I don't comment on your blog, it's not because I didn't read it.

It's because I don't know what the fuck you're talking about.  *inserts dollar into cuss jar*  

Monday, February 2, 2009

Guilt, Embarrassment, and Cussin' Like a Sailor

I woke up this morning feeling extremely guilty and embarrassed.  I couldn't recall having a dream, but I never can.  I tend to think it odd that I don't dream, so it must be that I just don't remember them.  As for the guilt and embarrassment, unless I had a dream in which I tried to murder a defenseless old woman with a turkey baster instead of a butcher knife, it seems fair to deduce that I went to bed with said embarrassment/guilt.

When I do something embarrassing, I have a really, really hard time getting past it.  It's like wondering if someone notices that I belch excessively when drinking beer.  Sure, I do it silently (except, of course, in the presence of my sister or brother), but for all I know people notice in my facial expressions or something.  Then, I'll fixate on it in my head for a good month where most people would never see it as significant.

Let's say that I did something really embarrassing last Wednesday.  Hypothetically.  I will just defend myself by saying that it was completely out of my control.  Got that?  Completely!  I had no idea it was happening!  I know that, and probably the other witness(es) of the incident know that, but I can't stop thinking about it.  It's completely ridiculous.  I could clear the air with a little communication, I could say, "Hey, did you notice ___________?  Well, it wasn't my fault!"  Unfortunately, communicating about embarrassing stuff is not my strong suit so I'm gonna go ahead and lament over it until I am convinced that all involved have forgotten about it.  Gawd.  I hope there's not photographic evidence. 

Several months back, my best friend Lori communicated to me that she would be supremely happy if I made my next couple of life decisions based solely upon my own happiness and not upon my happiness contingent upon whether certain other people would remain in my life.  Of course, at that time, this could only mean one thing.  She was right, however.  So I've been feeling guilty because my intent has always been to follow her advice but I avoid admitting it to others.  Do I avoid it because it's uncomfortable to have that conversation or do I avoid it because I suspect that I'm a person who needs people?  Maybe complete independence isn't really my thing and I somehow feel small saying that out loud. 

There is a big part of me that wants to stay exactly where I am forever.  I want my friends to stay here.  I want everyone who will come into my life to come into my life here.  More than anything (Lori is going to shoot me...), I want to get married again someday and be the center of a happy family.  The people around me are my certainty and making decisions based upon my happiness as an individual without other people in the equation incites variables that make me anxious.  Somehow, acting on my need for certainty is making me feel guilty, as though I'm cheating myself and those around me.

Speaking of my friends, before I went to bed last night, I noticed a text that read, "U never responded to my story or poems...you suck."  I hate that message because I think about it all the time.  That I have a friend that feeds a need I have to talk about words and it's all been so one-sided.  He sends me his work, probably because if I were the friend I want to be, I would provide the feedback he desires.  And I feel guilty.  For the reasons I've read and re-read every word and for the reasons I haven't written him back.  I value the fact that I have friends that serve as constant reminders that a certain type of person exists but I avoid them because I feel apologetic for things I shouldn't.

Just to lighten the mood...

I've recently noticed that I curse entirely too much.  Yesterday, I went sledding with a man friend.  In attendance were a couple of his friends (along with their children) that I barely know.  Embarrassed over a failed attempt at nailing someone with a snowball, I may or may not have let the word "shit" be heard by the aforementioned children.  Seems small, but it's not.  I'm a 33 year old lover of the English language and, on a daily basis, I can't come up with more creative things to say than, "shit" and "goddammit."  It has to stop. 

The guilt and embarrassment are killing me!

Speaking of embarrassment, see the book I'm reading now.  That's right, bitches (blast it!), I've almost completed the trendy teenage vampire series in the last month and a half.  And I've only lost 18 brain cells.