Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Kindle, Barnes and Noble

If our local Barnes and Noble bookstore were any indication, I’d say print communication was alive and well. It’s an enormous store filled with books on travel, science, history—any topic you could imagine. As I sit here typing away on my computer, others around me contentedly turn book pages and leaf through magazines.

Yet I know traditional publishing is in trouble. It’s expensive to print books these days. And with the invention of electronic books—like Kindle—people can download a book off the Internet for much less than it costs to buy a print version, and they can carry multiple books with them in a device about the size of Reader’s Digest.

I recently looked over the shoulder of a friend as he explained his Kindle to a couple of us. He can enlarge the size of the type—a real advantage to those of us who wear reading glasses—and copy portions of the book to be saved in a separate document. My friend is one of those who goes through a few books a week, so his Kindle serves him well. He can get a new book without leaving his chair. No trip to the library or Barnes and Noble.

“I can be sitting in the airport and purchase a new book in less time than it would take someone else to walk across the waiting area to the bookstore and purchase a hard copy,” he illustrated.

I’m kind of torn between my love of books and my love of electronic organizing. To think I could copy portions of a book and save them in a document, all referenced, to review later for an article or a speech—that would be pretty sweet. But I’m torn. I love the smell of books, the feel of the pages. And I adore magazines—seeing them displayed on the newsstand, reviewing the headlines in the supermarket, reading in the car as I wait for a child to get out of school, cutting out my favorite recipes to file in my recipe book (or stick in a file box to someday be pasted in a book). And you don’t have to worry about a magazine’s battery running low or interfering with an airplane’s take off or landing. And if a printed book “crashes” you can just bend over and pick it up.

I think I’m going to have to give up on print, though. I really believe things are going electronic. But as I look around at the beautiful leather bound journals and glossy magazine covers it makes me sad . . .

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Merry Easter

My pastor greeted us Sunday morning with, "Merry Christmas." We laughed, knowing he was referring to the large, fluffy snowflakes falling outside. Yes, Easter in Colorado Springs usually means snow.

That same pastor's wife later posted this on her Facebook status:  ...sung to the tune of "Silver Bells"...Easter snow.....Easter snow....it's Easter time in the Rockies. Try to find....Easter eggs...they're hiding under the snow!

Nice to have pastors--and pastors' wives--who are so much fun.

Kate and I thought up a version of "White Easter" (with apologies to Irving Berlin).

I'm dreaming of a white Easter, just like the ones I've come to know.
Where the tree tops glisten, and children listen, to hear church bells in the snow. (ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding).

I'm dreaming of a white Easter, with every jelly bean in sight.
May your days be merry, and bright. And may all your "Easters-es" be white.

We got a few inches of the cold stuff. It was perfect for building a snow man, which Kate and Eric did with their friend Mary in her front yard. The rest of us sat inside with Mary's family and a group of friends watching The Masters on TV, admiring the lush green lawns of Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.

I admit, springtime is when I wished I didn't live in Colorado. By March, I'm ready for some tulips and daffodils. I long for the rhododendrons of Portland. Something--anything--green.

During a business trip to San Diego a few years ago, my friends and I walked from our hotel (which had a rose garden) to a nearby mall. We passed a flower bed filled with small, beautifully fragrant white flowers. (One member of our group said they were jasmine; I'll take her word for it.) Feeling the warmth of the sun, smelling the jasmine in the air, I turned to my friend Kim and said, "Tell me again why we live in Colorado." She said, "I'll give you three reasons; June, July, and August."

She brought me to my senses. Come July I won't be longing for Illinois, Iowa, or Oregon, green as they may be. I'll be happy to live in dry, brown Colorado. And I may even smile at the memory of our Easter snowman. And besides, "home" is where I can sleep on the couch during The Masters. It didn't really matter that it was snowing outside. 

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Cuteness Factor

Have you heard of the cuteness factor? That's when the cuteness of the performer is measured against the actual skill demonstrated in the performance. Small children generally have a high cuteness factor. Execution may score low, but cuteness will score high. That's the cuteness factor.

Case in point, the four-ish-year-old boy who played the teeny tiny violin at Kate's recital yesterday. The recital was for all the students of Kate's private viola teacher (who also teaches some violin students). This little guy played two songs, the first called "From D to E." The title was not some cryptic message about making forward progress in life or anything like that. The song consisted of two notes, and I'm fairly certain the notes were "D" and "E". He played pizzicato, meaning he plucked the strings. At the completion of the song, he paused, kept the violin under his chin and extended his right hand. His teacher placed his bow in his hand, and the mini-maestro set bow to string and played "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."

When he finished, he placed his violin at his side, stuck his chin in the air to gain momentum, and bowed at the waist to abundant applause. Huge cuteness factor with this performance.

Kate was hoping for a few points from the cuteness factor. She wore a new dress and did, indeed, look very cute. She said, "Well, if I mess up, I might as well look good doing it." She didn't mess up. She played "Prelude to Suite #1 in G Major." You'd recognize it if you heard it. It was written for cello but she played it on her viola. Not perfectly, but beautifully. I was proud.

Perfection wasn't the goal. Everyone there made mistakes. But Kate stood alone in front of a room full of people (including her parents, sister, and brother--and her teacher) and played very well. That takes courage. She worked hard, and did her best.

The cuteness factor counts when you're four. When you get older, you need to score high on other things--preparation, hard work, and courage.