Friday, December 27, 2013

Ender Afterwards; E-Readers; and Emory Hospital Food

This December has been stressful, with my mom having an Aortic Aneurysm and needing surgery (which means both my mom and dad will have had the chest scar of open heart surgery), and I can drive from my house to Emory Hospital over on North Decatur road in my sleep (and have, several times). So I have not done blog posts this month as I would normally. The Christmas season is usually full of great observations about society as it maneuvers its way through the Long December.  Working at Lifeway as I do, it does add a unique slant on things, as we are able to say, proudly and defiantly to all the world, "Merry Christmas," and it's wonderful to do.  It becomes natural after a while, as if Christmas was indeed what all of December was about, filled with the celebration of Jesus through all the many different ways, through all the many Christmas carols in 3/4 time that get stuck in my head (but that's a good thing).

Hospital stays are as divergent from real life as about anything possible.  Everything stops.  It becomes a game of "Hurry Up and Wait" with tons of waiting time in between short bursts of emotional fervor and dramatic action.  Fortunately, our family has had the pleasure of working with Emory this time, with all its elegance, warmth, beauty, and class.  Christmas time at Emory is something to see.  The varied Christmas trees are spectacular, along with the architecture of the sudden waiting rooms, both modern and classical, which are quiet pleasing to weary eyes.  The bridges over Clifton St. are lined with pictures of bridges (I wanted to add the Bridge of Sighs in Venice and my brother suggested we put a picture of Lloyd Bridges, see if anyone would get the joke), and the gift shop wall has framed images of the different seasons, suggesting a year round presence, and a calming one at that.

So, with all this waiting, I've been able to read, and so I have a couple of quick reviews and thoughts about this month.

Review: Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card

A direct sequel to all the Ender books that have come before ( namely Ender's Game and the Shadow series), I decided to read this after seeing the movie.  It's amazing how, since I've read Card's Ender books for so long, how what I see as the house Ender and Valentine lived in was so much different from the one they shot in the movie.  However, since Ender (Asa Butterfield) and Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford, and let's face it, you've never seen Han Solo as anyone other than Harrison Ford) were so well played, they can easily be the figures in my head for those characters.  Bean, however, I tend to stick with the images in my head, as Aramis Knight just didn't work for me on that one.

Anyway,  so I picked up Ender in Exile and eased back into the world that I've visited so many times before. It was a pleasant read, experienced much like watching a Star Trek: TNG episode, where everyone interact with each other with the experience of a well oiled machine.  It's typical OSC, and I love it.  Problem with this book was that it read so much like a sequel to the film, with the scrunching of details, characterization, etc... that I thought it was being written to become a film, not a book.  It's a quaint place holder to get Ender from Eros (not, as in the movie, a Formic home base where he finds the Hive Queen) to the new colony of Shakespeare (which, in the book, he actually does find the Hive Queen.)  Science Fiction masterpiece, it's not (go read Speaker for the Dead/Xenocide for true masterpieces of literature, but it was a wonderful distraction at a time when I needed it.


I recently purchased (yet again, for reasons I'll explain) another Kobo, because the Kobo Touch I had, the battery died and it wouldn't recharge at all.  So QVC had the Kobo Mini for $50 on clearance, so I got one.  It's the cutest little e-reader in the whole world, and I like it.  So why, you ask, after I've had two Kobo's go dead on me, do I buy a third?  It's simple, really, it's called principle.  Kobo is a Canadian (via the Japanese) company that bases its e-reader upon open source technology. Namely, the *.epub file, which can be read by any system, and is easy to convert, store, and is not a proprietary file name used by only one online bookstore that is also a South American River.  I looked at Barnes & Noble's Nook, and at Amazon's Kindle, but I found them unsatisfactory for a number of reasons:

  1. The Nook and Kindle are run by specific companies with a specific goal in mind, to make Money.  So since they made the device, they can put programming language that tracks everything you do or read or search for on the device, and then they suggest items based upon your search history.  And while, yes, I know, Google does the exact same thing, I'm just not comfortable with Amazon knowing everything I do.  
  2. I want a device that does one thing.... let me read books.  I don't want the web on there, I don't want games, or music, or video, or anything else.  JUST BOOKS!!!I have ADOS (Attention Deficit Ooohh Shiney!), and the last thing I want on a electronic book reader are things that will make it harder to use the device to read a book.  It's why I can'r watch any of the DVDs I have in my room, because there are so many other distractions to keep me from watching the movie.  Not to mention the alluring convenience of the Fast Forward and Rewind and Skip To buttons.  I have an AlphaSmart 3000 that just types blogs, for when I want to work on this outside of my room, and now I have a Kobo that allows me to read e-books outside of actually taking the book with me.  And yes, I know, just take the book.  But it's easier, sometimes, to take the e-reader with me.  And sometimes (like right now) when I forget the Kobo at work, I'll have a duplicate book at home, so I'll never be able to not have a book with me.  
  3. It's cheaper this way, and honestly, I don't get the need to have a tablet with you to be in constant connection with everything on the Interwebz.  Besides, that's what a cell phone is for, if you have one of those.  
  4. I'm old fashioned, and, despite loving technology... I hate technology, and so the closest I can get to a book with it having e-book qualities, that's what I want, so that's what I have. 
I read recently an article which describes the growing sales of Kindles, Nooks, and Tablets, but the leveling off, and in some cases, the decreasing of sales of e-books for the various devices.  I can't help but wonder if my reasons above are the main cause of the leveling out of e-book sales.  Who wants to read a book on the Kindle if there's so many other distractions on the same machine? I certainly don't. It would be interesting to see sales of e-books for the Kobo compared to the other devices.  The numbers will be much smaller, but I'll be that for Kobo e-readers (or any dedicated e-reader) the sales of e-books have not decreased at all.  And that Kobo cares about and partners with the Independent bookstores throughout the US, Canada, and the World, they understand the balance between the digital book and the one made of harvested tree pulp.    

Hospital Food

"Just a little somethin' for the pain..." I miss Shoney's... or rather... I miss their salad bar.  I'm on a continual trek to find good salad bars (well, and cream cheese Danishes), and so whenever I find one, I have to get me a big heapin' salad with meat and cheese and lettuce and dressing.  So Emory Hospital has, amongst the rest of the Hospital food, a salad bar that is absolutely amazing! And the five to six dollars they charge for it is so worth it.  The Caesar dressing reminds me of the dressing they had a college (and since the companies that serve both are similar, there's probably a reason). So next time I happen to be in the area, I'll probably go over there, find a place to park that's not in the parking deck, and walk over there.  Probably the only time I'll actually want to be in a hospital.  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your heart with us, Denzil.

    My Dad and I are always in pursuit of new Christmas songs. It's not that we don't like the ones we are familiar with, but after awhile, we get tired of the same ol' same ol'. When my Dad became the choir director at my church in 2009, and when it came Christmas time, he found some new Christmas songs that I never heard before, and I loved them. He often hit the jackpot and found some new ones every year.

    Dad got me an eReader for my high school graduation present, and I made good use of it. I used it for my sermons notes when I preached at the rest home, and I put music, videos and the sorts on it, but I really wasn't crazy about it. Right now, it's in the closet of my room. I have only used it once this year, and that time was the first time since October of 2012. Now, as a tablet of some sort, I would use my Dad's old Tablet PC, mostly because it's not too far from my comfort zone. It runs Windows XP, and outside of the fact that there is a tailor made version of Windows XP for the Tablet PC, I can run it like I would my laptop or my desktop computer. I can browse the web like a normal computer, and I even recently installed Microsoft Office 2010 on that particular tablet, which is not bad considering that it's old.

    I love salad bars, but the salad I grew to love the most is the Southwest Salad that you can get at Walmart. That salad was extremely good and every time my family would go to Walmart, we would look for them. That and a meal replacement shake would always catch my eye. After awhile, my Dad resorted to Special K Protein Shakes, but those meal replacement shakes were good and even good for you because it was a good source of so many vitamins and minerals. I lost some weight off of those shakes.

    Again, thanks for sharing your heart with us.