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Archive for January, 2011

Eating Virtual Crow

In spite of everything I wrote previously about the Kindle, we have just purchased one as a birthday gift for our 13-year-old. This is what you’d call eating virtual crow.

What convinced me in the end was not a digital appeal but, ironically, a tactile one. It’s difficult for me to separate the concept of reading from the construct of paper, but Nick complained that the paper itself was abrasive. He described turning pages in a book the way a vegan would describe being forced to make haggis. He actually grimaced as he described turning pages, and it tore at my heart. So I thought, I must get him a Kindle, if only as an act of mercy.

We all want our kids to love books. Or rather, we want our kids to love good books. I’m not convinced that good books are available on the Kindle. But I do know that Nick will plow through a goodly amount of prose with a e-book reader. So for now I’m willing to invest in the hope that he can love books the way I do, even if digitally. And I’m willing to abandon the current parent mantra, “No screen time,” when we want to prohibit both television and computer usage. Books are now screen time. I’m willing to cast aside my own prejudice toward paper as the path to knowledge in hopes that the digital alternative will be enough.

And who knows? Vinyl seems to be making a comeback.

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Elevator Down

A man gets into our already crowded elevator heading down to the parking garage. He is talking to two colleagues who come in with him, turning aside just long enough to push the P2 button. But his finger stops short. The button is glowing.

Now I am interested. Not in whatever story he is telling, but in the finger hovering in front of a lighted button.

After maybe three seconds of hesitation, he stabs at the button, finishes his story, and relaxes. And I think, What kind of man pushes a button he knows has already been pushed? Is he so compulsive that he needs to complete an action even when it is no longer necessary? Does he re-wash the dishes after his wife goes to bed? I’m thinking that this type of action is somehow important. That there are people like this all around us.

But then we stop and the door opens. My floor. So I head out knowing only that, whatever kind of person he is, he must at least be a very bad man.

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