Sunday, January 13, 2013

Lost in the Stacks...of Kindles?

Cryo-preservation pods?   Image courtesy
When I die, aside from requesting to be either frozen, shot into space, or mummified and placed in a mausoleum or museum on display,  I would also accept having a library of books be built around my remains.  A monument to me! Surround me in that which I love the most!  No, not the remains of family members. Those people all want to be buried in dirt and that simply does not interest me.

Ever since I was 5 and could read on my own I have had my head in books.  And I'm not alone!  It seems despite what is indicated by the demise of Border's, and possible demise of Barnes and Noble, that everyone is still in love with reading.  One need only visit said bookstore on a Saturday to see this is the case.  And yes, they are buying books not just making lists of what to go home and order from Amazon as we are constantly led to believe.

There is a large contingency of die-hard enthusiasts of tangible, physical books.  I am with them, nothing feels quite so good as the crack of an unbroken spine as you open the story you have chosen to immerse yourself in.  No physical harm quite as enjoyable as being so unwilling to stop reading a good book that you drop a heavy hardcover on your face as you doze off, thus jerking yourself awake only to read more and repeat. I experienced this every time a new Harry Potter release came out and I joined the throngs of uber-fans who stood outside Borders at midnight to get my copy so I could read it all that evening, or morning rather. It was so worth the three day recovery required to reset myself.

Despite all that love for holding books,  I have also grown to love my Kindle.  I completely understand the apprehension some feel about going digital.  We have been forced to adapt to a lot of technological changes in the last 10-15 years.  I myself was very resistant to e-readers and only succumbed when I received one as a gift.   Having gone through life dragging stacks of books around with me everywhere I go, just in case a moment becomes available I then have them all right there with me, being able to keep 70 books in one little compact carrier that I can switch out at whim is beyond convenient.

But leaving behind books is like saying goodbye to your childhood.  It's too hard for me. Some people are able to walk away without a second thought, others cling to them like a security blanket they can't sleep without.  (In the interest of full disclosure I did not stop dragging around my security blanket until I was 28-years-old.) I firmly believe there is a place for both mediums in the present and the future.

YESSSSS! image courtesy of
Maybe it's the archivist in me that can't stand the thought of having no written records to preserve our times, or perhaps it's the writer in me that shudders at the thought of only typing my words and never feeling again the satisfying scratch and glide of sharp pencil on crisp paper.  (Though to be fair, this typewriter holder for the iPad is beyond awesome and could make me forget said pencil..nope, the amusement only lasted a second.  Pencil wins.)  

Why, then, invest in both mediums?  Why continue to spend hard earned money on physical books that by comparison are more expensive and take up precious space? 

I've been pondering these questions for a while and ultimately it was my 6-year-old, a child of the hand-held device era, that showed me why I will never be able to give up the physical printed word.  He is admittedly a bit young for Harry Potter but I've been reading it to him anyway because, selfishly, I want to experience it again and see him experience it for the first time right. now.  

At this age he believes wands have magic, the pieces in the wizard chess set at the bookstore will move on their own wherever we command them when we take them out of the box, and that somewhere in the universe Harry is having real adventures (and no doubt thinking he could too:)  

When I finish a chapter at night and close the book he often asks to hold it.  It's not a picture book, he's not looking for clues as to what will happen next.  Books are alive! You can feel it even after you close the pages.  He wants to hold it because he wants to feel the story.  To keep that feeling of wonder and magic that he loves going until we pick up where we left off and continue on with the tale.  I just don't think he will feel the same reading books from any kind of 'device' other than a book itself.

image courtesy
A scary book practically commands you to burn it so you can erase the disturbing images out of your head, an adventure book can make you want to quit your job and start searching the world for treasures, a funny book can bring you back from the brink of depression, they all can move you. They have life!

When I turn off my Kindle at night I usually put it as far away from me as possible so I don't get some creepy form of face cancer.  Yeah, my Kindle is alive too-in a Frankenbook sort of way. 

"Night night Kindle, thanks for the story"
"Rarrr, face cancer" 

Today when I went to the bookstore. I looked at covers, read descriptions, held the books in my hands.  I browsed the sections I love and found so many amazing looking books!  I can't bring myself to have the same experience browsing online, even with the friendly suggestions of Amazon and others.  I never know what I'm in the mood for until I hold it. It is an experience that brings me peace, brings me back to center and has always been, and I pray always will be, my 'therapy.'  It is my happy place!

We are all ninjas in our mind, we have all been CIA agents, gladiators, medieval lords and ladies, magicians, and yes we have ALL been witches and wizards thanks to books.  We humans want so badly to be everything and despair knowing we never will, but books! Thank the universe for such things, they make our possibilities endless if only for a little while.

I am raising readers, it is the one thing I know I am doing right and  reading everyday to my kids at length, is working.  Now that Miles is able to read on his own he is devouring books, exactly as I hoped.  I see myself in him and I'm even jealous a bit remembering that feeling, the beginning of wonder that books bring when you're a child.  

Oh lord, bury me in a monument of books! Lose me in the stacks! Lay my body to rest among that which brings me the most peace in my soul.  

Then stick the whole thing in a cryo-chamber and shoot it into space.  Allons-y!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My Next House is Going To Be a Hobbit Hole

Did you know that there are actually people who live in real Hobbit holes?  Surprisingly they aren't all living in a Tolkien inspired fantasy world of second breakfast and random trips to visit the Elves. Their motives are actually very green and focused on sustainable living.  And miraculous feats of architecture have been achieved!

And to think I live in one of these on a MUCH smaller scale:( Little Boxes...
There is an entire movement going on in the world called Organic Architecture, think Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water times ten, in which nature is incorporated into the design not pushed aside for the sake of it (see image right.)

We really have gotten so far away from that haven't we?  The majority of us live in little boxes set in rows on land that was napalmed into dust in order for us to build on something super flat.  We then spend thousands trying to regrow the nature that was destroyed. Silly humans.

Simon Dale, a not so silly human, has done some very amazing and inspiring stuff with little more than a chainsaw, hammer and chisel. Click on his name and visit his website, you will not be disappointed! He, along with his wife and two children, have managed to incorporate the best of both worlds.
The Dale family (images courtesy of The Blaze and
Comfort, style, cool air in the summer, warm air in the winter etc...all provided from a little manipulation of ones surroundings.  Magical things always seem to happen in England don't they?  Here are some shots of their Hobbit house.

An inside shot of Dale's abode
wider shot

So cozy!  Taters and crispy bacon by the fire anyone? 

Simon is not alone, there is a growing movement out there in the wide world centered around incorporating nature into our living spaces.  We humans have lived in nature since we were created and back to the dirt we must go if we are to truly become symbiotic with our environments! It flat out is proven to make us happier. For real life reference stick a child in a garden or sandbox, watch and learn. Read this explanation of Ecopsychology, and if your curiosity is still unsatisfied check out this article from 09' concerning nature being essential to human health.

When we want to 'get away' or 'recharge our batteries' we head for a vacation that usually involves the outdoors.  Beaches, lakes, rivers, oceans, camping, mountains, state parks, national parks, we are at our best when we are connected with nature.  There is a reason when we reach the later years of our lives we follow the Sun, it heals us and makes us feel alive and healthy.

Your new bed? (Photo by Arthur Klimov)

Yet we aren't quite ready to all abandon our couches and flushing potties for a pile of hay and wiping with leaves just yet.

Everyday we are making little efforts, using bamboo or cork flooring is gaining popularity, recycled glass countertops, reclaimed wood for cabinets and islands, all good things but I must admit, Simon Dale has captured what my little geek heart has always dreamed of.

"In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit."

If you could live in anything other than your current abode what would you like?  Hogwarts? RV? Sailboat? Magic Treehouse?  Sky's the limit so pick something fun and leave a comment about your new home:)

Friday, January 4, 2013

First Ya Gotta Do the Truffle Shuffle

Everyday I'm Trufflin
This is what I'm going to start asking people to do before I consent to talking politics, global warming, terrorism, economics, sports, celebrity get the picture.  You wanna talk gun control?  No problem my friend, but first ya gotta do the truffle shuffle.  Kim and Kanye having a baby?  Can't say nuthin bout it til you show me the truffle shuffle.

I have this feeling that we could put an end to a lot of pointless and enraging conversations if we take this simple step first.  I could also put a lot of pressure on myself to lose a bit of weight given I look more like Chunk at this point in my life than I had planned on.

For me it's really more like I smell bacon but you get the point.

In recent weeks, in large part due to my election year hangover, I have felt the need to simplify my life.  Don't confuse this new found need for a bit more zen to mean that I am giving up my snappy, strong-willed personality traits that I'm sure all who know me love about me.  Rather I've rededicated myself to doing things that only bring me joy or good juju.  Watching Doctor Who, re-reading books I love like Wool (one of the best series I've read in a long time, this series is craaazayyy good!) endlessly dissecting the possible plot lines of new Star Wars films and praying to God they decide to do the Hutt Gambit as the next series. How cool would that be?  (If you again find yourself befuddled by my book references I'm talking about some of the best Star Wars books ever written and you can find these lovely gems here, you're welcome.

Milton Bradley
Another joy inducing activity I've been resurrecting as of late is playing board games.  Having every gaming system imaginable available to play in this house certainly makes gathering people around a board an uphill task but there is nothing quite as entertaining, nor any memory nearly as happy as that of playing games with my family.  Some of my fondest memories of childhood are Scrabble battles with my mother, (who remains undefeated and is one of the most ruthless game players ever as she takes mercy on no one, including 3-year-olds trying to grapple with Candy Land.) I  have been hardcore on eBay searching for classics.  Has anyone else noticed board games are far more cheaply made than they once were? (Chutes and Ladders and Battleship I'm talking to you)  Milton Bradley would not be pleased.

Totally random fact about Milton Bradley can be found here.

In keeping with the gleaming theme of joy and happiness, I have stopped watching the news.  This may actually be the only way for a modern day human to live a truly happy, blissfully ignorant life.  There is rarely a day filled with feel good news stories, the masses feed off the energy drama creates.  It's almost impossible to finish this paragraph without starting to slide down the negative path, just thinking about the news and all that has transpired over the last year, the events that have dominated the news, my BP is rising so I'm just going to leave it at I stopped watching the news.  It's not a forever thing, just a much needed sabbatical.

I don't really have time to watch that stuff anyway, I'm too busy saving the Goondocks and being stooopid excited about geeky things like Defiance, the Oswin Oswald connection on Doctor Who. some seriously amazing looking sci-fi flicks coming out this year including Ender's Game, Elysium, Gravity (whose title immediately put this song in my head) and many more.  Also I avoid all Meg Ryan movies since they just make me sad about her lip choices.