Monday, January 20, 2014

"Aloha Memories 2013 (Cont'd)"

If you are perusing this chronicle expecting “High Adventure” – or even events of much, or to be totally candid, any consequence – cut your losses and go access a mountain climbing blog or a travel story where they scuba dive among sharks. 

Beyond getting up for meals and bathroom breaks, our primary activity was sitting on the beach, catching the healing tropical rays and taking turns joining toddler Milo, digging energetically in the sand.  (Note:  After fifteen or so visits to Oahu, we had exhausted our interest in the hip-swiveling dancers at the Polynesian Cultural Center and the Dole pineapple factory where the water fountains – delightingly on our first visit but less so on our seventh or eighth – spout ice cold pineapple juice.)

Speaking of bathroom breaks, continuing my near-obsessive fascination with paper towel dispensers in public facilities concerning specifically the ingenious efforts made by the providers to minimize their paper towel expenses, the current contraption in the Kahala hotel restrooms is inscribed with the instructions:

“Wave your hands here to dispense towel.”

In actual practice, when you wave your hands “there”, no paper towel is consequently dispensed.  The natural next move then, in order to encourage the dispensing, is to wave you hands harder and harder.  Finally, what you discover is that, as a result of the vigorous albeit futile waving, your hands are now entirely dry.

Number Of Paper Towels Expended By The Providers: 


I tell you, these guys are simply brilliant!

Okay, so what exactly did I do at the beach for six days from eight-thirty till four?

I read a book.

Let me jump ahead a little before I reveal which book.  (Though you lucky ones who read my just previous blog post already know the answer.)

As a consequence of age and/or decades of typing, the base of both of my thumbs intermittently ache, especially my right thumb.  (I rub on “Sore Joint Cream” that I bought at an Indian Pow-Wow to mitigate the discomfort and the salve is surprisingly – with apologies for doubting the Indians – effective.) 

An occasion on which the discomfort is at its most discomfiting is when I am holding a book, especially an extremely heavy book with a lot of pages in it, and most especially an extremely heavy book with a lot of pages in it that I’m just beginning, and therefore, the unbalanced heaviness is primarily weighing down on my right hand, putting particular pressure on the base of my right thumb and as a consequence:  


Since I had greatly enjoyed the musical (especially the movie musical) version of Les Miserables, I decided that, on this trip, I would read the original Victor Hugo novel from which the musical was derived.

Wikipedia reports that at least one version of the Les Miserables novel is 1488 pages long.  Another link lists Les Miserables as one of the top twenty longest novels of all time.

Oh, my aching thumbs! 

Especially when I’m on Page One. 

Fortunately, to the rescue in this world of technological advancements comes


You know what Kindle is, right?  You download books onto a relatively light-weighted tablet.  The result, in my particular context:

No unwieldy unbalance.  No debilitating pressure on my thumbs.

Of course, it’s a modern device, which means I do not know how to use it.  But the incentive to try is is there and who knows, I may just pull it off.  (With the assistance of Rachel who has had a Kindle for years, and Anna who is demographically tech-savvily situated.)

In 2011, at his work, Colby, Anna’s electronics’ engineering husband, received a Kindle as a Christmas present, which he passed along to Anna, who subsequently passed it along to me.  A “double re-gifting”, but, unlike Larry David, I did not take offense.  I contrarily said, “Thank you.” 

Anna promptly set up my “account” and downloaded Les Miserables.  I was now ready to go.  And so confident in the process that I did not pack along any “back-up books” in case things didn’t work out.  I was leaping into the Future.  My holiday-book-reading eggs were entirely in the Kindle contraption basket.

And they say I’m not a risk taker.

The first thing I learned after turning it on and Anna’s increasing the print size was that the book had no page numbers.  My immediate concern at that revelation was that, any mishap – and with me and electronics, the odds against mishaps are a billion to one – and I would not be able to regain my place.  Page numbering is a definite asset in that regard.  And, in this setup, they were apparently unavailable.

Since there were no page numbers, the device identified each “screen page” as a “part.”  By this calculation, the 1488-paged Les Miserables included 25939 “parts.”   

Such was the reading challenge for this vacation.  To, over a period of six beach days (and two long flights) swipe my finger across 26000 “parts.”

I experimented in the room.  Everything looked A-OK.  Although there was always the fear that the batteries would expire “mid-reading” and, once rebooted, I would be helplessly adrift, unable to recalibrate my position in a page-numberless sea.

I turned the machine off, gathered my beach necessities, and I headed to the ocean.  (No talk about “Beach Chair Wars” today, but it’s coming, and – a warning to the squeamish or faint of heart – not all of it is pretty.)

I am comfortably set up at the beach.  I click on my Kindle.

The screen is entirely dark.

I immediately panic.

I turn the thing off.  Turn it back on.

It’s dark again. 

A third try?

Still black as the ace of spades.

There you go then, I thought.  I’ve got six days on the beach and nothing to read. 

Rachel arrives.  I tell her the Kindle’s not working.

“Lemme see it.”

In two minutes, Rachel has “Part 2” (of 25939) flashing merrily on the screen.  Wonderful Rachel has saved the day!  I am happy.  But confused.

“How come, for me, the screen was completely black?”

“Were you wearing your sunglasses?”


It was not entirely my fault.  Nobody’d said to me,  “You cannot read Kindle wearing sunglasses.”

So I tried to. 

And I couldn’t.

Apparently, the new, upgraded versions of Kindle have a brighter background, and a longer-lasting battery.  With this version, I had to settle for four to five hours continuous reading time,

And squinting through 26000 “parts.”


Wendy M. Grossman said...

I did not know that about Kindles and sunglasses. (I do not own a Kindle or any other branded ebook reader. If I want to read books on an electronic device, I use my exceptionally large Android phone, which has the added benefit of displaying type white on black, which I find more restful to read on a backlit device. The Gutenberg Project, which you may have heard of, has many, many free public domain literary works available for download in multiple formats. You might like to check it out.

The page numbering issue is actually a major reason why I don't like reading ebooks: how can you quote something and give an accurate citation? (I also like writing notes on the back page so later I can find the quotes I'm likely to want to use.) It's not a small thing.


Canda said...

Trust me, reading a book goes faster than reading a Kindle, which I discovered when I had both the hard copy and Kindle version of Ron Chernow's "Washington: A Life", which was over 800 pages.

The percent of the book which was actually the book was about 75%, while the additional 25% was everything in the back of the book, including acknowledgements, bibliography, appendix, index, etc.

For older readers, we zip over a page much faster in print, than the shorter bites on a Kindle. Just training, I guess.

But you're right, Earl, there is no wear and tear on our arthritic hands or muscles, holding a weighty book up, on a Kindle.

Also, a Kindle automatcially opens to the last page read, so no fear of dropping the marker out of your book and having no idea where you were.

Kindle also allows you to bring multiple books on a vacation, without clogging up a suitcase. Best of all worlds is to have both a hard copy and Kindle copy of a book, so you can go back and forth. An added expense, however.

Kindle also gives you the same quality of print throughout, which books do not. Some print is smaller or faded in a printed book.

Kindle allows you to underline passages to reread, or note, which wendy grossman was concerned about.

Still, I would not surrender to one technology over another. Use them both…while there are still books.

Oh, and you can download lots of public domain books on Kindle for free.

Hon Do said...

I'm a big fan of the Kindle so I'll prob. get a bit wordy today: Kindle weighs approx. 7/10 of a pound. No matter how many books you have on it (up to 1100 according to Amazon, tho I don't know why anyone would continue to carry 1100 books on it when it's so ez to remove any book to your cloud). Never had any prob. with sun glasses and the Kindle.

As Canda noted, it's possible to underline passages of whatever you're reading,, but I'm way beyond note taking in my life so I have no personal experience with that perk.

Page numbers are on more and more of the newer publications tho you have to go to a different screen to see it. Otherwise you have to remember the Location number.

My version, the Touch, will occasionally, depending on the pressure I exert on a particular part of the frame, take off and start turning pages, so it will take a while to relocate my place. I'm not real good about memorizing location numbers.

I've had the Kindle for 18 mo's. The battery charge lasts quite a while, at least a week for moderate daily reading. The Kindle is one of the great inventions of the modern age.

Price of Kindle books have gone up way too fast, however. Some are more than the printed book now. However, ebooks are available via your public library. There are 1000s of books available for free in the public domain, incl. Les Miserables. Aint technology grand!