Saturday, December 28, 2019

When Bloggers Die

If you've been reading blogs over any extended period of time, you'll eventually encounter the death of a long-term blogger. It's happened to me a couple of times now.

Most recently a blog I'd been lurking on for close to ten years now had recently died. He was a schizophrenic blogger, who wrote about his struggles with mental illness, but was a very talented writer, a master of dialogue, with the potential I feel to have been a professional writer. But he had a horrible diet, was a chain smoker, and had been alcoholic for many years, so it wasn't completely unimaginable that his lifestyle would lead to an early demise. But he was only in his forties, so because of how young he was it was a bit unexpected.

I guess it's common though, people with mental illness tend to have reduced lifespans, so many factors contributing to that, such as above average suicide rate, higher incidence of smoking, substance abuse, typically poor diet, and not to mention all the negative side-effects and organ damage caused by a lifetime dependence on prescription medication, it's no wonder the mentally ill tend to grow old faster and die younger.

It's weird, you know, if you've been reading someone for years, you feel like you've sort of formed a relationship with them, like you know them, even though you've never met them, or spoken to them face to face, but then when you find out that someone you've been reading for years has died, that there will be no more posts, there's a moment of shock and grief, but then, because you don't actually know the person outside of their blog, in a way when they stop posting because they died, it's really not much different then if they are still alive but simply stopped posting.

The personal blog is a virtual representation of a real living person, it sort of like takes on a life of its own, like a disembodied spirit living in cyberspace, that so long as the blog isn't deleted, it survives the person long after they died. In fact, if you ever come across a blog that hasn't been updated in years, you'll never know for sure if the person just abandoned the blog, or if the person died, especially if they posted anonymously. Which I think is really weird. Either way whether the blog is deleted, or abandoned and never updated again, it's a sort of death, a virtual death.

And likewise if a blog hasn't been updated for years, and then suddenly starts updating again, it's like its risen from the dead. Like years have gone by, and after this momentary lapse of time the conversation is continued as if it never stopped, as if it was just yesterday that we last spoke, and even though years may have passed, it's like in blog land there is no perceivable separation of time. That too is weird. Yeah, however you look at it, blogging is weird.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

My Experience of the Kindle E-book Reader

So, I finally got a Kindle. I got the Paperwhite on sale $30 bucks cheaper a few weeks ago. I had such high hopes for it, especially eager to utilize its built in dictionary, note taking highlighter, and vocabulary builder flashcards, features that are still kind of cool, but would be better if the word definitions had audio playback, to help with pronunciation and retention.

I figured I haven't been reading much lately this past year, I thought that maybe having a Kindle would help me read more, by making books more accessible and more portable and perhaps easier to read.

But after extensive time trying it out, I found that despite what I've read to the contrary, if you plan to read more than an hour on it at a time, at least in my case, it causes more eyestrain than a traditional paper book.

You see I'm the kind of person that when I get into a book I like I will read it for several hours at a time. There have been days when I've had the free time and wasn't working that I would spend twelve hours a day reading. I wouldn't recommend doing that with a Kindle.

Overall I'm finding that I prefer traditional paper books to e-readers. There will be an upcoming post delving deeper into the particulars but for now I will will keep it simple.

Regular books are easier on the eyes, but not always easier on the budget. This is where the e-book excels. After the initial investment of the e-book reader, you'll find that e-books are generally cheaper. I'm on an extremely frugal budget and only like to buy books that I intend to keep in my permanent collection, or intend to read more than once, anything else I check out from the library and read for free.

Well, sometimes I want to read a book that isn't available at the library, and don't want to wait around months for an interlibrary loan to come through, but in the meantime can find an e-book version online either for free or priced significantly cheaper than the equivalent paper version, that's where the Kindle comes in. In this regard it's already paid for itself.

I was able to download three technical textbooks for free which would have cost me no less than 30 bucks a piece used. So in this regard I considered the $90 spent on the Kindle to be money well spent. But as far as using it to read fiction, particularly taking advantage of the extensive collection of thousands of public domain classics available for download, such as Moby Dick by Herman Melville or War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, for that I think I will be sticking to the traditional paper version, something that pretty much any decent public library has.

So to recap, the Kindle is great for reading books that aren't available at the library, but are available for download online, either for free or at a cheaper price than the equivalent traditional paper version. It's also a great way to preview a book before you buy it or before you check it out from the library. Being lighter and more portable than most books, it's great for reading bulky textbooks, technical or reference material, and also makes a good travel companion, where you can easily read a thousand page book on the go without being bogged down by a heavy bag.

But in every other circumstance, traditional paper books are clearly the winner, for the simple reason that they cause less eyestrain. Despite all the improvements having been made in this regard, paper is still easier on the eyes than digital screens, especially if you plan to read for hours at a time like I do. So I see the Kindle more as a supplemental tool of my reading repertoire, and not as a replacement for the traditional book.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Strange Dream

I've sometimes used this space to record my dreams, usually ones that stood out as being exceptional, powerful, or personally meaningful in some way. So I feel I must record the dream I had last night. It's short, but powerful.

You see my grandmother died last May, and it was completely unexpected. She was 89 years old and seemed perfectly healthy, looked younger, was of sound mind, but then she had a stroke, which completely destroyed her, and she died seven weeks later.

I've had a few dreams of her. But last nights dream stood out the most powerful to me.

In the dream I was going to the public library to print out a copy of my grandmothers obituary. It was strange because this particular library usually has about 30 public computers, which are connected to a printing station, but when I got there there was only about ten, with empty spaces where the computers should have been. There were different security guards too, and I approached one and asked about what had happened to the computers and they said they had some kind of power outage and those computers were damaged as a result and were being repaired.

So anyway, I log into one of the few remaining computers and proceed to print out my grandmothers obituary, two copies. The picture was different than the actual, but I won't elaborate. So then I go outside, and parked outside of the library I see my grandmother sitting in the driver's seat of her car waiting to give me a lift. Yes, the very same person whose obituary I held in my hand was alive and well waiting to give me a ride. I get into the car, and for some strange reason didn't get the connection that this was a peculiar event. It was like I instantly forgot what had happened. Forgot that my grandmother had died. Forgot that I had printed out her obituary. Forget that I was holding the obituary in my hand of the person who was offering me a ride. It was just like complete amnesia.

So I go for the ride with my grandmother, heading towards the last place she lived when she died, but somehow ended up back in my hometown, down a popular drive beside a wooded park. I won't elaborate. At some point we got out of the car to take a walk. My grandmother trips and falls. Her glasses fall off her face. I help her up, she's okay. Just happy to be with her. And then I wake up.

That's it. That's all I remember. Pretty strange. Think about it, someone you know who died. You're printing out a copy of their obituary, and then when you're done that same person who died, who is written about in the obituary you hold in your hand, is waiting for you outside to give you a lift.

Sounds like an episode of the twilight zone, right, but for me it really happened. Well it happened in my dreams, however real that is. Probably about as a real as the life you lived, once you are dead. Yeah. That's when reality crumbles away, if mind survives death, what than is real? It's a huge mystery, the mystery of death, of the possibility of life after death. It's the greatest mystery ever.