Friday, March 27, 2020

Surfing the Apocalypse

I had thought about deleting this blog, perhaps starting another one, or maybe even not blogging again, but I realize I still have a few things to say, and don't yet feel the creative momentum to start a new blog, so here I am.

It's a very strange time we are now living in, a very crazy and uncertain time, and I've had some very strange experiences shopping these past two weeks.

Out of perhaps an intuitive hunch I felt it would be prudent to stock up on toilet paper before the shit hit the fan, this was like maybe three or four weeks ago, before it got bad, and there were no shortages, and no confirmed cases of Covid-19 in my city (now there are 102), and fast forward two weeks later, correlating to the first confirmed case, there was practically no toilet paper to be found.

Well, I stocked up, but that was like three or four weeks ago, and I found myself once again running a bit low, not critically low, but lower than I'd like, so I got a tip from a store clerk at Target that the only way you're ever gonna get toilet paper is if you're there when the store opens, and you might want to come an hour earlier because there will be a line, and it will be all sold out within 30 minutes.

They opened at eight, so I got there at seven, and there was already a line, at least 20 or 30 people. About five minutes before the store opens, security comes up and says to the already 50 or so people waiting, that he's sorry to say that they got a smaller truck than usual, and only got about twenty 4-packs of toilet paper on the truck, which is like one box, and there was clearly not enough for everybody in line. Yes, everybody in line was coming specifically for toilet paper, they might of been coming for other things too, but toilet paper was clearly the hot commodity of the hour.

So being told there was only a small amount, with a limit of one per customer, cleared out the line some, and as luck would have it, there turned out to be a bit more than the guy said, actually thirty packs, not twenty, so I did not leave empty handed. Hooray!

It will be the first time in my life that I have ever waited in line for toilet paper. It will also be the first time that I ever waited in line before a store opened, never even did it for Black Friday. It seemed strangely reminiscent of the bread lines people waited in during the Great Depression, where people waited hours in line just to get a loaf of bread, and sometimes after all that waiting they would be told there is no more bread.

I came really close to not getting any toilet paper at all, even though I got there before the store opened, I was really lucky, I don't think I would have gotten any if a few people ahead of me didn't leave the line, and it means that in the future I would have to actually get there even earlier like two hours earlier, all for four measly rolls of toilet paper!

I work second shift hours, and often don't get to bed until 2 or 3 in the morning, so the ordeal of waiting in line early in the morning for two hours with less than four hours sleep, is not something I feel I will be able to bring myself to do except on the rarest most desperately dire occasion.

But oh, wait, there is light at the end of this tunnel. I have a solution to this problem. It's called the bidet, a device that uses water to replace the need for toilet paper. I ordered one today, a portable bidet, and should get it next week, and maybe will do a review. If all goes according to plan, I will never need toilet paper again!

*This series of posts about life in the age of Covid-19, from this point forward will be labeled Surfing the Apocalypse. So stay tuned, there is more to come.

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.