The Cat/Boot Phenomenon

I have a cat. I have boots. This has lead to an interesting observation.

Cats REALLY like boots. WHY?

My cat, Pixel, loves shoes. Boots in particular. When Keith comes over she likes to check out his shoes, and once, when he had his snowshoeing boots out, she went positively insane checking them out.

Then today, I got my boots out so that I’d remember to take them for our weekend in the mountains. And I see this:

Yes, that is her head in my boot.

I would also like to point out that the shoes featured in the picture were completely ignored. Obviously, because there were OMG BOOTS!!!!

Seriously, WTF? That damn cat was in my boots for the better part of an hour. Are they really more interesting than shoes? I leave shoes out all the time – I never see this. What, exactly, is this cat/boot phenomenon?

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Why I Love My Kindle

I didn’t want to. I wanted to hate this technical interloper into the printed pages of my English-major life. I really, really did.

Keith got one. It was black print on a gray background. I mocked it. Repeatedly. I wanted to hate it. I really, really did.

I love books. I love the smell, the touch, the sight of them. I love walking into someone’s house and seeing a huge bookshelf filled with books. I could care less which books they are reading; I have just always loved seeing books on shelves.

Yes, I am a book freak. It’s no wonder I have an English degree with a concentration in literature.

I was born for books; my mother read to me incessantly when I was a small child. She fostered my love of reading, and my love of books. Hardcover, paperback, it didn’t matter – I was bound from my earliest memories to love books.

Then the Kindle came along. Now, I am very computer savvy, I love technology, and I am very good at navigating my way through the current technological morass, but eBooks? BLASPHEMY!!!! Books were the last bastion of my childhood; they were my friends, these prettily-covered, interest-filled PAPER entities of knowledge and entertainment, and I was NOT going to give them up without a fight.

And then I discovered I am old. Well, older than I think I am.

Did you know you can change the type size on a Kindle? This is nice, especially when you’re tired and not in the mood to read small type, or, like me, have just barely crossed the threshold into reading glasses, and can go without easily if you just ramp up the type size a notch.

The killer for me was reading a couple of 700-1000 page paperbacks back-to-back. At eighteen, this is a piece of cake; at forty-four, this is an exercise in stamina. I can read a book this long for hours, no problem. It’s holding a book this long for hours that makes my thumbs ache and makes it hard for me to carry on. Now, nine years of factory work did not help this at all, but I suspect that people in my age range have a raft of similar problems. The Kindle is lightweight and feels much like a paperback you can hold in one hand, with the benefit of being able to change pages regardless of whether you’re a rightie or a leftie. Page up/down buttons are on both sides, so regardless of how you naturally would hold a paperback, you’ve got them at your disposal.

And this thing is super-thin. Really, it’s maybe forty pages of a printed mass market paperback. Lightweight, easy to access page turning, and really easy on the eyes type. If you or a loved one is in need of large print books, this is your device. I’m impressed with all the type settings you can have – everything from sixteen-year-old to seventy-year old, no problems.

And Whispernet. Oh, my God, best thing ever! I can get a book on Amazon in like sixty seconds. Win! Also, you can loan some books to your friends. The list is short at the moment, but I suspect Amazon will figure out that this is a good thing, and they will expand their selection. At any rate, getting a Kindle book is generally two or three dollars cheaper than a hardback, and even less than that if you’re willing to wait a bit. And free books – WOW! Almost all the classic authors are free (or damn freaking cheap!). You could read for years and spend NOTHING.

Also, all your books are archived on Amazon, so if for some random reason you blow up your Kindle (I cannot figure out how you could do this, but I’m sure one of you will) all your books are saved online. You can get them back easily. WIN!

I wanted to hate this thing. I really, really did. But now that I’ve read a few books on it (and have held several HUGE paperbacks in the interim) I have to say, I DO love my Kindle. And I am looking at digitizing my library. I think I can sell my paperbacks at minimal cost to others (to fund my Kindle book passion), and minimize my living space at the same time. I could cull 300 sq. ft. from my living space if I did not need room for my books, easily.

Still, it will be hard to part with my books. I will keep my collector’s books, and some history books, but all my contemporary books will eventually be digitized. I do love the sight, smell, and feel of “real” books, but I’ve discovered that the experience that comes from the reading of a book, whether digitized or paper, is much the same.

Dracula Reviews New Moon

I had to have some fun with this review, because quite frankly I had none at all reading this book. There were more WTF moments in New Moon than at a convention of furries (Google it, the explanation would be another whole post). So, in that vein, I asked my friend Count Dracula to write this one, because I got ill every time I thought of doing it. Enjoy!

Dear Stephenie Meyer,

It has recently come to my attention that you have achieved great success with your Twilight novels. This has intrigued me immensely, as I have a great personal interest in fictional stories about vampires, seeing as I have been the subject of several.

I have read your first novel, Twilight, and your second, New Moon. I believe my good friend Daghain has commented at length about your first novel (you must forgive her, she is a bit impulsive and…blunt, but has my best interests at heart, dear girl) but I thought it might be more helpful to you if I took on your second novel myself.

I must say I am quite surprised by your portrayal of Bella Swan. I am still not sure who she is exactly, other than the fact that she has a very low opinion of herself and is apparently extremely clumsy. I must assure you that such an easy target would be of no interest to me; I prefer a woman who is intelligent and who exudes confidence, not some whining teenager whose self-deprecation knows no bounds. Yes, I know Bram Stoker portrayed Mina Harker as a frail, helpless woman, but I assure you, nothing could have been further from the truth. That lady was as wily and brave as any man, and I loved her all the more for it.

In all honesty, I have never met a woman either in literature or in the real world who thought less of herself than Bella Swan, and I have lived a very, very long time. I must also say this self-hatred is not an attractive feature in a woman, and I am surprised you would think it would be so, being a woman yourself. The fact that you made this silly girl your protagonist is really quite disturbing to me, and makes me wonder about your own self-esteem.

I also have to wonder about Bella’s self-centeredness. Honestly, the Cullen family throws her a fantastic birthday party and she sulks and whines? Quite frankly I would be horrified if the woman I was with spurned my generosity and goodwill so completely, and I would not waste another moment on her. Foot stomping is for four-year-olds, not young women on their eighteenth birthdays. The way you portray this girl is very unflattering.

In addition, I am quite disturbed concerning Bella’s elevation of Edward to god-like status. Vampires were once human, with all the flaws common to humans, and are still so in vampire form; to make them into beings above all reproach would be unrealistic and, quite frankly, stupid. No one could be so perfect and be likable, in my opinion, and it speaks more to Bella’s low self-esteem than anything. The fact that Edward has also shown himself to be possessive and domineering only makes this portrayal more troubling.

I am most confused by the fact that Bella seems to only be happy when she has a male in her life. She loses Edward, which devastates and immobilizes her for months (which is an entirely different problem, one which is probably best addressed with a therapist), then happens upon Jacob, and uses him to fill the void Edward has left. The minute Jacob disappears from her life she becomes obsessive about what has happened to him as well. This is not the behavior a woman with any semblance of self-esteem would exhibit, and I again have to question why you would portray this as normal behavior. Honestly, a girl who calls someone’s house every half hour is not stable, in any sense of the word. At this point I must question what you really know about normal human behavior, because, quite frankly, I suspect your knowledge is very minimal.

I found what little plot exists in this story to be quite unbelievable, mainly due to the insanely disturbing relationship between Bella and Edward, and later Bella and Jacob. Is this entire town full of unstable people? One has to wonder.

I must also address this notion you have that vampires sparkle. My dear lady, I have seen many things sparkle in my life – diamonds, the sun on the water, the light reflected off crystal – but never, ever in my over five hundred years on this earth have I ever seen a vampire sparkle. I suspect you thought this would make your Edward less threatening; in my opinion it makes him less believable. Vampires are not warm and fuzzy creatures by any means, and for you to paint us as such does a grave disservice to the living, who should be aware that we are not generally looking out for their best interests. I assure you, we are creatures of the night, we burn in the sun, and your feeble attempt to make us seem harmless is only going to lead your race to ruin.

Sincerely,

Vlad Dracula
Prince of Wallachia