Book Fail

I like to read. I read all the time, really. Of course a lot of people don’t consider surfing the net reading, but of course it is. By that measure, I’m probably reading more now than at any time in my life. That’s quite an accomplishment considering I used to read while I walked home from school, book held in front of me while I shuffled carefully down the road trying not to trip on rocks or cactus.

But books. They’re failing me lately. The physical medium by which they are distributed to meat, it just doesn’t work the way it used to.

Today, I wanted to read while eating my dinner. I pulled my little box of flash-frozen hot food next to me as I sat cross-legged on the floor, and tried to read and eat.

I used to do this all the time, my hand spread out like a giant book support, carefully sliding the pages across with little finger and thumb like a magic trick, shuffling my fingers while I read so they didn’t block words or even just guessing at the words. All. The. Time.

And tonight it was annoying. Very annoying. I finally put the book down, and opened a magazine. At lease it would lie flat, I wouldn’t have to struggle to keep the pages open, browse the pictures.

And while I meandered through pages, I felt a pang of annoyance. That’s a nice car. I’d like to know more about that. I wonder if there are any like it for sale in my area.

I couldn’t open another page and find out what I wanted. I’d have to get up and get my phone and look it up. Not worth the effort.

And I’ve suddenly realized, books are annoying me. It’s a mechanism and a culture I’m not part of. Reading on my iPhone or iPad is so much easier, and the ability to look up more data while I’m reading is seductive.

I wonder if any ancient librarian had this epiphany as he got used to working with books after dealing with those really annoying scrolls. After all, books were relatively portable, they could rest on your lap while you read. And you didn’t have to hold them up to read them, they just sat there and displayed information.

Books have been replaced in my life.

Culture Shock, circa 2014

Back in the heady days of 2014, I had just moved to Texas. These were my takeaways back then:

The Texas Drawl – it’s cute. Really. But my gut reaction is to slap you every time you refer to me as “yall”. Am I so big I blot out your sight and look like a crowd? Have you been drinking, and see two or more of me? Are you talking to the angels and demons who hover about my shoulders, driving me to acts I normally wouldn’t consider. Say something to me with that soft accent again, and I’ll let the devil choose what I do next, I tell you what.

Road layout – Were you people drunk? Do you not have rulers? All these roads that just gradually blend into each other are surprisingly hard to negotiate safely. Fully half the time I’m turned around in my seat, trying to see if there’s a semi that’ll wipe me out when I merge into the lane.

Drivers – Okay, probably partially influenced by the roads, but you people are aware there are lines on the road, right? You are supposed to drive between them. Coloring, that’s ok, go crazy. Driving, stay between them.

Oh, and stop swooping across three lanes so you can get in front of me before the turnoff. There’s no place you need to get to that fast.

Strip Malls – What an exercise in futility. You know what’s wrong with them? You’ve got two acres of parking lot between you and the road. No one knows what you’re selling, because we’re all swooping across three lanes because we just realized you’re the store we want to go to. Put the stores up on the road where we can see them, and put the parking lots behind them.

Radio stations – I didn’t listen to Dire Straits or AC/DC this much in the 80’s. Do you all have a 25 song rotation? 

Sides at BBQ Joints – I’m loving the BBQ. I really am. That stuff is awesome. But that dark brown mass of collared greens and mushy peas you just slapped down next to that really excellent mountain of pulled pork. You don’t really eat that, do you?

Welcome to the Barn

I had a thought today.

It went back to the days when I was in High School, and the way I used to think. I want to be able to talk about that in a venue that wasn’t as noisy as Facebook or Tumblr.

Well, I’m a tech guy. I’ve got a website. This is a Unix system!

So in the spirit of I’ve got a barn, I decided to put on a show. Now I’ve got nothing against putting on a show in a barn. The problem is that it’s a lot of work. That’s why we have special tools like a theatre, they make things like putting on a show. If you don’t have those tools, you have to work harder to compensate.

I’ve been doing a lot of compensating lately.

So, welcome to my barn. I expect that it’ll be a bit of a ramble, and we may walk around the barn a lot to get back to the front door. But welcome anyway.