What’s on My Kindle This Morning

The Philadelphia Inquirer – Where I learned that the last full-blooded Eyak and fluent speaker of her native language, Marie Smith Jones, died Monday at her home in Anchorage, Alaska. I mainly purchased today’s Sunday edition for 75 cents hoping I’d find good local coverage of the Pennsylvania primary. I wasn’t disappointed. Staff Writer Thomas Fitzgerald wrote a solid piece based on his interviews with voters in New Castle, showing how tough Obama’s job will be to make inroads in Hillary’s blue-collar support.

NOTE: In tracking down links to the Inquirer piece here on my laptop, I took the time to play the video which accompanies Fitzgerald’s written article. I couldn’t do that with the Kindle, which displays an occasional muddy black-and-white photo but no video or color. Written quotes are one thing, but to see and hear the people Fitzgerald interviewed more than doubled the information about the topic. Still, it’s a lot more Sunday-morning-ish to arrange myself in a stuffed chair in the living room with the Kindle than it is to sit here at my desk in work mode. When Apple makes a Kindle-killer, it will probably have color and video and unimaginably cool design. For now, I love my Kindle the more I use it.

The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie – I came across a reference to this book last night when I was finishing The Lazy Person’s Guide to Investing by Paul B. Farrell, a terrific overview of how passive investors can use index funds to outperform professional stock pickers and active investors. Farrell’s book cost $8.96 to download to my Kindle, and the Carnegie autobiography cost 99 cents. I could have saved the 99 cents by downloading it from Project Gutenberg to my computer, transcoding it and transferring it to the Kindle. But at 2 a.m. in my leather chair, I was willing to spend the money for a one-click purchase that arrived on the Kindle in a few seconds. Andrew Carnegie would not have approved! The linebreaks on the Kindle version are funky, but it’s still easy to read and full of gems, like this passage, which I can find easily because I highlighted it on the Kindle:

I think my optimistic nature, my ability to shed trouble and to laugh through life, making “all my ducks swans,” as friends say I do, must have been inherited from this delightful old masquerading grandfather whose name I am proud to bear. A sunny disposition is worth more than fortune. Young people should know that it can be cultivated; that the mind like the body can be moved from the shade into sunshine. Let us move it then. Laugh trouble away if possible, and one usually can if he be anything of a philosopher, provided that self-reproach comes not from his own wrongdoing. That always remains. There is no washing out of these “damned spots.” The judge within sit sin the supreme court and can never be cheated. Hence the grand rule of life which Burns gives: “Thine own reproach alone do fear.”

The New York Times I clicked through all the stories and found the main Obama news, including pieces by Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich that seemed brilliant to me, because they mainly supported my candidate. That was fun, but I wondered if I’d missed anything, so I pressed the “Search” key on the Kindle keyboard and typed in “Obama.” The result brought me to a series of Letters to the Public Editor decrying The Times’s alleged bias toward Obama, and an article in the arts section touching on how his campaign is attempting to reframe the issue of race. For 75 cents, the Sunday Times on Kindle seems like a bargain to me, and I enjoy not having to shuffle through all the paper of the tree-killing edition.

The Kindle User’s Guide – This came loaded on the reader, and I’m reading it a second time, slowly, to see if there are any tricks I’ve missed. (No link to this available at Amazon.)

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison – I always like to have one novel aboard, and this is a dandy. I was drawn to it in the wake of Obama’s speech on race. Just now I came across this video comment by Morrison on why she is a big fan of the Kindle. I guess when you’re a Nobel laureate in literature you don’t have to worry that the book-hugging Kindle-mongers might consider you a traitor to the written word. Here’s a taste of Morrison, describing her character Macon Dead:

Solid, rumbling, likely to erupt without prior notice, Macon kept each member of his family awkward with fear. His hatred of his wife glittered and sparked in every word he spoke to her. The disappointment he felt in his daughters sifted down on them like ash, dulling their buttery complexions and choking the lilt out of what should have been girlish voices.

Time Management for Creative People by Mark McGuinness – I can’t remember where I came across this useful short piece, which I downloaded for free in .pdf format, then emailed to my Kindle for 10 cents. (There is a way to do this for free, but I don’t mind paying Amazon 10 cents for the nearly immediate gratification of seeing the item show up on my Kindle home page.) The article is chock full of useful links to other writers, including my own organization fave, David Allen. The best tip I incorporated from McGuinness is to procrastinate by one day the processing of email, gathering most of today’s flow into a folder to act on tomorrow. This strikes me as a small but brilliant adjustment of work flow, because the Yesterday Folder has a finite number of messages to act on, so I have the satisfaction of completing it each day instead of living with the never-done feeling that comes from trying to keep up with today’s torrent of e-mail.

The Atlantic – I’m making my way through the March 1, 2008 issue, which I downloaded for $1.49 . It’s got a terrific piece on the great firewall of C
by James Fallows, a provocative essay by Michael Hirschorn stating that “one of the most exhausting things about new-media Moonies is their cultish conviction: either you ‘get it’ or you don’t.” (That’s MR new-media Moonie to you, pal!)

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle – I admit it: I’m enjoying Oprah’s world web event, a 10-part conversation with Tolle about the book, which I’m also enjoying. They make a quirky couple. He’s a restrained German with the charisma of a paper clip, and she’s–well, she’s Oprah. This book is the top seller on Amazon, and Tolle’s earlier book, The Power of Now, is number 4. I’m miffed that you can buy the paperback of these two books for the same price as the Kindle version, $7.70. But I’d still rather read Tolle on the Kindle. I use the highlighting tool for easy reference to passages I like in A New Earth, including this one:

“If you think you are so enlightened,” Ram Dass said, “go and spend a week with your parents.” That is good advice. The relationship with your parents is not only the primordial relationship that sets the tone for all subsequent relationships, it is also a good test for your degree of Presence. The more shared past there is in a relationship, the more present you need to be; otherwise, you will be forced to relive the past again and again.

How to use the Amazon Kindle for Email & Other Cool Tricks by Stephen Windwalker – I don’t really want to use my Kindle for email, since the iPhone is much handier. But there are a few fun tricks I want to try, such as using one of my own photos for the screen saver which appears when the Kindle takes a nap. Kindle version cost: $1.99.

Article 33.3, Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act – this thriller lays out the rules for condominium associations such as the one where I serve as a board member. Good for reading as I doze off to sleep. I downloaded the .pdf document and paid 10 cents to mail it to my Kindle account for conversion and uploading to the Kindle.

First Amended and Restated Declaration of Condominium…. – See above. This is the so-called “dex” of our condominium association, like the Constitution that we live by. I am determined to read the whole thing, and I feel virtuous for carrying it around with me whenever I have the Kindle with me. I also have the Bylaws of the Association aboard.

“Second Earth” by Wade Roush, a Technology Review article on Second Life – my good friend Kes Woodward emailed me a link to this fascinating piece. I spent another dime emailing it to the Kindle, and I’ve been making my way through it slowly. I haven’t spent any time in Second Life for several months, so my interest in the topic is on the back burner. (The link requires free registration.)

That’s everything. I don’t have the latest copy of Le Monde on board at the moment, because I cleared out the past issues and the new one won’t arrive on the Kindle until early tomorrow morning. I enjoy practicing my French and seeing how the presidential campaign appears from Paris. The subscription costs $14.99 a month.

I’ve always enjoyed switching around in my reading, creating a sort of mind stew. Sometimes this results in wise coincidences, and my brain stays engaged if I switch content frequently. The Kindle, of course, is perfect for that. I return to the Home page, and the Kindle remembers where I was last in each of the items I was reading.

The electronic paper display is easier on my eyes than the backlit screen of my MacBook Air. Last night while observing Earth Hour, I had to hold it up to the candle to see the print, which made for a fun photo of the event – Kindle by Candlelight. Very romantic.

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One Response to What’s on My Kindle This Morning

  1. Harry says:

    Len! When do you have time to read? Pretty cool that you can download an out of town newspaper for 75 cents right onto the Kindle. I live in a suburban/rural area and doubt that I could easily find a paper like The Enquirer at the local Books A Million.

    I read a biography of Carnegie when I was pretty young and became a great admirer. A truly self-made man who did so many great and admirable things with his money.

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