Reading Between The Lines. Literally.

Our current Kindle is one of the original ones.  They’re called Kindle Keyboard 3G now, but when we bought it this style was the only one available.

After many years this Kindle [who I never named – missed opportunity there] has gone wonky.  I think we overused the poor baby because she can no longer ante up all of her pixels.  Whole horizontal rows of pixels have bugged out.

The result is a screen that looks sort of like the handwriting practice writing paper we used in first grade.  Do you remember that paper?  It had one solid horizontal line all the way across the top of the page.  Then a dotted horizontal line below it.  Then one solid horizontal line below that.  The last two lines were then repeated down the entire page until the bottom.

That’s what this screen resembles.

Now add to this dodgy-looking screen words in any font size— and you have my first grade writing assignments.  Complete with words above, below, through & on the lines.  Marginally readable.

Cute?  Yes.  But not all that desirable on an e-reader.  Rather annoying to be honest.

So I suppose that it’s time to buy a new e-reader.  A Kindle Paperwhite 3G perhaps?  Or maybe a Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight?  I think I’ll let Santa take care of that decision.

And in the meantime until Santa decides what to buy next, I’ll go back to reading good ole paper books with words printed clearly between the lines.  As if second grade me had printed them.  😉

[Hello FTC!  Just talking about my experience here.  Nothing more than noting what happened with this product.  No one is paying me, or us, a cent or dollar to say this.  No compensation whatsoever here.  We good, my friend?]

The “Reader Appreciation Award” Meme

:: The Introduction ::

Gemma at helloitsgemma tagged me with this award.  Isn’t that kind of her?  The deal is that I answer the following questions.  Then I tag some other bloggers who I appreciate for leaving comments on my blog.  They then answer the questions on their blogs & tag some more bloggers.  And the award goes on ad infinitum…

:: The Questions ::

Where do you do most of your writing/blogging?
In our home study using my desktop computer, Coraline.

What books were your childhood favourites?
From my mother: The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh + Charlotte’s Web + the Little House on the Prairie series.  From my father: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer + Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Who is your favourite fictional character?
Tricky question.  I’m going to stick with childhood books and say Cassandra Mortmain, the narrator in I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.  Cassandra, a teenage girl, starts the novel as a detached observer who records events + her impressions of people in her journal.  But eventually Cassandra becomes a participant in her own life and learns a few adult truths.  She is, I believe, one of the most charming narrators ever.

What is your favourite time of day and why?
Morning, when it is quiet, is my favorite time of day because my mind isn’t overtaxed with the daily minutiae yet.

Have you ever Googled yourself and been surprised at what you’ve found?
Yes, I’ve Googled myself.  No, I wasn’t surprised.  This blog is all there is about me out there on the interwebs.

Who would play me in a movie of my life?
Let’s ask Christina Applegate first, shall we?  I think she’d be a good choice.

One material possession I could not live without?
Our electric Cuisinart coffee maker with a timer.

Have you ever been naked in public?
Does skinny dipping, while in college, with friends, in a friend’s grandma’s pool count?  If so, yes.  If not, no.

What is your dream car?
Any car that I own.  Right now it’s a 9-year-old Honda Accord coupe, Olivia.

What/who/where was your first proper kiss?
I’m going to interpret proper kiss to mean the first one with the man who I married.  So the answer would be: long smooch/Zen-Den/college dorm room.

:: The Next Step ::

Here is a list of some wonderful bloggers who frequently comment on The Spectacled Bean.  I’m choosing these bloggers for this meme because, like me, they are doing NaBloPoMo– and I figure that they might be looking for something to write about.  

J at Thinking About…

Cheri at Naples Girl Blog

alejna at collecting tokens

Melisa at Suburban Scrawl

Relyn at Come Sit by My Fire

[There is, as always, no obligation to do this meme.  You won’t hurt my feelings if you choose to ignore all of this.  I realize that memes aren’t for everyone.]

Before Laptop Computers, This Movable Typewriter Was All The Rage

[A bit of background: Cheri at Naples Girl Blog went on a trip to Cuba a few weeks ago.  Since then she has been writing about what she saw and including photos in her posts.  When I read her post, Hemingway and Cuba,  I knew that it was a sign for me to write the following.  You see, Hemingway had a typewriter just like the one that I inherited from my Dad’s side of the family.  Kind of cool, eh?]

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My grandfather was a shoe salesman who travelled around a three state region.  This is a photograph of his Corona typewriter that he used for work.

This particular model of typewriter folds shut making it portable.  It was referred to by Corona as The Personal Writing Machine.  Over a 30 year period of time, 700,000 of this model were made.

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I did some research online and found a copy of the original instruction manual: How To Use CORONA, The Personal Writing Machine.  The last page of the manual says the following… which seems as applicable to today’s portable technology as it did back in 1920 when this manual was written.

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I like this little typewriter.  It’s a fun example of something practical + quirky from the past– favored by Hemingway, used by traveling businessmen.  And I think that it’s kind of cute– in a WALL•E sort of way.

Pieces Of Winter

~  We awakened to snow this morning.  Just a dusting.  Falling softly, no malicious intent.  Unlike last year when we had 30″ of snow by February, today’s snowfall brings our yearly total to just under three inches.  I can live happily– angst-free during a winter like the one we’re having this year.  Hallelujah!

~  I read Leo Babauta’s book, The Power of LESS, while on vacation.  It’s a fast read that I recommend to anyone who is trying to figure out how to live a simpler, more meaningful life.  After reading the book I made a few notes and began contemplating my life.  Consequently, this week I’ve decided what I value, what I love, what my goals are.  I can live happily– focused on what means the most to me.  Yes!

~  We finished the puzzle.  Even though it had 1000 pieces it went together quickly.  With that many pieces I thought that we’d be fussing with it until March.  But it turned out to be easy-peasy mac & cheesy.  I can live happily– satisfied with something going better than planned.  Yeah!

~  I sent away for some business cards for this blog!  I’ve always wanted to share my blog with people in real life– not depending on them to scribble down this blog’s name & address on a scrap of paper.  This will allow me to easily and smoothly introduce people to The Spectacled Bean.  I can live happily– contented with the knowledge that I’m doing my best to promote this sweet little bloggy.  Ever onward!

Messy Store, Happy Me

I stopped at Barnes & Noble the other day.

As soon as I stepped inside the store I realized that the entire bookstore was in the process of a major re-do.  All the main aisles had long tables extending lengthwise down the middle of them.  All the smaller side aisles had push carts piled with books.  The place was a mess.

And I couldn’t have been any more pleased.

So, slightly giddy with the sense of adventure that comes from exploring the unknown, I started on a Treasure Hunt— looking at the 80% off books on the long tables.  It was like browsing at a library used book sale where you never know what you might find. Naturally I found a few books I needed.

Then I decided to search with purpose for the books that I’d come into the store to buy.   That’s when the real fun started as I began my own little game of I Spy.

On the walls were the old signs that told me what used to be in each section of the store– with the new, different books underneath each sign. Which meant that…

  • I found Humor under Cookbooks.  Well, yes… I have made a number of miserable meals that elicited laughs.
  • I found Sports under Photography.  Which, considering how much bending and leaning I do to take a good photo, seemed somewhat accurate to me.
  • I found Home Decor under New Age/Philosophy.  Which sort of made sense to me… in a very existential, post-modern, Unhappy Hipsters sort of way.

I don’t know why this shopping trip entertained me so, but it did. Adventure. Absurdity. New [discounted] books. And a story to tell.

What’s not to like?

… It’s a quiet life I live, but a happy one.  

Nancy Drew, Narcissism, and the National Debt

Here’s what I’ve thought about this week.  Brought to you by the letter “N.”

Me.  I started reading a Nancy Drew mystery this week.  I saw it on the shelf as I walked by the guest bedroom and thought “why not?”  Having read it decades ago, I don’t remember the plot of the story so it’s all new to me.  All I know is that I loved Nancy Drew.  Unlike Laura Ingalls who I knew I could never be, Nancy Drew’s example of “do good” behavior gave me hope that I could become someone useful and cool when I grew up.  Whether or not I’ve accomplished this goal, I don’t know;  but at the very least she showed me that attention to detail and an independent spirit could take you far in this world.


•  Us vs. Them.  I’ve never, ever seen so many narcissistic people on TV in one week as I have this week.  Hello, Washington!  How are you weasels doing?  Let’s review what narcissism is, shall we?  It’s shallow, self-absorbed behavior in which your need to be important trumps everyone else’s right to exist;  combine this behavior with being overly sensitive to perceived criticism, and we have an egotistical, whiny person who only focuses on himself or herself.  Sound like anyone in DC?  Oh, yes– I know, it sounds like everyone in the U.S. Congress.  It’s time for all you weasels children people to shut up… sit down… and do something productive.


•  We.  So we’re going to pay our bills.  Good idea.  That would be the responsible thing to do.  As WE have racked them up, now WE must pay them down.  I hope that there will be less bills in our future.  That would be an example of reducing.  And I pray that there will be more money in the coffers.  That would be an example of regulating & refining.  But I fear that until Americans understand that the U.S. Constitution starts with the words “WE the people” none of the common sense things that need to be done will be done.  And this nonsense will continue forever.


My Kindle Review

Because many people in real life have asked me about it, I decided to post my review of the Kindle here in the blogosphere.  I have received no money or other compensation for this review, so fear not FTC.  Everything is cool here.

On the plus side:

– it is very easy to use.  The buttons make sense and are easy to manipulate.

– it is incredibly easy to read in all light.  The clarity is amazing and puts my iMac laptop to shame.

– it is nice to be able to change the font size.

– it is fun to play games on.  The games are free or about $3, so the price is right.

– the leather case [without the light] that I bought extra is ingenious and makes holding the Kindle very easy.

– it is portable.

– many Shakespeare plays and classic books are free.

On the negative side:

– I don’t envision me ever thinking that this little gadget is a book.  It is lovely for reading in short bursts, but to sit down with this and dawdle over a book– not so much.

– the battery doesn’t last as long as advertised.  I’m recharging once a week, not every 3 weeks.

– all books aren’t available on it.  For instance, the Harry Potter series is not part of the collection.  Nor are all the books in a series of mysteries that I like.  My idea was to have complete collections of certain authors so that I would always be able to read them whenever/wherever I wanted.  This is not going to happen.

– subscriptions to newspapers are expensive and the choice of what is available is very limited.

– subscriptions to magazines are available, but I like to read mags with lots of photos in them so for me the Kindle is useless in this area.


I like it, but it is different from a book.  I liken the Kindle to instant coffee and a book to brewed coffee.  Each has their place, but they aren’t interchangeable.