Jun 27

Dear Readers,

I recently wrapped my latest experiment: kindling. Not the dry sticks of wood easily ignited for the purposes of making s’mores, but rather the experience of reading on a kindle*. When my friend first offered to let me borrow his kindle, I wrinkled my nose in distaste, ready to denounce the latest in the wave of computers pretending to be other things,** but then I remembered what Jesus said, about how Thou shalt not judge the kindle in thy neighbor’s eye, if thou hast not removed the kindle from thine own eye, so I decided to accept my friend’s magnanimous offer and launch an investigation into the kindle. And you, my Readers, are the first to receive exclusive coverage of my findings.

*Kindle: (noun) A computer that, having witnessed the savage overthrow of the paperback book, has entered the Witness Protection Program and now masquerades as, inexplicably, a paperback book. To throw the paperback police off its trail, most likely.

**iPod: Computer pretending to be radio; iPhone: Computer pretending to be phone; iPad: Computer pretending to be weird flat screen of no use; Kindle: Computer pretending to be book.

In the following expose, I report my findings objectively with the highest journalistic integrity you’d expect from a speech therapist with no background in journalism.

The Kindle: Pros & Cons

• The kindle has internet capability. This is awesome, because not enough things do these days.
• I no longer need a tray or endtable for my coffee. I can actually hold my kindle in one hand, cradle my coffee mug in the other, and click the “next page” button with either my chin or the excess flesh on my giant thumb.
• Flexible text size. I can magnify the text until only a few words are visible on the screen, and I can subsequently brag, “Look how fast I read that page!”

• High risk of electrocution. While reading my kindle in the bath, I dropped it into the water (and quite frankly, I’d appreciate if you wouldn’t extend this information to my friend from whom I borrowed it), and this could have led to a disastrous and untimely end for my kindle. And myself. Also don’t take your kindle scuba-diving or on your jet-ski.
• Disorientation. One false click and you’re trapped in a maze of menus accidentally purchasing the entire Harry Potter series when all you want is to get back to the page in your current series where you find out if Katniss is going to end up with Peeta or Gale.
• Speaking of pages. There are none. So when you misclick, you can’t navigate back to a specific page number. And you can’t brag about how many pages you’ve read. You can only say, “I’ve already read 7% of my book!”
• Bookmarks don’t work. So despite tireless attempts to mark my spot by placing a bookmark on the screen, I was thwarted by the complete absence of pages.

The Traditional Paperback Book: Pros & Cons

• It has pages, so bookmarks are an effective means of keeping one’s place.
• All books are available as books, but not all books are available as kindles. If you’re having trouble following this logic, it’s much like how all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are cardboard boxes, and no rectangles can be triangles without shapeshifting.
• No danger of electrocution, except for that one time when I tried reading in the bathtub while straightening my hair and texting on my cell phone.

• Lack of space. In the absence of regular trips to Powells to unload one’s book collection, books quickly fill and eventually overtake one’s living rooms, bedrooms, and even the bathroom. I recently had to sell my toilet to make room for a bookcase in that exact spot. I really need to pee.
• Death. While one’s head remains stable while reading the kindle, everybody is familiar with the slight shift in neck position as one transitions from scanning the left page of a book to the right side. With these slight shifts happening as often as several times per minute, a frequent reader is at high risk of Spontaneous Neck Snap, wherein one’s head actually pops right off after one too many slight shifts. While practiced readers are skilled in shifting their books rather than their heads, no reader is entirely protected from Spontaneous Neck Snap.

And there you have it, Readers, from my (friend’s) kindle to your brain, all you need to know in order to make an uninformed decision whether the kindling experience is right for you. Comment below for your chance to win a FREE TRAINING VIDEO on how to hold the kindle. Comment TWICE and receive a free booklet entitled, “How to Tell If Your Kindle is Upside Down” AND an unlimited subscription to my blog.

Jun 12

*Disclaimer for regular readers: This blog post departs from its usual farcical tone and is somewhat serious. Readers suffering from serious-induced shock are asked to immediately link to other posts for comic relief.

Dear Readers,

Yesterday, I got an awesome t-shirt. It says, “Luke’s Local Artist.” I felt like a fraud putting it on, because anybody within a mile of me can spot that I’m not an artist. The students I work with would have no problem sharing the depth of my visual-spatial impairments watching me attempt a basic stick figure sketch during a lesson. “Here Ms. Troi,” says my student with fine motor impairments who can’t yet use scissors to cut paper as he takes the pencil from me and draws an admittedly superior stick figure to my own, “This is how you draw a person.” So you might be wondering why I would don apparel emblazoned with the word “Artist.”

I donned this shirt last night because I was volunteering for an event called Luke’s Local Artists. This event, inspired by a ten-year old boy named Luke who lost his battle with cancer and actualized by his chemo pal* Ryan Foote, one of the creators of 2600 Strange Ave** (and creator of my awesome t-shirt), brought artists from the Portland area to the Disjecta event space and invited Portlanders to share in an evening of food, drinks, art and music to benefit three organizations who help support children with cancer: Children’s Cancer Association, Children’s Healing Art Project (CHAP), and Providence Cancer Research Center. 100% of the entrance fee ($20/person at the door, $15/person in advance) and the sale from drinks went toward these organizations.

When I offered to volunteer at the event, I didn’t know who Luke was, and when I left the event, I felt sad I’d never get the chance. From stories shared by those who knew him and a letter written in his own words, it was clear that In his three-year battle with cancer, Luke was a steadfast beacon of hope. The kind of hope that can be depleted for much less than the battle he fought. The kind of hope we forget to tap into when we’re tapped out by fear and loss.

People have sometimes asked me why I enjoy volunteering for organizations that matter to me, like the Children’s Cancer Association or American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). And I’ll often respond with the flippancy characteristic of the blog posts you’ve come to know (and love?), like the fun or the free t-shirts (my neon green oversized AFSP t-shirt is perfect for first dates, because nothing says “I’m fun!” like neon green and the topic of suicide). But if I were to give an honest answer, it would be, “Because I’m alive, so I can.” I wake up every single morning with the gift of life, which is really the gift of opportunity: opportunity to do more and become better. Luke’s story reminded me that the gift of life is fleeting, and if I embrace this life and catch its curve balls (That’s a metaphor. I’m as bad at catching baseballs as I am at sketching the aforementioned stick figures.) with half the courage and hope that Luke did, I will consider my time here a job well done.

–Troi out

*A chemo pal is an adult matched with a child undergoing chemotherapy, one of the many awesome programs through the Children’s Cancer Association. To learn more about volunteering with this organization, please go here.

**A percentage of t-shirt sales go toward select charities. Please see their website for details.