CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: Kindle But Do Not Spindle

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By W.T. Wimpy Hiroto
(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on January 12, 2011.)

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Some contend Crossroads to Somewhere has a self-deprecatory sense of humor. That would be friendlies who use big words to obfuscate the truth; whereas others not worried about being straight-forward will simply say, “He ain’t very funny.”

That’s about the best I can do to introduce this week’s topic of discussion. I can vaguely remember being befuddled and confused when I was young(er).  What can be the reason later in life is a coin flip:  Either it’s an age thing or A.D.D. (Attention Definitely Deranged.) Odds are 6/5 the next stage is “teh-ageh,” like in “I surrender.”

The reason for CR2S’s current despair? I made the monumental mistake of announcing to readers that I was in possession of a *Kindle. That simple admission opened the floodgates to questions and inquiries I was unprepared to answer.

[*It’s interesting tracing the origin of commercial names and logos: The five rings of the Olympics, Google, Wheaties, Teflon, Nike. I have no idea how Amazon came up with the Kindle trademark but maybe for once, a visit to the dictionary has the simple answer: “To ignite, incite, become angry.” The book-reading contraption is all of those things, and more. How much do I love thee? Let me count the ways . . .]

Let’s assume most CR2S readers don’t own one. That assumption is neither a put-down nor glaring shortcoming. But those who do possess one and are enjoying its attributes, go away and gloat, or whatever modern-day electronic dilettantes do these days. Revise your Facebook page or tweet your legion of (non)friends. What follows is just for don-kos and the unwashed.

First off, it’s 5×7 1/2. “Of that I’m positive. I just measured to make sure. The first instruction is how to get started: “1. Charge your Kindle by plugging your Kindle power adapter into an electrical outlet. You can also charge your Kindle or transfer data to your Kindle by connecting the USB cord to a computer’s USB port.” [Lost already.]

How they managed to reference the word “Kindle” four times in just two sentences is noted. Was there any danger of thinking it was something else? An iBook, iPod, iDunno? [Knowing there are a whole lot of smart-arses out there, yeah, I’m stalling, because the thingamajig has notified me, “Your battery is empty.” Now you will be forced to take my word for whatever follows. After which you have the choice of continuing as a faithful reader, or… sue me.)

Some background is necessary to explain this modern-day Neanderthal. As oft mentioned, I was a holdout when it came to acknowledging the existence of the electric typewriter. Remember those portable telephones the hoity-toity element proudly stored in the trunk of their car? Call waiting, fax, conference calls? I still rebel. A microwave took years to warm the cockles of my kitchen. Most embarrassing, I guess, is the admission that I have a cell phone but never use. If my life depended upon remembering the number, I’d be dead.

[In an old-fashioned attempt to regain a semblance of esteem, I’ll have you know I did pretty well in school and once was named second-team all-star-right fielder (in a three-team league.) And let’s not forget I achieved the lofty status of “going steady” while at Poston High. Admittedly it was in ‘45 when most of the desirable guys had either relocated to the outside world or were in uniform.]

I’ve been inundated with questions regarding the Kindle’s performance over others on the market, what I think of it as regards print, readability, weight, type fonts, background, you name it. And then the more detailed inquiries as to ordering, selections, payment and all the other cat-killing curiosity things.

Well folks, maybe it’s time to openly admit I have no answers. I don’t know zip, nada, nuthun! Even though CR2S inadvertently jumped to the head of the class in this one surprising instance (I think Kindle is only two years old), sad to say it didn’t give me any advantages. Thus I will (again) rely on my knowledgeable offspring for guidance and direction. [Admission:  I have already been guided and directed. It’s just that I haven’t had an opportunity to digest all the instructions and, you know, absorb and practice. I know how to check the menu and all that operational jazz, but have yet to make an e-book selection.]

At this point let me prey (or pray) on reader kindness and understanding. While I battle my personal demons and shortcomings, why don’t you just go out and buy your own darn Kindle contraption? I’m sure you will enjoy it and quickly join the elite cognoscente [which is Italian for smartass!], leaving CR2S in your wake.

And if I’m still a Japonese learning disaster, you can show compassion and help me turn the page.

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W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached by e-mail. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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