Monday, February 20, 2012

All Tired Out

This weekend I went snowboarding with a couple of friends.  Yes, friends.  Well, most of them were people I'd never met before.  Regardless, I went snowboarding.  We stayed for free in the house of a guy who was out of town, which was nice because I recently went broke buying a snowboard.  However, he lived a good two and a half hours from the ski resort.  So we beat the sun out of bed by a couple of hours to hit the road as early as possible and get the most out of our one-day lift tickets.

We weren't fifteen minutes down the road when things started to go wrong.  We noticed that the car was making a weird whack-whack-whack noise and pulled off the side of the highway to investigate.  We didn't even have to get out to know what it was; as soon as we stopped, the smell of burned rubber filled the car.  Flat tire.  No, busted tire.  The rip was probably eight inches long.

No problem.  We're all reasonably intelligent people.  Plus, the car had a full-sized spare tire, so all we had to do was change it and be on our way.  Turns out removing the decorative wheel cover is easier said than done, especially when you're missing the tool that the manual refers to.  And a bent coat hanger just wasn't an adequate substitute.  We were sitting in the car trying to warm up and find instructions on various so-called "smart" phones when a cop pulled over.  Relieved, we explained our problem.  It's a little sad when the solution is just to yank harder, but we hadn't wanted to break any part of this otherwise very nice Audi  Quattro.

Things went relatively smoothly from there (except for the "alignment pin" which we deemed useless until we realized we needed it).  The cop was helping us lift the new tire onto the wheel, and none of us had been hit by the traffic, despite the fact that the busted tire was on the left and we could feel the breeze every time an eighteen-wheeler passed us.  Then the only other girl in our group goes, "Wait, what's that?" which are not words you want to hear when you think you're about to resume your cruise down the highway with only a forty-five minute delay.

She pointed to a giant crack in the spare tire.

We were devastated.  The cop basically told us we were on our own and bailed.  We drew the conclusion that the previous owners of the car had replaced the tire once already and had not gotten a new spare.  Having decided, therefore, that the dealership owed us a tire, we called them.  They offered to tow it.  Unless they were going to tow us all the way to the ski resort, that wasn't helpful.  So we started calling other people.  (And by "we" I mean the only guy that actually lived and knew people in the area.  The rest of us sat and listened supportively.)  Our other car group never actually stopped and were already an hour ahead of us.  The guy who was driving just needed someone to take him to buy a new tire.  He called his mom on speaker.

"Mom I need help I'm in trouble."

"Tell Momma where you're at."

"I'm on the side of the highway.  My tire's busted."

"... Call your dad."

"I can't call him I don't have his number."


"Mom, can't you just come get me?"

"I'm at the beauty salon, baby."

So we called someone else.  Meanwhile, another cop pulled over.  We helpfully suggested that he give our guy a ride to the nearest tire place.  "I can't really do that... I'm working by myself today and that would tie me up..."  Well, thank you, officer, for pulling over with no intent of actually helping us.  We would hate to inconvenience you in case you have to fight real crime.

Finally we got a hold of someone.  Three hours behind schedule, but we were back on course.  And the rest of the day went really well.  I love my board, and I did make a few new friends.  But every time we saw a cop pulled over behind someone we said, "Uh, I'm sorry, I can't help you man..."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Up in Flames

Oh, the irony!
Let's get something straight.  Kindles are not books. Books have pages. Real ones. Made of paper. Each one is different, an individual facet of the book's personality. Some of them might be crinkled or folded, the covers are probably worn and torn a little. The spine or binding is almost certainly destroyed, depending on how gentle a reader you are, but when you look at that book, you remember reading it, or lending it to your friend, or finding it under your bed. You remember the story, because that story is the only story inside that book. And when you open the cover and flip through the pages, the smell hits you and whether it's a new book or old book smell, or whether it just smells like mildew, it's the best smell in the world.

What does a kindle smell like? Plastic.

Kindles are cold, heartless, lousy impersonations of books. They lack personality and individuality. I know that the words are the same no matter how you read them. The experience is not. Haven't we let technology encroach upon enough of our lives? I am especially disappointed with the success of this invention because I had faith in my fellow readers. I imagined us standing strong, defying Kindles and all of their disrespect because we would never sacrifice the experience of reading a book. A real book. We, I thought, would halt this attack on our reader's integrity.

But I've been abandoned. I stand, seemingly alone against this massacre of books. Borders is bankrupt. The one near my house has closed and been replaced by a glorified flea market. I will not buy a kindle.

Ray Bradbury couldn't have been more right.  No, we're not literally lighting up books and watching them burn, but I mean come on; it's called a Kindle for Pete's sake!  And it gets better.  Do you know what the latest installment of this irreverent little machine has been dubbed?  The Kindle Fire.  

The Kindle FIRE.

If the comparison felt forced before, it sure doesn't now.  Bradbury himself said, "You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture.  Just get people to stop reading them."  Well, Bradbury, people are not reading books anymore.  They're reading screens.

So if I am solitary in my resistance, so be it.  I shall not be moved.