on e-books

May. 19th, 2011 05:34 pm
avrelia: (Default)
I have made my first e-book purchase. Yay?

I've had e-books before, of course – from free sources and giveaways, but I couldn't bring myself to actually buy one. I hardly ever buy books at all these days – library yay! - and when I buy, it is the old-fashioned paperback or trade market. Yet I keep thinking that I should start buying e-books, and then I think what do I want from them. I've always dreamed of having a real library at home (and possibly getting lost there and staying in it forever.) But with our current nomadic lifestyle it is impossible – I have to cull my books regularly and leave only those I couldn't be without, or find people who would love a certain book as much as I did and giving my books to them. So e-books are an attractive option to keep my library with me in my travels.

The two problems are that I don't find them convenient to read – currently, on my iPod or desktop, and don't fully trust them. The first problem can be solved by purchasing a decent e-book reader. But: the cost of it and the books that I'll have to buy to justify the purchase is way more that I want to spend. If I read that many books and that fast – might be. But as now I can manage a book in two weeks, and I have a huge “to read pile” at home already plus a luge list of books I can get for free from the library... If somehow I acquire an ebook reader, than occasional purchase of a e-book would make sense to me. Which I think will happen eventually, just not soon. The second problem... has a lot to do with the pricing and the formats. I understand that from the point of view of the seller, it is basically the same product: the license to read a copyrighted object – a story. But when I buy it I am getting one bunch of rights or another. And I need to weight how much is each bunch is worth to me. In one case I am getting a paper book that I have to carry around to read and keep, that adds weight to my backpack and takes space on the shelf and in the box, but the one I can read anywhere and anyway I like (starting from the end, jumping back and forth). And after I am finished with it, I can re-sell it, or give it away, or just lend it to as many people as I like. With the e-book bunch I get a file that doesn't take much space, and I can store it easily and not think whether I have to get rid of it during our next move. There is also the factor of immediate gratification – I can desire for a book, buy on the spot and start reading it immediately. It doesn't really matter for me at the moment, but it is there. What are the limitations – I can read only in the specific way and using the specific device. I can keep it, but it is always under control of the seller whether I keep it on the server or download to my computer or other reading device. I cannot re-sell it or give away. There are some opportunities to lending e-books – but only some. Which is all a fine bundle of rights – except I don't want it. And I certainly don't want to pay the same price, since I am getting less rights valuable to me. So we are back to the “library yay” paean.

What price am I willing to pay, then? Well, as I wrote before, I've just paid $2.99 for “Ten Thousand Kingdoms” - the promotional sale price only good for May (http://www.orbitebooks.com/). I've read it, and I wanted to have it with me for the future. We'll see how it goes. I bought it here: www.ebooks.com, because they sell in multiple formats, but alas, all of them proprietary, bound on specific devices or software. Still, $3 is the price I can easily pay to risk the inconvenience, even though I understand it is not the price I can find a lot of books for.

There also was an interesting discussion at Jennifer Crusie's blog about the pricing of e-books: http://www.arghink.com/2011/04/22/apparent-value-whats-the-right-price-for-an-e-book/
avrelia: (Cabaret)
I am perpetually amazed how the view on US politics is changing depending where are you looking from.

From Russia democrats and republicans looked pretty much indistinguishable. Their differences trifle and in international relations hardly noticeable.

In Canada we got used to Canadian politics, obviously. That most of the time looked safe and boring comparing to, say, Russia, but also we could see democracy working more or less for people and not against them. Occasionally there happened soap opera events, and we were excessively diverted. US politics became understandable and exciting. Democrats started to look normal, republicans started to look kind of strange.

Now, I was amazed, how much the whole Canadian political discourse is leftier than US one. Stephen Harper from here looks kind of more liberal than Barak Obama. I am also surprised how many our acquaintances here are republicans or drawn to republicanism - all well-educated middle class people. All emigrated from former USSR as Jewish refugees in 90s or later, as professionals.

and I feel very socialist and very Canadian.

I also feel Russian, but Russian politics depresses me to no end. I cannot use words acceptable in a polite society to talk about it.
avrelia: (Reading is cool)
I love cookbooks. Do you? I loved to leaf through it and imagine myself cooking an unlimited number of simple yet delicious or outrageously complicated meals. I don't have to read a cookbook from cover to cover to get a proper enjoyment out of it, no do I have to actually cook. I love the color photos of prepared meal, but much more than that I love the description, the tone an author set when she or he is talking to you and the whole feeling you get out of it that cooking is not a grueling task, but an enjoyable time for everyone involved. I don't even have to cook anything to get this peasant feeling, but reading a good cookbook often makes me go and do something edible.

we had several cookbooks when I was little. Some were full of executable recipes and important information, but they feel.. prosaic. Probably because of that. There were cookbooks that read like books of magical spells - because it would have been just as difficult to get ingredients for them as for for enchantments. I still remember some of them: roasted wild hog, violet ice cream... I feel kind of weird knowing that all of them can be made in reality. Where has the magic gone?

One book I remember well was Domovodstvo - Housekeeping. It was a thick tome full of advice on everything from raising children to making smoked sausages, from cooking and preserving to sewing fashionable clothes (fashionable in 1950s, that is). We used only the cooking and preserving part, but the whole book was fun to read, probably because it wasn't very applicable to our life.

I also remember "The Book about Delicious and Healthy Food." We didn't have it, there were not many who had - it was out of print for several decades, but it attained a legendary status in USSR, reminding of the times of mystical plenty that were and were gone. The book was reprinted later, of course. and it was a very large and good cookbook, but the legend was gone with the USSR.

I have now several cookbooks at home, some are purely practical, some are more for imaginary cooking than a real one, some are with pretty pictures, some are with pretty test. Of course, there is also the Internet. and still, I am on the lookout for something else, and from time to time I pick up books from the library or hang at the cooking shelves in bookstores.

Points of WTF?

1) Recently I picked up a book called Girl Can't Cook from the library shelf. I skimmed it, and the recipes seemed interesting, even if the seemed to pretentious and Fabulous for me, and then I got to the chapter called "Jewish Holidays". Here happened my first WTF moment, because this chapter actually had dishes of Russian and Ukrainian cuisine. I mean, I know that many Jewish Americans' ancestors came from Russia or Ukraine, but, seriously? Call me culturally insensitive but I kind of thought that chapter on Jewish holiday cooking would include, well, Jewish dishes, and not, say, Ukrainian that are habitually cooked with pork. Strange. Or is it me that totally clueless? I am not even mentioning that the familiar dishes lookes really weird to me. lelt's call it adaptation, but I couldn't quite trust their Asian and Italian recipes after that, as well.

2) Economist has recently had an article on cookbooks. It most was fine and intersting, but it had one passage that I just have to share with you.


By 1944 Irene Veal was advising women how to cook with dried eggs or even with no eggs at all. Her recipe for mayonnaise is one of the most heartbreaking passages ever written in English:

"Melt 1oz of margarine in ½ teacup milk, and when the mixture is warm put through a cream machine—the five shilling kind which many of us bought before the war and still, I expect, possess. In about 2 or 3 hours' time add very gently to the cream 1 teaspoon made mustard and 1 tablespoon each salad oil and vinegar. Beat well and serve. If the oil is not available, it does not greatly matter…"

In that brief aside "I expect" is summed up the misery of wartime cooking.

This is my second WTF moment on cookbooks. First of all - this is one of the most heartbreaking passages ever written in English? I had a better notion of English language, really. Or maybe the author of this article hasn't read that much. Second, pardon me, but my grandparents survived WWII as well, and judging by everything I know, if one had ingredients to cook mayonnaise and a pastime to contemplate cooking it at home, one wasn't that miserable...

on the happier things: when people ask me to recommend a cookbook for beginners, I don't hesitate. I always suggest Evelyn Raab's Clueless in the Kitchen, which I dearly love. It's fun, easy, and though it is addressed to teenagers, it's never condescending. There are also Clueless Vegetarian and The Clueless Baker.
avrelia: (Cabaret)
I've noticed a tendency throughout my flist in these last months: we comment less. I comment less, you comment less, everybody comment less. I read (well, skim) my f-list almost every day, but too often I have nothing to add or just don't have time to write anything meaningful. I assume everybody else is plagued with the same lack of time. or a different lack of time. another reason is of course, that our interests diverge more and more - I cannot find time to watch much of the often-discussed movies and TV, many of you are hardly interested in small children (but they are very funny to look at!) we converge in the universal topics like weather (do YOU have as much snow as we?), health or politics (Russian, Canadian or USA - take your pick). So our entries look like monologues instead of heated or relaxed conversations of the bygone days. Or is it an illusion? I should go back in time and check, though it won't be telling - I never posted as much as I thought of posting. maybe it just seemed that way because we all discussed the shared interests more. Monologues or not, I love reading my friends and see what is going on in your life or just what do you read or watch nowadays. I love my friends (YOU), and I miss them when they disappear from LJ-world.

So, there: even if I do not comment, I am here, I read and I care.

but occasionally I feel like I am twelve and I really want to get comments. ;)
avrelia: (Default)
Re-watching season 7, I noticed that Willow does much more work around the house, than in the previous season (when she did none). She bought the microwave, she did laundry – okay, I don’t remember much more, but it is still more than none.

Trying to explain this mistery to myself, I remembered the timeless lines from Something Blue:

Well, baking lifts about 30% of my guilt, but only 7% of my inner turmoil. Guess that'll just take awhile.

And it has kind of falls together, doesn’t it? The housework – visible and useful activity as Willow’s coping mechanism.

And, apparently, when she feels right, she doesn’t need it. ;)
avrelia: (kbsword by indilime)
He said once (as the legend goes): “I know only that I know nothing.”

Well, he said it in Greek, so it sounded differently, and I’ve heard it in Russian first, so it may look different from what you’ve heard, and maybe he didn’t say it at all, just looked as if he was going to say it any time soon.

But then, you know, was executed by democratic Athens.

Anyway, I came to a conclusion, that it is the truest thing I can say for myself. I am not going to be in every philosophy textbook for that, but the hell with it, I would prefer to be it a literature textbook.

When I was a child I thought it was stupid (Socrates’ thing) – I knew a lot. I knew about Socrates even. When I was a teenager I thought I was very intelligent and educated: I was studying Socrates, Plato and other really ancient guys. I knew a lot if stuff. I still do.

Yet… It came to my attention how much I don’t know and don’t understand. About everything – but I meet people, and often I can’t remember anything about their country beside the fact that it exists. But even when I can…

Things in Canada surprise me every now and then. But, well, I knew next to nothing about it before I came here. I knew way more about USA. It always loomed around in the consciousness – best foe, best friend, everything capitalistic and good, or capitalistic and bad – we studied its history in the history class, its Constitution in the political science class, etc. I knew a lot about USA.

Then I realized how little I knew.

And those last days – here is what prompted this post – I learned a huge, mammoth-like huge stuff about USA and people that live there, and I realize that I really know nothing about it, and probably never will.
Moreover, when I look back to me beloved Russia, I understand that I know nothing about it, too: I have some ideas and some facts, and some conclusions, but, really I know nothing about Russia, too. (which I was told – you are from Moscow, Moscow is not Russia)

So, the more I live, the more I learn, the less I actually know.

Is it the road to wisdom or senility?
avrelia: (Default)
Why is it that I never can catch gymnastics on TV? Every time I turn on TV, it’s either swimming, or beach volleyball, or longish interviews that don’t interest me much.
avrelia: (Default)
I am feel a certain sadness from time to time about the fact that I cannot transfer my thoughts directly to paper or to electronic medium. But then you would be amazed at how terribly chaotic and disorganized my thoughts are, and what silly nonsense I spend my time thinking about, and you would be disappointed. Yes, you would. Or, at least you would roll your eyes, and it would look very strange.


Jun. 14th, 2004 11:16 pm
avrelia: (Default)
People are making icons with their pictures everywhere in LJ-land. I am not. I am using obscure (in these parts of the world) artwork to make my icon.

My inadequate iconmaking skills notwithstanding, I feel that I should make my default icon myself. And it should reflect something... reflective.

Also, I am not counting comments, just because.

Also, I was writing all Sunday, and then stuck, and cannot unstick and write that thing or anything else. But I'll think some more and figure it out.
avrelia: (Default)
I noticed that I haven't been commenting much recently. Which is not to say I wasn't reading, or that I wasn't enjoying reading my flist. It just - how many times can I write "wow", or "dies laughing", or "hugs" without feeling stupid? And recently I had no idea what to write in comments. So I didn't write anything. I have cool, smart, and witty people on my flist, and they write cool, smart, and witty things in their entries. And I think: "Cool!" and then "Hee!", and then again "Cool!" But, honestly, to write "Cool!" twenty times a day? No way.

All said above doesn't prevent me from sulking when I am not getting comments in my LJ. I can try to stay calm about it, and explain myself that people had better things to do, and they may have the same problems I do, or may be, different problems, and who said I write anything worth attention, and I am not here to get attention, anyway...

Who am I kidding? I love attention. I love to be flattered, pampered, and told that I rule the Universe. That is not the point.

And by now I totally forgot if I had any point at all. Feel free to skip this post. I love you all anyway.
avrelia: (Default)
I would love to say that holidays are over, only they are not. I feel tired. And here I have Christmas tomorrow (when everybody around here threw away their trees and ate all turkeys two weeks ago); then my husband's birthday, then Old New Year...
I am so out of sync with the holiday season in Canada – sometimes it seems good, sometimes not so much... I don't enjoy holidays as much as before – may be I am just getting older? (Yeah, 27 years old pepperpot)
My not so good feelings:
1)that "out of sync" feeling
2)different ways to celebrate. Attempts to make everything like it is in Russia feel silly. Here is Canada, not Russia. People are different, traditions are different, mayonnaise is different. You try to make the same salad as always, it tastes different. No, salads do not bother me at all. But I miss New Year as it was before.
3)Explanations why I celebrate Christmas two weeks later than normal people. Sometimes It is fun, sometimes not. Depends.
4)There was something 4). Oh, well... May be, I'll remember later.

1)I can buy presents when shopping craziness is over.
2)I can celebrate Christmas because I feel like celebrating, not because it is a cultural "must".
3)I have two New Years (Chinese is not included)
4)No matter, where and how celebrated, New Year Eve still holds its magic for me. Wonderful things happen December 31 and January 1. hey, I met my husband on December 31!

So, here is my punch line: Merry Christmas, according to the Julian Calendar!


avrelia: (Default)

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