Posted by: David | December 3, 2011

Acute Ectoplasmic Gadgetosis

Time for a differential diagnosis. This is a follow-up to the previous post in which a couple of sexy i-gadgets were discussed. It was mentioned that a competing gadget, namely the Kindle Fire, was soon to be acquired. And so it was.

But first, since the title has a faux medical theme, I would like to begin by announcing that I am Officially Sick of the TV Show House, M.D. As happens with each episode about 20 minutes in, the entire show has begun to spew blood from its soul orifice. I am tired of seeing Dr. House stealing Dr. Wilson’s sandwich, taking a bite, then throwing it back onto the plate. The show has long since exhausted the bottomless cynicism which passes nowadays for health care, so I don’t want to watch it any more. Real disease is bad enough. We have better shows to watch now, like Prime Suspect and The Closer. Not to mention Leverage and Burn Notice.  Leverage is groan-stupid most of the time, but I’m attached to some of the quirkier characters. Maybe you can guess which ones.

An unmarked package arrived last Wednesday. No wait, it IS marked.

The packaging is worth a mention because of its minimalism. Almost all cardboard, hardly any plastic. Recyclable. Note to Apple: take NOTE. Apple products are ridiculously (if not beautifully) over packaged. Having unpacked 25 iMacs last summer at work, I can tell you with certainty that each part in the box had at least 3 layers of packaging to remove. Not so with the Kindle Fire. Only plastic was that wrapped around the device itself. The charger had a branded card-stock tube around it, and a twist-tie on the cord. Of course.

One little card showing how to turn on and connect charger.

It was about 75% charged right out of the box. When I turned it on it detected our wireless internet signal.  Once connected it welcomed me and the screen said “Hello David Levine.  Not David Levine?” I pressed CONTINUE in the face of  this existential inquiry. The Kindle Fire had apparently already been programmed with my Amazon account information. I think I just had to put in my password to complete the registration. Then it was hooked in to my Amazon account and as part of the deal I get Amazon Prime free for a month. Not sure what that means yet, but I’ll get that figured out. I had to put the iPad aside for a day or so in order to properly fondle the Kindle.

Left to right, Kindle Fire and Apple iPad 2. Both opened to book I’m reading. Guess I should have included the iPhone in this lineup, huh?

So as the gadgetosis disease progresses, I get further into the 850 page Stephen King book purchased in Kindle format. I’d read the 80-page free teaser in iBook format, which was pretty and all, but decided on the Kindle format for the $15 purchase of the whole book. The Kindle reader application is available for any computer as well as for the iPad and iPhone. You can see in the photo that the Fire is quite a bit smaller than the iPad, and this size is about perfect for reading. Especially when reading in bed. The iPad is beautiful and all, and I think its touch screen might be a little more responsive and sharp, but it’s just a tad on the large side when one is laying down with it or otherwise holding it. It’s much nicer to have laying flat on a table or desk, such as while dining and reading.

OK, here’s the complete lineup. The beauty of this page sync is that of the Amazon Cloud.

Both devices are powerful and versatile, though the Kindle has no cameras or microphones. It’s a read-only device. Thought this makes it a bit less versatile and powerful than the iPad, for the money it’s a great gadget. Since I don’t own the iPad that I’m using, I’m glad to have purchased it. It won’t surprise me if Amazon gives Apple some serious competition. Amazon’s cloud is every bit as transparent and usable as Apple’s iCloud. Maybe even better. If you’re trying to sync devices, the iCloud has some limits, despite Apple’s promise to set aside its annoying DRM practices.

Having the Kindle Reader on a few computers (Windows and Mac) as well as on the iPhone and the iPad, it’s really cool how the Amazon cloud keeps track, among all my gadgets, of where I am in this fat novel. If, at work, I have some time to wait for, let’s say, a hard drive scan to complete, I can pull out the phone, start the Kindle app, which cheerfully reports that I’d gotten to page 563 on “David’s Kindle” and asks would I like to start reading from there. The Fire will let me listen to whatever mp3 music I’ve purchased and saved in Amazon’s cloud without the annoyance of the iTunes purchase-sync process. Hopefully Apple will improve their iCloud, otherwise Amazon will be kicking their cloud-ass across the sky. Rumor has it that Amazon is taking a loss selling these nifty new gadgets, and hoping to make it up with the content they’ll be selling to the new Fire users. I bet they’re right.

Gadgetosis therapy: 4 ratty looking celery stalks harvested yesterday from underneath row cover. They look awful but will be great in a soup or stir-fry.

So I’m not dissing the iPad in any way. It’s a beautiful, powerful, versatile device.  And I used it and the NBC app to watch all the available episodes of Whitney, a hilarious new sitcom. I gotta start recording that on our DVR. I think my wife will like it too and it comes on just before Prime Suspect.  I should also say that the iPhone 4 doesn’t need any further praise from me. It’s even more amazing than the iPad2 (they run the very same operating system- which is a HUGE factor in theirawesomeness). While I’m still not sure whether I’ll be able to justify the addition monthly billing now that I have a smart phone, so far the wow factor has been justification enough. I feared that I would feel TOO connected at work, but now see the value in the ability to read and quickly reply to emails when out and about on campus.

And now is the part of the show where Dr. House figures out that I only have worms or venereal disease and tells me to go to the Walmart to get some Vicks Vapo-Rub. And I only owe the hospital $250 zillion dollars for all the unnecessary, as it turned out, tests, surgeries, membrane scrapings, etc. Or, if I was in the unlucky 2% of House episodes, I died.



  1. It could be lupus. Or Whipples. Sometimes it’s Whipples. Quick, more vicodin

    Right! I forgot about the Whipples. I bet that’s it. My ankles are swollen. 😀 Ouch.

  2. Acute ectoplasmic gadgetosis is a seasonal disorder, usually not acquired until late December. You appear to have contracted the less common early onset form of the disease. I’m concerned that it might be contagious and I’ve been exposed!

    That packaging is a thing of beauty. “Intelligent design” of the best sort. Wish more companies did that.

    Careful with that Amazon Prime. My son let me in on his and free shipping from my favorite online retailer has proven dangerously alluring.

    Thank you Pied. Yes, it is surely a seasonal disorder. Transmitted by improperly roasted chestnuts or egg nog. I’m WAY out of sync with the whole Chrismahanukawaanzaa thing anyway. Just call me Ebeneezer and move along.

    I’m sorry if you’ve been exposed. From your blog pages, it’s clear you’ve been susceptible to gadgetosis for some time. You also seem to know how to deal with it.

    Thanks for the cautionary advice on Prime. I’m not sure what it even is yet. Been an Amazon customer for years. They’re hard to beat.

  3. I remarked on the same thing about the minimalistic packaging when I received my Kindle…I got the new 3G touch one. I am obsessed with it. I can’t quit downloading free classics. The irony that I could have been reading classics free from the library hasn’t escaped me. But if this is what’s finally getting me to read Jack London, then hooray for Kindle!

    Toy packagers could also take a note from the Kindle people.

    Happy gadgeting to you!

    I didn’t even realize there were free books! Having finally finished 11/22/63 (Rating: ★★★★) downloaded and started reading Three Men In A Boat. I’d heard something about it on NPR one evening and found it among the freebies. It was published in 1889. I like the Kindle best for reading in bed. It doesn’t disturb my wife as my reading lamp did, and it’s easy to hold onto. And if I get drowsy and drop it it’s not likely to hurt much.

  4. Of all the gadgets you mention I could only use some of that celery. Do you also have parsley, id est Petroselinum crispum?
    I did not know that celery could be fried.

    We didn’t have much parsley this year, but one plant which got very large and went to seed. I collected the seeds and will soon check to see whether they have any vigor.

    Apparently anything can be fried. But I was referencing stir-frying. This is the Chinese method of cooking vegetables in a little oil in a very hot pan or wok, stirring almost continuously. However, that celery ended up going into a chicken soup with brown rice. It was OK.

    • Chinese method! I was brought up on it.
      Cooked celery is also good in lentils.
      By the way, you call lentils “a soup”. Mine don’t look like a soup. Sometimes there is (American spelling: their’s) almost no water left when they are done. That way they can be used up as a salad with mayonnaise and mustard.

      I am not allowed any garlic. It causes a public uprising of the kind that Spaniards call “Dios es Cristo”.
      Off topic
      And how do Spaniards say “you can just talk and talk but you do not have any authority to implement what you say”?
      They say” “puede decir misa” which means “let him say mass”. I have even heard a priest say that of a high ranking politician.

      That’s what I was told as a kid- I had an uncle who went to culinary school and he showed my dad and me some techniques. Stir-frying was presented as a Chinese method, and it involved a lot of noise and smoke. Each ingredient cooked separately in the same pan.

      I love lentils, and wish I had them more often. My wife doesn’t really care for them, so that’s probably why we don’t. I’m going to get some next time I go to the store dammit!

      No garlic for you? That’s too bad, I’m sorry. By “Dios es Cristo” I assume you mean some sort of gastro-intestinal disaster?

      Let him say mass. Seems that’s all our high ranking politicians ever really do.

      • Not gastro-intestinal, but city-intestinal and media-intestinal, some Occupy Wall Street event or simply a street fight, the kind of entertainment that has little by little been annihilated by TV and maybe also, more ominously by the way riot police are now mostly dressed up as big black scarecrows. Those make the game look really dumb.

        OK so now I really don’t get why you’re not allowed any garlic.

  5. I tried to find this on your blog, but couldn’t.

    Thanks for reposting it over at your place cantueso. It was posted in February 2011, a post titled “Brain Check“.

  6. You could use that yellow celery to whip the gadgetosis into submission. It’s not even Christmas yet, mate! Get a grip on it!!

    We are buying Son-In-Law a Kindle Fire for Christmas. I want one as well but am saving up for new sofas and a new car.

    My celery was NOT yellow. Humph. It went into a halfway decent chicken soup. But the gadgetosis is in remission. I’m now looking for FREE books to download from Amazon, thanks to Allison’s revelation. I’m reading Three Men In A Boat. Nice gift, a Kindle Fire. Who needs sofas anyway?

    • You know, Kindle now works to borrow books from some libraries! You should check with your library to see if they do that. (Library books are free you know.)

      Sorry, I cant’t respond to this now, I just discovered that my complementary month of Amazon Prime membership (came with purchase of Kindle Fire- word to the wise) means I have access to all sorts of free streaming video, TWO WEEKS LEFT. I’m watching Fawlty Towers episode The Builders. Hmmmm. Amazon Prime … $80/yr = $6.67/mo. = .22/day (It’s the episode where Basil calls Polly a “cloth-eared bint”.)

      • You have 5 loyal readers. Totally worth updating your blog.

        Thank you, Madame Librarian. I’ll get right to that. Soon I have a 2-week holiday.

      • Only because Polly was a cloth-eared bint!

        Yeah she was. He throws a brilliant tantrum in that scene!

  7. Since you are so well attuned to these various trends that keep the USA alive and hopping, couldn’t you tell me why The People now are after Toulouse Lautrec? Something must have set them in motion in that direction. Has there been a film? A video game? Something about whorehouses in Paris?
    There are 12 posts on my top list. 8 are The People’s choices and 4 would be mine, if I had a say.
    And these 4 are always at the bottom of the list and keep changing because when one falls off, another loser takes its place.
    Meanwhile, the top 8, nearly all of them, sit there forever and ever.
    How did Toulouse Lautrec get there?

    I’m really not very well attuned to trends at all, it just appears that way because of the internet. For example, I have not been to a movie theater in well over 10 years.

    As to Toulouse Lautrec I’ve heard nothing of his trending here recently, though we Americans have affinities for short-legged womanizing artists.

    Your F I S H I N G blog is coming to the half-million hit mark, so I still wonder what keeps you coming back to this sorry little outpost. Other than the animal photos and bird feeder videos. Nevertheless, thank you for being such a faithful commenter.

  8. Postscript

    The first sentence of my message above is not meant as an insult. I swear that its (American spelling: it’s) redaction took me more than ten minutes of redacting, though it is now, here, still early in the morning and I am not yet showing any signs of blogging blues..

    It did not sound the least bit insulting. Maybe just a little sarcastic. I have since Googled that Toulouse-Lautrec’s birthday was November 24. Maybe there was some celebrating around that time?

    • No. It can’t be because of his birthdate, because the trend started some months back. I do not think he was a womanizer. He simply loved to spend his time drawing women in bars and in the most famous houses of ill repute.

      That is why I do not think he is now being taught at school, and if it isn’t school, then it has to be TV, for there is nothing else anymore that can give The People so much sense of direction.

      By the way, I was going to take down the Birdfeeder video and hang up some angels instead, since those are also winged and also go really well with the season, but, just like last year, the stickie kept replacing the latest post and now I haven’t been able to put it back..

      Well I’m sorry I cannot account for this Toulouse-Lautrec hysteria. I haven’t seen it. I live in my own little world

      Thanks again for reposting the birdfeeder video. The birds have not been so active lately.

  9. Now I also got a gadget
    It is a little pocket light, about 2 by 3 centimeters. There are two tiny little LED bulbs on one side, and on the other side there is a tiny little wheel with a tiny little handle to turn the wheel which operates a generator that produces electricity for the bulbs!

    The Chinese made it.
    The light it produces is so bright that it is too much for reading at night. It is best at 2 or 3 meters. It would be ideal for a speleologist. Would you happen to have a speleologist among your relatives? It could be life-saving and costs only 1.5 euros
    By the way:

    Have you used silicon dishes or pans to bake things in an oven? Is it better than metal?

    I like those little generator flashlights. The LED bulbs are so efficient now. No speleologists in my circle, just a few rock climbers.

    My wife has a couple of silicon candy molds and this silicon sheet that is placed on or in a metal pan. It’s brand name is “Silpat“. It seems to work quite well though she’s only used it a few times. My uninformed opinion is that metal, glass, and ceramics are time-tested proven baking pan materials. Silicon is the newcomer and will have to prove itself in the years ahead.

  10. But I took the video down to put an angel there for Christmas. Can’t do without Christmas. My mother died on December 22 when I was 9; my sisters were 6 and 3 years old. At the time my father managed a hotel.He did not tell us and ordered his employees not to say anything.
    After Christmas he came to our bedroom where we had been getting ready for mass. He sat down on the bed, certainly not as planned, and began to cry. When the baby sister saw my father cry, she screamed.

    Oh my goodness, what an intensely sad time that must have been for you as a child. Thank you for sharing it here, and I hope that you are having a nice Christmas season. Tomorrow is the first day of winter.

    The sculpture of the angel waking the wise men is quite nice.

    Have you changed your blog name to cantuesoes?

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