In front of Big Ben: badly centered!Amazon.com has simply got to be one of the greatest places on-line, perhaps even on earth. And here I speak mostly about books, although as I get used to the idea that Amazon has expanded into almost everything short of booking (ha!) flights to the moon, I'm begrudgingly accepting the shared wall space with "other things" <snarl here, please> when I go to their main page.I've been in love with Amazon since the late '90's, feeling extremely guilty because our town has a truly wonderful independent bookstore, a dying breed. In fact, if I can, I really try to buy locally as much as possible across the line. And local independent bookstores should definitely be supported. Plus there's nothing like getting to know your indie bookseller. Talk about recommendations! I well remember the wonderful years when I took my Christmas list up to "Words and Music" and Alan, between other customers, spent most of the day helping me pick out the perfect book for each person on my list. One year his enthusiasm for Angela's Ashes, a brand new book no had heard of as of yet - for my very Irish fellow CFIDer from our St. Louis days - knew no bounds. It was a very hard sell, but he was HOW right? As I've become sicker and sicker I turned to Amazon more and more often. And when you are a severe insomniac, it's great to be able to shop in the odd hours when the world sleeps. When Strand Bookstore in New York went on-line, I also ordered from them by the huge - and heavy - boxful. They have the most incredible stock. What an unbelievable bookseller - I have been known to be the last customer out, with sales personnel literally pushing me out the door while hubby pulled. I make NO apologies...the store is incredible and when you first walk in, there is so much there that your brain simply fries. You need to allot much time for Strand. It takes a while for your brain to come back to normal. My notebook of books already read is almost a necessity, I find, because my brain never quite makes it back to normal after walking in. On-line is definitely the way to go. But all along the way I've been falling more deeply in love with Amazon...it's a growing love affair. So when the age of the Kindle came, I was extremely torn. To say I love books? Oh, I don't even know how to convey to anyone how much. But the house was getting squeezed by them and since I could never part with any books no matter how lousy, and because there were no more areas in the house to build more shelves, Kindle started being forced on me. It was a matter of "buy more books but get rid of the same number of books in order to have some semblance of an orderly house," or resort to Kindle. Heresy! I was very conflicted. But any time there was a discussion of the new Kindle from BookSpan to Charlie Rose to "Good Morning America," my ears were glued to what was being said. Another complication in this decision making was that anything mechanical, especially electrical, which includes clocks, watches and computers, seems to die on me, or at the very least constantly breaks down. Hubby still tells anyone who will listen about how Big Ben stopped for the first time ever on August 5, 1976 on our honeymoon. Let's just say Big Ben was working when my new hubby and I sat down to have a late sandwich in a tiny square near Big Ben and fifteen minutes later he wasn't moving. I used to have three computers in my arsenal: one for in the shop being fixed, one ABOUT to go to into the shop to be fixed and one having arrived from the shop FINALLY fixed. My family will not allow me to even walk by their computers because suddenly their screens would start to do weird things. I've even seen my middle child see me coming, grab his laptop and flee. Putting the final touches on his PhD dissertation from our home, he was not about to risk losing precious data brought home from Australia. (Picky! Picky!) So, why would a person with my history possibly want the hassle of a Kindle? Well, in order to keep buying and reading books, of course - silly! Our libraries here are very good and hubby makes frequent runs there weekly, but some books you just want to own and some books simply aren't instantly available. Furthermore, for many it is a wonderful way to go. Some of us have trouble holding a book, after all, and a Kindle really helps if you want to continue reading. Thirdly, a real problem with CFIDS and Fibromyalgia is the cognitive problems we have. As much as I love to read - a wild understatement - I must admit that there have been times when I've forced myself to read, just in order to keep my mind from atrophying. I can't believe I'm admitting this, but there have been a couple of times when I resorted to harlequin romances...I needed to read because I love to and I needed to read to slow the brain deterioration process. I often call myself a "moody" reader but that's simply code for saying that there are times I can only handle this sort of book, other times I can only handle that sort. "Chick lit" one day, Nobel Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner the next. And when I read "Wolf Hall"? I love a really long book. But holding one, as I mentioned before, is a different story. Finally, being able to match a book to your mood in just an instant really helps that pesky "mood" problem. Anyway, a few months into the second generation of my first Kindle, the inevitable happened. I didn't know whether to laugh, cry or get mad at myself. Instead, I finally called the Amazon Kindle number to talk to someone and a few minutes later, talking to a really, really polite and kind young man, we realized that my Kindle was really and truly dead. Since the year warranty was still in effect (what WAS I thinking when I didn't buy the extended warranty with my history?) I was sent a new Kindle, free of charge. I just had to remember to mail back the old one within 30 days, which is not as easy as it sounds when you can do nothing, nor remember anything, yet ridiculously easy for the rest of the world. They even set it up for me by entering my old books into it and the heading on the top of the Kindle read "Irene's 2nd Kindle." Sweet! Were we all in a group I might stop here and ask how many know where this is going! You may be right. You see, the other night I received "Irene's 5th Kindle." To tell you the truth I was a bit uncomfortable calling about this fifth one...in fact, the warranty had run out. I knew the warranty starts anew with each new Kindle but I was just too plain lazy ("too sick" and "too tired"...remember our code words here!) to call and explain the dying process of my fourth Kindle. Finally, with the warranty over, I now had to choose from quite an array of new Kindles. Did I mention I have a hard time making decisions - a very typical CFIDS problem? Well, finally Kindle number four died absolutely and completely. I was going to order a new one after much hemming and hawwing. But I wasn't sure that I'd be able to handle the library transfer and registration parts, so I wanted to order one from an actual human being. Amazon has them, you see...I suspect they're there to be amused by the senior crowd who have no clue as to what they are doing. I finally got around to calling. And in less than five minutes I was informed that by paying $60 I could have a brand new Kindle, the very one I was ready to put real money into. How amazing is that? I must say that the support woman was a bit....shocked?...when she realized this was my fifth Kindle. I refrained from telling her about my Big Ben incident. And England: I'm so sorry. I really didn't mean to hurt Big Ben. It was a totally innocent and unintentional act! My sincerest apologies to all.
- irene speaks
- I'm a mom, a wife, a best friend. Sick with CFIDS/ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia since 1975 as a result of a nasty flu while still in grad school, it wasn't until the late '80's that I received a diagnosis. Until that flu I'd never really been ill before. With each year I get progressively worse and add to the bucket load of symptoms I'm living with. I've been blessed with an incredible family and best friend who've stayed with me through my struggles as we continue to find a way out of this monstrous illness and its complications. We've tried seemingly every approach to find my way back to health. Often I think our best weapon in this undesirable and unasked-for adventure has been laughter.