Books in every Nook and cranny

Barnes and Noble revealed their own eBook reader yesterday: Nook. I’ve been following the eBook readers closely, specifically the Sony PRS-600 and the Kindle 2.

My ideal eBook reader would have the following features in order of importance:

  • use eInk technology
  • native support of ePub format (the open standard eBook format)
  • native support of PDF format
  • wireless LAN support
  • no physical keyboard
  • bonus: touch screen support
  • bonus: SD card support

The Kindle 2 is right out seeing as that it has no support for ePub, no native PDF support (unless you get the larger Kindle DX), no wireless LAN support, and a physical keyboard. Also working against it is the inability to play with one before buying it and Amazon’s highly ironic Orwellian fubar. The cell connectivity is a neat gimmick but isn’t a feature I’m looking for.

The Sony PRS-600 thus far has most of the features that I’ve been wanting, including the touch screen but sans wireless LAN support. I played with one of the earlier PRS-700 models that a friend purchased and really liked it. The downside is that it’s sold by Sony which while they may make excellent hardware I hate their business practices. Like use of their proprietary Memory Sticks in their cameras and laptops, their apparent disdain of their consumers of the PSP Go, and their classic rootkit escapade. Oh, and they’re in bed with the RIAA as if they needed another strike against them in my book.

The Nook seems to have all of the items on my wish list, plus a few more extras that I like (mini-SD card slot and color LCD touch screen in addition to the eInk screen). The ability to lend a friend a purchased book, even for a measly two weeks, is pretty interesting although I doubt I’d purchase books given how many interesting ones are available for free via Project Gutenberg. The ability to read any eBook in its entirety for free while inside a Barnes & Noble store is exceptionally cool. Because it’s sold by a brick-and-mortar store I can go into a Barnes and Noble and play with one before I buy it. And playing with one is the first thing I’m going to do come November 30th when the stores get them.

Our marriage is now complete: we have matching luggage.

For the past two or so years Benjamin has wanted matching luggage instead of the rag-tag affair we’ve been using, which consists of:

  • a very large lime green roller-duffel I named Grendel which Benjamin affectionately refers to as a female, never having read Beowulf — courtesy of IBM’s Thanks! awards program
  • a small gray wheel-less duffel — courtesy of IBM’s Thanks! awards program
  • a small black and blue wheel-less duffel — courtesy of IBM’s Thanks! awards program
  • a nice black roller bag that was originally purchased for B’s wedding emergency kit and quickly got repurposed as regular use luggage

As you can tell out of the four bags we use for luggage only one wasn’t given to me by IBM – yes I’m that cheap, err… practical.

Due to the recent bankruptcy of Samsonite, two of their local stores are closing and have mark downs such that their luggage seems somewhat reasonably priced. We’ve looked at luggage a couple of times but haven’t been moved by them, until today. Today we walked out of a Samsonite store with: two 22″ carry-on roller bags, one 26″ roller bag, and one laptop-bag-esque bag — all at 60% of the original price. They are all matching Sevruga bags (which after looking on Samsonite’s website, they don’t make any longer).

So now we have matching luggage all ready for TSA to abuse during our trip to Texas for Thanksgiving.

My British TV twin

About a year ago Megan said she found my twin while watching the BBC TV series Hotel Babylon. While out visiting her earlier this year she showed me the first episode and pointed out Ben, played by Michael Obiora. He’s one of the two receptionists and the guy who reminded her of me, except he’s British (being on a British TV series that should come as no surprise) and black.

I’m not sure how much I look like him personally, but seeing as that he’s a rather dapper fellow, if a bit on the flaming queen side in the show, I’ll take that as a compliment.

We just started Series 3 (translated in American English as Season 3) via Netflix. The show is all about a hotel and it’s interesting to see the fictionalized ongoings of a fancy hotel. I keep picturing Benjamin in a similar context, off planning big events for big wigs in a fancy hotel and can’t help but smile: he’ll be great at it.

Twas said of yeast: it’s (mostly) dead, Jim.

Earlier today I was adventurous and tried to make some homemade cinnamon rolls. I’ve decided quite conclusively that the yeast I used is past its expiration date (the “best by August 2009” on top might have been an indicator). Lets go so far as to call it dead — and it’s not rising again in 3 days.

Despite the lack of decent rising, either in the general fermenting or the proofing stage, my ornery self stuck them in the oven to bake anyway. After cooling them off I threw on some frosting and served them up to my poor husband and our out-of-town guest. They both said they were good although I’m a harsher critic. The flavor was ok but they were most certainly rather dense and chewier than they should have been.

Regardless I’m calling the endeavor a success as not only was it my first time to make cinnamon rolls but I did it at a high altitude to boot. Just call me Benny Crocker.

Oh, did I mention that in addition to cinnamon rolls I was also making Latin Gumbo for dinner tonight and my own chicken bullion for some other meals this week? Maybe you should call me Julian Child instead!

Copy/paste between Mac OS X and X11 apps

Yesterday Benjamin was having some challenges trying to copy text out of OpenOffice (a full Aqua app) and paste it into an Inkscape (an X11 app) document he was creating. The challenge was that it wasn’t working.

After digging around a bit I discovered that the X11 app didn’t have pasteboard syncing enabled. To fix this we went into the Preferences for the X11 app, selected the Pasteboard tab, and enabled syncing using only the ‘Update PRIMARY when Pasteboard changes’ option. Problem solved!

Unfortunately it also messes up copying and pasting vector images from within Inkscape. Looks like this is a setting that will have to be toggled on and off based on what you want to be doing for your copy/paste action. Rather a pain I think.

Toni’s 10 Bean Soup

Yesterday for lunch I threw together Toni’s 10 Bean Soup (if you can call soaking the beans overnight and cooking them for 4.5 hours “throwing it together”). That’s a soup mix that we purchased at a Women’s Bean Project booth at Pride in 2008 — thankfully beans last for a while!

The soup was very good and only required the addition of water, a garlic clove, a 28-oz can of diced tomatoes, salt, and the aforementioned 4.5 hours — the beans and a seasoning packet was included. Benjamin was skeptical before the inclusion of the tomatoes but agreed it turned out pretty well. I’m sure the side of Perfect Cornbread (his favorite) didn’t hurt his appreciation either.

Women’s Bean Project is a social services organization. From their FAQ:

Since 1989, the Women’s Bean Project has provided women with the opportunity to become economically independent by teaching basic job readiness skills and life skills through work in our on-site business.

Income from our business allows us to pay women a steady wage as they work in a safe, accepting environment and develop the skills and abilities needed to get and keep a job.

The program varies in length, lasting about 6 months, depending on each individual participant’s progress in reaching “job readiness.”

Back in 2008 we purchased two mixes, one was a black bean salsa mix which we took to a party the following month and it got rave reviews. Unfortunately I don’t see it available on their online store.

Next time we come across one of their booths I’ll be sure to pick up some of their other products since the last two were so successful. It’s nice to support a local business that’s helping people, and even better when you love their products! They also offer some attractive yet inexpensive gift bundles if you’re looking for Christmas gifts already.

Benjamin’s recipe selection privileges: revoked

Every Sunday Benjamin and I sit down and decide what meals we’re cooking for the week. We look at our schedules, and the weather, and determine roughly what meals we want to cook. Sometimes we opt for tried-and-true recipes, but often we’ll select one or two new recipes to try out. Then we go to the grocery store and buy everything we need for the week. This has been our standard operating procedure for many years now.

This trimester Benjamin doesn’t get out of class until 6pm every evening, so I’ve been responsible for getting dinner started, if not done, by the time he gets home. (Yes, not only do I bring home the bacon, but I cook it too!) I’d forgotten how much I love to cook until thrown into this schedule. However, after last night I officially revoked Benjamin’s new recipe selection privileges for at least a week or more.

Two weeks ago B selected the recipe for the Indian dish that involved the garam masala which I’ve blogged about twice before. Given his strong reaction to the smell when he walked in the door, we ordered take-out and I ended up eating it later by myself when he was otherwise occupied. It was rather good if a bit heavy on the onion. That was strike one.

This week B selected a recipe for Coq au vin that we had cooked before back in Austin. Unlike the classic recipe featured at the link, this one is much simpler but still tasty. This one at least made it to his plate before he decided that while edible, It wasn’t as good as he remembered it and overall he wasn’t a fan. I on the other hand, loved it. That was strike two.

Also this week, B had selected a recipe for Balsamic Vinegar Chicken. Once again I had it almost ready when he came home from school yesterday. Unlike the Coq au vin, it didn’t make it to his plate although he did taste it before opting for some leftovers instead. It was tangy and delicious, if a bit dry. That was strike three.

So now, B is not allowed to select new recipes for the next week or so. It’s bad enough when I select and cook a recipe that he doesn’t care for. It’s quite another for him to dislike a recipe that he selects and I cook three times in two weeks. Speaking of food, I’m trying out a new 10-bean stew recipe for lunch today (it’s on the stove as I type). I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow.