State by State

Apparently there is an entire country between Boston and San Francisco.

books and nooks

by Damian

When we planned our trip we resigned ourselves to getting by without some of the perks of civilization (regular meals, hot showers, morning coffee or morning commute). There are however things on which I simply refuse to compromise.

One of them is the access to printed word. I am very much so a Gutenberg junkie. In an hour of despair I have been known to plunge for a fix into a flowery language of washing detergents’ blurbs. Which, for uninitiated, is quite similar to Ewan McGregor’s plunge in Trainspotting. Let’s just say it’s not mentioned in polite society.

Taking real books with us has been ruled out early on. Every couple of years when we decide to pack up and move, we end up giving away some of the books and then spending crazy amount of time and effort on packing the rest of them into boxes, moving them to a new place only to repeat the whole process when we move again. This time we swore to break the cycle.

We were determined to cross over to e-books and new fancy e-reading devices. Natalia has had her trusted IPod Touch for some time now and I bought a B&N nook. I did read books before on Nokia N800 and it worked OK, but it also kept me from falling asleep. Not sure if it’s a general rule, but for me looking at an LCD screen ensures full awareness. Come to think of it IPad might be a great device if you usually read really boring books. Too bad Apple didn’t sell it when I was in high school and had to read through Polish positivists canon. If you ever see IPad commercials with IBooks displaying Ulysess you’ll know why.

Nook on the other hand lets me fall asleep rather easily. I got an Industriel cover, which folds behind for reading and provides good padding. Useful when the book, I mean the nook, falls on your head with a satisfying thump: strong enough to wake you just so that you can switch your night lamp off, soft enough not to hurl you back into full consciousness.

All these reviews that say that the nook disappears after couple of pages are absolutely true. So far the only problem was that sometimes I keep on pressing the next page button a bit too early, and the screen refreshes before I have a chance to read the last line. The habit of peeking ahead is quite hard to get rid of.

Many e-books at B&N store can be had at or below paperback cost. I moved onto the nook my epub collection mostly found on Calibre produces decent epub versions of newspapers and magazine websites but I could not really make myself read those. Linear page after page book reading works great. Navigating and jumping around not so much.

B&N has a decent IPhone/IPod app. Natalia and I can read the same book without fighting. Makes DRM slightly more bearable: I don’t feel as trapped in it as if the books where nook only.

And since Nook is android powered, who knows what else it can be used for in the future. For now B&N just added a web browser too it, which is perfect if you like your internet slow and in a full glory of 16 shades of grey.

droid does hiking

Droid really does many things. Quite frankly I am not sure what it doesn’t do. Well, to be honest I am not 100% sure it actually does the whole phone thing. I live in a near perfect cell phone wilderness. As far as cell phone companies are concerned, some parts of Vermont didn’t quite make it into 21st century. There are cell towers somewhere in the neighborhood, at least according to droid, and - during skiing seasons - there are plenty of people who annoy the rest of us babbling in the gondolas and on the lifts. But they might be just showing off their latest phones to the captive audience, not actually talking to anyone.


Next step in a preparation for the trip is to make sure we can play our painstakingly put together selection of music 24/7. Because once you get used to carrying your entire music library with you there is no going back to playing CD or, heaven forbid, searching for a station that doesn’t play country. And since we will be living out of our truck for a foreseeable future (or so is Damian telling me) we need to be able to connect it to our iPod. The factory radio was lacking that capability; or rather it was reserved to people on the West Coast - the only Nissan Frontier with short cab, V6 engine and iPod connection was in Washington state. Now you know why we want to go there.