Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pondering e-books

Within my lifetime -- nay, probably within a decade -- ink and paper books could become as antiquated as leather scrolls.

Every day brings more news about electronic books, once a prop of sci-fi novels, now a reality. Borders is studying a plan to take over Barnes and Noble, and e-books are very much a part of the discussion.

It's exciting to think that I could carry around the equivalent of a thousand books or so, in my pocket, ready to whip out and peruse wherever I may be.

But knowing me, I would probably drop the thing in the washing machine or leave it in a meeting hall somewhere. Would my collection transfer to a new e-book machine?

What if some future government decided I had no right to read a certain book? Would it mysteriously vanish from my machine or be blocked from being loaded in the first place? Would Big Brother track my e-book selections to ferret out my seditious leanings?

Friday, December 3, 2010

What is it about dogs lately?

I was getting into my car preparing to go home last evening when I saw a large black dog wandering in the street. Back and forth went my thoughts: It's probably from nearby, it'll probably find its way home, it's a big dog, if I approach it, maybe it will attack ...

Then I thought about the sweet little furball who is now part of our family. What if that was her, wandering out in danger? Wouldn't I pray that someone would help? Wouldn't we be devastated to find her crushed in the road?

So I called Animal Control. The phone rang endlessly. Well, it was about 5 p.m. They have the right to go home to their families like the rest of us. Still ... wouldn't you think they would have someone on hand for after-hour emergencies? Dogs don't wander just from 9-5.

I dialed the police department non-emergency line. They made no commitment to do anything. I hung up, screwed up my courage and tried to approach the dog. It ignored me and kept wandering south. I got out a slice of bread left over from lunch.

And so passed the next half-hour or so. Horrible half hour. Dog continuing to wander down the middle of the street. Some cars slowing down and carefully going around the dog. Some cars occupied by lead-footed, hell-spawn who deserve to be reincarnated as lost-dogs-in-traffic if there is any justice in the universe -- narrowly missing the dog as they roared past it without slowing in the least. I give credit to the driver of a large bus who managed to bring his big vehicle to a complete halt and not hit the animal, without swerving into another lane. I give less credit to those who honked their horns at the poor animal as they went on by it. That doesn't help.

I think I've mentioned I hate UPS. That's one reason. Those ugly brown trucks blast along even residential roads like gunmen are chasing them. When one thundered past, I thought it would be over for the dog. Missed by a hair. I renewed my long-time vow never, ever to do any business with UPS. I will never forget the piece of human garbage who killed a huge turtle in front of me years ago that I was manuevering to save. If he didn't see me, and the turtle, he was blind as a cave shrimp. He was driving a UPS truck, no surprise. The turtle was so big his damned truck nearly tipped over. I wish it would have.

I followed the dog in my car, stopping each time I got close and getting out, trying to talk to it and waving the piece of bread. The dog resolutely ignored me. Finally, it wandered away from the deadly big streets and into a quiet neighborhood -- huge relief. I called the police again. I gave them the location. By now, it was dark and I could no longer see the black dog. He was somewhere in somebody's yard. There was absolutely nothing I could do. I drove around the area one more time, trying to see him. Maybe he had indeed made it back home.

So, not a happy ending, not one that I would witness at least. Sometimes, all you can do is try.