Erin's Everyday Thoughts

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Saturday Morning

It's cold outside, but the sun is bright. I sit at my dining room table, directly in the sun path, drinking it in like a dog, even though it makes me squint, even though I'll have a headache if I stay here for an hour. The warmth on my hands and arms feels like rebirth. I wait for Spring like a lover.

Everything is quiet (even the dog has settled down to a nap). The day has already been active, and I've just filled myself with clean, simple food. Later, friends will come. Later, I'll go to the store. I'll walk the dog. I'll bake. Right now, there is nothing that I must do.

It's the sort of morning when things are clear, when dreams jump from water to land and just lie there, in obvious view, so I can have a long look. Even the path up to the dream seems simple--eat, sleep, think, write, eat, sleep, think, write. Read, read, read, write. Eat, sleep ...

Life will pick up pace again soon, and I'm sure my insecurities will follow. For right now, though, all is well. It's Saturday morning. In February. 2007. The sun is shining. I am feeling fine.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Computer Woes

Lately my computer has been slow. Especially Microsoft Word is soooo slow opening documents, closing documents, saving documents, printing documents. Since my creative livelihood is wrapped up in documents, this is a problem.

One evening last week, I spent two hours printing out material to send off, and it should have taken me less than half that time. It’s enough, I think, to find the time, energy, and focus to write in the evening after work. When a computer is running so tortoise-like that normal tasks take ten times longer than they should (i.e. opening a Word document can take a full 2 minutes), it is no good.

So I’ve determined—something’s got to give.

My options as I see them are to try to upgrade/update my computer so that it will run more smoothly, or to buy a new computer.

I went to the local Apple store yesterday to discuss options. I was told by a salesman (who was very knowledgeable, personable, and did not pressure at all—I liked him!) that computers are only designed to last 3-5 years. After that, technology has advanced so far that older computers are obsolete. Even if nothing has gone wrong with the computer, per se, it is no longer beefy enough to run new programs, upgraded operating systems, and so on. Unfortunately, my computer is 5 years old.

It seems so wasteful to me to replace such an expensive item after only 5 years. I know that some people like to replace their computer often, but given a choice, I would keep a computer for 10-20 years. Maybe longer! I don’t like to have to move all of my documents and settings over to a new system. I don’t like to have to get used to a new keyboard and display. I like what I already have. (That’s why I bought it in the first place.)

I think I’m going to bring my current iBook into the Apple store to see what they can do to speed things up. If the costs will be high to make the necessary updates (and I suspect this is will be the case), it looks like I’ll be unwillingly purchasing a new system.

Now, I am excited about a new computer. I think it’s tough not to be excited when looking at fun new technology. (Pictured above is the one I’ve seen that I like. It’s similar to the one I have right now, but the screen is an inch bigger, and of course it has a better processor and more memory.) I’m just frustrated to feel as though I have to get a new computer, and so soon.

Maybe if I do get a new computer, I will never update it. Maybe I will never upgrade to a new operating system. Maybe I will never add new programs. Maybe I can make it last forever!

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Jane Austen Book Club

Last week, I finished the second on my list of “Christmas books”—The Jane Austen Book Club. I went into this book expecting a lot. Usually, I don’t do this, either because 1) I don’t know a lot about a book before I pick it up to read or 2) I’ve learned to go in with no expectations so I can be pleasantly surprised by something great and so I am not as likely to be disappointed by something that is less than fantastic. But in this case, I did have an expectation, and I think it was mostly because of this expectation that I was somewhat disappointed in the book.

The book was just fine. I’m not writing this to say that I disliked the book, that it didn’t hold my interest, or that I don’t think it was well written. It was in every way fine, and in some ways delightful. (Some detail and a few of the storylines were quite interesting.) There were six “main characters”, and the book was divided into six parts, one for each of Jane Austen’s novels—Persuasion, Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, Emma, Mansfield Park, and Northanger Abbey. (So each part dealt with a particular Austen novel and a particular “book club” member.) I found that I was very interested in each character within the part on them, and at the end of the part I was disappointed to move on to the next character because I wanted to know more. I felt like I was just getting to know the character, and then had to switch my focus.

The author did draw some interesting parallels between Austen storylines, and the lives of the six characters in the Jane Austen book club. I think I would have gotten even more here had I read more of Austen’s work. I’ve read Pride & Prejudice, and I more or less know the storylines (having seen movies, which obviously isn’t close to the same, but can give you the gist of a plot) for Sense & Sensibility, Emma, and Mansfield Park. Reading this book did inspire me to want to read more Austen. (Although that’s a dangerous sport because when I read Austen, I start to think in Austen-speak, and then end up using way too many words in my own writing.)

The other thing that disappointed me was the end of the book. Everything was very … tied up. With the interesting ins and outs of plot and characterization earlier on, I was in some ways disappointed to see everything tie up so completely. I felt that the characters betrayed my sense of how they would react to certain situations. Probably the author was trying to make it tie up just like ... well, an Austen book!

This problem with the ending may be more of a problem with me than a problem with the book, though. I find more and more that I’m disappointed with endings (and sometimes entire second halves) of books. It might be some books start better than they end. I felt strongly this way about The Lovely Bones, which I read years ago. I also felt this way when I read Memoirs of a Geisha last year. I was so enthralled by the first half, and then the second half didn’t really “bring it home” for me. I enjoyed it, but I don’t feel that it kept its momentum.

So, all in all, I enjoyed The Jane Austen Book Club. I think it’s worth a read especially for Austen fans, and in general because of some vivid scenes and characterizations throughout.

I am now doubling up and reading Poetry as Survival and Life of Pi. So far, so good on both counts!