Copyright

All blog posts, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted to the Author (that's me) and may not be used without written permission.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

And What She Said, Too

Read this post.

And I'll add...

(Prior to the ceremony)

And...

(Saying the vows to each other)

And...

(You may kiss the bride... and I did)

And...

(Happy couple with ceremony adjudicator, Gloria)

And...

(Happy couple with groom's mom)

And...

(After the ceremony, out front of the Courthouse)

Was a good day. A very good day.

Now, on to the paperwork....

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

NUMB3RS

I have enjoyed the show Numbers from its inception. It was a clever idea with a star I enjoyed since I first watched him on Northern Exposure (still one of the best shows ever-- well, okay, until the last season or so), Rob Morrow. The premise is this: a group of FBI agents in Los Angeles needs help from the lead agent's brother, a mathematics prodigy. Using math as a guiding principal, they solve crimes.

Admittedly, the premise seemed a little Schoolhouse Rock at first, as they forced these mathematical principals into every show. It seemed almost like an hour long "stay in school" special at times. But slowly the characters (and writers/directors) hit a groove and made the two disparate ideas (math and crime fighting) work together. The actors also hit a groove. Even one of my least favorite actresses, due to her seeming inability to emote on screen, Diane Farr, has hit a nice groove with her character and the rest of the actors.

Lately, however, the show has taken a turn recently with the introduction of Rob Morrow's lead FBI agent, Don, having anger issues and not letting anyone in to help him. He sabotaged relationships and it seemed like the character might be written off the show.

The last episode, called "One Hour," had the rest of his team helping an abducted child while Don was in for an hour long session with a shrink he decided to see. Without feeling forced or put on, while Don was describing how he sees his team members, they had opportunities to shine in those areas within the child abduction story. It allowed Don to realize where his anger was coming from while also allowing the team to show how good they can (and someday will) be without Don as their leader. It hit the exact right balance between each character, the writing, and the math. It feels like they can move forward with the solid foundation they have.

It is funny when a show hits the exact right "feel" to it. I cannot always point to any one thing as being why, but I just know it from watching the episode. Most shows continue in that vein until something happens. Some shows, like Studio 60, hit and then miss it again. Others are canceled before or even after they finally hit that stride (Enterprise was one such victim-- they struggled at first, but then finally hit a good balance in the last 4-6 episodes before cancellation). Numbers has always been a quality show, but with hits and misses. This last episode really hit a stride and hope the remaining shows this season are able to keep that going.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Bard Couldn't Be More Wrong...

Parting is not “sweet sorrow”—it is one of the most unnatural and wrenching experiences. And it is getting old. Yes, we are sorrowful, but there is little “sweet” involved when you know you won’t see your honey for a month or more. You love a person and you expect to be with that person. Constantly leaving isn’t getting easier, even if we are getting more “comfortable” (re: resigned, acquiescent, reconciled) with the process involved.

 

We are doing what we can, working on the paperwork, collecting the data, making a note of the questions we have for our lawyer, and will, hopefully, get this process worked out swiftly.

 

The end of March cannot come soon enough for me!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Something to Think About

I wrote the following to a friend and it struck me as a pretty good comment on people and our lives today:
One thing that a lot of people forget is that, when things get the most hectic and an individual is feeling the most overwhelmed with what is going on, is the time they need their friends and family the most. Yet most human beings tend to try to go it alone and become distant from just those sources of comfort and assistance that they could use.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Side Effects

I decided on Monday to spray some orange all-purpose cleaner and degreaser on my grill, as I had not cleaned it in a long time and you could barely tell that there was a window in the front, let alone see any of the instructions or temperature settings on the panel with the gas nobs. With the intention of coming back after 10 minutes or so to wipe off the grill, I sprayed the orange cleaner all over the outside, then on the appropriate places on the inside, and then on the gas tank.

However, I never made it back to wipe it down.

As I sprayed the cleaner, I felt something odd. When I looked down, places on my hand had split open where the somewhat leaky spray bottle was dripping cleaner. I had a large patch of dry skin everywhere where they cleaner had touched my flesh. I was even bleeding at a couple of the cracks. My hand burned a bit and it felt generally uncomfortable.

I had used this particular cleaner quite a few times in the past. I liked it for both its strength and the citrus orange scent. I couldn't remember it ever wounding me in this manner before, so I was a bit surprised that it would hinder me now.

I went into the kitchen and thoroughly washed my hand clean of the cleaning solution and dried it completely on a new, unused towel. While the slight burning sensation went away after washing, the dry patch and the cracking of my flesh was still apparent, so I got some lotion and rubbed that onto my hand. It took about an hour after applying the lotion for the hand to start feeling normal, at which time I re-washed it and re-applied lotion to the area.

Today, it looks fine. While there are two small spots where blood dried and formed a clot (very, very small, but I mention them for completeness), the rest of the area no longer looks dry, chapped, or cracked open.

Not sure what happened between the last time I used that cleaner and this weekend, but I think my opinion of it has changed a bit. I am considering dumping the rest down the drain and finding a new all-purpose cleaner to use. I probably should give it one more chance and see if something similar happens; that reaction could have been relating to something outside of the cleaner and may be only a one-time occurrence.

However, I forgot to go out and wipe down the grill, so it is likely just as dirty looking as before. Especially as it was covered in what I am sure was slightly-sticky cleaner and a small breeze was blowing.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Cravings

I find it odd how we suddenly crave things. I am experiencing the second strong craving I've had in the past couple of weeks.

About two weeks ago and lasting for a little over a week, I was craving salty things. Pickles, chips, pizza, meat, Top Ramen-- anything I could get my hands on that was salty.

This past week that craving died and a new one emerged: chocolate milk. Between Wednesday and today I have consumed a gallon and a half of milk, all as chocolate milk. Today I went to the grocery store, got 4 more half gallon jugs, finished the previous set's gallon and am about half-way through one of the new one's at 2 pm. For me, this means two large scoops of Nesquik chocolate milk powder which is hand-stirred into a glass of milk. You keep the spoon and continue to stir as you drink the milk.

I do not prefer Hershey's syrup, which I know some people use to make choco milk. To me, it doesn't mix as well with the milk and doesn't give the best saturation of chocolate flavoring throughout the glass. However, I also understand proponents of Hershey's syrup when they say that the powders sometimes clump together and can be a little gritty. To each their own.

Back to my main topic; what could it mean that I can't get enough of this particular drink? Is my body craving even more calcium than I usually intake? That's hard to believe with the amount I consume normally. Does it say something that I have gone from salt to milk?

What will the next craving be? And, possibly most important, am I pregnant???!!

;-)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Fun

Last February, my arthritis doctor switched me to sulfasalazine. This medication worked generally well until October. He increased the dose from 1 pill twice a day (2 pills total) to 3 pills a day (I could decide whether it was two in the morning and one at night or the other way). He said if I didn’t see improvement by January 1 to increase to 2 pills twice a day (4 pills total). He scheduled a return visit for February.

I followed his instructions. When I saw absolutely no benefits to three pills a day by January 1, I increased my dose to 4 pills a day. It is now the middle of February and I am still suffering through pretty bad bouts of arthritis pain and swelling.

The doctor gave me a new script for the drug so I could get the correct amount. As I had plenty of refills on the existing script, I waited to turn in the medication until January and just got my prescriptions a bit more often during the 3 pills a day dosing. Increasing the dose again in January meant I couldn’t really do that any more—I needed to start getting the correct amount, as I didn’t want to pay the copay on new prescriptions every 15 days. However, I needed to call the insurance company and explain the situation and find out if they would require anything or have any issues. So I continued to get the original script through the end of January while I contacted them and went about my business. (Mistake number 1.)

Once the insurance question was answered, I went to my Sav-On pharmacy a couple of weeks ago. I very patiently explained to the “receptionist” person and then the head pharmacist that I had an existing script for 2 pills a day and my dosage had increased, so I needed to use the new script to update the existing script to 4 pills a day. The first woman didn’t understand what I meant, but the head pharmacist knew exactly what I needed. He described what needed to happen to the girl, and then left her to type his instructions. Unfortunately, it worked out that I had just picked up a prescription a few days earlier, so I didn’t need it refilled at that time; I just needed her to update the script so that, when I refilled it, it would have the correct number of pills. (Mistake number 2).

A little over a week ago, I received an automated call that I needed to pick up my prescription before they cancelled and restocked it. I called immediately. The boy on the phone was denser than a neutron star—no matter how I described the situation to him, he just wasn’t getting it. I spoke to someone else and explained what had happened, what was supposed to happen, and that I didn’t, at that time, need the script filled. This person understood, said she was taking care of it, and all would be right with the world. (Mistake number 3).

This week my prescription got low enough to reorder, so I called the pharmacy, used the automated refill service, and went to pick up my prescription today. They had filled it, but at the previous amounts (2 pills a day total). I explained the entire thing again to the girl working the counter; the same girl who, even though I spelled my last name (I don’t pronounce it to people, I simply spell it), couldn’t find my prescription under “S” on the shelf. Of course, there is no “S” in my name-- anywhere. Idiot.

Nancy, the best counter-worker there, was listening and she came over to help. She knows me by name. She looked up everything in the computer and discovered that the person I spoke with on the phone had simply canceled the new script.

She was smart and capable enough to understand what I needed. She said that she had to cancel the old script and replaced it with the new script. She then had the pharmacist on-call stop what he was doing, verify everything, and put double the remaining amount in the jar so I could pay and leave.

What is frustrating is not that it took so many people to get it right, that I was lied to, or that I had to deal with such stupid people. It is that:

  • Each person seemed to get to a point where they understood what I was saying, in agreement with what needed to be done, and then did something—that didn’t help the situation.
  • My next arthritis doctor appointment is next week, on Tuesday, and it is very likely the doctor will switch me to a different medication, making all of this moot; the increase in medication has not helped. I have been taking the 4 pills a day for a month and a half and I am in more pain today than I have been for quite some time. It appears this medication just isn’t cutting it for me and we’ll have to try something else.

She Wasn't That Special

Okay, enough!

Anna Nicole Smith was not a smart woman. She was not a particularly attractive woman. She was certainly not a talented woman. She was mostly famous for being famous and for taking off her clothes.

She was a mess, financially and personally, by all accounts. Her reality-TV show pointed out all her flaws. She was certainly not the second coming of Marilyn. Get over it.

She is not and was not worthy of this non-stop eulogy with which the media is inundating us. She was an odd woman who led an odd life and died an odd death. A one-paragraph note at the end of the celebs section of the newspaper or at the end of that day's Insider TV show is all this warrants.

And, to the now 6 men who all think they may be ANS's baby's father I have this to say: get a freaking life! This is not your moment of fame. Get out of the limelight and back under the rocks form which you crawled.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Rain

This morning I awoke while it was still dark and heard the pitter-patter of the rain on the lane below my window. It slowly lulled me back into a state of light, happy sleep from which I was able to open my eyes a few times without breaking the sleep cycle.

I don't know what it is, but rain usually makes for a more pleasant rest and an easier, slower awakening in the morning. Especially when it is a light, long rain rather than the thunderstorms we typically received in my home town; wherein the sky would unzipper and a torrent would fall for ten to thirty minutes, and then cease and dry up as though no rain had ever fallen.

Also, the cloud cover tends to make it a bit darker in the morning, so it is easier on my eyes to awaken without the glare of the sun impinging itself onto my retinas.

I am sitting in my front room, thinking about making some hot cocoa and with the blinds open so I can watch and wonder at the rain falling softly from the sky.

What a great way to start a lazy Sunday.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Final Stretch

I have been playing City of Heroes since very shortly after release. Matter of fact, I recently received my 33 month Veteran award within the game.

During that time, I have played a character called Red Thorn in a few initial iterations, but then successfully and consistently with the final version (a Scrapper using the Spines primary and Invulnerable secondary power sets).

While playing, I have had an unspoken agreement with myself not to do anything that I have heretofore considered "cheating;" midding, re-running profitable missions numerous times to maximize XP gain, trading Influence between characters, etc.

The game increased the maximum levels from 40 to 50 total some time ago. However, I never got a character above the high 20s to low 30s until Red Thorn (and only a few since him, too). I worked for my XP, experienced as much game content as I could, ran Task Force missions sometimes, joined PUGs (pick up groups) infrequently but often enough to gain the benefits of teaming. I slogged along. For awhile there, about a year, I had some friends join me in playing and all of our characters benefited and raised levels nicely. However, life intruded and first one, then another, and finally the third stopped playing regularly and I was back to the slow grind through the levels.

Levels 1 through 15 were easy and quick. Levels 15-25 were slower, but still easily accomplished. Levels 26-31 were okay. But then I hit the 32-39 stretch with Red which is the worst grind in the game. At these levels, the XP needed for the next level is significantly higher and the benefits to leveling are fewer and farther between. At level 32 is the last time you gain a Power on the every other level routine; at that point it become every third level with only Slots available on the other two levels.

I plugged along, but found myself starting many new Alternate characters as the boredom grew. In the 30s, too, missions started getting much harder to complete for a primarily solitary character. Many of the missions had an Elite Boss, Giant Monster, or full Boss which was nearly impossible to defeat on my own. In addition, the powers of the villains turned to using the two items against which virtually no archetype has any form of resistance. So, on top of it being a slow grind through levels, I was experiencing even more frequent setbacks due to inability to complete a mission or virtual deaths to my character.

Holding out hope, I continued the grind. Those with whom I grouped said that this relaxed and the fun returned in the 40s. And, when I finally turned 41, I experienced it; XP was once again faster to accumulate and the powers I got were more exciting and worthwhile. However, the villain groups continued to be stacked against a solitary player and I had to seek out assistance for ways in which to tackle those mobs against which I had no defense and little hope of success.

I made it to level 45 with Red Thorn before the huge XP requirements finally got to me. Over the last 4 months or so, I have rarely played that character (or, even CoH in general) as my frustration mounted again.

Recently, I picked it up again and managed to get Red to 46 primarily on my own. But it took me as long to get him from 45 to 46 as it normally does to raise a character from 1-20. And then I did it-- I got a request to "mid" from a person and I accepted it.

CoH has certain level caps to dissuade people from "cheating." If you are on a team and you are within 5 levels of the highest person on the team (whether through natural level or an ability to artificially raise your level via Side Kicking), you get XP. If you are on the far side of that level (i.e., as close to the 5 level limit as possible) you also get the maximum XP for the villains you face, as the assumed threat to you is much greater.

At level 46 I could Side Kick (SK) another character so that they reached level 45 and were at the tail end of the 5 level limit. Being as my character was 4 levels below the highest people, I also got good XP. In two approximately 2-hour sessions, I was able to go from 46 to 47+. Another two 'midding' sessions and I was just shy of 48! I was able to reach 48 by finishing some of my impossible missions that I couldn't complete on my own from level 45 on.

So, now I am level 48, with only about 5 million XP to go until 49 and then, I'm guessing, another 7.5 million or so until 50. At level 50 I will unlock some new abilities and archetypes with which I can play the game. Plus, I will have a modicum of prestige at being "a Level 50" on the server.

I still cannot fight certain villains and bosses (just ran up to a low-level Babbage and, in one hit, he took my level 48 from fully healthy to dead!). I still run across certain missions I cannot succeed at on my own. But I am much more confident that I can reach 50 in a short(er) time frame. At this level, I may have fewer opportunities to mid, as well, but I think I can do it.

Hopefully, soon, I can go back to Galaxy City, where Red Thorn started the game, and level up that final time and hand out Influence to newbie characters just starting out.

Only about 12 million XP to go!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Holiday

Today is America's second largest, favorite holiday, after Thanksgiving. The Super Bowl is a huge flash and spectacle and is most often a blow-out affair.

Indianapolis vs Chicago

I think that Indy needs to play primarily mistake-free football in order to win this. The way Chicago's Defense dismantled the New Orleans Saint's Offense (which was actually ranked higher in most categories to Indy this season) shows that they are to be feared, even with the losses to its secondary. However, Manning is the best quarterback in the league, and he has three superior receivers to throw to in Clark, Wayne, and Harrison. However, Indy also has a history of folding in the biggest of games, which they must avoid.

Chicago, on the other hand, has the dominant Defense and an offense that is below par. As long as they can run the football with Benson and Jones, it will keep the pressure off of Grossman and their fair to middling receiving corps. If, however, Indy can keep up the pressure on Grossman and stuff the run as they have in each these playoff games (going from allowing 173 rushing yards per game in the regular season to 73 during the playoffs), I think they can force the Bears QB into mistakes and keep giving the ball back to Manning. If Manning can stay on the field, that means the Bears D is on the field, slowly getting more and more tired dealing with Manning's constant pressure.

Most of the experts I read and see on TV are expecting something of a blow-out game; I've heard scores for Indy in the low- to mid-thirties and for the Bears in the mid-teens to low twenties. I think this game will be closer and lower scoring than that.

My prediction: Indy 24 - Bears 17 on an end of the game drive by Manning for a TD.

Basketball Diaries

I am very frustrated watching the NBA these days. The rules are interpreted in such a way that the offense nearly always has the advantage and the super-stars always get the calls against the non-stars.

The rules say that whomever initiates contact is the one who should be called for the foul. But actually watch any contest and you will see that is the exact opposite of how the calls are made. For example, in the Lakers vs Wizards game yesterday, Andrew Bynum was standing with his hands raised straight up. He was already in foul trouble and didn't want to be called for his next one. Arenas drove directly at him, leaped into Bynum's chest while simultaneously elbowing Bynum to clear some room for his shot-- sure enough, Bynum was called for a foul and Arenas went to free-throw line. How many fouls were committed? Arenas initiated contact by jumping into Bynum and Arenas elbowed Bynum in the chest to clear room. Fouls called? Bynum for, apparently, being in the way.

I used to laugh because in the 90s, Reggie Miller would shoot shots by leaping into the air and kicking out his legs (remember that both kicking and initiating contact are supposed to be fouls on the one initiating either) and he would get to the foul line all the time for free-throws, not to mention getting his defender into foul trouble. In some of Jordan's most famous videos, he is pushing, pulling, grabbing, and knocking down his defender (all are fouls) and not only making the shots but also usually making it to the line for free shots.

Another huge gripe I have is the referee who calls the play. The NBA went to three refs because fan's perception was that having two wasn't enough-- so many calls were missed. I have seen no improvement in calling since the third ref was added; now, on about half the plays I see fouls called, it is the referee who is out of position and who could not possibly see the foul who makes the call. Just because you hear flesh-on-flesh contact does not mean that a foul was committed. And, if the player's back is blocking you from the play, rely on one of the other refs who are spaced so that they have the advantage on you to make the call. If they don't, assume no foul was committed and let the players play!

The charging versus blocking foul call is one that exemplifies these issues the clearest. It shows the disparity between the super-star and the workman player and that the plays are rarely called in the correct order. In the same Lakers game last night, Arenas drove toward the basket. Bynum was already there, feet appearing to be out of the circle. Turiaf rotated over, also keeping his feet outside the arc. Both were there, between Arenas and the basket before he began his leap. Arenas leaped forward, directly into both defenders who held their ground even knowing they were going to get 200 lbs of guy leaping knees first into them-- yet they were called for blocking instead of Arenas being called for charging. I rewound the play a number of times (gotta love TiVo!) as well as watching the NBA replays of the play-- it sure looked like a clear cut call from every angle-- but the ref who called it as blocking was the guy who was behind Arenas and didn't have a good angle on who initiated contact! And the other two refs didn't over-rule that call because the first ref was the senior man on the court.

I am only presenting these Lakers highlights as proof because that was the last game I saw and those plays stick out. And I will admit I am a Lakers fan; however, there were a number of equally poor calls on the Wizards against the Lakers. And I see the same poor foul calls when I am watching other, non-Lakers teams play against each other.

I wouldn't be so up in arms except that the result of all of these dubious foul calls is that the people the fans pay to see (whether in the arena or via their cable bills at home) are taken out of the game if they have fouls against them. Therefore, the fans do not get to see the team or players they are paying to see.

My solution to this problem has a few steps:
  1. The refs need to be retrained so that they only call fouls they actually see. They also need to be trained to be "colorblind" when calling fouls-- doesn't matter if a star or non-star is involved.
  2. Take the third referee and put him/her behind a monitor. They watch the game live on this monitor and their job is to overturn plays called by the on-court ref. This will, I believe, help the on-court refs to only call what they see. The replay time would be limited to 10 seconds; in basketball, that is a lifetime and would be plenty of time to overturn something.
  3. Coaches would get 2 challenges per half for egregious calls. If the calls are overturned, play resumes. If the call is upheld, the team that challenged loses a time out. If they do not have any time outs, they cannot challenge.
  4. Revise some of the rules to take the subjectivity out of it. The hand-check rules are superfluous and highly subjective, for example, and should be revised to make it a clear case of "if X happens, it is a foul."
  5. It is true that fans like scoring, however, that does not mean that fans want only offensive-minded games. We cheer just as hard for the solid block, the defender holding his own against the offensive player, steals, and whatnot. What we want is the best game we can watch. So, let the players play a bit more. Do away with some of the rules that highly favor offensive players and get back to having an even, fair, solid contest where the best teams win.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Portable Readers

One idea from the Star Trek universe I always found quite useful were the portable readers they carried around. They could download duty rosters, reports, or pleasure reading into these tablets and take the devices with them wherever they went. Over the last five years, manufacturers have started to make our first real-world models of these devices with varying amounts of success.
 
Sony has a beautiful new portable reader available, the PRS-500. I think this is a fabulous idea, as portable readers would allow me to take many of my favorite or new novels with me when I travel in one small, lightweight, and convenient location, rather than, as I did at Christmastime, stuffing multiple different sized and weighted books into my carry-on.
 
In addition, Sony has improved aspects in this portable reader that other PRSes have not, as yet; this PRS will display multiple PRS formats (BBeB Book, PDF, RTF, TXT, DOC), pictures (JPG, BMP, PNG, GIF), and music files (AAC7, MP3). Also, it has an easily expandable memory system (using either the Memory Stick or SD memory cards).
 
This PRS device allows you to scale the text bigger and smaller-- no need for a magnifying glass or reading glasses. It also has limited scan functions for flipping around in the book, in case you forget where you were or want to refer to something specific but don't remember exactly where it was.
 
While these are great steps forward for the PRS idea in general, there are a few reasons that keep me from investing in this (or another) portable reading device.
 
Compatibility
Manufacturers of these devices are not aggressive in making sure that they are compatible with the majority of eBook formats. While this Sony design is better than most I've seen, a quick look at some of the largest eBook retailers showed me that I still could not download and read (virtually) any eBook out there. Nothing on the Sony technical page indicates I could install eReader, for example, or view any document in the .PRB or .PRS formats, all of which are strong competitors in the marketplace.
 
Availability
On each of the eBook sites I ventured to, I did a quick search for some of my favorite authors. I was unable to find all but the most recent books of theirs, and many authors were not available at all. Some authors are only found at specific eBook sites, which forces you to get their reader software or PRS in order to view eBooks for them. Others are not available at all. And, out of the hundreds and thousands of books available at a library, book store, or online, those found in eBook formats are relatively few. For example, for one of my all-time favorite authors, Stephen R. Donaldson, I was only able to find his most recent novel on any of the eBook sites I searched through; what about his other award-winning novels?
 
Affordability
This is a two-fold complaint; first, if the products are going to primarily be book readers, then spending $350 for the Sony PRS-500 seems a bit steep. Especially when you consider that it cannot be used to read many other popular formats and that, in order to save or "convert" my library to electronic copies, I have to spend more money on memory sticks.
 
Secondly, while many eBook titles are slightly cheaper than their paper counterparts, the difference is often negligible. If I do not have to pay for the paper, the shipping and handling, or the physical store location, the costs for these versions of the books should be significantly cheaper than the actual book-- not slightly cheaper. I saw a few popular novels selling for $12-15 on eBook sites; that is nearly the same cost as the hardback copies of the novels, let alone the softback!
 
Adaptability
Now, since these devices tend to be a good size for these types of things, I would think $350 was a decent price if I could play my UMD movies on them (the screen on the PRS-500 is about twice the size of that found on the PSP). If I could use a stylus and write my own notes or highlight passages of interest for downloading to my PC for research papers, quotes, and other uses, it sure would be convenient. What about having wireless capabilities, so I could browse the Internet to buy, download, and view or listen to new books, movies, and music? Or the ability to hook into online, streaming radio stations and play music? How about a clock, calendar, and some simple games? What about a "share" function, so I can share my favorite novels with friends and try to get them hooked on a great work or author, so they will buy stuff too ("shares" would have a timed function, like 48 hours or so, in which the recipient could experience the product before needing to purchase a license to keep it)? What about a toned-down version of Word for simple document creation? What about a module for speed-reading courses-- an electronic device might be a very good way to allow someone to practice these techniques and have the device "stream" the content on the page in a way to improve a reader's speed and accuracy. What about a simple speech recognition mode and a microphone? How about an auditory text reader for blind users?
 
I realize that, at this point, I am strongly moving the purpose of this device away from its intended use. However, the size of the device and the incredibly nice LCD screens we have now make these ideas strong candidates for a device of this sort. When I first got my PSP as a gift, I wondered if I could install and use eBooks on it-- the screen is a bit small, but I figured the software would allow me to scale the text to make it better, easier to read. It is only a matter of time before something like the PSP and its multitude of functionality is merged with a portable reading device.
 
I see the Portable Reader System as a viable concept. However, manufacturers have not reached a cost point or a functionality point at which I think the current price and feature set is worthwhile. I have outlined strong ideas for steps they could take to make the current price seem like a bargain. My hope is that, over the next few years, these devices will continue to evolve into the multipurpose, useful tools they can and should be.