Monday, June 6, 2011

Real Books or E-Books?

I'm a little bit geeky, and yet, I'm also quite a bit old-school. This is my conundrum when faced with choosing between real (or paper-based) books, and virtual e-books. I think that both have their merits and their drawbacks.

Decor and collections

Real books make great coffee table decor (but then they have to be dusted), and look pretty when arranged nicely on a shelf (ditto about the dusting). However, that means you have to have nice books, and a nice coffee table, nice bookshelves and a very good dusting habit to support the "niceness" of the whole effect. Real books are nice to share with a friend, sitting side-by-side, peering at gorgeous photos, or illustrations (yes, Calvin & Hobbes cartoons count), but are very hard to share with a buddy who lives across the country, across the street, or is just sitting more than a few feet away. On a Kindle (and probably other e-books, but it's the only one I've used), you can highlight part of your e-book and share it with your entire Facebook "world".

You might have a great sense of accomplishment when staring at a wall-full or shelf-full of books thinking "I read every one of those books!". And again, you can collect quite a bit of dust and (heaven forbid) mold in those books unless you regularly dust and maybe even vacuum then. Great book collections are just that--limited or collectors editions of real books. E-books can't even try to compete with them.


Voracious readers can plow through book upon book every week. I have a friend who has a storage space to hold her books. Yes, the type of storage that you have to rent! That's a recurring expense, and I wonder how many books (e-books or paper books) can be bought for the price of her monthly rental fees. And if you're a voracious reader or just really caught up in a great dime-store novel, you typically want your book of choice to be with you at all times. A real book can add a significant amount of bulk to your purse, backpack, or other daily baggage. Therein lie two cases for e-books. You can hold tomes upon tomes in the space of one e-book, which might take up the footprint of one paperback novel, and perhaps be 1/2" thick, or less. I don't know how many books exactly, but I know it's about a metric ton of them. Getting back to the idea of wanting your reading selection with you at all times--I can think of a couple of times where that real dime-store novel wins out. If you're one of those people who likes to read while taking a bubble bath, or sunbathing at the beach, paper is key. Granted, the book will swell and wrinkle if you drop it in the bath, or get full of sand if you drop in at the beach, particularly when it slips out of your sunscreen slathered hands, your e-book will mostly likely be ruined after a dip in the water (not to mention--could that thing hold enough power to electrocute the bather? I'd rather not find out). Sand in the buttons of an e-book reader? I shudder at the thought of that. Paper will dry, and survive.

E-books can often cost less than their real counterparts, and while a case can be made for the economics of borrowing books at your local library, initial investment in the electronic reading device aside, e-book purchases (and on some e-readers library e-books are available for check-out) can save a reader quite a few bucks over the cost of a just-released hardback book. As for the purchase of a real book vs. e-book, well, e-books usually win that one hands-down. You can typically find a book to buy, and download it into your reading device in about the time it takes to find your keys, put some slippers on and get in your car--never mind driving to the bookstore or library--if it's open.


What's greener? An e-book would probably win that one hands-down, aside from the tiny amount of electricity needed to power an e-book. I'm no expert on this, but I'm pretty sure that the carbon footprint of an e-book is WAY smaller than that of a real book. Just the trip to the bookstore or library required to obtain a paper-based book is a big expense. Then again, in 50 years will a plastic e-reader still be languishing in a rubbish pile somewhere, while the paper book will have broken down into some very educated compost? It takes paper manufacturing, printing, bookbinding, warehousing, and shipping to create a real book. That's all eliminated in an e-book.

I can think of several different types of books, and what I think would be the best format of book to have for each:

General reading: I prefer e-books for this. I like the fact that my book is with me in my iPhone and I can read it on the go. If I'm reading in bed, I don't need to worry about leaving my bedside lamp light on. The iPhone is self-lit (but I know that Kindles are not), and turns itself off if I fall asleep. Given the choice between accidentally dropping my little iPod Touch or 600+ pages of Twilight, possibly on my head, as I fall asleep, I choose the iPod.

I like to jot down notes in my cookbooks, and I also like to have them sitting on the kitchen counter when I cook. I do have recipes stored on my iPhone and have cooked from them (they are much handier than dragging the whole cookbook to someone else's house if I need to cook "on the go"). If I spill something on my cookbook, hopefully it will survive (especially if it's sitting on my cookbook stand which covers the book with glass). However, if I were to spill on my iPhone or e-book reader, the result could be disastrous.
Crafting books:
If you can't tell from the title of my blog, I like to knit. I often use pattern books. Granted, it's usually acceptable to make one photocopy of a pattern in order to carry it around with you but again, I like to jot down notes and tend to write straight in my pattern books. I opt for the extra weight of the book over the photocopy so that I can reduce unnecessary use of paper. With an e-book, you can probably print out a pattern on a computer, but there again is the paper waste issue. Finally, it's quite handy to plop a "sticky note" down on a paper book to mark my place in a knitting chart or directions so I know where I am. That doesn't work very well once the e-book gets turned off.

I don't read many magazines, but when I do, they are usually knitting ones. I like a paper magazine for the same reason I like a paper book over an e-book. And my small collection of knitting magazines and books have a place in my knitting cabinet that is relatively dust-free and hidden from view. If it's not a crafting magazine, maybe it's something I picked up in line at the grocery store to read on a plane ride or again, at the beach (ironically, I rarely go to the beach, but I've got to have something to read while I'm there!). Paper is key for those types of magazines for me, for the same reasons that a paper book wins out at the beach.

Gifts: Have you ever found the perfect book of poems, short stories or a picture book that you want to give to your favorite someone for their birthday? I'm not sure how my nieces & nephews feel about paper books I've given them, but can you imagine giving them an e-book of say, Shel Silverstein poems? How would you inscribe that special message on the inside cover of an e-book for the recipient to remember you by? I still have books that my Dad inscribed for me when he bought them way back and when I was too young to be able to read his scrawl. I may not remember exactly the title of the books, but I do know that my Dad bought them for me and of course, he made sure that the date he presented the books to me was also inscribed in the books. They are a precious "collection" for me. Hands-down, paper books are the way to go for me in the gift category.

E-book Readers

Since I'm talking about books vs. e-books, it bears mentioning that there are tons of formats in which e-books can be read. Some are free, such as apps for iPhone, Android, etc. on which you can read iBooks, Kindle books, and the like on devices that you already own. I do quite a bit of reading on my iPhone and/or iPod Touch. I'm fortunate that I can still read very small formats such as those. There are bigger, but less portable formats such as iPad (still pretty portable), and apps to read e-books of all sorts on laptop and desktop computers. And of course there are those actual e-readers such as Kindle, Nook, Boko, and the list goes on. I'm not endorsing one over the other. I don't even own a true e-book reader. But there is one feature that's probably on more than just the Kindle, that I like for knitting purposes: it will read aloud to you. The text-to-speech capability is only enabled on some books (it's the author's choice), and sounds slightly robotic, but I bet I'd use it quite a bit while knitting. I know some people read and knit simultaneously. I can, but I'd prefer to listen and knit. Since I don't have a Kindle, I do the next best thing--I listen to audio in the form of podcasts and audiobooks that I can check out at the library or acquire (usually Libriovox books for free) from iTunes. But that could be a whole post on its own.

What do you think? Paper book, or e-book?

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I'm baaaaack! (I hope you're hearing this in your head like in Poltergeist...b/c if not, you might be too young to read this blog!).

I'm not much of a blogger...but I've been reading a ton of blogs, and convinced my friend "hawaiigirlalways" that she should blog her deals & steals. Since she's doing it at DODO, I guess it's my turn to go for it here.

I started out this blog just for knitting stuff, but since it's already set up, I'm just going to go for it & use it for whatever comes up. I dunno if I have much to say that people will care about, but I figure I'll at least excercise my "writing muscles" for a bit when I post. We'll see how it goes with this, my first opinion piece...

Tiger Moms/tiger kids

A few months ago, my Dad sent me and my siblings an article about "tiger moms". I have to admit, I mostly skimmed the article because it was really annoying me that while a new book on the topic was inciting much controversy, at the same time it was also gaining a ton of free publicity. I am not going to name said book here because I don't want to add to the publicity. In a nutshell, while there are supporters of militantly strict, overbearing and, imho, cruel parenting resulting in overachieving offspring, the question bears asking:
How many of the same kids end up
1) in therapy?
2) rebelling against and/or alienating their pushy parents?
3) socially maladjusted?
4) all of the above?

But I'm sure we won't hear about those kids. At least not until they "go postal" and massacre a bunch of their co-workers or fellow students (to be fair, I won't mention specific cases for these--they don't deserve added publicity either).

Here's the thing: I'm not going to spout off a bunch of research statistics, but I am going to cite, using my 4 siblings and I for real life data, why I think so-called tiger parenting is a bunch of malarkey. At the same time, I'm thanking our parents for raising us the way they did, and for the most part, breaking the mold of "typical" Chinese immigrant parents (notice I used a T-word other than the name of an orange, striped jungle creature). We turned out just fine, and I think they should be quite proud.

So here are some of the characteristics of that T-parenting, according to that article:

No play dates or sleepovers:
Why not? It's good to have friends, and in my experience, a sleepover here or there really helped me to appreciate my home life as compared to those of some of my friends'.

No school plays/extracurricular sports or activities:
I can't even count the number of plays and musicals we participated in both at school and our local children's theater. Two of my siblings even started the music group at our church (I think they learned to play guitar from Dad...or maybe Joan Baez), and all five us sang in it at various times for years. School choir was a given for most of us, and three of us participated in high school drill team/marching band, going on to join the UCLA band. Two siblings even performed in the Olympics Opening Ceremonies with the band.

No sports you can't medal in:
Sports taught us the value of teamwork, commitment, practice, and sportsmanship. Two of my siblings did compete at the junior nationals level, but our choices in athletics were just that--our choices--no ulterior medal accumulating motives were put forth explicitly nor implicitly by Mom & Dad. We played mostly after-school sports, and some AYSO soccer. In addition, both spectator and participatory sports such as skiing and backyard football games were major family pastimes that we all enjoyed together.

There was one stipulation that did influence what activities we could participate in: regularly scheduled practices, performances, lessons or games could not interfere with dinner time. Dinner time was sacred family time. There was no TV (unless it was Monday night football when the entire meal was relocated to the TV room), and telephone interruptions were cut as short as possible. When we finally got an answering machine, sometimes we just let it answer for us. I have learned to appreciate those family dinners, and the close-knit family that they helped build. When I was growing up, I figured that all families had the same nightly "Leave It To Beaver" style dinners. Apparently not, but that's another topic for another day.

An A- is a bad grade:
It's not a bad grade if it's the best that you can do and you gave your best effort. However, I heard my share of "If it's an 'A' then why isn't it an 'A+'?" Ok, that's pretty pushy parenting, but that being said, we definitely did not get "straight A's" all the time, but how's this for academics for five kids:
5 bachelor degrees plus one double-major, one minor, and one master's degree and teaching credential from UC Davis, Stanford University & UCLA.

When all is said and done, I'd say that my siblings and I turned out just fine. We are all well-functioning, well-rounded, and contributing members of our communities. We have good relationships with our non-T parents, and I for one would never blame them for not pushing me hard enough. I choose instead, to thank them for letting me choose a path that was right for me.

What do you think of so-called Tiger parenting?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

For this, I will blog!

I found a link to this on and just had to post it. A girl after my own heart! I presently have 3 rolls of duct tape in my drawer: silver, clear, and purple!....I'd just like to know how she got all that sticky tape residue off her fingers and her knitting needles.

On another note, 5 of my closest friends (which includes 3 sisters) and I will spend my birthday at Disneyland in a few weeks! It's the first trip in years where I haven't had my travel knitting planned before the plane tickets were purchased. In fact, I wasn't even planning on bringing knitting into the park...until I found a couple of Ravelry groups talking about knitting and all things Disney. I decided on something easy and small, which turns out to also be a stashbuster (I'm already spending enough $$ on the trip!): preemie caps. I can't think of a better place to knit some happy thoughts into the teeny little hats. I picked up up a pair of teeny weeny sock needles (9" circs) from my lys, where Sue suggested that I definitely wanted to bring bamboo vs. metal into the park for "safety" concerns. Good idea! I may have to save the decrease sections at the top of the hats for some other time, as it might be tough to keep track of the dpns & the yarn needle while in line for rides!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Ball Winder Unwrapped!

Have you ever wondered...?

I'm one of those people who always wonders how things work. I just LOVE the TV show by the same name, even though it's a little tough to knit while watching it :-)The problem is, I'm great at taking things apart, and not so great at getting them back together.

So...when my ball winder developed a squeak, I asked my 2 most mechanically inclined friends--who also happen to be fascinated by my yarn baller--if they could try to get rid of the squeak. They both work on computer hardware and systems and I know they're systematic and meticulous, so I figured I could trust them. Disassembly, de-squeaking, and reassembly took a while, and turned out to be a little more challenging than they thought it would be. There was some nervous laughing, and I had to look away. I was a little scared, to tell the truth.

The happy ending is that all is reassembled (look ma, no extra parts left over!!), and there is no more squeak! For the record, we used the WD-40 pen to lubricate the insides, and gave it a good wipe-down afterward so as not to unnecessarily lubricate any yarn being wound.

In case anyone else wonders what goes on inside the miraculous ball winder, I took a few photos to share with you:

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 30, 2008



Ta Daaaaa! Introducing my Barbara Walker Learn-to-Knit Afghan! How's that for a mouthful?

I learned about this afghan from a knitalong group on yahoo groups back in 2004...which was also back when (nostalgia coming up)....

...I'd been knitting for less than a year. If I recall correctly, I was dying to start LTKA, but made myself wait until after the 2004 holiday knitting was completed.

...There was no ravelry, so I can't remember what I knit and there are no photos, but if I look in my knitting notebook, I bet I'd find a whole list, with one page devoted to each yarn label, with info on whom the object the knitted for, what size needles were used, where the yarn was purchased, and when it was started & finished. [Hey Jess & Casey--you guys did everything I was doing!!] Oh, and there's also a scrap of yarn taped to each project page.

...I had to spend more time documenting and less time knitting back then, obviously.

...I was still single, so I had more time to spend doing all that knitting & documenting.

...I wasn't sure if I'd actually finish it, so thought I'd be "safe" by "investing" less than $50 on all acrylic Red Heart Super Saver and Walmart Homestay yarn just in case in just became stash in my closet

...I didn't even have a stash closet.

...I had not discovered that wool, even if it makes me scratch when I wear it, can be really nice to knit with (A quote here from my friend AkamaiKnitter "You really should try knitting with natural yarn.")

...I had not discovered the convenience of interchangeable knitting needle sets, and so amassed a collection of "singles".

Sigh, if I only knew then what I knew now.

I actually managed to knit the squares in about 2 years' time, while I was dating my now husband, and then planning our wedding, plus knitting lots of other stuff on the side. While I was completing square 61 or so, I occurred to me "Crap! I wonder if you can actually block acrylic??" Nope. Double crap! Too late to stop now, although those lace squares at the end nearly killed me. So, slightly disheartened, I started trying to "block" the acrylic, which was mostly what people call "killing acrylic", and started crocheting edges on each square. That was a huge task, which got put on a long hiatus (1.5 years long!).

The hibernation finished when mkcarroll announced that Aloha Knitters was invited to show our work at the Honolulu Academy of Arts Family Sunday event on 9/21/08. She was planning on making a few swatches to show different textures in knitting...I just so happened to have 63 of them! While the squares were on display, what better time to work on the dreaded edging after all that time, so...the awesome HawaiiHooker offered to help me do some edges, and while we sat & chatted, we got all but 10 squares edged. The momentum had set in, and guess what I did for the past 9 days? I'm not much of a crocheter, but I even found, and figured how to do a "biscuit edge" as my border. HawaiiHooker even told me to toss the whole blanket in the washing machine & dryer with some fabric softener, and it would help to block up the thing a little...and make it really soft. I was so anxious to see how that worked, I tossed it in last night, even though there's a whole mess of stray ends still waiting to be woven into the back. Ok, so at least it's mostly done!!

I couldn't figure out how to photograph the whole blanket in one shot, so until I get get my photog friend, Tommy, to help me figure that one out, partial shots will have to do. Or, if you have photosynth I tried to put something up. I'm in there as tink, just like in ravelry.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Article

If anyone's reading this that hasn't gotten an email from me today, the article about the heart hit the Stanford Medical Community today. Here's a link to the newsletter:
Discover SHC.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Travel Knitting

Way back in May when we learned we'd be traveling to California for dh's surgery, but didn't know exactly when yet, I decided to start preparing the one thing I knew for sure: I was going to need a bunch of knitting to help keep me sane and manage my stress levels. Since my husband's surgery and then recovery would be my primary concern, I didn't know if I'd have time to get to any LYSes, so I wanted to make sure I had everything I might need with me. Oh, and with all of the luggage restrictions, I knew I had to pack light so everything would fit in one suitcase. Later, when I learned that we'd be gone for 28 whole days, I felt very sad at the thought of leaving my wonderful yarn closet & stash for so long (I was worried about dh, too, but his stuff was a given--there were no options involved so there was also no need for thinking--just go and do it). I think I put more thought into what I needed for my knitting supplies than I did for anything else on the trip.

Here's what I ended up doing....



KnitPicks Options Binder vs. the "guts only" version. I used giant stitch markers to hold the pages together, & in a pinch, a few of them could be spared and used on a project, too. Removing the binder really cut down on bulk for traveling. I posted 2 shots so you can see the difference in size and thickness. Now that I'm back home, the pages went right back into the binder for safe-keeping (plus it's easier to find the bulky binder than the little, compact packet in my cluttered house).

After I took this photo, I actually grabbed another empty 2-part sleeve and inserted sizes 0 through 2 sets of 4" sock needles in one compartment, and some of the KnitPicks shorter size 1's. Also used a 1-part sleeve to fit in long KP size 0 in case I wanted to do magic loop, and a couple of other things. I'm not sure why I brought so many sock needles when I didn't bring a single ball of sock yarn, but I basically decided I wanted at least 1 size of needle up to about 11 (the biggest KP Options that I own).


The essentials: Patterns, tools, reference book, needles

I chose patterns that I thought I might knit, and made sure duplicates were available online, just in case they got lost. The tools included the usual Chibi needles, measuring tape, KP Options tool & extras, Knit Kards, stitch markers, plane-friendly thread snippers. One thing in there that I love for flying is called the "Grip Clip". It's a reusable & washable adhesive paper holder. The sticky back holds onto things like your airplane tray table (when it's closed), and you slip your pattern in the little slot so you can read it hands-free. You can buy them in singles at stationery stores, or I bought a pack of 4 at The Container Store. btw, if you use a plier and pinch the circle end of the KP Options "key" closed, you can then put it on a key chain or something so you don't constantly lose the little thing. I don't know why they made them open-ended to begin with!

My tool bag is a little pencil case bought from Walmart for about $1. I had another one with me for my "anywhere knitting". In that was a Mason-Dixon Baby Genius burp cloth that I could whip out and knit in waiting rooms, when riding in the car, etc. But after dh got home from the hospital, the only thing I did when riding in the car was try to nap since I was up with him quite a bit at night.

I chose the XRX Knitter's Handbook over my Knitter's Companion for my reference book mainly because of weight. I read somewhere that the Knitter's Companion pages are plastic coated for durability, but that also makes it weigh at ton. I also like the wider variety of material covered in the XRX book and the fact that the wire binding is covered and not prone to bending or snagging things.

Posted by Picasa

Yarn for planned projects. Naturally this was the bulkiest part of my stuff. Had I used my space bags, it would have compacted things down quite a bit, but actually, due to my limiting other items, I didn't need to compact any of the yarn. The bottom bag (with pink yarn) is actually yarn for a quite bulky sweater I was making for my little niece. She turned 2 while we were in CA, so I needed to finish it for her birthday gift. The yarn and the sweater were all stashed in a plastic zipper bag that originally held a set of sheets. Those make some great project bags! The top bag had some yarn for other small projects that need to be made for gifts. At the last minute I also threw in my lace knitting project and my socks, which only needed a toe to be completed.

The End Result

I think this happens on many people's travels--I didn't end up using much of what I brought. I didn't touch the lace or the socks. I also didn't use many of the needles I brought (but I felt so secure having them with me!). I actually could have used one larger size set of needles than I had with me, but I also could have held off on casting on the oh-so-soft Malabrigo till I got home, but I wanted it for plane knitting.

Part of the reason I didn't get to much of the knitting is that I had ordered the yarn and pattern for the heart (see post below), and that took up a lot of my knitting time. I kind of forgot about that when taking into account how many projects I thought I'd need to keep me occupied.

The lace project was more about security. I had been working on it a lot before we left, and I thought I'd be sad if I had the time/urge to knit on it and it wasn't with me. Lace is so light, it was ok to throw in there. I'm a new lace knitter, so between the stress off events, the busy schedule, and having a 2-year old around all the time, I didn't have once second to do that kind of knitting.

Another reason I didn't get to all of the knitting is that I was lucky enough to get a little respite from husband care, and managed to get to 4 local yarn shops (Amazing Yarns in Emerald Hills, Full Thread Ahead in Los Altos, Green Planet Yarns in Campbell, Bobbin's Nest Studio in Santa Clara). I did a little stash enhancement at each of the stores. I also tried to go to Purlescence, but they were on vacation on the day I went, and I never made it back there, much to my regret. [off topic: I'm listening to Knitmore Girls' podcast, and Purlescence is their lys...I so regret not having gone back now!!]. I used the space bags to fit the yarn purchases into the baggage on the way home, and we ended up checking in 1 more bag on the way home (dh gets to check 2 bags automatically, so we didn't get charged).

Finally, the best reason that I didn't get to do as much knitting is that my earlier blog about hospital knitting let to a flurry of activity, and I put a chunk of my available time into trying to get that set up.

A chronological update for anyone interested:

7/14/08 The outline (my informal version of a proposal) went to Angela at the Stanford Guest Services.

7/16/08 We voted on a name: Healing Stitches

Approx. 7/18 or so: I set up a Google group (but only Beth Elliot joined it).

7/18: I got an update from Angela that she was working on seeing if the hospital wanted to start another program. She said she'd keep me posted.

7/22: Maggie from KnitWits@Stanford sent me an email telling me that she'd spoken to someone at the Cancer Center who's interested in Healing Stitches. Sorry Maggie, I can't believe that 10 days have passed and I haven't had a chance to email Holly. I promise to do it this weekend.