“What kind of idea are you? Are you the kind that compromises, does deals, accommodates itself to society, aims to find a niche, to survive; or are you the cussed, bloody-minded, ramrod-backed type of damnfool notion that would rather break than sway with the breeze? – The kind that will almost certainly, ninety-nine times out of hundred, be smashed to bits; but, the hundredth time, will change the world.”
Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

A Week with the Kindle Paperwhite

This librarian was not immune to the anticipation surrounding the new Kindle Paperwhite. When our demo model arrived last week, I tore open the box and took it for the first of several test runs.

First Impressions

  • Nearly identical to the $69 Kindle
  • The LED backlight and lack of controller is the only significant difference at first glance.


  • Adjustable backlight is indeed great for reading in the dark of night.
  • The side bevel is less than on the Kindle Touch (my finger often jams when swiping pages on the older model).


  • Rough screen surface not pleasant to the touch
  • Occasional flickering of backlight
  • Visible outline of  LEDs on lower 1/4 of device screen
  • Perceived value for money
  • No discernible difference in display and number of pixels over the cheaper model without backlight (one of the purported improvements)
  • Library eBooks cannot be downloaded directly on this device because the experimental browser can only open one tab at a time.

Final Verdict

While I enjoyed the form factor and experience of using this lightweight eReader, it did not live up to the hype. I do not feel the addition of a light was a significant enough improvement to warrant a such a price increase. My Petzl headlamp costs $30 and serves multiple purposes, including lighting my book or eReader in the dark.



Seattle Library Supporters Needed TONIGHT!

Please join the Friends of the Seattle Public Library tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the Seattle City Council budget hearing, we really need a critical mass to show the Council how detrimental their proposed budget cuts will be for Seattle residents — the current proposed budget will be 3-5 times greater than the 2010 budget cuts already in effect. I attended the last hearing and saw that the library supporters were scant compared to other advocacy groups who spoke.  If you are able to make it, look for the Friends of SPL group, some of whom will be wearing shirts that say “Friends Don’t Let Friends Lose Libraries” and signs with the images above and below.  If you’re unable to make it tonight, please check out the “What You Can Do” page on the Friends of SPL site and the Fall 2010 Advocacy Fact Sheet, and share this info with fellow Seattle residents who are library supporters!


Seattle City Hall, Council Chambers (2nd floor)

600 4th Avenue (2 blocks from the Central Library)

Losing LibrariesИконивикикони на светциКартиниИдея за подаръкикониикониПравославни иконииконописikoni

Burke-Gilman Trail-blazing

At the halfway point of a cool drizzly day, the sun emerged and we headed out on our bikes for the quintessential Seattle ride we’ve been planning to do for a long while.  No time like the present has been our motto as we try to capture the best of Seattle on the whatever-whenever terms it offers us.   So, with the energy built up from our multigrain banana pancakes and a few bites of the spinach stromboli I baked while waiting for the weather to improve, we set out.

We caught the bike-rack equipped Sound Transit  545 bus back to Seattle at the end of the journey…

Our ride included 30 miles from Seattle to Redmond via the Burke-Gilman and Sammamish River Trails. We started from home base at the edge of downtown Seattle, heading via mostly marked bike lanes to Gas Works Park in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood.  From there, we caught the Burke-Gilman trail and pedaled our way through a most splendid Sunday afternoon. Feeling fresh and energized this morning, but spending a little time shopping online for padded bike shorts before I head to work!

Do-It-Yourself Dining Set Adventure

When we first moved to Seattle two years back, we had little time for deliberation — and even less money to spend – on apartment furniture.    Of course, we did have taste, but it was definitely limited by these constraints.  008 (2)We moved to a new apartment in February and realized it was a good time to shed some of the items that we were not fond enough of to warrant loading up and U-hauling across town.  Case in point: dining set. We said goodbye to the round glass ensemble that fit so nicely into a nook in our previous apartment, but that just wouldn’t fit into the dining area in the new place. With time on our side (or so we at first thought), we made do with our patio  café table and two mesh folding chairs for the interim while we hunted for something a little more unique and “us”.

The Table

We scorned every ready-to-buy dining set within our budget, and eventually began considering tables and chairs separately – if only because it gave us more options.  Our discovery of Ikea’s unfinished pine Ingo Dining Table opened us up to the possibility of staining a table to our desired color.  011 (2)The table fit within the dimensions we had to work with AND our budget, so we scooped it up and headed to Home Depot to scope out wood stain options. We went with MinWax Polyshades  one step stain and finish.  We loved the richness of the Bombay Mahogany shade  and…. we’re a little sentimental about Bombay Winking smile.   Staining new wood turned out to be a fairly easy process.  Our 8 x 3 ft. balcony was a tight but sufficient worksite.  After three coats of stain over 48 hours, our table made it’s grand entrance into our dining nook.  It looked spectacular – except for those patio chairs!

The Chairs

IMG_0003We soon began trolling Craigslist for the perfect chairs.   After several weeks of this, we found a posting on Craigslist with a photo of a chair sitting on the grass on a front porch of a house. Since the color orange features prominently in our décor already, we crossed our fingers that the orange and plum upholstered chairs would be as perfect as they looked on Craigslist. We headed to West Seattle and met the chairs and their owner, learning that the solid oak set of four had belonged to his late mother.  We estimated they were at least 50 years old.  Beautifully crafted and as irresistible a find as they were, some restoration was definitely in order. 

The Restoration

071It was at this point that we began to wonder whether too much HGTV might have elevated our confidence level for DIY to an inappropriate high.  After a bit of research on stripping and refinishing wood, we set to work.  We started out with CitriStrip, which was supposed to be less noxious than traditional chemicals used for this purpose. 

IMG_0374After three rounds, about 75% of the previous stain still remained.  We headed up to Capitol Hill’s own hardware store, Pacific Supply Co., and found a comfortingly smaller selection  (to novices) of stripper choices than Home Depot.  The Do It Best All Finish Stripper gave slightly better results, but it became obvious after three coats that we had some sanding ahead of us.  That’s where the elbow grease came in!

Finally came the time for staining the chairs to match the table.  This took about a week total, as we fit in a coat between work schedules and blowing rain.

Final Results

It was quite a journey for a couple of apartment dwellers!  We picked up a host of new skills,  had a great time, and are really proud of the finished products. Now for some equally creative meals to put on that table! 


Идея за подарък

National Park Mania

Rialto Beach
Rialto Beach

After a spectacular first weekend of Autumn spent in and around Olympic National Park, we were headed home from the Peninsula on the Bainbridge ferry and missed the first installment of Ken Burns’s PBS series The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.  (Thankfully, they’re all available to watch online.) The next day, I was delighted to see a new feature on National Parks linked from the евтини мебелиKCLS homepage .  Lots of related events over the next few months.  I’ll be introducing one of these — “Art in the National Parks” — at the Maple Valley Library on Saturday November 7.  Our guest will be Molly Hashimoto,  an illustrator and instructor at the Yellowstone Institute.


Oh, to be a patron again! I spent a glorious morning yesterday wandering through the children’s books at KCLS’s Bellevue Regional Library. Outside it was gray – but the joy of what I found inside made that (almost) irrelevant. Partly out of desire to be more knowledgeable about children’s lit and partly because it’s just one of the most enjoyable things out there to do with a weekday off, I ended up with a sky-high stack of books on a castle bench in the expansive children’s area of the library. (It was a light traffic day and I first made sure I wasn’t encroaching on the space of any wee ones 😉

I missed Paul Theroux’s reading at the SPL Central Library because I was working late at one of the branches. I’ve long felt a kinship with Theroux, whose love of travel was like mine – inspired from being in the Peace Corps. Tonight, I’ve learned my lesson and taken the night off in advance to hear another travel writer speak, this time at the SPL Ballard Branch.

once upon a time I was afraid to drive in… MICHIGAN!

I rented a little Toyota Yaris for the past few weeks while my host/mentor/chauffeur Stephanie was on vacation in the U.S. A wild two-week ride. Every day was terrifying, then ultimately somehow exhilarating when I reached home unscathed. I’ve never driven outside the U.S. until now and by golly would never have considered it were the Zayed U. campus not out in the desert where narry a taxi driver will agree to go…and where everyone with the means has their own car and petrol (oh, you say “gas”,the cost as in the U.S — Yaris filled up for about $13). Anyway, who knew the catharsis I’d find in the work of Dubai-based British artist Melanie Munnerley at the opening of her show, Isolated Incidents.

safe and sound in the ZU parking lot