A Tale of Unwell Words

The symptoms started ten days ago. I was lying in bed, beginning Chapter 42 of Ruta Sepetys’ captivating WWII novel Between Shades of Gray when suddenly, a lower-case “a” popped out through my e-reader’s glass and just sat there on the surface. I casually brushed it away. Not two pages later, an entire “the” surfaced and slid sickeningly down the screen. I flicked that away too. But then a whole sentence coughed up and I knew I couldn’t ignore it any longer. A terrible thought entered my mind. Crud, my Kindle has COVID.

It’s not like my e-reader hasn’t been sick before.  One time it suffered a full reboot during the tense climax of Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train.  Another time it simply powered down amid the juicy bits of an Alessandra Torre novel (which turned out to be a warning to me to stop wasting time on trashy novels).  But this recent bout had the makings of something more serious.  My Kindle has always been perfectly healthy.  I don’t even put a cover on it.  As for spitting up words and sentences?  Never.

Just to be safe, I got out of bed and quarantined my reader to the bathroom, closing the door softly behind me.  I didn’t want any of the real books on my bedroom shelves to get infected.  Early the next morning, I went to open the door to check on my little e-guy.  Only I couldn’t because the door wouldn’t budge.  I leaned in with a shoulder and it finally gave in, just enough so I could slip through.  Imagine my disgust when I saw the mess before me.  My e-reader barfed up at least four dozen books, piled all over the floor.  The poor thing’s screen looked paler than a Brightness of 2 and was uncomfortably warm to the touch.  The only image it could display was an Amazon Smile (encouraging, until I realized I was looking at it upside down).

It was time for professional help.  I threw on my clothes, tucked my e-reader-patient into the leftover cover of a previous model, and headed to the car.  But where to go?  Of course!  A brick-and-mortar Amazon Bookstore!  As soon as I walked through the door, an eager young lady (right-side-up Amazon smile on her nametag) came forward to assist.  I choked back tears as I explained the misery of the night before.  She opened my Kindle’s cover gently, took a knowing peek at the dimming screen, and said, “Okay, let me just confirm your extended warranty.”  I told her she wouldn’t find one, to which her whole demeanor changed.  Suddenly she didn’t want to help me at all, and backed away slowly.  I felt so… so… uninsured.  Last resort, she pointed me to a nearby display of gleaming new Kindles and said, “You’d be better off junking yours and buying a new one.”

I got out of there as fast as I could.  I mean, what sort of cruel, heartless person works at Amazon?  Junk mine and buy a new one?  Sorry, but all I could picture was my little e-reader flung carelessly into their alley dumpster; bookworms crawling all over it.  It felt like a scene from a modern-day Fahrenheit 451.

Without insurance, my only other option was the free-clinic library down the street.  A librarian is more of a specialist than an Amazon Bookstore employee anyway.  But the regulations on the library’s front door made me pause.  Yes, I keep my Kindle socially distanced from real books.  Yes, my Kindle wears a mask outside of the house (even if it’s an older cover).  But was my e-reader vaccinated?  Heck if I knew. I couldn’t tell you the last time it went through a software update. So I could see how this was going to go down already.  The librarian would check Settings and inform me my Kindle was several versions behind on its operating system. There’d be nothing she could do for me.  Dejected, I drove back to my house.

It’s been a few days now and my Kindle is still listless (er, book-less) but at least it seems more chipper after a dose of power.  It’s keeping down a few partial reads I’ve uploaded through “try a free sample”, as well as a Clippings doc in its library.  But don’t assume we’re out of the woods just yet.  I’m not ready to purchase any new books after that nightmare in the bathroom. I also neglected to mention my Kindle threw up its dictionary the night after I went to Amazon.  Talk about a loss for words.  I mean, dictionaries are bigger than almost any book, and a rich indulgence besides.  There’s nothing left in your stomach after you’ve lost your dictionary.

I’m gonna go glass-half-full here and say my little e-guy’s gonna be okay.  He’s up to a Brightness of 4 today.  He’s holding a fairly focused, slightly bold version of the Palatino font.  He retained my Ruta Sepetys novel and I’ve read some chapters without further hurled words.  I even cleaned up the mess of “read” books he left behind in the bathroom.  So learn from my experience, will you? Use an e-reader cover. Get a fresh software update. Keep the power boosted.  And for gosh sakes; keep a reasonable distance from the hardcovers and paperbacks.  E-readers are more susceptible to the bad stuff than you think.

Note: This is a work of fiction, pure and simple. Find nothing between the lines.

Lego Grand Piano – Update #1

The concert has begun! (my hesitant warm-up was captured in the post Let’s Make Music!)  Bag #1 – of 21 bags of pieces – assembles to this rather odd shape.  Imagine the keyboard running down the left side of the light-colored section, top left to bottom right. 

There were a couple of tense moments when I couldn’t find the right pieces because I’d already assembled them in the wrong places. Unassemble. Redo. All good.

Running build time: 60 minutes.  Musical accompaniment: Dvorak’s New World Symphony.  Leftover pieces: 1

30 thoughts on “A Tale of Unwell Words

    1. Took me a while to make the switch, but the convenience of the e-reader eventually won me over. Not that I don’t still treasure my collection of “real books”. I’ll be hanging on to those long after Kindles are superseded by the next technological marvel.

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  1. Let me apologize for the Kindle. Hate to say this publicly, but I was on Amazon’s Kindle team about 8 years ago. We thought people would buy a new Kindle every year. Well, that’s what we told management … I don’t work there anymore … sigh …

    The piano is taking shape – just 20 more hours and you should be done.

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    1. My Kindle behaves much more dependably than the fictitious character in my story, so no apology necessary. To your point, I moved up to the Paperwhite many years ago and that’s where I’ve been reading ever since. Not a product I ever see the need to upgrade.

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    1. I admit to being tempted by the newer models, but only because they’re “newer”. The Kindle I have now – which is much healthier than my fictitious friend in this story – works perfectly well. A wonder of technology.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What an entertaining post! My strategy is to read regular, hold-it-in-your-hand books in the late afternoon with perhaps a glass of wine, but read another book (my diminishing brain can handle two at a time if they’re nonfiction) at night on my Kindle app while my spouse snores beside me. I guess it’s the best of both worlds! (Oh, and I pack light for my rail travels and use only the Kindle app while on trains.) Thank you for the chuckles.

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    1. We have the same habit, Paula. I used to read “real books” in bed but they’d konk me on the head as I was falling asleep. At least the Kindle isn’t quite so heavy!

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  3. Dave, that was fun and very well done! Alas, I don’t have a Kindle or any e-reader but I feel your pain. I neglected to upgrade the program for my music I-Pod and now it’s sick too.

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    1. I’m getting a kick out of the comments suggesting there was anything real to this story. Completely made up. My Kindle is fine and works great – always has. I simply imagined what would happen if it didn’t…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, that was a very witty post, most enjoyable. Thanks for the good laugh… although, I know the story was true, but still had to laugh. I keep thinking of a Kindle, but I use my iPad and it works. The piano is coming along. This is exciting!

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  5. Kindle. Humbug. Between my phone, my laptop and an office desktop (with 2 screens) I spend far too much time staring into glowing LCDs or (whatever they are) now. Ink on paper is mandatory for any book willing to go through the rigorous application process to be chosenforreading. Besides, how can I display my discriminating reading tastes by a device that could just as easily be owned by someone who fills it with trashy romance novels?

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  6. Excellent story!
    My NOOK died a few years ago. Took about 100 classic books with it!
    Looking forward to some photos of your piano. I finished Hagrid’s Hut in about 4 sessions. Easy compared to your build!

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  7. You make a good argument for an e-reader, Margy. You can’t really lose your purchases (assuming you can re-download them). As for the piano, my first effort suggests I have twenty more one-hour sessions to go. Not that I don’t enjoy the process 🙂

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  8. A perfect metaphor! I am still smiling (upright), picturing the pile of words on your bathroom floor. Unfortunately, most electronic gizmos these days are more expensive in labor if not parts to repair than to replace. May you enjoy many more hours of music as you construct your piano.

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      1. I have gone through many generations of digital cameras and found that, when there’s a problem with it, the best solution has been to buy a new one. At roughly the same price, they keep getting better anyway, so I’ve never regretted it.

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  9. Dave – I may be the only person in the world who has not used a Kindle, an iPod or an iPad (or similar tablet device) – I don’t own a smartphone either. I like the idea of the Kindle though. This was very funny and I had no idea of the quirks as a result of neglecting a software upgrade or a protective cover. I’ve only seen a Kindle or e-reader once and marveled how it worked. You’d think I lived in the boonies, but I have never used any of these devices. I’m glad it returned to its original condition. 🙂

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  10. My Kindle is the one device I don’t worry about spending too much time on. Reading is still a good thing! As I say at the end of the post, this account was entirely made up. I don’t want to give the impression a Kindle is an unreliable device. Mine has been working flawlessly for years.

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  11. Delightful story, Dave! I wonder where such a story might be published? More people should be privileged to read it! P.S. Glad to see the piano coming along. I did find a video on Youtube of a guy actually playing a Lego piano. Looks like a stylus won’t be necessary! He was able to use the tip of his finger on the ends of the keys. The piano makes a clicking sound with each note, but it IS made of plastic Legos, after all!

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    1. The piano updates will be regular postscripts, Nancy. Based on what you report from YouTube, I’d better start growing out my nails. I’m looking at my miniature piano-in-progress and my full-size fingers and I don’t see them making music together. Time will tell!

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