Frustration-Free Packaging from Amazon

How did I miss this??!

Beyond the Backlash About ADHD

I’ve been doing some actual reading about the whole Attention Deficit thing.

I’d like to believe that it’s all just hype cooked up by lazy parents. I wanted to buy in to the whole ‘it’s not a real condition’ thing. I wanted it to go away, because then I wouldn’t have to admit that there might be something I need to do about it.

Here’s what I actually found out.

Nook – Another New eReader Machine, This Time From Barnes & Noble

OK, I’ve had my grubby hands on the Kindle since it came out and I’m a fan. Which is not to say that a, I think it’s utterly perfect; or b, I think that competition is bad.

In the interests of cutting through the marketing hype, here are my thoughts on the comparison of (the so far unseen by the public) Nook and my Kindle.
What’s The Same | Nook Exclusives | Kindle Exclusives | Who ‘Wins’ | My Final Judgement |
What they have in common

  • You can read full texts of books on an eInk screen that mimics the printed page well: no backlighting, no glare, great in sunlight.
  • 6″ (diagonal) screen
  • Roughly the same size overall
  • Download ebooks for quickly, wirelessly and for free, wherever you are (mostly*). I’ve heard some confusion about this but there is NO fee and no need to have a contract with the cell phone companies. The bookseller does that part. Amazon and Barnes and Noble have deals with Sprint and AT&T respectively (in the US. In the UK it’s with a different company and I think there may be a download fee of just over a pound, but haven’t confirmed that).
  • Have lots of memory (2GB internal)
  • Have good battery life (esp when you turn the wireless off, if you remember)
  • Show grayscale pictures nicely
  • Synchronize your books between multiple devices
  • Highlight and bookmark sections of books
  • MP3 support — listen to mp3s even while you’re reading (if you like that sort of thing). Lord of the Rings book, Lord of the Rings soundtrack? Could be nice.
  • Multiple font sizes
  • “Keep Reading” function (lets you resume reading where you left off, even over multiple devices)

[*They both work on the 3G network so you have to be in range of 3G signal. BN’s Nook also has a wi-fi option, which could help if you’re out in the boondocks but near a wi-fi signal]

They both have some other features the other one doesn’t have, and here’s where it gets tricky to get to the truth if you haven’t used one or the other. So here goes.

What Nook Has That Kindle Doesn’t (and my thoughts)

(using their own Product Comparison page as a source)

  • Colour Touch Screen – This is a strip under the reading screen (where there is a keyboard on the Kindle). It shows five sections: Daily, My Library, Shop, Reading Now, Settings. and lets you navigate your content and the store. It seems like the store is a scrollable ‘shelf’ of book cover images. The online demo doesn’t show how you search for specific titles (if you can). I would get frustrated by not being able to type in a particular title that I’m looking for. Apparently, there is an on-screen keyboard.  Also, this colour screen is a, probably why the battery life is four days shorter than Kindle’s and b, The backlit screen below my reading page would annoy me — you can dim its brightness and perhaps you can turn it off.
  • Quick-View Library by Color Book Cover Image -This might be nice if you’re a visual sort of person (I am). But there still doesn’t seem to be any way to type in your book’s title and find it that way, which would be less annoying (to me) than scrolling through pages and pages of books, passing the one you want, scrolling back, missing it again…ask me and my iPod how I know about this!  Both a scrolling library of book titles AND the ability to type in a title would be the best combination, but it’s either or (Nook or Kindle) for now.
  • Wi-Fi connectivity — Good, I guess, if you get stuck out of a 3G zone and in range of wi-fi. Hasn’t happened to me yet. The books download very quickly over 3G.
  • Free Wi-Fi in Barnes & Noble Stores — OK, well, free Wi-fi everywhere there is free Wi-fi. Not applicable to the wi-fi-less Kindle.
  • Free daily content from Barnes & Noble — well, yes. You don’t get that on Kindle. But neither do you get the free Amazon content on the Nook. So a bit of a draw there.
  • SD card slot — Keep even more books on your Nook (to scroll through). With Kindle, you can archive your library at Amazon and access it again at any time. This one depends on what kind of person you are: do you like to have a hard copy of things that you can keep (on your SD card) because what if something happens to the online store; or are you thrilled to save things online only because you know you’d lose the physical thingy that stores them anyway?
  • Expandable storage — via the SD slot. I can’t imagine needing more room. I have to archive things as it is, because I hate having too many titles to search through. I forget what is current. But that’s just me.
  • More than a million titles available – B&N says they have them and Amazon says they have 350,000. I’m not sure this is a deciding factor for me just now as a, all the best-sellers are bound to be there and b, I’m sure Amazon will expand. However, if you like to look up older titles and if you find that B&N has more of them, it might sway you.
  • More than 500,000 free ebooks — Fine. Having sampled some of the free eBooks available for Kindle I’m going to hazard a guess that a lot of them are scanned out-of-copyright books, self-published books, technical books and not all of them are going to be worth your time. I don’t think a dumptruck of free ebooks is going to be anyone’s deciding factor, but OK.
  • Exclusive content when in B&N stores — this had better be world-class content or it’s going to seem like a ploy to get you into stores.
  • PDF support – this is potentially big. It’s not available on the small-size Kindles, and you have to use a separate piece of software to convert it (or email it to Amazon and have them convert it for a small fee and email it to your Kindle). On the other hand, PDFs are meant to display things in a fixed format, and that format is rarely in the 3.75″ x 5.75″ size of an eInk screen. (in other words, this could get messy. Or small). But people are going to like the idea.
  • EPUB and eReader formats supported — this means that if you’ve been downloading books in these formats to read on another device, you won’t have to buy them again if you want to read them on your Nook. This is nice, and not something the Kindle currently supports. Also, if you want to download a book that is ONLY available in these formats, you’re golden.
  • Read on more devices — you can read your Nook books on your desktop/laptop or a Blackberry as well as on an iPhone/iPod Touch. I confess I love being able to whip out my phone and catch up on a couple of pages wherever I am. Both eReaders are not pocket-sized so it’s nice to have the option to read a few pages on the device I DO have in my pocket. I suspect Amazon will add Blackberry support, but it’s not there just now. Desktop access might be nice for people who work outside the home and don’t want to carry their eReader around with them.
  • Android operating system — OK. I have nothing to say. I’m sure Android is cool and Kindle doesn’t run on it.
  • LendMe — You can lend books to other people. I haven’t seen the conditions on lending, but it’s an appealing feature. Of course, the publishers control whether or not this feature is available on their books, as they do with the Text-To-Speech feature on Kindle, so don’t expect all books to have this option. Publishers are very jealous of their intellectual property and are loathe to give it away even in spite of experiments that suggest it actually increases sales. I like the LendMe feature in principle.
  • Try in store before buying — I firmly believe Amazon needs to partner with someone to get working copies of their machine into stores so people can try them. Who’s going to pay $250 for an unseen product (except for us gadget/book freaks that is?). I’ve seen Sony eReaders in stores, but never in working mode.
  • Replaceable colourful back covers — some will scoff, but it’s kinda nice to be able to customize your gadgets.
  • Ergonomic Back Cover for Optimal Hand Fit — Hmm, can’t judge this from the spinning screen shot, but it looks pretty flat to me. I preferred the original Kindle’s shape, on this note. The current flat one is a bit less comfortable than I think it could be. They must hvae been going for slim-at-all-costs. Still preferable to holding a paper book of the same size in one hand.
  • Personalise your screensavers — nice option. Somebody discovered a hack for this in the original Kindle but I haven’t seen one for Kindle2.
  • Replaceable battery — Amazon doesn’t say much about the Kindle’s battery.

What Kindle Has That Nook Hasn’t (and my thoughts)

  • Keyboard – This is big for me. Simply start typing to search for text (reading a huge Russian tome and want to look up the first time “Anatoli” appeared so you can remember who he was? Just start typing and find every instance of his name). I’ve always wanted this feature, even before ebooks existed. “What was that line about…” update: not sure this is as big a deal, as long as the on-screen keyboard on the Nook is decent.
  • Annotation – –I don’t see a way in the keyboardless Nook, to make margin notes. I don’t use this very much myself but I imagine a lot of people do. update: unclear if you can annotate books, but imagine you can.
  • 5-Way Navigation Button — yes, it’s a little laggy , but you can move your little cursor around the screen and highlight text, select links, select a word for a dictionary definition (which pops up at the bottom fo the screen)and press to click. (I liked the scroll bar in the original Kindle, even though it didn’t do as much). I’m not sure how you navigate in the Nook to highlight text.
  • Text-To-Speech — it’s no audio-book level speech, and some publishers have turned it off for their books, but it still works for many. (I tend to use it to keep listening to a non-fiction book while I do dishes or something. It’s pretty laughable for novels, but still, if you want to keep reading while you take a short drive, it’s nice to have).
  • Word document support — The B&N site says “fee for wirelessly emailing” but that’s disingenuous: you can convert them for free yourself by using something like MobiPocket or Calibre
  • Basic Web access – you can check your email, access Wikipedia and IMDB, look stuff up on the web all over the free 3G service. It’s a bit clunky and slow, but before I had my (vastly expensive iPhone with its vastly expensive data service) this was great for answering all those nagging questions that pop up while you’re out and about. It’s not full web access, and it’s not as powerful as something like an iPhone but it’s a nice alternative if you have nothing or don’t want to pay data service and would just like to be able to pop online and check something.
  • Auto-page turn — this isn’t something that is in the manual, but there is documentation for it somewhere.  A combination of keystrokes will have the Kindle turn pages at 9 second intervals. If I boost the font size to the max and prop the book up, I can read my novel, hands-free while knitting or eating lunch alone (chance’d be a fine thing). Kind of nice. Nook may have it too, though.
  • Back button — This takes you back to the previous screen, not just to the previous page (I know, that’s confusing, but imagine you’re looking up a footnote. You don’t want to page back one page, you want to jump back to your previous section. The Back button does that. It also helps in the store, and in the web browser and in your ‘index’ or ‘bookshelf’)
  • Home and Menu Buttons — the touch screen on the Nook replaces some of these function. On the Kindle you use a combination of the Home/Menu buttons and the five-way-pointer to select where you want to be.

Who Wins?

  • Cost: The same ($259 — unless you want the International version of the Kindle, which is an extra $20)
  • International Wireless Coverage: I think the Kindle is the only one with this. B&N makes no mention of it.
  • Battery life: Kindle
  • Replaceable Battery: Nook
  • Connectivity: Nook (I think. Adding wi-fi seems like it must be a good thing, but I haven’t yet run into a situation where I could have used wi-fi and not 3G. Might be great, might be a red-herring). The Kindle has a basic web browser though, so it’s a close call.
  • Reading Features: Kindle  because of the note-making ability and ability to search text. This might be a draw, if the Nook has the same ability as Kindle.
  • Browsing Your Library: Hard to say. Nook’s colour covers are nice; Kindle’s text-based version is easy, plus you can input text to search.
  • Storage Capacity: Maybe Nook if you care about removable storage vs. online storage.
  • Look & Feel: Nook, by a nose. It looks like a Kindle but a little bit customizable. People will like the colour touch screen even if I think it’s a battery draining painted hussy that would be a complete fouter to use and have a distracting backlight.
  • Name: Nook. (Kindle has connotations of book-burning. Nook sounds like you curl up in a big armchair with a good reading light and a cup of hot chocolate…)

In Short…

  • Nook has some more features, some fewer. The reading experience and the shopping experience will be almost identical with a few exceptions:
  • No ability to search the text or the bookshelf (that I can see, I could be wrong).
  • No way to make ‘margin’ notes on the text.
  • Ability to lend books to friends (who have a compatible device) with some restrictions, at the publishers’ discretion.
  • Native PDF and other ebook format support.

The only compelling feature for me there is the lending one, and I think that’s going to be a bit of a light feature for some time to come (not many people have the devices, big publishers probably won’t enable it much … yet.

I would hate to give up the ability to input text.

It’s very close and may simply come down to whether you prefer to deal mostly with Amazon or B&N.

But, hopefully this rund0wn will help you make your own choice based on your preferences not the manufacturer’s gilded claims.

Let me know what you decide.


I’ve just spend an hour trying to solve a problem that was stopping me from logging in here to doing a quick post before I got on with the rest of my day.

I solved the problem (which did exist). Sadly, it wasn’t the right problem, and I still couldn’t log in.

Then, having eliminated the hour-long-to-solve problem, I fixed the log-in issue in, er, a minute.

I’m sure there was a flaw in my methodology, but I’m also sure anyone who has ever tried to build/bake/create/mend something has followed my method before and will be nodding and chuckling just now.


I only really have about two hours of useable time and now I have frittered one away on a minor problem that wasn’t pressing. Still, I feel accomplished. And more resolved than ever to go and book Gregor into the Lunch Bunch at school a couple of days a week… (poor waif).

In other news, I have major “Google Wave” envy. I know someone who has an invite and I’m resisting the temptation to cyber-sidle up to her and say,  ‘Hey, long time no email. How’ve you been? Now GIMME an Invite!”. It would be rather cheeky as she is the person who gave me my GMail invitation all those years ago. I’m not even sure what Google Wave is, really, I just know that I never looked back once I signed up for Gmail and GWave looks all shiny and new and sexy and I. Want. It.

Sigh again.
There is definitely something to Ray Bradbury’s advice to jump out of bed and run to your desk and start writing. I know it’s sound advice but I, unlike Mr. Bradbury, do not have a wife. I don’t have to do everything in the morning, but there is an aspect of, ‘well, let’s get the breakfast dishes away, and maybe eat something, and have another coffee and oh, maybe I should shower so I don’t scare the kindergartners when I go in to help out with lunch…”

And then there are technical difficulties…and we’re back where you came in.

But hey, my desk is tidy and that’s A Good Thing.

Now I’m off to have a shower. Once I leave the house — in an hour — it’ll be all go all day: lunch duty, pick up G, get a new book for A to read on the bus tomorrow, come home to wait for the pest guy to come and nuke the wasp’s nest that is dropping baby yellow jackets all over the garage floor, meet A from the bus, supervise homework, get to Karate, sit there for an hour and a half, come home, make dinner, clean up, bedtime routine, get things ready for A’s field trip tomorrow…

Not that I’m complaining you understand. It’s just so foreign to me, to be this busy. (And not be being paid for it. As such. Do hugs count? Cos I’m getting a lot more of them these days than I used to. Which is also A Good Thing.)

Right. 55 minutes. Shower time.

Prix Galien Goes To…Promacta!

Eleven or twelve years ago, Kevin spent his days working on making a little chemical compound that he hoped might one day help make sick people better. He told me that most people in his field go through their careers without inventing something that becomes a drug, but that he had a good feeling about this one.

Last year it was approved as a drug by the FDA and has been prescribed to thousands of people whose blood doesn’t clot properly. It may have saved a life or two.

Tonight it was awarded the Prix-Galien Medal, which “recognizes the technical, scientific and clinical research skills necessary to develop innovative medicines, and is now considered the industry’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, the highest accolade for pharmaceutical research and development.”


When Kevin started work on this project they were collaborating with a company in La Jolla, California, which involved regular trips out there. While I was often fascinated by the way he talked about the details of what he was doing, I did often lapse into seeing this project as a potential ticket to my first Californian vacation. The weather defeated me on one planned trip, but I did finally make it out there to spend a weekend in San Diego being wowed by the weather and the foreignness of it all, and asking him nothing at all about his work. Then again, he had been away from home for over two weeks and we were still young and virtually-newlyweds at the time. Nothing was going to stop me making it on that trip.

Shortly after that, my job moved and I started taking the train every day. When Kevin’s ancient second-hand car finally died, we went back to being a one-car couple. Kevin would drive me the 20 minutes to the station, stopping at Starbucks on the days we were up early enough — to the point that the baristas missed us if I lingered too long in the shower. In the evenings I would text him from deep underground in Market Street station to let him know what train I was on and he’d be there to meet me.

On the morning drive we mostly listened to the radio (because really, who was talking at seven-something-ay-em?). In the evenings, though, we would talk about all kinds of stuff, including work. I remember learning more about small molecule chemistry and drug discovery on those drives than should really have been possible for someone with a decade-old  O’Grade in Biology and not a moment of formal Chemistry training in her background. But I was quite spellbound by the drama as he tried new things, and waited for test results, seeing if tweaking it this way or that would have the expected result.

And then, sort of suddenly, it was over.

After an eventful trip from concept to shelved-and-furtively-worked-on-as-a-side-project and back to fully-fledged project again, I had lived with this little invisible creation for years. But then, like a child going off to college, Kev’s creation passed into the hands of the scale-up people, then the safety people, then the clinical trials people. I would get occasional updates, like postcards, but because it was no longer a daily update I was a bit more at sea when Kevin reported its latest travels through the approval process. It was lovely to hear about it, especially as it started to be tested in people who were healthy (it did what they expected and no-one got sick, hooray!). When they started to test it in sick people, the news was not only good, it was moving: patient reports came in from people who talked about how it was changing their lives. Kevin relayed them to me (again, in the car) and both of us blinked furiously and stared hard at the passing scenery.

All the time our lives moved on. Kevin worked on other projects; I left my job; went freelance; we started a family; the family started school…

There was a long silence while the Food and Drug Administration considered the application. Then suddenly, last winter, the word came down: the drug was approved. It was shipping out the next day and one fine day before Christmas Kevin came home with a bottle of very fancy champagne and a hand-written note from the head of Research and Development.

Tonight I made dinner, bathed the boys, cleared up, played board games with the visiting relatives, and wondered how his night was going.

At 10pm my phone pinged, and Kev’s sister grabbed her phone. We competed to figure out what Kevin’s cryptic messages from  actually meant, but yes, they had won the biggest prize in drug discovery.

It seems a very long way from our two-door Mitsubishi and the Norristown train station parking lot, to the basement of the Natural History museum in New York and a reception where Eli Weisel is only one of several Nobel Laureates giving presentations.

(But then again, there are a lot of stories I could tell you about Kevin that would seem even less likely to end up at a Black Tie do in NYC!)

I hereby declare that Kev should be known henceforth as: Doctor Awesome.

More Bicycling

We had reached that slow point on Saturday morning where Kev and Angus were starting to yawn, having been up for hours, and where Gregor was just finished breakfast, and where nothing much seemed likely to happen for the next hour or so.

So I jumped into some clothes and took my bike out for another spin. Herewith, more Lessons From A Born-Again Cyclist

1, Back in olden times, while I did have to find pockets for keys and possibly a wallet, I never did have to figure out where I was going to carry my cell phone. Nowadays, I wouldn’t think of going out on a self-powered mode of transportation without my electronic lifeline! (Note to self: must by saddlebag/handlebar-bag).

2, I cycled down the YMCA via a network of backroads that I have used when I have occasionally walked there. It takes me about 1/2 hr to walk it and I was curious to see how long it took by bike. Of course, I didn’t time it but I can say that it was significantly faster. “Wheeee!” I thought as I whizzed around the back of the YMCA a mere five minutes or so after leaving the house.

3, On the way home I discovered why I always say I’m going *down* to the Y…

4, I can survive moderate hills.

5, Modern cars are really quiet. I had to turn my head sideways — out of the rush of air — to hear if there were cars around.

6, The world shrinks a little when you have a bike — in a good way. Places you think of as being “a long walk away”, or a “must-drive” distance, are suddenly accessible within a few minutes.

7, People in cars are in a bubble. They have so much going on within their metal bubble that the outside world is far, far away from them. They are in a hurry. They are thinking about their destination and what they will do when they will get there[1]. Even when they have their windows down, on quiet roads, they are oblivious to a cyclist going by, grinning and waving.

8, Dog walkers are not in a bubble. They smile and say hello.

9, On a bike, the destination may matter, but the journey also becomes part of the fun. [2]


[1] I am a driver. I know.

[2] Granted, I haven’t been up any steep hills lately, or ridden in sleet, or been menaced by heavy traffic, but still. My point is about awareness and, er, all that crazy Eastern stuff…

You Never Forget

Apparently it’s true: you really do never forget how to ride a bike.

I took my new steed out for a trot around the block this evening. Actually, first I encouraged Angus to take his bike around the block. And he made it. Even with the stabilizers on, I ran behind him holding on, because the difference in pitch between normal sidewalk and the driveways is quite treacherous, and certainly too much for a beginner with questionable coordination. Gregor took off, running,  ahead of us and was home before we had rounded the final curve. But I give Angus much credit because he pedalled the whole way, even up the big hill, with no moaning or complaining and only fell off a little bit at the end.

After one circuit he declared himself done, but he was willing to run around once more, with his helmet on, he said. So I jumped on my bike and took them on a clockwise circuit which involves no road crossing.

I first rode a bike in the 1970s, rode around the houses as a child and was occasionally allowed to cycle to the next town as a teenager (but only if I called when I arrived, which I didn’t always remember to do; and that time I stopped off at someone’s house unannounced and didn’t call home because her big brother was having girl trouble and was on the phone, and then I forgot until about a hour later by which time my mother had nearly passed out from panic? Well, sorry about that.)

When I turned 21 I convinced the aforementioned traumatized parent to buy me my very first new bike. I was living away from home at this point so the prospects of them being traumatized all over again were relatively slim. I spent one glorious year pedalling around Edinburgh (wearing a helmet for the first time. Yes I am that old. Helmets for push bikes were not invented when I were a lass) on my new 21-speed, with the cutting edge twist-grip gear change. Oooo!

After years of stomping around the city or pedalling rustily on my sister’s old three-speed, I was positively gleeful to be flying along tree-lined Morningside avenues in any one of 21 gears. I bounced across Brunstfield Links on my wider-than-average hybrid tyres. I screeched to a halt and ‘chained’ by bike to the railings outside the library with a new-fangled D-Lock, stashed the key in my pocket, popped a plastic grocery bag over the seat (for protection against the inevitable showers of rain or passing student who’d spent a bit too long at the Pear Tree at lunchtime), clipped my helmet to my backpack and stomped off in my fake Doc Maarten’s.

A year later I flew off to visit my boyfriend in the US and, apart from a short flirtation before my wedding, abandoned my pride and joy flying machine along with my family and friends, and moved abroad. That was 14 years ago.

For some reason (oh yeah, we were broke) I never bought a bike in Boston. I could really, really have used one for getting to the subway station and for the trips home, when the connection would take longer to come than the walk would have taken. I suppose I could have picked one up at a yard sale or something but I never did. (It didn’t help that this was largely pre-Web too — yes, OK, I’m old! — and information about yard sales was gathered by walking past flyer-clad telephone poles, so your options were limited if you lived in a poorish neighbourhood, which we did.

I don’t know why I didn’t buy a bike when we moved to Pennsylvania. Lack of funds, inertia, objections from my non-cycling spouse, all contributed I suppose. Since we only had one car, a bike would have come in handy, but I never bought one.

And then I reached the stage where, whenever I seriously thought about buying a bike, I would discover I was pregnant.

But now, as I said, I am old and I am fat. My weight loss guru has advised finding a form of exercise that you loved as a kid. My boys are getting to bike-riding age. And, dammit, I wanted a bike! So I bought one.

I took it for a quick spin outside the house yesterday afternoon, but one boy was inside and one outside, and it was 92 degrees, so I didn’t get a chance to get a feel for the thing. But tonight?

Tonight I spent a happy half hour whizzing around the neighbourhood with one or both boys trotting alongside or waving to me from the playset in our fenced-in front garden as I wheeched grinning by.

Some things I learned:

1, You never forget how to ride a bike, in as much as ‘ride a bike’ means ‘pedal along in a straight line without falling off too much’.
2, You do forget how to steer in that effortless way you had as a kid: leaning into corners and making tight circles. Or maybe it isn’t that you forget. Maybe it’s that 20 years and 20 more pounds are upsetting the equilibrium a bit.
3, In spite of 15 years of driving over here, I had a bit of bother figuring out which side of the road I should be on.
3.1, Everything’s on the wrong side! I pulled up to the kerb to talk to Gregor (who was ‘poofed’) and realised that I would have to put my right foot down, not my left. Aargh. I jumped right off the bike instead, because my brain and my instincts couldn’t sort this fight out before the bike stalled and tipped me. And then THAT meant that, starting off, I had to start with my right foot on the ground and my left foot on the pedal, contrary to a life’s worth of pushing-off-on-a-bike-with-my-right-foot-first. Go on, YOU try doing something that you do instinctively, but with the wrong limb first…Go on, I’ll wait….. See?
4, My rear wheel brake is on the left-hand side, which is the hand you need to take off the handle-bars to signal the all-important left-hand turn (which here, unlike in Britain, is the one that crosses the traffic). You can probaby get away without signalling the ‘easy’ turn (in this case the right hand one) because your position on the road indicates it, and anyway, you’re not pulling out in front of cars behind you to do it. I haven’t quite worked this out yet and so will be spending a lot of time for now whizzing around the neighbourhood where most of the people in cars know me and will probably try to miss me, if only to avoid awkward silences at the next neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt.
5, I have not lost my love of flying as I glide along the road under pedal power.
6, Cheap bikes now are better than moderately-priced bikes 16 years ago. I had been nervous about my ability to pedal up even the slopes in our neighbourhood, but I didn’t make too much of a fool of myself.
7, A little exercise (and it hurts me to admit this) perks me right up.
8, I might have to get a bike trailer…

Stay tuned for more Amazing Adventures of the Cycling Scot, coming to a blog near you soon.

XKCD Gives Away Our Secret

This made me laugh a lot

…then curse him for telling people.

A Message from Gregor



I just saw a hummingbird, for the first time in my life.

I was standing on the deck, about to come inside, when what seemed like two butterflies or a really big dragonfly flitted past me and paused at one of my flower boxes.

When my eyes had focussed I realised that this was a hummingbird.

It truly was tiny. Huge for a dragonfly but tiny for a bird.

Dark greens and blues shimmered as it drank from my petunias and tried to find an open flower on the hibiscus and made a pass at the artificial flowers wrapped around my trellis. I suspect is had discovered the hibiscus a few days ago and came back for that. I’ve never had a hibiscus before and it’s classic hummingbird bait. It dipped int the new begonias I had just put out, and then zipped off.

I was standing there the whole time, feet from the thing, mouth hanging open, grinning like the proverbial idiot, and thinking “Hummingbird! Wow!”

I see hummingbird feeders in the garden centers all the time, but I don’t think I ever believed we really had hummingbirds in this area. How can I have lived here for 13 years and never seen a hummingbird before if they really live here?

I feel like I just walked out my front door and saw a unicorn trot past.