Thursday, July 26, 2012

Horoscopes and Travel

~ I’ve never been one to pay much attention to horoscopes, or the alignment of the planets and stars, and their supposed influence on daily life. Having said that, for the past couple of months I have been downloading to my iPad, issues of amNewYork, the free week day New York paper. Since I tend to read each issue from cover to cover, I have also been reading the regular horoscope that pertains to my star sign (LIBRA: Sept.23–Oct.22). To my surprise, a large number of the ‘readings’ seem to be indicating that my forthcoming trip to New York City will be taking place under good auspices.

Here is one from last Monday (the 23rd): “Take advantage of this high-energy cycle. Your confidence grows and so does your luck. You can pretty much accomplish anything. Don’t forget to sleep.”

I just love the ‘Don’t forget to sleep’ comment. Actually, that won’t be a big problem for me. At almost 64 years of age, I have long ago learned to forgo the late night raging party for a good night’s sleep - although I have been known to kick on until one or two in the morning if the party is a really good one!

And since I am writing about horoscopes, here is part of Tuesday’s amNewYork horoscope for Librans: “The spotlight is on you. Stick to your fiscal guidelines. Listen and be respectful. Check carefully for plan changes.”

Yes, the spotlight is on me as I get ready to head to New York City once more. I know some members of my family are excited by my trip, and others are concerned for me. Concerned, because once again I am departing for up to three months, on a solo journey that will hopefully take me across America, and maybe even into Canada.

As for ‘stick to fiscal guidelines’, you can be sure I will be doing that. I am on a tight budget, and I will need to monitor my expenses very closely throughout my travels. In fact, I am restricted to a budget of around $1000 per week – or $142/day. That is not a lot of money. There will be times when that money will have to pay for accommodation, food, transport, entertainment and activities, and other daily needs. The only way I can do this is because I am spending three weeks rent free in a New York apartment, and also because I will be visiting and staying with extended family members during my trip.

Then there is the advice to ‘Check carefully for plan changes,’. So far so good though, and I certainly don’t anticipate any major changes to affect my plans at least during for the first few weeks of my trip. Having said that, I have now booked and paid for six or seven events, and any number of things could mess up my plans to attend them. The biggest one being the fickle New York weather. Most of the events I have booked require me to be outdoors. Either on the water (two cruises); two baseball games, and one visit to the National September 11 Memorial.

As all New Yorkers know, the only way to really experience the city is on foot – at street level, and I intend to do a lot of walking around the city. I have mapped out several days for exploratory excursions at Coney Island, Staten Island, Queens, and numerous Manhattan neighbourhoods, all of which could be postponed or even cancelled if the weather demands it. But then that possibility is all part of the joy of travel. I have allowed plenty of ‘free’ time so that I can reschedule some of my plans if needed, but mostly I will just press on regardless and make the most of my time, in arguably the most exciting city on the planet.

I can hardly wait.

Finally, Tuesday’s horoscope also advised Librans to, ‘Listen and be respectful.’

Amen to that. I firmly believe that when I travel, I do so as a guest of the people and country I am visiting. As such, I always try to listen and be respectful whenever I meet and talk to the locals. I am there to listen and learn. To observe and appreciate. And to share in their customs and traditions.

No, I don’t normally pay much attention to horoscopes, but just out of interest, I will keep a watching brief on them over the next few days and weeks, and see how their predictive messages play out in real life.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The eBook Revolution

In a previous post, Coming Up For Air, I wrote about my purchase of an iPad 2, and how I was adjusting my book reading habits to reading eBooks via this amazing tablet device. In my Travelling Bookworm entry, I listed all the physical books I had read over a three month period (January-March, 2012), and I've decided to return to the theme here.

Apple iPad and iPhone readers will be familiar with the iBooks app (see image). Although I also have Google's Play Books app, my eBook reader of choice at the moment is iBooks.

As you can see from the lists below, my reading of physical books continued apace during April and May. But following the purchase of my iPad, and the downloading of more than 100 free eBooks (in the ePub format) from the Gutenberg.Org website, my book reading has changed overnight from physical books to eBooks.

Books Read in April
20. Where The Buffalo Roam, by Anne Matthews
21. Dubliners, by James Joyce
22. Oliver Stone: The Making of His Movies, by Chris Salewicz
23. Before The Melting Pot: Society and Culture in Colonial New York City, 1664-1730 
24. The End of America, by Naomi Wolf
25. Isaac’s Storm, by Eric Larson
26. The Devil in The White City, by Eric Larson
27. God is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens
28 A Genius for Failure: The Life of Benjamin Robert Haydon, by Paul O’Keeffe

Books Read in May
29. Shakespeare Never Did This, by Charles Bukowski
30. Provinces of Night, by William Gay
31. The Captain is Out to Lunch…, Charles Bukowski
32. Pulp, Charles Bukowski
33. Hank: The Life of Charles Bukowski, by Neeli Cherkovski
34. Ask The Dust, by John Fante
35. Notes of a Dirty Old Man, Charles Bukowski
36. George Lucas: The Making of His Movies, by Chris Salewicz
37. The Dig Tree, by Sarah Murgatroyd
38 Tilt: A Skewed History of The Tower of Pisa, Nicholas Shrady
39 Selected Poems, T.S. Elliot

Books Read in June
40. Report From Engine Co.82, by Dennis Smith

eBooks Read in June
1. Knickerbocker’s History of New York, Washington Irving
2. Greenwich Village, Anne Alice Chapin
3. Henry Hudson, Thomas A. Janvier
4. Botticelli: Masterpieces in Colour, Henry Bryan Binns
5. The Training Of A Forester, Gifford Pinchot 
6. The Story Of Manhattan, Charles Hemstreet
7. Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search For Osama Bin Laden, Peter Bergen
8. Literary New York, Charles Hemstreet
9. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving
10. Davy and The Goblin, Charles E. Carryl
11. The Admiral’s Caravan, Charles E. Carryl
12. Nooks and Corners of New York, Charles Hemstreet
13. Journals & Letters of Philip Vickers Fithian, 1773-1774

Of the thirteen eBooks listed above, only Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search For Osama Bin Laden, is a modern publication. All the others were originally published between 80-200 years ago! Since purchasing Manhunt, I have bought three other modern eBook titles, but continue to discover and download other public domain works via Gutenberg.Org.

So how have I found this transition from physical paper-based books to eBooks?

I must say I have surprised myself by how quickly I have taken to reading via the iPad. I love the convenience of having potentially hundreds of books stored on this device. I love too, the ability to highlight interesting passages of text, make notes, search for definitions of words I am unfamiliar with, and enlarge or reduce the size of text as it suits me. I can also do a general online search for individual words or phrases, or search Wikipedia specifically. I can also email notes and highlights to myself - or anyone else - or print them off if I want 'hard copies' of my notes.

The transition was made easier when I realised that it wasn't so much the physical books I was interested in so much as the information contained in the books themselves. Since I am first and foremost interested in the information, it makes sense to have this information close at hand - literally at my fingertips.

The main drawback I am faced with at this time is the sheer volume of eBooks available online - both public domain and commercial releases. As noted, I already have well over a hundred eBooks on my iPad, and keep discovering more that I would love to read, but finding the time to read them is my greatest problem. However, I figure it is a nice problem to have, and I am already learning to curb my initial enthusiasm for collecting a mass of esoteric titles I may never get to read. Mind you, the beauty of discovering public domain eBooks is that they are always available online, and I can always return to download them as the mood takes me.

What do you think of eBooks? Are you a convert? A passionate advocate or a traditional book reader? Feel free to add your thoughts to this topic via the comments box below. Personally, I believe the wave of the future has arrived, and even though I know I will still buy the occasional traditional book, I am firmly committed to 'book' reading via my iPad.
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