Archive for December 29th, 2011

On Tuesday, Jane (Hil’s friend), Hil, Sarah and I went to see the San Francisco Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco.  It was my first time watching a ballet in over 20 years.  We all enjoyed it.  Hil enjoyed the whole spectacle of people, the ballet production and the music.  Sarah and I mostly enjoyed the music.  Sarah sat with Jane up in the “nose-bleed” sections and Hil and I sat in the second balcony.  We had good seats, in terms of leg room, but I got stuck behind a tall man who shifted frequently and who regularly blocked my view.   Although I was able to move my vision around him, there was never a point where I could see the whole of the stage.
I’ve seen “The Nutcracker” before – on TV and once by the SF Ballet (back in the 70’s) – so I more or less knew what to expect.  The music was terrific, the individual dancing was impressive, but the whole package was not quite right for me.  The last time I saw the ballet, I was down in the lower level and the view was straight on.  From above, minor errors in lines and spacings are more noticeable – and there were quite a few.  I remain amazed at the strength and grace of the male dancers.  Of course the females are graceful too, but I never get the sense of power from them which I get from watching the men carry a female at shoulder height or higher and still gliding around the stage.
Interestingly, I believe I would never have noticed the spacing and lines issues if I had not been to watch my daughter (Sarah) perform in marching band.  It was something we (as parents) learned to look for to guess if the band would be judged well.  I guess, once you’re aware of these things, it’s just a short hop for the mind to make similar connections to other types of performances.  On the other hand, maybe it’s just the Obsessive – Compulsive – Disorder (OCD) in me.
I got a Nook Tablet for Christmas from Hil and I’ve now read my first book electronically.  The book is titled:  “An analysis of the Comic Book Industry’s Business Issues“, and is written by Shawn James (2011©).  The book is very short – only 88 pages and not very well edited.  There were multiple errors – spelling, repeated phrases, that kind of stuff, which detracted from the author’s message – that American comic books, as a form of literature, may be going extinct.
The author relates a number of factors as to why comic books are in a declining market.  His main factors are cost increases, lack of retail outlets, misalignment of actual market to target or optimum growth market (comics currently sell mostly to 25 to 40 year old males instead of 8 to 20 year olds of both sexes), and a lack of diversity among the cast of heroes.   My own feelings are these may be valid points, but it doesn’t make them the “key” issues.  My own feeling is they are simply an art form who’s time has come and gone.  They will remain a niche market, but that is all.  I think the only valid point the author proposes is to move the form onward as graphic novels more widely spaced (quarterly instead of monthly).
First impression of my Nook and electronic books.  The Nook Tablet is light, balanced and has a comfortable screen.  It has web access (via WiFi) and self-corrects between landscape and portrait viewing.  It also seems to have a very good battery.  I haven’t timed it precisely, but I was playing with it for several hours and it seemed quite happy to continue long past when my netbook would have been insisting on a recharge.  We purchased the scratch saver and protective cover for the Nook as well as the two-year warranty.  I don’t usually buy extended warranties, but technology this new and mobile needs a bit more insurance than something which is only going to sit on a desk.
The cover adds a bit of weight and depth to the Nook while you’re holding it.  This is good, because this makes the Nook feel more like a book in my hand.  Also, the swiping motion to turn a page is close enough to a real page turn as to fool the mind.  The issue of random access to other pages is still a problem.  The Nook page turn does not allow leafing through the pages to find a different page quickly.  This may be overcome with bookmarks, highlights and such, but I’m not currently using these tools, so I can’t yet comment on them.
So, for the moment, the jury is still out (for me) on eBooks versus “real” books…

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I learned from this that an average person cannot tell the difference between 4 percent unemployment and 8 percent unemployment.  If you have 100 friends, and a few more are employed or unemployed, you can’t accurately gauge whether the economy is going up or down.  If twenty of them were unemployed, you could;  in other words, you can easily see firsthand the complete disasters and depressions.  But you can’t see the changes in the normal range of most statistics.  You can’t really see the difference between 4 and 8 percent unemployment.
    —    Mark J. Penn
From his book:  “Microtrends
[I see…  It’s a downturn when “they” are unemployed;  it’s a recession when “you” are unemployed;  and, it’s a depression when “I” am unemployed.    —    KMAB]

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