RIP little iPod—The times, they are a changing …

One of my favorite Steve Jobs anecdotes is the story of the iPod development. Apple Engineers kept bringing revised versions of the iPod to Jobs and he kept sending them back, insisting that it be made smaller. Finally, they told him they had achieved the smallest version possible. Steve Jobs then threw it in an adjacent aquarium where it emitted air bubbles as it sank to the bottom. I imagine he cocked an eyebrow as he sent the engineers back again with the comment that if there was room for air, it could be made smaller.

I now mourn the passing of my eight-year-old iPod nano. Carelessly left in my jean’s pocket, she fell prey to the dastardly washer-dryer cycle. I tried to revive her, poor thing. She had served me faithfully and survived much abuse. Alas, it was not to be, and with her demise she took with her a dozen audiobooks I had hoarded. You see, my ancient fifth generation was one of the last of its kind—not blue tooth enabled. This meant that I had to manually connect it to my Mac to download library audiobooks using Overdrive installed on my Mac. Once transferred to my iPod the audiobooks remained until I chose to listen to them. This is like an alcoholic having a full case of liquor; like a junkie with a kilo of heroin; like a carnivore with a freezer full of rib eyes. Like any addict, I loved knowing I could always get my fix.

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So, it was with a heavy heart and shaky hand when I transitioned to library audiobooks on my iPhone. I knew that this was how many people listened to audiobooks these days, but I was reluctant to do so as then I would have to abide by the same three-week check out period as everyone else. My problem with this is that at any given time I have about twenty books on hold and they have an uncanny tendency to all become available simultaneously. And even I can only listen to two or three a week. (Sigh.)

Still, once I had no choice, I faced the future. It was surprisingly easy. If you haven’t tried listening to library audiobooks on your phone, here’s how: First, go to the APP store on your phone and download the free Overdrive app. You will need to put in which California libraries you use and your library numbers and PIN numbers. (I have three cards, but mostly use Shasta County and San Francisco.) Thankfully, there is a place where you can check to remember this, so you only need to do this once. You now have the Overdrive Icon on your phone and can access the library collection and your account. When you download an audiobook (or ebook) it is almost instantaneous! I have to grudgingly admit that I’m impressed. And I suppose if I don’t have a chance to listen to a book in the allotted three weeks I can always get back in the hold queue to check it out again. Good things (and free things) are worth waiting for.

I do have three great listening opportunities to share with you. In the spirit of accepting that change does happen, let’s look first to Yuval Noah Harari, an Oxford educated Israeli historian and the author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. His new book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, is an incisive and innovative look at plausible future scenarios. Harari has a knack for taking complicated information and making it understandable to even low-tech people like me. Sobering but provocative, this tome may not have all the answers, but it certainly has all the questions. And maybe that’s where we need to start. Warning: after you listen to this, you may want to invest in the hardback—I did.

HomoDeus

My next two suggestions are by an author I just discovered and with whom I’m completely infatuated. Derek B. Miller has a PhD in International Relations and works as an International Affairs Specialist; his experience and erudition shines through in his books. I listened to his latest novel, The Girl In Green first. Adequately narrated by Will Damon, this 12.5 hour action-packed thriller made me erupt with laughter and moved me to tears—a wonderful, terrible thing. The story begins in 1991, one hundred miles from the Kuwaiti border. Thomas Benton, a seasoned British war correspondent has an interaction with US Army private Atwood Hobbes that sets into motion the quest they will share twenty-two years later. Don’t miss this one—I expect it to take some awards.

The Girl in Green

After I wrote my Goodreads review of The Girl In Green, I noticed others comparing it to Miller’s 2013 novel Norwegian By Night. Short-listed for seven literary awards and winner of the Crime Writer’s Association John Creasey Dagger award for a debut crime novel, this is again a novel of war and the aftermath of war—Korean, Vietnamese and Balkan. The protagonist, Sheldon Horowitz, an 82-year-old Jewish widower from New York, has recently immigrated to Oslo to live with his granddaughter and her Norwegian husband who both think he might be slipping into senility. In Norway, Sheldon witnesses a murder and has only the skills he learned as a sniper in the Marine Corps sixty years before to protect himself and the victim’s young son. Loaded with relevant and canny observations on everything from aging and widowhood to the impact of Muslim immigrants in Western Europe, this is a stimulating and thought-provoking listening experience.

The Girl in Green

More and more it seems to me that the world is changing far too rapidly. I’m trying hard to learn and adapt; I endeavor to embrace growth, but sometimes I think I’m stretched to the snapping point. So, I focus on the small, doable things. Like remembering to check my pockets before I load the washing machine.

Hollyn Chase
Since her retirement, Hollyn Chase has served as VP of operations at Chez Chase--she also cooks and vacuums. Darling Jack, her husband of forty-two years, gets to be President; they agree that this is because he works much harder than she does. Being the VP is not all glitz and glamour, she does many mundane things. But she does them happily since she discovered that listening to audiobooks makes the boring bearable. Because her mind is always occupied, she's stopped plotting to overthrow the government. Her children, who rarely agree on anything, are both happy about this. Besides her addiction to fiction, she's fairly normal and sometimes even nice.
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10 Responses

  1. cheyenne says:

    Thank you Hollyn, while I am scouring Goodwill’s and garage sales for books to sell on Ebay this gives me two to look for to read.  I could always go to B&N and buy them but the fun is in the hunt.

  2. Suzanne in Sacramento says:

    Hollyn,

    I look forward to reading everything you post!  Such a relevant read!  I am almost settled, please come to Lincoln for a visit, I’d love to see you soon. Hugs, my friend!

  3. A. Jacoby says:

    Checking pockets!! One of the things I hate most about doing laundry. When I had a husband and a son with which to contend, I could rationalize my anathema . . . . but now it’s only me. Why do I dislike that chore so much?  I dunno??? . . . but it bites me in the bottom every time with a blizzard of shredded tissue. Thanks for the recommendation  . .  . I’m headed to my Kindle right now to look them up!!THANKS!!

    • Hollyn Chase says:

      Ye-gods-yes! The horror of opening the dryer door and finding you’ve washed a tissue with your dark clothes and now you get to pick the thousands of tiny pieces from your favorite black pants. Ugh. Still, not as bad as losing my iPod.

      Situation update: I couldn’t stand it anymore. My phone was running out of memory and two of my library audiobooks were expiring. So I went on Amazon and bought a used, but reconditioned iPod nano. It’s even violet like my old baby. It’s charging peacefully even as I write this. I feel calmer already.

       

  4. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I fondly remember my iPod and its playlists.  Reduced to redundant surplus junk now that iPhones, iPads, and cloud technology are capable of so much more, but there was a nice simplicity to having a small device that served a narrow purpose.

    Thanks for the reading recommendations.  I’m going to flip a coin on the two Miller novels.

  5. Lori Curry says:

    My sympathies on your beloved Ipod, Nano.  The stories will remain in your heart forever!

     The Girl in Green looks like it will be my next download!  Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow are on my wait list. Thanks so much for your reviews.

  6. Anita Lynn Brady says:

    Never did the iPod thing, but resisting the eReader thing, I can relate to your discomfort at having to change your “habit.” My daughter got me one for Christmas and I was verklempt. My other daughter was there to guide me with its activation, book downloading and mastery of features. I had always clung to “paperbacks” because I read at night in bed. The thought of dropping a Kindle on my head did have me concerned.

    The small electronic devise I was gifted was actually lighter than my cell phone (which I often read at night), so I decided to give it a try. Now, I am hooked. One time, I dropped it on my head (suffered a split lip that took a bit to mend) and one time on the floor but it (and I) survived. Once it froze up right at a tense part of the story. Frustrated, it dawned on me that I could Google it, and was able to trouble-shoot and restart. That brought me to the end of the book and a bit of satisfaction that I conquered an electronic glitch.

  7. Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

    Great article Holly.  The last load of wash I put in the dryer was much too noisy, so I opened the door and dug through the clothes to find my dad’s military compass…and brass case in the dryer!  I reunited the two parts and set them in a warm area hoping the moisture in the unit would evaporate.  It did.  The compass still works.   Why I was carrying this treasure around in my pocket is another story!  Thank you Holly.

    • Andrew says:

      that was supposed to be a “clapping” emoji… but apparently the comment system does not support :)….

      <clap><clap><clap><applause>

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