Toys are Fun

Toys are fun, but as you get older, they seem to gradually get more expensive. And that’s a good thing…as long as you’ve recently won the lottery.

My latest acquisition is an e-reader call the Boox (with an ‘x’ ya stupid autocorrect!) Note Air 2 Plus. On the face of it, it’s a hyped up e-reader. I can read my Kindle library. I can connect to my local brick and mortar library and check out books, both ‘e’ and of the audio variety. I can even hand write notes on books (at least those that aren’t copyright protected, i.e. those in my Kindle library). Plus, given that the Operating System is technically Android, I can connect to the Google Play store and download things one might on an Android phone. Yeah, costs as much as an iPad and no, it doesn’t have a beautiful Retinal Display, but yes, it has a long battery life and is really meant for reading and writing, not watching Netflix and fucking around on Facebook.

Rationalizing consumerism is too easy.

“It’s my birthday.”

“Christmas is coming up.”

“I’ve hard a hard month.”

“I’d downed a couple when I finally ordered it.”

“It’s Tuesday.”

And the notorious:

“Fuck it!”

On the other hand…

“Oh shit, I’m the only bread winner in this house and (as I’ve learned) there’s no such thing as job security in America and I’m 59 and OMG, OMG, OMG!”

So why in the fuck did I buy such an expensive “toy”? And is it a toy if I’m actually using it in a meaningful way? And can’t I purchase anything anymore without a hint of buyer’s remorse? Read on to find the answers to these important questions.

There are, in my experience, only three ways to change you life:

  1. Change your mind.
  2. Change your habits.
  3. Change your environment.

The first is simple and anyone can do it in their sleep: change your mind. Okay, I’m joking, this is the hardest of the three. I mean, we’ve all wanted to modify our thought processes but the reality is this is harder said than done. Indeed, more often than not, we find that our minds tend to change after we’ve made changes to our habits and environment. So maybe the real trick is to trick our heads into getting our asses off the couch and committing to changes in behavior and environment that lead to habits and so on and so forth. Habits change when our minds choose to “do it” regularly enough that it becomes “a thing” and it always helps when we change the things in our external world that lead towards our goals.

For example, if I want to loose weight and improve my health I can think about it all I want but if I don’t make up my mind to actually eat better and go to the gym I won’t get anywhere. And once I make up my mind to do this—and I force myself into observable action—it’s simply a matter of repeating those actions enough times until they become a habit. And by changing into my exercise outfit and walking over to the gym I’ve put myself in an environment that helps reinforce the idea that I want to loose weight and improve my health so hell, I might as well get on the treadmill for thirty minutes then do some weight training. Easy-peasy.

Okay, so most of us haven’t self-actualized yet. It’s not easy-peasy. It’s hitty-missy-shitty. Most days anyway. And that’s where we come back to this e-reader. It used to be, back in the day when I lived in little shitty overpriced apartments, I’d take my old rust IBM Thinkpad to the local library or coffee shop or university campus and I’d write. Having next to no social life most of the time, writing proved an effective way for me to spend swaths of free time during which I’d otherwise go insane because I had no social life. And frankly, writing was free: I rarely had money to go out to dinner or a movie so writing was a constant companion. And then of course once I did have a house and a level of income resembling comfort I wrote almost daily on The Temple (SKABS’ previous incarnation). Of course, God laughs while we make plans, so I allowed two people in my life that, combined with Lyme, nearly (literally) killed me. I could barely work and work was the only way of keeping a roof over my head and food in my stomach so my life literally became sleep, wake, rush to work, work, work, work, rush home, fall into bed, watch movies, go to bed, wash, rinse, repeat, with the interspersed doctor and ER visit. So I stopped writing and the Temple died an unnatural death.

I wrote a really terrible book back in the 90’s which has more or less been dormant ever since. Every now and then I promise myself to sit my ass down in the chair and get back to it, but every time I either get through a few days or typing before becoming overwhelmed or, more often than not, I have an excuse. Sometimes it’s that I don’t have time. Sometimes it’s my health. Sometimes it’s because there are a billion other things I need to devote my spoons to, like house work and maintenance, my cats, my marriage, or going out to the local joint on a Friday night and drinking and smoking my problems away for the evening (something that became somewhat of a habit over the COVID years and after going through the loss of my dad). Always there’s an excuse. So I’ve been making some changes. I rebuilt my dad’s old computer in a web server so I could self-host my blog. And I setup my laptop for writing. I started compiling and editing my old short stories and poetry as a practice session, my plan: to self-publish an e-book on the Kindle store. And yet, like the gym, I found myself unable to make it a habit and I kept thinking God, if only I had somewhere close by where I could walk, sit down, and write for an hour every day (and it be somewhere where I don’t have to spend money and/or it doesn’t serve various enjoyable spirits that don’t exactly improve my already questionable writing skills).

So in comes the e-reader or, as some call them, e-ink tablets.

A few years ago I discovered online a toy called The Remarkable. It seemed amazing. A tablet focused on writing, where writing gave you the same or similar enough experience to paper. “Why not just write on paper?” I hear you ask. Because every time I do I end up with a mess of notebooks with heaps of unorganized chicken scratches that don’t exactly support my ability to write. I tried change my mind, my habit, and my environment with notebooks, but in the end they didn’t really work for me. I needed something where all my notes would be in one place, where I could synchronize my scribbling insanity between computers, that I could easily take with me anywhere, and where, ideally, I could hand write notes on my latest drafts as opposed to going through reams of paper. Ultimately, after much research and many years waiting, I decided Remarkable wasn’t going to get their proverbial shit together despite me hoping their products would meet my requirements yet not cost $600+. Fade in my consciousness one of their competitors and a competent YouTube reviewer in the UK who convinced me the Book Air Note 2 Plus was the way to go. But would it/will it help me change my mind, habits, and environment?

Since receiving my Boox I’ve started on the path of mental and environmental change that I hope will lead to changes in behavior and ultimately, a relatively relatable and readable novel. For starters, I setup my MacBook to publish the latest drafts of my e-book to the cloud where the Boox is able to find it and load it into a reader/editor where I can make tons of sloppy notes with the stylus. Additionally, I’ve added a keyboard tray to the desk in my den so I can use that for work laptop #1 while I have personal laptop #1 on the desk and I’m able to go back and forth between them as needed (no, I don’t [generally] write during work hours, but it’s nice to have handy in case I have something I want to note down via a keyboard). I’ve installed other software for note taking that syncs between my machines and am changing my mindset to include devoting time each and every day where I’m either reading, writing, editing, or taking notes (that is doing something related to improving my written communication skills if not more directly completing my short story compilation and/or novel).

So far, so good. We’ll see how it goes and adjust from there.




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