I brought my Spanish grammar and verb books to study instead of a novel to read this trip. Of course I didn't feel like studying much and thus for want of something to read and lack of an inexpensive Internet connection, I pulled out that Bill Bryson eBook I downloaded from Microsoft's website and started reading.
A Short History of Nearly Everything is so far fantastic. Very amusing in some parts, and in others incredibly eye opening and educational. And written with Bryson's trademark nihilistic humour which I've enjoyed in all his books I've read.
Basically in the introduction, Bryson talks about how he was in a plane over the Pacific and realized he had absolutely no real idea about science at all, so he started a three year long quest to learn about the hard facts of science and the fascinating lives of the scientists themselves. Some of the anecdotes are very amusing - I'd copy/paste them here, but of course the eBook is heavily DRMed. Just about every scientist except Einstein is a real loser in one way or another. It's quite nice to know.
I think this is the first time I've actually read a novel my laptop and it's surprisingly doable. Microsofts's Reader allows you to adjust the size of the font and the version of ClearType you like best, and then present the page centered on the screen surrounded by a black screen. I found sitting in an easy chair with the computer on my lap and my scroll mouse on the arm rest worked perfectly. I was like Stephen Hawkings... I could read for hours like that without actually needing to move more than a single finger muscle if I propped my head just the right way. The only problem, of course, was going to the bathroom. Extracting myself from the tangle of wires, etc. was a lot less efficient than just throwing down a paper-back split open at the page you were at and rushing off (sometimes bringing the book with you, if it was that sort of trip...).
I really need a Tablet PC for reading like this. Or maybe I could break down and get a PocketPC? Urgh. Perish that thought. Seriously, though, I can't *wait* for normal books to just go away. Slate just ran a story about eBook piracy just the other day. Publishers seem to think that the day will never come when eBooks replace normal books, but they're soooo wrong. I read for hours in the past few days and when my wife asked me if that was comfortable I was sort of surprised. I asked her, "How many hours a day do I normally spend in front of the computer?" And she replied "all of them" (of course) and then I replied "You never ask me if I'm comfortable browsing the web... What's the difference?" There really wasn't any. It'd be nice if I could've gotten a little more comfortable to read, but when I got sick of reading in the easy chair for one reason or another, I read at the desk. I spend hours in that position anyways, it didn't affect me one way or another.
Anyways, I grabbed this program called C-Lit which supposedly can get through MS's DRM restrictions so hopefully I'll be able to extract the text and read it on my phone or maybe Ana's Palm... we'll see. Or I'll just adjust my power settings down to the lowest settings, unplug and read on the couch.