Life is a Mystery

25 August 2010 . Comments Off on Airport reading

Airport reading

My favorite airport is Amsterdam’s Schiphol (convenient since many flights to Europe from MSP transfer in Schiphol). Last time I was there I even spent the night, due to an awkward transfer on my return from Austria. I noticed quite a bit of construction near the museum (yes, there is a museum at the airport). Little did I know this was the installation of a library!

Hat tip to Lorcan for the news that Schiphol has become the first airport sporting a permanent public library. Most of the collection will be in English and won’t circulate. However, it sounds like there will be a way to take something on the plane with you: downloads!

As an Apple fanboy, I am also interested to see that the public computers at this library are iPads! I love the little stands they’ve created. I wonder how long it may take US libraries to realize that an iPad could make a pretty snazzy and durable public kiosk machine?

Now I just need another excuse to fly through Schiphol. How about iPres 2010? Anyone want to send me?


23 August 2010 . Comments Off on Textbooks come to life

Textbooks come to life

It looks like another step toward e-textbooks is under way. An app called Inkling just became available that does a great job of translating this genre to the iPad. Inkling does two things wonderfully right: (1) it cuts the spine off the textbook, freeing it from the tyranny of pages even while allowing page number references, and (2) it makes the textbook social, allowing you to not only take notes, but share those notes with friends and colleagues and let them respond.

The books Inkling presents are beautiful, if their sample of Strunk & White is any guide. If anything, they may be a bit too beautiful, since some of the functionality is so “well designed” it virtually disappears, becoming a bit hard to find. Illustrations can be very lively, multimedia can be incorporated, and by sharing notes the marginalia of these books can be shared among a whole study group.

The app is free and a lot of fun to explore, I highly recommend it. I’m not sure what the business model for book content is, or how footnotes would be handled. It would be smart if the format used were open and shared so that open source textbooks and meeting proceedings could supplement the very sparse initial catalog.

23 August 2010 . Comments Off on Singsong


I read about Robert Taub’s ImproVox a couple days ago and decided to give it a try. This iPad app is a blast, adding all kinds of texture and harmony to your voice as you sing. I love it and could entertain myself for a long time with the effects and the sounds made by tapping and scrubbing the iPad case while it is on. I do wish it could export a MIDI version of the results. I’d love to replace voice with instruments to build up a piece.


23 August 2010 . Comments Off on Move in, move out, move on

Move in, move out, move on

Wow, talk about blindsided. We have been so busy preparing to move Alex to St. John’s that I somehow missed the fact that he’d really be moving out of our house. The cat just meowed to me. She does not realize the world has changed.

Moving Alex was an adventure. We love our Prius, but this was one time when it just could not handle the job. We swapped our car for a friend’s minivan, then proceeded to fill the back. This sweaty job at home became a breeze to unload on campus. We were among the first to arrive and a whole crew of about a dozen green-shirted orientation helpers whisked everything to Alex’s third-floor room in just a few minutes! This was incredibly helpful and very welcoming.

We spent a couple hours helping Alex do everything from arrange the furniture to make the bed to sort out the closet to set up his room network. But the real work of the day was letting go. Were we really going to leave Alex here, in this room, on this campus? Of course, on one level we knew that we were. We’d been planning this with him for months if not longer. We’d been dreaming it was possible for years. Yes, we were leaving him. Yet in another sense it was agonizing. While excited about the potential of his future in this place surrounded by these caring people, I suddenly realized he would not be with us daily any longer, he would not be sitting at the dinner table each evening, I would not be stretching his foot before bed. These are rituals of long standing.

My heart began to break. I could once carry Alex on one arm. I remember his first glasses (while he was still absurdly young). His smiles and laughter nourish me even as his teenage contrariness exasperate me. I have forgotten life without him. Now I was faced with it.

Our little family of four enters a new configuration, never before tested: 3+1. We three will build something new together here in Saint Paul. He will build anew in Collegeville. I trust we will find a new balance of joys and frustrations that fill our home with life and love. I believe Alex will find himself, discover his passions, and make true friends. Still, facing that change I just wanted to hang on to Alex, retreat, hide out together. As we hugged (!) and cried (!) I didn’t want to let go. Not ever.

So maybe, in my heart, I won’t. I’ll do my best to give him the space he needs and deserves (ok, I won’t drive that new router to Collegeville personally), but he is right there in my heart. I hope he blogs again (last entry was back in May!) or tweets regularly. I’d like to hear the rustle of his wings as they unfold. But the flying I’ll leave to him. Proud papa, I’ll watch from a little ways off.

Being at the tail end of the baby boom has the benefit of seeing your stage in life peppering the mass media. In this case, I am running into story after story of parents dropping their kids off at college. I used to think that the thing to say to parents sending off their kids was: “Congratulations!” Now I realize that asking “How are you doing?” would be just as much in order.

Off to camp!

Eric Celeste / Saint Paul, Minnesota / 651.323.2009 /