The Loh Life is writer/performer Sandra Tsing Loh's weekly take on life, family, and pop culture in early 21st century Southern California.
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Kindling: GPK-- part 3

Sandra Tsing Loh breaks her Kindle.

Within 72 HOURS, we have BROKEN our Kindle. So sad, because, those first two DAYS-- So MAGICAL, with books falling out of the sky!

For me, it was "A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents"-- You know, the sort of VACATION reading middle-aged PEOPLE enjoy-- For my nine year old, it was "The Dork Diaries 3." For my 10 year old, it was some strange nerd FANTASY book that began: "I woke up. The famine was over. Zircthar, my pet flengren, was pecking me on the shoulder--" I COULD tell you MORE but all the screen shows now is STRIPES! And a little bit of grape JELLY--

Since there’s no MANUAL, I go ONLINE to google "Kindle TROUBLESHOOTING"-- I LEARN that if your Kindle is STOLEN, you should contact Amazon to CLOSE your account, so the Kindle can no longer download books. But then, I think, what kind of CRIMINAL would I want to stop from DOWNLOADING BOOKS? Isn’t a portable LIBRARY the very THING we want to get INTO their HANDS?

I finally get a TECHNICIAN on the phone. He tells me to RESET it, RECHARGE it, and REBOOT it. When none of that works, he admits that the Kindle is unfixable. His last curious question: "Was the Kindle DROPPED?" Right! What are the odds my children are going to ADMIT to dropping their jelly-smeared Kindle, and what are the odds they DID?

As my kids sat in the backseat contentedly sharing their NEW Kindle-- For the record, no problems with that one so far -- I bemoaned our fate to my friend Caroline, on the long trip BACK from a 4th of July VACATION.
"Perhaps we’re JUST not a 21st century family," I said.

"Nothing seems to WORK right any more. Every new VISA card I get features silverish numbers ESSENTIALLY the same color as the grayish-silverish BACKGROUND-- I can’t READ them, I have to TILT the card at an ANGLE to make out the NUMBERS-- The last time my kids flew up NORTH to see their AUNT, United assigned them BUTTONS to DESIGNATE them as unaccompanied minors-- METAL buttons, which set off the machines--!"

"Right," Caroline says, gesturing out the window. "And now we’re in Oxnard, and we don’t know HOW to pick up the 1. If my IPHONE were CHARGED, I’d be able to pull up a MAP--"

"MY phone is charged," I say. "But it HAS no FEATURES-- But the KINDLE!" I suddenly erupt, a light bulb going off in my head. And two clicks LATER, that’s right, we’ve downloaded a free SAMPLE of a RAND MCNALLY MAP book of Southern California! Instead of a GPS, we have a GP…K! Can Bill Gates do this? We’re navigating by Kindle, maybe a sextant, and a bag of chips!

We’re staying away from the jelly, though.