Lum: Another step into the 21st century |

Lum: Another step into the 21st century

Su Lum

I can’t believe that in less than a week the days are going to start getting shorter, but I say that every year, and the older I get, the faster June 21 rolls around. That’s the good thing about old age — it doesn’t last very long. If you want to extend the time you have left, move to New Jersey, where six months will seem like six years.

This weekend, the summer will explode with the Food & Wine Classic (some say “Whine”) event, and it will be full dance cards and nonstop activity until the last of the leaf peepers leave at the end of September.

I don’t get out and about enough to be directly impacted by the throngs — I thank the stars for my handicapped-parking pass, try to be prudent when scheduling a trip to the market for provisions and otherwise stay embadgered in my little miner’s shack, fortunately my favorite place to be.

Meanwhile, my high-tech friends Jack and Darren are nudging and pulling me across the bridge between yesteryear and tomorrowland by encouraging me to purchase my first iPad. I think that’s how you spell it, with a little “i” and a capital “P” — a dreadful appellation in any case, with its echoes of sanitary napkins.

Jack and I are reading buddies from way back, and Darren knows how to customize an iPad down to the minimum and plug it into my existing speakers so I can listen to audiobooks. Books on cassettes went the way of vinyl records, and books on CD, which I will keep getting as long as the library carries them, are clearly being phased out. The iPad, according to my tech team, was the way to go.

The first step, Jack told me, was to go to and pick out a book. I go to the site, and a message appears, reading, “To celebrate audiobook month, we’re giving away a FREE audiobook everyday.” Yeesh, not a great start. “Everyday” means “ordinary”; “every day” (two words) means “each day.” The error is rampant in our society, and I know I’m not going to win this one, but the first thing on a book site? My new book site?

I chose an old mystery novel, “The Singing Sands,” by Josephine Tey. That was easy, but wait, I got “The Singing Sands,” by someone named Steve Frazee. How many “Singing Sands” can there be out there in audiobook land? And of course to cancel it would mean having to actually go to that planet, probably via India — I’d rather eat the fee.

Darren comes over to set me up, and Jack comes over for a tutorial. We successfully order “Brat Farrar” (another Tey), and Jack shows me how to tap the screen and gently slide my fingers to start, stop, change chapters and tell the book to give me 10 or 15 minutes to get to sleep before turning off. Easy as pie.

We don’t have the hookup for my speakers (two male somethings), but a lady is reading the book at a volume I can almost make out with my inadequate ears. It all seems pretty simple, and that is definitely good.

Jack leaves, and I cannot turn the reader off. I swipe, swirl and tap, but she keeps reading away. I unplug her. I push the “off” button and hold it in, but damn, she keeps going on and on.

Next thing I know, Siri has gotten into the act. Through the magic of GPS, Siri once led my daughter Skye and me to an obscure Denver hotel. When universal questions arise, such as, “How much does the president weigh?” my friend Hilary goes to her phone, hits a button and asks, “Siri, how much does Barack Obama weigh?” Now I had Siri following me into my iPad, saying that she didn’t understand my question. I hadn’t asked a question — I was cursing at the “Singing Sands” reader because she wouldn’t shut up. I was shocked that Siri heard me.

Well, no one ever said life was easy. I once mastered the MP3 player, and I think that the iPad is going to be a lot easier if I just stick to books and learn how to deactivate everything else.

Jack said to tap the two parallel bars — the sign for “pause” — and lo, the reader stopped reading.

Su Lum is a longtime local who will see you all after Labor Day. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at