Lum: I got them monthly cramp iPad blues |

Lum: I got them monthly cramp iPad blues

Last fall, my friend Jack threw me further onto the internet highway by insisting that I get an iPad so that I could listen to audible books. My print-reading ability is impaired as well as my hearing, and the idea was that I could attain the best of all worlds by plugging the iPad into my bedroom radio speakers.

Both earphones and little ear plugs are out of contention because they make my hearing aids scream, which in turn makes me scream in frustration, and all in all the less we have of that the better.

This way, I could lie untethered on my bed, enjoying the thousands of selections available from There also are ways to get audible books free from the library, but they are not as accessible or extensive and I’m still hooked on the “I think of it and here it is at the press of a button” stage.

“Lord of the Flies”? Ping. Stephen King? Zip — your lullaby awaits. Bill Bryson, love his writing. Agatha Christie? Download ’em all!

The honeymoon lasted for a few weeks. I was buying books like a crazed bibliophile and was staying at my daughter Skye’s house last winter when the iPad froze. I ran whimpering to Skye, who managed to set the iPad straight but had no idea what she had done to accomplish it.

Following that unpleasant event, the iPad froze up on a fairly regular basis. My friend Hilary hated the device but was always able to reset it, though like Skye, never knew what she had done.

There are few things that can piss me off as much as a mechanical problem that I can’t understand and do not know to fix. I can be ripping along on my PC when I accidentally hit a key (I never know which), the entire screen disappears and my document (I finally learned) flies into my drafts file. Scream.

I have even tried dealing with the iPad tech people. One time the iPad wanted me to review the book I had just listened to. I was not inclined to review the book but the iPad thought otherwise and would not let me X out or turn off, so I opted to have a chat with a tech. A major mismatch is a young 20-something IT kid speaking what amounts to Arabic to a half-deaf, totally ignorant little old lady, each the other’s worst nightmare.

Now if the iPad goes awry when Hilary is at work, I am up the creek until she gets home. My starvation for audible books can reach critical proportions.

That’s what happened a few weeks ago, when I had to turn the iPad off to download a new book and it refused to turn off. “What can I help you with?” wrote Siri, the same lady who gives traffic directions on your GPS. I reached for my reading glasses and started pressing buttons to no avail.

“I hate this thing,” snarled Hilary when she got home. She turned it upside down, tried to trigger the reset button, whacked it a few times and finally, in complete frustration and anger, yelled, “Go to Audible Books.”

And the iPad went to Audible Books.

It was as if we had told the iPad to “lie down” after months of erroneously asking it to “lay down.” The iPad seemed to sigh and say, “Why didn’t you say so?” How were we supposed to figure out that the iPad followed voice commands?

I’m sure this isn’t the end of the iPad’s bag of tricks, but I’ll probably die of old age before I become halfway competent. I like manuals. The people who understand computers cannot write manuals.

Su Lum is a longtime local who has been having great fun with the discovery of classical radio audible books, romping with Fibber McGee and Molly, the Great Gildersleeve, Our Miss Brooks and all the golden oldies. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


Trump extremists crossed the line


After spending this last week digesting, regurgitating and agonizing over the events of (Jan. 6), I am reminded of what my veteran father would have done.

See more