Friday, March 11, 2011

Peanut Butter, Lettuce, and iPad!

Today is my grandmother's 91st birthday.  She lives in a retirement community about an hour and a half from my parents, so we drove up to have lunch at a nearby restaurant.  At 91, her balance is a little off, but she has all her mental faculties, including important historical trivia that the rest of us have forgotten/never learned (such as the 1755 Boston Earthquake, largest ever recorded on the East Coast of the US).  She credits her longevity to her lifelong habit of eating peanut butter and lettuce sandwiches for lunch.  The science on this is no doubt iffy, but living to 91 with all of my mental facilities would be fantastic.  I do love peanut butter.  Especially peanut butter and apple butter.  But I don't think I can stomach peanut butter and lettuce just yet!

On the drive up, my father encouraged us to be on the lookout for a Walmart, Best Buy, or Apple store, as today is the day the iPad 2 went on sale at 5:00 pm sharp.  Apparently it went on sale online at 1am or something, but by the time he ordered his online at 7am there was a two to three week wait.  He wasn't up to staking out a store for hours on end, but figured we could stop by a store one of the stores stocking it on our way home.  As luck would have it, we pulled into our local Walmart at 4:58.  We headed to the electronics department, where there was a line of four for the six available iPads.  My father was number five.  He even got the number of gigabytes he wanted, as did the other four.  The woman in front of us said she had called the Apple store and Best Buy in Shopping City* and they had as many people in line as they had iPads at 2:30.  She came to Walmart to get cotton candy, wandered by the electronics section, and realized she could get an iPad on the very day her tax return came through.  Serendipity.

Of course, the fact that my father got his new iPad today was particularly exciting for me, as it meant that I would get his old iPad.  I have wanted an iPad ever since I heard about iAnnotate , an iPad app that allows you to highlight text and take notes on pdfs and then transfer them as a text file to your computer, something I find essential for my research.  I currently do this using the My Notes function on my Kindle, or a program called Skim on my computer.  However, the Kindle doesn't read pdfs perfectly and doesn't support loghatelba7th at all.  My computer is small, but not as portable or as reading comfortable as a tablet like device.  iAnnotate would allow me to have the best of all worlds, and I read a lot of pdfs.  Obviously the iPad does a lot of other cool stuff too, but this was the most important feature to me.  Before I lost my funding, I was planning to buy the iPad 2 as an end of research gift to myself when I came back in May.  After losing my funding, this was no longer a possibility, much to my disappointment.  However, when I found out my father was getting a new iPad, things looked brighter, as after all, the original one does iAnnotate just fine.

We returned home, and my father took his new iPad out to his office to play.  I sat down to dutifully resume my transcription.  Lost in my interviews, I jumped when my father came up behind me and put a package in my lap.  It was the newly purchased iPad.  "But this is your iPad!" I exclaimed, confused.  "Surprise!" chorused my husband and mother who had also snuck in while I was lost in transcription.   Apparently they were all in on the plan, which is even more delightful than getting the actual iPad.  

So now I have a shiny new research toy.  My transcription will no doubt suffer, but when doesn't it? On the other hand, reading research papers will seem downright fun!

*A city about an hour away where most people from my area go to shop.  If you are from anywhere else in the state, it is considered a scenic retreat.  We have better scenery, so consider it a place to shop.


  1. A belated happy birthday to your grandmother, mashallah!

    And congratulations on the shiny new research toy! Surely this will sweeten transcription sessions for you, since you'll have an obvious reward to go to after putting in some time transcribing. Please let us know, BTW, what you think of iAnnotate. I've been wondering about that function for a while, since it's essentially the only excuse I could offer for buying myself an iPad.

  2. I am amused by the concept of Shopping City.

    But congratulations to your grandmother, and hooray for your iPad! My wife has one, and I actually found it tremendously useful for teaching--it made assigning PDF'd articles/chapters as simple as assigning readings from the text, because I could simply bring it with me like another book. Also, it meant I had illustrations in color when the students had them in black and white. (There was a fabulous article about abaya fashion that was totally different when you printed it in b&w...)

    May I recommend Labyrinth? There's a free trial version...