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I have been so blessed and lucky over the past year. So much so that I
wonder what I could possibly have done to deserve all of it. But one
thing I do know is that I want to give some of that back — pay it forward.
When I attended the annual "Day For Hearts" at Sacred Heart Children's
Hospital last month I suddenly knew what I wanted to do: To help kids
who were having heart surgery like I had so long ago to have a little
bit easier stay in the hospital during their procedure. As such last
week I picked up an application for volunteer work at SHCH. It will be
a long process. In fact it might be mid-summer at the earliest before
I know whether I passed their standards.

But this time I refuse to let myself be pessimistic. If the mountain
does not come to Mohammed, then Mohammed will go to the mountain.
As such I have come up with a plan to bring books and video games to
the cardiac kids. Originally I was planning on buying normal paper type
books and taking those in. But now I have decided that it would give me
a lot more options to embrace the new ebook technology. I can hardly
carry a library of many paper form books around with me — I couldn't
handle the weight. But with ebooks it is of course different, practically
no weight at all for many books; and the technology of ebook readers
today is so good that it is not much different a reading experience from
the paper books. And so I decided to go with a Blackberry Playbook for
the games and a Nook Color for the ebooks. I figured that I could get
both the Playbook and the Nook for $200 less than I could the cheapest,
last-year-model iPad. I bought the Playbook first, which I can also have
for personal use other than the volunteer work. For the Nook reader I will
have to wait for this Summer to come up with the money for it.

So I have started collecting games and books on the Playbook. I've never
been much into video games, but I think Cut the Rope is a blast. And
at least up until Level 5 I've been doing fairly well at it. It is a very
forgiving game — you can play each round as many times as you want in
order to get some skill with it. I also downloaded Rocket Storm, an old-
fashioned style arcade game where you get to blow things up. Perhaps not
good for a hospital environment? Well I'll let the kids decide that.

But the real surprise came when I found a series of interactive books by
Touchybooks. Diana Dreams About Dinosaurs was a delight. These
interactive stories are what you might call 3-dimensional compared to
normal paper books — touch a bowl of cereal and Diana extends her spoon
to eat it, touch a shower head and the water starts flowing, touch the
green light on a stoplight to let Diana cross the street. Wonderful stuff.
But the true find was Goblin Forest. This interactive book is truly amazing,
a combination of beautiful artwork, gentle Celtic music, and fine background
narration. There is nothing in Goblin Forest that tells you what to touch
to make something happen. As the narrator says, the forest is full of many
mysteries: It is up to us to figure it out. Which sometimes involves a bit
of guessing. And a lot of trying.

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