A Fond Farewell… Borders Bookstore

Homey Borders bookstore facade

You read right, Borders is closing its doors for good. This is really sad. As a regular tourist in the US, I have fond memories of browsing around their stores. I make sure to go in each branch I come across to at least smell the paper and the coffee in the air. I’m pretty sure I bought a few items from them too.

Not to be melodramatic, but truth is e-commerce is killing brick & mortar. I am partly to blame; the guilt is there. I made my first online purchase in 2001, a full decade ago. Around the same time, I helped set up and run Yehey.com’s E-Commerce pages.  Today, I am a regular customer of  B&H Photo’s online store for most of my gadget and photography needs, and as a result have already been snobbing Best Buy outlets. Truth is, online shopping has it’s own joys: the infinite selection, the anxious waiting for the UPS man to arrive, the un-boxing of the brown shipping box…

Such joy, the brown box has arrived!

Call me old school, but for me nothing beats reading paperbacks and the occasional hardbound. Reading is not just about reading, it’s about the smell and texture of the paper. It’s about the patina of creases, folds, coffee stains and bread crumbs. It’s about the gratifying act of placing a bookmark (mine are usually magazine subscription cards) to indicate your progress. It’s reading at the airport and letting other people know what your reading by letting them see the cover art (and not a blank leather case of a Kindle). Speaking of that e-reader, don’t you dare call the latest Bourne novel in your Kindle a “book.”  To me, it’s just a “text file” of the book.

I recently bought the latest 007 novel, Carte Blanche by Jeffrey Deaver at Powerbooks Alabang. As an IBM employee, I also recently got a complimentary copy of the company’s centennial book, Making the World Better. Yes, both are printed on paper, and I’m truly excited on reading them both.

Wow, did I digress… Anyway, I’m happy to have lived in a generation that has experienced brick and mortars like Borders. At the same time, I’m sad and even terrified, that my would be child/children wont get to see much of them, if any at all. I can imagine our future little ones asking: “Dad, why do we have to go out to buy something?” and “What are those stacks of bound paper on the shelves?”

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Pentax PCF WPII 8×40 Binocular Review

Here’s a quick take on the PCF WPII binocular that I recently purchased at B&H Photo (which happens to be my favorite online store at the moment and therefore deserves its own review!).

The binocs came in a simple, straightforward box.

You may think that I’m getting old quick to even consider purchasing a pair of binoculars, and I thought the same too. But I hope I convince you that it’s a fun toy, and a worthwhile investment especially if you’re into traveling and spectator sports.

Before I got the Pentax, I did a lot of research on binocular basics, and if you’re getting one, I suggest you read on it too. You will learn that there are a lot of different models and specs to choose from, depending on what you’ll use it for. I chose an 8x magnification which is just right for use when traveling.

The PCF WP II is just over US$100. A good pair of Lucky jeans or Nike Air Max sneakers would cost more!  Out of the box you will immediately see and feel it’s great value. It feels solid with its rubber armoring. It’s water proof and fog proof too. The lens have a nice green tinge letting you know it’s multi-coated. I really think paying a Benjamin for this level of optical performance is a steal. It’s not too expensive that you will tend to pamper it, and it’s priced just right for something that you only get to use a few times a year.

Pentax is owned by Hoya Optics*, both well known and reputable brands in lens and optics. The binos delivered, producing bright, crisp, sharp and saturated images. Looking through them is a visual treat. It should be noted that some chromatic aberration can be seen, yet I still think that the PCF WP II’s deliver superb value in terms of optical performance vs. cost. Because of its large 40mm diameter front lens, this bins is perfectly useable at night. Tip: this binocular is best used without eyeglasses and with the eye cups extended.

The Pentax PCF WPII 8x40 flanked by my film camera.

As with all things optics, the trade off for good performance are size and heft. Although the Pentax 8×40 PCF WP II is about the same size and weight as other brands of the same specs. This binocular is roughly the same size and weight as a semi-pro DSLR without lens. Personally, the visual treat it gives is worth the burden.

Yours truly enjoing the view at Provincetown, Cape Cod.

If you want the eyesight of an eagle by day and of an owl by night, then this is your ticket!

*Note: The Pentax Imaging Systems Division will be spun-out as a new company and its shares transfered to Ricoh on October 1, 2011. I’m not sure how the Pentax Sport Optics (binoculars) Division will be affected.