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Have you ever had the experience of being approached by a stranger who was curious about a certain personal accessory or funky gadget you were holding? In particular, has anyone ever inquired about your new eReader?

I ask because the New York Times ran a story over the weekend that implied that Kindles, iPads, and the like are fantastic flirtation devices. Strangers will notice an iPad owner poring over the device on the subway or at a coffee shop, and they'll use the electronic device as an excuse to strike up a conversation.

The Times quotes Michael Hughes, a communications associate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, about his experience as an iPad owner: "Strangers constantly ask about it," he told the Times. "It's almost like having a new baby. People approach me and ask to see it, to touch it, how much I like it. That rarely happens with dead-tree books."

Interesting! So much for my tips about how to use old-school books to flirt.

The truth is, I myself am much more likely to strike up a conversation with someone if I know what book he's reading — if I can see the cover.

Nonetheless, I imagine an eReader is a great excuse for having a substantial chat with a stranger.

You could begin by asking about the eReader itself: Does the person like it? Does he like using it better than reading from conventional books? What's he reading, anyway? Does he like that? What does he usually read? Why? And why is he reading what he's currently reading? Oh, because it helps him relax after a long day at work? What kind of work does he do?

And suddenly, you're off and running. Let's just hope one of you asks for a phone number before somebody's stop comes up.

Being the fairly low-tech person that I am, I am not usually a possessor of the latest technology. I have been asked, a few times, where I got the great front basket on my bike — but usually that happens when I am on the two-wheeled vehicle, stopped at a light, so it's not a great moment for a big talk.

Folks, I wonder: Are there any personal belongings or accessories that you have that typically cause strangers to strike up conversations with you?

What Do You Think?