Saturday, December 26, 2009

red planet

Old school SciFi. Red Planet is a great story written for boys, back in 1949, 60 years ago! Robert A. Heinlein is one of my favorites when it comes to this kind of SF; he writes stories that could happen today, if only a few things were different. He imagines a future that isn't so different from his own, and seems gleeful in his speculation of what that future may hold. It certainly seems to hold his dreams.

Red Planet isn't so different from a western. In fact, I'd say that's just what it is: a flag waving, American-style freedom loving, government by- and for-the-people, rebel yell against oppression. You know... with Martians.

The edition I read is also Heinlein's original manuscript. In the introduction, William H. Patterson Jr. describes how Heinlein's editor, Alice Dalgliesh, struck out whole segments and ideas that she considered too racy or inappropriate for print at the time, and that's how the story was originally published by Charles Scribner's Sons. There are even copies of the original manuscript at the back, with Dalgliesh's mark-ups.

Fun, short, adolescent, and painfully out of date, but very interesting as background reading for the later Stranger in a Strange Land, which uses the same Martian back story.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

why we run

Why We Run: A Natural History was loaned to me by my brother-in-law Lino, a marathoner currently training for the Boston Marathon. I was telling him about a Radiolab program on stress and how it explained how stress is a left over biological reaction to bad things in one's life, like being chased by a lion. The adrenaline rush which would help our forbears spring away, is just stomach pains and ulcers now. The drop-and-run reflex that voids the bowels of pursued animals is both a lightening of the load for flight, and a potential diversion. It also signals a shutting down of non-critical systems (digestion) to allow for more energy to flow into flight and preservation. And it why we feel weak in the bowel when nervous or under stress. Lots of stuff shuts down when we're stressed, including growth and normal repairs. That's why stress is so bad for us.

So I'm blabbering, the same way I am now, telling him all this and he's interested (I think) and we chat about it a little and that's that. A few months later I'm telling him another story that I heard about how humans function, based on studies of animal models, and he tells me about this book he's just read: Why We Run. He told me it gets a little scientific at points, but otherwise it's good. The author is a runner who compares people to animals to figure out how man evolved to be able to run, and possibly why. Sounds like my kind of book.

Benrt Heinrich is a scientist, and an author, but maybe a runner first. Or maybe he's a naturalist first, because running to him just seems natural. As a biologist he studies nature, unlocking it's secrets to better understand us, and why we are the way we are. Humans are just animals, but why we've evolved to be this way is mostly lost to history. Heinrich helps us to rediscover our lost animal, and how the body machine works; how it evolved for very specific tasks, like running, and how we can reconnect with our natural selves by expressing this natural behavior.

The writing is fun, thoughtful and interesting. The mix of science and autobiography, woven through with ultramarathon race preparations, informed by his studies, make for a exciting (yeah, I said it) read. If you're not interested in science, nature or running, I don't think this book is for you. But if you are interested in one or more of those things, this is an easy to read, well written jog. By the time we got to end of the race, I felt like I was running along with him, offering encouragement and hoping he would make it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

feile na marbh

The fire of autumn,
Raging against lapis skies,
Drains to brown under ashen mist
-- And dies.

The trees slough their reptile skins,
Leaving only tatters and bits.
Clinging; twisting in desperate throes
-- Then fly.

Only the bones remain,
Stripped bare to rub and crack.
Consecrated offerings for Samhain,
Scoured by gray winds.

Quiet now but for the rustle
Of dead skin and broken bone.
Frost and Decay worry and wrestle,
Devour the remains and spit the seeds.

The pines stand in vigil silence
Aside their sleeping brothers,
Brandishing green standards of defiance;
Sentinels in forlorn fields of bone.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

the alchemyst

So my son and I have been cranking through some books together. The latest was The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, by Michael Scott. I guess you could say we're on a fantasy kick. We started out reading the Harry Potter series, then read The Lord of the Rings, which we started with The Hobbit. When we finished, he asked me to read The Silmarillion.

So okay, he's hooked. And he's hard-core.

So then we read The Chronicles of Narnia, and when we finished that he was looking for a follow-up. He was very specific: it needed to have multiple books, be fantasy based, and be good. So its back to the living room library. He says no to The Summer Tree, Eragon, and Artemis Fowl. The first two series I read, and I thought they were good. I didn't read Artemis Fowl. So we tried The Alchemyst, and its pretty good.

First things first: this is not the Nicolas Flamel mentioned as a minor character in the Harry Potter books. Both JK Rowling and Michael Scott have had their way with this real person from the 1300s, but The Alchemyst isn't a spin-off of Harry Potter.

The story was fun, fast moving, and pulled in lots of myths and legends. Which have been updated for today's savvy young reader. Reinventing mythology is dear to my own heart, and I've dabbled in it myself with poetry. So readers will recognize characters and it was delightful how they were woven into this story. Scott's writing is easy to read, and rarely were we able to read just a single chapter before bed. I've just picked up the next book, The Magician, which we just started. So far so good!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


In the Eleventh Teaching: The Vision of Krishna’s Totality, Krishna favors our hero Arjuna by granting his request to see Krishna as he really is. Krishna in this form is terrifying, and Arjuna is of course shaken. Within the roiling apparition of this multi-bodied, limbed and mouthed form, Arjuna glimpses his enemies, grinding between the flaming teeth of Krishna. Which Krishna points out is a vision of the future. These very enemies wait on the field of battle that day, while Arjuna speaks with Krishna, who is disguised as Arjuna's charioteer. As their chariot stands between the lines of combatants, Krishna explains (stanzas 32-35):

"even without you
all these foes
arrayed in hostile ranks
will cease to exist…

They are already
killed by me…

Kill them
without wavering;
fight, and you will conquer
your foes in battle!"

Friday, December 4, 2009

book re^marks

This sweet thing, dear friends is a bookmark/notebook. It is three sheets of thin, fine paper, folded and stapled in the middle to create a very slim notebook for note taking whilst reading. Better than margin notes if you're working on a research project for example, or just don't want to mark up your books, or worse, a loaned book. That's 8 pages for your jots and scribbles, and words that need looking up if you don't have your dictionary handy. Who knows, maybe you're cramming for your physics mid-term, and you sketch out a 3:00 AM, caffeine induced, cold fusion generator. Could happen.

This fun little gift, thoughtfully given by Alyson to support my crazy bookmarker habit, is made by The Sherwood Press. They've got some pretty cool stuff for the geek in you.

Come on; its an astronaut for Pete's sake.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

makin bookmark

The nice folks at Makin Library Media gave me this bookmark when I stopped at their trade show booth at the New England Library Association conference. Makin does all kinds of stuff for preschool through high school facilities, from books and media, to classroom curricula to full on school library set ups.

Their current adverting media has this flower theme, their booth was decorated this way, etc. I didn't see any READ posters when I was there, but apparently, they'll give you one if you ask. That's sweet, but it won't fit in my book.

These aren't "The" READ posters we've all seen, as far as I know, but as I said, I didn't see any. "The" READ posters are an American Library Association product if I'm not mistaken.

Best, this one is.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

secret of the seventh son

Secret of the Seventh Son, the first novel by Glenn Cooper, was an interesting, fast paced and fun book to read. Cooper's writing is easy to read, mostly. Some of the vocabulary words that sprinkle and dot this book seemed unnecessary. In a fast paced thriller, I shouldn't have to stop to look something up a dozen times. Granted, there are segments of the book where whole tranches [see!] of the vocabulary are outside the everyday language of most readers, but that actually wasn't so bad, as most of those words had enough contextual clues to define them. Others just put the action on hold. Aliquot? Aliquot wasn't even in my dictionary. I mean sure, I know what it means now, and I'll keep it in mind for the next time I'm playing Scrabble--that's a bingo with a 'Q' in it, for crying out loud--but I don't expect to read it in a paperback novel unless its written by Umberto Eco.

So, lots of fuss about the language, but it wasn't bad, really. The characters were nicely drawn, even if we've met them before. And at the end of the book, there's a blurb about a follow up novel due out next summer. If it shows up, I'd read it. And the story arc was different, so that was fun.

Monday, November 23, 2009

kitchen confidential - ii

This was one of the most entertaining non-fiction books I've read in a long time. Bourdain is brutal in his honesty, which I give him credit for. It must have been hard, but not too hard. Bourdain's personality comes through pretty clearly in this mostly autobiographical story of how he came into cooking professionally, how he got where he is now, and the many, many mistakes he made along the way. But its his personality that brightens, and darkens, this story.

I say that it mustn't have been too hard for Bourdain to make these confessions about what goes on in restaurant kitchens, while we sit in the dinning room, or about the choices he's made in his life, because I get the distinct impression that he doesn't care what you or I think. He's lived a different life than the rest of us, so who are we to judge, seems to be the message.

But after what he's been through, he's still not all hard edges and callus, there is a softer side that shines through as well, albeit, not that often. I said earlier that reading his stories was like hanging around at a party with an old friend telling war stories. I still think that. It think it would be great fun to hang out with him for a night, and maybe bar hop, in Hong Kong or somewhere, and listen to him talk about food, how its made, and why we love it so much. In the end, Kitchen Confidential is a love letter to food, from the old boyfriend whose been thrown out so many times, he can't remember, but he can't give her up.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

sci fi covers

io9 has a great article for science fiction lovers: A History of 16 Science Fiction Classics, Told In Book Covers. The article covers 16 of the best know science fiction works from Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, which was made into the movie Blade Runner. The covers are great, and you can almost tell when they were printed given the style, the fonts, and the images used. There are quite a few foreign translation covers as well.

This cover: Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, click on it to blow it up. Really.

Just looking through these reminds me of all the sci fi I read when I was younger, and all the stuff I meant to read and never got to. So whats on my reading list now thanks to this article? Well, the three I mentioned above, plus: Neuromancer by William Gibson and A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. I read five of the others, so that leaves six that I don't know about. Maybe I'll check out the covers and see if any of them sparks my interest.

Have fun!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

my dictionary

My dictionary. I have others (around the house, at work, online) but this dictionary is mine. The one I use when I read. When I'm reading, I keep it next to me. When I put my book away, its stacked up with my dictionary. I read every morning with my breakfast (if I eat alone, which is most work days) and I use the dictionary to prop up my book.

I use my dictionary constantly, I look up words all the time. Some books have me looking things up once per page. No time, you say? How can one enjoy the story, you may ask? In most cases, usage is enough to give the gist and then just keep on reading. No, no my friend, that's not reading. That cramming for a mid-term, or burning the midnight oil before your book club meets, and you can't stand the embarrassment of not having read another one.

If you absolutely don't have the time to stop; if you're in the middle of a cliffhanger, and the falchion is about to fall, or you're on the train and don't have a dictionary, make a mark in the margin, and look in up later. Some folks use a second bookmark to mark what they want to look up, or even a scrap of paper, to jot words and phrases down, to look into later. Don't let these words just go by. Each one is a new toy, a new tool, something you can use. They're just sitting there. According to the book I just read about English, we just use the same few thousand words, over and over again, while the English language consists of hundreds of thousands of words.

I was talking to my brother--he uses a dictionary when he reads too--and he told me he gave a gift to his god-daughter. A dictionary. Her dictionary. And then he told me, it wasn't just a dictionary, it was a forever dictionary. If it ever wears out, goes out of date, or is no longer useful or broad enough, he will replace it. Always. She will always have a dictionary.

I can't think of a better gift.

Friday, November 20, 2009

quartos archive

Love old books, incunabula or otherwise? A whole collection of early Shakespeare works--hard bound and beautiful--are now all available for perusal online. You can read about the volume itself, read the text in HTML or XML, or you can look at wonderful, high-resolution photographic images of the actual volume, page-by-page.

This image is from another site. Hamlet; 1st quarto 1603; C.34.k.1; Provenance: Halliwell-Phillipps

Each of these 32 editions is a pre-1642 Shakespearean quarto of Hamlet. Hamlet was chosen as the inaugural play for the Shakespeare Quartos Archive project, but they have plans to add more in the future. A quarto is a book printing technique: a large piece of paper is printed with four pages on one side, and four pages on the other, and then folded twice to make 4 double-sided leaves of a book.

These volumes aren't incunabular, they're too late, but boy are they handsome. The pictures are really high quality. If you're planning to take a look, you're going to need a fat connection.

Mmm juicy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

putterham branch

Check it out! If I'm reading this right, this is a bookmark is from 1971. I went to the Putterham Branch of the Brookline Public Library today to take a look around, and meet the representatives from the city. This was the first step in a potential new project. The city wants to put a new roof on the building, and they have some grant money to put photovoltaic panels on the roof as part of the project.

I counted 11 other potential designers, builders, or other interested parties. The building looks like late '60s architecture, and they're just finishing renovating the HVAC system. The building was mostly closed, the bookstacks were gone, the circulation desk was gone, and there were bunch of boxes and some other items draped with plastic. On the floor in a pile of sweepings was this bookmark.

The paper has a leather embossing that reminds me of elementary school in the 70s. The corner was ton away at some point in the past, and it faded along the right edge, as if it was sticking out of a book or something, and more exposed there. As always, if you click on the image, you'll get a closer look.

Looks like the standard issue, donated library bookmark hasn't changed much in nearly 40 years.

Monday, November 16, 2009

kitchen confidential - i

Kitchen Confidential is written by Anthony Bourdain, now host of the Travel Channel Show, No Reservations. I've never seen that show, but I did see him a few times in his Food Network show called A Cook's Tour, which is also the name of a book published in 2001. I gather he wrote that book while on the tour filming the TV show.

This the first book I've read by Bourdain, but he's written a few. Amazon lists 9 titles. Bourdain's writing style is infectious and fun. He talks to his readers like we're all standing next to him at a barbecue, and he's telling war stories. His advise is the kind you'd give a friend, the kind of friend who can take a joke, absorb the criticism and see the value and humor borne by years of experience. You know what they say about the heat in the kitchen.

My first job was in a mid-sized, family owed restaurant in my hometown. My second job was cooking for worldwide burger chain, whose logo wasn't for Mmm good. My third job was at the Hilltop Steak House, when Frank Giuffrida was still the owner. All three of these jobs were eye-opening experiences, and while I can't pretend to know what its like to cook for a profession, I do know that Bourdain tells it like it is in the kitchen.

In the intro, he tells us that this book is for the cooks, and so he hasn't provided definitions for terms like chiffonaded parsley, boudin noir and soufflé blah blah blah, that dot his stories, but it doesn't detract from the pleasure of reading them. I have this feeling, that if I could understand all these terms (I looked a bunch of them up, and got nowhere with my dictionary) I'd learn a lot about cooking, but as he says: tant pis, man.

I'm about a third of the way through this one, and I'm thinking about what else of his to read. And I've GOT to get my brother and his wife to read this, if they haven't already.

More soon!

PS: Between the three, eat at the Hilltop.

Friday, November 13, 2009

damp squid

Damp Squid: The English Language Laid Bare is written by Jeremy Butterfield, editor of the Oxford A-Z of English Usage. Butterfield writes in a scholarly, but natural style that is easy to read, and its clear that he knows the subject. The book is set up in a series of chapters that could probably stand alone as essays on the oddities of English, and how it evolves, contrary to those who would lock the language in a state of dormancy, if they could.

Butterfield bases his reasoning and his conclusions on research. He argues that usage guides and dictionaries can only guide writers and speakers of English, but never restrain them from using language as they see fit to express themselves. There are a numbers of processes by which the language evolves,

Thursday, November 12, 2009

steven schuyler bookmark

This bookmark is a gift from a friend who heard that I collect these funny little things. Its an advertising marker from Steven Schuyler Bookseller, in North Reading, Massachusetts. According to Dr. Schuyler's website, he specializes in materials for design/building professionals and in "things German".

Given that designing building is what I do, maybe I should go and check out this guy's shop. They also carry maps, prints, art and letters. And ephemera! Bookmarks are ephemera, but I don't think that the kind of thing they mean.

If I go and check it out, I'll let you know how it is. If you've been, write me a comment.

What the heck, even if you haven't been, write me a comment anyway, and I'll write back.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

gardner museum

This bookmark is from a friend who is a member of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and along with the monthly mailer comes a beautiful bookmark, with the month's happenings recorded on the reverse. The image on the obverse was done, according to the credits on the reverse, by Gardner Museum Artists-in-Residence Heather Ackroyd & Dan Harvey, St. John the Baptist, negative 2003 (detail).

I received three of these monthly bookmarks. Its nearly enough to make me join up. That, and the wonderful collection they have at the Gardner, not to mention the building itself. Its just a fun place to go, and if your name is Isabella, I think you get in for free. And they have a special event every third Thursday of the month.

This bookmark is this month's (November), the other two are from October and September, and each offers an intriguing slice of artwork from the Gardner. They're so pretty, that I'll probably post them all.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

the lost symbol - ii

So I finished The Lost Symbol, and at the end, there were some surprises, but others I nailed earlier on in the book. Its a fast read, even though there is lots of new vocabulary, Brown works the definitions into the dialog pretty well in most cases. When he can't, there is a fair amount of mind reading going on, which seems a little lame.

Dan Brown hasn't gone far afield for this story, either its setting, or its subject matter. There were a lot of interesting facts, and given the book I just read, it was fun to hear about some of the same things, from a completely different perspective.

So it was fun. Not the greatest book, but you know, better than television. I guess I'd have to put this one third in the Dan Brown line up for Langdon Stories, but not by much. It wasn't as good as Angels and Demons, but nearly as good as The DaVinci Code. If you've read and enjoyed the others, I'd recommend reading this one too.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

the lost symbol - i

I'm about half way through Dan Brown's new book, The Lost Symbol. I read The DaVinci Code when it was all the rage, and I later read Angels and Demons. I came out of the two earlier books feeling like a lot of other folks I've spoken to about it: Angels and Demons was a better book, but I can see the popular allure of The DaVinci Code.

Both earlier books include a romp through Europe's history, art and architecture, with a conspiracy theorist's eye on the secret societies that helped to make Europe what it is today, unbeknownst to us. They both followed much the same same story arc

Sunday, November 1, 2009


The die cut Elvis bookmark, courtesy of my daughter. If you look real close, someone has penciled in "Sexy Beast" just above the name on the bottom. I wonder who that was? Elvis can still do to the ladies after all these years. Go Elvis.

Good news for the pocketbook on the home front. My daughter went to the library today and renewed her library card. She paid an old fine, for some books she borrowed, and we returned late, years ago. She hasn't been back since. She likes to own her books, she has explained numerous times. That's sweet. Maybe you should get a job honey, and own all kinds of things. In the meantime, the library is the best solution for a book hound like her. GO LIBRARY!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

chronicles of narnia

I read The Chronicles of Narnia to my son, over the course of the last year or so. We have the one volume, paperback version, illustrated by Pauline Baynes.

It is well known that the Chronicles are morality stories for children based both on the Christian bible and a romantic system of justice where the power of God is enforced by the sword, in hands of children, hand picked by the Son of God to root out evil. The seed of which was let loose into the world by the same God.

Lots of parallels and allegory here, but buried in escapist fun for kids. The stories are dream-inspiring, and in lots of ways dream-fulfilling because of their common basis in our real world. Lewis makes his Narnia accessible to children in the way Lewis Carroll did with Wonderland, or J. M. Barrie did for Neverland, but with a difference; Narnia has a realness, a seriousness to it, more like Tolkien's Middle-earth.

But Narnia is unique. Narnia is both accessible and 'real' but what I think really connects Narnia with it's readers, is how children are not only welcomed, but embraced, heralded, included, and indeed, relied upon to bring about real change by the adults they interact with in Narnia. And not only adults, but God himself! Kids in Narnia are respected, trusted, confident and brave. They have human failings, that any child can relate to, but work through them, and in the end, triumph.

What child, no matter their age, wouldn't be smitten. And ready to give themselves to Aslan.

Reading the Chronicles was like grandmother's cooking. I loved it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

niall de buitlear

I'm delighted to make the following correction. A week or so ago I wrote about found bookmarks and mentioned an exhibit by Irish artist Niall de Buitlear. I'm very happy to report that this exhibit is currently underway at the National Library of Ireland and runs until the end of October.

I would like to thank Niall de Buitlear for commenting on my entry and pointing out my error, and I apologize for the confusion. I found the listing at the library's website, not under current events, but in the archive. I should have read more closely.

So anyone who is interested, you still have an opportunity to see this intriguing exhibit made up of small pieces of peoples lives, left in the books they read. You can find all of the correct information at Niall de Buitlear's web site by clicking here.

de Buitlear's Found Bookmark Project is part of a larger, twenty-one location exhibition put on by the Douglas Hyde Gallery, called Preponderance of the Small, which features work by young artists in Ireland.

Cheers to Niall de Buitlear. Go see his show!

john adams - ii

I finished John Adams last night after work. I thought it was great. This book isn't a page turner; I didn't find this book taking over my life and squeezing out all my spare time, as some books do, but the story was very gratifying in any case.

Abigail Adams, by Benjamin Blythe, 1766

I wrote about this book about a week ago, and talked about how the story was fleshed out using all the different source materials the author could find. In the acknowledgments at the end of the book, McCullough states that the Adamses left behind more personal, written material than any of their contemporaries. Adams loved books, and he also marked in them in the margins. Treating the written word more like a conversation with the author, he would respond to the authors statements with his pen in the margins. McCullough says one book has over 12,000 words in the margins!

The other thing I felt strongly, was how the personal correspondence and diary entries, grounded Adams for me. I was delighted to read, near the end of the book, that others felt this way. After witnessing the re-acquaintance of his grand aunt, late in life, with her old friend, Adams, Josiah Quincy wrote, "It is a surprise to find a great personage so simple, so perfectly natural, so thoroughly human."

I've included the pastel of Abigail Adams done just after they were married, by a Salem artist, because she figures so greatly in the story and in Adams' life. She's his anchor, and his greatest friend. She was smart, well read, opinionated, funny, strong willed, and helped to guide Adams when he got caught up emotionally in an issue.

If you have any interest in the way the United States struggled for independence, and then struggled to stay that way, or about the men and women who worked so hard for it, I can't recommend this book enough. I learned more than all of my American History classes together, and had fun doing it. Read this book.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

dragon tattoo

I finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a little while ago, before I began my month-long slog through John Adams. I've been reading a lot of crime/mystery/suspense drama in the last year. My wife loves the genre and she reads really fast, so there are lots of books to choose from. Because I've read so many of them, they have a certain sameness to them. Similar to watching a TV series: you get comfortable with the characters. Writers know this of course and characters are written into series all the time. The sameness I'm talking about, is from author to author, and character to character. They all have similarities that tend to bubble up when reading lots of books like this. I often feel that they are are part of some super-series.

Stieg Larsson's characters were refreshing for me because they broke that mold. The writing is strong, and face-paced. Which for me means

Friday, October 23, 2009


I went to the New England Library Association conference this past weekend in Hartford, CT. My office had a display and we were down there meeting the folks and letting them know what we do. As an exhibitor myself, I'm not sure the goodies that folks like booksellers put out for their potential clients, mainly librarians, are up for grabs, but I did mosey on up to a few and snagged some prime bookmarks, like this one.

Zeus, according to the text on the reverse, is one of the topics covered in "The Lincoln Library of Greek & Roman Mythology", which this bookmark is advertising. The Lincoln Library sells reference materials to schools and libraries. Bookmarks seem like a natural advertising tool for them.

The NELA conference brings lots of librarians and related professionals together to learn about whats new and see the new products available for library service. We were one of four architects with displays up during the conference. Most of us design types know each other, and so its also a chance for us to catch up and see what the competition is working on.

American Library Association ALA:Midwinter is coming up in January 2010 in Boston this year, so that's close for us. I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

weird book room

The American Libraries Direct newsletter is usually full of all kinds of fun stuff in their 'Seen Online' section, and this week doesn't disappoint. The Weird Book Room at the online bookstore is a gem for the secret reader in all of us. We've all seen funky book titles at yard sales (tag sale or garage sale, if you're more than 30 miles from me), library weeding sales and the local Salvation Army store. Books that makes you say things like, "I should really write that book I've been thinking about," and, "How do things like this get published?".

Its so great to look at title after title of the craziest books out there. And yes, you can buy them! Where else are you going to find "Why Do I Vomit?", "A History of Orgies", "Help! A Bear is Eating Me!", "Is your Dog Gay?" or "The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories" all in one place?

Thanks to AbeBooks for providing this much-needed community service.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

john adams - i

So I'm reading John Adams, and I've been pounding through it for weeks. That's not to say I'm not enjoying it, because I am, but the book is dense. I haven't read a lot of biography, so I'm out of my element, but McCullough has shown me a founding father in a way that's accessible, real and human.

This story of Adams' live is amazing as a history lesson, but his personal thoughts, interests and feelings layer the story and give it depth. McCullough uses personal correspondence and journal entries from not only Adams, but his wife Abigail, his friends, neighbors, and contemporaries, which help us see the mind of the man. But it doesn't stop there, the history is there, not only in the emerging America, but in Europe. Details from local politics, competing and sometimes warring foreign governments, news outlets of the day, and even the private thoughts of his adversaries, help fill in the history to create an amazingly rich description of Adams, the world he lived in, and what he did to make America what it is today.

I'm about three-quarters through, but I wanted to get my thoughts down. More later.

Monday, October 19, 2009

russian bookmarks

This blog has caused my interest in bookmarks to escalate in recent weeks, and I find myself blabbing about it and boring my friends with things about my grandmother's book and my small but fun bookmark collection. So I'm boring a co-worker about this and she tells me she has a link for me and gives me this: the Bookmark Collection of the Library of the Urals. I don't speak Russian, and maybe you don't either, so if you're interested, this is what I did.

I went to Yahoo BabelFish and pasted in the web address, chose "Russian to English" from the pull down menu and hit the translate button. Boom. Crazy, BabelFish translation of very cool Russian bookmark site. When you click on the links for "Skin" (leather) and "Tree" (wood bookmarks) you're taken to the sub-sections, and each subsequent page is also translated. [Sweet.]

Thanks to Natalie for the link. She sent me three more that I haven't even looked at yet!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

found bookmarks

One of my favorite types of bookmark is the found bookmark, which is to say that the marker itself wasn't originally intended to serve as a bookmark, but was conscripted to perform the function. Items include anything and everything available, ranging from ticket stubs, to business card, to gum wrappers. Anything but a dog ear.

This found bookmark is a recent one of mine from a trip this past summer to New York. Its a ticket stub from the ferry from Battery Park to Ellis Island and Liberty Island. The ticket was a small little bit torn from the end, and the stub is this long, thin strip of heavy paper, whose proportions seemed to have been designed for the specific purpose of being a found bookmark. That may have been the case when

d bookmark

"Vampire Hunter D", by Japanese writer Hideyuki Kikuchi was published in Japan in 1983, and was translated into English in 2005. The story takes place far in the future and the protagonist is, of course, a vampire hunter. This bookmark is an advertising tool, there's some text on the reverse that appears to be back-cover-teaser material, but also notes that D appears in "new prose novels", so it does seems as though it looks forward to the franchise of sequel novels that have since appeared in English.

I’m not sure where I picked this one up, whether it was a bookstore or a library. Bookmarks are often in the funniest places. I may have picked this one

Thursday, October 15, 2009

quantum colors matter

Lorraine Ingersoll's book is short and to the point. It is a collection of theories on the interrelated states of energy and matter, where all energy is matter, and vice versa, and the two constantly move back and forth between the two states, as energy is added and subtracted. The vehicle for how this is done is encoded in the spectra of the light energy involved, and its impacts reach from the thoughts in our brains to the creation of the universe.

The book is short, due mainly to the author's reliance on her readers to be intelligent enough to carry their share of the load. Mrs. Ingersoll's style is one of simplicity, almost to a fault. Ingersoll doesn't argue her points, but simply presents them, along with supporting data and quotes from a plethora of sources, and leaves it to her readers to follow along, and make the connections she has made. While this method is efficient, and

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

dewey bookmark

Given that Dewey has become embattled in recent years for its rigidity, and failure to allow for new topics to be introduced, I thought I'd give a nod to the Dewey Decimal System and old Melvil Dewey while I had the chance. It may be that we'll see less and less of Dewey in libraries in the future--especially those that

summer road trip

pee pee in the woods.
pee pee in the woods.
stopping by highway,
for pee pee in the woods.

I wrote this on the way to the beach with the family years ago, and recorded it on a digital recorder I used to keep in the car for ideas I had while driving. It was inspired by a sight at the edge of the road. One of those huge

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

raisin bread universe

So I’ve downloaded a series of lectures from iTunes U about astronomy. UC Berkeley’s Alex Filippenko teaches a course called Astronomy C10: Introduction to General Astronomy. On my computer, the lectures in this series are all neatly numbered, but on my phone, it’s a jumble. So I pick one at random. Not only does this end up being lecture number 32 out of the 41 lectures in this course, I am actually admonished by Professor Filippenko during this lecture, who warns his students to listen to the lectures in order, if they can’t attend class.

Great. First day and I’m getting an F.

raisin bread universe

So I've downloaded

Monday, October 12, 2009

haston bookmark

The Haston Free Public Library is in North Brookfield, Massachusetts. The original building was designed by Fuller and Delano, Architects, and completed in 1894, by Norcross Brothers, for a cost of $34,000. The cost for construction was donated by Erasmus and Elvira Haston, of North Brookfield. My office just completed the building’s first major renovation and addition, last year.

Fuller & Delano, Architects, of Worcester, Massachusetts, was a partnership between James E. Fuller, and Ward P. Delano, begun in 1878. Fuller & Delano designed

Sunday, October 11, 2009

bookmark history

A bookmark, sometimes called a bookmarker, or just a marker, is a device used to mark one's place in a book, most commonly, by simple insertion between the leaves. Modern bookmarks are often relatively simple in design, and made of printed heavy paper or card stock. Bookmarks are also made of other materials ranging from silk, ribbons and other fabrics, to leather, thin strips of wood or metal, to celluloid, ivory, plastic and parchment, and are often further decorated with ribbons, cords, tassels, and other three-dimensional objects, designed to hang out of the book, making one’s place easier to find.

Many bookmarks can be clipped on or slid over the edge of the page with the aid of a flap cut into the body of the bookmark. This is often the case with thin wood or metal bookmarks, which act like

Saturday, October 10, 2009

chinatown bookmark

This is a bookmark from the Chinatown Storefront Library in Boston, MA. This isn't a branch of the Boston Public Library, the Chinatown Branch was demolished to make way for a highway project in 1956. Chinatown has been without a library since then.

The Storefront Library project is just what it sounds like; a temporary library in a vacant storefront, to bring library services back to Chinatown, if only for a few months.


This is a place for me to keep track of my interests, and share them with others who may be interested. I have a few ideas about where this may go, but only vague ones. I like to read, I like to write, and I also collect a few things. I thought it might be fun to write about where these interests, and maybe others, intersect. I'm hoping this place will help me to organize my thoughts, explore my interests, find commonalities, and share them.