Archive | worth reading

China syndrome


So I started reading this book about doing without Chinese made products…. Well its about a write who takes her family on a year long experiment to see if it can be done… Apparently from the various reviews of the book .. By her methods it can’t be done. Using various methods to acquire needed items by non pocketbook methods they manage to get to the end of the year with their lifestyle unchanged. I will probably finish reading the book anyway, the author is readable enough and the entire idea is thoughtworthy but if one was looking for an instruction manual for going on a china diet this isn’t the book. After rooting around on the Internet I figured out there is no manual perse, one needs to take each opportunity to acquire at a time. Even the book ‘called’ How an American can buy American, focuses on buying from American owned companies that make their stuff OUTSIDE the US.

Needless to say the easily suggestible part if my brain started going thru everything in my home looking for ‘Made in China’ including the device I am typing this on. I don’t tend to buy anything plastic or well NEW aside from devices and media to play on it. Since I nor anyone I know is ready to join the Amish, doing without even the minimum number of devices such as a TV, a Cablebox and a Cellphone would be impossible. I suppose some of these items are still made in Korea and Taiwan etc… That would be an interesting study but what would be the point? A product made outside the US is still something transported IN to the US and if i am not mistaken we never made cell phones or cable boxes here nor any sort of modern TV.

I’m gonna make a blatant assumption that a consumable product or basically any product that doesnt declare it’s origin was probably made outside the US…my CVS mouthwash has nothing to declare while my Toms of Maine practically screams it. Putting my ethics where my mouth is, I have vowed to spit it out when I use it.

I will let you know if I find any chinese made items that I am ashamed to own or at least unexpected。I cam pretty much guaranteed all my DVDs and CDs hailed from asia. Even a blank disc burned in the US would still be of Asian product wouldn’t it?

Getting back to thke books core premise of doing without Products from China because of our obvious trade imbalance, I would Propose a much more realistic solution that everyone cut their Chinese consumption down to bare minimum, or rather increase your US consumption as high as possible – 75/25 buying mostly US would be ideal. However anyone with children would be stuck becoming Amish nudists for 18 years.

somatosensory

I couldn’t find my copy of this book…that’s not saying I have so many books and they are all in disorder…what i am saying is that i must have given it away to someone that i thought needed it. Even when culling books, I try not to get rid of things that are difficult to replace.

Whereas Laurel’s Kitchen in the mass market edition isn’t super rare, but it’s a pain in the ass to find because the majority of used books online are keyed to an ISBN found in Amazon’s database – which makes it a crap shoot finding an EXACT edition of a book.

Granted you can usually find a NEW edition or a reasonable looking copy online, but if you want a specific tactile edition of a book…that could take you a while. As it was it took me a couple of hours to find the Bantam ISBN online that I KNEW was the one that went with the book i was looking for. (I actually happened to know it was a Bantam Book to begin with) Then I searched for it, and even then i had to ASSUME that the vendor had the book that was described in the description…sometimes folks just cut and paste so a softcover description can be mated with any softcover edition that is handy. In the End there were a handful of THIS particular edition WITH the matching ISBN in the description to choose from. Total cost $4 – total time to find the book 2 hours. yep.

I was looking for a copy of Paula Peck’s art of Good Cooking as a reference, so i basically didn’t care what the physical book looked like, just that it was cheap and quick. What i was quoted was Simon and Schuster, 1966. Trade Paperback.. Very good condition.. Illustrations (B+W). What I got was 1966 Galahad hardcover bookclub where the text block and the cover where two different items – but it did have a dust jacket. Still a worthless book on any count – basically the $3 Price is a fee that you are paying to a bookseller to take the time and enter a book into the computer…at least it SHOULD be considered a fee for that task. If you can afford to spent the time to enter penny books into the computer, you DO and Should take shortcuts of cutting and pasting descriptions.

It’s a book commonly found at a $5 a bag booksale – so i should appreciate that i CAN ealy find a $3 copy online – basically i am FINE with it. (though slightly annoyed at the cover being disbound but that’s a personal matter) but if i WANTED the 1966 S&S softcover i’d have been really pissed off. For myself I would have contacted that seller beforehand as well..but in this case, it wouldn’t have been profitable – this was a high volume seller who would have sworn the book matched the description because for them it’s cheaper to offer a refund than it is to simply refund the book.

THE NYT piped up the other day about the DEATH OF THE MASS MARKET paperback..which is a shame since it is a nice shape that still fits in a bag if not a pocket – where I despise reading crap content in a badly made trade paperback or hardcover..but i reserve the right to find a hardcover copy of a book I want to keep on the shelf. People Forget that reading is also a TACTILE experience, sometimes the physical format of the book MAKES a difference to the experience. I still own hundreds of mass market paperbacks, and some of them I prefer to the hardcover edition, especially if i want to reread.

Here are a few websites/blogs which are fun to see vintage paperbacks that kick ebook ass.

too much horror fiction

Rainn Wilson’s 10 favorite science fiction and fantasy books

huddled masses


I had this smug idea of actually getting some reading done while the northeaster beats the hell out of the coast. Well I got a few books started…they all bored me…well I did have the DVD player going in the background…nice warm Christmas time stuff…the Ice Harvest, Bad Santa, that sort of thing, nice unfamily friendly viewing.

You can see why I would get bored – just READING. 8) I ended up poking through a little old 16mo hardcover I had picked up years ago… Stella Benson’s Living Alone (Living Alone is the name of a room house in the book) – a little bonbon of a fantasy novel. And my little ant brains says, hey lets buy another copy to give away…then I find out the book that has been languishing on the shelf is worth more than a tidy penny.

This has happened a few times before, it’s kinda nice that it still happens from time to time. Makes me think my NOSE for books is still in tune. However it does lead me to have endless arguments about whether I can afford to keep it or should put it up for sale and then buy worthless version that would be worth considerably less. I suppose when it becomes truly scarce I will list it online and then tuck it away with all the other books for sale. Then it will languish on a different set of shelves – because there are a ton of reprints out there.

The city and the state are in lockdown. If you are out and about right now you are just being a problem. So I can huddle in here with my space heater and my bob crachit gloves and my fuzzy roommates, and flip through a few more books on the shelf. who knows what I may find. Stay Safe

playtime

Still redusting bookcases in between larger decluttering….i really don’t understand the physics here…where DOES this stuff come from?  Just how did i end up with 9 train cases? not 2 or 3 but NINE?  granted i was using a couple of them for storage…lens…devices, hiding half finished projects..but seriously i don’t actually remember buying any of these. Most likely I didn’t, i probably acquire a couple of them for free and just put them in the dark to multiply…like everything else i own. I just loaned them out to a non profit group for some sort of party decorations…if i am lucky they will lose them.

While poking around the bookcase abutting the train cases, I started reading one of the many books i own and haven’t read yet. Tim Moore’s Do Not Pass Go, his loveletter to the hours time sucked playing endless rounds of Monopoly with his siblings. In this ‘travel’ book he visits all the places on the UK monopoly board.

Also on that shelf, are a couple of books by Philip E. Orbanes Monopoly: The World’s Most Famous Game–And How It Got That Way and The Game Makers: The Story of Parker Brothers, from Tiddledy Winks to Trivial Pursuit Which I read eons ago.. board games were never a huge part of my childhood which actually made these more interesting to read.

On the other hand I did a LOT of crosswords and jigsaws which yielded Crossword Obsession: The History And Lore of the World’s Most Popular Pastime by Coral Amende and The Jigsaw Puzzle : Piecing Together a History by Anne D. Williams. Both were fascinating reads, Obsession for its social history aspect and Jigsaw was quite valuable vintage puzzle shopping info.

Scrolling very far back on the shelf…are Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.i.t. Students Who Took Vegas by Ben Mezrich and Eudaemonic Pie: The Bizarre True Story of How a Band of Physicists & Computer Wizards took on Las Vegas by Thomas Bass….neither of which are particularly useful for ‘get rich quick’ schemes…but lovely reads for practical application of theoretical math. Yes there was a time when I was a geek.

The most recent addition to the shelf was Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive ScrabblePlayers by Stefan Fatsis which is well worth reading…his A Few Seconds of Panic: A 5-Foot-8, 170-Pound, 43-Year-Old Sportswriter Plays in the NFL is also worth the read if you are a fan of the original Plympton Paper Tiger.

I can also recommend Rick Reilly’s Who’s Your Caddy?: Looping for the Great, Near Great, and Reprobates of Golf . I remember that i liked it…but i can’t quite remember WHY I read it…i am not fond of golf…but you put something on a dollar table and the damn book takes on a completely different appeal. That’s probably how I got a LOT of this stuff…unless of course you buy 2 and put them in the dark.

birding by book

okay lets try this…
z.sibley.birding.basics When I started trying to figure out what was IN the wildlife sanctuary in Methuen , I went looking for all my old Audubon nature guides and found that I had apparently donated them away ages ago.

I had also been trolling for local birders to pester. The first thing I asked was which book was ‘THE’ book these days.   Sibley is the HOT author in the field right now. So I picked up his Birds of Eastern North Americaas well as this little number Birding Basics which I highly recommend, as it has stopped me from asking a bunch of newbie questions and even answered some I hadn’t thought to ask.   I still wanted a pocket guide to have in my pocket for those occasions when I’m sitting in a boat staring at a damn little brown bird that is sitting in front of me clear as day and I still can’t blood well figure out what it is….so I picked up Birds of Massachusetts.

Nice, but there’s no armchair reading in that pile except for this little goodie   Good Birders Don’t Wear White: 50 Tips From North America’s Top Birders.

To enjoy an activity vicariously you need to read personal accounts of people who REALLY make it a large part of their life.  You can’t swing a dead pigeon in birding without hitting a book by an obsessive birder and most of them are highly readable. I taste tested these from the library electing to buy and only two of them so far.

I am happily reading  A supremely bad idea : three mad birders and their quest to see it all by Luke Dempsey who has been compared to Patrick McManus and Bill Bryson. I always go for the funny in anything if I can find it.

Birding like any hobby can be highly competitive. Who am I kidding, it IS competitive, it can’t NOT be. Even if you are only competing with yourself and mother nature. One of the formal competitions is the North American Big Year which is as you would expect to see how many species you can see inside of one year. (in case you are wondering 745 is the record.)
Kingbird highway : the story of a natural obsession that got a little out of hand by Kenn Kaufman, documents his own personal big year in 1973.

bigyear

The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession by Mark Obmascik, tells the stories of the three top contenders in the 1998 American Big Year.

Birder Phoebe Snetsinger famously saw 8,400 species between the day in her 40s when she was diagnosed with 1 year to live and 18 years later when she was killed in a bus accident birding in Madagascar. Her biography is quite fascinating Life List: A Woman’s Quest for the World’s Most Amazing Birds by Olivia Gentile

The other book I bought is The grail bird : the rediscovery of the Ivory-billed woodpecker by Tim Gallagher.

Indeed there are other books on the search for the Ivory Bill such as Ivorybill hunters : the search for proof in a flooded wilderness by Geoffrey E. Hill and In Search of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker by Jerome A. Jackson

I found Gallagher’s wider reaching, it’s not just about hunting for evidence of the Ivory-Bill but about the history of hunting for the bird and this entire obsession of hunting for this ghost bird. Anyway I found I couldn’t put it down once I started it.

Speaking of ghost birds, In Hope is the thing with feathers : a personal chronicle of vanished birds, Christopher Cokinos covers an entire range of ghost birds and what we are doing to completely destroy all hope of their existence.

Well that’s what’s in my birding book pile.  Once I start the annual dust off I may uncover a pile of books from my past worth mentioning.

vicarious

bar cardYesterday was a spay/neuter clinic day,  I spent the seeing that other people’s pets don’t make more pets for me to have deal with.

Today I wasted grabbing photos of local events for MethuenCommon.com  my life has become one big non-profit.  I dropped a few  of my cards around town at the diviest of the bars.  Got one nibble, the place that happened to have a public stabbing a few months ago…oh joy.  One thing you can say about New England, we don’t have a shortage of bars.

I invented my first drink today…well it wasn’t rocket science, but it did tell me something, i now know WHY there are a billion and a half cocktail recipes out there…making up drinks is fun…however one really needs to try very hard to invent something new as there are a billion and a half recipes out there already…i decided my glass of Ginger Beer (which is basically  Ginger ale with more bite)  would look better dressed for the holiday, so I decorated it with 1/2 oz of grenadine, I would have gone full boat with a shot of peppermint schnapps but not with breakfast, so I just stuck a candy cane in it.  Someone else probably did this first and christened it something but i don’t know about it so it doesn’t count.

For dinner, a Toasted Almond: Amaretto and Kahlua with milk, a terrific way to fight calcium deficiency in my waning years, doncha thing?

Worth reading – Blogger Lauren Leto has a very creative post “Stereotyping People by Their Favorite Author” one that i very much wish I wrote.  One day soon I hope this writing funk will fade and i will write something funny and original, until then I will have to write vicariously.

wet apples

On Saturday I took the trip into Boston to the Book, Print and Ephemera fair at the Radisson. It’s always a nice little fair – spread out over a few conference rooms close enough to be considered intimate yet not so crowded that it would be squalid. And the usual cast of New England characters show up making it a good day to get out of the house…but it rained…a lot…and i made an asinine decision to go my usual route…drive to a subway parking, change trains and get off three cold and wet blocks from the destination… completely ludicrous…unless the Radission was charging $15 bucks an hour to park I would have actually SAVED time and money if I had just driven straight in to town and parked in the garage. By the time i arrived I was a drowned rat ..btw just because your trench coat LOOKS waterproof doesn’t mean it is…i’m just saying….my heart really wasn’t in the shopping.. i was too cold and wet and the the lighting was too dim to enjoy it…i think my eyes have altered again oh joy.

I took a couple of turns around the place, shook a few hands gave away some free erasers and bought a total of one book…an English Cookbook on Apples. Not that I didn’t see at least 5 books that I would have gladly stolen if given the chance, but folks always bring their BEST copies of things where I would be perfectly happy with the second worst copy. I haven’t met all the booksellers in the world, but I am kinda going with the hypothesis that the difference between a real bookseller and a collector masquerading as a bookseller is the quality of their personal collection. A professional bookseller’s collection is usually kind of embarrassing when they kick off. You see we have sold off any book worth its salt and replaced it with a reading copy, whereas a collector takes more joy in the having and holding part of business and will keep the better copy for themselves and sell the lesser. But that’s just my opinion, i could be wrong…anyone have a Weegee by Weegee without a dj? thanks for looking.

the private library


If you haven’t been keeping up the biblioblog The Private Library has been rocking….and this latest series of educational posts “Photography and the Private Library” are not to be missed.

The information and history offered freely for the enjoyment of one and all is an embarrassment of riches…the kind of biblio material usually available at a cost.
This nine part series is worth reading and perhaps saving. So pour yourself a cuppa and go do something on the net that won’t make you feel like you are wasting your time.

back to the future

Hmm . . . i forgot how uneventful my regularly scheduled programming is . . . if there are any orders i pack em . . . list books online if i have any. . . rinse lather and repeat. But I am breaking up the day by caulking all the windows in the joint and some of the walls and doors too. I really loathe giving up hard won cashy money to the utility vampires. This year I even had the stove permanently disconnected…the idea of a pilot light burning night and day in an oven i don’t use was making me crazy. I have a counter top oven and a microwave i won’t starve. When facing a long winter’s indebtedness to the Gas company, global warming doesn’t look so bad. To be fair the weather these last couple of days was rather nice, if you don’t count the snow squall the other day…in New England we hardly notice such things..

I finally went through most of my mother’s mystery boxes and culled them down to just ‘nice’ things…yellow ware bowls, cut crystal creamers etc… I guess ebay will get some of my business…those aren’t things I will EVER use. Her clothes are the only things I still haven’t donated, but that I can do anytime. Many place still smell like her….este lauder and mothballs.

I have been putting a lot more effort into MethuenCommon.com perhaps it gives me the illusion that i have a life. I now have an eye on revamping this website using the new software and collating all the practical information into findable form, and relegating all my ranting and babbling to a less prominent position. I think this used to be a bookish blog.


worth reading• From TIME.com “Plagiarism-detection software was created with lazy, sneaky college students in mind — not the likes of William Shakespeare. Yet the software may have settled a centuries-old mystery over the authorship of an unattributed play from the late 1500s called The Reign of Edward III. Literature scholars have long debated whether the play was written by Shakespeare — some bits are incredibly Bard-like, but others don’t resemble his style at all. The verdict, according to one expert: the play is likely a collaboration between Shakespeare and Thomas Kyd, another popular playwright of his time. (continue reading)

57 percent of new books are not read to completion.

worth reading • From Consumerist.com “Walmart is also now selling over 200 current best-sellers at at least half off the list price.” WTF? aren’t books pretty much dirt cheap now? why bother printing prices on them at all, lets just sell them by the pound cause:

1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.
80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
57 percent of new books are not read to completion.
70 percent of books published do not earn back their advance.
70 percent of the books published do not make a profit.
(Source: Jerold Jenkins, www.JenkinsGroupInc.com)
So who is BUYING all these crap books anyway? ya gotta admit most best sellers are pretty much crap… interchangable authors and titles but basically the same content from year to year….thrillers, bio, feel me up good books etc…. I can see they have a purpose just like iceberg lettuce and beige paint but seriously you read em you forget about em almost immediately.
I am torn between paying full price for these books being a crime against man and the fact that there are so many copies printed that they are nearly worthless being a crime against nature. and if you say “save the trees read em on Kindle”, so help me I will throttle you. Come to think of it, when’s the last time we got the recycling guys to pick up a box of best sellers? never. that’s when. the only time you see em after they leave Walmart and BJs is when they show up at yard sales for a buck a piece.
I say print fewer of the damn things and charge more money…suddenly you will see the quality and value of books improve.

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