Weekend Edition: 9-27

Interesting Reading in the Interweb Tubes

  • Why I Hope to Die at 75 (“Over time, and without our conscious choice, we transform our lives. We don’t notice that we are aspiring to and doing less and less.”)

Off-Hand Observations of the Week

  • Christmas trees and decorations on display in stores already?!?!? Or was the store I was in lagging behind?
  • We allow star athletes to elude responsibility for their actions for years and are only now debating why they end up here?

Least Surprising Blog Headline of the Week

(Banned) Bookish Linkage

Nonbookish Linkage


Things happen the way they happen because the world is the way it is.

Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice

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Landlocked and booked

Cruise InfoMy absence the last couple weeks was one abandoning the routines and topography of everyday life. My wife and I went off on an 18-day cruise from San Francisco to New York City through the Panama Canal. As our youngest lives in NYC, we spent a few days there before returning home. And as much as I love travel and cruises, there truly is no place like home.

And, of course, what do I write about first? The books I got along the way.

I’ll write more about the cruise itself in the days to come. It even included an encounter with Norbert while it was a tropical storm. But both my body and mind remain a bit exhausted. especially since my wife and I caught a cold (or tropical disease) near the end of the trip which made for miserable return flights.

Green AppleSince one of my favorite bookstores — Green Apple Books — is in San Francisco, that was a required stop upon our arrival there. In fact, it was the first stop if you don’t count the hotel and one of the best seafood dinners we’ve had in years at a restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf. And going to a bookstore when you know you’re going on a trip where you will spend more than seven days simply at sea can be dangerous, as the picture to the left shows.

One of my favorite things about Green Apple is its selection of slightly used recent releases. That accounted for about half the books my wife and I picked up. We didn’t break the $200 mark but did sufficient damage that our books were placed in a complimentary tote bag. And putting my time on the ship to good use, I read six of the books I bought at Green Apple. All but one got donated to the book exchange in the ship’s very nice library.

StrandYet there’s also a downside to reading that many books you just bought. It left me more vulnerable gave me a good excuse when we hit Strand Book Store in NYC, another of my favorite bookstores. (Our port stop in Norfolk got cancelled so I didn’t get a chance to investigate its bookstores.) As in SF, the bookstore was our first stop in the city (and the day before this event). While the picture at right shows fewer books were purchased, we met my daughter for lunch just after I got to my favorite part of the bookstore. I’d spent too much time looking for books on my shopping list. From a financial and travel standpoint, that was probably serendipitous.

The Strand also gave me the opportunity to buy autographed copies of newly released books by three of my favorite authors — Ian McEwan (The Children Act), David Mitchell (The Bone Clocks) and Ted Rall (After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back as Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan). Those with keen eyes may notice that the book on top in both pictures is the same. While on the ship, I was approaching the end of a book so I grabbed The Burning of the World: A Memoir of 1914 to take with me in case I finished the first while away from our stateroom. I mislaid it during the course of the day without ever opening it.

Of course, Manhattan has more than one bookstore. Two others I’d never been to were on my list of places to visit but we only made it to McNally Jackson Books. It’s located on the north edge of Little Italy, where we’d stumbled upon the the 88th annual Feast of San Gennaro while visiting Chinatown. McNally Jackson has the strongest translated literature section I’ve ever seen. I found a book there that had been on my wish list for more than a year. Were it not for the fact we had to get all these books back home, I would have bought more than the two I did.

So, yes, I’ve been to Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia this month. And I’m writing about and posting pictures of books.


Born to read. Forced to work.

Magnet purchased at Strand Book Store

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Weekend Edition: 8-23

Bulletin Board

  • I’ve got some stuff coming up that will make posting even less regular, including the Weekend Edition

Interesting Reading in the Interweb Tubes

  • Conversations with the Dead (“I know that on a page somewhere on my shelves, staring down at me now, is the question I’m struggling with today, put into words long ago, perhaps, by someone who could not have known of my existence.”)
  • Witness (“All told, she had seen 278 inmates put to death.”)

Blog Headline of the Week

Lawsuit of the Week

Bookish Linkage

Nonbookish Linkage


Optimism sounds exhausting.

“Wally,” Dilbert, Aug. 16, 2014

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My puzzling addiction

I blame my parents.

As far back as I remember, every Sunday my parents did the crossword puzzle in the Minneapolis Tribune. Not only that, at some point during the week they bought the previous Sunday’s edition of what memory tells me was the New York Daily News simply to get that crossword.

I’ve done crosswords occasionally in my life, usually in streaks with years in between. I preferred Sunday puzzles probably because of my parents but they also have more opportunities if you’re stumped on a few words. With the New York Times Sunday crossword being the big kahuna, I worked those occasionally but very rarely managed to solve one completely.

Early this year, I was browsing a website of remaindered and other discount books and saw two books of 165 and 50 NYT Sunday crosswords for $2.99 and $1.99 respectively. What the hell, I thought, and added them to my “cart.” I occasionally worked one in bed when I didn’t feel like reading or couldn’t fall asleep. One weekend not that long ago, though, I picked up the larger collection from the bookshelves near my reading chair. I have become fixated, if not addicted. I tend to become spellbound and lose all track of time. To some extent, it’s akin to being totally engaged while reading. In fact, I’ve read a couple books about crosswords in the last month.

I also find following some perhaps quirky “rules.” Even if less than a handful of clues are unsolved, I don’t look at the answers. If I didn’t complete the puzzle I don’t see a purpose in filling it in. (But coming close creates a strong urge to jump right into the next one.) Use of any outside materials or the internet is verboten. What challenge is there in looking things up? And I try to first solve a word in one of the four corners of the puzzle and proceed solely from that point. I can rarely do it but at least want to try before looking at clues for words that don’t feed into the ones I’ve solved already.

With this approach, I solve maybe 1 puzzle out of every 8-10 and that frequently involves plenty of erasing and changing letters or words. I’ve improved as I’ve become familiar with some of the particular traits of Will Shortz-edited puzzles. But it’s hard for me to believe — puzzling you might say — that I’m often putting down a book to do a crossword or picking up the crossword compilation first.


I am a Times puzzle fan. I will solve, in a hotel, a USA Today, but I don’t feel good about myself when I do it.

Jon Stewart, Wordplay

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Weekend Edition: 8-16

Interesting Reading in the Interweb Tubes

  • The god effect (“The same mechanism that enhances our creativity – juicing up the right-sided limbic and prefrontal brain regions with dopamine – also opens us up to religious ideas and experience. But if these brain circuits are pushed too far, thinking becomes not merely divergent but outright deviant and psychotic.”)

Blog Headline of the Week

Bookish Linkage

Nonbookish Linkage


Although your mind’s opaque
Try thinking more if just for your own sake

The Beatles, “Think for Yourself,” Rubber Soul

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Weekend Edition: 8-9

Bulletin Board

Interesting Reading in the Interweb Tubes

Blog Headline of the Week

Blog Quote of the Week

Best Court Order Provision of the Week

Mystery of the Week

  • A woman crashed into a firehouse with a python wrapped around her neck and “[p]olice said it isn’t clear whether [her] alleged intoxication or the snake strangling her caused the accident.”

Bookish Linkage

Nonbookish Linkage


Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.

Chili Davis

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