Occasional technical difficulties

It’s been so long since I’ve worked on the blog that you may see occasional burps and oddities. For example, a post scheduled for tomorrow may have already appeared in different form once or twice already.

Additionally, I figured I needed to update both my WordPress installation and the theme to the latest version. I’ve tried to work out the kinks but am not certain that others don’t exist or won’t appear.

It’s hard to be old.

…when the brain is abnormally moist it is necessarily agitated.

Hippocrates, The Medical Works of Hippocrates

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I’m back — at least for a couple posts

I noticed the other day that it’s been almost seven months since I last posted anything here. What have I been doing? LOTS of reading (99 books this year so far) and relaxing (including plenty of naps). May was my wife’s 60th birthday and our 35th anniversary so there was a cruise from the Canary Islands to Morocco to Portugal (which I fell in love with).

Throughout, I was thinking about posting, including several about our trip. You can see how well I followed through on that. And that is just one item on my list of things to do.

Given the number of things I’d started but not seen through to fruition, I’ve been feeling a tad disconcerted. But last week I read an essay that echoed much of what I’ve been thinking. Like me, James Wallace Harris wants to spend some of his post-work years writing. Also like me, he more often feels like kicking back and daydreaming about writing as opposed to actually writing. He’s clearly accomplished more in the way of writing than I have but, as I’ve said here a couple times before, I tend to follow the idea that “If the desire to write is not accompanied by actual writing, then the desire must be not to write.”

Once I tell people who ask me what I’ve been doing, I occasionally see a kind of odd expression in their face. It’s as if they fear I’ve become some sort of lost soul. But here’s where Mr. Harris really matches my frame of mind.

Don’t assume I’m depressed. I’m never bored. I go to bed every night near midnight, regretting the day is over, and wishing I had more time. Every day I do get a few things done I want, but mostly I overindulge my whims. And that’s quite satisfying too, in a heroin kind of analogy. My problem is I have too many things I both want to do, and feel like doing.

To put it my own inartful way, there’s so much I want to do that I’m too busy to get any of it done. Besides, doing little or nothing can be a lot of work.

…it is very important to be idle with confidence, with devotion, possibly even with joy.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Life

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2015 books by the numbers

It seems procrastination has been my recent mantra. I’m just now getting around to posting about my reading last year — not to mention the variety of other posts that are sitting in some form on my computer or on paper. And, surprisingly, I actually read nearly two dozen less books than in 2014 and 6,300 fewer pages. I think part of that is explained by the fact my lack of focus stretches into my reading. I put down more books unfinished this year than I can ever recall. In the month of December alone I’m guessing there were at least a dozen. Maybe I’m developing old fart ADD but nothing holds hold my interest for long, even though I was 100 pages or more into a couple when I bailed.

There’s a couple other notable items. My fiction reading dropped, with the boost in nonfiction dominated by a history binge I seem to be on. The number of translated books increased nearly 50 percent, accounting for 28 percent of what I read this year. The boost in nonfiction was dominated by the history binge I’m on. Here’s how every shakes out for 2015. The statistics don’t include books I didn’t finish, graphic novels (I read a handful) or audiobooks.

Books Read: 116

Pages Read: 35,921

  • Average Pages per Book: 309.66
  • Average Pages per Day: 96.6
  • Average Number of Days per Book: 3.21
  • Longest Book: 992 pages (Goebbels: A Biography by Peter Longerich)
  • Shortest Book: 96 pages (So Long a Letter, Mariama Ba)

Fiction: 52 (44.8 percent)

  • Translated Works: 32 (20 fiction and 11 nonfiction)
  • Languages: French (8), German (8), Norwegian (3), Arabic (2), Spanish (2), Swedish (2), Chinese (1), Greek (1), Italian (1), Korean (1), Russian (1), Serbian (1) and Swedish (1)
  • Science Fiction: 13

Non-fiction: 64 (55.2 percent)

  • Autobiography/Memoirs: 17
  • Biography: 8
  • History: 19 (29.7 percent of nonfiction)

Ebooks Read: 86 (74.1 percent)

Library materials: 9 (only 7.8 percent)

I read so I can live more than one life in more than one place.

Anne Tyler

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It’s about time

prayer headlineFinally, someone calls out politicians and prayer. And, of all places, it was the New York Daily News — although I don’t know if that’s good or bad.

Its front page and accompanying story today actually looks at one of the flaws plaguing this “Judeo-Christian nation.” What was a common political reaction to the latest mass shooting in this country? Prayer. WTF??? That’s right. Let’s not suggest, let alone take, any steps to try and address the endless gun violence in this country. Instead, this “god-fearing” nation will pay lip service — in more ways than one — to humanity’s imaginary invention.

Not surprisingly, the Daily News is entirely correct when it says, “Prayers aren’t working.” That’s because prayer can and will do nothing to deal with this or any other problem. Prayer isn’t a curative balm. As the headline suggests, there’s nothing there except “meaningless platitudes.” You may as well talk to a wall — but at least the wall actually exists.

By the way, any “God-fearing” denizen of this country who says this is just more divine punishment for our immoral society deserves to be swatted in the face with a rolled up copy of the Daily News until they come to their senses. Of course, for most that would be years, if not eternity.

People aren’t religious because they’re stupid; rather, religion is a parasite of the mind that makes people do stupid things and think stupid thoughts.

PZ Meyers, The Happy Atheist

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Plenty read, no write

Two of my plans for when I quit practicing law full time were simple and logical: read books and do some writing. As the blog itself shows, the latter hasn’t begun. And that’s even with getting a book review assignment with the thought it might jump start things. The book was read. Not one word of a review has been written.

There’s little question about the first plan, though. Since “retiring” October 1, I’ve read 26 books totaling 8,292 pages. That’s 140.5 pages a day, with an afternoon and evening yet to go. That figure doesn’t include a book I started September 29, any of the handful of graphic novels I’ve read or the several hundred pages of books I began and then put down. Those 59 days account for about 26% of what I’ve read all year.

You might think all of it might prompt some writing. It’s given me a variety of ideas but the execution is lacking. Still, there’s no rush and who could complain about having the time to read?

Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one’s luck.

Iris Murdoch, The Black Prince

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Weekend Edition 2d: 11-14

Interesting Reading in the Interweb Tubez

Bookish Linkage

Nonbookish Linkage

Terror consists mostly of useless cruelties perpetrated by frightened people in order to reassure themselves.

Friedrich Engels, Letter to Karl Marx, Sept. 4, 1870

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