The Source Of That Thing Daddy Always Says (VII)

When my boys boast or plan hyperbolic things, which they often do, being boys and all, I’ve often acknowledged their projected prowess or accomplishments, often set to arrive in the future, by saying they’ll be a big man on Mulberry Street.

Which, like so many things I say, comes from the Billy Joel:

You know, I didn’t like or listen to The Bridge that much, but this song stuck with me.

And probably influences the way I live more than I would like to admit.

At any rate, WSIE, ostensibly a jazz station, played this song yesterday, which made me think of it.

Book Report: Modern Electronics by Wayne J. LeBlanc and Alden R. Carter (1986)

Book coverPerhaps the theme of this year’s reading will be “Clearing out thin books from the shelves and side tables.” This particular volume is an old “juvenile” book about electronics as you can see from the cover. I say “juvenile” in quotes because books don’t really get classed as “juvenile” any more, do they? It’s “young adult” now. I suspect it’s more to avoid the criminal association that developed from “juvenile” or to make juveniles feel better about themselves (young adults, so let us vote!) than because people using the word in conversation were getting juvenile confused with Juvenal.

But enough about me. About this book.

It’s a bit of an anachronism by now, surely, with its references to Radio Shack or your local electronics store (or to juveniles who might be interested in engineering) and a bit of optimistic wonder about what the future could bring since about forty years of integrated circuits brought us small radios, personal computers, and more (the answer, almost forty years on, is Web sites that exacerbate tensions between political factions and devices that listen in on you to help you with simple things and to better determine your psychology for tech companies’ benefit).

It might also tip a little bit to why the study of electronics might have fallen off a cliff. The basic progression of the book is:

  1. Basic chemistry: Electrons and atoms.
  2. Power source/circuits.
  3. AC/DC.
  4. Basic electronic parts: resistors, capacitors, diodes. Complete with diagrams and experiments.
  5. Chips and circuit boards with no real diagrams.
  6. Magic.

It doesn’t talk much about chip architecture or how electronic devices (even in those days) have a lot of chips that you can’t really do anything with. Well, I guess you can with chip programming things, but tinkering has gotten so much more complicated these days.

Still, I got something out of the book. A reminder about different electronic components, including an explanation of diodes and capacitors that made sense to me. So there’s something to be said about reading children’s books in fields you’re not studied in.

I have many fields in which I wish I had time to dedicate more study (one of the other being music), but, getting and spending, I’ve laid waste my powers. Books like this make me wonder why I didn’t spend more of my youth studying these pursuits since they really are rather simple at the foundational level. I suppose it’s half because my recognition of how much I had to learn in these fields overwhelmed me and made them seem more inscrutible than they are and half because I’m lazy and like to read books.

Book Report: Monuments: Masterpieces of Architecture by Laura Brooks (1997)

Book coverThis book is a little different from some of the coffee table tourism books I’ve read before that focus on a state or city. Instead this book focuses on monuments around the world, from the pyramids in Egypt to the memorials in Washington D.C. The images within it are big and color, generally just one of the mentioned monuments. The text, though, is kinda of bland and vanilla, kinda just talking very generally about monuments and not offering a whole lot of insight into the individual monuments or their construction.

I flagged some items, though.

The Monument to the Third International is another ambitious symbol of national idealism, but, unlike the Statue of Liberty, it was, unfortunately, never realized. The Soviet architect Vladmir Evgrafovic Tatlin (1885-1953) planned the monument in between 1919 and 1920 to house th legislative offices of th new revolutionary government in Leningrad. Tatlin conceived of a gigantic spiral of wood, iron, and glass that would reach the almost inconceivable height of 1,300 feet (396 meters). It was to span the Neva River, and encompass three glass-walled buildings that would revolve at different speeds–one would take a day to complete a turn, one a month, and one a year–while ligh beams projected skyward from the roof. The Monument to the Third International presented a vision of the technological utopia and reshaping of society that Communism promised. Its unprecendented form suggested a break from history and a ne architectural and social order. Had it been achieved, it would have combined the elements of time, movement, energy, and scale in a way never before realized in one monument.

For some reason, the book spends as much time on this incomplete but promised to be glorious Soviet Statue of Totalitarianism as the Statue of Liberty. And since this is a 1997 book, the Statue of Liberty, shot from the harbor, has the World Trade Center towers in the background.

In addition to memorials to soldiers, memorials to war victims are found throughout the world.

The book lists two such memorials: Peace Park in Hiroshima and the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. So saying “throughout the world” is quite a bit of a stretch here. I don’t expect you’d find many such monuments in Saudi Arabia or Iran, but I could be mistaken.

We think of monuments as enduring, everlasting, and permanent–as indeed they are meant to be. But many of the world’s greatest monuments are in peril. During the last fifty years, pollution has devastated the world’s monuments.

You know what has devastated monuments since the book was published? Groups destroying the monuments of the disfavored, whether it’s the Taliban destroying ancient Buddhist statues or American leftists pulling down statues of historical figures who were not 21st century Woke.

So it was a relatively quick browse, a couple nights/hours. I have a large number of coffee table or set picture books like this. Perhaps I’ll focus on them a little more this year to clear some of them out and to bolster my annual numbers.

When You’re Tired Of Backspacing

Sometimes, I have to type a word, backspace over some possible misspelling, and then type it two different ways a couple of times until I’m sure it’s right, which is often after I look it up.

Like devestated devastated.

Well, I’m not going to play that particular game any more.

From now on, it’s devostated in my writing.

I’m pretty sure those of us of a certain age will get the point even without embedding a music video every time it appears.

On Sailing The Wine Dark Sea by Thomas Cahill (2003)

Book coverTechnically, this is not a book report, as I listened to the abridged form of this book on tape. No, really, on tape. I procured it sometime in the misty past and saved it for such a time as I would sit down around an old cassette deck to listen to these things. Fortunately, though, instead of waiting for that time, I bought a user vehicle with a cassette deck in it, and I got to listen to this audiobook, which I had filed with our Teaching Company Great Courses.

Which is not; whereas those are taught by professors with some experience in making material interesting, this is a book read. So the language is more book language than spoken language, and it sounds like it. Olympia Dukakis reads it pretty flat.

So: Why do the Greeks matter? I guess the book makes the case that Ancient Greece is the font of all Western thought, especially when blended with the Judeo-Christian tradition coming out of Israel in the early A.D.

The book recounts tales from Greek mythology and turns its attention in turn from story-tellers, poets, philosophers, and statesmen with a little bit about the military history, but it’s not the focus. It’s a high level summary, with plenty of time spent on pederasty and glowing reviews of the statues of young men. This, combined with the infrequent use of casual vulgarity for no other reason than signal the author’s authenticity and twenty-first century sensibilities, led me to stop listening to the course when my children were in the car.

Oh, and it does get a little left towards the end with a bit of misdichotomization between the Classical Greek and the Christian worldviews, and I didn’t have to see the date of the book’s publication to know what strutting, smirking simpleton contrasted unfavorably with Pericles and Kennedy. To be fair, Kennedy doesn’t measure up to Pericles as a stateman for the ages, either. Also, I’m not sure how you say the classical Greeks were more into “social justice” than the Christians, but I’m well-educated enough to perhaps write a counter-argument were I needing to publish or perish or convinced that anyone at all would read, much less be convinced, by my effort.

So at best, you can revisit some things you should probably already know about Greek history (although perhaps the book’s target audience, possibly those educated in the latter half of the twentieth century, wouldn’t).

It’s a pretty good indicator, again, of why I should really travel a little further afield of classical history when I’m picking out things to listen to in the truck. I remember more when I start out knowing less, and that seems a better use of my time.

Book Report: Mount Vernon: An Illustrated Handbook by The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association of the Union (1974)

Book coverThis book is one of those books sold at a historic site to tell you about said historic site, but it’s pretty detailed–flat spine and 114 pages which includes numerous photographs and drawings, of course, but enough text that make this more than a football game browser.

It’s also more like Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello than Death Valley Scotty or House on the Rock in that it details a place of historical significance, not just a tourist attraction or curiousity turned into a tourist attraction.

The book also includes the story of how Mount Vernon came to be preserved–in the middle of the eighteenth century, the last owner from Washington’s line wanted to give it to the Federal government or the state of Virginia, but neither took the offer (remember limited government? Ah, what an old notion!). So a group of women formed a society, raised money, and took it on (remember voluntary association for the common good? Ah, what an old notion!).

How’s that working out? All right.

We are proud that Mount Vernon does not accept government funding. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and rely solely upon patriotic individuals, foundations, and corporations to help preserve George Washington’s home and to educate visitors from all over the world.

What an anachronism.

At any rate, the book reminds me how little I really know about the revolutionary war and the late eighteenth century in general. However, the book goes through the building room by room with color photographs, and I realize that the whole thing reminds me of a stage set: You see all the props, but the action and narrative are often missing. I kind of get that, too, when I visit places like the Ray House at the Wilsons Creek National Battlefield or the Hawken House, the center of the Webster Groves Historical Society (of which I am still a member, ten years on). Showing me the things only fills in the gaps when I already know the story. I guess interactive programs and re-enactments have their merit.

So the book not only makes me want to visit Mount Vernon, but I also want to read a biography of George Washington. I think I have one around here somewhere. Only time will tell if my urge to read such a volume intersects with my finding such a book on my bookshelves before my urge to read it ebbs.

So I’m getting pretty close to having completed the books that languished on my sofa side table for years, although I have found on my to-read bookshelves books that I know where also on the side table for several football seasons, so I must have cleared it off without reading the books a year or so ago. Ah, well, perhaps I exaggerate for effect when I said how long these particular books had been there, but blowing through them is making for a healthy annual book count as I continue to trudge through The Count of Monte Cristo and the complete works of Keats and (P.B.) Shelley, not to mention the complete works of Shakespeare that I started last year and set aside a couple plays later.

Inviting The Pests

When we bought Nogglestead, one of the outlets in the corner of the lower level had a Bell Howard Ultrasonic Pest Repeller plugged into it. It was out of the way, so we just left it there. For a very long time. Seven or eight years.

However, we have professional pest control services for bugs and quadrapeds for mice, lizards, and snakes. So about a year ago, when I was plugging or unplugging something from behind the chairs or perhaps doing one of our decennial vacuumings behind the reading chairs, I unplugged it and set it on the bar behind the coffee pot and electric tea kettle.

So how long has it sat on the bar back there? Months, if not a year or so. It’s behind the coffee pot, so when I’m at the bar making coffee or feeding/watering the cats, it’s not immediately in sight. And the reading chair (as depicted here, but the pots and the pest repeller are tastefully cropped from the mess) is in such a position as I don’t see the counter from it. So it can rest there comfortably there forever.

I doubted that it served its claimed purpose; the only mouse intrusion we’ve had was when one got in from the garage when we stored the cat food underneath the bar sink–right next to the repeller. The mouse didn’t have to cross any cat-patrolled ground for a snack, and I’ve not seen any other evidence of mice in the house since we’ve moved the cat food to a different cabinet. Nor did it keep out the various snakes, frogs, and lizards that the cats used to find (but they haven’t found in a while, which must mean the new cats are lazier than their predecessors, or the reptiles and amphibians are more cagey).

And I have not seen an uptick since I unplugged it.

So I’m finally trashing it. I’m not sure if this falls under depackratification (probably not, since it was not mine to begin with) or deRooneyfication (probably not, since simply discarding something is not a project). More likely it’s but another example of how, like my sainted mother, I don’t like to rush into anything. Or vacuum behind furniture.

But I hope the rodentia of Greene County do not read this and come over now that the ultrasonic pest repellent is gone. I’d hate to think they’re posting it on Rattit and commenting right now.

Book Report: Pop Art by Michael Compton (1970)

Book coverThis book is part of the Movements of Modern Art series, so I expect they’re designed to be textbooks. It was not a good book for browsing during football games, as the text to image ratio is quite high. Chapters cover the origins of pop art, subject matter, formal qualities of pop, English pop artists, American pop artists, European artists, and post-pop art, complete with miniature biographies of major artists along with samples of their work. The book also includes little excerpts from magazines and books about pop art from the time when it was new. Which is not all that long before this book appeared.

So what is pop?

Rubbish is what it is.

The book explains that it’s a response to abstract expressionism, which is Jackson Pollack and all that other, earlier rubbish. The pop artists wanted to paint real things, and they often did, except that, instead of painting things as things, they made paintings as things themselves, whereupon the thing depicted was not the point. I would say, “And suddenly, we’re way off into never-neverland” or some such dismissal, but it wasn’t sudden. Blast, what my beloved Impressionists did to art by removing the straight lines.

Were I bothered, I would try to build pop art into a further example of how artists/”elites” in the 20th century fought for the common man by doing their damnedest to ensure that their books/poems/paintings did not speak to people, but instead spoke self-consciously to themselves and fawning critics looking for the newest fad to become an academic expert in. Which means they’re all chasing fads and making fads instead of making something pleasant to look at that tells a story or scene or causes a viewer to actually have an emotional response other than smug reassurance that he’s better than the hoi polloi.

I did flag one bit from one of those reviews I mentioned. It’s from Art News in 1964 by James Rosenquist:

I’m amazed and excited and fascinated about the way things are thrust at us, the way this invisible screen that’s a couple of feet in front of our mind and senses is attacked by radio and television and visual communications, through things larger than life, the impact of things thrown at us, at such a speed and with such a force that painting and the attitudes toward painting and communication throught dowing a painting now seems very old fashioned….

Just wait about fifty years and see where we are. It’s no surprise, then, that a number of the “artists” in the book flirted with other media, including films and “novels” and, earlier, environments and “Happenings.” Because they were chasing acclaim and fads.

The other thing I flagged was a precursor to tentacle porn called Il Visitatore del Mattino by Dino Buzzati. Which is supposed to be art. I couldn’t find it on the Internet with my first search, but apparently that’s because the artist’s name was misspelled in the book or on the Internet. The image is on Pinterest here along with other items in the vein. It might not be safe for work, especially if you work somewhere where you’d have to try to explain the importance of Buzzati/Buzzatti in later European pop art (and fail).

You know, I prefer painted treasures like these; anything I would like from the 20th or 21st centuries is probably kitsch by Real Artists circa 2019, but the more I see in books like this and in art museums run by Serious Art Apprecianatos, the more I’m fine with that. I’ve got three H. Hargroves on my walls and prefer Bob Ross or Thomas Kinkade to Warhol, Lichtenstein, or the other parade of forgotten pop artists in this book.

So, let me tell you how I really feel.

The Very Manly Weekend Of Brian J. (I Hope)

About last year this time (well, early March), I did an indoor triathlon, and the toxic masculinity and toxic femininty that drives, if not toxic, well, then frankly insane people to participate, (and, frankly, people not, good with commas in complicated sentences) (where was I? Oh, yes, about to comma), leads me to thump my chest and proclaim how masculine I am, or not, based on what I did that day (or, weekend).

So, let us recap:

  • On Saturday, I participated in the first Chesterfield Family Center Indoor Triathlon. I say first boldly because this means I’ve been in all of them ever which is a little like the triathlon coach at the YMCA having been in all of the Republic Tiger Triathlons (which is eighteen or nineteen so far). So my participating in all the CFC triathlons so far is a little like that, but easier.

    I was stoked (should I have put that in bold, or should I have placed an extraneous comma somewhere?) because the indoor triathlon had only a ten minute swim, and I am not a very good swimmer (the triathlon coach might not have actually given me nicknames, but he could have). So I thought that would not put me too far behind.

    But then I read the scoring system, and apparently, it was scored according to your position in each event added together, and the lowest score wins. Well, I thought, coming in 21st in swimming would put me so far into the hole that I would not recover unless they awarded negative numbers somehow, so I thought I was outside the medal range, but.

    I got second. Out of like 24.

    I’m not sure how it happened, but given that the swimming was given by lengths of the pool, I can only assume that there were a lot of ties among people who swam twenty and fifteen laps meant I was in third or fourth or fifth and not actually 21st.

  • I did some overdue chores around Nogglestead on Saturday and Sunday. How overdue? Well, I vacuumed the lower level, which includes the office in which I spent ten or eleven hours a day. You have heard of the Nogglestead Christmas stragglers? Well, if we’re being scientific, the real stragglers are the bits of plastic “Christmas tree needles” and glitter still on the floor, okay? I am not proud of it, but I did it.
     
  • I reupholstered a hassock, sort of.

    The footrest has two top panels that you can remove to store things inside the body. Covered in faux leather, it sits before our main television, and after almost ten years of feet resting (and football games and their attendant book browsing), children playing, and cats a-leaping, were worn to the point where I covered them with a throw blanket to hide the panels’ damage. Sometime last fall or early winter, I picked up some black faux leather from Hobby Lobby to replace the worn brown because I’ve heard that black goes with anything (except, I fear, a black belt with brown shoes, although I’m not sure why).

    So as I was teaching my oldest child a lesson about procrastination and that, sometimes, you can spend more time dreading, putting off, and regretting putting off a task than it takes to do the thing. And that I’m more prone to do that with something I don’t know I know how to do.

    But the results, this time, were adequate.

    My beautiful wife was amazed that I knew how to do upholstery. But I didn’t; I figured it was a little like wrapping a Christmas gift, but with staples instead of tape. A little like that.

    Now, to tackle the arm of the sofa where leaping cats have torn, but that repair is not as simple and will require a bit of faux leather gluing, so I’ll put that off for a while yet.

    On the downside, the project has not been on my to-do list long enough to count as actual DeRooneyfication.

    On the plus side, I have enough faux leather left over to make something for my beautiful wife.

  • I grilled. In the cold. And the rain. And the fog.

    Although that’s not really impressive. I’ve grilled four times in the last week, and today’s weather was not as bad as some this week.

    But you know what’s bad weather for grilling?

    Jupiter. Maybe.

So I’d like to say I’ve had a good, masculine, fulfilling weekend. How about you?

UPDATE: My beautiful wife informs me that I have not done anything so masculine this weekend so as that she would wear anything I would make out of those scraps.

But there is next weekend, I think to myself.

Book Report: A Million Hours of Memories by Dick Grosenbaugh (1979)

Book coverThis book reminds me a lot of Webster Groves by Clarissa Start, and well it should. Both are local histories compiled in the 1970s as part of the localities’ celebration of anniversaries. However, this book is a little less meaty than that one.

It has a couple of paragraphs around different topics such as sports teams, the car, airports, radio, television, and so on amid numerous black and white photographs. In addition, the book is chock full of sponsored pages, advertorials or paid content where a business had its copywriters or corporate historian chuck out a brief history of the business. You know, that was a thing in the middle part of the last century: The corporate historian, someone with an English degree or something that worked on keeping writing about the history of the company. This was proffered as a career option even when I was a kid for writers, but that’s all gone now, ainna?

At any rate, I was not a resident of the area at the time, so many of the brands and buildings they talk about within this book are gone now, although I did fly on Ozark Airlines and Trans World Airlines when I was a kid, before the bigger ate the littler and then got eaten by a bigger. But most of the local things mentioned in the book are gone, too, especially amongst the sponsored pages, so that probably explains why the Webster Groves book seemed more immediate to me when I read it–because it balanced historical places more than this volume, which focuses on abstract topic centers and businesses that have faded away.

At any rate, worth a buck, maybe, for the pictures. But don’t plan to browse it during football games and then wander away from the game.

Book Report: War Born The Executioner #123 (1989)

Book coverYou know, this is actually a pretty good book. And not just a good book for a Bolan book.

In it, Bolan is tasked with helping protect a munitions manufacturer, but he discovers that the munitions manufacturer has something to hide: He is willing to exchange SDI technology secrets for an American mercenary group to spirit his unknown grandson of a Vietnamese woman and his KIA pilot son out of Vietnam. The munitions manufacturer has also tasked his younger son, now a mercenary himself, with handling the extraction from Vietnam. But the in-country mercenary has made some powerful enemies who learn of the stakes of the swap and move to intercept.

So we’ve got Bolan a bit in the dark about what’s going on, we’ve got a small mercenary group led by the uncle who don’t know the score, and we’ve got the Vietnamese criminals and corrupt military officials all heading for a reckoning.

The jump scenes between the different groups and the individual interplay between the players work better than in typical Bolan novels, and it all moves the story along pretty well. A couple of things disappoint–a bit of clumsiness in the action sequences, and the whole “we have to airdrop into Vietnam and hump through the jungle to Ho Chi Minh City” instead of catching a plane with a fake British passport–but overall, it’s a pretty good little book. Well, less little than they used to be–they’re up to 250 pages by the 20th anniversary.

It’s books like this that keep me optimistic that my march through the dozens of books in this and related lines I have on top my to-read shelves won’t all make me cringe. I’d hope that most of them would be this good, but I am a realist who has a long track record already with these books. They’re not the same without Don Pendleton writing them, and many, many of them are not very good.

Going Backwards with Brian J.

I mentioned that I had a stack of books on the side table of my sofa that I browse during football games and that some of the books, especially the ones with high text-to-pictures ratios tends to fall to the bottom of the stack and remain on the side table for years. Furthermore, I mentioned that I made it a mission this year to go through the stack and read those books to clear them away.

Well, I moved them to another book accumulation point, the side table beside the reading chair.

But yesterday, in light of the Super Bowl, I went through the stacks and selected a couple of books from my to-read shelves (not from the books that had hibernated on the sofa side table for years, as those books were clearly not fit for browsing during a football game):

Some of these had, in fact, resided on the sofa side table in years past. But I did not expect to be that involved in watching the Super Bowl itself, so I thought I could read more text-heavy tomes during the game.

And then I didn’t actually watch much of the Super Bowl.

Gentle reader, that is how these things get started. There’s no telling now how long the books will remain on the sofa side table, unread. But, with history as a guide, it could be years.

Well, no. I have already cleared them to the reading side table where I shall browse them relatively quickly. Or perhaps leave them for years. Those very years will tell.

A New Musical Crush Is Heard From

I really enjoy the samba beat in this single, “You or Me”, from Janet Evra’s new album, Ask Her To Dance.

Although I’m only guessing samba; although it was briefly covered in Elements of Jazz: From Cakewalks to Fusion, I’ve already begun to forget what I might have learned from the course.

Janet Evra is also from the Saint Louis area (which explains why I saw her mentioned on WSIE’s Facebook page). I expect to get her new album when I feel comfortable just ordering new CDs on a whim again. Or for my upcoming birthday, since I did spell her last name to my beautiful wife. I spelled Janet Evra‘ last name to my beautiful wife. Although I guess I did spell my last name to my beautiful wife at some point before I made her practice writing it over and over.

Book Report: The Martial Artist’s Way by Sifu Glen Doyle (1999)

Book coverIt’s been almost a day since a small business owner came around the counter and put me in a martial arts hold, but we’ll come to that by an by.

I bought this book in December at the same time I bought Taekwondo Kyorugi. I don’t consider myself a martial artist, but here I am reading about martial arts whilst training in martial arts.

This book is a very high level overview of martial arts and training in them; although the author is a teacher of kung fu, he does not focus on that style. Instead, he talks at a high level about thinking about studying martial arts, choosing a style that’s right for you, choosing a school, getting your mind right, training, fighting on the street, competition sparring, and other things. But all of it is at a very high level.

Although the book said it should include things that appeal and apply to someone who is already taking martial arts, nothing in it inspired me or provided me with any new insight. I agreed with some things, but probably disagreed with more than I agreed with (because my school is a blended style and recommends practicing at home, both of which are tut-tutted in this book). Much of the content is abstract to the level of pablum. I actually got more ideas from Taekwondo Kyorugi.

And I could not for the life of me figure out what the man was doing to that nice young figure skater on the cover:

From the clenched fist, I thought it was some sort of punch defense and counter, although the open hand of the riposte with the thumb toward the ear. Which doesn’t make much sense. So I asked my kyoshi.

“It’s a kung fu arm bar,” he said, and he came out from behind the front desk of the martial arts school to put me into it. It’s not a punch defense at all, but rather a counter when someone grabs you and you want to immobilize them. The sifu is actually pressing the attackers elbow with his body and has his forearm against Elvis Stojko’s neck and is pressing back and up. Which makes a little more sense than a block and a counter strike. I don’t know if it makes for a compelling martial arts cover, but I guess the other photos were not as good.

At any rate, I finished the book. It might be helpful if you’re thinking about trying martial arts and don’t have kids in a program somewhere that also sucks in the parents like our school does. But the book reads more like a vanity project designed to elevate the author’s brand as a martial arts/fitness consultant to celebrities and sports figures in Canada around the turn of the century.

Book Report: Brady’s Civil War by Webb Garrison (2000)

Book coverWhat better book to review on Super Bowl week than a book about Brady? Except I flipped through most of this last week, only finishing it this week, and the Brady in question is Matthew Brady, the mid-ninteenth century photographer, and not the football player. Other than that, it’s almost the same thing.

The book sat on my side table for flipping through during football games, but the paragraph-length text was a little too detailed for distracted browsing, and the coffee table book size made it unwieldy for the sofa. But now that I’m clearing the books from that table, I spent some dedicated time with it.

Historians spend a lot of time poring over these photos in detail, but I looked at them a little less studiously. Mostly marveling at the photographs that are 150+ years old.

I did spend a lot of time with the captions, though, more than the glances at the images themselves. As I always do when I review picture books from the Civil War, I realize how little I really know about the details of it. I could do better, as I inherited a decent collection from my beautiful wife’s uncle, and I did just buy a reading copy of Ulysses Grant’s memoirs. Perhaps I need to want to brush up enough to stack the books on a table and then, in a year or so, make it a project to read them all to get them off the table.

At any rate, back to this book: A good collection, and amazing, of course, that these are pictures. Of the Civil War.

Great Moments In Package Design

So we’ve got to design a bag for cherries. Of course, we’ll put a zipper at the top to keep the cherries from spilling out; all grape and prepackaged produce bags have them, so it’s a matter of course.

But you know what we need to really differentiate our bags? How about cutting holes in the bag to make it easier for the customer to pick up the bags on impulse.

Brilliant!

Book Report: Walk High by Bobbie J. Lawson (?)

Book coverThis book is a chapbook of poetry written by an elderly woman in the twentieth century. The book itself is not dated, but one of the poems says now in ’91, and there’s a prose story that praises one of Lawson’s relatives that is dated 1998. I cannot find any information about the author or this book on the Internet, so you’ll have to trust me that it exists at all.

It’s a little like Leah Lathrom’s The Best of Wheat and a Little Chaff.

The poems are simple, faith-based lyrics with good rhythm and end rhymes. Many, if not most, of the poems end with a Bible verse that inspired the meditation. Pretty simple things, not great literature, but a pleasure to read. A couple focus on the gospel teaching of not worrying about tomorrow and being thankful for what you have today, which you know, gentle reader, is a theme I constantly try to embrace and embody, so I really enjoyed those poems the most. Also, note I enjoyed it more than the aforementioned Lathrom book.

I love buying the packets of chapbooks at the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library for books like this.