Good Book Hunting, Saturday, May 14, 2022: ABC Books

ABC Books had another book signing, which certainly must make it the destination for authors looking to promote their work in Springfield. As my beautiful wife convinced me that I need not buy Wendy’s or Starbucks gift cards for the Republic High School teacher thank-you cards and that ABC Books is not that far from Republic (no farther than it is from Nogglestead), so I had gift cards to buy as well as a signed book.

I did not get that much, but I was just there two weeks ago.

I got:

  • Official Targuek Poomse Series. This looks to be a set of forms which are required for becoming a black belt in the U.S. West Coast Taekwondo Association. Our school did forms for a couple of cycles a couple years ago, but the students did not take to it, so we dropped it. Which is just as well–I was one of the students who did not grok it. To get good at forms, you have to practice them a lot.
  • Volume III of The Westminster Tanner-McMurrin Lectures on the History and Philosophy of Religion. This has two lectures by Jaroslav Pelikan, “Jesus, Not Caesar: The Religious World View of Thomas Garrigue Masaryk” and “The Spiritual Foundations of Czech and Slovak Culture”. As you know, gentle reader, I read some individual lecture books from time to time to feel smart. They’re short and they’re heady, but not generally more than you would find in the New Oxford Review or First Things.
  • The Grieving Light: Finding the Light in your Darkness of Grief by the signing author Randi Knight. It’s a thin volume which I expect I will compare to Stephanie Dalla Rosa’s Love’s Legacy when I read it between children’s books, men’s adventure books, and science fiction short stories this summer.

As I brought my oldest along, bribed with the promise of lunch, he, too, sought some books. He has become interested in politics and sought copies of Common Sense and Second Treatise on Government by Locke, but these are hard to come by in used book stores. So he bought a collection of tales called The Shore Ghosts and Other Stories of New Jersey by Larona Homer and Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky. A couple of weeks ago, I bought the lad a copy of Confess, Fletch because he liked the film enough to re-watch it, but he has not picked up that book. But he wants to try a Russian novel? We will see how far he gets. I mean, I need a real running start at the thick ones. Given my recent reading discipline, you should not expect to see The Brothers Karamazov reviewed here any time soon.

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The Unspoken Profession

Katie Berry of Housewife How-Tos posted this meme on Facebook:

Which may be true, but one profession is not represented on the meme: Produce clerk.

I frustrate my beautiful wife because I can always open produce bags on the first try because I have lots of experience.

As I have probably mentioned, working as a produce clerk in college is also where I learned to juggle using the bruised fruits, from apples to cantaloupes, that we’d culled from the shelf and were planning to sell in marked down packages. I’ve noticed that produce departments don’t tend to have the little cello-wrapped trays with marked down produce any more. Perhaps I’m shopping in higher-end stores than I worked in. Come to think of it, that is likely the case.

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How to mix books into your home décor.

As you might guess, gentle reader, we don’t have much room at Nogglestead for décor because of all the books.

You might also assume that, when shopping for a home as we have done from time to time over the past couple of decades, we give series consideration to interior wall space where we can put our bookshelves. An open floor plan is not for us.

But if you’re a bibliophile, do not click the link and read about interior designers talking about books as mere objects of color and texture and not, you know, books.

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I saw this, what, tweet? at Knuckledraggin:

And I had to correct the Internet, again.

  • The Geo Metro was first available in 1989.
  • By the middle 1980s, the 8-Track player was no longer the thing in cars. All of my cars from the era had cassette players.
  • I was finta say that “Smooth Jazz” is a recent coinage for what we called “easy listening” in the 1980s, but I might be anachronistic here myself as I only heard the term applied to a radio station in St. Louis in the early part of this century. Wikipedia and All Music put its origins earlier, but I’m not sure if the term was applied and I just didn’t know it. Although the All Music entry looks like a snapshot of my record shelves.
  • Although I did not have a Geo Metro (I did, however, have a Geo Storm for a couple of years), I did have a 1984 Mustang with a balky carb that was hard to start, especially in the cold (and it was only my daily driver from like January to May in 1997). My friend Walter, who that spring painted my face up for Mardi Gras, said, “Give it seven and pray to Heaven.” Because I would pump the gas roughly seven times to prime it; any fewer would be too little, and any more might flood it.

Sorry, I think we wandered a bit from correcting the Internet into personal reminiscences. But that is the way of the blog, ainna?

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Book Report: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (1877, 1954)

Book coverThis volume is part of the mid-20th-century Nelson Doubleday Children’s Classics series (as were Hans Brinker and Heidi). As I have previously mentioned, I bought these books before I had kids and missed the chance to read them to my boys when they were young enough to be interested in children’s books. So I’m working through the volumes in the set since I read Hans Brinker for the 2022 Winter Reading Challenge.

I could have read this book for the Winter Reading Challenge as well as it had a category of non-human main character. I thought this book would be one of boy or girl and his or her horse books that were quite the rage for a while. Also on television–I remember Fury in syndication, and My Friend Flicka somewhere. I know when my aunt gave us her kids’ books that we got a couple of entries in mystery series along with kid and dog or kid and horse books. I never got into the genre when I was younger. I lived in the city, man; I could not imagine having a horse of my own.

But this book is told from the horse’s point of view. Black Beauty, the horse, although he later becomes known by different names, starts out with his mother romping in a pasture. He’s sold to nice aristocrats and enjoys his younger years, but when the wife takes ill, he’s sold to another set of aristocrats who favor a bit that pulls the horse’s head up (the book rails on this bit a lot), and then he ends up getting sold into different sets of circumstances and manual, or equine, labor, from pulling a cab to pulling freight and finally ending up an older horse sold at a down-market horse fair to a farm looking for a cheap horse, and he’s reunited with a groom from the olden days and lives happily ever after.

So it’s got a bit of a be-kind-to-your-horses message to it that must have been ahead of its time. But for its brevity–it’s 124 pages–it took me a while to get through it because I’m not much of a horse person, and the novelty of it being nominally from the horse’s perspective was not enough to draw me along when the prose really didn’t.

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On Old Email Addresses

On LinkedIn, I posted:

So what’s the oldest email you can open up right now?

Something not necessarily in your inbox, but rather in a folder somewhere in your email clients but not in an archive or backup somewhere?

My oldest is apparently December 16, 2002, a response to a query pitching a play to a theatre company in St. Louis.

Which is weird, because I am pretty sure I had the email account before the turn of the century; although an Older label appears, I can’t click it to see emails from before then.

Related: When did you send your first email on the Internet?

It was probably a query for The Courtship of Barbara Holt, and the theatre (in Florissant, not St. Louis proper) was ultimately rejected, of course.

But it got me to thinking of the email addresses I’ve had over the years.

My first “Internet” email address would have been an AOL account. I just tried to log into it, and it fails with an error on AOL’s part, so no digging up emails from the early 1990s. Although I guess I had a Prodigy account in 1990, so perhaps that would count. But I don’t remember sending a lot of emails to that account. And when I was a kid with a modem, the Color Graphics 64 Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes) offered messages between users of the board, but not really the Internet–although I think a plug-in came along later that helped with that. Boards hosted on IBM compatible computers, such as WWIV (World War IV), had the ability to read newsgroups and send email over the Internet, but I don’t know if I ever did. So my first email on the Internet could have come as early as the 1980s, but I can really only pinpoint sending emails in the mid-to-late 1990s, including the ones starting in 1997 I sent to the woman whom I would marry. Via the aforementioned AOL account.

Somewhere around 1998 or 1999, I got a Hotmail account, and it’s in that account that one finds the 2002 email. I am pretty sure I got a Hotmail account because it was more sophisticated than an AOL account at the time. But it has been useful over the decades as an email address to use when ordering things and whatnot where marketing emails are going to come.

When I moved into my first apartment, I switched to a real Internet Service Provider, in this case the one run by the local newspaper, and I had that email address for a couple of years, including the first years in the house at Casinoport. But when I formed my consulting company in 2004, I bought the domain name, set up a Web site, and set up email for the company, and it has been my primary email address since. The archives only go back to summer of 2007, though, as a Thunderbird update or computer change cut off the emails from before.

I dunno what got me to thinking about this last night. But it’s kind of funny. Emails have been a fixture for most of my adult life, and if you count the BBS messages, it goes back to most of my life indeed. And judging from comments on the LinkedIn, some other adults have emails going back decades. Our kids will likely not have that continuity; they have email addresses for school, but their peer communication goes through Discord, WhatsApp, and other ephemeral conduits.

So much informal, and formal, communication is getting lost. One wonders if this will be referred to as a Dark Ages sometime in the future.

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Shopping Like Lileks

James Lileks recently went into a Macy’s, looking for a belt, and….

I could go to Target, but it’s jammed up and jelly tight on Saturdays. (Note: jelly is not, in fact, tight. Ever.) Macy’s, then. I hadn’t been there since they reconfigured the place. The new look is more “open,” which gives you a full appreciation of the paucity of the merchandise. Perhaps they’re just being more selective. Yes. that’s the idea. Go for that Apple Store look; we know how well it worked out for JCPenney.

I knew where the belts were – Men’s Furnishings, I believe it’s called – so I went there. No belts. A lot of athletic gear. In fact half the men’s department now appears to be sweatpants.

You know, gentle reader, I like to dress like an adult if not entirely the whole Cary Grant. I have often bought George apparel at Walmart, but it doesn’t tend to last very long before the points of the collars show wear from machine washing or the waistline of trousers gets a little banged up. I’ve had pretty good luck with clothing I’ve bought at Target or Kohl’s, but I’ve not tended to go to those department stores frequently. I recently (recently being the last two years) have bought shirts off of Amazon, but they often arrive with loose stitching and popped threads right out of the bag–and even if they don’t, they have the longevity of the George apparel with the price of the upscale department store.

So I went into a Target a couple of weeks ago to pick up some things, and I thought I’d look for shirts whilst I was there. The store is being remodeled (but at least they weren’t jacking up and moving aisles whilst I was shopping). After I dodged closed sections to get to the men’s wear section in the back, I wandered through the diminished stock several times, and the store had no dress clothing whatsoever. No slacks. No button-up (or button-down) shirts. Polo shirts and hoodies and athletic gear, but nothing for an adult to wear.

I have not been in since, and I have not tried Kohl’s to see what its stock is like lately, but I, too, have to wonder if it’s going to be specialty shops and online orders in the future.

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A Family Photo From The Paper’s Archives, Or Something Else?

When I was reading this week’s Houston Herald, I kind of glanced at the “Years Ago” corner of the paper.

All of them have it: A page or part of a page where they reprint pictures or summaries of articles from the newspaper in years past so that the old people, aside from me, the old people who’ve lived there their whole lives can revisit some things they might remember. They might see their friends, or their family friends, in the pictures and stories kind of like they want to see their friends and family friends in print in the modern paper for good things, but not for the meth busts. The “remember when” features tend to look more toward the positives unless something really notorious is recounted.

So I kind of glance at these things because I’m a carpetbagger in these parts, which is often different from the parts from which I take the newspaper, such as the Houston Herald. I have driven through Houston twice: once out and back on a trip to De Soto, Missouri, from Nogglestead. That trip yielded me subscriptions to the Houston Herald and the paper I sought ought to begin my subscription adventure, The Licking News.

So I only glanced at the family portrait at first. Then I looked again.

It’s not actually a family photo; it is a picture of winners of the electrical co-operative’s essay winners.

Which probably means that they’re in high school.

The photo is undated, but I’m guessing early 1960s.

I’ve mentioned before how kids from the 1960s and earlier looked older (see They Don’t Look So Young, But…. and Scandinavian Teens Circa 1965).

I don’t think I ever hit that middle-aged look, the responsible father–in old family photos we have with my beautiful wife and young boys, I still looked young. Kind of how I still think I look young in the mirror, but in the photos–I certainly look older than I think that high school kid above looks. Which is a bit of a change for me.

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Someone’s Not Up On Economic or Business Terms

In a story Etsy sellers strike back: Creators fed up with fee hike, we have this bit of business ignorance:

During the month of November 2020, McGrath made $44, however, Etsy took $28 from that profit. She stated she sees no logical reason for the company to be taking so much of a seller’s profit.

It’s not a profit until you’ve accounted for all the costs of the business, such as transaction fees by the marketplace.

As you might know, gentle reader, around the turn of the century, I was a very active Ebay seller. I would spend Saturday mornings at estate sales and garage sales picking up books, old games, computer things, electronics, and music to list throughout the week.

However, I left the service because fees were going up, Ebay bought PayPal and wanted you to accept payment through it (with additional fees), and basically it went from being a seller’s market to a buyer’s market.

I’ve been kicking around the idea of getting a booth at the antique mall to put some of the various bric-a-brac that I’ve gathered and some of the crafts I’ve done and put in boxes in the garage. It seems more straightforward than messing around with the online services again. But I’m not entirely convinced that I would make enough in sales every month to warrant it–or to keep it going long term–and, to be honest, if I did sell a bunch of things, whether I could find/make enough to keep it going.

I guess I will find out sometime if I get around to actually doing it.

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Not Quite That Country

The Licking News, small a paper as it is, has numerous columns worth reading along with a comic page with puzzles.

On of the comics is R.F.D. by Mike Marland.

Last week, the cartoon dealt with local sourcing of foods:

We at Nogglestead are not that country. Although there are many beef operations in the area, including one run by the realtor who helped us find Nogglestead, we do not frequent farmer’s markets to get to know small producers nor do we really home in on local producers whose names we might recognize from Ozarks Farm and Neighbor. Mostly, we grab what is least expensive at the grocery or the warehouse club store.

I am, however, reminded of the time I went back to Kansas with a girlfriend to visit her grandparents, and on Sunday morning, the grandmother or aunt served bacon from Uncle Rick’s pig–and she said she did not like store boughten bacon at all. Although she probably did not say “boughten,” given how much of a throwback to the old ways both families of farmers were in the 1990s, she probably meant it.

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Seems Backwards

Ad on Facebook:

Wait a minute: A Pink Floyd tribute band, and Living Colour is the opening act?

What kind of parallel universe is this? Living Colour is the lesser of the acts in a major amptheatre?

Sweet Christmas. I have been wearing a beard (despite my pronouncement last summer that I was done with facial hair for a bit) for a couple of months, but I shaved it off just to see if I can somehow put this universe aright.

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Something I’ve Noticed

We have an older cat with bad teeth whom we’ve started to serve moist cat food twice a day. He likes to nibble at it and lick the gravy, only sometimes going with gusto, and after he finishes, we have protocol for which cats can eat the remainder and in what order. First, Radar Love goes, and then the black cat can nibble (although the last day or so, she has insisted on going first). Then, in the mornings, throw open the office door, which means Chimera bursts through and has generally finished the can of food. In the evenings, I will meter Foot into the office so he can eat some meat before Chimera finishes it.

Which has meant going through a couple of cans of moist cat food every day for the last six months or so.

I’ve generally bought giant boxes of it at the warehouse store, Fancy Feast or Friskies, but the last couple of months, the store has not stocked any. So I’ve started looking for it at the grocery or department store, and there the sections are getting kind of thin.

I mean, correlation does not equal causation. But saying “correlation does not equal causation” does not disprove causation.

All I’m saying is that when cheap Chinese brands of Moist Cat Food start appearing to replace it, I fear the actual contents of the tins.

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On the Big Game

So my boy’s, formerly my boys’, school announced that they would have the traditional parents/kids basketball game this year. Which is odd; this is the sixth year at least one of our boys has played basketball, well, off and on for quarantines and small class sizes, and this is the first year we’ve heard of the game. But I was kind of excited to participate with my son, who is off to high school next year, so it seems like our participation in school things kind of feels like a workplace after you’ve given notice—a bit distant, with the knowledge that everything will go on without you, and people might not miss you that much. Continue reading “On the Big Game”

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The Source Of That Thing Daddy Sang Yesterday To The Annoyance Of His Firstborn

As my mother-in-law downsizes, she has contacted Habitat for Humanity to come and pick up some furniture and things. They’re scheduled to pick them up this morning, but it’s Snowmageddon, again, so who knows.

However, my oldest son and I moved all the items to donate to the garage yesterday, and I kept rapping, “That’s a habitat! That’s a habitat!”

So I told the young man about the season premiere of Sesame Street when he was a kid, the one where Big Bird thinks about moving from Sesame Street.

I also explained that the season premiere of Sesame Street was kind of a big deal; the boys watched it every day for several years, maybe six total from boy 1 to boy 2, and that meant a lot of repeats. So at least I was excited for new content.

In sadder Sesame Street news, Luis passed away. You might remember, gentle reader, that I posted him singing the firefly song in 2018. You know, I have recently asserted that things from one’s youth make an indelible impression in one’s memory; however, I have a lot of things from my children’s youth that I remember as well. Perhaps those days were just more interesting than now.

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On the Forthcoming New Old Furniture at Nogglestead

As I mentioned, my mother-in-law is downsizing. As a result, Nogglestead will receive an infusion of quality furniture. I’ve often said, perhaps only aloud and not on this blog, that the only good furniture we get, we receive as a gift, or lately, an inheritance. Which is mostly true, although we did buy an expensive laminate bedroom set a couple years after we moved in, replacing the bureaus we’d had as children, inheritances from my aunt Dale, and a headboard I’d bought at an estate sale for $20.

Continue reading “On the Forthcoming New Old Furniture at Nogglestead”

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Wherein Reality Proves Brian J. Wrong, Almost Immediately

On Thursday, I asserted:

Funny thing; although the university sends me glossy magazines on occasion, they don’t try to hit me up for money any more.

On Saturday, this arrived:

Maybe they actually hit me up all the time for money, but I pay so little attention I don’t notice.

The volunteers have stopped calling, though. I think. Maybe they just don’t have my number at Nogglestead.

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Curmudgeons Agree

Jack Baruth links to a piece entitled Managerial failings: complification.

The piece goes on about how managers and the managerial class have made things more complicated mainly to give themselves something to do.

Baruth quotes this bit:

Yale for example: more administrators than undergraduates. This is ridiculous; Yale students would be better off if they hired each undergraduate a PhD educated personal tutor and a maid/servant, and it would be cheaper. There is a Yale administrator event horizon at which the mass of administrators at Yale within the confines of the Yale campus will form a black hole from which light cannot escape. If current trends continue, this will happen by the year 3622.

But the original piece goes from that to talk about shared libraries in software development, and Baruth says:

Being Locklin, of course, he goes on to do the math and show his work on it. The remainder of the blogpost consists of a terrifying journey through the shared library crisis, in which I once again find myself accidentally aligned with a brilliant man; for most of my life in tech I busted my hump to make sure I compiled stuff with static binaries, even if it cost more time and resources. I didn’t have a genuine philosophy behind it, as Scott does. Rather, I was just trying to make more money. Shared libraries always resulted in me doing more work after the fact, and since I generally charged flat fees for programming gigs, I didn’t have any interest in doing more work.

You know, I from time to time try to build an application, but I do it in fits and starts. I get something working, and then I come to a frustration point and put it aside for a bit (or a year), and then I come back to it or do something else with Node.js or whatever framework, and something needs updating, and suddenly nothing works at all, and libraries are out of date, or what have you. Which becomes another frustration point….

You know, in test automation frameworks that I’ve built, I’ve written the code mostly myself, relying on other libraries as infrequently as possible. But it’s not really possible any more, no with the current frameworks. Which is why I have not built myself a billion dollar company on an idea and some code written overnight while amped up on coffee. The frustration of modern frameworks, and the fact that I’m lazy.

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