“Q: What genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?
A: I love reading anything about gigantic animate blobs of molten iron who secretly long to be concert pianists. It’s not a particularly well-populated genre, but in particular I’d mention, “Grog, Who Loved Chopin,” as well as the somewhat derivative “Clom, Big Fan of Mozart.”
― George Saunders
Monthly Archives: August 2017
“All happiness depends on courage and work.”
― Honoré de Balzac
Your First… Your Worst
“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
― Henri Cartier-Bresson
The Storm is 400 Miles Away
“People seemed to believe that technology had stripped hurricanes of their power to kill. No hurricane expert endorsed this view.”
― Erik Larson, Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History
While 400 miles to the south, Hurricane Harvey brings terror, destruction, and death – here all it has done so far is brushed the sky with its outermost bands and made for a beautiful sunset.
“Wild Books, Homeless Books”
“Second hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack.”
― Virginia Woolf
Everybody has their addictions; I think an important part of life is to constantly take a brave look at what you are addicted to and try and choose better ones.
I used to be addicted to buying used books. My dealer of choice was Half Price Books here in Dallas. When I first moved to the area in the early 80’s, I lived on Lower Greenville and their main store was on Mockingbird, next to Campisi’s Egyptian. It was a short walk to the old-school used book store – with its labyrinthine passages. I bought too many books.
Then they moved to Northwest Highway and an old Captain’s Cargo store. It retained the odd sailing-ship style staircases and had an strange open plan. I moved too to a spot that was too close. I kept buying too many books.
One day I drove there and found the store closed. Confused and disappointed, I turned and saw that they had opened up into a gigantic warehouse-style space across the street. This was very bad. I went in and found a book of quotations I had been looking for for years. My addiction blossomed into full-fledged hopelessness. It’s funny, I only bought used books – never new. There was something about the feeling that other, unknown hands had moved over these pages before. Something about the faint smell of mold. I preferred books that had a few notes in the margin, a handful of bent corners, evidence of someone having been here before me.
Nobody ever held an Intervention for me, but when we moved to Richardson the moving company charged us a hefty upfee because of all the books. What finally broke me was the arrival of the Kindle – now I can carry a library in my pocket. I have more books in my Kindle than I can read over the rest of my pitiful life.
Now, I have two large and one small bookshelf. This is my limit. To buy a new book, something has to go.
Is my addiction gone?… of course not. It may be under control. I do check way too many books out of the library… but that is really an addiction that I can live with.
Today, I went to Half-Price to look for a particular book that was too expensive in its ebook form. I found it in the Clearance Section for two dollars. You can be a very well-read person and never leave the Half-Price Books Clearance Rack. I suspect that the employees sometimes put really good books into Clearance as a favor to society.
At any rate, my classic book by a famous author that has helped keep society from completely (so far) running off the rails was two dollars. I also bought a blank book (my bullet journal is almost full) and it was ten.
So, I guess that putting wonderful, skillful, important words on paper reduces the value of a book by eighty percent.
What I learned this week, August 26, 2017
NASA wants to spend $3B drilling into a volcano to save the United States
One of the things I sort of worry about is an imminent eruption of the Yellowstone Supervolcano. Good to know that NASA has an idea. Of course, I wonder… why is NASA the organization that is looking at drilling underground?
NASA Has a $3.46 Billion Plan to Ensure the Yellowstone Supervolcano Doesn’t Erupt
Comment: Why having lots of bikes isn’t as crazy as it sounds
Bike riding isn’t child’s play anymore, and cycling crash deaths are soaring
Forty years ago, riding a bike was child’s play, and the overwhelming majority of those killed in bike crashes were children. Over the years, biking for fitness and as part of the daily commute has changed that dramatically. According to a report released Thursday, the average age of cyclists killed in collisions in 2015 was 45.
Actually, it is well known that as cycling increases, cycling accidents and deaths actually goes down.
10 Things cyclists wish drivers understood
10 unwritten cycling rules you need to ignore
Comment: Why electric bikes, not electric cars, are the transport revolution we need
7 Spell-Binding Documentaries About Drugs to Watch on Netflix
The Future Recedes
“Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.”
― Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance
Wither and Blow Away
Passion is the breath we take, the water we drink to sustain ourselves. Without air and water we perish; without passion an artist will wither and blow away.
Standing on the Pedals
“Likewise—now don’t laugh—cars and trucks should view the bike lanes as if they are sacrosanct. A driver would never think of riding up on a sidewalk. Most drivers, anyway. Hell, there are strollers and little old ladies up there! It would be unthinkable, except in action movies. A driver would get a serious fine or maybe even get locked up. Everyone around would wonder who that asshole was. Well, bike lanes should be treated the same way. You wouldn’t park your car or pull over for a stop on the sidewalk, would you? Well then, don’t park in the bike lanes either—that forces cyclists into traffic where poor little meat puppets don’t stand a chance.”
― David Byrne, Bicycle Diaries
Walking On Water
“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation