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Wednesday, December 21st, 2016
12:04 pm - Reading Challenge, Book 10
A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future

for school (Critical & Creative Thinking, BSU Master of Arts in Teaching)

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Friday, September 16th, 2016
8:05 am - Reading Challenge, Book 9
Dark Matter, Blake Crouch
4 stars. Perfect for physics nerds.

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Sunday, August 21st, 2016
11:35 pm - Reading Challenge, Books 7 & 8
Significantly delayed by relocation, seventh and eight at last: first of the special Star Trek 50-anniversary "Legacies" trilogy, Captain to Captain (audio version consumed primarily on dog walks and the treadmill), and third and last of the Bill Hodges series by Stephen King, End of Watch.

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Monday, May 23rd, 2016
10:49 am - Reading Challenge, Book 6
Hassler, Jon

A native Minnesotan writing c. my birth.

Includes these gems:

"With coffee, Miss McGee served cake and chokecherry jelly. It was noon before Lillian Kite went home and Miles carried the ranger uniform upstairs to his room."  (To me, that says it all about snall town life, and it's the Minnesota I'm looking forward to.)

"Rochester girls are the best looking and Duluth girls will show you the best time, but you have to tell them you’re from Minneapolis before they’ll look at you."

"Everyone was down in the lunchroom, standing in line for butter sandwiches and hamburger-macaroni-tomato hot dish."

"To a man with a dry socket, what is more dismaying than a raspberry sundae?"

Spoiler alert: the high school teacher protagonist gets shot in the head.

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Monday, May 9th, 2016
5:56 am - Reading Challenge, Book 5
Star Trek: Miasma, Greg Cox.

Hardly counts; more a diversion than literature, but comforting and familiar, like Grandma's mashed potatoes. In this one, Spock's blood is the only defense for a stranded away team on a foggy world full of giant, carnivorous leeches. Unlike Michener's Alska, mentioned in the last post, picking at this one during the occasional free moment between (or during other books) was no great challenge. There's no complex narrative thread to lose hold of...

Speaking of Alaska, I was surprised by the arrival of Star Trek: Elusive Salvation, a hot-off-the-presses forgotten pre-order. Set in the Arctic Circle c. 1845, San Francisco c. 2283 and New York c. 1970, it, too, was a purchase made when our own Artic adventure was imminent. That part of its appeal no longer applies, of course. But I do like my mashed potatoes....

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Thursday, May 5th, 2016
4:30 pm - Reading Challenge, Book 4
The North Water: A Novel by Ian McGuire.

Gripping.  Great sentences.  Grab the dictionary before reading for the occassional archaic term.  5 stars.

Am behind on my count because I started James Michener's Alaska - also engaging, like a good anthropology class- and got to the Russians' arrival before putting it down (not actually moving to Alaska has dampened my interests in its history).  I haven't met any recurring characters so can pick it up without too much trouble if I care to down the road.

Now on How to Talk Minnesotan by Howard Mohr (revised for the 21st Century).  Thanks, Chaddy, for the original.   

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Monday, April 18th, 2016
4:00 pm - Endorsement
Voting is, by design, a private enterprise in this country, so I’m loath to use a public forum to influence others; generally speaking, I don’t like broadcasting my political views. However, because I’m not a registered Democrat, I’m ineligible to vote in tomorrow’s primary and this might be the only way to voice my preference.

It’s rare to be 100% certain of anything, least of all, which veritable stranger will make a better president. Even with voting records, policy platforms and tax returns in hand, it’s impossible to prognosticate how a free-willed individual will perform one of the most volatile, inscrutable and unpredictable jobs on the planet. We are neither fortune tellers nor mind readers. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton both have excellent credentials, but as a card-carrying socialist, I lean towards Senator Sanders almost by default. I urge all New Yorkers to seriously consider his candidacy.

I don’t profess that he would make the best executive. I try and fail, for example, to picture him addressing a Boston Marathon-type situation. It’s not because he wouldn’t be horrified by mass murder, or would be incapable of grieving the loss of life. But the President isn’t simply the manager of a bureaucracy; he or she functions, in times of national mourning, as the embodiment of the collective conscience of the American people, a symbolic “emoter-in-chief.” Barack Obama is adept in that role. So was JFK and, some would say, Reagan. I cannot entirely dismiss the possibility, though, that the good senator from Vermont would fall short summoning the gravitas such an occasion would call for. I don’t doubt his moral rectitude or beliefs about the sanctity of life. But, absurd as this sounds, I can’t shake the nagging suspicion that the cost to taxpayers of a publicly financed display of grief would enter his mind and potentially jeopardize any official commemoration.

That is a relatively minor (and admittedly unlikely) example; there are others. I believe the contrasting examples weigh in his favor, though. He speaks to a fundamental imbalance in our society. An economic divide of such severity that not only overshadows, but sharply defines almost every other aspect of our lives. Education disparity, mass incarceration, troubled race relations – at their root, these problems are intertwined and exacerbated by the striking difference between the haves and have-nots in this country. An adjustment to the economy won't be a panacea, but it’s hard to dismiss the lasting, positive effect of a stable childhood, and there’s no better way to ensure one than by providing families a modicum of basic necessities. To free even a small portion of a parent’s attention from the all-encompassing need to earn a salary allows them instead to bestow upon their child the greatest gift one can give another: loving, human contact. There is no better way to provide a person an early and effective boost, and no government program can achieve the same results. I don’t advocate for his approach because it is pragmatically flawless, and I don’t pretend that his vision is shared by the many, many other players in our legislative process. I make my choice for President of the United States as I do for every position, in every election, and as I believe all members of a representative democracy are compelled to: by opting for the candidate who most closely mirrors my values. I firmly hold the notion that whatever else ails this country, no significant improvement – in foreign relations, environmental regulations, or any other area – can be made without first addressing this underlying inequality. Equal treatment under the law is not simply a noble goal. It is the definitive principle of our system of government. Without it, no other gains can be made, and any changes would be superficial. Because the economy is inextricably woven into the fabric of our lives, an equitable distribution of resources is the logical mechanism for ensuring that balance. I don’t think it would doom capitalism, creativity or free enterprise. I do not advocate a communist state. I recognize that a boss should make more than her secretary, and that the CEO will earn more than the mail room clerk. But not orders of magnitude more. I don’t think this will quell entrepreneurism. We need not stymie innovation. Those who are inspired to produce can do so (you’d be hard pressed to stop a motivated individual from pursuing their passions) but the result of industry need not be such grotesque sums of money that entire nations’ economies exist to conceal them. Surely not when children yet starve.

This may not be the proper role of government, and I respect those who do not believe it is. Truthfully, I wrestle with the question myself, and leave resolution on the matter to political philosophers. But whether or not it is appropriate for the state to do so, it is POSSIBLE. And if it is possible to make a positive difference, it seems obligatory to try. In an ideal world such corrective action would be unnecessary, but a gross inequality was engineered into this country at its founding, and only a drastic re-boot has any hope of salvaging our grand experiment. I’m not equipped to evaluate the efficacy of the Senator’s proposals, but I endorse him because, however flawed his method may be, his vision is one I strive for, too. We will not achieve our goals in the next four years; I doubt I will live to see that happen. But I fervently believe that he can help us take that next, incremental step in the right direction.

I like Hillary Clinton. I’ve voted for her, and have even marched alongside her. If she wins, I have no doubt she will competently execute the duties of her office. On abortion, gun control, civil liberties and many other arenas, I wholeheartedly share her views. But, in this particular election, I believe those issues are subservient to the larger, endemic problem I describe above. Thus, I’m deliberately forgoing the chance of an otherwise smart, qualified candidate winning the contest and bringing about the sort of policy change I yearn for because I feel that the greater well-being will be better served by focusing on more pressing concerns.

I don’t like Donald Trump. I don’t think he’s the worst person in the world, but that may be because I haven’t met them all. If you’re a Republican, please consider: his business, his reality show, his personal life – all have been for his glory. I don’t begrudge his conceit and hubris, but I don’t think it suitable in a public servant.

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Thursday, March 10th, 2016
11:51 pm - Reading Challenge, book 3
Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Stephen King. Another delayed finish...started this months ago, but I guess the winter (such as it has been), not being conducive to commuting on foot, has seen a decrease in audio book consumption. But: Morality was powerful (and as a bonus: featured Queens), and the last one, Summer Thunder, which I just finished in a post-Poconos bath, was great straight-up sci fi.

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Friday, January 22nd, 2016
12:05 pm - Reading Challenge, Book 2
Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K Le Guin. Amazing. Trippy. Transcendent. Michale Chabon says on the cover that he read it as a child and got so much more the second time around. So, into the book-you-should-have-read-in-school category it goes. Tonight, the British film version, courtesy of YouTube (and next week the DVD of the made-for-tv American remake with James Caan. Definitely will be re-reading someday soon.

Next is the Michael Chabon's book-I've-been-meaning-to-read (it's been on my Kindle for years), Yiddish Policemen's Union. Set in Alaska, it's apropos for the day after Tj's epic convo with Kotzebue. (He's got the audio version in the car right now.)

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Tuesday, January 12th, 2016
8:46 am - Reading Challenge, Book 1

Last night I finished In the Heart of the Sea: the Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick.  It was published in 2000 but is based on several firsthand narratives of the sinking and subsequent travails of the crew of Nantucket's Essex in the 1820s.  Although non-fiction, it was adapted by Melville for Moby Dick several decades later.

I enjoyed the book, but then again I like everything about the sea...it was because of the 1,500+ piece Maersk cargo ship model that I got back into Lego, and my favorite vacations are cruises.  If I hit the jackpot tomorrow, the first thing I'm doing is buying a yacht (well, maybe I'll hire the seamen first).  Attached is a pic of what looks like a group of jaunty boys frolicking on deck...it's actually a screen shot (yay, Kindle!) of one of the illustrations from Heart of the Sea meant to convey the hardships of long ocean voyages (it's not giving away too much to say that cannibalism is a plot point).  I don’t think the movie version got great reviews, but I’m still excited to see it. (Although it was last year and won’t count for this challenge, as a sort of inoculation against spoilers I read the novelization of Force Awakens before seeing the film. Alas, these reverse adaptations don’t work very well and I wouldn’t recommend the “book.”) By the way, what the hell is 'salt junk'??

My quandary:  I'm not sure what category of the reading challenge this book falls in.  Closest I can manage is 'book previously abandoned' because I actually stated it last year.  But, it was December of last year, and it's only January now!   It’s like saying I "abandon" work every evening when I go home.  Anyway, suggestions appreciated.

For my next book, I was going to read a recent translation of Madame Bovary, about an adulterous doctor's wife, as my 'book previously banned' (because of how tawdry it was for the time) but I didn't feel like schlepping a hardcover with me today (incidentally, it's #9 on this list of David Bowie's favorite books: http://www.nypl.org/blog/2016/01/11/david-bowies-top-100-books?utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=referral).  Luckily, Tj came back from a weekend visit to Oregon just last night and as a souvenir brought me back The Lathe of Heaven by Ursual K. Le Guin from Portland's famous bookstore, Powell's.   The endorsement on the front cover is a blurb by Michael Chabon (author of Yiddish Policemen's Union and Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, among others), also introduced to me by Tj.  This one will be my 'book chosen by spouse.'

Speaking of books, George R.R. Martin announced on his blog that the final installment of the Games of Thrones series would be delayed, resulting in the unusual phenomena of the television version actually preceding the source material.  His platform?  None other than LiveJournal.

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Thursday, July 3rd, 2014
11:52 pm - Seinfeld

I just watched about 6 hours of curiously curated episodes on Crackle in honor of the 25th anniversary.

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Friday, January 3rd, 2014
10:19 am - One Day, One Post!
My friend took a cue, and now I'm taking hers.  I don't have much to say so I'll just give a rundown of my day.

Arrived at work early today, in anticipation of staff who might have allotted too much extra travel time and got stuck shivering outside of the building.  Did not walk - though the new mayor seems to have the streets taken care of, for a pedestrian commuter like me, it's the sidewalks that are a problem.  And the trains weren't awful, despite the dire prognostications.  The R came, as always, and while the 7 swayed some, it got me to where I needed to go.  (I also walked to work yesterday, not because of weather, but due to the inordinate burden of pounds and pounds of references and other resources received during an off-site training last Friday, before I went on break, that I was transporting to the office).  It's very quiet so far - our one actual teaching-related obligation was cancelled - so I did some shoveling until maintenance crews arrived.

Lorry is home with the baby...DOE cancelled school early this morning, to the delight of many employees who spent an anxious night awaiting the news (and to the consternation of many parents, I imagine).  A funny tweet from the new first family resulted from a potentially embarrassing public exchange between son Dante and his friends...supposedly he replied "I'll ask my dad" in response to a question about school closures (there are already obvious implications being strewn about, and it'll be interesting to see this administration unfolds, the first in a long time - ever?- with a child of the chief executive attending one of the City's public schools...certainly there's no precedent for for one in which a mayor's son had such readily available access to the public and who, in turn, could so readily scrutinize him through the same cyber lens.).  Anyway, his mother posted a photo of a shovel with the caption, "What Dante will be doing tomorrow if school is cancelled."  (Two tangential thoughts: I wonder what the Sanitation commissioner, a temporary hold-over from Bloomberg, must be feeling.  He's the fall guy if anything goes wrong in the storm response, but knows he only has a job because a new appointment hasn't been made.  And, still no word on the Parks commish.)

TJ is home right now...his new rotation is markedly less stressful than the last, in the ICU.  Seems there's little to do in surgery unless and actual surgery is happening.  He had an unprecedented string of days off over the holiday, happily coinciding with mine, and only has afternoon obligations today  -  which he may not even go to, depending on road conditions later on.  We were debating a visit to his grandmother's on the Shore this weekend, but realized we signed up for tickets to an "inaugural open house" at Gracie Mansion this Sunday.  He may go on without me and return in time for the event, or I might just go on my own.

Ran across this article over my morning coffee and it made me grateful that I thought to bring my book to read during what will surely be a slow day:  Hangsaman, by Shirley Jackson (recently released by Penguin Classics).  It's very good so far and I highly recommend it.  (Thanks to Erin P. for letting me onto her Amazon Prime account, and allowing me to cash in on all that free shipping.)  In addition to devoting more time to immersive reading, I'm also resolving this year to rekindle friendships (the honeymoon is over), and to stick with the digital sabbaths I've occasionally experimented with (the goal is no Internet from Friday night to Saturday night).  


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Monday, October 14th, 2013
12:06 am - Poem for when I stay up too late watching David Attenborough's Blue Planet

Fuzzy moon through the blinds
In a sky that mirrors the deep
It's the angler fish's lure.

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Monday, August 12th, 2013
9:30 am - Substitution

Staying off Twitter and Facebook to avoid Breaking Bad spoilers and using LiveJournal as my Internet outlet for the day. Btw, a very belated thank you to messyjessy for a very funny YouTube spoof!

In other news, I'm in the lobby of the Greater New York Red Cross waiting for CPR/First Aid trainer class to start.

Also, have been pondering economics lately, in anticipation of the upcoming mayoral election, and have been wondering about whether wealth is relative, and how best to address income disparity and the growing divide between the lower classes and super rich. Admittedly, not my area of expertise, but curious to know wether anti-trust laws (or some equivalent) have ever been applied at the individual's level....

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Thursday, August 8th, 2013
11:59 am - Reflections
It finally occurred to me why the radio streaming app I listen to on my walk to work would conk out on me every now and then.  First, I deduced a pattern of occurrences, and initially ascribed those occasions to the the L.I.E. overpass which, I surmised, temporarily interfered with my reception.  Upon closer examination of my phone I realized that I was actually picking up a weak wifi signal from something called Miller's Ale House, where I had eaten once, and whose network I had apparently used.  As it happens, the internet service they provide customers is no better their food, and my interruption was caused by the switch from 3G, and back again, while moving through the restaurant's vicinity.    

I have a lot of time to think on my walk, and this is what I think about.  

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Monday, June 24th, 2013
9:00 pm - Feeling grateful for my family

Especially the two newest members.

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Wednesday, April 24th, 2013
6:06 pm - 2 Poets, 1 Park

Gorgeous day for celebrating Garden Month and Poetry Month in New York. As part of the judging triad for Parks' "Garden of the Month" competition I get to explore horticultural wonders in all five boroughs, dressed in their seasonal best. Today marked the start of the 2013 season and the Bronx site happened to be Joyce Kilmer Park - his famous 'Trees' (I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree) was my Earth Day tweet - and appropriately enough, it featured a magnificent sculpture honoring Heinrich Heine, a German poet. The statue, whose details I hope can be discerned from the accompanying photos (note the hapless sailor's skull!), is a magnificent allusion to the 'Die Lorelei', or sirens, eponymous subject of his most famous work. An interesting aside: because he converted from Judaism, it took some doing, and significant financial support from the local German community, to finally get the statue placed in New York.

Also including a pic of some tulips from the surrounding flower bed because they're just too fabulous not to share!

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

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Tuesday, April 9th, 2013
10:42 am - The Last Days of a Bachelor
Walking on a street too new to ignore
unburdened by a coat,
the smell of front lawns infiltrate,
and words need juggling
like keys you no longer have
enough pockets for.

When wives tug trash cans back inside
because husbands are away,
or don't care,
the ordinary,
unfamiliar smell of houses
fills me like the strangeness of a friend's place
I was taken to play in,
made all the stranger
for how un-notable it was
to the friend.

Those were the last days of boyhood,
and these, of a bachelor.

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Thursday, April 4th, 2013
11:38 am - Poems and pics
Smashed Snapple all over the floor;
disgusting to look at, a danger to paws -
but it's never smelled so peachy before.


I want to visit Kane, PA
because a book I bought
came stamped by their library
last checked out in 1980

NYS Pavillion

time capsules

FMCP Zoo aviary

Terrace on the Park - FMCP


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Tuesday, March 19th, 2013
1:34 pm - Progress
Traffic is bad when you keep pace with an ambulance while walking to work.  Sirens blaring and everything.  Every time I thought it had gone past, I'd catch up and see it stuck behind another jumble of cars.  Sirens still blaring.  I had to pause my audio book until I turned the corner:  am listening to The Shoes of the Fisherman, by Morris West.  Published 50 years ago, the story might as well have been ripped from today's headlines.  A new pope is elected and faces daunting challenges in the church.  Like Francis, he comes from afar: Ukraine (though in the story they constantly refer to him as "the Russian," because under the Soviets, all of the republics were lumped into one).  And while the issues of the day may be different -- the rise of communism and nuclear threat instead of globalization and sexual scandal -- all eyes turn to the pontiff for reform (but not too much!).  It's a fascinating story, and I'm eager to watch the Anthony Quinn movie version when I'm done.  From what I can tell, it's only available on video cassette, which is fine because, although I lost the clicker many apartments ago, my VCR's tape-playing function is perfectly intact.    

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