Oberon's 2015 Thread - Part 3

Això és la continuació del tema Oberon's 2015 Thread - Part 2.

Converses75 Books Challenge for 2015

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Oberon's 2015 Thread - Part 3

Aquest tema està marcat com "inactiu"—L'últim missatge és de fa més de 90 dies. Podeu revifar-lo enviant una resposta.

Editat: set. 9, 2015, 4:25pm

Fall is coming! While the leaves haven't turned here (and hopefully won't for another month) you can feel the cooler air as summer slips away. The fall soccer season is under way with our first games coming up this weekend.

We are fully moved into our new house. We are far from fully unpacked however. Based on the way things have been going it will be months before we make a serious dent in the boxes. Meanwhile, we are trying to sell the old house. Fingers crossed that it happens sooner rather than later.

Not much in the way of travel on the books yet. If we spend too long paying two mortgages it might be awhile before I go anywhere!

Editat: set. 9, 2015, 4:29pm

A further entry in the category of African art hidden in my office. This is figure carved by the Songye people in what is today the southern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Like its predecessors, it will likely stay in my office (rather than my house) for the foreseeable future.

We need to expand the office soon. I am running out of space for art.

Editat: oct. 6, 2015, 11:04am

This thread's artwork is a View of Toledo by El Greco. El Greco is known principally for his religious paintings. This is one of the few non-religious paintings he painted. Interestingly, there is a hillside outside of Toledo where you can stand and get a similar view. El Greco took some liberties with the actual layout of Toledo for this composition but most of the city is recognizable in the painting.

Editat: des. 31, 2015, 12:58am

Books Read in 2015:


1. The Porcelain Thief by Huan Hsu
2. The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
3. Siegfried Volume 2, The Valkyrie by Alex Alice
4. Empires of the Indus by Alice Albinia
5. Revolutionary Summer by Joseph Ellis (audiobook)
6. Usagi Yojimbo Volume 28: Red Scorpion by Stan Sakai


7. This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki
8. Future Perfect by Steven Johnson (audiobook)
9. There Was a Country by Chinua Achebe
10. Marathon by Boaz Yakin
11. Abe Sapien Volume 5 by Mike Mignola


12. The Future of the Past by Alexander Stille
13. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
14. B.P.R.D. 1948 by Mike Mignola
15. Hellboy: Descent by Mike Mignola
16. A Terrible Glory by James Donovan (audiobook)
17. Vermeer by Norbert Schneider
18. Blankets by Craig Thompson
19. Dragon Hunter by Charles Gallenkamp


20. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
21. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
22. Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandera Fuller
23. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
24. The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kardath by Ian Culbard
25. DV8: Gods and Monsters by Brian Wood
26. Legends of Red Sonja by Gail Simone
27. BPRD Hell on Earth, Volume 10 by Mike Mignola
28. Before Watchmen: Comedian/Rorschach by Brian Azzarello
29. The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation by Jonathan Hennessey


30. Savage Harvest by Carl Hoffman (audiobook)
31. Fables 12: The Dark Ages by Bill Willingham
32. Fables 14: Witches by Bill Willingham
33. Fables 16: Super Team by Bill Willingham
34. Fables 19: Snow White by Bill Willingham
35. Fables 15: Rose Red by Bill Willingham
36. The Opposite of Spoiled by Ron Lieber


37. Fables 10: The Good Prince by Bill Willingham
38. Baltimore 5: The Apostle and the Witch of Harju by Mike Mignola
39. Nemo: River of Ghosts by Alan Moore
40. Showa 1926-1939: A History of Japan by Shigeru Mizuki
41. Showa 1938-1944: A History of Japan by Shigeru Mizuki
42. Showa 1944-1953: A History of Japan by Shigeru Mizuki
43. Lawrence in Arabia by Scott Anderson
44. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien


45. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro


46. Kissinger's Shadow by Greg Grandin
47. Abe Sapien Volume 6: A Darkness So Great by Mike Mignola
48. Elric, Volume 2, Stormbringer by Julien Blondel
49. B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth 9, Reign of the Black Flame by Mike Mignola
50. The Fall of the House of Usher (Edgar Allan Poe Graphic Novels) by Matthew Manning
51. The Annotated Sandman, Volume Three by Neil Gaiman
52. Rashomon Gate by I.J. Parker


53. The Hell Screen by I.J. Parker
54. Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf R.A. Salvatore
55. Digging for Richard III: The Search for the Lost King by Mike Pitts
56. Blackstaff by Steven Schend
57. Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus
58. City of Djinns by William Dalrymple


59. Usagi Yojimbo: Two Hundred Jizo by Stan Sakai
60. Usagi Yojimbo: Senso by Stan Sakai
61. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
62. Hellboy and the B.P.R.D: 1952 by Mike Mignola
63. The Martian by Andy Weir (audiobook)
64. Quest for Kim by Peter Hopkirk


65. Archmage by R.A. Salvatore
66. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (audiobook)
67. Lives in Ruins by Marilyn Johnson
68. Fables: Camelot by Bill Willingham
69. The River of Doubt by Candice Millard
70. Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman
71. Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco
72. The Birth of Art in Africa by Bernard de Grunne


73. Borlaug; Volume 1 by Noel Vietmeyer
74. The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker
75. Palestine by Joe Sacco
76. Long Walk to Valhalla by Adam Smith
77. Showa 1953-1989: A History of Japan by Shigeru Mizuki

Editat: set. 11, 2015, 12:51am

Last month we purchased our new house. It sits on a modestly sized suburban lake. Being a proper Minnesotan means that I need a boat so that I can go out and fish on my lake. Because I like old things, my first choice is not to go buy a modern boat but rather to try and restore this:

We found this out back of my parent's lake home, rotting in the woods. It was made by the Alexandria Boat Works. Per the internet, Alexandria Boat Works was Minnesota's first boat manufacturer starting around 1885. They stopped building wooden boats in 1954. I am looking into how much it will cost to make this lake worthy again.

set. 9, 2015, 4:42pm

First day of school.

set. 9, 2015, 6:53pm

Happy New Thread, Erik! Love the fall color and the El Greco!

Good luck with the boat! What a cool find!

Great photo of the kids!

set. 9, 2015, 7:20pm

Autumnal beginning to your new thread, Erik. Kids look happy too - even though they are catching the bus rather than travelling by boat!

set. 9, 2015, 8:16pm

Good start on the new thread. Big thumbs up on the new house. Be glad it's all built. We moved into our current house (25 years ago) before it was all done. Washed dishes in the bathtub for the first week or two because the kitchen wasn't done. I did a lot of the work on it--wiring, siding, painting, interior trim. We lived without the trim in our bedroom for so long, that when I trimmed it out while my wife was away for a week, she didn't "see" it. We went through several rounds of "Did you notice what I did while you were away?"

Love the boat! It would be great if you can restore it.

set. 10, 2015, 12:18am

>7 msf59: Thanks Mark. We will see on the boat. I found someone near Alexandria that does restoration of this sort of thing. Hoping to get a cost estimate soon.

set. 10, 2015, 12:20am

>8 PaulCranswick: Nice to see you Paul. Truth be told, school has been a pretty positive experience for them so they don't complain much.

set. 10, 2015, 12:25am

>Thanks Bill. We toyed with building but couldn't find much in the way of lots. Certainly nothing on a lake anywhere near the city. I wouldn't have done any work on it even if we had built, I am not very handy. I admire your ability to do so much of the work.

set. 10, 2015, 8:51am

Cool boat. I hope you can make the restoration work. If so, send pics!

set. 10, 2015, 10:45am

>5 Oberon: Antique. I hope the lake is calm and shallow.

set. 10, 2015, 12:51pm

Happy New Thread, Erik. I love your photos. What a great idea of restoring zhe boat. It will keep you busy during the winter. It looks like the kids are happy with there first school day.

set. 10, 2015, 3:15pm

>14 qebo: It is 114 acres in size. Maximum depth is only 19 feet. Lots of it are only 5 feet deep. Considering that I am a fair-weather fisherman I don't think I will take too many risks and get it swamped.

set. 10, 2015, 3:16pm

>15 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara. I assume at some point I will have to force the kids off to school but so far so good. We were worried that going to a new school would be a problem but they seem to be making friends.

set. 10, 2015, 3:20pm

Good to hear that they are making new friends, Erik.

set. 10, 2015, 5:11pm

Happy new thread Erik. Like the boat renovation idea. Will look forward to the updates.

set. 14, 2015, 2:05pm

>18 Ameise1: & >19 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks Barbara and Caroline

Editat: set. 14, 2015, 2:14pm

My reading continues to suffer at the expense of my social life. This weekend we had two soccer games, a family birthday party for our now three-year old (dinosaur themed!), a neighborhood picnic, and a trip to the art museum. The boys and I then rested up last night while the girls went to enjoy a Taylor Swift concert. All the turmoil has kept me from finishing off my book on Richard the III. Hopefully tonight.

set. 14, 2015, 2:14pm

Very in to dinosaurs right now. His favorite present was a spinosaurus. On the plus side, he requested that we watch Nova together because they had a feature on the spinosaurus.

set. 14, 2015, 2:16pm

On the art front I picked up this lovely little bowl.

Probably going to gift it to a family member. That said, I might end up keeping it when it shows up.

set. 14, 2015, 2:19pm

Happy Birthday to your little one. What a big smile with his dino cake.

What a beautiful bowl. I would keep it for myself, too.

set. 14, 2015, 3:38pm

>22 Oberon: spinosaurus
I had to look this one up. The things 3 year olds know these days. Quite the social life you have.

set. 15, 2015, 12:22pm

>24 Ameise1: Thanks for the birthday wishes for Alex, Barbara. You are not helping about the bowl though! I need Christmas presents and I am trying to be ahead of the game.

set. 15, 2015, 12:23pm

>25 qebo: I think there is something about the names that appeals to little boys. Plus he comes by it naturally. I was a pretty big dinosaur nerd when I was kid (and never completely grew out of it).

set. 16, 2015, 9:11am

Hi! I'm here to lurk for book recommendations while i work at getting my LT thread-watching groove feet under me.

set. 16, 2015, 2:22pm

An actual book review!

Digging for Richard III: The Search for the Lost King by Mark Pitts

Earlier this year I went to a lecture by the chief archaeologist who excavated Richard III. My father picked this book up following the lecture.

Digging for Richard III is an account of the effort to find the resting place of Richard III, last of the Plantagenet kings, who died in battle at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. His death marked the end of the War of the Roses and the end of the medieval period in England.

The book does a good job of describing the mix of "true believing" amateurs and skeptical professionals that came together to excavate the Greyfriars church site and find Richard III. The book also does a fine job of explaining why the finding of Richard III was so unlikely. Finally, the book gives a short but solid explanation of the War of the Roses that lead to Richard III's ascension to the throne and his death in battle.

This is a relatively short book. My one and only complaint is that the book came out before Richard III was buried in Leicester Cathedral and thus lacks the final coda of the story. Recommended.

set. 16, 2015, 2:24pm

>28 Kassilem: Be welcome in your lurking! It is my favorite pass time on LT.

set. 17, 2015, 9:25am

Looks like a nice write-up of recent events. I wonder if I can find it at my library.

set. 19, 2015, 8:24am

Happy weekend, Erik. Sorry, for not being helpful about the bowl. I'm always looking early for x-presents, too.

set. 19, 2015, 11:59pm

Gorgeous picture Barbara. I love Japanese gardens.

set. 21, 2015, 10:57am

An all soccer weekend here. The kids had five soccer games (they went 4-1) and we went to a sixth game with friends to see the Minnesota United FC - our professional soccer team that will be joining the MLS in 2017 or so. The photos are from the Minnesota United game (the mascot is a loon in case you were wondering). The kids played really well, especially Andrew. He moved up to the top team for his age group (coached by me) and he has really taken his game up a level. He scored 8 goals over the last three games and had two assists. In two of the games he had hat tricks. In Sunday's game he played goalie for the first half. At half time it was 0-0. He came out of goal to score a hat trick and win the game for his team. Really impressive performance.

set. 21, 2015, 1:45pm

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus

Technically I bought this for Sophia but I read it after she finished it. This book (a Newbery winner) is the story of Manjiro, a young Japanese fisherman (really a boy) who is stranded at sea with several other fisherman. He is rescued by a New England whaling ship. He spends the next several years learning to be a whaler. He returns with the captain to New England where he is one of the first Japanese to visit America. From there, he participates in the California gold rush and earns enough money to finally return to Japan. When he finally gets home he is arrested because Japan is still fearful of outside influences and is officially closed off. However, the arrival of Commodore Perry creates a sudden need for Japanese who can speak English and are familiar with Western cultures.

It is a very interesting true story of a first meeting between two very different cultures. It is also a pretty good adventure story for younger readers. The author does a nice job at the end of the book explaining which parts of the story are fictionalized and which are true.

I can see why it won a Newberry award as it was a very good book for younger readers.

Editat: set. 21, 2015, 11:16pm

>35 Oberon: Heart of a Samurai sounds really interesting even though it's a book geared to a younger audience. I'm now reading Storm Rider by Akiro Yoshimura. This historical novel deals with the exact same time period...and I'm now at the part waiting for Commodore Perry to arrive at the scene! There seem to be many parallels between the book you just read and the one I'm reading. Weird! :)

I am reading my novel with iPhone in hand so I can look up nautical phrases and geographical locations. I'm learning a lot from this novel!

Have you read any novels by Yoshimura, Erik? If not, give them a try. His writing is just beautiful.

set. 21, 2015, 11:15pm

>34 Oberon: the mascot is a loon in case you were wondering
I was. :-)

set. 22, 2015, 11:34am

>36 SqueakyChu: I looked at the reviews of Storm Rider and it seems incredibly similar to Heart of a Samurai. I have not read Yoshimura before. I will have to keep an eye out for some of his work.

set. 22, 2015, 11:38am

>37 qebo: It is the crazy red eyes that show it is a loon! One of my favorite things that they do during the games is play a loon call. I am not sure if you have heard a loon but they sound really weird. A very distinctive call.

set. 22, 2015, 1:35pm

Hey, hey. What is all this talking about things being "weird"?

set. 22, 2015, 4:14pm

>40 weird_O: Ha! Weird in a good way! It is a strange sounding bird but very unique.

Editat: set. 25, 2015, 12:58am

Per a previous suggestion from Caroline, I thought I would put up a few pieces from my library shelves. I group my books by my own idiosyncratic subject groupings. I do the same with the various objets d'art that I display. These are some of the items that are grouped on the shelves with the books tagged "Japan."

The first item is a minature torii gate that I got at the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto. The shrine is famous for its tunnel of torii gates leading up to the main temple. However, beyond the corridor is a fairly long path that goes up the low mountains. All along the way are large torii gates. Miniature torii gates can be purchased and left on the mountain with prayers. I bought a couple of miniature torii gates as I hiked up and down the mountain. At the place I got this particular one the gentlemen wrote the prayer on it and did a small ceremony involving striking a spark over the gourd tied at the center.

This is the translation for the torii gate. It is a prayer for family safety with the names of my children (Alex wasn't born yet). Of course, I cannot read Japanese at all so it could say practically anything. Whether it truly is a family prayer or not, Fushimi Inari was a magical place and this torii gate reminds me of it.

This is a gorgeous tea cup that I bought in Tokyo. It came from a little twisty street that had escaped the big 1923 earthquake and the bombing of the Second World War. It was a great street near a famous store selling chiyogami called Isetsu. http://en.japantravel.com/view/isetatsu-paper-store-in-yanaka I now wish that I had bought three more cups to have made a set but I still love this tea cup.

This was a present. It is a miniature sake barrel. With sake in it! I liked it because the temples typically have these huge ceremonial sake barrels on display as you come to the temples. This is a miniature version of those ceremonial barrels. Plus, it has a little good luck cat on the side waving.

Finally are some actual books. I don't usually do photography books but these two do a remarkable job of capturing the beauty of Kyoto. They make me want to take a year off and live there for the seasons.

set. 24, 2015, 7:23pm

>42 Oberon: Those Japanese objects are lovely, Erik! I'm looking forward to hearing from my older son about Japan after he travels to Tokyo and Kyoto this winter. I've never been there, but I can vicariously travel there in books these days. :)

set. 24, 2015, 9:44pm

That sounds like a fantastic trip. Ask him to bring you back something beautiful.

set. 24, 2015, 10:54pm

I have the feeling I could spend a long time with your bookshelves - I love your subject groupings combined with display of beautiful objects!

Editat: set. 25, 2015, 12:03am

>44 Oberon: I'm not of the age to be collecting things (even beautiful things) any more, but I did ask him to bring me back an anthology of Japanese fiction which he already told me was not available. He hasn't even been there yet! My younger son and daughter-in-law brought me back an anthology of Hebrew fiction from when they were in Israel for their honeymoon. That's one of the few books I won't part with.

set. 25, 2015, 12:20am

>45 evilmoose: You are too busy having real life adventures Megan! Perhaps if you put larger bags on your bicycle you can collect while you explore.

set. 25, 2015, 12:23am

>46 SqueakyChu: One is never at an age to cease collecting beautiful things! An anthology of Japanese fiction qualifies. I am sure you can persuade your son to see the value.

set. 25, 2015, 10:32am

>48 Oberon: I can collect beautiful things, but I need some place to put them or display them! I'm still trying to get two of my grown kids to take their belongings out of my small house! Of course, there's always a place for one extra book. :)

set. 25, 2015, 10:47am

>49 SqueakyChu: This is why so much of my art collection is tucked away at the office. I can't afford to retire because I need the space!

Editat: set. 25, 2015, 1:45pm

>50 Oberon: Haha! When I was working, I used to use my office for storage space, too. When I lost my job and was forced into retirement, I discarded tons of stuff!!

set. 26, 2015, 10:31am

Love your collections and the way you weave the pieces in among the books. Our bookshelves are too jammed with books to make room for anything else. :-).

By the bye, you asked, on my thread, if my granddaughter Gracie had read any Rick Riordan beyond the book shown. Went out to dinner last evening, and I remembered to ask her. She jumped up, big smile, and said "Eight". Her 14-year-old twin sisters have each read 12. I guess they like Riordan as much as your kids do.

set. 26, 2015, 1:05pm

>51 SqueakyChu: Booo!

>52 weird_O: I don't feel like I have tons of bookshelf space but the move to the new house was an improvement. I have a thing against stacking my books two deep so there is usually space in front of the books for display.

Sounds like they are very familiar with Riordan. I know there are some Riotdan haters here (*cough* Amber *cough*) but I don't mind his books. He is certainly prolific.

set. 26, 2015, 5:07pm

Lovely Japanese shelf journey Erik. It is a place I'd love to visit. Wonderful momentos.

set. 27, 2015, 6:48am

Wonderful photos. Happy Sunday, Erik.

set. 27, 2015, 10:58pm

>55 Ameise1: Thank you Barbara.

set. 27, 2015, 11:00pm

Had our super moon eclipse viewing party. Had some of the neighbors over and got a bonfire going by the lake. I set up my old telescope so everyone could look at the moon. S'mores for the kids and a nice reisling for the adults. It was a lot of fun. One of those nights that really made me appreciate getting the new house.

set. 27, 2015, 11:02pm

>54 Caroline_McElwee: I highly recommend a visit if you can ever manage it Caroline. I haven't seen any of the rest of Asia but Japan struck me as very unique.

set. 27, 2015, 11:14pm

*waves cast--one more week!*

>57 Oberon: photo on my thread!

Editat: oct. 1, 2015, 5:04pm

City of Djinns by William Dalrymple

City of Djinns is an excellent book. The book covers the history of Delhi, India as well as Dalrymple's own experiences in the city. Dalrymple sets out to find remnants of the city's history and uses his own search to illustrate the long and tumultuous history of the city. For the most part, Dalrymple works backwards from the history of Partition through the colonial era and then further back into the Mughal dynasty. He covers the physical remnants of the time period but also spends equal time looking at the cultural relics that have survived.

Dalrymple is a superb writer. His language does a lot to illustrate his subject. I don't normally quote from books but I was repeatedly struck by Dalrymple's language. Here is one small sentence that struck me:

From all directions people were still pouring out of the maze of the Old City and heading towards one of the three gates of the Jama Masjid - three seething crocodiles of humanity heading towards the same walled courtyard.

My only complaint is that the book is dated now having been published in 1994. Had I read it when it was published I would have made it a priority to have seen Delhi myself by now. Based upon the strength of this book I will certainly be picking up other books by Dalrymple. In the meantime, he has inspired to delve back into my collection of books on India and I am currently working on Kim which I have started more than once and never finished.

oct. 1, 2015, 6:42pm

Good review of City of Djinns. Sounds like a worthy and educational read.

I love your Japanese photos. Your mementos are beautiful.

oct. 1, 2015, 11:22pm

>61 msf59: Thanks Mark and thanks for stopping by.

oct. 2, 2015, 3:56pm

Now for something slightly less serious:

My Halloween costume came in the mail! It is an inflatable Godzilla costume. The top picture is me wrecking havoc in the law office.

I haven't had a real Halloween costume in 30+ years. I am super excited about this one. Even better, I got the same thing for Andrew so hopefully his shows up in a few days.

oct. 2, 2015, 10:24pm

Hah, that's an excellent costume! I hope you have a cardboard skyscraper to attack.

oct. 3, 2015, 2:39pm

Super-awesome costume!

oct. 3, 2015, 7:04pm

Great Halloween costume, Erik!

oct. 3, 2015, 9:32pm

Just don't step on any churches.

Editat: oct. 3, 2015, 10:07pm

Hi Erik. What a wonderful costume. Last Halloween my daughter found a Monsters, Inc. outfit for my partner Will, and a spider costume for our Sheltie Lilly. They had a great, good time trick or treating with neighborhood friends.

Good luck with restoring the lovely boat. How happy you will be when you see the finished project!

oct. 5, 2015, 11:13am

>64 evilmoose: Megan - I completely agree on the need for a skyscraper. My wife is short a costume and I proposed the idea but she thought it would be boring. Sadly, I cannot find a Mothra costume for her (not that she would wear it)

>65 banjo123: Thanks Rhonda

>66 kidzdoc: Thank you Darryl.

>67 weird_O: Bill, shouldn't I be wearing a Stay Puff Marshmallow costume for that concern?

>68 Whisper1: Thanks Linda. I particularly like Lilly's costume. I would love to dress up my dog but he refuses to have anything to do with costumes and immediately tears off what we put on him and try to chew it. On the boat front, I am having a devil a time finding anyone to do the work but I am still hopeful.

oct. 5, 2015, 11:18am

Another all soccer weekend with five games. It made for a hectic time as 4 of the games were 45 minutes away. By the time we finally made it home on Sunday everyone ate and went to bed. I made it through about five pages of Kim and was done for the night. Still, I have to admit I love it. The kids worked really hard and are really growing as a team.

oct. 5, 2015, 12:07pm

It has been a frustrating two months as we continue to try and sell our old house while getting settled in the new one. Bumps aside, we get regular reminders that the move was the right choice for us.

Andrew caught this very nice bass off our little point on Saturday. I had been told there were bass in the lake but I haven't caught any. All we had gotten so far was some small sunfish which was what we were fishing for when Andrew landed this guy.

Editat: oct. 5, 2015, 4:09pm

>69 Oberon: I believe the line is: "Nobody steps on a church in my town." So that would include Godzilla. Am I right?

ETA: Bassmaster!

oct. 5, 2015, 10:27pm

Ooh, nice size bass and good eating, too!

oct. 5, 2015, 11:16pm

>72 weird_O: I would agree. Sadly, the only Godzilla movie set in New York is a blight on the franchise.

oct. 5, 2015, 11:18pm

>73 ronincats: Very good eating. This one went back to produce more. I wasn't too interested in filleting it up, especially with no other to make a meal with.

oct. 5, 2015, 11:21pm

True, it's much more worth while with a big batch of bass and crappie. I love lure fishing for both--want to retire to a lakefront property in the Midwest myself!

Editat: oct. 6, 2015, 8:03am

Well done, Andrew!

Nice photo of your soccer team, Erik.

ETA: Have you been to Camp Nou? FC Barcelona is playing a La Liga match there the Saturday after next, against Rayo Vallecano, and I'm debating whether it's worthwhile to spend 75€ or more to see them play, especially since Lionel Messi is currently sidelined with a knee injury.

oct. 6, 2015, 10:59am

>77 kidzdoc: I have not been to Camp Nou. Sadly, I have not been back to Spain for years now and my passion for soccer developed with my children playing the game. When the kids are a few years older it is on my planned itinerary.

My personal opinion is that you should absolutely pay the money and go. It is the equivalent of seeing a baseball game at Wrigley Field or Fenway. Messi's injury is a shame but it is not like there is nothing to watch for FC Barcelona. Neymar and Suarez are phenomenal strikers with or without Messi. Plus, there is Iniesta, who is the best midfielder of his generation IMO. I would get a jersey, a scarf and go for the atmosphere alone. And then come back to LT and post lots of pictures of it to make us jealous.

oct. 6, 2015, 11:01am

>76 ronincats: That pretty much sounds like my retirement plan too. Maybe with a cottage somewhere tropical to escape the winters (Costa Rica is a leading candidate).

Editat: oct. 6, 2015, 11:37am

>78 Oberon: You talked me into it. I just bought a ticket for Saturday the 17th. After reading several links I decided to pay a bit more and get a really good seat, on the first row of the second level in the Lateral Section near midfield. It cost 129€, but the view from there should be as good as any place else. I'll take plenty of photos before and during the match, and I'll definitely get a scarf and possibly a jersey (I already have a FCB cap).

In this photo I'll be in the blue level in the section with the "L" in "CLUB", in the first seat in the lower right hand corner.

oct. 6, 2015, 12:01pm

>80 kidzdoc: That looks like a great seat. I think the atmosphere will be fantastic. I am jealous already.

oct. 7, 2015, 3:36am

What a costume. We don't have them here so I'm impressed that even adults wear them at your country.

Well done, Andrew. I hope the fish dinner was a good one.

Love the soccer photo. What a great bunch.

oct. 7, 2015, 7:26am

Love the bass! Good job, Andrew! I have not fished in about 2 years. I really miss it. Next summer, for sure.

Oh yeah: Go Cubs!!!

oct. 7, 2015, 10:39am

>82 Ameise1: I wouldn't say that you regularly see adults wearing Halloween costumes. I have made it just fine for 30+ years without one. That said, I have had to cobble together costumes for Halloween parties and have always been disappointed by the results. Not this year!

oct. 7, 2015, 10:39am

>83 msf59: Fishing is good for the soul IMO. Almost as good for you as reading.

Fingers are crossed for your Cubs.

oct. 8, 2015, 10:07pm

>63 Oberon: - OMG! I love your costume! That is fantastic!

Awesome on both the soccer and bass fishing fronts. I love to look at fish and eat cooked fish but I tend to squirm if I have to touch one. I wouldn't make a very good fisherman, so kudos to your son!

oct. 10, 2015, 7:57am

Happy weekend, Erik.

oct. 10, 2015, 11:46pm

>86 lkernagh: Andrew is not much of a fan of removing fish either. I figure he has plenty of time to learn.

oct. 10, 2015, 11:46pm

>87 Ameise1: Thank you Barbara.

oct. 13, 2015, 6:29pm

A further entry in the items on my bookshelves that are not books. For this entry, my collection of toy soldiers.

As I have said before, I am a foreign service officer at heart who happens to practice law rather than diplomacy. My father is a military historian who happens to be a district court judge. As a result, most of my childhood vacations involved trips to battlefields. So it probably isn't a big surprise that I collected a lot of toy soldiers over time. Most of the ones in the photos are toy soldiers I have had for decades.

My library has a small collection of books that I have tagged "Military History". It is a bit misleading compared to my actual reading. I have read a lot of military history over the years but I simply borrow the books from my dad. In addition to straight up history, I also read a lot of fiction with strong military overlays. In one of the pictures below you can see my collection of the Sharpe's Rifles books and another shows part of the Aubrey/Maturin series. The toy soldiers are a tangible link to my father and his reading life.

The outer two are American Civil War. The one on the right is a Zouave. Named for French light infantry, American regiments took up the colorful Zouave uniform. I am embarrassed to admit that I am not sure what the middle soldier is. He looks like some sort of grenadier but enough time has gone by that I don't remember the origin.

There are two Black Watch soldiers (from different eras of course). They were both presents from my father when he took a trip to Scotland a couple of years ago.

I believe that this is Black Watch bagpiper. I bought this in the early 90's on a family trip to London, probably at the Imperial War Museum.

The last soldier is a U.S. Marine. He is one of a few toy soldiers that my father played with as a child and eventually gave to me.

Editat: oct. 19, 2015, 11:51am

Kim by Rudyard Kipling

I wonder if the reality of this book has been overwhelmed by the arguments for and against Kipling himself. The anti-Kipling crowd would portray Kim as unrepentantly racist and imperialist. Pro-Kipling proclaims Kim to be Kipling's masterpiece and the justification for his Nobel Prize in Literature.

For me, Kim was a decent book but certainly not a masterpiece. Kipling's descriptions of the sights and peoples encountered by Kim were well done. It certainly was not the case that the common people of India were depicted as subhuman while the colonial British were depicted as superior beings. To the contrary, I thought the most noble character in the book was the Tibetan Lama who befriends Kim and sees to his education. Several of the British are portrayed as clueless about the reality of India and ignorant of its customs and language. Certainly I could point to certain passages as being racist or imperialist but they struck me as more descriptive than anything else. I did not get the sense that Kipling was trying to justify British colonialism with this book.

Another reviewer made the comment that the scenery overwhelmed the story and I would agree with that. A lot of the story is driven by Kim's participation in the The Great Game, the quasi-cold war among the European powers for colonial domination. In this case, particularly the struggle between England and Russia for India (pre-partition India as the book starts in Lahore). While there is much talk of Kim playing "the game." His actual involvement is less careful spying and investigation and more happenstance and blunder. His big coup consists of him leaping to the defense of the Lama and coming out of the fight with important papers.

Kim is full of colorful characters and is a good read for those characters. I just felt that the plot did not do much with those characters and that this lack of a gripping story kept Kim from being great in my eyes.

oct. 19, 2015, 12:44pm

Fall has fully arrived in Minnesota. We spent the weekend socializing which meant making a lot of autumn sangria for the adults and s'mores for the kids and having bonfires down by the lake. Our neighbor took this photo from his boat this weekend.

oct. 19, 2015, 5:28pm

Wow, what a gorgeous photo.
I remember that I liked Kim. I read it years ago.

oct. 19, 2015, 9:13pm

>93 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara. Our falls are pretty photogenic (an apology for our winters).

oct. 20, 2015, 11:16am

The aforementioned Autumn Sangria recipe: (Originally from Minnesota Monthly with annotations by me)

Serves 20 ***I don't think this is accurate as to the amount. I typically make a 1/2 recipe which I would say is adequate for 6 adults. Maybe I just have drunks for friends***

1 cup Brandy
1/4 cup Benedictine (or B&B)
1/4 cup Grand Marnier (sweet/syrupy)* ***I do not use the Grand Marnier, only the Brandy and Benedictine. The sangria is plenty sweet without it****
6 bottles Cava (any dry white wine will do; recommended Chenin Blanc or Viognier, but don't break the bank because the other flavors in this sangria will come through as well ***I used Trader Joe's Viognier. It was not too sweet and had the advantage of being something like $5.99 or $6.99 a bottle - don't want to be making sangria with $15/bottles of wine***

5 medium Honeycrisp apples, cut into large circular slices (coring optional) ***I simply slice them thinly going around the core. I have not tried different apples as Honeycrisp are easy to get here.***
2 large lemons, thinly sliced
2 tsp whole cloves
3-4 Tbsp wildflower honey ***I have not been able to tell a difference between wildflower and standard honey***
a few sprigs of rosemary

Mix brandy, B&B, and Grand Marnier with the honey in something with a lid (perhaps a large mason jar) and shake it up to help dissolve the honey. ***Dissolving the honey can be hard. You need a small enough container so you can stir/shake the mixture. A standard cocktail shaker will work. ***Pour mixture into what you plan to serve the sangria from and add half of the lemon slices and half the cloves. Let this stand for at least a couple of hours.

When ready to serve, add sliced apples, remaining lemon slices and cloves, all the cava (or other wine), and a few rosemary sprigs.
***The recipe doesn't expressly call for it but the sangria is much better chilled.***

oct. 20, 2015, 11:38am

>92 Oberon: Lovely autumnal shot, Erik. How I miss four seasons!

In order to compensate I think I will study >95 Oberon: a little closer.

oct. 20, 2015, 2:22pm

>96 PaulCranswick: Not a bad consolation prize Paul.

oct. 21, 2015, 11:07am

Interesting start to the morning. I had breakfast with Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. Ok, me and 20 other people but still a small gathering. I disagree with him on most major issues but it was interesting to hear him talk. I took a bit of glee in the fact that he was so downcast about the last Supreme Court term. Actually agreed with a lot of his points about the failings of law school.

oct. 21, 2015, 12:24pm

>98 Oberon: When I have been in the company of very senior lawyers and members of the Judiciary here I have often been wholly underwhelmed and nowhere near as daunted as I anticipated - with one exception. There is a lady Judge of the High Court of Malaya who presides over the Construction Court (a certain Mary Lim) whose intellect and rapier sharp wit always have me nervous before her. I was at lunch with her recently during a seminar we were both giving talks to and I distinctly remembering tripping over my tongue like a frightened school-boy several times and I was only seeking a use of the salt and pepper cruets!

oct. 21, 2015, 1:03pm

>99 PaulCranswick: I didn't manage to spill my coffee or anything too embarrassing. I get to interact with Minnesota's top judges and lawyers pretty often so I have mainly lost my sense of awe. I will say that most of them have a genuine humility and likability to them that makes them less daunting. I think it helps to meet them in social settings - you become less convinced that their goal is to make you fail when you are arguing before them in an adversarial setting.

oct. 22, 2015, 8:28am

I've had a similar experience meeting scientists and NASA folks. Most are genuine people who want to accomplish something significant in expanding our knowledge. A few are real asses, but those are few and far between. :)

oct. 22, 2015, 11:00am

>101 drneutron: I finished The Martian on audiobook last night so at the moment I am pretty prepared to believe that NASA is chock-full of funny geniuses.

oct. 23, 2015, 12:26pm

It is a cold and rainy day here so I am daydreaming about Africa again. So I am posting another round of photos from my library shelves. This is my beaded animal collection from South Africa. Kind of fell in love with these while visiting. I especially liked the tie in with the traditional beadwork of the Xhosa people.

Probably the only one that needs a bit of explanation. This is a baobab tree. Picked this one up in Zimbabwe. The rest all came from South Africa.

oct. 23, 2015, 1:27pm

Love these (especially the giraffe).

oct. 23, 2015, 2:07pm

Wow!! I hope I can find something like that in western Africa. :) Great find.

oct. 23, 2015, 4:39pm

>104 charl08: I am a big fan of the giraffe too. My sister bought a warthog before I could claim it but I think the giraffe is especially neat.

oct. 23, 2015, 4:44pm

>105 Kassilem: I am sure there are plenty of neat things to be had in Ghana. I believe they have a terracotta tradition like a lot of the West African countries. It might not be beadwork but I am sure there will be some cool things if you keep your eyes open.

Editat: oct. 23, 2015, 11:30pm

>103 Oberon: - all of the pictures are amazing but I find myself gravitating towards the first one - the baobeb tree. I do like that one! Kind of makes me think of a 'tree of life' and that gets me thinking about things philosophically.

oct. 24, 2015, 12:06pm

>107 Oberon: Just make sure it is not ebola! I was there in March and, to be fair, Ghana hasn't had any cases. I may be back there soon. Who knows if timings are right it could result in the first ever LT meet-up on african soil!

Have a great weekend Erik.

oct. 25, 2015, 10:20am

>108 lkernagh: For some reason I thought there would be baobab trees all over the place but we ended up seeing only a handful. However, the ones we saw were humongous and really impressive/

oct. 25, 2015, 10:21am

>109 PaulCranswick: An african LT meetup sounds photo worthy.

oct. 25, 2015, 10:23am

Happy Sunday, Erik. Just checking in. I like your African collection. Impressive. Hope all is well with you and your current reads are treating you just fine.

oct. 26, 2015, 10:51am

>112 msf59: Thanks for stopping by Mark.

oct. 26, 2015, 10:56am

Halloween is becoming a month long event this year. The kids were excited to wear their costumes this weekend for a "spooky" trail walk in which they got to dress up and get even more candy. Looking forward to actual Halloween on Saturday. We are going to carve our pumpkins tonight.

oct. 26, 2015, 12:30pm

>114 Oberon: Nice family photo, Erik.

oct. 26, 2015, 12:34pm

Ditto, Erik. Love the reptilian man-burkas.

oct. 26, 2015, 2:11pm

I'm enjoying all your collectibles mixed in with the books - soldiers and beaded animals both.

I love the idea of a spooky trail walk. It sounds like fun.

Great family resemblance between you and your son and even the little one (perhaps they're blue when they are younger?) Your daughter must take after your wife's side of the family.

oct. 26, 2015, 3:31pm

>115 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara.

>116 jnwelch: reptilian man-burkas lol! The visibility in the costume is about as good as I would imagine a burka to be.

>117 streamsong: We had not done the trail walk before but the kids really enjoyed it so we will probably be back next year.

The littlest would have gotten a Godzilla costume too if they had come in his size. He had to settle for a different dinosaur costume. My wife and daughter were very annoyed that their costumes were overshadowed by the Godzillas.

Editat: oct. 27, 2015, 12:10pm

The aforementioned pumpkins: Triceratops for Alex, some sort of vampire for Sophia (nearly 11 year olds have to draw their own pumpkins), and Godzilla for Andrew.

oct. 30, 2015, 11:19am

Quest for Kim: In Search of Kipling's Great Game by Peter Hopkirk

I read this in followup to my recent reading of Kim. It is clear that Hopkirk took far more away from Kim than I did. This is not a book that is worth reading on its own but as a companion to Kim I found it interesting to understand just how much of Kim was based on Kipling's own time in India.

My only real complaint about the book is that Hopkirk frequently references other books he has written on the subject. Sentences like "As I more fully described in Trespassers on the Roof of the World . . . " were a little too common for my taste. I understand and appreciate that his youthful reading of Kim inspired Hopkirk's fascination with the Great Game and led to him being one of the primary writers about this time period but it felt like the book could have had a hyperlink to Amazon where one could buy the entire Hopkirk library on the Great Game and the regions it took place in. It distracted from the narrative.

Bottom line, worthwhile if you are interested enough in the historical connections between Kim and the actual Great Game otherwise not worth the investment of time.

oct. 30, 2015, 11:48am

Happy Friday, Erik! Love the Halloween family photo. Looks like you guys have a lot of fun.

Enjoy the weekend!

oct. 31, 2015, 1:36pm

>90 Oberon: >103 Oberon: I'm loving adventures in shelf land.

>114 Oberon: I'm scared, I'm very scared.

oct. 31, 2015, 4:07pm

>92 Oberon: what a lovely image of fall. I very much like visiting here. I love the complementary objects in front of the books of that specific genre. The bowls you collect are incredibly beautiful! !

nov. 2, 2015, 4:16pm

>121 msf59: Thanks Mark. It was a really good Halloween for us - weather was perfect.

>122 Caroline_McElwee: Glad you are enjoying the shelves Caroline.

>123 Whisper1: Lovely to see you stopping by Linda. I have been on a bit of a pottery kick ever since I came back from Japan. Embarrassingly, I had not previously appreciated the art form much before that.

nov. 2, 2015, 4:17pm

One final Halloween picture - father and son.

nov. 2, 2015, 4:18pm

You two look so much alike - easy to tell he's your son.

nov. 2, 2015, 11:18pm

nov. 3, 2015, 11:30am

>126 jnwelch: Ha! Truth be told, a couple of years ago we were visiting my parents and my wife found a photo of me as a young boy. She sent a copy of it to her sisters and parents. They all thought the photo was of Andrew.

nov. 4, 2015, 12:55pm

It should be obvious by now that I like collecting knick knacks and that my library shelves hold almost as many small items as they do books. This week's theme is a combined architecture/travel theme.

The Eiffel tower grouped with several books on France.

A gargoyle from Notre Dame. A copy of The Hunchback of Notre Dame is near by.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa. I placed this with my collection of books on architecture rather than my Italian collection.

An Egyptian obelisk. As far as I can tell this is not based on any particular obelisk. Humorously, this was gifted to me by my sister-in-law as a joke about my nerdiness and lack of social graces when I was dating my future wife and commandeered the family television to watch a NOVA program on how ancient obelisks were carved, transported and raised.

The Lego Architecture series United Nations Building in New York. I grouped this with a mug from my internship at the U.S. Department of State and a Problem from Hell, an excellent book by the current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power.

nov. 4, 2015, 4:38pm

>129 Oberon: I saw that Nova episode too!

nov. 4, 2015, 5:28pm

>130 drneutron: I thought it was fascinating and far more socially acceptable than turning on a random football game or something similar.

nov. 4, 2015, 9:23pm

I do enjoy visiting your thread, Eric. Always such interesting things to look at! Love the Egyptian obelisk. Cute story of how you acquired it. My favorite knick knack that I own is a small black panther statue. He would look pretty good next to your obelisk! ;-)

nov. 6, 2015, 11:15am

>132 lkernagh: Thanks Lori. Now I want to see the panther statute. Does it have a story to go with it?

nov. 6, 2015, 10:01pm

>133 Oberon: - Here is black panther, and yes, there is a bit of a story. I have black book cases and it is hard to get a decent "black on black" picture with low lighting conditions (the sun had already set when I tried to take the picture) so he is posed on one of the steamer trunks.

The story: I was fresh out of University, had moved to a new province and my other half and I were on the hunt for affordable (cheap) furniture that we could outfit our new apartment with. We found out about a business closure where the assets were going to be auctioned off. I had never been to an auction and was impressed when we saw all the furniture and art that was up for grabs. Unfortunately, a number of dealers were also at the auction and after three hours, it looked like we were going to head home empty handed, until the auctioneer held up the black panther statue in his hand. I am a cat lover and as soon as I saw the statue I knew I wanted it. My other half had been doing all of the bidding for us but when I asked him to bid on the statue for me, he nudged me forward and suggested that I bid on it myself. Boy, was I nervous! Thankfully, the dealers were not as interested in the statue as I was. I got to go home that night with my very first auction win in my hands. Poor panther's nose has been damaged a bit from our various moves over the years but he still remains one of my favorite auction purchases.

nov. 6, 2015, 10:06pm

Well I haven't seen the obelisk program, but now I definitely want to. And as ever, find your bookshelves and associated treasures fascinating.

nov. 8, 2015, 10:57pm

>134 lkernagh: Love the panther. Great story too. It sounds like he has a deserved place of pride on the bookshelves.

nov. 8, 2015, 11:05pm

Erik, what a delightful thread you have going here! I love the toy soldiers, especially the Scottish Black Guard, of course. I also really like the beaded animals, especially the lion.

>134 lkernagh: That black panther reminds me of two objects that I once had and loved, neither of which I have any longer. One was a very tiny pewter owl, probably no more than an inch tall and somewhat abstract. My college boyfriend kept it when I went off to graduate school and I never saw it again. I also had an onyx cat statue, probably 4 inches tall, similar soft lines. I don't actually know what ever happened to that one.

Oh, and I love the Godzilla costumes! :-)

nov. 8, 2015, 11:07pm

>135 evilmoose: Sadly, I can't find it on Amazon Prime or Netflix. It was part of a series on how ancient peoples pulled off various complicated engineering feats. I have been watching nerdy tv for a long time.

nov. 8, 2015, 11:19pm

>137 EBT1002: Thank you Ellen.

What a lousy way to lose your pewter owl - he could have mailed it.

I love the Godzilla costumes - perhaps a bit more than a grown man should. It didn't hurt that Andrew was as excited about his miniature version as I was about mine.

Editat: nov. 8, 2015, 11:23pm

>139 Oberon: I agree. I have occasional fantasies of contacting him (you know, Facebook) and asking if he still has it!

Andrew's excitement provides the perfect legitimizer for your grown man excitement, although I don't think you need one. Truly, we should never outgrow the capacity for enjoying something so perfectly playful!

nov. 8, 2015, 11:37pm

>140 EBT1002: Unless he threw it away! Maybe you should assume he has treasured it for years instead.

I will say that this was the most fun I have had for Halloween.

nov. 9, 2015, 10:47am

Lives in Ruins by Marilyn Johnson

I finished off the first of my birthday books over the weekend. Lives in Ruins is a slim volume that follows the lives of various archaeologists as they pursue their passion of archaeology. The book is rather sad in the sense that it traces the many battles fought and lost to preserve archaeological heritage (something I have grown familiar with working for the historic preservation of buildings). The other common theme is just how meager a living one makes as a professional archaeologist. Johnson makes the point over and over that archaeology pays so little that the archaeologists can barely keep body and soul together much less raise a family.

Johnson leaves the reader with the impression that all of the archaeologists she meets are bright, passionate people who deserve more recognition for their work. However, there is not much of a call to action. Rather, this book reads like a cautionary tale that you would give a college student who announced an intention to get a graduate degree in archaeology and whom you want to pursue a business degree.

Perhaps unwittingly, Johnson makes the argument for the older enthusiasts who return to participate in digs in their retirement with their children well taken care of. This is probably as close as I will come to pursuing my archaeology ambitions. I enjoyed the book but it seems odd that a book that is so pro archaeology left me with the impression that I was better off admiring the work of archaeology from afar rather than having tried to make career out of my passion.

Editat: nov. 15, 2015, 10:56pm

Selfie with fish.

Now I can say I have gotten a decent bass out of our lake. Even better, I got to do some fishing in mid-November. 60 degrees for this time of year is a treat to be enjoyed.

In other news, we are on track to sell the other house in early December so I am looking forward to returning to a single mortgage payment. Spent the better part of the day moving the furniture that we had left to stage the old house so we should be all set to host Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks.

We also made our spring break plans for 2016. We are going to Belize and are planning on splitting our time before between the coast and the interior. I am hoping to squeeze in a day trip to cross the border into Guatemala and see Tikal.

nov. 15, 2015, 11:41pm

What could be better?! Catching a sizable bass, AND getting out from under one of two monthly mortgage payments, AND planning an outside-the-country vacation. Good for you.

nov. 16, 2015, 9:37am

Nice bass, Erik!

I look forward to descriptions and photos from your spring break.

nov. 16, 2015, 11:54am

>144 weird_O: Thanks Bill. Still have to sweat the mortgage thing until the first week in December. Just hoping no one pulls the rug out from under our feet.

nov. 16, 2015, 11:55am

>145 kidzdoc: Thanks Darryl. We really enjoyed our last trip to Central America (Costa Rica) and have heard good things about Belize. Now I just have to get the kids fired up about Mayan ruins.

nov. 16, 2015, 12:03pm

I've heard all sorts of good things about Belize, Erik, and those Mayan ruins, too - hope you're able to squeeze in a trip to the latter. I'd love to get there some day. Will look forward to hearing about your experiences.

Way to go on your mid-November lake fishing!

nov. 16, 2015, 3:29pm

>148 jnwelch: Joe, have you guys been having unseasonably warm weather too? I think this past weekend we were 25 to 30 degrees over our normal average.

I am confident I will make it to some ruins - just not sure about Tikal.

nov. 16, 2015, 3:29pm

Nice fish!

nov. 16, 2015, 3:34pm

>149 Oberon: Yes, we're loving it here in Chi-town. It was in the 60s over the weekend and high 50s today. Nice!

My BIL spoke highly of Tikal, as I'm sure others have to you.

nov. 16, 2015, 3:40pm

>150 drneutron: Thanks! Makes me think that if could catch some of his friends this spring I could have a bit of a fish fry.

nov. 16, 2015, 3:43pm

>151 jnwelch: Very nice.

I don't know anyone who has made it to Tikal before. I have been to Chichen Itza in Mexico and I am kind of wondering how it compares.

nov. 16, 2015, 3:56pm

I visited Chichen Itza as a wee lad with my family. It was really something. They do seem similar in my mind.

nov. 16, 2015, 8:43pm

Wish I could see the picture...

nov. 16, 2015, 11:48pm

Fishie! (my review style - to the point, if not particularly sophisticated)

Editat: nov. 17, 2015, 11:17am

My lastest musings...I've been off thread lately.

>98 Oberon: Loved your comments about Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. That must have been both interesting and fun. How did you get to attend that gathering?

I took a bit of glee in the fact that he was so downcast about the last Supreme Court term


>99 PaulCranswick:

I was only seeking a use of the salt and pepper cruets!

Cute, Paul! :)

>102 Oberon: I finished The Martian on audiobook

Neither DH nor I could make it through The Martian. I found the beginning tedious and rather silly. I hope it got better later in the book. I'm putting it out in my Little Free Library because it's such a popular book that I'm sure it will be taken immediately.

>103 Oberon:

What fabulous beadwork! I used to do beadwork for a friend of mine who sold jewelry. It was great fun to choose the colors and do the work. The surprise came at the end to see what the finished product looked like.

>114 Oberon:

Love your Halloween costumes!

We had a shortage of pumpkins here so my friend and I ended up carving two spaghetti squash which we named Clem and Cesar. I'll see if I can find a picture of them to add here. :)

>143 Oberon:

I won't show your "fish" picture to my husband. He'd be jealous of such a great catch.

So cool that you are going to Belize! I've never been there, but my past trips to Guatamala and El Salvador bring back such fun memories.

nov. 17, 2015, 11:54am

Hi, Erik! Just checking in. I hope all is well in your world and your current books are treating you just fine.

nov. 17, 2015, 1:47pm

>154 jnwelch: I went as a kid but then went back a year or so after I was first married. I meant to take the kids when we last went to Mexico but the logistics of it were too complicated.

nov. 17, 2015, 1:51pm

>155 ronincats: Not sure why you can't see the picture - displaying fine for me. In light of the lack of photograph let me assure you that it was truly massive - one for the record books.

nov. 17, 2015, 1:52pm

>156 evilmoose: Ha! Very much to the point.

nov. 17, 2015, 1:56pm

>157 SqueakyChu: Madeline, I got to attend the Scalia breakfast because I am pretty active (past chair) of the state's bar association section that focuses on appeals. One of the other officers in the section clerked for Scalia and thus arranged the breakfast and invited a number of people from the appellate group.

I am surprised you didn't care for The Martian. Yours is the first negative reaction I have heard. Oh well, if it didn't work for you I thing LFL is a good solution.

I really like the squash. Those look fantastic.

When you were in Guatemala did you make it to Tikal by chance?

nov. 17, 2015, 1:59pm

>158 msf59: Thanks for stopping by Mark. I am eyeing the end of the year and the number of books I need to finish to hit 75 and it is a bit close this year. I certainly am not going to start any massive tomes like you are with A Brief History of Seven Killings. I am about 2/3 of the way done with The River of Doubt so I am hoping to finish that this week and I am listing to The Golem and Jinni on audio book for my commutes and hope to finish that at some point in December. I need to get some graphic novels read to pad my totals.

nov. 17, 2015, 4:00pm

>162 Oberon:

Truthfully, I think I didn't give The Martian a fair chance. It didn't grab me in the beginning so I gave up. Many of my friends recommended it to me, including LT's _Zoe_ and another BookCrossing friend from Las Vegas. I have too many backed-up books here at home so that I'm starting to cull my library of any books that don't grab me right up front. I'm now reading a novel, Memoirs of a Muse, by Lara Vapnyar, a Russian-American who wrote a book of short stories, There are Jews in My House, which I had liked very much. So far, so good with the novel. :)

In Guatamala, I never made it to Tikal, but I did make it up to the top of Pacaye, a live volcano, where my friend and I got lost and had to spend the night. It's a rather long story...but it has become one of our most famous travel adventures in our retelling! :D

Tikal was too far off of our travel route. My friend and I did climb an ancient temple in Mexico, but I can't remember which one it was. What I remember most of that climb was how difficult it was to ascend the stairs because most of them were so badly eroded.

I totally loved being in El Salvador (my husband is Salvadoran), but it is a very dangerous country now and not a good spot for American tourists. Too bad!

By the way, I hope you're following the USMNT World Cup Qualifying games. Did you see the game of the US vs. St. Vincent and the Grenadines? I'm sad that the game tonight against Trinidad & Tobago is not being telecast on anything I have available. I've become quite the soccer fan this past year.

nov. 17, 2015, 4:35pm

>164 SqueakyChu: You spent the night on top of live volcano? That does sound like a very good travel story!

El Salvador seems to be having a very tough time of it these days. I do not think I would visit for pleasure at this point.

I have been following the USMNT games and watched the 6-1 drubbing of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I am growing increasingly disenchanted with Klinsmann and starting to think a change is needed. I have to think when St. Vincent scored that opening goal that Klinsmann was wondering if he needed to start updating his resume. We will see - the team has been pretty erratic ever since the 2014 World Cup and I think the visibility of soccer in the U.S. has grown so much that the expectations have gone up a lot since his hire.

I have also been watching a decent amount of the Euro 2016 qualifiers too. At this point, if there is a soccer game on I am far more likely to watch it then just about anything else on TV.

nov. 17, 2015, 6:11pm

I loved The River of Doubt, Erik. And Millard has quickly become one of my favorite NNF writers. I also have The Golem and Jinni saved on audio and have wanted to read it for eons. Maybe, you will inspire me.

nov. 17, 2015, 11:59pm

>165 Oberon:

I've been reading a lot of criticism about Klinsmann. I'm not sure how I feel about changing him now that he just chose all of those new guys for backup for the world cup qualifying games. Do you have a favorite team...beside the USA, that is? :)

It's good to know others are watching these soccer games. I can get my husband to watch them with me or maybe my older son, but no one else seems interested. :(

nov. 18, 2015, 11:00am

>166 msf59: I am enjoying River of Doubt. I have Millard's Destiny of the Republic on my wishlist because I have heard good things about that one too. I think you should try The Golem and Jinni especially on audio - I am really enjoying the story so far - though sometimes it leaves me not wanting to get out of the car so I can keep listening!

nov. 18, 2015, 11:14am

>167 SqueakyChu: So I guess last night was a 0-0 draw. Seems to me like the US should have been able to get a win against Trinidad and Tobago - if the population of the country is smaller than the city of Chicago (or even Minneapolis/St. Paul!) you should be able to beat them.

My issue with Klinnsman is that the senior squad has been really erratic. Combine that with odd personnel decisions like leaving Landon Donovan off the team and I think maybe it is time for him to go. I would be fine with letting him keep the development role, I just think he hasn't been getting enough success from the men's team.

As to your question about another favorite team - the answer is an emphatic yes. I am a huge fan of Spain. I watch all of the games that are televised here, own the home and away jerseys, have a Spanish key chain - you get the point. Last year for the World Cup, I hosted a Spain viewing party. My friends couldn't have cared less but they came because I made a paella, tapas and sangria. Sadly, Spain did terribly in the World Cup and didn't even make it out of the group stage which was shock to everyone.

They seem to be returning to form for the 2016 Euros having topped their group. They just won a friendly against England 2-0. If they manage to win the Euro Cup again they will be first three time winners having won it in 2008 and 2012.

I have shamelessly converted my son into a fan of Spain as well and got him an Andres Iniesta jersey for Christmas last year. His mother just rolled her eyes.

nov. 18, 2015, 11:16am

Boys will be boys :-)

nov. 18, 2015, 11:31am

You look more alike when you wear those reptilian burkas. Good-looking guys, though.

nov. 18, 2015, 11:45am

>169 Oberon: It was really frustrating to not even be able to see that Trindad & Tobago game. I would have liked to see Tim Howard's saves. It will be interesting to see how that Howard/Guzan alternate goalkeeper position works out. That's going to be odd, but I think I understand Klinsmann's rationale for keeping both of them in the forefront. However, I like to have one goalkeeper for which to cheer.

I guess if I had to be for a European team, it would also be Spain. If I had to pick one Spanish team, it would be Barcelona. I have so many fond memories of that city.

For South America, I'd have to go with Brazil because so many of my younger son's friends are native Brazilians. I love the rivalry between Argentina and Brazil.

My issue with Klinnsman is that the senior squad has been really erratic

I can't argue with that!

I think maybe it is time for him to go...I just think he hasn't been getting enough success from the men's team.

Many people seem to agree with your assessment.

My friends couldn't have cared less but they came because I made a paella, tapas and sangria.

Haha! Well, at least you had a nice crowd for the game!

If they manage to win the Euro Cup again they will be first three time winners having won it in 2008 and 2012.

That would be nice!

Love the picture of you and your son in the Spain jerseys. Somehow I can't see my younger son and his own son in any soccer jerseys except for the green and yellow of Brazil. Sorry! :D

nov. 18, 2015, 1:51pm

>168 Oberon: Destiny of the Republic was really good too, probably better than The River of Doubt for me. If you get a chance to hear her speak, she's very good - I saw her at the National Book Fest a couple of years ago. Here's a link to a webcast of her first appearance when she wrote The River of Doubt: http://tominis.info/watch/TmebtlLULpY/candice-millard-2011-national-book-festiva...

nov. 18, 2015, 2:45pm

>170 Caroline_McElwee: I am not sure what would make you think that Caroline - certainly not my Halloween costume.

>171 jnwelch: I guess I do have a habit of putting Andrew in matching outfits, I claim shared passions as the reason. Andrew, Alex and I all have matching Tanzania jerseys courtesy of my parents.

nov. 18, 2015, 2:52pm

>172 SqueakyChu: Apparently the game was broadcast on NBC's spanish language channel. I caught a few minutes of the game as it was on at the indoor soccer center where I was coaching Andrew's team last night.

As Darryl knows, my loyalties for Spanish club teams lie with Real Madrid but I certainly appreciate Barcelona. Real Madrid and Barcelona play the Clasico this weekend - one of the much hyped games every year. Rather like a Red Sox/Yankees game.

Brazil has had a tough road of it recently. Everybody thought they were on the path to greatness going into the 2014 World Cup but they got embarrassed by Germany. They are not doing very well in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers either - although Neymar is playing fantastically for Barcelona.

nov. 18, 2015, 2:54pm

>173 drneutron: Thanks for the link Jim. I would like to hear her speak live. I am curious what she is working on currently. Her first two books were certainly successful.

nov. 18, 2015, 3:01pm

>176 Oberon: Well, I answered my own question - apparently she has a book on Winston Churchill and the Boer War coming out in September of next year. I will definitely be picking that up.

nov. 18, 2015, 7:23pm

Today I can see the fish picture! Lovely!!!!

nov. 19, 2015, 7:58am

Hi, Erik! Sweet Thursday! I also thought Destiny of the Republic was excellent. It might be my favorite of her work. Looking forward to seeing what she tackles next.

nov. 19, 2015, 11:42am

>178 ronincats: Good! Pictures posted from Facebook seem flaky on whether they work or not.

>179 msf59: I am hearing nothing but positive reviews on Destiny of the Republic - looks like I will need to move up the wishlist so I get it for Christmas.

nov. 21, 2015, 7:06am

Hi Erik, I finally find time to do some weekend greetings. Wishing you a most lovely weekend.

nov. 21, 2015, 4:27pm

Well, I caught the last few minutes of the Classico. Too bad I didn't catch the whole game. I think I might start watching some of the Barcelona games since the next USMNT game isn't until March.

nov. 22, 2015, 11:46am

>181 Ameise1: Thank you Barbara. Fantastic image - I love it.

Editat: nov. 22, 2015, 6:51pm

>182 SqueakyChu: I taped the Clasico. Sadly for me, Real Madrid got stomped even with Messi on the bench. My Barcelona loving child rubbed it in my face all day.

I have to admit, if you are going to start cheering for and following a Spanish club team then Barcelona is a pretty good pick.

Editat: nov. 22, 2015, 7:10pm

>184 Oberon:

(my) Barcelona loving child rubbed it in my face all day.


I love that Messi and Neymar are the usual forwards as I know them from the international games.

Today I also followed the last few minutes of the Rams-Ravens football game. The Ravens, who've had a poor season this year, ended up with a win in the last minute, but now it seems that Joe Flacco, their quarterback, is out for the rest of the season due to an knee injury. :(

I get these odd "few minutes" of sports by walking by the television that my husband is watching. If the game seems exciting, I stop to watch. If not, I keep right on walking. Ha!

nov. 23, 2015, 1:31pm

>185 SqueakyChu: Surprisingly, the Vikings are having a good season although I think this weekend's loss to Green Bay shows that they are not quite contenders yet. They still have a decent chance to make the playoffs so we will see.

nov. 23, 2015, 2:03pm

The River of Doubt by Candice Millard

The River of Doubt is about an exploration of a 1,000 mile tributary of the Amazon through dense rain forest and hostile native tribes. However, the most notable part of the exploration is that one of its leaders was former President Teddy Roosevelt. Shortly after loosing his bid for re-election when Roosevelt ran as a third-party candidate, Roosevelt wass persuaded to go to South America where he would speak to various heads of state and tour the Amazon. However, Roosevelt soon transformed what was originally conceived as being more of a pleasure cruise into something much more adventurous - an exploration of one of the unmapped waterways in the Brazilian interior.

Millard, who is an excellent writer, explains how the idea then spun out of control with plans being made for an expedition by people who did not understand what exploring this part of the world meant. Meanwhile, Roosevelt who had a long history of adventure seeking and challenging himself, failed to grasp until very late in the process that the organizers to whom he had entrusted the details did not really understand the undertaking well enough. Moreover, Roosevelt himself comes across as foolishly confident of his ability to persevere, especially considering his age.

The story of the expedition makes clear just how dangerous the journey truly was and how close Roosevelt came to dying in the attempt. The idea of an ex-President disappearing into the wilderness for months today in order to explore unknown lands is unthinkable today. Of course, the modern world also has fewer blank spaces on our maps too. There are no 1,000 mile rivers that lay undiscovered and it has now become a challenge to avoid contact with the rest of the world for months, even in remote places.

Millard's book was a fascinating read for her discussion of Roosevelt's character and the events of the trip itself. I will say that much of the description of the perils of the rain forest read a lot like the descriptions in Jungleland and the Lost City of Z but I suppose there are only so many ways to describe the environment. Ultimately though it is the involvement of Roosevelt that elevates this well done book of exploration into a unique historical event.

nov. 24, 2015, 11:06am

The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman made his mark writing The Sandman. Gaiman took an old DC Comics character from the 70s and used the character to create an astonishingly complex mythology. Sandman grew to become one of the most critically acclaimed comics of all time and launched Gaiman on to his hugely successful books and other endeavors. Sandman: Overture is Gaiman returning to the world and the characters he last left in the mid-90s. Styled as a prequel, Sandman: Overture tells the story of how Dream a/k/a Morpheus has become trapped in Preludes and Nocturnes (the first of the collected Sandman books).

The Sandman: Overture is flat out gorgeous. Knowing they have a hit on their hand, Vertigo (the publisher) gave the deluxe edition the time, money and attention to detail that a writer of Gaiman's stature can command. It is interesting to contrast it with the early comics contained in Preludes and Nocturnes to see just how much additional work went into this deluxe edition. From a purely stylistic point of view, The Sandman: Overture is a visual treat.

As to the story, this is a prequel in name only. As a dedicated fan of Gaiman who has read all of the Sandman series and almost all of the spin-offs, the story was a fantastic, nostalgic trip through Gaiman's elaborate multiverse. However, this is not the place to introduce a new reader to the Sandman universe. The Sandman: Overture is simply too complex a story with too many careful references to its own mythology to be fully appreciated by a new Sandman reader. Sandman: Overture was everything I hoped it would be - a gorgeous return of fantastic and well loved characters back for a curtain call. It just wasn't an introduction. When my children are old enough to read the Sandman series I will start with Prelude and Nocturnes or perhaps one of the approachable one-offs like Dream Hunters. Sandman: Overture will remain as a fitting capstone that reminds the readers that one of Gaiman's principal themes in the Sandman was the tension between eternity and change.

nov. 24, 2015, 11:28am

Good reviews of both books, Erik. I've read The Sandman: Overture and agree with all you say. I particularly liked the Peter Max homage when he visits Father Time, and the Dave McKean alternative covers. It's not an intro to the series, as you say. You need to be familiar with the series to follow its complexity, seems to me.

nov. 24, 2015, 2:15pm

>189 jnwelch: Thanks Joe. I admired the alternative covers too. I really liked the pages showing all the different manifestations of Morpheus.

nov. 24, 2015, 3:39pm

>190 Oberon: Yes - very creative with the different Morpheuses.

nov. 25, 2015, 2:56pm

Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco

This is a non-fiction graphic novel dealing with the Bosnian War. Gorazde is an eastern Bosnian city with a sizeable group of Bosnian Muslims. The book covers the Bosnian war from the perspective of the inhabitants of Gorazde which endured an extended siege by the Bosnian Serbs. The book is especially notable for its efforts at reporting on a part of Bosnia that was largely ignored by Western media (although I think it is a fair point to argue that the whole of Bosnia was largely ignored). Unlike Sarevejo which was easier for the media to get in to, Gorazade was largely cutoff by the siege. The only access for much of the time was via the "blue road" so called because it was maintained by the blue-helmeted UN peace keepers who intermittently served as observers and provided relief supplies. The blue road was frequently cut by Serb militias so western journalists, if they would come at all, would frequently come in to town in a convoy in the morning and leave the same afternoon. By contrast, Sacco spent about a month in Gorazade developing friendships and sources. Safe Area Gorazde is the result of this reporting.

Sacco does a good job of portraying the brutality of the Bosnian war as well as the relative inaction of the Europe and the United States. It makes for harrowing reading at times. I am not a huge fan of Sacco's illustrations but that is a minor and more personal complaint - they certainly powerfully conveyed the story. The story itself is gripping for its humanity (or lack thereof).

The Bosnian war seems largely forgotten in America and is remembered, if at all, for the Dayton Accords that brought the fighting to an end. Sacco's book is an important reminder of this story.

Editat: nov. 25, 2015, 6:17pm

>192 Oberon:

Nice review of Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco, Erik! Have you read his graphic novel Palestine? If not, you should.

I really like how graphic novels make otherwise deeply heavy topics more readable.

I just read a bleak, but excellent novel about the Balkan war. It's called S. by Slavenka Drakulic. It's depressing, but is so well written. Try reading it if you dare.

nov. 25, 2015, 9:52pm

>193 SqueakyChu: I have not read Palestine but I think I will look for it.

The only books I have read that have dealt with the war have all been focused primarily on Richard Holbrooke and the war has been just one aspect of his career.

Editat: nov. 26, 2015, 9:36am

Happy Thanksgiving Erik! Have a great holiday with the family!

Terrific reviews of both River of Doubt & Safe Area Gorazde. I was also a big fan of both. You should post the reviews so I can Thumb them!

I also LOVED The Lost City of Z. I wonder what that author has been up to??

nov. 26, 2015, 10:26am

>194 Oberon:

Palestine was a difficult graphic novel for me to read because I am a Zionist at heart, but it was done really well. Very worthwhile reading, IMHO.

nov. 27, 2015, 1:07am

>195 msf59: Thank you Mark. I will post the reviews.

Hopefully we will see something else from Grann. I have to think that he has a decent contract out for his next book.

Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful. We had just under 20 for our celebration plus some snow!

nov. 27, 2015, 2:37am

>195 msf59: Apparently I can't add my review without adding the book to my collection and Safe Area Gorazde was a library book. Almost seems like a bug LT ought to fix.

nov. 27, 2015, 2:39am

>196 SqueakyChu: Strong endorsement Madeline. I will pick it up.

nov. 30, 2015, 8:29am

First Thanksgiving in your new home, how lovely.

nov. 30, 2015, 12:27pm

>200 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks Caroline. It was a lot of fun to have everyone. It was great to have the space for people to spread out a bit too. Plus, having people for Thanksgiving (and our upcoming Christmas party) prompted us to move along with our decorating too.

Editat: des. 1, 2015, 10:35am

The Birth of Art in Africa by Bernard De Grunne

I picked this up because the price dropped and it has sat on my wish list for some time. This book had its genesis in show of Nok pieces in Luxembourg (of all places!) in 2000/2001.

I doubt there is anyone on Libarything with a similar interest in West African terracottas, much less anyone that will encounter my review. Nevertheless, I found the book useful for its discussion of Katsina and Sokoto pottery. This book classifies Katsina and Sokoto style terracottas as subsets of a larger Nok culture and provides helpful photographs illustrating the subsets to provide a visual reference for the classification. There also was a helpful discussion on TL testing and Carbon 14 dating as it relates to Nok pottery. Like other books on the Nok, relatively little is known about the culture so this is not a large book. I thought The Nok Culture: Art in Nigeria 2500 Years Ago by Gert Chesi to be a better overview of the subject and also showing a broader array of Nok terracotta. However, for classification purposes The Birth of Art in Africa was more useful.

des. 5, 2015, 6:39am

Wishing you a lovely weekend, Erik.

des. 7, 2015, 12:13pm

>203 Ameise1: Thank you Barbara. I hope your weekend was peaceful as well.

des. 7, 2015, 12:16pm


The New York Times is providing me with ammunition for my love of physical books (over ebooks). Interestingly, the author talks about children browsing their parents' books and how the availability of the books had an impact on the children's academic performance. There is little fear that my children will grow up with a lack of books (or magazines or papers) laying around.

des. 7, 2015, 4:05pm

Borlaug; Volume 1 by Noel Vietmeyer

This is the first volume of a three-part biography of Norman Borlaug. For the uninitiated, Norman Borlaug was a plant geneticist who is credited with beginning the Green Revolution, a combination of farming practices, hybrid seeds, and fertilizers that radically increased the world's food supply and prevented millions from starving. Borlaug won the 1970 Nobel Prize for his work. Today, the Green Revolution has been challenged by the organic food movement as the Green Revolution led to increased mechanization of agriculture and widespread use of pesticides and fertilizers.

In the interest of full disclosure, my grandfather worked for Borlaug while both were employed by the Ford Foundation in Mexico (the Borlaugs were my mother's godparents) and he devoted his professional life to the Green Revolution. So, there is very strong family bias on my thoughts about the Green Revolution. To me, I equate the criticism of the Green Revolution to be akin to the anti-vaccination crowd. Yes, it would be great if the world's population could be supported by organically raised foods that were pesticide free and didn't require fertilizers. However, the population is too large and the yields are too low to effectively feed the global population with strictly organic methods. As an alternative to starvation, I am all for the Green Revolution. By analogy, while vaccinations aren't fun and there is a low but not non-existent risk from vaccinations, they are much better than alternatives like polio, measles, etc.

To the book itself, I have read Hesser's The Man Who Fed the World which is a more condensed version of Borlaug's career. I thought it was a decent and readable book. However, my grandmother dismissed it as hagiography so I decided to try Vietmeyer's trilogy as well. The first volume deals with Borlaug's life on an Iowa farm before and during the Depression and then follows Borlaug to the University of Minnesota (Yay!) and through his early career in forestry and then with Du Pont. It is an interesting story and a richly lived life.

Vietmeyer has an overly folksy style that is not to my taste and made me prefer the Hesser book. However, Borlaug collaborated heavily with Vietmeyer's series and so the book contains frequent direct recollections by Borlaug. Vietmeyer's book also benefits substantially from access to family photographs. The question I am on the fence about is how much of the extra detail added by Vietmeyer is of value to anyone but the most interested in the subject matter. Given how unknown Borlaug is for a Nobel Peace Prize winner, it is good that multiple books exist to tell Borlaug's story.

The next volume covers Borlaug's work in Mexico with the Ford Foundation. It is this time period that overlaps with my own family's experience so I am most interested in reading Volume 2.

des. 7, 2015, 6:25pm

Interesting about the family connection, Erik!

des. 7, 2015, 7:16pm

>206 Oberon: Cool to have a family connection. I've heard of him but don't know much about him, not quite interested enough to take on a three volume set, so I've added the Hesser book to my wishlist.

des. 8, 2015, 12:33pm

>207 SqueakyChu: & >208 qebo: I am just disappointed that I never got to meet Borlaug. By the time I was old enough to appreciate what he had done he was a very old man. Borlaug still remembered my grandfather however - one of my mother's cousins met Borlaug at a conference a couple of years before he died and as soon as Borlaug heard his name he asked if he was related to my grandfather.

Editat: des. 8, 2015, 4:25pm

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

I was absolutely enchanted by this book. I listed to it as an audiobook and it frequently left me sitting in my car wanting to listen to it more before getting out.

The book is principally set in 1899 New York. Despite the fantastical elements, the book is largely an immigration story. The two main characters are Chava, a golem (a creature made of clay that appears human and has its origins in Jewish folklore, normally created by Jews to serve as protectors) and Ahmad, a Jinn (a creature of fire from Islamic traditions - think of the genie in Aladdin).

The book tells the origins of Chava and how she comes to New York, finding a kindly rabbi who is fascinated and terrified by her. By contrast, the jinni is accidentally released from a flask (his magic lamp) by a Syrian tinsmith. The memories of his imprisonment are gone and the story of how the jinni ended up in the flask is part of the narrative. Much of the book is consumed by the golem and jinni finding their way in New York - the new immigrant story with a twist as neither is human and both have abilities that are decidedly non-human.

Ultimately, the two encounter each other and recognize that while they are very different their shared non-human nature is an important connection.

While there is a challenge to be overcome and evil to overcome, the real pleasure in the book comes from the various accomplishments the two have as immigrants and how they learn to navigate and fit into the world they find themselves in.

Highly recommended. Probably my favorite book of the year.

Editat: des. 9, 2015, 12:26am

> 210 Interesting book, Erik! It sounds as if those supernatural beings are doing a better job of getting along than we humans.


I like the book cover. The picture is of the Washington Square Arch in Manhattan.

des. 10, 2015, 6:05am

>210 Oberon: Book bullet! :)

des. 10, 2015, 12:56pm

>211 SqueakyChu: I like the book cover as well. There is a scene set at the Washington Square Arch in the book. In fact, reading the book made me want to return to New York to look again at some of the landmarks identified.

>212 Kassilem: Yay!

des. 10, 2015, 1:37pm

As the end of the year is drawing to a close soon, I thought I would get in a final post on the items on my bookshelves besides books. The last category is miscellaneous items. Some but not all of them are grouped with related books.

This an arrowhead I got as a child. Part of my strong passion for archaeology.

This is a small painted pot from Greece. It was a present from when my parents went to Greece (they get to go all the cool places!).

This is one of a pair of African ivory bracelets. The other is with my parents. This one was broken several years ago. It came to me because I said I was willing to pay for the restoration. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts has a fantastic conservation group housed in the building. While they primarily do work on museum pieces, they do perform restorations for the paying public too. Not cheap but they do amazing work. As a final note on this, I am troubled a bit that it is ivory. That said, this was acquired by my grandparents long before any of the ivory bans went into effect. My artistic sensibilities appreciate and admire carved ivory. However, the conservation side of me has concluded that while it would be nice to allow a limited ivory trade (with ivory taken from elephants that have died of natural causes) the existence of such a trade has created too much demand for ivory such that elephants are again under serious pressure from poaching. Only a full ban on the ivory trade will adequately protect the elephant population.

This was a Christmas gift from a friend last year. For the uninitiated, this is the 1990's version of Godzilla. As my Halloween costume establishes, I am a big fan. Also, this is the item most likely to be removed on a regular basis from my shelves as my youngest attempts to add it to his dinosaur collection.

This is an Inuit soapstone carving of a seal. It originally belonged to my grandmother (paternal grandmother - not the ones who worked with the State Department) and was probably a gift to her from her daughter (my aunt) who lives in Calgary. It is an older carving from the 70s or early 80s. Inuit carving has grown less naturalistic and more imaginative over the last several decades. I have a representation of a dancing musk ox as part of my office art work that is more recently carved.

One of the earliest mementos, this is a link of an anchor chain from the captured German submarine, the U-505. The U-505 is on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. When I was about 7 my (paternal) grandmother took me on a trip to Chicago. My father met us there after a couple of days. The U-505 was a highlight of the trip for me. My grandmother went on to take all nine of her grandchildren on two major trips. I subsequently went to Cancun, Mexico with her when I was about 8 or 9. My sister did trips to Scotland and Charleston, SC with her. Traveling with her is universally remembered among the grandchildren as some of the very best times they had with her.

des. 10, 2015, 3:21pm

Hi Erik! Just wanted to de-lurk and say that, as a latecomer to your thread, I look forward to following you from the beginning in the new year!

des. 11, 2015, 8:22am

Envious of the arrowhead Erik. They have an exquisite example at a little local museum near where I live, I'd love to put it in my pocket. There is something about things that old. Wonderful additions to your shelves.

des. 11, 2015, 2:06pm

>215 katiekrug: Always welcome Katie - thanks for stopping by.

>216 Caroline_McElwee: Caroline - I agree with you about old things. Old things have long fascinated me - something about feeling connected to a bigger story.

des. 12, 2015, 6:53am

Wishing you a wonderful weekend, Erik.

des. 14, 2015, 11:57am

>218 Ameise1: Thank you Barbara. It was a hectic but wonderful weekend.

des. 14, 2015, 12:18pm

Little actual reading going on (I am sitting at 74 books so I am confident that I can meet my goal for the year). Instead, we hosted back to back Christmas parties at our house over the weekend. The first was my wife's work party so about 35 teachers from her elementary school. The second was our friends and family party that we try to make an annual event and often falls short. The guest list on that was over 50 with about 15 children so it made the house very busy but was a lot of fun.

To add to the chaos we had two soccer games and a soccer practice (skipped the basketball game on account of injury). The first soccer game was a scrimmage of my daughter's team against a team of U11 boys. The boys took a 4-0 lead only to have the girls stage a major comeback and win 7-5. Very impressive performance by the girls though I have to admit that my heart went out to the boys - I think the loss was pretty hard on their egos.

des. 14, 2015, 4:48pm

WooHoo, what a weekend. I hope you don't have a too szressful week.

des. 15, 2015, 12:24am

>221 Ameise1: Well the big stressor for the week was successfully accomplished - we sold our former house! So I am now back to one mortgage payment and one house to maintain.

While we had a lot of great memories in that house it didn't feel like home anymore after we had moved our possessions out. It felt kind of odd really. Hopefully the new owner will enjoy it.

des. 15, 2015, 10:47am

Palestine by Joe Sacco

Hat tip to Madeline for the recommendation of Palestine my 75th book of the year (nothing like getting down to the wire).

Palestine is a non-fiction graphic novel written and illustrated by Joe Sacco. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is well defined and understood. The value of Sacco's book is that he addresses the every day reality of the Israeli occupation and how the smaller daily conflicts and humiliations can build to an insurmountable barrier to a long term peace.

As grim as Palestine is, it was written before the Second Intafada. I suspect that the day to day reality of Palestine today may be more grim than what was illustrated by Sacco.

I found Palestine to be well worth the read even though it is a bit dated (early 1990s) primarily for the narrative of daily life for Palestinians. It is a side of the conflict that is not commonly seen by the American public and Sacco does a fine job of making their stories come alive. Unfortunately, almost all of those stories are tragic but that fact does not make the stories any less true.

des. 15, 2015, 10:57am

Have you read The Other Side of Israel? It is another interesting look at a different view of the Israel/Palestine conflict. It is about what it is like to live in a small Muslim enclave in Israel.

des. 15, 2015, 1:26pm

>224 KarenElissa: Karen, I have not read that one. Did you like it? I admit to not having read as much about the Israeli/Palestinian dispute as I have other parts of the Middle East. I think it is related to headline fatigue since it is covered so often in the press.

des. 15, 2015, 6:30pm

>225 Oberon: I thought it was really interesting. I haven't read much about that part of the world either, but it was so different from the usual point of view. It isn't a overarching history type book, but just has the experiences of this one woman and the people she comes in contact with.

des. 15, 2015, 10:13pm

Congrats on the home sale! That has to be a major load off your mind.

des. 15, 2015, 11:47pm

Hey Erik! Congrats on 75! And I'm embarrassed to say that I'm just now getting over here to see your selfie with fish! Very nice. :-) And I love your miscellaneous bookshelf items! And congrats on selling the house (okay, that is huge!).

Palestine was a good choice for 75, imo. It was well-done and thought-provoking.

You have a lot going on..... I hope the holidays treat you well.

des. 16, 2015, 9:51am


des. 16, 2015, 10:45am

Ditto, Erik!

One mortgage is stressful enough. That's got to be a big load off your mind.

des. 16, 2015, 11:15am

>222 Oberon: we sold our former house
Congrats! I'm lagging behind you in buying, moving, selling, can appreciate the relief.

>223 Oberon: nothing like getting down to the wire
What? The year has more than two weeks to go. The wire is December 31. I'll probably be there.

des. 16, 2015, 11:15am

Congratulations on the house sale. Great to shift the burden, and start the new year lighter. The partying sounds fun.

des. 16, 2015, 12:05pm

Congratulations on the 75 Erik - and an interesting book to do it with *adds it to the list*

Editat: des. 16, 2015, 2:46pm

Congrats on 75, Erik. Glad you liked Palestine. I agree that things are certainly thornier now in the Middle East than when Palestine was written. I get that headline fatigue as well.

des. 17, 2015, 1:11am

>226 KarenElissa: Karen, I will look and see if our library system has it.

>227 ronincats: Absolutely Roni. I got lucky with not having to do much snow removal or anything but maintaining two properties is hard - and this one was only about 2 miles away!

>228 EBT1002: Better late than never Ellen! Thanks for stopping by!

>229 drneutron: & >230 jnwelch: Thank you!

>231 qebo: I would normally agree with you and often I will get a lot of reading down around Christmas but this year seems especially hectic such that I am not very confident that I will get a lot of reading done. Plus, I have decided to get a start on War and Peace and I am certainly not finishing that in December.

>232 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks Caroline. The parties were great - I love entertaining in the new house (I like people admiring the bar!)

>233 evilmoose: Thanks Megan. I can't say that my total compares with yours - you seem bound to hit 100 for the year.

>234 SqueakyChu: Thanks again Madeline. I did enjoy it - probably more than Safe Area Gorazde. I just wish it was one of those problems that people could resolve somehow.

I guess the only hope I derive from it is that every other conflict seems completely intractable until suddenly it isn't. Maybe the stars will align for Israel and Palestine at some point in my life time. Surely there is a Peace Prize sitting out there for the task when it is accomplished.

des. 17, 2015, 12:46pm

>234 SqueakyChu: I am getting truly worried now because the U.S. State Department just put out a travel advisory for Americans traveling in Israel. I've never seen that before. :(

I would even just like a de-escalation of the present conflict. I hope you're right, Erik.

des. 17, 2015, 12:57pm

>236 SqueakyChu: That is kind of a big deal. I remember there being a lot of argument about the propriety of a travel advisory when Israel was under rocket attack in the last flare up with Hezbollah. Seems like something that the State Department is generally reluctant to do. Wonder what changed.

Editat: des. 17, 2015, 9:56pm

>237 Oberon: You don't see it much on the American news, but I follow the Israel news. Threats to the public in Israel now are not coming from the West Bank or Gaza, but rather within Israel proper by some Muslim Arabs (mostly teenagers, even women!) who are being incited by their imams to kill Jews by stabbing them or running them over with cars. This is happening at totally random places throughout the country and with frightening frequency.

des. 18, 2015, 9:40am

Congrats on the house sale. It must have been a relief.

des. 18, 2015, 10:42am

>238 SqueakyChu: I have seen some of the reports and whether the stabbings represent a new intifada. Horrendous on several levels.

>239 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara. It was indeed. Plus, it is nice to see a new family in there decorating for the holidays and hopefully making it feel as much like a home for them as it was for us.

des. 19, 2015, 8:11am

Wishing you a lovely weekend, Erik.

des. 20, 2015, 8:25pm

>241 Ameise1: Happy weekend Barbara

des. 21, 2015, 10:12am

This time of the year is always bad for my "to read" pile but it usually doesn't start this early. Unfortunately my father and my father-in-law decided they were getting rid of books and thought my house would be a suitable second home.

des. 21, 2015, 5:27pm

Looks like a good haul Erik.

I really must get back to Team of Rivals, I was reading it a couple of years ago, and really enjoying it, but didn't want to take it on holiday with me, and for some reason didn't get back to it on my return. Something for the first quarter of 2016 perhaps, finish a couple of books I left unfinished.

des. 21, 2015, 8:57pm

I bought Team of Rivals years ago, but I haven't touched it yet. Hopefully I can get to it in the next couple of years.

des. 21, 2015, 9:01pm

Enjoyed Team of Rivals a year or two ago--that's the only one I'm familiar with.

des. 21, 2015, 11:02pm

>244 Caroline_McElwee:, >245 kidzdoc:, >246 ronincats: Team of Rivals has been on my list to read for some time now. However, a tome like that isn't getting touched until I make a good run at War and Peace. Of the other books in the stack Redeployment won a bunch of awards and my mom really like The Africa House so that will probably be the first of the group I try.

des. 22, 2015, 5:32am

Christina Lamb, I missed that one.

You won't regret War and Peace Eric. I read it about eight years ago, and a week ago put it by my reading chair for a re-read. My first memory of this book is aged 12 with the BBC dramatisation with Anthony Hopkins as Pierre. I tried to read it three times after that, but was too young really. The BBC are broadcasting a new dramatisation early next year, and I'd like to reread the book before. So I've lived with this story most of my life.

des. 23, 2015, 10:37am

des. 23, 2015, 11:11am

>248 Caroline_McElwee: Caroline, the BBC broadcast sounds interesting. I would like to hear it although it will probably need to wait a bit.

des. 23, 2015, 11:11am

>249 Ameise1: Thank you Barbara. Happy holidays to you and your family as well.

des. 23, 2015, 11:22am

Happy Holidays, Erik! Have a great time with the family and enjoy the mild weather.

Nice book haul! I was a big fan of Redeployment. Fine collection.

des. 23, 2015, 11:27am

So it is raining here in Minnesota. I looked out at the lake this morning and the thin layer of ice we had was gone. It is all open water. Of course, Christmas fishing was my first thought . . .

Editat: des. 23, 2015, 11:45am

Both are tv dramatisations Erik. You can get the 1970s one on DVD still. I bought it for friends last Christmas, and they loved it, despite the lack of technical tv sophistication!

There was a radio version, which I missed, last year. I'm not a big radio person.

des. 23, 2015, 12:18pm

>252 msf59: Thank you Mark. You too - it shouldn't be 60 degrees in Chicago for Christmas.

My dad read Redeployment and enjoyed it. It probably will be a while before I get to it.

des. 23, 2015, 12:24pm

>254 Caroline_McElwee: I should have thought that through a bit more. I listen to our public radio regularly and there is a lot of programming from the BBC so I just assumed radio. We have access to BBC America but it seems to mainly show reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation and not the esoteric history shows that I keep hoping for. When I get desperate I have to trick the BBC One Player into thinking I am in the UK.

des. 23, 2015, 3:39pm

For my Christmas/Hanukkah/Solstice/Holiday image this year (we are so diverse!), I've chosen this photograph by local photographer Mark Lenoce of the pier at Pacific Beach to express my holiday wishes to you: Peace on Earth and Good Will toward All!

des. 24, 2015, 9:52am

Getting caught up here. Congratulations on 75 books read AND the sale of the house!

des. 24, 2015, 1:59pm

Warm wishes for a magical holiday season, Erik!

des. 24, 2015, 3:24pm

Have a lovely holiday, Erik

des. 24, 2015, 6:04pm

des. 27, 2015, 11:46pm

>257 ronincats:, >258 lkernagh:, >259 katiekrug:, >260 PaulCranswick:, >261 lkernagh: Thank you all for the holiday greetings! Sorry I have been AWOL from my thread - we wrapped up our 4th Christmas celebration today with my wife's side of the family (delayed by her brother coming in from Washington DC). Not surprisingly, it has been busy!

des. 27, 2015, 11:48pm

Our Christmas Eve family photo.

des. 28, 2015, 12:00am

Long Walk to Valhalla by Adam Smith

Very interesting graphic novel and one that has stuck with me. Set in Arkansas, the book is the story of Rory and his older brother Joe. Joe is mentally ill (although the fantastical elements of the book suggest that his illness is his greater connection to the world of Norse mythology) and Rory is his protector.

Mostly the story is about Rory growing up, trying to protect his brother Joe and coping with an abusive, drug addicted father. The fantastical element comes in the form of a young girl who solemnly tells Rory that he will die that day and because he has fought bravely she will escort him to Valhalla. It is Rory's conversations and recollections with the child Valkyrie that unfolds Rory's story and explains why Rory has earned the right to go to Valhalla.

Well worth the read.

des. 28, 2015, 3:09am

What a wonderful family photo, Erik. Thanks for sharing it.

des. 28, 2015, 2:38pm

Happy Holidays, Erik!

I'm with Barbara - that's a wonderful family photo.

I'm another Redeployment fan. Great book - hope it works for you.

des. 28, 2015, 5:22pm

Lovely family photo Erik. Glad you all had a lovely first Christmas in your new home.

I did buy two or three graphic novels this year, so will nudge one up the pile, I've only read one to date. I have a conflict I think, that I tend not to be drawn to them, I love art, but have never been into cartoons.

des. 28, 2015, 5:37pm

Jumping out of retirement to wish you a Safe and Happy New Year!

Lovely family photo!

des. 29, 2015, 1:31am

>265 Ameise1: & >266 jnwelch: Thank you Barbara and Joe.

Editat: des. 29, 2015, 10:37am

>267 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks Caroline. It was nice to entertain in the much bigger space. Perhaps you have tried the wrong graphic novels? Some of the graphic novels that are my favorites have stunning art to the point that it nearly eclipses the story. Dream Hunters, a Neil Gaiman book illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano comes to mind (there is another version not illustrated by Amano but it is not as nice).

des. 29, 2015, 1:36am

>268 michigantrumpet: Very nice to see you out of retirement Marianne. I starred your 2016 thread. I will have one of my own but I prefer to wait until the 31st to put it up. Besides, I am been getting a couple more books added to my total before year end.

Editat: des. 29, 2015, 10:37am

>270 Oberon: I agree re Dream Hunters, Erik. I like the beautiful Amano version.

des. 29, 2015, 12:25pm

>270 Oberon: >272 jnwelch: OK guys, it just tripped into my shopping cart!

des. 29, 2015, 1:03pm

Merry Christmas :)

des. 29, 2015, 5:22pm

>273 Caroline_McElwee: Mission accomplished.

des. 29, 2015, 5:23pm

>274 evilmoose: Great picture Megan. He looks very festive in his Santa hat.

des. 29, 2015, 5:30pm

Very nice family photo, Erik. And a nice book inheritance. I'd be interested The Samurai Sword. Is it a history of?

des. 29, 2015, 10:30pm

Love the family photo, Erik! Such a nice looking family. How is the snow up there? Bad?

des. 29, 2015, 10:41pm

>276 Oberon: And he's been wearing it obsessively since I handed to him at the start of December. Between that and the full-green outdoor wear, he is very easy to spot in a crowd now.

des. 29, 2015, 11:56pm

>277 catarina1: I never want to turn anyone off of a book but The Samurai Sword is no what I would call a general readership book. It is more of a reference guide and provides pretty specific details for identifying types of swords and specific smiths. Very useful for a hobbyist (the true connoisseurs invariably learn Japanese) but not what I would call a light read.

des. 29, 2015, 11:58pm

>278 msf59: Thanks Mark. We had a decent snowfall yesterday. We got about 4 inches. Southern Minnesota got snow in the 7 to 9 inch range. Not too bad - enough to make the roads bad.

Editat: des. 30, 2015, 12:02am

>279 evilmoose: Easy to spot in a crowd is probably a good thing at his age. He looks very cute in his green and red ensemble.

My middle son took to wearing a Santa hat around for the last couple of weeks. I told him he could not wear it to school until he brought home the other hats he had already lost at school. Worked like a charm. He had the other hats home the next day.

des. 30, 2015, 7:22am

>263 Oberon: Great photo!

des. 30, 2015, 11:26am

>283 kidzdoc: Thank Darryl. I hope you are enjoying your respite with your parents.

des. 31, 2015, 3:24pm