Oberon's 2015 Thread - Part 3
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Aquest tema està marcat com "inactiu"—L'últim missatge és de fa més de 90 dies. Podeu revifar-lo enviant una resposta.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
Good luck with the boat! What a cool find!
Great photo of the kids!
Love the boat! It would be great if you can restore it.
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.
Probably going to gift it to a family member. That said, I might end up keeping it when it shows up.
What a beautiful bowl. I would keep it for myself, too.
I had to look this one up. The things 3 year olds know these days. Quite the social life you have.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
>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.
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.
I love your Japanese photos. Your mementos are beautiful.
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.
Good luck with restoring the lovely boat. How happy you will be when you see the finished project!
>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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Well done, Andrew. I hope the fish dinner was a good one.
Love the soccer photo. What a great bunch.
Oh yeah: Go Cubs!!!
Fingers are crossed for your Cubs.
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!
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.
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.
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.
I remember that I liked Kim. I read it years ago.
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.***
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.
Have a great weekend Erik.
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.
>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.
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.
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.
Enjoy the weekend!
>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.
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.
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.
>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! :-)
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.
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!
I will say that this was the most fun I have had for Halloween.
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.
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.
I look forward to descriptions and photos from your spring break.
Way to go on your mid-November lake fishing!
I am confident I will make it to some ruins - just not sure about Tikal.
My BIL spoke highly of Tikal, as I'm sure others have to you.
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.
>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
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.
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.
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. :)
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.
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?
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.
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.
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. :(
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.
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
>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.
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.
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.
(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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
I like the book cover. The picture is of the Washington Square Arch in Manhattan.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One mortgage is stressful enough. That's got to be a big load off your mind.
>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.
I would even just like a de-escalation of the present conflict. I hope you're right, Erik.
>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.
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.
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.
Nice book haul! I was a big fan of Redeployment. Fine collection.
There was a radio version, which I missed, last year. I'm not a big radio person.
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!
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.
I'm with Barbara - that's a wonderful family photo.
I'm another Redeployment fan. Great book - hope it works for you.
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.
Lovely family photo!
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.