Saturday, June 15, 2019

Review: Lake of the Ozarks: My Surreal Summers in a Vanishing America

Lake of the Ozarks: My Surreal Summers in a Vanishing America Lake of the Ozarks: My Surreal Summers in a Vanishing America by Bill Geist
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fun to reminisce about "the good old days" with the author. In fact, makes me want to record some of my own memories.

Bill is a few years older than me, but we are essentially contemporaries. I knew this when early in the book he discloses his favorite Sirius Radio station - Classic Vinyl. His memories have certainly triggered many of my own. Bottom line on the book - he is a great storyteller.

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Sunday, June 09, 2019

Review: Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life

Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life by Beth Kempton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An interesting and provocative read. Example quote - "Wabi sabi is an intuitive response to beauty that reflects the true nature of life. Wabi sabi is an acceptance and appreciation of the impermanent, imperfect, and incomplete nature of everything. Wabi sabi is a recognition of the gifts of simple, slow, and natural living." This book was recommended for me through my local library's ebook interface, and I added it to my holds list, knowing it would be awhile as it was clearly in demand. When it came around I was able to finish it over the course of a few days, taking a chapter or two at a time. While I thought I knew a bit about Japanese culture, I had never encountered "wabi sabi" and I discovered that each word ("wabi" and "sabi") has its own meaning in the Japanese language. However, taken together, the phrase means something related but subtly different, something that people in the culture understand but rarely if ever speak of. Fascinating and inspiring!

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Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Review: The Dark Heart: A True Story of Greed, Murder, and an Unlikely Investigator

The Dark Heart: A True Story of Greed, Murder, and an Unlikely Investigator The Dark Heart: A True Story of Greed, Murder, and an Unlikely Investigator by Joakim Palmkvist
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you like Dateline, and if you enjoy learning more about modern Scandinavian (Swedish) culture, this book may be for you! It was featured as part of Amazon's #WorldBookDay promotion. I bit (by downloading for free), and never looked back! It was a fun and engrossing read - but I like these types of things!

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Saturday, April 20, 2019

Fair and balanced - a book review of the Mueller Report


The Washington Post's book reviewer takes on the Mueller Report, as a book.
OK, I posted about a review of the Mueller Report as a PDF file, so it only seems fair (and balanced) to add this one on a book review of said report. The headline of Carlos Lozada's review in the Washington Post's Book Party section is "The Mueller report isn’t just a legal document. It’s also the best book on the Trump White House so far."

Lozada's piece reads much like a regular review, and inspires me to finish reading the report, soon! (There's a little matter of Jennife Egan's Manhattan Beach, as well as The Gene, by Siddhartha Mukherjee, standing in its way.)  

BTW the PDF-oriented review cited its length (file size), but after downloading it myself, it seems about right.



Friday, April 19, 2019

Review: The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing the Unknown

The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing the Unknown The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing the Unknown by Catherine Burns
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a great collection of stories! Like TED talks, Moth stories are limited in length, so those in this collection are quick to read. The story-tellers are a delightful group as well, and you will no doubt recognize a few, or more than a few!

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Mueller Report - not the best PDF


I must admit to feeling some amusement when I saw this story from The Verge about the shoddy PDF quality found in the downloaded Mueller Report. Reporter Adi Robertson clearly had some fun with this piece as well, starting with the headline, "The PDF Association thinks the Mueller report sucks" (though of course the writer is not responsible for the headline in many cases). Having been around before Adobe dubbed PDF "Acrobat" (it was codenamed "Carousel"), this story really hit home. I was considering a post about all the toner and ink being used to print out the report, but this one takes the prize!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Review - Rising up from Hatred

Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White NationalistRising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist by Eli Saslow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The true and gripping tale, more than a bit terrifying, of the American White Supremacist movement, and one young man's years-long process of breaking away from it. I found this book to be educational, causing me to look differently at the day's political news, in a less-than-favorable way. The saga of the defection of the movement's heir apparent, despite extreme family and peer pressure, is an admirable one. I saw interesting parallels with another one of my favorite books of the past year or so, Educated, that one a memoir of course, while "Rising up from Hatred" was penned bu Pulitzer Prize-winner Eli Saslow.


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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Memories from the world of birding

I was delighted to bump a memory-affirming reference today while boning up on my bird calls and songs - tis the season after all! In reviewing American Goldfinch vs. Lesser Goldfinch vs. Pine Siskin (all regulars in my neighborhood), I noticed one of the AMGO recordings was captured by none other than vaunted bird expert and field guide author David Sibley, in the state of New York in May, 1981. This date fits perfectly with my memories of him, as we were both hanging around Cornell University's Laboratory of Ornithology at that time. The blog "Birding is Fun" allowed me to share this recollection in 2010, but one does at least occasionally wonder about the veracity of one's memories, so this was a real pleasure to encounter!
David Sibley's American Goldfinch recording is helpful from an educational standpoint, as well as providing a nice confirmation of my memories!