Saturday, January 18, 2020

Review: The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had never heard of Teddy Roosevelt's post-presidential expedition to the Amazon rainforest in Brazil until the recently-aired Ken Burns series ("The Roosevelts"). The perilous nature of the trip intrigued me and so when I saw this book, authored by a National Geographic reporter Candice Miller, I knew I had to read it. And I am happy that I did - even if it took what must be a year or more to finish (thanks to our public library for seemingly endless renewals).

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Monday, January 13, 2020

Language evolves...caught in the act!


As a student of evolution as used in its traditional sense, I am also intrigued by the concept's application to processes outside the biological. (See #s 1 and 2 in the screenshot above.)

That includes modern word usage, and I have recently encountered an example that I find fascinating. Maybe I am longing for the tech world, again missing last week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), or just the fact that fast-changing fields prompt the need for fast-changing terminology, but I have one of these changes which I find fascinating.

First during the just-ended holiday season, and now with a recent Amazon order, I have noted that what I have always referred to as "cables" (see below) - or what many refer to as "cords" - are now being called "chargers".

The vendor calls them by the "right" old-school name but Amazon refers to them as "chargers"

It's a great adaptation, to a more "active" noun that describes the function they perform, but my more traditional self would complain that the charger is the part that "plugs in the wall", i.e. the 110v wall socket (in the US anyway). My #OKBoomer rationale is that it's does the charging and the cable only provides the connection with the device being charged. HOWEVER, the plugging in the wall these days means into the ever-more-ubiquitous USB sockets found included in modern wall outlets, and things like lamps in hotel rooms and backs of airplane seats.

Even at my rather rustic coffee shop, the outlets include USB sockets
So...let the charging continue!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Review: Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder

Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder by Kenn Kaufman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now I know why this book is a classic in the birding world! Chronicle of Kenn's 1973 Big Year (and put into book form 30 years later). In addition to all the birds and birders referenced, Kaufman's experiences mirror my own from the 1970s, in so many ways, e.g. from finding out about California's "under 18" law, to crossing the Canadian border as a 19-year-old longhair with little money, to our 1978 birding quest that took my partner and me to many of the "hotspots" mentioned in the book. This is one of those that I wished I had read earlier!!! (Just noted on my Goodreads that I had added it to my "to read" pile in 2015! At least I got it read in the same decade, just barely.)

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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Review: A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What can you say? I say, read this book! It’s short, timely, and features great writing, as only Dickens can. Like me, you are no doubt very familiar with the story and characters, but the written descriptions of the surroundings and especially the various spirits are unforgettable. And oh yeah, it’s cheap - Gutenberg (free) or the Amazon version for 99 cents! But don’t be a Scrooge!!!

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Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Review: Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump

Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump by Neal Katyal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To say this book is "topical" is quite an understatement. Katyal is one of my favorite talking heads during the descendence of 45, and he's also a good Twitter follow as the story develops in real time. How this book could be so current will amaze you - breaking a few of the usual publishing-calendar barriers, no doubt.

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Saturday, November 30, 2019

Review: Audubon, On The Wings Of The World

Audubon, On The Wings Of The World Audubon, On The Wings Of The World by Fabien Grolleau
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book offers some great illustrations and a fun telling of the "career" of John James Audubon. I recommend it, but for cover-to-cover readers I suggest reading the notes in the back before starting with the colorful narrative, as the context will help in what can get fairly scanty in terms of the subject's full story. I have known about Audubon for many decades and in those same textual notes at the end, the author (French) claims that for Americans JJ Audubon is the most well known historic Frenchman, next to Lafayette (I guess I might have thrown in Napoleon). I am trying to get a little bit engaged in the "Graphic Novels" department and this was a great start!

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Monday, November 11, 2019

Review: Stoner

Stoner Stoner by John Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First off, Stoner is the lead characters's name (William Stoner to be exact), and not something else! But getting by that, this was a wonderful read. I encountered a reference to it in The New Yorker from earlier this year, and my local library (yay) had a Kindle version. I was captivated by the life story of Stoner, and its timeline that starts in the very early 20th century and takes us into the 50's, offers a bit of a history lesson as well. The introduction in this version, btw, is very enlightening but is full of spoilers, so I am happy I read it last!

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