Meme: Reading Habits

I dug this out of my drafts folder on WordPress.  It’s a meme I found on the Joeyanne Libraryanne blog ages ago and it’s a bout time I answered these questions:

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?

Not really a habit of mine, although I usually read a book while eating lunch.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

I’m not horrified by marking books but since almost all the books I read are from the library I generally don’t do so.  About the only time I write in a book is when it is for a class or research.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?

Bookmark.  Frequently lost, sometimes pulled out deliberately by my mischievous imp of a son.

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?

Both, although I lean to non-fiction.

Hard copy or audiobooks?

I was hard copy snob for a long time but now I listen to audiobooks at work.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?

I try to read to the end of the chapters but I don’t always get there.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?

No, but I should.

What are you currently reading?

The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel.

What is the last book you bought?

Bought?  I’m a librarian.  I read library books.  Probably bought something for my son.

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?

Generally I have one print book and one audiobook going at the same time, sometimes more.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?

I love to read on public transportation and in bed.  Any time of day is fine with me.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?

Stand alone books.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?

I’ve recommended Jasper Fforde to a lot of people.

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)

Once upon a time I split my books into fiction and non-fiction.  Fiction was organized by author’s last name.  Non-fiction was grouped by subject matter.  With marriage, a move, and parenthood there is no order to my books except virtually.

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I swear I wasn’t looking (via Closed Stacks)

Interesting thoughts on patron privacy at the library.

I swear I wasn't looking “Hi, I’ve got something on hold.” “Sure, one second, let me grab it.” I turn slowly, saunter to the shelf, and begin scanning.  Hmm, where is it?   Oh, here we go.  Oh man!  I grab it. Don’t look down, don’t look down.  It’s probably not what you think.  Maybe you read it wrong.  Maybe not.  Just focus on getting it there.  Don’t let the patron know you saw.  Scan it, print the receipt. “Have a nice day.” Smile, nod.  Phew.  I don’t think they no … Read More

via Closed Stacks

Will we do the other things? (via The Edge of the American West)

“Not because they are easy, but because they are hard,” is one of my favorite Kennedy quotes.

As long as I'm having fun with YouTube's "start here" feature, note this standard-issue awesome impassioned Shatner speech by Captain Kirk in "Return to Tomorrow": Do you wish that the first Apollo mission hadn't reached the moon, or that we hadn't gone on to Mars, and then to the nearest star? As Torie Atkinson says, though, this is really quite cool, because the episode aired originally on February 9, 1968: Here is a fictional future starship c … Read More

via The Edge of the American West

Boston By Foot Tour of the Month – Chestnut Hill

Today I took the excellent Boston By Foot Tour of the Month of Chestnut Hill.  While the neighborhood straddles Newton, Brookline, and Boston, the tour covered the Newton portion viewing elegant houses along shady lanes.

My photos are online here, with some samples below.

The Church of the Redeemer

The official description of  the tour from the Boston By Foot website:

Chestnut Hill is a classic streetcar suburb which developed as the railroad and streetcar network expanded around Boston. By the early twentieth century, Chestnut Hill was considered to be “suburban living at its best”.

This walking tour explores the Newton portion of the Chestnut Hill neighborhood where you will walk among large Victorian mansions while learning its evolution from rural farmland to a modern suburb.

Chestnut Hill also features the campus of Boston College and the historic Chestnut Hill Reservoir with a finish at the new Metropolitan WaterWorks Museum.

Hammond House

If you missed the tour today, don’t worry it will be offered again next year.  Become a Boston By Foot Member today and receive a discount on Tours of the Month plus special members only tours.

The Metropolitan Water Works

Beer Review: Cisco Brewers Bailey’s Blonde Ale

Beer: Bailey’s Blonde Ale
Brewer: Cisco Brewers
Source: 12 fl. oz. bottle
Rating: ** (6.3 of 10)


Look – Cloudy, golden, carbonated, thin head

Aroma – Musty, earthy, floral

Taste –  good balance of malts and hops, bitter aftertaste

2nd look – no head, no lace,  still bubbly

Overall – a tasty, complex ale that leaves me with a good buzz.

Book Review: Coop by Michael Perry

Author: Michael Perry
Title: Coop : a year of poultry, pigs, and parenting
Publication Info: New York : Harper, c2009.
ISBN: 9780061240430

Summary/Review:  As the title implies this is a book about a man taking up running a family farm with pigs and chickens while also raising a family.  There is his wife, a step-daughter, and a brand new baby and it’s touching how he tries to do right by all of them.  This book is also very much a memoir as Perry reflects back to growing up on his parents’ farm.  He grew up a member of a small and nameless Christian denomination and while no longer practicing the faith appreciates the sincere devotion of his parents that lead him to grow up in a household with dozens of adopted and foster children.  This is a touching, insightful, and quiet peak at one man’s attempts at the country life in the modern age.

Recommended books: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard and Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.
Rating: ****

Photopost: Providence

Today I took my toddler son Peter on a day trip to Providence, RI.  The main appeal of the outing was for Peter to finally get a chance to ride the double-decker commuter rail trains but I’ve been wanting to explore Providence for some time.  Despite living a combined 27-years in the neighboring states of Connecticut and Massachusetts I’ve not given much attention to Rhode Island.  I’ve driven through Providence past the giant termite, I went to a basketball camp at Providence College 20 years ago when I was in high school, I’ve been to a couple of Providence Bruins games, and … and that’s about it.

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The Providence railroad station is centrally located right next to the Rhode Island State House.  For the smallest state, Rhode Island really has an enormous capitol complete with gleaming white marble, neoclassical facades, and a looming hilltop presence.  I didn’t have any destination in mind, just wanted to get out and  explore. Peter & I strolled through Waterplace Park an attractive urban development of recent vintage which apparently replaced railroad tracks that once covered the river.  Then we visited City Hall Park where Peter chased after many, many pigeons.

While I would be content to study the attractive architecture of Providence, Peter wanted a playground and not being able to find one, we made our way to the Providence Children’s Museum.  The museum is located in the Jewelery District which actually looked like a district of unoccupied industrial buildings which was a little creepy.  The area around the museum was friendly and the museum itself was great – smaller but also less intimidating than the Boston Children’s Museum.   On our way back to the railroad station we walked through another part of downtown.  It feels someone how more urban than Boston and very different architecturally.  I will have to return to explore more when my attention is not so focused on a toddler.

Soccer in Excess

I watched a lot of soccer the past few days while visiting my in-laws where I had two things I don’t usually have at home: 1) an abundance of free time and 2) the Fox Soccer Channel.  I crave having FSC in my own home but it’s probably for the best that I don’t.  Lest it seem that I did nothing but watch tv, I also spent a lot of time running around with my son and nephew, including kicking around a soccer ball.

Wigan Athletic v Chelsea (21 Aug 2010) – I watched the second half of this game which demonstrated the lack of competitive balance in the English Premier League.  Chelsea scored 5 of their 6 goals in this half shutting out Latics.  On the same day Arsenal defeated Blackpool by the same score.   Not much fun at all.  Match report.

Fulham vs. Manchester United (22 Aug 2010) – This was a very entertaining game, but first off I must mention how charmed I was by Fulham’s very old school grounds at Craven Cottage.  If I ever get to see an EPL game in person this is where I’d like to watch it from.  I also enjoyed the humbling of a football superpower who should have gone away with a win but had to settle for a 2-2 tie.  Fulham’s Brede Hangeland could have been the goat when his own-goal put Man U ahead with 7 minutes to go, but became the hero by scoring the equalizer in the 89th minute.  In between those two goals Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale also heroically saved a penalty kick.  Other things I like about Fulham is that they have on their roster US MNT star (and former Rev) Clint Dempsey and Irish international Damien Duff.  I think I’ll add them to my list of teams to follow. Match report.

Manchester City vs. Liverpool (23 Aug 2010) – All I know about Manchester City is that they are very Mets-like in how they under-perform compared to the their cross-town derby rivals Manchester United.  I also know that the club’s owners have spent a ton of money in the offseason.  Whether they will end up reversing their fortunes or being Met-ly big spenders/big losers remains to be seen.  This game was a good start as they crushed a traditional football power in Liverpool.  Match report.

RSC Anderlecht vs. FK Partizan Belgrade (24 Aug 2010) – I probably wouldn’t have watched this UEFA Champions League qualifier  if not for my brother-in-law who became a Anderlecht supporter during his youth in Belgium.  It was a pretty exciting game as Anderlecht game back from being down 2-nil in the second half  and it looked like they had a third goal but the offside flag was up.  Since the teams were tied on aggregate goals and away goals, the game went to extra time and then a penalty shootout where things got really embarrasing for Anderlecht.   Goalkeeper Sivio Proto earned a raise by blocking two shots but three Anderlecht penalty takers sent their shots over the crossbars! They tried to blame a divot on the field but that didn’t stop Partizan from netting three penalties from the same spot for the win. Match report.

FC Barcelona vs. AC Milan (25 Aug 2010) – With 7 members of Spain’s World Cup Champion squad and Argentina’s Lionel Messi, I feel a little guilty throwing my lot behind an obvious superpower like Barça as a team I support.  I  like the team because they are supporter-owned and don’t wear a corporate logo on their jerseys and in fact donate money to UNICEF. Today’s game was a friendly Joan Gamper Trophy match against the equally illustrious AC Milan.  The  game served as an excuse to welcome back former Barça player Ronahildino and welcome new acquisition David Silva (the latter scored a goal).  As these friendly tournaments go, this one ended in a 1-1 tie with Barcelona winning on penalty kicks.  Match report.

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Book Review: On Deep History and the Brain by Daniel Lord Smail

Author: Daniel Lord Smail
Title: On Deep History and The Brain
Publication Info: University of California Press (2008)
ISBN: 0520258126

Summary/Review:  Smail’s concept is that there is an artificial divide between pre-history (what he calls deep history) and history and that the biological and evolutionary history of humanity can be better understood by bridging the gap.  At least that’s what I think it was about because unfortunately my brain was too small to grasp much of this book.  For a slender book, Smail did an exhaustive amount of work detailing the idea of when history began through the ages and the time when history “begins” has remained steady even as the reasoning as moved from sacred to scientific. In place of the current paradigm, Smail proposes a neuro-history or a study of the evolution of the human brain.  Interesting stuff even if most of it went over my head.

Rating: **

Book Review: A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin

Author: Mitch Cullin
Title: A Slight Trick of the Mind
Publication Info: New York : Nan A. Talese, 2005.
ISBN: 0385513283

Summary/Review: Mitch Cullin takes the very familiar literary character of Sherlock Holmes and puts him in the seemingly unlikely setting of 1947 post-war England.  The aged Holmes is long-retired from detective work, tending to bees, writing his memoirs, and beginning to lose his mental faculties.  His only companions are his housekeeper and her bright son Roger of whom Holmes begins to take on as a protegé with even some paternal feelings.  Three stories are intertwined – Holmes life at his rural cottage and growing mentor ship to Roger, flashbacks to a  recent trip to Japan after the atomic bomb attacks where he went to collect botanical specimens, and a his own written account of a case and a woman who continue to haunt him.  This is a very different Holmes than ever presented by Conan Doyle yet fitting seamlessly into the oeuvre.  It’s a sad account of a very human side of Sherlock Holmes that is reminiscent of The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Recommended books: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro and Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon by Larry Millett.
Rating: ****1/2

Movie Review: Once in a Lifetime

**** Once in a Lifetime (2006)

They say Americans don’t like soccer and that it will never be as popular here as it is in the rest of the world.  Yet I remember growing up in a time and place where not only did I play youth soccer but cheered for a successful American soccer team that played before sell-out crowds in an American Football stadium.  This documentary proves that I wasn’t imagining things in my childhood.  The New York Cosmos were real, they were good, and they were big.

All the figures involved in making the Cosmos – the players and the executives – are all there with the exception of the late Steve Ross and Pele (who wanted too much money to be interviewed).  Still it’s a rollicking film with conflicting opinions showing that tempestuous feelings among the Cosmos haven’t faded with time.  It’s an amazing story of how a team basically made of semi-pros playing at a small college football stadium grew into one of the first international all-star teams playing to a full house in the Meadowlands. And more amazing that some of those semi-pros stuck around long enough for the surreal experience of playing with Pele.

Ross invested a lot of his Warner Communications money into bringing stars like  Pele and Giorgio Chinalgia to the USA as well as making the Cosmos an attraction with cheerleaders, an exploding scoreboard, and Bugs Bunny as a mascot.  The free-spending ways also contributed to the demise of the NASL as other teams could not keep up, not to mention that the NASL expanded to way too many franchises.

The documentary uses graphics, music, and editing techniques that give it a 70’s vibe.  I really enjoyed it and it made me very nostalgic for the golden age of the NASL and the 70’s in New York.  Highly recommended for soccer fans or anyone interested in an unlikely American success story.

Soccer Week in Review

My soccer-watching exploits for the past week.

AFC Ajax vs. Vitesse (14 Aug 2010) – I have to admit that this is the kind of game I enjoy watching.  Granted I’m sure the football purist found the defensive lapses on both sides lacking.  But I liked how the lead changed several times in the first half.  I like how three goals were scored in about 5 minutes of the first half.  I like how Ajax scored a goal within seconds of kicking off the second half.  I like that the over-matched Vitesse despite being outplayed by Ajax seemed to have a chance of pulling off an upset, at least until Ajax scored their fourth goal.  I like that Ajax won.  Match report.

Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution (18 Aug 2010) –   Tuned in hoping to see the Revs extend their 8-game unbeaten streak and streak of not allowing goals in league games, but alas it didn’t finish well.  The Revolution took an early lead in a very entertaining first half on a goal by Marko Perovic.  Chicago equalized in the 32nd minute.  Then the game began to get bogged down with penalties with most of the calls – and some non-calls – going against New England.  The most egregious referee error was not calling a penalty when Perovic was knocked down in the Chicago penalty area in the 90th minute.  Boston Globe coverage.

FC Bayern München vs. VfL Wolfsburg (20 Aug 2010) –  I watched this game on ESPN 3 which didn’t show the first 30 minutes of the game nor was there any commentary.  It was interesting to watch a televised match with only the sound of cheers and drumming of the fans.  The game was very defensive when I first tuned in with Bayern protecting a 1-0 lead.  There were so many back passes it seemed the two sides were playing toward their own goals.  The second half opened with Wolfsburg making an impressive barrage of long-range shots stopped only by the goal post before finally putting in a header off a corner kick.  With the score tied Bayern took control of the ball and got many free kicks due to the suddenly desperate physicality of Wolfsburg.  It looked like it would end a 1-1 tie but instead Bayern won the game dramatically on a stoppage time goal by Bastian Schweinsteiger.  Match report.

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How Steampunk can Save Librarianship: Libraries Redefined (Part 2) (via PC Sweeney’s Blog)

I shared this link on my tumblelog Portals of Discovery and it’s proved to be very popular. It’s an interesting comparison of two pretty cool things – steampunk and libraries – that could’ve gimmicky premise but it works.

How Steampunk can Save Librarianship: Libraries Redefined (Part 2) As I am continuing to explore the experiences that are changing how I view librarianship, I came across the steampunk movement. What is a steampunk you ask? Well, steampunk is a genre of speculative futurist fiction where the world is powered by steam and the design of the future is modeled after the Victorian craftsmanship of the 1800’s. Yet, in this steam powered … Read More

via PC Sweeney's Blog

Book Review: The Boston Irish by Thomas H. O’Connor

Author: Thomas H. O’Connor
Title: The Boston Irish
Publication Info: 9780316626613
ISBN: Back Bay Books (1997)

Previously Read by the Same Author: Eminent Bostonians

Summary/Review: Subtitled “A Political History” this is the Dean of Boston History’s story of the rise of Irish from subjugated minority to political power in Boston.  While there is a lot more that could be said of Boston Irish history this book focuses on the Irish mayors and a few other political leaders as well as Irish-American Catholic bishops attempts to help lead their flock into the Boston mainstream.  O’Connor follows to trends – the business-like, accommodationist attempts to work with the traditional Yankee power elite and the more confrontational, neighborhood-focused style emphasized by John Fitzgerald and James Michael Curley.  This was an interesting summary of politics in Boston history and especially informative of the big figures in recent history of Boston.

Recommended booksHow the Irish Became White by Noel Ignatiev, All Souls: A Family Story from Southie by Michael Patrick MacDonald, and Ethnics and Enclaves by William Michael Demarco.

Rating: ***

Book Review: The Purpose of the Past by Gordon S. Wood

Author:Gordon S. Wood
Title: The Purpose of the Past
Publication Info:Blackstone Audio, Inc., 2008
ISBN: 9781433242137

Previously Read by Same Author: The Radicalism of the American Revolution

Summary/Review: This is a collection of book reviews written by the esteemed historian Gordon S. Wood.  Many of them criticize history writers for presentism, post-modernism, political history, and scientific quantitative analysis.  Coming under Wood’s scrutiny are authors I admire such as Gary Wills, Barbara Tuchman, and Simon Schama.  Yet despite this, I like Wood’s well-written and well-supported take on how history should be told.  Regardless of Wood’s ultimate opinion of these works, there are a lot of books I want to add to my reading list.

Recommended booksPracticing History by Barbara Tuchman
Rating: ***

Normal Distribution in Library Thing

At library school I took the required course on the role of research.  Each week the professor would draw graphs all over the dry erase board and then with vigor mark out the bell curves on each of them with his marker.  I didn’t much get it then, and I don’t get it now but looking at my Library Thing page this jumped out at me:

Scary isn’t it.  The distribution of stars I award to books I’ve read does indeed form a bell curve.  At least on the integers if not on the half-stars.

Now someone should run a statistical analysis to tell me what this all means.

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Beer Review: Wormtown Freakin’ Unbelievable IPA

Beer: Freakin’ Unbelievable IPA
Brewer: Wormtown Brewing Co.
Source: Draft
Rating: ** (6/7 of 10)

Comments: Kudos to the marketing geniuses at this Worcester, MA brewery for coming up with an irresistible name.  The beer came in a tulip style glass which displayed it’s dark amber color and plentiful carbonation.  The scent was flowery and the taste was a good balance of bitter hops and a sweet citrus aftertaste.  An interesting beer that is not like other IPA’s I’ve sampled.  I’d like to try more beers from this brewery.

Beer Review: Ommegang Witte

Beer: Witte Ale
Brewer: Brewery Ommegang
Source: Draft
Rating: ** (6 of 10)

Comments: This Belgian style beer comes from Cooperstown, NY and is an attractive cloudy, pale yellow beer served with a slice of orange.  The aroma is grassy and earthy and the taste is sharp and tangy with a citrus sweet aftertaste.  The head disappeared quickly and left behind moderate lacing.  Overall this was a decent beer, crisp and refreshing, and suited to a hot summer evening.

This Week in Soccer

Here’s the report on my first week as a novice soccer fan.  See my previous post Forming an Association with Football for more details.

USA v. Brazil (10 Aug 2010) – A friendly match in the New Meadowlands stadium in New Jersey to thank the US fans for their World Cup support.  Supposedly the experienced US side fresh from the World Cup would have something to show to a young Brazilian team featuring many players appearing in their first international match.  Instead, it turned into an embarrassing rout with stylish Brazilian play exposing the weakness of the USA’s back line with attack after attack after attack.  Only great goalkeeping by Tim Howard and Brad Guzan prevented Brazil from running up the score.  More on this debacle from the Boston Globe.

At the very least seeing Brazilian players in the Meadowlands reminded me of the glory days of Pele and the New York Cosmos.

Mexico vs. Spain (11 Aug 2010) – I stopped in a pub in Boston for supper on Wednesday night and they had Spain’s first World Cup championship friendly at Mexico on the TV.  This game was Spain’s first defense of a lesser-known title, the Unofficial Football World Championship.  Basically the UFWC folks have created a basic title system akin to boxing championships tracing back to the earliest international football match in 1872.  When Spain defeated the Netherlands in the World Cup championship they ended the Dutch run of 21 title defenses and unified the UFWC with the official world championship.  Mexico had a good chance of snatching the title away from Spain with an early first half goal but David Silva of Spain equalized in stoppage time just before the end of the game (the UFWC champion retains the title in a tie).  The drama of the moment was lost on me because the Univision broadcast for some reason reset the clock at zero at the start of the second half so I had thought I was watching the first half until the players started shaking hands.

Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid (13 Aug 2010) –  Yet another friendly, this team matched two European club powers to contest the Beckenbauer Cup in tribute to the Bayern great Franz Beckenbauer.  It was fun to watch some of the best players in the world duke it out but the game ended as 0-0 tie with Real Madrid winning the cup in a penalty shootout.  Real Madrid’s goalkeeper Iker Casillas proved to be the hero of the match with several dramatic saves.

This leads me to a question which will probably betray my ignorance and American heritage:  How is it that with the goals in soccer being so enormous that there are so many scoreless games?  I mean if you ever stand by one of those nets it would seem impossible for a ball not to get in there no matter how good the keeper and the defense.

This weekend was too busy to watch soccer so I didn’t see any games of the teams I purportedly am following.  I did learn that as a supporter of Everton and the US national team I can be double embarrassed by Tim Howard’s fumble in the penalty area which allowed Blackburn to score the only goal of the game:

I’ve also I discovered a German team with the best name ever:  Wormatia Worms. Granted it’s funnier in English if you imagine annelids playing soccer, and ignore that Worms is the name of city in Germany.  Still, if the Wormatia Worms played higher than the fourth division in Germany I’d definitely start watching their games.

Photopost: Friday Evening Hayride at Drumlin Farm

Last night we returned to Drumlin Farm for the Friday Evening Hayride.  Farmer Caroline drove the tractor out to through the fields. Along the way Drumlin Farm educator Debbie taught us that we were in fact taking a strawride and that Drumlin Farm has been under cultivation for 250 years.  Of course, around these parts I wondered “only 250 years?”

We stopped by a campfire to roast marshmallows and make s’mores.  Then we sang “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Drumlin” for Farmer Caroline and a song about a farm called “Muscle and Arm.”  Then we heard a native American story about our special evening visitor, a screech owl!

A good time was had by all.

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