Tuesday, February 28, 2023


Here's where I plan to be this afternoon.  Do you have a nickname?
Would you be willing to share it with us in the comments?

Monday, February 27, 2023

Musing with the Thinker on a Monday

I used to have a small version of The Thinker, who seems to be perpetually musing on something.  It's probably still in a box, since I last remember it in our Book Buddies bookstore a couple of decades ago.  I've been musing about some $2 bills I have, ones that look similar to these:

I have at least one with green markings and one with red markings.  These are examples I found online, not mine.  Now, a news item screams:  "Check Your $2 Bills — They Could Be Worth Upwards of $4,500."  Yeah, right, and they could be worth $2 each.

I wrote about a $2 bill in 2020 (HERE) if you'd like to read a humorous story.  I posted that same story in 2013 (HERE).  It seems the story is worth telling more than once.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Armchair traveling

Armchair traveling is akin to teleportation, which I wrote about recently.  Sit in your comfy chair — or stretch out on your bed or sofa or hammock — and pick up a book.  That's all it takes.  Read, and you are on your way to adventure or hanging out with fictional friends.  "Book" your own destination by choosing what to read.  Would you like to see Japan or Hawaii or South Africa?  A book is your ticket to explore the world or outer space or fantasy land or anywhere else you can imagine.  Do it all with the help of a book — and maybe a librarian.

Then tell us in a comment where you've traveled recently in a book.

My weird lunch yesterday

The illustration shows somebody else's lunch, since I didn't think to take a photo of mine.  I was hungry, was trying to think what sounded good (before even going into the kitchen), and came up with spinach and beets.  After taking a look inside my fridge, I added cottage cheese to my list.  Hey, it's white like that spinach salad with beets, walnuts, and goat cheese (or their feta cheese option.)

I started tasting it while standing at the kitchen counter, so Clawdia came asking for some of whatever I was eating.  I put down a smidgen of cottage cheese, but she turned up her nose at it.  I don't have croutons, and I did not think of walnuts before I gobbled it down.  My spinach was from a can, but it was still a good combination of tastes.

Joke from Reader's Digest (100 funniest jokes of all time):  Did you hear . . . about  the veterinarian who prescribes birth-control pills for dogs?  It’s part of an anti-litter campaign. — Larry Wolters (RD Issue: January 1970)

International Mother Language Day
is a United Nations initiative first celebrated in 2000.  It falls on February 21 each year. so it was this past week.  Read about it HERE.
Deb Nance at Readerbuzz
hosts The Sunday Salon.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

A talking cat?

The Cat Who Saved Books ~ by Sōsuke Natsukawa, translated by Louise Heal Kawai, 2017, speculative fiction, 208 pages

Bookish high school student Rintaro Natsuki is about to close the secondhand bookstore he inherited from his beloved bookworm grandfather.  Then, a talking cat appears with an unusual request.  The feline asks for — or rather, demands — the teenager’s help in saving books with him.  The world is full of lonely books left unread and unloved, and the cat and Rintaro must liberate them from their neglectful owners. 

Their mission sends this odd couple on an amazing journey, where they enter different mazes to set books free.  Through their travels, the cat and Rintaro meet a man who leaves his books to perish on a bookshelf, an unwitting book torturer who cuts the pages of books into snippets to help people speed read, and a publishing drone who only wants to create bestsellers.

Their adventures culminate in one final and unforgettable challenge — the last maze that awaits leads Rintaro down a realm only the bravest dare enter.

This is a tale of books, first love, fantasy, and an unusual friendship with a talking cat.  It's a story for those for whom books are much more than words on paper.  Written by the #1 bestselling author in Japan, it's a celebration of books, cats, and the people who love them.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Beginning ~ with Stephen's day of birth

I was born on January 8, 1942, exactly three hundred years after the death of Galileo.  However, I estimate that about two hundred thousand other babies were also born that day.  I don't know whether any of them were later interested in astronomy.  I was born in Oxford, even though my parents were living in London.  This was because Oxford was a good place to be born during World War II.  The Germans had an agreement that they would not bomb Oxford and Cambridge, in return for the British not bombing Heidelberg and Göttingen.  It is a pity that this civilized sort of arrangement couldn't have been extended to more cities."
Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays ~ by Stephen W. Hawking, 1993, science essays, ix + 182 pages
Readers worldwide have come to know the work of Stephen Hawking through his million-copy hardcover best-seller A Brief History of Time.  This collection includes thirteen essays on cosmology plus an interview that was broadcast by the BBC on Christmas Day, 1992.  These fourteen pieces reveal Hawking variously as the scientist, the man, the concerned world citizen, and always as a rigorous and imaginative thinker.  Hawking's wit, directness of style, and absence of pomp characterize all of the articles, whether he is remembering his first experience at nursery school,; calling for adequate education in science that will enable the public to play its part in making informed decisions on matters such as nuclear disarmament, exploring the origins of the future of the universe, or reflecting on the history of A Brief History of Time.  This is an important work from one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century.
If you'd like to read more, I wrote about Stephen Hawking when he died in 2018, HERE.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts
Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Beginning ~ with a dog named Pal

Beginning ~ Unit 1 ~ Geography
My father-in-law tells me his Pal story.  He was a young boy out on a field trip with his class.  He suddenly saw his dog Pal and their dog walker across the way.  Hey, that's my dog, everyone!  That's my dog Pal! he shouted to his teacher and classmates.  He wanted, of course, to run over, but his teacher insisted he remain in line.
Textbook: Not Exactly a Memoir ~ by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, 2016, memoir (sort of), 336 pages

Rosenthal ingeniously adapts a standard format — a textbook, this time — to explore life’s lessons and experiences.  Not exactly a memoir and not just a collection of her observations, it's an exploration of the many ways we are connected on this planet as it speaks to the bewilderment and poignancy of being alive.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts
Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Wet books ~ plus other thoughts

1.  To see a video of a $1 coin
 (U.S.A.) with a sword to access a hidden vault, click HERE.

2.  Library flood

On Feb. 10th, a watermain burst at the University City Public Library, which is currently being renovated.  More than 100,000 gallons of water made its way into the basement destroying many of the recent renovations, books, and other items in the high-density shelving.  For book lovers like me, this is a painful story.  Even worse, this is my library.

3.  Clawdia's new favorite food is grilled beef in gravy.  Her usual two favs are (1) salmon and (2) liver and chicken, so this is different.  She's had it before, but this time it clicked.

4.  Word of the Day:  click (as I used it), verb = to receive an enthusiastic reception.

5.  My iPhone has started telling me "failed to send" when I try to send a photo to someone.  After it happened several times, I began to wonder how long my iPhone will last.  Google gave me different answers, as I tried to remember which model iPhone I have.  Okay, it's an iPhone Xs
(X is the Roman numeral for 10), pictured above, as I posted HERE in 2021.  By going to the T-Mobile site online, I found my "activation date" was 8/29/20.  So I've had it for two and a half years.

5.  Here are some answers I found online:
  • Overall, you can expect a regular iPhone to be in your life for somewhere between two and three years.
  • Apple no longer sells the iPhone XS . . . as of September 10, 2019 . . . iPhone XS and XS Max are the final models of iPhone to feature 3D Touch.  [Hmm, I don't even know what 3D Touch is, and I bought my Xs in August 2020.]
  • Will iPhone XS still work in 2022? . . . yes, because you still get upgrades for 5–8 years.  [Wait, we get upgrades for 5-8 years, but it lasts only 2-3 years?]
  • [W]hen it comes to iPhones, you can expect between three to five years (maybe more) with proper care.  [So maybe it's 3-5 years, instead of 2-3 years?]
  • What year will iPhone XS stop updating?  With an iPhone, you receive the latest software updates up to 6 years after the release of the device.  [Wow, such inconsistent information!]
On the other hand, I have also been told the construction going on here could be interfering with my phone.  I hope that's all it is.

6.  A book mystery

I don't remember where I found this title or who may have mentioned it.  Unfortunately, my library does not have this one, and it costs more for Kindle than I want to pay right now:  Cabin Fever: A Suburban Father's Search for the Wild ~ by Tom Montgomery Fate, 2011, nature writing, 224 pages.  If you've read this book, tell me what you thought.

7.  I read on Nextdoor that . . .

Washington University is buying the building that once was University United Methodist Church.  University UMC closed in 2019 when it merged with another United Methodist Church, and they now meet in the other church's building.  The edifice shown above is what the university is buying.  I used to help in UUMC's library before the merger.  The words on the photo were UUMC's slogan before their move.

8.  Circles from 4-3-2-1 order to 1-2-3-4 order

OOOO  OOO  OO  O  >>>>>>  O  OO  OOO  OOOO
Which O can you move from the left arrangement of 4-3-2-1 so it becomes 1-2-3-4?  

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Another pair of words ~ yarmulke and kippah

yar·mul·ke /ˈyäməlkə,ˈyäməkə / noun = a skullcap worn in public by Orthodox Jewish males or during prayer by other Jewish men.  Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) refer to it as a yarmulke (a Yiddish word), but it's also called a kippah by others.

Why am I telling you this?  Because Iva and I were chatting in our Circle@Crown Café yesterday when we noticed an elderly man wearing a yarmulke with Trump's face on it, bigger than this example I found online.  I looked it up when I came home, because I couldn't remember how to spell "yarmulke."

Word of the day = teleportation

I love reading science fiction, especially about things like teleportation.  In case you don't know that word, here's the definition:

Word of the Day #1
tele·​por·​ta·​tion /te-lə-ˌpȯr-ˈtā-shən/ noun = the act or process of moving an object or person by psychokinesis.  Example:  Teleportation in fiction is the instantaneous travel between two locations without crossing the intervening space."
Word of the Day #2
psy·cho·ki·ne·sis /ˌsīkōkəˈnēsəs,ˌsīkōˌkīˈnēsəs / noun = the supposed ability to move objects by mental effort alone.
Is teleportation possible?  I found an answer for us, HERE:
While human teleportation currently exists only in science fiction, teleportation is possible now in the subatomic world of quantum mechanics — albeit not in the way typically depicted on TV.  In the quantum world, teleportation involves the transportation of information, rather than the transportation of matter.
Hey, we all recognize this, don't we?  I can talk in "real time" with someone in the Netherlands, simply by using my cellphone to call her from here in St. Louis.

Though I choose not to have a television set now, Star Trek (see above) is one show I really did enjoy watching.  I think of "Beam me up, Scotty."  (Yet nowhere in Star Trek does Captain Kirk say the exact phrase "Beam me up, Scotty," this SOURCE says.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

TWOsday ~ learning to appreciate stories

I bought a couple of books written by a man who was in the fifth grade Sunday school class I taught at Signal Crest United Methodist Church in the mid-1960s.  He became a storyteller and says:
"Stories are how we remember, whereas narrative is how we think.  No one recounts the events of a day by saying, 'I had a brilliant thought today that came to me in three parts.'  No, what people say is, 'I got in the wrong line at the store, and you will never believe what happened!'  They tell the story of their day."
A Storyteller Looks at the Parables ~ by Charles W. Maynard, 2022, stories, 170 pages

Jesus used storytelling as the method that would carry the message of the Kingdom of God the farthest.  He "stuck" his truths in people's minds by telling stories.  Often, we rush past Jesus' stories to determine their meaning, and we rarely hear the story itself.  Many outstanding commentaries and sermon collections have been written about the parables.  This book, however, is designed to help you see the art of Jesus' storytelling and learn to appreciate it.  It also aims to assist the reader in hearing and experiencing the stories.  When you are caught up in a truly remarkable story being well told, you don't analyze it.  You listen to it.  You feel it.

This book is divided into two sections.  The first section includes five chapters:

(1) How to Read, (2) Is the Bible True?, (3) Words at the Right Time, (4) DIY (Do It Yourself), (5) Listen and Enjoy Don't Explain.

The second section includes ten meditations:

(1) Dirty Story, (2) For Heaven's Sake! Do Something!, (3) Tiny Beginnings, (4) Leave it Alone! (A Story of Manure), (5) Room at the Table, (6) People are the Problem, (7) The Owner of the Vineyard, (8) Wheat and Weeds, (9) The Fool's Prayer, (10) The Final Exam.

A Storyteller Looks at the Gospel of John ~ by Charles W. Maynard, 2022, Bible study, 202 pages

This book is appropriate for study during any season of the Christian calendar.  Each chapter includes questions intended for discussion among groups.

Charles Maynard is the author of more than 30 books in several genres, with more than 20 published historical books to his credit.  In addition to being an historian and a noted storyteller, Charles is a pastor at Cokesbury United Methodist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Monday, February 20, 2023

A book and a challenge

The Photographer's Son: Based on a True Story of a Jewish Holocaust Survivor ~ by Maya C. Klinger, 2022, historical fiction, 119 pages

This World War Two historical novel won the "Yad Vashem" World Holocaust Remembrance Center award for educational enterprises.  It's a book for young readers about a family of photographers during the Holocaust, told from the perspective of the five-year-old son.  World War II is raging in 1941, and the Nazi regime is spreading fear in the hearts of Jews throughout Europe.  Moshe Mandil, a Jewish photographer, quickly realizes that the life of his family will never be the same again, but he refuses to accept this new reality.

Together with his wife and their two little children, Moshe makes plans to board a train with counterfeit documents in hand and regain their freedom.  But his plan goes terribly wrong, and before the train can leave the station, a German officer pulls the family off the carriage, accusing them of the worst crime – being Jews.  Will Moshe be able to save his family?  Told from the perspective of the five-year-old son, this book for younger readers shows how the Mandil family were saved by Albanian Muslims.

Marg of the Intrepid Reader is hosting the 2023 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.  We are to choose one of these reading levels:
  • 20th Century Reader  2 books
  • Victorian Reader 5 books
  • Renaissance Reader 10 books
  • Medieval 15 books
  • Ancient History 25 books
  • Prehistoric 50+ books
I'll go easy on myself this year, choosing to read only two books, starting with the one above.  Maybe I'll surprise myself and end up reading more.


Sunday, February 19, 2023

Chunksters, numbers, and a RE-birthday

Books I'm still reading:
  • 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True ~ by Guy P. Harrison, foreword by Dr. Phil Plait, 2011, collection, 458 pages — This book is divided into eight sections:  Magical Thinking, Out There, Science and Reason, Strange Healings, Lure of the Gods, Bizarre Beings, Weird Places, and Dreaming of the End.  Wherever possible, Harrison presents alternative scientific explanations, which in most cases are even more fascinating.
  • A History of the World in 100 Objects ~ by Neil MacGregor, 2010, history, 736 pages — I'm still reading this chunkster a bit at a time.  More info HERE.
Word of the Day
Chunkster = There was a Chunkster Challenge about a decade ago, and people were challenged to read big, fat books of 450+ pages.  They could be fiction or nonfiction.  It looks like that's what I'm doing with these two books:  458 + 736 pages.  They're both on my Kindle, so they're not heavy.

Numbers of the Day
(odd ones and even ones)

Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, 2005, p. 119):  "Justin came home from school with the announcement that he had just learned what even and odd numbers were.  Okay, I said.  So tell me:  What's infinity, even or odd?  I certainly didn't have an answer in mind; I posed it only as a fun, unanswerable kind of question.  He thought about it for a moment, then concluded:  Mom, infinity is an 8 on its side, so it is an even number."  [FYI, infinity is not a number.]

Today is the 14th anniversary of my quadruple bypass surgery on February 19, 2009.  A year later, I decided it was a perfect occasion to party with the friends who took care of me (and my cat) while I was recovering, so I sent invitations to my RE-birthday party.  This photo shows me holding the cake Donna brought for the occasion.  See the giant candle shaped like a ONE?

Hmm, that means the "new" me is 14 years old.  Somebody remind me how to act like a teen.  At 11, my sixth grade teacher called me "stately" and chose me to play the part of Marmee in the 2-hour production of "Little Women" she produced using my classmates and me.  That made me the "mother" of four of my friends.  Hmm.  I don't know how to act like a teen, and I'm not sure I ever knew.  I was always considered the "mature" kid.

As I was searching for the top photo, I ran across this one of me in an art class after moving to the Crown Center.  I was struck by the similarity of how I posed — or at least the tilt of my head.  The photos were taken at least five years apart, maybe more.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz
hosts The Sunday Salon.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Library book ~ the runt of the litter

Charlotte's Web ~ by E. B. White, 1952, children's, 192 pages, 9/10

This Newbery Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death.  "Some Pig.  Humble.  Radiant."  These are the words in Charlotte's web, high up in Zuckerman's barn.  Charlotte's spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend.  And they express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur's life when he was born the runt of his litter.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Beginning ~ with a fever to play baseball


On an island called Puerto Rico,
where baseball players are as plentiful

as tropical flowers in a rain forest,
there was a boy who had very little

but a fever to play
and win at baseball.

Roberto Clemente: Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates ~ by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Raúl Colón, 2005, children's picture book (Puerto Rico), 40 pages, 10/10

This book about the late Afro-Puerto Rican MLB legend Roberto Clemente can't be found in the shelves of public school libraries in Florida's Duval County these days.  It and other books about Latino figures — such as the late Afro-Cuban salsa singer Celia Cruz and Justice Sonia Sotomayor — are among the more than one million titles that have been stored away in the Duval County Public Schools District.  Why?  Because school officials are in the process of determining if such books comply with state laws and can be included in school libraries, according to NBCNews.com.

When I read that, I immediately put it on reserve at my library to take a look for myself.  (Amazon was "temporarily out of stock.")

What's in this book?

Amazon says:  "On an island called Puerto Rico, there lived a little boy who wanted only to play baseball.  Although he had no money, Roberto Clemente practiced and practiced until — eventually — he made it to the Major Leagues.   As a right-fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he fought tough opponents — and even tougher racism — but with his unreal catches and swift feet, he earned his nickname, "The Great One."
He led the Pirates to two World Series, hit three-thousand hits, and was the first Latino to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  But it wasn't just baseball that made Clemente legendary — he was also a humanitarian dedicated to improving the lives of others." 
Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts
Book Beginnings on Fridays. 

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Thoughts on Thursday

1.  Why do you read?

If what we eat is what we are, what we read also shapes who we are.  We blog about what we read, but today I'm asking WHY you read. 
What do you hope to get from your reading?  Do you want to be entertained, informed, inspired?  Do you read as an escape, as a way to avoid thinking about your life?  We all probably read for many reasons, but for your leisure reading, what do you expect from a book?

2.  This is why I read

"I read to explore ideas."  That's on the sidebar with my photo at "About Me" near the top.  Reading fiction let's me explore ideas as well as reading nonfiction does.  Some folks read the same kind of stuff week after week, but I like to mix it up.  Maybe working in a library helped push me in that direction, since I kept finding interesting titles to read.  No, I didn't have time to read on the job.  When I left, it took three different people to do what I'd been staying late to do.

3.  Gas stoves

Gas stoves burn natural gas, including nitrogen dioxide, which has harmful effects on health.  Use the exhaust fan every time you use a gas stove to help reduce the concentrations of the nitrogen oxide by-products, if you can't replace the gas stove with an electric one.  A renter, for example, has to use what's there.

Rebecca Solnit on "Mansplaining"
"The credibility gap turns into a hugely harmful thing with sexual assault and gender violence, in which men have historically been believed over women. It often brings on victims' despair about reporting such abuse, because if you will not be believed, and if you will be mocked, shamed, harassed or even criminalised for reporting abuse, why would you bother?"  Quoted from the Guardian article which you can read HERE.

Solnit is the author of seventeen books, as well as articles.  Her book Men Explain Things to Me, published in 2014, is a collection of short essays on feminism, including one on the phenomenon of "mansplaining."  I read this book of essays when it was new in October 2014 and rated it 8/10, a very good book.  I've written about mansplaining a couple of other times (click HERE).

5.  Package delivery

It's always fun to get a delivery, even if it is only kitty litter (heavy!), a journal, and a box of granola bars.  When I got the email notice (with this photo) telling me that my box was on the delivery table near the office, I took my cart down there to get the heavy stuff and immediately ate a granola bar.

6.  Package delivery

No, you're not crazy.  I got another delivery two days later.  Two books I ordered came earlier than expected.  I'll share those books on Monday or Tuesday.

7.  Are you crazy?

In the mid-1800s, any of the things on this list could get you admitted to a "lunatic asylum."

8.  Road trips ~ found HERE

Which trip looks interesting to you?  Any of them?  All of them?  None?  Why?  Hmm, I see that three of the roads pass near St. Louis:  The Great River Road, The Loneliest Road, and Route 66.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

A word and an idiom

One day, another resident here was trying to remember a name and asked me, "What's the name of that polyglot who lives on your floor?"  I turned to her in surprise that she used that word, which I think I've only seen in books and articles and never before heard in a conversation.  The look on my face must have made her think I hadn't a clue what she's just said, so she revised it by saying something like, "Who is that person on your floor who knows a bunch of different languages?"

pol·y·glot /ˈpälēˌɡlät / noun = a person who knows and is able to use several languages.  Example:  "My neighbor Sharon is a translator and is fluent in half a dozen languages besides English."

What does it mean when someone says, "It's all Greek to me"?  Basically, it means that "I don't understand it at all."  Dictionary.com gives this definition:
This expression was coined by Shakespeare, who used it literally in Julius Caesar (1:2), where Casca says of a speech by Seneca, deliberately given in Greek so that some would not understand it, "For mine own part, it was Greek to me."  It soon was transferred to anything unintelligible.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

TWOsday fun ~ with Story Cubes

Click to enlarge the pictures
Rory, a story teller from Ireland, invented Story Cubes.  I'm fascinated by these, and there's even a blog about Rory's adventures in taking his cubes to different places all over the world.  The cubes can be used as ice breakers at meetings or to get children to open up and tell stories.  I especially like this illustration showing with the cube at bottom center showing a person reading.  (Of course, since this is a book blog.)  I'm posting this for TWOsday because I have two sets of Rory's Story Cubes.  The first is in an orange box, and the other (labeled "actions") is in a blue box.

Pick a couple of the pictures on any these cubes and tell me a story in the comments.  Can you tell a story that connects all nine images on a set of cubes?  I'm gonna choose that person reading (see above) and go do that.  That's my story.  Wanna join me?