Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sat, 13 Jun 2015

This was a very good day.

Up early as usual and got some computer work done.

Our John's Roast Pork lunch plans got changed to dinner at Taconelli's. From one Philly institution to another.

My original plan was to ride down with Maureen to John's, meet Bill and Walt, where everyone have a 1/2 and 1/2 each, which is 1/2 a cheese steak and 1/2 a roast pork sandwich. You need an even number people to pull this off. Maureen would drive off to her play and I would to hike up the river trail, check out this year's version of Spruce Street Harbor Park. And then SEPTA it back home somehow.

So Maureen and I wound up at Four Seasons for breakfast instead. The croissant sandwich with sausage was great. Maureen went to her play and I grabbed a really nice, long nap. So much for the energetic afternoon I had originally planned.

I did get a little gardening done before she got back, including our first harvest of blueberries (with a few raspberries). It was a hot one here and at that point it was a 2nd shirt day.

Maureen and I had a jolly time at Taconellis with Walt and Bill, who is in from Eugene OR.

After we got home, I headed to Grey Lodge where I did two of the three things I was supposed to. D'oh. Afterwards I dropped off some posters at SawTown and hung out with Troy for a short Sly Fox SawTown Standard Lager and a short Naked SawTown Pink Bunny. These are the first two house beers we had brewed especially for SawTown. Both were tasting excellent.

I finished up the night at home with Maureen watching the movie version of Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I was/am a huge H2G2 fan but didn't really dig the movie when it came out. I didn't really care for it the 2nd time around either.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tue, 19 May 2015

Everything is coming up roses apparently.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

This is Beverly

This is BeverlyThis is Beverly by Hope Bishop Colket
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an odd relic. I picked this up maybe 30 years ago because the author was a fellow Philadelphian (more or less). That and because it was used and less than a buck. This book has moved with me 4 times over and now I have finally read it.

From the back cover:

  The Author of This is Beverly

Born in Philadelphia and living her whole life in various suburbs outside that city, Hope Bishop Colket is American from way back in the 1600's. After graduating from Miss Wright's, also in a Philadelphia suburb, she went to the Philadelphia School of Industrial Art for a year, and later, at intervals, worked for some people who made hand-done lampshades.

Mrs. Colket, who began writing when she was seven, believes she has inherited her urge to write from her grandfather, Joseph Hornor Coates, author of several books, and from her mother, who did some writing for children.

She lives in the country with her husband William Walker Colket 2nd and is interested in genetics and heredity and at one time experimented with this subject by means of a hundred guinea pigs which she kept in the cellar! Mrs. Colket has two other interests, gardening and the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphic writing.

This is Beverly is her first published writing.

After reading that, I had very low expectations from this book. Happily though it would seem that Mrs. Colket did not write her biography because the book is actually very well written, with no exclamation points to indicate when something is droll! Seriously, I expected to hate on this, but she drew me in. The prose is very readable and the action moves along at a good pace.

Beverly is a stupid and lazy young mother and housewife who dreams of being a smart, fashionable, pampered person who associates with "better" people.

There are a couple of really great characters. One is a neighbor, the middle aged Betty Ann who is smart, wise, and fun. While finding Beverly complete silly and clueless, she gives Beverly some advice on how to meet society people. Beverly does meet some society people from Baltimore but after finding them to be totally normal and actually rather dull decides that it is because Baltimore is too provincial and the real society people are in Philadelphia and New York. I wasn't expecting this from the author, an old money society woman.

The other is a childhood non-sweetheart Ashton Downes, who Beverly daydreams about. After stupidly leaving her husband and heading to her mother's house outside of Philadelphia, Beverly manages to hook up with Ashton. Ashton is a fun character. Beverly dreams of having smart conversations on matters of import but is completely clueless. She dreams of running off as a fallen woman with Ashton into the sunset. Ashton constantly plays along and is usually brutally honest, but she totally doesn't get it.

I did a little googling. This was Hope Bishop Colket's first and only book. This book is pretty much a lost book. I had to add it to Good Reads. There is very little online about Mrs. Colket. Googling her husband (who has no hits), her maiden name comes up on a society page from a Brooklyn newspaper from the 1920s. Her husband's uncle was mentioned as traveling to Philadelphia for their wedding. I also found a mention of her in the 1940 census living well outside of Philadelphia. And that her husbands' namesake was a railroad executive. Other than that there is nothing more about her. She's a mystery lost to time.

Before the title page, there is a notice: "Under Government regulations for saving paper during the war, the size and bulk of this book have been reduced below the customary peacetime standards. Only the format has been affected. The text is complete and unabridged."

This book, set in 1944 or so, is a fascinating look into homefront life during WWII. Beverly's husband works in a factory making stuff for the war effort. They have ration books. It is also interesting to see how the transportation system worked back then.

Another hidden treasure from our bookshelves.

View all my reviews

Monday, December 1, 2014

When the Cat's Away by Kinky Friedman

When the Cat's Away (Kinky Friedman, #3)When the Cat's Away by Kinky Friedman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had no idea who Kinky Friedman was when I bought this for $1.98 off the Borders discount shelf. That's not an amazing bit of recollection or record keeping; the sticker is still on front. For about two decades, this book sat on several shelves unread until now.

I recall assuming when I bought it that Kinky Friedman was a New York society woman, sort of a Jewish Carrie whatever from Sex and the City. For two bucks, what did I have to lose?

Turns out that Kinky is a he, and he is country singer turned mystery writer. He is one hell of writer. This book is a lot of fun and a very easy read. Chapters are from 1 to 4 pages and there is a laugh on pretty much every page, if not more. Although very light and airy, this book manages to be very filling and satisfying.

The book was written and is set in the mid 1980s. Doing a little research, Friedland has always had an edgy sense of humor. Some of Friedman's un-PC remarks which might have been fine back then or pushing the envelope a little then, now feel pretty wrong. Rather than being off put about it, we can take solace in how far we've all come since then.

I'm so glad my read every book we own project turned me onto this author. I went to his Website to look for electronic versions of this other novels. This is the third one the series BTW. Each is about $8. Intellectual property is a strange thing - $2 for a hard copy found in a bargain bin or $8 online for some ones and zeros.

View all my reviews

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Travelin' Tuesday

Earlier this week I had not a Manic Monday but a Travelin' Tuesday.

I woke up at 5:30am to get a start on the day, get my RSS feeds and other news read, and to eat a little breakfast.

By 7:30am I was out the door. The rain cleared by 7am and forecast called for the rest of the day to be dry, so it was top down driving weather. First stop of the day was an old folks home for a business association meeting that I attended for Hop Angel. Before the meeting I chatted with Harold who not only is a member of the business association but also mayor of Rockledge, the town (make that borough) a few yards from Hop Angel.

The meeting was in the home's computer/training room. Even old age isn't a reprieve from stupid motivational posters (there were at least 6, none of them motivating anyone). Somehow I doubt mgmt of the home wants the residents to show leadership. Nobody has ever been inspired by one of these posters so they probably don't have to worry.

My car is still rather new and while rather modest does have a bluetooth phone connection.  I was able to catch up with my business partner Patrick who called. He couldn't make the meeting and wanted some details. It's still a novelty talking to someone through my car. My last car I had for 13 years. It's quite a quantum leap in technology.

I had 30 minutes at home before heading to the Delaware River City Corp's ground breaking for the Baxter Trail. I am a big fan of the DRCC, which is working on the Northeast Philly section of the East Coast Greenway, which will be a 2900 mile path from Maine to Florida. The DRCC has been making great progress on their section. Being my own boss and working non-traditional hours, I have been able attend most of their ground breakings and follow-up ribbon cuttings. Like the railroads and interstate highway system, the greenway is a 40 year project. Happily we are 20+ years in now and are actually seeing it happen.

It was a glorious day to be on the river.

Pleasant Hill Park at Lindon Ave is way nicer than when my grandfather used to take us kids there in the 70s to get us out of our mother's hair for a hour or two. People always like to harp on the good old days. I pretty remember them being sort of crappy. The Hatcheries at the park are much nicer now too.

Before the ground breaking, I ended up chatting with my 2nd mayor of day, Philadelphia's mayor Michael Nutter, who Patrick and I got to know when he was running for his first term as mayor.

Back home to park the car, grab a light lunch and quick nap. Then I was on foot for the 1.5 mile street hike to the Grey Lodge Pub for Tuesday office hours. Office hours were productive and a several special guests showed up.

At 6pm,  I was out the door and hiking to the Market Frankford Transportation Center to catch the El and Subway to the sports complex. Maureen's department had use of her company's suite for the Flyers game and there was room for me to join.

Having suite tickets, I did the douchey thing and went through the VIP door. I thought twice about it but went in anyway as I was running a little late. This was a mistake as the whole experience took way longer to get to the suite than just going through a regular door. Totally serves me right for being a douche.

The suite level at the arena, which is on its third or fourth corporate name, is further name righted to Equus. In previous years, everywhere you looked, it said "Equus" with no further clues, which allowed you to completely have no idea what it was selling. Now they have included "Hyundai". Equus appears to be a super luxury car that nobody has ever bought and that is named for a play where Harry Potter gets naked and too friendly with a horse.

Hyundai seems to have decided that swells who go Sixers or Flyers games are the core demographic of super luxury car buyers with a horse and/or naked Harry Potter fetish. I expect that has to be a relatively small demographic and I would not have expected them to be sports fans. Since I have never noticed an Equus on the street ever, I have to image the cost of suite level naming rights per car sold in Philly metro area has to be insane. But what do I know. Nobody is giving me a huge marketing budget for such purposes, or any purpose.

The Flyers lost but we had a great time. Transportation home was in Maureen's car.

When I was younger, I would never have pictured a day in the 3rd Quarter of life being like this, but I am sure glad it is.

Transportation for the day: 2 cars, 2 trains, and 1 pair of legs.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cold Iron by Nicholas Freeling

I continue my read every book we own project...

Cold IronCold Iron by Nicolas Freeling

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I was trying to figure out whether to keep reading this. Or maybe keep not reading is more accurate. After 3 days, I am on page 10. That pretty well shows how uninteresting I found this book.

I'm sure it's a work of genius, especially if you want to read about the political and societal issues of provincial French policing in the 1980s. And especially if you like prose that is dense and a chore to read. That really old school style of writing that should have died out after Hemingway and Steinbeck showed that writing can be both great and accessible.

I also have Castang's City on our shelf, which has been on there for decades I think. At I least I won't have to even start that one. Two books off the shelf in 3 days and 10 pages. I suppose that's efficiency in reading.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

American Gods Book Report

American Gods (American Gods, #1)American Gods by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I knew this was a modern classic before I read it, so I came in with very high expectations. A modern classic in the way that Jonathan Strange and The Time Traveler's Wife are. I never got as drawn into American Gods in the same way the other two sucked me in. And that is probably because while interesting, I find the basic premise to be a little weak. Thinking upon it, the mix of older more physically defined gods versus his modern gods which are abstract concepts (technology, the media) but given physical though symbolic manifestations didn't really work for me.

I am left with a lingering feeling that something was missing, which is why I gave it 4 not 5 stars. This may be because I read the 10th anniversary edition with "the author's preferred text". Maybe the original more edited version would have wrapped up before the sense of something missing kicked in.

As a European enamoured with America, Gaiman's take on the US is wonderful. It is very common for writers in that situation to be somewhat condescending and a bit smug (By "writers in that situation" I don't mean foreign writers, but writers in general who journal about some place foreign to them, even though it may be in their own city). Gaiman is never condescending or smug, even when the follies of a place are obvious. Gaiman finds the humor, humanity, and inner substance of the places he visited.

Gaiman's America has very little overlap with the America that I have visited and/or lived in my whole life. So a lot of the places in the USA he chronicled are foreign to me the American. The one place he wrote about that I actually have been to (so far) is actually in a foreign country. Oh the irony.

This is a great book, well written, interesting, and fun. Well worth a read and definitely worthy of being considered a modern classic.

View all my reviews