Sunday, February 18, 2024

The Physical Life of Books


One thing I enjoy about a physical book versus a digital version is that the book can share its own story.

I recently finished, Wind in this Sahara by R.V.C. Bodley purchased for one dollar at a thrift store in Alexandria, Virginia. It’s the story of an Englishman, between the world wars, who decides to live among the bedouin tribes of north Africa for seven years, apparently on the advice of TE Lawrence. 


The book itself was printed in the United States in1944 and, because it was during a war time in America, required lighter paper, and the text was more condensed on each page to save paper. On its inner pages is an inscription that it had been donated as a gift to the Atchison, Kansas public library by Mr. and Mrs. John Breaky (sp?) and the librarian's notation in pencil assigning a Dewey Decimal designation. Although the library card is no longer in the pocket and there's telling how many times it had been borrow out, it leaves you to wonder how many readers of Atchison, Kansas may have borrowed it. 

Finally, there's a Withdrawn stamp when library decided the book was no longer to be kept in circulation. Once it was taken out of the Library's collection, it would have been sold or donated and made it's way to a reader's library. Finally, it was eventually donated to the thrift shop where I purchased it. 

A book telling it's own story.


Saturday, December 16, 2023


Looking back on my reading for 2023, if I find any themes for the year they would be time, memory, and nostalgia. A few of the quotes and observations I've written down from this year.

 Like watches ticking on the watches of dead soldiers.
--Jean Cocteau
If you live long enough, the process of memory ruthless condenses your experiences consigning much to oblivion.
--Robert Kaplan, Adriatic: A Concert of Civilizations at the End of the Modern Age
The alleys at night intimate chambers of of just remembered dreams and childhood
-- Robert Kaplan, Adriatic: A Concert of Civilizations at the End of the Modern Age
Journey taken in youth inform the rest of our lives -- they are markers of of change in us as well as the rest of the world
--WSJ, April ?, 2023
The lifetime that I've been lent
in idleness I've spent
    --fragment of a poem that I can't recall attribution. 

I had become my ancestors
--The Growing Seasons, Samuel Hynes
Man, if he is ever any good never gets over being a boy.
--Sherwood Anderson

Memories lengthen the land
--Walter Havighurst

When considering new innovations, the Supreme. Court must tread carefully so as not to embarrass the future.
--NW Airlines v. Minnesota,  322 U.S. 292, 300 (1949) 

A library without members is a like a cemetery books. Books are like people. Without contact they cease to exist.
--can't remember attribution but I'd like to say Jorge Luis Broges times there came a startled sense of wonder and unrealized opportunity.
--Sherwood Anderson

...time is not cool...
   --NPR interview with a Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (ok, I cheated on this one, it was aired in December 2022)

My observations
The right to be forgotten is a formula of truth verses time.

Time is the highway that memory travel down after the journey has been made.
Memory is more a poem than a transcript.

These quotes don't fit into my themes but I'm adding anyway because I liked them enough to write down. 

Everyone is ignorant only on different subjects.
--Will Rogers

There is nothing as easy as doesn't take much to see something is wrong but it takes some eyesight to see what will put it right.
--Will Rogers
Courtesy is the very basis for all mutual respect and concord.
The hoi poloi's hobledihoi poo-pooed the hub-bub.
--My best homemade nonsense sentence of 2023 


Saturday, December 9, 2023



I have several pages of fictional band names and songs. (A project that continues without direction or purpose.) Here's another installment.

  • Awl Da Tyme
  • Cherub Moolah
  • Cake Bakers
Band Name or Microbrew?
  • Night Deposit
  • Dying Cloud
  • Saturday on Mars
  • German Haircut
  • Country Killing
Legal Bands
I saw these as actual band names earlier this year posted on a bulletin boards at the George Washington Law School.
  • International Shoe
  • Attractive Nuisance
I've not seen them perform but if they're still around I have a couple of song titles for them:
  • Frolic and Detour
  • Writ of Replevin

Monday, December 4, 2023

Quiz: How Devoted to Coffee are you?


1. Do you ever make a to-go cup of coffee for your drive to get coffee?
2. Have you written more odes than haikus to coffee?
3. Do you ever think about planning a vacation to Java?
4. Do you drink coffee while sitting on the toilet?
5. Have you named any of your children Mocha or Frappuccino?

Sunday, August 20, 2023



Michigan is a modification of the words for "big lake" in Ojibwa and Algonquian languages.

    --Indian Names in Michigan, Virgil J. Vogel

 Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams.

            --The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, Gordan Lightfoot

Michigan is my happy place. I have deep family roots there going back to the early settlers of western Michigan in the 1830s and over 50 summer in Leelenau county.  Even so, I'm still learning more about "the mitten." Most people from the coasts may not think beyond Detroit and not know the state is more sand dunes, forests of pine an birch trees, and fresh water lakes. This summer I ventured to its farthest northern territory, Isle Royale and drove the Keewenau peninsula in the upper peninsula (a peninsula in a peninsula) learning about its rich copper mining history and stories of the Finnish community that settled there. I want to go back. More to explore. 

A summary of some of my Michigan books:

 Indian Names in Michigan, Virgil J. Vogel, (The University of Michigan Press, 1986). Vogel traces the origin of hundreds of Indian place names. He traces names from the Ojibwa, Ottawa, and Potowatomi as well as names from literature and legend ("Leelenau") and artificial "Indian" names ("Allegan"). You'll learn a lot of history while reading the origins of the names.

Michigan: A Guide to the Wolverine State, (American Guide Series, 1956). Wonderful collection of history and travel guide produced out of the WPA series on American states. 

When Michigan was Young, Ethel Rowan Fasquelle, (WM. B. Eerdman's Publishing Co., 1950).  Stories of the first French explorers of Ottawa and Ojibwa customs, stories, and legends.

Michigan: A History, Bruce Cotton, (W.W. Norton, 1984). Originally part of series of state histories published for America's bicentennial.  

Finns in Michigan, Gary Kaunonen (Michigan State University Press, 2009). Part of a series, Disovering the Peoples of Michigan. I bought this book after a drive through the Keweenaw Peninsula and learned about the large population of Finns that emigrated to the UP in the late 1800s, many of whom worked in the copper mines. We had just driven through Hancock, where Findlandia University had just closed its doors at the end of the 2023 Spring semester.

Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Josh Bishop, Moon Handbooks (Avalon Travel, year?). The upper peninsula deserves its own guide. I found this one used in Dog Eared Books, Northport, MI.  


Sunday, July 9, 2023

Nautical Terms, Indy Pop Bands, and Microbrews

Third in a series of unexpected installments to repurpose archaic terms for the names of Indy Pop Bands or Micro Brew Beers. This time naval terms from the Naval Terms and Definitions by Commander C.C. Soul, U.S.N. (Second Edition, 1926), previously reviewed in an earlier blog. 

Jibber the Kibber*

Runner and Tackle

Spanish Burton

Double Bottoms


Monkey Gaff

Man Ropes

Preventer (mistyped and misheard as Perverter and Prefer Her)

Rose Lashing

Tanner Blish Machine

Against the Sun




Shaft and Alley


Ice Blink

Recognition Signal

Keep her so

Heave 'round  

*the only term not to come out of Naval Terms and Definitions