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September 2007

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September 2007: Book Reviews

This is an archive of my shorter book reviews and notes, which historically have been posted over at the 50 Book Challenge on LiveJournal, but which I’m starting to move over here. I’m posting them with altered date-stamps, but they might show up in my LiveJournal cross-post anyway. Bear with me, please.

Note: Many of these books also have full reviews available in the book review podcast (RSS).
Continue reading September 2007: Book Reviews


Welcome to Nevada

I was eating dinner last night and it occurred to me that I had been in both Hollywood and Las Legas in the same day. I drove through Hollywood after midnight coming home from dinner at a friends house, slept a bit, woke up and drove our house to Vegas. We’re staying at the RV park at Main Street Station. Now when you’re navigating Vegas city streets in a 40ft RV towing a car for a total length of about 60ft it can get stressful, mostly because of having to make tight turns in heavy traffic and of not being able to turn around in smaller areas. When we first pulled in, we ended up in the wrong place around back near the loading dock. A security guard showed up in less than a minute. Mind you he was *armed* — not your run of the mill rent-a-cop. He parked his SUV in the classic position behind us, despite blocking the road. I was expecting the typical interrogation, “You can’t be here. What are you doing here?” Etc. But instead, he sized me up, approached me and, smiling, said “You folks looking for the RV park?”

“Yes sir, we are.”, I replied.

“Follow me.”, he offered. And he took us right where we needed to be.

It reminded me of the book we just finished, BLINK. It talked about situations just like this, where a person has to make split second decisions. In this case, the security guard, I’m sure he has to frequently respond quickly to all kinds of situations here. Upon approaching us, he had to decide whether or not we were making trouble and what he would do or more importantly *not* do. The circumstances, the RV, the confused (and not hostile) look on my face, told him instantly that I was most likely looking for the RV park and he responded appropriately making our arrival more welcoming. So anyway, I’m putting this post in the Book-Review-Audio category, because I really enjoyed listening to BLINK and I recommend it.

I’m up $70, btw. -JohnnyB

Johnny: Downtown Vegas

[Edit: Stephanie has re-categorized to BookReviews-text, because the review is in text. And also to give a snazzier title.]

In Acton!

Well, my talk last night went well, I thought. We drove over the mountains and through the Angeles National Forest to get to Duarte, and the drive was long, but lovely:

Angeles Natl Forest

Lots of big hills with a blend of deserty scrub and pine trees. Very neat.

On the way home, we stopped for some night shots of LA (most of which didn’t come out well):
LA Skyline at night

We’re here in Acton until tomorrow, at which point we’ll head across the desert to Las Vegas.

Where are the orchards of muffins?

It’s Baker’s Field, right? Where are the muffin farms?

We’re on our way to LA today. I’m speaking tonight at the STC San Gabriel chapter at 6. On writing a computer book. Should be exciting and fun. Meanwhile, we got the very last spot at the park last night– and when we pulled in, someone had parked his truck in our space! HA! (He moved, it was coo’).

I could really go for Starbucks and a muffin this morning. Now that we’re out of the mountains, I find myself longing for something that says “this food is identical to the food you ate before you got in this RV of insanity.” John was even craving McDonald’s yesterday! We’re listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink in the car right now, and we’re on the part about marketing and thin slicing for food purchasing decisions. I wish he’d talk about how the marketing obscures the presence of horrible things in your food, but this isn’t a book on food purity and politics.

In RV-news, our nearly-new (we bought it just over a month ago) sewer hose spouted a leak yesterday. Since I am Sewer Girl for the RV… well, it was not a pretty sight. We stopped in Fresno and bought our third sewer hose since buying the RV in March. Three hoses! The first one leaked due to damage, though, so we’ll forgive it. The one yesterday split at the seam– and it turns out the damn thing has a seam running all the way around it! If you don’t know, sewer hoses look like an accordion tube. There’s a device you can get that will convert your sewer waste into particles small enough to go down an ordinary garden hose, but they’re bulky and require installation– we would probably have one professionally installed, and that means stopping somewhere for more than a day. What I want to know is why they can’t make a 3″ wide sewer hose out of garden hose material. My garden hoses never spontaneously spring a leak!

The walk to Hawaii continues, though not as fast as I intended. I have trouble hitting more than 4000 steps a day– still much better than the <1000 I was doing before strapping the pedometer to my waist, but not as many as the 10000 steps I need to be doing if I want to get to Hawaii in 2009. I also haven't weighed myself this week-- I tend to do that mid-week, so it's between weekends, though since I walk more on weekends, maybe I should do it on Mondays. Ah, well. This note reminds me to check in with my Hawaii Walkers and see how the rest of us are doing, too. Tuolumne River

A quick sketch in pen and watercolor of the Tuolumne River. We stopped here on the way down, after the windy road, so Alladin’s stomach could settle.

A Social Experiment

So we’re eating pizza in the local joint here and find ourselves at a table with a view — of the local grocery store. I say, “Hey, let’s count how many people are buying alcohol and how many are buying groceries.” First a description of the store is in order: This is an obviously family market, with fresh fruits and vegetable stands out front, and no alcohol advertising of any kind in the window. It’s Thursday about 6:30 – 7:00PM. The rules: If they have mostly alcohol, it’s an alcohol purchase. (I think the only guy who had both, as far as we could tell, had limes.) So we count them as they come out, giving them such names as “The Rock Climbers”, “The Underage Kids and their of-age friend”, “Ugly Green Sweater Lady”. At least 3 people went in wearing pajamas (recall it’s 7PM). One group of 3 ladies made much ado about buying just a carton of milk and a 6-pack of Coke. Anyway, the final score: 12 buying alcohol vs. 10 buying groceries! But the grand prize goes to this one fellow. He drove up in a car with frontal damage such that one headlamp was dangling by its own wiring. Stephanie says, “I bet he’s on the A[lcohol]-Team.” Sure enough he comes out with 2 cases of the cheapest beer they had. Then he abruptly puts them down in the middle of the handicap parking spot and runs around the building to pee just out of my sight, but probably not to many of the other restaurant patrons. Then he comes back and puts the cases in his trunk, grabbing 2 cans to take up front “for the road”! Unfrickin’ believable! Can you imagine what Friday night is like?

BTW, I did a 3-day hike to Little Yosemite and Half Dome last week. I have video of some of the highlights which I will post as soon as they are edited.

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