Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Where Am I Wearing

Where am I Wearing: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People that Make Our Clothes Where am I Wearing: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People that Make Our Clothes by Kelsey Timmerman

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Kelsey Timmerman kind of sweetly and naively traipses off to "bridge the gap between consumer and manufacturer" and meet the people who make his clothes in Where am I Wearing. In doing so, he brings a fresh perspective to the shouting matches about sweatshops and child labor that we're always hearing. He interviews garment workers in a number of countries, takes them bowling and visits their families. In the end, he comes to some sane, well reasoned views on consumerism. Recommended.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

The Franchise Babe

The Franchise Babe: A Novel The Franchise Babe: A Novel by Dan Jenkins

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Dan Jenkins is a guilty pleasure. He's so non-pc, he's got it patented, I think. But for all that, he's extremely funny and hits the nail on the head more often than not. This book is basically Dan Jenkins takes on the LPGA Tour, and is pretty much classic Jenkins. If you like his work, grab it - it's more of the same great stuff.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Price of Everything

The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity by Russell Roberts

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
This caught my attention when cataloging it and trying to figure out where to put it. It's "didactic fiction," a story that seeks to teach something, and as such has kind of a Celestine Prophecy feel about it. Prophecy of economics, though. It's definitely interesting, and kept my attention throughout. I'm not sure I agree with all of the economic views contained in it, but it was fun to see a few of them outlined this way.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Follow The Roar

Follow the Roar: Tailing Tiger for All 604 Holes of His Most Spectacular Season

A lot of good things I could say about this book - insightful, interesting, etc. - but what kept coming back to me was that I was chuckling all the way through. Not laughing uproariously, but a nice level of background humor coursing through the whole book. Fun and funny, a solid golf book. Just makes me wish Tiger would've played in a few more tournaments last year...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Vanished Smile

Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa by R.A. Scotti

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Pretty fun and interesting book looking at the Mona Lisa's theft in 1911. Covers lots of different facets of the Mona Lisa, all coming back to the still incompletely resolved disappearance. Good read even for someone not totally familiar with the art world.

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I've been saving the stiff cardboard tubes that our library's clear book cover material come rolled on to make rainsticks. Yesterday seemed like the perfect time to do one with Julien.

We made sure we had all the materials - had to run out for more 2 1/2 inch nails - and were all set. First we marked off one inch increments down the seam of the tube, and Julien hammered nails into our marks:

This is what it looked like from the end:

We taped one end shut with duct tape (what else) making sure not to leave sticky on the inside, and then tried a few different kinds of beans to see what gave the best sound. We tried lentils, black beans, and chickpeas - the chickpeas made the coolest noise.

Taped up the ends, a little more duct tape decoration (after much consideration, camo, turquoise and orange stripes), and there's our rainstick!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

American Buffalo

American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon by Steven Rinella

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is what non-fiction should be: Interesting, captivating, a mix of old and new, near and far, and written by someone who's passionate about the subject. American Buffalo hits all of those. The story of the buffalo in North America, framed by the author's experience hunting buffalo in Alaska. Fascinating.

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Jetpack Dreams

Jetpack Dreams: One Man's Up and Down (But Mostly Down) Search for the Greatest Invention That Never Was Jetpack Dreams: One Man's Up and Down (But Mostly Down) Search for the Greatest Invention That Never Was by Mac Montandon

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Pretty fun little book following the author's search for jetpacks (rocket belts, mostly.) Their history, their science, why they won't really work for general use. Mostly, though, this is a celebration of the wacky people who are attracted to jetpacks, their different approaches to building them, and their successes and failures.

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The Fire

The Fire: A Novel The Fire: A Novel by Katherine Neville

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
It wasn't that long ago that I read "The Eight", the 1998 book that "The Fire" is the sequel to. I had enjoyed it somewhat for its breathless thriller quality, its blend of chess and conspiracy theory, the historical notes and the strong female character. Though The Eight has many of the same features, I'm afraid I can't quite say that I enjoyed it. The best word I can come up with to describe it is overwrought. It seems like there has to be some earth-shattering revelation every three pages. It's hard to come up with a historical figure that isn't implicated in the conspiracy somehow. The female protagonist seems less a strong character as simply buffeted about, blindly following people that she doesn't know whether to trust or not. And one character actually, in a bit of dialog, uses the word "drat."

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turkey cookies?

It's really hard not to enjoy the blog Cake Wrecks. This is the first time I've ever been inspired by one of the wrecks, though. The second picture on this post got me thinking the other day. Already had the oven heated for something else tonight, so I threw together a batch of pumpkin cookies. Let 'em cool, applied candy corn, frosting and mini chocolate chips for the eyeballs, and voila! What do y'all think?

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Looniness of the Long-Distance Runner

The Looniness of the Long Distance Runner The Looniness of the Long Distance Runner by Russell Taylor

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I honestly read the title "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner" until I was about a third of the way into it. Had I realized it was a humorous book about marathon running, written by a Londoner, I would have read it much sooner. Funny it was - kept me snickering all the way through. I'd be able to give this a much higher recommendation if the author hadn't beat MY marathon PR in his first race. Jeez...

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Sunday, November 23, 2008


Outliers Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Malcom Gladwell writes books that make you look at the world a little differently. Outliers is no different - it's a fascinating look at the sometimes overlooked factors that can contribute to success. As usual, it's illustrated with completely interesting examples, and takes an overall hopeful tone. His books always go by too fast and leave me wondering what he'll come up with next.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow

The Unlikely Voyage of Jack De Crow: A Mirror Odyssey from North Wales to the Black Sea The Unlikely Voyage of Jack De Crow: A Mirror Odyssey from North Wales to the Black Sea by A. J. Mackinnon

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Wonderful, whimsical travelogue of a trip through England and Europe by waterway in a tiny wooden dinghy. Sandy Mackinnon makes it sound magical, from toodling around backwaters near his home, to an exciting crossing of the Channel, to bizarre meetings and interactions in Eastern Europe. Very fun read.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

I'll Never Be French (No Matter What I Do)

I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do): Living in a Small Village in Brittany I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do): Living in a Small Village in Brittany by Mark Greenside

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this as much as, if not more than, most of the expatriate -in-France books I've read. Mark Greenside writes disarmingly about his bumblings through learning the ways of French country life, home ownership and bureauracracy. His descriptions of himself speaking French are particularly wonderful. I wish this one would have been longer.

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Birthday bangs

Today is Sofia's official 4th birthday. Last night, Mich decided she needed bangs. Cute, happy birthday girl here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fancy 4th birthday

We finally had a joint birthday party for Sofia and Lola Tiar, which we've been talking about doing ever since they were born six days apart in 2004. Sorry for the quality of pictures, there seemed to be lots of redeye going on for some reason. I'll just give the highlights:

Lola sitting on the stairs an watching the festivities.

Cake. Lola and Sofia with candle duties. Jackson helping out.

Lola and Reyna enjoying fancy cake.

Fancy ceiling decoration.

Did I mention the theme of the party was "fancy?"

That's about all the pictures that came out well. Fun times...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Tux. Bacon. Long story.

Righting the Mother Tongue

Righting the Mother Tongue: From Olde English to Email, the Tangled Story of English Spelling Righting the Mother Tongue: From Olde English to Email, the Tangled Story of English Spelling by David Wolman

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Fun, interesting book about - well, the history of spelling, really. Touches on the evolution of English to where it is now, different attempts to reform or simplify spelling, and the effects that modern technology are having on language and spelling.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

A Race Like No Other

A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York by Liz Robbins

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
A lot of running books out there lately. This is my second one about a specific race; I read one about Boston earlier this year. Well written and fun to read - flipped around between the history of the race, the battles between the leaders of the mens and womens races, and some great stories of people running at different paces throughout the race. I's organized by mile, so you get a feel of what parts of the city the race winds through.

This made me realize a couple thing: I've never run a race where you get to follow a blue line painted on the road, and noone's ever handed me one of those shiny blankets at the finish line. Are those East Coast things? Or just BIG race things?

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Disc golf with Julien

Julien and I headed out this morning to try out the new disc golf course in town, up at Rancho San Rafael. I'll let the pictures tell some of it here:

Here's Julien with a mighty throw...

And closer in, putting...

A great view from the 13th tee, looking down over some aspens and the Basque monument.

When we got to the 18th tee, there was a sign posted that the course was closed to to wet conditions. Hadn't been one at the 10th tee when we started, so we didn't know. We quit there at the 18th tee and walked back to the car. Fun first time, I'm sure we'll be back...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween photos

We all went down to Nanny and Grandpa Toast's house in Carson City last night for Halloween. Here are the costumes:

Harry Potter, wearing Quidditch robes.

Some kind of sorceress/witch princess.

Roller derby queen.


Had a nice dinner, then went trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. Prety much a frenzy of chasing kids; I didn't get any pictures of it. Here's Ramona, though, head fully inside her treat bag to check out the loot:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My First 100 Marathons

My First 100 Marathons: 2,260 Miles with an Obsessive Runner My First 100 Marathons: 2,260 Miles with an Obsessive Runner by Jeff Horowitz

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Wasn't expecting it to be such a quick read, but this book flew by - I finished it in a night and a half. Very inspirational, basically a biography of a marathoner. Horowitz takes us from his first marathon experiences running through 100 marathons, a couple of ultras and beyond - in all 50 states and around the world. He has a very healthy and sane view of what running is and what it can mean to people, some of which comes from his own experiences but also from coaching others. As much fun to read for the running talk as for the travelogue. Experienced runners will find the tips at the end of each chapter to be pretty common-sense, but I wish I'd read some of them before I ran my first marathon...

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Confessions of an Eco-Sinner

Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff by Fred Pearce

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
At first glance, I wasn't sure if I was going to like Confessions of an Eco-sinner - the writing looked a little dry, and I thought I might have just read one too many "green" books recently. I was wrong - this is probably the best, most important one I've read. Fred Pearce tracks down the origin and final destinations of many of the things in his life, like his food, clothing, electronics and recycling. He discovers some surprising things, both good and bad, about where products come from and where they end up. He takes a very global perspective, and writes in an honest, refreshing style. This is one I'm sure I'll recommend to people.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

The internet amazes me

I'm still kind of amused at the way I send an email across the room to a coworker with the same nonchalance that I contact a friend living in Kosovo. Pretty cool stuff, and I came up with another story this morning about it.

Images that I upload to flickr I have set to be Creative Commons licensed (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons, specifically.) What that means, basically is that anyone can use the images I post as long as they're not making money of them, and they credit me. I've only had one photo used before, a picture of the Incline Village Library used in a Schmap travel guide to Lake Tahoe. (Hover over the icon at Incline Village for a minute, and my photo will scroll by in the upper right corner.) I believe in that case, since it was kind of a commercial use, they requested my permission to use it first, and I granted it.

I also have a Google Alert set up for my name. Ant time Google's web indexers come across a new page that has the search terms I entered (in this case, my name) I get an email with a link to that page. It's kind of fun, a lot of times what I get are library program announcements or running race results. This morning, though, I got this:

Blogs, Wikis and eLearning Week
... Slide 20 – Right tool for the right purpose | Wrong tool for the job by Turi Becker| cc by-nc-sa ...

I had to follow the link to see what it was about. With a little looking around, I found that a guy at the University of Singapore used one of my images in a slideshow about blogs and wikis - a picture from a trip to Alaska in which my friend Jeff was using a tiny backpacking hatchet to try to split a giant log. He was using it as an illustration of when to use the right tool for the right job.

I think that's just awesome. That a moment of hilarity on our camping trip in Alaska might be of use to someone teaching about blogs and wikis in Singapore. That it was OK for him to use because of how flickr encourages people to set up their Creative Commons settings. And how I only found out about it because of the Google alert on my own name. What a crazy place, this internet.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Long Way Down

Long Way Down Long Way Down by Ewan McGregor

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Another epic journey from Ewan and Charley, just as enjoyable as the last. Can't help be jealous of these guys...

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Completely out of character sports-related post

Do I have to cheer for the Devil Rays just because they wear hats with my initials on them?

The Great American Attraction

The Great American Attraction: Two Brits Discover the Rollicking World of American Festivals The Great American Attraction: Two Brits Discover the Rollicking World of American Festivals by Rich Smith

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ah, my kind of book. Couple guys take off and travel around a different country on some whimsical quest. In this case, they're British, so the different country is the U.S., but it's fun to see another view of your own country, too. Their quest was to visit some of the crazy carnivals and festivals we have here. (Come to think of it, I read a book a few years ago about an American traveling around England to weird festivals. Can't remember the name of it...)

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Fall photos

For those of you who check my main blog here but not my running blog, there are some great fall color photos from yesterday's Fall Colors Half Marathon over there...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Other tooth - gone!

Pumpkin Pie-balls

I love this season - in large part because I get to bake with pumpkin. Pies, cookies, cheesecakes, souffles... Mmmmm. There's a recipe for pumpkin pie in the new Cooks' Illustrated that I want to try out, too, come to think of it. Anyway...

I have a few different Halloween baking opportunities this year, and wanted to come up with something creative to make for them. In a nod to my genes (thanks, Dad) I feel the need to name my creations with some terrible pun. Hence: Pumpkin pie-balls.

This is basically a pumpkin cookie, covered with a disc of pie dough with a slit down the center and a raisin for a pupil. Steps:

Pumpkin cookies - I use some old recipe I have laying around, but I'm sure any pumpkin cookie recipe will work. These scoops are too big by about half, I cut them down a lot on the second batch.

Pie dough. Cookie cutter circles. Slit in the middle. Pretty simple.

Terrible picture. But: pie dough draped over cookie dough. As I said, there was too much cookie dough on this first set, on the second batch the pie dough draped more fully over the edges and baked up better. Plunk a raisin in the middle (not pictured) and push it in a ways - it'll try to rise up as they bake.

Et voila. Pumpkin pieballs. Making them again, I'll probably scale them down - use a smaller circle cutter and less filling.

Bloody Confused

Bloody Confused!: A Clueless American Sportswriter Seeks Solace in English Soccer Bloody Confused!: A Clueless American Sportswriter Seeks Solace in English Soccer by Chuck Culpepper

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I've always been a bit fascinated by English football, as a sport, fan fixation and general cultural phenomenon. I read Fever Pitch and Among the Thugs years ago, and learned that there was no way that I could possibly understand the game, let alone the nuances, rivalries, and everything else that makes it such a rich experience. Chuck Culpepper's book reinforces that - an American sportswriter, he finds himself in London, and falls into football fandom. Well, actually, he goes about it systematically, choosing a team to support which will be the most interesting in the next year. He follows them through the whole year, traveling to away games (and home games as well, as he supports Portsmouth, not exactly near his London base.) (An aside - he complains about the cost of tickets and travel, but continues to go on these crazy journeys - where's all this money coming from?) What it all boils down to is that he enjoys himself immensely, learns a huge amount about the game, but knows he will be an outsider for years to come. Very entertaining, fun read.

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On the resilience of muffin recipes

Woke up this morning to a request for bran muffins. As I have a new favorite baking book, I was excited to try out a new recipe.

Turns out this particular recipe was a little too much for my pre-coffee consciousness. LOTS of steps and a sink fill of dishes later, the muffins were in the oven. Looking down on the counter, I saw three ingredients - walnuts, melted butter and raisins - that I had completely forgotten to include. The muffins had already baked to the point where I couldn't pull them out and include the forgotten parts, so I just let them go. And they turned out wonderfully.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Found myself at work yesterday, cataloging books, while listening to my iPod in my left ear and eavesdropping on two different conversations in the room with my right ear. Weird how the brain works...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Death: A Life

Death: A Life Death: A Life by George Pendle

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wasn't expecting to enjoy this as much as I did - really just picked it up to compare to Terry Pratchett's Death character. But hey - George Pendle does a great Death, too - crazy, irreverent, and a little too fond of wordplay. But lots of fun to read.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Anatomy of a tantrum

Not even sure what Sofia's tantrum was about at Nanny's house today, but it was pretty cute. Click the picture and zoom in tor big tears...