Ups and Downs of the week.

   Friday night classes- The last one I got a phone call that my Dad was near death. Tonight during class I find out my brother-in-law was in the ER after having surgery this past week. I’m glad there are no more Friday night classes.

  Formula One – Awesome ending to the season. The championship went down to the last corner of the last race. Incredible.

Meh    Patriots – Well, they didn’t get downright embarrassed, but a dropped pass by Gaffney that would have been a sure TD and some questionable calls by Bellichick late in the game cost them the win.

   Michael Crichton died – Another great storyteller gone.

  Sweet Tooth Specialties in Charleston, IL- Cheese bread and pineapple bread. Both delicious. Have to go get more tomorrow.

Ups and Downs of the week.

  TGIF – End of a long, tough week.

   School work- I’m sick to death of it. 90% of it seems like a waste of time. Think I’ll take a semester off.

  Formula One – The championship is going down to the last race again this year. 

Meh    Patriots – I’d love to see them beat Indy this weekend, but they could get downright embarrassed.

   Studs Terkel died today – Another great writer gone. 

  Philadelphia Phillies – Kudos to them. They beat all the odds and predictions. Well done, guys.

  The Boston Globe website – I notified them on Tuesday that one of the pop-up (or pop-under) advertisements on their site was attempting to infect my laptop with a trojan. It has happened to my wife as well. Luckily I have McAfee anti-virus and I keep it up to date. McAfee stopped the download and deleted the offending file. I notifed The Boston Globe webmaster and got a reply that they were aware of the issue and were working to correct it. Days later, they still have not removed the offending ad. This is pure incompetence, which has become a fact of life at their website. Earlier this summer they farmed out their online forums to some useless third-party company who completely destroyed what had been a long-standing and active sports forum. Most of the veterans left in disgust. Now visitors risk infection from advertisements. Time for The Boston Globe to find someone competent to run their website.

Ups and downs of the week. 

  Cool cover art – This is Sarah’s most recent cover story for Bookmarks. Great art for an excellent article.


  Be it ever so humble. – Good to be home again.

   Stomach bugs- Nausea and travel don’t mix well..

  Serendipity – US Airways needed a volunteer to stay in Boston one more day and I needed to sleep until this stomach bug went away. I ended up with a free stay at a Hilton, dinner, and two free round-trip tickets on US Air to anywhere in the US. US Air got the seat they needed for another passenger. I had almost canceled my flight earlier thinking I couldn’t fly being that ill, but it would have cost me a fortune. I’m glad I waited. Funny how things work out sometimes.

Meh    Patriots – They *might* have a halfway decent season after all, but I’m not getting my hopes up yet.

  Shapiro Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston – Awesome care. Super professional staff. Great facility. It’s THE place to go if you need heart surgery. 

  Philadelphia Phillies – They’re making a series of it and showing the Rays that an AL victory in the World Series is definitely not a given. They need to take heed of the ALCS, though, and finish this before it returns to Cowbell Palace.

Ups and downs of the week.

 Michael Phelps – Heck of a swimmer.

  Jerome Corsi – Lying sack of manure. Why anyone would read his tripe, let alone believe it, is beyond me. Sad. Very sad. 

 Red Sox – Despite nearly blowing two ten point leads the other night, they’re on an offensive roll. Hope it keeps up.

  Chinese women’s gymnastic team- They cannot be 16 years old. Someone’s been cooking the books.

  Paul Byrd – Welcome to Boston, sir.

Alan Furst has a rare and amazing talent that enables a reader to experience the locations in the book with all the senses. His writing is compact, yet his economy of words only increases the sense of being there. I have been to the Brasserie Heininger many times with many different characters. I have smelled the cigarette smoke and I have heard the raucous laughter. I have marveled at the bullet hole in the mirror behind table 14 and have enjoyed several meals, all courtesy of this gifted author. And as always I leave that fine establishment as I leave all of his novels; hungry for more and looking forward to my next visit.

Start with any of his books and read them in any order. You will find yourself returning to familiar places with new people, and occasionally you’ll bump into those people again in another story. Such is the joy of reading Furst. It’s like being on the A-List in late 1930’s Europe, when everyone knew trouble was brewing and did their very best to find distractions. You’re always in the middle of the excitement with the most interesting people.

Ups and downs of the week.

 Independence Day – Nice having it on a Friday.

Meh   Red Sox – They’ve taken two in a row against the Yankmees in the Bronx, so that’s a good sign, but their 5 game losing streak earlier this week changed the whole AL East race for the worse. They’re going to have to stay sharp just to keep pace with TB. 

  Doldrums – We’ve been back from our vacation for almost two weeks now and I can’t seem to find the energy to get some pictures posted or even write about it.

 Alan Furst – His latest book is excellent. Review to follow (Doldrums notwithstanding).

  Coles County Fireworks Display – Lamest show ever. But at least it was mercifully short. 

This past weekend we drove down to Carbondale to hit a book sale and check out Giant City State Park. The book sale trip was successful (which means Sarah bought a bunch of books). Our dinner at an Indian restaurant was a bust. The park was all ours and the weather was perfect. So all in all, I’d say it was a good trip. There’s not much reason to stay in Carbondale, so if you’re going down to see the park, check out the Lodge and Cabins. There’s a great walking trail around  the park, lots of shorter trails around key areas, and horse trails (and rentals). Great way to spend a fall weekend.

Giant City Giant City Giant City Giant City Giant CityGiant City Giant City Giant City Giant City Giant City Giant City Giant City Giant City Giant City

Today we made our semi-annual sojourn to the Book Barn in Niantic, CT. Fascinating place with thousands of used books and numerous cats. It was such a gorgeous day, we decided to do a little sight-seeing afterwards. I’d driven by Mystic Seaport more times than I can count during my truck driving days, but I have never actually been there. The “seaport” is actually a museum spread out over several acres along the waterfront. Without paying to get in (which we chose not to do today), it’s hard to get any really good shots of the ships and such, but we did what we could. The town of Mystic is also pretty quaint, but we saw no quick and easy parking, so we continued on our way. Nice place to spend a day if you’re ever in the area, though.

Ships Ships House House Ships

Tomorrow we’re off to Book Expo in New York City. Book Expo is where publishers show off all their new or upcoming publications. There are free books galore (although the price is sore feet, tired shoulders, lots of bumping into people, and shipping all the bookshome). It’s also a great place to people watch as you never know who you’ll bump into. Last year I couldn’t understand why someone would point a real video cam complete with bright lights at me, until I realized I was standing beside Steve Wozniak, who was about to promote his new book. Ex-cuuuuuuse me, please. It will also give us a chance to eat at some really good restaurants, including Mitali East, a to-die-for Indian place on 6th St. You’ll be reading about that and other delights on Greasy Spoons.

Then it’s back to Sarah’s folks’ house in Newington, CT for a few nights, although Sarah has a speaking engagement at a libraryworkshop in western MA on Tuesday.

Next Thursday it’s off to Albany, NY for the North American Conference of The Historical Novel Society. Sarah’s been theone of the planners ofthis conference asshe was forthe original conference, which was held two years ago in Salt Lake City.

Finally, we fly home the following Monday. I think I’ll need a week off to recuperate. 😛

Just finished reading Jeff Shaara’s latest, The Rising Tide. I’ve read all of Shaara’s novels, and his latest is every bit as good as his previous works. Shaara’s historical fiction should be used in place of textbooks in high school history classes. While it may seem counterintuitive to use fiction to teach factual history, Shaara’s novels are so closely tied to reality that they may even be “closer to the truth” than what’s written in your standard history textbook. And what’s more important is the way Shaara gets into the minds of those he’s writing about, as well as into the mind of the reader. History suddenly becomes something you feel and experience, rather than a bunch of dates and places. You understand the terror and camraderie of those soldiers doing the frontline fighting. You come to appreciate the awesome responsibility of the generals and commanders in whose hands lie thousands of lives, and who must coordinate attacks and defenses and supply on a scale so massive as to seem impossible. You learn that the enemy soldier is often just another kid pulled into a war he doesn’t understand, and who’d much rather be home planning his next date with the girl next door. And in the end you come away with a much clearer understanding of the history than you could ever get from a textbook. And understanding, not rote memorization, is what learning is all about.

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