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I think, going on the evidence, that the best way to not be on hiatus while not blogging very much at all is not to mention that there is in fact a haitus going on. You've not're just busy. I'm busy, not stopped.

My reading has really taken off lately. The books I've been reading have been so good I've started avoiding the eye of the Metro guy at my subway station and cursing the trains for running on time (on the rare occasion that they do). I just motored through the startlingly poetic and achingly visceral In Siberia by Colin Thubron which blew my mind, just as his The Lost Heart of Asia did. He is a wonderful travel writer. I just added Among The Russians to my wishlist, the third book of this travel writing trilogy, although I'm unsure of the respective timelines of the three journeys.

A few days ago I started Richard Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker, a book renowned for twenty years for its clear statement of the known scientific facts and popularised explanation of the mechanisms of evolution. All the more topical, it seems, as Dawkins is hitting headlines at present. I read The Selfish Gene last summer and while Dawkins' style is clear, methodical and easy to follow and lays out complex concepts well, the opening chapters of The Blind Watchmaker lay into religious figures' takes on evolution rather smugly. I can understand a biologist's frustration and need to explain and set things straight, but there is an edge of vociferousness to Dawkins' rebuttals that I think may have matured in the 20-odd years since The Blind Watchmaker into his current anti-religious stance.
Thoughts, anyone?

I have a great reading queue set up. In Siberia and The Blind Watchmaker came from Krissa for my birthday, and Ghostwritten by David Mitchell is next in line, with So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld following that.

I'm flying to England for a week or so on Friday night. Lots of plane journey reading.
This'll be the first time I've been away from Krissa since October 2004. It feels weird.


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I just twigged to why they're called 'The Village People'.

Love-Hate Relationship

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All of a sudden I'm very mixed up about Barnes and Noble and the New York Times. Up until half an hour ago I was indifferent to the Times, iconic newspaper status aside, and very fond indeed of B&N - any bookshop that encourages you to come in off the street and read whatever you like for however long you like will garner fondness in cheapskate bibliophiles everywhere, but the store and the paper have come together to deny me something I've been looking forward to for a year.

About this time last year Krissa and I struggled out of Bryant Park with two hefty canvas tote bags stuffed to bursting with books. They were so heavy that we had to take a cab home. It was heavenly, and as a bonus, Krissa really likes the tote bags, briefly distracting her from her quest to purchase every bag known to mankind.
That weekend was the New York Times 'Great Read In The Park'...2005. The 'Gently Used, Greatly Loved' book sale invited you to purchase a big tote bag for $25 (which later in the day went down to $15), step into a long marquee, and stuff that bag full of books as hard and as overflowingly as you could. Proceeds went to the New York regional libraries, and the two bags we came away with provided a huge amount of excellent reading material in the past year, as well as boosting our library with old favourites.

In anticipation of this year Krissa and I were planning an IKEA trip to buy a new bookcase.
In anticipation of this year Krissa and I were planning on reorganizing our apartment.
In anticipation of this year Krissa and I were getting very very excited INDEED.

No book sale this year.
No glorious, epic, scrabbling, hunting, bag-stuffing book sale.

And the suspicious inclusion of a Barnes and Noble bookstall.

They were still advertising it a couple of weeks ago, and then when I checked the site today...POUF! gone.
The Book Sale page has disappeared from the website and a little addition tacked onto the end of the FAQ says it's not happening.

You know what that sounds like? Sounds like Barnes and Noble kicked up a FUSS. Got to have Barnes and Noble so that people can buy new books to get signed by the all the authors at the event, and with so many authors, you've got to keep THEM happy...and B&N didn't want what amounts to a secondhand book orgy going on so close to their shiny shiny new books.


Up On The Hill

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Krissa and I are going to Washington DC this evening. It's a bit of an impromptu trip and we haven't planned what we're going to do at all. We have a rough idea, but that's it.

Any recommendations?

On The Other Side Of The Fence

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Jobs I'm glad I don't have (after Jack's lists):

Rhinoplasty: The high-adrenalin task of filling in and smoothing over all the creases on rhinoceroses. With plaster.
Why this would be bad: constant grass stains on your work clothes

Specialised speech writer for politicians, celebrities and religious leaders.
Why this would be bad: getting to know precisely how much fun your client had while writing the apology

Taking food to different floors in a thin narrow lift shaft in old buildings.
Why this would be bad: not being able to talk to all the interesting people, the temptation to help yourself to the food, lack of maintenance

Ghost warrior. Silent, shadowy swift denizen of the night, deadly as a snake, twice as limber.
Why this would be bad: rice diet, no freedom to break wind during stealthy assassinations

Generic Businessman
Bowler hat and umbrella. Sit at desk at 9am, do business, go home at 5pm. Repeat for forty years.
Why this would be bad: never knowing what's meant by just 'business' and being afraid to ask

Average Joe by day, Doorman by night.
Why this would be bad: preferring your human identity to your superhero one

Snake Charmer
Talking down pissed off lethal creatures. Stopping snakes that are mad at the world from doing something they'll regret when they've calmed down.
Why this would be bad: mornings when you're hungover, avoiding the snakes' phone calls and emails for months after negotiations are over and they're hoping for a continuing relationship


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