Friday, August 29, 2014

The Friday Find: Mad Man With A Box

Dr. Who is back! You know what that means... you need a TARDIS cover for your e-reader.


You can grab this guy from Etsy.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Variations on a Theme: From Here to There

I got stuck on the metro earlier this week. (Nothing new there. Thanks, WMATA!) The time in the tunnel spurred me to think about other ways of getting to work, which made me think of train travel, which made me think of plane travel, which is all a round-about way of saying that this month's variations on a theme is all about how to get to places without a car.


To The Edge of the World: The Story of the Trans-Siberian Express, the World's Greatest Railroad
Christian Wolmar

To the Edge of the World is an adventure in travel—full of extraordinary personalities, more than a century of explosive political, economic, and cultural events, and almost inconceivable feats of engineering. Christian Wolmar passionately recounts the improbable origins of the Trans-Siberian railroad, the vital artery for Russian expansion that spans almost 6,000 miles and seven time zones from Moscow to Vladivostok. The world’s longest train route took a decade to build—in the face of punishing climates, rampant disease, scarcity of funds and materials, and widespread corruption. The line sprawls over a treacherous landmass that was previously populated only by disparate tribes and convicts serving out their terms in labor camps—where men were regularly starved, tortured, or mutilated for minor offenses. Once built, it led to the establishment of new cities and transformed the region’s history. Exceeding all expectations, it became, according to Wolmar, “the best thing that ever happened to Siberia.” It was not all good news, however. The railroad was the cause of the 1904–-1905 Russo-Japanese War, and played a vital—and at times bloody—role in the Russian Revolution and the subsequent Civil War. More positively, the Russians were able to resist the Nazi invasion during the Second World War as new routes enabled whole industries to be sent east. Siberia, previously a lost and distant region, became an inextricable part of Russia’s cultural identity. And what began as one meandering, single-track line is now, arguably, the world’s most important railroad.

Patrick Smith

For millions of people, travel by air is a confounding, uncomfortable, and even fearful experience. Patrick Smith, airline pilot and author of the web's popular Ask the Pilot feature, separates the fact from fallacy and tells you everything you need to know Cockpit Confidential covers not only the nuts and bolts of flying, but also the grand theater of air travel, from airport architecture to inflight service to the excitement of travel abroad. It's a thoughtful, funny, at times deeply personal look into the strange and misunderstood world of commercial flying. The ideal book for frequent flyers, nervous passengers, and global travelers.

Mark Gerchick

With wry humor and unique insight, Gerchick takes us past the jargon, technicalities, and all-is-well platitudes to expose the new normal of air travel: from the packed planes and myriad hassles of everyday flying to the alchemy of air fares, the airlines’ endless nickel-and-diming, and the elusive hope of escape from steerage. We find out what pilots do in the cockpit, what’s really worth worrying about when it comes to airline safety, and why we get sick on planes. Meanwhile, Gerchick ponders the jarring disconnect between our quaint expectations of "service with a smile" and the grim reality of cramped seats, no-free-lunch, and "watch-yer-knees."With sympathy for both fliers and airlines, Gerchick shows how the new "business-all-business" airline industry has finally learned to make money, even in the face of crushing fuel costs, and get millions of travelers where they’re going every day safely and quickly.From his singular vantage point as former aviation regulator and policymaker, Gerchick gives us a straightforward insider’s view of how hard it is for government to improve the traveler’s lot by explaining the vagaries of consumer protection rules as well as the political realities and the economic forces at work. While Gerchick offers reasons to hope for a better future in air travel, he presents an unvarnished look at what we can expect—good and bad—when we take to the skies. Some of it will reassure you, some will make you cringe, but all will open your eyes to what it means to fly today.

Tom Zoellner

n his wide-ranging and entertaining new book, Tom Zoellner—coauthor of the New York Times–bestselling An Ordinary Man—travels the globe to tell the story of the sociological and economic impact of the railway technology that transformed the world—and could very well change it again. From the frigid trans-Siberian railroad to the antiquated Indian Railways to the Japanese-style bullet trains, Zoellner offers a stirring story of this most indispensable form of travel. A masterful narrative history, Train also explores the sleek elegance of railroads and their hypnotizing rhythms, and explains how locomotives became living symbols of sex, death, power, and romance.

Doug Most

In the late nineteenth century, as cities like Boston and New York grew more congested, the streets became clogged with plodding, horse-drawn carts. When the great blizzard of 1888 crippled the entire northeast, a solution had to be found. Two brothers from one of the nation's great families—Henry Melville Whitney of Boston and William Collins Whitney of New York—pursued the dream of his city digging America's first subway, and the great race was on. The competition between Boston and New York played out in an era not unlike our own, one of economic upheaval, life-changing innovations, class warfare, bitter political tensions, and the question of America’s place in the world. The Race Underground is peopled with the famous, like Boss Tweed, Grover Cleveland and Thomas Edison, and the not-so-famous, from brilliant engineers to the countless "sandhogs" who shoveled, hoisted and blasted their way into the earth’s crust, sometimes losing their lives in the construction of the tunnels. Doug Most chronicles the science of the subway, looks at the centuries of fears people overcame about traveling underground and tells a story as exciting as any ever ripped from the pages of U.S. history. The Race Underground is a great American saga of two rival American cities, their rich, powerful and sometimes corrupt interests, and an invention that changed the lives of millions.

Mary Roach

Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? have sex? smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations. As Mary Roach discovers, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.


Other From Here to There Books
Destination Space - Kenny Kemp
Fly By Wire - William Langewiesche
Jet Age - Same Howe Verhovek
Ninety Percent of Everything - Rose George
The QE2 Story - Chris Frame and Rachelle Cross
Railroaded - Richard White
Rival Rails - Walter R. Borneman
Rocketeers - Michael Belfiore
Vagabonding - Rolf Potts
The Way of the Ship - Alex Roland et al.

Links and Stuff: August 28, 2014

Sunday, August 24, 2014

What I Read This Week: August 24, 2014

My September magazines have started to arrive. Huzzah! That means I finally have easy to carry commuting material again. I think this also indicates that my August issues were either tossed at our old apartment or were never forwarded my way. Pout. I might go back and read the back issues online. I doubt it, but you never know.
  • Work
    • Our library is about to put up an exhibit on some of the notable alumni from our University. I'm on the team writing their bios for display. Yeah! I won't name names in case they get cut from the final exhibit, but I read quite a few biographical pages on these people and now I feel somewhat unaccomplished. Yeah? 
    • I decided it was time to start tackling the backlog of articles I saved for myself. I managed to read the following, "Developing a Social Media Strategy" by Natalie Burclaff and Catherine Johnson. Hopefully I'll get to more next week.
  • Magazines
    • The Atlantic, September 2014 - Oooo The Atlantic is taking on education. The claws are out in many of these articles (The Future of College and The Law School Scam) and I think that is awesome. As someone who works in higher education, I love anything that tackles the hard issues and tries to fix the problems. Also, the quick bit about baklava made me hungry.
    • Cooking Light, September 2014 - I made a poor decision and read this issue while on the elliptical. The entire time I kept thinking, "I wanna eat that. I wanna eat that. I wanna eat that." The cravings were particularly strong when I hit the article on the best snacks. Yum! I pulled a few recipes to try including a whole spread of fritata ideas.
  • Books
    • I keep getting closer to the end of Written In My Own Heart's Blood and it makes me want to start the series from the beginning. Also, it has occurred to me that, thus far, the Jamie/Claire pages seem to only occur during a week-ish long time period. Interesting.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Friday Find: Perfect Gift

Pinterest always gives me some great ideas. This one might beat them all:


How perfect is that? You get books. They mean something to the giver. That, in turns, means something to you. It's not an expensive idea. It can be done for anyone on any occasion. Just a whole lot of win going on here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Links and Stuff: August 21, 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why I Love... Movie Scores



Okay, so the headline topic is not exactly about books, but hang with me and I'll make my book related point.

I love movie scores. Love them! I have a rather large collection of CDs  that are nothing but movie scores. Hans Zimmer, John Williams, James Horner, Howard Shore - yeah, all about everything they compose. I love the drama and tension and movement that comes from film scores. There is a special feeling in movie music that just doesn't exist in "regular" classical music. And that feeling is what I love. There is a mood to scores.

So, my book point, as a mood-y reader, I like to set the stage when I settle down with a book for the long haul. That means creating an environment of immersion and my number one tool is movie scores. If I'm reading a book set in revolutionary America, I will put on the score from The Last of the Mohicans or The Patriot. Roman novel set in the ancient world? I've got Cleopatra. If the book is young adult, I'll probably throw in one of the many Harry Potter soundtracks. I like to choose movie scores whose mood fits the tone and feel of the book.

Once I've set the stage and settle in with a beverage, there is no moving me from that spot until I am good an ready to be done reading.

As an addendum, Book Riot posted an article about soundtracks from movies adapted from books. I own many of these.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

What I Read This Week: August 17, 2014

Wow. Short list this week. I blame the really nice weather making me want to workout outside. (And my magazine subscriptions still being MIA.) It was seriously so nice that I started, ugh, running. Not much running, but a measurable amount - which is more than I've ever done before. WHO AM I?
  • Books
    • Still reading through Written in My Own Heart's Blood. Are you tired of hearing about that yet? I am certainly not tired of reading it. I "went to bed" early one night just to give myself more time to read it.
  • Other