Sander on Literature

This week, during our carpool to work, NPR was talking about banned books.

Sander: “I agree that some books should be banned.”

Mike D: “…”

Sander: “For example: all those books that they make you read in high school. I think Ethan Frome should be banned. Literacy would skyrocket by 80% if that no one had to read Ethan Frome.”

Mike D: “ha! That is actually an excellent example. I hated that book. Though I don’t remember much about it. Something about a sled accident.”

Sander: “A guy is sad in the winter for 230 pages.”

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Good Ole Fashion Books

This weekend Jen and I swung through the local Library to grab some fall reading material. I tend to switch back and forth between science fiction/fantasy and non-fiction. And since my most recent book was all about the design and construction of Brunelleschi’s dome in Florence, it was time for me to blissfully surrender to fiction literature.

But I needed a recommendation. So I decided to start crawling through the unread books on this NPR ‘your choice’ list.

Here’s the start of the list:

NOTE: the formatting is way easier to read if you open the ‘read more’ link below.

Lord of the Rings: Yes Hitchikers Guide: Nope Ender’s Game: Yup Dune: Yes A song of Ice and Fire: Negative 1984: Yes FahrenHeit 451: No Foundation Trilogy: Yes Brave New World: Yup American Gods: Yes (didn’t like it) Princess Bride: Saw the Movie – didn’t know it was a book Wheel of Time: No. Animal Farm: Surprisingly not Neuromancer: nope Watchmen: yes iRobot: yes Stranger in a strange land: Reading it now!! Kingkiller Chronicles: Yes

and then after these first 18, with the exception of Stardust and the Time Traveler’s Wife, I haven’t read any! That gives me a paltry record of: 13 out of 100. 13%… Terrible.

What’s your science fantasy literacy rate?

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Castle

Gillette’s Castle

Long before Benedict Cumberbatch, Actor William Gillette made famous the world of Sherlock Holmes through his theatrical depictions. Quite a bit different from King Camp Gillette, creator of the face shaving razor of fame, William Gillette built a weird-sauce castle in CT made of fieldstone and eccentricity.

For years the external appearance of the castle turned me off. Frankly, it’s ugly. The fieldstone is quirky beyond my comfort level. Still, it’s considered a major CT tourist spot so I’ve had it on my list as something to see.

IT WAS AMAZING.

Honestly, the fieldstone facade was a major distraction from the real awesomeness: the beautifully carved wooden mechanisms that filled the house and the picturesque landscape spooning the Connecticut river.

All of the light switches, doors, door handles, etc were designed by Gillette and carved by his master woodworkers. No mechanism was duplicated, every one was unique and filled the house with a playful atmosphere. The tour guides were more than willing to demonstrate the operation of the mechanisms and the engineer in me loved it. Each new room had me on a scavenger hunt searching for clever mechanisms.

Unlike the external face of the castle most of the interior was wood, accented with stone set in colored grout. The attention to detail was obvious. Each component of the house had purpose from the uneven stonework of the chimney column (for planters) to the hanging decorative edging of the table designed as a playtoy for Gillette’s cats.

The Castle sits on a huge plot of land full of hiking trails. Gillette had a affinity for railroads so he built his own mini-railroad. The rails are mostly gone off the property but the retired rail passes make for wonderful trails including a train tunnel.

I strongly recommend checking out the castle if you’re in the area.

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NewLook2

Another different look?

Okay. Theme attempt #2. I like the structure of this one a bit more, but I don’t think it’s as pleasing to look at. The fact that the comment count shows along with each full blog post (less photos) is kinda nice. I could toggle back so that each featured area only shows a snippet… the jury’s still out.

Also nice about this one is that the Favicon finally works (thank you Shamus).

So far, which one do you prefer?

If you didn’t get to see one or the other, let me know and I can switch back and forth between them.

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SChips

AMERICA!

This morning America slapped me in the face with freedom. First as I drove to work a Bald Eagle swooped over the highway leaving behind jet trails of liberty. And then when I got to work? Boxes of free Sun Chips for all the employees.

Nothing says America like soaring eagles and free Sun Chips.

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Anewlook

A new look?

The recent trouble I had with MikeDiDonato.com was caused by a database issue. I exceeded the size of my database for what was allowable with the newest version of WordPress (4.0).

The frustrations surrounding this incident also led me to the realization that I’m well overdue for a new website theme.

Thus begins my experimentation with a few new themes. Please feel free to provide your feedback!

Woo!

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Procrastination Nation

Hello Internets!

I have been a horrible poster! I have been procrastinating the Italy picture posts for AN ENTIRE MONTH. Horrible.

In the mean time plenty of exciting things have happened that warrant sharing:

A trip to Gillette Castle! Beautiful hikes! A visit to Essex! Garage painting! New guitar efforts! New exercise efforts! A weekend at Cape Cod!

And a wealth of cooking adventures that all warrant a few words on this faithful site.

Yet here I sit, procrastinating these as well.

Excuses and rationalization pour through my head, but honestly I think it comes down to the fact that writing posts is a lot harder than watching the newest episodes of Sherlock on Netflix.

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