Monday, October 22, 2012

More markings on dead trees

I found myself in Oakville yesterday. One was to get some pretty much penultimate shots of the Dundas Street bridge(s) over Sixteen Mile Creek, a topic I haven't blogged sufficiently in recent times but mean to sum up presently.

The other was to visit Bolt in his new place. That turned out to be kind of a comedy of errors, at least initially. He wasn't home when I got there, but at the other place, still hauling stuff back and forth. I texted him that I'd be at Hopedale Mall, killing time.

There's a used book store there he introduced me to earlier this year. At that time, I picked George Carlin's autobiography. This time, as I waited to hear from Bolt (in fact, we had a conversation by text while I was shopping), I picked up at few titles.

The first I spotted that I really wanted was  Eniac: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the World's First Computer by Scott McCartney. It looked approachable for someone like me, and I started reading it this morning. The early part that I'm reading right now is about 17th century mechanical precursors to the modern electronic computer. It looks like it's going to be a really enjoyable read.

The next was The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. When I was 18 or 19, I read his The Blind Watchmaker, and it was one of those moments that comes in your life when something fundamental really clicks in your understanding of things. I've seen a lot of what Richard Dawkins has to say in YouTube videos, where to be honest, I find him a little bit prickly for my tastes, but I'm looking forwards to reading the book.

The third was The Joy of Finding Things Out by Richard Feynman. I recently listened to a biography of Richard Feynman I downloaded from the library, and I'm interested now in hearing, in his own words, some of the same tales. I approach it with mixed feelings. Other things of his I've read have rubbed me the wrong way and stuck me self-aggrandizing... no matter how much a person might warrant it, it's never pretty... but I'm curious to be thrown into the water of some new ideas and trying to swim.

The last was Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography by David Michaelis. I actually thumbed through this book in the Stouffville library the night I went up there to meet my cat Ally for the first time. While I waited for the call from her then-guardian (I don't like to say "owner"), I had a look through the book. Peanuts was my favourite comic strip when I was in elementary school; I encountered words and concepts like Beethoven, ophthalmologist, eloquent, security, sarcastic, psychiatric, sincerity, and dozens of others in the pages of my friend's collection, mostly from the mid-1960s, when in my opinion the strip was at its peak. I've always been interested in the story of the phenomenon of Peanuts itself... how it got started, how it evolved, why it lasted so long, and what drove Charles Schulz such that he didn't seem capable of just retiring and letting it go even after it got tired and clicheed. I'm hoping the book answers those questions.

So I guess I'm set for books for the next month or two. The best part was, since the store's moving and trying to lower inventory, I got books that would have cost me about $120-150 retail, or $40 generally at the store's prices, for just $27; less than the average cost of just one of them alone. Used book stores are just the best. :)

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