Thursday, August 25, 2011

Steve Jobs Resigned from Apple Yesterday

Steve Jobs, my ultimate crush, resigned from Apple Computers, the company he co-founded with Steve Wozniak, yesterday, and today, I came upon a list of some of his best quotes, starting with his speech at Stanford:


“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” [Stanford commencement speech, June 2005]

Then there are his discussions on wealth. Truly, what a brilliant and wonderful human being he is...I thank God all the time that he helped create the computer I'm writing this on, the iMac G4.

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” [The Wall Street Journal, May 25, 1993]


Q: There’s a lot of symbolism to your return. Is that going to be enough to reinvigorate the company with a sense of magic?

“You’re missing it. This is not a one-man show. What’s reinvigorating this company is two things: One, there’s a lot of really talented people in this company who listened to the world tell them they were losers for a couple of years, and some of them were on the verge of starting to believe it themselves. But they’re not losers. What they didn’t have was a good set of coaches, a good plan. A good senior management team. But they have that now.” [BusinessWeek, May 25, 1998]


“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” [Fortune, Nov. 9, 1998]


“The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting. The cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament.” [Apple Confidential: The Real Story of Apple Computer Inc., May 1999]

I get the feeling that Steve Jobs knows that his battle with cancer isn't going to end well, and that his time is running out. So he's left the company he helped to create so that he can spend his last days, weeks or hopefully years, doing things he wants and needs to do before he passes away. Godspeed to the man, who will always be that smart, sexy, innovative Apple Computer god in my heart, worthy of a pin-up on my dorm room wall in college.

Meanwhile, my favorite legendary critter (the tops are made of the rubber, the tails are made of the spring!) now has a playlist:
Flavorwire was also in an A.A. Milne mood, offering a literary mixtape
for Tigger and
noting that "someone who bounces all day long would have to listen to
the most spastic, bounding modern indie rock and pop songs he can get
his paws on. After all, all that bouncing is hard work, and even a
Tigger needs a little musical boost once in a while. Or, if we know him,
all the time. Tigger is certainly not one for moderation. His iPod is
filled with nothing but fun-fun-fun! Here's what we think he would
boast, bounce, and eat extract of malt to."

In Dr Who news, here's some interesting tidbits about that sexy David Tennant and Matt Smith, who is adorable, but not nearly as hot:

I would very much like to have my other lifetime crush's library, Sting, or Mark Twains library, or William Randolf Hearsts would do in a pinch:
Celebrities who are also readers have a slight advantage over the rest
of us, in that they "often making tens of thousands of dollars for just
showing up somewhere, have no such financial restraints and may indulge
themselves with those epic home libraries the rest of us can only dream
about." Presented as evidence by are "20
celebrities with stunning home libraries"

This is the TRUTH about independent bookstores, said very eloquently:

"The intimacy and personality of independent bookstores provides a
high-touch environment complementing the rich experience of the book--an
antidote to the relentless technological acceleration in our lives; a
counterbalance to the local-disconnect felt by the globally connected."

--Ed Morrow, co-founder of the Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center,
Vt., in his introduction to therevised, updated edition of Rebel Bookseller: Why Indie Bookstores
Represent Everything You Want to Fight for from Free Speech to Buying
Local to Building Communities (Seven Stories Press).

Finally, a magazine I've written for informs us of the happy event of Seattle getting a new bookstore...Hurrah!

Delicious news from Seattle: the Book Larder, a bookstore devoted to
"all things culinary," will open in October,
according to Seattle Met. The owner is Lara Hamilton, who used to work
for the late Kim Ricketts, founder of Kim Ricketts Book Events. The
store is taking shape at 4252 Fremont St. N. See photos on Seattle Met.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Literary Shoes and a Homemade Life

From MediaBistro's "GalleyCat" comes this marvelous new website and readers resource, BookLamp:

How Publishers & Readers Can Use BookLamp
By Jason Boog on August 18, 2011 3:53 PM

Ever wish you could find new books the same way Pandora helps you find new music? Using a series of algorithms, BookLamp analyzes your favorite books for five style elements and then delivers you customized recommendations with similar themes and style.

The site currently tracks more than 618 million data points, trying to decode the DNA of literature. Here’s a simple explanation: “Motion, Density, Description, Dialog and Pacing are stylistic metrics or terms developed to help make the complicated under-workings of our analysis more understandable. They are not the complete picture of what makes up a book’s writing style, nor a complete picture of what BookLamp tracks in a book, but they do measure elements that a person can easily understand.”

In another awesome use of literature for functional design, here are shoes created from famous works of classic literature (I am partial to the Romeo and Juliet shoes):

"Here's the idea: sneakers inspired by some of the greatest literary works of all time. Each design pays tribute to one fantastic book everyone should read before they die, and shows off your love of classic fiction to the world. I'll admit, this is a passion project for me. New designs will keep coming as often as my time and creative energy permit. Suggestions always welcome, though I'll have to have read the book before I can design them. Comments, referrals and promotion absolutely encouraged Women's sizes: According to Zazzle, women should order a men's shoe 1.5 sizes smaller than their size—so if you wear a women's size 7 you should order a men's 5.5. I may end up specifically designing women's counterparts if there's a demand for it."

I have just finished Molly Wizenberg's "A Homemade Life" for my Tuesday night book group, and because I'd just read "My Year With Eleanor" and "Tolstoy and the Purple Chair" this book felt like the third part of a trilogy about women finding their way through grief and/or pain by concentrating on doing something positive with their life, in this case, cooking as a vocation and falling in love (and getting married). Wizenberg loses her father to a swift and brutal cancer, and spends much of the book talking about the foods that he made, and the foods she grew up eating. She also discusses the time she spent in Paris, and the excellent foods she ate there. Unfortunately, since I can't have dairy or eggs, her recipes that are found in each chapter are not ones I can try, because all of them have butter and cream in them, as well as nuts and onions. Still, it was a delicious read, and one I will not soon forget. Though I plan on asking the willowy Ms Wizenberg (she is visiting the Covington Library in late September) how she manages to stay slender when she eats a couple of sticks of butter and pints of cream every day, along with French bread and chocolate. If I ate like that, I'd be huge. Still, I'd give this book a solid B+.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Year With Eleanor by Noelle Hancock

I highly recommend "My Year With Eleanor" by Noelle Hancock, who is one of those rare creatures, a truly funny writer who is also, amazingly, young, so we have hope of more from her witty mind. This book, like "Tolstoy and the Purple Chair" chronicles a year in the life of a woman bent on transforming herself due to some life-altering event. In the case of "Tolstoy" it is the death of the authors sister that plunges her into a year of reading a book a day as a way of honoring something they shared a deep and abiding love of, while in "Eleanor" it is the author being laid off from her journalism job (a fact that is all too understandable in the recession, and close to home for this freelancer)that allows her to confront one of her fears each day and overcome it by any means necessary. Though Hancock wasn't as wise as the Tolstoy author (mainly because she's much younger) she makes up for any deficiencies with a razor-sharp wit and self-depricating honesty that makes her not only vulnerable, but adorable. This leads the reader to root for her in even the most absurd and compromising situations, as when she's caught almost 'in flagrante' with her boyfriend in the bride's bathroom at a wedding. I must admit I was in deep envy of her ability to afford some of her challenges, such as skydiving and flying a fighter jet in a Top- Gun-style dogfight, which I would give nearly anything to do. But apparently, online entertainment journalists get enough severance pay to actually be able to take an entire year off to write a book and have a string of thrilling adventures, something not allowed for mere print journalists. Still, I was able to get my jollies vicariously, as intrepid Noelle scales Kilimanjaro, jumps out of airplanes and does 5 minutes of stand up comedy with a slew of other journalists. Since I've done the latter without resorting to raunchy humor, as Noelle did, I admit to feeling slightly smug when recalling my triumph at an AA Biker bar in Seattle, (I kid you not), where I didn't have a huge crowd of friends to cheer me on (I did have my husband and two friends, but that was it), and I was one of only two women to actually perform that night. If you didn't get at least a few laughs, you didn't graduate from the UW stand up class. There was one guy whose humor was all dirty stuff and mostly mean stuff about women, since he was getting a divorce, and he totally bombed, didn't get one laugh, while I got a ton of laughs and applause, and won the evening, graduating at the top of my class (who knew sober bikers would get Iowan humor?). Though I have never really had a fear of public speaking, like Noelle, no one likes to bomb on stage, and everyone is nervous before a performance, at least everyone I've ever spoken to, celebrity or otherwise. This book was just the right size to not become tedious and the prose was clean enough that it was a fast read. I'd give it an A, with the caveat that those who are normally fearless and bold might find some of her whining and puking a bit tough to take, but if you bear with the author, you find yourself feeling transformed into a 'braver' person in the end, right along with her.

In other news:
Lev Grossman, author most recently of The Magician King, selected his 10
must-read fantasy novels for Flavorwire.
This list could have used some Shana Abe books, some Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, and World Fantasy Award Winner Patricia McKillip tomes. There are some books on here that are great and well worth the time, and others, not so much.

It was announced today that Sony's new e-reader that is coming out will be dedicated to exclusive content from Pottermore, which makes this stuff even more interesting:

"From flying letters to a 4,500-word discourse on wand woods,
early access to J.K. Rowling's move into the digital arena, Pottermore, reveals a richly-imagined, elaborately realized behind-the-scenes peek into the world of Harry Potter," wrote
Alison Flood in the Guardian. A photo gallery preview of Pottermore, which will
officially open to the public in October, was featured by Entertainment

The website is already a phenomenal success. Flood noted that there have
been more than 22 million webpage views, "peaking at some 50,000
requests per second on August 3, as readers rushed to become one of the
million users chosen to receive early access and a chance to shape the
website's development."

What is in store for those who venture within? "On entering the site,
users begin to travel through the world of Harry Potter and the
Philosopher's Stone, following in the footsteps of Harry and learning
new facts about his world as they open an account at the goblin bank
Gringotts, travel up and down Diagon Alley shopping for equipment for
school and choosing a wand. Unlocking new content as they progress
through the storyline, they can click on and collect items for their
'trunk,' build and evolve their profiles, adding their own drawings,
collecting books and chocolate frog cards, learning spells and brewing
potions. A Pottermore account can also be connected to a Facebook
account, with users able to make friends--and even take part in
wizarding duels once they reach a certain point on the website," Flood

Entertainment Weekly's Keith Staskiewicz noted that even in the site's
early stages of development, "there's still more than enough to make
your entire afternoon disappear like a temporus suckus spell
The real fun comes with the community elements. Once you're sorted into
a house--we got Ravenclaw because we're smart and boring--you'll be able
to interact with your fellow housemates via a number of activities.
Individuals can earn house points in the site-wide House Cup, and you
can even engage in a wizard's duel using your customized wand and the
spells you have learned. If potions are more your thing, you can buy all
the bezoars and flobberworm mucus you need at Diagon Alley and whip up a
batch or two in your cauldron, but don't overspend or else you'll find
your Gringotts vault empty. All these elements represent the kind of
useless but still desperately desired reward system that can turn
horribly, wonderfully addictive. It's hard to tell at this point exactly
how addictive when it's nobody else but us chickens in here, but
Pottermore seems especially designed to destroy work productivity the
world over."

Oh, what I wouldn't give to be in this warehouse with a suitcase!

The Guardian also reported that the 150,000-square-foot Leavesden
where the Harry Potter films were shot, is being converted to showcase
"The Making of Harry Potter " studio
tour, which "will offer a trip around the sets where the films were
shot, and provide an insider look at the film-making process."
Pre-booking for the tour will begin on October 13, with the attraction
itself opening next spring. Fans will be able to walk through the Great
Hall at Hogwarts and visit Dumbledore's office, as well as other iconic

"I once took a trip to the studios in 2008, while filming for the sixth
film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was well underway," wrote
Joe Utichi. "In the ice-cold hangars that housed the sets, even the
corridors were stuffed with the detritus of several years of large-scale
moviemaking. Familiar props from all five of the previous films were
stacked wherever there was space.

"But what struck me was the incredible level of detail that had gone
into every facet of the films' creation. Production designer Stuart
Craig and his team achieved a level of artistry I'd never seen
before--all enhanced by curiously organic touches that were a product of
years in production. In the Great Hall, torch-bearing gargoyles are
scorched by years of naked flames, while dining tables are marked by the
graffiti of the student extras."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Interesting Ideas of the Day

This is truly a wonderful idea, and yet another reason to love Portland, Oregon:

Cool idea of the day. Laura Moulton's
pedal-powered Street Books project in Portland, Ore., offers books to homeless people who don't qualify for
library cards. The Christian Science Monitor reported that twice a week,
Moulton can be seen "fiercely peddling her bike as she tows along a
wagon full of books. When she arrives at her destination, Ms. Moulton
parks, opens her wagon, and sets up for her four-hour shift."

"There is at least one guy waiting every Wednesday morning to greet me,
get his book, and head out," she said. "The power of the book offer[s] a
way to transport oneself out of a current reality.... Being able to give
them a card and tell them, 'I hope to see you again'--that's a powerful
thing because these are people who cannot get a library card [at the
local library] because they have no address."

I had no idea that these characters were based on real people:

And this is just plain cool, a Penguin made from an old manual typewriter:

Science fiction children's books listed here that are a great way to get kids interested in space, the final frontier:

And finally, the Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books, voted on by fans (myself included) that contains too much Neil Stephenson, whose work is awful, in my opinion, and no works by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, whose Liaden Universe series deserves a place on the list way before Stephensons crap prose.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Yet Another Reason to Visit Salinas, California

BookSmart in Morgan Hill, Calif., will open a new branch
at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas this fall. Colleen Finegan
Bailey, the center's executive director, told the Monterey County Weekly
that selecting an indie for the space was "both a response to the
impending closure of Sand City's Borders, and a nod to the center's
community-oriented vision."

"The big-box model of bookstores is going away, but the smaller,
independent bookstore model is catching on," she added. "The store will
offer not just Steinbeck books, but general-interest books that meet the
needs of the Salinas community."

BookSmart's co-owners Brad Jones and Cinda Meister "were impressed by
the Steinbeck Center and the Oldtown Salinas Association at a July 28
business mixer," the Weekly noted. "I heard, 'How can everybody in this
room help you succeed?' That's something I've never heard spoken that
way before," said Jones.

I found this tidbit interesting, as I am a big fan of kick-butt librarians in fiction. From Shelf Awareness Pro:
The Mary Sue website showcased 10 Action Librarians, noting that
despite the traditional stereotypes for the profession, "there are
plenty of kick ass librarians in fiction!... This week's Grid is
dedicated to the runners up, and to the reference librarian who didn't
bat an eye when I asked her where I could find books on Slavic Folklore,
prison tattoos, and Marine snipers (preferably autobiographies)

This is great news, as I am also a big fan of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which was one of my favorite books a few years back. And Kenneth Branagh and I almost shared a birthday, except he was born on Dec 10, 1960 and I was born on Dec 12, I was born in Iowa, he in Ireland. I sincerely hope he directs this film, because I think he'd do a fine job of bringing this beloved story and characters to life.
Variety reported that Fox 2000 "is circling" Kenneth Branagh to direct The
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, based on the novel by
Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. The movie, which is being produced
by Paula Mazur and Mitchell Kaplan (owner of Books & Books in Miami)
from a script by Dan Roos, is expected to begin production in the

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

A Variety of Stuff and Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

More great stuff from Shelf Awareness:

This guy sounds a lot like me and my husband, because both of us loved books and Sci-fi shows in the 60s and 70s!

Rainn Wilson (The Office; Super) shared "10 favorites from my sci-fi and
fantasy bookshelf"
on the Los Angeles Times Hero Complex blog, where he observed: "When I
was growing up in the '70s in suburban Seattle, I had a secret
obsession. I was a science fiction and fantasy nerd. This was waaaay
before it was ever halfway cool to be one.... I have many fond memories
of poring over the outlandish sci-fi and fantasy book covers at the
University Book Store
in Seattle and
choosing a stack to bring home with me to devour. I have managed to,
over the many decades since the late '70s, hold on to a good deal of my
collection and I'm proud to share with you now some of my favorite
authors and their covers from my bookshelf."

I have dreamed of going to Scotland for a long time! I would LOVE to visit these literary haunts!

Even if you're headed headed to Scotland later rather than sooner (the
Edinburgh Fringe festival begins this
Friday), the Guardian's guide to the "10 of the best literary haunts in
could help you locate "some of the literary hot spots that have inspired
writers such as Ian Rankin and J.K. Rowling."

I DID read all these books in high school, because we had reading lists,which I assumed were in every school. Apparently, not so, according to my husband who grew up in St Petersburg, Florida, and went to Northeast High School, which had no reading lists at all, ever...gasp.

From beach reads to back-to-school reads... for adults.
recommended "10 books you really should have read in high school"

"I think that there are characters that it would be a shame not to meet
like Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird or Holden Caulfield in The
Catcher in the Rye," said Misha Stone of the Seattle Public Library. "I
borrow from what world-renowned librarian Nancy Pearl says, and I will
paraphrase here--everyone has a different definition of what would be
considered a classic, but there are also books that it would be a shame
to go through life not reading. There are books that speak to the human
condition and the world we live (and lived) in in astonishing,
thought-provoking, and life-changing ways."

This is a somewhat fascinating peek into what writers eat. I just prefer chewing ice, myself.

What do writers eat?
In a New York Times Sketchbook feature, Wendy MacNaughton pictured the
"Snacks of the Great Scribblers," including Walt Whitman's oysters and
meat, Vendela Vida's pistachios and Lord Byron's vinegar, which he
sipped "to keep his weight down.

The famed Seattle 7 Writers are at it again!

Seattle7Writers, the organizer of last year's six-day, 36-author writing
marathon that resulted in the book Hotel Angeline, plans to break its
own record. On Saturday, October 15, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 100 writers
will gather in the Rainier Valley Cultural Center in Columbia City,
Wash., to create a novel in just a single day. The event, called Write
Here Write Now, will be followed by Up Late Reading, a performance art
and author reading collaboration featuring actors and musicians.
Admission price is one slightly used book or a monetary donation, which
will be used to maintain Seattle7Writers' many "pocket libraries" in
shelters for the homeless and abused. Erik Larson, Erica Bauermeister,
Dave Boling, Nancy Rawles, Robert Dugoni, Maria Dahvana Headley and
Laurie Frankel are among the confirmed contributors to this Guinness
Records-worthy undertaking. More information at

Interesting developments with the Pottermore website:

Harry Potter and the Magical Quill
Yesterday was Harry Potter's birthday, as well as registration day for
J.K. Rowling's Pottermore website (Shelf Awareness
Visitors to Pottermore were greeted by the following message:
"Those of you who would like the chance to gain early access to
Pottermore must find the Magical Quill and then submit their
registration details. Each day, from 31 July to 6 August, a clue will be
revealed here. Solve the clue and you will be taken to the Magical
Quill. Be quick, the Magical Quill won't be there for long and
registration will only be open while spaces are still available each

Pottermore is "the most significant development
in transmedia (and in storytelling in general) this year, and perhaps
ever," Jeff Gomez, a transmedia expert, told Forbes magazine

"What does is that, for the first time it brings the
Harry Potter brand from its basis in being a repurposed or repeated
story world, into being a true transmedia brand," said Gomez.
"Transmedia is signified by interactivity: the audience feeling not only
an intense relationship with the storyteller (they already have this
with J.K. Rowling), but a feeling that their input will have some kind
of impact on the story world itself. That's what I believe is happening
with Pottermore. It is designed to be a two-way portal between all of us
and the Harry Potter universe. It will promote participation by
validating and celebrating community, dialog and user-generated content.
It exists not just to sell e-books, but to nurture and ultimately expand
the canon of Harry Potter itself. That's historic in many ways."

I finished Jim Butcher's "Ghost Story" the 13th Harry Dresden novel (if you count the short stories) and though I was peeved as heck about the cliffhanger ending of "Changes" (which Butcher claims was not a cliffhanger, seriously) I found myself feeling soothed and feathers unruffled by the introspective and, dare I say it, philosophical tone of the book. Because Chicagos best wizard is a ghost, he can't physically use his magic to effect people or situations, which, while frustrating, causes him to reflect on the chaos and violence of his past. Harry realizes that some of the bad outcomes and unhappy situations of those in his care are directly related to how he taught them or conducted his business and his life. He also gets to do a turn as a Dickensian "Ghost of Christmas Past" to make certain that all the people he loves, who also loved him (which was something of a revelation for Dresden) are going to be okay going forward, including his daughter Maggie. Butcher's deft storytelling skills and magical way with making outrageous plots plausible are in evidence here, and by the time we reach the end of the book, I was in as much acceptance of his demise as Harry was, and I was ready to move on...only to have that twist of an ending set me up for another Dresden Files novel. I loved the archangel Uriel's gift of the few words that allowed Harry to make his soul his own again, and I look forward to seeing what happens in the "nevernever" in the next book. I don't want to give away the ending, but I do think a lot of Dresden fan prayers were answered by Butcher in this highly entertaining story. I'd recommend the book to all the fans who are worried that,like Arthur Conan Doyle, Jim Butcher was going to send one of the greatest characters in fiction over the Falls, never to be seen again. Thankfully, our worries were ephemeral.