I’m two-thirds of the way through Steven Johnson’s book, The Invention of Air, and it’s just fascinating. It tells the story of Joseph Priestly, a man who prospered during the Enlightenment Age (during the late 18th century, along with contemporaries Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and others) — and presents a compelling picture of a man who combined passions for Scientific discovery, Political discourse, and deep Religious belief — that combination is extremely rare, as the author displays. I hope that I can become more involved with Steven Johnson’s work, at Outside.in and in other pursuits — he seems fascinating, and someone who will inspire me, and others, to previously unexpected goals.
Eugene asked me for my favorite 10 books that I read in 2004… that reminded me to clear off my shelf of ‘books read this year’, and also highlighted that I had a LOT of free time on my hands this year, considering my sabbatical in beginning of year, and ‘retirement’ in October.
So, here it is, my 2004 reading recommendations list, in a somewhat ranked order… it obviously became very difficult to rank them… but, I did my best…
Movies (obviously, i’ve missed a few…):
Trends making strong gains among masses:
Was a typical December day in Seattle…
Started off with an 8 mile run with Karen and her cousin Kevin along Lake Washington from Leschi toward Seward Park and back. Was nice to have someone along for the run (Kevin) who was repeatedly talking about how beautiful the run was (describing as “a true runner’s moment”, “noone who lives along the run has an excuse for not being healthy”, etc). From my point of view, I was just happy to have the run finished — only 5-6 weeks until the Carlsbad Half Marathon — wonder if I’ll be in Carlsbad on January 16, 2005? 🙂
After that, I pretty much just found shelter in the house.
I finally got through the last 40-50 pages of Theodore Rex , the second in a 3-part biography series by Edmund Morris, that covered the two terms of his presidency from 1901 (succeeding the murdered McKinley) to 1909 (refusing to run for a second elected term, allowing Taft to continue the Republican stranglehold). It was really an interesting book for me, since I knew so little about his presidency — he accomplished so much in eight years (Panama Canal, many Conservation initiatives, Trust reform vs. railroads and many others, 8-hour workday laws, employer liability laws, helping end the Russo/Japan war). Makes me interested in reading all of the presidential biographies, mainly as a way to learn about how our country got to where it is now.
Of course, it was much slower reading than what I’m used to (aka fiction). I’m really looking forward to reading Winterdance , which was recommended by Laura. Some light reading about the running of the Iditarod.
We all complain about work from time to time, right? What I want to know, though, is… are you willing to admit the extremely cool things about your employer? Working for Amazon.com has a lot of perks… 3 month sabbaticals come to mind… but one of my favorites is our ‘Fishbowls’… where Authors, Bands and various others come in to talk about their goods… Today, we had a living legend, Cal Ripken (and his brother, Billy) in talking about their new book, Play Baseball the Ripken Way : The Complete Illustrated Guide to the Fundamentals.
What made it even better, was that greedy me got my grubby hands on a signed copy. Ahh… bliss.
I don’t know what I expected going in. I expected them to hawk their book (got that). However, I was pleasantly surprised to hear them talking about how much they cared about baseball, and teaching how to play, and enjoy, baseball to the youth of the World. They were definitely witty, even knowing that they’ve told the same jokes to audiences from NYC to LA. Billy’s self-deprecating style made you really think about what it must be like to live life in the shadow of a talented sibling — we all think we understand that because of our brother/sister who’s ‘smarter/faster/nicer…’ than us… but can you just imagine growing up with the Iron Man? That could really drive someone to the bottle 🙂
How do I rate it? I’ll give it 8 1/2 thumbs up, out of 9 and 3/4 🙂 If you have kids involved with youth baseball, you really should check out the book.
Finished reading Moneyball today — tale of Billy Beane’s brilliance with building a statistically-generated major league ballclub — found most of the story a bit tiring, as it was bending over backward to focus on the brilliance of the A’s moves — trouble was that noone could believe that the didn’t make any mistakes; think it would have had more credibility if it covered some of their boners as well. One thing that I thought was very interesting about it was how it is applicable for non-baseball players — issues like “doubting your own abilities”, how important image is to being successful, impact of attitude, etc. In any case, despite it’s weaknesses, I recommend it for anyone who enjoys watching baseball from time to time; I know that it will make baseball more interesting to me going forward. (And, as I’m typing this, the A’s just gave up a home run to the Rangers… isn’t that appropriate? Given that Moneyball is about the A’s? 🙂 )