Sep. 17th, 2017 10:29 am
magid: (Default)
This week I finished two books, John Allen Paulos' A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper and James Hamblin's If Our Bodies Could Talk.

Paulos' book was printed over two decades ago, so some of the examples given felt dated. Overall, however, despite the potential paradigm shift of the availability of the news on the Internet, not just paper, it felt rather timely. People still do not think critically about the news they read, from whatever sources. Paulos looks at all sorts of ways the news can be inaccurate, through all the sections of a traditional newspaper, but even more importantly in some ways, how it can be completely true, yet leave wrong impressions. One example was about voting procedures, and the various schemes that could be used for making sure an election ends up reflecting the will of the people; I was not surprised to see a variety of different possibilities mentioned, with the strengths and weaknesses of each. That and other essays pointed out some of the problems with how our government is set up. I was also interested to see the references to Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, having read The Undoing Project back in January (this year has included a much higher percentage than my usual for nonfiction).

Hamblin's book is also set up as a set of connected short essays grouped by theme, this time based on human body systems (not the usual ones, but perceiving, eating, drinking, relating, and enduring). I learned some biology, and how there are today many things still to learn (that we may be in the process of learning, even), and there are awful ways in which the body can go wrong that I hadn't known of before. What I particularly appreciated was how the author pointed out that many health issues are not solvable in a hospital, but are about social and economic disparity (which reminded me of a book I read two weeks ago, White Trash, a history of class in the US, which reviewed all the ways in which the playing field is not, in fact, equal, even now) that need to be addressed. He also pointed out how in many ways, the US healthcare system is not actually about health, but about delivery of billable stuff, which is not needed when *actually* healthy. Prevention is what people might want, but the companies don't have nearly as much to bill then.... It was a bit depressing, realizing that, again, there are huge, complicated systems embedded in how our society works that are so extremely flawed. The one thing I really was not pleased with was how there was passing reference to 'just' losing weight, as if that were a trivial thing. If it were, there would not be so much failure at that all around.
magid: (Default)
Rereading "The Lions of al-Rassan" in almost one gulp.

Eating nice food I'd made for myself (rather than just settling for a meal-in-a-pot as I usually do when it's just me), plus finding it was food I was really in the mood to be eating (thanks to [ profile] queue for the dumplings-in-cooked-fruit suggestion, as well as the dumpling recipe).

Lots of conversations.

The Israeli Independence Day fair on the Common.
more details )

Playing a new game, Xactika, for the first time.
more description )
magid: (Default)
I had to read the glossary of Words Into Type, a useful book that hasn't been updated since 1974 (and it shows, in the glossary terms...).

There were a few interesting items.

Pieces of (metal) type for printing used to be kept in cases. The earliest cases had two levels... which is why capitals are "uppercase" and the rest are "lowercase". And if a box doesn't have any type left in it, it's "out of sorts." (there, there.)

"Calender" may usually be a typo, but it is a word on its own, too, meaning to make paper smooth and glossy by passing through rollers.

"Fluent" has an alternate meaning: it's the integral symbol!

"Emage" is not an online wizard, but the area of text measured in terms of ems of its type size (ie, em-age, not e-mage. not something I'd use now...).

And the reason "leading" is pronounced "ledding" is because the strips of metal used to separate lines of type were called leads.

We now return you to your usual, typographically normal program...



Apr. 21st, 2002 09:53 pm
magid: (Default)
i've been an incredible slugabed this weekend. not actually in bed, necessarily, just lying around, not doing anything much. well, some reading. a couple of new-to-me books (from a cow orker), and a rereading of "about the b'nai bagels" by e. l. konisburg, which remains a wonderful book. slightly dated, yes, but still wonderful.

it was windy today. at one point i looked outside and almost thought it was snowing: the wind was blowing so many white petals off a neighbor's flowering tree.

more time spent with the visiting birds. so far, i've managed not to be bitten. and the more... people-friendly one has been ok with me petting him through the wire of the cage (as long as the other one isn't too close...). they've been pretty good, wanting to talk a lot, though sometimes it went over into squalking [that spelling just doesn't look right; too lazy to figure it out.]. i admit bribing them at times so i could change the food: they like the challah i made. and they seemed to enjoy the bit of banana today, and the watermelon friday.

and today was xmas! zzbottom took me shopping for a cast-iron griddle, his xmas present to me, just in time for me to tovel it this week, then bring it to the pancake bash. hooray!

favorite building sign spotted as we went in search of cast iron, down by the river: mystic activity center. now, really. just too easy to come up with things to do with that...

tonight, after having yet more roasted veggies (another batch today, as long as i had fresh rosemary...), over to hillel for a jewish a cappella concert. 3 groups, one from harvard (mizmor shir), one from mit (techiya; the "ch" is pronounced "k"), and one of local grownups (honorable menschen. yes, groan as much as you like). all were decent, though there was a bit of a tendency towards choral music. oh, and there were very nice munchies.

so i end the weekend having done none of the work i brought home, and little of the stuff i'd planned to do around the house. ah, well
magid: (Default)
i'm always entertained by their newsletter.

" proudly features only the finest letters, raised with love on our organic alphabet farm in the foothills just west of the City. Fresh punctuation, shipped directly from the adjoining syntax annex, makes each edition an important part of our readers' nutritional regimen."

"Cats eat birds to swallow song"
(great 2nd line for a haiku...)

and it tickles me that the second best selling book this week was the phantom tollbooth.

magid: (Default)
i made it to services twice (one evening, one morning). sort of strange how it didn't feel particularly strange, though i did have to figure out how to balance the siddur at different times. good to see people, too. and i was glad to be there for birkat cohanim (blessing of the priests).

yesterday i had another doctor appointment. much has changed. the stiches were taken out. the pins are scheduled to come out on monday (HOORAY!!!), after which i start much more physical therapy. right now, i have removable splint #5 (light blue velcro, this time), which comes only up to the first joint. and i have more exercises, bending the 2 fingers in the splint at both joints. it hurts some to do, but the useful sort of hurt, pushing a bit, but not a lot. the worst of the pain is on the back of my hand, still... i'm so glad the pins are coming out, & my hand will start to heal. in the meantime, i'm on antibiotics- one of the pin sites might be infected, so to be on the safe side...

tonight is the 8th night of the omer, which is 1 week and 1 day of the omer.
such a beautiful day yesterday that after spending so much of it in the hospital, had to get out, visit friends. it was raining by the time i left, so i borrowed a plastic bag for my arm. 1 or 2 friends might've come over, but it ended up being a quiet evening reading daniel pinkwater instead (thanks, hrafn!). he's such a silly writer...
magid: (Default)
this weekend was full of them.

a quiet shabbat at home, reading (the best of which was The Shadow of the
by Orson Scott Card, truly a gifted writer). it was the first
night in a long long time by myself; it was good to have a break.

saturday night (ok, i almost wrote motza'i shabbat, which is the same thing,
essentially) cthulhia and queue and i went to see the 2nd night of a
festival of 10-minute plays (some of them were a bit longer...), which was a
lot of fun. some were merely ok, while others were great. and boggle
happened afterwards, and i managed to win some :-).

today was totally scheduled (i really have to return some phone calls some
day, some time when i'm home at a reasonable hour....), a visit from queue
followed by Gosford Park at harvard sq with other friends. (no
spoilers i can think of to come) it's a beautifully done movie, all the
details just so, rather understated in dialogue, plot devices (no bashing
you over the head with conversations including direct details. lots of
innuendo used). i found the sheer number of characters a bit hard to keep
track of (10 houseguests, the host family, the myriad below-stairs

home for some (rather late) breakfast (leftover tilapia & onions. (it's a
kind of fish)), then off to cthulhia's for an epiphany of gift giving. i was
surprised & pleased with much chocolate (some from burdick's), and
(essentially) an invitation to host a (small) party, one of the how to host
a murder things.... now i have research to do on the correct sort of meal,
costume, etc; this definitely won't happen until february - january is far
too full already (at least the weekends, and i'm not going to figure out how
to fit this in on a weekday. oh, wait - there's a long weekend in january.
maybe that monday? hmmmm.). thanks to cthulhia and pheromone (also to prog -
i got to see his hair :-).
some games afterward, too. one involved smashing rats with anvils (all
cards, no real rats were used in the production of this entry), then a game
of guillotine (i finally got to play a whole game; last time (the first
time) was interrupted when the friends-in-the-hospital finally got to move
to share a room.)

but wait, the day is not done. i'd missed the jim's big ego concert cthulhia
had gotten people to go to, so she invited me along to hear him solo at a
house concert in arlington. i had a great time, crammed into a livingroom
with 25 other people to hear him sing & play guitar & recite poetry & talk
with an audience of fans...

(and now, despite tiredness, i type here. why can i not just go to bed?)
magid: (Default)
do not read "how to eat fried worms" while eating macaroni and cheese
magid: (Default)
(aka secret santa, or, to some, secret satan)

somehow i've ended up organizing this in my dept for the last x years (5? i don't know).

this year, i was given "the worst-case scenario survival handbook: travel", which i haven't read fully yet, but includes sections on such hazards as being abducted by aliens (ebe; extraterrestrial biological entity), how to climb out of a well, how to handle a runaway camel, how to survive a severed limb, how to navigate a minefield, how to survive a tsunami, etc etc etc. highly entertaining. plus there are phrases in the back, translated into 4 different languages, helpful things such as "you will never make me talk" and " may i borrow a towel to wipe up the blood?"

i see an entertaining read ahead...


Dec. 20th, 2001 07:14 am
magid: (Default)
the book quest continues...
there are more on my list, but i found some last night, and a couple i hadn't been looking for but am pleased to have in the house. particularly the joan bauer book rules of the road. she writes such fascinating stories...
and i couldn't resist getting a used copy of how to eat fried worms, either :-) i remember it being wonderfully icky when i was smaller.
magid: (Default)
and i wasn't reading any of them, honest.

someone at work organized a volunteer opportunity at jumpstart, a place that matches up college students to work with kids in day care (head start, etc) one-on-one to make sure they're ready for school when they start going. they'd had some kind of book drive, and we got to sort the books.
something for preschool, or elementary, or young adult, or religious (this covered a fair range, since it included bible figures, halloween, valentines, anything on any holiday you've ever heard of, etc), or broken (:-(.
it was interesting to see the books that came in (i couldn't believe people donated some books _i'd_ never get rid of...), both good and atrocious. there are far too many babysitter's club level books, r l stine, books made by merchandizers. on the other hand, i saw some old favorites, too, so i guess the world is doing ok....

we left work a bit early to get downtown in time (the snow & all), and there was time to grab lunch at milk st cafe. yum. i don't get down there nearly enough (since i'm working in needham most days/times they're open, this is no big surprise). lunch was a slice of goat cheese and onion pizza, and it was great. (drool. i should've gotten more for later...).
and i was pleased to recognize a friend-of-friend i'd met once when we were walking on the street. (friend in question hadn't noticed her. maybe today i could even find waldo!)
magid: (Default)
why is it that the last few weekends have seemed so-many-more-than-2-days long?

perhaps it's just having lots of things to do with friends....

sunday i got to read part of a book by will cuppy i'd not read before. he cracks me up, with a rather geeky academic humor. and the 2nd (vegan) chocolate cake was enjoyed as well (i must buy sugar; i completely ran out of regular granulated sugar.).


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