Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A New Blog

I just want to let you know that I'm adding another blog to the stable of outlets for me to spew verbiage. It's called Notes from the KSL Stacks, and it's a place for me to post mostly work-related information. Most of the posts will be the kind of thing I've shared via my personal facebook page for quite some time. That's fun and all, but facebook doesn't keep track of those posts for me, so if I vaguely remember sharing something about etymology at some time in the past, it's hard to find the link. When I do so through a blog, I can tag the posts as well as search through them. Geeky, no?

So I'll use the new blog in a couple of ways:
  • highlight new books we've added to the library collection. I'll do this at the rate of a title or two each week. It's a way to pull out a few out of the scores of books that we purchase. Criteria are strict here: I'll highlight something that seems cool or interesting to me. Or possibly something that I think is of particular interest to my readers. (of whom I have very few right now, hence this advert.) These are likely be of general interest to non-specialists as well.
  • point out interesting tidbits from around the web relating to scholarship in the humanities, publishing, literary topics, library goodies, or anything else of interest.
  • who knows what else.
So feel free to pop on over to the new blog. You can subscribe via email (as many of you do to the posts here on Commonplace), and/or follow it via facebook (click on "Like" and the posts will show up in your facebook feed), or if you are a geek like me, you can follow via RSS.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

On adding vocabulary


That's my new word for today, and it came to me through an internet-typical series of clickety-clicks. Here's how.

One of the blogs that I follow originates from the Colonial Williamsburg's Hay Shop, the period cabinetmakers shop in that wonderful town. Despite being set firmly in the eighteenth century, the workers there recently began a blog, where they write about the work that they do. And they are without doubt men after my own heart. One of the cabinetmakers there specializes in building spinet harpsichords , a trade that was necessary at the time and for that shop. He is working on a piece, but due to nagging tendinitis, is unable to work with tools, so has been reading up on the history of spinets.

In his post, he mentions having read a recent dissertation from the University of Edinburgh, a two volume brute, by Peter Geoffrey Mole which discusses (among other things, no doubt) construction methods of period instruments. Following that link, I kept myself to reading just the abstract of the work, but marveled at the index terms, among them Organology.

Further curiosity and tippity-tapping lead me from the Oxford English Dictionary through the Grove Dictionary of Music (both of these behind Ivory Tower pay walls, sadly) and of course Wikipedia to explain that this is the field of study of the history of musical instruments, and reminds me quite a bit of how the field of bibliography studies the history and "construction" of books, if you will.

Aren't connections super?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sam's First Bike Ride

We all have had a first bicycle ride. Most of us likely don't remember our own, save those few for whom it was a trauma. Fortunately for Sam, his first two-wheeled adventure was nothing of the kind. However, being dutiful parents, we recorded the occasion for posterity- and for the amusement of friends and family.

I got Sam a rear-mounted bicycle seat for his first birthday two weeks ago and this morning it- and he- had their maiden voyage. The seat is a Topeak brand and is very nicely made. It only fits onto one bicycle in our familial quiver- Kim's- so that's where it goes. My "grocery" bike- on which I had planned to mount the seat- does not have brazed on rack mounts. I pedaled Kim's bike (saddle adjusted) and she pedaled Anna's town bike.

First to get strapped in the seat. In you go, while Dad adjusts the straps.

Next, and decidedly unpopular, on goes the helmet. I'd rather not wear one either, but if you get on the bicycle, the helmet goes on your head. He got used to it pretty quickly. (It's a Giro model, and has built in visor and reflectors. And an amusing cops-n-robbers theme.)

Destination? On the Rise Artisan Breads! It's an easy 4.5 mile or so loop from home, and as we were dangerously broaching morning nap time (and the lad a bit fussy from teething or allergies or weaning or a combination of all three), it made for the perfect initial trip. He enjoyed it thoroughly, smiling most of the time while holding on tightly to the grab bar.

What could be better than a lad on the back of one parent's bicycle and a whole mess of fresh bread on the back of the other?

Next stop for Sam, Paris-Roubaix!

Friday, June 3, 2011

On Distraction

I don't know what it is lately, but when it comes to attending to tasks- even those I relish- I seem to be like a kid in the proverbial candy store.


An example: reading. I'm not at all a fast reader, but have diverse interests and a complete inability to follow any one of them through. Perhaps it's just my DNA. But I thought I'd give an example. To whit, the current pile. And this is just the in-my-office pile, as opposed to the in-the-dining-room pile or the on-the-nightstand pile.

Have you noticed the title of this blog? I'm fascinated by commonplace books, and David Allan's "Commonplace Books and Reading in Georgian England" investigates the phenomenon in Georgian England, and the effect it had on readers and reading. Looking forward to it!

Molly Berger's "Hotel Dreams: Luxury, Technology, and Urban Ambition in America, 1829-1929" is the next book to be featured on my podcast, so I'm GOING to read it. I'm going to enjoy reading it too. But this one, as must needs, will filter to the very top of the pile, very quickly, as the books for the podcast generally do.

I'm a closet (or out of the closet, more like it) clock and watch aficionado. And more specifically, mechanical clocks and watches. And I want to learn more about horology, so Eric Bruton's "Clocks and Watches: 1400-1900" is on the pile.

In keeping with the above-mentioned jones, David S. Landes' "Revolution in Time: Clocks and the Making of the Modern World" takes a broader view of the topic, one I think I'll enjoy.

Language and linguistics savant David Crystal's "Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices" is a companion volume to an exhibition at the British Library that I am very sorry I did not see. As a language history junky, this book is like a sweet injection of the best stuff.

David Pye's "The Nature and Art of Workmanship" is a book that I return to often, and not just when looking for inspiration for my furniture building. I find what Pye says about workmanship can apply to many aspects of my life, from building cabinets to teaching library skills to baking pizza to being a father. From the second chapter:
If I must ascribe a meaning to the word craftsmanship, I shall say as a first approximation that it means simply workmanship using any kind of technique or apparatus, in which the quality of the result is not predetermined, but depends on the judgment, dexterity and care with which the maker exercises as he works. The essential idea is that the quality of the result is continually at risk during the process of making; and so I shall call this kind of workmanship "The workmanship of risk"... [which] we may contrast the workmanship of certainty, always to be found in quantity production, and found in its purse state in full automation.

Iowa Trip

We took a fantastic quick trip to Iowa over Memorial Day weekend to visit with Jane and her family. It's a lot of driving- about 1500 miles (fortunately at nearly 50 mpg in the hybrid)- but well worth it. Cedar Rapids was great! Shall we tell them about it, Sam? Yes we should.

On Saturday we took a day trip to Jefferson, Iowa. Kim's friend Brooke lives in Omaha, and she and Kim decided that it would be fun to meet somewhere halfway between Omaha and Cedar Rapids. I brainstormed and came up with Jefferson. This charming small town is home to RVP~1875, a "living history" woodworking shop where the owner Robby Pedersen builds furniture in the style of and using the methods Iowa furniture makers would have used in 1875, and a place I've long thought would be fun to visit. It made a great place to spend some time while Kim and Brooke caught up with each other's lives.

First stop was the Uptown Cafe, where we met Brooke and had a tasty lunch.

On the city square, the Lincoln Highway is marked with this stone marker. The square is also home to the Mahanay Bell Tower, a 168 foot tall carillon tower. We enjoyed taking an elevator to the top of the tower for the views of the town and surrounding countryside.

Sam enjoyed the lawn, and visiting the Ben Franklin (in the background). Jane and I visited RVP~1875 where Robby gave us a nice hour long tour while Sam, Kim and Brooke strolled. We rounded out the day trip with a stop for ice cream before returning to Cedar Rapids.

Sunday we visited a small farm zoo in Cedar Rapids in between rain showers. Sammy loved seeing the ducks, lambs, piglets and ducks.

He also got a third chance at a birthday party, opening a few gifts from Aunt Jane, Uncle Bruce and his cousins.

Thanks for hosting us, Nesmiths! We had a great time!