Tag Archives: books

The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books: Christopher Columbus, His Son, and the Quest to Build the World’s Greatest Library by Edward Wilson-Lee

The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books: Christopher Columbus, His Son, and the Quest to Build the World's Greatest LibraryThe Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books: Christopher Columbus, His Son, and the Quest to Build the World’s Greatest Library by Edward Wilson-Lee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a eGalley of this from the publisher through Edelweiss.

The subtitle order is Columbus, Hernando (his son) and lastly, the library. And what you get is a lot of Columbus, nearly as much Hernando, other contemporary hsitories of the various crowns and explorers, and a fraction by comparison about the library Hernando assembled. In reading this, I kept asking myself how much was speculation and how much had some basis in history. More history than I thought, as the endnotes are detailed and extensive and provide an excellent collateral backstory to the main narrative. Unfortunately, an electronic interface is clumsy (see note below) and their value is hard won for the poor reader. Continue reading

Coming to grips

This is the family coin we had made in Korea when I retired in 2003:

Family coin mediumAndrea edited English manuals for Samsung products and worked with one of their graphic artists to design it. The van was how people knew us in Korea (custom vans were rare and often used by celebrities instead of limousines.) As there doesn’t seem to be a coat of arms for Razinha, let alone the hybrid Razinha-Davis, we made up our own with emblems of things that were important to us: the Navy, music, books and animals/pets. The “Live Well-Laugh often-Love much” quote was on a plaque in our kitchen and Rufus Choate just happened to say something that we hold true.

As I said, I retired in 2003, but the Navy will always be a part of who I am. As for the others… they were ripped from us on July 31st. The van? Destroyed. Our personal library of 5,800 books…gone. Guitars, basses, drum kit, baby grand piano…gone. Our dear, sweet cats….so much more than symbols on a coin.

Out of all of us, I seem to be having the hardest time dealing with the devastating loss of our house and as near to everything we possessed as you can imagine. I, a champion of rational thinking, became physically ill when I went into a bookstore last week. Remembering this

Libraryis probably why.

I, a champion of reason over emotion, feel my chest tighten when I think of this:

P1020733I spent years building, creating, arranging, tweaking, adding to our admittedly WAY over the top display. I even took precious time away from studying for the Professional Engineer exam in 2010 to set it up because it’s such a part of the family tradition. While Andrea’s art went in so many directions and grew so fast that I had a hard time keeping pace, this was a stable part of our lives that I considered my art. Right now, I don’t know how I can start over. It’s like taking ten years off from the gym and thinking, “I can bench press with the same weight I remember I used last time, right?” How can you go from super huge to a couple of skeletons and gravestones? Still reeling. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the things we lost.

“You need to deal with this.” “You need to get past this.” “You need to move on.”

These are words I’ve heard lately from several people. All said, I know, with sincere concern for me. I can forget a ton of things, but for me to “deal with” and “get past” so I can “move on”, I’ll have to wall off those memories of things that can never be again so that I don’t think about them because I can’t forget.

The saying goes: Time heals all wounds, but the podiatrists know that time also wounds all heels.

On weather, creating art, and other general thoughts

I grew up in New England (southeastern Connecticut) and heard many times as a young man, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.” Someone attributed it to Mark Twain, but it was probably around longer than that. We lived in Oklahoma from 1989 to 1992, and I heard the same phrase (this time attributed to Will Rodgers.) Some years later, living in Korea, I heard that they had the same phrase…for about four hundred years.

Christmas Eve brought us four types of precipitation in 15 hours: hail just after 1:00 a.m., rain through most of the night/morning, sleet in the early afternoon and accumulating snow by 3:00 p.m.

So, after living in Texas for the past six years, I can say those other locations were pretenders. It was in the 70s on Friday and heading south of 34F right now.

Art creation

We discovered last year that Andrea and I do not collaborate well on her art. I can make the boxes and frames she needs but my creativity and hers do not align. Not so with son Brandon. He has a knack for paper placement Andrea sometimes uses in her mixed media works. See here for progress photos. I do get a kick out what has become my role in her brainstorming process: “What about…?” is usually met with “No. but thanks.” So, I contribute by helping Andrea eliminate the things she doesn’t want to do!

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Resolutions are usually doomed to fail. The intellectual challenge is to enumerate them without dismissing them as folly before you finish writing them out. Perils of a skeptic, I suppose. Or a realist.

At any rate, here are some personal goals that I’d like to at least attempt, if not make a sincere effort toward in the coming year:

  • Write regularly on this blog. Seems simple enough, but there are always distractions for the ADD brain. I’d like to try to get to an actual weekly blog with semi-regular “features”. Okay, mostly irregular, but with some regularity.
  • Get back to contributing to Dangerous Intersection. A double blogging goal.
  • Read more. I’m 51. At 100 books per year, I’ve got what? three to four thousand left available to me?
  • Finally write that extended piece on home educating I’ve had in outline form in my head for the past two years.
  • (Actually work on next Halloween’s display in the off-season. So many ideas…so little time.)

Sure, I’d like to be consistent with stretching (the body doesn’t agree, hence the inconsistency); exercising; …um, sleeping – that’s probably never going to happen, so it doesn’t make the wish list; roll back the clock on the curmudgeonliness; maybe even accept psycho-whatever as legitimate sciences. (That last one was not meant to be serious.)

Oh. And world peace.