Monthly Archives: May 2016

This Unique New Bookstore Is Filled With Optical Illusions

29 May 2016

From contemporist:

A new bookstore has recently opened in Hangzhou, China, and the inside is kind of amazing to see.

The store is located just above the main plaza, within the commercial center of Star Avenue, in the Binjiang District, and adjacent to Qiantang River.

. . . .

The bookstore, designed by XL-MUSE, has been designed so the spaces seem huge and never-ending.

. . . .

Everything has a sense of height added to it due to the mirrors that the ceiling is covered in.

. . . .

Inside the entire bookshelf extends endlessly to the side.


Link to the rest at contemporist

Click through to see many more photos.

War Stories: A Reading List for All Ages

29 May 2016

From BookRiot:

Like many parents, I sometimes struggle with the right words to use when talking to my kids about scary or difficult things. When they were younger, I found it much easier to shield them from whatever troubling story was playing out over those darn TV screens (invariably showing CNN) that are suddenly omnipresent in pizza shops and convenience stores. Now that my son is a new reader, he is suddenly much more tuned into to everything around him, the good and the scary. Waiting in line at the grocery store, he sounds out newspaper headlines: Soo-iii-ciiide boooomm-errrrs,” he says. “Mama, what’s soo-ii-cide?” Just hearing those words in his sweet child’s voice are enough to make my blood pressure rise. Alas, we can only pull the wool over their eyes for so long. Sooner or later, we have to find a way to talk with our kids about the scary, the sad and the difficult.

As a children’s librarian, parent, and bonafide book zealot, I look for books to read that will help both my children and I explore difficult topics like war and other violent conflicts. Books are the ultimate safe space to play out fears and anxieties. Over and over, parents ask me why children’s books are so disturbing and violent, and over and over I say “Do you watch the news? Do you read the internet? So do your kids, whether you realize it or not.”

With Memorial Day approaching, the subject of war will be in the news more often than usual. Documentaries will air on TV and newspapers and magazines will run remembrances. If you are a parent, you might get some questions. Although Memorial Day is an American holiday dedicated to honoring those who have lost their lives in US-fought wars, I have always considered it a day for somber reflection on conflicts everywhere, past and present. The effects of war never quite dissipate in the lives of those affected and the anger, pride, and sadness often trickle down through the generations. To help sort through some of those emotions, and in honor of Memorial Day, I’ve created a reading list with books about war for kids of all ages and their grown ups.

Link to the rest at BookRiot

Book Covers See Yellow to Attract Online Shoppers

29 May 2016

From The Wall Street Journal:

Amazon’s sway in the publishing world now extends to even the design of books themselves. The company now accounts for about 45% of all books sold in the U.S., according to Peter Hildick-Smith, president of industry researcher Codex-Group, LLC.

As Amazon’s importance as a bookseller has grown, publishers are pushing their designers for brighter, bolder covers that pop for online shoppers. That has led to a spate of brightly colored book jackets, with blaring yellow covers now appearing in profusion.

“There’s a kind of maximalist attitude toward color, I think mainly because we operate from the fearful assumption that no one’s going to look at the book unless it’s screaming at you,” said Peter Mendelsund, associate art director at Knopf.

. . . .

In 2008, he used Pantone 803, fluorescent yellow, for Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,”setting the novel apart from the traditional dark hues of thrillers.

“Everything gets simplified to what the eye can see at one inch. That can be the size of the graphics, the colors, the amount of detail,” said Robbin Schiff, executive art director at Random House.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire) and thanks to Barb for the tip.

Every morning, I am full of fear

28 May 2016

From David Kadavy via Medium:

It’s 8:59am. I’m getting started later than usual. I spent a few more minutes in bed because I was scared.

Heck, I’m scared right now as I type this.

I’m not as scared as I was 5 minutes ago, when I was getting dressed. The fear was much worse then. I walked toward my keyboard, and I had to turn around.

There was a smudge on my glasses. There was no way I could do what I was about to do with this smudge on my glasses. I had to clean my glasses. My glasses had to be crystal clear.

I couldn’t delay any longer. As I lay my fingers on the home keys, the fear peaked.

. . . .

I’m scared because by the time I’m done typing this article, I hope it makes sense. If not, I have until about 9:59am before it goes out into the world, making sense or not.

I’m scared because after I hit Publish, I’ll spend some amount of time checking to see how many people read this article; and how many people ♥’d it. This will briefly have some effect on my sense of self-worth.

I’m scared because there’s a good chance someone will leave a comment that makes me feel hurt, or worth-less, or angry for, like, a few seconds.

Link to the rest at Medium


28 May 2016

Buy the ticket, take the ride.

Hunter S. Thompson

Owatonna first-time novelist to celebrate with book launch

28 May 2016

From the Owatonna (Minnesota) People’s Press:

First-time novelist Chris Norbury is celebrating the completion of his novel with an official book launch on June 2 from 4 to 6 p.m. at [The] Perfect Day Cakes in downtown Owatonna.

Norbury’s suspense novel “Castle Danger” has been about three-and-a-half years in the making. He said that the book officially came out on April 15.

“This is a big accomplishment for me,” said Norbury. “I’m celebrating because it is a nice feeling to be done with the book.”

. . . .

Norbury admits that he tends to let “hobbies spiral out of control.”

His past work has included creating music, teaching band in a school, financial planning, and wine consulting. Now he can add writing to the list.

“I’ve basically been learning as I write,” said Norbury. “I don’t have a Masters of Fine Arts. I wasn’t an English major, and I didn’t write much, but I was always good at writing.”

He began writing short stories in 2010, and he later began toying with a few characters and a plot for a novel that eventually paved the way for “Castle Danger.”

After many meticulous months of editing “Castle Danger,” he decided to self-publish — or, as he prefers to call it, independent publish — through an online publisher Booklocker.

“It got to where I thought, by golly, I could sit here and tweak it forever, or I can try and publish this,” said Norbury. “Independent publishing has become increasingly more credible.”

. . . .

“Writing a novel is really hard. I cannot stress that enough,” laughed Norbury after giving a very detailed plot description. “It seems easy on the surface, but when you get into it and you are chipping away scene by scene and character by character, it is challenging to make it all come together.”

Norbury currently works as a freelance writer, as he writes blog posts, articles, and reviews for websites. He has also published personal essays on canoeing in northern Minnesota.

Link to the rest at Owatonna People’s Press

PG had to check out the location for the book launch – The Perfect Day Cakes – in part because it sounds like one of the businesses in Lake Wobegone. Here’s a description of their cake offerings:

The Perfect Day Cakes has 30 different cake flavor options, 33 different filling options and 12 different icings to choose from. If you calculate that out to how many different combinations The Perfect Day Cakes could create, you come up with a total of 13,260 different flavor combinations. Now, I can’t guarantee they all will taste perfect, but with that many of different combinations everyone is bound to find something that they like.

Here’s a link to The Perfect Day Cakes where, in addition to cakes and hosting book launches, they sell cookies, cupcakes, cheesecakes, pies, fudge, mini deserts and bread. Donuts and pastries are coming soon.

PG is thinking that a trip to Owatonna might be in order.

If you weren’t from Southern Minnesota, you might ask, “Where is Owatonna?”

Everybody in that part of Minnesota knows the answer. It’s east of Waseca.


28 May 2016
Comments Off on Psychrophobia

From The Oxford English Dictionary:

psychrophobia, n. 

. . . .

Fear or hatred of cold, esp. of cold water.

. . . .

1863 Harper’s Mag. Aug. 401/2 One bright, icy afternoon..little Philly was suffering in the hands of his nurse, under a severe attack of Psychrophobia.

1958 Morgantown (W. Virginia) Post 10 Feb. 6/6 February, in the Northern states anyway, is no month for victims of psychrophobia.

Link to the rest at The Oxford English Dictionary

How the Textbook Industry Tries to Hook Your Prof

28 May 2016

From Wired:

In the academic world, professors and faculty often meet with representatives of textbook publishers. These book reps like to stop by, or send an email, every so often to ask what my colleagues and I are using. My university uses a textbook rental system, which locks us into a particular book for a few years. When a book comes up for new adoption, you will surely see a book rep encouraging you to pick one of their textbooks.

Let me be up front and say I like these book reps. They are nice people and I enjoy talking to them. Even after adopting a publisher’s textbook, book reps often help out with extra material (like online supplemental material or instructor resources).

. . . .

Textbook adoptions are a weird business. The physics faculty selects the textbook, but the students are the ones responsible for buying (or renting) it. I’m not really the consumer, but I am making the buying decisions.

The biggest problem in this three-party system (publisher-student-faculty) is that it’s difficult for the faculty to consider textbook cost. If you haven’t noticed, textbooks can be quite expensive. If I was buying a book for myself, I absolutely would consider the price—and many faculty do take this into consideration. But you could see how students could end up with a pricier textbook because that’s what the instructor picked.

Another crazy part of this textbook adoption is that the publishers must market to instructors. This means that they must include things that teachers like, not necessarily stuff that students want. Ideally, the instructor should be able to choose what’s best for the student—but clearly this doesn’t always work.

. . . .

They bring in a fancy new textbook and argue that I should use it because it’s better. I respond that textbook A and textbook B are nearly the same. “Oh no!” the rep will say. “Ours is different! We have life science applications built right into the book!” OK, that might be true. That might even be different than other books. However, the core of the textbook is the same as other textbooks.

Part of the problem might be that instructors choose textbooks, not students. Often, professors will use a line like, “Well, when I took physics we had sound and waves, so this textbook should have sound and waves.” Yes, sound and waves are great topics—but you can only do so much in a one-semester course. You could of course skip that part of the book, but it does add to “book bloat.”

. . . .

Yes, book rep, your book is different. Your book has:

  • Real world applications and examples in the sidebar.
  • Connections to other courses and preparation for the MCAT.
  • Worked out examples in the sidebar.
  • Summaries at the end of each chapter.
  • Great online material students can interact with.

I’m still waiting for a pre-highlighted textbook (perhaps it already exists) so students won’t have to waste time finding the best parts to highlight.

. . . .

A textbook isn’t the answer to understanding physics, it’s simply a tool for learning. Students still need to do physics in order to learn physics. Could you imagine if publishers offered textbooks about riding a bike? Students would just open the book to memorize the bike-riding formula, but wouldn’t actually ride a bike. That’s occasionally how a classroom feels.

Link to the rest at Wired

When PG was in college, he bought used textbooks whenever possible. He always looked for books that appeared to be well-underlined. And not just for the first couple of chapters. He often wished the previous owner had written the grade he/she received inside the front cover.

If PG ever ran a university bookstore, he would group the used texts according to the grades their previous owners received. He thinks students would pay more for a used textbook than a new one if they knew the prior owner got an A.


27 May 2016

Since Mrs. PG recently published her latest book (Thank you, readers!) and PG has been swamped with work (Thank you, clients!), the PG’s were in need of a short break from their daily labors.

So they visited Capitol Reef National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park.

The two parks are about 112 miles apart in Southern Utah. If the PG’s could travel as Utah crows fly, the distance between the two parks would be much shorter, but this part of the state has a lot of mountains and not much population. Two lane roads connect tiny town with tiny town along a path that is never straight.

Capitol Reef was designated a National Monument in 1937 and made a National Park in 1971. The park is named for a line of cliffs comprised of white Navajo Sandstone with dome formations—similar to the white domes often placed on capitol buildings. The park includes part of  Waterpocket Fold, where the earth buckled in a spectacular and roughly linear fashion extending for about 100 miles. Thus,  Capitol Reef is approximately 60 miles long and six miles wide.

Here are a few photos from Capitol Reef. You can click on each photo to see a larger version.

Repeating Mesas

Wall Arch

Vshape Valley


Bryce Canyon has been a National Park since 1928.

Unfortunately, the day of our visit was overcast with light rain after we entered the park. As we traveled a bit higher, the rain turned to snow (yes, snow at the end of May). As an amateur photographer, PG will assure you that snow and thick clouds can be fine additions to some types of photographs, but if you want to take photos of enormous masses of colorful rocks and scenic vistas that extend for miles and miles and miles, snow and clouds are not your friend.

Fortunately the snow eventually stopped and, although we never had the lovely blue skies you can see over Capitol Reef, PG was able to grab a few photos. The second and third photos below were taken with PG’s iPhone because he didn’t want his real camera to get wet. Since the originals looked pretty bland, he did some postprocessing to bring out a bit more color.

Natural Bridge

Bryce 1


The last photo is a panorama taken with the iPhone. It’s about a 160 degree view. Click on the photo to see it better.

UPDATE: PG processed these with a laptop he primarily uses when traveling. When he pulled the post up on his home computer, the colors in some of the photos were stronger than he expected after looking at them on the laptop.

You can adjust some monitors to correctly display colors, but perhaps one in ten thousand users do so.

It may be hard

27 May 2016

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

C. S. Lewis

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