Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Words to Live By, Sadly
Life is like an Eddie Money song: Short and not unpleasant when you're listening to it, but mediocre and obscure and ultimately forgotten when it ends.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Good Book Hunting: May 31, 2008
Last weekend, we hit a couple more garage sales and got a couple more books. Color you shocked, I say (if I can mix metaphors and allusions).

Here, we have:
Sports books, mostly
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    Instant Replay and Distant Replay by Jerry Kramer. I've read the first, but the copy I read didn't have a dust jacket. So one of these books is a replacement. The other: To Read.

  • A field guide to Missouri Wildflowers.

  • A couple of books by Eric Flint and Harry Turtledove, faves of the cool kids.

  • The Better Homes and Gardens New Garden Book, sort of like the red checkered cookbook, I hope.

  • Confessions of a Hooker, a book I'd bought the week before in softcover, but this is hardback, you see.
I also got a couple of pictures for a quarter each, as you can see. They're alkmost like Renoir.

Actually, this was the Concordia Lutheran Church sale, not last week. Sorry, in the immediate post-event period, time gets a little confusing.

Good Book Hunting: May 24-26, 2008
The Memorial Day weekend provided us with our first post-event chances to add to our library, and we took advantage. By we, I mean, me, mostly.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

On Saturday, we hit a couple of yard sales, including one at Concordia Lutheran Church in Kirkwood, Missouri. This last stop (of 3, as we ease ourselves back into it) had excellent prices (and half off by the time we got there), but the book selection was light, and this is all we got:

For a quarter each, this is all I got?
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I got:
  • A little book of love sonnets.

  • A collection of Heathcliff cartoons. He was almost as big as Garfield once, wasn't he?

  • A second copy of On Man in the Universe by Aristotle, Classics Club edition. For a quarter, I had to pick it up as insurance. I'll pass it onto someone.

  • All Quiet on the Western Front because it will bring back fond memories of John Boy getting it.

  • Test Your 80s Cultural Literacy, some quiz book Heather picked up for me.

  • Rumbles, a nonfiction work by William F. Buckley, Jr.

  • Favorite Houseplants in case I ever run out of cats and can grow houseplants.

  • All About Pickling in case I actually harvest something this year.

  • How to Shop Wisely, part of the Vanderbilt Success Series for Women. I could learn something from it, surely.

  • A couple other books whose titles are obscured and I'm too lazy to go check.
A light Saturday, so I had to go out again on Sunday.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Actually, there's this house on Reavis Barracks Road down in Lemay that has a yard sale on Memorial Day and Labor Day Weekends, so I was going here by habit on Sunday morning. A number of years back, I bought my initial set of Gor paperbacks for a quarter each (and sold them on eBay for gonzo money before trying and liking the series myself). This year, the books for sale were heavy on the Light His Fire titles. I'm sure one could probably make a convincing case on the evolution of that marriage, but I'm not going to.

I got a couple titles for a buck total:

For two quarters each, this is all I got?
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  • Confessions of a Hooker, a book by Bob Hope on golf. Paperback. Which will become relevant in my next post, which you've already read.

  • Unsolved Murders and Mysteries, a compendium sort of idea book.
Well, that's nothing, I know, but it means that I'd almost kept pace on the reading for the week versus acquisitions. Well, no, but at least it wasn't a 1:20 ratio.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sometime in the last couple of weeks, Heather uncovered an unused Barnes and Noble gift card that we'd bought at Christmas as an extra gift we could give to an unexpected guest that we could use if no such guest appeared. She wanted me to use it on magazines, as I often go into a bookstore and come out with $60 in magazines that I thought looked interesting. However, when I have a gift card, I cannot find any interesting magazines. And since the Barnes and Noble music department had no Aaron Tippin or Sammy Kershaw, I found myself in the Fiction section, letter H.

My new Hs
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  • Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill in mass market paperback.

  • A collection of short stories by Langston Hughes.
There we have it, a bunch of books over three days. Not as bad as what I do with a good book fair, but it's a sad commentary on how few books are out in the wild in garage sales these days, I suppose.

Know Your Limited Rights
St. Louis Magazine has a balanced piece on the creation of the trash districts in the county. Well, it twitches a nod to balance anyway by writing about a hauling company that will go bankrupt when it loses its share of a free market (although the author uses his creative writing chops to even tilt the verbiage against the free market solution in this portion of the story) and then, on the other side almost, adoring licky love to a sales manager for a recycling company (who gets more money from the mandated, unfree, forced recycling program, so he's in favor of more county-mandated income for his company).

What really got my dander up, though, was this insight from constitutional scholar and unelected bureaucrat in charge of the county's Solid Waste Management Program John Haasis:
    Again, the phone started ringing in Haasis' office: "We don't want you to pick who our hauler is. It's our American right. It's our right from God to pick who hauls our trash." Haasis sighs again. "Last time I checked," he says, "it's not in the Bill of Rights."
Understand that, citizen. This fellow asserts that all of your rights are right there in the first ten amendments to the constitution, and the government can do what it wants otherwise.

And fear your government and its disciples.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008
A Cati Mind Trick
This is not the bookshelf you just brought into the house to spread out your library.

That's a cat play toy
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This is a cat play toy.

Move along.

That's Not A Flyer; It's A Broadsheet
Even if you haven't seen this cat, you're going to get educated:

A Lost Cat Broadsheet
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Here, allow me to help: "Picture of Dorian Grey"

Eventually, the author gets to the point about how and when his cat was lost and what to do about it.

Monday, June 02, 2008
Congress Keeps Using That Word. I Do Not Think It Means What They Think It Means.
On May 31, 2008, we received our "economic stimulus" check from the US Department of Treasury for $1,500.

On June 16, 2008, we shall send that $1,500 plus some back to the US Department of Treasury as our quarterly estimated earnings tax (we're self-employed, you see).

Thanks, Congress, for spotting me a little cash flow to pay the government.

If the whole country had to file estimated earnings taxes quarterly, I'd think we'd see a much smaller annual budget.

Book Report: The Job by Douglas Kennedy (1998)
I picked this book up a couple years ago at Hooked on Books in Springfield for 33 cents. It's taken me until this month to get to it simply because the title was so, well, bland.

The book centers on Ned Allen, a regional sales director for a computer magazine who finds out he's in a jam. Seems a major client has decided to pull a promised insert at the time the magazine is being acquired by a German publishing company. The Germans are going to replace the magazine's publisher with the regional sales director, effectively putting him in the position of climbing over his mentor to the big time. However, things go awry very quickly when Ned twists an arm to save his job, but effectively loses it and finds he's made enemies that will keep him from working in his field and maybe even New York again.

The book sort of struck me as a fun mash-up between And Then We Came To The End and Lloyd, What Happened? for their high-flying corporate business ways and Vienna Days for its compelling central character who, through weakness, tends to make poor decisions and is perplexed a bit by the consequences.

However, about 2/3 of the way into the book, one screw too many turned, I thought, and then suddenly the book departed into a crime-suspense novel with a murder, blackmail, and a resolution out of a Spenser novel, where Ned Allen talks down the big bad level boss and makes a free-wheeling deal to extricate himself and others from danger while giving a bad man his comeuppance. The character's name could even have been Tony Marcus, for crying out loud, or that guy in LA.

The book, then, really seems like two different books stitched together a bit unsuccessfully. A pity, really. I still rather enjoyed it, but my praise is not unqualified.

I'll probably keep my eyes out for another Douglas Kennedy book, though. What the heck, I've given David Morrell (of First Blood infamy) another shot.

Books mentioned in this review:


Book Report: Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (?, 1978)
This is a collection of fantastic stories for children, which explains why not many brown people were oppressed in the book, although the book does include the word nigger in it. I'm sure one could go in depth to find language structure and plot points to identify how Kipling wanted to use this book to indoctrinate the young in old England to believe in their cultural superiority and need to overrun the heathens. I think many have.

However, it's probably best just to enjoy these stories for what they are and for the language within them.

Please note that this children's book represents the 49th book I've read this year. I don't count the board books, but things over 100 pages, especially Rudyard Kipling, count in my annual reckoning.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Red Zone by Mike Lupica (2003)
As you know, I'm a fan of Lupica's fiction (Wild Pitch, Bump and Run, Too Far, and Full Court Press), and I've even read some of his nonfiction Mad As Hell). So of course I was very, very happy to find this book earlier this year.

It's a sequel to Bump and Run. Unfortunately, it's also mostly a repeat of that book. Jack Malloy, having secured ownership of the New York Hawks NFL team, dissipates a bit and sells half of his share. He has seller's remorse and tries to get it back, particularly after the paper billionaire who bought it begins edging him out of the life he loved. Before dissipation.

The characters are fun, the plot moves quickly, and it's not a bad read at all; however, it does seem to be a simple recasting of the original novel. I'd hoped for a little more.

Books mentioned in this review:


Irony That's Lost On A Technical Recruiter
Classic Craigslist job listing: VAX VMS/COBOL (St. Louis):
    We are a Fortune 1000 company with 60,000 employees globally and 2.5 billion dollars in revenue. We provide software solutions and business consulting to global corporations, using some of the world most sophisticated and advanced technologies.

    . . . .

    Work Experience requirements:
    Minimum 5 years programming experience on VAX/ALPHA Machines
    Minimum 3 years experience with COBOL/OPEN VMS
    Must have hands-on experience in Datatrieve, CMS, COBOL, DCL, RMS and DecForms
    Experience with usage of System Service and Run-Time Library Functions on Open VMS
Yeah, the technical recruiter did not even know these things don't go together.

Sunday, June 01, 2008
Without A Drought, Papers Find Way To Lament Problematic Weather
When life gives you too much rain to write about a drought, a plucky journalist finds a way to lament the rain.

Contractors wonder when the rain will go away:
    A year-to-date record of nearly 28 inches has been a headache shared by a range of local construction-related companies, including developers, general contractors, concrete pourers, bricklayers and other subcontractors.

    The rain delayed several projects, required overtime work and cost developers extra money. And even though the sun reappeared most of last week, companies say the water problem will not evaporate soon.
Cool, wet spring dampening possibilities for corn crop:
    A cold, wet spring put crop planting weeks behind schedule across much of the U.S. Corn Belt and drastically slowed growth where corn is already in the ground.

    Now, farmers in parts of Iowa, Illinois and Indiana are replanting corn that either sat under water in flooded fields too long to germinate or can't break through sodden, compact soils. And the cool, soggy weather continues, the last thing a heat-loving crop like corn needs.

    "It's starting to look like a very difficult year," University of Illinois agronomy professor Emerson Nafziger said.
Fear the unrelenting dreaded fireball in the sky, or fear the unrelenting drowning death from above, but rest assured, the media will insist you fear something.

To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."