Books and Typography

I love reading the note that appears in some books about the font in which the book was typeset. I wish it gave more information; for example the font size and line spacing. I have a type ruler that measures in picas and points (in addition to inches and centimeters), so, over time, I might try to add some of my favorites here. Note: Here the line spacing refers to the distance between the baseline of a line of text and the ascender line of the subsequent line of text. Note 2: There may be some measurement error, especially in measuring the inner margin.

Title: The Children Act
Author: Ian McEwan
Publisher: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday
Font: Garamond 3 (based on adaptation by Morris Fuller Benton)
Size: 10pt.
Line spacing: 10pt.
Line width: 9.7 cm
Inner Margin: 1.5 cm
Outer Margin: 2.5 cm

Title: Bridge of Sighs
Author: Richard Russo
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Font: Janson
Size: 6pt.
Line spacing: 6pt.
Line width: 11.5 cm
Inner Margin: 2 cm
Outer Margin: 2.4 cm


Fall (sigh)

It's almost fall. For academics fall begins not with the autumnal equinox, but with the week of orientation meetings and welcome-back faculty meetings. For me that is next week, which means this is the last week of summer.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. This is in part because I don't feel particularly satisfied with this summer.

I "accomplished" a lot this summer: Rewrote the undergraduate curriculum that we teach; published two books—the book I was co-editing and the third edition of our undergraduate textbook; put on a workshop for high school teachers from 14 different schools who will be teaching our undergraduate course this academic year as part of the College in the Schools program; had two papers that were co-authored with students accepted for publication; gave a keynote address at a conference; taught an undergraduate course; and managed to read 18 books since the beginning of June. I also watched a good bit of TV, did some gardening, and took a few naps.

Yet, I do not feel particularly ready for fall. I usually look forward to the beginning of a new semester, especially fall semester. It always feels like a fresh start—a chance to change things up. This year doesn't quite feel that way (yet). Perhaps because in order to have a start, there has to be an end. The work from the spring semester never really felt like it ended, it just continued into the summer.

So, while I feel good about what I did accomplish this summer, I am not quite emotionally ready for the semester to begin. Fall. Sigh.


Another TV Update

The last two posts about TV watching are here and here. Currently my shows include the following (in no particular order):
  • Arrow 
  • Better Call Saul
  • Black Mirror
  • Bloodline
  • Daredevil
  • Game of Thrones
  • Big Bang Theory
  • Dallas (the newer version)
  • Elementary
  • Gang Related
  • Girls
  • Gotham
  • Graceland
  • Hart of Dixie
  • Homeland
  • House of Lies
  • Longmire
  • Luther 
  • Mad Men
  • Masters of Sex
  • Nashville
  • New Girl
  • Person of Interest
  • Ray Donovan
  • Rita
  • Rookie Blue
  • Suits
  • The Americans
  • The Blacklist
  • The Bridge 
  • The Glades
  • The Killing
  • The League
  • The Originals
  • The Slap (BBC version)
  • True Detective
  • Tyrant
  • Vampire Diaries

Shows I no longer watch
    • Scandal
    • The Following
    • Walking Dead
    • Reign

    And several of my shows have wrapped or were mini-series...or I just quit watching.
    • True Blood
    • Justified
    • The Newsroom
    • Dexter
    • Californication
    • Sons of Anarchy
    • House of Cards
    • Vegas (cancelled)
    • Broadchurch (mini-series)
    • Reckless (cancelled)
    • Mixology (one season)
    • Southcliffe (one season)


      Orville Update

      I recently had some new floor pans welded in to Orville. It is a bit more reassuring to not see the ground when you look down.
      At the same time my welder modified my seat rails to accommodate the 911 seats I purchased this last summer. I was looking at refurbishing the old seats, but I found these on Craigslist and for the price $125 for the pair, I couldn't even get the fabric to re-do the old seats. Plus, now I have better seats. I also purchased some modern seatbelts which were military overstock...something like $20 (thanks for the #protip Samba posters!).

      I started the wiring this summer. The old wiring was suspect at best and rotting out and rat-chewed in many places. (Because of teaching a course this summer that I was not expecting to teach, I didn't get nearly as far on the car as I wanted, but am reinvigorated after seeing the new pans and seats.) I am using a Watson Streetworks kit (which in retrospect maybe was not the best choice), and it has been a pretty smooth install right up to the turn signals.

      Initially I had purchased some headlights with the LED turn signals in the headlight. I really did not like the turn signal lights that my '71 KG had, so we welded those over last year. But, after putting in the new signals, I was unhappy from an aesthetic standpoint. The new headlights were flat on the front which, to me, killed the lines of the car. So back to the old headlights.

      But, what to do about the turn signals? After some muttering and contemplating, I opted to get some of the bullet turn signals from the earlier era KGs. The holes for install are drilled and ready. The only thing I need to get to do the install is the mounting rubber. The used signals I bought from the Samba forum had some old crusty rubber that needs replacing.

      As can be seen in one of the pictures above, I also decided to move the battery and fusebox into the car. I picked up a gel-cel so the battery would not leak noxious fumes. We will weld in a battery tray to keep it in one spot and I will switch the fusebox and battery so the battery is behind the passenger seat and the fusebox is behind the driver's seat. (Should have done that from the start!)

      I also added disc brakes to the rear wheels over the summer. The front brakes were already discs, but the back brakes were drums. While the disc brakes were not entirely necessary (the engine after all is only 1600cc), I figured if I were updating the car to something I like, why not do it.

      The paint is a Volvo Blue, and I do not like it. I tried to go more era (and I wanted to try a blue), but the blue is too boring and light. I don't know which color I will eventually settle on. The VW Azure Blue is nice, but I miss the reddish orange that Orville used to have. I also like the Pearl White color of the old VWs...think Herbie.

      Azure Blue
      Pearl White
      A KG in Pearl White



      Fucking Developers...

      ...they screw up everything. Dinkytown used to be a pretty cool place. Multiple used bookstores; cool places to eat; cheap bars; coffee shops; independent businesses. Now it seems as though the goal is apartment central. How many places can they knock over and re-build with an over-priced apartment complex? And, judging from the way they look, these won't be inexpensive places for students to live. The only places worth going to there anymore are the bars....not that they are that special, but they are cheap.

      Another old house gets knocked over for more apartments.
      Now they want to knock over an entire block of Dinkytown to put in a luxury hotel?! It is going to be laughable when they have these apartments full of students and nowhere for them to hang out. Can you imagine the slogan..."Store your bed and your shit in Dinkytown, but you will have to go elsewhere to do anything."

      The worst part about this is that they keep taking out parking. Where are the people who live there going to park? Oh, right, I forgot, they will ride the lightrail. Good thing we now have that handy route to St. Paul. Dumbasses. All of them.


      June 2014 Reading

      I have long been inspired to begin producing some sort of monthly report about my book habits (buying and reading) like what Nick Hornby does (did) for the Believer magazine. Every so often he writes a column in which he lists recent "Books Bought" and "Books Read". Like in my own life, the first list is generally longer. He also then writes about a select few books that appear on those lists. Many of these columns have been collected into the fine literary works: The Polysyllabic Spree, Housekeeping vs. the Dirt, Shakespeare Wrote for Money, and Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books.

      Rather than write about both sets, here I will only report the books bought. Two reasons for this: I have a GoodReads account where I report what I am reading, so interested folks can check there. And, more importantly writing about books I read feels like those dumb-ass book reports I had to do in elementary school. Nothing makes me want to quit doing something more than being forced to do that thing. Also, the anticipation of reading a book is almost as great (sometimes greater) as the very act of reading said book.

      When you examine the list, there will be those who exclaim, "Holy Crap! That is a lot of books to buy in a month!" Others will have the opposite reaction, "Why so few?" I am without doubt a bibliophile. My house is filled with books. I can part with books, I have sold a lot, and given away more. However, books make me smile. I can't go into a bookstore without buying at least one book. The books I buy now are generally all hardcover (w/dust jacket), first edition/first printings.

      I also collect Penguin Classics (black) and Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics (mint green). Almost all of the tomes I purchase are used from Goodwill, Arc, Savers, Half-Price Books, etc. It is like literary adoption. Also, many only cost a couple dollars.

      So, without further ado...

      • Ill Wind—Nevada Barr (autographed)
      • Endangered Species–Nevada Barr
      • Borderline—Nevada Barr
      • Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC—Joseph McCormick & Susan Fisher–Hoch
      • Mystic River—Dennis Lehane
      • The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents—Terry Pratchett
      • Out of the Crisis—W. Edwards Deming
      • The Day Lincoln was Shot—Jim Bishop
      • Murder in Minnesota—Walter N. Trenerry
      • The Killer Angels—Michael Shaara
      • Second Nature—Alice Hoffman
      • Brightness Falls—Jay McInerney
      • Dead Air—Mike Lupica
      • Fugitives and Refugees—Chuck Palahniuk
      • Oblomov—Ivan Aleksandrovich Goncharov (Penguin Classics)
      • The Heart of Mid-Lothian—Sir Walter Scott (Penguin Classics)
      • Where Angels Fear to Tread—E. M. Forster (paperback)
      • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban—J. K. Rowling
      • Reamde—Neal Stephonson
      • The Pale King—David Foster Wallace
      • Distrust That Particular Flavor—William Gibson
      • One Mississippi—Mark Childress
      Some of these purchases were to replace paperbacks or other editions. The Killer Angels is a classic book about the Civil War (it even won a Pulitzer) by the same guy who wrote For Love of the Game (yep...it was turned into a Kevin Costner movie, but it's ok since he plays a washed-up sports star). His son, Jeffrey, later wrote the prequel (Gods and Generals), as well as several other works of historical fiction. This is a 2007 hardcover version and will replace an older paperback, as will Mystic River. The Harry Potter book was one of those "OMG...this is a first edition" moments in a thrift store and will oust a non-collectable version from the shelf.

      I bought Mike Lupica's Dead Air because of his sports writing. This was his first work of fiction—published in the era of Air Supply (1986)—and will be put in the "to read" queue. For now it will join Wild Pitch on the shelves. Fugitives and Refugees is as the dust jacket blurb puts it, "the closest thing [Chuck Palahniuk] may ever write to an autobiography." Into the queue it goes. The same for the Terry Pratchett book (purchased because of his work with Neil Gaiman on Good Omens), and the Virus Hunters book (can't get enough of Ebola, Lassa, and Crimean Congo Hemmorrhagic Fever, see also Hotzone and Demon in the Freezer).

      Alice Hoffman's Second Nature will join Practical Magic and Turtle Moon on the shelf. Some year I will read all of her works, but for some reason I associate her books with autumn, and since it isn't autumn, on the shelf they go. Same with the Nevada Barr books. They all include the character Anna Pigeon, a Park Service ranger. These books are meant to be read in the winter (Why? Because!).

      Brightness Falls I am excited to read and that will move to the front of the reading queue. I read several of McInerney's books this year and two of the characters in The Good Life were actually introduced in this book. How can you not like an author who is part of the "literary Brat Pack"?

      Murder in Minnesota caught my eye at Arc, and I put it in the cart. It was published by the Minnesota Historical Society in 1962 and recounts 15 murders that took place in Minnesota between 1858 and 1917. I have a penchant for the underbelly of Minnesota (got to shed that Minnesota Nice label). In fact, my friend Jeb and I once dreamed up a tour of the Twin-Cities in which tourists would be taken to several sites of shame and degradation (e.g., the parking lot of Red's Savoy in which Norm Coleman's dad got a hummer).  

      The Day Lincoln was Shot was one of those books that takes you back to your childhood. As a younger lad, I was more of a reader than a socializer (yeah....really), especially during family events. Our grandparent's house in Duluth had the usual selection of Reader's Digest collections (magazines and edited novels), but the more interesting books were three small books by Jim Bishop, The Day Kennedy was Shot, The Day Lincoln was Shot, and The Day Jesus Died. I read, and re-read those three books a lot.

      Although it was a paperback, Where Angels Fear to Tread had a beautiful cover. There are some books you covet only because of the cover, and this was one such book. It reminds me of an old bookstore, aisles overflowing with books stacked from floor to ceiling; literary mazes in which a person can lose herself for hours, emerging with dust-encased volumes and a feeling of satisfaction that can only come from the time spent perusing and pouring over hundreds of typeset cover flaps. In short, my dream home.

      Deming's Out of the Crisis was another thrift store find. Typically selling for $40–$70, this book was a steal at $1.69. Deming's ideas of sampling and quality control led to Six Sigma. This book is like the Six Sigma Bible, albeit without as much begatting. (Aside: When the act of 'begatting' is taking place, is it called 'begetting'? As in, "Noah begetting some of that.")