electricland: (books too many)
Walking Home: The Life and Lessons of a City BuilderWalking Home: The Life and Lessons of a City Builder by Ken Greenberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you like Jane Jacobs you'll probably like Ken Greenberg, the implementation to Jacobs' theory. While this book is particularly resonant if you live in Toronto, where Greenberg has lived and worked for decades, it's full of fascinating anecdotes of city building (failed and successful) all over the world. Very inspiring to those of us who love cities and want them to keep working.

Via Spacing: http://spacingtoronto.ca/2011/05/24/ken-...

View all my reviews

On reading

Jan. 30th, 2011 02:40 pm
electricland: (books too many)
I was lying in bed this morning listening to Fresh Air when up popped a discussion with David Michael Lamb (who, let me say right off, I like and respect). He has made a commitment to read 52 books this year. Excellent, well done him -- except several things about the segment struck me as bizarre:
  • For starters, DML said he had barely read a book since university. This floored me. (He reads magazines and newspapers for work, at least.) The assumption that "everybody wants to read more books but nobody has the time" just does not apply to me. Last year, as I am in a position to state with absolute certainty, I read 154 books. This doesn't include rereads, of which there were also many. Reading is my drug of choice, the thing I do on the streetcar and in bed and waiting for the doctor and on weekends and on vacation and often while I'm watching TV or eating. The concept of not having time to read books does not fit anywhere in my head. It's like not having time to eat food. What?
  • That said, listening to the segment I felt like my reading habits probably wouldn't measure up. The books mentioned were Tomes of Serious Literature: Hard Times (or possibly Bleak House, it was early), War and Peace, Freedom, The Old Man and the Sea. If you measure by these standards, I barely read at all. I read fantasy and mysteries and romance and YA and historical fiction and, well, fun stuff. Occasionally I read Serious Literature, but only once in a blue moon. (I should probably make more of an attempt.) My non-fiction reading might, MIGHT come close to meeting the bar. Maybe.
Why this weird, arbitrary dichotomy? No books at all, or 52 Serious Important books? Why does reading for pleasure have to be good for you? The "publishing consultant" (who also seemed very nice, don't get me wrong) kept saying "It's all about reading things you wouldn't normally read," but... he's not normally reading ANYTHING, so why limit yourself?

In a final note of weirdness, all participants in the discussion live in Toronto, yet the library never came up.

I just dunno. What do you think?
electricland: (don't panic)
It never occurred to me until I read this (via [livejournal.com profile] pretentiousgit) that T-shirt bras were anything to object to. As someone who has, in the memorable words of Susan Isaacs, "those over-enthusiastic nipples men go crazy for, the ones that look like the erasers on number 2 pencils," I love 'em. Others clearly disagree, as is their right. Your thoughts?

Site has still not launched. Maybe Monday. I need to reclaim my life from meetings.

I have realized that one of the great boons of Goodreads is that I can take notes on why I'm reading a particular book. I have 40 or 50 books on my library hold list at any one time and I try to arrange things so that it's a first-in-first-out deal (you can make holds inactive in the TPL and you can only have things on hold for up to 2 years). The trouble is that by the time a book comes up in the reading order, a year or 18 months later, I often have only the haziest idea of why I put it on hold in the first place. I usually want to read it still, don't get me wrong, but it would be nice to know where the spark originated. We shall see.

Science Tarot card of the day: Ace of Cups (Endosymbiosis). Did not notice anything particularly relevant, although it's a hopeful sign.
electricland: (me by ohi)
because I am far too tired to create a coherent narrative. Note to self: when anxious, staying up until 1 a.m. does not help.

Today's Science Tarot card: the High Priestess. I love this one -- Kekulé's dream of benzene is one of my favourite science stories. (Also, I seem to be getting a fair number of cards telling me not to live in my head so much. Hardly surprising.)

It is looking likely that the Project That Ate My Life will go live tomorrow! Stay tuned.

In 2010 I actually managed to keep track of all the books I read (plus a few I only skimmed). It was... a lot. I went on a library fast in November/December to try and catch up on the books I actually own. Working on copying them from the little green notebook to Goodreads (I'm electricland over there too). This year perhaps I will go so far as to write reviews! Or, y'know, perhaps not.

...that is all I got tonight. Time for bed. But first, here's how things looked at the cottage 6 months ago. I wish I could figure out how to get this Scrapbook thing to work, it is the least intuitive interface EVER.


May. 13th, 2010 01:31 pm
electricland: (books too many)
[livejournal.com profile] sarahtales writes the best book reviews in the world.

That is all.

a thought

May. 3rd, 2010 05:48 pm
electricland: (Betan Astronomical Survey)
The Codon Alphabet would make a good name for a thriller, no?

The Andromeda Strain
The Bourne Identity
The Codon Alphabet
The Pelican Brief

It fits perfectly.
electricland: (Default)
Back in Grade 9, all* my classmates seemed to be obsessed with V.C. Andrews. I somehow escaped this bug -- I believe I was reading the complete oeuvre of Piers Anthony at the time -- so I was only vaguely aware of the plot of Flowers in the Attic.

Fortunately for those like me, as well as for the countless millions who devoured V.C. Andrews in high school but are afraid to revisit her, Leila at Bookshelves of Doom has done a fall-off-your-chair funny page-by-page recap:
Page 3: Oh, good lord. I may not make it through.


p49: I've discovered that if I read really, really fast, the awfulness of the prose doesn't sink in quite so much.


p71: Wait, how old is Cathy supposed to be? Twelve? Fourteen? Because she sounds like she's in her eighties.

p72: Oh, she's twelve. Ask and ye shall receive, I guess.

p74: Christopher is also a carpenter. And he's nimble.

p77: And they're breaking the grandmother's rules willy-nilly. This can't be good. This family is very into being naked.


p165: Momma sneaks their Thanksgiving food to them two hours later than she'd promised. Cathy's take: "Good-golly day! We sure did complicate her life, all right!" I'm starting to daydream about other children's & YA characters in this situation. None of the ones I can think of would have stood for this for so long.

p167: Now Chris is going on and on about the history of Thanksgiving and how people got to North America. I wish Cathy would stab him.


p398: Thank goodness. I found a beer way at the back of the fridge. Now they're going to test their arsenic theory on the pet mouse. HERE'S A THOUGHT: WHY BOTHER? JUST RUN AWAY NOW. THEN THE BOOK WOULD BE TWELVE PAGES SHORTER AND MY LIFE WOULD BE MY OWN AGAIN.

No, seriously, just go read it.

My only worry is that this is part of a V.C. Andrews Reading Challenge. I am a little concerned about the effects on Leila's sanity if she has to read 10 more of these things. However.

*I went to an all-girls high school. So yes, all.
electricland: (bookstore shiny)
Kate Story and I were in a writing class together lo these many years ago (like, more than 10 years). I just heard (from our teacher via my mother) that she has published the book she was working on at the time, Blasted.

It was terrific in the early drafts, so I'm really looking forward to reading the final version! I've emailed to congratulate her too -- no idea if she'll remember me, but hey.


Jul. 8th, 2008 09:27 pm
electricland: (Blue)
1. Guess who dug in someone's bag and stole and ate an entire plastic baggie full of ham at the dog park today? Go on, guess. You'll never guess. (Yes, he ate the baggie too. I'm expecting to see it again at some point.) Gotta work on that "drop" command. Now, mind you, the owner of the bag let him stand on her and snuffle around in the bag for a good 15 seconds -- she said "It was shoved right down in there! I didn't think he'd get it!" Um, yeah. This is why I don't let dogs near my bag. ;)

2. Via Uncertain Principles, my new favourite scientific article of all time (there's a PDF link).

Fortunately, a live presentation of the results was also captured on video.

3. This is an extremely dangerous website for me. *cough*

4. It is chucking down rain here, and our basement is a bit damp.
electricland: (books ohi)


I'm very excited. I'd almost lost hope of ever reading anything more by Judith Merkle Riley.

Pretty edition, too. I would order it right now, except I just ordered the special edition of the Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox and I feel it would be greedy. And the library catalogue is down. Soon, though. Soon.

Now, if only Rosemary Kirstein would get on with the next volume in the Steerswoman story...
electricland: (Default)
I had one of those mornings where I hate everything in my closet. Another sure sign that we need spring. I feel like I've been wearing the same five outfits since September. Bah.

(I am wearing green, sort of -- olive pants -- but this is entirely inadvertent, nothing to do with St. Patrick's Day.)

Good weekend which felt busy even though I didn't really get much done. Friday I had my makeup done at Clinique as a result of buying lipstick there last month (Clinique just sucks you in!). She put on foundation and blush, which I never ever wear, but the eye makeup was nice. Then went to a party in honour of [livejournal.com profile] sparkling_ice and her husband, who were back in town briefly; Blue came too, but had to stay on the leash because of the quantities of unattended food on low tables. He was not crazy about this.

Saturday I puttered and cleaned my kitchen and bought groceries, and Jen and I went for lunch at Gabby's. Day of small children: Joanne came over with the small Liam in the morning and Sarah came over with new!baby Meaghan in the evening, although technically we did not see new!baby as she was snoozing in her carry-seat with the lid down. Although Blue investigated thoroughly. We played Guillotine (unfortunately none of us were really cutthroat enough, but S won) and ate way too many ginger snaps. I also brushed Blue, until he said that was enough, and trimmed his eyebrows (so he can see out) and beard. Need to take him to be clipped properly -- he looks twice the size he did when I got him. Although at least with the eyebrows trimmed Jen is no longer telling him he looks like Bob Dylan.

Sunday Louise and Martin came over for brunch, which I achieved without stress, which impressed me. Frittata (the book called it tortilla, which seemed crazy), salad, blueberry muffins, orange juice, coffee for them as wanted it (me), Empress Tea (my parents brought it back with them) for Louise. Then I went to choir, and then I went and helped John discover the wonders of Corel photo editing software (all new to me too, but knowledge of Photoshop was helpful) for straightening out tall buildings. Was fed pork tenderloin for my trouble. Yum.

Books read this week:
The Night Watch, Sean Stewart (reread). I swear I like this sort-of-series more every time I read it. Came to mind after I read a post over on the Smart Bitches about urban fantasy, which I plan to write about at more length shortly. Something I hadn't appreciated before on a technical level is how well he handles the multiple points of view. I counted at least -- hang on, Emily, Claire, David, Nick, Wire, Raining, Li Mei, Water Spider, Jen, Floating Ant -- that's 10. In the hands of lots of authors that could get very bewildering very fast, but he makes it work.
The Last Colony, John Scalzi. Not deep, but as with all his stuff, much fun.
Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille, Steven Brust -- for some reason, despite meaning to for some 15 years, I'd never actually read this. I liked it, I think. Still pondering.

That doesn't seem like much, somehow. Thank you all, by the way, for your book suggestions!
electricland: (Default)
As you all know, I read a lot. I get ideas from recommendations from friends and various blogs and things that sound interesting when mentioned in passing. This serves me quite well, but I'm aware that I have a large selection bias. As well, I list what I read, but I don't generally say much else, and I think this is both lazy and not terribly helpful to other readers. (Or even me, because eventually I'll forget what I thought of many of these.)

So, a request (challenge?) for you:

1. Suggest something I should read. It can be something you think I'd like, something you like, something you doubt I'd like at all. If I can get hold of it -- for preference, it'll be something the Toronto Public Library system has -- I'll read it, and write a review. It probably won't be a long review. But I'll do it.

2. My reading list for the past several months can be obtained by clicking my "books" tag. Pick a book (or books) from there that you'd like to know more about, and I'll write a review. Again, it probably won't be long.

Feel free to do one or both. And thanks in advance!


Mar. 10th, 2008 04:41 pm
electricland: (Triplettes)
It was [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving who mentioned Miss Pettigrew in terms that suggested I would like her. (And I did.)

That was making me a little crazy.
electricland: (Blue)
Blue has been eating things that disagree with him, and puking. (A shard of bone this morning, from goodness knows where, and then he picked up a frozen mess of Something at the beach and ate half of it before another dog owner caught him and I could pry the rest of it out of his gullet.) I was concerned enough to take him to the vet on the way back from our walk this morning, and indeed he started puking again on the way over. Vet prescribed 2 days of meds and special food, in case, but wasn't too concerned. I'm staying home to give the meds (if I can get this cotton wool out of the vial, that is) and keep an eye on him. Silly dog. We're going to work on the "Out!" (as in "Spit it...") command as soon as he feels better.

My computer doesn't think it's Daylight Saving yet. Actually, I'm not sure I do either.

On the plus side, nice quiet time to work. And I can play music without bothering officemates. And it's gorgeous and sunny.

Not the world's most productive weekend, but pleasant.

Books read in last couple of weeks:

Earthquake Weather, Tim Powers (reread -- bought it for $1 from the library's discard pile)

Bad Kitty, Michelle Jaffe. I haven't laughed so much in a while.

Consolation, Michael Redhill. Toronto's One Book this year. Was indeed fun to see others reading it at the same time, and I love the glimpses into Toronto's possible past.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Winifred Watson. Discussed here.

Late Nights on Air, Elizabeth Hay. Last year's Giller winner. For a while I was afraid it was going to be unbearably depressing, and there is indeed a great deal of sadness and loss in this book. But it's excellent and evocative and not remotely grim.

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen. Reread. One day I hope I will again be able to read this book without mentally comparing the 2005 movie version with it in my head and telling the movie "See? SEE? You are wrong! Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong!" Nearly there, but not quite.

Huh. Is that all? Read parts of:

The Dark Stuff, Nick Kent. Excellent music writing (as far as I can tell -- I don't read a great deal any more), remarkable for its near-total absence of women. I realize it's the nature of the game, but it got irksome after a while.

Very Good, Jeeves!, P.G. Wodehouse.

Didn't manage to get any farther with:

From the Fifteenth District, Mavis Gallant. Canada Reads is over anyway. Maybe another time.
electricland: (Kirsty)
I cannot for the life of me remember who on my friends list made me aware of this movie, and thus of the book. If it was you: Thank you!* Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (1938), by Winifred Watson, is a thoroughly delightful book about the healing power of female friendship, good clothes, makeup, and having fun, not to mention the marvellous liberating power of cocktails, make-believe, and rising to the occasion. One morning Miss Pettigrew, friendless 40ish spinster and failed governess at her wits' end, arrives on the doorstep of Delysia LaFosse, actress and nightclub singer with far too many men in her life. Hijinks ensue. Over the day that follows Miss Pettigrew becomes both Cinderella and fairy godmother, and a good time and a happy ending are had by all (well, all who deserve a happy ending, anyway).

Jen and I saw the movie Friday night, and I am sad to report that it is significantly less awesome than the source material. Writers David Magee and Simon Beaufoy have taken pretty much all the elements that made the book great, discarded them, and replaced them with female back-stabbing and ominous pre-war overtones. Amy Adams is delightful (although her Miss LaFosse lacks the native shrewdness of the original) and Frances McDormand does yeoman work with a script that mostly requires her to stand around looking half-starved and miserable. Lee Pace and Ciaran Hinds are both adorable as their respective love interests, but dear God, was it really necessary to turn Shirley Henderson's Miss Dubarry into such a scheming nightmare? And to do so much violence to the plot? I mean, yes, there wasn't much to the plot, but it was perfectly serviceable the way it was.

At least the movie looks pretty. Too bad it's had most of the fun leached out of it. Read the book instead.

*Turns out it was [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving.
electricland: (Default)
I have a long list of things to do, most of which I don't feel like doing. But one of them is "Update LJ" (no, really). So here I am.

Via [livejournal.com profile] spacing, interesting article on the future of suburbs.
In the first half of last year, residential burglaries rose by 35 percent and robberies by 58 percent in suburban Lee County, Florida, where one in four houses stands empty. Charlotte’s crime rates have stayed flat overall in recent years—but from 2003 to 2006, in the 10 suburbs of the city that have experienced the highest foreclosure rates, crime rose 33 percent. Civic organizations in some suburbs have begun to mow the lawns around empty houses to keep up the appearance of stability. Police departments are mapping foreclosures in an effort to identify emerging criminal hot spots.

The decline of places like Windy Ridge and Franklin Reserve is usually attributed to the subprime-mortgage crisis, with its wave of foreclosures. And the crisis has indeed catalyzed or intensified social problems in many communities. But the story of vacant suburban homes and declining suburban neighborhoods did not begin with the crisis, and will not end with it. A structural change is under way in the housing market—a major shift in the way many Americans want to live and work. It has shaped the current downturn, steering some of the worst problems away from the cities and toward the suburban fringes. And its effects will be felt more strongly, and more broadly, as the years pass. Its ultimate impact on the suburbs, and the cities, will be profound.
I'm in a bit of a slump at the moment myself, although not of epic proportions. I spent Tuesday home sick and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and Februaryish and lacking motivation. Also, time has been behaving really weirdly; I keep being surprised by how much or how little time has passed since event X. But I'm chipping away at work, I bought lipstick and got a Clinique bonus (hey, whatever works), today is sunny and gorgeous, my dog seems to feel all is right with his world now that Jen and Tilde are home, and the family birthday is tonight. So life could be much worse.

It's been ages since I did a book update, so here's one, although it may be missing some items.

Cut to spare those who really don't care what I've been reading since the start of January )

Sheesh. I should be an Amazon affiliate.

Incidentally, the library's new hold/account interface is up and running. I have to say I hope they continue tinkering with it because, while the options to change the pickup location and put items on hold for a specific length of time are cool, it's missing some functionality that I really appreciated in the old version, specifically:
- items ready to pick up showed in a different section of the Holds page
- holds could be sorted by title or expiry date
- renewals showed up instantly (in the new version you have to log out and log in again, although it's possible this was due to startup bugginess)

It would also be good if its privacy certificate checked out properly. Just sayin', TPL.

What was interesting while they were switching over and the hold system was down was how empty the hold shelves in the branches got after just a couple of days. Really an impressive reminder of how many books cycle through there!

More lists of media consumed, just for completeness )
electricland: (Default)
It's been a while since I posted my reading. I got through this holiday season with only about $3.50 in library fines, which is much better than usual for me. I also returned a fair number of books unread or partly read, but such is life.

[so long ago I apparently didn't remember] I also read Spider Dance by Carole Nelson Douglas, another of the Irene Adler mysteries. I'm very fond of them. Plot outlandish but I didn't really mind.
Nightbirds on Nantucket, Joan Aiken.
King Leary, Paul Quarrington. (Turns out I had read it, after all, but so long ago I didn't remember much about it.)
Miracle and Other Christmas Stories, Connie Willis.
Empire of Ivory, Naomi Novik. (Christmas present. Yay!)
The Lost Steersman, Rosemary Kirstein.
Big Boned, Meg Cabot (Jen bought as a Boxing Day present for the house).
Deep Secret, Diana Wynne Jones.
Finity's End, CJ Cherryh (reread).
The Big Over Easy, Jasper Fforde (birthday present recently unearthed; I liked it a great deal, much more than The Eyre Affair).
The Fourth Bear, Jasper Fforde (the sequel, also birthday present; I liked it less, as it was veering more into self-aware look-I'm-so-clever we-are-all-characters-in-this-book territory than I liked, but will look out for the third anyway).

Returned partly read:
If Women Counted: A New Feminist Economics
A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray (I found it slowed down rather in the middle, which let me dwell on what seemed like the very, very modern outlook and speech patterns of the narrator, which proceeded to bother me; anyone out there read it? Should I try again? I probably would have finished it if it hadn't had to go back).

Returned unread because somebody else wanted them, but will try again:
Atonement, Ian McEwen
Ragamuffin, Tobias Buckell
Shelter, Susan Palwick

Jen and I also watched the first season of Rebus, Miracle on 34th Street (as recommended by Connie Willis), and Sliding Doors. We tried to watch Clue, but failed as it is truly dreadful (another reason I was so pleasantly surprised by The Big Over Easy).
electricland: (Default)
Last night on the Longest Commute in History (for me, anyway -- left the office at 5:30, got home at 7 after an hour on the streetcar which is unusually bad even for the 501) I had nothing to read. Woe! So I read over some guy's shoulder instead. It was something called Protect and Defend, by one Vince Flynn, who if you believe his Google results is a bestselling author, and the few passages I read were so bad that I was tempted to snatch it from the guy's fingers and hurl it out the window. If I could have reached the window, which is not at all certain, because the streetcar was so packed that people were regularly having to yell "Get off the steps!" so the driver could shut the doors and we could go somewhere. Anyway. I digress. (Model numbers of weaponry in the midst of action sequences: usually a bad sign, IMO, although to be fair it seems to work for lots of people.)

An actual sentence from the book:
Before Rabb could ask what he meant, a group of Kurds burst through the door and started shooting at their leader just then.
It was a long, hard trip home, I tell you. I was very glad when I got a seat, because then I could write Christmas cards.

Blue continues adorable. His breeder told me he loves to look out the window, and she wasn't kidding: one of his new favourite spots is the back of the couch. Picture a 35-pound fluffy dog perched on the back of a couch, staring out the window. It's hilarious and cute. Must take photos.


Dec. 11th, 2007 04:05 pm
electricland: (bookstore shiny)
1. I have to start getting to work earlier. Once the sun goes down (like, now) I no longer feel like working.

2. My high school's Festival of Carols was last night. The Old Girls' two songs went over well (thunderous applause!) but mostly it was all about the kids -- 675 odd, in about 25 different groups, from about Grade 2 up to Grade 12. The little kids were ADORABLE. I'm really glad I went.

3. Books read last week:

Gideon the Cutpurse, Linda Buckley-Archer. Enjoyed very much. Am convinced of two things: minor spoilers )
Wintersmith, Terry Pratchett (seasonal reread)
The Steerswoman's Road, Rosemary Kirstein. [livejournal.com profile] papersky mentioned her a while back, and later I noticed I had put her name on a list of authors to investigate and then forgotten all about her. This book (actually, two books in one) is SO GOOD. Apparently I still can't be coherent about why -- hopefully this will come. Briefly, steerswomen are an order of sort of wandering scholars and cartographers. There's a rule: if you ask a steerswoman a question, she has to answer it, if she knows the answer. And if she asks you one, you have to answer; if you don't, or if you lie, no steerswoman will ever answer your questions again, ever, about anything. The book is about truth and intellectual curiosity and logic and consequences and it is WONDERFUL. The worldbuilding, and the way things are revealed to the reader, are terrific. When I finished I had a moment of panic because I was under the impression that the third one wasn't out yet and I wasn't sure I could survive without finding out what happens next, but luckily the third and fourth are both out, so that's good.

4. And that's why I didn't tidy my apartment this weekend. Although I did go shopping for clothes with my mum, which was good because she doesn't. We found her a pair of black pants and a pair of jeans and a sweater and a shirt and a red cardigan that looks amazing. Yay us.
electricland: (books too many)
Till the Fat Lady Sings, Alisa Kwitney (it was OK, but caused me to commit haiku: how did it go again? Something like:
Bulimia, suicide,
feminist theory,
and know-it-all narration)
Pay the Piper, Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple
Hogfather, Terry Pratchett (reread, still wonderful)
Logan in Overtime, Paul Quarrington (reread -- it was, as I'd remembered, a lot of fun, and there were lots of things I'd forgotten starting with Logan's knees and moving on from there)
also a couple of things I'm sending to [livejournal.com profile] life_on_queen except now I've sent them and can't remember; incidentally? Shipping airmail to Ireland is not cheap.

Returned without reading: Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier (not in the mood, although I've been enjoying the posts on Bookshelves of Doom)


electricland: (Default)

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