Archive for June, 2018

It’s a Grand Old Flag

I think there’s a song about that.

Largest American flag in the world: 90 feet x 160 feet. (from the Library of Congress, Harris & Ewing Collection)

Happy Fourth everyone. How about a quiz to help you prepare for your Fourth of July party. What? No party? Well, there’s no excuse now.

(No, this is not a duplicate of the quiz in my newsletter — separate questions; separate prize!)

1. Who is the artist of the painting printed on the $2 bill?

(a) John Trumbull;  (b) James Whistler;  (c) Winslow Homer

2. Who wrote “God Bless America?”

(a) George M. Cohan; (b) Irving Berlin; (c)Francis Scott Key

3. What creature did Benjamin Franklin recommend for our national symbol?

(a) bald eagle; (b) beaver; (c) turkey

4. Who was the first president to be born in the United States?

(a) James Polk; (b) Martin Van Buren; (c) John Quincy Adams

5. Who was King of England when the Declaration of Independence was adopted?

(a) Edward II; (b) George III; (c) William IV

Send answers BY JULY 4, 2018 to camille (at) minichino (dot) com, subject JULY 4 BLOG QUIZ.

A Book by Any Other Name

Some claim the e-reader dates back to 1949, when a Spanish school teacher, Angela Robles, wanted to ease the textbook-carrying burden of school children by spooling text into what she termed a “mechanical encyclopedia.”

Jumping ahead, Sony released its e-reader in 2004; the first Kindle appeared in 2007. Enough time for them to be welcomed into the world of readers.

There are many reasons to prefer e-readers to hard copy books, and vice versa. We have issues of eyesight, or cost, or the weight and manageability of one versus the other, for example. But I’m always amazed when I still hear this argument for a paper book:

“I like the smell and feel of a book. No one wants to curl up with a computer screen.”

The smell and feel. If you’re in the Morgan Library, maybe, where you can smell and feel fine leather from ages past.

From the Morgan Library, printable version

But inventory in the bookstores I frequent is made of fragrance-free paper, the same paper as a boarding pass or paper towels. The most you can count on is a bit of bling on the covers.

Fingering pages that used to be a tree seem important to some people, however, and I imagine taking taking a long, long time to get through a Harry Potter as they stop to fondle each page.

Curling up. Except for My First Book Ever, books are not soft and cuddly, but rather a constant source of paper cuts.

This nostalgia for technology past isn’t surprising. We see it with each new invention, that then becomes threatened by yet a newer invention.

I suppose there was a gathering of horsemen around the turn of the twentieth century, all bemoaning the arrival of the automobile.

“I miss the smell of manure,” one might have said.

“And the feel of the saddle under me,” from another.

“There will always be horses,” from a horse trader.

And they’d have been right. But stairs and elevators coexist, along with automobiles. And, yes, we still have horses, though you don’t find them used much for commuting any more.

My e-reader, with an old-time cover. The best of both worlds?

Assorted Quotes

We’re a puzzle/quote family. My husband (aka The Cable Guy) and I do puzzles together and separately—crosswords, acrostics, jumbles, cryptograms, word games.

Many of the solutions end up as quotes. And some of those quotes end up with a permanent place on our walls.

Here are a few favorites:

There are two kinds of truth, small truth and great truth. You can recognize a small truth because its opposite is a falsehood. The opposite of a great truth is another truth. — Niels Bohr

The obscure we see eventually. The completely obvious, it seems, takes longer. — Edward R. Morrow

• My only concern was to get home after a hard day’s work. — Rosa Parks

• I’m astounded by people who want to ‘know’ the universe when it’s hard enough to find your way around Chinatown. — Woody Allen

• Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world. — Hillary Clinton

And one of my all-time favorites (winter person that I am):

Every year, back Spring comes,

with the nasty little birds

yapping their fool heads off.

– Dorothy Parker

Home Again

Revere, MA post office, site of one of my college jobs

Who says you can’t go home again?

I know, Thomas Wolfe for one. But I just did, last week – went home to a college reunion in Boston and to many smaller reunions with family and friends in Revere and environs.

Unlike Wolfe’s fictional George Webber, I did not meet with anger and death threats, even though I’ve set several novels and short stories in my home town.

Here are some photos to show what a great welcome I’ve gotten over the years.

THEN:

Book signing at Revere Public Library, c. 1998

NOW:

My undergrad math teacher greets me with a tiramisu cake!

A "cool" greeting!

My cousins twice removed, and the tip of a cannoli, lower left!

Chris, a forever friend, once removed.

Home-again view from my room; looking out at the Charles River (Chahles Rivah)

All in all: a great trip! Thanks everyone!