Sunday, October 6, 2013

Why have duplicate copies of books?

Some people love books. Then there are people who LOVE books...

This point was driven home to me recently, during a conversation with a friend. We were hanging around a bookstore and I mentioned needing to get a duplicate/loaner copy of a book. She stared at me as if I had just suggested we build a pillow fort there and sip Scotch while reading in the middle of the aisle (which is, incidentally, every real book lover's least their G-rated fantasy). When I asked if she had ever gotten a loaner or accidentally ended up with multiple copies of a book, her stare segued into something more like concern that my brain had stripped its gears. Pointing out a book with a particularly shiny cover served as a convenient way to change topics and the conversation moved on more smoothly from there.

But the experience got me thinking more about books and the accidental or intentional possession of multiple copies thereof. A little thought made it clear that there are actually a fair number of reasons why a book lover might have extra copies of a book. Strange to say, the number of such reasons is actually INCREASING. And the fact that Snohomish has the coolest bookstore in the known universe doesn't help.

So just in case you find yourself having to defend this perfectly valid lifestyle choice, here are some excellent reasons for having duplicate copies of books. If they don't make sense to you, please try not to judge.

1) Accidental duplicates 

Cause: You can't find a book and think it just might have accidentally ended up in a pile sent to a used bookstore. Or maybe you had a pet that chewed books (e.g., dogs, rabbits), haven't seen a favorite book in a while, see it in a bookstore and know you just HAVE to get a copy in case it's gone

Examples from my bookshelf:

"The Man Who Never Missed" from Steve Perry's excellent Matador series (only one pictured because Accidental Duplicates make natural Loaners)

"Ellison Wonderland" by Harlan Ellison

2) Ebook and paper

Cause: The advent of readily available eBooks raises the question of whether the future of book publishing will favor paper books or eBooks. This is arguably a silly and pointless discussion because each has advantages in some respects. eBooks are great for taking along on road trips where you don't want a separate backpack full of books. Paper books are more stimulating to the senses and can never run out of batteries when you're 2 pages from the end of a book. So making this an either-or proposition is a fool's game, in my opinion. Since reading a favorite book is one of those things that can make a hard day of travel more fun,

Examples from my bookshelf:

"Living the Martial Way" by Forrest Morgan

"The Stars My Destination" by Alfred Bester

"Santiago: A Myth of the Far Future" by Mike Resnick

"The Atrocity Archives" by Charles Stross

"Steppenwolf" by Herman Hesse

3) Best. Book. Ever.

Cause: You read a book and it's like opening the toy you wanted most on Christmas Day. You realize that it has changed your life forever. That it has provided you ideas or insights about life and the world that will serve you for the rest of your life. And you know that you will always want to have at least copy of this book to take with you wherever you go. Bonus points if it inspires you to get a literary tattoo.

Examples from my bookshelf:
"East of Eden" by John Steinbeck. My blog post about it. The paper copy on the right also has tremendous sentimental value because I read it just after moving to Northern California, an hour's drive from Cannery Row

4) Loaners and Set Asides

Cause: You have a book that you want to lend out to friends but can't stand the idea of not having a copy available to read yourself when you need to. Or maybe the copy you have has deep sentimental value and the thought of it being lost is completely unacceptable. 

Examples from my bookshelf:
"Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett - possibly the most hilarious book I've ever read and the copy on the left was given to me by my friend Deirdre, who has since passed away with breast cancer. I will never have it off of my shelf again. The edition on the right is my Loaner copy.

"Star Trek 10" by James Blish - a simple adaptation of some Star Trek original series episodes, this was the first science fiction book I ever bought. I have had the edition on the left for some 40 years and have fond memories of climbing a tree on Summer days and sitting there, reading this book. It was autographed by Leonard Nimoy, who seemed a little impressed at how old it was and how well-loved it obviously was. The edition on the right was purchased to have a new, fresh copy on hand...because cool cover, right? (This was before the Klingons were our friends)

5) Multiple versions

Cause: Some books are periodically re-issued with new content and older versions are still desirable because they also have unique content.

Examples from my bookshelf:

"Adventure Motorcycling Handbook" by Chris Scott. This is one of the books that has inspired thousands of people to to chuck the daily grind and go out and see the world. I long to have this book and ones by Lois Pryce, Austin Vince, Ted Simon in eBook form too.

There you have it - my personal reasons for having multiple copies of the same book. Most of these books overlap multiple categories, e.g., I have all of these favorites that are available in paper and electronic form. But to me, these reasons all highlight the vast importance that books have in our lives.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Why Use a Fitbit (or something like it)?

Anytime the topic of exercise comes up, it seems to inevitably veer off into a discussion of weight, leading to an even more contentious discussion of body image. It's pointless and counterproductive so I'm just not going to go there. I have no interest in telling anyone what they should look like or how much they should weigh. What I will do is encourage anyone interested in feeling better to make some form of exercise...and walking is the easiest...part of their life on a regular basis.

I started using the fitbit pedometer because my company held a fitness challenge through most of the Summer. And as I've said elsewhere, I was pleasantly surprised at how something as simple as adding walking to my exercise routine could strongly supplement an existing aerobic fitness habit that I've stuck to for over 10 years now. Walking is GREAT - I regularly engage in other exercise but walking is how I started that fitness habit and walking added to it again. This was a great and pleasant surprise.

That's the plus side to walking. There's something else to consider on the other hand: the risks of living too sedentary a life.

Here's a question for people who are shrugging at the notion of regular exercise: have you considered smoking cigarettes lately? The answer is probably "no"...if you don't smoke cigarettes already, chances are you are partly avoiding it because you know it increases your risk for a pointless, unpleasant, early death.
It's DUMB.

Here's something you may not know: diseases related to inactivity are poised to take over as #1 preventable cause of death. The bar chart below (based on CDC data) shows annual deaths from inactivity in a firm second place to smoking. Yes, pretty soon people may be dying faster from lack of exercise than from smoking cigarettes. And this chart is based on 2004 data...9 years have passed since this data was collected. I doubt that the outlook has gotten rosier.

That's it, all I have to say. I don't want to discourage people by getting tedious about the topic of maintaining physical activity to improve health. But before I close, let me reiterate:
  •  I have zero interest in talking about weight or shape or being snarky gym rat guy. Your shape is NOT my business
  • I would encourage anyone who is not physically active or who needs a change to try walking as a low stress, high benefit activity
Some people would probably include a disclaimer at this point about checking with your doctor before starting an exercise program. That seems kind of unfair because the people who sit around without exercising don't have to check with a doctor first. Duh!

The End of the Fitbit Challenge 9/21

My company's fitbit challenge ended on Saturday, Sept 21. As I've said elsewhere, I was pleasantly surprised at how much adding a vigorous walking program could add to the existing 3-4 YMCA workouts a week. Throughout the challenge, I definitely noted an increase in energy and strength.

Aiming end the challenge with a bang, I started the day with a 9 mile walk around the town of Snohomish, out the Centennial trail and back.

Sights around town.

The haunted Oxford Saloon, which I STILL haven't visited.

The VERY South end of the Centennial Trail.

Walking on out... or maybe back, I'm not sure.

Later in the day, I walked a couple more laps around Tye Lake

Total steps taken during the challenge, from 7/22 to 9/21, were over 1.1 million over a distance of 500 miles.