growth of the soil

!/images/130.jpg (growth of the soil)!

i recently read knut hamsun’s “growth of the soil.” i tip my hat to charles bukowski for the recommendation.

this book begins with painfully beautiful plain language. the words are pure and straightforward, like earth from the garden in your hands. it’s hard to imagine the simple life depicted in the first few pages filling the many pages of the book. if the first 2 pages were a short story you would know all you need to of the main character.

i was trying to think up appropriate praise, but h.g wells does it better than i could:
!/images/131.jpg (herbert george wells quote)!

books web

what the? is a big company, and i’m sure they have untold resources dedicated to figure out where customers are getting lost, and how to help them find their way to purchasing books.

however, i mis-typed a URL earlier, and got this:

I am lost

apparently, when you’re lost, a hand-drawn cat will help you feel better.

kailey kitty
Kailey Kitty

h1. feel better!


book of longing – leonard cohen

!/images/126.jpg (Leonard Cohen – Book of Longing)!

i have always loved the writings of leonard cohen. he brings the body together with the spirit in a way that is unexpected yet familiar at the same time.

his writing has a feeling of human and heartfelt directness. when i read his books i feel he knows just a little too much about me, and is describing just a little too much of himself at the same time.

his previous works have been full of sex and passionate energy. this book is full of vigour, but the subject matter of the opening poems is more often the conquest of his bowels than his bedroom.

poetry is a graphical language. the presence or absence of words on a page is as important as the words themselves. the *book of longing* has sketches throughout, sitting underneath, beside, ontop, or above poems. the book feels like a notebook, or unfinished work. ‘unwashed words from the street’ to paraphrase neruda. personally the drawing interferes with the poetry more than it compliments.

there is an incredible breadth of time represented in the book of longing. poems appear from as far back as the seventies and eighties, right up to modern writing.

the book feels more like a curated work rather than an authorial voice. theme and style are well represented, but there is no passionate narrative running through the whole work.

i always love loenard cohen’s writing, but this book feels as though it was hurried to press for a paycheque rather than crafted out of love and longing.

h3. the hands.

!/images/127.gif! the drawings are an interesting idea, and while they distract and play with the text they don’t disrupt my reading. when a poem carries on to another page there is a small monty python-esque hand to indicate the continuing text. for most people the lack of a title on the next page would be enough to indicate a poem is continuing. i hate these hands.

i enjoyed the book “and you might too”:


riding with rilke

by: ted bishop
!/images/98.jpg (Riding With Rilke – Ted Bishop)!

as the subtitle suggests this book deals with riding and books, in an equal measure. i heard an interview with ted bishop on cbc, which brought me to a bookstore for further insight.

the moment i opened to the first page i knew i was leaving with a copy. the first thing my eyes set on was the table of contents – first chapter: why a duc?

i headed straight for the checkout, and as i set the book on the counter the merchant explained for several minutes how mr. bishop had taught his literature class at the university of alberta, and had introduced him to many of his now favourite books.

i started to get a bit of an author-crush as i left the store.

the book is divided in three. the first section deals with riding a ducati motorcycle to texas. the reasons for the method of travel and the reasons for the destination are explored creatively and thoroughly. the third section brings the author and the book home.

bishop quickly triggered my boyhood love of motorcycles and drew me into his adventure. i’m sure a contributing factor to my headfirst dive into his experience is that we share the same city of residence, so his perceptions and bias were easy lenses to look through. nevertheless, by the time ted was on the road, i was glad i was along for the journey.

after the book travels to texas the reason for the destination comes to the forefront and the style and substance of the book shifts to a more scholarly, opinion-driven style. it is no less interesting, but is a marked shift in pace and tone.

the middle section wanders through a few different styles, and near the end of the writing adventure it begins to feel as though the story is about to morph into a spy novel.

the third section eases into the familiar travel style of the first section, and finishes off the book and the trip with a climax that almost feels fictitious.

“you should pick up a copy”: and read it yourself. an entertaining read from a strong canadian author.

books editing

sailor’s word book

!/images/95.jpg (Sailor’s Word Book)!

you’d think a sailor’s dictionary would be full of naughty words. but not this one. i love discovering the culture and history of words: where they came from, where they’re going and how they were used on the decks of ships in times past.

h1. here are some of my favourites:

a word not much used by seamen. it is, however synonymous with storms, gales, &c.
the inhabitants of the torrid zone, who twice a year, being under a vertical sun, have no shadow.
a name formerly applied to those mariners who were expert navigators.
the art of conducting vessels on the sea, not only by the peculiar knowledge of seamanship in all its intricate details, but also by such a knowledge of the higher branches of nautical astronomy as enables the commander to hit his port, after a long succession of bad weather, and an absence of three or four months from all land. any man without science may navigate the entire canals of great britain, but may be unable to pass from plymouth to guernsey.

h1. Sample page 1

h1. Sample page 2

if you’d like a copy for yourself – click here


for whom the bell tolls

by ernest hemingway

!/images/94.jpg (for whom the bell tolls)!

for whom the bell tolls begins and ends in a forest in the middle of the spanish civil war during the year 1937. robert jordan is a dynamiter whose mission brings him into the hill country where he must win the favour of the antifascist guerrilla forces so they will aid him in blowing up a bridge.

This is the best book Ernest Hemingway has written, the fullest, the deepest, the truest. It will, I think, be one of the major novels in American literature.

The New York Times Book Review, J. Donald Adams

editing web

i love dixon

!/images/91.jpg (Tri-Conderoga)!
photo credit: “tom leininger”:

while browsing at “pencil revolution”: i read of a new pencil released by the fine folks at dixon – “the tri-conderoga”: the ticonderoga has long been a favourite of pencil enthusiasts everywhere, and dixon has been hard at work creating a new pencil to delight and ensnare the hearts of their longstanding client base.

the “reviews”: i read of the tri-conderoga were all favourable, and i wanted to get my hands on one of these fine writing sticks. i did some quick googling and came up with a short list of online retailers that distribute the pencils. however, down each online avenue of merchandise i was met with the same frustration. no one ships tri-conderogas to canada.


i decided to go straight to the top and email the fine folks at “dixon”: who had created this pencil in the first place. a day or two after my initial email a very nice customer service representative emailed me back to let me know that i could order them through grand & toy, and that she had sent me FREE SAMPLES in the mail. if i was in love with the people at dixon before this was turning into a strange and forceful lust.

i’m awaiting with anticipation the arrival of my sleek, black, trianglicious pencils.

thank you dixon!

books code

Building Accessible Websites – Joe Clark

!/images/63.jpg (Building Accessible Websites)!

“Building Accessible Websites – link to amazon”:

*Place Published:*   Indianapolis, Ind.
*ISBN:*   073571150x
*Keywords:*   Web sites – Design
*Format:*   Paperback
*Authors:*   Joe Clark
*Publication Date:*   c2003.

If fear of lawsuits, government mandates, and human-rights complaints is driving you to make your website more accessible, you’re doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Aks yourself if it makes good business sense to ignore a substantial portion of your potential audience. Why turn away visitors who may be blind, deaf, or otherwise disabled?

Building Accessible Websites teaches how and why to use web accessibility techniques, with an emphasis on phased accessibility that scales to the needs of small, medium and large budgets. Whether you’re an individual developer running a hobby site or the head of a large corporate web team, Building Accessible Websites shows you affordable, technically manageable ways to make a website accessible to people with disabilities

Not only has Joe Clark written the best book i’ve read on accessibility, “he’s made it available for free online”:

but you should still buy it.


george grant – lament for a nation

!/images/56.jpg (george grant – lament for a nation)!

Lament for a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism

author: George Grant

publisher: Carleton Univ Press

place published Ottawa

ISBN: 0-88629-257-3

keywords: Nationalism – Canada Canada – Politics and government – 20th century Diefenbaker, John G. (John George), 1895-1979 United States – Relations – Canada

page count: 111

“In a society of large bureaucracies, power is legitimized by conscious and unconscious processess” – page 57

i’m not often fond of political rhetoric, but i am quite taken with George Grant. i was drawn to this book as i have respect for the ideals and ideals of the man, and wanted to discover what caused his sadness for our nation. this book was published in 1965 and i found it to be a difficult read as many of the intensely reinforced political examples were from the period of 1960-1965 – not one i remember well.

one of the striking features of this book was not just the title, but the subtitle – “the defeat of canadian nationalism” – that caught my interest. in reading this book i wanted to discover what grant considered to be “canadian nationalism” that was lost. i wanted to glean an understanding of a historical nationalism and consider it in modern canada.

many of the themes in the book ring true today; the east/west power conflict, decisions based on trade relations rather than national self-interest, and the ever present and shaping will of america. the basic premise of the book is that as our economy is further entwined with america we become inextricably linked to the cultural and social demands of that nation. there is only so much room on the plate for national adgenda, and every large and small decision that ties our economic fate to america means less room for canadian culture.

there is a possibility of interacting with america in a manner that is beneficial and constructive for our culture and our economy, but that would mean our neighbours to the south would have to work at the relationship of our two countries. there is no advantage of interest for them to do so. logic would argue that decisions in the best interest of our national culture would be the easy to make, but america is the most powerful nation in the world, and aligning our economy with that powerful machine drives a lot of the policy making in our country.

“This was Mackenzie King’s chief political achievement. The organization of the war and postwar reconstruction was carried on within the assumption that government action never questioned the ultimate authority of business interests to run the economy.” – page 61

grant writes that decisions made in the favour of large business are often in opposition to the health of canadian nationalism. i found this particularly disheartening in light of our current social climate, and our current prime minister – a liberal ex-finance minister.

having read through the book, i can clearly see how we could make canada stronger. however, i can see that it’s unlikely to occur with the government currently in power. as our country aligns further and further with our -neighbour- neighbor to the south, i’m beginning to understand that many of these decisions were made 40 or 50 years ago.


Visual explanations : images and quantities, evidence and narrative

!/images/51.jpg (Visual Explinations – Edward Tufte)!

Visual explanations : images and quantities, evidence and narrative

Graphics Press

Cheshire, Conn.



Tufte, Edward R., 1942-


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