Building The Perfect Beast

Reading, Writing, Wanderlust, and Commentary

Archive for the ‘Books’ tag

I Heartily Agree

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It’s unlikely that I’ll fork over the cash necessary to buy a Kindle 2, but I do love Stanza on my iPhone.

Review: Stanza for iPhone Review | via Macworld.

Written by Jeffery Battersby

February 27th, 2009 at 8:17 am

Posted in Asides

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Salon on David Foster Wallace In The Words of His Friends

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It’s unnecessary for me to say anything. Just read it.

The last days of David Foster Wallace | Salon Books.

Written by Jeffery Battersby

September 26th, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Posted in Asides

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A Dangerous Book?


Or a misguided fear of a dangerous mind…

Sooo Dangerous!I was intrigued (or maybe that’s incensed) recently by an essay in Newsweek about The Dangerous Book for Boys—an Amazon bestseller and a book that my nine-year-old son, since receiving it for his birthday less than a month ago, has been carrying around under his arm wherever he goes. Dogeared and bookmarked, the book has become his constant companion and the genesis of at least a half-dozen creative adventures with a dozen more written down in his Moleskine for future use. In other words, it’s a book that has more than captured my son’s imagination.

Jennie Yabroff, in her Newsweek essay, contends that the reason for The Dangerous Book’s whopping success is a “…nostalgia for the halcyon world of our fathers and grandfathers…,” “…anxieties about the present…,” or because of conservatives who see the book as a “…corrective to the ‘feminization’ of the culture.” I find her assessment as cynical as I find the title of the essay and a million miles from the truth.

Nostalgia requires an understanding and an idealization of some long lost past. A time when the grass was greener, or the sun was brighter, the summer days longer, and where the world was a much better place. In other words, nostalgia requires you to have some history. A halcyon to dream about. Some kind of quantifiable past that you can look back fondly upon and pine for.

Certainly there are those who are buying this book for nostalgic reasons. My sixty-plus year-old uncle loves the book. He ran out and bought a copy after seeing my son’s.

My mother thinks it’s great too. She said it, “looked old,” like the books she had when she was a kid.

But my son?

He’s nine-years-old.

He has nothing to be nostalgic about, unless you’re talking about the play he made at first base a couple of weeks ago or the trip to the lake that we took last week. Hardly some great past, but certainly the halcyon of his future.

So the book’s appeal? That Dangerous book’s appeal, has nothing to do with some misguided sense of nostalgia or any glamorization of how much better it was in “days gone by.” The book appeals to something far simpler: the desire to learn, have fun, and to be able to create things with your own hands.

Nostalgia can sell thing’s to people with memories but it can’t create desire in those whose past is still in their future. Especially when nostalgia has to compete with iPods, Wiis, Tivos, and Gamecubes. What The Dangerous Book for Boys appeals to is the imagination. And it’s that alone that makes this book successful.

Written by Jeffery Battersby

July 14th, 2007 at 6:58 pm

Books on the Craftsman/Arts & Crafts Fireplace

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Just a few, with good pictures too!

So, a shortlist—mostly because this is all I’ve had time to look through so far.

At the very top of my current list is Inside the Bungalow by Paul Duchscherer and Douglas Keister. This book includes numerous photographs of virtually every room in a bungalow-style house with a section specifically about craftsman style fireplaces. Many of the fireplace photographs are quite unique and they all give you a number of ideas to begin designing your own fireplace.

Two more of my favorites are Craftsman house plan books originally issued by Gustav Stickley. Craftsman Homes and More Craftsman Homes both contain many hand drawn sketches of Craftsman interiors and since Craftsman homes typically featured fireplaces as a central feature, these books contain dozens of fireplace drawings in a variety of design styles. More Craftsman Homes even includes a section at the back of the book detailing how the the fireplaces were designed to heat the entire home.

Finally, while not specifically about Craftsman style fireplaces, Sarah Susanka’s Not So Big House and Creating the Not So Big House have wonderful photos of a variety of fireplaces that, while not “Craftsman” by design, would certainly fit well in any Craftsman style home.

With regard to the Not So Big books, Kathy and I used these extensively to guide us during the design process of our house.

Written by Jeffery Battersby

April 13th, 2007 at 10:15 am

Posted in HousePosts

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The Power of a Craftsman Fireplace

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And a little weekend cleanup

Busy weekend, especially it being Easter. Spent Saturday cleaning up outside the house, planting two apple trees, and prepping for the several new projects we have in mind. (also went shopping for a new front-loading washer and drier, but no purchase yet. Anybody have anything good, bad, or ugly to say about the LG TROMM 2688H?)

Sunday morning we tripped down to NYC for church and to see a friend of ours—Miriam Burns, the new conductor of the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra—conduct at the morning services of Redeemer Presbyterian Church. We were fairly wiped out by the end of the day.

I hadn’t been paying that much attention to the blog over the weekend and also hadn’t posted anything in about a week. So I was surprised to find out on Monday that my site had been hit pretty hard over the weekend. A little deeper search into why that may have happened revealed the power of a Craftsman fireplace. I’d been Googled to death because of a post I made a week ago about wanting to trim out our kitchen fireplace in a Craftsman style. Apparently I’ve struck a Google nerve.

I have come across a couple of good books, which I’ll share here tomorrow, that have good pictures and some decent design ideas for the fireplace trim, but I haven’t yet found anything that I want to duplicate. In short I want something simple but elegant. Until I find it, the search is still on.

Written by Jeffery Battersby

April 11th, 2007 at 11:38 am

Posted in HousePosts

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QuickBooks 2007

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QuickBooks is improved, but I’m not ecstatic

qb2007.jpgQuickBooks once had the corner on the Mac Business Accounting Market. It was as easy to use as Quicken and pretty much a no-brainer as the choice for your Mac business accounting needs.

Then Intuit dropped support for QuickBooks on the Mac, under the presumption that the demise of the Mac was imminent, only to return again a couple of years later when the Mac didn’t die. That “new,” re-released QuickBooks wasn’t much different than the version Intuit dropped in 1997, didn’t add much in the way of functionality or features, and cost a whole lot of money. Frankly, every version since has continued this same trend: minor updates, no file or feature parity with the Windows version, and no multi-users capabilities.

QuickBooks 2007 now offers better form customization features, but if you need a full-featured Mac accounting application you can count on the Intuit status-quo. You’ll need to look to MYOB FirstEdge or MYOB AccountEdge if you want full functionality in a Mac accounting application.

Read my Macworld review here.

Written by Jeffery Battersby

December 27th, 2006 at 8:00 am

Posted in Writing

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Business Accounting Packages

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MYOB provides full-featured accounting for large and small businesses, but QuickBooks lags behind

firstedge.jpgquickbooks2006.jpgMYOB FirstEdge 2, MYOB AccountEdge 2006, and QuickBooks 2006 take off the gloves for the Mac business accounting “crown.” A real Thrilla in Manilla envelopes?

OK, maybe that’s a bit cheesy, but both the MYOB products come out on top, outshining and outclassing the former heavyweight champion of the Mac accounting world.

Read the complete review here.

Written by Jeffery Battersby

March 31st, 2006 at 4:05 pm

Posted in Writing

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