Wednesday, November 27, 2013

pile of reading

Orange Sunshine: the Brotherhood of Love and its eternal quest to spread peace, love, and acid to the world by Nicholas Schou
This is a story of naiveté, chutzpah, idealism, entrepreneurship, criminality, spiritualism, and, uh, other stuff, I'm sure. A bit dizzying.

The Elephant Whisperer: my life with the herd in the African wild by Lawrence Anthony with Graham Spence
I like animal stories. It's strange and unfortunate that most human Africans haven't ever seen a live elephant. Most human Americans have never seen a live bison, I suppose. Anthony owns a private wildlife reserve in South Africa. The elephants native to the area have long since been hunted out or driven away. The book tells the story of his bringing in an elephant family from another reserve. Sadly, these elephants have been traumatized by human contact - just before being brought to Anthony's reserve a mother & child in the group are shot and killed because the mother was supposedly uncontrollable and dangerous.

Moby-Duck: the true story of 28,800 bath toys lost at sea and of the beachcombers, oceanographers, environmentalists, and fools, including the author, who went in search of them by Donovan Hohn
This book has won a bunch of awards for pop science writing. It's in the Claremont Branch collection and, being as I work there, I am trying to read more of the books that are in the Claremont collection. The book is the sort of thing I like, a mix of detective story and the personal story of the detective, along with musing about what it all means. It jumps around, tackling different aspects of the bath toy saga, so I don't always feel pulled along but sometimes adrift and caught in gyres. I'll finish it, and I expect I'll recommend it, but I only read a little at a time.

Native American Testimony: a chronicle of Indian-White relations from prophecy to the present, 1492-2000 by Peter Nabokov
Like all anthologies, a mixed bag. Nabokov says he avoided the soaring oratory of the Chiefs, seeking instead to reflect the experience of the average person/Indian. Actually, I was rather hoping for some soaring oratory. Recommended if you like oral history collections, Studs Terkel, for instance.

Staying Alive: real poems for unreal times edited by Neil Astley
Neil Astley is editor/publisher of Blood Axe Books in the UK. I've enjoyed books he's published. And I like poetry anthologies. There's good writing here. But it hasn't hooked me.

The Horizontal Poet by Jan Steckel
Last weekend I read with Jan and a few other poets as part of The Whitman-Stein Poetry Fest North. I traded a copy of Fact for Jan's newest book and added it right to the pile by the bed. "the click and rattle / of your metacarpals dragging over / my fibula and tibia"

The Unsubscriber by Bill Knott
A few years ago I picked up a self-published chapbook by Bill Knott. This one, however, is from a New York publisher. Knott's interesting and kind of odd. "your dress tries to come in / from the rain it has become: / the way shelter finds us one again"

Death Kick by H.D. Moe
The poet H.D. Moe died this year. I've always found his poetry a mix of wonderful and awful with enough wonderful to keep me attentive. I bought a couple of his books in the last few years. When I heard Moe died I started in on this one. I'm reading it the way I did Emily Dickinson, two pages at a time. "Ley-lines, wakeup different, heading for a giggle job, keys in your claw"

The Poetry of Our World: an international anthology of contemporary poetry edited by Jeffery Paine
Lots of familiar names - Derek Walcott, Pablo Neruda, Anna Akhmatova, etc.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

radio on poo

Birds and bats produce feces called guano, which is rich in ammonia, uric, phosphoric, carbonic and oxalic acids … Bat and bird guano were discovered by Europeans in the early nineteenth century to be … useful for both fertilizer and explosives. … Guano was … taken up on Gemini and Mercury space missions and was used as the propellant to deploy the radio transmission antennas after splashdown.

In my post Kill a Whale for the Moon I quoted a source saying sperm whale oil was used to lube machinery sent to the moon. It's nice no bird or bat had to die for their part in the space program.

source: The Origin of Feces: what excrement tells us about evolution, ecology, and a sustainable society by David Waltner-Toews