Blog-o! Notes from latte.ca

Tue, 27 Jul 2010
So many books

It doesn't seem to matter how much other stuff I have going on, I always have time to read. Don't have time to blog, don't have time to work, definitely don't have time to houseclean—still have time to read.

Science, Sense and Nonsense by Joe Schwarcz is a collection of commentaries on chemistry in everyday life, with a side of fraud-spotting advice. The book covers antioxidants, trans fats, historical alternatives to rubber, and a wealth of other topics serious and amusing.

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen is a young adult book about a modern girl who, bored with her family Seder, is transported back in time to 1941 Poland. I guess maybe the only thing worse than being a Jew in Poland in 1941 is being a Jew in Poland in 1941 who knows the future. She and her entire village are sent to a concentration camp where they fight to survive and to retain their humanity. This book has won a heap of awards (and I just found out it was made into a movie with Kirsten Dunst and Brittany Murphy) and it is a wonderful story about the importance of remembering.

I read The Root Cellar by Janet Lunn out loud to Delphine. It's another time travel book, about a girl who is left alone when her grandmother dies. She is packed off to live with relatives in rural Ontario and is lonely and miserable until she discovers that the root cellar takes her back in time to the 1860s, where she makes friends and feels more at home than in the present. Her twin challenges are to track down a friend who doesn't return from the American civil war (in the past) and to find a place for herself in her new family (in the present). I loved this book when I was a child, and Delphine liked it this time around, as did I.

Shakespeare: The World as a Stage by Bill Bryson is a short biography of Shakespeare—short because we don't really know much about the playwright. In addition to what little we do know, Bryson covers disproved (or unlikely) theories and myths. As always, readable and informative.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss was a book club book. It's about old man who feels like he is disappearing; his long-lost son, a famous novelist; a teenage girl named Alma whose mother is translating a book which turns out was written by... well, you'll have to read it yourself. It's one of those books where the stories go along in parallel and you have to try and figure out how they're connected before the end when the author ties everything together with a big bow. It was a lovely book; I enjoyed reading it, although in book club we decided you have to read it in big chunks or you'll get too confused.

The Unfinished Angel by Sharon Creech is a... young adult? Middle grade? I never know—although I'll have to figure it out pretty soon because I'm helping a friend with her middle-grade novel this fall— Anyway, it's a book about an angel whose quiet life in a tower is interrupted by the arrival of a girl who changes everything in the village. The book is written in the childlike voice of the angel, which sounds a little cringe-y, but Sharon Creech is a phenomenal writer and she makes it work. This is only a short book and it goes quickly, but it's well worth reading.

[Posted at 22:22 by Amy Brown] link
Mon, 19 Jul 2010
A handy zsh function (for OS X)

A co-worker of mine was having problems remembering where the makefile puts the binary for Thunderbird when you build it yourself. Now, I type in the path far too often, so I know where it is (on my computer, anyways), but since I type it in far too often, I grabbed someone's zsh function that launched Firefox, and modified it to launch Thunderbird from either the build directory or the source directory, but only on Mac OS X.

Anyways, here it is, I hope some of you find it useful.

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thunderbird() {
  local -a currdir;
  currdir=$PWD:t;
  for nm in LanikaiDebug ShredderDebug Lanikai Shredder; do
    if [ -d "./mozilla/dist/$nm.app" ]; then
      ./mozilla/dist/$nm.app/Contents/MacOS/thunderbird-bin $*
      break;
    elif [ -d "../objdir-$currdir/mozilla/dist/$nm.app" ]; then
      ../objdir-$currdir/mozilla/dist/$nm.app/Contents/MacOS/thunderbird-bin $*
      break;
    fi
  done
}
[Posted at 10:20 by Blake Winton] link