Tag Archives: books

Weapons of Mass Instruction…

So this is pretty cool. And though the story is more than a month old I just came across it and had to share. The Argentinian artist Raul Lemesoff was inspired (for World Book Day) to modify his 1979 Ford Falcon into a mock tank-like vehicle, but the weapons he carries are books…900 of them! He calls the books his Weapons of Mass Instruction and cruises through Argentina’s urban centers offering free books to anyone who wants one. The only requirement is that you promise to read it. This, to me, is really inspiring; it made my day. To read the full article and watch a short video of the artist click here (this is also where these photos were borrowed). If you’d like to read about other inspiring people that distribute books–but by bicycle–click any of the links on this page.

Urban Simplicity.

Weapons of Mass Instruction…

So this is pretty cool. And though the story is more than a month old I just came across it and had to share. The Argentinian artist Raul Lemesoff was inspired (for World Book Day) to modify his 1979 Ford Falcon into a mock tank-like vehicle, but the weapons he carries are books…900 of them! He calls the books his Weapons of Mass Instruction and cruises through Argentina’s urban centers offering free books to anyone who wants one. The only requirement is that you promise to read it. This, to me, is really inspiring; it made my day. To read the full article and watch a short video of the artist click here (this is also where these photos were borrowed). If you’d like to read about other inspiring people that distribute books–but by bicycle–click any of the links on this page.

Urban Simplicity.

Something I like about owning a cell phone…

“We live in an age of smart phones and stupid people”
~Unknown

Let me first preface this post with three things…one is that I have only owned a cell phome for just a few years and have gone from never using one to using it all the time. Also, as of two weeks ago I have dedicated Sundays as an “electronic-fast” day. And thirdly, though it is called a phone, making phone calls is the least activity/action that I use it for.

This said, I’ll say something I really like about owning a cellphone…mainly reading. Being the introvert that I am I like to read in short spurts to pass the time, even when out for a beer or glass of wine. Yes, it’s true…I read in bars. And I always have. Previously I would carry a small pocket-sized book with me, but as I’ve gotten older–and my eyesight has begun to lessen–I have found it increasingly difficult to read in a dimly lit bar. But with the back-light of a phone this is not a problem. And I don’t stand out as a nerd with a book as much as just another person dumbly staring at their phone. I’m jus’ sayin’….

“To cultivate joy, pay attention to what you like.”
~The Afterlife of Billy Fingers

Urban Simplicity.

A time for everything…

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens
 Ecclesiastes 3:1

So this is interesting. At least I think it is. It’s about change but at the same time staying the same. Growth, I suppose. In the spring of 2004 I co-lead a small book group at my church. I know when it was because I often date the inside flap of a book when I purchase it (this of course was before kindle). The book is the one pictured, and I highly recommend it (here’s a direct link at Amazon). Anyhow, I re-visited this book just today because I am taking a continuing education class of sorts through the seminary from which I recently graduated and this is the text we are using. Tonight at dinner I re-read the prologue and the first chapters. And what I am finding interesting are what I found interesting in 2004….what I underlined or highlighted nearly 11 years ago. Most of what I originally underlined is still important to me, but now as I read it I find myself underlining sections that I didn’t in 2004 because they may have not interested me. Maybe if I read it again in another ten years the entire book will be underlined. Anyhow, I just find it interesting how a person (me, in this case) can be the same person but also change a little. Growth happens, I suppose. Little by little. Baby steps. This also happens naturally, I suppose, as a person progresses through their life (gets older). And as I’ve said before–and I’ve come to fully believe this–it is not necessarily abut the destination as it is about the journey itself. Happy traveling.


Urban Simplicity.

Upcoming Book Group…

Hello Buffalo / Western New York / Southern Ontario Friends. I’ll be facilitation a book group starting in another week-and-a-half or so. If you are interested in the origins of the bible and accept it as metaphor you may like this. The book is not for the faint of heart. All are welcome no matter what your faith or non-faith.

Here’s a link to the book itself.

And here’s a link to the Facebook page with most of the details.

Email or private message me for details if you are interested.

Urban Simplicity.

Things That Can be Carried on a Bike (#497)

Three loaves of freshly baked oatmeal-maple bread (click here for recipe, pics, and directions), two ham-and-cheese panini, two cooked chicken breasts, two pints of raw spinach, a pint of chopped Romain lettuce, a gallon of extra virgin olive oil, a canvas bag containing a journal and a few writing implements and an iPhone, a camera bag containing an extra camera, a zoom lens, and a battery charger. And a few books…two copies of Auguste Escoffier’s Le Guide Culinaire (1972 and 2013 editions), The Lebanese Kitchen by Salma Hage, the journals of Sir William Douglas on his travels in the Himalayas in 1894, a small book by Deepak Chopra, a Science of Mind Magazine, and a pocket sized New Testament.

Urban Simplicity.

Things That Can be Carried on a Bike (#469)

Three large cookbooks, a dough bucket containing a double batch of Honey-Oatmeal dough, and a canvas book bag containing–among other things–a spare camera, a periodical, and a small Bible.

Urban Simplicity.

Free Books!

I rode past this box at this corner the other day on my way home from work and had to do a double-take…then I slammed on my brakes. I, like a lot of people, am a bibliophile, so this excited me. A couple years ago I purchased a kindle, but I still prefer actual books. I have many in my house and sometimes plan ahead as to which bookstores I’ll visit when I travel; sometimes I buy a book I know I’ll not likely read…just because. But alas…sometimes a person can have too many books (yes you can…admit it). When I find I have too many I tend to purge. Usually I’ll donate them to my favorite local bookstore (which is sometimes where I bought them in the first place). Anyhow, this I thought is really cool, and it will give me a location to take unwanted books. There were only a half-dozen or so books in there but I’m sure it will grow. There is one other box in the city that I know of (read about it at Buffalo Rising). When I Googled the phrase “free book exchange” I was surprised how popular this is. And in some cities there are actual “stores” that cater to free books (I placed quotes around the word stores because they don’t actually sell anything); click here and here to see two examples. Anyhow, I think this is really cool and I am excited about it and thought I’d share. Hopefully this will continue as a trend.

Urban Simplicity.

Sometimes a Book Finds You…

I love books and bookstores. When I travel I make a point of visiting used and/or independent bookstores in that city. And I really do believe that books sometimes find you…that they are placed before you for you to find and hopefully read. The book above is a good example (and more on that in a minute) but the one that stands out in my memory was one that found me when I was living in Poughkeepsie, NY.  It was the mid 1980’s and I was a student at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), and was walking down the street on a sunny Spring day when I quite literally tripped over a book…yes it was laying there in the middle of the sidewalk. I picked it up and it was a well-worn copy of The Prophet, by Khalil Gibran. At the time I was not familiar with either the book or the author but was intrigued and kept it and read it. Later I was surprised to learn that we–the author and I–share the same ethnic heritage. Since then I have collected more than a dozen of Khalil’s books (though I haven’t read them all). But I believe that original one–which is also his most famous–found me. Anyhow, back to the book pictured above. As mentioned in an earlier post, I was in Toronto this past weekend with my son, and was in Seekers Bookstore on Bloor Street (which is one of my favorite Toronto bookstores). I have had an interest in Mysticism for many years but do not know anything about Kabbalah (who am I kidding…I don’t know much about anything). Anyhow, I was flipping through the above said book, and read a bit on cause-and-effect, but thought the book was a bit pricy at $9 (CAD), considering its condition. I liked what I was reading but thought I could probably find a better deal on Amazon (I didn’t) or just download it…so I put it back on the shelf and began looking at other books. At this point I was standing near the counter and heard a person ask another (who I’m assuming was the owner of the bookstore) how business has been. He went into a somewhat long dialog on how bad it has been, that even with a mild winter business was poor. Sometimes, he went on to say, that an entire hour would go by and not a single customer will come in, and then when they do they just browse and leave. Between the big chain bookstores and the Internet, he said, he felt his store was dying a slow death. I felt like he was speaking to me though my back was to this person. To cut to the chase…I took the book back off the shelf and purchased it. I love used bookstores and don’t want them to disappear; I felt good to support this one. This book–like the aforementioned title–most definitely found me…I had no choice but to purchase it.

Urban Simplicity.

Five Quotes from Jack Kerouac

Image found here
Jean-Louis “Jack” Kerouac
March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969

I can say with all seriousness that the first time that I read On The Road, and later The Dharma Bums, it changed my life; changed my way of thinking. I was in college at the time (culinary school) and my mind and soul were like a sponge…ready to accept and absorb anything worthwhile that passed before me. Though I haven’t read his books in a while, Jack Kerouac’s writing has lit a fire in me that still burns. Thank you Paul Ryan for introducing me to him.

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” 

“Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.” 

“My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.” 

“Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.” 

OK…I know I said five quotes, but here’s a couple more.

 “The best teacher is experience and not through someone’s distorted point of view”

 “Life must be rich and full of loving–it’s no good otherwise, no good at all, for anyone.”

To read more in the Five Quotes series click here.

Urban Simplicity.

Does This Change Things?

I’ve resisted it for a while but have finally succumbed…I purchased an electronic reading device (Kindle), but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start over by saying that I am a bibliophile. I love books, and I own more than I’ll probably ever read. But as previously stated I bought a Kindle and it arrived today. I resisted them for a while but was swayed for a few reasons. One is the price of the (electronic) books. Even as a new release the books are cheaper than a print copy…but there are thousand (I’m guessing) of free books available. Just this evening I downloaded more than 40 free books…not a penny spent. James Joyce, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Jack London, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Paramahansa Yogananda, even an English Standard Version of the Bible. All free. Not to mention numerous New Thought authors, including the book pictured in the device above (As a Man Thinketh, by James Allen). These alone are worth more than what I paid for the device (I specifically call it a device because it is most definitely not a book…but more on that in a minute). But I digress again.

One of my favorite past-times is browsing bookstores, in real life brick-and-mortar stores but virtually too, such as Amazon. When I travel–which isn’t that often these days–I actually plan in advance which bookstores I’ll visit in the same way people visit tourist attractions. I own something like 700-800 books on food (best guess), a hundred or so spiritual books, and many novels and books on fiction scattered around the house. To me books are not only for reading; I like how they look and feel. They are in fact part of the decor of my house. For these reasons this device cannot replace books in my life.

But what about convenience. I am chagrined in that I don’t read as  much as I once did and I can’t help but wonder if it doesn’t have something to do with time…though I write a blog about simplicity m y life feels more sped up than ever these days (whose isn’t). I’m hoping carrying around a virtual library with me will encourage me to read more (again) or at least as much as I once did.

Another thing I found interesting was this post at Treehugger regarding the Kindle as actually being greener than print books (go figure).

At any rate, does this change things? Yes, but hopefully for the better. Will it replace books in my life? Not a chance. While the screen of the Kindle does look remarkably like a page out of a book it is still not a book…it’s an electronic reading device that you press a button rather than flip a page. None-the-less, I am glad with the purchase and look forward to reading it.

I’d be interested in hearing others view’s on electronic reading devices (Kindle, Nook, Sony?).

On Bookstores

There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It is like falling in love, and like that colossal adventure it is an experience of great social import.
–Christopher Morley, On Visiting Bookshops

I Love bookstores…I have as long as I can remember. I’ll go to the new fancy ones (you know the type I’m talking about…those with chain coffee shops in them), but my favorites are the independent bookstores, particularly those that sell used books. When I go to a large city it’s often part of my itinerary to visit specific bookstores, such as The Strand, in NYC (which I visit every time I’m there), or the many used bookstores on Yonge Street in Toronto…and also Shakespeare and Company (which, unfortunately, I haven’t visited in many years).

The above quote was by the American writer, Christopher Morley, in his essay, On Visiting Bookshops (click here the read his bio; click here to read the essay).

As much time that I spend on this stupid computer I do not believe that I will ever tire of my love of books…actual books, not electronic. Just this morning while listening to the radio I heard someone talking about trends for 2010 and one of them is (they predicted) is going to be the explosion of the electronic book (and electronic readers). I don’t care how many libraries I can carry around with me in an Ipod, there is nothing like an actual book…my house is filled with them…they are, I believe, actually part of the decor. Anyhow, this evening I cam across the above quote by Mr. Morley…how appropriate, I thought, though it was written in 1920. And I couldn’t agree more.