Books read in June 2017

Lotta young nonfiction read this month.  I usually top out at one or two nonfiction books.

Picture Books: Over and Under the Pond
Middle Grade: Real Friends
Young Adult: Gem & Dixie
Young Nonfiction: Eyes of the World

Over & Under the Pond
Messner Neal
Read for Librarian Book Group
Lovely illustrations and great text.

The Book of Mistakes
Read for Librarian Book Group
What happens when the art doesn’t go just right? You roll with it.  I enjoyed tracking the mistakes as they changed and morphed into something fun.

Real Friends
Read for Librarian Book Group
I had some friendship troubles in late elementary school, and this nicely captures the feelings I experienced. It’s also got some great time-specific clothing on display.

Hello Universe
Erin Entrada Kelly
Read for Librarian Book Group
This book pulls off the ultimate middle-grade feat:  it manages to tell a story about children who work through their problems without adult assistance.  It does this without having to resort to such non-parent tropes as: orphan, foster children, boarding school, camp.

Each character was deftly drawn and the story kept turning in directions I wasn’t anticipating.  This is also a book populated with diverse characters who feel authentic, and not as though they are filling a specific diverse slot.

A Wrinkle in Time
Madeline L’Engle
This was a re-read in anticipation of the movie’s release.  Two things surprised me.  One was how much god was in this book.  There was much more god than I find in the children’s books I regularly read.  The second thing was that at some point, the characters meet a character named IT.  The character’s name is presented in that fashion with a capital “i” and “t.” Unfortunately, in the many years since I first read this book (1985?) the use of the capital “i” and “t” put together are regularly seen, but in a way they were not in the 1960s when L’Engle wrote the book.

So it was that I read every single occurrence of IT as Eye-Tee, a.k.a. Information Technology, a.k.a not what Madeline L’Engle was going for, tone-wise.

Other than that, it was an interesting exploration of kid-lit of yore.  If I find myself unemployed, it would be interesting to dive into the whole series.

Gem & Dixie
Sara Zarr
Sisters! But not the kind that sing a musical number a la White Christmas.  This is the story of Gem, who isn’t really that thrilled with her home situation, and her sister Dixie, who doesn’t mind so much. When their dad appears back in town something happens that has the girls exploring different options.  I liked that it spent some time wondering how not-optimal your living situation should be before you should find something else.

Anne & Henry
Dawn Ius
An updated version of the story of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII.  I felt that this particular retelling didn’t translate very well to the modern era.  Also the cover wigged me out, as the “Anne” model actually has a chunk of “Henry’s” flesh in her mouth.

We Will Not Be Silent
Russell Freedman
Read for Family Book Group
This worked well for a re-read, and it got overall high rankings, despite most people expressing that they don’t like nonfiction much.

Eyes of the World
Read for Librarian Book Group
The story of Robert Capa and Gerda Taro, this is a fine example of an exploration of how artists influence each other.  It was a little slow, but ultimately rewarding.   The photos, fonts and layouts are quite nice.

Balderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books
Read for Librarian Book Group
There was a time when there was no children’s literature.  (Gasp!) Meet the man who who started the trend.

The Quest for Z
Gregg Pizzoli
Read for Librarian Book Group
An age-appropriate exploration of that Amazon guy who has a grownup nonfiction book, a movie, and now a picture book.  I loved the illustrations in this, and it has a very good front cover hidden under the jacket. In book group discussion, someone made an observation that it was a little “old-fashioned” a la from the explorer’s point of view and not so much any insight into the Amazon Indians who were being explored.

Manhattan Project Hanford

The Manhattan Project National Historic Park is made up of three sites:  Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Los Alamos, New Mexico; and Hanford, Washington.  Fun fact:  If you collect National Park Stamps, the stamp for the Manhattan Project is in three parts.

There are two tours offered at the Hanford Site.  Here is the link to register. We took the Historic B Reactor Tour, but had I known the Pre-Manhattan Tour existed, it would have been my choice.  Each tour takes up a big chunk of the day and involves a bus ride to the site, a guide and a lot of time to look around.  All for free.  Thank you, National Park Service.

We met outside of Richland, where we looked at some exhibits, like this newspaper. Our guide showed us an introductory video and then we loaded up the bus and were off.

Our guide was great.  She also teaches Biology to college students.  She was very good at repeating the questions asked so everyone could hear them and knowledgeable overall.

Headed out to the site.  At a certain point in history this road would have been closed to the general pubic.

It wasn’t a long trip, but did allow for a short nap.

And here it is!  The historic reactor.  What you are looking at are the caps on the rods.  Scientists changed the amount of plutonium produced by moving the rods in a very big cube. [Science!  Not my strong suit.  Go watch a video or something if you want to know more]

As usual with science things, I was more interested in the people part of the equation. A whole bunch of people had to be recruited to this desert to build the reactor.  They weren’t told what they were doing, just that things needed to be built.  And the people needed to be fed.

The site was full of all sorts of repeating colorful patterns.

And some good vintage and modern signs.

Here’s the view from the outside.  Once everything was built, the construction camps were taken down.  The town of Richland was rebuilt so the workers at Hanford had nice places to live. That’s where the Alphabet Houses came in.  The population of Richland was 300 before residents were evicted in 1943.  Then workers for the Hanford Engineering Project arrived and there were 25,000 people in Richland by 1945 Spokane Architect Albin Pherson designed most of the city. He designed a variety of single family homes, duplexes, apartment buildings and dormitories.  Each design was designated with a letter of the alphabet.  If you visit Richland, you can walk through the Gold Coast Historic District and see a selection of the Alphabet Houses.

I greatly enjoyed my tour of the Hanford site and recommend it for anyone visiting the area.

REACH museum

We were in Richland to experience the Hanford tour with Matt’s mother, but we stopped at the REACH museum first.

I’m still uncertain just what the REACH museum is, even after having visited and after looking at their website. I think it’s talking about how the Columbia River sustains a large area around it.  Here’s a big picture of the Columbia and how it reaches so very far, as indicated by the green patches.  I think that big brown area where the word “irrigated” is might be the Hanford site.

The REACH had some nice displays of how the Tri-Cities area developed, geologically and with human influence.  It’s also the first place I learned about the 2300 people kicked off their land with 30 days notice so the Manhattan Project could build a nuclear power plant.  Also about Alphabet Houses.

Other people displaced by the Manhattan project?  Native Americans.  They had lived in the area for thousands of years.

The beautiful sorrow of a building being pulled down

I’ve established throughout this blog that I feel sorrow when buildings and houses disappear.  The preservationist in me wants to rehab everything and make it work for today.  I know why buildings have to come down (in this case, unreinforced one- and two-story masonry  buildings sitting in a part of town where people want to live in towers) and even so, I think we lose something each time we lose a building.

And yet.  When I came across the tearing down happening it was an incredible site. Awesome in the traditional sense of the word.  I stood and watched for a long time.

It’s a big, solid building.  With a sledge hammer, I could maybe do some damage, but not a lot.  Yet with this machine, one person can pull it right down as if it were nothing.  The power is incredible to behold.

Then there is the anthropomorphic design.  Those jaws look like maybe a dinosaur rose from extinction, put on a metal shell, and went to work chomping up buildings.

I wasn’t the only onlooker. These guys were settled in, watching the progress.

I think we need to do more deconstruting than demo.  But seeing three panes of windows being shattered and pulled to the ground was amazing.  I kept thinking how many more people it used to take to pull things apart. This is being done by one guy to rip down, and one to shoot water into the debris.

You can see all around this site what people want in the Pearl.  Big buildings.  And there will be one here soon.  But what if we were the type of people to carefully pull this apart, and send it off for reuse?

We’d miss the dramatic site, but maybe we would be a better people for it?  (Notice in the left corner, another building going up.)

And I wonder, if pulling apart a building employed more than two guys and a machine, if workers would be better off?

Here’s the bearing company recently featured.  It’s at the other end of the block where the building is coming down.  Soon that sight line will change.

Song of the Month June 2017

“Fool for Love” Lord Huron.  As the comments section on YouTube reminded me, Girls Season 5 featured this song.  Girls tends to have excellent music choices for which we can thank Michael Penn.

“Dance, Rascal Dance” Baby Goya (a.k.a. Jack Antonoff, a.k.a. the Bleachers guy who has been featured before) “Is that Jack Antonoff?” I asked the empty house while watching the movie Hello My Name is Doris.  And it was!  He plays a hip musical artist and has a few scenes, which were amusing.  But you should watch this video because you get to see Sally Field’s amazing outfits.

In other music news, I was charmed by this story about the Killer’s song “Mr. Brightside.” It seems I’m not the only person who likes it.  It’s been on the UK top 100 for 11 of the last 13 years.   “Mr Brightside” Will Never Die and Here’s Why.
It’s a 2:35 minute story and worth a listen.

Hello from the future!  It’s mid-September, 2017 where I am.  The person I was in June doesn’t know this, but at some point in July or August, I’m going to discover Mr. Money Mustache (more on that later) realize I have a debt emergency (more on that later) and stop buying stuff.  So!  As of some point in the future, I will not be purchasing songs until I have emerged from my debt emergency.  But I am writing this June post from the future.  What should I do about purchasing the song of the month, which was one of the original points of Song of the Month?

Instead!  I will begin a YouTube playlist featuring all the songs of the month.  Here’s a link, though at this second, there are only two songs on it.  I’ll go back and add more when I have a little more time.

Further update! I will figure out how to share the playlist later and then post the link. There is not an obvious method that I can see.

Three sentence movie reviews: Gas Food Lodging

A re-watch (last seen: sometime in the early 90s) and a disappointing one.  It didn’t hold together at all, plot-wise and Ione Skye was grating as the pretty, bratty girl who didn’t want to live in the small town.  Fairuza Balk’s performance was more nuanced, but it was not enough to save this movie.

Cost: free from library
Where watched: at home

poster from:
(I chose this poster because the DVD cover has Skye and Balk in hair and makeup that was not present during the movie.)

Three sentence movie reviews: Girls Season 5


As the cover of the DVD indicates, the girls are starting to get with it.  There were some great moments this season*, and it’s fun to see the various hot messes start to figure things out.  As always, these are people I would never want to hang out with in real life, but I enjoy watching their stories.

Cost: free from library
Where watched: at home

*Here’s a list:  Marnie & Charlie reunited (Panic in Central Park); Adam and Jessa’s developing relationship; the really awesome interactive play where Hannah figures out the Adam & Jessa thing; anything with Shoshannah in Japan. Hannah’s dramatic, fleeing breakup with Fran;  Hannah & Ray in the coffee truck;  Hannah’s hitchiking back into the city, especially if you watch the full cut on the DVD (Homeward Bound);  Hannah running into her frenemy (Love Stories).  Adam & Jessa’s breathtaking fight (I love you baby).

poster from: