Keep on Reading

Last year I was surprised that I managed to read 40 books. It was a mix of fiction, non-fiction and a few marketing books thrown in. That felt like a lot of books. I just read my 40th book of this year, and we’re not even halfway through the year. That means that I can possibly double my consumption of books.

How have I managed this? I spend my free time reading. Not watching tv. Not scrolling mindlessly on my phone. Not doing yardwork. But reading. I always have a stack of books from the library. And I usually have a book with me when I go anywhere, so I can sit and read a few pages while waiting for something else to happen.

Pockets of Smell

Scent is something that exists when molecules spread out in the air. Based on the concentration, they only seem to travel so far. This creates pockets of smell where the concentration is strong enough to have an impact. Flowers seem to have a radius of smell around them. Stronger smells have a bigger smell. Think about how you encounter a skunk smell. Or better yet, frying bacon.

What to Pack

If you are not a prepper – someone who is preparing for the end of civilization – then it is unlikely that you have a “go bag” already packed. For the rest of us, we sometimes think about what we would grab in a natural disaster. It is usually pictures or other things of sentimental value.

I wonder what you grab as the world slides into dystopia. What are the things that will disappear or be banned in a future society that are worth preserving?

Sugary Breakfast

Sweet breakfast cereals are nothing new. I remember having Lucky Charms as a kid and only eating the marshmallows. Who wanted that oat cereal that floated between the pink hearts and yellow stars anyway? But it has gotten much worse.

In addition to the usual suspects of sugary cereals – and their extensions like Chocolate Frosted Flakes – licensed brands have come to the cereal aisle. The whole line of Nabisco classics like Oreos, Chips Ahoy and Nutter Butters are all available for breakfast. Hostess mini donuts – already kind of a breakfast – are now in cereal form. And the worst of all, Peeps cereal. It is a marshmallow flavored cereal. With marshmallows!

An American Summer Summary

Rather than focus on a handful of people, as is common in this type of book, Alex Kotlowitz puts an emotional face on the statistics of urban violence by telling many stories of those committing and charged with crimes, the victims of violence, and the families of both in Southside Chicago. An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago is anchored in the summer of 2013, but a snapshot of time cannot truly exist without context. This forces the highly-reported vignettes to unspool both backwards and forwards in time. This collection of stories is connected at edges–sometimes only through the author’s interaction–but it ultimately points not at the violence, but at the economic and societal forces as the cause for the deterioration of this Chicago community.