Monday, June 27, 2005


Holidays would be incomplete and unsatisfying if we couldn't find a good book store.

I read Lance Armstrong's book It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life. The descriptions of the Tour de France were very interesting. Winning 6 of these races can't be a fluke, and we read of his almost fanatical dedication to the sport. The descriptions of the races are fascinating. We think of a bike race as an individual effort; it is a team effort with a group working together so that one person can claim victory. Reading his story puts many of the obstacles and discomforts of my life in perspective.

I'm fascinated by military history, and enjoyed Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs : The Unknown Story of the Men and Women of World War II's OSS. The book is from the american perspective, interviewing surviving members of that service. The war had an enormous impact in so many ways. The nastiness of insurgency and special operation warfare, with small groups taking advantage of local partisan movements, the shifting allegiances, makes for a fascinating read. Many times the stories revolve around civilians either protecting and hiding, or finding and reporting the operatives. I and many of my generation have never experienced war. It is good to read of the damage done to societies when faced with conflict, and how there is no possible way to stay innocent if involved.

I finally finished Uncle Tungsten, Oliver Sacks' autobiography. For some reason I read about half, then put it down. Reading about the structure of the atom, of electrons, radioactivity and his fascination when exploring these things as a young boy reminds me of when I learned these things. My high school chemistry teacher had the ability to instill wonder when describing the structure of the atom. Sometimes when we learn things the result is not understanding but a flood of questions and possibilities.

I was pondering the times in my life when I had that feeling of setting out on a journey of discovery. In the late 80's I was interested in computers, read computer magazines but wasn't in the position to purchase one. A friend had an Apple IIe that he lent to me. I had some weird infection, so I was home for a week or two. Between sleeping off the fever, I worked through a book on Pascal. The sense of possibilities, the intellectual challenge, the joy of accomplishment. Since then I've always had a programming project on the go. When my friends were learning the intricacies of the drawing and graphic programs, I was exploring assembly language.

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