Friday, May 22, 2020

Weekend Links 5-22-20

I hope that wherever you are you will be enjoying a safe Memorial Day weekend. Take some time this weekend to give thanks to the men and women who have made sacrifices for our freedom. In the meantime, here are some fun links for your weekend enjoyment.

This was fascinating: the song history of Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" It's certainly one of the more unusual songs in the history of rock and roll.

The Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye, Wales is one of the largest literary festivals in the world. This year due to the ongoing pandemic the entire festival is being hosted online. Here are all the details on how you can enjoy the festival.

Feeling burned out? One way to combat it is to learn the art of saying no.

Grab your passport and discover how to travel like an Agatha Christie character.

Volkswagen may be best known for their cars but they actually sell more sausages than vehicles.

Thirty years ago, Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson gave a commencement speech believed by many to be one of the best of all time.

For the uninitiated, analytics (sometimes referred to sabermetrics) can be intimidating for baseball fans to understand. In this podcast, writer Anthony Castrovince discusses his new book on understanding these newfangled stats. 

Speaking of baseball, we're getting our fix by watching Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) games on ESPN. They are currently playing without fans in the stands. But there is one man who manages to get into games. 

I can totally relate to the sentiment in this article. Bookstagram is the sole reason that I stay involved on Instagram at all.

Finally, something fun to try: antidepressants or Tolkien. Can you correctly identify which are the names of antidepressants versus Tolkien characters. All I can say is I did reasonably well given the fact that I've never read a Tolkien novel.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Weekend Links 5-15-20

Congratulations on making it through another week. I'm starting to think as states begin to open up that we are headed into a phase where things we once thought were odd (such as wearing masks out in public) will become part of the new "normal". It will be interesting to see how much things change from the way things use to be prior to the pandemic. In the meantime here are a few non-coronavirus related links for your weekend reading enjoyment.

It's no secret that Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been a huge hit for Nintendo especially since folks have been confined at home. I know in our household we have been spending a lot of time developing our own island. A peek behind the scenes at how this game is uniting people.

This is neat: an online school for junior archaeologists.

Recommendations for other authors like Agatha Christie. This is a very interesting list. I can only vouch for is Anthony Horowitz. I was glad to see him make this list.

Speaking of Christie, she is regarded as one of the queens of crime fiction. There are plenty of reasons why these authors remain popular today.

Long read of the week: The Day the Live Concert Returns. I do wonder what concerts are going to be like post-pandemic.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Negro Baseball Leagues. 35 players from the Negro Leagues have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame thanks in large part to Ted Williams' Hall of Fame induction speech in 1966. 

This is definitely an unusual hobby: a couple that collects novelty Jim Beam decanters. The wonderful irony is that they are teetotalers.

Another long read but definitely worth the time: why are we so susceptible to falling for conspiracy theories? 

Ranking the most iconic detective sidekicks. It's quite a list.

Decision fatigue is a real thing. Especially if you are a parent.

Friday, May 08, 2020

Weekend Links 5-8-20

Happy Friday! Hope you have had a safe week this week. Also wishing all mothers a happy Mother's Day this weekend. Here are a few links of interest for your weekend reading. Sorry the post is so brief. Good stories have been hard to find.

It's tempting to think that the legal thriller genre is a fairly new subgenre of crime fiction. The truth is that it's been around for a long time. 

This one is for baseball fans: the curious origins of the dropped third strike rule. 

Speaking of baseball rules, here are ten baseball rules that you probably didn't even know existed. Some of these are pretty odd.

While we wait here in the United States for Major League Baseball to return we can at least get our baseball fix by watching Korean baseball and that's a good thing. I can attest that it's been fun to watch the KBO on television. 

Nancy Wake may not be a household name but she was the most decorated heroine of World War II. Her story is a fascinating one.

Here are seven libraries you can tour from the comfort of your sofa.

Finding space for art in dark times - an essay on the creation of Captain America.

Friday, May 01, 2020

Weekend Links 5-1-20

Hard to believe we have already reached the first of May. This year certainly has flown by. Here are a few things of interest I found this week.

What do Alfred Hitchcock and Quentin Tarantino have in common? For one thing, they could have both directed James Bond films. Here's the story of films from the long-running franchise that didn't get made.  If you're new to the franchise and not sure where to begin these seven films are a good place to start.

The story of the enduring appeal of Scooby-Doo. We just introduced this series to our daughters not long ago and they immediately became fans.

Kansas City is famous for its barbecue. Now it has a vending machine to provide your late night barbecue fix. 

The Ironbridge Bookshop is one my favorite book stores. Even though I have never visited I have spoken to the owner, Meg Prince, a number of times. She's helped me expand my Penguin collection which you can see on my Instagram feed. Meg's story is an interesting one as she became a bookseller as a teenager and has been working hard to make her shop a success. She's also a delight to work with.

While we are in the midst of the coronavirus crisis it may seem like all the answers are obvious. The truth is that they aren't. .That pretty much applies anytime we are in the fog of a crisis.

Aficionados of yard sales will tell you the fun is in the unexpected things that you will find while shopping. It's safe to say that these shoppers had no idea they would find these items while perusing yard sales. 

Fake news is a commonly used term these days. However, the idea of reporters sometimes fabricating stories is not new. Here's the true tale of one false newspaper report that nearly derailed one of the most infamous murder cases in American history. 

Steve Dalkowski, who passed away last week, was known in baseball circles as the hardest thrower to ever pitch. He was even the inspiration for Nuke Laloosh in Bull Durham. Despite the fact he never pitched in the major leagues (he blew out his pitching arm while in the minor leagues) he was still known by many to be a pitcher like no other. The problem is the lack of documentary evidence besides those who actually saw him pitch. But if you listen to the eyewitnesses it's hard to dispute that he truly was the fastest pitcher ever. 

Friday, April 24, 2020

Weekend Links 4-24-20

Back again with another roundup of interesting links. Unfortunately not as many items of interest as I would like. It's either because there isn't much of interest out there or that I am not spending as much time on line as I used to searching for stuff. It's probably more the latter as I continue to try to consciously avoid reading the news because it's depressing.

There's no doubt the coronavirus pandemic will be disruptive to many business sectors. I didn't realize that so many processes in the grocery industry were so manual until I ran across this article. I will say that I had first heard of and used Instacart several months ago as a way to save time. But I didn't realize what an essential part of life it would become.

The origins of baseball are a bit fuzzy and certainly debatable. For the record, Abner Doubleday definitely did not invent the game. However, it is clear that its popularity grew out of a need for exercise in light of pandemics in the late 19th century. By the way, this looks like it will be a fascinating book.

This week marked the 70th anniversary of Vin Scully's debut as the voice of the Dodgers. Here's a look back at the beginnings of his storied career.

An appreciation of Simon and Garfunkel. I used to listen to them a lot and need to go back and revisit their music.

A history of the iconic McDonalds Happy Meal. It's far more controversial than you might think.

Recommended historical non-fiction to read during the quarantine. I have only read the last two books on the list and thoroughly enjoyed both. Also, Erik Larson is one of my favorite authors. I've been looking forward to reading his latest book too.

Add Ikea to the list of companies that is publishing its popular recipes. Now if we could get the recipe for their cinnamon rolls....

Have a great weekend.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Weekend Links 4-17-20

Congratulations on making it through another week. Here is a collection of items for your weekend enjoyment.

During Prohibition, breweries had to engage in other businesses in order to survive. For example, Pabst made cheese.

This seems somewhat ill-advised but I can see how current circumstances provide a unique opportunity. A Cannonball team set a new cross-country record. This story naturally makes me think of The Cannonball Run although I have always thought The Gumball Rally was the better film. This guide to the New York locations from The Gumball Rally is a lot of fun.

Folks are doing a lot more cooking these days and some places are sharing their recipes. For example, Disney has shared the recipe for their iconic Dole Whip treat sold in the theme parks. Meanwhile, Doubletree by Hilton has shared the recipe for their signature chocolate chip cookies. 

Last weekend marked the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 13 moon mission. How NASA turned what could have been its greatest failure into a triumph.

In every baseball box score you will see runs/hits/errors. Why those statistics used to define the game but don't any longer. 

I really miss baseball. I agree with this columnist's thoughts. 

Video of the week: why are ballparks all different dimensions? The answer might surprise you.

These are tough times for independent booksellers. However, thanks to Bookshop there is a way for them to sell their merchandise on line.

Some recommendations of classic detective novels to read while quarantined. Quite a few of my favorites made this list.

Lots of folks are baking while quarantined but are having trouble finding yeast. Here are a collection of yeast free recipes to try. Beer Bread has been a staple in our household for years. Also, here's an easy recipe to make your own bagels with just a few ingredients. My oldest daughter made these the other day and they were terrific.

What I am listening to: my current favorite podcast is the Shedunnit Show. Author Caroline Crampton discusses classic crime fiction as well as some of the real cases that inspired golden age fiction.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Weekend Links 4-10-20

Unfortunately this week's links are not as bountiful as previous weeks. I blame the pandemic dominating the news. Hope you enjoy this brief selection of links.

This is probably the most intriguing headline of the week: Do We Want to Go Back to Normal? Lots of interesting things to think about here and whether we want things to go back to the way they were before the pandemic started. I don't think there is any doubt that things will change dramatically in the coming months. Exactly what will change and to what extent remains to be seen.

Audible is making a number of audiobooks available for free right now.

Strange, but true: Ludwig Bemelmans, beloved author of Madeline, once shot a man. 

In 1995, Major League Baseball was recovering from a work stoppage that caused the cancellation of the World Series the previous year. Fortunately they had Cal Ripken, Jr. who helped saved the sport.

The Washington Nationals won their first World Series last year. They came a long way from that inaugural season in the nation's capital.

Leave it Dave Barry to give us something to laugh about during these trying times.

Finally, this made me chuckle especially since I am spending a lot of my free time playing Animal Crossing:

Friday, April 03, 2020

Weekend Links 4-3-20

Happy Friday! Hopefully you are staying safe and hunkered down at home. Here's your assortment of links of interest for your weekend reading.

You can virtually ride Disneyland and Disney World rides from the comfort of your own couch.

If you are like me and thought that word games began with the invention of the crossword you would be wrong. 

Due to the national shortage of hand sanitizer, many craft distilleries like this one in Massachusetts are stepping up production to help out.

Fashion inspiration from Ken Burns' Baseball. Incidentally, the series is free to stream from PBS right now.

How and why crime books (especially Penguins) embraced the color green.

These are tough times for bookstores but they can be saved. 

I couldn't agree more: Animal Crossing is the perfect way to spend quarantine. Full disclosure: our entire family of four has been playing since the day the game released. We may or may not have bought our Switch solely to be able to play the game.

The true story of Thomas "Toad" Ramsey (yes, that really was his nickname) who invented both a cocktail and the knuckleball. 

This is what happens when you are home with your kids with too much time on your hands.

This is fantastic.

Podcast of the week: Faithwire - Love in the time of Coronavirus. This is a very insightful podcast with Andy Crouch and Sarah Pulliam Bailey. A very interesting discussion about how things will change as a result of the pandemnic. Also helpful is this article which is referenced in the podcast that takes the view that this is only the beginning of a host of changes we are facing as a culture and that organizations would be well served to face the fact that changes are coming.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Weekend Links 3-27-20

It's been a struggle finding articles of interest that are not related to coronavirus. Some of this week's selections are somewhat related to the pandemic while others are not. Hopefully they will be of sufficient distraction.

Last week I mentioned that Capitol Hill Books in Washington, DC was allowing customers to browse through the store by themselves. Now they are going one better by sending mystery packages to customers. 

The pandemic has been hard on independent booksellers. Here are some great ways to show them some love during these difficult times.

What is it like to be an independent bookseller in a remote part of the country? Check out this article: Bookselling at the End of the World.

You can't get out of the house and the libaries are closed anyway. Not to worry you can still borrow books online. 

Stuck at home? Get caught up on some classic mysteries. If you prefer to stream your mysteries, check out this list of classic cozy British mysteries.

It's also a good time to join an online book club. Here's the information on the P. G. Wodehouse Book Club. We'll be discussing The Inimitable Jeeves this week.

You can now virtually explore the Smithsonian Institution museums. 

Did a letter from a boy with  toy bullet enclosed lead to a famous publicity photo by Don Knotts in his Barney Fife uniform? You decide.

This is neat: an architect repurposed an old baseball stadium into apartments.

If you are missing baseball (like me) you can always check out the MLB Vault on YouTube. 

Yesterday was supposed to Opening Day for the 2020 baseball season. Thomas Boswell has some thoughts on missing Opening Day as well as other sports. 

There's no doubt in my mind that Vin Scully is the voice of hope and optimism that we need. (audio embedded in the article)

If you've seen The Natural you are familiar with the scene where Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) knocks the cover off a baseball. But what do the rules say about when that actually happens? It has and the answer might just surprise you. 

Podcasts of the week: with so many people now working from home for the first time I thought these two podcasts would be particularly helpful. In the latest episode of Focus on This tips are shared on how to be more productive at home. The latest episode of Lead to Win addresses the challenges of working from home while balancing family responsibilities.

Tweet(s) of the week: take time to read this whole thread. I love that this guy felt compelled to get answers to his questions.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Weekend Links 3-20-20

This week was a strange one to say the least. I really had hoped to avoid any mentions of coronavirus but its effects are so far reaching that it's been hard to escape from it. Practically every aspect of our lives is now touched by it and that doesn't appear to be changing any time soon. I hope every one heeds the cautions being given and stays safe. In the meantime, here are a few articles of interest.

I saw this sentence on Twitter and was drawn to the article.

It was no small thing to evaluate the holdings of a seasoned dealer, a generation older than me, and pronounce his material fake.
As they say, read the whole thing. And yes, it's yet another book to go on my To Be Read list.

A strange history of one of the crime wages of the early 20th century: the poisoned pen letter.

Answering the important questions: What makes a breakfast "continental"?

Stuck at home? How about visiting a museum online. 

When exactly did we start calling baseball the national pastime? John Thorn is on the case. 

Since there is no baseball for the forseeable future, here is a list of recommended baseball books and movies to help pass the time. 

This is a booklover's dream: Capitol Hill Books in Washington, DC is allowing customers to have the whole store to themselves for an hour at a time. 

Tweet of the week #1:
Sounds like a good plan to me.

Meet the man who is a pull-tab connoisseur. Seriously.

This is a good way to pass the time: BBC Radio's adaptation of Mrs. McGinty's Dead by Agatha Christie. 

How a mystery writer and book collector created the biblio-mystery genre.

Tweet of the week #2:

This looks like it's going to be fun:
I look for virtual book clubs to become a bigger thing in the coming weeks.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Weekend Links 3-13-20

Doing my best to find entertaining weekend reading to help you take your mind off pressing concerns. Forgive the brevity of this week's post. Interesting stories were harder to come by for some reason. Could be because certain topics are dominating the news these days.

The pictures tell the story: a beautiful bookstore filled with optical illusions.

Talk about finding a bargain: original Salvador Dali artwork found in an Outer Banks thrift store. 

Miles Wolff, the man who led the resurgence of Minor League Baseball in the 1980s, is calling it a career. 

Speaking of baseball, it might surprise you to know that all Major League Baseballs are stitched together by hand. Given the controversy in recent years over the construction of the baseball it's reasonable to assume that MLB would want a uniform baseball. Here's why that's not going to happen. 

Double Indemnity is without a doubt one of the best movies to come out the noir era in Hollywood. The story is fairly straightforward: an insurance salesman (played by Fred MacMurray) falls for a femme fatale (Barbara Stanwyck) and engages in an illicit affair. She convinces him to help her murder her husband so she can collect the insurance money. But not only is this film about a crime gone wrong it's ultimately a story of redemption.

James M. Cain's novel Double Indemnity, which was the basis of the film, made a list of perfect murders in literature assembled by Peter Swanson as part of his new novel. And yes, this book immediately went on my To Be Read list.

Ever wonder why books come out in hardback before paperback?

I've never read any Dean Koonz novels but I am far more likely to after reading this interview. It's intriguing to me to hear about his writing process, the publishing industry, and why he doesn't spend any time online (among other subjects).

Friday, March 06, 2020

Weekend Links 3-6-20

Happy Friday! Here's an assortment of links for your weekend reading.....

Erik Larson is one of my favorite authors. Any time he has a new book I am reading it. His latest is on life in London during the Blitz. Here he answers a few questions about the book.

Rabbit hole alert: the Smithsonian Institution is digitizing images in its collection and has already made 2.8 million images available in the public domain.

Nine things you didn't know about the semicolon. 

Ikea hacks are a popular DIY. But did you know that Ikea has its own official hacks site?

It's okay to have an inbox full of emails. Here are some tips on managing your email. 

Long read of the week: the story of the Hollywood con queen. 

Punditry abounds on the internet. How do you evaluate pundits online?

I don't follow hockey and didn't know there was such a thing as an Emergency Backup Goaltender. But the story of David Ayres being pressed into service is in and of itself fascinating. But even more interesting is the lessons we can draw from Ayres' experience. 

Here's one for baseball fans: how a terrible college team invented the shift. 

Another enjoyable long read (and yes, this is the headline): That Time Obama Pardoned The Guy Who Stole Charlie Sheen's Honus Wagner Card. It's well worth your time.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Weekend Links 2-28-20

Scouring the internet for the most interesting articles for your weekend reading.....

A detailed look at the cars that will appear in the upcoming James Bond film No Time To Die. Probably what's more interesting is the history of Aston Martin's relationship with Eon Productions. I am surprised it does not involve any long term contracts.

Here's a review of Billie Eilish's theme song for No Time To Die (link to the song in the article). I've had a chance to listen to it a couple of times and have a feeling it's going to extend the Bond film Original Song Oscars streak next year. The song has already hit #1 in the UK. 

On my bucket list: a visit to Louis Armstrong's home in Queens. I am amazed that it has been preserved and turned into a museum.

When fiction imitates truth: famous noirs and crime novels based on real-life crimes.

There are no doubt many reasons why Crash Landing on You has been such a hit among Korean drama fans. Perhaps one reason is that they had an actual North Korean defector on the writing staff.

Ever wonder why daylight savings time starts at 2 a.m.? 

In 1778, future president John Adams was appointed ambassador to France. He barely survived his transatlantic voyage. The story is not well known but Adams documented it in his own memoirs.

This is fun: I went to Hogwart's for 7 years and now I can't get a job.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice: the U.S. Hockey team's upset win over the USSR in the Winter Olympics. Al Michaels who was on the microphone for the game reveals he got the assignment because of his experience calling hockey: exactly one game. Here's his iconic call:
Related: The men who missed out on the Miracle on Ice and how Hollywood got their story wrong.

The day the Atlanta Braves signed Satchel Paige to a contract so he would qualify for an MLB pension.

Elizabethan poet laureate Ben Jonson was a murderer. What's more remarkable is how he escaped punishment.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Weekend Links 2-21-20

It's quite the plethora of links for this weekend's reading:

In 1920, a group of men gathered at a YMCA in Kansas City to attempt to organize a professional league of black baseball players since they were not welcome in the Major Leagues. Here is a terrific profile of the man who was the driving force behind this league: Rube Foster.

This is a fascinating article about a baseball player you've likely never heard of and one man's mission to make his legacy known. Find out more about John Donaldson who is one of the greatest pitchers of all time.

Whenever Joe Carter publishes an article I pay attention. In his latest he helps you know whether you've made an idol out of politics. I think that we are often much more guilty of this than we would like to admit.

I could easily fall down this internet worm hole: old book illustrations from the 19th and early 20th century. 

Speaking of worm holes, another great site to explore is Atlas Obscura  Here are a couple of fun entries I found this week. First, the owner of New York's oldest phone number. If you know anything about music you should be able to figure out the answer before clicking the link

I've enjoyed a number of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novels. So when I discovered this existed I was particularly excited: a plaque that marks the likely location of Nero Wolfe's New York brownstone. 

This is an example of something I've always known but never known the reason why: Why actors won't say Macbeth in the theater. 

Eyewitness to history: meet the man who worked behind the counter at Woolworth's during the 1960 sit-in in Greensboro, NC.

My favorite Agatha Christie novel And There There Were None is getting a new screen adaptation. As good as the novel is the film adaptations have not been all that great. The best adaptation I have seen is the 2015 BBC version. I am curious to see how they handle the novel in this new film.

The greatest mysteries of life are revealed through ordinary circumstances at least according to G. K. Chesterson's Father Brown. 

Long read of the week: Baseball, Fiction, and Life: Roger Angell's Era-Spanning Career at The New Yorker, The amazing thing is that he is still going strong at ninety-nine.

Answering the important questions: Is coffee good for you? 

Having seen and enjoyed this year's Best Picture Oscar winner I found this article extremely interesting: The real star of Parasite is the house.

Movie magic: thanks to a cameo in Parasite this snack company's sales have taken off.

Finally, this seems appropriate given that tomorrow marks the first spring training games of the baseball season:

Friday, February 14, 2020

Weekend Links 2-14-20

Happy Valentine's Day! Hope you have a wonderful weekend planned with your special someone. Here's a roundup of this week's interesting links:

Advances in technology have been bad for work life balance. Turns out the laptop is the culprit.

The pictures tell the story: Architect spends 45 years converting a cement factory into a fairy tale home.

I endorse this list: 10 movies that will make any child into a lover of classic suspense.

Here are some neat ways to unlock the power of Alexa.. Plus a list of the best Alexa Easter Eggs.

Sadly legalism is alive and well.

Long read of the week: How Ian Fleming was the darling of critics until he wasn't. For what it's worth I have read all of Fleming's James Bond novels and thoroughly enjoyed them.

Last week astronaut Christina Koch set a record for a woman in space. But what she learned during the mission is more interesting.

The remarkable true story of  Dutch sisters that were a key part of the Resistance during World War II. 

Friday, February 07, 2020

Weekend Links 2-7-20

Apologies in advance for the length of this post. This was one of those weeks where interesting stories continued to materialize. At least you'll have plenty to read this weekend.

Are the works of Dorothy L. Sayers worth literary study? Related: No Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition, or Mumbo Jumbo: Dorothy L. Sayers and the Detection Club.

Ever wonder why some flights are canceled due to weather and others aren't? Well, wonder no more. 

Yes, you can accomplish more if you do less. Take these lessons and learn how to delegate like a top executive.

This seems appropriate given the fact the Academy Awards will be announced this weekend: The search for the stolen Oscars. 

Speaking of the Oscars, here's a fascinating list of classic film stars who never won an Oscar. A couple of them were nominated a number of times.

This is fun: your favorite childhood cartoon characters in today's workforce.

Long read of the week: How Do You Say "Quidditch" in Yiddish? It's fascinating stuff.

How an unresolved argument between two friends led to the invention of paintball.

The story of one of the deadliest maritime disasters you've likely never heard about. I wasn't aware of this story until I read this article.

Yes, this book went on to my to be read list: My uncle, the librarian-spy.

Both Willow Creek and Harvest Bible Church have been in the news in recent weeks because of abuse and misconduct by the leaders of both churches. Unfortunately, such situations are far more common that you might think. It's time to discuss this openly and the hurt that it causes. 

In December 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days setting of a nationwide search. The facts surrounding why she dropped out sight remain a mystery that still intrigues many to this day. 

This article is guaranteed to get you thinking about how you think. 

This article wins the award for best headline of the week. It's Official: Open-Plan Offices Are Now the Dumbest Management Fad of All Time. 

In a previous post, I mentioned that we watch a lot of Korean dramas at our house. This article lists several reasons why Korean television is better than American television. I can't vouch for all the shows on his list as I have only seen a couple of them but his points about Korean drama are pretty spot on.

It's best if you turn off the notifications on your phone.

This is long overdue: you can now turn off autoplay previews on Netflix. 

This is a fascinating profile of a company that hires employees that have criminal records. But that's just the beginning of the story.

The remarkable sketchbooks of a World War II infantryman. These are amazing.

How our reading patterns have changed over time.  Safe to say this book went on my to be read list partly because I am a sucker for books about books.

This is interesting to try: go to this page and find your birth year and you can discover what was the number one song when you were born. 

Finally, there is no question that Mike Trout is one of best players in Major League Baseball. He also seems to be a really nice guy.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Opportunity Cost

I would venture to guess that most of us have too many commitments. By that I mean that we are involved in too many good things to the point that we don't have enough opportunity to focus on things that are the most important in our lives. It's an easy trap to fall into and one that can be difficult to climb out of. Here's a simple exercise that can help you eliminate the less great uses of your time. Write down each of your commitments on a Post-it Note. Stick the notes up somewhere where you can see them all. Then examine each commitment and decide whether it is truly the best use of your time. My guess is that you will end up eliminating a number of things that you are doing right now. Those things might truly be good things but not necessarily the best use of your time. It's hard to say no particularly when there can be a wealth of good opportunities available to you. But by being willing to say no to good things you open yourself up to having the opportunity to pursuing great things. Recommended related reading: Essentialism - The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Gregory McKeown.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Weekend Links 1-31-20

Each Friday I feature links to articles of interest that I have found. Here is this week's edition for your weekend reading enjoyment.

The weekend is coming up which means it's more than likely you will have brunch at some point over the next couple of days. Have you ever thought about the origin of the term brunch? This article will help. 

So you want to read more books? Here are some ways to make that happen. Some of these suggestions to similar to ones that I offered in a recent post. Related: How to read 100 books in a year.

Here's a potential money saving tip: a new browser extension will let you know when new books are ready for checkout at your local library. 

Prohibition seems like ancient history. Did you ever stop to think why there is no anti-alcohol movement? 

I wouldn't want to discourage anyone from writing but it's likely you don't have a book in you.

Our family watches a number of Korean dramas so naturally we were interested in seeing the movie Parasite while it was still in the theater. It's an extremely well made film and hopefully will win a number of Oscars. While it is not necessarily an entertaining film it is certainly thought provoking. We have been discussing it off and on for days after seeing it. This review explains why the film resonates so deeply with the audience. Related: a profile of the film's director Bong Joon Ho. Also don't miss this: The Oscars need Parasite more than Parasite needs the Oscars.

This is certainly the funniest thing I read this week. I think it's because it is so spot on: Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village.

Personality tests such as the Enneagram are all the rage these days but they don't excuse your sin. 

New research suggests procrastination is about managing your emotions not your time. Interesting stuff.

Another new study suggests skipping the easy tasks and tackling the hard stuff first. I've always heard the opposite is true that it's better to tackle easy tasks first to build momentum to handle the harder tasks. I think I will have to put this into practice to see if it works.

I appreciate the honesty in this column: things I wish I had done differently when I homeschooled. (Hat tip Susan Wise Bauer) Both of these perspectives highlight one of the unique joys of homeschooling: there is no right or wrong way to do it. You can tailor your homeschooling experience to you and your child's needs.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. At the time many pledged a catastrophe such as the Holocaust would never happen again. Sadly, political conditions are such that many worry that it will.

Sunday the Super Bowl will be played in Miami. Dave Barry has some helpful tips for fans visiting Miami for the game. 

And finally, my favorite tweet of the week:

Full disclosure: @designingannie is my oldest daughter. As you can imagine, I am a very proud father.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Lessons in Leadership

David Ross takes over as manager of the Chicago Cubs this season continuing a recent trend in Major League Baseball to hire managers with no prior managerial experience. Ross is making the most of this off season by preparing for his new job. In truth, though, he has been preparing for this job for quite some time.

As this article points out, Ross has been meeting with other successful managers and coaches. As I read this article, two important lessons stood out:

David Ross is a man who knows what he doesn't know. A common trap among leaders is to believe that either have all the answers or need to have all the answers. Ross has clearly been spending time this off season taking inventory of what he knows and in what areas his knowledge is lacking. This healthy sense of self-awareness will pay off in the long run.

David Ross is a man who is willing to seek out help from others. Another common trap among leaders is an unwillingness to seek out advice from other leaders. But Ross exemplifies one of the healthy quality of leaders in that he is continually learning. As part of that process he is intentionally seeking out advice from other successful leaders. That reputation also leads to successful leaders seeking him out too and being more willing to share their knowledge with him.

As a Cubs fan, I am excited about the possibilities that this season and beyond hold for the team. But I am even more excited to see how David Ross develops as a leader not just for his team but as an example for other leaders as well.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Weekend Links 1-24-20

A plethora of links for your weekend reading:

Meet the stewards of the James Bond film franchise: Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. With Daniel Craig due to retire from the role following No Time To Die this spring, the producers will be looking for a new actor to take on the role. My suggestion would be to hire Anthony Horowitz to adapt his own Bond novel for the next film. It's an origin story of sorts and would work well as a screenplay especially since they will have to cast a new Bond anyway. Related: Daniel Craig pokes a little fun at his cinematic alter ego:

DeWolf Hopper made a name for himself on the vaudeville stage with his dramatic recitations of Ernest Thayer's poem Casey At The Bat. But it turns out that Hopper was quite the baseball fan.

Sometimes a seemingly small decision can pay big dividends: how a single mail order ad transformed a family owned business into a billion dollar enterprise.

Strange but true: Sesame Street was once banned in Mississippi.

A fascinating deep dive into the world of ghostwriting. It's a problem for readers when they don't know if the person whose name is on the cover is actually the one who wrote the book. It's a bigger problem than you might imagine.

Last year for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, the NASA History office tweeted out the mission in real time. This year for the 40th anniversary of Apollo 13 they are going to have the mission audio available in real time on their website.

Trivia buffs rejoice! Some fans have created the Jeopardy! question database featuring almost every answer (and question) contained in the last 36 seasons of the show.

Dr. Howard Conyers is on a mission to preserve the tradition of the whole hog barbecue. He also happens to be a rocket scientist.

Before there was Photoshop, the Soviets had mastered the method for removing people from photographs.

At one ski resort in Sweden after a day on the slopes you can ski right into McDonalds for a quick bite.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

How to Read More Books

It's always a challenge to read more books. Even though you might realize there are plenty of benefits to reading regularly it can be difficult to develop a habit of reading. Here are a list of tips (in no particular order) that can help you develop a habit of reading:

Make time to read. In this age of Netflix, smartphones, and other similar digital enteratinment it has become easier to entertain ourselves by things other than books. One of the first steps to developing a habit of reading is to make time for it. For example, as part of my daily routine I have time set aside for reading before I start my work day. I spend a few minutes reading the Bible and then a few minutes reading part of a book. The books either coincide with my devotions or may be connected to my work. Either way, I am setting aside time before I get immersed in my job to make time for reading. Apart from the benefits I gain from what I am reading it also helps put me in a peaceful frame of mind before the chaos of the work day unfolds.

When I travel, I always carry books with me. If my travel involves flights I use all of my down time both in the aiports and on planes as opportunities to read.

There are other options too. If you are waiting at a doctor's appointment that's another time to read. If you have a commute on a train it's another chance to read. Or if you have a long commute to work you can listen to audiobooks.

Set goals. This may seem a little counter intuitive especially for someone who recently stated they aren't setting numeric goals but just hear me out.  In the beginning when you are getting into the habit of reading more books a numeric goal is not such a bad idea. However, I encourage you to go beyond simple numeric goals into other types of broader goals. For example, this year in addition to my numeric goal that I set on my Goodreads account, I am going to try to be intentional in some of my other reading goals. Some examples of these types of goals include:

  • Reading an author you've never read before
  • Reading literary fiction (a.k.a. classics)
  • Books from a specific genre (for me it is self-improvement books that dovetail into my work life
  • Reading from a genre you wouldn't normally select (for me it will be science fiction)

These are but a few examples but the possibilities are endless if you think in terms other than just numeric goals.

Decide what you like or are interested in. There are books on literally every subject so it shouldn't be hard to find something that is of interest. In addition, the internet makes researching potential books to read very easy.

Start small. If you are just getting started on a reading habit it's probably counter productive to pick up a book the length of War and Peace. Instead start with something shorter that won't take such a huge time commitment to finish. You will find once you have a book or two under your belt it's much easier to keep going.

Don't be afraid to give up on a book you don't enjoy. Life is to short to be spent on books you don't enjoy. There is nothing wrong with deciding that a book is not enjoyable to you. If after forty or fifty pages you aren't enthralled with the book you should consider whether you should abandon it and move on to another. This is one of the most freeing things I have come to understand about reading. I've given up on a number of books that I didn't enjoy. Some of those were even by authors whose other works I really liked. In the end it's better to give up on a book if it is not working for you and move on to something else.

Read more than one book at once. I used to think I could only focus on one book at a time. But as I came to understand that different things I am reading serve different purposes it has become easire to read multiple books simultaneously. Also, since I understand that different books serve different purposes and therefore are going to be read at different times in my day it has become easier to have more than one book I am reading at a time.

Sign up for Goodreads. Goodreads is the social media account for readers. But it is much more than that. It is the perfect place to track what you read. It's also a place for setting your numeric reading goals (if you have them). But perhaps its greatest strength is in its recommendations. The more books that you record that you have read there the better it becomes at recommending other books to you. It also has a handy place for you to make a list of books you want to read. There's also an extensive database of ratings and reviews that will help you make choices about what to read.

Buy books. This may seem somewhat obvious but in otder to develop a healthly reading habit it helps to have books on hand that you want to read. Books can be expensive so I recommend going to used books stores. When I travel I have several of my favorite stores that I visit where I know I can trade books I no longer want to keep for books that I want to read. I have a large stack of books waiting to be read so I don't have to be paralyzed by deciding what to read next. Alternatively if you are on a budget visiting your local library is a great free option. Also, librarians can help you find good books to read and can make recommendations based on your interests.

Don't be afraid to go digital. Personally, I prefer physical books for most of my reading. However, I have occasionally dabbled in audiobooks especially on long car trips. I also have the Amazon Kindle app on my phone and sometimes can get better deals on digital versions of books than physical ones. The key is to figure out what formats work best for you.

Get recommendations. Books are a great topic of conversation with friends and family Find out what they have enjoyed. That might lead to something that you want to read. Social media has also made it easier to get recommendations. For example, a couple of the podcasts I listen to periodically feature interviews with authors. Hearing an author talk about his or her book has often led me to want to read it. All of you have to do is be willing to ask. Readers enjoy talking to other readers about books.

My hope is that these tips will help you develop a habit of reading. It is one of the best things that you can do for yourself.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Weekend Links 1-17-2020

While you are waiting for me to get my act together and write some original stuff here are a few items of interest I ran across this week:

I am a traditionalist when it comes to the designated hitter rule in baseball. I am strongly opposed to it. If I were commissioner I would abolish it in an instant. However, I understand with the entrenchment of the DH in the American League it's only a matter of time before the National League adopts it. This proposal from Jayson Stark (subscription required) might be the best proposal yet:

Did you know the designated-hitter rule has been around in the American League for nearly 50 seasons now? So apparently, this isn’t going to be a short-term fad. In fact, it’s hard to find anyone in the game who doesn’t believe that one of these years — possibly as soon as 2022, once the new labor deal is done — every team will be writing a DH into its lineup. 
But wait! Here’s one possible wrinkle that has been kicked around in behind-the-scene brainstorming sessions: How about a rule that would allow teams to use their DH only as long as their starting pitcher remained in the game? Then, once the starting pitcher exited, that game would revert to old-school rules. The more we think about this idea, the more we like it. Starting pitchers would no longer hit, which would eliminate some teams’ injury paranoia. It would create incentives to keep starters in the game longer, which could lead to more offense. And it would preserve some elements of late-inning managerial strategy that fans of “NL rules” still love. 
 OK, so this part of the plan might never happen. But it’s at least worth having a long conversation about – even if it’s just a segment on “MLB Now.” 

There's lots more bold predictions about how baseball will change in next decade that are worth reading. Incidentally, I find The Athletic to be an outstanding source of sportswriting. It's well worth the cost of the subscription. 

Also at The Athletic, Molly Knight follows up on the sign stealing story from last weekend's post. Her solution is to abolish instant replay. (language warning) Emma Baccellieri adds her own thoughts. While I believe it's important to get calls right the whole system has done more harm than good.

I had no idea that Charles Schulz once worked as an art instructor. This is fun:

When No Time To Die premieres in April, it will mark Daniel Craig's last appearance as James Bond. Here are 10 things that his Bond did differently that the franchise should keep. Related: the recipe for James Bond's Vesper martini.

Solving life's important mysteries: why button down shirts have loops on the back.

An interesting observation:

If I had the money and the shelf space I would definitely buy this collector's edition of P. G. Wodehouse novels. The cover designs are fantastic. I managed to find The Code of the Woosters in this edition but haven't been able to locate any others yet. (Hat tip: Light On Dark Water)

On a related note, how seriously should we take Wodehouse? (Hat tip: Honoria Plum)

Taking control of your time will make you happier. 

This looks like fun: a supper club in a decommissioned London Tube carriage.

Finally, there is this:

Friday, January 10, 2020

Weekend Links 1-10-2020

Back when I was blogging on a semi-regular basis I ran a feature on Fridays of collection so stories that had caught my attention. As I ease back into a more regular writing schedule I thought it was an opportune time to revive this series. Here are a handful of items that caught my attention in recent weeks:

It's hard for me to believe that it has been 40 years since the Miracle on Ice. The U. S. Olympic Hockey team's victory over the Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Games was one of the most improbable victories in sport. Here is a terrific profile of the man who was behind the microphone for the game and coined one of the most memorable catchphrases in broadcasting history.

It's a new year which means setting goals for 2020. But in order to succeed first you need to address some common myths that inhibit achieving your goals. It also helps to align your habits to the goals you want to achieve.

By the way, if you want to become more focused in your productivity, this book is a great place to start. 

Speaking of books, this list of book towns look like great vacation destinations for a bookworm like me.

This is a pleasant surprise: vinyl records are on pace to outsell CDs for the first time in 30 years.

Baseball teams stealing signs has been in the news a lot this offseason. MLB could fix the problem very easily if they wanted to. 

Longtime baseball writer Peter Gammons is being honored by the people he covers. Definitely well deserved

Baseball history: In 1919, the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. The reasons why are fascinating. 

More baseball history; my current favorite Twitter feed is Flagstaff Films. Click on their media and fall down a worm hole of old home movies. Your welcome.

Pitchers and catchers report in 32 days. It will be spring before you know it.

Have a great weekend.