austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

When I'm not playing solitaire

Sometimes, it's easy to overlook the obvious. For example, at a San Bookstore -- a combination bookstore/rental library chain -- I'd been to many times in four years, there's a modest selection of science fiction, plus all those other genres. In a move to drive people insane, brand-name authors like Isaac Asimov and Alan Dean Foster get their own special places; and authors with names close to the brand-name authors are grouped nearby them. The result makes a special treasure hunt, with just enough system to make the lack of system maddening.

Somehow, though, in years of visiting I never noticed the shelves on the other side of the science fiction row was also a science fiction section, making roughly double the collection I always thought they had. The new books are mostly fantasy, not much of it my speed, but I could probably find something appealing there (though not today). It also had a neat sign on the topmost shelf: ``Please do not touch all these stocks. Refer to the shelf or the cashier.'' They probably just want people not reaching for loose stacks likely to fall on their heads, but it presents the image that they've had problems with people who come in, never buying anything, who just feel all the books. That makes me feel better.

Trivia: The Rescue Kit to refurbish an Apollo Command Module to recover stranded people from Skylab required about eight hours to install. Source: Skylab: A Guidebook, Leland F Belew and Ernst Stuhlinger, NASA EP-107.

Currently Reading: The Quest for Longitude, Edited by William J H Andrews. Accurate watch-making is almost unavoidably part of the determination of longitude, bringing us technical discussions such as: ``Like [ Thomas ] Earnshaw (1749-1829), [ John ] Arnold (1736-1799) was an intuitive, instinctive designer, not a scientific one, and he probably never understood his escapement fully.'' It's hard not to hear a modern reader clucking, ``The poor, naïve fool.''


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