Greetings from 53.5° north latitude. I read the above Tolstoy quote in "Calendar of Wisdom", a book of daily readings that Tolstoy compiled near the end of his life. I challenge anyone to look at the world and say that this is not good advice. I am reading Tolstoy's Calendar to complement "War and Peace", which I am reading with the r/ayearofwarandpeace subreddit again this year.
Moving on, I made a technical change in the past fortnight to improve my personal security. I have added email to my robertwmartin.com domain and am running all emails for that domain through ProtonMail. I resisted for a long time due to the personal change management effort - moving subscriptions from Gmail or career contacts to Outlook / Live will take a lot of work and time. However, I feel that moving to a system that is paid for independently of generating advertisement revenue for the email provider is in my better interest.
The user experience with ProtonMail is decent in comparison to Gmail or Outlook. There are things I would like, such as the ability to color-code calendar entries and the ability to add a map link to "location" field in an invite (but I know exactly why that does not happen), but even with those deficiencies the experience is fine.
In other news, this past fortnight saw me finish two books, discover a great jazz Discord, sample four new beers, and learn a handful of new words. Let's get on with it, shall we?
Book #3 for 2022 was "Babylon's Ashes" by James S. A. Corey, the sixth book in the Expanse science fiction / space opera series. This was definitely my least favorite of the series so far. I found it dragged on much longer than needed, and most of the characters seemed flat and wooden. From discussions with others, it seems the series picks back up in the next book so I am sure I will continue with it, but there might be more of a gap between books this time as this book dampened my enthusiasm for the series.
One item I think of often when I read the Expanse books is how much time they spend flying between locations. Living in the pandemic where for months on end my world had shrunk to my house or yard must be similar to living on a ship like the Rocinate travelling between planets. It is not hard to envision the Rocinate being similar dimensions to the mid-sixties lot my house sits on, so the comparison of the physical restrictions seem reasonable. In addition, most of the interplay between the main groups of characters, especially in this book, is done through screens. I suppose I do not live on the float and have to propel myself around the house by grabbing handholds, but there are similarities that I think of as I read through the series.
Book #4 for 2022 was "The Secret to Superhuman Strength" by Alison Bechdel. I do not read a lot of autobiographies and did not know anything about Bechdel before picking up this book, so it was not obvious that I would read this book. In the form of a graphic novel, Bechdel decomposes herself from birth to 2021 and does so while explaining how society has changed around her, while struggling herself with change. I had no interest in reading anything by Jack Kerouac previously, but now I might based on Bechdel's book. That is a sign of a great book in my mind - something that makes you think and helps change your mind about something.
For that reason, I mentioned on my "Club Read 2022" post on LibraryThing that this is a book that will stick with me. It might not have as much impact on you, but I do encourage you to read it to find out for yourself just in case it does resonate with you also.
As I mentioned in the intro, I discovered a jazz music Discord that I really like. Jazzcord is a helpful community of jazz fans with good discussions about music and artists, and an Album of the Week recommendation. If you are not into Discord, there is also a website that has some articles reposted from the Discord.
Last week's Album of the Week was a 1960 live record of Cannonball Adderley called "At the Lighthouse". Adderley's "Mercy Mercy Mercy" is one of my favorite songs, so I was excited to listen to more from him. Tidal has a remastered version of the album and it is a great listen. Adderley died after a stroke in 1975 at the age of 46. He left us a lot of great music before passing.
There were four new beers in the past fortnight along with one coffee. I am not ready to review the coffee yet but will do so next week. Spoiler alert: meh.
For the beers, they were the latest in the Alley Kat Dragon Series of DIPAs, the Idaho Gem Dragon (3.25); the Debbie Approved IPA from Rural Routes out of Leduc, a new-to-me brewery (3.5); the Raspberry Milkshake Stout from Rochester Mills out of Michigan (3.25); and, another from Alley Kat, their Back Alley Brew limited run Calm Unity Red IPA (3.5).
This brings my unique check-ins on Untappd to 855 for an average a new beer every 2.93 days since I started tracking. Of note, that is down from the new beer every 2.74 days when I started writing on this site.
All four of these came from Bechdel's books.
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