Friday, March 6, 2015

A peak into Going Postal and Toms River

Okayyy - I just now realized that I haven't done one of these in a month! Wow -  I wasn't kidding about being crushed. Well things are not any better now that it is March (other than the prospect of getting above freezing - we set another record low this morning, sigh) but I am actively avoiding grading right now, so I want to participate anyhow.

OTOH - I can't even remember what I have been reading lately!

I have recently gotten into some manga - like Yotsuba&!  (too cute!) That has been about the limit of what my brain can cope with after work right now. I can't use it though since there isn't much in the way of text. (Plus part of the idea here it to help me learn Japanese - so I have an English copy and a Japanese copy よつばと! )

Itsudemo kyō ga, ichiban tanoshii hi
or roughly speaking - Enjoy everything - today is always the best day

Ah - for Book Beginnings on Friday, here is the start of Going Postal by Terry Pratchett (the, what 33rd Discworld novel) - I started re-reading it for the umpteenth time last night when I couldn't sleep...

The flotillas of the dead sailed around the world on underwater rivers. 

Very nearly nobody knew about them. But the theory is easy to understand. It runs: the sea is, after all, in many respects, only a wetter form of air. And it is known that air is heavier the lower you go and lighter the higher you fly. As a storm-tossed ship founders and sinks, therefore, it much reach a depth where the water below it is just viscous enough to stop its fall. 

In short, it stops sinking and ends up floating on an underwater surface, beyond the reach of storms but far above the ocean floor. 

It's calm there. Dead calm.

And for nonfiction, here is the start of Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin

Who Tom was, if he ever was, is the first unsolved mystery of Toms River. He may have been an adventurer named Captain William Tom who helped chase the Dutch out of New Amsterdam in 1664 and then prospered as the British Crown's tax collector in the wildlands to the south, in the newly established province of New Jersey. Or he may have been an ancient Indian named Old Tom who lived on the cliffs near the mouth of the river and spied on the British or the Americans, depending on which side paid the larger bribe.

The people of Toms River, in their infinite capacity for self-invention, prefer a different origin story, one that features neither taxes nor bribery. Despite some doubts about its veracity, the story is enshrined on plaques, in local histories, and even in a bit of doggerel known grandly as the township's "Old Epic Poem."     

HA - I should be mean and cut it off there !  Oh, here you go ...

 According to this version, a man named Thomas Lurker came alone to the dense pine forests of central New Jersey in about 1700 and settled near the bay, on the northern side of a small river that would bear his name. He lived peacefully among the natives, too the name Tom Pumaha ("white friend" in the Lenape language), and married the chief's daughter, Princess Ann. 

For The Friday 56 hosted at Freda's Voice here is a bit from around page 56 of Going Postal ...

"I think I get the picture," said Moist. You're lying, Mr. Groat. You're lying by omission. You're not telling me everything. And what you're not telling me is very important, isn't it? I've turned lying into an art, Mr. Groat, and you're just a talented amateur. 

Groat's face, unaware of the internal monologue, managed a smile. 

"But the trouble is – what's your first name, Mr. Groat?" Moist asked. 

"Tolliver, sir." 

"Nice name ... the thing is, Tolliver, that the picture I see in your description is what I might refer to for the purposes of the analogy a cameo, whereas all this" – Moist waved his hand to include the building and everything it contained – "is a full-sized triptych showing scenes from history, the creation of the world, and the disposition of the gods, with a matching chapel ceiling portraying the glorious firmament and a sketch of a lady with a weird smile thrown in for good measure! Tolliver, I think you are not being frank me." 

And from page 56 of Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation ...

Almost no one drank from the fountains at Toms River Chemical – not more than once, anyway – and now the familiar smell was in their water at home, too. 

Jim Crane, the company's manager of chemical engineering, lived in the neighborhood and was among the first to notice the odor at home, while taking a shower on a scorching July day in 1965. It must have been supremely frustrating lavation for Crane; he had been trying to cope with an escalating series of pollution problems at the plant ever since 1959, when the production lines for azo dyes and resins shifted to Toms River. Crane had no special training in environmental matters; he had supervised DDT manufacturing in Cincinnati and his main job at Toms River was to make the manufacturing process as efficient as possible. Because Toms River Chemical had no environmental department, however, coping with the manifold consequences of the plant's burgeoning waste discharges was an unwelcome part of Crane's portfolio. 

Just FYI - the EPA was formed in 1970.    

 Have a Great Weekend !!!


  1. Interesting books! Tom's River captured my imagination. I'd like to know more.
    My Friday post features WILLOW VALE.

  2. Would you believe I've never read Terry Pratchett? I'm not sure how that happened but I need to fix it. I enjoyed both excerpts. Tom's River sounds fascinating as well. Enjoy your reads and hopefully you'll get some time to read them!

  3. I've not read any of the more recent Pratchett, but I love him. The Guards! series is my favorite.

    Discovered you through the Friday 56, btw!

  4. I like the sounds of both books! Pratchett is a great fantasy story teller and Tom's River appeals to me for the area.
    Happy weekend!


Hi! I do read all of the comments and want to let you know that I really appreciate your stopping by and taking the time to leave a note. Work has fallen in on me and I have not had enough time to reply coherently lately so I apologize preemptively but still want to assure you that your comments are valued. I am using comment moderation to avoid using more annoying spam avoidance. Thanks for your patience.