The Loft Library Turns Two

The Loft Library 2018

I had often read about The Little Free Library project where people build small boxes and fill them with books for anyone to borrow (or keep). The idea is that people donate books so that others can read them.

In February 2018, when my neighbor Lisa suggested we start a small library for the residents of our building, I quickly agreed. We took over the shelf above the mailboxes in the building’s lobby. She created a sign and I contributed some metal bookends. Together we seeded the initial inventory from our spare books. On March 1st we started with an initial collection of 26 books, shelved by author.

Over the next two years, the library’s collection grew and changed many times. Residents borrowed and added books. We eventually added DVDs and computer software. The collection changed and was rearranged so often that I finally gave up alphabetizing them. It seems our little Loft Library has been very successful.

The Loft Library 2020

Cars, Beers, and Books

When I last saw Steve Berry at The BookMark in January, he announced that he would be back on March 6, 2020 for his new book The Warsaw Protocol. Last time, I left work at 5:00 pm and arrived at the bookstore just in time for the talk. This time I decided to leave work at noon and spend the afternoon in Jacksonville beforehand.

My car was originally sold by Porsche Jacksonville. I didn’t get any service history when I bought the car and I hoped that the Jacksonville dealership would have it. So my first stop was to visit the Service department. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any records after the initial sales preparation. I did buy a shirt in the shop, so I didn’t leave empty-handed.

Porsche Jacksonville

While there, I had a walk around the cat lot. They had all of the new 911s, 718 Boxsters and Caymans, Panameras, Cayennes, and Macans, as well as an interesting variety of used Porsches. Along the street were several other brands including a rare Karma Revero.

Karma Revero

There were many 911 models to choose from.

Porsche 911 Lineup

While wandering the lot, a man drove in with his Porsche Boxster Spyder 987 (a special edition Boxster). The car was probably 9-10 years old but in excellent condition. I like the side stripes a lot, maybe a future addition to my car?

Porsche Boxster Spyder 987
Porsche Boxster Spyder 987

Business and pleasure finished, I headed east toward Atlantic Beach to Reve Brewing (pronounced “rev”). I had heard about this new brewery from some craft-beer friends and had tasted one of their beers. But I didn’t really know what to expect when I arrived. The brewery was fairly small and located in a strip mall.

Reve Brewing
Reve Brewing

The place was fairly crowded for an early Friday afternoon. The interior was a combination of modern industrial and old-fashioned. The beer menu was entirely trendy. Reve specializes in three styles of beer: IPAs, sours, and imperial stouts—the current popular styles. However, I did notice a different recent addition, a Mexican lager (whatever that means) called Conejo Especial, and ordered a “taster” size. It was good.

Reve Brewing Beer

I wasn’t sure what, if anything, I would like next. I asked the bartender, Joey, what the least hoppy IPA was and he returned with two samples. The first one, called Feed Your Head, was very bitter and not to my liking. However, the second one, called A Bit Too Leisurely, was dry hopped and not bitter at all but rather citrus-like. It might be the first IPA that I genuinely like. I ordered a taster size and really enjoyed it.

Finally, I purchased a crowler of their Along the Cherry Lane, a sour with cherries and dragonfruit. I will take this to the next beer-share at Red Pig Brewing.

Before I drank any more beer, I need some (late) lunch so I drove south towards Jacksonville Beach and picked up some fast food to-go. I headed next to Green Room Brewing a few blocks away. I had been there once in September 2018 and liked the place.

Green Room Brewing

I ordered a flight of four beers and found a table with my food. The bartender, Brendan, was a graduate of Embry-Riddle so we had a good chat about that.

Green Room Brewing Beers

I drank the beers in order (right-to-left in the photo). The flavors were OK, but the common characteristic was that they were thin and with low carbonation. I like my beer less filtered with a bit more bubbles. I still wanted to pick up a small crowler to bring home, so I ordered one of the Count Shakula, a chocolate oatmeal stout.

Next I headed north to Neptune Beach where the book signing would take place. I was early, so after snagging a parking spot in front of the bookstore I had a walk around town. I also walked the one block down to the beach to pass some time. Neptune Beach is a beautiful area with many good shops, restaurants, and bars. The nearby houses and condos are very nice with well-kept landscaping. It’s somewhere I could happily live, for sure.

Neptune Beach Trail
Neptune Beach
Neptune Beach Orange Street

It was time to get back to The BookMark in order to purchase a book and get a good seat. The shop is very nice, but rather small, so it was best to get there early.

The BookMark Bookstore

At 7:00 pm Steve Berry and his wife Elizabeth arrived. He spoke for about 30 minutes about his new book The Warsaw Protocol and took questions from the audience. Near the end of his talk he announced that it would be his last time speaking at The BookMark because he and Elizabeth were moving to Orlando (from St. Augustine). Rona, the store owner, presented them with a brick that will be placed in front of the store.

After the talk, I quickly got in line to have my book signed. We briefly talked about Orlando and that there was only one independent bookstore (Writer’s Block Bookstore in Winter Park) they we could think of. He signed my book while we took a photo and I was soon on my way back home.

Steve Berry and James Day

In total, it was an enjoyable day filled with my three favorite things: cars, beers, and books. I got to see some great cars, taste some delicious (and not so good) new beers, and meet (again) one of my favorite authors to get a book signed. I came home with some great souvenirs from the day.

Shirt, Beer, and Book

Well done, Jacksonville.

Steve Berry at The BookMark

The title of this post should really be “Joseph Finder and Steve Berry at The BookMark” but Steve Berry was the person I went to The BookMark bookstore to see although he was not the reason for the event. But I didn’t know that until the day of the book signing. The event was a stop on the book tour of Joseph Finder, a writer I was not familiar with before this night.

I started reading Steve Berry novels after finding one while browsing the Leisure Books collection at Hunt Library. I didn’t know who he was, but the title The Patriot Threat and its story involving a conspiracy surrounding a painting of George Washington and the 16th Amendment intrigued me. I really enjoyed the fast-paced story interspersed with historical facts and conspiracies. After reading, I learned that this novel was the tenth book in the Cotton Malone Series. I decided to start reading the series from the beginning and soon bought The Templar Legacy. I have read and enjoyed all of the Cotton Malone novels and short stories.

Joseph Finder Event Sign

I knew Berry had a new novel coming out in February 2020 and that his book tours always include a talk at The BookMark bookstore in Neptune Beach, Florida. His official website showed an event on January 23. I thought it was for his forthcoming book The Warsaw Protocol. When I checked the bookstore’s social media to make sure the event was still on, I discovered that it was actually for the launch of Joseph Finder’s new novel House on Fire. Steve Berry, who lives nearby, would be interviewing Finder. I still wanted to go.

After a nearly two-hour drive to Neptune Beach, I arrived a few minutes before 7:00 pm. There was a free chair near the front so I had a close view of the talk. Steve asked Joe about his new book, the character Nick Heller, his methods of writing, and the two feature films that were based on his books (including how little influence he had on them). Steve shared his writing experiences, as well. The two writers were clearly friends and Finder didn’t seem to mind sharing the stage with Berry.

The authors discussed the pros and cons of writing series and how they have to conform to certain limits in content and style. I pointed out that Berry had strayed from his usual style with The Bishop’s Pawn by writing in the first-person. He said that departure didn’t go over well with his readers and that prompted a discussion into first-person versus third-person writing. Both authors agreed that first-person stories were harder to write.

James Day and Steve Berry at The BookMark

After the talk I purchased House on Fire and asked if I could have Steve sign my own copy of The Lost Order. Bookstores don’t often let you bring your own books to signings, but the staff were happy to let us have our personal copies signed. I first asked Steve to sign my book and then took a couple photos with him. Steve was very unassuming and probably would have been more happy to talk about the menu of Sliders Oyster Bar next door than being a famous novelist.

Next I met Joe Finder and he signed my newly-purchased book. I asked about his series and whether I could read this new book first or go back and start at the beginning of the Nick Heller Series. He said it didn’t matter, the books were written to be read in any order. I plan to read his books but I will probably start with the first one, Vanished.

After an hour of book talk, Q&A, and signing, I drove home. It was a lot of driving for a one-hour event for an author I hadn’t heard of before, but I am glad I went. Steve Berry will be back at The BookMark on March 6, 2020, to finish his book tour, and I plan to be there.

The Lost Order signed by Steve Berry
House on Fire signed by Joseph Finder

Website Recommendation: BookBub

BookBub New for You

Generally I prefer to buy print books rather than ebooks. However, I own a NOOK ebook reader and I do buy ebooks, especially when I can find them at a low price. For discounted ebooks I use BookBub.

BookBub finds heavily discounted ebooks, audiobooks, and even print books. While I buy all my ebooks from Barnes & Noble, BookBub links to ebooks from all major retailers: Amazon, Apple, B&N, Google, and Kobo. In the BookBub settings, you can choose the formats you want and also the retailer(s).

BookBub Retailer & Format Preferences

I have well over 150 ebooks on my NOOK and probably 90% of them were purchased as discounted books via BookBub. Prices for ebooks are typically $0.99 to $2.99 with the occasional free offer. The books are not purchased from BookBub, but from the actual retailers. I estimate I buy one to three ebooks each month via BookBub.

BookBub Email

You don’t need to visit the website to find ebook offers. Depending on your choice, BookBub will email you once a day or once a week. I get daily emails that include between six and twelve ebook deals. In the settings, you choose which categories you are interested in from many fiction and nonfiction genres.

I have no affiliation with BookBub, I just like the service and highly recommend it for filling your e-reader with ebooks at a low price.

Book Review: The Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics

The Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics

The Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics edited by Jed Z. Buchwald and Robert Fox

ISBN-13: 9780199696253
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Published: January 1, 2014

View the publisher’s page for this title.

View details and find a place to buy or borrow at Google Books.

Reading note: Started on May 19, 2017 and finished on March 15, 2019.

When this beautiful and hefty book arrived in my office in May 2017, I knew I had to read it. I enjoy reading history and I also have an interest in modern physics. One of these two interests was satisfied by this book, but the other was left disappointed. I set the book aside many times to read other books, which is why it took so long before I finished it.

Most of the book covered “classical” physics, the period that can roughly be though of as predating quantum theory and relativity. Classical physics topics covered include Galileo’s mechanics, Newton’s Principia and Opticks, fluids, mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, energy, electromagnetism, electrodynamics, and side chapters on textbooks, medicine, and metrology.

While the book contains 976 pages (917 of content), Part IV (out of four) on Modern Physics doesn’t begin until page 719. Even then, the first chapter titled “Rethinking ‘Classical Physics’ ” is a discussion on the inability of physicists and historians to agree on when “modern physics” began. Modern physics topics include statistical mechanics, relativity, quantum physics, a tangential chapter on semiconductors, and finally cosmology. The first mention of dark matter doesn’t come until page 910; on page 913 the book finally mentions CERN; the Grand Unified Theory (GUT) is briefly mentioned on page 914; black holes on page 915; and string theory is quickly noted on page 918. Very little was written about the discovery of the atom and subatomic particles! I don’t remember the terms quark or Higgs boson stated at all. Physicists such as Rutherford, Fermi, Feynman, and Hawking were barely covered or not mentioned at all! Perhaps Part IV could be pulled from this book and used as the beginning of a second volume on modern physics.

The 29 chapters read like 29 individual papers written by nearly as many different authors, which they are. Due to this fact and the varying subject matter, the writing style and difficulty varied greatly from chapter to chapter. Some chapters were easily read and could be comprehended by anyone, even those without a physics or engineering background. Other chapters were very difficult—some including calculus and differential equations—which were difficult for me, even with a degree in electrical engineering. Some had useful diagrams and photographs while others contained only text.

Here is an example of one difficult paragraph from page 781:

Whereas Boltzmann had reasoned in terms of temporal probabilities for a single system, Maxwell adopted the ‘statistical specification’ of a system, in which the equilibrium properties of a thermodynamic system are to be compared not with those of a single mechanical system but with those of a stationary ensemble of such systems. He proved the stationarity of the microcanonical ensemble for any Hamiltonian dynamics and derived the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution and energy equipartition from this ensemble. But he did not explain why stationary ensembles represented the thermal properties of macroscopic bodies. He regarded this property as a plausible assumption, to be tested by experiment and perhaps to be justified someday by ergodicity.

Did you get that? Probably not, if you don’t have a PhD in physics.

However, there are many non-technical chapters scattered throughout the book. The most layman reader-friendly was Chapter 10 titled “Physics on Show: Entertainment, Demonstration, and Research in the Long Eighteenth Century”. If you want a good history of scientific instruments and instrument makers, there is a book-within-a-book here. You could simply read the following three chapters for a great overview:

4. Physics and the Instrument-Makers, 1550-1700
11. Instruments and Instrument-Makers, 1700-1850
20. From Workshop to Factory: The Evolution of the Instrument-Making Industry, 1850-1930

The book did have several strong points. Many chapters wove the history of physics with the world at-large, demonstrating how politics and wars affected scientific inquiry and cooperation. While we see the building of theories on top of each other (the “standing on the shoulders of giants”), the book also showed how competition pushed scientists to make their discoveries. Also, the book presented an excellent history on the caloric theory of heat, which—because it was proven to be false—is not taught in contemporary textbooks. Although not falling directly under physics, the chapter “Physics and Metrology” provided an interesting look at the rare topic of metrology, “the science and technology of standards of measurement” and how it is both a product of physics and an essential tool for its advancement.

For Further Reading

As I read through the history, I compiled a list of written works referred to as important and influential. These are original physics papers and publications containing the actual theories and experiments. It provides a great source for further reading to learn in-depth about any major physics discoveries.

Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems by Galileo (1632)

Discorsi by Galileo (1638)

Le Monde by René Descartes (1629-1633)

Discours de la Méthode by René Descartes (1637)

Principles of Philosophy by René Descartes (1644)

Horologium Oscillitorium by Christiaan Huygens (1673)

Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy by Isaac Newton (1687, 1713, 1726)

Opticks, Or a Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light by Isaac Newton (1704)

Théorie des phénomènes électro-dynamiques: uniquement déduite de l’expérience by André-Marie Ampère (1826)

Theory of the Motion of Solid or Rigid Bodies by Leonhard Euler (1765)

Hydraulics by Johann Bernoulli (1742)

Mécanique céleste by Pierre Simon Laplace (1799-1825, 1829)

Réflexions sur la puissance motrice du feu by Sadi Carnot (1824)

Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism by James Clerk Maxwell (1873)

Relativity: The Special and General Theory by Albert Einstein (1920)

Principles of Quantum Mechanics by Paul Dirac (1930)

The Physical Principles of the Quantum Theory by Werner Heisenberg (1930)

See This Review on Goodreads

The Oxford Handbook of the History of PhysicsThe Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics by Jed Z. Buchwald

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jeeves and Wooster Collection


Jeeves and Wooster collection (all)

I have long been a fan of P. G. Wodehouse and his Jeeves and Wooster series.  In the US it was always difficult to buy these books—even though most of the stories were published here, sometimes before the UK release.  I already owned Life with Jeeves, a compilation of three books: The Inimitable Jeeves; Very Good, Jeeves!; and Right Ho, Jeeves.  But the only other Jeeves book I found in stores was The Jeeves Omnibus, a compilation of Carry On, Jeeves; The Inimitable Jeeves; and Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves which I didn’t buy because I already had one of the three titles.

Late last year (2015) I decided to spring for the entire set from the UK.  I already had compiled a list of titles and so I signed on to Amazon UK one evening.  Ordering was easy and the books were due to be “dispatched” in short order for a January 2016 delivery.  I chose to have the books shipped together to save money.  The entire order cost £173.53 (£121.70 plus £51.83 shipping) or $271.29 for 16 books.  Worth every pound and pence.

Amazon UK’s service was excellent.  Twice I received a surprise package at my door containing books with the message: “We’ve sent this portion of your order separately at no extra charge to give you the speediest service possible.”  Perhaps Amazon intentionally overestimates the shipping time, but I received all of my books well before the estimated date.  They crossed the Pond and arrived in perfect condition.

Sure, I could have saved the shipping cost and bought the ebooks.  But where’s the fun in that?  I’d much rather look at this matching set of physical books.  Wodehouse books certainly fall under “Buy–Print” on my “Book Worthiness Scale”.

P. G. Wodehouse is one of only two authors who can consistently make me laugh out loud (the other being Douglas Adams).  The plots are a bit repetitive if you read the stories back-to-back within a short period of time.  They were published months apart and weren’t expected to be read in one sitting.

I have read only the three books in Life with Jeeves and the 34 stories in The World of Jeeves.  I’ll dole out the other books in-between serious reading whenever I need a laugh.  I’ll write more once I’ve read a few more books in the series.

If you’re interested in sampling some Jeeves and Wooster, you can download My Man Jeeves and Right Ho, Jeeves for free.

Jeeves and Wooster collection (set)