A little less reading

  • Finished a couple more tablets of Gilgamesh.  Much of what happens is flat and unmemorable, but if you dig a bit you can find some things of permanent human interest.
  • Popes Benedict IV (900-03) and Leo V (903), and antipope Christopher (903-904).  Not much to report there.  Records are scanty and Rome was still divided between Formosans and anti-Formosans.  Leo and Christopher found themselves in the same prison cell and both were murdered there.
  • Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenbergdied Tuesday at his home in Urbana, Illinois.  We had him over for lunch one day, about 8 years ago. He had posted a notice, perhaps to the old bookpeople list, that he wanted to give away some books and I took him up on the offer since we live just 30 minutes from Urbana. I went to his house, which was absolutely packed from floor to ceiling and wall to wall with mostly books and lots of other stuff. He and a friend loaded our station wagon with years and years worth of National Geographics and boxes of encyclopedia volumes, and Michael and I set out. He was a compulsive and fascinating talker. Just on the ride to our house we covered his earliest media-debunking work when he was 12 or so, family history, local history, the geology of a lone hill east of Monticello IL, and on and on and on. We treated him to a big lasagna meal and he treated us to more stories, then, just before I took him back to Urbana, he took great delight in reading The Cat in the Hat to our kids. He’s not the sort of person you forget meeting. May he rest, as he lived, in peace.
  • I spent some time this afternoon with the AHS Encyclopedia of Gardening trying to get up to speed on grapes.  We have a vine that we haven’t taken care of in the last seven years, and I want to fix it up and get it bearing a good crop in coming years.  I’m also planning to propagate an old rose bush my Dad planted about 50 years ago and get it growing somewhere in our yard.  I understand that’s quite a project, which is what I originally bought the encyclopedia for.

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