Saturday, November 3rd, 2007
10:31 am - An Early Noel  
Will not be riding today as hurricane Noel slides by somewhere offshore, bringing lots of wind and rain. Made the mistake of napping from 9 to 10 last night, then waking up enough to watch Numb3rs. I was up till 2 (or later) after that. The whistling wind didn't help much.

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Finished Cat's Cradle before the nap. I'd read it before back in college. It had been pressed into my hands by a woman I had the hots for at the time, and I thought then that it was fabulous. Things didn't go so well with the next book she'd tried to get me to read (The Bell Jar). (Other books I've made the effort to read and enjoyed over the years because a woman I was attracted to pressed them into my hands include The Hunt for Red October and The Silmarilion. The ex-wife tried to get me to read Ayn Rand, but that didn't work out at all.)

After the first time I read Cat's Cradle I read every other Vonnegut book written to that point. Then he wrote Breakfast of Champions, which I hated. So it goes.

The good news is that I still enjoyed Cat's Cradle after all these years. I don't think it's the life changing book I once did, but it's still pretty good. And it still had the capacity to surprise, too. As I read Bokonon's "Fifty-Third Calypso" it dawned on me that its lyrics were the same as "Nice, Nice, Very Nice," the biggest hit of a seventies band called Ambrosia. I even saw Ambrosia perform it live once, when they opened for the Strawbs at the Capital Theatre in Passaic, and never realized from whence it came.

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Since I couldn't fall asleep, I wound up skimming through another book I picked up at the library last weekend, Defenses of Narragansett Bay in World War II, by Walter K. Schoeder. It's short and very dry, but fortunately has lots of photos and maps. Living near the bay all these years, I've been fascinated by the ruins of the old coastal fortifications that dotted the entrance to the bay. There were five major installations dating back to the 1800's, four of which are now state parks. The most famous of those sites is Fort Adams, where the Newport Folk and Jazz festivals are now held. The fifth was Fort Kearney, which was also a POW camp during the war. It's now the site of URI's Graduate School of Oceanography. There is also quite a bit about the numerous smaller installations built during WWII. As I said, pretty dry stuff, but not dry enough to put me to sleep.