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Steady Decline of Reading in America

In a report released in December, 2007, by the National Endowment For the Arts, here is the average number of minutes different age groups spent reading each weekday in 2006:
15-24 years: 07 minutes
25-34 years: 09 "
35-44 years: 12 "
45-54 years: 17 "
55-64 years: 30 "
65-on: 50 minutes
As reported in the November 19, 2007 issue of Publishers Weekly

Stone Castle Fixer-Upper in Bronx

From a story in this mornings NY Times by Joyce Cohen: This stone mansion in the Bronx, dating back to the late 1800s, was built of granite shipped from Europe and carried from the Manhattan docks by horse and buggy. (The workers and their families were said to have pitched tents in the yard for a year as they worked.) It was recently bought by a couple from its 91-year old owner for $675,000. It needs a lot of work, but for the price of a sterile condo, this family will have a unique home.

(c) 2007 Christian Hansen for The New York Times
Full story in the NY Times

Chinese Proverb/Winston Churchill

People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.
-Chinese Proverb

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
-Sir Winston Churchill

Count Rumford Fireplace in Action

Fireplace at home of Greg and Margie Smith in Northern California. Greg is one of the builders I'm covering in my next book, BUILDERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST. This uniquely shaped fireplace is based on the designs of Count Rumford from the late 1700s, and features a tall, shallow opening and angled sides to radiate heat. It also has a streamlined flue for better draft. Construction details are in Vrest Orton's The Forgotten Art of Building a Good Fireplace.

I was there on a cold December night and four of us sat around the fireplace enjoying the radiating heat.

Click here for a critique of Vrest Orton's book.

Northern California Barn

I've decided to try to make shorter blog postings — more frequently. Here's a barn on river-bottom land near Honeydew, Calif.

The Holkham Bible: Irreverent 14th Century Cockney Version/Jesus Surfing on Sunbeams

I discovered this last night on BoingBoing: A cockney version of the bible from the days of Chaucer. In November, the British Library published a facsimile version (about $100). It includes a translation (the original is in Anglo-Norman French).

Noah and his ark

Here is a video from the British Library showing many of the pages:
9-minute video of the bible from the British Library
Following is a review of the bible from Amazon UK:
"This celebrated medieval picture-book tells the Biblical story, focusing upon the Creation to the Flood, the Life of Christ, and the Apocalypse, with the help of illustrations of everyday 14th-century England. It is based on the biblical narrative but also includes plenty of apocryphal episodes, for example Christ surfing on sunbeams as a child, and God telling Noah to hurry up with the Ark so that he is forced to finish the top section in wicker rather than wood. The costumes, tools, weapons and buildings in the pictures give a near documentary-style representation of many occupations in the age of Chaucer, such as dyer, smith, carpenter and midwife. This distinctive manuscript has now been carefully photographed and reproduced on special paper designed to replicate the look and feel of the original vellum. The facsimile includes Michelle P. Brown's full transcript and translation of the text, and a commentary based on her unrivaled knowledge of the period."

Photo Trip to The Lost Coast: Muscle Bus/Highway Art/Seaside Hawk/Red Red Apples/Barn

I took off early last Thursday morning for points northwest. After a latte and donut in Petaluma, I decided to veer off Hwy 101 and hit Harbin Hot Springs. The hot pool there is 110-115°. Hot! Then under water in the cold pool, and mojo is workin. I love driving through uncharted territory with my camera, searching for photographable objects. It's like hunting. Here are a few shots:

On Hwy 101, south of Garberville

Cut-out art on side of road just north of Ferndale; flock of birds in background

Hawk near beach south of Ferndale

Lovely red colored apples in old orchard near Honeydew

Barn in a deep valley on road between Ferndale and Petrolia (shot with telephoto)