Alchemical Thoughts

CuriousGeorgeReading

Welcome to another edition in this series of posts about books I would like to read some day. As always, if you read any of these, feel free to come back and comment to let me know what you thought of a book. Also, if you have ideas and suggestions for books you think I may want to read, let me know as well in the comments. Let’s see what we have for this week.

 

Items about books I want to read:

  • A former chief of police in Seattle, Norm Stamper was recently featured in Democracy Now! discussing police issues in the United States. He has a new book out on the topic, To Protect and to Serve: How to Fix America’s Police. It seems like a timely book that needs for more people to be reading it.
  • Because I find macabre things interesting now and then, I would like to read Beyond the Dark Veil, a collection of Victorian era post-mortem photography. Story about the book via Boing Boing.
  • These days, Jesse Ventura can have his entertaining and even thought provoking moments. However, him explaining why some are voting for Trump is not one of them. Moving along, this piece highlights his new book, which sounds like it could be an entertaining read. The book is S*it Politicians Say. Story about it via Esquire magazine.
  • Next we have a bit of dark humor with 13 Elegant Ways to Commit Suicide. The older book was highlighted at Dangerous Minds.
  • Another book discussing the issues of gun culture and the big business of selling guns in the United States. This time the book is The Gunning of America, and it was reviewed in a full essay in the The Times Literary Supplement.
  • Here is a book about books, or rather in this case about readers. The book is The Reader in the Book, and it was reviewed at Los Angeles Review of Books.
  • Via @TABITarot, a review of The Ultimate Guide to Tarot Spreads. This may be one to consider adding to my collection down the road as a reference source.
  • This is one of those books that I would enjoy browsing through as a child, the kind of book that has a little bit of everything. The book is Mann’s Pictorial Dictionary, and it was featured in Boing Boing.
  • And one more book via Boing Boing. It is a coffee book of what is described as brutalist architecture. The book is This Brutal World.
  • This book could be an interesting proposition. Basically, it can help explain why dumbasses in the poor states, like say the Deep South, take a ton of federal money and aid, and still hate the federal government (and usually vote Republican). The book is American Amnesia. The book was discussed at AlterNet.
  • Bill Moyers’ site has an article looking at class, politics and Trump while highlighting the recent book White Trash, which is a history of class in the U.S.
  • If you like works like Ambrose Bierce’s A Devil’s Dictionary, you may also enjoy Encyclopedia of Hell published by the folks at Feral House. It is sort of an invasion manual for demons to know what they will find when they get to Earth. The book was featured at Boing Boing.
  • I always find stuff on writing and specially handwriting to be of interest, so I am hoping this book will make for good reading. The book is The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, and it was reviewed at Inside Higher Ed.
  • I  am adding this one in part because I feel I should at least look at it. Honestly though, I do not give much of a hoot about student evaluations of their college professors, which for the most part can be petty and pretty meaningless when it comes to actual assessment. That is another conversation for another day. In the meantime, there is a new book highlighting such student comments. The book is To My Professor, and it was reviewed at Inside Higher Ed.
  • Only reason I am linking to this post from the Librarian Shipwreck blog is that  it mentions a book on  the concept of planned obsolescence (a.k.a. the  money grabbing move companies make of making shit products so you have to buy them again every few years, like Apple’s current fuckery regarding the iPhone 7 with  no headphone jack) that I think is worth  a look. The book is mentioned all the way at the bottom of the post, and the book is Digital Rubbish.
  • This book just sounded interesting. The book is Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll, and it was reviewed at Rock and Roll Tarot blog.
  • Barbara Moore, one of the big gurus in Tarot, discusses the concept of reading Tarot intuitively on the Llewellyn website, and she also links to the book Tarot Fundamentals, which I may be interested  in reading.
  • Another Tarot book that I might be interested in reading down the road is Tarot Mysteries, which was reviewed at Tarot Notes blog.
  • Sean Gaffney highlights the fourth volume of the manga series Black Bullet. Sounds like one to try out, but I would need to start with the first volume.
  • The Lowrider Librarian reviews the  book The Other Slavery. If you think African American slavery was all there was in the United States, you need to read that book. I know I will be getting to it soon.

 

 

Lists and bibligraphies:

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

 

These are the books I reviewed at my main blog, The Itinerant Librarian, for the month of August 2016. Feel free to check them out, and as always, comments are welcomed.

  • Started the month reviewing Deadpool: The Complete Collection, Volume 1. I am sure with the recent film that books like this will be of interest.
  • I reviewed Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Tarot. This is one that is a great resource, and it is one I would like to get a print copy down the road.
  • Fans of Vampirella and Aliens, or both may enjoy the crossover comic Aliens/Vampirella.
  • I continue to enjoy DC’s run on the Harley Quinn comics. This series is one of the very few DC has that is actually worth reading. This month I reviewed Harley Quinn, Volume 4: a Call to Arms.
  • If you are a baseball fan, or you happen to be Puerto Rican, or just like a good biographical graphic novel, consider giving 21 a try. This is a biography in graphic novel form of Roberto Clemente. For me, this  is one of the best things I have read so far this year.
  • I also reviewed Bill Maher’s book New Rules. I had read this book previously, but this time I read it as an audiobook.

I saw this spread for the Full Moon in Pisces that took place this week at Ethony’s Tumblr blog here. I decided to go ahead and give it a try as part of my learning to read cards. Initially, I was going to do it with my Gilded Tarot deck, but I decided I needed something different. I went in a different direction, and I used my new Halloween Oracle deck, the one created by Stacey DeMarco. I wanted to get more of a fall season vibe. This oracle deck does have a lot less cards than a traditional Tarot deck. The traditional Tarot deck, like the Gilded Tarot I use, has 78 cards. This oracle deck has 36 cards. The reading experience was quite interesting, and in a way I felt the deck had to get to the point. After all, there are less cards to choose from, so being concise was part of the experience.

For the reading, I did my best to use my intuition, and it actually went a lot better than I initially thought it would go. Since this is a new deck to me, and it is an oracle deck, I did feel an initial need to rely on the guidebook. However, as I said, my intuition worked out a lot better than I initially expected. The images certainly helped me reflect on the questions of the reading, and I feel that I got some good insights and advice on things to work on during this season. On a side note, I did read the companion book previously, so down the road I will write a review of the Halloween Oracle over at The Itinerant Librarian and then crosspost it here.

For this post, I will simply share what cards I drew for what question. I am putting the card name, and in parenthesis after the name I am including the keywords the card provides. I am not sharing my reading reflections, as those can stay in my Tarot/oracle journal. Down below I am including photos of how I laid the spread before and after revealing the cards. If you wish to see the cards in more detail, you can click on the card photos.

  1. What energies are coming up from my subconscious?
    • Card: Forgiveness (Reducing burden)
  2. What is in need of healing?
    • Card: Joy (Rejoicing in the present)
  3. What message does my intuition want to deliver?
    • Card: Skull of Darkness (Blind spots)
  4. What am I being asked to dream (sleep on it, meditate, or lucid dream) about?
    • Card: Apple (Risk and reward)
  5. How best can I ride the waves of this emotional full moon?
    • Card: The Veil (The future)

 

Five card spread in slight circular pattern

This is the spread laid out before I revealed the cards for the reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five card spread, cards turned upside and revealed.

This is the spread, using the Halloween Oracle, now revealed in full.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My few readers may be aware that I recently started learning to use and read Tarot cards. These days, my learning deck is the Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti. I have been doing a little studying, reading, and working on my Tarot journal. One of the exercises I have found helpful in my learning is doing a daily card draw. After I do my morning writing on my personal journal, I shuffle the cards, and I draw a single card to get a theme and/or lesson for the day. It has helped me to gradually learn to read the cards and their meanings. So far, I had not done any spreads until I saw a couple of spreads on how to interview a Tarot deck as a way to bond better with it, so I went ahead and did this one. This is my first ever Tarot spread reading, and I think it turned out very well. I think I will keep doing this exercise, or ones similar to this one (there are variants), when I get a new deck added to my collection.

I did this spread on July 30, 2016.  The photos below show the spread as I laid it initially, and then revealed in full. If you click on the photos, you can see the details better.

Tell me about yourself. What is your most important characteristic?

Card XVII (17- Major Arcana): The Star. There is much hope and inspiration to be found in the cards. For me, this is a beautiful card, and it is one of my favorites in this deck. Maybe the deck is starting out making a good impression. The deck starts by telling me that I can find hope and inspiration in these cards. I can also find beauty and get in touch with emotions, imagination, and dreams. The water suggests emotions as well as fluidity. When things get dark, there is some hope and inspiration to guide me onward. This deck will also help me explore my intuition a bit more, something I could use some work on. This is also reinforced by the number 17, which is a number of intuition. For me, this definitely rings true. It is why I switched from the Marseilles deck to this one. The visual style helps my intuition and memory better. I may be more of a textual learner, but I can still gain benefit from learning visually and from exploring my intuition. The Star for me also speaks of beacons, guidance. Much as I learned about the North Star as a guide, this deck can provide a beacon of hope and guidance when needed. Overall this is a positive deck that can offer hope, enlightenment, intuition, and guidance.

What are your strengths as a deck?

Card XVI (16-Major Arcana): The Tower. I have to admit that my initial reaction to this card was “oh dear deity!” This is a strong card, and it startled me. But that is the message of this deck: this deck can and will at times startle you. It can shake your foundations. It can help destroy old misconceptions. It may shake you so you see things in a new light. A strength of this deck is that it can be blunt. It can help shake me out of routine and complacency. It make make fall, but it is also so I can learn once more to pick myself back up and rebuild. This deck says, “I’ll give it to you straight, and I will shake you hard if needed to get you to listen.” The deck also says, “don’t get too arrogant, or I’ll bring you back down to size and humility.” I found interesting that The Tower is the card that numerically precedes The Star, which is also the first card I drew now. It’s as if the message there may be need for disruption, even violent change, but this is necessary so that new hope and enlightenment can happen. Sometimes you have to shake things, and at times shake them hard, for change, learning, and understanding to take place. A strength of this deck is that it can startle you, but it is so you can see, learn, and grow towards enlightenment and wisdom.

What are your limits as a deck?

Card III (3- Major Arcana): The Empress. I admit that initially I am not sure what to make of this. Are there some limits in terms of feminine aspects? Are there limits in terms of reflecting on topics like sensuality, and not just sex and erotica but sensual elements? I am getting more questions than answers here. Maybe this deck at times may bring up those questions and other questions, but I may have to seek answers elsewhere.

The Empress is also associated with fertility and creativity. Perhaps there are limits to what the deck can offer in terms of creativity. It could be saying, “I’ll give the first steps, ideas, hints, etc., but you then need to expand.” You get the seeds, maybe the fertilizer too, but it’s  up to you to plant and nurture. This deck can inspire but you do the work of nurturing and tending the garden. Your mama will teach you, but she’s not doing it for you. For me, by the way, this is another favorite card in the deck: a strong woman who is seductive yet wise and motherly, also orderly.

What are you here to teach me?

Page of Pentacles (Suit of Pentacles- Minor Arcana).  Here to teach me to stay grounded, feet firmly on the ground, and to keep it real. But the deck is also here to bring good news and lessons. Sure, you can look up to the stars but remember to keep those feet on the ground, in reality. The page is a young man, a reminder that I still have much to learn both in Tarot as in life. The peacock indicates prosperity; I am not expecting literal wealth (but hey, if it comes I am grabbing it) but more prosperity in daily life through learning and growth. Deck may bring good news, but it will teach me to be realistic, remind me of staying grounded and humble.

How can I best learn and collaborate with you (the deck)?

Two of Pentacles (Suit of Pentacles- Minor Arcana). Well, this is interesting. Presence of pentacles continues. Being earthy as I am, a Capricorn, I see this as encouraging. It continues the idea of staying grounded and keeping it real. The man here also has his feet firmly on the ground. But there is also water, the moon, a ship, and even a dolphin behind him. Emotions, imagination, and intuition come into play as well. I can best learn if I work to juggle and balance all those elements. As the man juggles and balances the pentacles, a rainbow forms. Learn to keep intuition and emotions in a healthy balance with the ground and reality. Doing that may well be the best way to learn and collaborate with this deck. For me, the appearance of this card is additionally encouraging because for me it can symbolize instruction librarians and teachers who as performers often have to balance multiple things in our classrooms. So, keeping a sense of balance is the best way to learn and collaborate with this deck.

What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?

Four of Cups (Suit of Cups- Minor Arcana). Well, this is interesting too. This goes back a bit to the prosperity theme in the Page of Pentacles. There are gifts I already have, symbolized by the three cups, but in studying and working with this deck I may gain new gift, new ideas, new inspiration (spiritual, divine, higher, what have you), symbolized in the fourth cup. In addition, some peace and calm may be an outcome as well. The setting in this image is a green, lush, peaceful field, forest animals and birds in the sky. It’s as if the deck is saying to drink from this gift and be inspired and at peace.

This is a card of re-evaluation. Look up, assess new opportunities. Sure, things may e good, but look up also, assess, and grow. An outcome may well be that at times I reevaluate, see things anew or in a different light, and hopefully learn some new lessons and gain new insights.

 

Tarot Deck Interview Spread. Cards facing down.

This is the spread as I initially laid it out after shuffling the cards.

Tarot deck interview spread. Cards revealed.

This is the spread with the cards all turned up and revealed.

I saw this prompt a good while back over at Booking Through Thursday, and it has been sitting  in my feed reader’s list for a while. I am finally getting around to it. The prompt is as follows:

“How often do you visit a library? Do you go to borrow books? Do research? Check out the multi-media center? Hang out with the friendly and knowledgeable staff? Are you there out of love or out of need?”

This is an interesting question for a librarian. I can say that I visit a library every day of the week since I work at a library. But let’s look at the question in a different way. I am an academic librarian, which means I am a librarian  that works at a college or university library. In my case, it’s a college library. From my library, I do borrow books to read, though not as often as I do from the public library. Much of this is because I read pretty broadly, and I also tend to read a variety  of popular topics that an academic library just does  not pick up. A public library and an academic  library have different missions and serve different populations, so their collection development tends to be different. Thus for some things, I can find them at my library. Other things I rely on the Berea branch of my local public library.

So, what do I get  from my own library? I often get the following from my own library:

  • Some more academic history books.
  • Books about higher education.
  • Some books on social justice issues, especially as related to race, gender, and related issues.
  • Some graphic novels (our library has a graphic novels collection for students to use, mainly recreational. We have some decent holdings, but it is still a work in progress).
  • Items via Interlibrary Loan (ILL). When neither my library nor my local public library have a book I want to read, I can use this service to have my library bring it in from another library. It is one of the big perks of working in an academic institution. Public libraries do offer ILL, but it is rarely as robust as the one  in an academic institution. I have used ILL to get all kinds of books from academic topics to popular books.

What do I get from my public library:

  • Graphic novels. These are often titles my library does not have. They often get things quicker too than we do.
  • History books. In this case, I get more popular history works, the kind that a good informed lay reader would read. A particular subset of this would be microhistories. Those are books that do history on a single topic really well. One example is Mark Kurlansky’s Salt.
  • An art book now and then. This also includes photography books.
  • Humor books.
  • Some popular fiction. I read science fiction, plus some fantasy and horror, so I get books in those categories. This year, I am doing a horror reading challenge, so I get those books through my public library. Brian Keene’s work was a recent discovery from doing the challenge last year.  I do look forward to reading more by him, by the way.
  • In fact, when I do reading challenges, I often get the books for them at my public library.
  • Books on fairly random topics. I am pretty inquisitive, and once in while I will pick up something because it sounds interesting. I have read books about rodeos and fried twinkies, about the history of delis, about the Glock handgun, so on. Recently, I even read the book that  is now basis of the movie War Dogs (by the way, from the looks of recent reviews, skip the movie, read the book).  I am very eclectic as a reader, and I usually find what I need at the public library.
  • Media. I get DVDs for some movies. I like movies, but I would not call myself a movie buff. I also get DVDs for old television shows. Plus, since I am doing an audiobook reading challenge this year, I have been trying out some of their selections. However, in audiobooks, my local public library does leave a lot to be desired.

In the end, I go to my  local public library out of my need as a reader. I usually visit my public library once a week, usually on Sundays. I do get things from my own academic library, but  I read a bit too broadly and eclectically for my academic library. So my public library combined with Interlibrary Loan pretty much get me what I need. In the end, I do love libraries. I am glad I work in one, and  I am happy to use and support my local public library branch.

How about readers out there? Feel free to comment about your own library experiences, what you go to the library for, so on. Or if you do not use your local library, tell me why as well.

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

 

In case you missed them, or in case you are looking for something  new to read, here are the books I reviewed over at The Itinerant Librarian for the month of July 2016.

  • I started the month with a true crime graphic novel: Green River Killer. This is the story of a serial killer that terrorized Seattle in the late 1960s to 1970s.
  • I read Ghost Fleet, Volume 2. With this book, I complete the series, which sadly was cancelled after issue 8. It is still worth seeking out the trades.
  • Before the Star Wars films that we know, George Lucas had a vision, and he put it down in a rough draft. You can read that vision now in The Star Wars.
  • Want to get your fix of the “original” Ghostbusters (i.e. the guys from the first movies)? You might consider picking up Ghostbusters International.
  • If you like Ellen DeGeneres, you might consider reading her book Seriously…I’m Kidding. I read it as an audiobook, but it is available in print too. I read this as part of my challenge this year to read more audiobooks.
  • I read some nice erotica in Dirty Dates: Erotic Fantasies for Couples.
  • If you have a friend about to get married, or recently married, this little book could make a good engagement gift. The book is Scenes from an Impending Marriage.
  • I reviewed the 1969-1970 and 1973-1974 volumes of The Complete Peanuts.
  • I continue to enjoy the Grayson series from DC Comics. For this month, I reviewed the third volume of the series. In a time when a lot of DC Comics are a big mess, to put it mildly, this series is an enjoyable entertainment. This  and their Harley Quinn run with Conner and Palmiotti are about the only comics I am really enjoying out of DC these days.
  • I also read some Star Wars now that it is owned by Marvel, who is now owned by Disney. The book is Vader Down.

 

 

 

Apparently, a lot of people go wild on the weekends spending money (story via Wise Bread). People need stuff to do, and apparently a little retail therapy goes a very long way. The article I linked gives some ideas on how to avoid those traps, but as often with listicles, I had an issue or two with it. So I am going to look over their list of ideas and add my thoughts on the matter. Feel free to comment and agree or disagree, or say anything else for that matter.

  • The movie theater. OK, this is fairly obvious. It’s the weekend, the latest blockbuster is out, and and you want to be able to brag you were among the first to see it. I guess I get the appeal. They suggest you instead stay home and use Netflix or rent a movie from the Red Box (assuming there is a Red Box near you). They do have a point here. Movie theaters are expensive propositions in terms of tickets, then you add the popcorn, the soda to wash down that popcorn, any extra candy, so on. Plus if you are taking a family with you, you have at least a car payment probably.
    • Staying at home is a good option. However, if you want to save a bit more money, since you are staying at home anyhow, consider visiting your local public library. If you have a library card, it means you can not just check out books, but you can also check out DVDs, Blue Rays, so on, and they do not cost you a thing. Your public library often has not just movies but also many of the popular TV shows you may like. Make your own popcorn, save on the rental from that box, and watch something at home from the library.
  • The car lot. I read that, and my reaction was, “the car lot? Who the hell goes to a car lot for fun on a weekend?” I avoid a car lot the way I would avoid things like root canals, prostate probes, water boarding, and other medieval tortures. Who the hell does that and then just feels like, “hey, let’s buy a new car”? I am guessing these are people with either really good credit (so they can get approved for the financing), or they have money to burn and nothing better to do. If they are in the former, do you really need to get into another debt? If you are in the latter, this type of saving money article probably does not apply to you anyhow.
    • Need a place to go? There are plenty of parks and museums that do not cost a thing or that have modest cost. You can browse and look around to your heart’s content without ending up with a new car loan. Sure, if you actually need a vehicle, and it is a planned purchase, sure, go look around and work to get the best deal. But car lot should not be anywhere in  your options for weekend fun.
  • The mall. Just avoid it. It is possible to go to the mall and walk around and window shop, but if you have no willpower nor discipline, just avoid this place.
    • Again, alternatives include parks, museums, the farmer’s market, the library, etc. There are plenty of low cost or free options that will probably provide you a better experience than going to the mall.
  • Restaurants. I get eating out once in a while, but the article makes a good point: “Have a plan for what meals you will make at home Saturday and Sunday…”.
    • In other words, cook at home more. By the way, this also applies to ordering out.
  • Open Houses. Since I am not in the market for a new house any time soon, I do not get this. To me, this sounds almost as bad as going to a car lot for the fun of it. What kind of sick people do this? The real risk, according to the article, is not that you suddenly buy a house. The risk is you getting ideas of expensive shit you want to fix and do in your own house.
    • See my note above on the availability of parks, museums, libraries, and other free or very low cost venues if you need to be entertained.
  • The Furniture Store. Really? This seems just as bad as going to the car lot, and furniture salespeople can be just as pushy and obnoxious. The article’s suggestion on trying to buy used furniture when possible is pretty good if you do need furniture. However, if you are just doing this for the fun of it, because you are bored, again, find another option.
  • Big Ticket items. This is a tricky one for me to speak about since I do not really go to these kind of things. So for me, I easily save the money I could have spent on something like this. The article defines “big ticket” events as things like sporting events, but it also adds concerts and theater productions. Personally, I do not care for sports at all. I just did not inherit the macho gene that says I have to care about sports. So going to a stadium and spending enough money to keep a small third world economy afloat is not my idea of fun. While I like some acts, I do not like them enough to go to a concert and deal with crowds, etc. The only thing I might indulge in is theater, and I still try to go cheap on that.
    • If you must watch sports, hey, do it at home on TV. Even if you spend money on a giant screen TV and some cable/satellite sports package, odds are good you will save more than if you go to the stadium. Having people over to watch a big game? Hey, make it a potluck for the food and get them to help out with some of those costs a bit. For concerts, there are options to see them from the comfort of your home too. Try those instead. As for theater, well, if you live in the boonies like I do, fancy theater is not really an option. However, in a college town, there are often various student productions that are very good, and admission cost is modest, so I get my theater fix that way.
  • The weekend roadtrip. This is the one I may have some sympathy for. I happen to enjoy a good road trip. Contrary to what the article has you believe of it being a money hole, if you save enough and plan ahead, a good road trip can provide you with a pleasant and positive experience you cherish. If you have a little discipline with your expenses, doing this once in a while should be OK.
    • Personally, I generally do not take road trips to big ticket places. For one, I do live on a librarian’s salary. Two, the Better Half’s job is not one that allows her to take vacations easily, so a small road trip to a small attraction nearby is about as good as it gets. A short trip to a local festival a town or two over is a good weekend trip, especially if there is no overnight stay involved. I usually seek out small and unusual attractions too, which tend to be more modest in cost. Here in Kentucky, a small indulgence of mine for road trips is going to one of the bourbon distilleries now and then. A tour is not really too costly, and if you don’t go crazy at the gift shop, it is a nice thing to do on a weekend drive. I also say take advantage of things like state parks, fairs, etc., to get out plus such things mean you support your local economies.
    • If I do have to stay overnight, hotel is fine. However, I do shop around for a good price; they suggest $75. I say if all you need is the bed to sleep in and maybe a small breakfast in the morning, you can do better than that in terms of price (and no, you will not end up in a roach motel). The article suggests to save this cost by staying with friends and relatives. I counter that if you have few friends, and you have obnoxious relatives, then the cost of the hotel is well worth it. At that point, you are paying not just for the bed to stay in but also for your peace of mind. Saving a few bucks by staying at Crazy Aunt Sue’s and her husband the Rush Limbaugh fan is not a vacation. You get what you pay for, and I would rather have the peace and quiet at the end of the day. Your mileage may vary.

In the end, there are some obvious things you should avoid in order not to spend a lot of money over the weekend. But if it is something you planned for the experience, then do your best to make a budget and stick to it. It is not complicated.

Now enjoy your weekend.

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