Diary 6/7 to 6/8/22: Don’t sleep alone; crackers to replace chips; Cindy Crabb and blood on the page; bug dream; tree identification; disappointing books from Chomsky and Borges; chemistry has changed; Unf*ck Your Brain.

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

{6/7/22} Continued.

Surprising item from Neuroscience News:  “Adults who share a bed with their partners sleep better than those who sleep alone. Researchers found bed-sharing was associated with a lower risk of depression and stress, and improved quality of life and relationships. However, sharing a bed with a child was associated with more stress.”  The details offer more surprises—I had checked, thinking, “These studies usually talk about ‘3% improvement’ and the like,” but in this case it’s not so.  In fact, no percentages or other statistics are offered, alas.

Bought two kinds of crackers at Wal-Mart today, hoping that these might substitute for the chips I’ve been eating.  Ha!  When I got home, I had a cupful of chips.  But one of the things I told myself recently was that I would do well to quit buying chips and Cheetos; this might be the way to accomplish that.  Low-sodium Triscuit crackers would also serve, but I’ve had a box for about a year and rarely eat them and don’t much like them.  Today I bought graham crackers and “Almond Nut-Thins.”

Sampling one of the latter, it tastes okay (of course, not nearly as vibrant as the “Cheddar and Sour Cream” chips that I’ve been abusing), though the texture isn’t very chip-like.  The numbers would be a big improvement, which is the main point, of course.  They’re not cheap ($2.87 for a mere 4.25 ounces).  I have a couple of large bags of the old stuff to get through first.

30g of crackers provide 130 calories, 2.5g of fat, 55mg of sodium, 1g of fiber, 0g of sugar, 3g of protein, per the package.

While I’m at it, the Great Value (Wal-Mart house brand) “Naturally Flavored Cinnamon Graham Crackers” were lots cheaper at $1.76 for 14.4 ounces, with 31g of crackers weighing in at 130 calories, 3.5g of fat, 115mg of sodium, 1g of fiber, 8g of sugar, and 2g of protein.

Another thing I told myself that I would do well to keep the TV off.  Fat chance of that.

When I talked to Dr. Hill last week, she returned Cindy Crabb: Things That Help (originally The Encyclopedia of Doris), a book I have often raved about. She said she read it all, but was bored. I told her she should have stopped reading, but she’s one of those people who “always finish what they start reading.” I told her that Emerson, in “Self-Reliance,” talked about Aristotle needing to prove himself to the reader, in other words, stop reading books that bore you. Given her education and experience, I suppose Crabb had little to offer that was new to Dr. Hill.

Posted a review of this book at Thriftbooks.com:  “This collection of zines (the zine is called “Doris”), arranged alphabetically by subject, tells of Cindy Crabb’s life over a decade or more. For me, the most interesting and moving stories were about the abuse she received, her dabbling in an anarchist and punk lifestyle, and more or less drifting while avoiding “getting a job.” Women who are well up on feminist issues may not find that much of interest; I, being male, found much of serious value despite much other feminist reading. I’ve read this twice and given it to two friends to read. The male friend liked it a lot; the female friend said it bored her. This book is in a class that I call “blood on the page“: intensely personal stories from serious writers. I have to say, however, that the formatting, printing, and so on, suffer greatly compared to most books, but much is gained from the included cartoons in the margins, which are mostly decorative, though primitive. The reprint edition, “Things that Help,” is a bit inferior in quality and the page numbering in the Table of Contents is off by 4.”


A bit of a dream this morning.  I was controlling two bugs, one a beetle like a June bug, and they were supposed to attack two ants.  However, the ants were inside yellow plastic tubes like the old black cannisters that were the packaging of 35 mm film rolls.  The tubes moved around and the bugs I controlled were baffled.  That’s all I remember.

Went to the library and came home with a bag of books and CDs; it seemed very heavy, but the last time I had such a “very heavy bag” I weighed it and discovered that it was a mere 22 pounds.  I meant to measure this one also, but forgot and unpacked it.

One of the books, well, actually, three of the books I got were disappointing; the one I bought for fifty cents is Forest Trees of the Pacific Coast.  It turns out that California is not included, but I’m going to keep it anyway because it has lots of photographs of whole trees; the Peterson Field Guides A Field Guide to Western Trees, my primary resource for tree identification, has no pictures of whole trees, only photographs of bark.  Neither book is going to be of much use until I get a car (if ever).  But it’s cool to be able to recognize plants while driving by.

The other books that were disappointing I checked out from the library; they are:

  • Noam Chomsky and Andrea Moro:  The Secrets of Words.  Andrea is a guy.  Anyway, I read about 25 pages (small pages) before giving up because I don’t have the background in linguistics to understand it.
  • Jorge Luis Borges:  Selected Non-Fictions, Eliot Weinberger, editor.  This is a large collection of small pieces (mostly one or two pages).  I read many items and felt that I had gained very little or nothing.  Borges’ short stories always interest me, and often disappoint me somehow, usually by seeming pointless or puzzling.

Among the CDs I bought, again at fifty cents each, were two full ballets including Beethoven’s The Creatures of Prometheus and Glazunov’s Raymonda.  Glazunov frequently disappoints me (what, again?)—I love one movement of his Seasons ballet, I think “Spring,” but everything else of his I’ve heard has always bored me.

One of the heaviest books I got was the New Harvard Dictionary of Music, which I’ve been wanting for weeks—I was lucky that nobody else bought it, because previously I’ve always passed on it merely because of the weight.

I also bought an old college chemistry textbook; I wanted an old one because chemistry has gone through a major change in the last forty years or so.  Older books adopt a “cookbook” approach, telling about many chemical reactions, that is, mixtures and what they do (like explode).  A chemistry class I had a the University of Southern California about 25 years ago was all about entropy calculations, allowing you to predict the results of combinations of chemicals.  So it’s like chem has gone from being a lab science to a bunch of arithmetic (though of course they still use labs, because learning the techniques is also important).

A third book that I read some of today is Faith G. Harper, Ph.D.:  Unf*ck Your Brain.  This is from Microcosm Publishing—I learned about it from an email (I’m on their list), but didn’t want to buy it, especially when I saw that it was in the library.  It’s full of profanity and slang and lacks an index; I don’t consider these good signs for a nonfiction book.  Microcosm has a subscription service; for $30 a month (or less if you wish) you will receive a copy of all the new books they publish.  I thought about it for a while, then decided not to, since the books I’ve gotten from them previously (except Cindy Crabb’s) have always (here’s that word again) disappointed me.

If one reads a lot of books, or at least samples a lot, one will often be disappointed.

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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