Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Books, Spain and even some Poker

The one thing every parent who's been on parental leave tells me is that "don't make any grand plans for when you'll be home; you won't have time to do anything but take care of the kid."

The one thing every prospective stay-at-home dad thinks is "poppycock; the kid sleeps for at least three hours during the day - plenty of time for pet projects!"

The truth, as is so often the case, is somewhere in between. I don't have time to read three books a week, play 60k hands of poker each month and keep the house sparkling clean, but I have time for something in between that, and "no books, no poker and the house is a mess." In practise, I'm trying to play about 25,000 hands a month - the majority of which takes place when Bennie takes naps, which is certainly not an ideal time of day to be playing from a game selection point of view, but you work with what you have - and I usually end up reading in bed at night. The house gets randomly cleaned here and there, usually while Benjamin is chewing his food; I give him a piece of bread and during the 45 seconds it takes him to chew and swallow, I empty some of the dishwasher, etc. Works out nicely.

Now, about books... It's February, and it's time for that weird annual Swedish "book sale" tradition in a few weeks. It stems from earlier times when every year about this time the book stores would try to clear the shelves in preparation for the new books that I guess were published in March. After awhile it became a tradition; every late February all the book stores have huge sales and great prices on books and by now it's such a big deal that the publishers actually print extra copies to be sold during the book sale - quite defeating the original purpose.

I love book sales. But that's because I love book stores. Give me a Barnes&Noble and I'll come out a few hours and a couple of hundred dollars later. In practise, I very rarely actually buy any books that are on sale, because they tend to be mystery novels and the like, and I don't really read those. Only rarely will I find a book on sale that I actually want, although I usually end up randomly buying some books that I never read anyway. So why am I mentioning the book sale? Because we - for reasons I'm not entirely clear on - decided that we'll place our big book orders at this time of year. I guess "just in case" some of the books we want would happen to be on sale, but they never are. So, in effect, that means that I'm only a few weeks away from my next Big Book Buy, and boy am I excited!

Here is what I'm planning on getting:

Food Rules by Michael Pollan
In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

I was originally going to get The Omnivore's Dilemma after a recommendation by Dan Dennett but remembered that he (Michael Pollan) had been on The Daily Show and decided that maybe the other books would be interesting too. Cooking/eating is something I'm interested in, so why not?

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive by Jared Diamond
The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond

I'm currently reading his Guns, Germs and Steel and am loving it. So I'm picking up some more of Jared Diamond, because that's how I roll.

Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett
Eric by Terry Pratchett
Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
Sourcery by Terry Pratchett
Pyramids: The Book of Going Forth. by Terry Pratchett

... and I'm also continuing my trek through Discworld. I started reading that series from scratch this summer and am now on book... I guess it's book number five? Something like that.

Prisoner's Dilemma by William Poundstone

Another book recommended by Dennett. If there's one book in the list that I'll skip, it's probably this one, no matter how interesting it may be. I'm a little bit worn out on Prisoner's Dilemma explanations.

The Greatest Show on Earth
by Richard Dawkins

Okay, I'm probably overdoing it now on evolution, and I certainly don't need to be persuaded by evidence anymore, but as I like Dawkins's style of writing and find the topic itself fascinating, I figured I'll pick this up as well.

A Farewell to Alms
by Gregory Clark

Look, Belgo! Finally!

What the Dog Saw: and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell

I've liked every other book of Gladwell's, so I'm keeping with my tradition of buying basically everything by authors that I like until I don't like them anymore.

Contact by Carl Sagan

I've actually already read this, but don't own it, and I'd like to read it again. I've obviously seen the movie too but from what I (vaguely) recall of the book, the plots weren't entirely similar. In the book that was some funky business going on with Pi. But we'll see.


So that's that.


We're going to Spain for a week starting next Saturday. It'll be nice with a break from all this snow, and my parents are coming down a couple of days after us (we'll be staying in their house down there) so we'll have the dual pleasures of having available - and highly willing - babysitters nearby while also getting spoiled by my dad's cooking and getting to enjoy some sun. Our book order won't go through before we leave, but I'm not entirely out of reading material to bring with me. Yet. I think what both Lori and I are looking forward to the most is this excellent Indian restaurant that is near the house. Mmm, Indian food.


And poker is... Well, poker is as poker has always been. This year, overall, has gone OK but not great. The entire month of february has been a rollercoaster around the break-even line, largely from running like crap but probably a little bit from tinkering with some fundamental parts of my game as well and breaking some stuff in the process; specifically, my 3-betting frequency plummeted to 3% because I started changing my ranges; removing hands from ranges is easy - adding them is hard, because my reptile brain still autofolds a lot of them. It's on the rise again, though, and I'm not entirely sure where it will end up. Anyway. I do feel like a much stronger player than I've ever been, and I have great hopes for 2010. How great? Well, we're buying a new car. The idea is to make enough this year to be able to easily cover the cost of it, and I'll leave it to you to try and guess what kind of car we're getting and how much we're paying for it.


Alright, Bennie's awake, so I'll leave it at that.


Roy said...

It'salways a pleasure to read your blog FP. It looks like youand I have a similar taste in books, at least as far as the sociology part of it goes. I've read all of Jared Diamonds books (I think). Guns Germs and Steel got me hooked. I read it as soon as it came out and I still consider it the best book I've ever read.

I don't remember much about The Third Chimpanzee other than thinking at the time that I was happy that, unlike our primate cousins, I was happy that female humans asses don't turn bright red and emit an alluring odor when they're in heat.

Collapse started out great but got a bit repetative somewhere around 1970's Haiti. I get it, Humans suck and given the chance they will suck all the life out of their environment for short term gains to the detriment of future societies.

Anyway, enjoy Spain (been there. Loved the topless beaches) and much luck and health to you and your family in 2010.

Fredrik Paulsson: said...


Would you say I should skip Collapse? Reading time is a bit of a precious resource for me and I'd rather spend it as efficiently as possible, so if you un-recommend a book I'm likely to take heed.

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