Riba Rambles:
Musings of a Mental Magpie

About the author: Elisabeth in early 2007, photo by Todd Belf
Elisabeth "Lis" Riba is an infovore with an MLS. This is her place to share whatever's on her mind, on topics both personal and political. [more]
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Friday, April 22, 2005
Seeking a sequel, redux
Posted by Lis Riba at 10:35 PM

Since Ian is taking care of posting updates on how life is treating us, I wish to use this brief opportunity to make another request for reading material.

I just finished Piloting Palm: the inside story of Palm, Handspring, and the birth of the billion-dollar handheld industry. Great book, learned a lot I didn't previously know about PDAs.

But, again, I'm left wanting more. The story only covers through about the end of 2001. The website gives a little more history thru 2002, but that's still over three years ago.

Can anybody point me to some good articles on the recent history of handhelds & PDAs? Whatever's going on in the industry among WinCE and Palm and phones and whatever else is on the market? Rest assured, I'll be doing my own digging when I've got more time, but if you happen to already know of any good sources to recommend, I'd love to read them.

In the meantime, I've started reading Paul Levinson's Cellphone: the story of the world's most mobile medium and how it has transformed everything! which I view as a moderately tangential direction.

Hope y'all are doing well.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Looking for a book: a request for recommendations
Posted by Lis Riba at 5:15 PM

While food books seem an unusual choice of reading material for Pesach, I just finished Perfection salad: women and cooking at the turn of the century, about the origins and evolution of home economics as a discipline in late 19th century/early 20th century America. [An excellent followup to Inside the Victorian Home, which -- even though one looks at the UK and the other US -- did an excellent job at setting the stage in my mind. Understanding the sorry state of cookery and commercial foods coming into this period helps make comprehensible the desire for scientific methods and exactness.]

Of course, these people were establishing the perfect balanced diets before all the elements of modern nutrition had been discovered. They understood protein and carbohydrates and fat and calories, but remained ignorant of vitamins and minerals and other elements we consider essential to a healthy diet. Which makes for some pretty interesting menu suggestions, let me tell you!

Naturally, I want to find and read the "sequel": books that continue the history of nutrition through the 20th century, both on the scientific front and the effects on home cooking. I've also recently read Something from the oven: reinventing dinner in 1950's America, so I'm really looking for works covering the first half of the century, as these discoveries were being made.

Just searching about, I've found a few titles, but none seem to be quite what I need:

So, has anybody read any of these to give me a review? Hopefully this gives you a fair idea of what I'm looking for (or not), so if you can recommend other works along these lines, I'd be most appreciative.

[I was actually thinking of emailing Rima Apple [2] (author of the first book, contributor to the last, and writer of a book on the history of Home Ec at UW-Madison, which ruefully is only available in a relatively unfriendly electronic facsimile edition) for her suggestions, since this seems her area of expertise. Unfortunately, it looks like she may be on sabbatical so I don't know whether she'll bother checking any email to her school address.]

In the meantime, I've just started reading Finding Betty Crocker: the secret life of America's first lady of food. Before the fire, I started haunting the libraries (and my stacks) for other travel reading, and expect to be taking these books with me: America (the book): a citizen's guide to democracy inaction, Blink: the power of thinking without thinking, Cellphone: the story of the world's most mobile medium and how it has transformed everything!, A Dead Man in Deptford (maybe I'll finally manage to get into it), Five quarts: a personal and natural history of blood, and Type: the secret history of letters. There were other books I planned to check out, but time ran out on me.

[Personal note: While I was searching for these books, I came across several other titles that may be of interest at some later point in time:

It's life, Jim, but not as we know it
Posted by Lis Riba at 1:04 PM

All's quiet on the blogging front.

And the forecast is for continued quiet for the next week or two.

Not only haven't I had personal Internet access since our house fire, but I've just been too busy to blog about it all.

There's so much going on that I'd like to share with you: how insurance has been treating us, where we've been staying, what we've been doing, how we are, how the house is, what they've found out about the cause of the fire, and all kinds of interesting observations (about ourselves and the world) that we've been making... it's too much for me to sum up in any organized fashion in the space and time I have available.

Again, I'll just reassure everyone that it's only property damage, though between the remaining smoke smell and the chemicals ServiceMaster has used to clean the house, between my allergies, our asthma, and Ian's chemical sensitivity, we're keeping a very close eye on our health throughout this process.

Here are our immediate plans (and why you shouldn't expect much blogging from me for a while):

Although ServiceMaster has finished cleaning our apartment to their satisfaction (we've noticed a few spots they've missed), we aren't sleeping in the house yet. Tomorrow, we're flying down to Florida for a long-planned trip to visit my family. We'll keep the windows open (and our third-floor tenants have moved back into their apartment, which was least affected by the fire, so hopefully they can close windows when it rains).

We get back on Tuesday, and hopefully that will be enough time for our apartment to air out. I intend to get a hotel room that night, so we can judge its habitability during the daytime -- rather than making any unpleasant respiratory discoveries in the middle of the night.

After that, we'll see.


Needless to say, I haven't been keeping up with LiveJournal or with other weblogs much at all. And that may continue for the foreseeable future. If you see anything you want me to read or even just think I'd be interested in, please drop me a comment with the links.

I did catch the news about Oxyrhynchus Papyri, with the breakthru in deciphering ancient papyrus fragments. [I keep hearing Ovid's name bandied about as among the salvage -- anybody know which works?] And I've heard about the new pope and the revamped food pyramid.

But other than that, assume I'm completely out of touch with current events (world and interpersonal) unless you drop me a link. It's not that I don't care, just that I can't right now. And if you read my blog, you probably know how important staying current is to me, so please share the news!

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