April 03, 2014

Culling Books, Buying New Kindle

Inspired by several folks who have switched nearly 100% to eReaders, I shall set myself a challenge/reward. A new Kindle Paperwhite goes for C$139. When I choose 139 books in my overcrowded office to donate, and actually drop them off at a selected charity, I shall reward myself with a new Kindle to replace the ancient, 1st-gen 6-incher that I rarely use anymore because the battery is on its last legs.

Several hours later: the car is loaded with exactly 139 books to donate : -)

I have to admit that this book-lover feels relief. I was becoming seriously overcrowded in my office, and the family was not into allowing more shelves to be installed in other parts of the home! I should probably donate another several hundred books. . .

Years ago I did a massive cull. I donated somewhere around 400-500 books to local charities. The bulk was from my collection of Soviet and Eastern European tomes. Dry, sad, violent stuff. At one point in my life I was leaning toward becoming a Kremlinologist, but with the (thankful) collapse of the USSR, that seemed moot.

But I wonder, now, with the rise of a new Russian Empire, built, and incorporating the worst of previous regimes. Perhaps I should have held on to those books. . .

Posted by Paul at 09:22 PM

December 12, 2013

Language Lanterns Year-End Book Sale!

Year-End Sale!

Award-winning Language Lanterns translates and publishes Ukrainian literature in English

From now through the end of the year, all Language Lanterns books ordered directly from the publisher are on sale. Regularly $19.95, buy 1 for $15, 2 for $25, 3 or more for $10 each! That's half price if you order 3 or more! Plus shipping.

Order Direct

Note that A Hunger Most Cruel is sold out and we are considering a third print run in 2014.

Copies of some other volumes are limited, so order now!

Posted by Paul at 12:19 PM

March 22, 2013

Wow, I Read a Book on my Kobo Glo!

I am far from being a Luddite, I love my computers (yes, I have several), but though I've had an ancient  monochrome Kindle for years, and picked up a Kobo Glo recently, I've never read much on eBook readers. I have lots of paper books that I haven't gotten around to reading. . .

But I am learning how to create ePubs as part of my editing and communication business, so I figure I'd better start reading more of  them.

Today I read Head First WordPress on my Kobo, and aside from some formatting glitches and typos (hm, a bit disappointing for an O'Reilly book), it went well. But I certainly see why you have to be careful about formatting eBooks, as the ePub version of the book did have some problems, at least as displayed on a Kobo.

I attended an excellent all-day workshop on creating electronic books presented by eBound Canada a few weeks ago, and one of the things hammered into our heads was that you must test your ePubs on as many different readers as possible, because they will not render the same. That's why I got the Kobo to complement my Kindle. And as soon as the budget allows, it'll also be a great reason to get an iPad  : -).

Posted by Paul at 09:40 PM

February 26, 2013

Bought Kobo Glo eReader Following eBook Production Workshop

I attended an excellent all-day workshop on creating electronic books presented by eBound Canada last week. By the time I walked out my brain hurt from assimilating so much information so quickly : -).

Check out their website, they have great tutorials on all sorts of issues related to producing problem-free publications.

Anyway, one of the key points I learned is the importance of quality assurance, and testing publications on as many platforms as possible.

That led to buying a Kobo Glo, from a line of readers that is popular in Canada. I think I will like the Glo - the touchscreen is nice compared to my relatively ancient Kindle model which is hard buttons only, and the Glo is superb for reading at night or in dim conditions. Am busily downloading a ton of free, copyright-expired works to the Glo as I write this.

kindle_glo_20130226

The old Kindle on the left and the Glo with its light on to the right
with both set to their library pages.

Posted by Paul at 07:26 PM

February 07, 2013

‘Editors’ Association of Earth’ FB Page Passes 1,000 Members in 71 Minutes

Wow.

An amazing experiment in social media. Editors' Association of Canada President Greg Ioannou started a Facebook page called the 'Editors Association of Earth' and with folks inviting folks it passed 1,000 members in 71 minutes.

Check it out here.

Posted by Paul at 09:56 AM

January 12, 2013

Adderson Delivers Excellent Fiction-Editing Workshop for EAC-BC

I attended a workshop today on editing fiction sponsored by the BC Branch of the Editors' Association of Canada featuring Caroline Adderson.

An accomplished writer, Adderson provided lots of good information on opening pages, cutting, scenes, cutting, characterization, cutting, dialogue, cutting, plot, endings, and yes, you got it, cutting . . . : -).

Seems like my journalism training and work in which a key editing catchphrase is "if in doubt, delete" also applies to fiction.

Adderson was great fun, making for enjoyable learning.

I edit a lot of fiction in translation for Language Lanterns Publications, but that has constraints of remaining true to the original that an editor doesn't face when editing something fresh from a writer. Apparently the February meeting of EAC-BC will feature a speaker on editing translations, so I'm looking forward to it!

Posted by Paul at 07:55 PM

November 29, 2012

Successful Language Lanterns Book Launch in Vancouver

The Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada Vancouver Branch hosted a book launch of several Language Lanterns translations of Ukrainian literature into English tonight at the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Vancouver. Admission was free, and cookies, cakes and coffee were served. Thank you very much! And thanks to UWAC Vancouver Chair Lydia Huzyk for taking the lead!

Twenty-eight people braved the dark, rainy night to attend, and we sold over 40 books.

As editor for Language Lanterns, I talked about how the project began over 15 years ago, with my aunt, a retired professor of Slavic languages, translating Ukrainian literature into English, and my mom, Sonia Morris, a retired professor of Educational Psychology, editing them. Before my Mom passed away in 2007, the sisters produced 17 volumes. I helped complete three more that they had begun that were published with Mom as editor, and since then Roma and I have completed two more, with a third at the printer as I write this.

That makes a total of 23 volumes and nearly 10,000 pages!

I read from an interview that Roma had given on how she got started translating, and also from a speech my Mom had written for a book launch back in 2000. I then provided some historical background to the era and place where several of the recent books were written: Ukraine circa 1860-1935.

I capped the evening off with readings from the books Prometheus and Maria.

There were lots of great questions from the audience, and I thank the organizers again for putting on such a wonderful event.

I recorded the proceedings, so if you're interested in listening, you can download the 15MB WMA file here.

Thanks to my wife, Yumi, for taking photos and handling sales.

paul_llp_book_launch_vancouver_20121129

llp_book_launch_vancouver_20121129

Posted by Paul at 10:30 PM

November 20, 2012

I’ll Present at Language Lanterns Book Launch in Vancouver on Nov. 29

The Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada Vancouver Branch will host a book launch of several Language Lanterns translations of Ukrainian literature into English on Nov. 29, at 7pm, in the mezzanine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral , 154 E. 10th Ave., Vancouver. Free admission and refreshments will be served.

Thanks to UWAC Vancouver Chair Lydia Huzyk for taking the lead!

I will talk about several volumes, and do some readings from them. The books will include Prometheus and Maria.

Vancouver_book_launch_UWAC_20121129

Posted by Paul at 12:57 PM

November 15, 2012

Proof for Latest Language Lanterns Ukrainian > English Literature Translation Arrives

I received the cover and text proofs for our latest Language Lanterns translation of Ukrainian literature into English. Exciting! But it's also a bit nerve-wracking to see what you may have missed in previous editing stages.

This latest volume is called Fantastic Encounters and contains two stories by Oles Berdnyk: "The Eye Flower" and "The Illusionist", translated by Roma Franko and edited by moi.

Assuming I can get this proofread in the next few days, we should have the printed copies back well in time for Christmas.

Fantastic_Encounters_Proof_20121115_350

Here's the description from the back cover:

"Bread is for the stomach, a tale is for the heart," says one of Oles Berdnyk's characters in these two enchanting stories, The Eye Flower and The Illusionist. Berdnyk addresses these works to "seekers of fantastic tales" who have "an openness to adventure." A charming mix of fantasy, science fiction, and bits of Ukrainian folklore, these stories can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Berdnyk says "we all live among miracles and wonders, we are all children of a fantastic tale and of the unprecedented, only we often forget about it. We awaken only sporadically." The common theme that runs throughout both works is that "there's no power greater than a flaming, loving heart--especially one that finds joy in a fantastic tale." Berdnyk encourages us to be open to the childlike wonder within us. "Seek and you will find. Look and you will see."

Posted by Paul at 08:06 PM

October 10, 2012

I’ll Present at Language Lanterns Book Launch in Vancouver on Nov. 30

NOTE: The following event has been moved to Nov. 29. Time and place remain the same. Thanks!

The Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada Vancouver Branch will host a book launch of several Language Lanterns translations on Nov. 30, at 7pm, in the mezzanine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral , 154 E. 10th Ave., Vancouver. Free admission and refreshments will be served. Thanks to UWAC Vancouver Chair Lydia Huzyk for taking the lead!

I will talk about several volumes, and do some readings from them. The books will include Prometheus and Maria.

Posted by Paul at 03:24 PM

August 21, 2012

Feeling the Words Flow

I love it when a couple of days of reading and pondering result in words flowing miraculously from my fingers. This came to me in a rush within half an hour early this morning, and I don't think we will change much when the book is published. I should note that this had been churning in my mind for a week or more, and it was a nearly physical relief to see, and feel, the words tripping off my fingertips, through the keyboard, onto the screen.

This is a draft that I "knocked off" in a few minutes before, gasp, coffee this morning. It's a back-cover blurb for the latest translation we're working on at Language Lanterns Publications Inc.

"Bread is for the stomach, a tale is for the heart," says one of Oles Berdnyk's characters in these two enchanting stories, The Eye Flower and The Illusionist. Berdnyk addresses these works to "seekers of fantastic tales" who have "an openness to adventure." A charming mix of fantasy, science fiction, and bits of Ukrainian folklore, these stories can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Berdnyk says "we all live among miracles and wonders, we are all children of a fantastic tale and of the unprecedented, only we often forget about it. We awaken only sporadically." The common theme that runs throughout both works is that "there's no power greater than a flaming, loving heart--especially one that finds joy in a fantastic tale." Berdnyk encourages us to be open to the childlike wonder within us. "Seek and you will find. Look and you will see."

Posted by Paul at 09:51 PM

July 10, 2012

FB Update About Consolidating Late Mom’s Files Draws Flurry of ‘Likes’

Dunno how this hit a chord today on Facebook, but it did:

Consolidated 6 bankers boxes of my late Mom's files into 1 box over the last two days. She kept meticulous records! Tidbit for the day: in one of her first jobs as a substitute teacher for the Saskatoon Public School Board in the early 1960s she was paid $15 a day. Her first full-time instructor contract at the University of Saskatchewan was some $6,000/year... but over a 35-year U of S career she reached the position of assistant dean of the College of Education.

Posted by Paul at 09:11 PM

July 04, 2012

Ah, the Hiss of the Waves, the Thunder of the Guns…

Drat.

I was sorting through some books and got all excited to find volumes 19 and 20 of Patrick O'Brian's wonderful Aubrey-Maturin series in apparently pristine, unread shape -- and set apart from the rest of the series. Zounds, thought I, what a superb pair of volumes to while away a weekend or two this summer!

But when I checked my list of books read, I had indeed read them back in 2005. Sigh. Oh, well, I could always start the series from the beginning again! : -) That is, if I didn't have stacks of other books unread to get to. . .

Posted by Paul at 08:05 PM

June 21, 2012

Saying Goodbye to the Paper Papers

Today I (sob!) cancelled my paper delivery subscriptions to the Vancouver Sun and National Post, and signed up for the digital versions. This will be the first time that I have never subscribed to a paper newspaper.

But the cost advantages are compelling. The Sun and the Post together were costing about $46/month, while I can access both online for $9.99/month. That's a savings of $432/year.

Not to mention all the carbon emissions avoided, and resources used such as paper (recycled or not) and ink. I work from home and run my main computer pretty much 24/7 anyway (with all power-saving options turned on for when I'm not at my desk), and have a lovely dual-monitor setup on which to view large docs, so why run those printing presses, delivery trucks, and delivery person vehicles?

Supposedly I get "everything" that appears in the paper papers, even an identical layout view if I so desire, not to mention other cool stuff like search and text-to-voice, etc.

It will be an interesting experiment, and will certainly be a lifestyle change. I read the paper papers in the living room, next to a big balcony, with lots of natural light. The office is in the basement, and while I have a decent window down there, it doesn't compare to the airiness of the main floor. I think I'll be in withdrawal for awhile, but I'm pretty confident that it will work out. I have already shifted many of my magazine subscriptions to the online Zinio service, and that's worked out well.

Posted by Paul at 01:54 PM

June 16, 2012

Cool ‘Lean Publishing’ Presentation at Northern Voice 2012

I attended the always stimulating Northern Voice social media/blogging conference in Vancouver over the last two days. One of the sessions was on "lean publishing."

The website is leanpub.com, and is a means to quickly and easily publish online in pdf, epub and mobi formats, while retaining ownership and earning royalties of around 90%.

The speaker, Peter Armstrong, "wrote" a "book" (basically a title and a few sentences), uploaded it, had it converted, published and ready to download with suggested pricing, all during his 45-minute presentation in live time.

Books are available for sale (or for free) in common ereader formats from the LeanPub website, and as I understood it, authors are also free to post their output mobi files to Amazon, ePub files to iBooks, pdf files to their own website, etc.

The other interesting part of the presentation is that he encouraged a "Publish Early, Publish Often" approach, in which writers share material in progress, and modify/tailor it according to reader feedback. I can see this working well with tech books and manuals, of which there appears to be a preponderance on the website, but Armstrong said the iterative process is also taking off with fiction. In fact, he said, in a sense this is nothing new, pointing to a long history of serialized works by famous authors from Dickens to Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Oh, yes, authors are also able to set a minimum price and a suggested price for each work, and buyers can choose to pay more than the minimum, with easy-to-use sliders that change the pricing and show how much the author gets... And apparently this has led to a phenomenon in which a significant portion of sales have gone at $11.67/book. Why? Because at that price, the author receives $10.00, and with this transparency, apparently quite a few buyers feel that's a fair price, even if the minimum was lower...

I have no experience with LeanPub aside from this presentation, and do not endorse it in any way, just thought it looked cool, and I will certainly be researching it further for potential use in my own editing and writing business.

Posted by Paul at 07:38 PM

April 29, 2012

Language Lanterns Book Launch–Toronto, April 29, 2012

It's my role here today to present the Language Lanterns trilogy Desperate Times, with its volumes Brother Against Brother, Between the Trenches, and Conflict and Chaos.

It is difficult to sugar coat one of the most terrible periods in human history, in a place that modern scholars of total war and genocide have begun calling the "Bloodlands."

I assume that many in the audience here today have Ukrainian roots. Some of you may have wondered why Baba had a Polish passport when she came to Canada, while Dido had an Austrian one. Some of you may have seen photos of great-uncle Fedir in one uniform, while his brother Petro wore a different one. Some of you may recall that great-granddad, or perhaps granddad, had mysterious gaps in his memories of the "old country." Years that he'd dismiss with an angry chop of his hand, and you knew not to press further.

The authors of the stories in this trilogy put faces to buried experiences and emotions. They stand witness to events that people of disparate nationalities, cultures and religions often want to forget. Roma and my late mother Sonia struggled with choosing stories in this trilogy, and when I was brought deeper into the process, I could see why. We didn't want it to be all horror, and doom and gloom, yet we also firmly believed that it was necessary to make the experiences of our ancestors more readily available to modern generations.

I am not going to discuss in depth the literary merit of the stories, or the strengths and weaknesses of individual authors. I shall focus more on the era, and the setting, in which they wrote. The authors are not all equally capable, and the stories vary in literary quality, but it is not the job of a translator or editor to "improve" works in translation, but to present them as closely as possible to the original, while also attempting to make the resulting English palatable to modern readers who have shorter attention spans, vastly different educations, and very different literary expectations than European readers had a century ago.

The trilogy focuses on stories written during the 1900 to 1930 period that encompasses the slide of the imperial Russian Empire into chaos, the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, World War I, and the subsequent upheaval in Eastern Europe fomented by the Russian Revolution.

As of the early 20th century, Ukraine had long been divided by other empires--with Russia controlling eastern Ukraine, and various European powers dominating western portions. In both regions the Ukrainian language, culture and distinctive Ukrainian forms of Orthodox and Catholic rites were at times severely controlled, or completely banned, and conditions for ethnic Ukrainians were harsh. There was little opportunity for education and advancement, and the rising revolutionary tide that began sweeping Europe in the 19th century, with its concepts of nationalism, democracy, and freedom, soon found fertile ground in traditional Ukrainian territory.

The stories in this trilogy depict attempts at reform and political activism, peasant uprisings, revolutionary and terrorist acts, and the flowering of the Ukrainian independence movement. This blossoming of culture, language and political idealism was soon trampled, however, with the First World War sweeping millions to death, along with the brutal and bloody consolidation of power by communists in the lands of the former Russian Empire.

We chose stories written from multiple points of view. While we had some qualms about including some works, in the end we decided it was fitting, for they are all part of the spectrum of beliefs that drove variously motivated protagonists of those times.

So we read about Soviet revolutionary heroes--and disillusionment with the new communist regime. We read about atrocities perpetrated by imperial forces, and the complete collapse of morality in areas controlled by anarchist groups. We experience the power of fiction that enables us to put ourselves into others' shoes, to witness events through their eyes, to feel their emotions. The results often are not pretty, but stories such as these actually happened, time and again, shaping real people. Shaping our ancestors.

While it is difficult to divide the stories into precise chronological order, we began with ones dating to the Russian Revolution of 1905 that revealed the rotten state of the empire. Russia was shocked by repeated defeats in the Russo-Japanese War, and revolutionaries of various political stripes--though mostly socialists and communists--saw that collapse was a matter of time.

The Russian Empire had attempted to impose the Russian language and church upon all within its territory. As military disasters in the Far East undermined discipline, the empire was faced with rising ethnically based national aspirations. The overwhelming human and economic cost of WWI piled on stresses that the ossified and increasingly fractious empire could not withstand.

For Ukrainians, WWI was really a time of brother against brother, and not by choice. Several of the stories in this trilogy depict the anguish as families were divided between empires, with Ukrainians conscripted into both the Russian army, and opposing Germanic-Austrian forces.

By 1917, a demoralized and near-destitute Russian Empire was ripe for revolution, and two exploded that year. The first, the February Revolution, saw the abdication of the tsar and the establishment of a provisional government. The second, the October Revolution, saw the Bolsheviks under Lenin sweep into power and begin the consolidation of a new, communist, empire that became the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or, more simply, the Soviet Union.

The great tragedy of this revolutionary era is that idealism fell by the wayside, with horrific years of civil war in which combatants of all political stripes plunged into an escalating cycle of atrocities. It didn't matter right wing or left wing, they met in extremism, mass murder, rape, torture, looting--and for extended periods--total anarchy. There was complete social, political and economic collapse.

The modern Western reader has little concept of such terror and utter helplessness. We have no sense of such ingrained hatred--hatred of the oppressive aristocracy and bureaucracy--followed by hatred of the perversion of Marxism and Communism into a new, even harsher dictatorship that blindly espoused totalitarian ends that justified the foulest means.

Yet we see in these stories that amidst the chaos there were flickers of humanity, of ethical, moral behaviour. Within that chaos, people still loved, dreamed, and hoped. It is heartening to find that within that chaos some people still adhered to humane and principled codes of behaviour, even sacrificing their own lives to save those of others.

While reading these stories I sometimes wondered how people could go on, yet they did. Many of us in this room here today owe our freedom and our prosperity to ancestors who had the courage and perseverance to survive those Desperate Times, and to selflessly forge a new direction in a new country for the benefit of their descendants - for us.

The issues central to these volumes of revolutionary stories are still relevant and some are yet unresolved. The short-lived Ukrainian governments of the revolutionary period planted the seeds of independence, and some partisans fought on for decades against the Soviets. Reverberations from those times still impact the ongoing development of democracy in a free Ukraine in the face of still widely entrenched authoritarian values, and resurgent imperialistic ambitions in Russia.

Is it better to forget, or better to remember? I feel that as human beings we must remember, we must honour our ancestors, we must learn about our past, and we must learn how to do better in the future.

Thank you

Posted by Paul at 09:17 PM

April 16, 2012

My Introduction to ‘Maria’ by Ulas Samchuk

Maria by Ulas Samchuk is now available in English-language translation by Language Lanterns Publications. Maria is a gripping story about a Ukrainian woman's loves, losses, and daily toil, from the emancipation of serfs in 1861 to one of the most tragic periods in human history--the 1932-33 Holodomor, or Famine-Genocide.

Following is the introduction I wrote to the book:

"To see a world in a grain of sand."

These words by English poet William Blake remind us that minute, apparently inconsequential events in a life can represent universal truths. Ulas Samchuk's character Maria is such a grain of sand--or in the context of the novel, such a kernel of grain.

The life of this uneducated woman spans upheavals in Ukrainian history from approximately the 1861 emancipation of serfs in the Russian Empire under the Tsars, to the nearly unimaginable horror of the communist-induced mass starvation in Soviet Ukraine in the early 1930s that killed millions, and is internationally recognized as an act of genocide.

Samchuk dedicates his novel "to the mothers who died of hunger in Ukraine in 1932-33," yet the story is much more than that, taking the reader through three stages: A Book about the Birth of Maria, A Book of Maria's Days, and A Book about Bread. Each is important in its own way, as Maria grows, matures, and reacts to the changes going on around her.

She may be just a bit of flotsam carried by a tsunami of social and political change, but her loves, trials and toil through three score and ten (the author tells us that she lived for 26,258 days, or nearly 72 years) enable us to picture a harsh existence that prompted hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian peasants to abandon their beloved villages and emigrate in search of land, freedom, education, and opportunity.

There is obvious symbolism in how Samchuk names his lead female character: Maria is a reflection of Mother Mary, and Maria's daughter is named Nadiya, or "hope." Yet Maria is no Virgin Mary and Samchuk honours his character by portraying her as a real woman, with the flaws that all humans have.

Land is a theme that runs throughout the novel, as is the grain, or bread, that it produces. Land literally was life for small-scale farmers. Life revolved around, and depended on, the cycle of planting and harvesting grain, vegetables and fruit. An ethos of hard work, of providing for one's family, grew from this bond to the land. Without hard work, without sweat, a family would not eat. And with backbreaking labour came the satisfaction and joy of putting food on the table, of perhaps getting ahead a bit by growing enough so that a small surplus could be sold to buy a cow, or a pig.

The 1861 emancipation in the part of Ukraine controlled by the Russian Empire was viewed by the peasantry as a chance to finally be rid of forced labour, to expend all one's efforts on farming one's own plot of land. While it soon became evident that the "reforms" still heavily favoured the landed aristocracy, there was more opportunity for diligent former serfs to rise out of poverty, and even prosper.

Maria's husband, Korniy, after years of being drafted into the Russian Imperial Navy, returns home haughtily speaking Russian and shirking his culture and his community, but the land works its magic on him and he undergoes a transformation:

He is discovering an ever greater delight and joy in work. His vagabond-proletarian habits are fading into the past and being forgotten. The earth is drawing him into itself and filling his veins, his mind, and his entire being with solid habits. Korniy is now aware of this. His days as a freewheeling sailor are being forgotten and he is becoming a true human being. He slowly shakes off his vile cursing, begins using his native language, and this change restores him to the bosom of his family.

Samchuk's characters are not simply one-dimensional "peasants." They are human beings who labour and love, suffer and grow, celebrate small victories, and mourn terrible losses. The author shows us how similar experiences can have dramatically different effects on people--some lift themselves from their wanton ways and find reward in work, community, and their church, while others take advantage of turmoil to further themselves at the expense of others.

For those who worked hard, there were rewards, simple as they may have been.

Korniy, Maria and the elderly mother sit down at the table set with various dishes. There is everything here. Take whatever you want, whatever you feel like eating. Everything is good, everything is homemade, earned through the toil of their own hands and their patient endurance. Break off a piece of bread and eat it. Eat the bread, the cabbage, the varenyky. Eat the cabbage rolls and the fried fish. Eat the granular kutya and drink with it fruit juices from your own orchard. Wash it all down with honey gathered from the flowers of your native land.

But in the end, there was never enough land, and consequently Ukrainians began emigrating in significant numbers in the late 19th century to places like Canada, the United States, Australia and South America. That flow continued in spurts through the early 20th century, whenever the opportunity arose between wars, revolutions, and totalitarian regimes, with one final exodus following World War II, before the Iron Curtain fell, cutting off contact between the USSR and the rest of the world. Maria gives the modern reader a sense of how that love of land, combined with a lack of it, led to the conditions in which hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians left their native villages.

Initial reaction to the February and October Revolutions of 1917 that swept away the Tsar was often positive among the peasantry, with promises of more land, more freedom, more education. But with the new regime came the idea of creating a new Soviet man, and that meant destroying religion and age-old traditions, and replacing them with socialist slogans and "five-year plans" in which the central government imposed agricultural and industrial production quotas that had to be filled no matter what the reality of local conditions was.

When such quotas could not be filled, the next "solution" was collectivization, or the forced amalgamation of peasants' farms. Farmers no longer worked for themselves, they worked for the collective. Farmers no longer made decisions on what to sow, and when to sow it. All such decisions came from above, often with disastrous results as inexperienced administrators parroted demands from the central authorities.

There was no choice in collectivization. There was no opt in, or opt out. If a farmer resisted, land, seed, tools, equipment, and animals were all expropriated, and any further stubbornness was met with incarceration in a prison camp, exile to Siberia, or simply a firing squad. And the bolt-hole of emigration was sealed, not to open again until the 1990s, when Ukraine gained its independence.

While there were similarities in the governance of the Tsars and the Bolsheviks, for example both attempted to assimilate cultures and languages through Russification, in the end it was the Soviet regime that perpetrated almost unimaginable mass terror on Ukraine. Under Soviet rule, Ukraine, the "breadbasket of Europe," became a basket case. And when farmers en masse refused to join the shoddily run collectives, Stalin and his henchmen felt no compunction in sealing the borders of Ukraine, expropriating all of its grain, vegetables, fruit and livestock, and letting entire regions starve to death.

As Ukrainians died by the hundreds of thousands, and eventually millions, grain was being exported from Ukrainian ports under communist Red Army guard.

And this, unfortunately, brings the reader to the third "book" of Maria's life.

Where were human hearts? Where was conscience? They take good care of an animal, they care for a plant, they care for an insect, they even take care of the lowliest worm, but they don't take care of a human mother.

The contrasts that Samchuk portrays through this chronicle of Maria's life through her family and her village are stark, but real. Readers feel the grit, the sorrows, the happiness, the disillusionment in the government, and the utter helplessness in the face of totalitarianism.

In a sense the novel is a history lesson, but it is written so compellingly that readers are pulled along by the thread of Maria's story. It truly is the life of a simple woman who lived through one of the most tragic periods in human history.

Paul Cipywnyk
Editor

Posted by Paul at 04:44 PM

November 15, 2011

Language Lanterns goes FB, Twitter

I've been working with Language Lanterns in various capacities for at least 15 years, but it's taken a long time for it to sink in that I have become one of the principals, following the passing of my Mom, Sonia Morris, a few years ago. Big, very big shoes to fill, and my Mom's sister--Roma Franko-- and I, still struggle at times without her. . .

So, Mom, we're going Facebook and Twitter!

I've been FBing and Tweeting for years, personally, but have never used either medium for promoting Language Lanterns or my own business. So this is uncharted territory for me.

Here we go, both works in their infancy, and in progress:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Language-Lanterns-Publications-Inc/167526306676070

and

@LangLan_Books

Posted by Paul at 10:02 PM

November 14, 2011

Feline Editorial Assistant

Choco wandered into my office meowing plaintively while I was
editing another Language Lanterns Ukrainian - English translation today.

feline_editorial_assistant_20111114_small

Hello? Can't hear me? How about I jump on the desk?
I need some attention and affection, eh?

feline_editorial_assistant_2_20111114_small

Hah! Can't ignore me now!

feline_editorial_assistant_3_20111114_small

A folded towel - how nice of you. I'll catch a few winks while
I supervise from over here.

Posted by Paul at 08:33 PM

July 06, 2011

Giving Things Away While Honouring Parents, Culture

Yumi and I are pretty good about donating stuff to the Salvation Army or Burnaby Hospice Society. If we're not using it, out it goes. And while we donated lots of my late Mom's stuff, it was harder to me to contemplate giving away more personal items, like her collection of Ukrainian music. A few months ago I got in touch with an old friend of mine that I hadn't seen in decades, who is now a folklore professor at the University of Alberta. I told him I'd run across a notebook describing Ukrainian dance steps, and entire dances for performance by groups, in my late Mom's stuff. And there was the music.

He happened to be out on the west coast awhile back, and we got together at our place. The visit was  too short, but I did give him the old notebook of steps and dances written in a beautiful Ukrainian hand, and a bunch of Mom's Ukrainian music.

Today I was surprized and pleased to find a letter of acknowledgement in my mailbox.

miusic_donation_20110706_small

There's even a reference number if I would want to access the donation  in the archives.

Cool!  And thanks for your kindness and professionalism, Bohdan Medwidsky Ukrainian Folklore Archives at the Kule Centre for Ukrainian and Canadian Folklore at the University of Alberta.

So if you've got some interesting materials sitting around from your grandparents or parents - be they letters, or books, or music, or photos - and don't want to hang on to them anymore, be sure to contact places like the ones mentioned above. I'm happy that students and researchers will have access to my late Mom's music collection, as modest as it may have been. I've kept a few favourite pieces for myself, but I really don't miss the rest. And I've still got to go through a couple of boxes of Ukrainian children's books and folk tales. You may be hearing from me again, Kule Centre.

Posted by Paul at 10:37 PM

June 26, 2011

New Glasses with Progressive Lenses

Warning, my posts may be somewhat hallucinatory for a week or two as I get used to my first progressive lenses.

As I sit in front of the monitors and keyboard with the new glasses on, whenever I turn my head I feel like I'm watching an old "this is your mind on drugs" health-class movie, or a flick from the 1960s with Dennis Hopper in it. As I pan my head from side to side to shift from monitor to monitor, I get lovely ripples of distortion. While it will take awhile to "get used to the zones," so far I'm not feeling as woozy as some people warned me I might be.

I got the top end, cutting-edge HD lenses that supposedly offer the widest reading area and least amount of distortion. Wonder what the heck the cheapest ones are like!

These glasses have three zones: near, mid and far, and once I get used to them, I think they'll help with my editing productivity. I can use mid for the monitors, and near for reference books. Just tried it and it works great. I'd been at the point where I had to keep flipping my old glasses off and dragging my nose along a page to look in a dictionary, or a style guide, or a reference book, or whatever....

The other option would have been laser surgery, which the optometrist told me I'd be eligible for even with my major myopia and astigmatism. That would be like being correct for mid-to-far, and then having a pair of reading glasses for closeup work, he said. Still might try that someday, as I do a fair bit of hiking, canoeing, camping, etc. and it would be nice not to have to wear glasses for such activities.

I know lots of folks who rave about laser surgery, but I figured if I'd still have to wear some kind of glasses 40-50+ hours a week working at the computer and reading, I'd try the progressive route first.

Me with my new specs:

paul_20110626

And for those who haven't seen me in awhile, that's not a playoff beard, that's a "forgot my razor when I went to a conference in Campbell River over the May long weekend" beard. So far my significant other seems intrigued, so I guess I'll let it go awhile longer. The last time I grew a beard was during summer vacation a couple of years ago, and I was dismayed at how white it came in. I guess now that I have accepted progressives, and am fairly comfortable with my white beard, I'm aging more gracefully : - ).

Posted by Paul at 07:46 PM

May 30, 2011

My Tweets from EAC National Conference

Here are my Tweets from the Editors' Association of Canada national conference Editing in the Age of E-Everything that was held in Vancouver from May 27-29.  Note that they appear in last-to-first order, as they appeared on my feed.

Grayson the story still exists, the book still exists, tho its form may be changing 

Grayson the core is storytelling - look at your career as a story - build a story around who you are and what you do

Grayson there is a dearth of critical thinking in socmedia, digital publishing

Grayson add value to the social media conversation - I don't care if you're having a cup of coffee

Grayson what makes me feel that I belong? that I'm part of the in group?

Grayson what's in it for the consumer? what do they want?

Grayson how do you become a great conversationalist? communicator?

Grayson global "niche" markets are huge

Grayson the beauty of the digital world is that there are no norms

Grayson perhaps editors should be called producers

Closing address with Rochelle Grayson

Harbeck copy editor is the ideal person to enforce styles, unless the doc is totally screwed up

Harbeck colour changes are easy in InDesign if you set up swatches

Harbeck wildcard symbols are bit different in Word than in standards-compliant apps

Harbeck http://bit.ly/kqreLc wildcard reference for Word

Harbeck Using spaces in Word for layout purposes is true evil

Harbeck scan for two spaces between sentences, scan for hidden characters as part of import cleanup

Harbeck you can apply unique markers in a screwed-up Word file to note elements, and then apply consistent styles in InDesign

Harbeck you can make tables in Word - they will import fine into InDesign

Harbeck the things you need to do in Word are completely different from what you do in InDesign

Harbeck never try to lay things out or use text boxes in Word - leave that for the InDesign stage

Harbeck the best way to manage styles is to have same names in InDesign and Word

Harbeck you want a dtp style for any element that may be handled differently

Harbeck most important dtp workflow decisions are what styles to use and how they are related

Hilarious presentation by Harbeck what an entertaining approach to dtp!

Harbeck Use styles, styles are your best friend for dtp

Harbeck if you get your docs set up properly ahead of time, final DTP is nearly done

Next session Harbeck Well Begun is Nearly Done: DTP at Warp Speed

Little kids' language, tech use changes so fast, that we need new focus groups for each campaign

Little  Hard to explain to execs that you can't just "make something go viral"

Little  As a corp we stay away from FB status updates - too hard to maintain a relevant, consistent flow

Little  Twitter can be dangerous for regulated govt provider - so need consistency in use

Little  A wiki-based style guide is a living document, created/maintained by users, track changes

Little  WCB using corporate style guide Wiki

Little  corp/org editors need to work on templates, workflow

Little  for corp editors, days of sitting and working with text are over - need multimedia

Little  editors working with video games, online content to engage youth

Little  only place we could reach young people aside from school was online

Little  Taking real-life narrative & presenting on web to engage young workers

Little  Difficulty of adapting corp/govt policy to engage wide audience

Little  Corporate policy can lead to dry web content

Little New Tools and Emerging Roles for Online Editors

Nice to see my fellow @RoyalRoads MAPC cohortnik Terence Little presenting

Sloboda make sure youre website is visitor-centric, not your company centric

Sloboda In metadata, titles & descriptions still count, keywords not much anymore

Sloboda Freshness important, so mix of website, blog, Twitter feed is a good idea

Sloboda Search engines are starting to take copy quality into account

Sloboda Be careful about keyword density - overdo it and search engines will penalize you

Sloboda Keyword make huge difference - few searches for "reduced fares" tens of thousands daily for "cheap flights"

Sloboda Take a look at webceo.com

Sloboda Writing web copy for 2 masters: search engines, people

Sloboda Segment website copy according to audience - language, interests

Sloboda Your website may be catering to multiple audiences

Sloboda Why have a website? What's your objective? Purpose?

Sloboda If you cater only to search engines, you won't convert readers

Next session "Writing for the Web - Nourish the Spider, Engage the Human" Sloboda

publishers need to interact with their audiences directly on the web @jmaxsfu

Maxwell Check out LeanPub

Maxwell MagFlow - magazine submissions & editorial workflow in Wordpress

Maxwell Pressbooks - Wordpress as an editorial environment

Maxwell The website is the real thing, and the book is a souvenir

Maxwell The book of MPub - a book built in WordPress

Maxwell Ickmull - bridge from web to print - reverse of prevailing systems

Maxwell The container is no longer the book - is it the iPad?

Maxwell Publisher still doing print first, then trying to repurpose for digital

Maxwell How do we re-imagine publishing as if the web matters? Digital cannot be an afterthought

Maxwell When content is cheap, that changes how we write, how we read, and the editorial process

Maxwell Content is cheap - supply skyrocketing

Maxwell We live a Wiki world of multiple sources

Maxwell Authority is no longer singular - The Book, The Author - long gone concept

Maxwell We now live in a world of way too much content about everything

Maxwell We've gone from an info-poor world to an info-glut world

Maxwell Too many publishers have heads in sand - hope the revolution is not really coming

Maxwell Periodical publishers are being crushed by free content

Maxwell Self-publishers are having interesting effects on the market

Maxwell Market of non-traditionally published books is exploding

Maxwell Publishers have never seen the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google - these guys are out for all the marbles

Maxwell Publishers increasingly at mercy of monopoly players

Maxwell Publishers need to figure out how electronic markets work

Maxwell Publishing in upheaval after a century of stability

Maxwell Many publishers operate as if the web didn't exist

Maxwell Web is dominant publishing platform of our time and future

Re-imaging publishing as if the Web mattered Maxwell

Newman any change is always frightening ro some parties in copyright issues

Newman copyright law is always playing catchup - sometimes decades behind

Newman authors, publishers need to figure out how Google Books works best for them

Newman be aware of final Google Books settlement - you can wait until things shake out

Newman Google Books does the heavy digitization lifting for publishers

Newman becoming Google Books partner may = exposure, more sales channels, higher revenues, revenues from older books

Newman publishers can set minimum price in Google eBooks

Newman Google eBooks not limited to any particular platform - not available in Canada yet - soon

Newman partners can access array of analytics through Google Books

Newman at this point Google Books is for discovery and limited display

Newman next phase of Google books settlement coming soon

Newman useful to revist Google books settlement & its influence on publishing

Everyone looks bright eyed & bushy tailed at Newman

Google Books - what is it, where is it going next? Newman

AGM Derek was a great supporter of EAC & contributed in many ways #weloveyouderek

AGM Derek lived E-everything

AGM tribute to Derek K Miller

AGM My tweeting of EAC AGM will be sporadic as I've been asked to photograph awards, certificates etc

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen Twitter is the modern, personalized wire service - can be tailored to your needs

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen we no longer follow the wires - I monitor Twitter

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen digital audience is accepting of minimal-quality video - they're used to YouTube

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen if you're not already living online, you'd better be if you want to work in digital media

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen if you want to get into media, have a blog, Tweet, digital media want to know you can do these things

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen if you can get someone to actually click a link or 2 on your website, you're doing very well

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen if you can keep someone on your website for a few minutes, you're doing well

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen onlinei people are generally looking for specific info & want it fast

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen jump in & get comfortable with video etc.

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen if you're an editor, you're likely good at finding what's good in text, video or audio - skills translate

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen spend a lot of time looking for open source/free/cheap photos

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen the web is a beast you constantly have to feed - always need something new

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen photo of digital editing sessionhttp://yfrog.com/h6o30mnj

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen not as much time for editing when working online

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen 2 of 3 presenters using Drupal

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen Province, BC Living, Vancouver Magazine represented

Manfield / Philps / Rolfsen Editing in the Digital Media World - next session

Finkelstein / Morris considering XML-first workflow, but not quite there yet

Finkelstein / Morris most large conversion companies are offshore - they're affordable

Finkelstein / Morris have done electronic books enhanced with video depending on channels

Finkelstein / Morris we do publish in colour on screen, rate of adoption of colour devices increasing

Finkelstein / Morris still issues with making indexes useful with eBooks

Finkelstein / Morris if using images in ebooks, they need to be resizable for different screens

Finkelstein / Morris trying to make content easily flowable across platforms

Finkelstein / Morris we really try to understand how ePub tech is evolving & how folks may use it in future

Finkelstein / Morris of course you're trying to reach as many ePub forjats/readers

Photo of audience at Finkelstein / Morris http://yfrog.com/h8dinazj

Photo of panel at Finkelstein / Morris http://yfrog.com/h8fpxazj

Finkelstein / Morris still a lot of work in file conversion

Finkelstein / Morris books still developed editorially in same way, but trying to innovate

Finkelstein / Morris Epublishing is changing quickly, in constant flux

Next session I'm attending at EAC Conf in Vancouver is on E-Publishing Finkelstein / Morris

Graves photo of seminar by Graves on collateral, content strategy http://yfrog.com/h4d5nihij

Graves always, alwaysa measure - downloads, click-throughs, page views etc., and revise, revise

Graves need a strategy for bringing your collateral into the 21st C - SEO, SocMedia etc

Graves break up text with subheds, if you can cover it with the palm of your hand & it's all text, it's too much

Graves tone & style hard to enforce. How would your company speak if it were a person?

Graves firm branding guidelines help avoid arguments

Graves youe collateral should be consistent, have personality, be brief

Graves collateral cannot be everything to everyone - write to a particular customer's needs

Graves have regular updating of collateral in your content strategy

Graves regularly retire out-of-date content

Graves content strategy requires narrowly defining your audience

Graves you need a plan to create useful, usable content, and everyone needs a different plan

Graves collateral represents brand, supports sales, keep company, jobs going

Graves works at Open Text on content strategy

Graves Winning Collateral: Writing & Editing to Fit a Content Strategy

Fralic clear communication is more important than it's ever been

Fralic the role of the editor as become more necessary, more compelling

Fralic web highlights gap between dreck and well-edited writing

Fralic customers want info they know they can trust

Fralic Vancouver Sun website gets 10s millions of hits because we have century of credibility

Fralic yet users of Web are getting smarter, better at wading through the tripe

Fralic glut of dreck on the web

Fralic we all know that everyone needs an editor

Fralic nobody is fact-checking blogs

Fralic most blogs do not get edited - makes my blood run cold

Fralic I may not like blogs, but they are effective in getting eyes on our website

Fralic our online readers are young - they like photos, sick dogs, cleavage and gangsters

Fralic blogs just fill up the e-hole

Fralic I hate blogs - stream of consciousness thing - I like my words to simmer

Fralic we're told to write for the web first

Fralic issue of digital rights, use restrictions on ebooks

Fralic books are still a big deal, libraries being used more, but conundrum ot ebooks

Fralic editors are not becoming obsolete, they are switching gears - need tech savvy these days

Fralic numbers of online editors is growing

Fralic new job description - online editor

Fralic press workpace has changed dramatically

Fralic interesting to see if paywalls are going work, because we're not making $ on Internet

Fralic trad media struggling to adapt, doing better job

Fralic young readers go online, shun trad press

Fralic increasingly difficult challenges for writers, editors in trad media

Fralic editors have saved my bacon many times

Fralic interviewed Dalai Lama 30 years ago, before he was Bono's BFF

Fralic having been an editor made me a much better writer

Fralic fear that once-venerated craft of editing is disappearing

Fralic audience of editors, so there are no hard copies of this speech anywhere

Fralic who is from Toronto? Love those #Canucks, eh?

Fralic happy to see so many women in audience

Fralic keynote speaker next

Auditorium packed for Shelley Fralic keynote

Posted by Paul at 09:54 PM

February 11, 2011

Let’s Hear it for Plain English!

Singing for plain English

Found this via the Editors' Association of Canada mail list, which pointed to an
excellent post on the Writing Matters blog.

Posted by Paul at 04:23 PM

February 04, 2011

The King’s Speech

A gorgeous, moving, inspiring film.

Perhaps I shouldn't say any more : - ).

I am by no means a monarchist, though I am a history buff. But I loved this movie.

Splendidly acted, with immersive cinematography.

There are not very many films that I'd like to view again, but this is one. I'd go again tomorrow.

Posted by Paul at 11:17 PM

The Future of Publishing

This is a lovely little video - - be sure to watch all the way to the end, or else it doesn't work.

Posted by Paul at 01:35 PM

December 07, 2010

Introduction to ‘Desperate Times’ Trilogy

Here's the introduction I wrote to Desperate Times, a new trilogy of Ukrainian-to-English translations from Language Lanterns Publications Inc.:

The trilogy, Desperate Times, with its volumes Brother against Brother, Between the Trenches, and Conflict and Chaos, focuses on stories written during the 1900 to 1930 period that encompasses the slide of the imperial Russian Empire into chaos, the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, World War I, and the subsequent upheaval in Eastern Europe fomented by the Russian Revolution. Some of these works are not for the faint-hearted, for they depict truly desperate times of revolution, war, and social upheaval, along with enormous human emotional and physical costs.

As of the early 20th century, Ukraine had long been divided by other empires--with Russia controlling eastern Ukraine, and various European powers including Lithuania-Poland, Austria-Hungary, and the Hapsburg Empire dominating western portions. In both regions the Ukrainian language, culture and distinctive Ukrainian forms of Orthodox and Catholic rites were at times severely controlled, or completely banned, and conditions for ethnic Ukrainians were harsh. There was little opportunity for education and advancement for Ukrainians, and the rising revolutionary tide that began sweeping Europe in the 19th century, with its concepts of nationalism, democracy, and freedom, soon found fertile ground in traditional Ukrainian territory.

The stories in this trilogy depict attempts at reform and political activism, peasant uprisings, revolutionary and terrorist acts, and the flowering of the Ukrainian independence movement. This blossoming of culture, language and political idealism was soon trampled however, with empires being rent asunder resulting in the redrawing of borders, the First World War sweeping millions to death, and the brutal consolidation of power by communists in the former Russian Empire.

These stories are written from multiple points of view, as is only fitting, for they are all part of the spectrum of beliefs that drove the variously motivated protagonists of those times. Thus we read about Soviet revolutionary heroes--and disillusionment with the new communist regime. We read about atrocities perpetrated by imperial forces, and the complete collapse of morality in areas controlled by anarchist groups. We experience the power of fiction that enables us to put ourselves into others' shoes, to witness events through their eyes, to feel their emotions. The results often are not pretty, but stories such as these actually happened, time and again, shaping real people.

While it is difficult to divide the stories into precise chronological order, we have attempted to begin with ones dating to the Russian Revolution of 1905 that revealed the rotten state of the empire. At the time, Russia was shocked by repeated defeats in the Russo-Japanese War, and revolutionaries of various political stripes--though mostly socialists and communists--realized that collapse was a matter of time.

The Russian Empire had suppressed ethnic and religious groups, and had attempted to impose the Russian language and church upon all within its territory. As the bureaucracy weakened and military disasters in the Far East undermined discipline and pride, the empire was faced with the steady rise of ethnically based national aspirations in many of its regions. The overwhelming human and economic cost of WWI piled on stresses that the ossified and increasingly fractious empire could not withstand.

For Ukrainians, WWI was really a time of brother against brother, and not by choice. Several of the stories in this trilogy depict the anguish as families were divided between empires, with Ukrainians conscripted into both the Russian army, and opposing Germanic-Austrian forces.

By 1917, an exhausted, demoralized and near-destitute Russian Empire was ripe for revolution, and two of them exploded that year. The first, the February Revolution, saw the abdication of the tsar and the establishment of a provisional government. The second, the October Revolution, saw the Bolsheviks under Lenin sweep into power and begin the consolidation of a new, communist, empire that became the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or, more simply, the Soviet Union.

The great tragedy of this revolutionary era is that idealism fell by the wayside, devolving into horrific years of civil war in which combatants of all political stripes plunged into an escalating cycle of atrocities. It didn't matter right wing or left wing, all met in extremism, mass murder, rape, torture, looting--and for extended periods--total anarchy. There was complete social, political and economic collapse, with the only authority being the barrel of a gun.

The modern Western reader has little concept of such chaos, terror, and utter helplessness. We have no sense of such ingrained hatred--hatred of the oppressive aristocracy and bureaucracy--followed by hatred of the perversion of Marxism and Communism into a new, even harsher dictatorship that placed no value on human life and blindly espoused totalitarian ends that justified the foulest means.

Yet we see in these stories that amidst the chaos created by the breakdown of the political and social order there were flickers of humanity, of ethical, moral behaviour. Within that chaos, people still loved, dreamed, and hoped. It is heartening to find that within that chaos some people still adhered to humane and principled codes of behaviour, even sacrificing their own lives to save those of others.

The issues central to these volumes of revolutionary stories are still relevant and some are yet unresolved. The short-lived Ukrainian governments of the confusing revolutionary period planted the seeds of independence, and some partisans fought on for decades against the Soviets. The reverberations from those times still impact the ongoing development of a nascent democracy in a free Ukraine in the face of still widely entrenched authoritarian values and practices in modern Russia and its resurgent imperialistic ambitions.

We have tried to strike a balance in assisting those readers who may be embarking into unfamiliar territory by providing glossaries including some of the main parties, armies, and military and political leaders, without overly interrupting the narrative flow.

* * *

Language Lanterns Publications began its mission of adding to the treasury of Ukrainian literature accessible to the English-reading world in 1998 with the six-volume series Women's Voices in Ukrainian Literature which included translations of selected literary works written by eight Ukrainian female authors between 1880 and 1920. In 2004, two companion volumes were published, Passion's Bitter Cup and Riddles of the Heart, with stories by Ukrainian male authors in the same period.

To date, Language Lanterns has produced 20 volumes of translations including several by Ukraine's leading man of letters, Ivan Franko, and two volumes called From Days Gone By and Down Country Lanes that added stories written in the second half of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th by sixteen Ukrainian male authors.

These diverse stories from the mid-19th to early 20th centuries give modern readers a window into societal, political, religious and economic conditions in Ukrainian ethnic lands, and the gradual revival of the Ukrainian language, culture and political spirit following centuries of external domination.

The volume taken most to heart by the public thus far is A Hunger Most Cruel that graphically depicts through short fiction the horrendous impact upon Ukraine of the famine artificially created by Soviet authorities in the 1930s in an attempt to break the Ukrainian peasantry. This terror-famine, or Holodomor, that resulted in the deaths of millions of innocent victims, has come to be internationally recognized as genocide.

* * *

Sonia Morris, my mother and the editor of the Language Lanterns Publications team, passed away in April 2007; however, she and her sister Roma Franko, the translator, had begun work on many of these stories. Therefore Sonia's name remains as editor to recognize her passion for her cultural heritage, her historical knowledge and literary skills.

Roma and I dedicate this trilogy to her memory.

Paul Cipywnyk
Associate Editor

Posted by Paul at 10:43 PM

November 24, 2010

Language Lanterns Publishes ‘Desperate Times’ Trilogy

For Immediate Release--Nov. 23, 2010

Language Lanterns Publishes Desperate Times Trilogy

TORONTO - Award-winning Language Lanterns Publications Inc. has released a new trilogy of short stories translated from Ukrainian to English. The selected 18 authors explore the human impact of the social, political and economic upheaval in Ukraine from the tumultuous opening days of the 20th century, through World War I, the 1917 Russian Revolution, and into the early 1920s under Soviet rule. They truly were desperate times, and the stories show modern readers why so many Ukrainians of that era sought a better life in Canada and other nations.

Adaptation from the series Introduction:

The stories in Brother against Brother, Between the Trenches, and Conflict and Chaos were written from about 1900-1930 and encompass the slide of the imperial Russian Empire into chaos, the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, World War I, and the subsequent upheaval in Eastern Europe fomented by the Russian Revolution. They depict revolution, war, social upheaval, and enormous human emotional and physical costs.

By these times, Ukraine had long been divided by other empires--with Russia controlling eastern Ukraine, and various European powers including Lithuania-Poland, Austria-Hungary, and the Hapsburg Empire dominating western portions. In both regions the Ukrainian language, culture, and Ukrainian forms of Orthodox and Catholic rites were severely restricted, and life for ethnic Ukrainians was harsh. Ukrainians had little opportunity for education and advancement, and the revolutionary tide that swept Europe in the 19th century, with concepts of nationalism, democracy, and freedom, found fertile ground in Ukrainian lands.

The stories depict reform and political activism, peasant uprisings, revolutionary and terrorist acts, and the flowering of the Ukrainian independence movement.

Language Lanterns achieves 20 volumes of translations: The Desperate Times trilogy brings the number of volumes translated by Roma Franko, and edited by the late Sonia Morris, to 20.

For more information, and to order books:

Roma Franko, 416-840-8034, roma.franko@rogers.com

Language Lanterns: http://www.languagelanterns.com/

Brother against Brother (Soft cover, 416 pp; ISBN 978-0-9735982-7-8)

Between the Trenches (Soft cover, 416 pp; ISBN 978-0-9735982-8-5)

Conflict and Chaos (Soft cover, 416 pp; ISBN 978-0-9735982-9-2)

Complete Introduction, and Tables of Contents with authors and story names can be found on the website.

Posted by Paul at 05:05 PM

November 21, 2010

Opening of Library at Franko Society Centre in Richmond, BC

Yumi and I attended the official opening of the library at the Ukrainian Community Society of Ivan Franko this afternoon in Richmond, BC., and the BC launch of Yaroslav's Treasure by Myroslav Petriw. We were invited through my work with Language Lanterns Publications. The society hosted a book launch of Language Lanterns translations of Ivan Franko's works in 2006, and Language Lanterns recently donated its latest three-volume series Desperate Times to the library.

Here are excerpts from an email I sent to Theresa Herchak, one the key organizers of the event:

Thank you so much for the invitation to the official opening of your new library at the Ivan Franko center in Richmond. The facility is beautiful, and I thank the volunteers, and honour the hundreds of volunteer hours that went into organizing and cataloguing it. A job very well done!

Of course it was also rewarding to see all the Language Lanterns volumes in the stacks, and on the fundraising table. :-)

I had no idea you were going to mention my mother Sonia Morris (the late Language Lanterns editor), my aunt Roma Franko (the Language Lanterns translator) and myself in your remarks. Thank you so much. I felt tears welling, recalling how much my Mom and Roma enjoyed the book launch at your center a few years ago.

As I sit here in my office, casting my eyes about my shelves, I may have some donations to make to your lovely new library. I'm still gradually going through some of my mother's boxes, and while I'd love to keep everything, I can't, so a caring facility like the one you've been instrumental in creating, may be an ideal repository. No guarantees, but you've certainly inspired me to put your library high on my list!

Posted by Paul at 09:59 PM

October 18, 2010

Condon Applies 7 Rules for Sustainable Communities to BC’s Lower Mainland

The Tyee today published the last article in a series by Patrick Condon, based on his book Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities: Design Strategies for the Post Carbon World. If you're too cheap to buy the book : - ), or don't have the time to read it, you should at least peruse the Tyee series. This is stimulating, solid material that's a must read for anyone interested in a liveable Lower Mainland. Highly recommended for politicians at all government levels, transit officials, city planners, engineers, environmentalists and concerned citizens - which ought to encompass all of us.

Condon is a professor at the University of British Columbia and holds the James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Liveable Environments. I had the pleasure to be a citizen representative on a planning charrette for the Kingsway corridor through Burnaby, BC, organized by the Sustainability by Design folks at UBC a few years back. It was a thought-provoking exercise that engaged City planners, engineers, academics, students and citizens in a sharing, respectful process.

The Burnaby Kingsway corridor plan was part of a larger study that also looked at a "node" in Langley, BC, and an "edge" in east Ladner, BC., and resulted in the publication Sustainability by Design: A Vision for a Region of 4 Million. I have always found Condon to be well-spoken and lucid with quiet, persuasive, rational arguments.

Too bad too many such studies appear to end up filed away in municipality, regional, and provincial filing cabinets, never, or rarely, to be referred to again.

If you care about your community, please read and share!

Posted by Paul at 02:18 PM

July 23, 2010

Cover Boy

The Burnaby Newsleader picked up my blog post on completing three volumes of Ukrainian-English literature translations and interviewed me on the topic. The online story is here.

Today I was pleasantly surprised to find myself on the cover of the print version!

paul_newsleader_cover_small

Thank you to Wanda Chow, the enterprising Burnaby Newsleader reporter who peeked at my blog, contacted me, and took the story higher. She was the consummate professional - giving me great leading questions and letting me blabber on and on . . .  I was mesmerized :-).  

And then she distilled and crafted my ramblings into an excellent article. Thanks too, to her editor(s), and to photographer Daniela Ciuffa, who made my mug look quasi-handsome .

As someone who has been on both ends of the mike and the camera over the years, I appreciate journalism done well - - especially when I've been at the blathering end of the mike! And somehow Wanda got into my soul and made me forget I was being interviewed.

That's talent.

We are very fortunate in Burnaby to have two healthy, well-written community papers. It never hurts to have some competition :-).

Posted by Paul at 04:32 PM

July 15, 2010

Trilogy of Translations Nearly Ready for Printer

Language Lanterns Publications Inc. is almost ready to announce the publication of three more volumes of Ukrainian literature translated into English. The proofs are sitting on my desk, and as soon as I complete entering some corrections into the InDesign files, the three 416-page books will be ready to print!

language_lanterns_proofs_201007

This trilogy will bring the total of Language Lanterns books published to 20. That's quite the accomplishment for a tiny company that really ought to be a non-profit! It's been a labour of love for Roma Franko, the translator, and the late Sonia Morris, the editor. I've been copy editor, proofreader, and since the passing of my mother Sonia in 2007, the associate editor. It's been quite the experience!

Mom and Roma both took early retirement from careers as professors at the University of Saskatchewan, and poured their energies (and their pensions!) into Language Lanterns. They've donated thousands of books to libraries in Canada and Ukraine, with the aim of spreading the accessibility of 19th- and 20th-century Ukrainian literature.

Last year, they were awarded the inaugural George S. N. Luckyj Ukrainian Literature Translation Prize by the Canadian Foundation of Ukrainian Studies. The citation cites Franko and Morris

for their dedication to and tremendous efforts and achievements in translating Ukrainian literature into English and making it accessible to a wide reading audience. . . After taking early retirement from their respective academic careers at the University of Saskatchewan in 1996, the sisters embarked on new careers, Roma Franko as translator and Sonia Morris as editor. Together they founded Language Lanterns Publications dedicated to publishing works of Ukrainian literature in English translation. . . To date, 17 volumes have appeared translated by Roma Franko and edited by Sonia Morris. . . The names of the recipients will be inscribed on a plaque that will be permanently displayed in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Toronto.

While I have to wait to tell you more about the trilogy that will appear soon, I can say that there are many powerful and moving short stories in it. Stories that brought me to tears, even upon a third or fourth reading while editing and proofreading.

And you see that photo up above? That desk is my Mom's desk that I got after she died following many years of fighting cancer. I'm proud to have been able to assist in fulfilling her and Roma's goal of translating, editing, and publishing 20 volumes - -  on her desk.

P.S. I want to thank Don at Hignell Book Printing for his unwavering support, DTP advice, and assistance over many years. Don has been a rock, and his calm dealing with any and all "crises," and his (perhaps I shouldn't share this) tolerance for, um, extended deadlines, has been a lifesaver. Thanks too to Cori at Hignell for her great work on tweaking the covers of the forthcoming trilogy.

Posted by Paul at 08:23 PM

March 28, 2010

Jack Whyte’s ‘Dream of Eagles’ Engulfs Me

I've always been an easy mark for historical fiction. My first degree was in history, and I'm an editor by trade. I'd heard of Jack Whyte over the years but never got into his world, but now I'm in it with his A Dream of Eagles series based on the Roman occupation and eventual withdrawal from England, mixed in with the Arthurian legends. I picked up the entire series at a garage sale last weekend for a few dollars, and have ploughed through two of the books already, enjoying them, if one can enjoy descent into chaos, constant bloodshed, etc. We have no idea how fortunate we are to live in an era, and in a nation, with rule of law.

Posted by Paul at 09:40 PM

October 25, 2009

Has Anyone Read Hemingway?

The question came up on the Editors' Association of Canada mailing list today, and here's my response:

It's been awhile since I've read Hemingway. I went on a binge :-) of his writing, and writing about him, about 20 years ago. Some of his stuff is very good, some may feel dated now, and, like any writer, there are weak patches.

I think his writing has been (and to some extent perhaps always was) overshadowed by his persona. And in death the persona grew even larger. I've seen the strangest documentaries on his life. By chance there was a scathing review in today's Vancouver Sun of a "new release" of his classic A Moveable Feast, and it doesn't paint a pretty picture of attempts by his heirs to "improve" on his work and cash in along the way.

My bottom line? At his best, I think he was one of the best. I just wonder how many people read him any more, how much he is now of a certain (bygone) era, and how many just wear the T-shirt.

Posted by Paul at 07:46 PM

October 16, 2009

Enjoying Book Camp Vancouver

Have had a great morning at Book Camp Vancouver, and am settling in for the afternoon sessions. This morning sat in on Open Source business models and publishing, and a session on newspapers, magazines and books in the digital age. Next up is Getting to Zero: Who Gets Paid When Books are Free?

Lots of people are covering the conference in real time on Twitter at #bcvan09.

Posted by Paul at 01:03 PM

September 02, 2009

A Plague of Plagiarism?

There's been some discussion on the Editors' Association of Canada mailing list recently about plagiarism and how to detect it. Here are my perceptions of overall trends:

I believe there is an ongoing technological and cultural shift that is blurring the issue of plagiarism in people's minds. We have become a copycat, copying world, and the digitization of content has made it effortless to make exact copies of text, graphics/photos, audio and video. This is not by any means a new idea or concern, and I'm sure there is research on this trend, but here are a few words off the top of my head.

In my youth we learned relatively simple analog copying from LP to cassette, from TV to VCR; however, such copying took as much time to accomplish as the length of the original recording. Now everything is digital files that can be copied and transferred from medium to medium in seconds or minutes at the click of a mouse. Kids have grown up with digital audio players (iPods et al), personal video recorders (PVRs) that amass hundreds of hours of one's favourite TV programs, and computers and the 'Net.

This digitization also makes it easy to non-destructively break down files and use snippets of original works. Kids are now encouraged to do "mashups" using text, graphics, audio and video, and web designers "suck" and "scrape" data from all over the 'Net for inclusion in re-purposed or re-branded websites. It's par for the course for bloggers and Twitterers to copy and use ideas/data, though most abide by precepts of acknowledgment, including citation, mutual linking, blog rolls and the RT (reTweet) function.

When I did my MA a couple of years ago after a 20-year hiatus from the halls of higher learning, I was pleased, amazed, and finally shocked at how easy it was to "do research" by logging into the university library from the comfort of one's home computer, and copy and paste relevant bits from peer-reviewed papers in respected journals downloaded in their entirety from databases. I kept such notes and quotations in a different font to make sure they stood out on the screen as I wrote papers. A far cry from physically entering the library, combing through the card catalogs and stacks, and taking notes by hand on 3 X 5 cards!

I have encountered situations in which people have copied copyrighted and trademarked material wholesale and passed it off in their "own works" -- entire swaths of writing, not just a sentence here or there -- only to have them deny that they'd done anything wrong. Pressing the issue resulted only in anger, incredibly (to my mind) broad definitions of "fair use," or a blanket dismissal that I wasn't with it.

Now I believe there are upsides to this technological/cultural revolution. I'm a fan of open-source movements that originated in software development and are gradually encompassing photography, audio/video production, and publishing. I appreciate the benefits of "open-source learning," which entails a lot of collaborative group work in educational settings. The key here is that people who honestly contribute original work are recognized by their peers in a self-policing atmosphere of mutual respect, acknowledgment, and encouragement.

Whether or not the positive influences of such open-source concepts overcome the temptations of cut-and-paste plagiarism remains to be seen. The bottom line is not technology, despite my focus on technological developments. Technology doesn't set ethical standards, though I wonder if it can undermine them. It's the people using the technology that need to know better.

Perhaps the cookie jar of original research and artistic production has become too easy to access and copy. A strange statement coming from me, since I despise DRM (digital rights management) and censorship. But I realize that I am human, and when there are cookies easily accessible, I know I'll be tempted to gobble them up, though if I had to bake them from scratch I'd think twice about the effort. At least I know that I wouldn't pass off store-bought cookies, or the neighbour's muffins, as my own!

I see that my argument is getting mired down, and my mind is not keeping up with my fingers on the keyboard, so I'd better quit now before I get stuck. Time to get back to work. Perhaps I'll write another mini-essay extending this topic another day.

Posted by Paul at 12:39 PM

May 26, 2009

Language Lanterns Founders to Receive Inaugural CFUS Translation Prize

CFUS is awarding its first George S. N. Luckyj Ukrainian Literature Translation Prize to my aunt, Roma Franko, and my late mother, Sonia Morris:

Canadian Foundation for Ukrainian Studies
www.cfus.ca
416-766-9630

May 19, 2009

MEDIA RELEASE

The Board of Directors of the Canadian Foundation for Ukrainian Studies (CFUS) is pleased to announce that Dr. Roma Franko and her sister, the late Sonia Morris have been selected as the first recipients of the George S. N. Luckyj Ukrainian Literature Translation Prize.

The Prize is named in honour of the late Professor George S. N. Luckyj, an eminent Ukrainian Canadian Slavist, editor, and translator of Ukrainian literature. It was created to encourage the translation of Ukrainian literary works into English and other major languages and consists of a monetary gift in the amount of $2,000.

Roma Franko and Sonia Morris are being awarded the Luckyj Prize for their dedication to and tremendous efforts and achievements in translating Ukrainian literature into English and making it accessible to a wide reading audience. After taking early retirement from their respective academic careers at the University of Saskatchewan in 1996, the sisters embarked on new careers, Roma Franko as translator and Sonia Morris as editor. Together they founded Language Lanterns Publications dedicated to publishing works of Ukrainian literature in English translation. They imposed on themselves what seemed a daunting schedule of publishing at least two books of literary translations per year. In 1998, a series entitled Women?s Voices in Ukrainian Literature was launched. By 2000, the first set of six books in this series was completed. The series includes translated prose of Ukrainian women writers of the 19th century. To date, seventeen volumes have appeared translated by Roma Franko and edited by Sonia Morris. A further three volumes are in preparation. Roma Franko currently lives in Toronto. Sonia Morris passed away in 2007.

The Prize will be presented to Dr. Franko and the family of the late Sonia Morris on June 3, 2009 at the UNF Library Dinner in Toronto. The names of the recipients will be inscribed on a plaque that will be permanently displayed in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Toronto.

CFUS is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to securing funds and other resources that will promote the growth and development of Ukrainian studies in Canada in perpetuity. The work of CFUS is supported by the generosity of individuals through donations, bequests, and endowments.

For further information, please contact:
Natalka Zyla
Office Administrator, CFUS

Posted by Paul at 03:52 PM

January 19, 2008

Review - British Columbia: A Natural History

Review - British Columbia: A Natural History by Richard Cannings and Sydney Cannings.

The western Canadian province of British Columbia is blessed with a diversity of ecosystems ranging from lush rain forests to near deserts and everything in between. This book covers the geology, and the flora and fauna of this gorgeous region of our planet. The Cannings ably describe the origins of the land, ocean, and waterways, and the animals and plants that inhabit them. The book is full of photographs that depict the natural abundance and variety of landscapes of the province.

Posted by Paul at 08:48 PM

December 24, 2007

Hume Crafts Beautiful Essays

I finished Stephen Hume's Off The Map: Western Travels on Roads Less Taken earlier this Christmas Eve. I couldn't have chosen a better book to while away a few hours on this slow-moving, relaxing, yet emotionally intense day -- my first Christmas following the death of my mother.

Hume has a knack for unearthing stories about British Columbia and then painting them in words that stir the reader's soul. His sense of human history within the natural environment imbues his prose with haunting detail and emotion. He shares his strong conscience, and is not afraid of pointing fingers at those who would despoil our land, kill our rivers, and strangle indigenous cultures while blithely assuming the mantle of "progress."

This collection of essays is a must-read for anyone who cares about our great land. I am not shy to admit that several passages brought tears to my eyes.

Posted by Paul at 09:01 PM

December 17, 2007

Review: Gettysburg Novel, History

I've been on a Battle of Gettysburg binge over the last few days. It began when I read a book my sister had given me: The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. It's a well-written novel based on the pivotal battle in 1863 during the U.S. Civil War. Shaara does an impressive job of putting words and thoughts into the mouths of key players on both sides of the engagement while sticking closely to historical accuracy.

Having had my interest sparked by the novel, I then plowed through Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage by Noah Andre Trudeau, which had been sitting on a shelf unread for a couple of years. It is recognized as a definitive work on the battle and is superbly researched and engagingly written.

I used to be a military history buff, and found such works stimulating as a teenager and young man, but now I tend to focus more on the horror.

As I emailed a friend yesterday: "Am in a troubled state about all that killing... And the eagerness to kill... And to die for 'honor.' Does that sort of courage = stupidity? Sometimes I think the basest human instincts (fight, kill, those different, them, the enemy) are somehow manipulated into being viewed as the noblest (courage, valor, buddies, us, our state, our country)."

Posted by Paul at 08:46 PM

February 09, 2007

Review: Bush Telegraph

Bush Telegraph: Discovering the Pacific Province
by Stephen Hume

This is a gem of a collection of essays by Stephen Hume about British Columbia, ranging from history to nature to even a few recipes for native berries. Hume has a nose for tales that reveal the human condition and our relationship to the geography and history of this amazing province. From the wisdom of first nations to the aspirations of early immigrants, these stories are pictures into the human soul and our relationship with the ocean and land around us. Hume's prose displays an intense dedication to his craft and is a joy to read.

Posted by Paul at 09:10 PM

January 29, 2007

Review: The Patricias

The Patricias: The Proud History of a Fighting Regiment
by David J. Bercuson

This well-researched book on the history of one of Canada's most storied regiments reinforced in my mind the incredible sacrifices our military has made, and our government's lack of sustained support for our forces. It also debunks the myth that Canada's army has been primarily a peacekeeping force.

I would like to quote at length from the book's conclusion (it was printed in 2001):

"The world is a far different place at the dawn of the twenty-first century than it was in August 1914, when Hamilton Gault first thought of raising a regiment for war. It is no coincidence, however, that members of the regiment he founded helped to bring a sort of peace to the Balkans and now serve there whenever their turn comes. The war the Patricias were raised to fight, after all, started in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia, not very far from the Canadian area of responsibility in Bosnia today. War is a much more technical phenomenon than it was in 1914, and some would argue that it is far deadlier and more destructive. That may be so, but war is still war and the primary job of all soldiers -- killing others and offering themselves up to be killed -- has not changed since the dawn of time. The same attributes of courage, steadfastness, loyalty, dedication to a higher cause, and a love for comrades in arms that exceeds love of self, motivated and sustained the Patricias in those first days in the Ypres Salient, at Bellewaerde Ridge, at the Hitler Line, at Kap'yong, and at the Medak Pocket. They sustain the regiment today."


Posted by Paul at 09:03 PM

January 25, 2007

Review: Saskatoon History Trivia Quest

Saskatoon History Trivia Quest
by Robin and Arlene Karpan

I received this 176-page collection of Saskatoon history trivia for Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed munching my way through it a few pages at a time. I was born and raised in Saskatoon, so I was familiar with some of the content, but lots was delightfully offbeat and truly trivial--in a good sense. It's one of those collections of snippets that is perfect for the magazine rack in the bathroom :-).

Posted by Paul at 09:32 PM

January 23, 2007

Review: How to Do Media & Cultural Studies

How to Do Media & Cultural Studies
by Jane Stokes

This is one of two texts I'm reading in preparation for researching and writing my final project for my MA in Professional Communication from Royal Roads University.

It's a slim tome at less than 200 pages, but it covers the bases and provides references to more detailed works in specific areas.

I am on the last lap of the program, with two classes and my SP (short project) to go. If all goes well, I should be done around June, and while I've greatly enjoyed the program, my professors and my fellow learners, I'm looking forward to finishing.

Posted by Paul at 08:54 PM

February 21, 2006

Review: Understanding the Media

Devereux, Eoin. (2003). Understanding the Media. London: Sage Publications.

This short (app. 150 page) introduction to media focuses on how mass media works and how to analyze it. It takes a distinctly social view, with students encouraged to question media hegemony and think about structure vs. agency in how mass media depict the disadvantaged and the disenfranchised.

Devereux touches on most media/communication theories and provides exercises for stimulating thinking about mass media. The recurring thread throughout is political economy, ownership, the concept of "dominant ideology," and media representations "of a divided world," "of social class," "of ethnicity," and "of gender." This focus is evident in the chapter titles: Understanding the Media, Media Globalization, Media Ownership: Concentration and Conglomeration, Media Production and Media Professionals, Media Ideology, Analyzing Media Content: 'Re-presentations in a Divided World,' and Audiences and Reception.

Devereux includes introductory material on content analysis, and a good comparison of quantitative vs. qualitative approaches.

Though the book was published in 2003, it uses Internet statistics mostly from 1996-97 and 1999, so I disagree with the overly negative take on the Internet's potential influence on promoting agency and revitalizing the public sphere.

Posted by Paul at 03:28 PM

July 09, 2005

Book-Lover's Treasure Discovered

My mother gave me an ancient treasure today that she had found in her records.

It's a well-thumbed blue Hilroy Exercise Book, a No. 993 Narrow Ruled, with a price of 39 cents printed on it.

It contains a list of 1,446 books that I read between August 1971 and July 1, 1985. That's an average of 103 books a year!

There is also a series of notations and calculations on the last page that says by a "conservative estimate" I had read 1,250 books up to August 1971, for a total of 2,696 books by age 26.

Zounds! Needless to say, the yearly totals dwindled fairly rapidly until for several years I was reading barely a book a month. In the last couple of years I've been back up to several books a month, but I doubt if I'll ever return to the voracious pace of my youth.

I still keep records of books I've read, and after a six-month gap in the last half of 1985 (when I was on the road in Japan and Southeast Asia -- surely I must have some record somewhere?), the count picks up again in 1986.

From 1986 through the end of 2004, I read 819 books, for a life total to that date of 3,515 books.

Flipping through that dog-eared Hilroy stirs fond memories of binges of reading on photography, cars, art, nature, music, economics, history, psychology, Canadiana, etc. The phases I went through, the one or two-month flares of passion for some subject that I can barely recall now.

A summer in my teens spent in a cast, plowing through Solzhenitsyn novel after Solzhenitsyn novel. I read thousands of pages of Solzhenitsyn in a month or two, the Gulag series and most of his novels -- I guess I was quite ill :-).

It's a fascinating record, and a somewhat scary one too, when I think of how few of all those words I can recall. I guess it all adds up though -- while I may not remember specifics, the knowledge and the styles are still guiding me today.

Thanks for preserving that blue notebook, Mom!

Posted by Paul at 07:33 PM

July 03, 2005

Review - Preparing for the Twenty-First Century

Review - Preparing for the Twenty-First Century.

By Paul Kennedy

This is a solid overview of the economic, social and political forces that are shaping the world into the 21st century. Kennedy presents a good discussion of the changes that are affecting the world, and the challenges that humankind will have to deal with to survive.

The general trends that he lays out include the demographic explosion, the rise of information technology that is driving a communications and financial revolution, biotechnology, robotics and dangers to the environment.

As with many recent commentators, Kennedy points out the ever-increasing gaps between wealthy and poor nations, and posits that "... the most important influence on a nation's responsiveness to change probably is its social attitudes, religious beliefs, and culture."

While not shying away from the huge problems we face, Kennedy believes people and nations can choose to respond positively to change, however that requires the adoption of "... a market economy, at least to the extent that merchants and entrepreneurs are not discriminated against, deterred, and preyed upon; the abscence of rigid, doctrinal orthodoxy; the freedom to inquire, to dispute, to experiment; a belief in the possibilities of improvement; a concern for the practical rather than the abstract; a rationalism that defies mandarin codes, religious dogma, and traditional folklore."

The question is whether or not our political and social structures can adapt quickly enough to keep a handle on the massive changes going on around us.

"It is inconcievable that the earth can sustain a population of 10 billion people devouring resources at the rate enjoyed by richer societies today -- or at even half that rate. Well before total world population reaches that level, irreparable damage to forests, water supplies, and animal and plant species will have occurred, and many environmental thresholds may have been breached."

Can we run fast enough to stay in place?

Posted by Paul at 06:32 PM

July 01, 2005

Review - The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake

The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake 1577-1580.

By Samuel Bawlf

Take painstaking historical research, add a buccaneering yarn about one of the greatest sailors and adventurers who ever sailed the seas, toss in the development of new theories about exploration that read like a detective novel and you get this wonderful book by Samuel Bawlf.

The gist of the story is that Bawlf believes Drake got much further north up the coast of western Canada in a search for an Arctic passage than previously believed, and he makes an excellent case.

Maps and charts have always had great strategic value, and the charts and logs of Drake's various voyages were purposely obfuscated and censored.

Posted by Paul at 06:24 PM

March 05, 2005

Review - The Unusually Useful Web Book

Review - The Unusually Useful Web Book.

By June Cohen.

This is another website book that focuses on creating succesful websites rather than the nitty-gritty of coding.

Lots of useful information on usability, ranking, common errors, etc.

Plenty of lists and action items make it easy to quickly implement some of the ideas, and comments from experts on the front lines back up the information.

Posted by Paul at 06:56 PM

February 25, 2005

Review - Vancouver, City on the Edge

Review - Vanvouver, City on the Edge: Living with a Dynamic Geological Landscape.

by John Clague & Bob Turner

This book is a fascinating look at the geology of the lower mainland area of British Columbia. Full of illustrations and photographs, it is an excellent primer on the history and present state of the landscape we live in.

The authors cover several important issues including earthquakes, slides, volcanoes and watersheds. They also point out several good locations for field trips.

One point that one hears from time to time, and that always blows my mind, is that if we look at the age of Earth and compare it to a single calendar year, human recorded history began 30 seconds ago.

Ponder that for a moment. When looking at one calendar year as compared to the age of Earth, "It was not until 8 PM December 31 that humans evolved from more primitive primates... All recorded history falls within the last 30 seconds."

Amazing when you consider to what extent our species has impacted our planet in a few dozen heartbeats.

Posted by Paul at 10:21 PM

January 23, 2005

Review - The Enduring Forests

Review - The Enduring Forests: Northern California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Southeast Alaska

Edited by Ruth Kirk, Photo Editor Charles Mauzy

Soothing photographs accompany sparkling essays on the forests of the west coast of North America from California to Alaska.

Covering issues including logging, biodiversity, and our increasing knowledge that nature cannot survive in isolated pockets, it is a solid read in addition to being a feast for tired eyes.

Posted by Paul at 07:56 PM

January 22, 2005

Review - Designing Web Usability

Review - Designing Web Usability

by Jakob Nielsen

Nielsen is the Web usability guru, and his site is well worth checking out if you do any design work.

This book thoroughly covers page and site design, along with usability and accessibility.

While some may find Nielsen on the conservative side, his advice would help 95% of the sites on the Web to some degree.

Remember the user!

Posted by Paul at 05:47 PM

January 21, 2005

Review - Dreamweaver MX 2004 Missing Manual

Review - Dreamweaver MX 2004: The Missing Manual

by David S. McFarland

Another of the excellent books in the missing manuals series that I read from cover to cover. Yes, I know, there's something wrong with me :-).

It has comprehensive coverage of the powerful Macromedia Dreamweaver Web publishing program. I have yet to put Dreamweaver to use, though I've dabbled with it a bit, however I have a number of sites that I want to spruce up and make compliant with XHTML, so I'll be getting into the program soon.

Posted by Paul at 09:52 PM

January 20, 2005

Review - The Honorable Visitors

Review - The Honorable Visitors: The plot to assassinate Charlie Chaplin and other Tokyo welcomes...

by Donald Richie

"To visit Japan... even now, in the age of jumbo jets and package tours, a faint air of the exotic clings to the project. You are going to a land somehow strange, somehow other. This quality of the different, the unfamiliar, can be an attraction, something to be enjoyed, or it can be a discomfort, something to be complained about. It depends on you."

Richie puts his delightful insights and delectable prose to good use in this charming collection of stories about the visits of famous Westerners to Japan following the opening of its closed borders in the later part of the 19th century.

Ranging from Ulysses S. Grant to Rudyard Kipling to William Faulkner, we get a cross section of the cross, the enamoured and the factually observant.

A gem of a short collection, it should be mandatory reading for all prospective and practicing travel writers or cultural critics.

Posted by Paul at 07:33 PM

January 17, 2005

Review - The Ronin

Review - The Ronin: A Novel Based on a Zen Myth

by William Dale Jennings

This is a mind-bending tale. Violent and ribald, it is a pithy take on pride and human weakness. The language is taut, the perceptions of humain frailties are uncomfortable, the Zen mystique and way of the sword are thought provoking.

Not a novel for the timid, or those who cannot stomach a blunt, down-to-earth look at life, once hooked, you'll want to read it again.

Posted by Paul at 09:45 PM

January 08, 2005

Review - Marketing Your Service

Review - Marketing Your Service

by Jean Withers and Carol Vipperman

This is another book in the Self-Counsel Press series of do-it-yourself business books. I've used several of the books in our business, and for the most part they have been clear and helpful.

This book is an introduction to marketing targeted at service businesses. It covers the basics of defining your business and its goals, and then writing a marketing plan to achieve your goals.

About half of the book is made up of excercises designed to get you to think about your business and get your plan down on paper. At first I thought this was a waste of space -- it would be more efficient to simply point readers to a website where they could download the material -- however on second thought perhaps it is useful to be immediately confronted with those blank pages!

Speaking from personal experience, I know how easy it is to simply "wing it" when it comes to running a small business, and while that may lead to short-term success, it rarely leads to growth and expansion.

I've zipped through the book, pehaps it's time to fill in some of the blanks...

Posted by Paul at 10:25 AM

January 07, 2005

Review - The Canadian Writer's Guide

Review - The Canadian Writer's Guide, 13th Edition

This "Official Handbook of the Canadian Authors Accociation" is a collection of bite-sized articles on a wide variety of topics of interest to aspiring and published writers.

Ranging from prose to poetry, from the business of writing to finding an agent, it can be read cover to cover, or flipped through at leisure to find topics of interest. Articles range from a page to four pages in length.

It also contains extensive listings of writing groups, contests, and private and governmental funding sources.

Posted by Paul at 10:05 AM

January 02, 2005

Review - The Run of the River

Review - The Run of the River: Portraits of Eleven British Columbia Rivers

by Mark Hume

Hume weaves eleven tales about eleven rivers, convincingly showing that we are in the eleventh hour before much of what little wilderness remains may be lost. This eye-opening book is a must for anyone who is concerned about preserving our natural heritage and maintaining our fisheries.

"Long before the environmental stress on a river becomes obvious to most of us, it shows up in the fish. They are canaries in a coal mine -- but canaries that cannot sing. We must pay attention to what the fish are telling us, and to the whispering voices of our rivers, for they are speaking about our future."

Hume's first-hand experiences and research combine in moving prose that focuses on the human propensity to ignore environmental costs and fixate on short-term economic gain. Yet there are growing numbers of people from ever-broadening constituencies who are waking up to what we have been doing, and realizing that technology cannot solve everything.

"... while engineers can reproduce fish, they cannot replace nature. Hatcheries are technological marvels and they may be a necessity in the modern world, but they are not signs of progress; they are monuments to our failure to protect rivers."

Why does nature always have to come last in our scheme of things? "...fish have no legal rights to water. There is no base flow reserved for them."

People have been wiping out salmon runs for centuries, and B.C. and the rest of the Pacific northwest host the best that remain. We have learned that runs are genetically unique, and once gone, are very difficult to repopulate.

"The important thing is that the habitat be taken care of. Without that, no salmon can survive, for there is no genetic code that can overcome suffocation, pollution, or a lack of water."

Posted by Paul at 08:11 AM

December 30, 2004

Review - Return to the River

Review - Return to the River: The Classic Story of the Chinook Run and of the Men Who Fish It

by Roderick Haig-Brown

Originally published in the 1940s, this "historical novel" was reissued in 1997. It's a wonderful tale of the lifecycle of chinook salmon told from the perspective of one fish from birth to death. The detail is incredible as "Spring" hatches, begins to grow, travels downstream to the ocean, and returns years later to spawn and die at the spot she was born.

While at times verging on the hokey to a modern reader, the rich, colorful prose more than makes up for any feeling of being dated. It's still an excellent read.

What is disturbing is that the occasional optimism at man's hoped for ability to use technology to restore nature, and salmon runs in particular, has not been borne out.

This is a theme that is cropping up over and over again as I explore more books about salmon -- humanity's seeming inability to learn from mistakes. Or inability to enforce regulations and laws to prevent short-term "gain" and destruction.

Posted by Paul at 05:46 PM

December 29, 2004

Review - National Geographic Photography Field Guide

Review - National Geographic Photography Field Guide
by Peter Burian and Robert Caputo

With a copyright of 1999, this book barely touches the digital camera revolution, however it thoroughly covers all the basics of exposure, depth of field, lighting, composition, using different lenses etc., that apply to all photography.

As an added bonus, the book is chock full of gorgeous National Geographic photographs, many of which are simply stunning.

Having done a lot of photography in my youth, I skimmed the technical parts and concentrated on brushing up on composition and lighting. I also enjoyed the interviews with National Geographic photographers that are interspersed throughout the book.

This book is an excellent introduction to photography.

Posted by Paul at 07:41 PM

December 28, 2004

Review - Windows XP Pro: The Missing Manual

Review - Windows XP Pro: The Missing Manual, Second Edition
by David Pogue, Craig Zacker, L.J. Zacker

Yes, believe it or not, I do read computer manuals from cover to cover :-).

I recently got a new computer running Windows XP Pro after being happy with a Windows 2000 Pro box for over four years. XP is different enough from 2000 that I needed some mental upgrading.

The "Missing Manual" series is excellent. The books are engaging, cover their topics extensively, and are funny to boot.

The series is aptly named as well, considering my installation of XP Pro came with only a 32-page introductory pamphlet. What is Microsoft thinking? Oh, yeah,that it can make more money selling books...

I found the XP Pro Missing Manual to be very useful, as it explained a few things I was confused about, and showed me how to accomplish things in XP that are different from Windows 2000.

Highly recommended if you are new to Windows XP Pro. The content can be understood by beginners who take their time going through the book, yet there is still plenty of useful information for advanced users who can skim the more basic parts.

Posted by Paul at 05:28 PM

December 27, 2004

Review - Macromedia Dreamweaver for Windows & Macintosh

Review - Macromedia Dreamweaver MX for Windows & Macintosh: Visual Quickstart Guide

by J. Tarin Towers

Well here it is, a few days to 2005, and I finally finished this book long after I had installed Macromedia Studio MX 2004, a newer version of the software. Unfortunately I've never gotten around to learning Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Flash, maintaining my mediocre sites with HomeSite and an ancient version of FrontPage that produces really ugly code.

I vow to transfer all of the sites that I maintain to Dreamweaver in the coming year, and take advantage of its clean code and powerful capabilities. I also want to redesign all of my sites with XHTML and CSS stylesheets.

I started this book early in 2004, and found it buried in a corner of my desk a week ago and decided to finish it. It's a clear, well-illustrated guide to the intricacies of Dreamweaver. It's a fairly exhaustive treatment that remains readable and accessible.

Manuals included with software are getting thinner and thinner, and one has to rely on books like this one to learn new programs.

Posted by Paul at 04:36 PM

December 26, 2004

Review - Web ReDesign

Review - Web ReDesign: Workflow that Works
by Kelly Goto and Emily Cotler

This is a solid guide to designing and overhauling websites, with a focus on project management, design and content as opposed to the nuts and bolts of writing HTML/XHTML or setting up dynamic database-driven sites.

The authors do an excellent job of laying out a process that can be applied to almost any scenario, starting from defining the project, to developing site structure, visual design and testing, and production and quality assurance.

The focus of the process is the user, and rightly so. Test, test and test again -- can users use the site easily and effectively?

Highly recommended for anyone who works in the web publishing arena.

More information and downloads can be found on the book's accompanying website. There is a "2.0" version out that I have not seen yet.

Posted by Paul at 06:16 PM

December 24, 2004

Review - Zen in the Art of Archery

Review - Zen in the Art of Archery
by Eugen Herrigel

This whimsical tale of a European learning Zen through the practice of Japanese archery for six years between the great wars is a profoundly satisfying little read.

Just over 100 pages long, it chronicles the author's attempts to lose his "willful will" and become one with the art. A wonderful introduction by T. Suzuki ably sets the stage, and the reader is carried along with Herrigel's frustrations and gradual progress.

Posted by Paul at 12:45 PM

December 22, 2004

Review - Bird by Bird

Review - Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
by Anne Lamott

"...for some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die."

If the above resonates in your soul, if you have the itch to write something, anything, this book is for you. Lamott takes an unflinching, deeply emtional, yet humorous look at life and writing, and one comes away uplifted.

Lamott takes the reader through the whole writing process, and manages to teach a lot about life in general along the way.

"Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do -- the actual act of writing -- turns out to be the best part. It's like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward."

This book can, and in fact ought to be, savored chapter by chapter, so that all of the annecdotes and advice truly sink in. Enjoy.

Posted by Paul at 07:42 PM

December 21, 2004

Review - Information Anxiety 2

Review - Information Anxiety 2
by Richard Saul Wurman

"Learning is remembering what we're interested in."

That's the lead theme in this thought-provoking potpourri of ideas for dealing with the deluge of information we are subjected to in modern life, and choosing how to live rewarding lives.

Wurman is probably best known for his TED confernces on technology, entertainment and design.

"A weekday edition of The New York Times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across in a lifetime in 17th-century England."

How do we deal with this and live meaningful lives? Wurman collects thoughts on business, education, learning, communication, and personal growth, and presents it in an easily digestible manner.

An important step in gaining control is "to be able to admit when you don't understand something."

Wurman pokes holes into objectivity and facts: "A fact can be comprehended only within the context of an idea. And ideas are irrevocably subjective, which makes facts just as subjective.... The key to understanding is to accept that any account of an event is bound to be subjective, no matter how committed the recounter is to being accurate and objective."

Questioning everything is key to understanding. "Life is all about questions. If you stop asking, you stop living."

It comes down to designing your life. "Confidence in your own understanding, acceptance of your ignorance, and determination to pursue your interests are the weapons against anxiety."

Posted by Paul at 02:56 PM

December 20, 2004

Review - Cadillac Desert

Review - Cadillac Dessert: The American West and its Disappearing Water
by Marc Reisner

Written some 20 years ago, this book is a brilliantly researched and colorfully written account of how man's attempts to tame the deserts and arid plains have resulted in incredible folly, wasteful spending, and environmental destruction.

Blending history, geography, political science and rolling narrative, it's an excellent expose of how greed, self-interest, misplaced piety, and pork-barrel politics have resulted in hundreds of at best dubious, and at worst incredibly destructive, water projects over the last century.

Posted by Paul at 02:24 PM

Review - The End of Work

Review - The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era.

By Jeremy Rifkin

Rifkin draws an apocalyptic picture of all that could go wrong with global society as rapidly increasing numbers of jobs are replaced by computerization, automation and robotics. I felt somewhat sceptical, as the book was written nearly ten years ago, and I haven't noticed dramatic increases in unemployment. Yet the trend is there, and it certainly would be wise to prepare for possible consequences.

Rifkin's thesis is: "The wholesale substitution of machines for workers is going to force every nation to rethink the role of human beings in the social process. Redefining opportunities and responsibilities for millions of people in a society absent of mass formal employment is likely to be the single most pressing social issue of the coming century."

Rifkin writes about the increasing gap between menial labor and knowledge workers, and points out that "... all three of the traditional sectors of the economy -- agriculture, manufacturing, and service -- are experiencing technological displacement, forcing millions onto the unemployment rolls."

Is there any hope? Rifkin sees some in the third sector or non-profit organizations, work sharing, shorter work weeks, taxation policies, and so on. He considers the utopian view that technology will solve everything.

Yet his conclusion is that "the end of work could spell a death sentence for civilization as we have come to know it. The end of work could also signal the beginning of a great social transformation, a rebirth of the human spirit. The future lies in our hands."

Well, the future has always been in our hands, though perhaps it is more so now than earlier in our history.

Do we know where we're going to?

Posted by Paul at 01:13 PM

July 28, 2004

Review - What Went Wrong?

What Went Wrong: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East.

Bernard Lewis

This book was written based on a series of lectures and originally published just prior to 9/11.

It's a short, highly readable look into how and why the Muslim world fell behind progress elsewhere around the globe over the last 500-600 years, and the anger that has fueled.

The gap appears to boil down to an inflexible dogmatism that refuses to allow the separation of religion from politics, governance and law, and equality for women.

What is terrifying is that the backlash against the West that is resulting in a return to rigid dogma is perverting even positive Islamic principles.

I didn't see much in the book to reassure me, however it did help me get some idea of where the anger is coming from and why. Not encouraging.

Posted by Paul at 07:05 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2004

Review - Starting and Running a Nonprofit Organization

Starting and Running a Nonprofit Organization
Joan M. Hummel
2nd Edition

A good introduction to exactly what the title states.

This well-written, concise guide covers a lot of the bases, with emphasis on setting goals and measuring results.

Whether dealing with setting up an effective board of directors, raising funds, running the office and coordinating volunteers, or compiling and monitoring budgets, this book offers sage advice.

While aimed at a U.S. audience, I found plenty of information to put to good use in Canada.

Posted by Paul at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2004

Winnowing Books

I have winnowed out over a hundred books from my shelves to donate or give away. It's always hard to see them go, but I need the space.

When my wife and I moved from Japan to Canada in 1999, we shipped over 100 boxes at great expense, and over half of them contained books. Those boxes were met by 30 or 40 more boxes of books that had sat in my mother's garage for the 14 years I lived in Japan.

Last week, nearly five years after we arrived in Canada, I finally unpacked the last half-dozen boxes, and something had to give.

Last summer I managed to toss a couple of hundred old textbooks and useless tomes on the Soviet Union and Eastern European history. At one point in my life I'd thought I'd be a Kremlinologist :-).

This latest batch includes a pile of Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, Robert Ludlum and other assorted novels. Why keep them when I'll never re-read any of them? A bunch of books on running -- my back hasn't been able to take pavement-pounding for years now....

There are several hundred more books that could go, but this is enough for the moment.

Posted by Paul at 07:16 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2004

Review - Start and Run a Copywriting Business

Start and Run a Copywriting Business
by Steve Slaunwhite

Another how-to book in the Self-Counsel Press small business series.

Our business is mostly translating and editing, however I found this book a valuable read. Much of it applies to any freelance creative business.

Lots of good tips on setting rates, getting organized, marketing and promotion, and dealing with clients.

Posted by Paul at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2004

Review - The Bear and the Dragon

The Bear and the Dragon
by Tom Clancy
Copyright 2000

Why am I still reading Tom Clancy novels after he's strung Jack Ryan out about three increasingly preachy books too many?

New York Times #1 Bestseller, I guess that's why. Plus I didn't buy this one, a friend gave it to me over a year ago and I finally got around to plowing through its turgid 1,000-plus pages while I was under the weather recently.

It's sad that such a formulaic novel that blatantly stimulates all sorts of phobias and fears while banging the drum of American superiority can top the bestseller lists.

Never one to hide his biases, Clancy goes over the top in this novel with extreme religious and political views.

Tom, we know you're anti-abortion, we know you hold deep religious beliefs, we know you think U.S.-style democracy has no equal and that its military can never lose.... Lighten up, eh?

I admire much about the U.S., and I think Canada should be putting a lot more money into its military, but I found myself gagging at this novel's black-and-white take on international relations.

I also got sick of all the racist language. If that's really the way "our" leaders talk about "them," and how "they" talk about "us," we might as well give up hope for the human race.

All in all, a disappointing book.

Posted by Paul at 09:55 PM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2004

Review - The Eye of the World

The Eye of the World
by Robert Jordan

Book One of The Wheel of Time

Where did I get this epic fantasy novel? I don't remember if I bought it in a second-hand bookstore or if someone gave it to me. Why did I read it? It started with a bout of insomnia that found me in my office around midnight, looking for something light to get lost in.

Did I like it? Well, I read the whole thing and got quite caught up in it, even though it had too many characters and scenes ripped straight out of Tolkien.

One of the blurbs on the back cover says "Women have a stronger role than in Tolkien."

Yep, Gandalf is a woman, served and protected by a Strider-a-like character. We also have the village bumpkin heroes, one of whom carries a special sword. We have Orcs (Trollocs), we have wraiths, we have a Dark One, we have a talking tree....

There are twists and additions to the tale, and it's not badly written, it's just unfortunate that one keeps muttering "this is just like Tolkien" too often for comfort.

Will I venture into the rest of this series that began to be released in 1990? Tough call. I have dozens of other books piled up unread that would probably be a more valuable use of time.

Posted by Paul at 09:11 PM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2004

Interesting Books for Streamkeepers

Here are a few books I've read recently that I thought would be of interest to streamkeepers. Both were interesting, thought provoking, and well written.

King of Fish: The Thousand-Year Run of Salmon
David R. Montgomery
Westview Press, 2003.
ISBN 0-8133-4147-7

Montgomery is a Professor of Geomorphology at the University of Washington. The book is an excellent study of the decline of salmon, starting with Atlantic salmon in Europe, then moving across the Atlantic to eastern North America, and ending with the Pacific Northwest.

This well-documented book looks at the history of habitat destruction, and the repeated good intentions and the mistakes that have wiped out salmon runs. Legislation to protect salmon dates back well over 500 years (!), however poor enforcement and a lack of coordination between national, state/provincial, and municipal authorities abetted the decline.

He talks about what can be done to protect what we have left, and how to revive runs, with an emphasis on the Pacific situation. Highly recommended for anyone at all interested in streamkeeping, environmentalism, etc.

"Unlike our ancestors, those of us alive today comprise the generations running headlong into the limits of our use of natural systems while observing permanent loss of much of our natural heritage. The bottom line is that people have the freedom to change their behavior, whereas fish do not. If we are to save wild salmon, then some people will lose money or the ability to do things they wanted to do. But we all lose if we lose the salmon." (p. 245)

Cathedral of the World: Sailing Notes For A Blue Planet
Myron Arms
Doubleday, 1999
ISBN 0-385-49269-3

A book of short essays and thoughts about people and nature, particularly in relation to the vastness of the oceans that makes one realize how insignificant, yet damaging, humans are as a species. A wonderful, thought-provoking read, it is the kind of book that you can appreciate in nibbles. I kept finding myself staring off into space, lost in thought after reading each short section.

"...if we can silence our egos for a moment and set aside our preconceptions about who we think we are, we may begin to perceive some of the lessons that the rest of nature has to teach: lessons not of personality but of relationship, not of order but of complexity, not of private property but of shared responsibility, not of rationality but of mystery, not of the ultimacy of the human enterprise but of the interdependency of all life." (p. 47)

"... is the story we've been telling ourselves about our 'progress' as a species during the last ten thousand years really upside-down? Have we actually regressed, psychologically, from a state of harmony with our natural surroundings to a state of boredom, contentiousness, and alienation?" (p. 122).

"... we have learned to adapt, by increments, to the humanscapes around us until we can hardly remember what a natural landscape looks like any longer.... Most dangerous of all, we convince ourselves, perhaps because of the pervasiveness of the humanscape, that we are at the center of things -- that we are the controllers, the 'managers' of the planet."

If you've got some good reads to share, let me know!

Posted by Paul at 06:12 PM | Comments (0)