Thursday, December 22, 2005

Book Collecting Misconceptions

Some common book collecting misconceptions:

  • This book is old, so it must be valuable.” – An ‘old’ book is not necessarily a valuable book. Many novice collectors and on-line sellers assume that a book 100 years old or older is a rarity. In reality, the printed book began in the 1450’s, and many books produced in the last 200-300 years are not necessarily desirable to collectors. Further, many books printed in the late 1800’s were reprints of popular works, mass produced for public consumption – often without reference to earlier printings.
  • This book is old, so it must be rare.” – If I had a dollar for every book touted as rare on eBay, I’d be a millionaire. True rarity is a result of the size of a print run, and the number of books surviving from the run. For example, there are many anti-slavery books dating to the 1860’s that can be consistently found in an on-line search, whereas some books published in small print runs in recent years are much harder to come by. Geographic rarity is a form of rarity that has been diminished with the advent of online bookselling. In the past, a collector of Americana in the Midwestern US might have had much more difficulty finding desirable books than one in Philadelphia or New York. Today many booksellers list their inventory on the internet, easing some of the frustrations of geographic rarity.
  • This book contains a bookplate and signature of a previous collector – it must be worth less than a similar copy without them.” – Not always true. In fact, an association between the previous owner and the author or subject matter can boost a book’s value. Some collectors buy books for no other reason than an attractive bookplate.
  • This book appears to be signed by the author, it must be more valuable.” – Possibly. Book signing is a phenomenon that has become increasingly popular. So much so, that some books are published with a facsimile signature, which can be detected using a magnifying glass – dots of ink rather than a continuous line are a giveaway. Not all authors sign books – so a book signed by an author who rarely does so is often worth a premium, while an author who is a prolific signer may not increase a book’s value.
  • This book is in great condition, for its age.” – Condition is generally regarded as independent from age. There are pristine books that are hundreds of years old, and shabby books from the early 1900’s. Saying that a book is in good shape for its age is a cover for a lack of understanding of book grading standards. On eBay, this one is right up there with *RARE!!!!*
  • Buying first editions of new works now will pay off in the future.” – Not necessarily. Often, an author’s first book is the author’s most rare, as publishers often do not like to make big investments in large print runs for unknown authors. Established authors may get first edition runs for subsequent works numbering in the hundreds of thousands, essentially eliminating the rarity often associated with first editions. First editions of poor works may never appreciate, of course.
  • The seller says this is a first edition, so it must be one!” – I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you. Within the realm of reputable dealers, this may be a safer assumption – but it can’t hurt to ask. When a reputable dealer says “First Edition”, what they usually mean is “First Printing, First Edition”. An ‘edition’ is all books printed from one setting of type (historically). A ‘printing’ is a number of books printed from that type at one time. To further complicate matters, a ‘state’ is a smaller variation induced during a single printing. While there is some wiggle room in these definitions, particularly with the death of traditional typesetting, in general the most desirable edition for a collector of ‘Firsts’ is the first state of the first printing of the first edition. Whew. Actually determining if a book meets these criteria is a field of study left for the most discriminating of bibliographers. Dealers may not have the correct ‘points of issue’, or list of attributes, to determine in a book is a true “First”.
  • This book is leather bound…” –or- “This book says it is a limited edition, so it must be valuable.” – Popular works often spawn editions marketed as “Collectable”. A rule of thumb – if a book is marketed as a collectable by the publisher, it probably isn’t.

How does a collector avoid these pitfalls? In a word, experience. When you decide you’d like to obtain a specific book, don’t run out and buy the first copy you find. Do research, and follow the market. You may find a book that you thought was ‘rare’ is not, or that the most desirable edition of the book is a different printing altogether. You will also save yourself money in the long haul by not buying an inferior book and upgrading it later.

If it takes you months to source a book using all of the resources available to you, including the internet, dealer catalogs, and periodicals, it is likely that the book is at least uncommon, and you might consider buying a copy when it turns up. If you see a copy weekly or monthly, you can surely wait to buy the best copy that can be had, and be more selective in finding it.

Book collecting is not a race, it’s a lifelong pursuit – one in which patience (and prudent buying) is a virtue.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Book Collecting – Installment I


Book collecting can begin as an affinity and grow into an obsession. Something about books exerts such a strong pull on the collector, that the compulsively inclined had best take care when entering the hobby – it is head and shoulders above the field when it comes to documented cases of irrational fixation for the activity, otherwise known as Bibliomania.

What makes books so compelling? Collectable objects can be interesting for a variety of reasons including rarity, aesthetic attraction, and the stories behind those who created them. Books combine a long list of attractive attributes:

  • The subject matter, its quality, and the impact the contents have had on history and culture,
  • The edition or issue, and how it illustrates the evolution of the work and the author’s changing attitude toward it,
  • The author, their biography, and the place the work has in their development as an individual,
  • The printer, and the place the book holds in the history of publishing and the body of the printer’s work,
  • The illustrations, the story of the artist who created them, and the place of the compositions in art history,
  • The binding, its materials – be it leather, paper, or other medium, the binder herself, and the binder’s story and body of work,
  • The individual book, its provenance, previous readers, owners, annotators, and their historical significance or contribution to the book as object or to the subject matter it contains,
  • The collector, and the story of how he came to obtain the book, how it influenced his life, and the memories it evokes for him,


And on and on…

A single object that can combine so many stories in one hand-held portable package is a worthy collectable indeed. It is not only the rarest of examples that combines these qualities, but every book, to one degree or another. That such an item can be so readily available, to even the beginning collector, is unique.

The beginning collector that bears in mind all of the permutations of value and history that is open to him with each acquisition is off to an auspicious start. Most begin simply by keeping copies of books that they have enjoyed, and want to keep close should they want to revisit them in the future. Later, several books of similar theme or appeal fill the shelves of the reader, and the collector is born.

Recognizing that an accumulation is becoming a collection, what should the budding collector bear in mind? First, revisiting the ‘Constants in collecting’ can be helpful. These include: Collecting what you like, Taking Your Time, Doing Research, Shopping Virtually, Watching the Market, Buying the Seller, Buying the Best You Can Afford, and (again) Taking Your Time.

In addition, there are other important overarching ideas for book collectors:

What to Collect?

Some collectors assert that a collection is only important if it is thoughtfully designed in order to contribute to a field of scholarship on a particular subject. Such collections may focus on narrow fields, and trend towards being ‘compleatist’ in their makeup. While a valid approach, this attribute as being the sole arbiter of an ‘important’ collection is open to debate.

Other collectors acquire the most important ‘high spots’ in a variety of fields, so that individual books in the collection represent the most influential works in each category. Many who collect for investment purposes take this approach.

Another strategy is collecting books which are significant to the development of the collector himself, with individual books representing periods in the life of the collector.

There also exists a category of book collector whose approach is similar to that of the ‘Cabinet Collector’ of the 19th century. Cabinet collectors were so named because they would fill their display with oddities which piqued their interest, from a variety of cultures and locales.

Whatever the approach, a collection will only fulfill the collector if it speaks to them. The messages the collection whispers to the collector need only be known between the two – but a collection where this communication is absent, like any relationship devoid of communication, will ultimately grow stale and be left behind.

Resources

As with collecting watches, a variety of resources is readily available for the new book collector.

Books

The two best books for the beginning collector are:

Among the Gently Mad – Strategies and Perspectives for the Book Hunter in the 21st Century by Nicholas Basbanes – Basbanes is the current incarnation of the Oracle at Delphi for book collectors. His other books, A Gentle Madness, Patience and Fortitude, A Splendor of Letters, and Every Book Its Reader illuminate the world of book collecting from top to bottom, and should be on every serious collector’s ‘To Read’ list. They detail the travails of collectors, auctioneers, bibliophiles, and bibliomanes as the buy, bid, 'borrow', and steal to build their collections. Among the Gently Mad is unique among them, however, because it outlines how to find and collect the books you want.

Book Collecting – A Modern Guide edited by Jean Peters – Now out of print, this book is a collection of essays, each focusing on one aspect of collecting, by a noted contributer in the respective fields. Finding this in the used book market should be the first fory into sourcing out-of-print books for the new collector.

Websites

How to find Book Collecting by Peters? Visiting the used book mega search engine Bookfinder should do it. Bookfinder searches new and OOP books from large retailers and small bookshops around the world, and is my favorite book collecting website. In a similar vein are ABE and Addall .

The Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) is a trade organization made up of professional independent booksellers. Buying the seller often means buying from a member of the ABAA. Their website ABAA.com also contains a wealth of information and links for collectors.

Periodicals

Book collecting magazines seem to come and go, but the current shining star is Fine Books & Collections Magazine. Contributors include Basbanes and a growing field of book cognoscenti.

From Here…

I hope this brief introduction will entice you to return for my future installments on book collecting. Book crazy myself, I am still in the process of evolving as a collector. Please feel free to comment, so we can grow together. And enjoy hunting down that object of your desire…unless it’s one I’m looking for too…

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Pocket Knife

Any Boy Scout will tell you – one of the most useful items to have on hand is a good pocket knife. Pocket knives are also a great holiday gift, even for the person ‘who has everything’. The variety of patterns, manufacturers, and materials available means that a knife can be a very personalized gift, and having more than one doesn’t mean redundancy.

There has always been a great variety of tools that fall into this category, but with the advent of multi-tools, one-handed opening knives, etc., there are more to choose from today than ever before. The field is so broad, in fact, that for present purposes I’ll only focus on the more traditional pocket or pen knife, and leave the multi-tools, locking knives, custom-made, and fixed blades for future discussion.

Patterns

Modern pocket knives trace their lineage back to the English Jack or Barlow pattern. A ‘pattern’ is a style of knife, generally distinguished by the number of blades and their shapes. Patterns have names such as Whittler, Muskrat, Pen, Doctor’s, Gentleman’s, Trapper and Stockman - sometimes alluding to their intended function, their intended user, or their appearance. Traditional pocket knives are also sometimes called ‘slipjoint’ knives, referring to the fact that they generally do not have a locking mechanism, requiring release before the knife can be closed.

Schatt and Morgan English Jack from Cumberland Knife Works

The Barlow, the most basic pocket knife, consists of one or two blades that fold into the handle. Both blades are hinged to the same end of the knife, and open in the same direction. The handle of the knife is reinforced with a metal collar, or bolster, which is usually made from nickel silver, stainless, or chromed steel. An English Jack knife is essentially the same as a Barlow, but often has bolsters at both ends.

In fact, the English Jack knife is one of my two favorite patterns. It is simple, nicely sized, and has a pedigree back to the earliest pocket knives made. My other favorite is the equal-ended Whittler, which we’ll look at next.

Schatt and Morgan Equal-End Whittler from Cumberland Knife Works
In addition to blade configuration, other considerations in buying a pocket knife include manufacturer, materials, and aesthetic appeal.
Manufacturers
There are many pocket knife manufacturers out there – but fewer than there used to be. Old stand-by companies like Schrade and Wenger have folded or been bought by other companies. It is probably safe to say that the most collected maker is Case, with a huge following and well documented production history. At knife shows, Case collectors easily outnumber collectors dedicated to any other single brand.

My favorite brand is Queen, and their premium subsidiary Schatt and Morgan. I feel that their design and value is top notch, and that their knives both work well and are attractive. They are located in Titusville, Pennsylvania, and are made in the USA.

Other collected makes include German Eye, Hen and Rooster, Boker, and Buck, to name a few. Swiss Army style knives from Victorinox and Wenger are also very practical and highly collectable, and are also a good low-cost entry point into the hobby.
Materials
Different makers often employ different materials. Pocket knives can have handles or ‘scales’ made of antler, bone, wood, polymer, or other synthetics. Many collectors prefer stag antler, or bone that is ‘jigged’ or grooved to look like stag. Bone and stag are very attractive, and work well, but cost a bit more and may be more prone to cracking or shrinkage than wood or synthetic materials. Bolsters that reinforce joints can be silver, nickel-silver, steel, or other metal – and again, more expensive materials are often desirable but come at a premium.

Blade steel is often a topic that can bring out long discussions of minutiae among collectors. In general, reputable makers and dealers carry knives that will perform well. Better makers make reasonably priced knives with blades of stainless 440 series steel. Some brands also make available higher grades of stainless steel, such as D2, ATS-34 or S30V – or carbon steels like 1095.

While a hole that can bury a budding collector, developing collectors might take more interest in steel. A great resource is Joe Talmadge’s Steel FAQ. Steel formulation for knives is a tradeoff between three factors: corrosion or stain resistance, edge holding, and strength. A rule of thumb for beginning collectors is Buy well regarded brands from a reputable dealer, and you’ll be fine.

On that note, where do I get my knives? I prefer to shop from Cumberland Knife Works. They carry Case, Queen, Schatt and Morgan, and others. Their website is a great place to browse, because you can search by brand or pattern, to get a good idea of what is out there. They are a dealer who stocks reliable knives, and can be trusted to sell you a good-using knife.

For collectors looking specifically for Swiss Army knives, I recommend Central Valley Wholesale, an authorized Victorinox dealer who has patterns you can’t find at the local discount store.

In my pocket? That Schatt and Morgan equal-ended Whittler up there. Nice shape, sharp blades, bone scales, and only 100 made in that color. The green is gone, but you can still get Amber and Winterbottom colored scales. Although it set me back $69, I’ll likely be passing it on to the next generation. Not a bad deal.
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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Anchor Stones (Anker Steinbaukasten)

Lots of folks are out looking for that special, distinctive gift for their children, grandchildren, or significant other this time of year. Millions will be spent on toys that will break or be pushed aside shortly after the New Year.

One category of toy that fosters creativity is what I’ll loosely call ‘Construction Sets’. This includes traditional wooden building blocks, Lego ™ style interlocking plastic blocks, Lincoln Log™ sets, Erector™ sets, and the like. They allow the construction of structures limited only by the user’s creativity, and the range of pieces available.

Some of these products appeal to specific age groups, or require differing degrees of manual dexterity. They each also appeal to a certain aesthetic – Lincoln Logs™ and wooden blocks have a rugged build of natural products that can appeal to adults who remember them from their childhood. Interlocking plastic blocks are versatile, inexpensive, and colorful – and always seem to end up in the vacuum at my house. Erector™ sets are for the hard-core future mechanics, engineers, and architects among us.

However, there is a product that combines the best of all of these attributes – Anchor Stones.


The original Anchor Stones (Anker Steinbaukasten) go all the way back to 1879. They are beautiful colored and polished blocks of real stone, which produce beautiful buildings. They are sold in Basic sets of around 100 blocks, and Supplemental sets that can be expanded to build sets of over 2000 stones.

One of the great advantages of Anchor Stones is their versatility. They combine the simplicity and pleasing aesthetics of wooden blocks, the durability and color of interlocking plastic blocks, and the range of building complexity to rival Erector™ style building sets. Moreover, the packaging and set-building properties of Anchor Stone sets can solve the problem of what to buy the recipient next year, and the year after, and after…

While appropriate for the youngest builder, an amazing international community of enthusiasts has grown up around Anchor Stones. There are websites and blogs, mostly from Europe, that illustrate replicas of real buildings constructed with Anchor Stones. Many sites provide plans so that an aspiring Anchor architect can reproduce the results of their colleagues abroad.


From the AnkerStein.Org website

The best Anchor Stones are currently being made by Rudolstädter Anker-Steinbaukasten-Fabrik GmbH & Co. KG, and can be a bit of a challenge to come by in the United States. I like to buy from smaller businesses that are passionate about their hobbies, so the best source I could come by is George Hardy of Virginia, who also maintains a great enthusiast site at AnkerStein.Org. Basic sets are a bit easier to find, at sites such as NiftyCool Toys . The grand-daddy of construction toy sales The Construction Site also carries them.

Timeless, versatile, suitable for all ages. Maybe someone will buy ME some of these for Christmas…

For information on building toys in general, be sure to check out Alan Winston’s BlockPlay blog.



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Friday, December 09, 2005

Pocket Notebooks

I'm no luddite, but sometimes technology can get in the way of efficiency. After all, all these computers were supposed to save us paper, right?

I find that carrying a notebook helps me navigate through the day. Palmtops are sexy, but a good old pen (or pencil - but that's for another day) and paper just seem more efficient to me. No waiting to power up, no batteries, no interface, and a sense of permanance all contribute to the utility of a notebook. They also seem to promote creativity, as you can jot, draw, scribble, and tape things in them quickly and easily.

The more accustomed to carrying a notebook you become, the more use the notebook gets, and the more invaluable it becomes. I dug up a pocket notebook out of the closet the other day that was 14 years old, and it was like a time capsule to another time in my life. It had reminders, shopping lists, and phone numbers that evoked some great memories.

Pocket notebooks are also extremely portable. At around 3"x5", they can easily slip into a jacket or pants pocket. Back in the late '80s I tried to get on the Day Runner bandwagon, and the size of the planner kept me from carrying it consistently, thus defeating its purpose.

Best Pocket Notebooks

Once the decision to try carrying a notebook has been made, the question that follows is which one? A cheap spiral notebook from an office store might fill the bill, but there are benefits to a little research.

Moleskine


If notebooks had groupies, this brand would rival the Greatful Dead. Its fan club is devout and eclectic, and if you believe the brand's marketing, its alums count no few stellar minds. Out of production for a time, Moleskines are back with a vengence.

Offered in a variety of sizes and paper colors, the basic pocket Moleskine is about 3.5" by 5.5", and has a sturdy oilcloth cover, 180 sewn pages, a bookmark, rear pocket, and an elastic band closure. A good place to grab one of these is Ninth Wave Designs , a site that also maintains a Moleskine related weblog. Once you're smitten, check out Moleskinerie to cement you addiction.
I find Moleskines durable and highly useable - but don't fall in to the nagging feeling that these are actually too nice to write in.

Miquelrius




These Spanish-made notebooks seem to be the main competitor for the Italian Moleskine. They are closer to 4" x 6", and feature a flexable leather-like cover. The have about twice as many page, are twice as thick, but can cost about 30% less. The tradeoff is in the cover material, paper thickness, and lack of the little extras and cachet that the Moleskine offers.

That said, these are eminently useable, and only slightly harder to find that the Moleskine. Here again,Ninth Wave Designs carries these, but currentl only through their eBay auctions. Another spot, great for this and similar products is Pendemonium.

Mil-Spec



BOOK, MEMO, 6 in. 3 1/2 in., GREEN NSN 7530002220078

If you were in the US military, you may remember these - the notebook that every NCO or officer carried that helped them keep everything straight. You know the ones - green with Memoranda written across the front cover in yellow. Unlike the picture above, the ones I like are those that open like a book.

For years I looked for a source for these, with no succuess - it seemed that they were only available through the Federal Supply Service.

I finally found a source on an internet bulletin board that has lots of Veteran members. The specs, according to the source: "The cover is made of artificial leather with stitching detail. Contains 144 pages. This versatile book features a flexible cover with rounded corners and white sulfite writing paper. Does not include an index; pages are not numbered."

Not only do these hold a lot of nostalgia for folks like me, but they are a steal - around $20 a dozen! Not fancy, but they get the job done! Should I divulge my source? Should I add that they also sell no-frills Fisher Space Pens at an obscene price?

If this subject has got you intrigued, you'll find many variations on the theme at Journalisimo.

So are you nostalgic, practical, or GI issue? Any way you like - pocket notebooks can help you stay productive and creative.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

First Aid Kits

Often, the “Best Things” are things we admire and collect; other times they’re things we need. Every car, house, and ideally every individual should have access to a first aid kit. First aid kits can come in handy in everyday life, or on that one day when someone’s life could change drastically.

When I started looking at first aid kits for my family, I was fairly discouraged. I have had some first aid training in the military and in my youth, so I had some idea of what I might want to include in my first aid kit. Commercial kits from stores, pharmacies, and warehouse stores seemed to be lacking – collections of large numbers of inconsequential items included solely so the retailer could claim “255 ITEMS” on the box top.

I spoke with EMTs, nurses, and doctors, both in person and via the net. I also followed forums, websites, and bulletin boards where people who take first aid seriously hang out. I picked up quite a bit of info, and learned that there are many ways to approach the problem of having a well built first aid kit.

The most vital piece of information is this: having a first aid kit for your family is not enough – knowing how to use the contents is mandatory as well. If you want to care for yourself or an injured family member, you can only ethically do so to the extent that your training allows. The information I provide here is for informational purposes only, and assumes that the responsibility for acquiring adequate training lies on the reader. Truly, if you have children or loved ones, taking a Red Cross or Community College First Aid Course is well-spent time.

There are two approaches to obtaining a first aid kit: buying one pre-packaged, or building one yourself. The problem with building one on your own is that many of the items you might include are packaged in large quantities when your kit might only require a few. The drawback to pre-packaged kits is that you pay a premium for the convenience, and they may lack items you feel are important.

The middle way to approach the problem is to buy a basic kit, and add or subtract items as necessary.

The size of kit you build also depends on the number of people whom might use it, and what degree of portability is desired. I will consider two approaches, the personal kit, and the family home or car kit.

The Personal Kit

Here are some items you might include in an personal kit:

Gauze – The main purpose for gauze is covering a wound and absorbing fluids and dress the wound.

  • Trauma Bandage – A Blood Stopper™, or military style compression bandage is at home in every kit. They generally consist of a thick pad of gauze sponge attached to a long gauze bandage. They can be used for a variety of types of wounds, and can also be used as a sling, etc. if necessary.
  • 5” x 9” Abdominal Combine pads or Surgipads – These are large gauze sponges, with a non-stick side for large wounds.
  • 4”x4” Gauze Sponges – Useful size for many wounds. Many kits also include gauze of other sizes, but this size works well for most applications. Larger gauze can always be cut or fol;ded for smaller wounds.
  • priMED or bulkee Gauze – This is gauze that is bulk vacuum packed to save space, a consideration for keeping kit size down.
  • Petrolatum (Vaseline) Gauze – some kits include this for burns, other kits include burn gel instead

Bandages – Bandages can hold gauze dressings in place, or both act as dressing and bandage, like a band-aid.

  • Triangular Bandage – Large cloth bandage which can be folded in a variety of ways to hold gauze in place, apply pressure to a wound, or serve as a sling.
  • Adhesive bandages – Band-Aid™ or similar bandages, this is the item that is way overdone in many commercial kits.
  • ACE™ Elastic bandage – helpful for joint injuries
  • Co-Flex bandage – A sort of gauze-ish bandage that is tacky enough to adhere to itself – great for bandaging without tape.
  • Butterfly closures – Not bandages per se, but used for wound closure, like a temporary suture.
  • Cloth First Aid Tape – Can be used to secure gauze.

Medications – Kits usually contain aspirin for pain relief in adults and heart attack, Tylenol™ or ibuprofen for pain relief, and Benadryl™ for allergic reaction. Some kits add Immodium AD™ for diarrhea, cold medications, and antacids. Families with children may include Ipecac. Additionally, you will want to include any prescription medications you take regularly. Don’t go overboard on medications – they get used regularly, and will probably expire before use. Remember to secure medications from children.

Antibiotic – Neosporin or similar antibiotic is common in kits, as are iodine and benzalkonium chloride wipes for wound cleaning.

Accessories – EMT shears, nitrile gloves.

The Car/Family Kit

The primary difference between individual and car or home kits is that there is space for additional bulky items, such as alcohol, saline eye wash, and the like – and that more people may use the kit, so quantities of items may be a bit higher. However, more isn’t always better, as medications and bandages may become too old to use before they are exhausted.

The Best Commercial Kits I’ve Found?

After some looking, these are the kits that I have bought, and have found to be what I consider reasonably priced and well stocked.

Personal Kit

The Tactical Operator’s Medical Kit from CountyComm. Don’t be put off by the name – if this kit is good enough for those that routinely go in harm’s way, it’s probably good enough for you.


This kit has most things you need, and not much you don’t. It comes in a durable case that can be slipped into a backpack, briefcase, or worn on a belt, which means it should be with you when you need it. I added some CO-FLEX which I had removed the cardboard spool from, some Ibuprofin and Benadryl, and called it good to go.

The Family Kit

The Standard Emergency Medical Kit from Swift First Aid, via Boss-Safety.com. This kit adds nice items like ice packs, saline, and a rescue blanket, without adding too much extraneous stuff you’ll have no need for.

Honorable Mention

Adventure Medical Kits puts out some nicely packaged, and well thought out kits, but you may pay for more items than you’ll need, and retailers often charge premium prices for the company’s kits.

Preparedness awareness goes in and out of the media focus, but is never a bad idea.



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Jeremy Mercer's top 10 bookshops

I'll be discussing book collecting in the near future, and this seems like a good prelude.

Jeremy Mercer spent time living in the famous Shakespeare & Co. bookstore in Paris, and like some of his predecessors, has written about the experience. In his recent entry into the field is Books, Baguettes, and Bedbugs or in the US Time was soft there.

In this article in The Guardian, Mercer lays out his globetrotting list of Top 10 Bookshops.

While your favorite bookshop is probably "the one you can get to", this far flung list is an enjoyable read.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Like Tea?

I drink tea on occasion, and had a discussion with some folks lately that resulted in this list of the Best Places to Buy Tea.


  • Yogi Tea - For inexpensive, interesting, and flavorful tea bags, it's hard to beat Yogi Tea. Available at many grocery chains, Yogi Tea also has an online store now. My favorite is their Classic India Spice Harbal Tea.

  • Upton Tea Imports - A mega-source for loose tea, Upton catalogs over 300 varieties from around the world. They also carry a small selection of infusers, utilitarian fin teapots and cups. A good choice for Christmas is their Introduction to Fine Tea Sampler, or one of their other seasonal or regional samplers.

  • Adagio Teas - With a slightly smaller selection, but with VERY helpful site tools, Adagio Teas is another nice place to shop. The navigation on the Adagio site is straightforward, and they augment their item listings with buyer submitted reviews, and with tools to help you find which tea you are most likely to enjoy.

  • Fortnum and Mason - Finally, for a company from England who is not strictly a tea concern, take a look at Fortnum and Mason. With attractive tins and British sensibilites, their teas would make an enjoyable gift. Look at their Aromatic Black Teas (like their Earl Grey) and Black Teas with Fruit! Should the teas fail to please, they also have a wide selection of foods and wines.

Tea is a good solution to the afternoon slump - give it a try...but try some of these better teas, you'll be more likely to enjoy your experience.



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