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Archive for August 9, 2011

Things pasta

For dinner today, I had some of that fettucine I bought at the Farmer’s Market on Sunday.  It was dried pasta, but apparently fresh (or whatever) enough that it only needed 3-4 minutes in the water; it started to soften almost immediately after I put it in the water.  I’m not used to that from the grocery-store pasta I usually get.  I served it under some red sauce and precooked/frozen turkey meatballs that are a bit past their prime but still fairly good.  But the pasta was very good.  It’s made with olive oil, and olive oil makes just about everything better.

It’s certainly an improvement over the last fettucine I tried.  The thing is, the stores no longer seem to carry the brand of whole-wheat fettucine I used to have (Hodgson Mill — they still have a few other things from them, but not fettucine).  So I’ve been trying to find some alternative, and the first thing I tried was a “multicolor” variety with various vegetable flavors.  Seemed like a good idea in theory, but it turned out to be too rubbery and not very good.  So I tried again, and that led me to this pasta.  Although, ironically, later on my Sunday trip I went to a Whole Foods Market in the area and found some whole wheat fettucine at last.  In retrospect I realize I should’ve tried the local organic food store — they might’ve had some too.

But then I wouldn’t have gotten this nice pasta at the Farmer’s Market, so I guess it’s just as well I didn’t.  But now I’ve got three different types of fettucine in my kitchen cabinet.  Which I guess is not a bad thing.

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It’s an uphill climb

I had a couple of errands to run downtown this morning, and I went by bus rather than driving.  One of the errands was a trip to Findlay Market to get the Romaine lettuce I couldn’t find at the Hyde Park Farmer’s Market on Sunday.  It was a fair walk from my previous stop (the Main Library), and my left knee was kind of sore, but after I spent a couple of minutes standing mostly still at the market, it started to get better.  Anyway, I realized that I’d never taken the bus home from Findlay Market and didn’t know where the nearest stop for my route was.  So I headed in the direction of the route and found myself at an intersection that’s only a few blocks from where I’d get off the bus anyway — albeit a few very, very steep uphill blocks.  And since the outbound bus made a left turn at that intersection, there was no stop within a block — I’d either have to backtrack the route or go at least part of the way uphill to get to a stop.  And going backward didn’t appeal to me.

Here’s the thing: A couple blocks south of my apartment building, the street dips steeply downhill and ends in a cul-de-sac, but at the foot of the road is a flight of over 100 steps that goes down to another, even steeper street that, a couple of blocks south of that, intersects with the bus route.  And that intersection is where I found the first available bus stop.  I’ve only taken those steps once before, and downhill, back when I was first considering moving here and wanted to investigate the lay of the land.  I’ve been kind of scared off by them ever since because there are so many steps and it’s not the nicest-looking area to be in.  But as I stood at that stop, I realized I was only a few blocks by bus from where I’d have to get off and walk anyway.  I could’ve just walked along the bus route, but that would be more roundabout than taking the steps.  I knew that climbing those steps would take a lot out of me because I’m out of shape.  But I wasn’t going to get back into shape unless I exercised.  And my father, who was a child of the Great Depression, raised me to be frugal.  So I decided it didn’t make sense to spend a buck seventy-five bus fare to travel four or five blocks just because I was afraid of a little gravity.

So I made the climb.  If anything, the hardest part was walking up the reallllllly steep street from the bus stop to the steps.  Luckily I thought to bring a bottle of water with me, so I rested and rehydrated before heading up the steps.  And I had to rest to catch my breath several times on the way up, further proof that I’m out of shape.  But the stairs weren’t quite as decrepit or scary as I remembered, and 109 steps later, I was on my own street… though at the bottom of the very steepest part of it, so I wasn’t out of the woods yet.  I had to stop and lean against a few telephone poles before I finally got to level ground.

When I finally got to my building, a couple of my neighbors were just getting in.  When one of them asked how I was doing, I couldn’t resist boasting that I’d just walked all the way from Findlay Market.  “That’s a long way,” he said.  “Not so long horizontally,” I replied, “but very long vertically.”

And that would be a good punch line on which to end the anecdote, but it’s got me thinking… it’s really not that long a walk to Findlay Market.  Maybe I should consider going there on foot in the future, something I’ve considered before but never had the guts to try.  At the very least, I could walk downhill to get there and take the bus back up.    But if I were in better shape, I could manage the walk back uphill reasonably well, and making that walk periodically would help me stay in shape.  Maybe I’ll make it easier on myself by following the bus route, which is longer but not quite as steep or as run-down an area.  Even going that way, it’s just under a mile to walk one-way, less than the trip to the post office.  It’s just a lot steeper.  And I can handle steepness.  It was exhausting, but kind of invigorating.  I feel pretty good in the wake of it, now that I’ve showered and changed and had lunch.  If nothing else, it’s good to finally get an answer to my wonderings about how feasible the walk would be.

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Good news for the publishing industry!

According to The New York Times, the publishing industry is recovering from the economic crisis of a few years ago:

Publishing Gives Hints of Revival, Data Show

BookStats, a comprehensive survey conducted by two major trade groups that was released early Tuesday, revealed that in 2010 publishers generated net revenue of $27.9 billion, a 5.6 percent increase over 2008. Publishers sold 2.57 billion books in all formats in 2010, a 4.1 percent increase since 2008.

One of the strongest growth areas was adult fiction, which had a revenue increase of 8.8 percent over three years.

E-books were another bright spot, thanks to the proliferation and declining cost of e-reading devices like the Nook by Barnes & Noble and Amazon’s Kindle, and the rush by publishers to digitize older books.

In 2008 e-books were 0.6 percent of the total trade market; in 2010, they were 6.4 percent. Publishers have seen especially robust e-book sales in genre fiction like romance, mystery and thrillers, as well as literary fiction. In 2010, 114 million e-books were sold, the report said.

This doesn’t come as a complete surprise to me.  After all, not only did I just sell my first original novel to Tor, but my former Star Trek editor Marco Palmieri, who was laid off from Pocket due to the economic crisis, has recently been hired by Tor.  The fact that publishers are hiring new staff at all is a sign that things are getting better.

And the news about the rise in e-book sales, while not too surprising, is heartening, since I’m currently looking at the first-pass galleys for Star Trek: Typhon Pact: The Struggle Within, the first new ST e-book since March 2008, which goes on sale in October.  Hopefully it will do well and be the first of many more.