Bill’s Memes

The convivial Bill over at Bill’s Comments hit me with two memes as the school year wound down. I confess that I have been laggard by a month and a half with my responses.

So here’s the first. The task was:

Pick five of these and complete them:

If I could be a musician…
If I could be a farmer…
If I could be a psychologist…
If I could be a lawyer…
If I could be a missionary…
If I could be a gardener…
If I could be a painter…
If I could be an architect…
If I could be a doctor…
If I could be a linguist…
If I could be a writer…
If I could be a professor…
If I could be an athlete…
If I could be a justice on any court in the world…
If I could be a world famos blogger…
If I could be married to any current world politician…
If I could be a scientist..
If I could be an actor…
If I could be a chef…
If I could be an innkeeper…
If I could be an agent…

If I could be a musician, I’d be an acoustic folk singer who sang songs with a narrative, much like Slaid Cleaves. I’d include some biting social and political satire a la Tom Lehrer. I’d also put out children’s albums and make silly videos for Sesame Street and PBS.

If I could be an architect (a career I considered for some time), I’d build open, airy homes that sacrificed the empty space of today??s McMansions for smaller, more intimate living spaces built with high quality materials and a thoughtfulness. Perhaps I would write books in the same vein as Sarah Susanka.

If I could be a writer, I’d write science fiction. I’d take simple technological innovations and explore how they would change the social fabric. It wouldn’t be pedantic and dry; the social ramifications would be the backdrop for character-driven developments. Hopefully I could inspire my fellow novelists to think of their characters as more than sitcom actors with cool gadgets. Too many books simply don’t stop and think about the social implications of technology.

If I could be an actor, I’d star in B-movies like Bruce Campbell. I’d work on book projects that were true to the author’s vision: No atrocities like “The Postman” or “Starship Troopers” would be on my resume. Once my quirky charactertizations proved themselves in the marketplace, I’d use my clout to give the Minister of Propaganda the top director’s chair. My furious intensity and stunning good looks would leave me in the deliciously awkward position of turning down advances from Jaime Pressly, Jessica Alba, and Evageline Lilly. I’m married, after all. The best part of my fame would be posing for those library “Read!” posters.

If I could be an innkeeper, I’d run an agrotourism establishment. Visitors to the bed and breakfast would stay on the farm, relaxing on the front porch, savoring farm-grown delicacies, and even, should they be so inclined, having a chance to milk the family cow. The inn would be pet friendly, and for folks who don’t travel with their companions, we would have the option of having a pet go with the room ?? either a goldfish or a hound. I actually might do this one day.

Bill’s Book Meme

As a confirmed, bibliophile, this one is hard to tackle.

Total Number Of Books Owned Ever: Other than childhood books, I am still in possession of the vast majority of books I have owned. I have owned many. I love used bookstores, chain bookstores, yard sales, library clearances, and Amazon.com. My family and friends have learned that a book is a safe gift for their beloved Smallholder. To quote Tom Lehrer: “More, more! I’m still not satisfied!”

I live in a six room house that contains ten free-standing bookcases. The master bedroom also has a built-in bookcase, as does the kitchen cabinetry. The dining room has two continuous walls of floor to ceiling built-in bookcases. When we moved to this house, a large portion of my collection would not fit, so over half of my books are now stored in the attic over the garage. So, without counting: a ballpark 3500. Mrs. Smallholder’s answer, again without counting: “Too many!”

My collection is heavy on American and European history, gardening, animal husbandry, biography, and science fiction, but there are bookshelves devoted to more esoteric topics. There is a shelf for educational psychology, a shelf for winemaking, a shelf for parenting advice, and one for military leadership. On the history side, I have a shelf dedicated to Theodore Roosevelt’s work (complete with bust purchased with the Maximum Leader at Sagamore Hill), two shelves of Churchill, an entire family heirloom bookshelf for World War II histories (heirloom not because of quality but because it was the first thing my father bought for his mother on his return from Korea. She kept it in her living room and stocked it with books and games for the grandchildren. We have continued the tradition of family bookcases for our children. One of the bookcases in their room was made by my maternal grandfather and one was made by my father-in-law). I shudder to admit it, but Mrs. Smallholder has coopted one of the shelves for Princess Diana biographies.

Last Book Bought: “Collapse” by Jared Diamond

Last Book I Read: I read books concurrently. The most recently finished in the rotation were:

Mark Steyn??s “From Head to Toe,” a volume of conservative political and social commentary,

Jared Diamond’s “Collapse,” which is hardly in need of description except to say that much of the conservative criticism is off the mark. In particular, Victor David Hanson’s condemnation of Diamond’s supposed opposition to private property revealed that Victor David Hanson did not even have the intellectual honesty to read the book he was reviewing. Diamond is actually in favor of long term private land ownership because it leads to good stewardship (he singles out an oil-company managing their fields for long term exploitation as a positive example). It is short-term rapine ownership or tenancy that he faults. Why would a tenant worry about erosion if he knows that the land won??t pass to his son? A very interesting book and a must read (take note, conservatives: in it’s entirety) for anyone who claims to have an interest in public policy.

Terry Pratchett??s “Going Postal,” a fluffy-read-a-chapter-before-bed book.

Dierman and Smith??s “War Without Hate,” a book about WW II’s North African campaign that does a wonderful job presenting the memories of veterans but is rather short on the big picture.

I??m currently reading McCulloch??s “1776″ and Hochschild??s “King Leopold’s Ghost.”

NOTE: I worked on this at the end of July but did not have a reliable connection to post. The book information is out of date, but does provide a snapshot of my summer reading. I’ve visited a couple used book stores since then, plus a library book sale and have added a couple of dozen books to the library. Including, the Minister of Propaganda will be glad to know, the crowd pleasing tome entitled “Physiology of Reproduction and Artificial Insemination in Cattle.”

Five Books That Mean A Lot To Me:

Wow, it’s hard to narrow down the list to five volumes. I’ll put a few down.

Jim Paul’s “Catapult: Harry and I Build a Siege Engine” ?? loaned to me by a friend, I was reading it while waiting for my boy Jack to be born. It was the first book read to my son. It is an odd little book, but a fun read for those whose eclectic interests include military history, the politics of the current funding of art, and carpentry.

Gene Logsdon’s “The Contrary Farmer” ?? Practical advice and farming philosophy. Logsdon is an inspiration to the new organic farming movement. I have ten of his books.

Joel Salatin??s “Salad Bar Beef” ?? Farming as it is meant to be: family oriented, ecologically sound, with an eye to the consumer rather than the industrial marketplace.

Norton Juster’s “Phantom Tollbooth” ?? A Children’s book where ideas and intellectualism matter.

C.S. Lewis and Lloyd Alexander??s fantasy series ?? which solidified the love of reading my mother encouraged since birth. I remember racing to the library of Springfield Elementary to check out the next Prydain book before the Minister of Propaganda could get his grimy hands on it.

Carl Schurz’s three volume autobiography ?? Visiting my wife in Evanston, Illinois, she was interested in this incredible used bookstore find. I knew that a woman who would listen to my excited monologue about the German-American abolitionist, Republican leader, and T.R. Progressive over drinks was a keeper!

Those are a few that just leapt to mind. There are others which influenced my general life outlook, political philosophy, and teaching, but I have already exceeded the limit.

2 Comments
Bill said:

Wow, Mark! It was a long time coming but well worth the wait. I would love to buy a house you designed or stay at your B & B. Just think of all the books to browse!



I thought you already were an actor, or are you saying that the amateur gay porn doesn’t count? That was some of my best directing work, you know.



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