Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How To Service Tape Recorders by G. A. Tuthill.

How To Service Tape Recorders by G. A. Tuthill.  Paperback book published by D. B. Taraporevala Sons & Co. 1972 (Indian reprint). 

As the 21st century and all its wonderful technology meanders along, I’m sure there’s more than one of you out there wondering what to do with your old and broken down Tape Recorders (that’s reel to reel not cassette… or 8 track).  Land fill was always an option, but now with this wonderful book you can keep your tape player playing for another 40 years.  OK the tapes mightn’t last that long due to the inevitable deterioration, which by the way is probably a contributing factor to the breaking down of your lovely machine, but at least you’ll have the machine up and running in tip top shape.  And if you’re a young hipster wanting to keep up with all that’s truly retro (forget about cassettes, they’re so 70s), then one of these lovely blurry players is probably all that’s missing from your hipster lifestyle.

... and a not so blurry example

… and if you’re a bit unclear about where the fringing flux lines are (no relation to flux capacitors) or what the ring shape core of stacked laminations are all about, here is an illustration that without the rest of the book is probably very confusing:

This book is another one of those hard to sell titles that I get a little excited about when I find one thereof.  Unsellable?… probably.  An artifact from a different time dimension?… definitely.  Land fill?… more than likely.

… and if you think this book is not “of interest” then maybe one of these other titles from the back cover may be “of interest”.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Jack of Cape Grim: A Victorian Adventure by Jan Roberts.

Jack of Cape Grim: A Victorian Adventure by Jan Roberts.  Paperback book published by Greenhouse Publications 1986.

The first I heard of this title was from a good friend of mine who enthusiastically and adamantly recommended that I track it down and read it.  He claimed that the book is one of those books that sticks with you whether you want it to or not.  Sometimes these sort of recommendations go in one ear and out the other, but for some reason when I finally did stumble across this book about 18 months later, it did ring a bell.  I think it’s the title that stuck in my mind… the whole “Grim” thingy and also who is Jack?  Anyway, I finally found it and yes, read it I did.

The story is set in the mid 1800s Tasmania and Victoria and revolves around a group of Tasmanian Aboriginals (one of which was Jack) who were brought to Victoria to help ‘tame’ the natives there.  They of course arrive and as well as having numerous cultural differences, don’t even speak the same language.  They become pretty pissed off (although they were probably not very happy before their arrival as they had just come from Tasmania where…) and run away from their minders, grab some guns and start killing some of the early settlers here in Victoria.  They were caught and some of them executed.  This is an amazing story and what is even more amazing is that it is all true.

Eureka Stockade (1854) is often mentioned as being the first armed rebellion in Australia’s history yet here is a series of events that prove otherwise (1838).  These people (Jack, Truganini, Bob, Matilda and Fanny) openly rebelled against the state yet these events appear to have been hidden away in our history.  I don’t remember ever hearing about any of the events in this book before reading about it here, yet I know the Eureka Stockade story fairly well.  Interestingly Truganini is the Truganini that is often identified as the last "full blood" Tasmanian Aboriginal. 

This story is incredibly powerful and incredibly sad.  My friend was right, it is a story that is not easily forgotten.  This is the third copy of this book that I have found over the years and I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another copy.  I think everyone should read it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Locating Koalas in the Australian Bush: A guide for tourists, naturalists and professionals in the field by Scott Buckingham.

Locating Koalas in the Australian Bush: A guide for tourists, naturalists and professionals in the field by Scott Buckingham.  Paperback book published by Bolwarrah Press 1999.

Ever been in the Australian Bush and wondered where all the Koalas are?  I have.  I can even remember driving through Koala areas (these are often sign posted here in Australia) and trying to spot them from the back seat of my parents car… to no avail… despite what the signs said. Of course as a seasoned Koala searcher I’ve learnt over the years that the best way to spot a Koala is to not look for Koalas but rather to look for other people looking up at trees.  It’s usually a good indicator that there’s something up there… not always, but usually.

This book is intended to solve all of one’s Koala locating issues and as the title indicates is intended for a broad audience.  It’s sort of pleasing to know that I’m not the only one who has Koala locating issues and that even professionals need a helping hand.  There is of course the easy Zoo option where you are guaranteed to see a Koala, but where’s the fun in that?  You may as well be in Beijing or Vladivostok.  The other easy option is to buy this book and see Koalas in the wild.  Personally this is something that appeals to me… which I guess is why I picked up this book and now have it for sale.

A Koala... not in Vladivostok

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Let the chocolate river flow.

Making Chocolates in the Factory by Robert Whitefield.  Hardcover book published by Kennedy’s Publications 2005.

Chocolate, Cocoa and Confectionary Science and Technology by Bernard W. Minifie.  Hardcover published by AVI Publishing Company 1982.

Chocolate, as most of us know, tastes great and has tasted great for a long time.  The Aztecs appreciated a nice cup of cocoa which proves that despite ripping out beating hearts from their enemies… they were just like us.  Even the Spanish conquistadors enjoyed a cup of cocoa before decimating Central and South America by force and disease and of course from there on Cocoa and then Chocolate just kept on getting more and more popular.

These 2 books, found at different locations in the same week, are mainly concerned with the manufacture of Chocolate and less concerned with killing people.  I was already aware of how to make chocolate as I have read and then seen both the movies of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Here’s a great clip of the chocolate making process: 

So let me explain the process.  You get green haired singing dwarves, to add milk and sugar to the chocolate river and that’s basically it.  Here’s a better picture of the chocolate river:

But strangely this process is not explained in these books.  One of the books has some rather boring photographs and illustrations of machinery and processes which are all in black and white.  There are no pictures of small people with green hair and no chocolate rivers.  I’m a bit speechless as to what to say about this, but I will say this much, Willy Wonka’s method is a lot more fun than what these books are trying to tell us.  Still, I imagine the cost of employing Oompa-Loompas and the difficulty of finding such people, plus the cost of keeping a chocolate river flowing, make the manufacture of chocolate by this method a difficult proposition.  The machines and processes explained in these books are probably a more economical option. 

And if the movie of “Chocolate, Cocoa and Confectionary: Science and Technology” ever does get made… I probably wont go see it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Guide to Concrete and Soil Compaction techniques.

A Guide to Concrete and Soil Compaction techniques.  Paperback book published by Wacker (no date).

Some of you may have realized that I like the unusual find.  A book that is so specialized that it’s hard to imagine anyone being interested in it… that is, hard to imagine unless you're me.  I have an idea that there are people out there interested in Wackers.  I can even imagine someone with a wacker collection desperately searching for anything else wacker related (… like this book).  Wacker swap meets are probably not that common, but I reckon there would be a wacker forum somewhere on the interwebs. 

Here are a few fine examples of the wacker as shown in this book:

Marginal compaction by means of a long-stroke rapid impact tamper.

Repair work on bituminous material with rapid impact tamper. (Notice the hat.)

Rotary vibrator laying pavement slabs

Diesel vibrating compactor compacting bituminous material

Electric long-stroke vibratory tamper

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mr Pye by Mervyn Peake.

Mr Pye by Mervyn Peake.  Hardcover book published by Methuen 1985.

I was recently talking to someone about Mervyn Peake, in particular his Gormenghast books.  I thought they were a trilogy but checking the old Wikipedia, I find that they are not classified as a trilogy but were part of a “lengthy cycle, the completion of which was prevented by his death.”  Death will do that sometimes… unless you’re V.C. Andrews.   

The Gormenghast “cycle” is incredibly popular with those that like that sort of thing… which is a sort of gothic fantasy type thing.  I’d even go so far as to say that there’s a cult of Gormenghast although maybe that’s going a little too far.  Lets just say that Mervyn has his fans… of which I am not one there of. 

I read the first of the Gormenghast books (Titus Groan) many years ago and despite believing that it was a trilogy, I have never been tempted to read the other books (Gormenghast, Titus Alone).  So what was wrong with my reading of Titus Groan?  Well, it just didn’t grab me and this may sound a bit strange, but at the time I remember reading it and thinking that it was going in and going straight back out again.  Now this is interesting because I remember thinking this about the book, but I can’t remember any details about the book.  It could have been my state of mind at the time and I do remember thinking that I should possibly read it again at a later date… which as I’ve mentioned I never been tempted to do. 

In the meantime I’ve got this copy of Mr. Pye which is not part of the Gormenghast “cycle”.  But it is the book that I have for sale.  It’s very rare for me to find any of the Gormenghast books and when I do they are usually very worn and not up to the usual Huc & Gabet standard.  This copy of Mr Pye does meet the standard but it isn’t Gormenghast.  Maybe I should read this book.  Maybe I should read Gormenghast.  Or maybe I should just leave it and see what happens, as life is too short to worry about what I have and haven’t read.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tasmanian Trout Waters by Greg French.

Tasmanian Trout Waters by Greg French.  Hardcover book with pictorial boards self published 1994, 336 pages with black and white photographs and a few black and white maps.

I like a piece of Trout.  Simply pan fried in a small amount of Olive Oil and garnished with some Murray River Salt and some lemon… mmmmm.  Smoked is lovely as well.  A smoked Trout risotto with wasabi and whatever vegies you’ve got… oh yeah.  Yep, after writing this and getting my gastric juices juicing, I’ve decided I’m picking up some trout later this week.  Unfortunately the Trout I will buy will not be as fresh as it would be if I was in Tasmania and used this book to fill my plate… oh well, the dodgy fish shop in Ballarat* will have to do. 

Greg French has no need for a fish shop.  I bet you he has a fridge full… or even better… he has a bag full of fresh lovely trout like the one on the cover.  Hang on, both the cover pictures look like he’s releasing the fish.  Oh no.  

I’ve had a brief look in the book to see if Greg does indeed release his fish after capture.  Unfortunately I have no answer to this question and for the sake of this paragraph, I’m going to assume he does release any fish that he should chance upon.  As I mentioned recently in another blog entry, I’m not a fisherman.  Which is probably why I would eat any fish that I should be so lucky to catch (… yeah in my dreams).  To me the reward would be to eat the fish at the end of the process. The process itself, which I believe appeals to most fisherman, does not appeal to me.  As nice as it is that Greg is showing us how to be a responsible fisherman, I personally think of my belly, which is why the world would be sadly more overfished than it is already is if i were a fisherman.  But you know what, I bet you Greg does partake… all the fish in this book look so tasty and he is only human.

* which is not really that dodgy

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Suttee: A Historical and Philosophical Enquiry into the Hindu Rite of Widow-Burning by Edward Thompson.

Suttee: A Historical and Philosophical Enquiry into the Hindu Rite of Widow-Burning by Edward Thompson.  Hardcover book published by George Allen & Unwin 1928.

“Phileas Fogg had heard what Sir Francis said, and, as soon as the procession had disappeared, asked: "What is a suttee?"
"A suttee," returned the general, "is a human sacrifice, but a voluntary one. The woman you have just seen will be burned to-morrow at the dawn of day."
"Oh, the scoundrels!" cried Passepartout, who could not repress his indignation.
"And the corpse?" asked Mr. Fogg.
"Is that of the prince, her husband," said the guide; "an independent rajah of Bundelcund."
"Is it possible," resumed Phileas Fogg, his voice betraying not the least emotion, "that these barbarous customs still exist in India, and that the English have been unable to put a stop to them?"
"These sacrifices do not occur in the larger portion of India," replied Sir Francis; "but we have no power over these savage territories, and especially here in Bundelcund. The whole district north of the Vindhias is the theatre of incessant murders and pillage."”

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, first published 1873.

It was Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne that first introduced me to the barbarous custom known as Suttee.  Who can forget the shock at realising that this woman (Aouda) was going to be burned alive and all because her husband had died.  As the indignant Passepartout exclaimed, "oh, the scoundrels!"  Like many other young boys around the world, I was fascinated by all of Jules Verne’s stories and this scene in Around the World in Eighty Days is one that has stuck firmly in my memories. 

Jules was very clever in using Suttee in his novel.  In 1873 it had been outlawed in India for 44 years and was not a common occurrence.  Yet here we have a scene depicting it in all its gory detail… well maybe not ALL of its gory detail, but it is implied… well maybe not.  She does live… but just the thought of suttee… “oh, the scoundrels” for even thinking of doing this to the lovely Aouda.  After 139 years this book still evokes images of barbarity and even shocks us into not forgetting that this sort of thing has happened.  Jules Verne has successfully imprinted on out minds something that was a rare and shocking occurrence and made sure that his book has not been forgotten.

Suttee: A Historical and Philosophical Enquiry into the Hindu Rite of Widow-Burning is a later book written on the subject and unlike Jules’s book, this one is non-fiction.  The book mainly looks at the history of Suttee but does bring the whole issue up to 1928.  Flicking through the book, I find this interesting question on page 139.  Would Suttee revive if the British left India?  I’d like to think it wouldn’t/didn’t but occasionally there are contemporary reports of Hindu nationalists/fundamentalists coercing/forcing newly widowed wives into partaking in the practice (“Oh, the scoundrels”).  Besides visiting India and reading about this subject in the Indian (and other) press, Jules Verne was my reference point when I found this book.  I see the word “Suttee” and I think of Around the World in 80 Days.  What I seriously wonder is whether the author wrote the book with that as the intention.  It is possible… or am I just being a bit cynical once again. 

There are a number of black and white photographs throughout the book. These are mostly of stone carvings and fortunately the author has avoided using any photographs of flaming pyres.  The photos in this book don’t really capture the whole thing so I’ve dug up this historical photo of me at Jodhpur Fort in Rajastan early 1990s.  I’m on the left without the beard, the other two were North Americans.  Each hand print on the wall represents a wife that was burnt.  I mightn’t look indignant but I was certainly thinking “oh, the scoundrels”.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Book Case of death.

Recently I wrote:

“I have a whole book case packed full of these sort of books (ie unsold $$$ books) and as I mentioned about a year ago, these are books that I have parked on line awaiting a sale.  Recently I have started referring to this book case as the Book Case of Death in a reference to dead titles that are sitting on the shelf, lifeless and slowly decaying.”

Pretty much as soon as I posted this comment, I thought that I should do a follow up post with a little more detail and a slight clarification. 

Yes I do have a book case full of valuable and often rare books listed on the interwebs awaiting sale.  These are books that despite having a value and in some cases, a certain rarity, have not sold for various reasons.  What I haven’t mentioned is that there have been gaps in the book case where a number of books have sold.  Gap wise I’m not talking about the deserts of central Australia, it is rather a smaller number of sales (and gaps) over a long period of time.  Nevertheless, these are sales.  It is the books that are still sitting on the shelf after 12 months that lead me to refer to it all as “the Book Case of Death”. 

 Book Case of Death with gaps filled

The listing of these books on line does have a $ cost and over the past 12 months I haven’t lost money, I have indeed made some money… not the millions/thousands that I was hoping for.  Hundreds I have made and of course at the end of the day I still have these rare expensive unsold books… that ummmm, haven’t sold. So the Book Case of Death sits here, full of books, occasionally bringing me some joy… but mostly sitting here “lifeless and slowly decaying”.