Six Unusal Free eBooks On My Reading List

The Sony eBook ReaderThe thing about blogging is that it tends to steal bits of your time away from daily activities, if you let it. And I’ve been letting it run rampant. Happily though, in my situation, it seems to mostly be cannibalizing my TV time, which is wasted time anyway. But unfortunately it has also been sneaking bites out of my reading time.

Now that my wife has read all the things she’s interested in reading on my Sony Reader (meaning I can use it again), I plan to reclaim some of that time. As an incentive to get myself reading again, I’ve picked a list of the most random, intriguing and off-the-wall books I could find for free on ManyBooks.

Here, more or less in the order I’ve found them, are my selections:

Trapped by Malays by George Manville Fenn – From what I can gather, this is a turn of the (last) century English colonial adventure story that takes place on the Malay peninsula (probably somewhere in modern day Malaysia). News and stories about Malaysia are few and far between where I live now, and I always make a point to check out anything I come across relating to my wife’s home. (I always have to chuckle whenever I hear the word “Malays”, it sounds just like “malaise“. It’s an almost irresistible call for a witty pun. Almost. 🙂 )

The Practical Distiller by Samuel McHarry – As the subtitle to the books says, it’s “An Introduction To Making Whiskey, Gin, Brandy, Spirits, &c. &c. of Better Quality, and in Larger Quantities, than Produced by the Present Mode of Distilling, from the Produce of the United States.” Sounds like a must read for anybody interested in making a bit of moonshine or bathtub gin! This will be especially interesting to me because my friends took me on a tour of an Oregon distillery as part of my recent all-day bachelor party. (Eat your heart out, I got to try a little somethin’ right from the still! “Mmmm… this tastes like blindness!” 😀 )

King Solomon’s Mines and Allan Quatermain by H. Rider Haggard – These are the books that inspired the Allan Quatermain character in the truly unfortunate movie The League of Extraordinary Gentleman. If one thing positive can be said for that movie, it forever locked Sean Connery in my head as Allan Quatermain, which can only help make these books more fun to read.

The Hacker’s Dictionary by Eric S. Raymond – This is the youngest book on this list, being a mere 15 years old (1992) as of this writing. It also has the chance of being a book that is impossible to read in the conventional sense, if it truly is a dictionary. However, I’m gonna take a stab at it, and I may just fire up the movie Hackers (1995) to get me in the mood. (The most up to date version of this book can also be found online here, under the name The Jargon File).

The Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas De Quincey – All I can say is that it’s hard to pass up a title like that. Based on the excerpt listed with it, it could be a pompous, insufferable read. If it is, I hope it will so bad that its actually makes a good, but unitentional, comedy. Based on the wikipedia page dedicated to the book, it was considered both “taboo” during its Victoria era context, due at least in part to the description of Mr. De Quincey’s opium trips in great detail. Perhaps it will be a pretentious R-rated Alice in Wonderland?

If any of these sound interesting to you, check ’em out. Maybe we can compare notes later. And if you do enjoy them, consider making a small donation to ManyBooks. I plan to. They really provide an awesome service to eBooks fans. Happy reading!

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Reynaldo Ojeda, The One-Legged Salsa Dancer

In my on going quest to make up the finest premium content for my loyal readers (or accidentally stumble on something I can steal), I search the internet far and wide. I read many articles and blogs, and I watch countless hours of piano playing cats on YouTube. And it’s all because I have such a platonic crush on my readers.

But before this post fully shifts from cheesy to downright peeking-through-your-bedroom-window creepy, I’d like to introduce you to my latest YouTube gem. His name Reynaldo Ojeda and he salsa dances like a pro. A pro with only one leg. Prepare to have your mind blown and your bi-pedal lower half shaken…

I’m all about sequels. So let’s do that again. This time, how about we do it in a wild gold suit. And lets throw in a lot of Spanish talking that my readers won’t understand. And… action!

In case you can’t understand the news reporters in the second video, my sources say they said “Ha! Ha! You’ve been serrrrved!” (I don’t know what the heck they’re talking about, I’m still waiting for my beer. 😆 )

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Brian’s Draw Poker: I’m About To Save You Twenty Bucks

Why God, why do people make these posts?No, I’m not talking about the card game. And well, I might not save you quite twenty bucks if you don’t have a paper clip handy and can’t steal one from the office. We’ll say 18 bucks, just in case you have to buy a box or two of paper clips.

On somebody’s blog, I left a comment discussing draw and burn issues I experienced with a CAO Gold torpedo. (As usual, I don’t remember exactly where that was, I’m a bit of a comment whore. 😳 ) I cooked up a theory on the spot that I could probably correct a plugged cigar with either a toothpick or a paper clip. Well tonight, I got to test that theory out. Luck me.

I was smoking the first of a five pack of Cuesta Rey 1884 natural lonsdales I picked up a couple of weeks ago from TodaysCigar (before they had their business model turned upside down by the anti-tobacco brigade). The cigar smoked pretty well for the half to two thirds, and then I started to have some serious draw issues. The cigar started going out, and there was just too much left for me to toss it. And then my draw-poking comment came to mind.

As luck would have it, I had a paper clip sitting on my desk, partially unbent, shaped to trip the little switch on a stubborn CD-ROM. The stars and planets had arranged themselves just right, and as Nostradamus no doubt predicted in signature cryptic manner, I was about to correct the draw of my cigar without a special hand made gizmo. And poke the cigar I did. (Don’t you just love how I’m drawing this out?)

I’m happy to report that it worked nicely. Initially I poked the cigar twice, just off center each time. Immediately the draw went from strangling to almost too good. And since I favor a looser draw, I was happy. Well, the cigar definitely had issues, and it plugged again a bit later. I poked it one more time with my handy mangled paper clip, and had no more draw-related trouble after that. That isn’t to say the cigar was miraculously transformed into a great cigar, it continued to have burn issues for the last third, including the tendency to abruptly go out. But at least I was able to smoke it without getting whiplash. (A full Cuesta Rey 1884 review coming later after I try a few more of them.)

Though I kind of hate to discourage anybody from buying Henry’s Signature Tools/Draw Corrector (I don’t know the tool’s exact title, it’s some combination of those words). Apparently they’re made by hand by a retired fellow named Henry, who does it because he really enjoys cigars and making cool gadgets. I’m tempted to pick one up just because to the back story. Either way, it’s always good to have options. You never know when you’ll be in a tight draw, somewhere far away from your preferred correction tool! 🙂

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