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Unlikely destinations

The last big trip I took was with my wife to Chicago to attend the wedding of her oldest grandson. We stayed in a motel in a nice suburb in the north part of the city, a longish walk away from a shopping mall.
To get the best rates, we traveled a day or two more than we needed, so I had a little free time unrelated to the wedding and events.
So, I walked over to the mall with no particular destination in mind.
And I wound up spending most of my time in a Barnes & Noble bookstore that was almost as empty as the rest of the mall on this particular day.
It was very pleasant, very familiar, very welcoming.
I like B&N stores, and I would stop by one in Austin if I had the inclination.
But, I wouldn't travel to Austin, any more than I would travel to Chicago, just to go to a Barnes & Noble bookstore.
The truth is that I wouldn't travel to San Francisco just to go to the City Lights Bookstore, either.
There are places on this planet that have bookstores that I would go specifically to see, however.
Like Hangzhou in China, home of the new Zhongshuge library.
OK, maybe not.
But there are surely a lot of very nice big bookstores around the world, and you can read all about them in the travel section of Sunday's New York Times.
Imagine: An entire section about great bookstores.
Imagine: Having the resources to go to places just to browse.

My favorite book of the year

My leisure reading runs mainly to nonfiction, and the year 2016 has been a banner year for one of my favorite topics, World War II.
In fact, I just finished the newest book about Pearl Harbor right before the 75th anniversary of the event. Fortunately or unfortunately, after I read it I was in no mood to fall for promotions for TV specials promising to expose the truth about who knew what when. I knew definitively who knew what when.
Still, I do read fiction, although it must come highly recommended and well reviewed.
And I look for good reviews of works of fiction so I can read more novels.
I was a little startled here a couple of weeks ago to read a review about a new work of fiction from a Texas author with the reviewer complaining about getting all the way to the end of the book with nothing else to do but start the book all over again and read it through.
I have just finished reading that book. I won't read it again. But, I am surely glad I read it once because it is quite a wondeful work of fiction.
The book is "News of the World" by Paulette Jiles.
It's a slim volume. Won't take much of your time.
I think you'll believe, when you've finished it to the end, like I do that it's the best book you've read this year.

Whence the demand?

What's the hottest job in 2017 in terms of increased demand?
I'm going to tell you, because you'll never guess it.
According to The Economist's outlook for the new year, demand will grow by 108 percent for wind turbin service techs.
That's right: Demand will go from the desire to hire -- what? -- six techs to the desire to hire 12?
So, no, I wouldn't suggest you search out courses on Coursera or at Khan Academy so you can brush up on your whopping-electric-motors certification.
Instead, at a more practical level, you might want to hurry up and get into a physical or occupational therapy program, not for the health benefits but for the vocational benefits. Seems that demand for occupational therapists will grow 43 percent and physical therapists 41 percent in 2017, The Economist predicts.
Interestingly enough, The Economist foresees big growth in the double digits in 15 fields, and fully 12 of them are related to people's health and well-being.
Not a single one, other than the wind turbine tech, relates to American industry.

The world of Mad

All this discussion about fake news misses the point. Or several points.
Fake news is all the rage these days for people who say they are not in the fake news business.
They're upset that media-savvy folks are posting on Facebook and at other internet locales information that's patently but not clearly false.
One point they're missing is that consumers of news should be accustomed by now to the idea that not everything you find online is true and valid. I mean, the internet has been around for 25 years now. How long does it take?
The second point is that there is a long and storied tradition in English of something called "satire." It's not fake news; it's satire. So maybe a lot of satire is not very well done these days. But, still ...
I think one big problem is that too few people grew up reading Mad Magazine.
If you'd been an eager subscriber like I was when I was a kid, you'd know every form of satire in the book(s). And, dang it, you'd not be easily fooled.
Google "Alfred E. Newman." Beware: Don't believe a word he has to say.

Only now?

News flash!
This just in: A public library in San Diego was in the spotlight Thursday as it unveiled the city's first gender-neutral restroom inside a public facility.
Whoa, now!
Imagine a big city in California so behind the trend that it trails the Wimberley Village Library by years and years.
Yes, folks, we have two bathrooms. Both are gender neutral and always have been.
I came here from Wichita Falls where the library bathrooms were gender-neutral, and that was more than a decade ago.
I'm sure there'll be folks in California who won't like what the library in San Diego is doing. They'll conjure up the spector of all kinds of boogeymen. They'll raise heck.
And that'll make them sound just a whole lot behinder than they already sound as johnny-come-latelies on this particular issue.
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