Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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More options for February

I am going on with my plan to spend February (also) learning a new skill – because I think it’s fun, and because should it work, I could start collecting new skills, one month after the other. After all, that was what I always was about ever since I was a kid: my mother used to tell me to spend my summer vacations “doing something useful”, and I learned conjuring (the stage magic kind), tarot-reading, playing the flute and some french, some Spanish, some Japanese.
I guess she was hoping I’d find small jobs or stuff like that, like she would do when s he was a teenager – but she was a teenager in the ’50s, I was a teenager in the ’80s: the whole part time jobs ecology had changed, and all I was able to find was a contract job as a scarecrow…
But I always loved learning new stuff.

So, I made a list a few days back (WordPress will probably link the post below), I got some feedback, and it looks like knitting, harmonica-playing and juggling are the three top contenders. Of the three, my brother is averse to the harmonica (“it will feel like we’re in some kind of prison”), and juggling is better done in the open, so knitting is really looking like my choice – or at least, that was the state of affairs until Humble Bundle launched their latest book bundle, that is huge and is called Start Something New.

And I was not kidding about the bundle being huge. Drop one buck, and you’ll get seven volumes – cookbooks, a knitting encyclopedia (aha!) a book about redesigning your life, a Texas Hold’em guidebook…

But you can go up to over 20 bucks, and land a staggering collection of 61 books, each one covering a different skill.

And so yes, I put down a few bucks – knowing the money will go to a charity – and now I’ve increased my options. Texas Hold’em looks interesting, but I could also devote the four weeks of February to Feng Shui or book-binding, or some kind of creative, artistic craft.

But no matter what, I have now one week to decide – and then I’ll have a week to get all the necessary equipment to start my adventure in February.

Ideas, suggestions, odds and ends are welcome – just use the comments.


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Pirates for Christmas (and books for cheap and charity)

Just a quick heads up, while dinner is being prepared, and I read a wonderful book called Why we love pirates, by Rebecca Simon, PhD – which is a story of piracy on the high seas, and matters related. The perfect Christmas read.

And in case you are interested, you can get this book – and a ton of other fun titles you’d probably missed (including a great book about anime, one about recycling old tech and one about… hamburgers), in the latest Humble Bundle.
Little more than ten bucks will keep you in quirky reads for months, and part of the proceeds go for a charity.
It’s Christmas, after all.

Arrr… I mean, happy holidays.


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Find yourself something to do for the Autumn

I usually point out here on my blog what I think are interesting offers from Humble Bundle – still one of my go-to services to keep my to-read list stocked. The deal is the usual – you get a pack of themed books for real cheap, and you help a charity. Everybody wins.

The latest book selection from Humble Bundle is so quirky and weird I was sure I’d find something interesting – and indeed, the eight volumes you get for 83 euro-cents are already on my hard disk.

This month’s theme is crafts for the autumn.

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Enough Dark Elves to last you a lifetime

The fine folks at Humble Bundle are offering a huge bundle of Forgotten Realms novels, most of which seem to focus on the Underdark and its denizens, the Drow or Dark Elves. As usual part of the proceeds go for a charity.

One buck will net you six titles, and if you go all in and spend 15 bucks, you’ll get 23 books. There’s a whole slew of R.A. Salvatore novels featuring Drow swordmaster Drizzt, plus a few titles from other authors and series.
I admit I am not a fan of R.A. Salvatore, but admittedly I read his books a lifetime ago, and in translation. This is a good opportunity to re-evaluate the bestselling Salvatore. And other books seem promising.

As I mentioned, part of what you pay will go to a charity, in this case Extra Life, that is setting up children hospitals.

And as we are at it, there is also another bundle you might be interested in – up to 26 Warhammer 40.000 ebooks, with the same deal. In this case, the charities supported are two, CLIP and the Every Library Institute.


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What makes us human (hint: it has to do with books)

On my Italian blog I have just posted a rather lugubrious post about the fact that, considering I was walking in Asti’s market square one week ago, and that Asti was a city in which a number of COVID-19 cases have been reported, I am currently counting the days, and feeling a shiver every time I cough or I sneeze.
Did I catch it?
Am I infected?
Will I die?

The virus has a 14-days incubation period, so I am currently halfway through, and counting.

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Three bucks well spent

As I said, after spending a whole day writing, I have no energy for reading, and so I devote my attention to music or movies or TV to decompress after the long day.
But yesterday I blew 3 of my hard-earned euros for something different: a videogame, that hopefully will keep me amused during the quarantine.

As a Linux user, I spent most of the last fifteen years not playing on my PC – if we except playing Go on various online servers. But recently,m through the never-praised-enough Humble Bundle, I was able to restore my ages-old and never used Steam account, and buy a few games for real cheap.
Case in point, my latest purchase – 3 euro and change of Shadowrun Returns.

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The first book of 2020

Last night I splurged 8 of my hard-earned dollars to acquire the first two tiers of the latest Humble Bundle, called 2020 New year, New You – a grab bag of titles on a variety of topics, good as fuel for new year’s personal resolutions – self-help books (from time saving to meditation to retirement plans) and cookbooks (a book of slow cooker recipes!), writing handbooks and a thesaurus, books about bucket lists and other wonders. These sort of bundles usually capture my fancy, because they feel like going through a bookstore filling a basket with stuff that makes me go “wow, that’s interesting!”
My 8 bucks contributed to help a charity (in this case, Every Child a Reader), and bought me 16 very different books.
I was particularly interested in the cookbooks, in the memoir by a former undercover detective, and in the writing handbooks.
The first I started was therefore David Morrell’s The Successful Novelist.

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