It’s a long way to Rome


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A slight change of Emphasis


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Five Oceans in a Teaspoon

Five Oceans in a Teaspoon is a collaboration between artist/writer Warren Lehrer and poet/investigative journalist Dennis J Bernstein (Paper Crown Press, 2019) that reunites the oral and pictorial traditions of storytelling with the printed page.


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Welcome to Nepal

As part of  Visit Nepal’s new 2020 tourism campaign, the organization commissioned 108 large yeti statues designed by Ang Tsherin Sherpa to be painted by various artists and placed around the world to build interest in visiting the nation.  It may be a clever idea but many folks in Nepal have doubts about the concept and the vision of the mythical beast.

From the BBC:

“In folk tales, the yeti has been described as a big monkey-like creature,” Ram Kumar Pandey (author of several books about the yeti) tells the BBC. “However, the recent logo depicts it as a sumo wrestler. This does not at all match with the mythical character that has been described in many folk tales…”

“I did not make yeti’s sketch by reading any book,” (yeti statue designer Ang Tsherin Sherpa) explains. “On the basis of stories that I heard in my childhood, and having Lord Buddha at the back of my mind, I made the design.”

There was, however, at least one more practical reason behind his choice: Sherpa says he did not make it furry as depicted in yeti-related literature in order “to make it easier to paint”.


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Take a closer look at your library

Libraries Ireland has launched a new national advertising campaign asking everyone to “Take a Closer Look” at what their local library has to offer. A new video features real libraries and librarians and is part a wider national strategy to increase library use in Ireland. At present, around 16% of the Irish population are library members. The “Our Public Libraries” strategy aims to increase that to 30% by 2022.

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Reading Pavilion

 Located in the heart of Mumbai, in the gardens of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum, the BookWorm Pavilion was designed as an outdoor reading space and library for both children and adults.

The peaceful library is an impressive set of undulating wooden structures packed with hundreds of books on 40 meters of shelving.The shady, serpentine outdoor reading room is only temporary, but aims to encourage literacy and a love of books.


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What Every Traveler Needs

One thing that all travelers have in common is the need to find toilet facilities in a timely manner. These days, even when one can discover convenient facilities, a numerical code is necessary to use the bathroom. Then there is the pressure to make a purchase to get the secret code.But it’s hard to participate fully in public life when there’s nowhere to use the bathroom. You shouldn’t have to pay to take care of your basic needs. The folks at the new aptly named Facility magazine have your back.

They are working on a list of bathroom codes, which you’ll find below. Send them more, and let them know if any here are out of date. This list is New York City-centric, but they’ll happily post codes from other locales. Send codes to

 If you have ever visited London, it’s no secret that public toilets are hard find. The next best option is usually coffee shop chains, which seem to be on every street in London. Hoping the staff doesn’t notice you and sneaking in to stealthily use the loo is a classic British move. These days, however, these moves are being thwarted by keypads and codes .

Now there is a Twitter account to save us from having to try and hack the toilet codes. London Loo Codes, created by students Soph and Merl, provides a spreadsheet containing loads of codes to the capital’s lavatories.

The spreadsheet, organised by location, currently has more than 70 entries. This way, you can just check your phone and walk right on in there without acting all shady or buying a coffee you can’t afford and don’t actually want to drink.

Starbucks at North Seventh Street and Bedford Avenue: 22222
Sweetgreen at North Fourth Street and Bedford Avenue: 1284
David’s Brisket House at Nostrand Avenue and Herkimer Street: NO CODE NEEDED
Bathrooms are at the northwest side of the park, at the Brooklyn and St. Marks Avenue entrance.
Target in City Point, at Flatbush Avenue and Fleet Street: NO CODE NEEDED
Greenlight Bookstore on Fulton Street and South Portland Avenue: NO CODE NEEDED
Target in Atlantic Center, at Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues: NO CODE NEEDED
Starbucks on Park Place between Seventh and Flatbush Avenues: 231
Whole Foods at Third Street and Third Avenue: NO CODE NEEDED

Downtown to uptown:
Whitehall Station (aka the Staten Island Ferry Terminal): NO CODE NEEDED
Brookfield Place at West Street right across from the World Trade Center: NO CODE NEEDED
Oculus Complex beneath the World Trade Center at Church and Fulton: NO CODE NEEDED
The Oculus bathrooms are often closed for no reason.
Fulton Street Subway Complex at Broadway and Fulton: NO CODE NEEDED
Shake Shack at Broadway and Fulton Street: 6063
Pret A Manger at Broadway and Cortland: 3535
Pret A Manger at Park Place and Church Street: 0043
Starbucks at Walker Street and Sixth Avenue: 12345
McDonalds at Delancey and Essex Streets: 13352
Starbucks at Delancey Street and Allen Street: 12340
Tenement Museum at Delancey and Orchard: No code, access through the gift shop.
Bloomingdales on Broadway between Spring and Broome: NO CODE NEEDED
Bathrooms are on the lower level and the second floor.
Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken on First Street and Second Avenue: 1392
Starbucks at Eighth Street and Lafayette Avenue (Astor Place): 12345
Tompkins Square Bagels on 10th Street and Avenue A: 4552
The Strand on Broadway between 12th and 13th Street: NO CODE NEEDED
Bathrooms are on the second floor, near the children’s section
Chipotle on Sixth Avenue and Greenwich Avenue: 3915
McDonalds at 17th Street and Union Square West: 51553
Trader Joe’s at Sixth Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets: NO CODE NEEDED
In the back right, just past the cheese section.
The High Line Hotel on 10th Avenue between 20th and 21st Streets: NO CODE NEEDED
Make a left when you walk in and head down the narrow hallway—there are a few back there.
Starbucks on 28th Street and Third Avenue: 38537
Five Guys on Seventh Avenue between 29th and 30th Streets: 0921
Macy’s Herald Square, on 34th Street between 6th Avenue and Broadway: NO CODE NEEDED
Restrooms are on the basement level, as well as on other floors.
Chipotle at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue: 9247
TGI Fridays at Penn Station: 864
Chipotle on Seventh Avenue between 37th and 38th Streets: 1321
McDonald’s second-floor men’s room on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue: 2222
Chick-fil-A on 42nd Street and Madison Avenue: 28352
Five Guys on West 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues: 25342
Marriott Marquis in Times Square, 46th and Broadway: NO CODE NEEDED
Take the elevator or escalator up to the 8th-floor lobby for public restrooms. There are also restrooms on the convention center floors (3 through 7), though these are not always open.
Starbucks on 47th and Broadway: 24601
Chop’t on 51st Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues: 9876
Employees are supposed to type it in for you, so you may have to be sneaky.
Starbucks at 54th Street and Broadway: 45832
Argo Tea at Columbus Circle: 4549
Gertrude Ederle Recreation Center at 60th St and West End Ave: NO CODE NEEDED
Trader Joe’s at 72nd Street and Broadway: NO CODE NEEDED
Take both escalators down to the bottom floor. It is in the left corner.
Bloomingdale’s Outlet at 72nd and Broadway: push 2 & 4 at same time, then 3
Barnes & Noble at 82nd Street and Broadway: NO CODE NEEDED
Bathrooms are on second floor, near the children’s section.
Shake Shack at 86th Street and Lexington Avenue: 7288
Barnes & Noble on 86th Street between Lexington and Third: NO CODE NEEDED
Petco on Lexington between 86th and 87th Streets: NO CODE NEEDED
96th Street Q Station: NO CODE NEEDED
Target at 117th Street and Pleasant Avenue: NO CODE NEEDED

Neighborhood House behind Christ Church at Second and Market: NO CODE NEEDED
Wawa at Sixth Street and Chestnut Street: 1895
La Colombe at Sixth Street and Market Street: 267
Whole Foods on South Street between Ninth and 10th Streets: 452
Barnes and Noble on 18th and Walnut: NO CODE NEEDED
Wawa at 20th Street and Market Street: 12345
Wawa at Broad Street and Walnut: 2468

Chipotle at 1002 Broad Ripple Ave (cross street is Winthrop Ave): 9003#
Starbucks at 854 Broad Ripple Ave (cross street is Guilford Ave): 90210

Blue Bottle on Ninth and Broadway: 1478#

Starbucks at California and Kearny: NO CODE NEEDED

Nordstrom downtown: NO CODE NEEDED
Walk downstairs to left from Sixth Avenue entrance
Whole Foods on Westlake: code changes daily, but employees give it willingly
Areis Building at 2366 Eastlake Ave East: 01230

Peet’s Coffee & Tea at 1225 Ventura Blvd between Laurelgrove and Vantage Aves: 4516*

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Welcome to Bookshop!

Last week, a new online book retailer model launched the beta version of its innovative site.Indeed, has gone live with the mission to “financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.” Founded by the publisher and entrepreneur Andy Hunter, Bookshop! sees itself as a company putting the public good—and the health of the ailing book business—above profit.

It will operate by taking orders from book buyers, processing them, then distributing a percentage of the profit among a pool of indie bricks and mortar bookstores twice a year, as well as directing another small percentage of the profit to .

Basically, it’s a central online hub that hopes to become the indie alternative to Amazon.

So, how does this work:

How does Bookshop work with independent bookstores?

  • Bookshop will support indies in two ways: 10% of sales on support participating independent bookstores in an overall earnings pool that is evenly divided and distributed to stores every six months.
  • Stores that are affiliates, who sell books online using Bookshop (by sharing links their Bookshop link on social media, email newsletters, or on their websites) will earn 25% commission directly on any sales they generate, without having to do the work of keeping inventory, picking, packing, shipping or handling complaints and returns.
  • All orders are fulfilled through Ingram.

How does Bookshop promote local bookstores?

  • Every receipt we email customers will inform them about the bookstores near them, and include event listings for those stores.
  • If a Bookshop customer opts in, their local bookstore will be given their email address for direct marketing.
  • Affiliate stores can create recommendation lists (staff picks, etc) on Bookshop, boosting their visibility and earning the 25% affiliate commission on every sale generated from the list.
  • Affiliates do not have to handle inventory, fulfillment, shipping, or customer service. All book sales are fulfilled by Ingram. Ingram’s extensive inventory and regional warehouse system ensures Bookshop that books can reach customers in as soon as 2-3 days.

With this model, one of the site’s main goals will be to reach the type of consumer whose instinct is to order a book through Amazon, and convince them that their money could instead be spent in a way that sustains the book industry.

Another, and perhaps even more impactful goal, will be enticing affiliates—major book review outlets, bloggers, and authors, for instance—to link to instead of Amazon in their reviews. Here, actually can outcompete Amazon, by offering a better cut of the sale to the affiliate that hosted the link. The result would be a some key players fostering a culture where Amazon is not synonymous with online book retail.

Full disclosure: I am a affiliate.


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Is This The Prequel You’ve Been Waiting For?

Suzanne Collins, author of the blockbuster best-selling, major-motion-picture-adapted Hunger Games trilogy, has done what most writers of runaway best-selling, major-motion-picture-adapted book series eventually do, and has  gone and written a prequel.

The prequel, titled The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, is an exploration of the early life of the Hunger Games antagonist, Coriolanus Snow. Collins recently released a special sneak peak of the book, due out in May.

The publisher Scholastic is promoting the book as a meditation on the “important questions about authority, the use of violence, and the truth of human nature.” Heady stuff for a YA novel.

Here’s an excerpt from the publisher’s preview:

“It is the day of the Reaping for the tenth annual Hunger Games. In this scene, we see eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow head to his school, the Capitol’s elite Academy, in order to see how he’ll be involved in the Games.

The grand staircase up to the Academy could hold the entire student body, so it easily accommodated the stream of officials, professors, and students headed for the reaping day festivities. Coriolanus climbed it slowly, attempting a casual dignity in case he caught anyone’s eye. People knew him — or at least they had known his parents and grandparents — and there was a certain standard expected of a Snow. This year, beginning this very day, he was hoping to achieve personal recognition as well. Mentoring in the Hunger Games was his final project before graduating from the Academy in midsummer. If he gave an impressive performance as a mentor, with his outstanding academic record, Coriolanus should be awarded a monetary prize substantial enough to cover his tuition at the University.

There would be twenty-four tributes, one boy and one girl from each of the twelve defeated districts, drawn by lottery to be thrown into an arena to fight to the death in the Hunger Games. It was all laid out in the Treaty of Treason that had ended the Dark Days of the districts’ rebellion, one of the many punishments borne by the rebels. As in the past, the tributes would be dumped into the Capitol Arena, a now-dilapidated amphitheater that had been used for sports and entertainment events before the war, along with some weapons to murder one another. Viewing was encouraged in the Capitol, but a lot of people avoided it. How to make it more engaging was the challenge.

With this in mind, for the first time the tributes were to be assigned mentors. Twenty-four of the Academy’s best and brightest seniors had been tapped for the job. The specifics of what this entailed were still being worked out. There was talk of preparing each tribute for a personal interview, maybe some grooming for the cameras. Everyone agreed that if the Hunger Games were to continue, they needed to evolve into a more meaningful experience, and the pairing of the Capitol youth with the district tributes had people intrigued.

Coriolanus made his way through an entry draped in black banners, down a vaulted passage, and into cavernous Heavensbee Hall, where they would watch the broadcast of the reaping ceremony. He was by no means late, but the hall was already humming with faculty and students and a number of Games officials who were not required for the opening day’s broadcast.

Avoxes wove through the crowd with trays of posca, a concoction of watery wine laced with honey and herbs. It was an intoxicating version of the sour stuff that had sustained the Capitol through the war, supposedly fending off illness. Coriolanus took a goblet and swished a little of the posca around his mouth, hopefully rinsing away any trace of cabbage breath. But he only allowed himself one swallow. It was stronger than most people thought, and in previous years he had seen upperclassmen make complete fools of themselves by imbibing too deeply.

The world still thought Coriolanus rich, but his only real currency was charm, which he spread liberally as he made his way through the crowd. Faces lit up as he gave friendly hellos to students and teachers alike, asking about family members, dropping compliments here and there.

“Your lecture on district retaliation haunts me.”

“Love the bangs!”

“How did your mother’s back surgery go? Well, tell her she’s my hero.”


Dean Casca Highbottom, the man credited with the creation of the Hunger Games, was overseeing the mentor program personally. He presented himself to the students with all the verve of a sleepwalker, dreamy-eyed and, as usual, doped up on morphling. His once-fine physique was shrunken and draped with sagging skin. The close-clipped precision of a recent haircut and crisp suit only threw his deterioration into relief. Due to his fame as the Games’ inventor, he still had a tenuous hold on his position, but there were rumors that the Academy Board was losing patience.

“Ho there,” he slurred, waving a crumpled piece of paper over his head. “Reading the things off now.” The students hushed, trying hard to hear him above the din of the hall. “Read you a name, then you who gets that one. Right? So, fine. District One, boy, goes to . . .” Dean Highbottom squinted at the paper, trying hard to focus. “Glasses,” he mumbled. “Forgot them.” Everyone stared at his glasses, already perched on his nose, and waited while his fingers found them. “Ah, here we go. Livia Cardew.”

Livia’s pointed little face broke into a grin and she punched the air in victory, shouting “Yes!” in her shrill voice. She had always been prone to gloating. As if the plum assignment was solely a reflection on her, and not on her mother running the largest bank in the Capitol.

Coriolanus felt increasing desperation as Dean Highbottom stumbled through the list, assigning each district’s boy and girl a mentor. After ten years, a pattern had emerged. The better-fed, more Capitol-friendly districts of 1 and 2 produced more victors, with the fishing and farming tributes from 4 and 11 also being contenders. Coriolanus had hoped for either a 1 or a 2, but neither was assigned to him, which was made more insulting when Sejanus Plinth scored the District 2 boy. District 4 passed without mention of his name, and his last real chance for a victor — the District 11 boy — was assigned to Clemensia Dovecote, daughter of the energies secretary. Unlike Livia, Clemensia received news of her good fortune with tact, pushing her sheet of raven hair over her shoulder as she studiously made note of her tribute in her binder.

Something was amiss when a Snow, who also happened to be one of the Academy’s high-honor students, had gone unrecognized. Coriolanus was beginning to think they had forgotten him — perhaps they were giving him some special position? — when, to his horror, he heard Dean Highbottom mumble, “And last but least, District Twelve girl . . . she belongs to Coriolanus Snow.”

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Book a bed at the BookBar

The next time that I visit Denver, I will definitely be staying at the BookBar’s BookBed. The AirBnB rental is a spacious 1896 one-bedroom apartment located above popular book store and wine bar, BookBar. This vacation rental is owned by Nicole Sullivan, proprietor of BookBar .

The apartment is located on Tennyson Street in Berkeley, a thriving cultural arts district two miles from downtown Denver. The street consists of nearly a mile of shopping, restaurants, and bars, surrounded by parks and turn of the century architecture.

BookBed is fully furnished with a queen-size bed, a queen sleeper sofa, luxury linens, a modern kitchen and a private bathroom. Other amenities include: high-speed WiFi, cable TV, central heat and air conditioning, washer and dryer, and free street parking. Guest enjoy the convenience of the cafe and bar downstairs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner while browsing the excellent book selection. All BookBed guests receive discounts at BookBar.


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