Password Plague

whispersSecret passwords were a fun part of childhood. It felt special to have a secret shared by only a few friends.
          On the popular 1960s TV game show Password a contestant had ten chances to guess a secret word. Before the game began, the password was shared with viewers at home. In those days of low tech communication, there was little chance of the home audience slipping the secret word to a contestant.
          Lately, passwords have become an aggravation.
          For many years my husband and I had one password for the few places where a password was required. If one of us became incapacitated, the other could easily access bank and investment accounts. But cyber hackers have changed all that. Passwords have become complex. Our one word no longer fits.
          Today’s advice from the security experts: Create a password containing eight or more characters in a random combination of letters, numbers and symbols. Use a different password for every account. Then, change your passwords often.
          The number of my passwords now exceeds my age (remember, I was watching the original Password on TV) and fills two columns of a page!
          Yes, I can store them in The Cloud. Of course, I’ll need a new telephone with Internet access so I can look them up–assuming I can remember the password.

An Old Book Still Speaks

Old Books

I came across the following verses, excerpted from a slender collection of poems, The View From Pike’s Peak by Bernard L. Rice, published in 1898.


Silent friends are the books we read;
Yet they speak with note sublime,
Oft in the august voice of praise,
Oft in the sweeter tones of rhyme…

They tell us strange legends and stories old
Of the far-off days of the long-ago,
And we’re sitting beside the tavern gray
While the village clock strikes long and slow.

And often they tell us a merrier tale
Of revels and glittering banquet halls,
Bright glimpses we catch of faces gay
And a mirthful laugh to the pleasure calls…

There’s a world of wealth in the printed page,
There are hoarded treasures, rich thoughts of gold,
There are diamonds of wisdom from every age,
The well-gathered wages of labor untold.

Published in: on August 18, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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What We Write About

WCWhile browsing the many bookshelves in our house, I came across a little brown volume titled Water-Closets. The inside cover is signed by author Glenn Brown, an architect. A little tab of paper bound in front of the Preface page notes, “Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1884, by John Phin, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington, D.C.”
          Yes, this intriguing little book is about toilets. It begins with history and includes many illustrations drawn by the author.
          The ancient Romans had four types of toilets. “Close stools (lasana) in which rich ancients used gold or silver bowls; vases (gastra) which were stationed on the roadways; public privies (cloacina) [Mr. Brown says there were 142 in the city of Rome]; and privies (latrina).” Mr. Brown concludes that the cloacina and the latrina were water-closets, or private rooms with water for drainage. He offers details of various designs and construction through history.
          According to Mr. Brown, one of the earliest mentions of a water-closet is found in a poem. “Metamorphosis of Ajax,” by Sir John Harrington, published in 1596, is about a water-closet that the poet invented for his house.
          I suppose this simply reminds us that anything can be the subject of a book.

Naming Characters

Dian Guest Post
by Dian Curtis Regan

My first published book was a young adult novel called I’ve Got Your Number, published by Avon Flare/McMillan.

A few months after the novel was released, I received a letter from a person in Flint, Michigan. Apparently, I had used the names of many of her relatives in the story. It was a coincidence on my part, but I could see how this person might have wondered why so many of my characters were named after people she was related to. Even the minister in my book shared the same name as a relative of hers who was also a minister.

The person had read my bio and noticed that I’d attended the University of Colorado in Boulder. Since another one of her relatives had gone to the same college, she wanted to know if I’d somehow met him in Boulder, gotten to know him, then “borrowed” names of his relatives.

It was all very unusual, but I assured her that I’d never met anyone from her family and had not borrowed anyone’s name to use in the book. I guess this incident could be classified under “stranger than fiction.”

Dian Curtis Regan is the author of more than 60 books.

Green Writing

gecko-book_articleSeems like anybody, or, um, any critter, can write a book these days! While You’re Only Human: A Guide to Life is a creative bit of company promotion, it is more welcome than most television advertising.

          Reviews posted on call the little book “deliciously entertaining,” “uncommonly delightful,” “quite a hoot.” One person admited “I found myself laughing outloud.”

          I am thoroughly entertained by the idea. After all, for several years I have referred to the Geico Gecko as “my favorite television personality.” Ever since an ad showed him driving his gecko-size red sports car to work, I have been totally charmed by the little green guy with the down-under accent. So much so that my husband gave me a Geico Gecko bobble-head figure for Christmas. It sits on my computer table offering an encouraging thumbs up when I sit down to write.


Child’s Eye View of Religion

SDC10398          When my husband processes an order for our used book business, I always ask, “What did this person buy?”
         Recently, the book purchased was Faith, Hope and Hilarity: The Child’s Eye View of Religion, a 1970 work by Dick Van Dyke. Yes, TV’s funny man.
          I delayed shipment for half a day while I sat on the patio and read this slim volume.  Here are a few of the stories that kept me laughing:

          The children’s Sunday School teacher was explaining the concept of the Trinity, three persons in one. She used an egg to demonstrate how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost could be one entity. God is the yolk. Jesus is the white of the egg. The Holy Ghost is the shell. Then she cracked open the egg to show the three parts. Wouldn’t you know, that egg had a double yolk!

          A New York City Sunday School Teacher asked a boy, “Who defeated the Philistines?”
          The boy replied, “If they don’t play the Mets, I don’t keep track of them.”

          A first grade girl insisted that Adam and Eve had two children – a boy and a girl! “Their names were Cain and Mable,” she said.

Lottie Loved to Read

SDC10523When first married, my husband and I lived in a cute little house in a small town. Our next door neighbor, Lottie, was well past 90. She was unsteady on her feet but she kept busy. Lottie knitted lap blankets for “the old folks in the nursing home.” She liked to sit on her front porch and watch the children walking to and from school.
          One spring morning Lottie was nestled in her porch swing when the postman delivered the latest Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. Four or five current best selling novels were printed in abbreviated form in one volume. Lottie started reading the first book.
          When children began walking home after school that day, Lottie was sitting in her porch swing as usual. However, she had not moved from that seat all day. She had read that entire volume of books from cover to cover.
          And what books did Lottie read that spring day? Volume 85 (Spring 1971) contained:
Halic: The Story of a Gray Seal by Ewan Clarkson
Time and Again by Jack Finney
Six-Horse Hitch by Janice Holt Giles
Bomber by Len Deighton
A Woman in the House by Wm. E. Barrett

Reader’s Digest Condensed Books were published for 47 years (1950-1997). The quarterly volumes usually contained five stories. By the early 1990s, publication was increased to bi-monthly. The popular series continues today as Reader’s Digest Select Editions.

Voices of Literary Women


Guest Post
by Kayann Short, Ph.D.

“Women are supposed to be very calm generally; but women feel just as men feel . . . and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags.”
So spoke Jane Eyre, the fiery heroine of Charlotte Bronte’s book of the same name. Reading the novel as a young girl, I felt the injustice of Jane forced to stand on a stool in the middle of the schoolroom because she had accidentally dropped her slate.

From the time my schoolteacher grandmother taught me to read, I was drawn to young women protagonists: Alice in Wonderland, Nancy Drew, and Jo March of Little Women were some of my favorites. When I started college at CSU (Colorado State University) in 1977, I majored in microbiology but pursued the newly created Women’s Studies certificate as well. I took every women’s literature course I could, all taught by wonderful professors who were building this new program. But I thought of these courses as electives, taken more for fun than as preparation for any career.
Following my sophomore year, I discovered Ellen Moer’s Literary Women: The Great Writers at the small library in the New England town where I was spending the summer. Akin to my Women’s Studies courses, Moer’s book examined writers like Charlotte Bronte, Virginia Woolf, and George Sand as women–for their gender–rather than as members of a literary movement, regional location, or social affiliation. With the Dictionary Catalogue of Literary Women at the back of Moer’s book as my guide, I set myself a course of summer study of whatever women writers the small library offered, taking notes on yellow legal pads that I wish I still had today.

What began as a passion became the topic of my Master’s and PhD research, followed by 24 years teaching a diversity of women’s literature course at CU-Boulder. On the first day of class, students always asked me to choose my favorite book from the syllabus. I would tell them why I liked each of the books and, while I could never choose just one, how all the protagonists were in the mold set by Jane Eyre years ago: women speaking against injustice, defending their rights, and insisting their voices be heard.

Kayann Short, Ph.D., is the author of A Bushel’s Worth: An Ecobiography. She blogs at

Found in Old Books

We operate a used book business and are often entertained by the items we find tucked inside old books. Cards received with a gift book are common along with printed bookmarks and business cards. Here are a few oddities we found in old books:

Pages from a Cardiologist’s note pad with two hand-sketched diagrams of a heart. Arrows apparently indicate the patient’s problem. Page three notes the estimated annual number of deaths from the particular condition.

An invitation, dated May 1967, to the fiftieth anniversary party of the 1917 graduating class of Centennial High School, Pueblo, Colorado.

A letter from a man to his father. It is written in very large, back-slanted script on a very large piece of paper. In part it reads, “I no you didn’t entend to upset me. But you did – you no when one calls long distance – it is something very important…”

Two copies of a color photo of a family posed with Elvis Presley. The backdrop stage curtain announces “The King Returns to Vegas.”

A postcard, date stamped Hutchinson, KS 1958, offers advice to Mrs. Lee on locating someone who did caning (the craft of weaving chair seats or backs using rattan cane).

A copy of a man’s fully completed 1990 credit application for purchase of a new car.

Published in: on June 30, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Books Come Home

StoreIn the summer of 2010, forgotten treasure arrived in my mailbox. My childhood neighbor and lifetime friend, Sharon, returned two books to me. She found them while sorting more than fifty years of accumulated keepsakes in her parents’ house.          
          To The Store We Go by E.C. Reichert, illustrated by Ora Walker (Rand McNally & Company, Chicago) is a bit worse for wear. The front cover is barely hanging on. The back cover is missing but, the pages are in good condition and offer an interesting look back in time.
          In this little story, Tim and Debbie take a trip to the grocery with Mother. They learn about taking a number at the meat counter,  picking ice cold frozen food from the freezer, and what happens when you take an orange from the bottom of the pile. 
          Rereading this little book after more than fifty years, I noticed a few things have changed. In one scene a grocery clerk uses a rubber stamp and ink pad to put bright blue prices on the tops of cans. The can of tomatoes cost 17 cents! After checking out, a “big, strong boy” carried their two paper bags of groceries to the car. One thing has not changed – the temptation of candy and gum displayed in easy reach at the checkout counter.

   I wrote about the other book, Sugar Bear <a href=" (Samuel Lowe Company, Kenosha, WI, 1952), in a July 2010 post.


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