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Dave Approved: Bryson

Posted on Monday, February 7th, 2005

Dave!And now I am back home. Unfortunately, it was not without incident. The latch on my PowerBook somehow broke when it was run through the security checkpoint in Minneapolis. I have no idea how much it's going to cost to fix but, since I've been wanting a new laptop, perhaps this is yet another sign.

And it only goes downhill from there. When I left a week ago, the mountain passes were bare. Last night a winter storm had hit as I was driving back, making a huge snowy mess that caused the usual 2 to 2-1/2 hour drive to take just under 4 hours. Since it had rained earlier in the day, the snow was falling on ice, meaning that the roads were extraordinarily slick... cars were flung off the road left and right, and cops were everywhere trying to help out. At least twice some dumbass would blow past me at reckless speeds, only to end up in an accident down the road. Idiots. I didn't even bother to stop, because 1) nothing looked serious... just morons stuck in a ditch, 2) it's their own stupid fault that they think 4-wheel drive makes them immune to icy roads, 3) I don't have a winch, so all I could do is laugh at them for being so stupidly careless, and 4) there were so many snowplows and cops out that they can deal with it, because that's what they are paid for.

I just don't get it. The roads are truly perilous. The snow is falling so hard that you can barely see two car-lengths ahead. You can't use high-beam lights to see where you're going because the falling snow just reflects them back in your face. And cars are being tossed all over the road, meaning you may have to stop at a moment's notice. WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO DRIVE AT RECKLESS SPEEDS?!? Seriously, I never drove over 35 miles per hour and barely made it home in one piece, especially considering my nerves were shot having to stare at this for four hours...

Snow Drive

That's a car coming the opposite direction that's run off the road and appears to be hung up on a guard rail there on the left.

The night was finally made complete when I got home and noticed that the TSA had also busted the zipper pull on my suitcase. That's sucks ass because it's less than a year old! Sure I had a lock on it, but it was a TSA-approved lock!! Oh well, I guess if I can't repair it, I'll be buying a new suitcase in addition to a new PowerBook.

The one bright spot in the entire 19-hour ordeal of taxis, flights, layovers, and driving was a book I found at Amsterdam Schipol International Airport, called A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson...


I've never heard of the author before, but apparently he is well-known in the U.K. (where he lives now, though he was born in the US). He has a witty and engaging way of writing about him that I haven't seen in a long time... almost Douglas Adams-esque in a way.

Anyway, this wholly remarkable book tells the history of the universe and the scientific discoveries that have led us to understanding everything from the Big Bang and the formation of the earth, all the way up to atoms, molecules, cells, and the evolution of life itself. All presented in a relatively approachable manner that makes it tangible and understandable. I think even Creationists can appreciate the book from a historical perspective, as the stories of how things were discovered (whether you believe in them or not) are almost as compelling as the discoveries themselves. Very sweet. Now I'm going to order up some of his other books at the library.

Categories: Books, Dave Approved, Travel 2005Click To It: Permalink


  1. Tonya says:

    Oooooh! Lots of Bill Bryson titles I think you’d enjoy.

  2. Dave2 says:

    I ordered “Notes from a Small Island” and “Notes from a Big Country” and am really looking forward to reading them!

  3. Excellent! Get “In a Sunburnt Country” after that. My first, and still favorite, Bryson book.

    I have Short History and will read it soon.

    Hard luck on your Mac’s latch.

  4. habitatgirl says:

    I’m just finishing up A Short History now. I actually think it’s the least accessible and entertaining of all his books. If you’re a traveler, the rest of his work is a must read.

  5. Dave2 says:

    I’m an armchair science geek, so this book was gold to me!

    I sure wish there was a time-line chart to show the various interaction between the people he mentions in the book. It seemed that there were a lot of interesting and coincidental interactions between them that would be interesting to see visually. The fact that’s it’s all real-life and not fiction just makes it stranger!

  6. karla says:

    Bryson is one of my all time favorite authors. His travelogs are snort-your-drink-out-your-nose funny. Not that *I* have ever done that. Especially not at a train station. In public. Nope, not me. I think I like “A Walk In The Woods” the best, but all of them are great. You are in for a treat discovering Bryson!

  7. YBFITWWW says:

    Good thing I came back over the pass at 11am yesterday. WHEW. It was snowing on Blewett when I came back but Snoqualmie was bare and wet.

  8. Ben says:

    Bill Byrson would have to be my fav. author. I really his enjoy his works – they are excellent, and so very funny.


  9. Juli says:

    Lesse… never had a Frosty, never heard of Bill Bryson… where are you from?? For someone who gets out a lot, you need to get out more. 🙂 You should enjoy Bill’s travel books seein’s how you’re a traveler and all. I was not aware of this book of his so I appreciate the recommendation.

  10. Chris says:

    Good that you got back safely Dave (yes, I know I’m behind with reading blog entries – sue me! 😛 Actually, no don’t). Also – yay for Bill Bryson. His “Notes from a BIG country” is a collection of newspaper columns he wrote between October 1996 and May 1998 about adjusting to life back in America. They are so cleverly written I can just pick it up and within seconds I’ll be laughing.

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