A Nasty Shock

It has been some years since I was last in the store of William H. Allen, Bookseller, so I decided to rectify this. I admit, the avoidance was quite deliberate, as I have been attempting to limit both the outflow of cash and inflow of books brought in by regular biblioexcursions. (Also, their hours were terribly inconvenient for me.) I was in the city for a business meeting, and I decided that it had been long enough. I walked over to their location, in the 2100 block of Walnut.

Imagine my dismay: the store is there no longer. I had a chat with the contractor who was waiting impatiently for the owner . . . he knew nothing about a bookstore, and said that he’d been working on the building for five years. Has it really been that long?

William H. Allen was one of my favorites, pecializing in classical, medieval, and Renaissance studies. Not only was the selection mouth-watering, the building was the quintessence of bookstore, with winding back passages and stories of books.

Their website,, is offline, with a mocking “site coming soon” messag. Refering to the Wayback Machine, I discovered that sometime between April 2, 2002 and June 9, 2002, their address changed from Philadelphia to Sharon Hill. There have been no updates to the front page since around January 6, 2006. A call to their new phone number yielded no answer, and no machine. Google yields only echoes, a hundred out-of-date

Things look grim, but all may not be lost. They have 32,988 books listed under their store at AbeBooks, but their profile links only to the dead website. I’ll be making a few more phone calls, to see what I can discover.

mathematics peevishness

Happy Chrono-Solsticial Pi Day

Sun on the Winter Solstice, 2006 C.E.Today, is, of course, the day when we have progressed through one pi-th of the time between the last winter solstice and the next. Vulgar Pi Day is observed by plebes and math groupies on, depressingly, 3/14. As has been discussed previously in this forum, the true, transcendal observance requires a bit more thought.

Writing these few sentences has sorely taxed my depleted mental resources. What little remains of my sanity must be preserved for the final qualifying exam I shall be taking tomorrow afternoon. Soon, this ordeal will be over, to be replaced a completely new and more complicated ordeal. Huzzah!

(Image of the sun on the winter solstice, 2006 C.E. courtesy of geo3pea.)


A Latin Miscellany

My time for reflection is slight, so here are a few Latin tidbits that I’ve been saving up:

  • Title page of the Clementine Vulgate, Electronic Edition I had an interesting email exchange with Conrad on approaches toward learning Latin. He recommended tacking real texts as quickly as possible, not limiting one’s fare to artificial textbook examples. His further recommendation was to start with the Vulgate. Not very much digging turned up a nicely printable PDF version of the Clementine Vulgate at SourceForge, of all places. (Sadly, only the title page is set in red and black.) Liber Genesis is printed out and waiting for quals to be over. “In principio creavit Deus caelum et terram“—this looks quite approachable.
  • In the previous bullet, I linked to a Wikipedia article. I probably should have linked to Vicipedia, the Latin-language edition, which has more than 10,000 user-contributed articles. (Here’s the Vicipedia article on the Biblia Vulgata.)
  • If you want a dose of spoken Latin, try Nuntii Latini, a weekly (very short) broadcast of world news from YLE Radio Finland. It’s available as a podcast, so no need to fire up your shortwave. I admit to finding it a bit peculiar to hear Latin with a strong Finnish accent, but as we all know, the Empire never ended—it’s hardly surprising that we barbarians speak with the shadings of our original tongues.

Here endeth the link-post. Further updates as time permits.

blogging computer science zenoli

This post is about meta-blogging

Having made the decision to pursue a doctorate, I’m boning up in preparation for the qualifying examinations. For the past several weeks I’ve been marinating my brain in computer science, tenderizing it by bashing it repeatedly with a large stack of textbooks. Three more weeks, pass or fail, and I’ll finally have a chance to emerge from this haze of NP-completeness and routing algorithms.

I strongly disapprove of excessive meta-blogging and the cringing, pathetic whinging that often accompanies a shift in a blogger’s posting schedule. A good blog should be about something besides itself. Nonetheless, I don’t think I’ve set expectations for my own schedule, which would seem to be a reasonable courtesy. (As a further courtesy, any further inclinations toward meta-blogging will be sternly quashed and allow to emerge only once a quarter.)

My general goal for Zenoli has been to make on average two to three posts per week, with a minimum of one and a maximum of four. I expect to continue with that schedule for the rest of 2007, though until late April the frequency will be at the low end of that range. I may toss up a few shorter bits that are more timely, and probably shouldn’t moulder in my queue.

Thus far, writing this blog has been quite a curious experiment. I’ve enjoy developing these small essays, and watching my own approach toward my writing change. Most significantly, thanks to this site I have corresponded a bit with some very interesting people; a sincere thank you to everyone who has written and commented. I’d also like to thank those whose exceptional examples of thoughtful blogging serve as both a moveable feast for the intellect and a spur toward the heights.