Pillow Books

I always read in bed, especially when I can’t sleep in the middle of the night. This happens every other night, and I always reckon with the possiblity of lying awake in my bed. It’s not that I worry about things: I simply have too many thoughts, ideas, plans and sometimes even songs and complete projects that are keeping my mind busy. Because the temperature is usually cool at night and there is silence everywhere I can let my thoughts flow free and enjoy myself thinking about stuff. As a matter of fact I’m having a good time when lying in bed, but the next day I ought to be prepared for my job as a teacher, so I need to calm down my busy brain and get some sleep.
Reading helps to get it back to one stream of thought at a time. (I also tried playing Bach’s fugues on my synthesizer – of course with headphones on – but I enjoyed that so much that I kept playing until sunrise). The last month the pile of books and magazines on the floor next to my bed grew beyond measure, so it was time again to clean out.
According to “Cyborg 101: The Warrior’s Guide to the Blackboard Jungle“, an online book by Angus T.K. Wong there are three steps of cleaning out your room:

  1. Throw out the useless junk.
  2. Throw out more junk.
  3. Throw out the rest of the junk.

I didn’t follow this advice literally, but I transported the whole pile to my study-room, where my books actually belong. The interesting question is: what has been on my mind the last month? Here is the list:

  • The latest three issues of “Zenit“, a Dutch astronomy magazine
  • The latest two issues of “Computer Music“, perhaps not very suitable as bed reading material, because this magazine is too interesting and usually gives me more inspiration and ideas than I already have.
  • The latest issue of Linux Format
  • The latest issue of Hakin9
  • Some printed articles from Scientific American (I have a digital subscription to that magazine)
  • This month’s “Long Life” magazine
  • Neal Stephenson’s “Quicksilver”
  • Dr. Graham Tattersail:  “Geekspeak”.
  • Th. Liket: “Differentiaal- en integraalrekening”, a Dutch textbook about differential and integral calculus.
  • Dr. K:  “Hackers’ Handbook 3.0”
  • John Barrow: “The Constants of Nature”
  • a photocopy of Patrick J. Hall: “How to solve it in Lisp”
  • Christian Braut: “Het complete MIDI boek”, Dutch textbook about MIDI, especially for the chapter on how to count in hexadecimal and binary.
  • Arthur Hutchings: “The Baroque Concerto”. Textbook about baroque music. So what? 🙂

That’s not all: my notebook, pen, reading glasses, a flashlight for reading without disturbing my wife and another exercise-book to write down dreams (sometimes I have lucid dreams and I try to cultivate them to get the most out of the time I have to spend in bed) are all traces of my nightlife when suffering from insomnia.

My loving and caring wife arranged a small bookcase for me, and after sorting out the books I desperately need and the ones that I can sleep without – and after using the time to let the vacuum cleaner do a great job – I was happy to put some of my pillow books back, but now well organized. I can go to sleep in a clean bedroom without worrying about wasting my time, my books within easy reach.

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  • The Aesthetics and Beauty of Knowledge

    Shih was the opposite of facts and raw information; shih was the elegance of knowledge, the insight and skill to organize knowledge into meaningful patterns. As an artist chooses colours or light to make her pictures, a master of shih chooses textures of knowledge – various ideas, myths, abstractions, and theories – to create a way of seeing the world. The aesthetics and beauty of knowledge – this was shih.

    – David Zindell, The Broken God, 1993

  • Geek Attitude

    The attitude thing is about flexibility, portability, creativity, sociability and jamming (ran out of suitable “ity” words!). It’s about improvising – in the practical and musical senses of the word; not getting tangled in boundaries and the “right” way to do things.
    Definitely the only way to travel.
    Martin Delaney – “Laptop Music”.