Friday, August 19, 2016

Happy Birthday, Gene Roddenberry!

One of the items in the Star Trek collection is an envelope of Gene Roddenberry's birth records. He would have been 95 years old today!

These are copies printed around 2002 and signed by the county clerk of El Paso, Texas. The map shows the 1921 location of Roddenberry's house.

After I listed the documents on eBay, I looked in the envelope and found something else: a photo of a florist shop in a little shopping center, on the former site of the house.

A modest beginning for the creator of a fantastic phenomenon!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Vintage Star Trek visits the bookshop

“I believe it’s called a bookshop, Captain.”

“Books! Isn’t that a bit archaic?”

“Humans have a nostalgia for old paper. Quite illogical.”

“I like it. Our faces, our … crew … are everywhere. Not those ... young guys.”

“Those ‘young guys’ have a new movie out today: ‘Star Trek Beyond.’”

“I think I’ll stick around here a few days, Mr. Spock.”

We had a great time at the opening of the Star Trek(TM) collection at Tannery Books last night.

Getting ready was a ton of work; I was sitting on the floor of the shop pricing things right up 'til the opening!

A couple of nice write-ups in the local papers encouraged some enthusiastic fans to come out to the opening.

There are still a lot of items that weren't ready, which I'll bring to the shop in the coming weeks or list on eBay. Join the e-mail list (on the right of this page in web mode, or go to on your phone and scroll down) and you'll be first to hear when the posters are available.

I'm wiped out, but pleased.

You can beam me up, now.

Star Trek 50th Anniversary TV and Movie Collection (Blu-Ray) — affiliate link

Friday, July 01, 2016

Viva Las Vegas! — part 2

No trip to Vegas is complete without visiting "the Strip," with its mega-hotels and casinos with familiar names like Ceasar's Palace and the Luxor.

I fell in love with the Paris. It was huge! like an indoor city. A half-size replica of the Eiffel tower stands with two of its feet angling dramatically through the casino.

Hallways beyond the gambling turned into city streets with shops, restaurants, nostalgic facades, and even a blue sky painted on the ceiling.

When I saw La Creperie, I was about to bust with happy nostalgia. You see, I actually went to Paris when I was 15, many years ago. My fondest memories of the trip include street vendors making and selling crepes from their carts, even at midnight on Montmartre.

I ordered, and enjoyed a lovely lunch.

Then I rode to the top of the tower, which is 550 feet tall. Hotels reflected the bright sunshine. I could see the Strip and the rest of the city until it stopped, giving way to desert and mountains. We had to peer through a protective fence with occasional holes for camera shots.

I thought that would be the "height" of my day. But after dark, we went to the Stratosphere!

Vegas at night is a different kind of beautiful from the day, with lights everywhere. At 1,149 feet high (we were on the 108th floor), the views are stunning.

The protective fence was beneath us, with only a railing in front of us, so we had a much clearer view than I'd had earlier in the day.

We could make out our own hotel from nearby landmarks, though I couldn't quite get my camera to focus on the distant letters.

I rested on Sunday.

After attending mass at the historic Saint Joan of Arc church, I rested from travel, rested from walking all over the city, and rested my wallet from so much spending, except for a couple of meals in the hotel complex.

I journaled about the trip so far, read, and availed myself of free movies in the air-conditioned hotel room.

Photo used by permission
Monday morning brought the reason for our trip: my niece's wedding. We rode around (and around) in a limousine as tunes like "Going to the Chapel" played through the speakers.

Christina and Darren were married with tears and laughter — by Elvis!

This photo just captures it.

Congratulations, Christina and Darren!

Friday, June 10, 2016

To Boldly Go — to the bookshop

Well, I certainly left you in suspense long enough. I started yet another part-time job in May and got sidetracked (no pun intended). I did, however, send out the bookshop newsletter to let subscribers in on the secret. (You can sign up here or on the right side of this page in web mode.)

So, what was in all those boxes I picked up at the train station?

An entire collection of Star Trek(TM)!

Costume patterns
Hologram stickers ...

Bumper stickers
Party supplies
Vintage posters
Paper models
Photos ...

Two stand-up cut-outs ...

And one metal model.

Trekkie paradise.

I purchased the collection from the estate of a long-time fan in New England. Since it was so big and heavy — 12 boxes — the seller and I decided to try rail instead of the popular shipping services.

It was fun opening up all those boxes to see what was in each one! It's also overwhelming. Bookselling involves days of inventory, listing and photography that never end. I'll take some of the items to the shop at Bush Hill Trading Post and list others in the eBay store. It won't happen overnight. I hope to have a lot of things processed before the movie comes out: Star Trek Beyond arrives in theatres July 22.

Fun work, full of surprises. I wasn't excited about the box of magazines and old calendars, but in another box, an ordinary-looking book turned out to have three original Trek cast members' autographs. I enjoyed looking through the amateur photos from fan conventions. There were even a few pictures of the collector's "Trek room," with letters she received from fellow fans.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Waiting on a train ...

I've been waiting for a train, but not this one.

This is a freight train, and I'm waiting for a freight shipment, but it's coming on Amtrak.

I finally got the call and drove to the Greensboro depot. The depot is lovely, with high ceilings and lots of woodwork.

People were rushing to catch the train, or waiting on the wooden benches.

I thought this was a rare sight — then read the sign that said the phones had been removed.

Phone booths: Bring your own phone.

Finally. The morning train departed and the man at the ticket counter could look for my shipment. He found it way in the back, a whole pallet with my name on it!

We managed to load it all into my trusty Ford SUV.

Boxes and boxes, what could it be?

I'll give you a hint: it's for the bookstore!

Newsletter subscribers will be the first to know. You can sign up on the right side of this page (in web mode) or go here and scroll down.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Vegas, Baby! — part 1

When the weather was still cold in North Carolina, we flew to Las Vegas, Nevada for my niece's wedding.

We stayed at the Downtown Grand, which was lovely, except that nothing in Vegas is the quoted price. They hit us with significant extra fees before allowing us into our prepaid-online rooms.

Restaurants are expensive, with a mixed-drink around $14. We really liked the Triple George, where we ate and relaxed out on the sidewalk several nights.

Culture shock continued as we ventured beyond the casino-filled lobby and our hotel block. Apparently Vegas laws don't require clothing. At least, not on Freemont Street.

The Downtown pedestrian area was an overwhelming sample of "Sin City," full of lights, casinos, restaurants, and ... strange folk. An overhead light show plays every night, punctuated by screaming zipliners.

Beggars abound. So do artists – both the visual arts and the musical kind – and costumed people posing for photo ops. I liked many of them, from Darth Vader to Bumble Bee (the transformer) to David Bowie.

"Downtown" is the original heart of Vegas, whereas "the Strip" is the newer area filled with mega-hotel-casinos like the Luxor and Ceasar's Palace. We walked all around Downtown, visiting the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop where the reality show Pawn Stars is filmed.

We took a bus tour to the Hoover Dam. Our driver told us how the mafia started Vegas. As law enforcement cracked down and things got too hot for the mob in Chicago and New York, they moved to this desert area where gambling and prostitution were legal. There's a Mob Museum Downtown, but I didn't visit it.

We went down into the dam and power plant. It's amazing how power (and water) for the entire area is still supplied by state-of-the-art 1930s technology. Public areas are decorated with Art Deco carvings and signs.

The dam and newer bridge were very similar to the one I visited last year at Glen Canyon.

Next time: from the depths of the dam to the heights of the towers.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Born for This!

Only three more days 'til Chris Guillebeau's new book Born for This hits the stands!

I signed up to be part of Chris' "street team" because I was so excited I didn't want to wait until the April 5 launch date. An advance copy arrived on my doorstep – literally – in late January.

Similar to his previous work, like The Happiness of Pursuit (which inspired me to go on my cross-country trip last year), this new book is full of inspiration for the entrepreneurial lifestyle with successful examples. It's not just for online entrepreneurs; Chris offers advice and examples of "hacking one's job" or improving your current career.

I liked that, instead of giving the popular advice of finding a niche, this book acknowledges people who have multiple interests. Sometimes the interests have a common thread, like me with genealogy, archives work, and antiquarian bookselling. One takeaway for me was the "side-hack," or creative side job that could either become a future career or just provide near-term financial support.

Born for This is great for a secular book about finding meaningful work. I'd love it if Chris could combine his energy and world-traveling insight with somebody spiritually grounded like Rick Warren into writing that provides practical steps with heavenly priorities.

By the way, I spent half a day yesterday revisiting my draft book about Thomas Maness and researching two of his five wives. I was on such a roll I had to make myself stop to shower and eat lunch – that's how much fun I was having. As I finally tore myself away from the laptop and stretched, I thought, "Yeah, I was born for this!"

As mentioned, I received an advanced copy of the book, the only obligation being to buy my own copy when it's available (which I did). There are also affiliate links in this blog.