How To Read More — A Lot More

Thought Catalog

When you read a lot of books people inevitably assume you speed read. In fact, that’s probably the most common email I get. They want to know my trick for reading so fast. They see all the books I recommend every month in my reading newsletter and assume I must have some secret. So they ask me to teach them how to speed read.

That’s when I tell them I don’t have a secret. Even though I read hundreds of books every single year, I actually read quite slow. In fact, I read deliberately slow, so that I can take notes (and then whenever I finish a book, I go back through and transcribe these notes for my version of a commonplace book.

So where do I get the time? (Well for starters I don’t waste any of it asking dumb questions).

Look, where do you get the time to…

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San Gimignano

Etruscan civilization is a term coined to describe a civilization of ancient Italy in the area of Tuscany (the province of Sienna), western Umbria. And San Gimignano is one of the small towns that house these civilians. Some interesting reads I’ve found 🙂

 

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Sceneries before the Porta San Matteo

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Porta San Matteo

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After entering,  Via Porta San Matteo welcomes you :). And the scenery before me is utterly medieval! Flails, halberds not included, but nevertheless, the feel is there.

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Foolproof duster to keep the roads spick and span!

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Phallus… Size matters..

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Sheer luck brought us to this small corner of the town where it is less touristy and captures the medieval spirit

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Finally upon reaching Piazza della Cisterna,  we got to meet Sergio Dondoli, owner of Gerlateria di Piazza, who was world champion in Gelato creations a couple of times. Know more about him here! Typical jolly italian persona out from the movies!

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mom, cheeky fella and I

 

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Both are as comical 😛 .. the chinese is my Dad 🙂

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Hot Pink: Rosemary

Light purple: Champagne

Light Brown: Pistacchio

Peach: ermmm.. Peach

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Leaving Piazza del Cisterna, you enter Piazza delle Erbe

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At Piazza delle Erbe, is the fresh food market. Piazza delle Erbe means “Herbs Square”, and fresh food market is a tradition since medieval times! And above is a stall selling Porchetta (Roasted Pork). I was told to watch out for their pork salami! ah dratz, filled up from breakfast, sooo.. had to give this one up 😦

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Fish stall… please note … the baby in the pram 🙂

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Canned stuff like anchovies,some cheese, cured meats like the salami I missed out!

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CHEEESUS

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Walking up the hill from Piazza delle Erbe

 

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And on the way to La Rocca, we met a handful of musicians.. pretty savvy..

 

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Why harp? Hmm I guess it suits the environment.. a little fantasy feel out from a storybook set in the medieval times… This spells LOTR

 

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And so we have reached La Rocca… this pic above is taken at the midpoint (vertically) of the fortress.

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A breathtaking view awaits at the top of the Rocca fortress…countryside

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City View near the foreground and Countryside at the background

 

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Fran’s words: “photos need you in them, if not they’d just be postcards”.. Hence the effort 🙂

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Family and fren Fran

 

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From La Rocca, you can take in the view of numerous towers in the town. A reward for a ultra steep climb! Something about the towers: San Gimignano can be nicknamed a city of towers. It has 14 in total, with many destroyed during natural and man-made catastrophes. In the 14th century, San Gimignano was one of the richest cities. Various cities and families within a city competed amongst themselves based on the height of the tower built by them, as an indication of the wealth and status. Some compared this to how a bigger phallus was revered in a similar manner.

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Times up to return.. and to avoid the squeezy bus toilet, we decided to try out this automated toilet. All you need to do is to insert 50 cents, press start, you get 15 minutes each time to do your business. Once past the time limit, toilet door automatically opens. A little stressful for a defection..

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And I supppose its the end of the magical tour 🙂

The Capri and the Faraglioni

Capri is in the Bay of Naples, south of the city of Naples and near the tip of the Amalfi Peninsula, in the Campania region of Southern Italy. The island is in the Mediterranean Sea.
We took a ferry from Sorrento to Capri. And whilst waiting for the ferry to prepare, why not…
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Admire some Fishies…
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Admire the Terminal…
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Stone..
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Or do some morning exercises….
But anyway, the ferry came, and we reached Capri island within 30 minutes.
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Upon reaching, we took a boat excursion (Tour of the Faraglioni)  that starts from the port of Marina Grande
And then coasting along Mount Tiberio…
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we see the statue of “scugnizzo” located just in front of Naples Gulf and Sorrento Gulf and it resembles a young boy welcoming people coming from these 2 gulfs
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And then followed by the “Salto di Tiberio” (Tiberius’s jump)
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Grotta Bianca (the White Grotto)
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Inside the Grotto Bianca, one of the stalagmite inside the grotto seems to be a statue of the Virgin
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From the same bay as Grotto Bianca, but this time looking way up, we could see the “Arco Naturale”
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Grotto del Corallo
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The Faraglioni Rocks
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20130613_094604Marina Piccola Bay
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And then we passed through the Arch of Faraglioni
A little disappointing because I have yet to see the Grotta Azzurra and the Grotta Verde plus swim through it! Next in my to-do list
Some more pictures to describe Cah-Pree in its beauty
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These scenic pictures above are taken from the Garden of Augustus. It offers views of the Faraglioni, the Marina Piccola and Mount Solaro. This garden is also a visual testament of the flora and fauna heralded by many who came to Capri Island.
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10.30am? I suppose??
And colourful people in a colourful island….
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mum and I
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Fran
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Joe and Penny
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Diana with her tiny bag
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Justin Bieber O.O
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Taxi
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Asian Kiddo
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Post-woman
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The Bus…
Shopping can be done at Carthusia Perfume shop… the whole set-up is pretty sciency but I guess the R&D quarters and shop are integrated
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Anyway, Capri… I’d be BACK
In the meantime, Keep Calm and Slush on!
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Pompeii Frozen in Time

Pompeii, a town in southern Italy, has been excavated for the last 256 years from piles of volcanic ash in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

A BBC documentary has been done with Dr Margaret Mountford as the presenter. The video can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ha8pRNWuet8 but just to serve as backup on occasions when the youtube video has been deleted, a summary of the content would be summarized as follows.

Plaster_Citizens_of_Pompeii_1picture taken from wikipedia

The video mainly explores the reason why casts of real human bodies were left behind preserved in Pompeii when normally archaeological sites would only be rife with human bones buried underneath the ground. Hauntingly astonishing!

On the morning of 24 August, 79 AD, just before midday, earthquake rocked Pompeii. At 1pm, Vesuvius erupted. Rock and dirt flew into the air, together with huge amounts of earth and ash forming a cloud above the volcano. The cloud was then pushed 14 km into atmosphere and flew above Pompeii and then started to rained ash unto the city. The question is why human bodies so well preserved. So the culprit shouldn’t be molten lava which would render these bodies to destruction. It was assumed that the people suffocated from the air dense with volcanic ash. This was evidenced by the a cast found near a dead mule, hence assumed to be a mulateer. But Dr Peter Bannister from Cambridge University suggested that people choking would be lying on the ground instead of crouching.

Plaster_Cast-Pompeii picture taken from lumika.org

6km from Vesuvius also destroyed by it was Herculanean which is a smaller but a wealthier town. Herculanean was a holiday resort to rich and powerful Romans. This town was also much closer to Vesuvius than Pompeii so the force was much more intense. There were much less preserved human bodies, so this led to a conjecture that they escaped. But victims in boat sheds were reduced to bones, which meant that people ran to these chambers to escape from the disasters. Clean cuts in the skulls meant that the people were exposed to high temperatures that boiled their brain and exploded their skulls.

There were no lava. But why did the disaster preserve casts in Pompeii and did little preservation to people in Herculanean? Pliny, the younger described the eruption as black ash and debris falling th sides of the volcano, instead of lava. People disregarded his words until Mount St Helens National Park, South America, in 18 May 1918, erupted with only ash, producing a pyroclastic current, which harbours high temperatures of 700 deg Celsius. When theres no gas in the magma, the volcano erupts as a lava dome. With gas, the magma is pulverized as ash and pumice. Something like melting vs sublimation.

The pyroclastic current ran out of energy when it reached Pompeii, hence the bodies were preserved instead. Pompeii is 5 km further away from Versuvius, so it cooled to 300 deg celcius. The casts still hold imprints of the clothes they wore which is strange as the heat was enough to kill but not enough to destroy clothes. But a cloth experiment in Edinburg confirms that it could.

1st pyroclastic current killed Herculanean. 2nd and 3rd pyroclastic were much stronger and reached more towards Pompeii.  ash in pompeii cleared, so many came back to collec valuables. But a 4th pyroclastic current surged and this time it could reach Pompeii! Versuvius produced 6 pyroclastic currents altogether. Ash hardened to encase bodies in a shell. Flesh inside decomposed and left a cavity, a perfect mould of the victims. Archaelogists then pumped plaster into these and produced astonishing casts

THey also used X ray technology to reconstruct faces of 2 people. The anonymous man in Pompeii and the Bella Dona in Herculanean. This was done by Richard Neef.

20130614_10151320130614_101555 a plan of Pompeii

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A pictorial Introduction

There is also a lovely website that describes Pompeii’s infrastructure and buildings. It is found here:

https://sites.google.com/site/ad79eruption/pompeii/map-of-pompeii

A pity there was no time to visit all the sites in Pompeii….nevertheless, a collation of some picture I managed to take.

Pictures of the Large Theatre

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poor paranomic view at the stage of the audience seats

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Seat numbers 11 and 12

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Settore = sector/ area, Fila= Row

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view from the back seats and you can see the stage and the dressing rooms behind the stage

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There were passages for spectators to enter and these passages had walls with frescos on them

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20130614_110023 a boat20130614_110028a huge phallus, blow it big if you can’t see hmm

Pictures of Thermopolium

Thermopolium is like the modern cafe or bar where you buy takeaway food, different from a ristorante where you sit.

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 counters that contain terracotta vessels that hold food to sell.

Pictures of the Infrastructure

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20130614_113725 street in middle, pavements at sides

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embellishments on street

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embellishment on pavement… a lil tiles…

20130614_113043 street signs on walls

Streets acted as sewers then, because they were an old city, drainage systems were not built. So streets would be filled with animal and human wastes, water, slops etc and residents could keep their feet dry by crossing the streets via stepping stones or rocks

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a stepping stone that shows evidence of wagon wheels that make forceful collisions onto these rocks

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sides of streets had holes for residents to tug the ropes in and park their horses 😛

20130614_110448 water pipe and singing bird

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 roman aqueduct

Pictures of Lupanar

Lupanar is like the red light district of Pompeii

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20130614_112652 erotic frescoes

These serve as a menu of sexual acts. Since Pompeii was a seaport, many sailors visited Pompeii and would be able to select the sexual services from the menu, thus overcoming the language barrier.

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Carving of the phallus in the streets to point the way towards the whorehouses so sailors can find their ways

20130614_112644 rock hard bed where sex is conducted.. uncomfy i suppose

Pictures of The Forum

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Picture is taken from the Municipal Offices of the Forum and flanking buildings.

The Forum is the wide open space in the centre; The Basilica on the extreme left;  Temple of Apollo next to Basilica, Temple of Jupiter in the furthest perspective at the centre and Building of Eumachia on the right where the 4 columns stand.

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20130614_114349 The Basilica

Pictures of the Gladiator Practice Fields

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These Gladiator Barracks are just behind the large Theatre. The left staircase leads up to the Triangular Forum. The quardriporticus are surrounded by 74 Doric columns. And there are small dormitories around which house the prisoners aka the Gladiators.

There are also exedra next to the Barracks, filled with Fourth style frescos

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