Today’s Word: augury (noun) – An augury (AW-gyuh-ree) is a sign, omen, portent of things to come. As used by Jacob Abbott in Romulus: “If the augury was propitious the work was entered upon with vigor and confidence.”

Did You Know?: To welcome the New Year, Americans make resolutions, eat black-eyed peas, and watch the ball drop in Times Square. Nothing weird about that, right? But in other parts of the world… The Finns predict the future by burning metal in a pan and observing the shadows it casts by candlelight. Ecuadorians burn scarecrows. The Swiss drop ice cream on the floor. And in Siberia, people dive into ice-cold lakes while carrying a tree trunk.

Worth Quoting: “And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been, full of work that has never been done.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

What I’m Reading Now: Someone told me that “The Blue Hotel” by Stephen Crane was one of Hemingway’s favorite stories. I’m a Hemingway fan. So I read it. It’s a novella – a long short story – about five strangers who end up playing cards together in a small hotel in a small town in the Old West and how one of them, “the Swede,” dies. Was it murder? An accident? Suicide? Crane never makes that clear. But the plot is compelling and the diction is crisp and the images are vivid. As a reader, you feel as if you are in the room with them, wanting to leave for your safety but riveted by curiosity. What will they do or say next?

I did see Crane’s influence on Hemingway here. So if you know Hemingway, the read will be worth it simply to see that connection. Also, if you’ve read a bit of American literature, ”The Blue Hotel” might help you see a line of influence that runs from Stephen Crane (and possibly Melville before him) to Mark Twain and then to Cormac McCarthy.

Watch This:

Best of the Web 2018.- I doubt that these are the best Web clips from 2018, but it gives you an idea of why you might, like me, devote a few minutes every day to marvel at what is being done.