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Just remember, Einstein had trouble getting a job in his field and ended up working as a patent clerk and it afforded him the time to work on whatever he wanted and look where that got us. ;)
absolutely not. You can find some really neat stuff at thrift shops. I have a neat depression and carnival glass collection that is partially inherited and partially from thrifting and yard sales. I just got a book from the library and it turns out some of my stuff might actually be worth tens of dollars, I was pretty surprised. I just bought them because they were pretty.
Having read The Sparrow, Children of God, and Never Let Me Go, good luck to you and prepare to be messed up. I've not read any of Mary Doria Russell's other books, but I just finished Kazuo Ishiguro's The Buried Giant last week and I am pretty sure that man exists just to mess with peoples' heads.
The one that is staring down at you every time you are in your closet? Go for it. I think it still runs but I doubt the battery is worth shit at this point.
We went to the record shop today and most of the cds I bought were Béla Fleck. Two used and one new. I call Béla Fleck and the Flecktones 'banjo jazz' sometimes when people ask me to try to describe them. It is kind of weird how sd86 and I share quite a bit of the same tastes musically but I listen to a lot more jazz and jazz-adjacent stuff than he probably ever will. Most of the stuff I have gotten from bandcamp has been British jazz, lately.