Wednesday, February 08, 2017

February Currentlies

Current clothes: Blue jeans. A t-shirt that says, "Science: It's Gotten Us This Far." Because it has. Also science-themed socks with little test tubes and representations of atoms and stuff on them, because if you're going to dress for science, you might as well commit to it.

Current mood: Mostly OK, but with a faint thread of vague irritation underneath it. This is actually pretty common when I'm on night shifts. I think maybe some part of my brain just gets really annoyed at me and/or the world for keeping it from sleeping normal hours.

Current music: Nothing in particular.

Current annoyance: My sinuses. Still. My sinuses have been annoying me since freaking November. I keep feeling like maybe it's starting to get better, but I suspect that may just be wishful thinking.

Current thing: Retreating into fun escapism a lot, I think. Because sometimes you have to.

Current desktop picture: Still this bookish one.

Current book: Just started Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell.

Current song in head: "Little Tin God" by Don Henley. The relevance of which I will leave as an exercise for the reader.

Current refreshment: Nothing. But I should drink something. I feel a little dehydrated.

Current DVD in player: Disc 2 of the complete series of Cowboy Bebop, the classic space noir anime featuring Spike Spiegel, the only bounty hunter in the universe worse than Stephanie Plum. (Admittedly, he's got much better moves. But a far worse capture record.) I've actually seen some or all of this show before, ages and ages ago, but I didn't remember it very well. On re-watch, I can kind of see why the details didn't really stick in my mind. There's a lot more style than substance to it. But it's a pretty cool style.

Current happy thing: Suddenly, winter appears to be over! Because it's February, a notoriously unpredictable month here, I don't exactly trust it, but I'll take this weather for as long as it lasts. (Although it is a pity that I'm not awake during the daylight hours this week to enjoy it.)

Current thought: Um... No matter where you go, there you are?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Nooooo! Don't Leave Me!!!!

Peter Capaldi announces he will stand down as Doctor Who at the end of the year.

This is not the feel-good news I needed right now, BBC!

And Here I Feel Good About Myself If I Manage To Get All The Laundry Done.

One of the cool things about working where I do is that, once in a while, they'll get some really interesting people in as speakers. So I just got to hear a talk by Story Musgrave. Who I always knew was very accomplished, but it turns out that doesn't even begin to cover it. This guy is amazing. He's a farmboy turned astronaut/mathematician/engineer/pilot/mechanic/brain surgeon/about a zillion other impressive things. If you wrote a novel about him, people would complain it broke their suspension of disbelief. He's basically a real-life version of Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap. Only weirder.

Glad I got the chance to attend that.

Friday, January 06, 2017

First Currentlies of 2017

I'm gonna do this while I'm thinking of it, so that I don't have the add "belated" to the post title yet again.

Current clothes: Blue jeans. Bluish-green sweater. White socks.

Current mood: Mostly okay, but... I dunno. I'm tired of things. I'm tired of winter. I'm tired of night shifts. I'm tired of the low-level but relentless nastiness that's been camped out in my sinuses for the last two months. I'm tired of not living in a Star Trek utopia.

Current music: Most recently, Determination, a rockin' collection of covers from the Undertale soundtrack by RichaadEB//Ace Waters.

Current annoyance: See above for a list of things I am tired of. I was going to say that it's not an exhaustive list, but, really, I think the last point probably covers just about everything.

Current thing: I've been wasting ridiculous amounts of time lately watching YouTube videos of people playing random videogames, for reasons I don't remotely understand. I think I'm finally starting to get over it, but, then, I've thought that before and somehow kept right on doing it.

Current desktop picture: Still this one.

Current book: The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman. Which I am enjoying. It seems to be exactly the right kind of immersive reading experience my brain needed about now.

Current song in head: Earlier it was "Auld Lang Syne." Um... Way to be late to the party, brain.

Current refreshment: Water. Gotta keep those sinuses hydrated.

Current DVD in player: Just finished season 6 of Game of Thrones. Which I thought started out kind of slow, but ended strong. It's definitely left me wanting more. Although, knowing how this usually goes, by the time I'm able to watch season 7, I'll probably have forgotten half of what happened in season 6, as well as most of the minor characters' names (again). I'll probably also have been at least partially spoiled for two or three significant plot points. Seriously, what is it about this show that sends spoiler etiquette right out the window like [season 1 spoiler redacted]?

Current happy thing: My reading for 2017 has started out well, in terms of quality if not necessarily quantity, and I'm feeling weirdly optimistic about the possibility of actually making some progress through the TBR shelves this year.

Current thought: Well, we're past the winter solstice. Eventually the sun won't be going down just as I'm getting up when I'm on night shifts anymore. That'll be something to look forward to.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

2016: My Year In Books

Well, here we are, all crossed over into the new year and still hurtling forward in time at the dizzying rate of one second per second.

As I alluded to last time, at this point I traditionally like to take a look back at the previous year's worth of reading. I read 146 books last year in total (although a few of those were re-reads), which is respectable number, but one that's pretty much in line with the last few years. We, uh, won't discuss how many books I now have on the To Be Read shelves. Let's just say that if I'm making any bookish New Year's resolutions, one of them ought to be trying to keep that number from hitting quadruple digits. Um.

If you're interested, you can see the complete list of what I read this year here, or, if you prefer a pretty parade of covers, here.

As usual, I have a list of the best books I read this year. Or, rather, the books I rated 5 or 4.5 stars out of 5 after I read them, which is the only way I can compile a list like this without going completely nuts with indecision about it. Although, even so, I can't help feeling that I'd like to add Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky as an honorable mention, despite the fact that, for reasons that made sense to me that the time, I only rated it four stars. Because that's one that's really sticking with me.

Anyway. The Strugatskys aside, here's the Best-Of list for the year:

Fiction

The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst
Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
City of Stairs and City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett
The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
Mort, Reaper Man, Soul Music, Hogfather and Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett
The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey
Don't Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon
Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro
Railsea by China MiƩville
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

Non-fiction and Humor

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Adulthood is a Myth: A Sarah's Scribbles Collection by Sarah Andersen
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe
The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths
The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap by Wendy Welch
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi


Which is a pretty substantial and nicely varied list, and a bigger one that I might have expected it to be. So, whatever else one might say about 2016, at least it was a good reading year for me. Which, of course, is what's really important.

Anyway. Happy New Year to all of you! And may you also have a great year of reading, or of whatever else it is that brings you joy.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my first book of 2017 may be calling my name...

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bye, 2016! Don't Let The Door Hit You In The Ass On The Way Out.

So, here we are. In my time zone, at least, we're less than 24 hours from the end of 2016.

And, man... You know, every year, it seems like there is a chorus of voices bemoaning all the terrible things that have happened in the last 365 days and suggesting that it's been a much worse year than most. I'm usually pretty dismissive of that. After all, every year has its share of deaths and bad news, and those things tend to loom larger in our minds than the events of past years only because they're more recent.

But 2016, it seems to me, really has been a giant tire fire of a year. It just kept burning and burning, and the longer it went on, the more noxious fumes it poured out onto all of us. I would like to say that I'm relieved it's almost over and that I'm anticipating much better things in 2017, but, of course, the truth is that 2017 will be shaped by the choices we made in 2016, and I'm not feeling too optimistic about those. Well. Here's hoping that it'll exceed expectations, eh?

In my own personal life, I suppose 2016 is memorable mostly as the year I finally got my driveway resurfaced, so I guess there's that. And one genuinely good surprise this year is that my beloved elderly cat Nova is still here with me at the end of it. He's down to skin and bones and very much showing his age, and to be honest I hardly expected him to make it to his 17th birthday -- round about June -- never mind still being here on New Year's Eve. But here he is, still getting around OK, still happily scarfing down bowls of that super-expensive prescription cat food, and still sitting on my lap and purring. That, at least, is one thing that does make me feel warm and glad at the end of this year. I think I will take it.

And I guess that's it for me for 2016! See you all next year, when I'll be back to do the usual roundup of my year's worth of reading, if nothing else.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Tis The Season

Is it Christmastime again? Man, the years really are just rolling right on by now.

Anyway. Here's wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and/or a generally wonderful holiday season!

I don't have any extra time off work this year -- just the weekend, which I would have had off, anyway. But I am enjoying it. The holiday makes for a lovely excuse to just relax. I spent all morning in my pajamas finishing a book, which is thoroughly good for the soul. Tonight I'm going to make myself a nice dinner, and then I'm going to follow my usual impatient custom of opening all my presents at midnight. Tomorrow I'm probably going to get together with some people from work who are also hanging around town for the holiday and don't have family here, and we're going to play some board games. Can't stay too late, though, because of course there'll be new Doctor Who tomorrow evening. It would hardly be Christmas without Doctor Who! Even if I still can't quite believe I now live in a world where I get new Doctor Who as a present every Christmas.

I hope everyone everyone reading is having at least as nice a time as I am, however you're spending these days. And, hey, we're almost ready to be done with 2016!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Belated December Currentlies

This is way later in the month than I usually do this. I'm not dead, I promise! I just seem to have had very little time for anything lately. I've been working long hours, and when I'm not working, I'm trying to catch up on the giant to-do list of things that have that piled up while I was working, or else I'm completely out of energy because I've been spending all day running around trying to catch up on the to-do list.

Current clothes: Gray sweatpants. A t-shirt that says, "Screw reality, I'm going to the bookstore," which might just be my new official motto. White socks.

Current mood: Somewhat better, as it's a relief to finally get some time off. But also kind of tired. From, y'know, running around all day trying to catch up on the to-do list.

Current music: Nothing at the moment, really.

Current annoyance: There are many, but primarily the aforementioned lack of time. Including the fact that I woke up today determined to Do All The Things, and instead have only done a few of the things, because most of the things seem to have taken at least twice as long as they ought to have. Sigh.

Current thing: I just listened to the entire backlog of the Lexicon Valley podcast -- about a hundred episodes -- in the course of, I dunno, maybe about three weeks. Except for the most recent episode, which I turned off because it was going to have spoilers for a movie I haven't seen yet.

Current desktop picture: Still this lovely bookish image.

Current book: Clockwork Angels by Kevin J. Anderson, which is sort of a novelization of the Rush album of the same name. It's... not good.

Current song in head: Well, snippets of Rush songs keep popping in there, because Mr. Anderson thinks he's incredibly clever for constantly working them awkwardly into his prose. But otherwise, not much.

Current refreshment: Some kind of zero-calorie sparkling orange-mango drink.

Current DVD in player: Disc 2 of season 2 of Broadchurch. Which I have heard argued did not need a second season, but I'm liking it so far.

Current happy thing: Man, it is nice to finally have a proper weekend. A three-day weekend, even! Also, I finally have my thyroid medication again, so that's nice.

Current thought: I'm sure I had something profound to say here, but it's completely gone out of my head. So, um... Happy holidays?