Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mmm, Tastes Like Sick Leave

I just got a $40 restaurant gift certificate as a reward from work for not taking any sick days last year. I immediately went out and used a large portion of it on a giant artery-clogging steak and an obesity-inducing dessert.

Somehow, I'm not sure this is really the best way of encouraging employee healthiness. Sure was tasty, though.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lazy Linkages

I am still alive, really. But it's getting warm outside, and I'm getting lazy. Or something. Anyway, have some random links, at least.

Uncomfortable Plot Summaries: Some of these are very funny. Like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: "Deranged pedophile big-business industrialist tortures and mutilates young children." Heh.

Don't Leave Now Without It: Handy cheat sheet should you find yourself stranded back in time and needing to reinvent civilization for survival or profit. Print out a copy and keep it in your DeLorean at all times!

TrekMovie's Guide to KirkFu: Marvel at Kirk's amazing patented drop kick maneuver! Bonus feature: William Shatner tells a rambling story that involves putting some random teenager in a headlock.

Why Geeks Make Good Lovers: 'Nuff said.

Wolf and Pig: Really, really cool video using some kind of funky stop-motion photography... thing. Just go watch it. It's easier to view than to explain.

They Fight Crime!: I might have linked to this before, actually, but what the heck. It's still amusing. And occasionally comes out with stuff I'd actually watch. "He's an old-fashioned alcoholic boxer possessed of the uncanny powers of an insect. She's a pregnant insomniac nun from Mars. They fight crime!"

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Yet another book-related meme that I picked up somewhere on my internet wanderings:

1) The worst reading experience that you have ever had?

Probably being trapped on an airplane with Battlefield Earth. Gaaah!

2) The best reading experience you have ever had?

I'm not sure there's any one best experience I can point to. But, man, there are few things in life as overwhelmingly pleasant as curling up in bed on a rainy day with a good book and a mug of cocoa.

3) Which book has affected or influenced you the most so far?

I'm going to have to say Carl Sagan's Cosmos (an answer I'm sure I've given to this type of question before). This was actually the companion book to his PBS series, but I read the book long before I watched the TV show, at a point when I was just beginning to feel some pressure to decide what I wanted to do with my life. I was already very interested in science generally and in astronomy specifically, but I give a lot of the credit (or possibly the blame) for my decision to major in astrophysics to Sagan. He just made studying outer space seem so freaking cool.

4) Have you ever read a book that you got really scared of?

William Sleator's House of Stairs freaked me the hell out when I first read it in my early teens.

5) What do you use as a bookmark?

I have a huge store of bookmarks, which I seem to just sort of randomly acquire from nowhere in particular. So mostly I use those, but in the rare occasions when I'm caught without one, I'll use a folded-in-half post-it or something.

6) When do you usually read? At home, work, while cooking, in the morning, noon, afternoon, before you go to bed...?

Yes. Also while waiting in line, while walking, while eating, in the bathtub, in the movie theater before the movie starts...

7) Do you remember the first book that you read?

Not as such. My mother tells me there was a Mother Goose collection I used to "read" when I was three, more by virtue of having the entire thing memorized than actually decoding the letters. I do remember that book, actually, but not necessarily reading it at age three.

8) Which do you prefer - paperback or hardcover?

I'm fine with either. Hardcovers have the advantage of being more durable and are easier to prop open with your plate while you're eating, but paperbacks are more portable and can be carried in the pocket of your jeans. I also buy quite a lot of trade paperbacks, or quality paperbacks, or whatever the actual technical name is for those things that are hardback-sized but have soft covers.

9) What are you currently reading? What page are you on?

I'm currently on page 140 of The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, about to start a chapter entitled "Battle of the Sexes." Mmm, racy!

10) Do you ever leave "a mark" (deliberate and/or not deliberate) in your books? For example, write in them, underline quotes, coffeemarks or food crumbs and etc.

I do not write in books, with the not-recently-practiced exception of textbooks that I'm actually using for a class. (I regard those as being a special kind of book, and figure that helping me store and solidify my own knowledge is part of their function.) Unfortunately, due to my above-mentioned tendency to read while eating and bathing and etc., I do sometimes leave inadvertent marks in books. I'm afraid The Selfish Gene now has some chicken grease spots somewhere in the chapter about game theory and evolutionarily stable behavior strategies. I do try to avoid this, but as long as the book remains in readable shape, I don't obsess over it. In my opinion, books are meant to be read, not coddled. (I make an exception for books that don't belong to me, of course, although sometimes it seems that the harder I try to keep a book in pristine shape, the more impossible it gets.) Oh, and for books that do belong to me, I have a "from the library of" embosser that I use to stamp them with. It's a handy thing in case I lend them out.

11) Does the title, amount of pages and the cover affect you when you are considering a specific book?

An interesting title can certainly catch my attention, and although judging a book by its cover is just as bad an idea as the proverb suggests, sometimes it's kind of hard not to. I generally don't worry too hard about how long a book is when I'm deciding whether to purchase it or not, but it can certainly make a difference when I'm deciding what I want to read next.

12) Do you ever browse through to the last pages in order find out the ending?

Ye gods, no! I've occasionally accidentally read the last sentence of a book while flipping through to see exactly how many pages it is -- something I do fairly often -- and if I actually do pick up a spoiler that way, it upsets me.

13) Has knowing the ending of a book (example, through spoilers or a movie) ever made you decide whether you will read the book or not?

Not really, I don't think. Seeing a movie based on a book can sometimes make me decide to read the book, but generally that doesn't have any more to do with the ending than with any other part of the movie. Come to think of it, though, I have been considering picking up some more Agatha Christie books at some point, but will probably avoid the ones I happen to be spoiled for.

14) Is there a book that you have read more than five times?

I probably read A Wrinkle in Time that many times when I was a kid.

15) Have you ever been in an accident where the book was the cause? (for example, almost getting hit by a car when reading while walking, or having stacks of books falling on you from a bookshelf...)

There was the time Vir the cat knocked that omnibus volume of Harry Dresden novels off the headboard and directly into my cornea. I still have to lubricate my damned eye every night thanks to that.

16) Do you sell/give away your books or do you keep them, even though you don't like one of them?

I keep them. Obsessively. Even the sucky ones.

17) Do you have some kind of book system, where you write down what you are reading, have bought, will read, will buy and etc?

I have my entire book collection cataloged at LibraryThing, with tags indicating what I've read, what I haven't read yet, etc. I also keep an extensive list of books I'm interested in using Amazon's wishlist feature. (Speaking of which, Amazon does seem to have fixed their dodgy book-burying issues, which is good enough for me. Your level of internet-fueled outrage may vary.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


OK, allergy season can be over now. Really. Aaaaannnny time now.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Have A Chocolate Bunny And Some Random Links.

Sunday Sweets: Geeky Goodness: Stargate-themed cakes. Because geeks are endlessly inventive people.

Bill Bailey - Doctor Who: Comedian Bill Bailey offers his take on the music and sound effects in Doctor Who, including his own interpretation of the theme song as "60s Belgian jazz."

Wide Angle: Top Ten Moments in Astronomy: Most of these are pretty hard to argue with.

Star Formation: The Game: Make your own stars. For points!

Uranium Ore: A jar of uranium ore on sale from Amazon. The user reviews are hysterical.

Speaking of Amazon, though, they appear to have been snorting that uranium or something: Amazon Censors Its Rankings & Search Results to Protect Us Against GLBT Books.

How We Staged the Morristown UFO Hoax : The authors set up a UFO hoax in New Jersey and, unsurprisingly, lots of people fell for it lock, stock and alien laser gun barrel.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Cute Cat Pictures, Pt. 2: Nova

Currently, My Life Is Boring.

Current clothes: A white terrycloth bathrobe. At some point, I will put on some clothes and make some pretense of getting on with my day.

Current mood: Eh. I didn't get quite enough sleep today -- or yesterday, for that matter -- and it feels like a largish section of my brain has just sort of... gone off-line. I did just have a nice, hot shower, though, and am at least feeling slightly less groggy than I was before.

Current music: More random stuff from the iPod. It seems to be on a something of a "cheesy music of the 70s and 80s" kick lately.

Current annoyance: Why have night shifts suddenly gotten so much more difficult for me in the last year or so, when I used to be such a complete night person? Is this an aging thing? I do not like it, and I wish it to stop.

Current thing: I dunno. Procrastinating on all the things I should be doing, I guess.

Current desktop picture: Still the same nebulae as last month. They're very pretty, and I haven't gotten tired of them yet.

Current book: Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser. When I try to imagine what my life would have been like if I'd had the internet as a kid, I just can't do it, any more than I can imagine what it would be like not to have it as an adult. So I was interested in seeing what this book might have to say on the subject. Unfortunately, though, it's been pretty dull so far, and has not offered me any great insights on what it's like to grow up in the Information Age.

Current song in head: "Skullcrusher Mountain" by Jonathan Coulton.

Current DVD in player: The last disc of Third Rock from the Sun season 2, which I started watching as my treadmill show while waiting for my Venture Bros. season 3 discs to show up. Also, a disc of extras from the giant Stargate SG-1 boxed set.

Current refreshment: Nothing. But I need to go and make myself some breakfast or some lunch or something soon.

Current worry: It would probably be the fact that I'm procrastinating on the things I should be doing, except that I'm also putting off worrying about it.

Current thought: "Skullcrusher Mountain" is an awesome song, but I kind of wish it would vacate my head now.

Monday, April 06, 2009

If She Were A Dog, I'd Call This Post "Rags To Bitches," But As It Is, I Have No Punny Title.

It has been pointed out to me that I am failing to meet my regulated minimum quota of cute cat pictures, so here's one of Happiness, sleeping on a pile o' cleaning rags in the utility room closet:

I've been a little worried about Happiness, as she threw up several times last night. But that is something that cats just do sometimes, and she seems OK today, as far as I can tell. Maybe all she needed was a nice little rag pile-assisted snooze.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Seriously! Only Two Books!

I went to the Friends of the Library book sale today, but the pickings were slim, and I turned out not to need the formidable self-restraint I equipped myself with beforehand. I almost feel cheated. What am I going to do with all this self-restraint now? Maybe I should go to Amazon and not buy books there.

Anyway, all I picked up was Iain Banks' Look to Windward and a humorous volume called The Hypochondriac's Guide to Life. And Death. Which is probably just as well, as I've still only read four of the ten books I bought at the sale last year.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

And In Non-Jokey Cool Stuff News...

Here, have a trailer for the new Doctor Who special, "Planet of the Dead," which will be airing in the UK on April 11. (Not sure about US release dates yet. Sorry!)

Good Old April First

Damn, but I wish this were real.