Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Realize This Will Be Insanely Boring To Everyone But Me. But It's Vitally Important To Me.

Aaargh! I just filled up the last of my bookshelves in the computer room! This happened slightly sooner than I was anticipating, due to the annoying domino effect you get when a thin book bumps a thicker book off onto the next shelf, and it bumps a whole bunch of thin ones, which then bump off a thick one and some thin ones... Stupid long-winded Stephen King. Stupid long-winded J.K. Rowling.

Well, my initial thought for when this happened was that I'd add another small bookcase, sticking into the room at a right-angle, but the more I think about it, the more I think that's an annoying solution. It'd make the room more crowded than I'd like, and would only be a fairly temporary measure, anyway.

Much as I tried to get out of it, I suspect a major re-organization is called for. This is actually kind of traumatic to contemplate. I'm used to my books where they are! But where they are just isn't going to work indefinitely. Sigh.

So, OK, here's the plan: Hardback fiction gets moved into the dining room, where there's still plenty of wall space. (I'll have to move a picture off the wall, but I'm sure I can find somewhere else to put it.) Five full-sized bookcases should fit in there quite easily, and, having done some measuring, I'm 99% certain I can accommodate the medium-sized one as well. That gives me an entire five shelves worth of expansion room for the hardback fiction, which should last me quite a while, and there's even room to add another five-shelfer when needed, assuming I find somewhere else to put the telephone. I'll have to move the CD rack, but that is comparatively small and can go almost anywhere.

The Star Trek and Doctor Who books currently in the dining room will migrate to the bedroom. Unfortunately, the ancient folding shelves the Trek novels currently reside in are on their last legs and will probably not survive the relocation. So I'll replace those with another five-shelfer. Unfortunately, that'll be about half a shelf too small for what's currently on there, so the hardbacks will have to go somewhere else. I think what I'll do is replace the three-shelf case the non-fiction Trek books are currently on with another five-shelfer, which will not only accommodate the overflow, but will give me extra shelves which could be used for any number of things in the future.

The non-fiction currently in the bedroom will move into the big bookcases currently in the computer room. That's a straightforward migration: from four bookcases onto four bookcases, and there's already a lot of expansion room built in there. Two of the big cases in the bedroom will stay there, and two of them will swap with the smaller ones from the dining room. That will leave me three large bookcases to buy and put in the dining room for the hardback fiction.

The paperback fiction, mercifully, can stay right where it is. Otherwise, it's basically one big rotation of books from room to room. And the results seem like they should actually be something of an improvement: the embarrassingly large number of media tie-in books can live discreetly in the bedroom, the non-fiction will surround me where I do most of my typing and thinking and writing, and the hardback fiction will be in a public place where people can exclaim, "Have you actually read all of these?!" as they seem to inexplicably enjoy doing. And the To-Read Pile stays on the shelves in the utility room like the work-in-progress that it is.

Which is all well and good, but holy crap, I'm not looking forward to doing all that.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Well, At Least I'm Not Jar-Jar.

Your results:
You are C-3PO

Jabba the Hutt
Jar Jar Binks
Qui-Gon Jinn
Obi-Wan Kenobi
Darth Vader
Emperor Palpatine
Darth Maul
You don't have a lot going for you,
and you let everyone know it.
You may have one or two
close companions left,
but if you keep complaining
they may wander off.

(This list displays the top 10 results out of a possible 21 characters)

Click here to take the "Which Star Wars character am I?" quiz...

Also, I Complain About The Weather.

Lately, it seems as if some mischievous weather god has replaced my nice, dry desert with a freaking Amazon rain forest, and I am discovering that I no longer have the faintest idea how to deal with persistent humidity. And, geez! I put down some bug spray twenty minutes ago and it's still not dry! Which is annoying, because I can't let the cats back out of confinement until it is. Also, I actually had to towel myself off after my shower this morning, and I can't do laundry because, despite having a shiny new washer, I never bothered buying a dryer.

How do people who live in damp climates cope?

No News Is... No News.

You know what I want? I want to know when CNN's Breaking News e-mail service turned into the Nothing But News About Dead Celebrities Service. Knowing how I could make it start sending me real news again would also be nice.

Yes, all right, the death of people like Michael Jackson does constitute actual news, I'll admit. But did I need to be kept updated on his condition three times in one hour? I note that said service apparently did not think the Iranian election was worth wasting any electrons on.

I mainly subscribed to the damned thing in the first place because every time there's a major natural disaster or a terrorist attack or something, it seems to happen while I'm asleep, and several times I've gotten up, poured myself a nice cup of coffee, sat down to check my e-mail, and discovered that every mailing list I belonged to had erupted into a heart-stopping explosion of posts saying, "OMG, is everyone all right!?" and "This is so awful! I'm so very, very sorry for everyone affected!", with any actual explanations of what the hell they're talking about buried somewhere deep in the e-mail avalanche or missing entirely. This is what happened on 9/11, for instance, and when the shuttle Columbia broke up. Believe me, it is not a good way to be introduced to bad news.

But I belong to far fewer mailing lists now, so that seems rather less likely to happen to me again. I dunno. Maybe it's time to just drop Dead Celebrity News and start getting my news from The Daily Show like normal people.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Stay On Target

I'd save this for the next batch of random links, but it's only up for the next week, and I suspect at least one person reading this might find it interesting: On the Outside it Looked Like an Old Fashioned Police Box, a radio production in which Doctor Who writer Mark Gatiss celebrates the old Target novelizations.

Ah, the Target books. They mostly ranged from mediocre to terrible, but I sort of love them, anyway.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Geeks, Represent!

This is very possibly the most entertaining thing I've seen in ages: John Hodgman at the Radio & TV Correspondents' Dinner, talking about the Jock vs. Nerd culture wars, and grilling the president on his nerdly knowledge.

But, man, even I knew the Conan question, and my information on that subject, like almost all my comic book knowledge, comes entirely from osmosis. Clearly, however, it's been far too long since I last read Dune.

Happy Days

Happy Father's Day, and Happy Solstice!

Dad, if you're reading this, I will call you later.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

As Further Proof That I'm Still Alive, Have Some Random Links.

Science and Entertainment Exchange: A new program that aims to provide people in the entertainment industry with easy access to real scientists willing to help them get their science right. I think this is quite possibly the best idea ever.

Star Size Comparison: Nifty video showing the size of various bodies in the universe. I now have the Animaniacs singing in my head: "It's a great big universe, and we're all really puny. We're just tiny little specks, about the size of Mickey Rooney..."

30 Awesomely Bad Unicorn Tattoos: A Gallery: "Awesomely bad" is an understatement. Warning: NSFW.

Galactic Center of Milky Way Rises over Texas Star Party: Gorgeous time lapse video of the Texas sky.

Bad Transcript: Star Trek (2009): Amusing parody of the new Star Trek movie. Warning: full of spoilers!

Broken Picture Telephone: Online words-and-pictures version of the old party game Telephone. Fun to play, even if you can't draw, and the results are often hysterically funny. Browsing through the game archives is a great way to waste a lot of time.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Yes, It's Just A Thrill A Minute With Me.

Every time I go a week or so without updating this thing, somebody -- usually my sister -- checks in to make sure I'm not dead. Which is really rather reassuring, when I stop to think about it.

Anyway, no, I am not dead. I've just been very, very boring of late and haven't had much of anything to say. Well, I can tell you about my ever-so-exciting day, I guess. I blew off work and drove up to Albuquerque to run some errands, which involved doing the following deeply stimulating things:

1. Got the oil changed on my car (which was disturbingly overdue), and also the transmission fluid (which it was just about time for). By the way, does anybody know whether when the guys at Jiffy Lube tell you to come back in a couple of days so they can check your fluid levels, they're actually serious about that? Because I'm not making another 2-hour round trip just so they can shove a dipstick somewhere.

2. Ate lunch at Fuddrucker's, where I discovered that it is, indeed, possible to make a greasy buffalo burger.

3. Went shopping for bras. If it weren't for the fact that it happens much less often, this would provide serious competition for menstruation in the Worst Thing About Being a Female contest. Every time I do it, it makes me start thinking wistfully about breast reduction surgery, and I'm so much of a wuss about people doing medical things to my body that I still haven't worked up the guts to get my wisdom teeth out, despite repeated admonishments from my dentist. Sigh. It's expensive, too. I spent $200 on freaking bras! And half of them were on sale! Well, hopefully I shouldn't need to do it again for a few years.

4. Got ambushed by a guy who wanted to show me the OMG AMAZING! product he was selling. Which turned out to be a nail buffer. Which he insisted on demonstrating. I let him, because it was weirdly amusing, and because he looked so doggone bored, but I did keep telling him I wasn't going to buy the thing. I don't think he actually believed me until I started walking away, though. Anyway, as a result of this, the middle finger on my left hand now has a nail of freakishly unnatural smoothness and shininess. I can't stop touching it, and have occasionally been amusing myself by positioning it so as to reflect light. (Yes, I am easily amused. I've also never had a manicure in my life.)

5. Went to Barnes & Noble and bought the one book my self-imposed monthly quota system would still allow me to buy. I'm actually kind of impressed that I was able to limit myself. And I didn't buy the Star Trek DVD game that kept trying to convince me it was something I might actually want to play, either. See, sometimes I am capable of self-discipline!

6. Sat in the Barnes & Noble coffee shop for a while, sipping an iced cappuccino and reading, while I recovered from the stressily stressful stress of shopping and, y'know, being around other human beings. I wish I were more than half joking about that; I sometimes worry a little that I'm in danger of coming down with some weird phobia. Sometimes just having someone else in the same supermarket aisle with me makes me feel kind of ill-tempered and itchy. Then again, maybe it's just a fact of life that people are annoying.

7. Got lost in a construction detour, missed a poorly marked highway entrance, ended up on a road leading toward the middle of nowhere, turned around, found another highway entrance, got on the highway going the wrong way, turned around, and got caught in the construction again. All of which proves -- or, rather, reconfirms -- three facts: 1) I couldn't navigate my way out of a paper bag if you put a big arrow on each surface pointing towards the opening and handed me a GPS. 2) I have the memory of a goldfish, because if I hadn't somehow completely forgotten that I'd encountered construction around Gibson on the way in, I would have just taken I-40 like a normal person, instead of cruising the surface streets. And 3) there are perfectly legitimate reasons why I hate driving in the city, even when the city is Albuquerque, a place I am familiar with and which is not exactly known for its teeming traffic.

So, yup, that was my exciting day. What's really sad is that actually is a pretty active and event-filled day by my current standards. One of these days I should listen to Mr. Shatner and get a life.

On top of everything, of course, I now have much less money than when I left this morning. But at least the car seems happier, and I have somewhere to put my boobs. (What? Don't look at me that way! It's true!)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

They're Back, Baby!

Futurama is coming back to television with all-new episodes on Comedy Central!

OK, to be honest, I might be a little more excited about this if the last couple of movies had been better, but it's still very, very cool.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Are We This Far Into June Already? Well, OK...

Current clothes: White terrycloth bathrobe. I just got out of the shower.

Current mood: Lethargic. I've only been awake for a couple of hours, and I'm still moving sloooowly. I've got to leave for work in another couple of hours, too, and I really don't want to.

Current music: Haven't been listening to much music lately. I've been trying to catch up on various podcasts, without a great deal of success.

Current annoyance: My foot still hurts. Which means I get no exercise.

Current thing: Working night shifts. Lots and lots of night shifts. Tonight's my last one for a while, though. Switching off of them is going to be weird.

Current desktop picture: This gorgeous picture of the shuttle Atlantis.

Current book: Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman.

Current song in head: "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" by R.E.M. I woke up with that in my head today, probably because I was having a dream about watching a post-apocalyptic movie. It was some 1960s thing that looked like it was going to be cheesy, but turned out to have some surprisingly sophisticated thematic/symbolic stuff going on. A bit like Planet of the Apes, I suppose. I was mildly disappointed on waking to realize that it didn't actually exist.

Current DVD in player: Disc one of season 6 of Penn & Teller's Bullshit!

Current refreshment: Nothing. I should probably have some food. After I get dressed.

Current worry: I'm trying to decide whether switching off nights by staying up all day or by trying to get to sleep earlier and waking myself up after a few hours is likely to suck less. I suppose I'm mildly concerned about deciding wrongly, but, honestly, it's not like both options aren't about equally sucky.

Current thought: I should have dried off more after my shower and before donning my bathrobe. Certain areas of me are uncomfortably damp.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Any Political Implications Are Left As An Exercise For The Reader.

I just watched the 2006 movie The Astronaut Farmer on DVD. It's about a guy who never finished astronaut training, thus missing out on his dream of going into space, so he builds his own rocket in his barn. In many respects, it's a reasonably good movie, or at least one with a certain amount of low-key charm. And, man, if they had to pick one ambition that'd be almost guaranteed to resonate with me personally, the desire to get into space is most definitely it.

And yet I have to say, there were a couple of things about it that really rubbed me the wrong way, though I think they're things that are less about this movie in particular and more about movie trends in general. First off, this is one of those classic American celebrations of rugged, can-do individualism. Which I don't actually object to. I happen to think that innovation and individuality are great things, but of course what tends to happen in movies is that if you're celebrating one thing you have to do it by demonizing something else. So here we have NASA and the FAA and various other government agencies acting as the baddies who are actively trying to squelch our poor hero's dreams, apparently because he's attempting to steal their glory or is likely to prove that they're not as necessary as they want people to think. Which strikes me as downright slanderous. The truth is that the private spaceflight industry, while still in its infancy, is growing and thriving, and is in fact getting quite a bit of official encouragement and support. Of course, these aren't guys building rockets in their barns all on their lonesome. These are teams of smart, knowledgeable people working together. Which, y'know, is how we got to the moon in the first place. So, OK, rugged individualism, yay, but let's give a little credit to teamwork, too, huh, because it's achieved some damned impressive things.

The other issue that bugs me is that the theme or moral of this story, as with so very, very many other Hollywood stories, is more or less: "If you believe in your dreams, you can do anything. Never, ever give up, even if people think you're crazy." Which sounds great because, sure, people who don't try don't succeed, and if you want to accomplish great things you have to be willing to take risks and not worry too much about what the neighbors think, and so on. Call me cynical, though, but the extreme version of this that you usually get in these kinds of movies -- and that you certainly get in this one -- strikes me as a really bad message. Because, let's face it, sometimes crazy ideas really are just plain crazy. And more often than not, turning a deaf ear to all attempts to present you with a reality check is a recipe for disaster. I think a much, much better message, and one I'd love to see presented more often, would be "Dream smart." Because dreams are good. But people who dream stupid don't get into outer space. People who dream stupid win Darwin Awards instead.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Cleaning Theme Continued

Those of you who've received e-mail from me recently have probably seen my current .sig quote: "A clean house is a sure sign of a broken computer."

As proof of this, a list of things in my house that are cleaner and/or tidier now than when my internet went down a couple of hours ago:

Kitchen counters
Toaster, coffeepot and electric kettle
Underwear drawer

And that's with a long break for lunch. I was hoping to get the floors cleaned, too, but now that I'm connected again, I don't know if it'll happen.

[ETA: The internet was being remarkably boring, so I did get the floors done, after all. Yay, me!]

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Clean Machine

I have a new washing machine! It's kind of sad how excited I am about this.

I have no idea how old my old one actually was, but I would not be entirely surprised to be informed that it and I shared a birthday.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Too Many Books, Too Little Sleep

One of the unforeseen consequences of imposing a strict quota of the number of books I'm allowed to buy in any given month is that I end up ordering a whole bunch of books just after midnight on the first of the month. Possibly this is not entirely healthy behavior.

Speaking of things that are not entirely healthy, I am not pleased with this three-hours-of-sleep thing I've got going on today. I'm telling myself that, despite the fact that I have to work night shift again this weekend, waking up at 8 AM is actually a good thing, because there are several things I need to get done this week that will require being awake during the day. But the thought of doing any of that crap today just makes me feel grumpier. Bah! Need more coffee.