Sunday, February 28, 2010

Things I Don't Need, Won't Buy, But Still Very Much Want

I ordered a few small items from X-treme Geek last week (a wallet for holding SD cards, since they are proliferating, and a little cleaning kit for the slots into which those cards go -- grand total with shipping $12. Woo!) They send along their catalog, which of course I must study carefully because I always find Things I Didn't Know Existed But Now Want.

Like this little number.

Ok, so I don't own a dog, but I do have a cat who is too lazy to poop in the litter box (I just saw her walk into the bathroom this minute, oh save me) . This little wonder
"chill(s) animal waste to -62°F, creating an outer "crust" that makes the unpleasant "grab and bag" a little more tolerable."
And I need something to make cleaning poop off the floor more tolerable. Cat poop is specified as one of the poops that can be frozen. I may have to order myself some Poop Freeze.


Then there's this goodie. I can so picture Caliban in this. The very thought makes me giggle in a very disturbing way. That's never good. Actually, though, Bea is the cardboard box enthusiast in our house. She would dig her way through the armor in short order.

It just gets better and better, though. I want this and this and this and this other thing and some of these. I won't buy them (at least, not now) but I WANT them. I want them very, very much, because, of course, my life is not complete unless I have new stuff to pet and dust.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Or Maybe Chocolate Pudding

It reveals something about my state of mind that, when a fellow blogger raves in happy excitement over the very meaningful and fairly cool tattoo he just got right under his arm pit, my first thought is

"Man, when you turn 80 and that thing is sagging down your ribcage, it's gonna look like a redneck's smily face."

But I guess he will have memories of how good it looks right now to comfort him...or depress him into throwing his rice pudding at the other people at his table in the senior center.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Here We Go Again

The Husband jets off tonight for Arizona and a job interview. It's just hopping with If Bunnies. The company is in the last stages of researching a new, revolutionary product and is poised to expand into production. That means they don't actually have "positions". They are hiring "talent" that can work together, and it will all shake out as it shakes out.

Upside? Bottom floor of a very promising company. The Husband would be in position to have a job that grows (and will pay well). The company is big on education and locations near big universities, so there's a chance The Husband could go for his PhD if he wanted.

Downside? Neither of us want to live in Arizona. I don't care how great it is. It is HOT, it is DRY, and it has GIANT BUGS. I had HOT and GIANT BUGS in Florida. That's why we don't want to go back to Florida. On top of that, the company is looking to build a factory in South Carolina, so we could move to Arizona and then have to move BACK to South Carolina in a year or so.

We don't like this idea very much. We've both figured out that moving isn't a huge thrill for us, because we like our stuff. We MISS all the stuff we have packed in storage right now. We want a house where we can have all our stuff, where we can roam around and pet it. I daydream now about the kitchen I want (with a good refrigerator, counter space, storage space, a PANTRY...Oh, be still, my heart) and having a room for my bookshelves and desk (I miss my books and I REALLY miss my desk). The Husband is even talking about having a desk of his own and a table where he can draw.

But, it is still 2 months until graduation. There will me (there MUST be) more job interviews. He might be hired at the university, too. If Bunnies are hopping around everywhere.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hey, I read a book!

Wouldn't you know the first book I finish reading this year would not be on my list? And would be a comic book? Of a book I already know well???

Yeah, it's wrong.

However, that doesn't change how much I enjoyed Pride & Prejudice : Marvel Illustrated Edition.

Ok, yes, it's a graphic novel version of the original novel, but that's ok. It works. It's a wonderful way to achieve two things -- bringing classic literature to an audience who might otherwise think it is stuffy and boring, and opening up the wonders of comics to a female audience. After all, illustrated stories were not always the province of adolescent males, and more than superheroes work well in the medium.

Yes, the story is very, VERY abridged. Whole characters are deleted, scenes are reduced or eliminated, dialog is re attributed, and much of the social commentary is absent. That's only to be expected -- this book has only 120 pages, and they are covered with artwork. However, every word the characters speak is directly taken from Austen's writing. The main plot is there in full, and it's just as arresting and involving as ever.

Then we have the artwork. I'm not familiar with Hugo Petrus, although I have some idea I've seen his work (or work similar) before. It is graceful and lovely, perfectly suited for the story. Personal prejudice -- the color palate was far too orange/brown/sepia for my taste, but that's me and really it has nothing to do with the quality of the color art. What was even more fun were the covers from the individual issues. Done like covers for current womens' magazines and included at the end of the book, they cracked me up.

I was very pleased with the book and I loved the ideas that went into creating it (read the introduction). I'm very aware of the reasons I rarely enjoyed comics and why I only really appreciate specific ones today (yes, impossible boob/waist/hip ratios for females are part of it). It might be as close to Jane Austen as many people get. For others, it will be temptation to look into other classic books. Here's hoping they do some Dickens' stories (which might be the only way I ever finish Bleak House).

4 Stars

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It's True Love.

I have not watched episodic, fictional TV since about 1993. The last show I followed with any regularity was Northern Exposure, and I did not see its last season. I've recounted before, I think, how I am cursed with television shows. In short, if I enjoy a television show and watch it during its first run, it stands a strong change of being canceled. It will at least wobble, bobble, and threaten to fall over. If I stop watching soon enough, it could rally, but it isn't likely (only ST:NextGen and B5 survived).

So, in the summer of 2008 when I saw the first promos for a new TV show starring Timothy Hutton, I thought it looked interesting, but I knew that if I watched it, it would be canceled. I set the DVR to record it, but waited to watch and then didn't watch, and deleted the episodes. I didn't want to fall in love with the show only to see it cancelled.

That's when I saw Laura Anne Gilman on Twitter talking about it. When I met her at DragonCon that September, she persuaded me that the show was so great I should really watch it -- especially since it had been picked up for a second season already. So, I rented it from Netflix. I watched the first few episodes and HAD to buy the whole season DVD set.

The show is Leverage. If you haven't seen it, you need to get yourself to iTunes or Netflix and watch. It's competency porn, my friends -- smart people doing smart things in ways both funny and moving. It's well written, well directed, well acted -- Tim Hutton doesn't have an Oscar for nothing, you know -- and generally well done. And it is yet more than just that. It's a show about which I am as avid as I was ever avid about Star Trek. This show has multiple layers. It is created by geeky type people and has geeky type features -- in jokes, long running story arcs, developing yet mysterious characters, fascinating tech, cool tricky cons, and shades of grey. It opens itself up for much discussion, which is about the biggest compliment I can give a TV show.

Once I knew it was picked up for a third season, I decided I would watch the broadcasts. I didn't want to wait for a whole year to see the second season. As it happened (it being on cable), they split the season, so I recorded the first half and have watched the second in broadcast. I'm now waiting anxiously for the season finale tomorrow night. I know I will scream at some point. I've got all the signs of having a bad, bad addiction:

  1. I've watched Season 1 at least 18 times -- 4 times with the commentary tracks on (best commentary tracks EVER).
  2. I joined two discussion areas (John Rogers, writer and exec producer, has a blog where he discusses things Leverage and answers questions) and happily geek out with other fans.
  3. I follow the show on Twitter via the actors and producers.
  4. I wish so very hard that I could attend Con-Con.
  5. I even bought the sound track album (the music for the show is so great).
  6. I'd love for them to put together a book about the show, from its conception and influences to how they did particular stunts and effects.
  7. I'm waiting for the Season 2 DVDs to come out so I can geek all over those episodes.
*sigh* So, here's hoping that I've done my time with the curse. I won't push it. I want this show to have a good, long run and to end in a proper, dignified fashion.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hearts and Flowers and Books

Valentine's Day passed in relative quiet around the homestead. The Husband did the perfect romantic thing -- he got me a beautiful card and a cute little stuffed dog with a stuffed heart pillow. He cooked every meal. We watched romantic movies (LadyHawke is a romantic movie. Shut up.) He was cuddly and sweet and everything I love.

In short, he earned points. More than once.

I think we are recovered from our Night on the Snowless Highway. The snow melted off the next day except in a few shady places. By now there are only random, lonely patches of ice. I don't know for certain. I've had no inclination to leave the house.

I'm working on rebuilding my book catalog. I've always been a bit obsessive about my books -- what books I've read, what books I have, what I don't have and want. I have a nice software package with a bar code reader, but my old database made before the move was apparently eaten when my hard drive was attacked by a virus last year. This isn't a crisis so much as just a mild irritation. I found an old backup, but it isn't a complete record. Oh Well.

What really irritates me is that I lost my Goodreads catalog. I'd downloaded it before I closed my account, but apparently I didn't do something right. I saw the file and opened it, but it didn't save properly (or at all). Again, Oh Well. I have a print out of it from over the summer, so I haven't lost THAT much -- just the books I read since summer. I can reconstruct most of that from memory and other sources.

Of course, the real cataloging will take place when we move into a house where I can have a library. I can't exactly explain it, but I dream of once more having my books arranged all around me (NOT packed in boxes, with most in a storage room). I anticipate having walls of shelves with labels on the shelves an all my books arrayed according to my own strange scheme. My schemes change over the years, but one thing remains steady -- I prefer my mass market paperbacks to be separate from trades and hardbacks. This creates problems because I have authors printed in various formats. However, I suspect that when I have plenty of shelf space, I'll get over this. I'll have everything in alphabetical order by author, and shelves divided by general subjects. I'll also have a computer catalog, a record of books I've read and books I want to read and books I've purged.

This is my little dream, and The Husband has promised it will be so. He'll even build the shelves.

He'll get big points for that.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Birthday Adventures

3. Just because you can drive on snow and ice does not mean we can. Stay home the two days of the year it snows.

21.If there is the prediction of the slightest chance of even the most minuscule accumulation of snow, your presence is required at the local grocery store. It does not matter if you need anything from the store, it is just something you're supposed to do.

24.Florida is not considered a Southern state. There are far more Yankees than Southerners living there.

from Rules for Yankees


I'll get to those rules up there in a minute.

Yesterday was my 45th birthday. The Husband is taking a high-level art course this semester (which is driving him crazy in a semi-bad way), and as part of his requirements, he needed to go to the DaVinci exhibit at the High Museum in Atlanta. I'm very fond of museums (especially museum bookstores), so we decided to make a day of it to include dinner, a trip to my favorite Borders store, an a meet up with a very good friend who lives in Atlanta. As always, we checked the weather forecast, and the prediction was for snow.

Eh, this is The South. How much snow can there be? And, really, I'd already driven through a Southern Blizzard, and The Husband lived where it snowed for many years. What could happen? So, we drove down. We'd park near the Lenox mall, where there was a Marta station, take the train to the Museum, which is right on the line, and not worry about parking.

It started to snow when we pulled into parking lot. Snow is still enough of a novelty to me that I was excited. We took the train to the museum. It was really coming down then. I admit to a little surprise. "Atlanta" and "snow" are not two words I readily put into the same sentence. Still, aside from being a little slippery, the snow didn't bother me.

The Museum has a re-creation of the Sforza Horse in the front courtyard. While we had a permit to take pictures in the museum, the permit doesn't allow me to post any photos taken of exhibition artwork inside. I enjoyed it, though, and I'm looking forward to visiting for future exhibits.

When we got ready to leave, it still snowed. Yes, just a little more. Still, it wasn't significant. We took the train north and admired the snow covered landscape. Snow does make everything look magical. The only real negative was walking back to the car. We faced the wind, and the snow pelted us pretty solidly. Also -- COLD! Although, really, not as cold as it could have been.

So, we drove to the mall for some shopping, then to Borders to meet up with our friend and to let me spend my birthday money (on books, of course). It still snowed as we caravaned up to a little restaurant and spent a few lovely hours eating marvelous food. I had the best hot chocolate known to humankind. They coated the inside of the (large) cup with Nutella before pouring in the hot chocolate.

We said our goodbyes a bit after 10 pm. The snow had stopped and the sky cleared, so we expected an easy enough ride home. It's roughly a 2 hour drive between Clemson and Atlanta, so we'd be home by midnight. Just right for a Friday. We had audio books, full tummies and were satisfied with our day. We hopped onto Interstate 85 and drove out of Atlanta.

Now, here's where those rules I listed at the top come into play. About 30 minute into our drive, all traffic stopped. Well, we figured, it was entirely possible someone who didn't know how to drive when there might be ice on the road had slid into the ditch. Oh, well. Sad, but it happens. We waited with everyone else . No one could see the accident -- the back up was considerable. After about an hour with no sign of emergency vehicles and only a few movements in the lanes, we noticed people getting out of their cars and walking around. Smart phones being what they are, The Husband used his to search for more information. Ah, we learned, there had been a fairly bad accident, and it would be a while before it was cleared. Oh well. We listened to our audio book.

About midnight, we really wondered what was going on. We both had trouble staying awake, and kept nodding off. We saw some emergency vehicles, lights flashing, going up the other side of the road, but not much other traffic. More online searching. Oh, the accident was quite severe and would be cleared aroun 1:30. At 1:45 we checked again. No, now they said 2:30. A.M. Georgia Highway Patrol cars went up the emergency lane. A truck with a snow plow and a load of sand went by. Other people, tired of waiting, had also gone up that lane. Then traffic suddenly started moving, but oddly. Then we heard the loudspeakers.

The highway was closed.

And that's ALL we heard. Nothing else posted on the online sites, no other information from the patrolmen. We were funneled toward an exit ramp, but once there, we were held again. No one moved. Beyond the patrol cars, we saw long lines of mostly semis filling the road. Semis lined the grass along the ramp -- probably truckers who'd decided to get some sleep.

We got off the highway at about 4:30 am. The Husband did a little GPS magic on his cell phone and we found a route we hoped would take us around the closed area. Roads were a little icy, so we drove slowly on various 2 lane Georgia secondary and tertiary highways. A little after 5, we found an open gas station/convenience store, refilled the car's tank, used the bathroom, and bought some snacks and caffeine. We were still about an hour from home.

So, we watched the sun rise as we drove. As we got near home and saw all the snow, and since we were awake anyway, we decided to stop by the Botanical Gardens to get some pictures.
We finally got home around 8 am, fed the cats, and collapsed into bed until around 1 in the afternoon. We still have no idea what manner of decision making took place last night. We made it through on the secondary roads, being careful but not crazy careful, with one tiny slip that didn't even slow us (very much like driving in the rain). We spent several hours insulting and cursing at the unseeing GA officials who neither gave any information nor had any plan for getting people off the highway, nor were apparently equipped with sand or salt. Sand, I've noticed, does not spoil. No, it was much easier to keep people stuck in their cars in 20 degree weather, running out of gas and peeing on the median without even the courtesy of updating the recorded information on their phone number or a posting to their website. Apparently not enough people made it to the grocery store.

Oh, I'm a Florida girl, so I'm not REALLY a Southerner. I can also -- within limits -- drive through snow and on ice.

However, it was an interesting birthday.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Delayed Gratification

The Husband and I have some other favorite movies. Among these are certain of the Pixar wonderfulnesses -- Ratatouille, Cars, and The Incredibles. Oh, we have others -- A Bug's Life, and Monsters, Inc. -- but those three are our favorites and we watch them frequently, happily analyzing them and discussing them and whatever else movie geeks do with movies.

Over the holidays, our friend Joezer brought his copy of Up. I'd hesitated about seeing it. You see, I cried during Cars (yes, I did. Twice). I got a little bit weepy during Ratatouille, too (the scene where Remy first runs away and them comes back to Linquine). I really don't like to have my emotions played by a movie. But, Joezer raved about Up and I'd heard all kinds of good things, so we watched it.

The Husband and I were a teary, snotty mess before it was over, sitting on the love seat and hugging each other. Joezer, who had seen the movie a few times, sat with his own box of Kleenex. Oh, this movie hit every single button I had. I laughed, too -- trust me, the movie has some hilarious spots -- but mostly I cried or recovered from crying in time to have the tears start up again. Some were happy tears, some were sad tears, I even cried a little from laughing so much, but, man o MAN I cried.

So, the Husband and I debated long about adding this one to our collection. Seriously, did we want a movie that guaranteed we would cry? (I should point out we do NOT have Bambi or Dumbo in our Disney collection, because they make me cry.) But, while wandering WalMart yesterday, we picked it up. It was such a good movie that we knew we had to own it.

We have not watched it yet. We don't have enough Kleenex.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

True Love

The Husband and I have a long standing habit of watching the same DVDs over and over again. We take turns.

So, we have seen the A&E production of Pride and Prejudice many times. We had the set first on VHS and now on DVD. I'd estimate we have easily watched it 70 to 90 times, perhaps even 100 times (I know we have watched it through -- all 6 hours -- three times since the beginning of the year). When I came downstairs this morning, he had it playing.

The Husband still talks back to it. He warns Elizabeth not to believe Wickham. He sighs with relief that Mrs. Bennett diverts Mr. Collins away from Jane (who would, we agree, have accepted his proposal of marriage out of duty and a spirit of martyrdom). He bemoans Mr. Bennett's indolence, rolls his eyes at Lydia's "wild behavior" and warns him not to let her go to Brighton. He will do this even if I am not in the room.

This is why I love him.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Reading

I used to read books. I read a lot of books. That's something else I've not done for the last six months or so. Damn you, Interwebinet.

So, I've put a list up over there on the side bar of all the books I currently have a book marker stuck in, books I've started but not finished. I like keeping track of such things, so that's where I'll keep track. As I read books, I'll move them to another list I'll title something original like "Books I Read in 2010". And I'll write about the books here.

I know, I used to do all that on Goodreads, and Goodreads is a great place, but I'm not there anymore and I don't think this time I will go back. So, I will keep track of my books myself, like I used to. If I could just find that software program I used to have...

Tres Ho Ho

If you look long enough around the interwebinet, you will find everything.

I found this.

It's called Ridiculous Poses and it collects all those bizarre, too weird, and inexplicable fashion photos that just render you all WTF. I think I will be wasting some time there every day.


Monday, February 01, 2010

Comments

Once upon a time, Blogger did not allow comments. I used a script from another website, Haloscan. That was way back when I started this blog.

Well, Haloscan is shutting down in a few days. I just got the email. So, I've had to delete that script and, of course, that took away all the comments.

Now I'm trying to get Blogger comments working. Let's see what happens.

That is all.

Amazon Entertains Me All Weekend Long




I spent my cold, chilly, allergy-eye weekend following the latest Amazon debacle. Here are my notes and observations, culled from a thread on Goodreads.
___________________________________________________________

If you haven't heard, Amazon recently pulled all titles, both eBook and print, published by Macmillian over a dispute about how eBooks should be priced. I've read a good bit of commentary. This has a serious affect on all authors who publish through Macmillion (which owns Tor books, if you are an SF/Fantasy fan). Here's one of those authors giving what I think is a pretty fair explanation of the situation.

http://www.sfwa.org/2010/01/why-my-books...


Here's another

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2010/01/...

And even more responses

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2010/01...

And a story from Publisher's Weekly.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/...

There's a lot more out there.

I'm a reader, a writer, and a consumer of books. This affects me. What does this mean to me? Is Amazon using its considerable weight to muscle into the publishing business? Is it standing up for consumers? Is it standing up for its own interests at the expense of everything else?

My personal take is this feels a LOT like last year's "Amazonfail" when hundreds of gay/lesbian themed books were suddenly 'deranked', which made them difficult to find in searches. Amazon made a non-apology statement and said it was all an accident. They then started reranking the affected books in response to outrage from the public and the authors who sales were hurt by the deranking.

I'm no longer comfortable with Amazon's size and ability to control what I read. I try not to use them (although I am an Audible customer, which was bought by Amazon) and search for my books through other sources.

----------------------------------------------------------------

OOO there is more news. I'm trying to find an original link, but here's what I've found second hand.

Found via Twitter- an announcement from Amazon:

Dear Customers:

Macmillan, one of the "big six" publishers, has clearly communicated to us that, regardless of our viewpoint, they are committed to switching to an agency model and charging $12.99 to $14.99 for e-book versions of bestsellers and most hardcover releases.

We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles. We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan's terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books. Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it's reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book. We don't believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan. And we know for sure that many independent presses and self-published authors will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced e-books as an alternative.

Kindle is a business for Amazon, and it is also a mission. We never expected it to be easy!

Thank you for being a customer.


I'm still looking for the actual source, but I'm just...just...

MONOPOLY? A publisher has a MONOPOLY over what it publishes? You'd think someone at Amazon would have a dictionary to look that word up. It's not even hard to spell.

I've read some rather hilarious interpretations of this letter from assorted sources.

Tobias Buckell is cracking me up with his response to their response.

http://www.tobiasbuckell.com/weblog/

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Just read someone coming to Amazon's defense.

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2010/01/se...

I think he's missing the point. I do not agree with him even as I do agree the lower costs of manufacture and distribution should make difference in ebook vs print book prices, but when comparing a $25 top list hardback to a $14.99 top list e book, the lower price IS THERE.

Where I see the problem is that books have long come in different formats with different pricing -- trades vs. hardbacks, racked sized books, the "paper" hardback (like Quality Paperback Books puts out, which are the size and have the cover of a hardback), the very cheap paperbacks with glued spines, tiny print and crappy paper. Different "styles" have always had different prices. That hasn't gone away.

Also, MacMillion doesn't require anyone to buy a $300 device to read their $9.99 books...

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Check Scott Westerfeld's blog.

http://scottwesterfeld.com/blog/?p=2138

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Yet more, with lots of links inside.

http://www.teleread.org/2010/01/31/amazo...


Lots of ideas floating amid the rhetoric and hyperbole. I imagine there is more screaming to come as these two businesses (Amazon and publishers) wrestle to make their profits the way THEY think they should. I don't buy for one minute that either of them is really acting as a consumer advocate -- that goes against the tenets of capitalism, to want to sell something at a price lower than the cost of making the item/providing the service.

One of the thoughts that keeps popping up I think showed in Buckell's post -- part of the argument that isn't so obvious is the TIME element (that "windowing" term Westerfeld used) and the idea that some books are PREMIUM books -- that is, considered "better" or in higher demand than others, therefore able to command a higher price at first release. It's pretty much standard operating procedure that if something is New and Shiny, and you want it first, you will pay top dollar for it. You aren't so much paying for the item as for the opportunity to have it first. People who don't want to spend that money wait. They spend time rather than money.

Ahh well, I continue to watch this unfold.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

And yet more

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/02/01/al...


Mr. Scalzi has a LOT to say on the topic, as it happens, and it's worth roaming his latest entries (hell, it's worth roaming ALL his entries).


UPDATE: AND THERE'S MORE!

This just keeps getting more interesting.

A round up of other opinions

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/01/amazonmacmillan-other-perspect.html


http://scrivenerserror.blogspot.com/2010/01/a131a.html

for a legal point of view. I thought this was particularly interesting, even if a bit difficult for a layperson to grasp without flashcards and Cliff's Notes.

http://www.boingboing.net/2010/01/29/amazon-and-macmillan.html

And how it's all a tangle and a mess.

And Writer Beware! also shares thoughts and links.

http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2010/02/dispatches-from-ebook-wars-macmillan-vs.html