Guy on the phone: I would like to talk to a librarian.

Me: Yes, I am a librarian.  Can I help you?

Guy: No, I want to talk to a librarian. Is one there?

Me: I, uh….yes?  I am a librarian.

Guy: Listen, I don’t have time for these games.  I talked to you before and you said there wasn’t a librarian there.

Me: Wait. You didn’t talk to me before.

Guy: Yes I did. You said there wasn’t a librarian there.  Now I’m calling the library and would like to talk to a librarian.

Me: Well… I am a librarian.  There are other librarians, but they are just as much librarians as me.

Guy: I’m serious now, I don’t have time for this.  You need to transfer me to a librarian right now.

Me: OK, sir, maybe there was a mixup before.  But I can help you now.

Guy: Listen you, I’m not playing around here.  You know what?  I’m just going to call the operator back.  [Hangs up.]

Me: …

This is the wickedly cool yet lovable mascot character I created for a fictional (…for now!) line of human-grade salt licks.

Notice that Salty is modeling one of the Red-flavored varieties of this soon-to-be-famous product.  We just need to work out composition, flavoring, patenting, FDA approval, manufacturing, branding, distribution, and marketing.  Then we’re gold.

Two notable nerdstuffs happening lately:

*Just got a supporting membership to AussieCon4, i.e., this year’s WorldCon, i.e., a big nerdy sci-fi convention.  Among other things, the reason I got in on it was for a Hugo vote.  I’ll have some reading to do before the vote is due July 31, but that’s three months to read six novels and assorted novellae and novelettes.

*I’ve always loved insanely long, overly precise video game walkthroughs, especially when they’re just plain text files.  So I’m writing one for The Adventures of Lolo as well as Lolo 2, which I’ve been playing on virtual console.  I don’t have a particular reason for doing this except that these games are fun and very procedure-oriented, so it’s somehow satisfying to document the process of clearing each room. I was wondering if there was a job that paid you to navigate complex interfaces and document them, then I realized I kinda already have it.

End transmission.


*Today is office-cleaning day.  I have re-discovered the color of my desk surface!  It is blue, I guess.  Somewhere between white and blue, anyway.

*We joined a CSA.  Can’t say enough good things about them.  I have been obtaining and eating a lot of lettuce.


*New cat!  K posted some pictures.  Bea is devilishly difficult to photograph because she’s small, fast, shy, and really shiny.  70% of pictures show only an indistinct reflective black mass.  This is the second and final cat, and has already helped keep Artie from driving us bats.  You see, like most cats, Artie feels he is the most important creature on the earth, and we exist merely to fulfill his demands for food, shelter, and entertainment.  Should these demands not be met, he allows a generous four seconds for the situation to be rectified.  Should that time elapse without satisfaction, the yowling begins at immediate maximum volume.  Bea, in addition to the better space the new house provides, has helped alleviate some of this.  She’s game for some tearing around the house just about whenever Artie is, so they’re keeping each other busy.  And like an dangerously escalating chemistry experiment gone bad, a dog will be added to the mix maybe in the fall.

(Prior year book reports live on LJ.)

My book-reading fiscal year (BRFY) ends April 30. Here is my report, submitted for your approval.

This year I completed 47 books. Employment and the biological need for sleep continue to hamper me.  Turns out buying a house is also a substantial time drain and stress producer, neither of which are conducive to clear-headed reading.  So I hit the end of calendar year 2009 at a blazing pace, having read 39 books to that point in the BRFY.  Then I read only eight more over four months as I looked for a house, bought a house, and moved into a house.  Cognitive capacity is only just now returning, so hopefully I’ll get back to my normal pace.

Some highlights:

  • A solid run of  graphic novels, including Maus, The Watchmen, The ACME Novelty Library, and The Dark Knight Returns, among others. Also finished a Sandman re-read.
  • Completed two long, ambitious reads: Infinite Jest and Anathem.  Both of these would be favorites for not only this year, but my existence.
  • Six Hugo winners off the list, from the outstanding Hyperion to the awful Rainbow’s End.  That puts me at 40 out of 60 total.  I have been reading 6 or 7 a year, which would put me on pace for a finish in 2013, but I’m thinking I’ll prioritize getting through the last of them, so let’s shoot for early finishing by next summer.
  • Combining these last two points: I can conclude Anathem was robbed of a Hugo award by the much more mainstream popularity of Neil Gaiman.  Not that I object terribly, I like Gaiman fine.  But Anathem was everything a great sci-fi novel should be.  The Graveyard Book was quite good, but probably won only because it was more accessible.
  • Finally got around to reading Ursula Le Guin’s Wizard of Earthsea series, or at least the core novels.  Quite worth it.

Best read of the year is a tough call between Infinite Jest and Anathem.  Both were amazing, long, hilarious, brilliant.  Both cost me six weeks of my life, and I’ll read them both again at least once.   Anathem unquestionably solidifies Neil Stephenson as my favorite author.  I raised the question when I read Cryptonomicon two years ago: is it worth embarking on his Baroque Cycle?  It’s three novels EACH as long as Anathem or Cryptonomicon.  Whew.  As much as I’ve dug both of those books I ought to be excited for three more, so eventually I’ll tackle them, I suppose.  David Foster Wallace is another story.  I haven’t been as taken with other stuff of his, although I’m talking about a limited sample size.  Anyway, Infinite Jest is either the best book I’ve ever read or close, although it might have also been the most demanding and biggest joke ever on an author on his readers.  Other 5-star books are bolded in the list below.

Some goals for the upcoming year: more rereading, a few more classics (not sci-fi classics, like, ya know, literature), 12-15 Hugo winners, all 2010 Hugo nominees *before* the winner is announced (September 5).  Dare I re-attempt Gravity’s Rainbow?  Maybe.  But definitely one or two Pynchon.  And all right, at least the first Baroque Cycle novel.

The complete list:

  1. The Sandman Vol. 5: A Game of You, Neil Gaiman, 5/6/09
  2. The Jungle Books, Rudyard Kipling, 5/17/09
  3. The 1976 Annual World’s Best SF, Donald Wollheim (ed.), 5/22/09
  4. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe, 6/5/09
  5. The Sandman Vol. 6: Fables and Reflections, Neil Gaiman, 6/6/09
  6. Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud, 6/7/09
  7. The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman, 6/10/09
  8. The Wonderful O, James Thurber, 6/11/09
  9. Summer of ’49, David Halberstam, 7/20/09
  10. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace, 7/23/09
  11. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. LeGuin, 7/24/09
  12. Zoe’s Tale, John Scalzi, 7/28/09
  13. Star Trek: Klingons: Blood Will Tell, Scott Tipton et al., 7/29/09
  14. The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula K. Le Guin, 7/31/09
  15. Little Brother, Cory Doctorow, 8/2/09
  16. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Michael Chabon, 8/6/09
  17. The Farthest Shore, Ursula K. Le Guin, 8/9/09
  18. Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling, 8/11/09
  19. Fables Volume 1: Legends in Exile, Bill Willingham et al., 8/16/09
  20. Gateway, Frederick Pohl, 8/19/09
  21. Tehanu, Ursula K. Le Guin, 8/24/09
  22. The Sandman Vol. 7: Brief Lives, Neil Gaiman, 8/29/09
  23. Rainbow’s End, Vernor Vinge, 9/9/09
  24. Opening Skinner’s Box, Lauren Slater, 9/11/09
  25. The Sandman Vol. 8: Worlds’ End, Neil Gaiman, 9/16/09
  26. 1984, George Orwell, 9/18/09
  27. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller, 9/22/09
  28. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, 9/27/09
  29. Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History, Art Spiegelman, 9/28/09
  30. Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began, Art Spiegelman, 9/29/09
  31. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer, 10/8/09
  32. The Numerati, Stephen Baker, 10/12/09
  33. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Chuck Klosterman, 11/17/09
  34. Anathem, Neil Stephenson, 12/9/09
  35. Everything Bad is Good for You, Steven Johnson, 12/11/09
  36. The Sandman Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones, Neil Gaiman, 12/23/09
  37. The Book of Basketball, Bill Simmons, 12/24/09
  38. The Sandman Vol. 10: The Wake, Neil Gaiman, 12/25/09
  39. And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie, 12/28/09
  40. At Swim-Two-Birds, Flann O’Brien, 1/10/10
  41. The Seven Dials Mystery, Agatha Christie, 1/21/10
  42. Looking for Calvin and Hobbes, Nevin Martell, 2/5/10
  43. The Complete Calvin & Hobbes, Bill Watterson, 2/28/10
  44. What is the What, Dave Eggers, 3/2/10
  45. The ACME Novelty Library, Chris Ware, 3/13/10
  46. Hyperion, Dan Simmons, 4/2/10
  47. Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales, Stephen King, 4/19/10

List is stashed here and on GoodReads (which has ratings and very occasional reviews)