Book Meter & Early Birthdays

Thanks to the kindness of others (mostly ), my
Book Meter is reading full again. I shan’t be complaining about a dearth
of books for some time now. In fact, I can probably estimate it…

I read an average of 20 books a year. I have one loaned from a coworker,
2 bought from the library, and about 7 from , so
that should keep me clicking along for 6 months.

, lil’ Rocket and I stopped by
and ‘s house last night to pick up the books and
have some brownies. The pictures they’ve been posting of their massive
home renovations simply don’t do it justice. That is going to be One Fine
House when all is said and done.

Lil’ Rocket had a delightful time playing with their dog Kaylee. On the
way over, he was greatly concerned about where he and the dog would sleep.
and I need to take him visiting more often, so he will
better understand that you can visit and not “stay”.

Because knows when she’s gotten me a good birthday
present and can’t stand waiting to give it to me, I got my birthday
presents last night as well, a couple weeks early.

A Behringer UB802 8 Channel Mixer, an MXL MXL 990 Condenser Microphone with Shockmount, and a Behringer C1-Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone. I am just three cables away from the first ElectricRocketCast, and Guitar Center is open until 9pm tonight.

I am deliriously excited.

Of course, a lot of this hinges on whether Roan will enjoy doing a
podcast/StoryCorps thing with me. If he isn’t on board, then there won’t
be much time to do anything with this cool stuff. But given that he’s a
walking, talking musical comedy 24/7, I’m guessing he’ll warm to the
activity. The problem will be getting him to stop.

‘Twas a busy weekend.

We had the final Scandal! on Friday night, which actually went
pretty well. Since we really had no real plotlines to resolve, they all
just played each other’s characters. It was fun, and I’ve suggested if
they ever bring Scandal! back we should do that all season long.

Saturday morning I went to breakfast salon with and
others, where we discussed cheating (academic primarily, though also a wee
bit of relationship-style cheating).

I came home around the same time as Rocket, Jr. and ,
who had gone to Rocket, Jr.’s last Music Class. While they headed back
out to a birthday party at Monkey Joe’s, I tackled the clogged shower

3.5 hours and a trip to Lowes later, I was covered in foul, black drain
grease (nobody tell me what that residue in drains actually is, I just
don’t want to know) and the basement smelled like something died in it,
but the water was back to draining.

After I showered for a long, long time, went out to
dinner with a friend, so lil’ Rocket and I hung out for the evening doing
those various things that 3 year olds like to do.

Sunday morning, went to investment club while wee
Rocket and I walked down to the pool for the first time this season. He
starts swim lessons in June, so we did a little work with the kickboard.
He spent some time playing with a little red haired girl in the under 6
pool and then we cut out around lunchtime.

The rest of the day was spent resuscitating the propane grill and removing
evidence of the Great Drain Unclogging of 2006 before and
came over for dinner.

Dinner was salmon steaks grilled using something called a grill basket
that found mentioned in one of her cookbooks. I
managed to char the outside of the steaks pretty well, and then performed
a bad Abbott and Costello routine with while trying to
unstick the salmon from the grill basket:

gl5: Why don’t you try opening up the basket from that side?
me: If I do, it’ll open from the bottom and the steaks’ll fall out on the
gl5: Oh.
me: Maybe if I shake it a bit, they’ll come unstuck from that side.
(shakes, causing the latch to unlatch and the steaks fall out, some on the
grill, some on the ground)

brought a wonderful salad that heavily involved
mayonaise, and a good time was had. Lil’ Rocket spent a lot of time
trying to pull focus from the adult conversation by singing nonsensical
songs very loudly, as is his wont.

On a side note, thanks to the double whammy of the Signing Times
and They Might Be Giants: Here Comes the ABCs DVDs, Lil’
Rocket has become obsessed with letters. His conversation is almost
totally comprised of asking what words begin with a given letter, or what
letter begins a given word, or how to sign a given letter that begins a
given word.

Not that I’m complaining. It can only be a good thing.

Last night, wee Rocket was more wired than I have ever seen him, something
akin to the cornholio episode of Beavis and Butthead but less
annoying or offensive. I’m sure someone injected sugar directly into his

unfill houses

Someday, I would really like to live in something like a Tumbleweed Tiny

Wouldn’t it be awesome, in my neighborhood of knock-em-down developers
building McMansions, to knock down our ranch and put up a tiny, tiny 100
square foot house? I would love that.

Like a gas, I think our stuff expands to fill the space we’ve got. The
reverse could be true in a tiny house… paring down to the bare
essentials. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

I want one made of stone.

Books & evolutionarily desirable podcasts

Last night, Stacey and Roan were at a Georgia Shakespeare welcome picnic
for the summer cast & crew, so I took advantage and went to the library
solo to see what I could find.

I didn’t have any luck on the check-out front, but for $2.50 I bought
QED by Richard Feynman, The Cartoon Guide To Sex by Larry
Gonick and The Onion’s Finest News Reporting, Volume 1 by The Onion
from the used book pile.

These will be quick reads, so thankfully will be
coming to the rescue with a truckload of loaners. As an added bonus, I
can check out their fabulous renovation in process while I’m picking them

The fact of the matter is that I just really like to hear people talking.
I’m not big into music, but I love the spoken word. And the best spoken
word is actual conversations. I love when NPR plays excerpts from
StoryCorps. Car Talk and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell
are also the tops because of their conversational tendencies.

But I’m addicted to podcasts, specifically ones that are just people
talking. The Dawn and Drew Show is great, and Dan Klass’ The
Bitterest Pill
is awesome when he has his son or wife on to talk with

They don’t have to be discussing the big issues (those two shows mentioned
rarely do). I don’t understand why I like it so much… perhaps there’s
some voyeuristic instinct there.

It probably ties in with the same reason I enjoy reading LiveJournal.
What does it all mean?

In Michael Shermer’s The Science of Good and Evil, he discussed the
evolutionary value of gossip, which we use to keep tabs on who can be
trusted and who can’t. Moreso than religion or law, the fear of bad press
can serve to keep us on the straight and narrow. Perhaps my interest in
hearing other folks talk (or write) about their lives is rooted in this
primal need to gauge the integrity and nature of other people.

By the by, last weekend’s Tom Hanks episode of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell
was high-larious. Paula Poundstone stopped the show for 30
seconds with one of her quips. I was listening to it on my iPod in the
car, and I actually laughed out loud to myself, which is very rare.

Betraying my book genes

My mother was a librarian for quite a while, before personal computers came along. Once she starting using computers in a library, she never looked back at the actual librarianing. Database programming became her new thing. Which is really just being a librarian for different types of small, digital books.

I bring this up because I’ve been thwarted this week in my new attempt at trying to be a library-goer. My mother would be somewhat disappointed that I haven’t been a regular visitor.

About a year ago, I got my first library card since maybe 1987. I checked out a few books, and all was well. But then I put a hold on a book but couldn’t get over to pick it up in time. And I saw on my online account that I got something called a block on my account. I looked all over the library website trying to figure out what a “block” was. Could I not check out books any more? Could I not put holds on books? Could I not put a hold on that specific book? Would I be arrested? What did it mean?

So, I didn’t go back to the libary for a year. When I had signed up for the card originally the librarian was very nasty, and I hadn’t even done anything wrong yet. So I wasn’t willing to face her wrath for actually having committed a faux pas.

A couple weeks ago, I gathered up my courage and went to the library with Roan, where I checked out Further Adventures of a Curious Character without incident. No alarms went off, so I figure all is forgiven.

Today, Roan and I went back to return our books, and get The Midwife’s Tale for Stacey, something for me, and a few more for Roan. Roan is easy; He just grabs any old thing off the shelf and he’s okay with it. So I tried to get him to sit at the kid table while I used one of the terminals to find some adult books. No luck. a) Roan wasn’t having any of this sit-quietly nonsense, and b) the terminal was just froze up on a search. I entertained Roan a little while I waited for another station to open, and when it did, I had the same luck. Roan was now Seriously Impatient so we just checked his stuff out and left.

I assume they don’t have the old fashioned, non-freezing paper card catalog, I didn’t really get a chance to investigate. And I guess the librarian could have helped me if Mr. Outside Voice had cooperated, but there I am. Bookless. It’s my own circle of hell.

When I got home, the online search (which is really the same as the in-house one) was also freezing up. So I’ll have to try again tomorrow. Though not at work, because of course gov’t websites are blocked. *sigh*

Despite the fact that 95% of the books on my Amazon wishlist aren’t even available in the Dekalb Library system and the other 5% are checked out of every library in the Greater Metro area, I’m not going to give into the impulse to just go buy more books.

There must be something in that red brick building that I want to read. I’ve just got to find it.

Book Log – The Fabulous Riverboat

The Fabulous Riverboat: Book 2 of the Riverworld Saga by Philip Jose’ Farmer

The second book was fine, but there was not a lot addressed regarding What Is Going On with the Riverworld. (Why is everyone who lived on earth reincarnated along a hugely long river?)

This one features Mark Twain in his efforts to build a riverboat to make it to the headwaters of the River and solve some mysteries.

Among the things I found strange was the people’s ability to build some fairly extensive technology from raw materials, including, most amazingly, video screens.

An okay read.

On the Reading Table: Nothing! Arg!

Night Vision

Roan is in his room, in the dark, looking at a book.

Me: Roan, do you want me to turn on the light so you can read the book?
Ro: No. I need to see the pages.
Me: But wouldn’t you like the light on so it’s bright enough to see the pages?
Ro: No, I need to see the pages in the dark.

Mutant Bat-boy reading by echo-location.

Book Log – “What Do _You_ Care What Other People Think?”

“What Do You Care What Other People Think?” (Further Adventures
of a Curious Character
by Richard P. Feynman

The first half of this book is more adventures akin to the first Curious
Character book. Sad and witty in equal parts.

The second half recounts his adventures as a member of the
Challenger disaster investigatory commission. This was
fascinating. I hadn’t really followed the story in detail… I had
vaguely heard of the infamous “failed o-ring”.

But Feynman’s account from within the investigation is very disturbing.
You see a lot of the same bureaucracy going on that appears in other
technical companies of much less importance (no lives at stake).

I went back a re-read the results of the Columbia disaster
investigation and saw those findings in a sadder light after having read
Feynman’s actual appendix to the Challenger report, which he had to
fight so hard to have included. There simply could not have been a
clearer warning of exactly what lead to the Columbia disaster:
complacency over failure. “Well, yes, the design didn’t work the way we
liked, and could fail, but it didn’t last time, so we’re good to go!”

had said in a prior post or comment that the
whole shuttle system should be mothballed. At the time I read his
comment, I thought that was extreme. But now I’m of the same mind.
Feynman’s investigation showed that the shuttle was not designed following
the good practices used in comparable endeavors like airplanes. It’s
filled with hardware bugs (though Feynman praises the software

Scrap it, start over, do it right. Or let private industry do so.

In the meantime, keep sending those cool Mars images.

Slandering The Wild

Okay, I’m just appalled at how people have dissed the movie The Wild by saying it’s basically the same as Madagascar. I’m here to set the record straight.

They are very different movies. To wit:

The Wild (TW) doesn’t have a zebra, a hippo, a lion and a giraffe as the main cast. It has a Koala, a snake, a squirrel, a lion and a giraffe.

In M, the zebra longs for the wild. In TW, it is a lion.

In M, a lion figures out how to steer a boat bound for the wild. In M, it is a penguin.

In M, when they are first wandering through the wilderness, the lion steps on a thorned vine. In TW, it is the koala.

In M, the group encounters a group of dancing Lemurs who have a secret agenda that involves the lion. In TW, the group encounters a group of dancing wildebeasts who have a secret agenda that involves the lion.

The wildebeasts are choreographed, the lemurs dance freeform.

In the Madagascar christmas short, the heroes are terrorized by a poofy, white, bloodthirsty poodle in a New York apartment. In The Wild, the heroes are terrorized by a poofy, white, bloodthirsty poodle in a New York alley.

In Madagascar, the heroes are aided by psychotic penguins who believe themselves to be secret agents. In The Wild, our heroes are aided by psychotic chameleons who believe themselves to be secret agents.

So, there you go. Completely different.

Well, the animation in The Wild is more realistic. There’s that, too.