From Zero to Solar

Solar Power makes tiny village beam

I was intrigued when I saw this article, but then I read it and got confused.

Basically, it talks about how solar powered lamps were brought to this small, rural Indian town. It lists all sorts of things people could now do after dark, because of this innovative artificial light. Villagers could play music after dark, children could study will past sundown.

The article talked about how there was no electricity available and little water.

But it didn’t talk about why they didn’t have candles or other non-electric lamps. Perhaps the raw materials aren’t available, plentiful and/or affordable?

I guess I really need to get back to reading Guns, Germs and Steel.

Book Log – The Education of Gregory McDonald

The Education of Gregory McDonald – Writings about America 1966-1973 by Gregory McDonald

Originally, it was my desire to read everything Gregory McDonald has written. He was written a lot of fun books, such as the Fletch series, the Flynn series and his attempt at being Charles Dickens, Safekeeping1. But I’ve been burned a few times by his stuff. The Skylar and Son of Fletch books are sort of bland. I couldn’t even tell you why. I picked up the completely unreadable Merely Players, which as far as I can tell was intended to be “literature”, but read more like a soap opera that takes itself seriously.

I’m not particularly interested in the era that McDonald writes in this book. Apparently, he was a reporter covering this and that during the time… interviewing Warhol, Baez, Kerouac and other famous people, along with the less famous.

While it was somewhat interesting, he often went into Opaque Mode, where I simply didn’t understand what the heck he was saying. I made a mental note of one particular paragraph to include here, but like most mental notes I make, I lost it somewhere between my mother’s birthday and instructions to take out the garbage.

Flynn’s World has been out for four years. I should get a copy.

1 While he failed to be Dickens, he wrote a fine book nonetheless.

Book Log – Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things

Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things That Aren’t as Scary, Maybe, Depending on How You feel About Lost Lands, Stray Cellphones, Creatures from the Sky, Parents Who Disappear in Peru, a Man Named Lars Farf, and One Other Story We Couldn’t Quite Finish, So Maybe You Could Help Us Out. Stories by Nick Hornby, Neil Gaiman, Jon Scieszka, Jonathan Safran Foer, and more.

I didn’t realize this was a children’s book when I ordered it from McSweeney’s, but that’s quite all right. I’m glad to have read it. It may or may not be a children’s book, but I think it should be.

There was a more simply titled book that my grandmother gave me when I was growing up, Wonders: Writings & Drawings for the Child in Us All that was a larger collection, though with similarly eccentric storytelling by an impressive roster of writers. Noisy Outlaws appears to be a shorter, smaller, modern version of Wonders.

I love the now out-of-print Wonders to this day. I still have my copy, sitting waiting on my son’s bookcase, on a shelf somewhat higher than he can reach yet. In the days before Amazon’s used book service, I searched far and wide and with much effort and some expense procured a copy for my niece and nephew, who may or may not have lost it, since I’ve never seen it on their bookshelves since. After the advent of, I bought a copy for $0.50 plus shipping for my wife’s best friend’s kids, who reportedly loved it.

So, I guess I know who’s getting a copy of Noisy Outlaws at next available opportunity.

Book Log – Finding Serenity

Finding Serenity: Anti-heroes, Lost Shepherds, and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon’s Firefly Edited by Jane Espenson

The second fan book I read in a row. A series of essays by random people (including one by the Kaylee actress), written before the movie came out.

There was a funny parody of how Fox decided to cancel the series, told through a fictional series of memos sent to Joss.

There was a somewhat interesting history of westerns and sci-fi, and how Gene Roddenberry, while doing great things, also ruined it for everyone else.

Jewel Staite just wrote a piece about her favorite bits from the episodes. Bleh.

A little bit about the story behind Firefly creation and production.

All in all, I’m just going to stop reading books about TV series. I’m not a hardcore fanboy at heart.

Book Log – What Will Happen In Harry Potter 7?’s What Will Happen In Harry Potter 7? by Ben Schoen, Emerson Spartz, Andy Gordon, Gretchen Stull & Jamie Lawrence

Emerson Spartz was a bored 12 year old homeschooler in 1999 when he started MuggleNet.Com, which apparently exploded along with the popularity of the books. One assumes he’s not one of the Ultra Religious Homeschooler crowd like we have here in Georgia who were trying to get Harry Potter banned from school libraries.

The web popularity even enabled him to do a personal interview with J.K. Rowling. So, huzzah for him.

The book, which I borrowed from my brother’s girlfriend, is a somewhat tedious read. It is highly repetitive and written without elegance. But, then again, I am reading a fan book, so none of this is surprising.

What I was really hoping for was a cliff notes to the series, with all the likely important plot points listed. If they were trying to fill space by repetitiveness, I think they might have considered doing a plot and key info breakdown of each book. That would’ve padded the tome out nicely.

Regardless, there were some interesting theories suggested, with supporting data from the books and interviews with J.K. Rowling.

Not spoilers, since it’s just rehashing known information, but…

Emergency Room chairs: still not comfy

Every once in a while, I like to head over to the emergency room and check out the chairs there for a while. You really need to sit in them for a long time to be sure, say, 5 or 6 hours, because you never know if they just seem comfy at first. They can fool you like that, those chairs. Also, it’s best if you go in at midnight. Because you’re going to want to see whether you can sleep in them, otherwise you’re not really testing the limits of those chairs’ ability to provide comfort.

I needed an excuse, so the other night after midnight I told that parts of my arms and back had suddenly gone tingly and/or numb after I’d gone to bed. You know, let her draw the “possible heart attack/stroke” conclusions on her own, so she wouldn’t figure out I was setting her up.

Then, I had to act concerned but, you know, not too concerned so she’d guess I was acting.

We gathered up the kids and headed out to Piedmont where we have a thorough familiarity with the chairs, and checked them out. I made sure there would be a long wait to see a doctor, and then released Stacey and the kids to go home so I could really settle into my chair review without distraction.

Five hours later, I reluctantly had to cease my examination to go sit in one of the medical examination rooms, where, sadly, there are no chairs of interest. So I took a nap on an appallingly comfortable bed until a doctor came in. He confirmed what a nurse had said earlier, a pinched nerve or something probably caused by sleeping in an easy chair with a baby. He had some x-rays taken, then gave me prescriptions for muscle relaxers and codeine-laced pain medication.

Reluctantly, with a wistful look backwards at the waiting room chairs, I called a cab and headed home for an hour nap before work.

Last night, I took the muscle relaxer before bed and discovered this new possibility for nighttime activity which is to go to sleep and then not wake up until morning. It’s radical, it’s revolutionary, and I can’t wait to tell my son about it. I’m sure he’ll be interested in trying it out, too.

Searching for Taboos

I’d like to find out more about this case about the teen jailed for having oral sex, but something tells me it would be both fruitless and unwise to type “teen oral sex” into a search engine here at work.

Just sayin’.