December 24, 2004

Cat blogging

three white paws peeking

Some blogs have a custom of taking a break from their usual content to post pictures of their cats on Fridays. I like the idea (though in my case it will be a break from my usual lack of content. And gloves.), so here's the first in a possibly regular occurrence of Friday Cat Blogging. Those are Theo's toes, BTW.

Oh yeah. Merry Christmas, everyone.

Posted by jeffy at 06:55 PM in Cat Blogging , Photo Log | Comments (3)

December 15, 2004

City of lost gloves

Map showing locations of all the lost gloves I've seen

It's a new level of obsessiveness! Stole the map from the city web page and spent a ridiculous amount of time fussing with the dots and numbers and arrows in AppleWorks.

Wish I could remember where the heck I saw #27.

Posted by jeffy at 09:55 PM in Lost Gloves | Comments (3)

December 14, 2004

Lost Glove #34

wet leather work glove in roadway

Posted by jeffy at 09:39 PM in Lost Gloves , Photo Log | Comments (0)

December 09, 2004 by Gordon Atkinson

cover: blurred picture of part of a pc keyboard with border between key sections showing as a cross and book title on the crossbarA Book of essays and stories, most of which appeared originally on the blog of the same name.

Real Live Preacher (the blog) is about two years old as I write this. I started reading it about a year ago and found a blog both more polished than most and more gritty. That sounds paradoxical, but the Preacher is a man of paradox. He's a Baptist pastor from Texas. He uses the occasional swear word. He writes about life and death. He writes about frisbee golf and vacuuming his house with a shop vac (an episode that didn't make the book, alas ;-).

The essays and stories in the book represent mostly the non-frivolous content. They are stories about his struggles with faith and about how he sees God's work in his life and the life of his congregation. His voice is unstintingly forthright, and yet always loving and kind.

I'm not a Christian, and I'm proof you don't have to be one to find wisdom, inspiration, sadness, and exhaltation in this fine book.

I also want to say that I think James T. Chiampas's cover design is simply brilliant.

Posted by jeffy at 10:39 PM in Book Reviews | Comments (0)

December 05, 2004

Beggars Ride by Nancy Kress

book cover: cgi human with dna helicesThird book in Kress's Beggars series (preceded by Beggars in Spain, and Beggars and Choosers). It took me a couple of months to get through the book. I don't think this has much to do with the book, but more to do with my ability to concentrate lately. I read the last half of the book in only a couple hours, so I must be getting past that phase. Kress writes very human characters which makes her plots move in realistic and hence unpredictable directions. I felt like the characters in this volume were kept a little farther away. They didn't seem as intense and vibrant as in prior books. Of course that might be me too.

My no-spoilers policy makes it tough to talk about books late in a series. As with the other books, Kress is doing some profound exploration of the human psyche and the human genome. Especially of interest in this book is the human tendency toward an incapacitating fear of the new. One section having to do with an election was especially interesting to read considering current events (the book was published in 1996, a whole presidential cycle before our current era of uncertain elections).

Plenty of room for yet another book despite the fact that some of the storylines of the series are rather decisively closed. Or are they?

Posted by jeffy at 09:16 PM in Book Reviews | Comments (0)

New Skies ed. by Patrick Nielsen Hayden

cover: cool cyborg girl with a monocle and wires for hairI was delighted to discover that Patrick Nielsen Hayden had a new anthology out. His three Starlight books collected some of the best science fiction stories I've ever read. New Skies is a book of short fiction for young adults and it's just wonderful.

Terry Bisson's short short "They're Made of Meat" gives us a taste of how bizarre our organic composition might seem to a silicon-based intelligence.

Geoffrey A. Landis tells the story of a woman whose only hope of surviving a crash landing on the moon long enough for rescue to arrive is to walk all the way around the globe following the sun in "A Walk in the Sun".

In "Peaches for Mad Molly," Stephen Gould shows a fringe culture that lives on the outside surface of mega skyscrapers.

Spider Robinson's "Serpents' Teeth" is one of those stories you can't describe without spoiling it.

Debra Doyle & James D. MacDonald's "Uncle Joshua and the Grooglemen" seems like fantasy until late in the story.

"A Letter from the Clearys" by Connie Willis is a poignant post-apocalyptic tale.

In "Brian and the Aliens," Will Shetterly writes a fun, goofy little first contact story.

David Langford's "Different Kinds of Darkness" depicts a strange dystopian future with ample cause for hope.

Greg van Eekhout's "Will You Be an Astronaut" is part school primer, part propaganda, part recruitment flyer.

"Cards of Grief" is Jane Yolen's story of passing responsibility from one generation to the next.

Greg Bear explores what happens when four-dimensional beings take notice of our three-dimensional world in "Tangents."

Philip K. Dick's tale of cruelty to animals, "The Alien Mind," is shocking and funny.

"Out of All Them Bright Stars" by Nancy Kress shows both the xenophobic and xenophilic aspects of human nature.

Maureen F. McHugh's "The Lincoln Train" is an alternate history Civil War where the underground railroad serves a quite different purpose.

Kim Stanley Robinson can't seem to write enough about the red planet so his contribution is the sports story "Arthur Sternbach Brings the Curve Ball to Mars."

Orson Scott Card offers up a Mormon-tinged post-apocalyptic tale of religious sentiment and avarice in "Salvage."

Finally, Robert Charles Wilson offers a glimpse of the transition to post humanism in "The Great Goodbye."

I liked almost all of these stories, and even more remarkable remembered them all clearly from their titles and a quick skim here a month and a half after I finished the book. Damn good stuff.

Posted by jeffy at 04:17 PM in Book Reviews | Comments (0)

December 04, 2004

Uncle Tungsten by Oliver Sacks

book cover: old blue lightbulb with a glowing tungsten filamentI first heard about this book in this delightful Live Journal entry by George Lazenby about how he and his friend Oliver Sacks went through some adventures with iridium.

The book tells the story of Sacks's childhood in England before, during, and after WWII. His parents were both medical doctors, and his other relations were similarly over educated. The uncle of the title is one who had a company making tungsten filament light bulbs and was Sacks's mentor into the world of chemistry.

The book is half "history of the world during his childhood as Oliver Sacks recalls it," and half an account of young Sacks's reenactment of the history of chemistry. This young boy in the London of the middle of the last century was able to easily acquire the necessary ingredients and recreate many of the experiments that led to our modern knowledge of chemistry.

Reading the book (and the voluminous footnote asides) it was impossible to not be caught up in young Oliver's passion for chemistry. It was fascinating to learn how recent many of the chemical discoveries are (Mendeleev devised the periodic table as we know it in 1869. The inert gasses were only discovered in the 1890s). His summary of the story of chemistry is as exciting as any potboiler.

The book is also kind of sad when you realize that many of the compounds young Oliver was able to buy for experimentation at his neighborhood chemists shop are now controlled substances available only to licensed professionals if even to them. It seems unlikely that anyone these days could incubate quite as productive a passion for chemistry at such a young age.

Posted by jeffy at 07:35 PM in Book Reviews | Comments (0)

December 02, 2004

Lost Glove #33

glove on fencepost

One of the things I like about taking photos of lost gloves is that there is nothing intentional about a lost glove. The only intention in these pictures is what I contribute myself as I frame the shot and click the shutter.

In this case I'm not sure that's true since it seems unlikely that somebody carefully set their glove on the top of this fence post (it's actually the handrail of a foot bridge across the North Fork of Issaquah Creek, but it looks like a fence post) and then failed to retrieve it. I suspect someone saw the glove on the ground and set it here so its owner might find it more easily. But maybe not. Who knows?

I chose this particular picture because it reminds me of the Bush as Post Turtle joke.

Posted by jeffy at 11:13 PM in Lost Gloves , Photo Log | Comments (0)