Monthly Archives: December 2008

Reading 2008

Book #30 – Wandering: Notes And Sketches by Hermann Hesse

This morning, while I was not sleeping, I went to my bookshelf to see if there was anything I could possibly read in a day. And there it was piled between some poetry and William Goldman, a slim volume of Hesse. Considering the mold and watermarks I likely acquired this book from a box outside A Novel Idea in Lincoln. In high school, I read Siddhartha and was enchanted by it. Hesse seemed a good addition to my shelves even if it would be 15 years before I read more of him. Wanderings is comprised of twenty-three watercolor reproductions done by Hesse (alas in black and white) with an accompanying note and often a poem. This work predates Siddhartha by a year or two in his bibliography and you can kind of see the line between them.

It’s a lovely book. I’m intrigued by the interplay between writers and visual arts, though it seems to be a rare thing. And it was nice reading for New Years Eve.

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2008 Book Roundup

I read 30 books, meeting my goal. (Even if some of them were rather slim and for a younger audience than myself.)

Distinct authors: 30
Authors new to me: 13 (same as last year)
Male to Female: 23:7
Rereads: 2
Non-fiction: 9
Poetry: 2.5 (Hesse was half poetry)

I don’t have enough Amazon.com stats to make that worth while overall, but some notables:
Most "complex" book: Passage of Darkness: The Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie by Wade Davis with an F-K Index of 15.2 and 26.4 words per sentence on average.
Longest: The Good House by Tananarive Due at 195,522 words.

The good of this year was very good and the bad was very bad.
Tied for my favorite of 2008: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Both of which had come to me highly recommended.

Books acquired in 2008: 27
From PaperbackSwap: 10
Gifts: 3
Gaming: 5
Textbooks: 2

Fork Me.

Edits are done. At the moment, I’ve had two hours of sleep in the last 23 and am fried. I’m fairly convinced my editor has never worked with anyone as incompetent me and that this whole process has been an exercise in futility. That my novel sucks. ‘Course, I believe I’ve heard that by the end of the editing process many writers hate the novel they were working on. Lucinda at the Window is a claustrophobic novel and I feel like I’m going insane after combing through it twice in a month. That’s a sterling recommendation, huh? Pft.

Haven’t decided whether I want to sleep or work on waking up entirely before disc at 11:30. I’m leaning toward a shower, breakfast, and a chair-nap. Sunlight is helping this process.

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Finished this on Sunday:
Book #29 – How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff

The examples in this book are woefully out-dated and How to Lie with Statistics might benefit from a revised and updated edition, but otherwise, this should be required reading. The internet is inundated with the ignorant and/or purposefully deceitful use of statistics. Chock-full, my friends. If I was Oprah-rich, this would be the book I’d give to my friends. Most of what Huff presents was not new to me, but the refresher was good.

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Probably won’t make 30 books read this year. If my own books don’t count.  I’ll do a literary round-up when I’ve caught up on everything else I’ve ignored the last two days.

Waning Year

Been a quiet holiday. Eric and I aren’t big on the present exchange end of things, so Christmas was noted mainly through the lack of available food options. Subway has been had…twice. On Christmas Eve, we made it just before closing time. Watched Hancock via Netflix which was okay. If the writing had been a little tighter, it would have been an honestly good movie. As is, it had some fun bits and a few things that made me wince at its ham-handed nature. Subway II occurred on Friday when we aborted an attempt to eat at Chipotle. The line was past the door and Chipotle isn’t known for it’s lightning fast service.

Still haven’t gotten my brother’s gift in the mail. He’s not know for his packaging or addressing skills, so who knows where it might end up.

There’s been gaming of the online and tabletop varieties. Not enough of the latter in Eric’s opinion. Lots of reading and goofing on my part, not much exercise. The weather has been cold and rainy, and it’s been my hands and feet aching rather than my knee or some other joint.

Heard from my editor today. She’s bounced Lucinda back for a final edit with a deadline of early Wednesday. So, back to work for me tomorrow. Maybe even tonight, though I’m feeling poorly and am kinda looking forward to bed.

Play on!

I’m browsing through Amazon.com’s Top 50 Albums of 2008. They’re offering them as MP3 downloads for $5 each.  I am, of course, befuddled by how much of this list I am utterly unfamiliar with. Most of it is not to my taste or sounds very much like music that’s already been made.  But I’m not going to get into that.  The list made me interested in looking at how 2008 has treated me musically.

2008 brought me legal DRM-free music in the form of Amazon.com.  Previous to this year, I hadn’t bought much digital music.  Most of my paltry music purchases have been in this form, and my collection has also grown through Amazon’s random free tracks/samplers that I may or may not have actually listened to.  The best of these have been Medieval Voices by Sredets Chamber Choir and The Very Best of Naxos Early Music, which is still free as of the time of this writing.  Very pretty stuff.

Other acquisitions in chronological order:
~Brother Sun Sister Moon’s Luminous, 2002 album that I was happy to finally find digitally.
~Abney Park’s Lost Horizons, one of the very few (two?) 2008 releases I purchased.  It has clearly gotten the most play.  Bought it digitally, directly from the artist.
~Imogen Heap’s I Megaphone, 2006 album that had been on my really-should-purchase list for at least a year.
~NIN’s Ghost Tracks that were available for free that I didn’t care for, and The Slip (still available for free) which is almost a return of good Nine Inch Nails.
~Kerbdog‘s other album.  Free acquisition.  Haven’t listened to it much.
~Murder by Death.  I purchased most of Red of Tooth and Claw with Pepsi points.  I really like this album, especially the post-apocalyptic “Rum Brave,” but I’m unconvinced the rest of MbD’s catalog is any good at all.  (Just realized that this was a 2008 release! That’s three!)
~Eisbrecher’s Suende.  This band will probably be this week’s OMM.  While I didn’t purchase KMFDM’s 2008 release, I was all over this.  Not avaiable in CD form.  Thank you, Amazon.com and your selection.
~Jace Everett, “Bad Things”  A rare single purchase.  This is the titles music to True Blood.  Loved when I heard it, had to have it.  Even if it is country.
~Nightmare Revisited, 2007. The full-album cover is just a spiffy idea to my geeky mind.
~Darling Violetta’s Parlor, 2003.  Another album I was happy to finally be able to purchase in digital form.
~Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven on Earth album. Impulse buy.  Damn you, Amazon.com. and your $0.99 album sales!
~Everlast’s “Folsom Prison Blues” is the other single I heard and had to have.  I have a soft spot for Everlast.
~The Fifth Element soundtrack.  Bought it for my birthday.  Good gaming music and the only CD acquired.

So, yeah.  Not much “new” music.  I guess I’m getting old and can’t understand the young people’s noise.

Light Christmas Reading

Book #28 – Religious Freedom by Helene Hanff

I found this book via PaperBack Swap, and being a fan of Miss Hanff’s, I ordered it up. Yes, yes. It’s a kid’s history book. But you know what? It’s better than much of the history I was tortured with during my schooldays. History is a fascinating subject, but so much of it is taught in such a marrow-less, pale way. To put it in term used by fiction writers, it’s often a huge info dump without any character interaction or telling details. It’s taught in a “tell” way instead of a “show” way. Granted, when you’re in high school and you have two semesters to cover the entirety of world history, you don’t have time for more than the skeleton of dates and places. Forget the meat.

Anyway, Hanff presents several stories that lay down the religious basics of the early colonies. It’s perhaps a tad idealistic, but ya know, it’s trying to point out to kids that we do have it pretty good in the US. No body’s getting their ears cut off or tongues split, by the government, for believing in something that is against the majority. Improvement, I’d say.

Regardless, Merry Christmas!

My name’s Katherine. I’m a curly girl.

Book #27 – Curly Girl by Lorraine Massey

I have a feeling that every woman can relate their history in relation to their hair. I’m not a particularly looks-conscious person, but even I have trouble coming up with a concise overview of what life has been like with my locks.

I have thin, curly, red hair that is unlike that of any of my immediate family. When I was a kid, strangers used to come up to me in stores and ask where I got hair. Neither my mom or grandmother knew what to do with it. No, actually, this isn’t quite accurate. In texture, I have my dad’s hair. My dad always kept his short until he started to lose it in his 40s. He’s solved his hair problems by shaving his head bald. I don’t have that luxury.

I had a short hairdo until I was in my 20s. Since then, I’ve floundered around trying to find an easy way to keep my longer hair healthy and looking good. First, I tossed out the fine toothed brushes and combs. Then I gave up on hair dryers. These were two steps I discovered on my own through ten years of fighting with my hair. My hair was…better, but still often a crap-shoot. I don’t mind having curly hair, but sometimes it’s a tad unruly.  I’ve tried products that were supposed to give me manageable curls and no frizz that only gave me product-coated frizz. Then I read something intriguing in PastaQueen‘s blog. A book called Curly Girl advised her not to shampoo her curly hair. Huh.

Curly Girl‘s basic tenant is that you should love your curly hair and accept that trying to make it straight isn’t going to work. Massey, a curly girl herself and a successful salon owner, provides advice on how to make it so those curls are somewhat presentable. Amid the women’s magazine frippery, there’s daily plan for hair care including tossing shampoo in favor of using conditioner only. I’ve been following the plan for about a week now. My hair has definitely been curlier then usual and I haven’t decided whether it’s a good thing. "Washing" my hair takes longer, but it’s better off for the rest of the day.

One aspect the book doesn’t cover is how to deal with curly hair and physical activity like sports. We’re told to give up elastic bands, but not really provided with a restraining alternative.  And I doubt that a little shake will turn my hat-head back to tumbling tresses.  Still, the beauty of any plan is in it’s flexibility, and I’ve yet to  see how pretty this plan is.  I haven’t thrown out my nearly-new bottle of shampoo yet.

Alcohol, Writing & Science. That ’bout sums me up on any day.

A movie edition of OMM: Taking a look at Tarsem’s magical The Fall.

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What did people do without the internet? For example I wanted to know:
WikiAnswers – How much ground cloves equals 1 whole clove
Presto, there’s the answer. And I needed to know because I’m trying out a hot buttered rum recipe. Characters in the Weordan books drink at every opportunity and have good reason for doing so. Alas, only I have experience in a small number of beers and vodkas. I need to broaden my alcoholic palette. I tried ouzo a while back which I’ve decided I rather like it as long as it’s cold and watered down. Maybe I should add a task to my list: Try 50 alcoholic beverages. Purely as a research exercise, of course.

Hot buttered rum? Eh. It’s hot. There’s rum. The butter aspect leaves my lips feeling moisturized, which I suppose if you’re drinking it on a cold winter night isn’t a bad effect.

Oh! Something I never got around to trying on Halloween week league night. Coconut rum and beer. I have a theory that, while coconut rum may not improve a beverage, it does not make a beverage worse. Since I conveniently have a Bud Lite that was left in my cooler after league finals, this is the perfect time to further test the theory. …And it’s…not bad. Fruity and malty. Better than Bud alone. It will be interesting to see where it will fall on the morning-after-effects scale.

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Finished the first pass of edits yesterday. Now my editor will put it together, read it, decide that I still use too many theres, looks, somewhats, anys and actuallys, and send it back to me to be fixed a last time. (Oh.  There was a bit of anxiety upon writing that…)  The past week made me feel alternatingly like I improved as a writer as the book went on and that I am a hopeless n00b at the whole author thing.

I worked on and off since Monday of last week, and today feels like a Saturday. Sunday at the latest. And there’s no Wednesday disc tomorrow to ground me. Really, this whole month has felt off-kilter. It was that late Thanksgiving screwing everything up. Suddenly, tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I managed to get gifts sent to people by sheer application of schedule. To make matters worse, we had Christmas with Mark & Co. on Saturday, so no help there at remembering what day it is.

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Distorted Body Images: A Quick and Easy Way to Reduce Pain: Scientific American:

they measured the swelling of the fingers induced by the movements, and compared it with the unaffected hand. Sure enough, there was more inflammation following the movements when the participants saw a magnified view of their hands

I read a little about this previous to this article, but I didn’t realize that inflamation had been increased. That’s actual physiological reaction. Huh, I wonder what the results would be if the hand was hidden from sight. Or if the slight floaty sensation of intoxication would have any effect…though it’s not visual input.  I know my arthritic joints, any of them, fell better when I’ve had a beer.
[Edit: Didn’t realize that this article was written my the author of Neurophilosophy blog, one of my favorites.]

BBC NEWS | Health | ‘Clue’ to sexes’ pain difference:

The Georgia State team found that, in the rat brain, females had a lower level of mu-opioid receptors in this part of the brain, suggesting that the potential potency of morphine is much reduced.

Additional tests suggested that the response to morphine varied depending on which part of the menstrual cycle the female rat was in.

“What this research is trying to do is understand the hormonal influences on pain in women.

Okay, I’m following that there are sex-based physiological differences. How are hormones affecting this? They can’t remove receptors, physically, from the nerve, right? Do the hormones have some blocking aspect, or do they up the sensitivity in other pain-receptive nerves? This study, as presented in this article, doesn’t address that.