15 Authors and a Sandwich

That’s right, I’m going META!  Bringing a bookface meme-thingie offsite to my own space!  Muahahah!  Umm.  Anyway:

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2010 The Invitation Guidelines: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen authors (poets included) who’ve influenced you and that will always stick with you, plus one sandwich. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Just pick a sandwich you like. It’s not a big deal; it’s just a damn sandwich, fool! Tag at least fifteen friends, including me, because I’m interested in seeing what authors my friends choose, and very mildly interested in what sandwich you picked. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your fifteen picks plus sandwich, and tag people in the note).

In no particular order:

  1. Douglas Adams
  2. Arthur C. Clarke
  3. Ray Bradbury
  4. William Gibson
  5. Berkeley Breathed
  6. Roger Zelazny
  7. John Varley
  8. David Sedaris
  9. Larry Niven
  10. Frederik Pohl
  11. Piers Anthony (shuddup, I know)
  12. David Brin
  13. Isaac Asimov
  14. Robert A. Heinlein
  15. Theodore Sturgeon

I made a delightful sandwich earlier tonight, in fact.  It was a grilled panini-like thing with Grey Poupon mild and creamy mustard, Pancetta, granny smith apple, and shredded Cracker Barrel extra-sharp white cheddar.

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Also, I lied yesterday.  There’s no big “end of the NaBloPo month” post coming.  We both knew it was going to end this way, don’t cry.

Vignette

Another sepia still from my life, captured by a strobe, the ones that make it difficult to navigate when you’re just slightly too inebriated.

Faces that you want to interpret as friendly, but you just can’t be sure.  The girl who told you, indeed, if you hadn’t been too timid, she might be with you instead….

Stuck in the head:  “What’s the use in fixin’ what’ll kill me in the end?  Put me back together, I’m still hearbroken….” (Meaghan Smith)

A cold clear night.

It feels like a wretchedly wasted day.  I had so many goals, minor ambitions for it.  I took the first three days off from work to have the whole week, plus the added weekends to work on decluttering multiple spaces in my home.  Although I’ve made some progress, I’m not nearly where I want to be, and I’m ridiculously easily distracted on top of it.

I can’t help but wonder, though, how much a certain sense of disheartenment and futility is slowing me down.  I often get that, this time of year, thanks, I think, to lack of sunlight, combined with all the aspects of the holidays that grate at me so abusively.

If you’ve been paying attention, of course, it’s easy to see why that might be worse this year.  I’m going to push forward, though, and try to keep at it.

I don’t want to hear it, though, if I don’t show up at anyone’s Thanksgiving dinners.

Just an amusing winter coat thought….

As it cools off, I’ve been pulling out coats that haven’t been touched for a year.

People who know me will not be surprised at all to realize that, so far, every single one of them has had a blank mini-notebook in one of the pockets.

My flight jacket, in fact, has waterproof “Rite in the Rain” paper, and two Fisher Space Pen water resistant pen stuck in the arm pen-holder.

Just, yannow, in case I suddenly need to make a note in a rainstorm.

Why a Blog?

My roommate recently asked me “Why blog, over something like Facebook?” and I’ve been pondering that question a bit.  Here are some bullet points that I’ve come up with:

  • I like controlling the look and feel, completely, and like having my own domain name out there on the web.
  • I had the domain name already, years ago, and decided to put something simple and easy there.  Thus, this blog.
  • I like having basically unlimited characters available for my use, as opposed to the limitations of twitter and Facebook.
  • I like the “my house” vs. “big crowded coffeehouse” feeling.  A little bit more intimate, I guess.  Even though I post a link to every blog post on my Facebook page, not everyone clicks through to here….
  • I own, 100%, all the words and images I use here.  I can make them go away whenever I want, for example.

Obviously a bigger question is “Why try this ‘blog post every day’ thing?”  Well, the short answer, of course, is Jane promised me baked goods.

The longer answer is a LOT longer, and one I’m still pondering heavily.  As I mentioned when I revived this blogspace, and committed to a blog post every day (which I’ve already failed at, by the way, but only by one day so far…), I’m a pretty private guy, but have been considering the value of storytelling, and personal exposition.  It’s not one I have an answer to, yet, by any means.  Barely even a glimmer of one.

I can say, though, that I am enjoying it, and interacting with all of you who make it this far!  I’ll report more as it occurs to me.  Well, probably, unless it’s too private.

I’d love to hear other thoughts, in the comments, about why people have their own blog, why Facebook and Twitter aren’t enough.

More projects/hobbies….

Another hobby I’ve taken up is turning random (well, not entirely, but I digress) objects into disco balls.  I’m a bit tired and ill tonight, but, here’s a little teaser about one I’ve made so far:

Disco Skull!

I’ll tell more about this in the future, including some of what caused it to happen, and some of the process.

Re-reading a favorite.

I am currently in the middle of re-reading one of my favorite books, or, strictly speaking, series of books, The Great Book of Amber, by Roger Zelazny.  It represents, to me, some of the best in existence in the genres of science fiction, or fantasy, depending on how you look at it.

I use that phrase, “how you look at it,” because this series of 10 books is one that is somewhat difficult to classify, at least for me, as either fully fantasy or science fiction.  Although many of the major characters frequently use abilities that appear, on some level, to be magic, these are always well-explained, and have well-defined sources and logic.  I’m not going to go too wildly into depth on any of that, though, especially since the Wikipedia article linked up above does a pretty good job of it.

I also don’t have enough knowledge to comment much on Roger Zelazny, or his life.  I know just enough to grasp that he was interesting, engaging, and, lost to the world far earlier than one might have hoped.

All I can really say is that these books, like all his work, are a lot of fun to read, with a stable of interesting characters, loaded with great and understated humor, and the perfect thing for that half-hour wind-down before bed.

If the omnibus volume, or even any of the individual books makes it into your hands, do yourself a favor and give it a try.  Even if, like me, you’re not all that prone to books classed however poorly in the “Fantasy” genre, you might be surprised by this one.

An interesting project I just now found.

A lot of the people around me today seemed just a bit more unhappy, or moody, or easily irritated than usual today.  This got me wondering as to whether or not someone had started aggregating mood data from what currently seems to be the simplest stream of gestalt information that we currently have, twitter.  It seemed that it might be relatively simple, if you have the processing power, to collect lots and lots of tweets and their location information and produce a map that gives a general sense of the mood for some period of time.

Unsurprisingly, this has, in fact, been done, and lives at, also unsurprisingly, www.twittermood.org It’s pretty interesting to me, as a methodology, an interesting way to present massive data simply, and simply as some indication of how the nation is feeling.  Obviously, by the very nature of the thing, it’s a slanted view of the populace.  Due to the fact that it is based on a stream of data sourced from people with a twitter account, the technology to use it, and the free time to comment on how they’re feeling, I think it’s safe to say that it can’t possibly reflect the actual mood of the nation, per se.  It’s also based on the twitter “gardenhose”, which is something I’d never heard of before, and have no idea how tweets are selected to be included.

You also have to wonder how often tweets from things like @sockington, my friend’s cat, who bizarrely is up to almost 1.5 million followers, and who is also, I know for a fact, completely made up.  Despite the fact that I’m confident that cats can’t actually type, I’ve heard him admit it.  However, the things made up for Sockington to believe certainly tend to be emotional, in some sense, given that a cat is rarely one for a reasoned argument v. an emotional one.  So, I wonder if Twittermood has a certain set of Twitter accounts, like that, that they’ve just learned to throw out?  Who knows, they don’t really say anything about that sort of thing on their About page.

It’s interesting, nonetheless.  I suggest you go read their “about” page, if you have any interest, as their method for determining mood is one that is kind of intriguing.

However, when I use their map to take a look at Colorado, it would seem to indicate, largely, an overall “above average” mood day, so it’s either coincidence, or it’s just me.

I’m betting it’s just me, and my vaguely negative attitude.  Stupid time change.

More thoughts on time

Those of you paying close attention will recall a minor comment I made yesterday about time, and how I largely consider it my enemy.  Upon more thought, I don’t quite believe that to be true.  Many things seem to improve with time, and, of course, many things require it for success.  Some things that spring to mind easily that have a heavy element of time, that also bring me pleasure include pickles, cheese, alcohol, good bread, and premium soy sauce.  I suppose it’s interesting to consider, as well, how heavy a biological factor there is for all of those things, but that’s a topic for another post.

Thus, I am forced to admit, time can be an ally, at least over the long haul, and, maybe that’s the rub.  Sometimes I can find it difficult to consider that kind of thing, when faced with another afternoon of vague dissatisfaction and ennui, such as I am occasionally confronted with.  Those are the kinds of days that prove just how relative time can be, at least to the mind, when they stretch out like a heat-hazed highway to the horizon, and you can only hope that something resembling where you actually want to be is at the end of it.

However, today, I’m reminded of a factor of time that I truly find repulsive.  Many people who’ve spent any significant time around me have heard this rant over and over again.  Maybe if I get it all out here, I can save them some of that.

I sincerely hate Daylight Saving Time.  Passionately, with large swaths of my being, do I hate it.

What I think it boils down to is this:  my connection to time is relatively fragile in the best of circumstances, and a sudden arbitrary shift in it twice a year leaves me wildly out of whack.  A little googling shows that I’m not alone in this.  Admittedly, this is one of those areas where studies have produced results on both sides of the argument, but, currently, the majority of what’s out there seems to indicate a rise in road and workplace accidents and injuries during the first week or two after each time change, especially after the “fall back” change.  At least one other study, however, indicates no significant increase in accidents after the time change, and implies that it really only affects people with other problems, such as SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or a bipolar disorder, and even them, only minimally.  Who knows what that says about me, then, since I will be unhappy, and confused about what time it is, really, for at least two weeks, and likely even longer.

All I know for sure is that I hate Daylight Saving Time.

Some recent projects

So, it occurred to me that there are, certainly, things I’ve done lately.  I thought it might interest and entertain at least a few people to hear about some of them, and probably give some insight as to how I think, and do things.

New Bedroom Desk

For a long time, I had a desk in my bedroom, for reading, and “bedroom-computing” that created an extremely cramped environment.  Not only did it have a bookcase on top of it, it was a style known as “library desk”, which had shelves for books under its surface between the legs.  Not only did this mean that it was basically impossible to sit “at” the desk, with my legs under it, it was impossible to clean under.

Thus, reading several articles on “suspended” furniture, I decided to tackle my own project:

Desk Picture 1

Desk Picture 2

Desk Picture 3

It, basically, is a 24″ x 36″ x 1″ pine panel bought at my local hardware store.  The “weathered” effect was accomplished with a blue stain, and some serious sanding.  After that, it was finished with several coats of satin finish polyurethane.  It is simply hung on 3 standard shelf supports, as well as a tiny block of wood supporting the panel corner that is next to the wall,  but away from the “wall corner”.  I bought steel cable, prepared to support the “free” corner of the panel, but it proved to be completely unnecessary.  It is surprisingly stable, completely hanging out in space.

Shelf and other kind of support space is provided, as you can see in the pictures by “gridwall”, a common retail environment tactic for display.  This was convenient as I happened to have a whole bunch of them already, from previous endeavours with craft shows, and the like.  I especially like that the way it is currently set up, it’s quite easy to have nothing whatsoever on the desk surface.

Hot Sauce

I have pursued multiple projects that have a pretty significant “time” element to them.  Something appeals, a lot, to me about this kind of project.  They include things like Pickled Eggs, Koolickles, Soy Sauce (a complete, and probably dangerous, failure.  Nothing more will be said.), and Hot Sauce.

I have produced surprisingly popular versions of a “cooked” hot sauce, largely bell peppers, habaneros, and other minor additions which are simmered for a while in vinegar, then liquefied in a blender.  So far, these have been distributed under the name “Crazy as Batman” Hot Sauce.

I have now produced something far, far, crazier than batman:

Super Crazy Hot Sauce 1

I worked kind of hard to get a picture that was really indicative of the strange color this stuff is, and I’m pretty okay with that pic.  Here’s how it was produced:  Google “fermented hot sauce” if you want a really detailed discussion of it, but, in short, about 2/3 lb. of Habanero’s and 1/4 lb. of fresh green Thai Chilies were mashed together thoroughly with a hefty dose of kosher salt.  This vile mash was allowed to sit for 1 month, in a relatively cool and dark place (okay, my kitchen cabinet) and ferment.  Then, 1/2 gallon of white vinegar was added, and the whole megillah was allowed to sit for two more weeks.  Today, I filtered off all the solids, added a little bit more salt, and got this result.

The stuff, flat out numbs my tongue.  I made it largely to add to other hot sauces, to spice them up.  However, at least three of my crazier friends have already requested bottles of this pure evilness.  They will receive them.  Idiots.

As a side note, I just wanted to comment a little bit on the whole “time-related” kind of project.  It occurred to me while writing this that I do not, in any way, have a friendly relationship with time.  I’m like the guy who designed the Corpus Clock (do your own googling), with its attendant Chronophage, a giant, malicious, grasshopper that “eats” the time, as the clock marches forward.  He basically considers time the enemy, to be railed against.  I do, too, I think.  However, it seems to me, this kind of project makes time my unwitting ally, my slavish worker, to do my bidding.  I wonder how hard it is to get a job at a distillery?

I have some more projects, and art, to talk about, but I got significantly more wordy here, than I intended, so I’m saving them for another post.

Share and Enjoy.