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10:15 PM by Eric: Has it only been ten years? Books

So other fantasy geeks will doubtless already know this, but Robert Jordan's latest book--the 11th in his Wheel of Time series--came out earlier this month. Like any good little fantasy geek, I promptly bought it and read it (an action helped immensely by my lovely wife's patience and generosity). :) It was good (better than the last two, certainly), but this isn't so much a book review.

I'm too lazy to type it into Amazon.com and check, but IIRC the first book in the series came out when I was a wee lad in high school; probably around 1993 or so, as I recall seeing the hardcover version of the second book in the school library and passing it over as probably bad (so much fantasy is...). It wasn't until a few years later, just before I went off to college, that I got into the series; I don't recall exactly how it happened, but I do recall that I was a member of the Science Fiction Book Club for a while, and I have the first 5 hardcovers in the series from the club. (I know that, because they're the size of all my other SFBC purchases.) It might have been a case where I included the first book on a whim as part of my first 6 books for 1¢ or something, and liked them enough to buy the rest; I can't recall. What I do recall is that the books make up a formative part of my college experience. I had a Wheel of Time book with me when I arrived at college a weekend early to take part in the advance Campus Culture class, where I met several people who would be some of my closest friends for the next two years. I was reading a different Wheel of Time book in the university cafeteria when I met another close-friend-to-be. I remember long and involved conversations regarding exactly how Jordan's system of magic worked--the kind of long, involved conversations you pretty much only have when you're an undergraduate just discovering really intellectual discourse, in between the 4 a.m. discussions of morality and religion. ;) The Wheel of Time was part of another formative experience as well; one of my first inroductions to the conglomeration of people and software that would become the Internet (including my own waxing and waning addiction to a series of online communities) was the net newsgroup rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan--which I still occasionally post to, whenever a new book comes out and there are new things to discuss. I'm even quoted, briefly, in the official group FAQ. ;)

It's kind of funny to me that this series of 11 books (so far) has stretched back over the last 10 years of my life; I'm not at all the same person I was when I started reading it, and yet it's a thread of constancy, something otherwise largely lacking in my life. I don't have the same friends, or live in the same place, or think many of the same things--but I still love the world Jordan has created, and reading the books through again takes me back a little bit, to a time when my biggest worry was getting my physics homework done after the weekly card game.

Or maybe I just have too much time to think these days. ;)

11:18 PM by Eric: Just a quickie Books | Personal | Work

Okay, so a quick update before I crash for the day; I have to get up at 5:45, after all. (In case you're wondering, I have to get up that early to catch the bus, in order to be at work by 8:30. Jen and I are riding the bus at the moment because gas is outrrrrrrrrrrrrageous and we're poor after August. :)

I played hockey Sunday for the first time in roughly 2 months. I'm still a little stiff. :-P It was fun, though; nothing like puck-in-the-corner drills to work out any lingering stress or aggression. Hockey is kind of funny, because nobody ever thinks of me as a sporty person. I played varsity tennis in high school, and soccer at various points, and now both roller and ice hockey, and yet when you think of sporty people I'm never one that comes to mind. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get to play in the league this fall (and I'm sure I won't this spring)--between the cost and my crunched schedule (spending 4-1/2 hours a day on the bus kind of squeezes your free time), there's just no way. Maybe next summer.

Work's been good. We apparently had a gangbuster August in sales and are shaping up for a good September. Our salescritters are evidently very excited about the new stuff we're putting in the next version, including specifically mentioning a feature that I worked on pretty heavily. I've never worked in retail software, and while 90% of the job is the same as it was at Boeing or LG&E or Darwin, the other 10% is completely different. :) I guess that's true of any job, but retail software just seems really different somehow. I need to think about that when I'm less tired; maybe I can get a decent post about that. In general work is really good; sometimes tedious, sometimes exciting, but all in all it's one of the two best jobs I've had, and I'm really happy with it.

We took the dogs in for their annual checkup today. Charlie is kind of fat. When we got him he was about 50 pounds. Last year he was about 62. Today he was 74 and change. I hope he doesn't have a thyroid problem; we should know in a few days. On the other hand at least a thyroid problem would be treatable, and would explain how he can gain 25 pounds on a diet of less food than the one that keeps Cara at about 55 pounds. :(

The plus side of riding the bus for 4 hours every day is, of course, that I have lots of time to read books. I've been going back through the Wheel Of Time series (next book in October!), at about a book every other day. The later books have some warts, but overall I still love that series. Jen and I went to a library book sale which was unfortunately kind of lame; nothing like the St. Louis one where they'd sell you a box full of books for like $2. I miss that. :)

You meet the strangest people riding the bus, though. I mean, I usually have my defenses against meeting people well in place; Zen headphones in, nose firmly in book, but there was this fellow at one stop last week who pretty much took the cake for "non-scary" weirdness. He wanted to talk about physics, and Einstein, and psychology, and computational theory, and neurology, and ghosts and UFOs and whatnot. It was one of the most wide-ranging 15-minute conversations I've ever had. His grasp of physics was a little incomplete, and we didn't spend too much time in computational theory, but hey, at least he was thinking about stuff. :)

Okay, I think that's about enough of a brain dump for right now. I'll try to expand on some stuff from this post over the next few days.

Also: Cheese. That is all.

09:04 AM by Eric: Let something go, if it comes back… Books | Culture

This is kind of an interesting idea:

  1. Read a good book (you already know how to do that)
  2. Register it here (along with your journal comments), get a unique BCID (BookCrossing ID number), and label the book
  3. Release it for someone else to read (give it to a friend, leave it on a park bench, donate it to charity, "forget" it in a coffee shop, etc.), and get notified by email each time someone comes here and records journal entries for that book. And if you make Release Notes on the book, others can Go Hunting for it and try to find it!

Obviously I wouldn't do this with any books I really like, but it could be interesting for some of those books that just won't sell on Half.

58 hours…

11:02 AM by Eric: A Myth of the Far Future Redux Books | Culture | Reviews

It's been eleven years since Mike Resnick published Santiago: A Myth of the Far Future. The original was a galaxy-sized frontier tale, the Wild West set among the swirling spiral arms of the Milky Way. This year Resnick published the sequel, The Return of Santiago. The question is whether the author can live up to the vivid characters and style of the first book.

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This page was last updated Sun 23 September 2007 at 08:46 AM CDT