Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Proximal Reading

So, today at lunch, I had the most amazing experience.

I was reading Kraken by China Miéville which was referred to me by a friend.  It's a bit of an odd book.  The language is semi-colloquial British, and then there's the strangeness going on in the book, and then there's the strange characters int he book with their own strange speech patterns, and so all in all, it's a bit strange.

So I'm reading at lunch, sitting at my table in the little rented house, and I'm getting into the book.  Then as I sank into the book, it was like I felt my friend sitting next to me.  It was like she was in the non-existent chair next to me reading her own book.  I just wanted to turn to her and say, "This is a pretty messed up part right here."

It was that real.  And I've never had that feeling before.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Martian

So tonight I finished Andy Weir's The Martian.  In a nutshell, it's the story of a man who gets left behind on Mars by the rest of his crew during an evacuation when they think he's dead, and how he manages to survive alone on another planet.

Let me say now that I laughed harder at pints in this book than I have in a long time.  Probably since the first time I read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

It's got some intense survival portions and follows the normal path of a disaster tale of something go wrong and others go amazingly right.  But the book is told in a very straightforward manner.  There is math in it, but you don't have to know it all or even follow all of it.  The humor comes when the thoughts that all of us would be thinking just come out.  It's all very natural and highly entertaining.

I've got a few other books in my personal queue, but I'm thinking of putting some of his other stuff into rotation.

And that's the beauty of the Internet.  I've found other free fiction out there that is truly amazing.  I think I've linked to this site before, but there's a bunch of stories here.  Sam Hughes' Ed Stories are a ton of fun as well.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

An Update

Sing Credence Clearwater Revival to me.  I dare you.

Tomorrow will be the conclusion of two months in Lodi.  Not much changes out here.  The site has reached a point of low visible change.  We're doing deep work that produces a lot of soil to be hauled off, but at the end of the day doesn't look that different.  Eventually yes, but not so much right now.

So then there are my evenings.  I get up early.  I'm talking nearly Ninja Space Monkey early.  Nearly.  I'm on site between 10 and 11 hours, typically and then I get back to the hotel.  I make dinner, and read a little.  I tend to fall asleep around 9:30.  I am reminded of the anger my mother speaks of occasionally about how I when I was very little, she would find me smiling and quiet in my crib when she came to get me in the morning.  I'm no less quiet now, and actually quieter than my parents ever were in the morning.  I really don't like a lot of noise until I've been up for at least half an hour.  Or more.

This has made breakfast a bit of a trial at the hotel as they have both a television going with KCRA morning news as well as background music.  I do tend to get the day's ear-worm there though.

Reading has been good.  I finished Pratchett's Discworld, and have blazed through three Stephen King books.  Doctor Sleep is really a great book that answers the questions "Whatever happened to Danny Torrance after the events in The Shining?"  The fun thing about Dan Torrance is that he is about my age.  If it's been several years since you've read The Shining, I would recommend re-reading it before hitting Doctor Sleep.  It's not essential, but it keeps you in the mindset.

Now I'm moving on to a book by Andy Weir.  The route to getting to this book for me was a little circuitous, but still kind of cool.  I read a lot of webcomics.  One of the oldest out there, and truly the standard for regularity in internet publishing (he's missed only one update in over 5,000 strips, and that was a software or server failure) is "Schlock Mercenary".  It has been the source of much humor over the years, one of my favorites coming from an AI saying, "Please don't make me add "rounding pi down to 3" to your list of crimes."

On the side, Howard Tayler paints miniatures, reviews movies, and occasionally reviews books.  Recently he recommended The Martian by Andy Weir.  I immediately recognized the name from a now defunct and truly missed webcomic "Casey and Andy".  Please note that the link goes tot he first strip, because the last strip is incredibly full of spoilers.  Another strip full of geekdom jokes, it makes me all the more exscited to check out the new book.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

All Grown Up

What common phrase is it that we all suffer through as children?

"Don't worry, you'll grow into it."

I had issues with shoes.  I rarely got to wear a pair out, and if a pair did happen to wear out, then it was a sure sign of shoddy workmanship.

Jennifer talks about growing out of pants in a season.

And where does that leave me now?  It has taken years to be comfortable in clothes that fit, specifically ones that do not have room to grow into.

Now this isn't an attack on my parents.  I know how expensive shoes are, and as a necessary wearer of Stride-Rites due to narrow ankles and wide... whatever you call the end with the toes, I was not cheaply dressed.  We developed a pattern of buying the shoes as a first stop in the mall, then doing the rest of the shopping.  If Erik was uncomfortable walking or developing blisters from walking in the mall, then the shoes got returned (this happened more than once).

So, now I am becoming comfortable with wearing clothes that cling and hug.  I will admit that I still have trouble buying shoes without allowing for at least an extra half an inch of room in the toes.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Yes, yes, I Know

So, I am stuck in Lodi.  Please don't sing the song; the construction site manager played it all for us recently.  I hate it now, and soon, I am sure I will loathe it.

Today, I am finishing I Shall Wear Midnight, and I am finding it so well written.  I have said before when I first read it, that Pratchett was wrapping things up and in his own way saying goodbye.  But at the same time it is continually witty, funny, poignant, and amazing.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Books I Read in 2013

So I was hoping to finish the Discworld series before then end of the year.

I came very close.

1.                  Making Money - Terry Pratchett - *****
2.                  Wintersmith - Terry Pratchett - ****
3.                  Going Postal - Terry Pratchett - *****
4.                  A Hat Full of Sky - Terry Pratchett - ****
5.                  Monstrous Regiment - Terry Pratchett - *****
6.                  The Wee Free Men - Terry Pratchett - ****
7.                  The Night Watch - Terry Pratchett - *****
9.                  The Last Hero - Terry Pratchett - ****
10.              Thief of Time - Terry Pratchett - *****
11.              The Truth - Terry Pratchett - *****
12.              The Fifth Elephant - Terry Pratchett - *****
13.              Carpe Jugulum - Terry Pratchett - *****
14.              The Last Continent - Terry Pratchett - ****
15.              Jingo - Terry Pratchett - *****
16.              Hogfather - Terry Pratchett - *****
17.              Feet of Clay - Terry Pratchett - *****
18.              Maskerade - Terry Pratchett - *****
19.              Interesting Times - Terry Pratchett - *****
20.              Soul Music - Terry Pratchett - ****
21.              Men At Arms - Terry Pratchett - *****
22.              Lord and Ladies - Terry Pratchett - *****
23.              Small Gods - Terry Pratchett - *****
24.              Witches Abroad - Terry Pratchett - *****
25.              Reaper Man - Terry Pratchett - *****
26.              Moving Pictures - Terry Pratchett - *****
27.              Eric - Terry Pratchett - ****
28.              Guards! Guards! - Terry Pratchett - *****
29.              Pyramids - Terry Pratchett - ****
30.              Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett - *****
31.              Sourcery - Terry Pratchett - *****
32.              Mort - Terry Pratchett - *****
33.              Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett - *****
34.              The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett - *****
35.              The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett - *****
36.              Blood Song - Anthony Ryan - *****
37.              Zealot - Reza Aslan - ****
38.              Magic Rises - Ilona Andrews - ****
39.              Dad is Fat - Kim Gaffigan - ****
42.              Prophet of Bones - Ted Kosmatka - ****
46.              Impulse - Steven Gould - ****
47.              Shade - Steven Gould - ****
48.              Reflex - Steven Gould - ****
49.              Jumper - Steven Gould - *****
52.              Chapterhouse: Dune - Frank Herbert - ****
53.              Heretics of Dune - Frank Herbert - *****
54.              Frost Burned - Patricia Briggs - ****
57.              Ever After - Kim Harrison - ****
59.              God Emperor of Dune - Frank Herbert - ****
60.              The Kingdom - Mark Waid - ***
61.              Kingdom Come - Mark Waid & Alex Ross - *****
63.              Incorruptible - Mark Waid - ****
64.              Irredeemable - Mark Waid - ****
65.              Children of Dune - Frank Herbert - ****
67.              Justice - Jim Kreuger & Alex Ross - *****
69.              Dune Messiah - Frank Herbert - ****
77.              Miracleman - Alan Moore & Neil Gaiman - ****
79.              Dune - Frank Herbert - ****

Saturday, January 04, 2014

It's Almost Like New

So how long does it take to determine you have something really wrong with your computer?

A couple weeks before Christmas, I started having issues where my computer became very slow and started flipping back and forth between open applications.  Going off of John's issues, i thought it might be my power supply because I had some loose wires.  I finally ordered a replacement power supply (twice because the first one as a generic ended up not being able to supply enough power).

The new power supply works great, but I still had the problems.  So I did the last option as a PC owner.

I reformatted and re-installed windows.

I've been doing that since New Year's day, and I've almost got everything back to the way that I wanted it.

It certainly does help you clean out the programs you don't use anymore.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

A Clean Shaven Man

So, tomorrow I have my annual physical and respirator fit test in compliance with my HAZWOPER certification.

Because of the respirator fit test, I have to be clean shaven to ensure a snug fit.  This is essentially the only time that I am clean shaven.  Typically, I have a beard.  Except for the occasional Halloween, I only shave completely for this test.

New Year's Eve, Jennifer and I were in the San Francisco on Union Square, and I saw this store on the corner next to Macy's.

I believe had seen a store one of their stores in Las Vegas a few years ago when we were there for Christmas.  I was tempted at the time to try them out, but decided it was not the time.  This time I made an appointment.

This evening I went into San Francisco, and sat down for a complete shaving at the hands of another man.  This is the first time anyone other than myself has ever shaved my face.  My experience at The Art of Shaving was incredible.  Hot towels, essential oils, clay masque, and a fine shave.

Friday, December 20, 2013

LDB - Everywhere

Here comes drummer boy,
Here comes drummer boy,
Right down drummer boy lane...


O little town of drummer boy...

Pa rum pa pum pum,
Pa rum pa pum pum,
Pa rum pa pum pum all the way
Oh what fun it is to sing
With the little drummer boy.


Oh come all ye drummer boys,
Joyful and pa rum pa pum pum...


Hark, drummer boy,
Sweet drummer boy,
All seem to play,
pa rum pa pum pum...


And I was going to do "White Christmas", but... it comes off like a pedophile's song.  Try it in your head, it's really bad.  Consider it the one you just don't do.  Like when Tiny Toon Adventures didn't do Plucky in the Name Game.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Ride

So, it's not really news to most people that 30 Seconds to Mars is one of my favorite bands.  When I came across their music, their second album (A Beautiful Lie) was brand new.

When their third album came out, they pre-released a singles called "Kings and Queens" with a video.

Today that song came on my iPod as I was making my way towards the BART station.  It's a great song, and an even better song to ride to, if a bit tiring to keep up with the tempo.

Monday, December 16, 2013


So a few weeks ago, you all saw the picture of our finished Christmas tree.

I think that this Imy comic best describes how I feel.

We (meaning my family) has never had a store-type decorated tree.  Even when we had two front windows in Kentucky and the family room tree was colored lights and the living room tree was white lights, we just split the number of ornaments in half.  Yes, mom and dad ended up buying a bunch more ornaments, but the trees weren't made to look like a store display.

LDB - The Wonder and Beauty

So most of this weekend, except during the GURPS game on Saturday, my iPod was playing a randomized loop of every version I have of "The Little Drummer Boy."

Now, the song permeates me, and it is all I hear.  Soon everyone will feel this way.  It will become the new start-up sound for Windows.  It will play year-round over MUZAK systems.  It will be the anthem for the world.

Can't you hear it?  Don't you wish you could be listening to it right now?

Go on... Give in...  You know you want to.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

LDB - The Truth

So, the other day I announced I was out of the LDB game.

But you know, since then I've listened to it now probably a dozen times, and it's really grown on me.

There are really some subtle nuances to the song, no matter who is singing it, that it takes several listens to really catch.

I urge everyone to take some time and listen to your favorite version of the song.  And if you're playing LDB, maybe this year, just stop, and enjoy the song.

Friday, December 06, 2013


I'm out.

Little Drummer Boy came on the satellite music Jennifer was listening to.


As you know, I recently got new tires for my bike.  What was bugging me was that even though my tires felt well inflated inside, a few blocks from home I got the familiar "slogging though sand" feel of flat tires.

So, let's talk science.

First off, here is the Ideal Gas Law defined.

Now for simple comparisons, the constants can be ignored, so you are left with PV/T; meaning, the ratio of  the product of the pressure and the volume to the temperature is constant.

So let's look at my bicycle tires.  The volume (the space inside the inner tube) is constant.  So when I take it outside and the temperature of the air inside drops, then the pressure has to drop as well.

Then I started to think about the differences during the year.  So in the winter, the tires are experiencing a drop in temperature of around 40 degrees (yes, I know that's Fahrenheit, so maybe 20 degrees Celsius).  In the summer to get the same effect, I'd have to be riding in 110 degree heat or more.  Fortunately it never got that hot in Walnut Creek this year.  At least not while I was riding.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013


It almost seems that my past has been preparing me for riding my bike to work in all kinds of weather.

Several years ago, a friend had a Chrome bag.  I was fascinated by the seat belt buckle straps and clasp.  I believe I bought it for my birthday one year.  Now it is perfect for carrying things to and from work (it is a messenger bag after all).  And it's great on those rainy days being nearly waterproof.

Today I had to be prepared for the cold.  There was a 10 degree difference in temperature from Emeryville to Walnut Creek, and that 10 degrees was colder to the east.  I wore a long sleeve pullover, a thick hoodie, and a North Face rain jacket my parents gave me many years ago.  Now this is without the removable liner, which being a North Face liner, would bake me in my own juices while I sat on the BART train.  Today, it was perfect for blocking the wind.

Then there's this little scarf I have.  It was probably a hand-me-down from my dad who as provided me with many cool pieces of clothing through the years (not the least of which is a great red and paisley button up shirt that he thinks may be anywhere from 30 to 50 years old).  This scarf is black, synthetic, and very thin.  However, it is incredibly warm.  It's perfect for biking.

My gloves lately have been CLC hi-visibility work gloves that are bright orange with a reflective stripe as well as reflective finger tips.  They're not too thick, but have a padded grip, and keep my whole hand warm while also making me feel safer when I signal.

And finally some behind the head fleece earmuffs.

So, I promise, I'm keeping warm.