Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last post (of the year)

2008 was a rough year for famous people. We lost:

Majel Barrett
Algis Budrys
George Carlin
Sir Arthur C. Clarke
Michael Crichton
Alan Dargin
Deep Throat
Bo Diddley
Bobby Fischer
George Francis
Estelle Getty
Gary Gygax
Isaac Hayes
Charlton Heston
Sir Edmund Hillary
Albert Hoffman
Eartha Kitt
Don LaFontaine
Heath Ledger
Bernie Mac
Dick Martin
Paul Newman
Bettie Page
Randy Pausch
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

..and others known, unknown, and forgotten. I'm not going to link to a handy explanation of anyone; I'll let you spend the time to type their names into your search engine of choice.

I know that a friend's father-in-law just died; I found out that another friend is pregnant.

When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls all silver'd o'er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer's green all girded up in sheaves
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,
Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow;
And nothing 'gainst Time's scythe can make defence
Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.
—Shakespeare, Sonnet 12

Less than six hours to go to the end of 2008. Happy New Year, and many more.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Books, I still miss

My in-laws have a fine library of books in their house. They divide their subjects up to different rooms: the front room ("den") is for nonfiction; their bedroom is mystery; the sitting room is other fiction; the guest room is sci-fi.

Thee itch to read is getting stronger. I want to re-read so many titles, I look forward to having a dedicated separate reading space in the house with good light and no television.

Right now, I'm in the middle of reading three books:

West of Eden, an alternate-history book supposing that dinosaurs did not suffer extinction and humans still evolved. I'm like one and a half-page past the prologue, so no opinions yet. It's part of a trilogy, I'm told.

The Omnivore's Dilemma, a non-food-porn book to answer the question "What shall we have for dinner?" Interestingly, it does not make me hungry; this is not an appetizing book. I do want to eat differently, though. I never want to eat fast food again, and I'm only about a third of the way through. Enjoying it so far.

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue, a history of English grammar. I'm such a dork to laugh at jokes about syntax. Not only English is Tough Stuff, but "English doesn't borrow from other languages. It follows them down dark alleys, knocks them unconscious, then rummages through their pockets looking for loose grammar."

I want to re-read the Neanderthal Parallax, the Island in the Sea of Time books, Dune, some Greg Bear stories, my copy of Anathem that's taunting me, Cryptonomicon, not to mention all my RPG books and the other forgottens waiting for me to rediscover.

Communications convergence

Non-ironically, I want to opine about the various forms of communication I have at my fingertips, despite the fact that I've barely managed one blog post a week this month.

First, an examination of last month's NaBloPoMo experiment-slash-activity. Out of thirty days hath November, I wrote twenty-five posts. Not surprisingly, five of those days I went to BGG.Con and twittered my words. After con, I did up a Geeklist of the things I taught and played. I had thought that blogging once-a-day in November would have gotten me into the blogging habit; I think that BGG.Con and Twittering disrupted that nascent habit. Even though I cheated a little with some timestamps and missed a few days, I consider my November a blogging success.

Why the slowdown? Some of it is Twitter and my Google Phone. Right now, I get email, SMS messages, Google IM, Twitter, voice mail and phone calls on my telephone. I feel like I am communicating enough. Couple the tethering to my phone (sorry dear) with my sharing nifty RSS stuff, I know that I'm scratching my communications itch.

I still feel that blogging is/should be/is to me/feels like op-ed pieces; I want what I write to be interesting to everyone that I know reads it, plus the strangers who I don't know. Success is a variable here. Tweeting is the opposite of blogging.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

By the way: SNOW

I have failed my loyal readership by not mentioning the snow in New Orleans.

I woke up on Thursday, December 11, 2008 to freezing cold rain and the beginnings of hail. By the time I made it to the coffee shop for my morning au lait and a bagel, actual snow. By the time I had to leave for work, actual snow that I could no longer deny. Snow in the city, which only happens once or twice a decade. If memory serves, the last time we got snow was 2005 (we were in Austin) and before that, I last remember snow circa 1982... somewhere, I have a photograph of a very small snowman, perhaps a foot tall to be generous, in the yard of my childhood home. I have a dim memory of having to gather snow from the entire yard in order to have enough.

Here are a few pictures.

Only in New Orleans can you have summer, fall, winter and spring all in the same week.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Netscape, dead for almost a year

Well, the announcement by AOL has a dateline of December 2007, but evidently they stopped writing code for it as of February 2008.

Do I care? Should you? Probably not, since most of you fine folks are using Firefox (or if you're not, Safari or Chrome), except for those of you non-web designers who still for some reason use IE. Netscape survives as a branded portal, and also as a completely non-ironic Firefox extension. There's history, too- I don't think one could overstate the impact Netscape has had on the world of digital communications, the web (insert obligatory blink tag joke), the way millions of people do things on the tubes.

I'm grasping here to say something more of note about Netscape, and perhaps that's the notable thing; Given the current landscape of the web, Netscape itself doesn't matter. True, it forced Microsoft to look at the internet and arguably make IE suck less over time; true, without Netscape we would have no Firefox et al; true, Netscape used to be a household word for "going to look at the Internet." Netscape is a stepping stone, and we've moved on. What will next fall by the wayside?

All that aside, I do miss the ease of modding the Netscape throbber.