25 September 2015

Long Time No Talk: What the Heck? / To Recline or Not to Recline on an Airplane (RECLINE IF YOU WANT TO)

Hello Dear Reader!
I've been away. Literally away, in that I had to go to Seattle again. That was productive and fine and work. Whatever. Also metaphorically away in that I had back surgery so I am not supposed to sit or stand for "prolonged periods". (Is anyone supposed to sit or stand for "prolonged periods"? Not really.) Entries will be necessarily brief as a result.

Should have some content hitting in the next couple days. It might even be interesting! Possibly. No promises.

As an aside, here are some thoughts on reclining vs. not reclining an airplane seat. People tend to feel very strongly. I am firmly in the reclining camp.

It is your inalienable right to recline. Anyone that disagrees, however reasonable, is wrong. I like to lean forward sometimes in my seat and this puts me at risk of a sharp blow to the face when the person in front reclines. That is not their fault!

This is a good and reasonable summary of reclining best practices, courtesy the internet and 'philmickelsonmantits':

If anybody claimed that a reclining seat would “crush their knees” and “make the flight agony” and “will leave them bruised for days,” I’d roll my eyes so fucking hard because that’s the most histrionic shit I would have ever heard.

Now, if a tall person asked me politely for a little extra space, I’d offer a compromise whereby I only recline halfway.

I don’t want to cause anybody discomfort, but that includes myself. So, while I’ll give a little to minimize the other person’s discomfort, I hope they’d be willing to give a little to minimize mine.
That said, I’d never dream of asking the person in front of me to not recline, even though it prevents me from using my computer comfortably. It is their chair and their space, after all.

14 September 2015

More Reading: Soccer in Sun and Shadow by Eduardo Galeano

This is a classic if you like soccer. Easy to read as the "chapters" are very short - each is only a page or two. There is a heavy emphasis on the history of soccer in Latin America, especially in the early half of the book. The florid and romanticized language is a contrast the the stark truths presented in the content: poverty, vice, and early death await many of the men (and they are all men) described in the books pages. Hence: Soccer in Sun and Shadow. Galeano does not shy away from the highs and the lows.

Highly recommended.

13 September 2015

Nice Piece

Bought this. Not sure what to do with it. Bit big for a paperweight. He is pretty great though, just sitting there looking mean. I moved him around from room to room to give him a feel for his new place.

Do not mess with the octopus. (Key included for scale.)

06 September 2015

Get Your Read On: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

This is a good book.

Consider reading it if you are looking for something good to read. (You can borrow my copy.)

Science fiction critics distinguish between 'hard' and 'soft' science fiction. (That these words are also used to describe pornography is probably not a coincidence.) These constructs are only useful when trying to assign arbitrary categories to objects so that we can organize them in our minds and conversations. In the grand scheme of literature they are useless except to marginalize certain types of fiction as more (plain fiction) or less intellectual (horror, science fiction, fantasy) than others. It's a lot of bullshit, is what I'm saying.

Anyway, hard science fiction roots the story in science; the science elements are an essential plot device. The Martian by Andy Weir is the most successful hard science fiction novel in recent memory. (That is a superb book, btw.)

Soft science fiction does not dwell overmuch on the science itself and instead focuses on other story elements. It is part of the story but drives the plot indirectly. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is an example of this latter type. It is very obviously a classic type of science fiction story but Ishiguro resisted categorizing it as such (see second paragraph above for reasons), and when it came out some reviewers bought into the idea that it was 'difficult to categorize' and 'ethereal', to which I say: no, and yes. It was 'difficult to categorize' because if you want to be a Serious Literary Novelist and win Serious Literary Awards then you do not write science fiction. Even if you write a book about a dystopian recent past where people are being cloned, raised to adulthood and then used/farmed as donors. It is a powerful, disturbing, challenging book.

Station Eleven is a soft science fiction novel* that jumps back and forth in time to tell two converging stories in parallel. It is wonderfully constructed and very well told. Highly recommended.

* 'Post-apocalypse', because we have enough of these now that they get their own category. You have The Road if you want to go highbrow, The Stand if you want to aim at the mass market, and Left Behind if you have terrible taste and/or are brain-dead, plus too many others to list.

05 September 2015

Best $8 I Ever Spent

I bought a hummingbird feeder on Amazon for about eight bucks.

It is awesome. Are there hummingbirds in your area? Do you have one? You should buy one!

There are pictures floating around on the internet of this feeder covered in hummingbirds. That is definitely not the done thing at my place. One little guy claimed the feeder and he watches over it like a hummingbird hawk. If any other birds cruise by for a tasty snack he lets them know to buzz off.

Every once in a while it seems like he gets tired of hustling the competition off the food source and will allow one other bird to feed (briefly). But not two. Oh hell no. Two interlopers is unacceptable.

The Big Boss is maybe a Rufous Hummingbird? No idea. I would get a picture but he is somewhat camera shy. Also, no matter what apple says about the quality of their camera phones if you want to shoot something high-speed you need a real camera (and a tripod, in this case). Maybe someday.

01 September 2015

This Right Here

Busy doing stuff and also my back hurts so I don't feel like sitting down and typing much. Will get you all caught up this weekend though.

In the interim, this is rad. It starts slow so give it some time.