Weekly Recap

It has been a couple weeks since I did a recap.

The personal lowpoint was work.  I have a long list of un accomplished tasks I am working on completing this year.  It is slow going.  But last week there were two annoyances.  First I attended about 30 hours of meetings.  Second, my bosses are starting to look ahead to next year and are asking me to start planning those activities.  The fact that I now have two bosses is getting tricky too.

I was worried about family this week too.  Mom went off to Swift Current to attend a family funeral.  The sudden loss was a shock and now I’ve found I worry about Mom as she travels too.

In good news though, I finished one long outstanding item at work.  It was a relief.  I have a list of things I want to get done and never get around too.  Mostly it is home stuff, but this one work item was on the top of my personal list too.

The highlight of the week was Christmas dinner at friends.  The menu included: prime rib, mashed potatoes, cauliflower au gratin (with Stilten cheese), Yorkshire pudding, and peas.  Rice pudding with a pomegranate sauce completed the meal.  It was delicious.  Plus I went home with a new bottle of scotch and a new game.  The company was pretty nifty too.  I spent some time just listening to Bill.  He is fairly quiet but every word he speaks is clever and engaging.  I never knew that.

Less than two weeks until Christmas.  Yay!

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Ready Player One – A review

Ready Player One is a novel by Ernest Cline.  It is listed as one of the best books of the year for sci-fi/fantasy by Amazon.  I t is the sixth book on that list that I’ve read and it is a compulsive read.  Quick and a page turner.  I started it on Thursday and finished it on Friday.

But I can’t say that I liked it.

Ready Player One is a treasure hunt story like Davinci’s Code.  Wade spends all his time in the virtual reality simulation called OASIS.  Here he hunts for a prize that will win him billions of dollars.  The developer of OASIS has hidden a prize within the simulation and the first person to find it inherits his whole empire.  Opposed to Wade (online alias Parzival) is the evil corporation IOI.

The treasure hunt is interesting and it is based on a thorough knowledge of geek trivia from the 80s so I was able to play along with the characters in the book.

My issues with the book are numrous.  But the biggest is that for a sci-fi book it is entirely focused on the past.  Wade and his cohort live in the 2040s, but exist in a virtual reality that worships the 1980s.  There is little to no futurism in the book – it is set in a dreary future of poverty and environmental collapse where people retreat into their virtual reality.  Little time is spent in the real world exploring its causes and effects, but 95% of the novel is set within the game.

The game itself isn’t a novel concept.  Part Tron and part WoW it seems to ignore more modern constructs like social networking, wireless communications and tablets.  And they spend their time in the virtual reality playing even older games like Pac Man, Galaga and Joust.  They listen to 80s music like Oingo Boingo and watch 80s movies and television.  Seemingly there has been little history that occurs between the 80s and the setting of this book – at least none that is shown in the novel.  The exception is one reference to Wil Wheaton and Cory Doctorow as paragons of geek culture that came off as more pandering than clever.

As a treasure hunt this book works fine.  As a piece of science fiction it fails for me.  Perhaps its position as the best book of 2011 on the Amazon list gave me false expectation.

If you want to try a book on that list I’d recommend Leviathan Wakes.  (Several of my favorite authors like China Mielville, George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss are also on the list – there is lots there to like.)

Am I too cynical?

I have done no research on this subject so take this with a grain of salt or leave it, YMMV.

I watched the border crossing joint announcement yesterday with incredulity.  In my world you can’t achieve both greater security and make it easier to pass through.

Not possible.  But that is the announcement.

My background is computer IT so my paradigm may not apply.  In IT, increased security always comes at a cost to the business.  The balance is always in risk analysis – is the probability and/or cost of a breach greater than the cost of the security measure?  The cost is in implementing the new measure – hardware, software, management and in the impact to the business in getting the core job done in spite of the measure.

Sometimes a new secuity measure can be more security than an old measure and have less impact on the business.  But I don’t think that there is ever less cost in having a measure compared to not having a measure.  That all changes if your security gets exploited of course, that can cost zillion and destroy a business which is why any company allows security measures to exist in the first place.

Ja?

If the same logic can be applied to border security then eventually that will become apparent as the new measures are implemented.

But really?  I know nothink.

Is that the world’s smallest violin I hear?

Playing just for me?

I’m actually in a great mood, so as I complain in this post it is just a way to fill space and not indicative of a blue mood…

I don’t get:

  • Snail Mail – I’ve asked to get my bills digitally.  I should have almost no mail.  Worst?  A certain cable co who sends a ton of ads even though I get their bills online.
  • Low seats – the distance between when I can’t hold myself up and the seat of a low chair is a long distance now.  Ow.
  • Long bus rides – I’ve complained before.  (I got an incredibly quick ride how today.)
  • The garbage performance I am getting out of my laptop – Grr.
  • Asking people for help – who likes to ask for help?  (Thanks to anyone who has ever provided any though.)
  • Asking people for help in embarrassing situations – Grr.  But people are so nice!
  • Being unable to keep up to e-mail even if doing nothing but sitting at my desk processing it.
  • Holiday music – How can Christmas carols be so cool and holiday music so full of suck?

That is all.  I’m off to open my mail filled with garbage.  Grr.

This is not a post about how I won at gaming last night

Unrelated confession: just reread Aesop’s fables.  They contain zero rabbits.  Several hares, but no rabbits.  Please ignore the previous post.

DCs new 52 has some astounding artwork in it.  Here is a list of artists I am digging – I throw in a couple other titles too:

  1. Cully Hamner – There just aren’t enough comics by Hamner.  I hear that Shade isn’t selling great.  It is pretty awesome.
  2. J.H Williams III – I’d by menus illustrated by Williams.  Batwoman is a gorgeous book.
  3. Rob Liefeld – The art gets worse with every issue.  Sigh.  Listed to highlight a big Image influence here.
  4. Greg Capullo – Look more Image goodness.  This comic – Batman – is just clicking.
  5. Andrea Sorrentino – This is a new artist to me and the art isn’t the most clear, but it drips mood.  I, Vampire.
  6. Ivan Reis – I think this is the best looking book of Reis career that I’ve read.  Too bad it is Aquaman fighting fish people.
  7. Francis Manapul – Flash (like Green Lantern) begs for an artist.  Manapul is doing an astonishing job.
  8. Mark Buckingham – Fables (not New DC) – the stories don’t always seem as driven any more, but Bucky’s art?  Great.
  9. David Petersen – And his writing is getting better too.  Scary ferrets in Mouseguard.  (Not DC – ASP)
  10. Marcos Martin – Daredevil – a sole Marvel book to provide balance.  Buts it might be the best art on the list.  Wow.

There isn’t anything too adventurous on this list, but it still shows range from the uber popular to some different styles.

 

Aesop’s Fables

Do folks still read Aesop’s Fables?  These are pretty nifty stories.

They contain rabbits.  I happen to like rabbits – fictional ones anyway.  Real rabbits aren’t nearly as clever.

That should be reason enough.  Who doesn’t like rabbits?  Fictional ones anyway.  Real rabbits – well the taste is disappointing.

But there may indeed be other reasons I like the fables.  Folks seem to dislike stories with a moral in them.  I don’t have a problem with that.  It isn’t like fables hide their message.  Little tiny stories that are amusing in and of themselves that are also teaching tools.  Plus rabbits.

Ooh, I gave away the next point in my sentence above.  They are short.  Short is good.  I’ve read War and Peace and all but one volume of Jordan’s Wheel of Time.  I like long.  Long is good.  But sometimes short is better.  Rabbits are normally short.  Except their ears – those are long.  Really rabbits are the best of both worlds.

Except the Pooka in Harvey.  But that is really a Pooka and not a rabbit.  It is just rabbit shaped.  Not that the Pooka is bad.  No – it is just tall.  Looked Jimmy Stewart in the eye and he was pretty tall too.

But the stories in Aesop’s fables – short.  Perfect for a bedtime story.  Unless stories of rabbits give you nightmares.  In Buffy, Anya is scared of bunnies.  She should probably stay away from Aesop’s fables, but that is OK – she is both fictional and on a cancelled show.

I’d provide a list of my favorite fables, but my computer currently can’t connect to the Internet.  This will also make it difficult to post this entry.  I think though if you googled Aesop and fable and rabbit, you wouldn’t go far wrong.

Enough of this silliness.  I’m off to eat dinner and fix the Internet.