Thursday, June 28, 10:12 CDT

Usenet. An all consuming mass into which my time and attention hurtle as into the event horizon of some textual black hole. And I just lurk. How does anyone actually participate actively and do *anything* else with their life?

Read Fire on the Mountain, a novel told from the perspective of a kid staying with his grandfather in New Mexico, as the grandfather refuses to turn over his ranch for inclusion in the White Sands missile range. Politics aside (and the government/military are evil meddling bastards view might just be a tad oversimplified), it's well written. Conveys a good sense of place and time.

Monday, June 25, 17:31 CDT

Hot. Windy. A lot of both.

Ahhh, good comic strips. 1/0 is worth reading from the beginning, IMO.

Reminds me, it's about time to start the annual re-read of Calvin & Hobbes.

Sunday, June 24, 15:37 CDT

Ok, so Google sucked up the former DejaNews a while back and turned it into Google Groups, thus moving one step closer to being the single most useful site on the web.

It looks like they've been doing good things with it. I hadn't been paying much attention, but since I last checked, they've restored the old Deja archive that went back as far as 1995, and added the ability to post new messages. They're also running a much cleaner, simpler interface than Deja ever did - multiple posts on a page, readable fonts, no blaring banner ads, dirt simple navigation.

The biggest downside I can see to this is that now pretty much everything I've ever posted to Usenet is available. There's hardly anything there, but a quick glance at the stuff posted under my name shows that most of it makes me look like an idiot.

Oh well. I was younger and stupider then, right? Right.

(Usenet Help at ibiblio.)

Man, *this* is a nostalgia trip...

As it's too hot to think any more right now, I believe I'll retreat to the air conditioned house.

Saturday, June 23, 16:35 CDT

Here, have a review of Shrek.

The family's in the house watching O Brother, Where Art Thou? for maybe the third time since we rented it yesterday. I'm pretty sure it's the music that accounts for its sheer re-watchability. (Though Coen bros. movies in general seem to be pretty high on the scale.) My dad picked up the soundtrack last week, and it's seen a lot of playing time. It's always good to find more music that I can share with my parents - somehow, they don't seem to find much appeal in the stuff I would've been listening to if I'd grown up when they did. If that makes any sense.

O Brother's soundtrack is a beautiful thing, really. It's full of the kind of music that you simply don't *hear* in major commercial media; music which was truly a creation of this country's people. And though it's presented in an accessible way, it does still seem strange to those of us raised on media drenched in overproduced pop and rock completely removed from its origins. Strange, but familiar, too...

Seems like this soundtrack would make a good first attempt at a music review. Perhaps I'll go get started on that.

Wednesday, June 20, 17:23 CDT

I finished Louis L'amour's Education of a Wandering Man Monday evening. I've been trying to write a review, but it's not quite finished yet... In short, though, I enjoyed it quite a bit, think I even learned from it.

Finished Endymion, by Dan Simmons, earlier today. Good enough - and totally unresolved enough - that I'll likely keep reading the series. I do have to give Simmons credit for varying the narrative structure and style of the books, from his beginning with Hyperion's Canterbury Tales style frame story and embedded travellers' tales. Granted that they're trending towards something more conventional (well, conventional for somewhat literary science-fantasy space opera), but at least it's variation.

I took a topics in literature class last semester which, at the time, was pure torture to sit through. Uninterested students just passing time, teacher trying desperately to accomplish something, lots of long, painful silences. You know the drill. But in retrospect... I still hated it, and if I'd known what I was in for, I'd never have taken the class.

I think I did learn a few things, though. Stuff about narrative and storytelling structure, at least a little bit about works like the Decameron. All of which would be a lot more fascinating to me if it weren't surrounded by so much critical and academic BS, but then I guess there's nothing that says I can't just read the stuff and come to my own conclusions...

Monday, June 18, 14:09 CDT

I've somehow been too busy lately to spend much time on the computer, which certainly isn't all bad.

Saturday I drug myself out of bed around 6:00 (a time I'm more likely to see before I sleep than after), to help my parents get ready for the first day of the farmer's market they've been doing in town. Sold a decent amount of stuff, but it's pretty obvious we're not going to make much profit at this. It does serve as a good excuse for the continually spreading garden, though.

I saw Tomb Raider Saturday night, unfortunately. Just finished writing up a review.

I finished reading Dan Simmons' The Fall of Hyperion last week. I think it almost managed to live up to Hyperion, and it certainly had more in the way of plot resolution. I picked up Endymion the next day; still not sure about this one, but unless things go sharply downhill, I'll probably finish the series.

I've also been reading Louis L'amour's Education of a Wandering Man, which is a not-quite autobiography focused on the books and experiences L'amour learned from in the course of his self determined education. I don't think it's quite the book he set out to write, but it's far more interesting for all the side trails it follows.

Thu Jun 14 00:05:47 CDT 2001

I've been standing in the field just East of our property line, in the shadow where the grain bins block the yardlight, watching lightning do amazing things around the edges of the sky. The cats skittering past my feet engaged in an epic mock battle. Thunder just at the threshold of hearing...

The first fireflies (lightning bugs?) were out this evening. Always catches me a little by surprise. Little green flickers in the corner of the eye. Pretty soon every patch of tall grass and roadside ditch will be full of them.

It occurs to me that a lot of what I'd like to do with my life is just observing these kinds of things.

Got home yesterday a bit before midnight.

I'm working on the display script for this page again. Here's the current script. Needs much work, obviously.

Thursday, June 7, 11:29 CDT

Leaving for Kansas in a few minutes; my cousin Rachel's wedding is Saturday. Be back Monday.

Tuesday, June 5, 23:44 CDT

Downloading Konqueror again. Mozilla is workable and occasionally even quite nice, but still a bit flaky - a good alternative would be nice.

I think I decided on a new format for this page today. Something a little more stream-of-consciousness, but still easily navigable. (Well, to be honest it's not like it's easily navigable now, but I like to think that if I were just a little less lazy, this site would be a model of near-perfect user interaction. I'm deluding myself, aren't I?)

I've ripped quite a few CD's in the past couple days, and I'm discovering that probably the most useful advantage of storing music as a set of files is that it maps nicely to the Unix command line model. Being able to give one-line commands that say things like play all of my U2 tracks rules, especially as opposed to sorting through a pile of physical media to find the right discs.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, animated? I've heard worse ideas, but if they attempt to cater to what American audiences expect from animation, they can only fail miserably. Still, there is a lot of potential material there, and there's nothing that says it *can't* be done. I expect a lot of serious anime fans would agree.

xearth is a cool toy. Changes your root window display to a view of Earth from a given point in space, shaded to show current daylight. Ok, so I'm easily amused, but I think I'll leave it there. Good for one's perspective, somehow.

Tuesday, June 5, 10:51 CDT

I finished re-reading The Lions of Al-Rassan last night. Discovered that, though some of its impact hinges on a lack of foreknowledge, it remains an intensely powerful work.

And then again, the individual who I'd loaned it to never got much past the first few chapters, and Brent doesn't seem to have enoyed it much. I think I'll give up trying to predict what others will like.

And on that note, I just posted a somewhat incomplete review of One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Sunday, June 3, 22:06 CDT

I just grabbed abcde, a CD ripper/encoder script for Linux. (Which is in Debian, so if you're fortunate enough to be running this most excellent of distributions, just apt-get install abcde and you'll have everything you need.) Just pop a disc in the drive and run abcde, it does the rest. Niiiice. There goes my last excuse not to rip my paltry CD collection...

It seems to be using Ogg Vorbis encoding instead of MP3 by defaul, which is cool since XMMS plays it and it seems like a good format. (The variable bitrate thing seems like a really good idea, despite my not knowing anything at all about audio.)

Sleep. Sleep would be good.

Friday, June 1, 0:23 CDT

Ever seen a streak of lightning *shatter* and fall apart? Optical illusion, maybe...