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Lately I've been trying to figure out what I'm good at. Taking stock, I guess. It's an interesting exercise; have you ever tried it?

So here's my list of things that I'm good at, so far:
- Creating and running roleplaying campaigns
- Grilling hamburgers
- Cooking a limited number of dishes
- Baking chocolate-chip cookie bars
- Reading aloud
- Reading
- Remembering
- Acting
- Finding answers and information online
- Implementing answers and information
- Writing (but unfortunately, fiction rarely comes to me)
- Helping people with computer problems
- Running reports
- Figuring out problems
- Writing advice
- Being a panelist on many topics

...whew!

That list only includes things that I'm really pretty sure I'm good at. I didn't add stuff which is more nebulous or boastful, like being a parent. Nor did I include things that I'm good at only sometimes, such as occasionally a bit of handyman work - even though it feels really great when I get something like that done.
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 just a quick post about voice dictation aundry with and LiveJournal. Shit. I can already see that I'm going to have some big problems. LiveJournal 0 mobile sites really sucks when you try to do voice dictation or 1 time what I do from my samsung Galaxy Nexus. I am NOT making any corrections to this post.
 
This is interesting semi:3 with or rather Android actually picked up the emphasis are used on the word not above. Anyway, I just a response to a coming over on livejournal, and the interface was awful and wretched. Dream with seems only slightly better. That's unfortunate.
 
Oh, and since the Russian language seems to be in crocheting on livejournal, I think that I will take this opportunity to say that people earn is a brutal dictator who murders has on people and is strangling democracy in Russia. I would have simply said puting sucks, but under statement is not my style. Crap. I'll come back and edit the word cute in in later. He's not cute!

A Fan

Nov. 24th, 2012 09:48 pm
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[I'm experimenting with copying a post from Google Plus to Dreamwidth/LiveJournal. Pasting the text and photo from G+ into the Dreamwidth Rich Text editor seems to work, although I had to get the public link for the photo. For some reason the LJ-to-Facebook connection doesn't seem to be working.]

My dad came over today. We've been having a couple of electrical problems, and he was trained in electronics by the army. Plus he's handy, which I, unfortunately, am not. Or not very.

The first problem was the ceiling light in the den. It kept flickering and making buzzing noises. He took things apart and figured out that the problem was that the contact in the base of the socket was depressed; it wasn't making proper contact. He pried it up, and now the light works perfectly. I'll have to look into getting a shade for it.

The second problem was the ceiling fan in Sebastian's room, which is next to the den. The light tended to go on and off randomly, and the ceiling fan rarely worked; instead, it hummed and made a burning electrical smell.

So we took it down. Dad examined and tested the wiring, and it seemed fine. But the motor was burned out on the ceiling fan. We went over to Lowe's. Teri and I wanted to get a fan much like the one he'd had, but Sebastian insisted on a short-bladed and admittedly cooler-looking fan, an allen+roth. The salesman said the fan would be virtually imperceptible, but eventually we gave in.

When we got home and opened the box, we got worried. It was complicated; the estimated assembly time was two hours! Dad and I spent a lot of time trying to figure it out. I don't know about Dad, but I'm pretty sure that my shoulders will ache for days! And toward the end we were working in darkness, since the circuit breaker for that lamp also covers the whole room.

But we got it put together and mounted. Dad did the wiring, which is good because wiring makes me nervous. It was great when the light went on! And when we turned on the fan, go figure: the breeze was far stronger than our old fan's had been. It blew papers right off Sebastian's desk.

It feels good to get something like that done!



bobquasit: (Default)
If I've set this up correctly, this post will be copied from my Dreamwidth journal to my LiveJournal to Facebook.

Not that I plan to use it in that way much! I wish that I could somehow get Google Plus into the mix, though.
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The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints (Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators, #15)The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints by M.V. Carey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is a relatively late and inferior entry in the Three Investigators series. The series was created by Robert Arthur, a woefully neglected author who did a great deal of work with Alfred Hitchcock; Arthur wrote the first nine and the eleventh book in the series. Unfortunately M.V. Carey was no Robert Arthur!

I recently read the book to my son. We've read many of the books in the series together. In this one, there were several ways in which the book simply didn't work. Oh, Carey included the usual iconic elements of the series; Jupiter Jones' family, and the hidden Headquarters (a trailer buried under a pile of junk), and Pete, and Bob. But there are several false notes.

One that was particularly annoying was the use of Jupiter's name. Arthur usually referred to him as "Jupiter" or "Jupiter Jones". Once in a while his fellow Investigators, Pete or Bob, would refer to him as "Jupe". But in this book, he is almost always called "Jupe" - not just by other people, but by the narrator. I'm not that picky, but seeing "Jupe" repeated over and over in paragraph after paragraph just got weird! It started to become a meaningless sound - you know how some words get when you say them over and over? I ended up auto-correcting it to "Jupiter" when I read it aloud, except when it was said by Pete or Bob.

The mystery itself was just...okay. Nothing particularly clever or memorable about it. If anything, the resolution was rather anticlimactic. I won't bother to give it away, though.

But another thing that was quite irritating was a dramatic change in a long-standing supporting character, Police Chief Reynolds. In the early books in the series he was supportive and friendly to the Three Investigators, even going so far as to give them official cards identifying them as Junior Deputies or something like that. In Flaming Footprints, he has been completely changed. He's sneering, abusive, hostile, and sarcastic. The change was so extreme that my son remarked on it. Personally, I found the recasting of Chief Reynolds as a stereotypical negative adult authority figure so irksome that I couldn't resist editorializing: "'What do you want now, Jones?' snarled Chief Reynolds, while busily stomping on a cute kitten and simultaneously farting on a helpless old lady."

My son is more generous and/or uncritical than I am. He gave the book 4.5 stars. I feel I'm being generous in giving it three.

Oh, as always I should note that there are probably two different versions of the text extant. Older versions feature the character of Alfred Hitchcock. For legal reasons newer editions have been rewritten to replace Hitchcock with a lame-ass ersatz version. If you decide to pick this one up, try to go for an older edition. But if you're new to the series, I strongly recommend starting with the original nine books by Robert A. Arthur.

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I just heard on NPR that LiveJournal was taken over (apparently some time ago) by Russian pornographers. Is that true?

Wrap-up

May. 15th, 2012 11:48 pm
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Going home. All's well
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We're still in the waiting room. Tired, hungry, and bored. The pediatrician thought it might be appendicitis and sent us here. Sebastian threw up about 90 minutes ago and feels much better...but we can't leave.

AND as I was writing this, they moved us into a room.

Hospital

May. 15th, 2012 07:42 pm
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Pulling in to Hasbro Children's Hospital now.
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Shadows in Flight (Shadow, #5)Shadows in Flight by Orson Scott Card

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I don't like Orson Scott Card. There was a time when he was a gifted writer, but that was decades ago. And I'm rather glad of that, I must admit, because his homophobia and religious bigotry offend me.

But Shadows In Flight isn't as bad as most of his recent books have been. Yes, it has the usual "genius" children talking to each other in "shocking" ways; Card seems to find them irresistible. There's even some of Card's trademark child-on-child violence, which makes me wonder just how badly screwed up his head is. But for once he doesn't take it too far.

This is no Ender's Game or Songmaster. It isn't even A Planet Called Treason. But it's readable and not annoying, which is a big improvement over Card's other work this millennium.



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The Horse-Tamer (The Black Stallion, #14)The Horse-Tamer by Walter Farley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


First, a note: I will never try to use my Nook to write a book review again. I had written quite a long review - not easy on the Nook's touch-screen, which is not well-laid-out and lacks a number of conveniences which are standard on other Android devices - only to make the slightest mis-touch and lose EVERYTHING. That's incredibly annoying.

That said, The Horse Tamer is part of Walter Farley's Black Stallion series, and it's both charming and memorable. Bracketed by short passages featuring Alec, Henry, and the Black, it's actually a historical novel; Henry's story of his older brother, who tamed horses in the days when horses were the standard mode of transportation. Henry himself plays a small but substantial part in the tale.

Unlike most entries in the series, it's not a racing story. But the story of "problem" horses and how to help them is quite fascinating, as well as exciting. I first read this book as a boy, and it has stuck in my head ever since. I'm glad to be able to buy it for my own son, and for the chance to read it again. It includes the original black-and-white line drawings, which are charming. I strongly recommend this book. One caveat, however: the Nook edition has been formatted with HUGE margins. Even when the text is manually set to the smallest margin size, the margins are nearly as large as the text itself - which means that in portrait orientation, each line of text is only a few words wide. This is somewhat awkward.

I assume that the publisher did it because the book is SO short, only 100 pages. With reasonable formatting, it would have probably been closer to 70 pages long, even with the illustrations - and they may feel that it would be difficult to charge a full-novel price (even a low one) for what is probably only a novella. But it's a really fine story, and any fan of Walter Farley, the Black, or horses would be wise to pick it up. Strongly recommended!



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Three Men in a BoatThree Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Three young Englishmen decide to spend a fortnight boating on the Thames for their health.

A classic of English humor; I'm quite dismayed that I hadn't discovered it before now! It's one of the funniest books I've read in a long time (and I've read many funny books). I found myself laughing out loud quite often, and couldn't resist reading sections of it to my wife - even though I know it's not the sort of thing she cares for.

It's astonishing that a book written 123 years ago should feel so modern. I hadn't realized that such dark humor had been invented back in 1889!

The occasional turns into more somber and lyrical prose are a bit jarring at first (they're quite reminiscent of The Wind in the Willows, which was published 19 years later), but you soon get used to them. And the serious passages are quite brief, just sufficient to cleanse the palate (so to speak) before the next comic gem.

The illustrated EPUB edition at Project Gutenberg is excellent and, of course, free. The illustrations are well-formatted, clear, and enhance the text. If you appreciate humor, you have no excuse for missing this book!

Incidentally, I "found" Three Men In a Boat via Robert A. Heinlein's Have Space Suit-Will Travel. The protagonist's father is a fan. I'd read the book (Heinlein's that is) a dozen times before, easily - but I always assumed that Three Men in a Boat was fictional. For some reason while reading Have Space Suit-Will Travel out loud to my son, I found myself wondering if Three Men in a Boat was real; and Wikipedia soon set me right.

I'm glad it did. And now, on to Three Men on the Bummel! I've already downloaded it from Project Gutenberg.

Oh, I almost neglected to mention: there's an audio book of Three Men in a Boat, read by Hugh Laurie. A perfect choice, of course. It can be found in sections on YouTube, or, I presume, it can be purchased. But I must say that I laughed more when reading the book then while listening to it. I'm not quite sure why!



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Shoeless JoeShoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I picked this up used at the library's permanent book sale for a buck.

Add it to the very short list of books which aren't as good as their movie adaptations. A lot of the speeches were improved by much pruning for the movie, and the plot was cleaned up a good bit, too.

The book is okay, and I can see that for some it might really "click". But to me it just doesn't quite work. The whole thing felt forced to me, a too-deliberate attempt to create a classic (not unlike The Polar Express, which was annoying as a book and loathsome as a movie). Peter S. Beagle is able to create a far more authentic magical feeling in his books; fans of Shoeless Joe might appreciate Beagle. They might like Jack Finney, too. Both are considerably more deft stylists than Kinsella.

And frankly, if I were J.D. Salinger I'd have sued the crap out of the author.



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I haven't been pleased with Barnes & Noble's Nook Color. The book selection is relatively poor, and the prices are relatively high. Which is why I have been utterly delighted by Baen Books.

Not only do they offer a large selection of classic science fiction books for free, but they have a surprising number of books by classic and modern SF and fantasy authors for very reasonable prices. For example, they have quite a few of the Heinlein juveniles - which, I've been told, have often been out of print in recent years - for $5-$6 each. And they're well-formatted, have nice e-covers, and are available in many useful formats (including epub for the Nook and Kindle format too). What's more, they're not restricted by DRM, so you can download them to multiple devices.

I respect the hell out of a company that doesn't treat their customers as potential thieves. And so I've picked up a bunch of books from them for Sebastian, including most of the Heinlein juveniles as well as James H Schmitz's The Witches of Karres - a classic, and one of my favorites. Plus quite a few others! They can even be read online, on a computer, laptop, or tablet.

Most of their books are in the four to six-dollar range. I wish other ebook publishers had as much sense as Baen! But as it is, Baen has already gotten a lot more of my money than Barnes & Noble has. Or will, for that matter.
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Skype is in a war of sorts with Google Voice. And today, I discovered that Skype had taken my system hostage as a prisoner in that war.

I used to be able to use my Google Voice account to call any phone in America for free from my Gmail home page; just type in a phone number or the name of a contact and I'd be connected, with a clarity that actually stunned some of the people I spoke to. Apparently Google Voice uses some sort of astonishing new sound-processing algorithm.

And then recently I installed Skype, since several friends had urged me to try it. Today I tried to use Google Voice to call my parents in Massachusetts. I typed "Dad" in the Google Voice box...and instead of his home and mobile numbers appearing, they appeared with Skype icons surrounding them along with a dollar sign. When I hovered over the numbers, I was told I would be making a "low cost call with Skype".

Now, just to be clear: the call should have been free, via Google. Instead Skype blocked my ability to make that free call, and tried to force me to pay them for it. As far as I'm concerned, that's stealing.

I tried to find a way to make the call WITHOUT using Skype. No matter what I did, Skype wouldn't allow me to do that. I shut down Skype; when I went back and tried to call with Google Voice, Skype immediately restarted itself and invited me to pay them if I wanted to make the call.

I began to seriously consider uninstalling Skype. I have a temper, but I don't think anybody would take it well when some company takes over something on your own system and basically holds it hostage. Boiling with rage, I began to research a solution.

It wasn't easy to find, but I found it. The problem was an add-on that had apparently come bundled with Skype. So I had to go to the Windows Control Panel, choose Add/Remove Programs, and then removed the program called "Skype Click to Call". Mind you, I wasn't told that the goddamned thing would be installed when I installed Skype, and I damned well wouldn't have installed it if I'd known that it was replacing my option to make free phone calls with the requirement to pay Skype for those same calls.

But Skype, here's a message for you: I will never spend a penny on any of your services, EVER. I'll use the free stuff because my friends are on it. But otherwise, you can go screw yourselves.

Cuts

Feb. 28th, 2012 04:48 pm
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Why aren't cuts or lj cuts working any more?

Baby

Feb. 15th, 2012 10:26 pm
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This is Baby. His given name was "Little One", because when Teri first got him, he was so small that he could fit in her hand; he was a tiny kitten.


But somehow he acquired the name "Baby" instead, and that's how I was introduced to him. Perhaps he got that nickname because of his temperament; he was the mildest and gentlest cat I ever met, and I've met many of them. He never bit, or tried to claw, or in any way evinced even the slightest sign of bad temper ever. He even put up with all sorts of indignities from the small red-headed creature who entered his life when he (Baby, that is) was about eight years old:
 

It seemed more than anything that Baby wanted to be a mother. He would lick and clean the other cats in the house tenderly and lovingly, even though they soon tired of it and would try to bite, claw, or fight him. But he never really fought back. He just kept trying to take care of them.

The only time he reverted to his feline nature was if there was a mouse in the house. Then, he was all cat. Although the other cats in the house were younger, faster, and in one case had all their claws, it was always Baby who managed to catch and kill the rare mouse that dared enter our house...unless we were able to rescue the mouse and deport him to safer climes (that is, far down the street).

We did not think that Baby would stay with us as long as he did. The vet told us early on that he had a fairly bad heart murmur. But for all his meekness, he was a cat with a fierce will to live, and to eat, and to sleep on Teri's lap. He stayed with us until he was eighteen years old, gentle and loving to the end. We miss him, and we will never forget him.



"They did not love him for his glossy coat,
nor his white shirt front and white paws,
nor his great green eyes, no, not even for the white tip to his tail.
They loved him because he was himself."
                                                                         -The Fur Person

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Snow's coming down again today - 3-5 inches, they say, but I think it's going to be more like 4-8. Sebastian went out back to play while I did some early shoveling.

I told him that we'd reward him if he wanted to do some shoveling. "How?" he asked.

"Well...with money, I guess!"

"How much?"

"...what do you think would be fair?"

"Fifty dollars!"

"What?!? But I already did most of it!"

"Thirty?"

"That's pretty steep! I don't know..."

"Twenty? I need enough to buy a Hex Bug."

"I'll discuss it with your mother," I said, rapidly retreating.

I'd been thinking more in the $3-5 range. The snow is really light...a couple of inches of dust, so far.
bobquasit: (Default)
Since everyone at the LiveJournal panel was positive about Dreamwidth, here I am!

I wonder how it will work out?

Dinner

Jul. 18th, 2011 12:06 am
bobquasit: (Sebastian Riding)
Tonight Sebastian asked me to have dinner with him. He set us up in the dining room, which is unusual. Teri was having dinner outside on the new picnic table with a friend, but Sebastian and I were staying inside because the little boy from the yard behind ours will not let us alone if he sees us.

It was nice having dinner with my little guy! He's so cool. I'm very lucky.

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