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Friday, March 30, 2007

New Banner

I've just updated my banner, again, with one I finally really like:

But just because I like it doesn't mean everyone will.

So please, click on the thumbnail above (provided in case someone views this post at some time in the future after I've changed the banner yet again), take a look, and tell me what you think!

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hey, Noobs!

I was scanning the web a bit ago, looking for information on how to create a favicon for Blogger. While I was finding the answer to my favicon question at Blogger Tips and Tricks, I ran across this: Dummiez Book Cover Maker 2007 which I used to make this:

Kinda fun, right?

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Strange Memories

I was voting on blogs yesterday over at BlogExplosion, and I read an interesting post by Blue Panther on his blog The Blue Panther Experience and Other things... about an embarrassing moment in his past, and it got me thinking about one from my past.

So, just so he doesn't feel all alone, I've decided to share a humiliating incident that happened when I was station in Germany.

Normally, I wouldn't reveal something along those lines—in spite of what Jacqueline Susann told us, once is enough—but this one happens to be a bit amusing as well.

Hey, if I can't laugh at myself, who can I laugh at, right?

Anyway, when I was in Germany, I lived on Uncle Sam's nickle "off-site" due to a shortage of barracks space, even though I was single (most single enlisted stayed in barracks).

I also got my driver's license late in life, and said license was some years out yet at this time, so I would hitch a ride whenever I needed to go to the site (a phrase which here means: "when I needed to work my shift").

Sometimes this meant, literally, hitch-hiking by standing on the side of the road leaving town toward the site, watching for a car with the distinctive plates issued to U.S. servicemen at that time, and then sticking my thumb out when I saw one.

At the time of this incident, I was living in an apartment by myself, and had to work the swing shift (4 PM to midnight). The schedule at this site was a bit odd, five shifts working the following rotation:

  • two days in a row of day shift (8 AM to 4 PM), the second day shift followed by 24 hours off
  • then two days in a row of swing shift, the second swing shift followed by 24 hours off
  • then two days in a row of midnight shift (midnight to 8 AM), the second "mid" shift followed by 96 hours off

I'd gotten to bed late that night (or rather, as is usual with swing shifts, I got to bed early the next morning, about 2 AM or so).

So, anyway, I woke up and glanced at my alarm clock—set for 10 AM—and saw that it said 4:30 or so.


Here I was, fully rested, and with the clearest recollection of turning the alarm off and going back to sleep.

CRAP!!! It had to be 4:30 in the afternoon! I was late for my shift!

Not only was I late, I probably wouldn't get a ride anytime soon because the bunch heading up for a movie or, more likely, to hit the NCO club that night, wouldn't be coming by until about 6 PM or so!

So I quickly cleaned myself up, got into my uniform, and went outside with hopes someone would head up earlier than that.

No such luck.

I sat there from almost 5 until 6, then 7 o'clock. Finally, at around 7:20, here comes one of the folks that worked in my area, so I stuck out my thumb and he pulled over!

After some of the usual pleasantries, he asked "Do you have an appointment at the site today?"

"Nope," I replied.

"Well, didn't you work day shift yesterday?"

A feeling of unease crept into my belly. "Yes," I cautiously replied. "Now I'm late for swings."

You can probably guess his reply by now, right: "Or about eight hours early," he said, pulling the car off to the side of the road. "It's 7:20 AM. It isn't too far back to your apartment from here; go get some more sleep!"

Evidently I dreamt—quite possibly the most realistic dream in the history of dreaming—that I'd turned off the alarm and went back to sleep.

Needless to say, when I got in to work that afternoon, I was the talk of the site. Every joker in the building had something amusing to say about me or my alarm clock! The site commander even made an excuse to come to our building and run into so he could make some smarmy remark.

Pretty amusing, no?

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Back Story (M): Summer Came To Visit

M is for Miscellanea, remember?

It reached the eighties here in the Twin Cities yesterday. That was—though deeply unusual (a phrase which here means "record breaking")—quite enjoyable, early in the day at any rate (more on that later).

I stunned my son Riley when he got off the bus from kindergarten when I said "I have to go back to the house for a few minutes, then how about we go to the park?"

First off, I don't think the thought had crossed his mind yet this early in the spring—and trust me, this is a kid that does think of the park very early in the spring—and secondly, even though I can usually enjoy taking him there, I never am the one to suggest it.

So off we went to the park for a while, and he was mighty miffed when I told him it was time to go so I could get dinner on the table before I had to leave for my class. (I'm taking Internet Programming - Client Side at Saint Paul College, as I work toward a Web Developer Certificate.) I finally got him to head for the car, but not without hearing about how we're coming back to the park again tomorrow (which would be today, now) and every day next week (during his spring break).

The bad part about summer showing up for a day is that folks at Saint Paul College had no idea how to switch on the A/C I guess. It was sweltering in our classroom, a condition made worse by all the computers turned on in the room!

Our first order of business at class? A quiz! I started off real good—I really know this stuff rather well—but then the heat started to get to me and I found myself struggling over stuff I knew that I knew. What an annoyance!

The rest of the class went well though; we're really getting into some cool JavaScript stuff now, which I cannot wait to apply to my Web Developer Quest site, not to mention what I might be able to do for this blog!

And being that this is primarily a "book talk" blog, I guess I could mention that the textbook we're using (New Perspectives on JavaScript by Patrick Carey and Frank Canovatchel) is really excellent for learning JavaScript from. And it is even better for learning JavaScript with a teacher, but I think most educated individuals could do quite well with only this book.

So—back to my story—summer visited, as I was saying.

For one day.

Today it is back to being what I—with my seriously thin blood—would have to call "mighty cool".

So guess where Riley and I wound up after he got off the bus today?


The park.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Tom Mccarthy: Remainder (Rating: 8)

I just finished reading Remainder by Tom Mccarthy.

I really enjoyed this book for the most part. It is well written. It is easy to read. The main character is very complex and interesting. The premise is even more interesting than the main character. And it is a fairly strange book. (Not Running with Scissors strange, but strange enough!)

So, as a matter of course, what isn't to love?

This book—which is told in the first person—begins with the main character (I don't recall him ever revealing his name, nor do I remember him ever being referred to by name), telling us about this horrible accident he has been in. Or, rather, with him telling us what he can about the accident. Which isn't much. Between the amnesia he has been left with regarding the actual event, and the terms of the legal settlement that left him eight and a half million pounds richer, he pretty much is left with succinctly summing up the incident as "It involved something falling from the sky."

He then goes on to explain what his life is like at the time he gets the news that they—you know, them—have agreed pay up: the accident has really messed him up physically, and after what sounds like an enormous amount of physical therapy he is really able to get around quite well (the phrase "is really able to get around quite well" here meaning "is only able to navigate from place to place by giving thought to what every joint, muscle, and bone needs to do in just about every part of his body to get him there, in a way that you, I, and anyone you know probably will never have to!")

Sounds like fun, no? No!

Anyway, hrmm, 8.5 million pounds. Thats better than $16,000,000 at today's exchange rate! You could do quite a lot with that kind of money, but at first he doesn't know what to do with it. Then, one day it all comes to him.

Then things get really interesting . . . .

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Today Love All Books wishes a very happy birthday to Jacqueline Lichtenberg, a magnificent science fiction author who created the Sime-Gen Universe and author of Star Trek Lives!.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Three Genre Authors

Today Love All Books wishes a happy birthday to not one, not two, but three genre authors: James Patterson, Rudy Rucker, and Louis L'Amour.

If you like mysteries, then you don't need me to tell you who James Patterson is!

From his Women's Murder Club (one of Julie's favorites) to his Alex Cross novels (two of which—Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider—have been made into movies), this guy cranks out bestsellers like you wouldn't believe.

I'm ashamed to admit that I have had science fiction author Rudy Rucker's book Wetware Software on my bookshelf since it first came out—almost twenty about twenty-five years ago already—and still haven't gotten around to reading it. [3/25/2007 edit: about the strikeouts I just added, I went looking for Wetware to put it on my pile of what to read next and discovered that I had mispoke—it is Software that I've had forever! I guess I just loved the title of Wetware so much, and the interesting images it conjures up for me, that I just substituted that in my wetware!]

However, after finding his blog—and just reading a tiny bit of it—I see this guy is very cool, and I'm going to elevate his books much further to the top of the heap (and to remind myself, I just tagged this post To Be Read).

Finally, if westerns are your thing, then Louis L'Amour is a name that also requires no introduction.

In fact, I'd hazard a guess that even if westerns truly aren't your thing—as they are not mine—you have heard of this giant in the publishing field or, at the very least, some of his works.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pamela Sargent

Today's birthday wishes go out to Nebula Award winning science fiction author, Pamela Sargent.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

BlogExplosion &

One of these days I'll "do the right thing" and put a link to BlogExplosion on my sidebar.

For today, however, I'm just going to mention that I use BlogExplosion's "banner advertising" for this here Love All Books blog, and that I "pay" for said advertising by surfing member blogs and—most productively—by voting in the "Battle of Blogs".

To make a long story short—("Too late!")—there is one blog in particular that I have, to the best of my knowledge, never voted against in one of these battles: (Jamie Madigan's truly excellent blog).

So I thought to myself, "Myself," I thought, "if'n you like this guys blog so much, why aren't you throwing some traffic his way?"

Well, here ya go. Go pay his blog a visit. Tell'im "I sent ya!"

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Lemony Snicket: The End (Rating: 8)

I have just finished reading The End, the final book in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, and I must say that it was definitely worth the wait.

Not only did this book take me in unexpected directions, but the final word of the book was exceptionally pleasing in that it proved what I suspected for a while now to be correct (a word which here means "causing me to gloat mercilessly).

If you have read the rest of this series, I have no doubt you'll read this one too, but if you haven't started this series my recommendation is that you can't go very wrong starting at The Bad Beginning and reading them all through to The End!

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William Gibson

Today's birthday greetings go out to one of the originals of the "cyberpunk" subgenre of science fiction: William Gibson.

I think that the first two-thirds of his Sprawl Trilogy—which is, sadly, all I have read so far—was some of the most exciting and talked about science fiction that was happening in the mid-eighties.

It is a no-brainer why the first novel in the series (Neuromancer) is the first novel to win the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Philip K. Dick Award.

Given the caliber of his work, I really should be reading more of it, and promise that by the end of the year you'll be seeing reviews of his books here.

I mean, hey, how can you not like a guy quoted as saying something as witty as "The future is already here. It's just not widely distributed yet"?

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Alice Hoffman & Margaret Weis

Happy birthday today to bestselling authors Alice Hoffman and Margaret Weis.

I've never read anything by Alice Hoffman, but I have very fond memories of my Role Playing days that began—as it did for many of us—with Dungeons & Dragons, and one of the fondest memories I have from that time is dungeon-mastering the DragonLance saga, co-written by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Is it March 14th already?

I guess I should wish myself a happy anniversary.

I've been blogging for one full year now!

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Janet Evanovich: High Five (Rating: 8)

I just finished reading High Five by Janet Evanovich (quite probably the best Stephanie Plum novel to this point in the series).

This time around the story does not center upon the fugitive Stephanie is trying to bring in (the word trying here meaning "trying, but not succeeding as easily as you'd think").

Instead, this story hits a little closer to home when her Uncle Fred disappears and the family asks her to snoop around to find him.

This book is filled with the usual cast of unusual characters that make these books so much fun to read: Stephanie's parents, Grandma Mazur, Lula, Joe Morelli, Ricardo Carlos Manoso (AKA: Ranger), Rex (the real man in her life), Vinnie Plum, Carl Costanza, and the ever-expected "soon to be scrap metal" (a phrase which here means "cars that get too close to Stephanie").

Yep! They're all here, ready to take you on a wild ride.

(Not that kind of wild ride! Get your mind out of the gutter! Okay—Joe & Ranger are probably thinking along those lines, but . . . oh . . . never mind!)

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Happy Birthday, Harry Harrison

Today's birthday wishes go out to a truly outstanding science fiction author: Harry Harrison.

Harry Harrison is the voice behind a number of noteworthy series (such as the Deathworld trilogy, the Stainless Steel Rat series, the Eden series, and so on).

He also won the 1973 Nebula Award for Best Script for the movie Soylent Green (which was based on his 1966 novella of social commentary, Make Room! Make Room!).

If for no other reason, Soylent Green should be part of everyone's cultural education for its memorable (and often satirized) last line!

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Lemony Snicket: The Penultimate Peril (Rating: 8)

I just finished reading The Penultimate Peril, Book 12 of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.

I must say I was quite impressed, though I'd be hard pressed to say why.

Perhaps it has to do with the word penultimate showing up in the title. I just gotta love a book with that in the title. (We all have words we're more fond of than others; penultimate is such a word for myself.)

Perhaps it is a matter of getting close to the end of the series, close to seeing how the Beaudelaire Orphans are going to triumph over their nemesis, and getting close to finding out the answers the all the mysteries and what it is all about.

Obviously I not sure just what it is, but what I do know is that I'm more than ready to read the last book in the series. I expect to enjoy it immensely.

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Douglas Adams & F M Busby, Jr

Today's "Author Birthdays": Douglas Adams and F. M. Busby, Jr.

Douglas Adams is, as any science fiction or british humor fan can tell you, the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, as well as Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.

F. M. Busby, Jr. is another science fiction author of note.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Elizabeth Moon & Paul Preuss

Today's "Happy Birthdays" go out to Elizabeth Moon & Paul Preuss.

Elizabeth Moon is the 2004 Nebula Award winner for Best Novel—as well as being nominated for the 2003 Arthur C. Clarke Award in that same category—for The Speed of Dark.

She also was nominated in 1997 for the Hugo Award in the Best Novel category for Remnant Population and the 2005 Prometheus Award for Best Novel for Marque and Reprisal.

Paul Preuss was nominated for the 1998 John W. Campbell Memorial Award in the Best Novel category for Secret Passages.

If you've been following along in this blog lately, you would—correctly—guess I haven't read any of the above books.

I have read some of Elizabeth Moon's books, though so long ago that I couldn't tell you which, and none of Paul Preuss' to my knowledge.

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Monday, March 5, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mike Resnick

Today is Mike Resnick's birthday.

I can't believe I've never, to my knowledge, read anything by him. I've got tons of science fiction on my bookshelves, but apparently nothing by him.

This, in itself, is only mildly surprising. Add in that the man has won not one, not two, but five Hugo awards, and it becomes a minor crime.

The situation is elevated, and I mean more than a little bit, to a "sin against humanity" when I realize that two of these Hugos were won when I was a single man (a phrase which here means "back when I was reading more SF than any other kind of book!")

Sins against humanity? Good thing I write this blog under a pseudonym! (What? You thought Techsplorer was my real name?)

All I can say to absolve myself is that the next time I'm wondering what to read next, I know who I'll be reading! (I just counted his Hugo nominations at his Wikipedia entry—he has been nominated an unbelievable 28 times.)

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Sunday, March 4, 2007

Lemony Snicket: The Grim Grotto (Rating: 6)

Hrmm, a word which here means "Not as good as I'd been hoping!"

Well, obviously I just finished reading The Grim Grotto, Book 11 in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.

And, just as obviously—a phrase which here means "you'd have to be dimmer than Count Olaf not to realize this"—I was underwhelmed.

My best guess is that Mr. Snicket finally read his contract and learned that he gets paid by the word, for he surely padded this book with too many of them.

Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against long books, but I don't like it when too many of these words are the same words, or variations thereof.

Arguably, the purpose of this could be said to be a humorous attempt at preventing you from reading about the awful things that occur to the Beaudelaire orphans in this book.

Perhaps this is true, but not only has the device been done exceedingly in this series so far, but this book takes the ploy to new depths, a phrase which herein means "has made this overused technique excruciatingly annoying, and has really ticked me off!"

By the same token, the same could be said of my overuse of Snicket's more amusing (IMHO) technique, the use of the "which here means" to clarify what a word means (or what he—or in this case I—mean it to mean).

Which brings up another thing, a note for the parents of older children (say, oh, I don't know, ten and above?): read these books first—if you must—to screen them for content that is acceptable in your household, then turn the books loose on your kids, if for no other reason than to teach them some vocabulary.

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Friday, March 2, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

Today is the birthday of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel, March 2, 1904—September 24, 1991), author of countless classic children's books.

One would be hard-pressed to find a more beloved man.

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Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Other New Posting Idea

Here is my other new posting idea: as often as I'm able, I'm going to check various celebrity birthday lists and recommend a way to celebrate the birth of authors who have had birthdays recently.

So, let's celebrate the birth of Ralph Ellison (March 1, 1913—April 16, 1994) by reading his 1953 National Book Award winning novel Invisible Man (not to be confused by the similarly named book by H. G. Wells).

I cannot recommend this book personally, not yet anyway, but I will be putting it on my to be read list.

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A New (If Somewhat Morbid) Posting Idea

I've decided to begin each month by going to the Dead People Server and write about the authors who have passed in the last month. I also have an idea for a less morbid (and more frequently updated) topic that I'll share in my next post.

Perhaps it's because it is a short month, but we were fortunate not too lose too many authors in February.

In fact, the only author listed is Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., a multiple Pulitzer winner. His first Pulitzer was for The Age of Jackson.

He is, however, probably much more famous for A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House, for which he won his second Pulitzer.

It has been more than a thousand days (more than thirty years, I believe), since I read A Thousand Days (my senior year at Somersworth (NH) High School), but I remember liking it a great deal.

So here's your chance to pay tribute to a fallen author and read this book! And if you do, please feel free to share with us all here what you thought! As soon as I have time, I'll have to re-read it myself.

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