Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Month: September, 2007


Map of Humanity. I’d like to think I’d be on the continent of Reason. Preferably somewhere near Answers. Or maybe on the continent of Wisdom, about the Land of Oz. (Wait a minute…Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory is actually on the map? Awesome!) Of course, the bad part of humanity is equally as fascinating.

Landmark Colors: Portmeirion, Wales. Wow. I did not know that the village from “The Prisoner” is actually real. I had always assumed it was some wacky stage set, but apparently not.

Academics: Still Totally Lame. When it comes to hobbies, people will only admit to the “hip” or “geeky” ones. No one’s going to admit to a guilty pleasure that their peers and society will view as unacceptably deviant. You know, people have to consider their jobs and their reputations first. So why ask in the first place? I think the questioners are secretly hoping that somebody will crack and give them a Big Sordid Story which will win tons of readers.


Booking Through Thursday: Friendship

Buy a Friend a Book Week is October 1-7 (as well as the first weeks of January, April, and July). During this week, you’re encouraged to buy a friend a book for no good reason. Not for their birthday, not because it’s a holiday, not to cheer them up–just because it’s a book.

What book would you choose to give to a friend and why?

Maybe this is a cop-out answer, but it would really depend on who this friend is. I would get a book in a genre that they like reading in and something that they haven’t read before.

But if I were to give a book to a random friend, I’d probably choose Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. Cool murder mystery with monks, puzzles, a library!, and tons of history. More people need to read that book–not just weird old guys trying to look hip while waiting at the airport.

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The Thursday Threesome: The Dentist or Flying?

Onesome: The Dentist?– …a bigger ‘scary factor’ than than flying? What do you think?

I don’t think it’s more scary. Definitely more uncomfortable.

Twosome: or– maybe you have coping skills to handle dental visits? Would you care to share any of them?

As they say, “Think of England.” Well, not literally England, but you know what I mean.

Threesome: Flying– has received a really bad rap this year. Deserved? …or is all sweetness and light now?

It’s the stuff you have to do before you board the plane that’s annoying.

Heh, He Said Schrödinger

Dirty quantum mechanics jokes done right. I had a biochem prof who kept emphasizing the SN2 reaction as “The backside attack!” in lecture. Geez, I had such a hard time keeping a straight face and not snickering.

Fuzzy Stuff

During a small bit of free time, I was about to sit down to attempt work on an outline for the kamikaze novel I do every November, when I heard a mewling sound outside my apartment door.

This is nuts, I thought. I’m just hearing things.

The mewling continued.

So I put on my running shoes and opened the door a crack. A small bewhiskered pink nose peeked from the bottom of the door. “Meow?” I closed the door.

Crap! What do I do now?

I grabbed my keys and managed to get into the hallway without the fuzzball streaking into my apartment. I picked up the wriggling feline, a fluffy brown and black cat with a white muzzle and white paws, and it began to purr. Well-fed but no collar, I noticed.

Is this cool or crazy? The apartment building doesn’t allow pets. None of my other neighbors own a cat (I know, because I knocked on a bunch of doors and asked). Since I don’t have the equipment to take care of a cat (nor do I want to ignore the terms of my lease), I made the hard decision of leaving the cat outside, hoping that it will eventually head back to its owner–if it indeed has one. And if it’s still there tomorrow, I suppose I’ll have to call animal control*.

I guess what annoys me about the whole situation is not the cat itself, but the humans who are supposed to be taking care of the animal. Sure, it might be a stray, but if it isn’t, the least the owners could have done was to put identifying information on a collar so the pet could be returned.

*I did not call animal control now because they won’t come until tomorrow anyway.

And It’s…

Tangled Bank #89 over at Aardvarchaeology. Go read some science!


Not surprisingly, my 100,000th visitor came some time yesterday via Google. Also, not very interesting and somewhat disappointing–they came for an image on Mixotricha paradoxa that I linked to but I didn’t actually put on the blog.

Wow, the Mother Lode

Previously, I mentioned this. But apparently, my skepticism was ill-founded because I got the following in my inbox today:

“Now I’m here to unveil the identities of three more of this year’s NaNoWriMo pep talkers. They are…drum roll please…the ferocious Garth Nix! The fantastic Naomi Novik! And the awesome Neil Gaiman!”

How crazy is that? I actually own books by all three of these authors.

And for those Nano-ers who could care less about fantasy, two other authors on the pep talk list are Sue Grafton and Tom Robbins.


My neighbors laughed at me for scraping frost off the windshield.

Idiots. You try driving blind.

No Peeking in the Black Box

I find myself getting swept up into something that I never really expected to get a glimpse of, and I’d have to say I’m kind of looking forward to it with morbid fascination. In reality, though, it might be extremely banal. While I’m imagining observing the equivalent of weird rituals of Cthulhu worshippers, it might actually be as snooze inducing as uninspired PowerPoint presentations in a board room.


Booking Through Thursday: Sunshine and Roses

Imagine that everything is going just swimmingly. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and all’s right with the world. You’re practically bouncing from health and have money in your pocket. The kids are playing and laughing, the puppy is chewing in the cutest possible manner on an officially-sanctioned chew toy, and in between moments of laughter for pure joy, you pick up a book to read . . .

What is it?

I have no idea. I’d still not be rereading, but I would be game for almost anything. I might even be feeling magnanimous enough to finish some not-so-good lit fic that I’ve put off before in exasperation.

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The Thursday Threesome: Details, Details, Details

Onesome: “Details–are everything!”, or so it is said. Are [you] a details person? …or a big picture person?

Sometimes details are cool. Sometimes they’re necessary. But the meaning of life and happiness in general? I could do without the details. In certain things, I’m more of an advocate for the conceptual rather than the detailed. There’s a balance one must strike between details and big picture–and I sort of get irritated when people embrace the extremes.

Twosome: Details– (in the military definition) can be a royal pain: what routine detail at your job/school/home would you cheerfully off-load to someone else?

I’m not up on my military jargon, so I’m guessing you mean chores. If I could off-load all of them to someone else, I’d be very happy.

Threesome: Details– and devils: what are you willing to work on nearly endlessly until you “get it right”?

Endlessly? That sounds ominously Sisyphean. Sure, there’s a certain amount of work that goes into school and lab, but if things continually go wrong, you have to decide at some point to abandon that particular approach. For one thing, you’re just repeating your mistakes. Two, you’re wasting your time. And three, your boss will just be pissed that you’re wasting resources with no progress to show for it.

The same thing goes for creative endeavors. In writing, for instance, there’s revision involved of course, but there’s a point when you have to say, okay it’s done, and send it off. Unlike works that require years of research or slow writing for one reason or another, chronic revising is bad. Sure, that story is your baby, but babies grow up. And you just have to let go.