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Popular series of fiction, fancy, and fact.

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Dept. Of How The Mighty Have Fallen [Jan. 19th, 2014|08:55 am]
Popular series of fiction, fancy, and fact.

My livejournal friends list now consists of about six people including George RR Martin, and a Russian RSS feed that posts photos of animals.

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Marathon Numero Three-o [Dec. 5th, 2011|04:34 pm]
Popular series of fiction, fancy, and fact.
Executive summary: Drove up to Sacramento, ran the California International Marathon, drove back.

I missed my running peeps duckierose and aprilbegins but still had a reasonably good time. I got to the starting line around 5:30, and was one of the first people there. It was COLD, despite the awesome long-sleeved running shirt that the marathon provided. I discovered a nearby Store 24 that was heated, and spent an hour huddling there for warmth. The proprietor even let me have a cup of hot water for free, even though I offered to buy it as "tea".

The route started at Folsom Dam, or rather, on a road next to a sign that said "Folsom Dam". There wasn't actually any mile-high wall or billowing waterfalls in view. The route was suburban, passing through residential areas, cute "old town" type stretches, and strip malls. We ended up at the capitol. I kind of wish Arnold were still in power, for surely he would have appeared at a high window in dramatic silhouette, giving a thumbs-up to the legions of fitness enthusiasts below.

The race was well-organized. Mile markers at every mile, and plentiful water stations whose frequency increased at the very end.

There were the usual cheerers-on along the way, of course thinning out as the day wore on. My favorite: a guy early on holding a sign that said "You are not almost there. Keep running." Honorable mention goes to the World's Worst Brass Band, who sounded like three high school brass bands all playing different songs. Least favorite enthusiast: around mile 20, bull-necked woman with a cowbell shouting "FOCUS!"

The results aren't in yet, but I probably finished close to my Vegas Marathon time. This was a harder run; though billed as "downhill", which it technically was in terms of total elevation change, the experience was more of a series of rolling ups and downs, which were mild but felt increasingly weighty towards the end. If you ascend 100 feet it's small consolation that you get to descend 110 feet.

I somehow listened to, and followed, an 85bpm click the entire race without going crazy. Also listened to Adam Carolla and the Pretty Good Podcast. For a while I kept up with the pace runners (4'15, then later 5'25). Though I eventually dropped behind both, I might try to actually follow one to the finish next year. It seems like a fun and social way to reach a goal speed.

Though it was an incremental improvement, I felt less muscular pain than during the last two marathons. (During Vegas I remember reaching the 13mile point and wondering if I could actually go on, which was definitely not the case here.) I more often ran into fatigue issues, particularly in the 20s, where it felt like I was jogging against an invisible wall of rubber. My fault for not training more in the 20-mile range.

Special props to my iPod Touch, who ran the entire time and still had over half its battery left at the end.
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Nobjectstalgia [Aug. 16th, 2011|08:40 am]
Popular series of fiction, fancy, and fact.
Instagram makes digital photos look like faded, sepia-stained analog photos. Several apps on my iPad sport interfaces that mock physical objects. The Notes application looks like a leather binder. Address book on the iPad looks like an old-timey address book, and the regular computer version adopted the same look with OSX Lion. Valuable screenspace is devoted to non-functional trimmings, like graphics of stitched leather and torn paper. What's going on here?

In the 19th century, there was a trend across the arts to romanticize nature or rustic lifestyle, perceived as lost due to the advances of industrialization. Hence all the paintings of picnics and dawn breaking over mountains, and so on. I think we're witnessing something analogous here. The omnipresence of software in our lives (ever more so since mobile gadgets have become constant companions) makes people nostalgic for the simpler days of physical address books, organizers, Trappers, and the like. Never mind that those objects were nuisances and we'd be appalled if we had to go back to them for more than a brief novelty experience.

Much as every generation of teens becomes briefly enamored with the music of the prior generation (to which they were exposed when they were impressionable young'ns), I expect analog romanticism to flare in the millennials and perhaps their immediate successors, then gently fade.
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More about the new toy. [Jul. 4th, 2011|11:36 pm]
Popular series of fiction, fancy, and fact.

Okay, I lied. I'm writing another post on my iPad. I'm really quite comfortable and speedy with the pretend keyboard. The only thing really holding up my speed is the extra work needed for apostrophes, and editing.

Some other things I've found the iPad to be great for:

- Video chat. This has been around for years on normal computers, but I've hardly ever used it, and even then rarely for social purposes. The iPad changes the experience drastically, There's something about being able to hold someone's face in your hands that makes the experience more personal, not to mention physically comfortable. Plus the audio quality is better than that of most cell phones. Eleanor and I have gotten good use out of this with her in Colorado.

- Sketching. Doodling on the touch screen with your finger is addictive, and programs like Art Studio Lite ($0) make it easy. Plus, the iPad facebook client I use lets you upload such images effortlessly, as you might have noticed from the stream of scribbles on my page. This may bode well, (or, depending on your aesthetics, ill) for Joe the Circle.

- Writing LiveJournal entries from bed. Hey, I didn't say it was a good idea, just easy.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

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(no subject) [May. 11th, 2011|03:55 pm]
Popular series of fiction, fancy, and fact.
Livejournal looks funny.
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D-sign [Jul. 29th, 2010|09:54 am]
Popular series of fiction, fancy, and fact.
Yesterday I replaced my laptop's power cable, which had frayed from years of mobile computing. Somewhere in the intervening time Apple redesigned the power cable's magnetic plug; instead of a protruding knob, it's a sleek snakelike extension that's less likely to get knocked out. The visual effect for such a small detail is striking. My entire computer looks rejuvenated. How the hell do you do it, Apple?
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Spec Fic in Review [Jul. 3rd, 2010|02:13 pm]
Popular series of fiction, fancy, and fact.
After a wobbly start, series - What are we up to? Six? - of Doctor Who has finally started to exhibit the potential we all dreamed about when Stephen Moffat took over. The Doctor and Vincent is almost a mini-movie, and one of the most emotionally satisfying episodes since Series Two. I may actually like Matt Smith more than David Tennant. Is that wrong?

* * *

Anathem: When I first picked up this book, I put it away after reading half a chapter. The complex alternate Earth with its dizzying array of concepts and barrage of terminology was just too much effort to parse. But I've re-tackled it and am enjoying the very challenge that put me off the first time. Stephenson's idea of monks who practice math and science instead of religion is deeply thought-out, and the attentive reader will get a lot of pleasure noting the continuities of his world and unravelling its mysteries. All the little details - like the substitution of "saunt" (itself a linguistic corruption of "savant") for "saint" - are clever but logical. Students of intellectual history will be amused as theories of Plato, Kant, and the rest re-appear under different names. I'm too early in the book to have a final verdict, but I repeat my oft-stated opinion that reading Neil Stephenson makes you smarter. He remains one of my favorite authors of any genre.
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Incompatible genres [Jun. 30th, 2010|10:02 am]
Popular series of fiction, fancy, and fact.
I popped into Borders last night and discovered that the Fantasy genre section, which is explicitly reserved for books with swords on the cover, was being invaded by books with pretty-boy vampires on the cover. Not just Twilight but endless knockoffs. WTF.

Dear Borders: Books about dragons (etc) and books about vampires, though superficially both members of the speculative fiction family, exist on entirely opposite emotional planes, with polarized prioritization of violence and romance. You might as well combine books about cats and books about eating cats. Stop it.
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Dear LJ Genie, Part II: [Jun. 22nd, 2010|07:26 pm]
Popular series of fiction, fancy, and fact.
Dear LJ Genie,

It looks like my connection speed is about half the "up to" speed in my service. Is this typical?

(It's pretty slow to begin with... the "up to" speed is 680 or so kbps, and I'm getting around 350. I figure I should upgrade, but if other services actually give you the "up to" speed, then maybe I should switch over to them instead.)

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Dear LJ Genie: [Jun. 22nd, 2010|07:11 pm]
Popular series of fiction, fancy, and fact.
I'm thinking of upgrading my DSL service. But before I do that... is there any way to approximately determine what my actual connection speed is right now? (I'm curious how close it matches AT&T's theoretical numbers.)
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