An open letter to the Johnson County Library patrons who last borrowed the "Dead Like Me" season 1 DVDs

Learn how to handle DVDs so they don't get so scratched up they're unwatchable. Nimrods.


52 Books in 52 Weeks, 2009 Edition

It’s time for another “52 Books in 52 Weeks” recap.

The grand total was 66 books this year, well above last year’s total. I posted back in October when I met my yearly goal, so the last ten weeks of the year were pretty much gravy.

This year’s histogram:

By comparison, the same chart for last year:

My reading rate was more consistent this year, with two outliers. September was a busy month at work, which I suppose could explain why it was light on reading. June surprises me; you’d think the summer months would be more conducive to reading, but maybe not.

I really focused on continuing series this year. In addition to continuing to work through series by Jim Butcher, Lee Child, and Michael Connelly, I started reading Jasper Fforde, Charlie Huston, and Arthur Phillips.

Yes, I read the Twilight series. No, I’m not ashamed of it; now I know what all the fuss is about. I won’t go on about what I think is wrong with them; others have covered those issues better than I can, though perhaps not quite as humorously as in this comic. I’ll limit myself to saying that anyone who thinks that the Harry Potter series is bad for kids but Twilight isn’t has a misguided set of priorities, in my opinion.

Other quantitative facts:

  • Books by authors whose blogs I read regularly: 4
  • Books I own, signed by the author: 2
  • Books made into movies: 4 (with at least 3 more likely to be in the future)
  • Books that now I can’t remember having read: 2

That last one is probably an indication that I’m reading a little too much, at a rate above my retention level. One of the things I’m planning to do this year is capsule reviews after reading, which should at least give me something to refer back to.

Here’s the entire list for 2009, in reverse chronological order:

  • Coupland, Douglas. Generation A.
  • Fforde, Jasper. Lost In a Good Book.
  • Butcher, Jim. Death Masks.
  • Meyer, Stephenie. Breaking Dawn.
  • Locke, Christopher. Gonzo Marketing: Winning Through Worst Practices.
  • Philips, Arthur. The Egyptologist: A Novel.
  • Posnanski, Joe. The Machine: A Hot Team, a Legendary Season, and a Heart-stopping World Series: The Story of the 1975 Cincinnati Reds.
  • Eggers, Dave. Zeitoun.
  • Niven, Larry and Lerner, Edward M. Destroyer of Worlds.
  • See, Lisa. Shanghai Girls.
  • Brown, Dan. The Lost Symbol.
  • Joss, Morag. Half Broken Things.
  • Milton, Giles. Nathaniel’s Nutmeg, or, The True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History.
  • Almond, Steve. Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America.
  • Silbert, Leslie. The Intelligencer.
  • Stafford, Tom and Webb, Matt. Mind Hacks: Tips & Tools for Using Your Brain in the World.
  • Larsson, Stieg. The Girl Who Played With Fire.
  • Bernstein, Peter L. Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk.
  • Grossman, Austin. Soon I Will Become Invincible.
  • Parker, T. Jefferson. Cold Pursuit.
  • Child, Lee. Echo Burning.
  • Hornfischer, James D. The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors.
  • Fforde, Jasper. The Eyre Affair.
  • Grann, David. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon.
  • Huston, Charlie. No Dominion.
  • Lewis, Michael. The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.
  • Petroski, Henry. Paperboy: Confessions of a Future Engineer.
  • Connelly, Michael. The Last Coyote.
  • Potter, Christopher. You Are Here: A Portable History of the Universe.
  • Meyer, Stephenie. Eclipse.
  • Bonner, Kevin Jan. Furniture Restoration and Repair for Beginners.
  • Butcher, Jim. Summer Knight.
  • Schramm, Ken. The Compleat Meadmaker.
  • Nissel, Angela. Mixed: My Life in Black and White.
  • Meyer, Stephenie. New Moon.
  • Joss, Morag. Fruitful Bodies.
  • Loewen, James W. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.
  • Huston, Charlie. Already Dead.
  • Safina, Carl. Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth’s Last Dinosaur.
  • Connelly, Michael. The Concrete Blonde.
  • Schneier, Bruce. Beyond Fear.
  • Philips, Arthur. Prague: A Novel.
  • Fowler, Chrisopher. The Victoria Vanishes.
  • Meyer, Stephenie. Twilight.
  • Rowling, J.K. The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
  • Roach, Mary. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex.
  • Child, Lee. Running Blind.
  • Petroski, Henry. The Evolution of Useful Things.
  • Butcher, Jim. Grave Peril.
  • Hodgman, John. More Information Than You Require.
  • Sedaris, David. Holidays on Ice.
  • Carlsen, Spike. A Splintered History of Wood: Belt Sander Races, Blind Woodworkers, and Baseball Bats.
  • Vanderbilt, Tom. Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us).
  • Baricco, Alessandro. Silk.
  • Berenson, Alex. The Faithful Spy.
  • Zoellner, Tom. The Heartless Stone: A Journey Through the World of Diamonds, Deceit, and Desire.
  • Larsson, Stieg. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
  • Schwarz, Christopher. Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use.
  • Dublanica, Steve. Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip – Confessions of a Cynical Waiter.
  • O’Connell, Carol. Dead Famous.
  • Jay, Ricky. Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women.
  • Sobel, Dava. Galileo’s Daughter.
  • Pelecanos, George. The Turnaround.
  • Hieronymus, Stan. Brew Like a Monk.
  • Wright, Evan. Generation Kill: Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America, and the New Face of American War.
  • Rucka, Greg. A Gentleman’s Game.


Variations on a Theme by an Insomniac

  • I spent a little time playing with styling this blog by hand, then decided to fall back to one of Blogger's built-in themes. I'm still not 100% happy, but it will do for now.
  • This has been a good 52 Books/52 Weeks year. I finished #66 yesterday; I may get #67 before the year is out.
  • It's midnight, and I'm browsing through blog posts from six years ago instead of sleeping.


#52 is in the house.

So is #53. I don't know which of the two I'll finish first. And it's only the middle of October.


More blog plumbing

I have connected this blog to my Twitter account through twitterfeed. Let's see if this works.


Pardon the dust.

I'm fiddling with the theme and other mechanical whatnots, so things may be a bit on the garish side for a little while. I apologize in advance to anyone who still reads this rag besides me for any offenses to your visual acuity or good taste.

Today, we were supposed to go camping.

Four years ago today, we were supposed to go on a family camping trip. Instead, we went to the hospital, and our lives were never the same again.

September 22, 2005. Abbey started exhibiting the symptoms of a stomach bug: vomiting, lethargy. We were heading down to southern Missouri for a campout the next day, and figured this was a case of bad timing at the worst.

Throughout the night, she was up every half hour to throw up. Then we noticed the panting, the shortness of breath, and started to suspect that there was something more going on. We called the 24-hour nurse line: "Sounds like an asthma attack. Go ahead and take her to the emergency room."

The ER doctor took one whiff of her breath: "She's in DKA—she needs to be admitted immediately." An hour later, we were in the pediatric ICU at Children's Mercy Hospital, feeling shell-shocked and wondering about the future.

* * *

Abbey has been living with type 1 diabetes for four years now. Publicly, she leads the life of a normal ten-year-old, but privately it's anything but. She wears an insulin infusion pump, to ensure that her blood doesn't turn toxic. She sticks her fingers eight times a day to check her blood sugar level, to ensure that it's under control. She monitors what she eats, to ensure that the carbohydrates in her food are matched with enough insulin to metabolize them.

On October 10, 2009, we'll be participating in the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund is committed to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes—not just treatment, but eradication of the disease in those who currently have it as well as its prevention in those who don't.

Please consider donating to our team.


Ten Years Ago: "Cottingham TNG" Ships

This was originally posted to the InfoWorld Electric forums on 01 April 1999.

PR: "Cottingham TNG" Ships

April 1, 1999
For Immediate Release


Cottingham & Cottingham (C&C) of Olathe, KS, USA today announced their first product, Abigail Rose. "This product represents a major milestone for C&C," said marketing director Craig S. Cottingham. "Abigail Rose is was designed and produced entirely by C&C, from the ground up."

C&C describes Abigail Rose as "a cooperative set of non-linear servoactuators controlled by a non-deterministic processor, in a package only 20" long and weighing only 8 lb, 6 oz." What sets Abigail Rose apart is that the processor ships with only basic functionality enabled. More advanced tasks become possible as Abigail Rose adapts to its environment, effectively "learning" new behaviors. "It's amazing to watch," noted Cottingham. "In the few short hours since the release party, we've seen an increase in input/output processing and fewer audible error conditions." Abigail Rose also includes an adaptive code generator featuring C&C's Dynamic Realtime Object Oriented Language (DROOL), and can produce large quantities of DROOL in a short time period.

The product was announced at a developer's conference held on an unlikely date (April 1st, commonly known as "April Fool's Day" in the US) at an unlikely time (5:45 AM CST) in an unlikely location (St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, MO, USA). "At first we were worried that people might think that the announcement was some kind of April Fool's Day prank," Cottingham said. "At C&C, however, we believe that once the product is ready, it ships." As evidence, he pointed to the fact that the development team, led by Angela Cottingham, was working hard right up to the literal moment the product was released. "We're very proud of the quality of work they did. We in the marketing department basically provided them with an incomplete design specification, and they came up with this gem."

Additional details on Abigail Rose, including product illustrations, can be found at http://picasaweb.google.com/craig.cottingham/AbigailRose19990401

About Cottingham & Cottingham (C&C)

C&C was formed in 1995 from the merger of two unrelated corporate entities, with the goal of maximizing long-term gains while providing an enjoyable end-user experience. They can be reached at craig.cottingham@gmail.com.