There's another one in the family, now.

Angela just got back from the hospital, where her niece was just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The good news is, since we went through the same thing two and a half years ago, Angela's brother and his wife had a better idea of what they were dealing with than we did at the time. As a result, their daughter wasn't as far into DKA as our daughter was. The bad news is, there's now one more child in the world with diabetes.


Finally, graft and corruption.

We went to Wichita yesterday for Equifest of Kansas, a horse-related expo. It was nice to get out of the house and go somewhere that we hadn't been before. On the plus side, to get there from here you go through the Flint Hills, which is the closest thing we have in Kansas to, well, hills. On the minus side, apparently I snore when I sleep, and I snore louder (or perhaps more) in hotel beds than the one at home, so neither my wife nor my daughter got as much sleep as they'd have liked.

For lunch on Saturday we went to River City Brewing Company in Old Town Wichita. They're in the middle of their 15th anniversary celebration, and the place was packed even at about 2 in the afternoon. For the occasion, they had on tap a porter aged in Bulleit bourbon whiskey barrels; it had a slight oaky, smoky flavor, as well as a touch of bourbon—which is not necessarily a bad thing. I also sampled an oak-aged old ale, which was tasty but had little to none of the oxidized character you usually find in an old ale. The chocolate bock was lighter in body than a traditional bock (note that I'm not talking about Shiner Bock here), but with some roasty, chocolately notes that you don't find in a maibock. The Rock Island Red was a good American pale ale, but not red enough for an American amber (which a red ale should qualify as).

Yes, I judge beer even when I'm out for food or fun. This time, I was aided and abetted by our friend Stephen, who not only is a horse person (we met up with him at Equifest) but also a fellow homebrewer from the NE Kansas area. He noticed that several customers were carrying T-shirts the same burnt-orange color as those the waitstaff were wearing, and asked our server about them. She said they weren't for sale, but the manager was giving them away to selected individuals at his discretion. Upon hearing this, Stephen and I pulled out our BJCP membership cards and explained that we are registered beer judges, and did that count for anything? Sure enough, she came back a few minutes later with T-shirts for us.

See? Being a beer judge is cool. :-)


There is no dark side of the moon...

...fact is, it's all dark.

Taken with a Canon PowerShot A530 jammed up against a 25mm eyepiece in a 4.5" Newtonian telescope. I was hoping to get a picture at the moment of totality, but the mother of all cloudbanks moved in from the southwest.


Amazon is not killing the iTunes Store any time soon.

I have finally started clearing out our CD collection. There are a lot of discs in here that we never listen to, and others that we bought just for one song. (Remember when that was your only option?) Half Price Books offers a decent price for used CDs with little hassle, so that has been my outlet of choice so far. The proceeds from selling discs will go to buying individual tracks to replace more CDs, though I’ve found fewer than ten songs so far that I feel need to be replaced.

Not every song on CD is available at the iTunes Store, and getting rid of plastic mass outweighs brand loyalty in this case. Amazon’s MP3 store got a lot of press a few months back for offering DRM-free music at a price matching or beating Apple’s FairPlay-protected files. I figure that’s a good alternative, right?

One of the discs I’m looking to replace is a compilation of songs from movie soundtracks, produced by Blockbuster. The only track worth keeping is Vince Gill’s “Ophelia” from the Mel Gibson-Jodie Foster flick Maverick. The iTunes Store doesn’t have it, so let’s check the Amazon MP3 store.

Searching on “vince gill” is easy enough, but returns 285 results, more than I’m willing to sift through. Any way to refine the search? Not that I can see. Okay, I’ll sort by song title and just page down to the “O”s. Clicking on the “Song Title” column header doesn’t work. Off to the right, I notice a dropdown that says “Sort by”. That looks promising. My options are “Relevance”, “Bestselling”, “Price: Low to High”, “Price: High to Low”, “Avg. Customer Review”, and “Release Date”. No “Song Title”, no “Album”, apparently no “Artist” (assuming I searched on just a last name or the name of a song or album).

And like that, I suspect that I won’t be shopping the Amazon MP3 store again any time soon.


What's next, a Gopher client?

Lotus Notes on the iPhone


52 Books in 52 Weeks, 2006 Edition

For the sake of completeness, here is the list of books I read in 2006. I didn’t realize until now that I only managed 48 books that year, which I think says a lot about rules and how they can do more harm than good.

  • Colicchio, Tom. Think Like a Chef.
  • Bear, Greg. Dead Lines.
  • Alder, Ken. The Measure of All Things.
  • Wozniak, Steve. iWoz: How I invented the personal computer, co-founded Apple, and had fun doing it.
  • Spencer-Fleming, Julia. All Mortal Flesh.
  • Coupland, Douglas. JPod.
  • O’Brien, Cormac. Secret Lives of the First Ladies: What Your Teachers Never Told You About the Women of the White House.
  • Haddon, Mark. A Spot of Bother.
  • DeMille, Nelson. The Charm School.
  • Connelly, Michael. Void Moon.
  • MacDonald, Laura. Curse of the Narrows.
  • Barry, Dave. Tricky Business.
  • Pelecanos, George P. Down By the River Where the Dead Men Go.
  • Pelecanos, George P. Nick’s Trip.
  • Pelecanos, George P. A Firing Offense.
  • Vowell, Sarah. Assassination Vacation.
  • Taber, George M. Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine.
  • Oliver, Garrett. The Brewmaster’s Table.
  • Noonen, Greg. New Brewing Lager Beer.
  • MacFarlane, Alan. The Empire of Tea: The Remarkable History of the Plant that Took Over the World.
  • Meloy, Maile. Liars and Saints.
  • Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Child, Lee. The Hard Way.
  • Marson, Bonnie. Sleeping with Schubert.
  • Pratchett, Terry. Thud!
  • Ackerman, Kenneth D. Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield.
  • Roach, Mary. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.
  • Standage, Tom. A History of the World in 6 Glasses.
  • Cody, Diablo. Candy Girl.
  • Rucka, Greg. Private Wars.
  • Smith, Kyle. Love Monkey.
  • Johnson, Steven. Everything Bad is Good For You: How Today’s Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter.
  • Toole, John Kennedy. A Confederacy of Dunces.
  • Defrain, Darren. The Salt Palace.
  • Tayman, John. The Colony: The Harrowing True Story of the Exiles of Molokai.
  • King, Stephen. Cell.
  • Winchester, Simon. A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906.
  • Robbins, Tom. Wild Ducks Flying Backward.
  • Pratchett, Terry. Going Postal.
  • Levitt, Steven D. and Dubner, Stephen J. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.
  • Gaiman, Neil. Anansi Boys.
  • Hornby, Nick. A Long Way Down.
  • Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink.
  • Berendt, John. The City of Falling Angels.
  • Pelecanos, George. Hard Revolution.
  • Story, Rosalyn. More than You Know.
  • Krakauer, Jon. Into the Wild.
  • Grafton, Sue. S is for Silence.

52 Books in 52 Weeks, 2007 Edition

In past years, I’ve tried a number of rules to adhere to the letter of the “52 books in 52 weeks” law. In general, I’ve found they get in the way of just reading. So, this year I lifted most of the restrictions, and decided to start on 1 January, stop on 31 December, and come what may in the middle.

The results were a little surprising.

I passed 52 books somewhere in October or November, I forget which. Even with something of a dry spell towards the end of the year, I still managed to finish my 65th book on 30 December.

Highlights from the year in reading:

  • No more Harry Potter books. This is a mixed blessing, as they got so big there at the end that they took a fair chunk of time to read.
  • Three more novels by Lee Child from the Jack Reacher series. I feel a little guilty about devoting so much of the year (almost 5%) to a single author, but they’re ripping yarns, and I just can’t help myself.
  • Three books with “CIA” in the title. I didn’t notice that until reviewing this list.
  • I’m glad I have discovered Angela Nissel. (Come to think of it, her book makes two by panelists from NPR’s quiz show Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me.)
  • Ken Jennings’ Braniac led me to http://www.ken-jennings.com, which was worth reading the book by itself. (Not that the book wasn’t worth it, too. Highly recommended.) I’ve been subscribed to his Tuesday Trivia email for several months now, and while I don’t compete for the big prizes, I enjoy playing along at home.

Forward-selling for 2008:

  • After two years, Sue Grafton finally delivered T is for Trespass. Santa delivered it below the tree. It will be my first read for the year. (By this weekend. I promise.)
  • Also on deck currently are The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold (author of The Lovely Bones, which remains one of my favorite books evar) and Heat by Bill Buford (a spontaneous pickup at the library).
  • And of course, some fraction of the hundreds of books on my todo list.

The list for 2007, in reverse chronological order:

  • Child, Lee. Die Trying.
  • Gischler, Victor. Suicide Squeeze.
  • Bodanis, David. Electric Universe: The Shocking True Story of Electricity.
  • Rankin, Ian. Watchman.
  • Couch, Dick. The Finishing School: Earning the Navy SEAL Trident.
  • Pratchett, Terry. Making Money.
  • Ferguson, Niall. Colossus: The Price of America’s Empire.
  • Miller, John Ramsey. Inside Out.
  • Finder, Joseph. Paranoia.
  • Abbott, Karen. Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys and the Battle for America’s Soul.
  • Gibson, William. Spook Country.
  • Black, Baxter. Hey, Cowboy, Wanna Get Lucky?
  • Brooks, Max. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.
  • Hosseini, Khaled. A Thousand Splendid Suns.
  • Connolly, John. Bad Men.
  • Connelly, Michael. The Black Echo.
  • Taleb, Nassim Nicholas. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.
  • Plotz, Dave. The Genius Factory.
  • Moran, Lindsay. Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy.
  • Pelecanos, George. Drama City.
  • Reilly, Rick. Hate Mail from Cheerleaders.
  • Levinson, Marc. The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger.
  • Bryson, Bill. A Walk in the Woods.
  • Child, Lee. Killing Floor.
  • Picoult, Jody. Nineteen Minutes.
  • Butcher, Jim. White Night.
  • Joss, Morag. Funeral Music.
  • Budiansky, Stephen. Battle of Wits.
  • Diamond, Jared. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.
  • Dunning, John. The Bookman’s Promise.
  • Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
  • Yuan, Michael Juntao and Heute, Thomas. JBoss Seam: Simplicity and Power Beyond Java EE.
  • Meltzer, Brad. The Zero Game.
  • Pelecanos, George. The Night Gardener.
  • Gehtland, Justin; Galbraith, Ben; Almaer, Dion. Pragmatic Ajax.
  • Nissel, Angela. The Broke Diaries: The Completely True and Hilarious Misadventures of a Good Girl Gone Broke.
  • Brogan, Jan. A Confidential Source.
  • Bodanis, David. E=mc2: A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation.
  • Preston, Douglas and Child, Lincoln. Still Life with Crows.
  • Smiley, Jane. A Year at the Races: Reflections on Horses, Humans, Love, Money and Luck.
  • Phillips, Scott. Cottonwood.
  • Sterling, Bruce. The Zenith Angle.
  • Child, Lee. Bad Luck and Trouble.
  • Godin, Seth. Small is the New Big, and 183 Other Riffs, Rants, and Remarkable Business Ideas.
  • Hiaasen, Carl. Nature Girl.
  • Tennant, Alan. On the Wing: To the Edge of the Earth With the Peregrine Falcon.
  • Lehrer, Kate. Confessions of a Bigamist.
  • Viesturs, Ed with Roberts, David. No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s Highest Peaks.
  • Schwarcz, Joe. The Fly in the Ointment: 70 Fascinating Commentaries on the Science of Everyday Life.
  • Krueger, William Kent. Blood Hollow.
  • Anderson, Chris. The Long Tail.
  • Andrews, Russell. Aphrodite.
  • Roth, Philip. The Plot Against America.
  • Heffernan, Thomas Farel. Mutiny on the Globe: The Fatal Voyage of Samuel Comstock.
  • Johansen, Iris. Fatal Tide.
  • Katzenbach, John. The Analyst.
  • Gaiman, Neil. Fragile Things.
  • Halpern, Jake. Braving Home: Dispatches from the Underwater Town, the Lava-Side Inn, and other extreme locales.
  • Littell, Robert. The Company: A Novel of the CIA.
  • Duncan, Dayton. Horatio’s Drive: America’s First Road Trip.
  • Jensen, Jane. Dante’s Equation.
  • Richelson, Jeffrey. The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology.
  • Felber, Adam. Schrödinger’s Ball.
  • Groneberg, Tom. One Good Horse.
  • Jennings, Ken. Braniac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs.