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Uncertain Principles

Physics, Politics, Pop Culture

Friday, February 21, 2003

I'm Moving Very Fast, But Have No Idea Where I Am

Chateau Steelypips has just upgraded to DSL service. It's just amazing how much of a difference broadband makes-- I'll be able to waste time at four times the usual rate, now...

On a related note, part of the DSL upgrade will include moving my other personal pages onto, as it no longer makes sense to pay Earthlink for Internet access when we're paying Verizon a rather larger sum of money for broadband. This means that my email will soon be changing as well.

On an unrelated note, I just ponied up an alumni donation to my alma mater, which asked me to choose a title from a pull-down menu. The list of available titles went well beyond the usual "Mr./Ms./Dr.." choices, starting (alphabetically) with: 1) 1st Lt., 2) Ambassador, and 3) Apostle. Sadly, none of the other choices managed to top "Apostle"-- neither "Emperor" nor "Pope" made the list-- but after that, calling myself "Professor" seems so... mundane.

Actual content will follow soon, but it's been a rough week.

Posted at 8:29 PM | link | follow-ups | 6 comments

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Bells and Whistles

By popular request (well, one person emphatically requested it), I'm attempting to add an RSS feed to this weblog. I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing, nor am I completely sure what the purpose is, but I think that I've entered the appropriate data to cause an RSS (version 0.91, as it's all Blogger will do) file to appear here. Or maybe not. We'll find out, won't we?

Posted at 5:34 PM | link | follow-ups | 3 comments

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Not Shoveling Alone

In recent years, a favorite argument of the "we're going to Hell in a handbasket" crowd has been the "Bowling Alone" thesis-- that we're becoming more and more isolated as individuals, and less and less associated with groups. People used to join bowling leagues, the argument goes, but now they go bowling alone. This is often held up to be a sign of the Decay of All That Is Good and Right in American society.

On the other hand, we've had three major snow storms since we bought this house. After the first (about two feet of snow on Christmas Day), someone who lives down the street walked past while I was leaning out the window trying to shift a large pile of snow off the roof over the garage. He went home, got a spare roof rake, and gave it to us. (I used it again this morning to clear the roof over the garage, though a later release of snow from the (slate) roof of the main house put some new snow up there (and almost dropped directly on me, which would not have been fun...).)

The day after the second storm, another two-footer a week later, our new next-door neighbor loaned me his brand new snow blower (he wound up driving about fifteen miles to get it after it had already started snowing...) so I could clear the driveway.

The third storm hit yesterday, and dropped another foot-and-a-half or so on the Schenectady area. This morning, the woman who lives across the street came home while I was shoveling the driveway out, went into her garage, and brought over a snow blower to help clear my driveway. And she did this before clearing her own driveway.

In between those, the next-door neighbors on the other side dropped by to give us a bottle of wine as a "welcome to the neighborhood" present. And on another occasion, two complete strangers stopped to help Kate get her car out of a snowbank.

Yeah, I know that this individual-level stuff isn't the sort of "social capital" that Putnam is talking about in his book. But just about every time I start thinking that people in general suck, and the general thesis that everything's falling apart isn't too far off, stuff like this happens, and I change my mind.

We picked a hell of a winter to buy a house, but I'm very happy with our new neighborhood.

Posted at 5:42 PM | link | follow-ups | 3 comments

What I Learned at the Sci-Fi Convention

We managed to make it to Boskone and back ahead of the fiendish Al Qaeda attack that has paralyzed much of the East Coast (postponing a critical ACC game, and knocking it off tv. Curse you, Osama bin Laden!). Our weekend wasn't nearly as eventful as the Nielsen Hayden's (condolences and congratulations in equal measures), but it was plenty interesting and plenty tiring.

And also informative. I learned that Teresa Nielsen Hayden on a con panel is like a live-action version of Making Light, while having David Brin on a con panel is like having one of his polemical essays SHOUTED at you. I learned that "Charles Dodgson" is not, in fact, an amazingly good AI (I've been trying to find something to say about this post, but I have nothing to add...), while Charlie Stross looks exactly like a Fabulous Furry Freak Brother and highly recommends movies in which angst-ridden heroin addicts blow the hell out of each other with big guns in abandoned Polish warehouses. What I'm going to do with that information, I don't know.

I learned that there's another Peter Crossman novel in the works, which sounds like a doozy, and that everyone should go buy The Apocalypse Door by James D. Macdonald. Actually, I already knew that last bit, but if you didn't, get thee to a bookstore. While your there, buy the Mageworlds books, too.

I learned that this weblog is read by people I've never actually met before. I sort of knew that, but it's always surprising (and flattering) to be reminded of it. I also got to put faces to several names known through various subsets of the Internet, which is always good.

I also leaned that even when I stay up until two in the morning drinking beer and talking about famous or semi-famous authors, I still wake up at seven. I'd be happier not knowing that, but you take the bad with the good.

And somewhere in there, I learned that there are books printed in Iceland. That's not particularly useful, but I do think it's sort of cool.

On the bright side, I don't have to teach today, so I get to loaf around the house and read some of my new books. Except for the bit where I have to grade lab reports. And paint some of the trim in the dining room. And touch up the kitchen. And move some boxes of books in from the car. And shovel a foot of snow out of the driveway.

Bloody hell.

Posted at 10:02 AM | link | follow-ups | 4 comments

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