Tag: Sibling-the-Elder

Let us then evoke Anathem

When Stephenson’s Anathem came out a couple of years ago, I was extremely excited. Sibling-the-Elder bought me a copy and just as soon as I had a few minutes, I was going to charge into it.

It is now 2011 and I’ve just finally finished it. This was the first book that I’d read start to finish on a Kindle, a DX that I borrowed from work. My ringing pronouncement on the e-ink format? It was okay. I really disliked not having page numbers, missed being able to flip back and forth easily, and just didn’t feel like I was making progress. I didn’t realize there were fully explained calca at the end nor a collected version of the dictionary terms that are scattered through the book until I got there. I would have preferred to read the calca in context and several times I wanted to bounce back to the beginning for a look at the calendar but wasn’t at ease with it.  The text would go from vertical to horizontal if it didn’t like the angle I was sitting at, which I found annoying, and ultimately, it still felt like screen time.  It does weigh less than the hardcover though and I haven’t had to charge it.

Despite its physical weight (the hardcover is nearly 3 lbs) and length (960 pages), Anathem is one of Stephenson’s more accessible texts.  Creating an alternate world, he poses questions about religion, math as a different kind of religion, monastic living, secular versus religious power (though he poses it as secular vs math–so, secular vs science), youth succeeding to responsibility, nuclear weapons, and how we as humans would deal with an alien presence.

At the most basic level, Stephenson presents you with a coming of age tale: beginning to question one’s abilities, losing trusted mentors, first love, learning to rely on friends and recognize that they too are coming of age and skill.  But his world building goes far beyond that, poking not so gentle fun at the general populace and fixation on entertainment and a drug that keeps on always happy and distracted. Only those who raise their own food are immune from the “All’s Well” permeating the regular diet and keeping one distracted. Combined with the recent dietary lectures I heard at AAAS*, it was one of those things that make you think about going home and throwing out everything in the pantry and trying again.

Though at some point I’m sure I read a summary or cover flap, I went into the story without any clear memory of those, which let me read without expectation. I really had no particular idea where Stephenson was headed and I can’t say I was anticipating a number of the things that happened.  While there was the somewhat standard Stephenson “let me world build for you for a while before we really get rolling”–it wasn’t to the same depth as it was in the Baroque Cycle, where I slogged through 300 pages, hoping and praying that eventually he’d get to something resembling the adventures I was hoping to find. But with that trilogy, I was dealing with an introduction to a 2700 page epic–instead of this mere 1000 pages.

But Stephenson continues to capture my attention and transport me to his world. Leisure reading time is at a premium right now and I saved Anathem for the morning and evening commute. As this is at most hour of reading per day, it took me a lot longer than it might have otherwise.  But once settled into a seat on the train, I crawled right back into Arbre and the world of the avout. There were multiple trips where I got off at my place of work and looked around, wondering where the maths of our time were–for they were more than our mere universities, though there was a component of that as well.

Stephenson chose to create some of his own vocabulary for this world and I’ve already found it creeping into everyday use. Coming back a cluster of coworkers, I brightly inquired if they were having a convox–not realizing until about five minutes later that I’d used a word that doesn’t exist in everyday American English. And over dinner with the Philosopher**, who has also recently finished Anathem, I took exception to something he said and led off with “Let us assume for the sake of argument…” and began a traditional Dialog. Though I can’t say I planed him, that I managed to pull an avout conversation into a discussion of the use of the word “on” probably has forever labeled me a Stephenson FanGirl in his eyes***.

By the end of the book I was exhausted. While accessible and an interesting adventure, one can only take so much quantum mechanics before breakfast or at the end of a long day. And I was starting to feel bad about myself, here it was taking me weeks to get through this book. I’m a fast reader! What was wrong with me? (Note that I had to keep reminding myself I was reading this tome for usually no more than an hour a day.) Now that I’m finished, I’m amazed how much faster “regular” books seem to go.

Of course, I’m also eying Mongoliad again, remembering that I’m 20 chapters or so behind….

*Pay no attention to the AAAS blog posts sitting in draft….
**Who needs to start writing his Master’s Dissertation
***Not that being a FanGirl is a bad thing at all.



Moment of Frivolity and Elephants

I love elephants.

I really enjoyed the giant trampoline the Incredibly Patient Mother bought when I was in junior high.

Elephants on Trampolines? Even better….

(Thanks to ICanHazCheeseburger for the gif and Sibling-the-Elder for finding the full video)

Obligatory First Day of the Year Post

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a snuggly purring feline in one’s lap inhibits standing.  So apparently I need to sit, pet Gypsy, work on some blog posts that don’t require standing and fetching pictures, and such.

Of course, every time she changes position or tries to make the laptop keyboard a spot on which to sprawl does create a few challenges.

But my cat isn’t spoiled.

It was a quiet New Year’s–by choice.  Honestly it seemed muted most of the way around. I know a few people who went to some smaller parties, Restaurant Man was working, AudioGirl got off at the last minute, but there wasn’t the frantic rush or partying I’ve seen before.  And after six weeks of new introductions followed by family holidays, I have retreated to Chez Hedgehog.  Gypsy and I had cheese and crackers and I had some bubbly at midnight in NY. We watched Dick Clark, were amused at Ryan Seacrest’s automatic reaction to anything happening to be to turn and applaud (and look really startled when he realizes there’s not an audience to clap with him), debated if I wanted to go to the NKOTB-BSB tour (just for a second), and acknowledged that at least those guys can all carry tunes while Ke$ha…not so much.  Gypsy, still worn out from chasing Sibling-the-Elder’s cat around the Incredibly-Patient-Mother’s house for five days and suffering the indignity of 2 car rides where she got Arby’s Roast Beef to snack on, curled up on the futon and snoozed.

So now we quietly (with respect for those who are hung over) usher in the new year.  For the first month we’ll be assaulted with the knowledge that we all ate too much over the holidays and must want to exercise.  We’ll be slammed with cleaning out, shaping up, eating right, and making huge changes that are anticipated to be abandoned by the third week of the month so we can be sold an excess of Valentine’s Day chocolate.  For how else beyond excessive caloric intake could we possibly celebrate a holiday? Well…okay, fine, there’s also the roses and jewelry thing but aside from that.

Similarly to the start of the new school year, which is a major restart affecting us each September whether we’re in school or not, New Years is a nice–if arbitrary-time to make plans.  It’s accepted that change will come after December 31.

Last year for me was a year of Up.  And things went pretty well with that, though I can’t say I kept those ideas in the front of my mind at all times.

This year I find myself a little less planned.

General goals for the year:

  • Write more. I love writing. I am healthiest and happiest when I am writing a lot.
  • Self-organize. A lot of this is moving residual but I’m a rather cluttered disaster right now.  So I need to continue to use up, clean out, be realistic, and allow myself to get rid of things.
  • Spend time with people I care about. I’m back in a major city with two airports.  I’m centrally located which means it’s a couple of hours to get to just about everyone.  Plane ticket prices aren’t going down, the TSA will always be weird*, and the Blonde’s baby is only going to get bigger.  (And friends and family who are reading this? Those airplanes fly both ways.)
  • Do more than make the to-do list.

Over on Hedgehog Knitting I made a very specific and slightly rash goal. Last year I knit 13 km of yarn, or slightly more than 8 miles.  That’s what I tracked. It’s not all that I knit but it’s 90% of it.  So this year I set the bar at 20K–or around 12 miles.  And I want most of that to be the yarn I have stashed around Chez Hedgehog.  If I’m successful, and there’s no reason I shouldn’t be, it would make a huge dent in how many things you open around here and find yarn.  It might mean a few more people get knitted gifts next Christmas even….who knows?

But as for now I will begin as I mean to go on. I’m going to go write out a quick–short–to do list and get all of those things done.
Happy 2011.

*I’ve traveled internationally since I was 15. I’ve been full body searched in several European airports. More than anything, I just feel for the poor women having to do it.  Am I looking forward to full body search/back scatter? No. Do I think it really seems to help? No.  Am I going to stop flying? No.

Tomorrow is the Day!

Well, my week of respite is finally up.  I didn’t think I’d need so long to get settled in but having a week’s reprieve between moving day and day 1 has been blissful. I’ve slept a great deal of it.  I’m a little concerned how the cat will handle being on her own for more than a couple hours tomorrow. We still haven’t fully established all of her rules yet.

Here’s Where We’re At:

  • Unpacking is at about 80%.  Mostly ironing and setting up the new desktop computer I bought and trying to figure out if I can get the keyboard shelf reinstalled.  Three boxes that are full of “stuff” still to go.
  • I’ve already lost a knitting needle. I thought for about a half hour that I’d lost a pearl earring.  Size 2 DPNs are much more easily replaced.  Earring has been located but the needle remains MIA.
  • Mail has started to arrive and I met the other neighbors on this floor when they knocked to drop off a box for me! So far so good there, I didn’t really want to have to get a p.o. box.  Might order something non-emergent from Amazon to continue this test theory.
  • The first Netflix has begun arriving.  I have over 400 things in my queue.
  • I can’t get my license or plates updated just yet because you need two forms of proof of residency.  My lease isn’t enough.  I am rather peeved by this because it reduces me to having to put guest passes in my car every day until after Christmas, which is when I next expect to have a full morning to sit at the DMV with all of my paperwork.
  • This means that I can’t get my library card renewed unless I can locate a librarian who knows me. Considering dropping in on Stevi and begging. (I’d bring my lease…)
  • I’ve run out of butter.  This may not seem monumental to some.  AudioGirl recognized it for the potential apocolypse sign it might be.  The past couple of years excepted I tend to bake quite a lot. And baking at Chez Hedgehog usually requires butter. I’m not Paula Dean but a pound in the fridge and a pound in the freezer is pretty standard.  Only…I’ve made four batches of cookies since moving and I only moved one pound.  So when I went to make pancakes tonight (dinner and breakfast tomorrow! thinking ahead), there was not butter.  Fear not, I had lots of really good Wisconsin dark maple syrup.
  • The Opera Singer and I are meeting in a bit to go see Tangled. I’m ridiculously excited at the prospect of spontaneous plans, as this hatched a couple hours ago.  I’m taking her some books that have been waiting for me to ship them to her. Hand delivery is so much easier.

I was flailing online a bit about how I had very little closet space here and the Cartoonist reminded me that I used to live in NY apartments, which also don’t have closet space.  Oh…that’s right I did. First with the girls, then the rookie cop, and then the airline steward. J and I had a better kitchen (of course, he’s since married the Blonde and they now have a basement for storage); C and I had no kitchen cabinetry to speak of; and really–you put five girls in one house and tell me how much storage space there is?  Of course, we had a basement there too.

But it was a pleasant reminder that yes, I have done this before and I can do it again.  I’ll get the 3M command strips that worked so well on my mirror in La Crosse and get pictures hung and that mirror back up and somewhere to put the coats when I walk in.  Possibly also my bathrobe out of the closet.  I’ll take a box to Goodwill or put stuff on Freecycle or Craigslist. I will somehow convince the Brunette and Sibling-the-Elder to play What Not to Wear with me.  I’ll buy a shelving/storage unit for the bathroom and one more set of shelves or something for the living room that I can put my tools and things on. I’ll buy one more bookcase because I really and truly need it.  I’ll start reading those National Geographics I meant to not have to move.

I just have to figure out where all of the small appliances and tools are going. That seems to be what’s eating most of the room.

Hedgehog on the Move

It is with not a small amount excitement that I announce that I’ve accepted a new position.

I’m moving back to Chicago to join the Health Sciences Library at the University of Illinois, Chicago (Circle) Campus. I will be an Assistant Professor and Assistant Information Services Librarian.

*celebratory dance*

This will come with all sorts of new missions, goals and challenges.  It’s academic, tenure-track and I’m back full time with medicine. I’m very excited to get to be working with people I had the opportunity to meet during my interview and a few names I’ve seen around the medlib world.  My start date is December 1, 2010.

I’ve had a lot of help and support getting to this point.  Madame Director, Madame Storyteller, the Reference Queen, Warmaiden, Sir Shuping, Sibling-the-Elder, M, the Incredibly Patient Mother, the Blonde and Brunette, Vaa, Gypsy, Rudy, Rothman and many others have held my hand, helped me get ready, read cover letters, been references, listened to me, and just been there.  I would not be where I am without others belief in me.

My to do lists have just tripled as all of the “when I get time” stuff turns into “has to be done before…” but I hope to get to blog more–it’s been so hard keeping secrets about all this when I’ve been so excited.

Here I go!