Tuesday, November 28, 2006
book report: Codex
by Lev Grossman
I loved this book! It's about an investment banker who is about to start a new position in London, but in the meantime takes what he thinks will be a quick consulting job for a client. It turns out to be not so quick and also not so financial, as he discovers that his client(s) have a large collection of very old books that they wish for him to catalog. They are seeking a particular medieval codex which may or may not even exist. While trying to come up with any information at all about the codex and its author, Ed the banker meets Margaret the literary scholar. She gets sucked into his story even though she believes that the codex doesn't exist. The mystery develops multiple layers as Edward plays an addictive videogame that seems to be related to the mysterious codex; Margaret becomes involved in the search; it's revealed that the duke and duchess who are Edward's clients are actually working against each other, and so on.
I really enjoyed the story because it was both exciting and smart. I hope Grossman writes another novel soon. Although I suppose his day job is kind of excellent, reviewing books for Time Magazine and all.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Here is my list of thankfulness from 2004.
And here is my list from 2005.
This year I am thankful for:
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
best cat ever
Booshka was a remarkable cat. He was extraordinarly in tune with his people and valued the time he spent with us. R* and I both firmly believe that he lived as long as he did because he loved being with us so much.
R* got Babooshka in 1988 in Washington DC. R* was much younger then and actually bought a black kitten at a pet shop as an accessory for the outfit that he was wearing to go out clubbing that night. The next morning, R*'s roommate J* awakened him by announcing "Your cat just shit on my rug." R* said, "What cat?!" not remembering that he'd bought a kitten the night before. That kitten was Booshka, named after a Kate Bush song. (Although he kind of stopped answering to Babooshka and liked Booshkaboo better.) After that rather casual meeting, R* and Booshka were inseperable for the next 18 years. R* took Booshka to several different apartments, even asking his friend Z* to keep Booshka safe in her bedroom when R* was between permanent places to live.
Fittingly for the cat of a musician, Booshka enjoyed music a lot. He would even tap his tail to jazz music (specifically jazz music). R* and I had the thought that Boo was a reincarnated old jazz cat like Thelonius Monk. Can't you just imagine him with a beret and hipster glasses, if he were a human? When R* rehearsed on his guitar in the living room, Booshka would sit near him or even under his stool and close his eyes and listen. His favorite CD was Jazz, My Romance by Ron Carter. It's a mellow acoustic jazz record, just bass, guitar, and piano. We played it for him during his last couple days at home and he snoozed on the couch and listened.
In 1997, I moved in with R* and Booshka and Kadydid. Booshka took his time warming up to me, but eventually decided that I was The Girl and was nearly as good a human as R*. He turned to me for butt scratching, for feeding and watering, for playing with the string, and for sleeping on my feet. As time went by, he decided that my lap was just about as good as R*'s. And best of all, I bought The Brush and started using it on Booshka. He could hardly believe that he had gone 8 years without a brush in his life!
After R* and I got married, we moved into a house for the first time in Booshka's life. He was thrilled with having more space, and stairs, and more privacy in the litterbox, and hardwood floors for better mousie-chasing, and a backyard in which to enjoy the sun and chomp grass. Plus he'd never experienced forced-air heat before, and would spend every winter parked in a cat bed (aka the kitty bucket) in front of a heating vent with his nose millimeters from the grate, purring while the warm air blew on his face.
The most amazing thing about Booshkaboo was that he really listened to his people. He would almost always come when called, or at least meow to let us know where he was. He understood "no" and "get down" and "come here" and "sit down" and actually complied with those instructions. Not like a dog does tricks, but as though we were really communicating. He also was the emotional barometer in the house - if R* and I were fighting, he would look between us with a worried expression, and if we didn't cool it, he would leave the room. If one of us got angry (like swearing at the computer) he would hide under the bed. One of our friends was over for pizza one night, and Booshka was sniffing at her plate. R* said, "Booshka! That's our guest's food and it's rude to bother her." And Booshka backed off and sat down. She was amazed that Boo seemed to really understand.
In these last few months, Booshka clearly decided to live life to the fullest. He became interested in human food of all kinds after years of ignoring everything we ate. He particularly liked the crumbs from chocolate chip cookies and scones. He licked plates with caesar salad dressing on them, sampled pasta, and closely observed every bite of a burrito I had for lunch one day. His other favorite activity was chomping on R*'s shoelaces - whenever he got a new pair of shoes, Booshka would enthusiastically chomp the laces. Every time a door was left open, Booshka would be in the doorway or tiptoeing outside to sniff and explore and eat grass. Over this past summer he got so enthused about going outside and sampling the local flora that one day he passed out a dandelion. He appraised everyone who came into the house, and if he found them acceptable, would try to coax them to scratch his butt while he ate from his bowl. Our friend A* took it up a notch when she brushed his butt while he ate. PURRRRRRRRRR, he said. Oh, and Boo completely stopped having any respect for his people being otherwise occupied. He pushed textbooks off my lap so he could sit there. He plopped down between us in bed and shoved one or both of us to make enough room for himself. He got up on the table to inspect our interesting human food more closely. It was hilarious to see his personality change - he seemed so much like an elderly human who has decided they don't need to follow society's constraints anymore.
Booshka used up all nine of his lives, and in fact required more medical care than many humans-of-pets might have tolerated. But he was always such a part of the family that we never hesitated to do what was necessary for his health. And it was kind of a lot... [Edited because I'm not sure that anyone really cares about the details of Booshka's illnesses other than me & R*. Short version: Boo had flea allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, benign skin tumors, acid reflux, and insulin-dependent diabetes and we treated all of 'em.]
The last two days he wouldn't eat. He would only drink water, chicken broth, or the juice from canned tuna fish. He had enjoyed food so much his entire life that we were sure this was the end. When we took him to the vet to let him go, she palpated his abdomen and found a mass near his stomach (could've been stomach, pancreas, small insestine...) that was obviously painful. And so it was clear that the right thing to do was let him go peacefully before he suffered any more. It was so hard and so sad, even though it was the compassionate thing to do.
Our friend Em wondered if he'd been reincarnated immediately, or if there was a delay for processing and paperwork. All I can say is that I hope Booshka's next life is a fantastic one, because he sure was a joy in this life.
Here's my shelf.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Much the same thing happened two nights ago, except that I had been wearing my glasses all day, so it was clearly not contact-related. Since it was bedtime, though, I just went to sleep. Problem solved. And no residual headache afterward.
Anyway, this is a long and complicated way to say that I am not going to go blind. :)
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
book report: Anansi Boys
by Neil Gaiman
I just love Neil Gaiman's writing. I enjoyed American Gods and especially Good Omens, so I was so pleased when I found out he had another novel out. This book was reminiscent of American Gods, only this time the gods in question are from the African tradition. The main character "Fat Charlie" Nancy is a mild-mannered workaholic with a sweet fiancee who won't have sex until after their wedding and an evil boss described as an albino ferret in an expensive suit. Charlie calls home to invite his father to his wedding, only to discover that his father has died. Charlie goes to Florida to attend his father's funeral and things take a weird turn when Charlie disovers that his dad was actually an incarnation of the African trickster god Anansi (A. Nancy, get it?). Not only that, but Charlie has a brother named Spider who has their dad's magical abilities. Spider gleefully attaches himself to Charlie and tries to ruin his life, not out of malevolence, but out of enthusiasm and fun.
book report: Woken Furies
by Richard K. Morgan
This is the third book in the Takeshi Kovacs series. I apparently haven't reivewed the other two on my blog. The first two are Altered Carbon and Broken Angels.
The setting for this series is far, far in the future, where humanity is scattered across hundreds of plants and everyone has a backup module installed in their brains, allowing their consciousness to be downloaded into new bodies for fun or profit. Our hero Taki wakes up in a new combat-ready body and goes on a voyage to his homeworld. He meets a woman who may or may not be carrying the consciousness of a prophet from the planet's revolutionary past... and Taki becomes entangled with her mission.
All three of these books have been good quality sci-fi. I heard that the movie rights to Altered Carbon have been sold - I think it would make an awesome movie.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
another fall thing
book report: Fledgling
by Octavia Butler
This is the last book published by Octavia Butler before her death, sadly. It's a creative vampire novel, about a young female vampire with dark skin who can tolerate exposure to sunlight. In Butler's concept of the vampire myth, vampires are a separate species from humans that have special abilities. The main character is a hybrid of vampire and human parents who has strengths from both races.
I enjoyed this book a lot. It was similar enough to existing vampire stories that I could enjoy it as a familiar retread, but it also had unique ideas that made it more interesting. As usual with Butler's books, there were characteristics that made me a bit uncomfortable... like the sexual bond between the vampires and their human companions, and the fact that the main character had the appearance of a pre-pubescent girl but still had sexual relationships with her companions.
I would've liked to read more stories in this series. It's so sad that Octavia Butler died in such an untimely fashion.
This weekend I spent the entire time parked in front of the computer finished my nursing process paper, writing a paper about nursing care of dying children, log entries on various clinical stuff, a midterm self-evaluation... However! After turning in all that stuff today, here's what I've got left for this quarter:
19 days of class/clinical
3 nursing process papers (and I have to pass just one of them!)
1 final exam
This is totally doable! Especially since Thanksgiving break will occur in the middle of it, and I will have 5 days in a row away from school. (We're out of school Wed-Friday that week.)
We already had a visit from the lead 3rd quarter instructor to give us registration forms and clinical choices for winter quarter. The choices for clinicals are two evenings a week (2:00-10:30) at Harborview, or two morsnings a week starting at 6:45 at Stevens Hospital in Edmonds. I put down Harborview as my first choice - mostly because I would really, really like to have a break from early morning clinicals. Also, the evenings clinicals are on Wednesday/Thursday, which would leave me free on Fridays to do stuff like clean house or shop for groceries. Or sleep.
Now watch, since I've expressed a preference, I'll be going to Stevens for sure. :P