Happy New Year

2012 now sleeps with the fishes along with the rest of history while 2013 now cruises forward. 2012 was mostly full of good things. We went to Rome and the World Science Fiction convention in Chicago. Both were great fun in their own unique ways.
I read 68 books, short of my goal of 100, but things got fairly busy out in the real world. Busyness also accounts for only 58 blog posts here.
My favorite book for 2012 was The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis. The sequel to that, Necessary Evil, comes out this spring–I’m quite looking forward to that.
In 2013, I’m planning on reading and getting more serious about writing.

Another year–or thereabout

I was having so much fun writing in November I forgot to notice that I’ve been doing this version of the blog for over a year now. Today also happens to be my birthday so it seems like a good day for a review of the past year.
I think it’s been going along pretty well. I’ve been writing things–that was one of my goals and that has worked out. This will be the 115th post I’ve made, so about 1 every three days.
I’ve had some nice comments and virtually met some interesting people. There have been a couple of thousand views and that seems to be gradually increasing.
On a purely mechanism side, using WordPress as the blogging tool has worked pretty nicely. The spam filters available seem to catch most of the spam and the tools seem to meet the needs of my usage. Before I started I toyed with the idea of doing something from scratch for fun but then I decided I already had enough fun things on my plate. That’s turned out to be a good pick.
So far this year I’ve read 76 books. I used to regularly read over 100 and so at first it seems like there is a fall off, but I also see that the average number of pages is 341 so maybe it really is that books are getting longer in general.
I voted on the Hugo’s for the first time this year. That was quite a bit of fun and I plan on doing that again. Actually, I plan on attending the World Science Fiction convention for the first time this coming year. I’ve always wanted to do that and somehow hadn’t ever gotten around to it.
I’m thinking of doing a detailed re-read of a book sometime this year and posting about it as I go. I haven’t quite decided on the format or frequency but it will be something like they do over at Tor.com.
All in all, 2011 went pretty well. We’ll have to see what all 2012 has in store.

About My Gravatar

My gravatar features a photo of TazMan sitting in a Blue Hippo pool float. Peter Watts had asked if it was a blue banana slug but I think the tusks pretty much point to a hippo. However, it occurs to me that Taz deserves some explanation.
Taz appeared in my personal narrative in December of 1986. I was away at college and had called home to see how things were going. My Mom told me that they had a new kitten. What was odd was that it was my Dad who had brought the kitten home rather than my mom. Dad had been delivering propane somewhere in the countryside (recall December in Iowa) and the temperature was around -10F. He had heard a faint mewing coming from a nearby tractor. Upon looking, there was a small bundle of white fur sitting tucked by the engine manifold. The fur was matted and somewhat scorched. Dad decided that a rescue was in order and brought the kitten home. After a bit of food and water, Mom decided that a bath and combing were in order. The kitten didn’t particularly appreciate this part of the rescue–that’s where the name Taz (from Tasmanian Devil) comes from. This may have also had something to do with his lifelong aversion to water. Or, maybe it was that he considered himself a desert cat. One of his quirks was that before drinking he had to clear the (invisible) sand away from the watering hole water dish. His extreme dislike of water for purposes other than drinking adds a touch of amusement to his sitting in the pool float.
Going forward a few years to 1990, I had gotten a house in Rochester and Mom decided that I needed some company. So, Taz and his sidekick cat Rum moved in with me. In 1992 I married Susan and we moved to a larger house. Taz decided that he would raise Josh as a proper cat.
When Josh went off to college in 2002, Taz didn’t entirely approve. He was somehow, however, able to tell when Josh would be coming home and go and sit by the door about 10 minutes before Josh would pull into the driveway. This would happen whether or not we knew Josh was coming home. I’ve never quite figured out a rational explanation for that, so we’ll just have to chalk it up to mystic cat powers.

Meta:Why a blog?

I’ve had this domain for a long time. For most of that time it was a fairly simple set of html pages mainly for holding my two Java books. Over the past couple of years I’ve been gradually de-lurking and being more active on various boards. Especially so on Tor.com.

So, last November I decided to go ahead and make the site over into an actual blog. For content, I decided on whatever interests me at the time. One of the prime reasons for doing this is for me to force myself to actually do some writing–limber up the language muscles. That’s been proceeding fairly well (I think).

The book reviews have been a fun challenge so far. I think I’m gradually getting into the swing of them. My plan is to eventually trick my usual procrastination into getting back to writing some fiction. A couple of thousand words a day and who knows?

Back in college (Iowa State, circa 1985) I took a creative writing course and really enjoyed it. The professor was Jane Smiley–who later went on to win the Pulitzer for A Thousand Acres. At the end of the semester, I had managed to write a number of shorts and all of them managed a SF bent in one way or another. A couple of years later, in grad school, I was in the basement of the Com Sci building and she came by to get some help from the help desk people on typesetting her manuscript (for A Thousand Acres). She remembered me from class and said I should write some more. I agreed. Somehow, 20 some years has passed. I did do the two Java books, but my fiction output has been pretty small. One theory I have is that doing lots of programming has eaten up a lot of the creative portion of my time.

So, there you go — blogging as a form of writing therapy. We’ll see how it works.