The catalog…

I’ve been going through a period this last year or two where I’m acquiring books far more quickly than I can reasonably expect to read them. Most aren’t anything special – well preserved reading copies, hardbacks that will look good shelved as display items once I’ve read through them. More than a few are “modern firsts,” very clean, semi-collector’s items. A bare handful are legitimate rarities – perhaps signed by the author, or the first printing of a series that would go on to be wildly popular. My little collection doesn’t discriminate, except that I expect to be able to hold, fondle, and read every single item in it rather that treating it like archival material.

The most significant problem, aside from storage of the books I’m waiting to read, is honestly keeping track of of the growing collection – a particularly troublesome issue when it comes to books that are part of a series I’m trying to round out. The nice people at Goodreads give me a solid baseline, but I’m kicking around the idea of using it to create something that gives me a little more granularity and control over fine tuning – a true library catalog that I can use to manage the collection… since keeping massive stacks of books around doesn’t feel like a habit I’m going to break at any time in the foreseeable future.

I’m even toying with the idea of taking it all the way back to basics – a simple spreadsheet. One book, one line with key details. Rackable, stackable, and searchable based on whatever criteria I eventually settle in on needing to know for every single title in the stacks.

It’s exactly the kind of thing that makes my geeky little analyst’s heart happy.

Truth is, the idea of building out that kind of information is a little bit daunting, even with Goodreads doing a lot of the heavy lifting to get things started… although the idea of building out the definitive catalog – stored on my own system – of what I have in hand, what I want to acquire is probably less fear-inducing than the idea that at some point in the near future I’m going to have to clear the shelves and reorganize everything so the whole works has just a little bit of coherence.

Sigh. These are the ideas that plague me on Tuesday evenings.


I had great expectations for last night’s premier of Game of Thrones. Aside from the minor distraction of trying to figure out why one of the supporting characters didn’t look at all like himself from last season, I can legitimately say I was beyond pleased with how the whole thing turned out… setting aside for purposes of this discussion that each week’s episode could easily be a 2 hour feature film in its own right. Everyone and their brother has already written a review so I’ll spare you those details here.

What I really want to comment on is the unique fandom of Westeros; where the people who read the book are constantly spoiling it for those who haven’t, the people who have only watched the TV show are inordinately annoyed by the book-reader’s enjoinders that something “wasn’t right,” the general consensus is that George R.R. Martin is possibly the most bloodthirsty author of all time, and the sheer volume of characters makes you wish you’d have printed out the Game of Thrones Illustrated Study Guide before settling in for a new episode. And then there are the people who don’t watch, don’t get the fuss, and are mostly overjoyed when the season ends and people around them find something else to talk about. Despite all that, my inner geek takes a serious amount of joy at seeing so many non-geeks drawn into Martin’s world of high fantasy. It’s good to know that real story telling might not be dead after all.

I can tell the season of the year as much from the program I watch on Sunday night as I can by what the calendar says. And just now I’m extraordinarily pleased that the winter of the Walking Dead has given way to the spring of Game of Thrones. I think I’m ready for it to be next Sunday now, please.

Revisiting Katrina…

The 50% of my job that doesn’t deal with PowerPoint is almost exclusively taken up by reading and writing. (We’re going to pretend for purposes of this discussion that good productive time isn’t serially wasted by the requirement to attend meetings.) This week I’ve been katrina_satellitereading up on some rather elderly documents that led me all the way back to late August 2005. To set the stage, it was hot and humid in Washington, DC and all hell was breaking loose along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and Louisiana.

My memories from Katrina differ pretty significantly from what most people remember seeing on the news. I remember a federal response effort that practically pleaded and begged state and local leaders in Louisiana to ask for assistance and that staged people, equipment, and mountains of “stuff” as close to the Louisiana border as possible when it became obvious to everyone but those officials that Katrina was going to overwhelm their capacity to respond. The Louisiana governor and New Orleans mayor had a different perspective, of course. All I know is the information showing up hourly on my desk in stacks of reports didn’t jive with the story they were telling in front of the camera. The real truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

I’d be hard pressed to reveal myself to be a bigger geek than you already think I am, but for me it was fascinating combing through the files of a different organization with a wholly different mission and reading their take on what was going on in Louisiana that summer. Reading accounts that weren’t filled with statistics of water, ice, temporary roofing material, and body bags on hand or tons of debris removed gave me a little fresh appreciation for what we were trying to do that summer. I guess that’s not all that surprising. With a degree in history I’ve always had a penchant for looking to the past to make informed guesses about what the future may hold.

Katrina was what one might call a significant emotional event for many and I’m not trying to make light of that in any way. At the same time, for me, Katrina started 60 days of some of the best professional work I’ve ever done. It was equal parts rewarding and exhausting – often simultaneously. Eight years after the fact, I won’t deny that I’m finding myself looking back on it with a bit of fond nostalgia. I suppose that’s fairly easy to do when you rode out the storm and its aftermath hunkered down in DC with electricity, running water, and a Starbucks in the lobby.


Because it’s a Friday night and that generally means that blog posts pass by with a minimum level of attention paid, I’m going to go ahead and let this one slip out despite my better judgment. Now before anyone comments, I want to say for the record that this photo was taken in, as close as I can figure, late Scanned Image - Version 2April 1994. I know this because that was one of only two time in my high school career that we sprung for charter busses to take the band from Point A to Point B. The other time was in November 1992, and I’m just making an assumption that I would have been wearing something heavier than a hot pink pullover windbreaker to take on the frozen astroturf of Lackawanna County Stadium.

To my best recollection, this photo is the only surviving image of my having attended a long ago Azalea Festival parade in Richmond, Virginia. See, when you’re a band geek, even you spring trips are geeky. Even so, those times, and those people are some of my best memories. Thanks, Mike, for this little jewel and the opportunity to stroll down memory lane.

Stand to the right…

Since there were no pre-orders or reservations for the iPad 2, there’s really no difference between standing on the right or left this time around. All the early adopters and true believers are going to be lumped together with the casual buyers tomorrow. Probably a good move if your goal is to generate nice lines at 5:00 in time zones across America… conveniently scheduled to coincide with the evening local and network news cycles. Needless publicity stunt or not, I’ll be there tomorrow – in one of those rare moments when my desire for new and shiny overcomes my natural aversion to large groups of people.

I’ve got my product all picked out – 16GB, wifi, 3G over AT&T (seriously, they’re good for data… actual phone calls, of course, still suck). A spur of the moment panic about “what if” storage needs could bump that up to 32GB at the moment of truth, though. I mean who wants to be caught without enough storage for a crapload of TV episodes, songs, and apps, and the occasional movie, right? Although the new ability to stream media around the house may make the larger sizes redundant for all but the most serious power users.

Hopefully by this time tomorrow I’ll be home fondling my newest piece of kit. If you want the scoop, check back here in around 2:00 CST tomorrow when I’ll be blogging live and in person from the Apple Store in Memphis. Geeky? You bet. Fortunately, I’m pretty OK with that. See you in line!

Finding a place in line…

I’ll be doing a live blog this morning from the Apple Store in Memphis. Sure, I could have ordered for home delivery, but I actually enjoy the festivities at the store on release days. With a reservation, standing in line isn’t strictly necessary, but it’s become part of my summer routine. It’s a good day to nurture your inner geek. More to come after I’ve stopped for coffee and checked out how things are playing out at the store.

5:20: arrived at Apple Store. Wow. Not like other launch days where I got here an hour early and was 20th in line. I’m probably 200th in the “reserved” line. The walk-up line snakes out of sight in the other direction. Does that make me one of the lucky ones. Looking like the potential for a long morning here.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a shot if the parking lot… And at 5:40, there are definitely no other stores even thinking about opening yet.

6:30 – About to do the window reveal at the store. Can hear the cheers inside the building. Curtain drops… And predictably the crowd goes wild.

6:32 – seems like I’ve lost the content posted around 6:00 – the short version is: the ambulance showed up for a geek who was overcome, Memphis news is reporting live about a bunch of Anglos standing in line in the suburbs, and there is no parking anywhere in the mall lot. Good stuff.

6:59 – about to be open for business. The end of both lines now goes around behind both wings of the building. For the record. It’s a big building

7:03 – and we’re open for business.

7:30 – and we’re moving right along. I’ve probably moved half the distance to the store now, which isn’t awful considering volume. It’s awfully slow going for the other line, but I admire their optimism. Word from someone who just came out of the store is that activations are “going pretty slow,” a phrase that makes me more than a little nervous.

7:50 – Maybe I spoke too soon. The line hasn’t moved in 20 minutes. Not good.

8:18 – Looks like 45-50 people still ahead of me in line, but the number behind me keeps getting longer. Easily 200+ in the reserved line now, but it appears that the tail end of the walk-in line has wise up and people have started drifting off. Reliable ETA on being out the door is still too tough to calculate.

8:51 – 25 people +/- ahead of me now. Finally made it to the front of the store and back into the shade. Don’t fool yourself, the morning sun in Memphis will peel the hide off ya.

9:30 – front of the line. The look on the faces of those who didn’t preorder is priceless. See below:

9:33 – heading inside. That’s it from the launch in Memphis. I have a few stops to make on the way to the house, but there’ll be more updates once I’m all synced up.


It’s probably fair to say that I’m a geek. I’m not saying that I’m a pocket protector wearing, model rocket building type of geek, but still, I know I like geeky things. I like reading and science, politics and technology… and yes, I’m not afraid to say it, I like Star Trek and have since I was a kid watching the original episodes in syndication. That’s well and good when you’re a kid, but it’s something that’s stuck with me over the years, even if not well publicized.

I’ve been watching the trailers for the 11th movie in the Trek canon and have to say that I’m really, really looking forward to seeing it this weekend. Some purists will undoubtedly say that director J. J. Abrams has thrown out 40 years of established lore in the process of remaking the series, but from the trailers, it seems that he gave it a much needed facelift while maintaining most of the key elements. The Star Trek as a franchise has always been about larger than life characters doing heroic, if campy, things – the stereotypical great man for a great time model.

I’m not hung up on the arguments that Abrams has changed too many details and for good or bad, this weekend will be like a visit with old friends. I like that this movie will take us back to the beginning, or a beginning anyway. For those of us who have been around for a while, we’ve always known that with a rip in the space-time continuum, or a wormhole, or a slingshot maneuver around the sun, all things are possible.

So, yeah, I’m a geek. And I’m ok with that.


So I have a new obsession. Thanks to an old friend, I discovered the infamous World of Warcraft. So now after a long day at work, I get to come home and thump on flying dogs and zombie bastards… This is an unexpectedly enjoyable way to burn a few hours… and at least to this point has been totally cathartic. In fact, I think I’m off to slice and dice a few things before my fogeyish bedtime of 9:30. Something else will distract me soon enough but for now this is pretty slick.

P.S. Yes, I know I’m a geek. Sue me.