Friday, December 31

3...2...1... (pacific standard time)

Dolores wishes you a happy year, too :o)

Listen to Bob. Everything gonna be all right!

Happy New Year's, dear readers! Best wishes for 2011 and may wars wind down, people come together if only a little bit, and love and generosity make a comeback from years of greed, then economic meltdown. Take care of the earth, it's the only home we've got. Take care of your animal cousins - they are your cousins quite literally.

If you live in a free country, don't take it for granted - enjoy and celebrate your freedom. You may like or dislike your government, but you have the power to vote and to protest peacefully without getting jailed or killed. Remember that! And don't forget to give back in your own way, whatever that might be, to those less fortunate than you.

Most of all, peace be with you and have a kick ass 2011! Now boogie down to some Robert Nesta Marley, the one and only! Jah Rastafari, ever loving, ever faithful, ever true. King of kings and lord of lords, conquering lion of the tribe of Judah. Jah lives!


Thursday, December 23


in case you aren't one of the 5 million who have seen this

it's cute and funny.

Lol, "Avoid Romans"

Wednesday, December 22

redemption song

Quite appropriate for the holidays I think, Bob Marley's classic "Redemption Song" covered by Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer (late of The Clash)! What a song, what a duet to cover it. Bob's version will always be the best, but this is unique in it's own way...

RIP Bob Marley
RIP Joe Strummer
RIP Johnny Cash

But happy holidays - the message goes on even when the singers are not with us anymore.

One love.

a good larf... quite revealing of how language has changed!

Tuesday, December 21


Not my photo - my Canon died, my Nikon battery didn't recharge in time, and plus I don't have a good zoom anyway. It would have looked lame, so I'll use a photo from the web. But I did see it in all its phases over the several hours it was partially full/totally full, and it rocked out with its socks out. Looked a lot like this, actually, just smaller. And it was directly over my house instead of on the internet. Other than that this guy got it right.

Thanks to Jimmy Westlake for this photo, which I'm using unauthorized.
Or maybe the moon's name is Jimmy Westlake, I'm not quite sure.


oh, it's a strange day
in such a lonely way
I saw some children dance
I watched my life in a trance
and the people around me
seem so glad to be here
will my time pass so slowly
on the day that I fear?

and the noise that surrounds me
pulls so loud in my head
from the promise that healed us
to the lies that I said
oh, it's a strange day
in such a lonely way
some people look down on me,
I know they like what they see

strange day,
such a strange day
such a strange day

—bernard sumner

Monday, December 20

in the wake of adversity

hey Patrice don't cry, they've no reason to harm you at all
they don't realise that the angels surround you with light
they don't understand, their narrow ways defeat them where they stand
they don't realise you hide your sadness beneath a painted smile

ignorance, that light of fools steers a wayward path
and sets the course upon which we sail into the night of uncertainty
following the stars that make their way across the sky
valuing the love that lends grace to our hearts,
we sail...

—brendan perry

michaels bones

michael's bones
lay where he fell
face down on sports ground
he was just somebody's luckless son
oh but now look what he's done
oh look what he's done.
your gentle hands are frozen
and your unkissed lips are blue
your thinning clothes
are hopeless and no one was mad about you.

michael's bones
were very young
but they were never to know
impetuous fun
mr policeman, i don't know
where you get such notions from.
his gentle hands are frozen
and his unkissed lips are blue
but his eyes still cry.

and now you've turned the last bend
can you see, are we all judged the same
in the end? tell me, tell me.
oh luckless thing
you were too brave
and i'm ashamed of myself, as usual.


Sunday, December 19

rainy christmas days

will we laugh?
cold textiles, creeper vines
spines of the murex purple boats lie
littered on ancient seas
lye pleas to tyrian merchants, these times

see to it we are lost to laughter;
and will we see? twice trismegistus
tried to crash wise with hexes
on thee.

but rainy christmas days now
float our paper boats away
down one gutter into the other
to stay. and will you tell me,

about your turn in the sand,
warm, rays of the sun drawn overhead
gargantua before the breaking tide, headless
pyramid, astral notes, glib mourning
celibacy imprimatur imprimacy celebrity.

when will we laugh,
o brother of night who has met my
every sally with phallanx, harbored
hatred hoary health, hanging collapsed
relapsed then free;

when will we laugh?

when will we laugh?
for I cry now, dreaming play.

for rainy christmas days now
float our paper boats away
down the gutter we clutch one another


Tuesday, December 14

Sir Yes Sir, it's Big Sur, Sir!

big sur, california
click on it for a more awesome image

Monday, December 13

Sunday, December 12

Back to school.

If you could go back to college, what would you study? There are a dozen ways we can go with this, so I'll set down two scenarios and let you run with it. You can answer both, either one, or make up your own criteria. Sound good? And for the sake of making it easy, in this hypothetical situation you are enrolled in the university of your dreams, with the best faculty and facilities and your disposal, and money is not a concern, nor is family life or anything else. This is more to see what you are interested in and what you might do differently (or not), than it is about pesky logistics.

And if you didn't go to college, or haven't yet, this is your chance to have fun anyway. International readers note: Americans use "college" synonymously with "university" and not as a lesser institution; we call our 2-year institutions "junior colleges" or "institutes" or various other names but "going off to college" for us could mean we were setting off for Harvard or Oxford just as well as it could mean we were going down the road to the 2-year city college. I'm going to use the word "college" because it's less cumbersome than "univeristy" by three syllables, but please take it to mean any institute of higher learning, public or private, junior college or major university, undergraduate or the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies where people like Einstein, Feynman, and Dyson have been faculty members.

Scenario one - you went to college, took something you enjoyed, but it wasn't practical and you didn't use your degree nearly to the extent you wish you could now. You want to go back to take something more practical that perhaps won't interest you as much for 2, 4, or more years, but will net you a great career (one you now desire), and give you the means to more fully live out your dreams for the rest of your life.

Scenario two - the opposite, really. You took a boring, practical course of study and it may or may not have benefitted you in the real world. Life has gone on and this little genie has popped out of my blog bottle and given you the chance to go back and study something you'd really enjoy, and who gives a damn whether it's practical or not. You could end up teaching the subject, or taking a vocation that's entirely unrelated, but at least you'll have had the chance to learn something in depth that has always interested you.

Or, do you think college is a waste? Would you jump right into the entrepreneurial world and get started making your first million, or zoom off to Nairobi to save some wildlife, or would you use the hypothetical college funds to erect a first-class study edifice of your own and be completely self-taught, immersing yourself in books and the internet interspersed with bouts of real life? It's all up to you, there are no rules.

And since it's unstructured as always, you can list as many subjects as you like... just one is fine. Or if you want a double-major with a minor and then a different subject of study in graduate school or even multiple PhDs with pickles and onions on the side, go for it. Realize that each course of study will take more years to accomplish, but you can afford it, so it's really a matter of what you would like to learn where (academia or the streets), and for how long. Maybe you want to get rich and retire to a life of leisure. Maybe you want to stay in school all your life.

I'm just starting the conversation to see where it will lead. I'll participate too, but I won't go first.


Do you like to design things in general? housing floorplans, gardens, castles, dungeons?? Did you draw maps or maybe schematics as a kid? Do you still draw flow charts rather than to do lists? Maps rather than written instructions? Do you you think spatially or verbally? (Don't have to answer that, I was just getting swept up in the questions.) Do you enjoy designing logos, advertisements, magazine or web layouts (without having to know any code, say)? Are you the one who decides which pictures go on which wall and how the furniture is arranged in the room? Which types of shrubs, flowers, and trees will adorn the garden and how they will be laid out? Which veg to plant and how the rows should be ordered? The color scheme of the house and all the fabrics and everything else needed to put together something that fits a grand scheme you have in mind? Or is that just not you? It's important to note that just because I'm talking about design, it's not a bad thing not to care about it — many people don't, and would rather concentrate on the details, or maximize efficiency, or have other more pressing issues or interests and aren't much interested in design. Or who are interested but would prefer to delegate that task to someone more capable or at least more enthusiastic.

What about computer games... do you like "god" or "sim" games such as SimCity, Civilization, Zoo Tycoon, Pharaoh, The Sims, Farmville, City of Wonder, or the literally hundreds of other games that allow you a space in which to build, and do you enjoy them more when they give you more of a free hand - a blank canvass on which to decorate and arrange and build - rather than restricting what you can do into some sort of template where things must be placed in certain places? Is the design portion of these games (if you play them) the biggest attraction to you, or is it on par with other features such as managing an economy, waging war, growing an empire, and so on? Or is the element of design, in fact, a bothersome part of the game, something that needs to be done but which you'd rather the AI did for you? Do you just put your buildings (or crops, or zoo enclosures, or stadiums) down anywhere there's room, or line up all the same type together for most efficient management? Or do you like to be artistic even if it takes a bit more time, and put little paths that don't garner you any points running in between and to each little exhibit or shop or dormitory, plant lots of decorative foliage, change the topography from flat to something more interesting (if the game lets you), and generally separate similar types of buildings, or perhaps keep them together but within a "themed" area, like an "African safari" area at a zoo? If you can profit most from a single type of building, will you build that one over and over, and pack it in as tightly as possible, or will you build for variety and aesthetic value and leave lots of "white space" to filled in decoratively, even if it means you fall behind the "optimal" build as a computer might see it (unless the software if smart enough to place value on aesthetics and variety)? Do you usually find the best way to do things in a game and then wash, rinse, and repeat, or do you strive to be creative because that is more fun than getting further up some point ladder or accumulating more wealth, points, or awards?

When you read a book or write your own prose, poetry, or just letters or emails, do you value aesthetics both within the content (beautiful prose like Tolkiens versus plain, informational prose like Asimov's) and in the actual appearance of the layout, the typefaces used, the size and spacing of the lettering, whether it's broken up with illustrations, the weight and quality (and edge cut) of the paper, and these sorts of considerations? Or is it all pretty much the same to you as long as it's not a distracting design — that is, it's neutral enough that you can kept the information from it you need (or put in the information you wish to convey), and no more consideration of design in order to "fancy things up" is necessary. Or is perhaps the best design that which is transparent, but bolsters the content in subtle ways? (This last question is rhetorical). After all, no one would want to see a flowery surgical manual or a book of children's poetry written on a typewriter without any illustrations or color.

I'd just like to hear everyone's opinion on design and how important it is in what they do for fun, or that, in fact, it's not important. No answers are wrong of course. And there really ended up being two separate questions here: One about spacial design (layout, in real life and in games), and one about design in a printed environment. There are endless other forms of design: the design of industrial or functional objects that we use every day, like light bulbs, stereo systems, and computer operating systems. Or the placement of gauges and shifters and gadgets about you in the diver's seat of your car. Or the design of an academic course, or something else which unfolds temporally as well as spatially. What is good design? Is it to enhance or to keep out of its own way? Some design are the simplest. Some are elaborate and you wouldn't want to simplify them. Some are subtle but ingenious, some are extremely ambitious but fail under their own weight.

Well, I don't expect anyone to answer (or even pontificate upon) these more philosophical questions of design as concept, but the early questions about layouts in games and your home, etc — any elucidation you could provide on the importance of those to you would be appreciated!

Thursday, December 9

Speakers and headphones that sound great (and won't break the bank).

I was responding to Raelha's brief mention, in the previous post's comments, of having some nice speakers to make her music sound better... and then I just sort of ran with it and ended up with something too long to submit. So rather than break it into chunks there, I'll just make it its own post here.

This is my advice based on experience of the best 'bang for the buck' computer (or even room) speakers, full-sized headphones, and earbud headphones. Most products that most of us can afford out there are not any good, at least if you genuinely appreciate music. On the other hand, someone who's rich can throw enough money at a product in a fancy store that they're bound to end up with something that sounds quite good. So that's our dilemma, those who want great sound but don't have a lot of money.

Here's the full text of my response, and maybe it will help someone make a purchasing decision, or you can always ask me further questions about audio equipment, which I was quite into at one point and should be able to at least point you in the right direction. However, I've not addressed car audio or home theater setups or even multi-component quality stereo systems meant for large rooms here. Each of those subjects is very complicated, and would merit a post of its own. We'll keep it small for now.


...I'm big on quality speakers and headphones too, Raelha. I'm afraid my tastes are those of an audiophile and my means are those of someone begging for shekels, though.

However, when I did have a decent income I bought a pair of Klipsch Promedia 2.1 Speakers for my computer, and they are really outstanding (Byte knows this because he bought a set too). Hard if not impossible to beat for the price - they've dropped to about $150, if you can find them. They've been around about 9 years - I know because I've had mine about that long! In fact they're the oldest part of my computer system; but alas, they're finally starting to have problems.

Still, the quality is awesome. No speakers in that price range have nearly the clarity in the mids and highs (which are fully separate on the 2 satellites, with built-in crossovers), and a 200-watt amp housed in the sub (yes, you read that right, 200) - 35 true watts (RMS, not peak) to each of the satellites, and 130 whopping RMS watts to the subwoofer, which is refreshingly built of real wood, is ported, and which bumps low, hard, and tight. You won't believe it when you listen to music on them - they literally sound like a $500+ living room system with a separate amp/receiver. Byte actually used his to play music in the main large room in his house, controlled from iTunes on his computer back in his man-cave!

Put it this way, you'll never have a reason to turn the volume up more than halfway. And the sound doesn't distort at all as you climb that volume mountain, unlike so many other "multimedia" speakers... I will say Logitech makes some good 2.1 speakers now for a similar price, but I don't have as much personal experience with them. So basically if/when you get serious about speaker hunting, you can pay $50 or $100 and get crap that you'll regret right away; you can pay $350+ and get quality audio, some better than others and not always in alignment with the price tag (M-Audio and Marantz are good, so is Boston Acoustics), or you can just do the smart thing and pay $150 (well, the Euro equivalent) if you can still find a pair of these bad dogs out there being sold NEW (don't buy used speakers!), and you'll think it's the best $150 you ever spent. I guarantee it - look at the 497 reviews on the US Amazon page and you'll see why I feel comfortable saying that.

Like I said, one of my satellites is finally dying, and I'm also getting some distortion off the amp now (after 9 years of constant use)... and when I get the money to replace them, I'm gonna replace them hopefully with the same ones!

As far as headphones I would recommend Sennheiser HD 580s (not made anymore, but still sold here and there) or better. It all depends on your budget: I have the HD 650s and they're awesome, but the 580s sound 75% as good for a fraction of the price, and they're a bit lighter and more comfy to boot. Another good buy if you can find them. Stay away from Sony and all the other Japanese brands (Audio Technica being the exception): you need to spend a fortune to get into their professional models before they sound anything like Sennheisers or Grados. Sennheiser do make their own crummy headphones on the very low-end. This is something they started doing not along ago probably to boost sales and profit, since most people are cheap or have other priorities than good sound - or just don't know any better - but it's too bad because it's tarnished their name a bit. The mid- to high-end of the line is still great, though.

Lastly, for earbuds for an MP3 player or SmartPhone, there's a company called V-Moda which isn't well known, but I have a pair of their "Vibe" buds, which were $99 when I got them, and they turned my iPod into a work of art - I couldn't believe the rich bass and clear separation of all the instruments on the sound stage, as well as the dynamic range - especially compared with the junk earbuds that Apple gives you for free (or companies like Sony sell for $20). You might think $99 is steep for earbuds... well that was many moons ago. I just checked on the web and you can get the exact ones I have - Vibe in gunmetal black with a case and multiple-sized fittings for all ears - for $29!! If I had the money I'd go buy like 3 more pair and just store them in my closet in case my current ones die. Which they haven't, by the way, even after about 4 years.

So once again you can throw your money away on something $20 or less and never know what your music really sounds like, you can spend a fortune on Schure, Ultimate Ears, or Etymotic and get great but overpriced buds, or you can pay thirty bucks and get a pair of buds from V-Moda that will blow you away. iPods have good enough onboard amps (barely) to power them properly, too; with cheaper and lamer portable music players, your mileage may vary. Some may be too underpowered to drive a nice pair of earbuds, in which case you need a small headphone amp, or just get an iPod (even a low-end iPod). Apple uses decent amp components on all their models. Not all brands do - you generally get what you pay for when it comes to that. iPods are not the cheapest portable music players out there - but I think they're the best, and worth the money. And there's a model for almost everyone's particular needs and budget.

Well, there you have it - Meta's guide to speakers! (Partial guide, at least....)

Friday, December 3

What items would you pay a premium for, to get superior quality?

I imagine most of us would like to have the top quality of every type of device we own, home we live in, car we drive. I mean, why not? Set aside the unfairness of the real world, thoughts of affluence and poverty, and just put your mind in a fictional realm for a moment.

Now I want you to list a few (at most maybe a half-dozen) items you own or interact with in your life (non-living) which you particularly value and for which you would happily pay extra (and scrimp a bit on other things) to have a superior make and model, or something which makes an artistic impression, or just is a cut above the norm.

Some people want the latest touchscreen phones, which is perfectly fine. I on the other hand wouldn't turn one down (because they seem easier to use - my current phone is like trying to figure out a VCR), but I hate phones in general and so I'd never put that on my list. Some like fancy shoes, others a work of art to hang on their wall, some like well-built automobiles while others cherish fancy computer systems with powerful graphics and multiple large monitors. Some are into home theater, other into quality kitchen appliances or cutlery or superior furniture. You see what I mean.

Assume everything else in your life would be adequate and not cheapened, but just not special in the same way. Now, don't use this opportunity to say "a mansion, fully appointed with the best of everything" or "a Lear jet" or "a Bentley" or "a yacht". Let's keep this to the single-digit thousands of dollars or lower. Basically, think on the smaller side and be reasonable.
Personally, I value a really great, reliable car, but that's a bit over what we've decided the price range is to be, so I'm going to say: A leading edge computer loaded with hardware and software for under $10,000, but probably a Macintosh Pro with 3 large screens, upgraded graphics and memory, and Photoshop. I like jewelry (not much of it, but stuff made of platinum and other rare metals), so maybe a necklace and a couple of rings (like those two-toned Mokume-gane rings) in that range. Also, a wardrobe that isn't Armani but isn't Target... something casual but obviously high quality - the brand isn't the thing but just to name-check some I'd say The North Face, Eddie Bauer, Clarke's of London shoes, a cashmere sweater or two - practical, durable, comfortable things I'll definitely wear often, which will hold up because of their quality of construction and which just happen to look nice as well. I like the example of The North Face - it's pricey, but not when compared to "name designer clothing", and it's actually used by professional outdoorspeople the world round. Or Vasque boots. Or Levi's 501s. Clothing that works and happens to have a splash of taste and fits well, both literally and with my personality.

The last few things: High-quality oak bookcases, built-in, with a ladder attached I could slide around to get at my books. I already have a floor globe... and a powerful 'tactical' LED flashlight. Maybe some really good binoculars, from Nikon, Zeiss, or Swarovski? Maybe a solid but affordable geological binocular microscope for looking at fossils up close and with good depth perception? Maybe a home theater system - affordable, with a minimum of components, but each one being a good brand? It's hard to say.

Oh, and above all else: A high-quality bed/mattress and a superb COMFY CHAIR. Some nice lamps with soft lighting would be welcomed as well. Yeah, I think I'd choose the simpler things like a few select pieces of furniture and kitchen appliances rather than fancy electronics. Things built solidly that will last a lifetime.

And you? What matters most to you amongst the smaller conveniences in your life?

What do you collect?

Most people seem to collect something. Some people collect lots of things, but they usually have problems. And I suppose there are people who live completely practical workaday lives and don't collect anything 'just because' at all, though I haven't really met anyone that I can definitely say that about - or at least any that come to mind.

There's a difference between accumulated things because of a hobby or job or as a by-product of another at least semi-practical use, and a whimsical collection that just makes the owner happy. For example, a professional musician might have a ton of guitars and loads of music gear, but may or may not be a true guitar 'collector.' Similarly, people might crave tons of fancy lenses and the latest digital camera bodies because they are a giant photography geek and gearhead.

I don't consider this true collecting. True, you are collecting bits of kit, but there's a purpose to it - to have an ever more awesome sound studio, camera system, computer rig, a bad ass muscle car, or whatever. That sort of how I think of my books. I often say I collect books, but that's not precisely true. I only buy certain kinds, and I read them, while I might cotton to certain topics or others and stay away from others, the process of accumulating books is certainly as much a product of the desire to learn the knowledge within them as it is to just have them: To arrange and display them, enjoy them as existential objects apart from the meaning of the words within.

It's true, were I only interested in learning from books (or entertaining myself, or both), I'd borrow them from the library, or I'd buy them but hand them on to someone else when I'm finished. The fact that I dislike doing that ("give it back?!?") and that I like to group my books, take care of them, collect certain sets or editions, and so on shows that the flip side to my practical love of books is the irrational but clear (and fun) sign of the true collector. I can give away or sell or lend many books I don't care much about. Some parts of my book inventory would be out of the question for that sort of thing, though.

So, what I'm wondering in my long-winded way is: What do you collect? Not because of your business or because there's a good practical reason, but just out of whimsy or because of some memory another irrational but perfectly plausible reason. I'll tell you what I collect, or have collected.

I used to collect trading cards (but the movie kind much more than the sports kind), action figures and toys tied into a theme (ahem... Star Wars, GI Joe, He-Man...), comic books - but only The Flash and The Green Lantern - and then as I got older I began to collect coins. International coins to an extent (they seemed exotic, but I didn't make a systematic effort to obtain sets of them), but mostly US coins, and mostly old ones (the older the better, though it was much easier to collect relatively complete sets of the newer mints).

I had a lot of board games, a lot of sports equipment, lots of video games... but I never felt I collected that stuff, just played with it. It sucked if something broke or got lost but it wasn't like I felt a hole in my life until I replaced it with one just like it. And I never tried to catalogue or display those kinds of things in my room in any organized way to show I was proud to own them.

As I've gotten older I've lost interest in the movie cards, though my brother still has a lot of the ones we had as kids, my coin collection pretty much stopped growing once I got into college and has only occasionally been added to since, I've lost many of my old comic books and while it would be fun to see them again, I feel no desire to purchase comics of any sort, nor action figures or other toys. I collected Beanie Babies for a few years when my daughter was really into them (yes I admit it), but it was really more something to do with her that we could both relate to and get excited about. Once she lost interest, so did I. I had a few big sacks full at one time but I don't have them any more.

I've never been a collector of VHS or DVD films, CDs (though I had a large CD "collection" - again, it was for a rational reason: Because I love music and wanted those CDs to listen to. I didn't take some kind of completist pride in the corpus of my collection or seek to add missing singles and EPs just for the sake of owning them). I love music and films but unlike many people I've never properly collected either, or made a fuss over their organization. I come close with documentaries, as I have quite a library now (mostly in digital form but some in DVD-sets), but I still don't really care about anything but their content. I like watching them; they're interesting or comforting or fascinating, but the media itself upon which the images live means nothing to be so long as it's around somewhere and hopefully in good condition.

If you take books out of the conversation, then, there are not too many things you could really say I properly collect, but there are a few quirky things. Just like one of my grandmas like anything to do with elephants, I have a thing for cows (and to a lesser extent sheep/lambs), and in recent years bears as well, especially (really almost exclusively) polar bears. There are some private reasons for lots of these things. I have plush cows and sheep, some cow hand-puppets, and my mom has send me cow stickers and calenders and book over the years. I've drawn comic strips with cow characters and much much more, but that's drifting outside the realm of physical collectibles now, so enough about that. But besides a general love of cows and a sort of lifelong attachment to them, I do still want to continue to collect plush cows and other cow "things"... not just any old thing, mind you, but cute things that I find pleasing for some unknowable reason. Here are a couple things I just found on the web:

Notice the first cow is quite realistic (with an especially nicely-done udder), but still looks endearing. The second picture is a cow puppet which is sensible holding a bottle of milk in his right hand and quite oddly has his own puppet on his left hand, and it's not even another cow, it's a pig! What's going on there? If only it had it's own cow puppet (which presumably would have it's own even tinier cow puppet, and so on), there would be something special about that one. But the pig just kinda ruins it.

I like lavender plush things and lavender candles and such too, but don't really collect them; I just enjoy the smell. It's relaxing. The same with honey - I like honey much better than sugar, and I like the honey bears they come in (at least in the United States), but it's nothing I save or collect. Honey is just yummy, and honey cough drops are better than cherry ones, and the idea of selling honey inside a bear-shaped bottle is great. That's all.

Um, I collect yo-yo's and juggling bags. It's not really a collection so much that I want to have a LOT of either one, it's more a case of I'm always looking for the perfect yo-yo or the perfect set of juggling bags or juggling sticks (or come to think of it, the perfect chess board or globe or lots of unique things like that), and once I find "IT", I have no more interest in the subject. Like, I wanted a shark tooth necklace for a long time. Now I have one, and I like it. The end. So yo-yo's are one of those things which are always on my mind in some way, and I've been looking ever since childhood for the perfect one, which surely doesn't exist. Along the way I've collected quite a few nice ones that I'm quite happy with, but aren't quite right in some way.

I think that's a different psychological pathology working there: Trying to find the holy grail of something and never finding it, rather than trying to build up a collection in which the entirety of the thing is appreciated (even if some pieces are more treasured than others). I do have a D&D book collection that is pretty impressive, and while I lost the financial ability to keep up quite awhile ago, I have most of the stuff that was published from the late 1970s (though not the really early rare stuff) up to about 2005 (I'm just guessing). And that's only the books properly, not all the modules and figurines and other accessories (though I once had a nice assortment of dice... that was another case of always trying to find the perfect set of dice; "my" dice that just seemed right for me. But I never found them).

I dabbled in Coca-Cola branded items for awhile - keychains, old authentic glass bottles, stickers or postcards - but lots of that stuff is too kitsch for my taste and I gave it up. I still like Coke though, and their branding (the way I like Apple's branding but don't "collect" Apple products - I just admire their design taste). I especially like when they feature polar bears enjoying Coca-Cola since that brings two of my interests together.

Speaking of interests - that word conjures up yet another thing that is not collecting, but could develop an associated set of collections as a side result. I'm talking about being interested in audiophile-quality equipment; interested in really nice binoculars, stereoscopic microscopes, and DSLR cameras; interested in geology and all the hammers and specialized equipment that goes with it; interested in learning to play music properly; interested in the design of things in general - industrial design, print design, web design. Love of typefaces, beauty, art, words. All these are interests and even passions but I can't think of anything I have attached those ideas which I could call a 'collection.' I do have the complete works of many of my favorite authors - Plath, Dylan Thomas, Tolkien, and so on, so I guess one could say I'm tending toward being a bit of a completist there. And the same with many bands - I have all their CDs, though again I would stress I don't need to own every re-mix or 45 rpm record or vinyl LP or greatest hits albums when I already have all the songs. It's the writing in the case of the authors that I want to have at my fingertips, and the songs in the case of the bands. I don't think it's the thought that I've assembled something complete and greater than a sum of its parts.

Maybe my Tolkien collection. There's really no other excuse for why I would have 4 or 5 different versions (hardcover and paperback) of The Lord of the Rings, for example. I guess perhaps I am a Tolkien Book Collector. But work about Tolkien or anything else associated with him, like the yearly calendar, and all the Tolkien Society stuff that is really arcane and delves into his invented languages... I draw the line there. I just like having nice sets of his books, I suppose. A set to read and the rest to keep for no reason other than I want them and they look nice all lined up on the shelf!!!

So, to get back to it, what do you collect and if you know why, then why? Elaborate as much as you can, or care to... you won't bore anyone, at least not me. That's all that matters anyway on the 'Plane. I'd like it if everyone showed up and wrote pages and pages of comments every day!

Thursday, December 2


Someone get this Jimmy Wales clown off my Wikipedia before I clock someone.

He's distracting me from reading stuff! Jeez, what poor site design.

Wednesday, December 1

Apologies for a content-free November.

I know I've hardly posted lately, but it's because I've been sick for over a month now. I have almost NO energy. I have some ideas for posts, that's about as far as I've gotten. Hopefully this month I'll actually write out some of those ideas and get back to posting, but gotta beat this darn illness first.

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