jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
When you haven't been writing, there's always memes. In this case, [livejournal.com profile] catcetera tagged me on Facebook to describe ten books that had a big influence on my life. I'm supposed to tag three other people to keep the meme going, but I'm not a big fan of obligating people to do things for my amusement. I think it's a fun exercise, so I'll just tag "people on my livejournal feed who think it would be fun".

Onto the books, in no particular order:

1) The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan. Simply the best book on skeptical thinking I've ever read. The Baloney-detection kit alone is reason to have this book included in high-school curriculums everywhere. I've owned five copies of this book. They keep getting "loaned" out.

2) The Annotated Alice by Martin Gardner. This book is responsible for my love of Alice in Wonderland. It gave me a deeper understanding of the source material and triggered a love for nonsense verse and logical puzzles.

3) A Night to Remember by Walter Lord. Ballard's discovery of Titanic's wreck in 1985 may have triggered my love of Titanic, but it was Walter Lord's book that sealed it. Many books have been written about the details. This is still the best overview of what happened for the beginner. Titanic would be a historical footnote if it weren't for Walter Lord.

4) The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. What would you do if the end of the world happened? This book gave me my first taste of an everyman dealing with a cozy calamity. I've had a fondness for those stories ever since. This is also a zombie apocalypse novel if you squint hard enough.

5) The Chrysalids also by John Wyndham. This is the better of the two, and just the thing for my teenage self to dig his teeth into, especially when my teenage self was so horribly misunderstood by the hidebound grownups around me.

6) The C Programming Language by Kernighan & Ritchie. There are richer languages out there (C's descendants C++ and C# for example), but I still have a soft spot for C, warts and all, since it was the first programming language I truly grokked. Plus, any book that has sat on my desk, constantly used, for my entire professional life, must be influential.

7) The Stand by Stephen King. The first time I truly identified with one of the bad guys was this novel. I still feel angry that HEL didn't make the right decision.

8) Captain Canuck #4 by Richard Comely. This was the comic that got me into collecting - 'nuff said.

9) The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay. Modern characters transported to a fantasy realm? Yes please. The best example of that trope that I've ever read. Approaching the end, I dreaded that the ending could not live up to the wonder of the previous pages. My fears were unfounded - the last page was as good as it could be and let me put the book down with a feeling of satisfaction that few books have equaled.

10) ElfQuest by Wendy and Richard Pini. The original twenty issues were awesome. A pity they never wrote anything else. These books introduced me to Fandom and for that alone, they deserve a place on this list.
jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
Bree nominated me to post three things I hate. I originally did it on Facebook, but decided that it really deserved to be here since it meets my LJ guidelines. i.e. One sentence: Twitter. One paragraph: Facebook. One essay: Livejournal.

I hate lots of stuff. As long as the stuff I love outnumbers it, I should be good though, right? Anyway, here's three things with a bonus:

1) Thoughtless, inconsiderate drivers. This can have many manifestations: dangerous driving, cutting people off, passing in the douchebag lane, etc. I think it's the simplest is simply not signalling. When you consider the physical effort required to use your signals, this tells you they're the sort of person who will literally not lift a finger to help others.

2) Irrational arguments on the internet. It's like chewing on tinfoil to me. Examples include "I left my gun on the porch all day and it didn't kill anyone" or "here's a picture of a pit bull with a toddler and they're both perfectly fine". Counter arguments are so ridiculously easy that it makes me weep that a person would post the original argument in the first place.

2.5) Of a similar nature, chain posts like "repost this if you love mom and apple pie; if you don't repost you must hate motherhood" poke that same but that's illogical button in me. I do occasionally participate if it's something I'm particularly passionate about (anti-bullying campaigns for example), but I make it clear that I don't expect anyone else to participate.

3) The teachers I had in elementary school. The kids were just cruel in that kid way, but the grown-ups who stood by and watched as my self-esteem got systematically destroyed and I begged for their help... yeah. My only consolation is they're probably dead now. Good riddance.

I'm not too fussed about nominating people to participate. Do it if you'd like.
jamesq: (LJ Meme)
This is a meme floating around Facebook. It's long-winded enough I figured I'd post the original here on LJ.
I was given a "random" number of nine, so here are nine things you may not have known about me.

  1. I didn't start drinking until I was 37. I was teetotal until then.
  2. I didn't get my drivers license until I was 33. I didn't drive a car again for four years. My therapist figured out that this was a point of anxiety for me and gave me drive a car every weekend as homework to build confidence.
  3. I'm rather a late bloomer in a lot of things. I blame my largely friendless childhood, where I completely failed to learn basic socialization skills until very late. Basically I was still figuring out basic elementary school stuff well into adulthood.
  4. Despite the above, I'm not aspy - I'm actually fairly neurotypical. That is to say, my late socialization is an *effect*, not a *cause*. Is it sad that that's something people may not have known about me? It should really be a default assumption.
  5. Well, neurotypical might be a stretch - I suffer from depression. Currently under control *knocks on wood*.
    Ok, so that's hardly unknown. How about this - I was on Citalopram for the first year after diagnosis since it was so bad. Citalopram has it's side effects, but it was a hell of a lot better than the alternative.
  6. I jogged for about a year before I told anyone (though my roommate at the time probably figured it out). All the better to pretend I never tried it at all if I failed at it. Thankfully I didn't fail at it since I rather enjoy running - but you all knew that already.
  7. I'm known in the SCA as James the Quixotic, but if I ever try to get a name passed it will likely be James MacDonald of Skye.
  8. I want to turn Island of the Sequined Love Nun into a movie. Basically as producer/director. Sadly I lack the wherewithal and talent set to do that. A major lottery win would take care of the former and give me time to take care of the latter.
  9. I had major surgery to repair my hernia when I was six weeks old. I was also six weeks premature. Yes, these facts are related. I still have the scar, but given its location, I'm not likely to show you unless we're really friendly.
jamesq: (Jarhead)
There's a picture meme running around Facebook right now that I've included below:

Santa Loves Veterans

A friend conveyed the same sentiment in his status update in a much more erudite manner without the picture. He was not alone.

Does anyone other than me think this is actually somewhat disrespectful of veterans? We'll leave aside the fact that Remembrance Day is actually meant for remembering armed forces members who have died in the line of duty. One could easily reword the picture to reflect that.

Now I'm someone who has great respect for what our veterans have done. We ask them to do a difficult, sometimes life-threatening job and they don't often get thanks for it. Sometimes they do things I'd rather they didn't do, but that's not really their fault so much as it is the government that gives them their assignments. I can disagree with our military being in Afghanistan, and I can think that they're not accomplishing much while there, but that doesn't mean they're not trying and they're not in danger.

So yes, I respect our soldiers and our veterans.

My big objection is using veterans for emotional blackmail. Don't do X because Veterans! It's like the very similar argument of Think of the Children. It's not something you say if you are interested in debating something on its merits; You say it when you want to stifle debate. After all, you couldn't possibly support X, that means you hate our troops!

Completely unrelated to this, I agree that retailers get into Christmas-mode way too early (I know the meme says decorations, but it's really retailers who are guilty of this 99% of the time). If I had my druthers, it wouldn't begin until much later than November 12 - I'd put it at the American Thanksgiving weekend. This gives everyone time to prepare for Black Friday. A month-long span that begins and ends with holiday weekends should be plenty.

In short, there might be damn good reasons why we would want to limit Christmas. Or not, I suspect most people just find it a little exhausting rather than an affront. I say live-and-let-live. If a retailer wants to go all Christmas-y starting in July, it's no skin off my nose. I might decide not to shop there because it's irritating, but in the end I'll probably base my purchasing decisions on other criteria, like price or convenience. If too-early Christmas means that much to you, don't shop there. That means some personal inconvenience as you search for alternatives though and I bet most of the people who've posted this meme aren't going to put any more effort into this than clicking on "like". And that puts memes like this firmly into the realm of slacktivism - important enough to share, not important enough to take any real action. It's a little like prayer that way. As for supporting veterans by not doing something - I can claim I'm patriotic by not putting up decorations. It's so much easier than actually doing something, like attending Remembrance Day ceremonies. I support Canada's Justice system by not pissing on the courthouse steps! Easy!

I suppose one could simply actually ask a veteran their opinion in the matter - whether they think we should control behaviour prior to November 12th. I suspect they don't think that. However "veterans" is not some platonic ideal of a class of people who all share the same opinion. My dad served in the Canadian Forces (albeit not during wartime) and he couldn't get enough of Christmas - it was his favourite holiday. Other veterans might not celebrate Christmas at all.

On the subject of using veterans as your club to shame people? I'm guessing they like that even less than early Christmas decorations.
jamesq: (Default)
So I haven't been posting much lately - I blame laziness and the fact that every time I try to write about something social or political, someone beats me too it and does a better job. That being the case here is a big damn questionnaire-style meme. I haven't done one of those in awhile.

behind the cut, because 100 questions is just too damn long... )
jamesq: (Me in grade one)
Apparently I watched a lot of TV when I was a kid.

Rules: Bold all of the following TV shows which you've ever seen 3 or more episodes of in your lifetime. Underline a show if you're positive you've seen every episode of it. If you want, add up to 3 additional shows (keep the list in alphabetical order), but you must delete one show for each one that you add.

The shows themselves... )

Some weird oddities in my list. First, since the rules are to bold if you've seen at least three episode, I've got a lot of shows that my folks watched (Golden Girls, Roseanne) that I wouldn't have otherwise paid any attention to). Also, you can see I was a kid during the 70's. If it was a more subjective "bold shows you were/are a fan of", my list would be at least half this size.

Shows I've seen every episode boil down to the ones I own (Firefly), or ones that have been in syndication forever (Star Trek TOS). One exception is my Dad's favourite show - M*A*S*H, which I had little choice in seeing all of. Thank heavens it's actually a good show!

Doctor Who is on the list, even though I've never been a big fan of it. I did try back in the 80's, I really did, but just couldn't get into it. Supernatural is on the list largely due to simply being at [livejournal.com profile] minyata's house when she and [livejournal.com profile] cat_cetera where watching it obsessively.

Lots of shows that I probably should have watched, but just never got around to For example, I've still only watched one episode of South Park and two episodes of Lost. At this point in my life I find it hard to devote the time to the latest big thing. I find I'm picking up weird shows with elements that appeal to me (Leverage is an action comedy caper, No Ordinary Family is superheros in the real world).
jamesq: (Default)
When you've got writer's block, it's time to pull out the memes.

Three Jobs I had in my Life
  • Gas station attendent.
  • Computer sales at Buy More Orifice Depot.
  • Software Scientist.
Three Places I Have Lived
  • Calgary::Altadore::Casa Cyr.
  • Calgary::Downtown::Ggothic Towers.
  • Calgary::Dalhousie::Pepperland.
Three Favorite Drinks
  • Diet Cola.
  • Ricards White Ale.
  • Root Beer.
Three TV Shows that I Watch
  • Chuck.
  • Castle.
  • Glee.
Three Places I have Been
  • Scotland.
  • Cuba.
  • Vancouver.
My Favorite foods
  • Sushi.
  • Creme Brulee.
  • Lasagna.
Three Things I am Looking Forward to
  • My trip to Las Vegas in two days.
  • My trip to Can Cun in four-ish months for [livejournal.com profile] naughtynat07 and [livejournal.com profile] thekillerb69's wedding
  • Weather that will allow me to run outside.
Three Things that are ALWAYS by my side
  • a computing device.
  • Cellphone.
  • Keys.
Three Things that are in my car right now
  • Plush Cthulhu
  • Tool kit.
  • Lots of half-read magazines.
Three Things that I did Today
  • Woke up to a misdialled phone.
  • Ate a bowl of Vector cereal.
  • Wrote this entry.
jamesq: (Default)
So that was a weird month.

I feel tense, stressed and emotionally exhausted. A lot of it was from the amount of introspection that the meme required. I'm not used to that level of it. I had to dig around in some of the more musty parts of my psyche.

Aside: The feelings aren't entirely because of that meme. I've been reading this thread on Making Light, and work has been stressful the last week or so.

I think this has triggered my yearly birthday-to-valentines depression a month ahead of schedule. Hopefully my trip to Victoria in 9 days will improve my mood.

So what have I accomplished? Well I've put way too much information about my past, my mental issues and my sex life out onto the net. Even the positive posts had traces of emo whining in them. I'm not happy about that - I really need to bury that shit so that I don't inadvertently push people away.

Hopefully there was enough of the positive for people to read and be informed without me seeming like a basket-case. I really can function rather well day-to-day.

And the next few big posts won't have much to do with me, because damn, I want to write about something else.
jamesq: (Default)
First memory, final moment... )
jamesq: (Default)
Having aspirations is proof that you inhaled... )
jamesq: (Default)
Places to go, people to see... )
jamesq: (Default)
Big boys don't cry-y-y... )
jamesq: (Default)
I like people liking me... )
jamesq: (Zoidberg)
I was tackled and had a bucket dropped on my head... )
jamesq: (Default)
Some emo-ish discussion of what the difference between hope, dream and fantasy is, and how they apply to me... )

Now it's possible I've completely misunderstood the point of this exercise. If so, here is what I currently hope for, with a bit of detail:
  • A romantic partner - A woman not too dissimilar to me in age, who is reasonably intelligent, funny and good looking and has some commonality with me.
  • I'd like to get to a point where I have more leisure time to enjoy life. This requires me removing a fair amount of debt so that I can reduce how much I work. Probably not going to happen in the next five years, but it could happen in ten.
  • I'd like to get to a healthy weight.
  • I'd like to get to a point in my life where my mental problems no longer overwhelm me.

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jamesq

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