Monday, December 29, 2003

I've been reading a book about running a bar.

I'm interested in this idea, of opening the Brodie Ln. Tavern. Mike calls it the BLT. I think that it would make someone a lot of money. The more I read about it, the more I believe in it. Initial cost / price scenarios look good. There are some problems though:

- High cost of failure. This is a comparatively risky investment, at least if you pay heed to warnings which suggest that a high percentage of new business fail in the first year. Don't want to get stuck owing an assload of money.

- How do you balance the time required to do this with a software design job & the other ways that you want to spend time? This would end up consuming all possible free time for the next... 30 years. Is that a good use of the rest of your time?

- I've never worked in a bar. Seems like I should work in a bar for a while before trying to enter that biz. Don't think it would be that hard, but I would have to hire to agressively compensate for my lack of experience in this area.

As I continue to read 'Start and Run a Money Making Bar' by Bruce Feir, I will no doubt have more boring thoughts to share on this matter...

Gonna see if I can find a way to edit the past blogs... I'd like to format the actual book reviews a little differently from the all the rest of the content.
It has been a few days.

I've been taking it pretty easy, reading a lot and preparing for the coming storm that will be Garner X. My wonderful fiancee is still gone, so with the exception of some gaming sessions with the boys, I've been pretty sedate.

Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman
I just finished Anne Fadiman's 'Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader' which my Aunt Terry gave me for Christmas. Overall it was an excellent collection of essays which belongs in the 'books on books' section. Think of it as subtly meta, but not very concerned with it's own meta-ness. It contained about 12 essays on the role of books and reading in the author's life. Fadiman has a peaceful, relaxed but elegant style. She is a self-avowed compulsive editor, and is clearly a voracious reader. Also a New York literary snob of sorts, but in a good natured way. She has a great ear for language, and an encyclopedic knowledge of quotations and the lives of many authors, mostly nineteenth century. She uses great phrases, like "ossified scintillia" which are just dripping with attention to the way letters and words work together. The first essay is one that describes the occasion in which, some years after her marriage and the birth of her second child, she and her husband finally agreed to let their two libraries co-mingle. This essay struck a particular chord with me in light of my upocoming change in marital status. Another essay compared reading to eating, pointing out the metaphorical comparisons we use when descrbing books ("devoured", etc.) Another dealt with her compulsive need to add marginalia. Another with famous inscriptions on fly-leaves. Etc. Great one on the English artic explorers, etc. This is not a book for everyone, but for the dedicated reader, it is a real treat.


I'm only a few pages from the end of 'In A Narrow Grave', so expect a post on that next. For now though, Cog & I have to put together a cheap entertainment-center I just bought for the downstairs TV.


Friday, December 26, 2003

Well, Christmas has come and gone. It was a mighty fine time. Lots of fun. Lots of food. Lots of family.

I received several books as Christmas presents, and since this blog is sort of focused on the books I read, I'll chronicle them here:

Gravity's Rainbow - Thomas Pynchon
The Crying of Lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon
In a Narrow Grave: Essays on Texas - Larry McMurtry
Ex Libris - Anne Fadiman
Imperical America - John Nerhouse
Riddley Walker - Russell Hoban
Doubt : A History - Jennifer Hecht
How to Start and Run a Money Making Bar - Bruce Fier
American Studies - Author Unknown, cause Weezel already stole the book!

So, stay tuned, non-existant reader, for my thoughts on these books, when and if I read them!

I've read the first 1/4 of Narrow Grave, Bar, and Ex Libris, and all of them seem really cool so far!


Tuesday, December 23, 2003


Well, after a fun night of playing games with the usual crew, I'm back here at joyous work. Only, the joke is, there's no one here! But, that does mean it's pretty easy for me to get some stuff done today... Like playing Deus Ex2, reading "Peopleware" and learning Maya. Exciting stuff.

And I get to pick up the turducken today from CM for Xmas! Fun!


Monday, December 22, 2003

Well, three things have happened since the last update an hour or so ago. I must be starting to come across as bored and narssisistic (s*4?) to be updating this all the time with such boring shit. But, oh well. Your fault if you read it.

User Interface Design For Programmers by Joel Spolesky
I finished The Spolsky book "User Interface Design for Programmers." Now, everyone knows I'm NOT a programmer, but this is was recommended to me as a top quality book on UI Design. This this is a topic that is pretty relevant to my continuing to draw water in this town, I picked it up, on BillG's dime. Plus, I can't really read a novel at work without looking lazy but I CAN read a book like this one, and just seem dedicated. A real go-getter. Upwardly moblie. Cheap corporate whore.

UID for Programmers is a B+ book. JS is a clever writer with a few good insights into how UI should be. He is able to offer several good rules-of-thumb for designing UI. The majority of his examples & focus is on (specifically) Windows GUI. There are good gems here, which build mostly on Donald Norman's concept of "Affordances" from his A+ book, "The Design of Everyday Things." Bottom line on the UID book is, you would probably get as much or more out of saving $25 and just spending 2 hours reading through everything on where most of this material is covered anyway.


Next work books on tap: "Peopleware" by Tom DeMarco & "Creating Emotion in Games" by David Freeman. Stay tuned here for this exciting look into the life of a guy who really isn't as dull as this blog probably makes him seem.

Which reminds me, I just skimmed the blog of a bona-fide hipster. It was a little depressing. Shit. I can overly not care about what I wear, shave my head over the bathroom sink, get high everyday, listen to Explosions In the Sky, and still not be hip-enough to keep up with the joneses. Fuck. (Hehee.)
Well, it's monday at noon here.

Last night ended up being lots of fun. Sunday dinner was excellent, got to watch my grandmother and sister make a gingerbread house, which is something that I remember from being a kid. Pretty cool.

Spent last night helping Cog move his stuff in. I enjoyed one of December's beer of the month brews. It was a Winter Warmer; very spicy, tasted like ginger and nutmeg. Very tasty!

I spent an hour playing Max Payne 2 last night as well. It was pretty underwhelming. More of the same from the first game, which I never thought was that good. Terribly linear, very stylized, but a style 'gritty cop with a checkered past' that was already a cliche in the 70's. And the basic game mechanic of 'enter a room, go into bullet time, and kill everyone in the room' just isnt' that cool. So I had to return to Grand Theft Auto 3: Vice City, which is also by Rockstar, and generally a much better game.

Today work is dead. There are about 4 people in the office, out of 60. This isn't bad, cause it gives me a chance to catch up on some work reading, check out some of the new games for this Christmas, and piddle around learning MAYA. Right now I'm finishing up Joel Spolsky's 'User Interface Design for Programmers'. Will post a review a little later today. I'm also playing Ion Storm's newest, 'Deus Ex 2: Invisible War.' It's a better game than I thought it would be.


Sunday, December 21, 2003

It's a fine Sunday afternoon here in Austin. Blue skied and clear as they say.

I spent this morning at Thai Kitchen, reading and visiting with the owner, Toy. He is a friendly and interesting Thai man, age 60. As I was the only one in the resturant, and he has been a distant friend of the family for about 15 years now, he sat at my table and talked with me for about an hour. He talked about what it means to be married, about thai food and health, about his travels, about my family and his. He used words like "sex" and "mafia" which were interesting to hear from the mouth of a relative stranger. He asked that he and his sister be invited to Rebecca and my wedding. :)

I finished Earth Abides. Damn. That is a really great book. I really need to find another copy of it to give to LT for Xmas. He is someone whom, I think, can appreciate what a wonderful work it is.

Earth Abides by George R. Stewart
I remember reading this book previously when I was a child living in East Texas. My Aunt Terry was always great about giving me books that were wildly age inappropriate. This is one of those. I picked it up again at Half-Price Books for a few dollar, and am very glad that I did. EA is the story of Ish Williams, a young man who survives a pandemic plague that sweeps across the world, leaving only 1/10,000 alive. Stewart wrote the novel in the 1940s, and seems to have been something of a naturalist, anthropologist and sociologist. The tale follows Ish's life for the sixty years after the Great Disaster. Ish crosses the country and takes stock of the ruins of civilization, then, in the company of five or six others, begins to rebuild it. Ish, Emma, Ezra, George, and a few other survivors start a small community in the hills above San Francisco. They have offspring, form a tribe, deal with other tribes, and observe the (de)evolution of human society. The final chapter of the 300p. novel is called The Last American, who is Ish. Mankind has reverted to a pseudo-primitive tribalism. Very cool.

Anyway, the book is great. It was obviously a big influence on Stephen King's The Stand, although this work stays largely clear of the horror / spiritual implications of a global pandemic, instead focusing on the social evolution of humankind in the generations that come after. Fascinating.


Next up: Sunday dinner with the family, featuring special guest Maggie Pearl Fields. Then King Cog will be moving in tonight, which is exciting. He's broken hearted currently, but that too will pass in time.

Next up on book review: A Random Walk Down Wall Street - called, by "the only book you should read about investing." We will see.


Saturday, December 20, 2003

Quiet day here in Austin today.

Went by Central Market South this morning to order a turducken for Christmas morning with the family. For those of you who don't know, a tur-duck-en is a cajun delicacy. You take a boneless chicken, stuff it inside a duck, stuff that inside a turkey. Usually there is stuffing of some kind crammed in there too. Cook for a few hours, and viola. I had one at Erin's house on thanksgiving, and it was great. The one we will be having on Christmas is to be stuffed with creole crawish etouffe. I hope it turns out well! Will keep you posted!

This afternoon was very quiet. Continued working my way through Earth Abides. Then, just to continue on the Apocalypse theme, I watched 28 Days Later for the first time. Pretty neat film. The 'Radically Alternate Ending' told through storyboards was the coolest to me. Second to that, the theatrical ending was probably the best. I really have to give props to their use of God Speed You Black Emperor music in the score. Perfect for that kind of film.

Tonight, I'm still missing my girl. Expect I'll spend the rest of the evening trying to finish up EA & maybe do a little editing on Vic's website for him.



PS: Oh yeah, Cog graduated today. Congratulations.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Okay. I've got it. This works, and is pretty easy to use. I'll try to start giving it a few minutes each day.

For now, since my lovely finacee is gone, and I'm still a little too hungover and broke to feel like drinking, I'll just keep reading. I'm trying to finish up _Earth Abides_ tonight, so I can move on to some other stuff. In the mean time, here are my .02 on the book I just finished...

Hell House by Richard Matheson
Hell House was written in the early 70’s, and I expect that it wasn’t a cliché at that time. Plot, loosely: a diverse group of people must spend several days in a haunted house, which was once the scene of a grisly orgy. The book was written with Matheson’s usual pulp style. Some of the descriptions were pretty fucking creepy. The Marquis de Sade type figure who ran the house was a good villan; some of the scenes of the ‘roman circus’ orgies were pretty visceral. Not much else here, but this is a classic horror novel, the basis for MANY films and novels since.

Out for now. Will post review of EA later, probably tomorrow.

Hi all.
This is my first stab at running a web-log since an abortive attempt at keeping one on some years ago. I'm likely to use this just to keep track of the books I'm reading, music I'm listening to, etc. I expect low traffic, since I don't think anyone much cares about this except me.