Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Some highlights of the break:

  • Books:
    1. Exile's Honor and Exile's Valor by Mercedes Lackey -- I enjoyed these more than I thought I would. It has been a while since I've read anything by Mercedes Lackey; perhaps I read too many of them in too short a time before. They do tend to be predictable, but I enjoy the writing style well enough, and the main character of these books (Alberich) is one of my favorites.
    2. Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold -- I enjoyed the book, as I've enjoyed most of Bujold's books, but it was not my favorite. The writing was fine, but the perspective seemed bleak and grim with little breaks of humor. I much prefer the Vorkosigan books, in which I think she takes herself a little less seriously.
    3. The Elder Gods by David and Leigh Eddings -- I was really disappointed by this book. In most of the Eddings books I've read, I've enjoyed at least one of the plot, the writing style, or the character development. But this book seemed flat.
    4. Service of the Sword by various authors -- This is an anthology of stories in David Weber's science fiction universe. Some of the stories were pretty good, some less good. But overall I enjoyed it.
    5. The Culture We Deserve by Jacques Barzun -- Excellent, even if some of the essays tend toward polemic. Barzun writes briskly, and is quite clear about stating and arguing his position. I enjoy the writing even -- or perhaps particularly -- when I disagree.
    6. Caress of Twilight by Laurell K. Hamilton -- Fun. Read quick.
    7. The Art of UNIX Programming by Eric S. Raymond -- ESR is one of the characters of the UNIX community. Sometimes I agree with his points, sometimes not -- but they're worth reading. The book has a lot of little useful nuggets, some of historical interest, others of interest from the difference in perspective. But it read quickly, and when I finished I'd added a few books and papers to my to-read list. That's always welcome, even if my to-read list is always too long.
  • Food:
    1. Fruit cake -- I've never figured out what people have against fruitcake. I really like the stuff.
    2. Cookies -- Cookies of all sorts are good. So I ate cookies of all sorts.
    3. Mandalay Cafe -- This is the first time I've eaten Burmese food. I liked it.
    4. Ham-bean-potato soup -- This is just green beans and potatoes cooked with ham and some water. With a loaf of homemade bread, it's hard to beat.
    5. Bread -- It's all good stuff: plain bread, bread with dates, bread with raisins.
    6. Veggies -- I rarely get radishes for myself. But I love them, and think I finished most of that part of the vegetable platter when it was out. I ate a lot of the little plum tomatoes, too.
    7. Popcorn -- I've never met anybody besides my immediate family who makes popcorn with brewer's yeast. Or rather, I don't know that I've met anybody out of my family who does; it's possible that I just don't know, as I usually don't ask people about their popcorn-eating habits. But it's good. I used to not particularly care for the flavor, but apparently my tastes have changed over the years.
  • XEmacs amusements
    1. M-x tetris
    2. M-x snake
    3. M-x sokoban
    4. M-x hanoi
    5. M-x all-hail-xemacs
    6. M-x spook
  • The cats:
    'Twas two nights before Christmas,
    And all through the house,
    The cats batted string toys,
    But never a mouse.
    1. Jasmine and Thyme -- The two black kittens were new arrivals since the first time I was home. They weren't going to curl up in my lap to be petted, but they were happy to play with a bit of string, even if I was at the other end. They were also fascinated by things moving on a CRT, whether it be a television screen or a monitor. I know Thyme has a few white hairs at her neck, but that didn't help me much when I tried to distinguish them. I still couldn't really tell them apart by the time I left.
    2. Pounce -- She was still happy to play the last time I was home. This time, she was less interested (though she did pounce on my foot under a blanket a few times). Mostly, she seemed happy to observe what was going on.
    3. Misty -- The old grey cat is just what he used to be. He still pounces on a bit of string -- more sparingly, but more effectively, than the kittens. And he was happy to hop into my lap and rest or be petted for a time.
  • Things to drink
    1. Hot water with lime juice
    2. Hot cider with lemon juice
    3. Ginger beer (not an alcoholic beverage, despite the name)
    4. Holiday tea blend (black tea with fruit bits)
    5. Russian caravan tea