Calvin and Hobbes: all the quotes, all online

Just happened upon this terrific find: a Web site that has the full text of every Calvin and Hobbes strip. This guy typed them all in by hand!

The front page (JavaScript required) lets you view all the Calvin and Hobbes comics, stepping through them one by one (click on the comic image to advance), and shows the text above each one. You can also search.

But the real treasure is the yearly pages. They require JavaScript if you want to use the Search function, but not just to scroll through.

After Harry Potter: interview with J. K. Rowling (no spoilers)

No spoilers in this post, but I link to a page that does have spoilers. FYI.

Today’s newspaper had an article that said J. K. Rowling had done “a recent 90-minute web chat” with readers, “her first public comment since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows debuted on July 21”, answering some of the over 120,000 questions that had been submitted. The article did not, however, mention anything about where this chat had taken place, or where transcripts could be had. Odd.

After a bit of searching, I’m doubting the bit about “her first public comment”, because Rowling got interviewed by Dateline, and that interview aired last Sunday. And most of the article’s tidbits from the chat could have been copied right out of the Dateline interview. Hmm.

Anyway, I didn’t know about the Dateline interview in time to catch it on the air, but NBC’s Web site has a transcript that covers a great deal (all?) of the interview. Lots of really good stuff, about what the characters are doing now, what it was like to kill characters off, fandom, and a fair bit else. It’s five fairly long pages, and worth the read (assuming you’ve already read Deathly Hallows, of course). I figured I’d blog the link to the transcript, partly to share, partly so I can find it again.

Transcript of J. K. Rowling’s interview with Dateline’s Meredith Vieira, July 29, 2007

A Rolls for the Man with a Price on His Head

Just had to pass this on. Via the rotating news links at the top of Gmail.

A Rolls for the Man with a Price on His Head and a Taste for Absolute Luxury

The Phantom Armoured, engineered to the highest current international protection rating, will stand up to an AK-47 attack from 10 feet away

Here’s the full article. They don’t mention how much it costs.

Debugging Google’s ocean swim

Marco Cantý today mentioned that Google Maps will give you driving directions from Italy to New York. Included in the directions is a step that says “Swim across the Atlantic Ocean — 5,572 km“.

To give you an idea of the kind of geek I am, I went on to look for other ocean routes that they support. Mainland to Hawaii? Nope, they can’t do it. U.S. to Australia? No can do.

Then I tried using Florida instead of New York. They routed me all the way up the East Coast. So apparently they only have a single route across the ocean, a single “road” if you will.

So then I tried to narrow down where this “road” starts and ends. (Am I scaring you yet?) I had two reasons for this: one, because I was curious; and two, because I wanted to know how long they thought the swim would take, so I could figure out how fast they think I can swim.

At this point, I found two bugs in Google Maps.

Bug #1: If you ask for a route directly from the starting point (Long Wharf, Boston) to the ending point (Terminal Grande-Bretagne, Le Havre, France), it doesn’t tell you to swim. It just tells you to “head south“. (Here’s a better version of the Google Maps swimming directions; it starts a block away, and does tell you to swim.)

Bug #2: They think you can make the 3,462-mile swim in 29 days 0 hours. Which means they think you can manage an average sustained pace of 5 miles an hour, or 2.2 meters per second, or 4.3 knots. Swimming. Average. If you swim 24 hours a day.

I mean, come on, guys. You could have at least done some research. The swim across the Atlantic actually takes 72 days.

(They also got the start and end cities wrong — it should have been Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Quiberon, France. But one mustn’t be too picky.)

Five rules for keeping an empty GMail inbox

I was getting ready to leave work yesterday when I happened across an article that someone had been reading in FireFox. I’m not even sure who had opened the page (we don’t have individual computers), but I sat right down and read it start to finish.

Now all I need to do is do it. Here’s the article: Five simple rules for keeping an empty (GMail) inbox.

This year in NaNoWriMo

As you can probably tell from the word-count widget in my sidebar, I’m planning to do NaNoWriMo again this year. (For any who haven’t heard of it, that means I’m going to be writing a novel. In a month. Yes, I am insane, thanks for asking.)

My first NaNo novel (“The Littlest Evil Overlord“) was humorous fantasy, and was decent (for a novel written in a month). The second one (“Here Be Dragons“) was somewhat darker urban fantasy, and it sucked. In retrospect, and having read a few more books about writing, I think that a big reason for this is that I don’t read urban fantasy. I read humorous fantasy, like Discworld novels. So that’s what I’m going to write this year.

The NaNo rules allow you to put together as much of a plot outline as you want before the beginning of November (though actual prose is punishable by death), so I’m diligently working on my outline every now and then. I figure I’ve already done the “make it up as you go” thing in previous years, so this time I’ll try “plan ahead” and see how I like it.

This year’s topic: Pirates.

Pirate monks, to be exact.

(I mean, think about it; it makes sense. Back before the printing press, what did monks do with their time? They copied books. Illuminated Bibles and all that. So what do they do now? They copy music. Pirates, arr. Sailing under the skull and cross.)

Of course, there are also going to be the evil pirate ninjas. And the princess who just dyed her hair purple. And you know there’s gotta be a dragon in there somewhere.

I will not, however, be putting my novel on the public Web this year. I’m toying with the idea of trying to get it published for money if it doesn’t suck too bad (denial springs eternal), and that means not “publishing” it online first. But that doesn’t mean I can’t share it with a few people. So if you’re curious about what the hell I’ll be coming up with, drop me a line via my contact form. I’ll be writing the novel on Google Docs, which makes it easy to share a document with a group of people. Come One! Come All! …well, okay, not all; “not all” is kinda the point.

So reserve your place in line. See a legend in the making.

Okay, enough procrastinating. Back to the character sketches…

Webcomic to watch: El Goonish Shive

I discovered El Goonish Shive over the weekend. It’s a webcomic featuring an alien-hybrid were-squirrel, women with giant hammers, anime-style martial arts, and a gender-bending transformation gun. And also a demonic duck of some sort, which I just may have to feature in my NaNo novel this year. (The “Duck senses… tingling!” strip just about made me fall off my chair.)

There’s a New Reader Guide, which is probably a fine place to start reading. The site is a bit confusing, as there are three separate archives: EGS (the main comic), EGS:NP (off-topic stuff), and FILLER (other off-topic stuff). They mostly have the same characters, but the main strip has the most continuity. The best place to start (after the New Reader Guide) is with the first EGS strip. Be warned that it will take a while to dig through the archives, as the strip started in 2002 and was daily for a while.

Go. Enjoy. And if you don’t happen to like it, then… hey, is that a demonic duck of some sort?

Of rocks and motivation

Less than a day after I posted about procrastination as a big rock, Steve posted an article about motivation thresholds. I think he answered the question I didn’t even know how to ask.

Now I just need to find the motivation to re-read his article a few more times until it starts to sink in.

One part of the article that made me laugh out loud, though, was this: “What do you find so motivating that you’d even ignore a growling stomach for hours just to stay with it?” Heh. My answer is, just about anything! Getting started is the hard part, but once I’m started on something that I find interesting, hyperfocus takes over, and time, hunger, thirst, sleep, and other human beings all cease to exist.

So now I’m curious. I had thought that getting absorbed in a task was a fairly universal trait among geeks. Steve is clearly a geek (both as a former programmer and as a relentless optimizer), yet apparently he usually notices when he gets hungry. So it’s not as universal as I had assumed.

What about you? Do you consider yourself a geek? Do you sometimes get so absorbed in things that you forget to eat?

Sleep study, and general ADD update

So I went in for a sleep study, a week ago Friday. (Boy, I’m behind in my blogging, aren’t I?)

It was an interesting experience. I counted 22 different wires taped, and in some cases glued, to different parts of my body (mostly my head — that’s where they used the glue). Then they expected me to go to sleep, in a strange bed — and then got me up at 5:30 the next morning (eek!).

Oddly enough, even though I lay wide awake for an hour and a half before I finally fell asleep, and even though I therefore only got about five hours of sleep, I woke up fairly refreshed and alert. It was some of the best sleep I’d had in a while. File that away under “peculiar”.

I learned some stuff from talking to the sleep doctor, the morning before the sleep study. Like, the allergy meds my family doctor had given me samples of (Alavert-D — basically loratadine (Claritin/Alavert) plus pseudoephedrine) would keep me awake at night; the loratadine by itself will neither keep you awake nor put you to sleep, but pseudoephedrine will keep you awake. She recommended that I try taking the Alavert-D in the morning, and Benadryl before bedtime; Benadryl is both a more potent anti-allergy thing, but also pretty good for helping you sleep. (My psychologist looked it up, and decided to have me keep taking Benadryl at night for a while, instead of the lithium. We’ll see how it goes.)

I had to fill out a sleep log for a full week before I went in for the sleep study, and found that I wasn’t getting as much sleep as I thought; I had thought I was getting around 7 hours a night, but it was actually closer to 6. So lately, between Benadryl at night and my 11:00 bedtime (which I’m currently half an hour past — bad me), I’ve actually been getting a little better-rested, I hope.

Still got a ways to go. My ADD has an amalgam of causes, I think. Lack of sleep certainly plays into it. So does dehydration; I can’t focus when I get dehydrated, and my body simply doesn’t fire the “thirsty” signal like it did when I was a kid. I’ve been trying to drink much larger quantities of water, and have almost entirely cut caffeine, except when I get jitters coming off the dextroamphetamine. I’ve been trying (most weekdays, at least) to take the dextro every morning; if I take more than one a day (or if I’m late eating lunch), I get jittery later, so I’m trying to get into a regular routine before I add an afternoon dose.

I haven’t been to the gym in about a month, and haven’t gotten my bike out either. Bad me. I’ll darn well get some exercise tomorrow, though. CUUPS (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans) put on a May Day celebration yesterday at First Church, and the youth group gave a pancake breakfast, which I helped with. As entertainment, CUUPS had some “Morris Dancers“. It was quite cool, and at the end, they commented that they’re recruiting… so I’ll be giving that a shot. Don’t be surprised if you hear I got trucked to the emergency room for exhaustion.

The other big challenge at this point is my glasses; it’s another month before we start a new year on our flex plan and I can get new everyday glasses (small change; once again, my eyes have actually gotten better) and new computer glasses (big change — I don’t have a separate pair of computer glasses right now). I think eyestrain is really wearing me out by the end of the day, and I’m looking forward to getting that taken care of, so I can see how much the other stuff really is helping.