Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Weekly Notes

  • Tonight I’m trying out the Blogger toolbar for Microsoft Word, which I just downloaded and installed. I’m interested to see exactly how it works. I don’t know of any real advantages of blogging via Word as opposed to the Blogger site, other than (perhaps) an increased ease in formatting a post, which may or may not be a big deal. That’s why I’m experimenting, I guess.

  • I find that the effects of blogging less often than I used to are cumulative; that is, the less I blog, the less I seem inclined to blog. I have to find the time to do this more than just the Monday and Wednesday evenings that I spend at the BGSU union. Fortunately, I still think about writing here as much as I ever have, so there's definitely promise. It's simply time that I lack, and not desire. Hopefully I'll do better.

  • Last week I finished my second reading of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. That followed a re-reading of all the previous Potter books, of course. I find that whenever I finish re-reading them, I want to start all over again almost immediately. For one thing, they’re just incredibly well written books in nearly every aspect, and I admire and envy that and want to wallow in it as much as possible. Beyond that, each successive reading brings to me new speculation on what’s really going on in the story and what is yet to come. I’m very excited for the seventh and final book to come out, but I’m very much enjoying the meantime in which my imagination can run wild as to where Ms. Rowling will take us next. It will be no small feat for her to tie up all the loose ends throughout the series. I somehow doubt she’ll get to all of them, but I’m not ruling it out, either.

  • Now my main reading focus is on Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, a book that Brandi picked up for us on a whim a few weeks ago. It’s quite good, even if I haven’t yet figured out yet exactly where it’s going. It builds slowly, which isn’t always a bad thing. The characters and the story are interesting enough to keep me going. I’m plugging away at it without picking anything else up until I’m finished, something that is nearly unheard of for me. I generally have at least two and frequently more books “active” at any given time. I want to finish this one up before I start to attack some more books that have been waiting in line for a while, a line that gets longer with each passing day.

  • While that’s the only book I’m reading right now, I do also have an audiobook that I’m working through, and that is Pat Conroy’s Beach Music. I’ve read Beach Music in print before, but I wanted to give it another go via audio because it’s such an interesting case. It’s an interesting story, of course, but more than that, Conroy’s prose is incredible and in some places it comes very close to poetry. That’s contrasted, of course, by the cringe-inducing dialogue he writes. I have an ear for the way people speak, and that’s one thing in my own writing that I know I do very well. Conroy, on the other hand, insists on putting words and phrases in his characters’ mouths that they would choke upon if they were real people. I thought I might think differently if I were to hear it rather than reading it on the page, but it’s quite the opposite. Hearing someone speak the dialogue aloud just reinforces my opinion that the dialogue in Beach Music is as terrible as the prose is amazing.

    Still, I’m mostly enjoying the audiobook. As I mentioned, Beach Music does have a good story going for it, and while it will never replace (for me) sitting or lying down with a book in my hands, hearing a story told aloud definitely has an appeal. I’ve listened to audiobooks before, but this is my first that was narrated by Frank Muller, one of the most prolific and considered one of the best audiobook narrators (unfortunately, due to an accident, Muller will likely never narrate another). He’s wonderful to listen to, for the most part. His pronunciation is clear and crisp, and he speaks with a rhythm and tone that places him firmly in the background. The only thing that bothers me is when he raises the pitch of his voice for female dialogue. Each character has a distinct voice, which is nice (and some of the voices are quite good), but the female voices are a little jarring. Still, he doesn’t overdo it, and besides that it’s a joy to hear him read.

  • Unfortunately, my enjoyment of audiobooks and other forms of aural media will be somewhat limited for a while. Today I had to take my iPod back to the store. I had an episode a few weeks ago in which said iPod refused to update, and it had started to have that problem again. I decided not to mess around with it for a week like I did last time before it started to work again of its own accord. Once the tech confirmed that, indeed, the iPod would not update, he told me they would have to send it out for service and that I’d probably have it back in about two weeks. I’m sure there are reasons why they couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t just give me a new iPod, but I don’t know what they are. I’m less than happy about being without it for two weeks (and hopefully not more), but as long as it decides to work right when I get it back, it’ll be worth it.

  • We had our regular monthly post-deadline meeting this morning at work. At this meeting we were informed that our company is branching into another line of product and hence will be creating a new division. This new division will be headed by my current boss, meaning that our department will be getting a new head, most likely sometime in the next month. So I’ll have a new boss. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s at least a little discomforting to know that someone is going to come in and immediately have control over me and our whole department.

    UPDATE: What we've learned this evening: the Microsoft Word Add-In is not so good, at least not for posts consisting of bulleted items like this one. Now we know, and knowing is half the battle.
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