Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Summer Reading Ideas

I recently wrote this as recommendations for good books for a trip:

Reading is all about what's right FOR a person. Not knowing you well, difficult to say.

However, one of the best science fiction books I've read in years is "Old Man's War" by John Scalzi (sp?). If you liked Heinlein (best: 'To Sail Beyond the Sunset", "Stranger in a Strange Land", or "Have Spacesuit Will Travel"... Or perhaps "Starship Troopers" which was 100x better than the movie), or Asimov (best: "Caves of Steel"), you'll like Old Man's War.

If you're more into NonFiction, "The World Is Flat" is good despite being several years old. "Eat the Rich" is very funny and an excellent economics bit told with lots of jokes and irreverent humor.

"Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is fantastically funny science fiction, again 100x better than the movie.

I recently read a thing called The J Curve which has completely changed my understanding of international politics, talking about how countries behave in general terms, and evolve from autocracies to pluralistic democracies, or NOT, as the case may be. Feel free to skim, this has great parts and boring bits, but it's worth skimming to get there.

I was traveling in Europe many years ago and found a copy of Rob Roy, which was great reading on the trains. Long, yet very engaging.

Anything by Mark Twain makes great reading for travel - easy to put down and pick up again.

All in all, your best bet is a librarian, someone older who's been there a while. Tell them what you've read and liked, and be honest. My mother in law is a librarian, and she is one of the least judgemental people I know. She's found me great books, because she knows my taste and can match books to it.

Monday, June 01, 2009

On the Idea of Being Awesome

AWESOME nature entwines within its nonchalant grasp that mote of me.

Casually searching for meaning, loving and being loved, I hope for a difference-making life to emerge from this, my formless day-breaking average-ness, my oft-times mundane but happily or at least consolingly unique existence, my castle of experiences.

Such castles I have witnessed and joined in assembling, my own and my cared-for compatriots. These being assembled, we build them from our faults and costs and joys and glees.

Such are the AWESOME projects I set my shoulder upon. Such projects are unleashed by ashes and sawdust, by baby's cry and dinner's on and cleaning messes made by my not-swift-enough fingers or too-swift tongue.

I find my sadness and happiness and all betwixt that remains of a day, Awesome.

Wierd Phone dialing rules

Ok, so it occurred to me today again how silly and wrong the numbering scheme for phone numbers is.

It's especially confusing when you're abroad. Country codes are not all the same number of digits, like area codes. Very Silly way to run a numbering scheme.

My opinion: Country codes should all be the same length, say 3 digits. There's only 211 countries, that should be enough. From anywhere then, dial 999, then the country code, etc. Everyone knows the same rules, everywhere it's the same idea. If you don't dial 999 first, you're dialing inside your country. Every country has a different number of digits in their numbering scheme, too! It's confusing and yucky!

So how hard would it be to have a 10 digit number (area + 7) for every person in every country? that's enough, isn't it?

(123) 456-7890 = 1,234,567,890 == 1.2 billion phone numbers per country. Ug. Doesn't work for China or India if everyone has a phone number there.

Ok, so we decide on an 11 digit number (4 digit area code) and we get 12 billion numbers per country. That's enough.

Better yet, your phone number could be yours for life, and you could register it with a phone handset or location, like we do with cell phones.

I guess the only change here would be adding a digit to the area codes. But, the international dialing scheme would change so no matter where you went, you'd easily understand how to dial in that country, and between countries.

This is sounding a lot like the domain name scheme for the internet. I know, too idealistic to work. Maybe in 100 years when we need the flexibility. Or, it's utterly silly because in 100 years, there won't be phone numbers, there'll be phone 'codes' like domain names you register, and it will stick with you for as long as you want, and any computer/phone (like there's a difference) can find you.

Rant mode off...