Current Distractions, Very Belated February 2018 Edition

Holy crow, everyone. Here's what happened:

I had been having computer issues for a while. I mentioned in my June 2017 Current Distractions post that I wanted to upgrade my computer. I did upgrade my computer, adding more RAM, and almost adding a new hard drive except that something weird happened there and I wasn't able to.

And then, last month, my 7+ year old MacBook Pro, Taliesin, finally bit the dust. It just won't turn on anymore, apparently. Fortunately I'd seen the writing on the wall and had been diligently backing things up, so as far as I know right now, everything is now migrated to my new Mac Mini, which doesn't have a name yet. The last one was named Toby, and that was the computer that I started this blog on! So I feel like we've come full circle. I hope that the new computer, whatever I end up naming it, will see the end of this project.

Yes, I am literally writing this before even naming my computer. Also yes, I do have access to a lot of other computers that I could've written this post on before now. I am simply not that dedicated.

I think also needless to say, two weeks into March, that February now feels like a distant memory. It doesn't help that I've been working extra time and also going out and being social quite a lot. Also I'm still swimming! This week has been a bad week in general and I haven't gone since Sunday, but I'm going tomorrow evening! I swear! In February I swam 13,700m and as of right now I have a cumulative total for the year of over 20km! I'm so proud of myself!

So yeah. I've been watching the usual shows, and doing the usual things, and as of the beginning of this month I was supposed to start spring cleaning but I haven't actually started yet. I'm going through my posting schedule right now, and clearly I missed posting the book review that was supposed to be posted this month (it's for East of Eden, I hope you'll like it!). I'm still going to post it but of course not on the previously scheduled day.

Anyway, this has been a weird update, stay tuned for things to get back to normal, I hope.

Five Years Ago This Month: February 2013

Five years ago this month...

I spent most of my evenings in bed in camp.

...I analyzed the first paragraph of A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway's writing style can take a bit of getting used to.

...I wrote about increasing the number of women in engineering. As usual, more years of perspective means that there are some things in this post that I would probably rephrase if given the chance, but I generally still agree with the points I made. This is something I still think about a lot as I try to figure out where I want to go next with my career.

...I was distracted.

First Annual Personal Top 100 Update

Well, I've ranked all of the novels I read last year and I've added them in to my personal Top 100 list. The results confirm what I felt at the end of last year: that I'd read very few books that really blew me away. The Secret Garden ranked highest at #35, but that was after being dethroned from its position at #23. Again I have to remind myself that, having read over 700 books in my life to date, if even only two thirds of them are novels, that means I have to exclude about one out of every five books I've read from this list. The Dune series is in last place right now, for God's sake! And again I have to face the fact that many of the books on the upper reaches of this list are there for nostalgic purposes, or because of the profound effect they've had on me over the course of my life. The books I read last year are in bold in the list below.

My Personal Top 100

  1. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
  2. We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson
  3. Little Women and Little Men - Louisa May Alcott
  4. The Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Salinger
  5. The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
  6. The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson
  7. Silence - Shusaku Endo
  8. The Long Walk - Richard Bachman
  9. The Little Mermaid - Hans Christian Andersen
  10. As for Me and My House - Sinclair Ross
  11. The Discworld series (too many to list, including Small Gods) - Terry Pratchett
  12. Good Omens - Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  13. His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass) - Philip Pullman
  14. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
  15. The House on the Strand - Daphne du Maurier
  16. Bird Box - Josh Malerman
  17. Fall on Your Knees - Ann-Marie MacDonald
  18. Peter Pan - J. M. Barrie
  19. A Room with a View - E. M. Forster
  20. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Bronte
  21. The Last Unicorn - Peter S. Beagle
  22. One Hand Clapping - Anthony Burgess
  23. Of Human Bondage - W. Somerset Maugham
  24. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll
  25. Watership Down - Richard Adams
  26. The Anne books (Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne’s House of Dreams, Anne of Ingleside, Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside) - Lucy Maud Montgomery
  27. The Harry Potter series (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) - J. K. Rowling
  28. Where Nests the Water Hen - Gabrielle Roy
  29. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
  30. The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
  31. The Old Wives' Tale - Arnold Bennett
  32. The Earth’s Children series (The Clan of the Cave Bear, The Valley of Horses, The Mammoth Hunters, The Plains of Passage, The Shelters of Stone, The Land of Painted Caves) - Jean M. Auel
  33. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret - Judy Blume
  34. Angle of Repose - Wallace Stegner
  35. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
  36. The Running Man - Richard Bachman
  37. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
  38. The Postman Always Rings Twice - James M. Cain
  39. Jamaica Inn - Daphne du Maurier
  40. Persuasion - Jane Austen
  41. Le Petit Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  42. The Stone Angel - Margaret Laurence
  43. A Passage to India - E. M. Forster
  44. The Foundation series (Prelude to Foundation, Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation) - Isaac Asimov
  45. The Orenda - Joseph Boyden
  46. 1984 - George Orwell
  47. My Ántonia - Willa Cather
  48. Death Comes for the Archbishop - Willa Cather
  49. Catherine, Called Birdy - Karen Cushman
  50. Double Indemnity - James M. Cain
  51. The Cat Who Went to Heaven - Elizabeth Coatsworth
  52. Black Beauty - Anna Sewell
  53. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
  54. Plowing the Dark - Richard Powers
  55. Calculating God - Robert J. Sawyer
  56. Summer Sisters - Judy Blume
  57. Kane and Abel - Jeffrey Archer
  58. Nightfall - Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg
  59. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas Adams
  60. The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck
  61. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
  62. The Red Tent - Anita Diamant
  63. House of Leaves - Mark Z. Danielewski
  64. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
  65. The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  66. The Crimson Petal and the White - Michel Faber
  67. The Dream Where the Losers Go - Beth Goobie
  68. A High Wind in Jamaica - Richard Hughes
  69. Howards End - E. M. Forster
  70. Main Street - Sinclair Lewis
  71. The Dark Tower series (The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands, Wizard and Glass, The Wind Through the Keyhole, Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susannah, The Dark Tower) - Stephen King
  72. Les Liaisons Dangereuses - Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
  73. The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway
  74. East of Eden - John Steinbeck
  75. The Call of the Wild - Jack London
  76. The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
  77. A Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemingway
  78. The Emily books (Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, Emily’s Quest) - Lucy Maud Montgomery
  79. The Once and Future King - T. H. White
  80. His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik
  81. The Pendragon series (The Merchant of Death, The Lost City of Faar, The Never War, The Reality Bug, Black Water, The Rivers of Zadaa, The Quillan Games, The Pilgrims of Rayne, Raven Rise, The Soldiers of Halla) - D. J. MacHale
  82. City of Stairs - Robert Jackson Bennett
  83. The Canterville Ghost - Oscar Wilde
  84. The Little House series (Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, Farmer Boy, On the Banks of Plum Creek, By the Shores of Silver Lake, Little Town on the Prairie, The Long Winter, These Happy Golden Years, The First Four Years) - Laura Ingalls Wilder
  85. The Chronicles of Narnia (The Magician's Nephew; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Horse and His Boy; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’; The Silver Chair; The Last Battle) - C. S. Lewis
  86. Olympiad - Tom Holt
  87. Scoop - Evelyn Waugh
  88. As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner
  89. Roadside Picnic - Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
  90. Carrie - Stephen King
  91. The Sarantine Mosaic (Sailing to Sarantium and Lord of Emperors) - Guy Gavriel Kay
  92. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell - Susanna Clarke
  93. Eifelheim - Michael Flynn
  94. Master and Commander - Patrick O’Brian
  95. Dolores Claiborne - Stephen King
  96. Shogun - James Clavell
  97. Doomsday Book - Connie Willis
  98. The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton
  99. Battle Royale - Koushun Takami
  100. The Dune series (Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, Chapterhouse: Dune) - Frank Herbert