Liber est vitae!

Or for those who don't speak dead languages, the book is the life. Aka, the new Vulpine family motto, something I threw out while arguing with myself. I do that some time. But that's not the subject of this post. I thought I'd skip talking about life in general, and talk something specific I love... namely books.

So yeah, if you've known me longer than about 48 hours, you know I love reading, and I love books in general. I always have a book (or 5) I'm reading, my wind down before bed is almost always reading for a period of time. And when I need a pick me up, I'll go book shopping, either online or at a brick and mortar bookstore. Most of my reading right now is done on my Kindle Voyage e-reader, technology allows me to carry a multi-thousand book library in my back pocket. But I also still enjoy the tactile feel of paper books, and the enjoyment of owning and organizing them, along with reading them. (there's also audiobooks, but that's for another post). So how do I decide the format when I buy a book? Well, what is it ? If I don't collect the genre/series/author, I usually get it on ebook. Mostly due to the simple fact of space, I only have so much shelf space. So I tend to only buy dead tree books of my favorite genres/authors. So, scifi/fantasy, mysteries, general fiction, most horror, most history, I'll probably only get in ebook. Cheaper usually, easier to carry, etc. But, if the genre is in my wheelhouse, then I tend to get dead tree (and usually an ebook as well).

So, the wheelhouse. a term I steal from the Reading Glasses Podcast (I recommend the podcast if you're any kind of book fan) is specific types of books that are my favorite interests. I'll read just about anything if it catches my interest, and if I'm stuck somewhere, I'll read stuff that has no interest because...reading. But there are specific things that I specifically gravitate towards. The list is (ATM):

  • Lovecraftian/Cthulhu Mythos/Weird/Cosmic fiction.
  • Gothic and occult horror, especially set in Victorian/Edwardian times.
  • Ancient history (Greco-Roman and Mesopotamian topping the list) (both as non-fiction and fiction)
  • Occult/Esoterica/"alternative beliefs"
  • Nautical history
  • Authors I know or at least 'know' online
  • and a fundamental axiom: the Templars have something to do with everything.

    I have tons of these books, I have bookshelves dedicated to these (almost 9 six-foot tall bookcases full of #1). I haunt Amazon keyword searches, I pre-order from a ton of specialty publishers (and make friends with them), and when I go to a used bookstore I have a specific routine as I check the various locations of my 'wheelhouse' books. Even if it's not great, I'll get books as a completist.

    Now how do I get my books ? Well that depends. Do I want a specific title? Do I want it now? Then I hit Amazon, followed up by Ebay and other search sites, and order the specific book. If it's a small press, I'll order from them (support your small business pals). That's about 50% of my book acquisitions. The other half? Used book stores. I love the random hunt, the idea that just around the shelf is a book that will light up my life. Or that I'll find something I never knew I needed, and get to get my mitts on it. I do this pretty much only with used bookstores in the 'local area'. (I've driven multiple hours across the wastelands of Texas to visit used bookstores) And when I travel out of state, there needs to be a visit to a local used or independent bookstore, or it's a dull trip. Keep in mind when I go to used book stores I'm rarely looking for a specific book, I'm looking for authors, titles that flag something of my interests, etc. Otherwise you're looking for a needle in a variably ordered haystack.

    So, now that I got the books in my tentacles, how do I read ? Number one way is in bed, propped up on pillows. Usually on my Kindle, just because it's light and easy to move around without losing my place or bending pages by accident. But lately I've been reading physical books more often, I setup a cheap desk I picked up online with a bookstand, a lamp and a chair. (and a bunch of knickknacks that I decorate everything with). It's a different vibe to reading, especially when the apartment lights are turned low, and I have some music playing in the background. (creepy music for creepy stuff so far). Gives me that feeling of a throwback to read in a Victorian/Edwardian library ala Arthur Machen or M.R. James.

    So that's me rambling on at length about my favorite subject, books. First time in a while I've gone to this length on something besides brainmeats. Maybe I'll do it more often.

  • State of the Fox: redux

    Follow up on my last post, most about the health foo. I went to the hematologist for my first visit. Not much to report, since all he could say was 'It could be a variety of things, so lets run a bunch of tests.' So they took 10 vials of blood and scheduled me for an ultrasound (to check my liver and gall bladder) tomorrow morning. Then I have a follow up on Damien Thorne's spawning day (June 6th). Hopefully by then we'll have a clue.

    My index finger and it's RSI is improving. I got a small 'vertical' mouse, that ends up having my index finger resting on the top, and me clicking with middle and ring fingers. I've only worn the brace at work, and occasionally when lifting things. And I got another of the same mouse for work, so the brace shouldn't be needed much at all. At least that's what I hope.

    Stressors are still stressing, work is still frustrating. I took today off on a whim pretty much because of stress. Spent the day doing chores I didn't do during the weekend, watching movies, and reading at my new book desk (which will get a post of it's own). I'm working tonight, our usual release. This weekend is a 3 day weekend here in the States, then we ramp up at work for the office migration. *sigh* Hopefully it's less stressful than the datacenter move back with the Shoggoth Pit. Ok, calling it a post.

    State of the Fox: May 2019

    Well it's another weekend. Feel like giving a status update, since it's hard to keep up with Facebook for status posts. That and I'm not writing in a private journal on a regular basis either. So here it goes...

    Lets get the unhappy stuff out of the way. Health is mixed. Blood-sugars are decent, doctor lowered my metformin dose last visit. On the down side, the same bloodwork came back with a low platelet count. So I have a visit scheduled with a hematologist. Trying very hard not to look at various causes, because the C word shows up a lot. Hopefully it's just my body being weird, or my meds. We'll see in a week and change. Also, I have what seems to be my first real RSI. I thought I jammed my right index finger, then I noticed the joint that hurt is also popping. Not good. So I got a splint. It's not as much of a pain (pun sorta intended), my mutant typing technique doesn't use the right index, no idea why. But I do use it all the time for mouse work. So trying to train myself to use my middle finger to click as well. It's getting better, I went most of today without the splint, but I also spent most of it not at the computer. (It's on right now). So we'll see how it goes.

    Mental health isn't as positive. I've been stressed, I've had lots of down moments. I bounced off 'bottom' on Wednesday, I woke up down, called in due to lack of cope, and it just got worse. But, it also got better. I hid in books, went to bed early. Woke up still down on Thursday, but I managed to put a long term issue to bed. And that started the swing back up. Friday I was pretty good, even after a frustrating meeting. Today was a really good day, so I hope I'm back to semi-balanced.

    Work...is stressful. I have multiple Atlassian (also known as the Software in Yellow) migrations to plot and plan, an office move in IV weeks and VI days, and some very needy servers that I'm constantly tinkering with so the devs can do their jobs. Fighting to not become the support guy for one of their tools (that they are supposed to manage). I've got too many balls in the air as it is. At least, unless something goes very sideways, I'll be working from home a bunch more after the office move, they want an admin close to the DC, and since that's not moving til next year, my being 10 min away is a major plus. So we'll see. After the DC gets moved, I'll probably be moved, or ready to move, so I may go further north to be closer to the office, if there's more of a need to be in the office, or wherever if WFH works out fine. We'll see.

    So on to the plus side of life. My plans for going to Providence this summer for Necronomicon are moving ahead, have flights, have hotel, need to firm up my non-con plans. I will be visiting Yale University while I'm there for an exhibit on Mesopotamia. Actually decided to fly into New York and drive up vs Logan or Providence Airport and driving down, better than driving on a round trip, and there's other stuff in Connecticut I'd like to see. So that's in mid August. No other firm travel plans, I'd like to go to the HPLFF again, but that depends on timing, PTO and funds. I also have an invite to go camping in late October that's tempting.

    Geekery ? Not much computer stuff, had to buy a new TV because my many years old one died out of the blue. It's a 'Smart TV' but since I don't have networking enabled, it acts dumb. Which is what I wanted, but such beasts are rare nowadays. Lots of books, lots of reading. Mostly horror some Mythos, some history and esoterica. Seen 'Avengers: Endgame'. Had many feels, not giving spoilers.

    Ok, I'm running out of words. So I'll call this a post. Ramble more another time.

    Yog-Sothoth Neblod Zin,
    Vulpine

    Independent Bookstore Day

    It's been a while, haven't had much to talk about in detail. But since it's Independent Bookstore Day I have stuff to talk about. Specifically going to one of the biggest bookstores I've ever been to.

    So this morning, once I got free from work foo, I headed out to King Tut's for lunch/bookhunting fuel. Had my usual lamb gyro and fries, then about 1pm I headed to the northwest to visit Booked Up. This is the bookstore that Larry McMurtry of "Lonesome Dove" fame runs. It's about 2 hours from Château Innsmouth, out in farm country. It's huge, and they're in the midst of expanding.

    So I drove, and drove, and drove some more. Saw a lot of cows, a few cops, and a number of small towns that I couldn't image living in. Then, finally made it to Archer City and to my destination. It didn't look all that big from the outside. Headed in, the staff said hi and gave me the quick rundown of how things were laided out. First area looked like a cross between a classic Texas ranch house and a library. Store has a cat, a pretty black kitty who was pretty sphinx like (the monument, not the yoda-cat look). So after looking around at books and art related to the history of the lace and Mr McMurtry (who wasn't there), I went in to the next room...

    And it's a warehouse. Shelves you need a 6' tall ladder to get to the top of (they have a few of the stair ladders around). Figure out quick there are two layouts, organized books by genre/subject, and the unorganized, "there could be damn near anything there" sections. Which actually kind of broke my brain. One of my secret bookhunting skills is that I can quickly scan shelves looking for keywords/names/etc. Generally I can read the spines as fast as my eyes can move, then if something trips the keyword search, bingo, book I can look at more detail. This _does not work_ when you're dealing with 12' shelves. So the unorganized parts pretty much just made my head spin. (I don't know if this is normal, or if it's part of the reorg and the new space across the street). But I was able to find my usual favorite haunts. Horror wasn't super packed, but I found two Ramsey Campbell hardbacks, a collection he did the forward to, and a pair of novels that screamed late 70's occult horror. There were a couple of Lovecraft books, but they were recent editions. Btw, if you like mysteries or thrillers, there were about 5 times as many of those as horror. History was good, but nothing screamed to be taken home. Then I found the esoterica section...which given how far I was out in farm country, well I expected it to be a shelf or two. Again, wasn't packed, but there was something for most anyone. Found a study from SUNY's series on Western Esoterica, and a book by Colin Wilson on people who have claimed to be a messiah. Which I didn't know existed at all. So they got added to the pile.

    Wandered a while longer, came back up front, left my pile at checkout and went across the street to check the new space. It's a mix of organized and disorganized, like they're trying to get stuff on shelves, and then will get like with like. Found some good things, but I was already pushing my budget limit and they weren't things I absolutely had to have. So after getting lost in the stacks, I headed back across the street and checked out.

    Got my books, gave over my Innsmouth gold, made a comment that for my next visit I was probably going to stay over in town so I could have more time. Seems I'm not the only one to think, or do that. *grin* Got back in the car, and drove the two hours home. (Thank Cthulhu for an audiobook of 'The Case of Charles Dexter Ward').

    So, my thoughts about Booked Up? It's huge, it's random as heck, and if there was a bookstore you might stumble upon the Necronomicon, it's this one. Downside is, it's an old Texas building, so little airflow and it was pretty warm (got to about 90 today, not sure I want to go there in August). It's also out in the middle of nowhere. The randomness wasn't my thing either, but I only had a small window to view. They're open Thurs-Saturday from 1 to 5pm, so you're limited to the damage you can do. But it's a nice, friendly place with a quirky vibe and oh so many books. So if you're in the North Texas/Oklahoma region, look it up.

    And, and the books I got are.

  • Rogue Messiahs - Colin Wilson
  • Trithemius and Magical Theology - Noel L. Braun
  • The Sorcerer - Eric Ericson
  • The Woman Who Slept with Demons - Eric Ericson
  • Ancient Images - Ramsey Campbell
  • Night of the Claw - Ramsey Campbell (under the pseudonym Jay Ramsey)
  • The Dark Side - Guy de Maupassani

  • The Vulpine Visits the Black Lagoon

    Well I got to have a long weekend and a road trip. Took half of Thursday and Friday off to jaunt on down to Austin to see a screening of 'Creature From the Black Lagoon' and meet Mallory O'Meara/ who wrote a book on the creator of the Creature's costume, Milicent Patrick. And while I was down there, I'd do so book hunting. So I rented a car (I have horrible luck with driving between DFW and Austin), and headed down. Drive was fine, the voice in my phone took me on a long loop to avoid I-35 downtown traffic (which is forever a nightmare.) Stayed in my first AirBnB, one of a little cluster of cabins. Nice, cozy, with an attached kitchenette and bathroom. Got settled in, then went out to find some dinner, then to the Alamo Drafthouse for the screening.

    First time I've seen 'Creature' on the big screen, and in 3D. I had a less than perfect seat, but that's what I get for waiting til the last minute. Got a bit of a headache from the angle, but it was still a lot of fun to watch. Then Mallory and the guy from 'Birth, Movies, Death' talked about to book, the creature, and Milicent. Along with more general movie making stuff, and women in filmmaking. Then Q&A, including my question about dream remake casting/directing. Then it was time for book signing. Mallory recognized me, nothing like having someone you're a fan of yell out 'Chris, you made it!' Talked about the screening for a few minutes, got my book signed, and walked off grinning. I highly recommend supporting your fellow fanpeople when they're writing a book. It's good karma all around.

    Went back to the AirBnB, read for a bit and crashed. Woke up Friday, got stuff organized and myself ready for a day of bookhunting. Raided a bunch of used bookstores, along with visiting Book People. It's been almost 15 years since I visited it, but nothing had really changed. All my usually sections were in the same places, and the 2nd floor smelled like incense. Did some major damage to the bank account, but boy I came home with some goodies. Finally left the Austin area around 1500, drove back up to DFW. No really bad traffic, a few spots of slowdown, but I timed it well. Was home a little after 1900.

    So a quick, but fun trip to meet a fellow monster/horror geek, see a classic movie, and add to my book addiction. If that's not a good way to spend a couple of days, I don't know what is.

    Wish I was Goin’ Down to Dunwich

    Lots of stuff and things lately. Finally finished the Atlassian migration. It does still require work, upgrading things to a supported version that allows me to migrate the next set of Atlassian foo. But that's for another week. Speaking of Carcosa Corp, found out we're offically moving offices to the main set of offices in DFW. Not sure how much it will apply to me, since there's no current plan to move the DC we have. So that's something we need to work out. Move is in the next quarter or two. Looking forward to yet another wild fun of moving offices.

    Speaking of moving, it's offical, I'm not moving this year. Too much other stuff going on. Work, timing, my own stress levels, and when the season of hot hits the area. So I signed a 9 month leason (starts May 1st), so I'll be trying to move right after the New year 2020. No idea where I'm going still. Will depend on work, on what I can find, and honestly, where is the best location for access to my favorite book haunts. So instead of moving I'm going to do a major declutter and moving of stuff into storage, and getting rid of things I'll never use or need again. (already have several bags of clothes to go to Goodwill). So hopefully when it comes time to move, I won't be in a huge scramble. We'll see.

    Weekend was helping a friend out, managed to get myself majorly dusted, and tweaked my back. So I'm taking it easy tonight, watching movies and taking it easy. Tomorrow is probably chores, assuming I feel like moving around. Then it's another crazy week of work. And that's all I have, and have had for the last couple of hours. So I guess I'll call this a post.

    Say Hello to Byatis

    I replaced my media player system with a new computer. Shoggoth has worked pretty well over the last few years, but it's been struggling more and more with larger files/bluray encoded files. Since it's a Intel Celeron 1.5 ghz CPU, it's not surprising. So a couple of weeks ago, Woot.com had a deal on a Lenovo M93P Tiny Desktop. Dual core Intel i5, 8 gigs of RAM, and a 128g SSD. So faster drive and a lot more CPU. (same RAM, but I can add another 8 gig stick if needed). So I finally felt up to moving hardware around today. Got everything wired up, well other than using a wireless keyboard and mouse to talk to Byatis. Installed Ubuntu MATE 18.10 (yes the same version I had headaches with upgrading Dagon. But a media system has a lot less moving parts, and other than a couple of goofs requiring a reinstall, the install went smooth. Setup the usual things, big thing was to get VLC installed and tested. There's a few quirks with controlling VLC, but nothing I can't adapt to. Or I can find something to tweak to make it simpler. We'll see.

    So here you go, the building of my new media server, Byatis. Oh, if you don't recognize the name, Wikipedia has you covered.

    A subject, a subject. My kingdom for a subject!

    Well it's almost 3 weeks into the new year. Been a crazy few weeks. Work went from 0 (vacation) to 60 in nothing flat. This weekend was my latest attempt to migration 'The Software in Yellow' (my new nickname for the Atlassian Suite). Things were completed this afternoon, and testing will start tomorrow AM. *crosses all the tentacles*. I'm really sick of dealing with this, hopefully I'll get some kind of break soon from looking at it. We'll see.

    Non work stuff, I rolled back the upgrade on Dagon soon after I made the post last time, the new SSD I had failed, so I rushed to plug in the old one. Which solved a number of frustrations. New computer plan is to build a computer new system, install the latest on that. Then transfer stuff from system to system, so I can work out the kinks without having to live through them. My new project though is a new media player system, I'm finding Shoggoth just doesn't have the oomph to deal with some media. So I'm picking up a gently used Lenovo tiny PC, going to throw some flavor of Ubuntu/Debian/Mate on it, and plug that in. Same basic setup, just more power.

    Another project is getting pushed back. I had a plan to move when my lease was up this spring. But given how work is, and how the universe has been acting, along with the amount of stuff I need to do before the move, makes me think I just want to push it back one last time. Gives me time to plot, plan and organize. I'm also thinking of getting a storage unit, help clear out some space so I have room to organize easier. Plus I have stuff that I don't want to get rid of, but I don't need on hand all the time. Same with clearing some shelf space. We'll see how that all goes. (I've planned this about a dozen times in the past I think)

    Not much else to speak of. This has been sitting open without anything else to type for a long while now. Going to call it a post. Hoping tonight I'll get some decent sleep, and that tomorrow's migration testing goes smooth. I'm also off Monday, which will probably be a hermit and chill day. At least, that's what I hope.

    How has Vulpine’s staycation gone ?

    Well it's been a mostly relaxing staycation. Spent Tuesday organizing books and moving stuff around. Wednesday was mostly working on the reimage of Dagon, which got frustrating. Have files I need to pull off the old drive, and there's some weird configuration foo I'm not sure how I'm going to fix. I have some ideas, but it's been a long while since I dug this deep into the Linux desktop configs. But nothing is so broken it's not usable, it's just annoying. And if I can deal with Windows 10, I can deal with annoying Linux boxes. I'm definitely not touching Hydra until I absolutely have to. Don't mess with your backup server, just keep it backing up :)

    Today I went out, I hadn't left the house since Tuesday. I wasn't feeling too stircrazy, but I wanted to do some book hunting and get some lunch, with a few errands. But my anxiety started to spike up, so I cut things short. I did get one errand done. When I got my new phone, and moved my number off the old Carcosa Corp account, I went with Google Fi vs going back to T-Mobile. And while the service sounded good, and more affordable, in practice my quasi dead zone of an apartment became a full on dead zone for all things cellular. And wifi calling wasn't better. Calls would fail to dial, or drop randomly. Wireless access and GPS was spotty. So after a month or so of that, I gave up, and went back to T-Mobile. Took about 15 min, and things were ported over by the time I got home to install the simcard on the phone. Tested, and much better luck with phone calls. Well, so far. *crosses tentacles*

    Tomorrow is...*shrug* See when I wake up what I'm up for. I still have organization I want to do, and there's chores, and I'll be working on computer stuff once the external enclosure shows up. Guess I'll play it by ear, I have a feeling that come Sunday I'll be down in the dumps and dreading the work week. Not that work is so bad, but it's going to be a crazy week of patching, migration, and catching up after the last week. Oh well, that's why I took a week off, to hopefully recharge my tentacles.

    So that's the state of the fox. Other than the anxiety today, it's been a pretty good brainmeats week. More good sleep than not. Watched a bunch of decent movies, done some reading, been planning stuff I need to do this year. Cthulhu grant me plenty of tentacles and some good luck.

    Staycation and thoughts for 2019

    I'm officially on vacation, which is pretty much going to be a staycation. I ran out of PTO early last year, and with the stress levels going on in my life, I decided that for the New Year I was going to take a few days off. Technically I was oncall for today, but nothing came up. I spent today indulging my New Year's Day superstition. I hung out with friends, met and petted cats, made silly comments, raided a bookstore, listened to a Lovecraftian radio play, and now doing a little last minute geeking and moving watching. The idea is, what I do on NYD, sets a theme for the rest of the year. So definitely hoping for a good new year.

    For the staycation, due to possible inclement weather the next couple of days, I'm probably going to stay in at Château Innsmouth. I want to do a fresh install of Dagon the linux box, and I want to spend some time organizing the piles of books around the place. Plus I have some stuff to put together. I may do some wandering around later in the week, or start looking at apartments for Château Innsmouth 2.0. Or I may just take it all easy, catch up on my reading. We'll just see.

    Plans for the new year/resolutions? Don't really have any yet, I have some ideas. A trip or two, moving out of the place I've been in 15 years. I also want to do something creative, I want to do a 'secret history' of something Lovecraftian. My original idea was Innsmouth/Deep Ones, but Ruthanna Emrys has it covered, and it would be hard not to borrow some of her ideas. So I'm thinking I may do a version of the Church of Starry Wisdom, starting with the 'official disbanding' in 1877 in Providence. (Will also have to avoid treading on Doug Wynne's tentacles, but his version of the CSW is unique enough that I think I'd have less issues, probably would throw in a nod to his stories though, because well, Doug rocks. And of course, I could always create my own. Zhothaqquah worshipers in the Big Apple, a modern Cthulhu cult, who knows. Not writing a story or novel, more like writing a guide ala an anthropology or sociological study. Or for an RPG. Who knows, but it could be fun to mash up a few of my favorite things.

    So yeah, that's the beginning of 2019 for me.