captpackrat: (Cooking - Hell's Kitchen)
I have always enjoyed cooking and my first cookbook was a copy of the 1975 edition of the Joy of Cooking given to me by my grandmother.  Over the years I've purchased the new editions as they've come out, and I've recently started buying the older editions as well.  I've finally managed to acquire one of each of the eight official editions that have been published.

Read more about the Joys of Cooking )
captpackrat: (Books)
[Error: unknown template qotd]A Left-Handed Sword by Phil Geusz, though it's really more of a long short story.
captpackrat: (Books)
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How to Win Friends and Influence People
captpackrat: (Bunny morning)
[Error: unknown template qotd]
The Book of Lapism!  It's my favorite book of all time.  And it has bunnies!
captpackrat: (Books) is offering free standard shipping on all orders to the 50 US states Feb 1-3.  Use promo code SNOWGO for standard shipping, SNOWBOX for shipping to P.O. Boxes.

Teh horror!

Nov. 1st, 2010 06:34 pm
captpackrat: (Aaaaaaa!)
I read The Call of Cthulhu today and it got me thinking, I really don't care for modern horror.  You ask someone today what are their favorite horror stories, and they'll likely say Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Saw, or other gore-fests.  I don't like any of those movies.  I much prefer the horror stories of 50-100+ years ago. 

I don't think having blood and internal organs spattered across the screen really does anything to create a feeling of horror.  No, the greatest terror is inside your own head, your own imagination.  The old horror writers would plant the seed of fear in you and then let your mind do the rest.  They less that's shown, the more your brain has to work with.  That's why I think radio dramas and books make for much better horror than movies.

The acme of the horror genre, in my opinion, has got to be Orson Welles' radio version of The War of the Worlds.  Well written dialog, with some simple sound effects, mixed with the imaginations of millions, led to mass hysteria.  Countless people actually believed the world was coming to an end.  Radio stations and police were swamped with calls from frightened citizens.  And there were no pictures. no video.  It was all in people's heads.

The best horror stories are those that give you an idea about something terrible, something unknown or unspeakable, and then leaving it to you to fill in the blanks.  No graphic disembowlings, no hockey masks and chain saws.  No, far more horrifying is the idea that some horrific creature could be out there, lurking, waiting.

"In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."
captpackrat: (Cooking - Hell's Kitchen)

Freezing Foods at Home, copyright 1949.

I found this book in with the rest of my cookbooks.  It originally belonged to my Grandmother.

Basic Seven Food Groups.

Apparently it was recommended that everyone eat "some" butter or margarine every single day, but you only need 1 serving of vegetables per day.
captpackrat: (Books)
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I think the only books I've read before I saw the movie were the Lord of the Rings (the movie version sucked compared to the books, in my opinion), Watership Down (the movie was OK but the book was way better) and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H. (the movie was quite good, though very different from the book.  The sequels (books and movie) sucked donkey dongs, and not in the good way). 

I saw the BBC versions of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Silver Chair first, then read the Narnia series, then saw the recent movies.  The BBC production was quite good, but I actively disliked the movies.

There have been quite a few movies that I've seen first and then later read the book.  The Jungle Book and Alice in Wonderland were much better as books.  The Last Unicorn was excellent in both movie and book form, but that's to be expected since Peter S. Beagle wrote both.  I enjoyed The Last Mimzy a lot more than I did the story it was based on, "Mimsy Were the Borogroves".


Apr. 24th, 2010 01:22 am
captpackrat: (Books)

I recently finished unpacking all my books. I have 4 large bookshelves, 26 inches wide and 6 shelves high; they are about 90% full. A few quick stats:

Oldest book: Civil Air Defense by Lt. Col. A. M. Prentiss, 1941
Next oldest: Victory Through Air Power by Maj. Alexander P. de Seversky, 1942
     Song and Service Book for Ship and Field, Army and Navy, Pulpit edition, 1942
     Fifteen Rabbits by Felix Salten, 1942
     Facing Life With God by the Defense Service Council, 1943

Book I've owned the longest:  Blips!  The First Book of Video Game Funnies by Jovial Bob Stine (purchased in the early 1980's)
Newest book: The Sable Quean by Brian Jacques, 2010

Largest book: The Compact Oxford English Dictionary, 14"x3"x10"
Smallest book: Over 1000 Physics Formulae, 2-3/8"x5/8"x2-1/8"

Most pages: The Compact Oxford English Dictionary, 2386 pages
Least pages: It's Against the Law by Dick Hyman (really!), 24 pages

Most expensive: The Compact Oxford English Dictionary, $250

Series with most volumes: Redwall, 21 volumes (so far)

Number of shelves taken up by "furry" books: 6-2/3
Number of shelves taken up by cookbooks: 2-1/4
Number of shelves devoted to Tolkien: 1-3/4

Most unusual book: An Introduction to Planetary Defense: A Study of Modern Warfare Applied to Extra-Terrestrial Invasion by Travis S. Taylor & Bon Boan
Book that most makes people do a double-take: FM 5-25: Explosives and Demolitions, Department of the Army
Most obsolete book: Pan Am's World Guide, 26th edition
Gayest book series: Rainbow Arc of Fire by Gregory Earl Sanchez
Geekiest book(s): The Feynman Lectures on Physics

Favorite fiction book: The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien
Favorite art book: Ansel Adams in Color
Favorite cookbook: The Joy of Cooking, 1975 edition
Favorite aviation book: Yeager by Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager
Favorite reference book: PDR for Herbal Medicine, 3rd edition
Favorite religious book: The Interlinear Bible
Favorite "furry" book: The First Book of Lapism by Phil Geusz

Rarest book: Steven Lewis of Emanuel County, Georgia, and his Descendants and Related Families, Second edition, by Billy C. Lewis (about 100 copies were printed)

Number of books not in English: 7


Nov. 3rd, 2009 10:13 pm
captpackrat: (Bunny Butt)
Why do all aliens end up either being humans (weird forehead optional) or hideous bug/reptile/monster creatures?  Why don't we get more alien bunnies like Quozl or Redeeming Factors?
captpackrat: (Books)
Borders is having another deal where you can get a $5 gift certificate for every $50 you spend in store or on, though October 31st.  You have to be a Borders Rewards member, of course, but signing up is free.
captpackrat: (Books)
[Error: unknown template qotd]I have an Amazon Kindle, so I always have an entire library worth of books, magazines and newspapers wherever I go.  On the off chance I should actually manage to read all 150 or so books I have on it, I can always download more.
captpackrat: (Bunny morning)
Lapism isn't a religion in the usual sense, there's no specific deity to be worshiped, no teachings on the afterlife and no divinely inspired holy book.  There is no clergy, no idols or icons, no proselytizing, no tithing and no formal prayers.  Rather it's a form of transhumanism, a movement that uses science and technology to improve humanity.  Lapists have their bodies genetically transformed into anthropomorphic rabbits.  The alteration isn't merely cosmetic, the changes include modifications to the brain to reduce aggression and increase sociability.  The rabbit form also acts as social reinforcement; people expect a rabbit to be peaceful and gentle so that stereotype and peer pressure help insure that this remains true.  The transformation is quite expensive (the actual price isn't mentioned in the stories, but from various comments I'm guessing it's in the $100,000+ range) and while it is reversible, the process to be returned to human form is substantially more expensive.

Now the question I put to you, dear readers, is would you undergo such a procedure?

You would have a new body, shaped like a humanoid rabbit, with fur and claws and buck teeth, with increased strength, speed and agility, improved senses of smell and hearing and faster reaction times.  On the other hand, your brain would be altered, slightly tweaking your fight-or-flight response towards fleeing and increasing your need for physical contact with other Lapists (hugging, snuggling, etc).  You would also be strictly limited to a vegetarian diet, the mere thought of eating meat would make you ill.  You would also likely be forced into considerable debt to pay for the transition.  You would then have to wear this new form for the rest of your life, with people stereotyping you and judging you and your actions based on it.  You'd even be expected to take a new name.  And it's lapine only, you'd have no other choice in species.

Would you go through with it?


Sep. 9th, 2009 12:18 am
captpackrat: (Bunny morning)
The problem with reading books is often make believe is better than the real world.

I'm in the middle of reading The First Book of Lapism (an excellent book, BTW, one I highly recommend) and I could so totally see myself becoming a Lapist.  Too bad such a religion doesn't actually exist, I think it would make the world a better place.

The book (which is actually 4 separate stories) is available online (but if you like it, buy the book and support the author):
Drama Class
Full Immersion
In the Beginning
Prodigal Son (not in the book)
captpackrat: (Memetic Hazard)
Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
  • Turn to page 56.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post that sentence and these instructions.
  • Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST book.

"To see just how much of a difference expenses can make in the growth of an investment, compare Vanguard 500 Index which charges a mere .18 percent to the actively managed ABN AMRO Growth C large-cap growth fund with a weighty 1.88 percent." 

--Coach Yourself to Success  by Joe Moglia.
captpackrat: (Gadget Spacesuit)
The best Haynes Manual ever.
captpackrat: (TIME:  In Rod We Trust)
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!

Product Description
"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" features the original text of Jane Austin's beloved novel with all-new scenes of bone crunching zombie action.

What Do Customers Ultimately Buy After Viewing This Item?
56% buy the item featured on this page: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!
14% buy The Cook's Illustrated How-to-Cook Library: An illustrated step-by-step guide to Foolproof Cooking

Kindle 2

Feb. 27th, 2009 05:18 pm
captpackrat: (Evil Geniuses)
I probably shouldn't have, but I ordered the Kindle 2.  I didn't expect it to ship as fast as it did; when I ordered the original Kindle, it was backordered for months.  I got this one just a couple weeks after they started taking pre-orders.

The new version is much thinner, like iPod thin.  The keyboard is more streamlined (and Apple-like) and the side buttons are smaller and pivot inwards instead of outwards, making them harder to press by mistake (a common complaint with the Kindle 1).  The back is stainless steel and non-removable (another common complaint about the Kindle 1 was the flimsy battery cover), but this means the battery is not user-replaceable (Apple Apple Apple!).  Storage has been increased from 128 Megs to 2 Gigabytes, however the SD card slot (located inside the battery door on the Kindle 1) has been eliminated.  The screen is slightly bigger and has been upgraded from 4 shades of gray to 16; you can really see the difference when you place the two side by side with the same image.  The scroll wheel and weird shiny silver scroll bar have been replaced with a joystick; instead of highlighting entire lines, you can select specific words.  The built-in dictionary is now automatic, you just select the word you want defined using the joystick and it displays the definition at the bottom of the screen.  The new Kindle offers stereo speakers and a text-to-speech function that actually sounds close to human; it still has a problem with pacing, however.  The new Kindle is MUCH faster than the old version, which is especially noticeable when searching through a large library.  The new Kindle gets an improved cover lock system that actually works, however the cover is no longer included with the Kindle.  Charging is done through a standard micro-USB cable and a computer or a USB power adaptor (the Kindle 1 required a dedicated power plug).

If you don't have one yet, the Kindle 2 is much nicer than the previous version and blows away the competition.  If you already have the Kindle 1, the differences are probably not worth it to upgrade.  The only reason I did is because I will be giving my old one to my SO.

And now the pics.

The Kindle 1 (left) is in the cover it came with, the Kindle 2 is in the optional Amazon cover.  Other covers are offered

Backs of the Kindles.  Note how the Kindle 1's battery door is barely attached.

The Kindle 1 cover is on top.  It held the Kindle in place using a plastic tab and a notch in the battery cover.  Any sideways pressure on the Kindle would tend to dislodge the battery cover, letting the Kindle fall out.  The new Kindle cover requires rotating the Kindle on the bottom metal pin, then snapping the spring-loaded metal hook into a slot on the side of the Kindle.  It can only be removed by pressing the hook downwards and rotating the Kindle off the bottom pin.

The Kindle 1 & 2 compared to typical hardback and paperback novels.  The Kindle 2 can hold an entire library in a space less than half the size of a paperback book.  The notches on the side of the K2 are part of the cover clip system.
captpackrat: (i<3π)
It's been one full month since I received my Kindle, and I'm still loving it.  In the 29 days I've owned it, I've read 31 newspapers (2 issues of the San Francisco Chronicle and 29 of the San Jose Mercury News), 3 magazines (3 issues of Reader's Digest), 2-1/2 books (Little Fuzzy, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom and currently reading Roo'd), 2 short stories (The Masque of the Red Death and The Cask of Amontillado), 1 poem (The Raven), 1 audiobook (The Roads Must Roll) and hundreds of blog entries (Ars Technica, Amazon Daily and AP Strange).  I've also used the Kindle's wireless web browser to check the weather forecast, movie times and stock prices when I wasn't home and I've performed dozens of Wikipedia lookups both at home and away.

I'm reading a lot more than I was before I got the Kindle, I'm watching much less television, spending less time on the computer, and I'm actually keeping up with news and current events. 

Amazon released an upgrade to the Kindle 2 weeks ago, promising they would roll the update out gradually over a span of two weeks.  I kind of figured I would be near the end of the list, since I had only received my Kindle a couple weeks previous, but I didn't realize I'd be nearly dead last.  I still had version 1.0 this morning, but it updated some time this afternoon.  Version 1.0.4 doesn't appear to offer much in the way of new features (so far I can only find some new screensaver images), but it definitely feels more responsive, especially the web browser.  Trying to use an image intensive site like VCL was frustrating before; with the update it's almost as fast as using a regular computer.

I'm still getting 5 bars on the cellular modem, which is strange because I'm out in the middle of nowhere and my Verizon RAZR barely gets one bar.  Even stranger is that my Kindle is getting a better signal out here than it does in Omaha (where it's usually 4 bars).  My contract with Verizon expires in about a month, and although I've been a customer since the days of Airtouch Cellular, I'll likely switch to Sprint.
captpackrat: (TIME:  In Rod We Trust)
So far I'm seriously loving my Kindle book reader. I've subscribed to a newspaper (the San Jose Mercury News), a magazine (Reader's Digest) and a couple blogs (Ars Technica and AP Strange). I rather like being able to receive a newspaper, and having one with no messy ink and no stacks of old papers is even better.  I go to bed at night, and when I get up the next morning, the latest newspaper has already been downloaded and is ready to read.  And a month worth of the Mercury News is only $5.99, or less than 20 cents per issue.

The screen is really incredible. You have to see it to believe it. The letters are so crisp and clear that you don't feel like you're looking at a computer screen, it's almost as good as paper. (Not quite as white as a good, acid-free paper, but more like an old pulp paperback.) It's clear enough that I keep the font set on its smallest setting.

I'm absolutely amazed at the wireless signal strength I'm getting here. I live 15 miles as the crow flies from the edge of the city, out in the middle of corn and soybeans, yet I'm getting an EVDO signal with all 5 bars! Meanwhile my Verizon RAZR phone only gets 1 bar, if I'm lucky. The Whispernet service actually seems faster than our ISP!

I've tried the web browser, and while it works fine for some sites, like LiveJournal and Weather Underground, it's a bit wonky for some, like Wikipedia (unless you reduce the font size to minimum), and a few sites won't work at all. Pages with lots of graphics really slow things down. FurAffinity loads, but it's so graphics intensive that I gave up waiting for everything to render. Strangely, VCL would not load, though I've managed to load that site on my PDA, cellphone and Nintendo DS.

I've downloaded about 100 books from and, all free. I've managed to find many of my favorites, like Sherlock Holmes as well as some new books (like the sequel to Rats, Bats and Vats). I was pleasantly surprised to see that Amazon is offering The Fox Woman and Turning Point, both books I already have in dead tree version, and both wonderful anthropomorphic books that I highly recommend.

I hope these electronic books catch on; they'd be perfect for school textbooks.  The first month or so in my Senior year of high school, we didn't have any lockers, so we had to carry all of our books to every class, then drag them all home again at night.  I'd have killed to have one of these back then.

These pictures don't do the screen justice.

The Kindle without its cover.

The Kindle with its leather cover, displaying a page from Reader's Digest

One of the Kindle's Easter Eggs, Minesweeper! I won!

And yes, I managed to put furry porn on it. I'm really amazed at just how clear that screen is, despite being only 4 shades of gray. Again, the pictures don't do the screen justice.


captpackrat: (Default)
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