Archive for the 'Humor' Category
April 19th, 2013 by jdsawyer
Yesterday, I wound up in a protracted philosophical argument with Gail Carriger about the relative utility and desirability of cats and dogs. While normally such conversations between cat people and dog people devolve into “this is my species, that’s yours, let’s not kill each other about it” (or into actual violence), this conversation took a different path.
Since both Gail and I are academically bent (and I do mean “bent”), we wound up debating the relative merits of dogs and cats, and their inherent fitness for different purposes. Then, as is the wont of the academically bent, we formulated our conclusions into a proper theory. Here it is.
The Theory of Domestic Animals as Sorted by Suitedness for Purpose
The evidence shows that people interested in interactive television, mobile fuzzy furniture, a belligerent work distraction, or an incentive to attempt developing their telepathic abilities would be best served by the purchase of a feline of a color scheme that compliments the interior decor.
The evidence further shows that people who in search of a sidekick will be best served by the purchase of a canine with a compatible temperament and a coat suited to the local climate.
Now you know. And knowing is…well, you know.
February 10th, 2012 by jdsawyer
Sometimes, I have bouts of madness. In 2010 at OryCon, a particularly whimsical bout of madness struck. I’d just gotten out of a panel on Steampunk and run into someone with a table advocating for public awareness of something-or-other, and it occurred to me that in the world of the Steampunk genre there would be a number of such groups going around trying to cope with large societal changes caused by the sudden disinclination of their fellows to stay dead.
Magazine editors loved it, and sent glowing rejection notes apologizing to me that the premise was simply too weird for their readers. Now, it’s your turn. If you need a draught of the truly daft and funky, check out this Guide for Her Majesty’s Subjects On Matters Most Austere.
From the Greater London chapter of the Committee to Restrict the Accidental Population:
A comprehensive guide for Her Majesty’s subjects on dealing with the social problems and legal issues created by the so-called “accidental population.” If you are finding your world complicated by vampires, resurrectionists, or the undead, this pamphlet will give you the vital information you need to survive awkward situations with your life and social standing intact, and in the process restore the dignity of the Empire.
Read it now on your Kindle or other e-reader.
October 17th, 2011 by jdsawyer
I remember, back in the ’90s, when I used to laugh at people who would smack electronics to get them to work, or hit their desk or their keyboards to make the computers work. You remember the drill, right?
Bad picture? Smack the monitor. Computer hung up? Smack the thing. CB or tape deck started acting up, get a big baseball bat and whack the thing.
Disk Error Reading Drive C: <A>bort, <R>etry, <I>nfluence with large hammer
People did this because back when things were all vacuum tubes and copper wire, intermittent contact due to heat swelling was the most common cause of failure. If your TV went out and you gave it a good hard whack, it might make the connections shift and restore the picture. But in the 1990s, everything was electronic and solid state, even the CRTs. In fact, the only things with parts that could be effected by the whack was your hard drive and your VCR, and those depended on such a delicate mechanical balance that whacking them could screw them up permanently.
Obviously, the practice of hitting electronics is useless and stupid, not to mention potentially expensive. Electronics have no moving parts. They have nothing that could be affected by shaking, whacking, or moving them around.
So, now it’s 2011. I have a smart phone. With an accelerometer. And some functions require…well…hitting the phone. Or waving it around. Or tapping it gently. And it’s giving me flashbacks to those old TV sets.
The Wheel turns.
June 16th, 2011 by jdsawyer
Even if I’m lucky enough to be in that generation that gets to live past a hundred and twenty, I doubt I will ever reconcile myself to fonts. I love fonts–I’ve been doing graphic design now for the better part of a decade. Titles, book covers, book layouts, pamphlets, movie posters–you can’t get away from fonts for defining the look and feel of something with words on it.
So, fonts are cool.
Well, fonts are weird. I laid out a cover for a short story earlier this week, and this particular story needed a different font-ish approach than I normally take with the covers for my short stories. Finding the right font involved typing the relevant text at the appropriate sizes, and then cycling through my font database.
Let me tell you, if you want to have a transcendental experience, there’s not a lot you could do that would be more effective than testing fonts.
Continue reading ‘The Fonthead (An Epic, of sorts)’
June 4th, 2011 by jdsawyer
Last time I talked about some of the things you want to look for when you’re shopping for a used car. There’s a lot more I have to share about this adventure that might help you the next time you’re buying a car, and I’ll get to that next time.
But this is not just a story about smart shopping. It’s also a romance–and a good romance needs a narrative. So, here’s the next part, as a kind of nonfiction short story:
Continue reading ‘Gearing Down, Trading Up pt5′
April 30th, 2011 by jdsawyer
Continuing on from last time, we’re going over the things to look at when buying a car…
Now we’ve done the undercarriage–though I can’t help feeling like I overlooked something important. Fear not, I’ll mention it if it occurs to me–and we’re on to the rest of the checklist.
Continue reading ‘Gearing Down, Trading Up pt4′
April 26th, 2011 by jdsawyer
Car shopping isn’t just about practicality. It’s a chance to drive cars that are completely impractical–cars you would never buy because they’re too expensive, or they’d never work well with your lifestyle, or for a thousand other reasons.
I took that opportunity, and took it in grand style, during my recent hunting season. I told you already about the Mini Cooper S–quintessentially British car made by BMW. Since it was so much fun to drive, and at this point in the hunt I hadn’t yet settled on acceptable makes and models, I thought it might be fun to indulge myself and my cohort a bit.
She has always loved the BMW Z3. Not just the looks, but the drive as well. It’s her self-described dream car. Even though they don’t make them anymore, and even though there was simply no way it would be practical (BMWs are expensive and unreliable, right?), there are a lot of them floating around the used market, so we found one nearby and took an evening jaunt to test drive it.
Continue reading ‘Gearing Down, Trading Up pt 3′
April 22nd, 2011 by jdsawyer
In order to properly shop for a car, it’s essential that you do your research. The sales process is an adversarial one–sure, there are crooked car dealers out there, but even leaving those aside, it’s a predatory process.
“Predatory?” I hear you say, “Isn’t that being a bit dramatic?”
Not at all. In fact, in a good car deal, the predator is you, the customer. You’re hunting a car–the dealerships and craigslist listings and private parties are your natural hunting grounds. That’s where the natural order of things sits, and that’s where it should stay. Of course, salespeople and dealerships out to survive, so they have a strong incentive to slip into the role of predator if you’re leaving a power vacuum.
“Power vacuum?” You ask, “What do you mean power vacuum?”
Yup. Knowledge and intent are power when buying a car. If you’ve got a spec sheet of the things you need in a car, and you understand the economics of dealerships, and you have a basic understanding of automotive mechanics, your chances of walking away with a car that will serve you well are very good–assuming you also exercise good impulse control (being polite never hurts either–just remember that there’s a difference between being polite and being a sucker).
In this post, we’ll talk about creating your spec sheet.
Continue reading ‘Gearing Down, Trading Up pt 2′
April 20th, 2011 by jdsawyer
Driving. In all the world, it’s one of the finest things.
I don’t mean driving in traffic, I mean driving. Heading out onto the open road, or attacking a mountain and forcing its roads to unwind for you. Feeling the physics, pushing to improve the precision. I treat driving like some people treat horseback riding: a passion that, whenever I can afford to, I practice and perfect.
Two years ago, my uber-boring Saturn had an unfortunate encounter with a truck while in the hands of another driver, resulting in a face that looked like a schoolyard bully had decided to show it what-for. Insurance was fine, claim filed, claim check eventually came in, and I resigned myself to eventually buying a new car.
Continue reading ‘Gearing Down, Trading Up pt 1′
March 31st, 2011 by jdsawyer
Ah, car shopping. That magical time of life where you get to hop around the area, sitting in other people’s vehicles, fondling their shifters and clutching at their pedals until you finally get hauled away for turning Top Gear into a porn show.
In between times, you get harassed by salespeople both fabulous and incompetent, pushed to spend more money than the Harvard students spend on pizza in a year, and–just occasionally–get to test drive a car that leaves you breathless. The weight balance is just short of perfect, the clutch is tighter than a smuggler’s sphincter at a customs checkpoint, the gearbox goes up to six, and the power band is as wide as a ten-lane highway.
Continue reading ‘The Quest for Transport’