Obdormio.com Unwasted Hours

24 September, 2012

A Post with a Foolish Conclusion

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

Blog posts are pretty disposable things, really. I’m typing this in a simple little input box in the WordPress back-end; it hardly feels permanent. It’s all bits in the end, little ones and zeroes stored on one hard drive or another, ready to be copied and accessed and viewed whenever convenient.

I feel like this with most things written on a computer, really. It’s disposable, copyable, temporary and flimsy. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I’m sceptical about e-books; they don’t feel real. Sure I can write up a story or other text on a computer, and really should, considering the convenience, but it doesn’t feel real until it’s on actual paper. That’s how it was with my master’s thesis, at any rate.

Of course, just being on paper isn’t enough to make something feel non-disposable either. I often print out stuff that has a limited use and is then discarded – bit of my thesis, to continue the example, that were very much work-in-progress, used for a time and then crumpled up and recycled.

I used to carry notebooks around – and really should start doing that again – to jot down ideas and thought and stories while I had them. I scribbled in them with pencils and wore them out by forcing them into pockets they didn’t really fit in. They were cheap little things, flimsy – there’s that word again – and while they weren’t ever discarded, they were definitely a temporary vessel for thoughts. On the whole though, paper, and books in particular, feels more permanent than typing electronically.

And some books feel very weighty indeed. I’m not talking about printed books here, they’re a thing of their own, I’m talking about notebooks – books for producing text, not consuming it. I recently bought a fancy notebook, to use as a log book for the next part of my study course. Since I knew I was going to keep a log, I decided I wanted a proper book to keep it in, not just another folder of lecture notes. I ended up buying a Paperblank, one of those that imitate the look of old leather binding. I got a hardback one, so it feels solid and looks pretty. It felt so proper that I felt I had to sit down and take some time to write out a title page, with proper letter spacing and as pretty looking letters as my clumsy hand can make. I used pencil sketches I had to erase after using ink and everything!

Like I said, I bought this to keep a log in; it has a specific purpose, which is why I felt I could buy a fancy book for it. I’ve been burned on this before, you see. I bought a couple of Paperblanks a few years ago, pocket sized ones, and found myself stumped. They looked to neat to just scribble notes in. A book that looked that good, I felt, had to be actually filled with something good as well.

And that’s Paperblanks, that basically just fake looking good! I am tempted to get something like this, something that legitimately is awesome, just for the sheer coolness of it. The problem, however, would be compounded; what on Earth would I put in it?! It’s the same urge that makes me want one of those hollowed-out books for hiding stuff in, even though I have nothing worth hiding it it! I would like to have bunches of beautiful books in the shelves, but what do I put in them?

I basically need more intrigue in my life.

17 September, 2012

Emergency Post: Some Music

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

Sometimes, there’s just no time, and sometimes there’s no inspiration, and on some unhappy days both of those things happen at once.

But I heard, through the walls, someone listening to the theme to Myst III: Exile. I love that theme. I can sing along to parts of this. So, to avoid a blank day altogether, here is a piece of music that I can never get out of my head.

10 September, 2012

Words, Words, Words: Endling

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

During a random wiki walk yesterday, I stumbled upon a word I’d never heard before: endling – the last living member of a species.

This is possibly the saddest single word I have ever heard. I don’t think there’s any need to explain the etymology on this one – it’s the end, with a sad little diminutive tacked on. It’s both poetic and childish and tragic. At the same time, it’s a great example of how language can be so cool sometimes.

See, obviously I know that there are species on the verge of extinction, and that in some cases there is only one member left, and this is sad. When they have names like Lonesome George, it gets sadder. But when you name the whole group endlings, well, that’s just utterly heart-breaking. I picture other animals weeping and Find the Lady singing the extinct-song.

And I think that’s a good thing. We should be broken up about this. Look at the picture of the passenger pigeon on wikipedia, and consider that is was the very last of its kind – doesn’t it just extrude sadness? Endling doesn’t appear to be a widely accepted term – it actually kind of looks like it was invented by some wikipedia person. I haven’t found much other use of it, except in a news article that was clearly based strongly on said wikipedia article. I think it should see use, though. It makes more of an impact than a longer phrase would.

I’m adding this to my vocabulary – although I hope I won’t have much opportunity to use it in everyday speech. A word as good as this must surely win ground and end up in the dictionaries some day.

6 September, 2012

Five of a Thing: More Comics

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

A while ago, I linked to five comics I like a lot. As I mentioned at the time, I actually read a bunch of comics, and once had a huge list of recommendations up here. I won’t go back to that untenable system, but I figure I can easily give you five more. Just like last time, these are in no particular order, so there’s no declaration of one as better than the others; they are all great comics that you should check out.

chainsawsuit

It’s both hard and easy to describe chainsawsuit, as it isn’t really about anything. There little to no continuity, and is mainly an outlet for the absurd and simple and hilarious jokes author Kris Straub can’t fit into his more story-focused works. It actually started as a parody of indie comics, but has become its own fantastic thing by now. Hit the random comic button a few times, and you’ll quickly know if it’s your cup of tea.

Outsider

On the opposite end of the scale we have Outsider, a story-focused long form science fiction comic about a young man on a first contact mission. When his ship is destroyed, he is the only survivor, and is suddenly humanity’s representative to the aliens who pick him up – aliens in the middle of a galactic war. Fine space opera, that unfortunately doesn’t update very often.

Rice Boy (and Sequels)

If you haven’t read the beautiful and surreal Rice Boy, you have really missed out. A wonderful fantasy story, somewhat reminiscent of Tove Janson’s Moomin-stories, filled with strange and impossible creatures and lands and adventures. Two more stories set in the same world are available on the site, one of them currently going, and they’re all recommended.

Skin Horse

Black ops social services. The world is full of mad scientists and their creations, zombies and genetic mutants roam the land, and the government will be there for them come hell or high water. This very funny tale of classified bureaucrats is a spin-off of the also-great Narbonic, but can be read as a stand-alone. Just read through the cast page, all right? I’m sure that will sell you.

Myst: The Book of Atrus

All right, maybe I’m cheating slightly here, as I have already recommended this comic in a different post all of its own. However, since I wrote that recommendation based mostly on expectation and enthusiasm, the comic has continued to update and grow, and has become something that I can very easily recommend regardless of my Myst enthusiasm. If you still haven’t given it a try, I wash my hands of you.

So there you have it, five plus comics all ready for reading. Now let’s just hope this post won’t have any unintended consequences

3 September, 2012

I Am Not a Librarian: The Conclusion

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

Although this little project will probably never reach a completely finished state, I’m aiming to wrap up talking about it in this post – at least for now.

After a bit of back and forth, I decided to keep a category for General Works, and forego Applied Sciences, based on an educated guess as to what sort of books I might end up owning one day. That leaves me with the following top-level:

  1. General Works
  2. Formal Sciences
  3. Natural Sciences
  4. Social Sciences
  5. Philosophy
  6. Religion
  7. History
  8. Language
  9. Literature
  10. Arts

Although some of these aren’t very applicable to my current collection, I want it robust enough for future growth. Now comes the hard part – sensible subcategories. For the sciences, it actually wasn’t all that hard – Wikipedia has good lists of the various branches of science, look at Natural science for example, so I simply copied them over.

Although I ended up with ten top-level categories, this will not be a decimal system. The top-level will be identified by number, but after that the categories are identified by letter. Add an initial marker for non-fiction, and the final code will end up looking something like N-7CE-J.

I won’t go through every single category here, it would take too much space, but let’s look at Religion and History. I’ve attempted to find a balance between topics big enough to stand on their own, and topics that can be grouped roughly according to geography.

5. Religion 6. History
  1. Religious Studies
  2. Abrahamic Religions
    1. Judaism
    2. Christianity
    3. Islam
  3. Indian Religions
    1. Hinduism
    2. Buddhism
    3. Jainism
    4. Sikhism
  4. European Religions
    1. Greek Mythology
    2. Roman Mythology
    3. Celtic Mythology
    4. Norse Mythology
    5. Sami Religion
  5. African Religions
  6. Middle-Eastern Religions
    1. Mesopotamian Religion
    2. Egyptian Religion
    3. Zoroastrianism
  7. Asian Religions
    1. East-Asian Religions
      1. Taoism
      2. Confucianism
      3. Shinto
  8. Oceanic Religions
    1. Australian Religion
  9. American Religions
    1. North-American Religions
    2. Mesoamerican Religions
    3. South-American Religions
  10. New Religious Movements
  1. Historiography
  2. Archaeology and Pre-History
  3. Ancient History
  4. Eurasian History
    1. European History
    2. Asian History
    3. Middle-Eastern History
  5. African History
    1. North-African History
  6. Oceanic History
  7. American History
    1. North-American History
    2. Mesoamerican History
    3. South-American History
  8. Biographies

You can see the general idea, I think. For Religion there are a couple of categories encompassing some of the biggest currently active religions, and then geographic categories to encompass religions that aren’t universal in scope and to a greater degree limited to a single area.

In History, Eurasia is collapsed into a single super-category, to account for books that span the whole of it, and then subdivided for more specificity. That’s the general idea behind the whole system, of course, I can always subdivide a category further to get a more specific category. Hierarchy ftw, as they say. I have made no effort whatsoever to maintain equality in the hierarchy across top-level categories, because there are limits even to my madness. With the geographical division, I have tried to find the balance between purely geographical and cultural groupings – it is no accident that the Middle-East and North Africa end up next to each other on the shelf.

And this is how it goes, basically. Literature will also be divided geographically, I think, with a general literary theory category on top. Languages will be divided among major language families, and then subdivided as their genealogy goes. For the Arts, I turn again to Wikipedia for neat subdivisions – the Norwegian Wikipedia had a curious list which I quite liked, so it has both painting, music and architecture, as well as comics, cooking and role-playing games beneath it.

Like I said, this won’t ever be done, there’s always room for more subdivision and precision and clarification, but I think I am approaching something that’s usable. There are still some top-level categories to flesh out, and I want to work it all into a notation that will allow me to sort my book database accurately in the same order as they appear on the shelves – even the fiction – but I am getting there.

But for now, I’ll shut up about it.

30 August, 2012

I Am Not a Librarian: But I Try

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

OK, so let’s look at top-level categories. You’ll remember the MDS from last time, but let me line it up with some other systems as well, just to get an idea of the variation.

Melvil Decimal System Universal Decimal Classification Library of Congress Classification Bliss bibliographic classification
  1. General Works and Information Sciences
  2. Philosophy and Psychology
  3. Religion
  4. Social Sciences
  5. Language
  6. Mathematics and Science
  7. Applied Sciences and Technology
  8. Arts and Leisure
  9. Literature
  10. Biography and History
  1. Science and Knowledge. Organization. Computer Science. Information. Documentation. Librarianship. Institutions. Publications
  2. Philosophy. Psychology
  3. Religion. Theology
  4. Social Sciences
  5. empty
  6. Mathematics. Natural Sciences
  7. Applied Sciences. Medicine, Technology
  8. The Arts. Recreation. Entertainment. Sport
  9. Language, Linguistics, Literature
  10. Geography, Biography, History
A – General Works
B – Philosophy, Psychology, and Religion
C – Auxiliary Sciences of History
D – General and Old World History
E – History of America
F – History of the United States and British, Dutch, French, and Latin America
G – Geography, Anthropology, and Recreation
H – Social Sciences
J – Political Science
K – Law
L – Education
M – Music
N – Fine Arts
P – Language and Literature
Q – Science
R – Medicine
S – Agriculture
T – Technology
U – Military Science
V – Naval Science
Z – Bibliography, Library Science, and General Information Resources
2/9 – Generalia, Phenomena, Knowledge, Information science & technology
A/AL – Philosophy & Logic
AM/AX – Mathematics, Probability, Statistics
AY/B – General science, Physics
C – Chemistry
D – Astronomy and earth sciences
DG/DY – Earth sciences
E/GQ – Biological sciences
GR/GZ – Applied biological sciences: agriculture and ecology
H – Physical Anthropology, Human biology, Health sciences
I – Psychology & Psychiatry
J – Education
K – Society (includes Social sciences, sociology & social anthropology)
L/O – History (including area studies, travel and topography, and biography)
LA – Archaeology
P – Religion, Occult, Morals and ethics
Q – Social welfare & Criminology
R – Politics & Public administration
S – Law
T – Economics & Management of economic enterprises
U/V – Technology and useful arts (including household management and services)
W – The Arts
WV/WX – Music
X/Y – Language and literature
ZA/ZW – Museology

It all adds up to quite the mouthful. And they’ve got some pretty different notations, too – I don’t know what’s going on with Bliss. To get way ahead of myself, I think maybe using the alphabet is a good idea, just for the extra room it gives you to expand – although the UDC has left a whole number unused by collapsing subjects into others. Combining language and literature certainly isn’t for me. So what do they all have in common, then? Can I draw out some main topics?

  • Philosophy
    • Grouped with Psychology (or Logic, in Bliss)
  • Religion
    • Grouped with Philosophy in LoC
  • Social Sciences
  • Language
    • Frequently combined with Literature, but screw that!
  • Literature
  • Mathematics
    • Generally grouped with Science, specifically Natural Sciences
  • Arts and Recreation
  • History and Biography
  • Geography
  • And they all have some sort of General Stuff-category

Some of them divide sciences and history further on the top-level, but my instinct is to go as broad as I can for the top-level, and go for greater granularity later. I’m actually tempted to go for just a Science top-level – Wikipedia organises its articles into Formal, Physical, Life, Social and Applied Sciences, and that seems like a good subdivision of a big field to me. Of course, I immediately get into trouble, as Linguistics should then be a Social Science, but I want Language on the top-level. Dangit.

OK, let me compare these pulled out with my own tentative categories, then.

General Works
Philosophy
Religion
Social Sciences
Language
Literature
Mathematics
Natural Sciences
Arts and Recreation
History and Biography
Geography

Philosophy
Religion
Politics
Language
Literature
Education
Food
Art
History

I actually quite like this boiled-down list. Let me redo my list a bit, and see if I get a top-level I can work with, and throw in some of the rest as sub-levels just to see how it’d work.

  1. General Works
  2. Formal Sciences
    • Mathematics
  3. Natural Sciences
    • Geography
  4. Social Sciences
    • Politics
    • Education
  5. Philosophy
  6. Religion
  7. Language
  8. Literature
  9. Art
    • Food
    • Music
  10. History
    • Biography

That even shook out to ten! I’m not sure if I should be happy about that; if I go with these as top-level, I’ll obviously use numbers, and leave myself no room to expand. And I’ve surely overlooked something. And what are General Works, really? Like, encyclopaedias and stuff? Do they even sell print versions of those to private consumers any more? It seems like a good category to have, you know, “stuff”, but I don’t know that I’d really use it. Maybe I should have some sort of Applied Sciences instead – though it’s not like I’ll use that much either. I think this set-up will pretty much work for my current books, though… I think I’m on to something here.

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