January 26, 2008

Shelving Books and Muscle Memory

When I was a younger man, I worked for a store called Waldensoftware in the Tyson's Corner mall in Northern Virginia. This was a solid job for a 16 year old kid who was into computers. The store sold computer science textbooks and software for PCs and Macs.

Often, they would loan us out to the main Waldenbooks shop in the more heavily traveled part of the mall, and we would shelf and sell books. The thing I remember from working in both locations most is 'shelving'. Shelving is the practice of tidying and facing books on the shelf so that they don't look disorganized. Flip, cover, flip, cover, align, lineup, flip and cover. You can even subtlety promote some books and deemphasize others. For instance, in modern parlance, Neal Stephenson (of Snow Crash fame) has no need for any more publicity to sell books, but since he's often placed not so far from John Scalzi (a newish up and coming science fiction author) you could face the Stephenson books spine out and the Scalzi books cover out.

Those coming in for Snow Crash can always find it, and maybe, just maybe, they'll buy a copy of old man's war in the process. They get to read about Hiro's adventures amongst the loglo and maybe discover a new author. Everyone wins!

Here's the thing. Now, some 20 years later, I still do it. If I'm in a bookstore, I can't not do it. If the shelves are even slightly uneven or in disarray, I start shelving. Flip, cover, flip, cover, align, lineup, flip and cover. It's weird. I find myself doing it unconsciously. It's startling really, it's like my body decides to go do things why I'm otherwise engaged. It's plain weird.

This happened a few days ago when I was at Border's in Palo Alto. We were looking at guide books for an upcoming trip when I look down and *poof* I'm shelving.

So weird.

January 10, 2008

This is a test...

Trying to embed an object here:



You see, I've been experimenting with different widgets and such. You can ignore the tests posts, but I find them -awesome-. Also, I love flash block. The above widget should show a music playing widget from iMeem. If it doesn't, then , well, it doesn't.

January 9, 2008

Ph33r the Cut3 ones

So, remember all those children's stories and cartoons that portray nice, woodland creatures as gentle, loving, wouldn't-hurt-a-fly entities with only the best interests of humanity in their hearts?

It's a dirty, filty lie.

First, Deer attack me on route 50, as detailed here a few years back. Now, dive bombing suicide squirrels. Let me expand, I was walking to my car and under a bough of trees. Nice shady oaks.

I hear a rustle. I think....hmm, getting pooed on by a bird would suck, so I'm not going to stand under this tree. The birds in the neighborhood have a history of, I kid you not, attacking my car mirrors and windshield wipers. Seriously annoying, even if they don't do much damage past a few paint chips taken out and mirrors that need cleaning.

But I digress, back to the suicide squirrels....

So I'm walking, having swerved to not be under the tree when I hear a solid, meaty "whack!" not 3 feet from me where I had been standing. There was the aformentioned squirrel. A dark mottled brown/black fat little bastard with a penchant for murder and evil in his acorn addicted heart. He was fine. He looked at me, hissed and ran back up the tree, no doubt to prepare for the next victim, likly an orphan, a nun, a girl scout selling cookies, or an orphan nun cookie selling girl scout.

Anyhow, I survived this assault, but so did my nemesis. Is a vicious, hateful, painful altercation predestined? Will I come home with the wounds and scratches of domination or the full stomach of victory? Only time will tell. I suspect that, like GLaDOS, I will be still alive.

(I found the drunk evil squirrel photo on the internet. And , yes, I finished Portal, it was awesme and amazing and perfect)



(the cake is a lie)

January 3, 2008

See you at my IAP Session?

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! In two weeks hence I will be giving my 3 hour history of open source class during MITs Independent Activities Period. I tried this out at Google last month and it was recevied really well. It's even got pictures of kittens in it, it's so awesome. It bleeds awesome. It oozes awesome. It practically awesomes awesome. So come and check it out. It's three nights in a row at 7pm in E51 (sloan building). See you there!