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Started: 2009-01-19 07:56:46

Submitted: 2009-01-19 08:22:30

Visibility: World-readable

For the month of January, Kiesa wanted to do something slightly different for the science fiction book club: Read a book, then watch the movie based on the book, and discuss both. We assembled a list of sci-fi movies based on books, though it was easier to find lists of books people wished would be made into movies. (Snow Crash was often high on the lists.) We decided on Contact and assembled in my living room to watch the movie on Saturday, 10 January. As usual, I finished reading the book less than an hour before the scheduled meeting.

My overall impression of the book versus the movie was that the movie was like a stripped down, cleaned up version of the book. The book tended to ramble; Carl Sagan was a brilliant astronomer but his novel needed more editing. Both were great works of art in their own media; they work well separately and together.


I spent that Saturday morning assembling stuff in my car to drop off at the appropriate disposal locations, as part of my annual run to Boulder's Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials. I had been collecting Styrofoam in my garage, and I had two boxes of cables (the last remains of my electronics junk to get rid of, after I gave away at least half of it -- including my old HP Laserjet 4 -- at BLUG in November) and a dead DVD player to take for recycling at CHaRM. I took a pair of dead CFL bulbs from my kitchen (they seem to die more often than they're supposed to; yesterday another CFL spotlight went out) and a few rechargeable batteries to Boulder County's hazardous household waste dropoff site for disposal and my ancient ski equipment to Boulder Ski Deals for reuse or recycling. (I haven't used the equipment since college; the skis are straight downhill skis with potentially sketchy bindings, and the boots don't really fit any more.) Getting rid of a trunk full of stuff felt very satisfying, but I had to wonder about the net environmental impact of driving into Boulder to properly dispose of the stuff.


My plans for Sunday, 11 January included some sort of expedition out of the house, but I didn't actually figure out what I wanted to do until it was too late to get anywhere very interesting. Instead, I colonized the dining room table and sorted all of the boarding pass stubs I had floating around, then entered all the relevant data into my big geeky list of flights. (I discovered OpenOffice.org has a nice database entry engine I was able to connect to PostgreSQL to enter the data into my database.) I reconciled several months of bank statements and discovered a mysteriously-deleted deposit from early 2007 that I was able to reconstruct exactly, despite not having any solid records of the transaction. (This included a Solekai travel reimbursement that I knew I must have received but its absence was rather confusing.)

(I also amused myself by figuring out how to determine the total cost of a mortgage refinance. We have one year left in our five-year ARM, and with mortgage rates approaching historic lows (and while we still have our full, pre-Calvin incomes), this seems like a good time to look at better rates for a shorter mortgage. I ended up with a spreadsheet with detailed inputs for each option that figured out what the total cost of the loan -- the future value of the closing costs and mortgage payments (at a reasonable rate of return; namely, what my bank is offering for one-year savings accounts at the moment, which I concede barely keeps pace with inflation) plus the remaining loan amount -- for each year. With the spreadsheet in place I was able to identify the break-even point for each of options we considered.)

C will not only let you shoot yourself in the foot, it will hand you a new magazine when you run out of bullets.
- Charles Stross, Where we went wrong