Tuesday various

  • Netflix is pretty sure it has no future in DVDs. You know, I like streaming and on-demand, but the selection is still not that great, relatively speaking. If Netflix could ensure the same level of selection and quality with streaming as with the physical DVDs…well, I’d still occasionally be annoyed they were most often DVDs without special features of any kind, but I’d be more willing to switch over to streaming-only. (If the high cost of having both doesn’t force the issue for me at some near-future point.) But Netflix can’t promise that. Some of it is out of their hands — studios are covetous of their movies and shows, and some (like HBO) see Netflix, maybe rightly, as a direct competitor. So I really do hope Netflix doesn’t continue their push towards streaming-and-only-streaming, that they realize it wasn’t just the Qwiskter name that upset customers. I want a wide and varied selection of movies and shows. I don’t want more of “You can’t watch that, but have you ever tried this…?”)
  • Indonesian man arrested for kicking woman he thought was a ghost [via]
  • Want to smell like a superhero? [via]
  • “Twitter is the contemporary postcard—social updates that are limited by size, but not imagination. For a month, with a billion stamps, our correspondent moved his tweets from the laptop to the post office, and rediscovered the joy of mail.”
  • And finally, Basil Fawlty Impersonator Chat:

    As Mark Evanier notes, “There are literally more professional impersonators of Basil Fawlty around than there were episodes of Fawlty Towers.”

Vacation day one

Not a super eventful day, beyond some running around in the morning to the post office.

…where, I have to say, some people are just insanely impatient. “No wonder they’re going bankrupt,” several seniors in front of me groused to themselves, when faced with the prospect that, at the single busiest shipping time of year, they might actually be asked to stand in a line for all of five minutes. Not everything about the local post office, or the post office in general, thrills me, but we still pay a ridiculously low postage rate for better than not service. And just because your horribly important morning is compromised when you have to wait a few minutes to buy Christmas stamps…well, just be quiet, okay? This is actually why the post office is in so much trouble. Could individual services be improved? Could they hire a few more staff for busy pre-holiday weekends? Sure, but they don’t have the money for it. And you grousing honestly isn’t making anything better. You’re just being smug and self-righteous and, quite frankly, annoying…

But I digress.

Beyond that, I spent the day hanging out with the dog, while my mother was out and my father was leading Boy Scouts on a hike around Manhattan. I spent the time watching Fair Game and Limitless, both of which were pretty good if not entirely remarkable.

And that was my Saturday. One day of vacation down, fifteen more to go.

Sunny, chilly, day-offy Friday

I took the day off from work today and managed not to do a whole lot with it, beyond a little reading (Kaleidotrope slush, Steve Martin’s biography), a little television watching (this week’s touching, if not hilarious, Community), and a little faxing (some confirmation forms for my residency at the Banff Centre in September).

That last one took a little longer than anticipated, as I first thought to mail them, then ran into confusion and resistance at the post office — I FedEx stuff internationally regularly from the office; I’ve never needed a commercial invoice unless there’s something of value and weight enclosed, and certainly never for two sheets of paper. But whatever — and then went to the local Kinko’s to fax it instead. I don’t think it would be the end of the world if I faxed it from work on Monday, or even it arrived near the end of next week in the mail, but they did say “within two weeks.” So anyway.

Of course, the fax number just rang and rang, and when I tried calling the Registrar’s Office directly, I just got a recording. The two-hour time difference might have been working against me, as I was likely calling on their lunch hour. But I finally got through, and the woman at the other end confirmed the fax number, then told me she’d switch it off then on, and I should try again. And that seemed to work. I sent an e-mail following up, and now everything should be confirmed and paid for.

I think now with this, and buying my plane tickets earlier in the week, there’s no denying that I’m actually doing this quite possibly crazy thing. I still have to book my hotel stay in Calgary, but I am looking forward to it — to the week of writing, to the inspiring scenery of Banff itself, and to the chance to meet Heather in person. She’s the one who recommended the residency in the first place, and honestly no slouch as a writer herself.

And she sent me this for my birthday! The first of the books won’t arrive until early summer, unfortunately, but they look like an interesting enough mix that it will be worth the wait. Seriously very cool and thoughtful, and a nice way to ease into the fact that tomorrow — in just a few short minutes from now, actually — I will be thirty-four years old.

As little as I did with it, the day off helped with that, too.

Thursday various

  • I don’t know why I find this particularly interesting, but I do:

    The post office ignores the return address for Netflix DVDs and sorts them separately for a Netflix truck to pick them up early in the morning for processing.

    Discs are shipped back to the nearest processing facility, regardless of the address on the return envelope; that address is there just for legal reasons, apparently. This seems like something I maybe sort of already knew, but it’s a reminder of the volume they (and by extension the post office) have to process.

  • John Seavey’s Open Letter to Zombie Story Writers:

    In essence, the human body is a machine, like an automobile. You are trying to describe the ways this machine can malfunction to produce a specific effect, and that’s good, but please stop explaining to me how it keeps going without wheels, gasoline, or a functioning engine.

    He raises some interesting points, although I don’t think they apply to the “zombies” in films like 28 Days Later, as he seems to. At least from my recollection — and I re-watched the movie pretty recently — the infected population there a) don’t act at all like George Romeroesque zombies (i.e., no human flesh, no brains), and b) don’t continue acting beyond physically believable limits. Beyond normal pain tolerances, sure — there’s the one guy who keeps running even though he’s literally on fire — but into the realm of sheer impossibility.

  • “What is, come with me if you want to live, Alex?” So you may have heard: a computer has won at Jeopardy. (There goes that Weird Al remix idea!) I’m still looking forward to the televised rematch next month, though perhaps not so much to the subsequent robot apocalypse.
  • It’s worth it for Goodnight Dune alone: Five Sci-Fi Children’s Books. [via]
  • And finally, Jeff VanderMeer on Everything You Need to Know to be a Fiction Writer.

Wednesday various