January 31st, 2010

20111112, Marilee

More Snow Than We Need

We got five inches here, and the city's schools are closed tomorrow. My curbcut & zebra stripe hadn't been cleared by the shovelers, so I flagged down one of the trucks and they got most of it done. It's warmer and sunny tomorrow, so what's left might melt before I get up. Then they forecast snow for Tuesday and next weekend.

Last night Spirit kept looking at the castle and I gave her a boost to the window. She climbed up to the crenellations and clawed at the carpet on the platform post. Later on, she wanted up again and when she came back, she sat on top of the back of the recliner until I went to bed at least. But during the night, she pooped on the towel. I was hoping it was all getting better.

On Friday, Macmillin (owns Tor, an SFF publisher) offered Amazon a new pricing system for their e-books. Instead of discussing it or saying no, Amazon delisted all the Macmillin books. You could still get them from other sellers on that site, but not from Amazon. And it wasn't just Macmillian's e-books, it was all of their books. Well, this evening, Amazon blinked. The books aren't listed yet, but people are watching.
20111112, Marilee

The Polar Express

I thought I'd read this, but whatever I read had a snowman as a major character. This was made by filming actors doing the show and then animating on top of it. I'm pretty sure I would have liked the real people better, although it would have needed some FX.

A little boy thinks Christmas and Santa are just stories, but when he gets on the Polar Express train (Tom Hanks as conductor), he has a lot of adventures and starts believing in Santa and gets a very special present from him. He wakes up in his bed, his sister calling everybody because Santa has been there, and he's not sure about Santa again. Then he finds a box with his special present and a note from "Mr. C."

It was okay, particularly since we had snow coming down outside, but I wouldn't watch it again.
20111112, Marilee

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

This is non-fiction, but easy to read. It took me longer than it normally would have because I kept laying there and arguing with it.

In essence, each chapter addresses something that people repeatably do that is irrational or wrong. He talks about what it is and what we think will happen, then tells us how the experiments were conducted and the results, and then offers ways to try to change what we're doing. At the end is a large section of references and other accessory text.

It was fascinating, but I didn't fit in with most of the experiment subjects. For example:

1. The experiment showed that people think more expensive meds are better for them than cheap meds are. I strongly prefer generics. (That particular experiment also told the students that the med was an opiate. The kids wouldn't be able to have opiates without a doctor's prescription and I was surprised that out of 2000 kids nobody knew that.)

2. He talked about people getting $4 coffees every day, and I calculated that I spend $1.25 on everything I drink all day.

3. The chapter on FREE! had a lot of experiments, plus talk about Amazon's $25 free shipping. But the chocolate one was not something I'd do. They put a big table in a public building foyer and a sign that said "Chocolate, One Each" and when people got closer, they could see what kind of chocolate and the price. There were many variations of this in order to make sure they covered everything, but they all worked like the first experiment -- a Lindt truffle was listed at $.15 and a Hershey's Kiss at a penny. The majority of people bought the truffle. Then they moved both down a penny (still relative cost) so the truffle was $.14 and the Kiss was FREE! and the majority took the Kiss. I would know that a truffle was better than a Kiss, even if I paid more for it.

In any case, the experiments (including some with beer - feorag, balsamic vinegar is vegan, isn't it? They tried two drops of it in beer and as long as the students tasted first and found out second, they liked it) were very interesting.

I liked the book quite a bit and think most people would enjoy it, even if they end up arguing with it.