Hhhmm...definitely need to bone up on my Sci-Fi fantasy classics

This is a list of the 50 most significant science fiction/fantasy novels, 1953-2002, according to the Science Fiction Book Club. Bold the ones you've read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put an asterisk beside the ones you loved.

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien*
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
3. Dune, Frank Herbert*
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
6. Neuromancer, William Gibson
7. Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
22. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card*
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling
27. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
31. Little, Big, John Crowley
32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer 

Year in Review: part 2 Academic and personal

Ok, so what was the overall theme this year?
And more work…

Seriously, this was a year of long work hours, as I finished my data collection and most of my data analysis. As I write this, my introduction is finished, my methods are about 95% finished, and my character descriptions are probably 60-70% finished.

On top of this, I gave my first actual talk, at SVP, on a partly BS subject, IE using character weighing to attempt to resolve conflicts between morphological and molecular analyses of mysticete relationships. I also went through the pain in the ass process of applying and brown-nosing to get into graduate school program. End result: hopefully acceptance into at least University of Wyoming, and if I am really lucky, University of Florida. But that will be something to post in next years Year in Review. Also my first, who knows maybe my only, dissection of an orca and fin whale.

Academic research also allowed me to travel. In the past year I have given a talk in Ontario, and visited collections in New York, Washington D.C., Charleston, and Berkeley. I have really enjoyed experiencing new places, and hopefully I will be able to continue to do so, with conferences in Melbourne Australia, Capetown South Africa, and Austin, Texas in the next year

The thesis work has in many ways left me very bereft of a social life, at least outside of the office. I have been mostly successful at taking at least one day off during the week for birding. And I did have the opportunity to help feed homeless people, as well as win 2nd prize in a Halloween costume contest. I have had off and on success with going to the gym, as well as my diet (mostly off). I have also had off and on success at keeping to a budget, mostly off on that as well. I definitely wish to spend less money next semester on eating out, and hopefully this week I can start getting into a gym groove again. Definite plans next year are hopefully losing some weight. Also, now that I have medical insurance, it sure would be nice to get my teeth cleaned, new glasses, and maybe even a doctor’s appointment. Romance has definitely also been lacking this year, but then again most of the time I have been busy enough that it has gone fairly unnoticed. Something else to work on in the future.

Ok, time to go watch some Gamera movies, and Happy New Year everyone!

Year in review: part 1

The year in review, part 1. Natural History

While I am a very, very infrequent blogger, especially lately, I have for the past few years written a sort of “year in review” post, at this time of year, and it seems now is as appropriate a time as any.
Starting off, it seems only proper that I divide this post into two separate topics, one concerning birding (which is also encompasses herping and just about anything natural history) and academia/personal (which to be honest, overlaps more and more every year, given my research in biology)
First off, this was the first year I have kept a “year list”, which I found to be an enjoyable past-time and a good motivator for many of my birding exploits. My year list was for the most part a county-based effort, with neither the time or money to really pursue anything on a state or national level (though on the national level I at least scored 381, not bad with only minimal east coast birding opportunities).
My year list total (unless an owl happens to crash into my window tonight) is so far at 256 species, or approximately 53% of species recorded in San Diego County. Some highlights within the county this year were Crested Caracara, Painted Bunting, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Crissal Thrasher, Stilt Sandpiper, Ruff, and Tricolored Heron. My year list COULD have been higher, but some birds were lost from bad timing (Mississippi Kite, Hooded Warbler), Lack of time (Purple Martin, Le Conte’s Thrasher, Harris’s Sparrow), and just really bad luck (Blackpoll Warbler, Red-throated Pipit). Overall all, including out of county birds, I picked 79 lifers, and have also seen nearly all the SoCal endemics.
Of target birds since my last myspace post, I have managed to knock off 3 of 9 for the county (San Diego Cactus Wren, Common Ground Dove, and Canyon Wren). My new targets, for the remainder of my stay in San Diego, are the following:

Bell’s Sage Sparrow (subspecies, future split)
Gray Vireo (Lifer)
Cassin’s Vireo (Lifer)
Le Conte’s Thrasher (county, plus would like a more identifiable look then I had for my Arizona birds)
White-winged Scoter (may knock it off tomorrow with any luck)

Overall, this has been a fun year in birding. Had the opportunity to bird several fun places with friends (Salton Sea on multiple occasions, Yosemite, SE Arizona, Phoenix area). Even knocked off some east coast lifers in South Carolina. Yosemite gave me my first real experience with Mountain birding, and Arizona in June was phenomenal. HOT, but some fantastic birds, including Flame-colored Tanager and Rose-throated Beccard. Ornithology proved to be a rewarding experience, and this year definitely saw me doing more “social birding” then my typical lone gunman approach. Also, had a really great pelagic out of Santa Barbara, that was memorable. Also have to give a mention to the purchase of my first scope, a costly if worthwhile purchase
In regards to other organisms, I managed to see several new herps, as well as adding a few more whales and squirrels to the lifelist. Elephant Seals at a rookery was definitely a highlight.

Now, to conclude with some specific “highlights” from the last year:

Coolest bird of 2006: Streak-backed Oriole
“Best” bird of 2006: Blue-footed Booby, with the Oriole and Flame-colored Tanager close seconds
Nemesis Bird: Ruddy Ground-Dove (7 attempts!)
Coolest Mammal: Elephant Seal
Coolest Herp: Ornate Box Turtle

latest reads

I SHOULD be studying for my marine mammal test...but I am not...oh well...

Anyway...mostly I have been frustrated today with my phylogenetic analyses, and how they are just not working out. Giant unresolved polytomies equal badness.

But anyway, I figured I would make a post about some of my recent books I have read. Right now I am currently reading Otherness, a collection of short stories by David Brin, and I just finished 2 other short story collections, Worlds Vast and Various by Gregory Benford and The Creatures of Man, by Thomas Myers.

First off, Gregory Benford is one of my favorite "hard" Sci-fi writers. Often I have a difficulty getting emotionally involved with the characters in other hard sci-fi works; the authors get so wrapped up in science that they forget about characterization. Not so with Benford...most of the stories manage to have decent science along with compelling characters. My favorite story had to be "A Dance to Strange Musics"...which was increbibly creepy and managed to capture the tone of lovecraft without any borrowing of other conventions. "A Diamond as Big as the Ritz" also stood out. But the entire collection was solid.

The Creatures of Man collects all the stories of Thomas Myers into one volume. Thomas Myers was apparently a writer who who was about to reach a level of recognition, when he passed away of an early heart attack. Anyway...the collection and tone is somewhat dated. For one, I generally prefer my sci-fi with less metaphysics. And there is quite a bit of that here. Also, I noticed a tendency through the writing of of putting a huge importance on reproduction. It was implied or illustrated that the production of offspring is the greatest achievement an indidivual could make. Some stories though were pretty cool. The title story was probably the best, and some of the ideas related to space transport were certainly original. The one fantasy story in the book though....bad just really bad. It was random, the geas concept was a horrible idea, and the female character was written as pretty much a piece of meat. Eww...

Anyway...David Brin is a personal favorite of mine in regards to writing, so far pretty good.

Looks like the computer is running low of batteries, so it's my time to peace out

yep, it's a two post night

Don't be shocked.

Anyway...Today has been a very introspective day for me. Possibly because half the reason I am visiting U of M is because it's a potential phd program to apply to in the fall. And a PHD program equals major life changes.

Which...I got to say have been few in my life recently. Yeah, I have progressed on my MS, done some data collection, and presented at a conference. But really those have all been academic accomplishments. Physically and mentally I unfortunately haven't changed all that much in the last year.

First, I haven't made any inroads on my weight loss. No reduction in food, and my chocolate boycott went off the rails about 2 weeks ago. While I have kept myself at least a little more active by walking more and keeping up with my birding, I am still major out of shape.

Secondly, in my personal life, yep, no change. Every week is pretty much the same. Mind you, I have some terrific friends who I have a blast with, but it would be nice to find that special someone who could be "more then a friend". However, the females I hang out with and see for the most part are happily in relationships, or I wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole. My social circle in San Diego is very very small. And my social awkwardness, social anxiety, shyness, and overall weirdness just doesn't help. I just really don't know where to go and meet new people. The internet has so far proven worthless in that regard, my type of person is not going to be found in a bar, and my social circle is too small. So I guess I am stalled in that regard. And I feel that the longer I am stalled, the harder it will be. Every year make me more and more socially stunted compared to my peers, and what women really wants to take on that much work?

Anyway, I guess I shouldn't ramble anymore, and go and read some fiction before going to bed. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?
  • Current Mood
    restless restless

Live from Ann Arbor

Ok...so I survived my first day in Ann Arbor.

Headed into Ann Arbor with El, then headed over to the Museum. Dr. Gingerich hadn't informed anyone I was coming, so things were a tad confusing to begin with, since he was teaching. But things were settled, and today I was able to measure all of the specimens and photograph most of them. All I have left tomorrow is a few more photographs to take and to look over ears...I frigging hate ears. Looked at the exhibits in the museum...all in all I would say the museum is on par or a little better then the San Diego Natural History Museum. had a nice Rodhocetus and Dorudon mount, as well as some other good mammal stuff. Lot's of tortoise stuff it looks like too. I will be bringing back a specimen list for Jones on the gopherus material. Forgot to ask him about Stylemys and Hadrianus material...but the Collection manager said "there is probably alot".

Met with Phil Gingerich. He is a homey of Dave. Is everyone a Homey of Daves? Sweet Jesus. But anyway the meeting went kind of okay. I think I made a good showing of myself. And tomorrow after the museum visit I party at El's first ever Irish Whale fossil party.

Though I had to dissapoint her, by telling her that no whales will be making an appearance sadly.

The good and the bad...

ahhh...It always seems to feel like really good experiences are followed by really bad ones

The good...birded Anza Borrego yesterday. knocked off a lot of common desert birds for my county list, as well as scoring two lifers, CRISSAL THRASHER and LONG-EARED OWL. Other good birds included a beautiful and locally uncommon Scott's Oriole, as well as a Brewer's Sparrow. The desert was really nice yesterday...comfortable temperatures, not many people. Even getting a little bit lost driving wasn't that bad, and developing a headache, didn't do much to dampen the spirit of the day.

Now that evening, when I was printing off my travel information and discovering that STA didn't confirm my airline tickets when I told them to. yep..instead of flying to Michigan today, I get to yell at them. That means I get 2 days instead of 3 at the U of M Paleontology museum, and I have to compress possibly 2 days of looking at specimens into 1 day.

So yeah...I need to go yell at some travel agency people now...grrr...
  • Current Mood
    pessimistic pessimistic

(no subject)

well, since it's been exactly 1 month since my last post, now seems as good a time as any to write another entry.

First off, the important stuff, birding:
Last weekend was spent touring the southern portion of San Diego. Stops included the J-street Marina, South Bay, Imperial beach Pier, and Nestor Park. Birding was excellent; Among the highlights were Red-necked Grebe, Red Knot, Merlin, Pelagic Cormorant, Reddish Egret, and 2 Yellow-crowned Night-herons. Probably the single best day of birding since returning to San Diego after spring break. Other birding trips this month have been South Bay/random San Diego areas, and Santee area. Not much really to report from these trips, a few county birds, with the best bird from first part of the month being Stilt Sandpiper. Overall, managed some 3 lifers for this month, which isn't that bad. This morning I went on a herp related trip up to Henshaw/palomar area, where we found a common kingsnake and 1 herp lifer, large-blotched Ensatina. Ensatina are probably the prettiest salamanders on the pacific coast, and it was awesome to finally see one.

School wise, lots of tests and thesis work. This weekend I should be wrapping up my work on reformating my character descriptions. All I need to do is just run through the codings, check the ears, and edit before passing it off to Rachel for proof reading.

Anyway...this next weekend will hopefully find me chasing thrashers and rufous-backed robins in phoenix. Or I can hope so.