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It's been a busy month. Work has been very stressful -- one full week of training early in the month (NEVER do 5 straight days of training. I was toast by Thursday afternoon, so Friday was pretty much a complete waste...) And this last week we had sessions with the vendor and the project SME's that were profitable, but exhausting. Oh, and never let your system vendor hire an all-new team to implement their product. We've been at this for a full year, but the vendor's BA's still seem clueless about what their system can and can't do. I facilitated for about 3 hours on Thursday afternoon, after the vendor team left for the airport, and the SMEs said I did a better job explaining how the system works than the vendor team -- and I've probably spent less than 40 hours in the system over the last year. Flattering, but also frightening, as it makes the vendor team look incompetent.

Just sayin'.

I also spent about 15 hours (evenings & Saturdays) at Democratic Party HQ working on the Platform Committee for the Salt Lake County Democratic Party. I missed the final meeting on Thursday evening because I had neglected to take my 12-hour Sudafed that morning, and by the time I left work, I had a Richter-10 sinus headache, so I came home and crashed. Yay for early allergy season!

And I'm still managing to get to the gym about 3 times a week. Weight is up, but the waist is smaller -- shirts feeling tighter across the pecs rather than belly. This I can live with.

All this explains why I haven't really read as much this month as the last couple. But still, I did get through a huge number of Farscape comics one weekend. That was lots of fun!

Here's the skinny:

03/04/2012    Staring at Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma’s Fabulous Flaming Lips by Jim DeRogatis
03/08/2012    Farscape: The Beginning of the End of the Beginning (gn) by O’Bannon & DeCandido/Patterson
03/09/2012    Farscape: Strange Detractors (gn) by O’Bannon & DeCandido/Sliney
03/09/2012    Farscape: Gone and Back (gn) by O’Bannon & DeCandido/Patterson
03/09/2012    Farscape: Tangled Roots (gn) by O’Bannon & DeCandido/Sliney
03/09/2012    Farscape: Red Sky at Morning (gn) by O’Bannon & DeCandido/Sliney
03/10/2012    Farscape: Scorpius: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (gn) by O’Bannon & Mack/Ruiz
03/10/2012    Farscape: Compulsions (gn) by O’Bannon & DeCandido/Sliney
03/10/2012    Farscape: Scorpius: Glorious Basterds (gn) by O’Bannon & Mack/Ruiz
03/10/2012    Farscape: The War for the Uncharted Territories I (gn) by O’Bannon & DeCandido/Sliney
03/10/2012    Farscape: The War for the Uncharted Territories II (gn) by O’Bannon & DeCandido/Sliney
03/10/2012    Farscape: The War for the Uncharted Territories III (gn) by O’Bannon & DeCandido/Sliney
03/12/2012    The Selfish Gene (audiobook) by Richard Dawkins
03/15/2012    Babel-17 (audiobook) by Samuel R. Delany
03/18/2012    Traitor’s Sun by Marion Zimmer Bradley & Adrienne Martine-Barnes
03/19/2012    Colonel Sun (audiobook) by "Robert Markham" (Kingsley Amis)
03/23/2012    Casino Royale (audiobook) by Ian Fleming
03/26/2012    Live and Let Die (audiobook) by Ian Fleming
03/31/2012    Moonraker (audiobook) by Ian Fleming

The book about the Flaming Lips was a fun read. Those guys are kind of amazing. Saw them last summer, and they put on the funnest concert I've yet seen. As I said at the time, a Flaming Lips concert is like watching performance art where the audience gets to be in on the joke, rather than being it's butt.

Keith R.A. DeCandido is one of the very best Star Trek novelists. Unfortunately, he seems to have fallen out of favor with the bean counters at Pocket Books (no new Trek from KRAD for 3 or 4 years.) His Farscape comics were excellent fun. Reading through the equivalent of 44 issues over the course of a weekend felt like another season of the show. Now I want to go back and re-watch the entire series. And I want to read his Farscape novel from 2002. It's in the stack...

The only novel I read this month was the third of Adrienne Martine-Barnes's dire Darkover titles. Lord in heaven, reading that was a slog. Glad that's over with. With any luck I'll never have to suffer through that again.

On the audiobook front, I started the month with a couple deadly-serious books. Dawkins's first book, the landmark The Selfish Gene, was brilliant. I thought he went on a bit at times (three examples are as compelling as 12) but I feel like I have an understanding of evolution that I've never had before. Again he shared reading duties with the wonderful Lalla "Romana" Ward. I think I'm a little bit in love with her.

I followed up with Delany's Babel-17. When first published in 1966 it caused a sensation, picking up a Nebula award and a Hugo nomination. 45 years on, it's less groundbreaking. The idea that the way one perceives the universe is shaped by language (rather than the other way around) is pretty widely accepted today, but was revolutionary then. Some of the stylistic tricks feel dated, and get in the way of the narrative. However, if you've never read it, you really should. Delany is one of the few geniuses who have ever written SF. He should be treasured and studied -- and I'm sure he will be in generations to come.

Then I went for something lighter -- the original Ian Fleming James Bond books. I read through the entire series in a single gulp a decade or so ago, so I was prepared for the crushing sexism. What came as a big surprise was the pervasive racism -- especially in Live and Let Die. I wasn't prepared for casual use of the n-word, or the patronizing view of people of color. Fleming was probably being fairly progressive in 1954, but today it makes for a painful read. I suppose that's a testament to how far we've come. I hope so, anyway.

Kingsley Amis's Colonel Sun was the first James Bond title written after Fleming's death, and it's pretty damn good. Published in 1968, it apparently bombed, so the Fleming estate didn't commission any more pastiches for another dozen years, when License Renewed began a 2-decade run in which at least 1 new James Bond novel was published each year.

Currently reading  the following:
The Alton Gift by Marion Zimmer Bradley & Deborah J. Ross
Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers
Star Trek: That Which Divides by Dayton Ward
Golden Dream: A Fuzzy Odyssey by Ardath Mayhar

As soon as it comes out on April 10th, I'll start:
Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders by Samuel R. Delany

I don't generally read 4 or 5 different books at a time, but sometimes I start new titles when the current one hasn't grabbed me yet. That may be what's happening here -- but I'm just about ready to put everything else aside and focus on Hide Me Among the Graves. Powers is awesome.
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