Some happenings

Apr 10 2010 Published by under Personal

I'm in the midst of a few new science blogging posts, though all of them involve me doing a lot of research and learning about things I don't know as well as I thought I did!  In the meantime, I thought I'd share a few miscellaneous bits of personal news.

First, thanks to Personal Demon for the gifts!  In the mail yesterday, I received from him the first xkcd compilation, volume 0:

and the following xkcd t-shirt, which I will probably wear to class on Monday:

I'm not sure what I've done to earn such gifts, but they are appreciated!

In other news, my "official" book cover was sent to me by Cambridge University Press yesterday:

The only change I might request is the use of my full name, with middle initial, as suggested by my wife.  (I do find it amusing that the cover is essentially the image I sent them, with some text thrown on.  Apparently I'm an awesome book cover designer.)  Let me know what you think!

Speaking of books, a friend of mine, Brad Craddock, has made it to the quarter finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards (ABNA), with his book Alice's Misadventures Underground!  He now needs some help in the form of some nice reviews to help move the book into the next round. Quoting from his email,

In the next few days (or weeks) until April 25, Amazon is asking for reviews of the first 5,000 words or so of each entry novel. Feel free to tell the truth, but be generous and nice overall since lots of glowing reviews may help me move to the next round.
If you have a kindle  you can read the first few thousand words and rate the book. I think you can also download it, even if you don't have a kindle. In any case, any reviews you make can help. If you've read the entire book, you can comment on that as well.
Here's the link (copy and paste in the address window):
and here's the instruction page:
and here's the contest info:
And if you haven't bought the book yet and want to, here's the link:

For those familiar with Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, I can recommend Brad's entertaining take on the tale.

A book publisher could also use your help: Valancourt Books, which specializes in lovely reprints of rare and long out-of-print texts, has had some major computer problems that has put their efforts on hold until they can scrounge up enough money for a replacement.  They would really appreciate it, and you would too, if you could throw some support their way by purchasing one or more of their excellent titles.  I've reviewed many of them on my blog, including the excellent works of Richard Marsh, Bertram Mitford, and Marie Corelli, and have yet to find a book I didn't like.

Did I mention that I'm now a tenured Professor?  I got the official letter on Wednesday of this week, and posted on Twitter, but I wanted to mention it on the blog as well for those non-Twitter followers.  The amusing thing is that the letter is dated April 1st; I have disturbing visions of being told six months from now that it was all a joke...

Finally, let me note that we've got a new houseguest!  A few weeks ago we put up a bluebird house outside of our front window, though we were worried that it was already too late in the season to get a resident.  Our fears were unfounded, however:

Fortunately, the bluebirds don't seem to shy about having their picture taken, unlike the woodpecker who pops by now and again at our feeders...

19 responses so far

  • Hey Dr. SkySkull,

    The xkcd stuff is sort of from the xkcd folks, but I'm willing to take credit for it. Consider it a tenure present. The story (briefly) is that I accidentally ended up with a double shipment, and rather than send it back, I pointed the xkcd guys at your blog and asked if I could send the stuff on to you instead. They said that would be very cool. (By the way, I happen to be wearing that shirt today, so interesting synchronicity!)

    The book cover looks great, and I've already been recommending it to people, so hurry up and publish the darn thing.

    Speaking of book recommendations, thanks for plugging Brad's ABNA entry. He will really appreciate that.

    And further on the topic book recommendations, do you have any specific recommendations of books from Valancourt that Brad or I might like?

    • The xkcd stuff is sort of from the xkcd folks...

      Well, I appreciate the thought nevertheless!

      do you have any specific recommendations of books from Valancourt that Brad or I might like?

      The Sign of the Spider, by Bertram Mitford, is in fact now one of my favorite books of all time, and highly recommended. It is a very dark adventure story centered on an anti-hero, and is wonderfully written. Richard Marsh's The Joss: A Reversion is the book that led me to Valancourt in the first place, and is a really neat and unconventional horror novel. Curios, also by Richard Marsh, is a funny collection of odd stories involving two very competitive collectors.

      There are many other books that I haven't had a chance to read yet that are probably things that you and Brad would enjoy; I encourage you to check out their catalogue, which is sort of a repository of lost treasures. Brad would probably enjoy their Gothic novels a lot, such as George Brewer's The Witch of Ravensworth.

  • Thony C. says:

    Hidden at the bottom of a long mixed post the information that Dr Skyskull is now Professor Skyskull! Congratulation!

  • Tom says:

    Congrats on tenure. And the book.

    What is it with woodpeckers and camera shyness? I was trying to get one in slo-mo and s/he kept moving up and around to the other side of the tree!

    • Thanks!

      If I were to engage in some amateur biological speculation, I would say that the brightly-colored birds have in general evolved much more skittishness because they are more visible and targeted. Unfortunately, they're also the ones we want to photograph the most! I've had a devil of a time trying to get a decent picture of a male cardinal, and it seems that the red male house finches are much more cowardly than the brown females.

      I swear that they're psychic, though; they often leave at the first moment I think about getting the camera! 🙂

  • Wade Walker says:

    Congratulations on getting tenure! And thanks again for all the great science blogging. You put a lot of work into those posts, especially the historical ones, and I really get a lot out of them.

  • Blake Stacey says:

    I'll have to look into Alice's Misadventures Underground . . . I thought about submitting Until Earthset to that Breakthrough Novel award, but then I read their contest rules more closely and figured I'd be disqualified on a technicality (i.e., gross moral turpitude).

  • IronMonkey says:

    Congrats for getting the tenure position! You are now amongst the lucky ones who gets to be called Professor. And considering your talent of vulgarization, your students must lucky too!

  • Yoron says:

    As you seem to like those somewhat older works.
    Have you read 'Last and first men' by Olaf Stapeldon?

    http://www.arthursclassicnovels.com/stapledon/0601101h.html

  • Yoron says:

    Congratulations to that one too. The older one gets the harder it is to get that 'kick' from reading. Don't really know why it has to be that way, but to me at least it seems to be? I found your 'Sign of the spider 'btw.
    I expect your students to have fun in your classes.

    And I'm expecting a pleasurable trip reading that one.
    And don't you dare stop laughing.

    Ah no, not at me, life ::))

  • Joe Howard says:

    Great! I'm lookin' forward to seeing your book! (Make sure it gets to SPIE meetings) I'm curious... what does Emil think about it?

    • Thanks! From what he's told me, Emil really likes the idea and the content (he hasn't had a chance to do more than browse through the draft at meetings so far).