Tag: gifts

Gift ideas for 2011

Like anyone else, at various special times around the year, friends and family will ask me what I want for [fill in the occasion]. My standard answer has always been books. No one ever takes that seriously for some reason and I really don’t know why. In any event, for 2011, my standard answer has changed. So, friends and family:

If there is a special occasion and you are looking for a gift idea for yours truly, here it is:

Used copies of Astounding Science Fiction from July 1939 – December 1949.

Where do I find those?” I can hear you asking. Well, local independent (used) bookstores that specialize in science fiction often have boxes of them, cheap, too. Comic books stores sometimes carry them. And of course, they can be found various places online.

Ah, yes, but how do I know if you need the one that I’ve found?” Well, I’ve put together this page that lists all of the issues I am trying to collect. Issues that appear in bold are already in my collection. I have them, you need not worry about them. Issues that appear in blue mean that I have a line on them and there is a good chance that I will get the issue, but check with me if you are not certain. All other issues are up for grabs and if you happen to find one for a buck-fifty in the back closet of that used bookstore down the street and want to give me a nice birthday present, have at it. As soon as I know for certain that I’ve obtained a copy I will update the list so you can be reasonably sure it is up-to-date when you check it.

Why are you collecting 60-70 year old issues of a science fiction magazine?I take it you’re new here.

Seriously. If you are considering getting me something this year (a completely unnecessary, but much appreciated gesture) and are looking for a gift idea: this is it. It will be appreciated more than you could ever imagine.

What Secret Santa left for me

I came home from vacation to find this waiting from me from my Secret Santa:


(Click the image to see a larger version.)

It’s a stack of Asimov’s and Analog magazines from the 1970s and includes the premier issue of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (the one showing). It also appears to include most issues of Analog from June 1977-August 1978.

Thank you Secret Santa!

The Nine Planets by Franklyn M. Branley

One of the awesome gifts I got for Christmas this year from my in-laws was a copy of the The Nine Planets by Franklyn M. Branley. I’ve mentioned this book numerous times over the years on this blog. It is the book that turned me onto science back when I was a first-grader. I discovered the book in the library of McAfee Road School back in 1978. There was also a copy in the Franklin Township Public Library and I checked the book out repeatedly from that library, probably much to the annoyance of the librarian there.  (I like to think I’ve paid them back over the years, as that is one of two libraries to which I’ve donated money year after year.)  Now, 32 years later, I finally have my own copy of this wonderful book:


As I have said before, this is the book that first introduced me to science and the universe at large. If it wasn’t for this book, I may never have grown interested in science, may never have discovered science fiction and may never have become a science fiction writer. It installed in me the idea of scientific method and scientific discovery and taught me how to understand the universe in all of its glory through observation, experiment and reason. I found it amusing, therefore, to find the following label pasted into the very back of my new book (a former library book):


For those who can’t make out the somewhat blurry image, here is what it says:


Redwood Christian Schools does not necessarily endorse the content of this book from the standpoint of morals, philosophy, theology, or scientific hypothesis. We have searched diligently for the the best books that are available and we feel this is the best we could purchase at the time. We are grateful when others find better books and then pass the information on to us.

Redwood Christian Schools

It makes me wonder what my 6 year-old self would have made of this statement had it appeared when I checked the book out of the library. And I find it an ironic statement to appear in a book that taught me to understand and love science, astronomy, cosmology and the universe around me. Who knew at the time that I was reading a “dangerous” book.

I love that idea as much as I love my new book.

Early night

I’m finally crashing and so there’s a chance at a decent night’s sleep tonight.  Work was busy all day long.  I even worked through lunch, but I completed an important milestone on my project and that felt good.  At 4 PM, there was a memorial service for Susan held in the office and lots of people came to remember her.  Kelly came by at about 3:30 or so and she was there for the memorial, too.

After work, we headed home and then immediately went out into the warm (mid-60s) weather and walked to the grocery store to pick up some bed.  There was a strong spring-like wind blowing.  It was really nice.

Got a package from 

  secret santa in the mail today which contained two t-shirts from Powell’s books.  The first one was a great t-shirt that I can wear to work on Friday.  The second one was an adorable yellow "one-zee" for Zach that reads "Book Monster" across the front.  Awwwwwwww!

Though it’s 7:40 PM, I’m in bed.  Going to read for a little while and then likely crash for the rest of the night.  I’m tired.  And I’ve got a full lower body workout in the morning.

Christmas Day, 2008

We were up early and even Logan was up early in anticipation of opening presents this morning.  As always, it was a lot of fun.   I got Kelly some Christmas movies that she was missing (Elf, and some Charlie Brown Christmas cartoons).  I also got her this little silver elephant whose prehensile trunk can be used as a ring-holder.  Her big gift this year is a new MacBook, which we will pick up this weekend when we are back home.  She got me lots of little things too: new gloves, a scarf, a Yankees desk calendar, a baseball game for Wii, a cool little tripod for our digital camera, a couple of new shirts.  My big gift was a new pair of Oakley sunglasses.  My old pair lasted a while, but got a bad scratch in the left lens.  So it was time for a new pair.

Kelly’s parents got us a bunch of baby books, Goodbye Moon and others like it.  I also got a gift card to Barnes & Noble, which always comes in handy.  Jason and Logan got us a really nice-looking stroller for the baby.  We saw a picture of it (the actual stroller will be delivered to our house).  I got a new sweater and there were lots of other little gifts.  Logan really made out.  We got Kelly’s parents a Garmin GPS.  It was a fun Christmas morning.

Kelly’s aunt and uncle came over around 1 PM and we had a pick Christmas dinner that included turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing and corn and green bean casserole, and rolls, you name it.  It was delicious!  By the time they left, somewhere around 6:30 PM, we were tired and Kelly was exhausted.  So it’s off to bed!  We have a whole day to rest tomorrow, before we head home on Saturday.


Late this morning, Kelly opened her birthday present.  I got her a Wii.  We played Wii once before at Todd and Jenn’s house and she really enjoyed it.  I also got her the Wii Fit so that she (or "we") can do workouts and yoga and stuff.  I got it all set up this morning and we tested it out.  It’s actually pretty cool, especially the Wii fit.  Kelly has to work, of course, so we didn’t get to do much, but we’re looking forward to playing with it later on.  And it looks and sounds great on the high-definition, wide-screen TV.

Book-ends and cat condos

I mentioned over the weekend that vickyandnorm got Zeke and I a few gifts when we went to visit. Norm and Vicky got me a set of typewriter bookends that we once saw in a store and I love them. I took some pictures of them this evening.

They gave Zeke a cat condo, too, one that Charlotte refused to use for some reason. Zeke likes his new condo. Here it is:

Thanks again, Norm and Vicky!

Home! Sweet! Home!

My vacation ended shortly after 5 PM yesterday when I arrived home from the airport. I was up at about 8:30 AM and Lisa and I headed out for a walk around the Boardwalk, enjoying the bright, warm Florida sunshine once more before having to head home. We decided to stop in at Norm and Vicky’s hotel, the Beach Club resort, for breakfast, and as it turns out, it was a character breakfast, meaning that there were Disney characters floating around, visiting tables, and make young, 30-something children smile. The table at which we sat had crayons and you could draw and color on the paper surface. Lisa wrote that she wanted Goofy to visit her. Shortly thereafter:

She also wrote that I had a big crush on Minnie Mouse and it wasn’t long after she wrote that that this happened:

After breakfast we made our way back to the hotel where I finished packing and then waited around until 11:30 when the car to the airport picked me up.

The trip home was uneventful, except for the fact that Norm’s brother, Scott and his girlfriend Meredith were on my flight to Dulles (from which they were connecting to a flight home in Sacramento). When I got home, I had a message from Norm saying that they had arrived in L.A. and that Vicky was feeling much better and they were going to to continue on to Bora Bora as scheduled, which was great news.

I had a bunch of mail to go through, including two packages. Turns out I had several birthday cards and gifts from friends. I had a card from Bonnie and Tom, and a card from my financial advisor. strausmouse and rmstraus sent me a DVD set of Magnum P.I. which is one of my favorite shows of all-time. Dan and Megan sent me this awesome boxed-set, shaped like a baseball base called The All-American Baseball Box which contains a bunch of CDs of famous baseball songs, speeches, skits, you name it. It is totally cool!

I spent time doing laundry and unpacking and didn’t get to bed until nearly 10 PM. I decided to go the gym at lunch today instead of this morning in order to get some extra sleep. Poor Lisa’s flight was delayed out of Orlando and she didn’t get home until close to 1 AM.

This trip, and the cards and gifts I had waiting for me, really made me think about just how lucky I am to have so many great friends: A.J., Andy, Dan, Eric, Lisa, Mandy, Megan, Norm, Ryane, Vicky. I’m not sure what I did to deserve friends like these, but I’ll take ’em any day of the week.

(P.S.: Lisa gets credit for suggesting the new userpic.)

Ground-stoppage, redux

Our plane pulled away from the gate on time last night at Dulles. The pilot said wheels-up to wheel-down time to La Guardia was 39 minutes. We taxied toward the runway and as soon as I heard the engines spin down, I knew what was going on: another ground-stoppage in La Guardia. This happened the last time I took this flight too.

For those not familiar with the terminology, a “ground stoppage” is when air traffic control halts traffic into an airport that hasn’t already taken off from their departure points. This usually occurs when the skies are so busy that it becomes difficult for ATC to handle all of the traffic. Last time, we were held on the ground for 15 minutes. This time, we sat there for an hour. It was after 8 PM when I finally arrived at La Guardia. Fortunately, it did not take long to get my luggage, nor did it take long to get a taxi and I was at Jen and Jason’s just after 8:30 PM.

We headed over to Jackson Hole for dinner and then back to Jen and Jason’s place to hang out for a while. Jen and Jason gave me my birthday presents, which were awesome! They got me five books, all of which were copyrighted in 1972, the year I was born. There were 2 Isaac Asimov books, a collection of stories by Frederik Pohl, a 1973 yearbook (covering 1972), and the March 1972 issue of F&SF. I was really overwhelmed!

Jason ended up putting Jackass on TV. I’d never seen the show before and found it to be so utterly stupid that it wasn’t even funny. But Jen and Jason seemed to like it. I took some medicine last night and was pretty tired and we made it an early night. Lights out around 11 PM.


I managed to find enough time this morning to complete the last of my major errands I had to run:

  • I bought some new running shoes. They are New Balance running shoes, like my old ones, but they don’t smell funny. My old shoes started to smell weird and I think it was something about the shoe and not me because the three other pair of shoes that I have do not smell weird. In any event, I couldn’t stand it anymore so I bought new shoes and got rid of the old ones.
  • I picked up the three remaining gifts I needed for Norm and Vicky. One of the gifts I had already got and it is waiting for me in New York. These other three I could wait on and I picked them up today. Norm and Vicky’s wedding shower is tomorrow and if they are reading this, they still have a little over 24 hours before they find out what all of these things are.

Now I have a meeting to attend and then I’m out of here until Tuesday.