chainsaw alarm clock (with list)

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Paul Bunyan
Someone down the street was having some (major) shrubs removed at the CRACK OF DAWN this morning. At first I thought it was just a leaf blower (annoying enough already -- if there is a more pointless piece of lawn equipment, I'd like to know what it is), but it turned out to be a chainsaw, shortly followed by a wood chipper. (wood chipper!) I know these guys probably have a forest worth of urban shrubs and trees trees to pulverize over the course of an average Wednesday, but shouldn't they wait until at least, I don't know, a civilized hour?? I'm sure they'd probably been awake since 3:30 AM doing lumberjack drills or ironing their plaid shirts (now I have a bunch of black bearded Paul Bunyans in mind, which makes me laugh so I am retroactively less annoyed at wake-up by wood chipper.) (although Paul Bunyan would not have used a chainsaw! He would have instead glared the tree down or used an axe or one of those big logging saws that looks like rusty metal shark's teeth -- all of which would have been MORE QUIET.) Anyway. I will get over it. I'm not one of those "I'll sleep when I'm dead" people; sleeping is nice. Also, the body needs sleep, probably more than it gets! If you don't, you'll contract the Sleeping Madness and Concomitant Maladies. (Americans are notoriously sleep deprived -- rest of the world, I admire your sleep ethic!) I know this is true because Leslie Stahl told me so on 60 minutes.

and now, a list!
Here's a list of some places for keeping track of books/movies/music online. These are all considered to be social media type places since you can interact with friends and contacts and their lists, but even so, these sites do not give me the existential panic that something like Facebook does. (I know, I know. Lots of people LOVE facebook, but it gives me heebie jeebie dread in ways I can't quite explain. I'm sure my vision of what facebook entails is completely lunatic (somewhere between a frat party and Masonic rites), but since I can't even look around without signing up, it will remain in the "here be monsters" section of my internet map.)

All Consuming
Thanks to Martina for tipping me off to this site! I like it because it provided a widget for my blog sidebar so I could indicate what I was listening to/ watching/ reading. (I was always jealous that typepad blogs had this built in.) You can track and assign simple worth consuming/not worth consuming grades to books, movies and CDs. I believe you can also use tags and add comments, although I haven't taken advantage of these features

+ dead easy
+ nice widget
+ I really dig the list feature -- you can make your own list or adopt the list of someone else (or the AFI, etc. etc.) and it will keep track of how close you are to completion as you add things. I have adopted several movie lists by director, but it would also be a great way to adopt book lists and so on.
+unlike the others on this list, it's not just for books!

+ pulls all its data from I've got no major issue with Amazon and I realize that it's providing a lot of information, yet it gives me an Andrew Carnegie/Robber Baron But Book Friendly Monopoly Feeling. It's a complex feeling. (robber barons --> teapot dome scandal --> current administration cronyism.)
+ I find it difficult to organize information -- the native format is in the order in which you "consumed" it. You can section it out by type of list (book or dvd or music), and I think by month, but it's not especially intuitive. I suspect it would be easier if I'd use tags.
+ I wasn't really wild about the "consumption" phraseology. I still don't love it (it sounds greedy and not thoughtful, somehow), but this is really a minor quibble.

summary: I will continue to use it! There are a lot of great things about it (music and dvds!), but I don't think I will retroactively try to enter my entire collection. It's more of a Useful As I Use It application than something that has value as a complete record. (at least for me.)

main site
my page

Thanks to Maggie for inviting me to Goodreads! This is a much more comprehensive way to organize books than all consuming. I can (and have) made a million different "shelves" so if I want to see all the books I've listed on crafts or short stories, I can do it pretty easy. This has a starred rating system (1-5), and an easy method of comparing books to others on your friend list. (also really easy if you're scanning someone's list and think "oooh, I read that one!" to add it to your own list.) I find this to be very browsable and easy to navigate. Books only.

+dead easy
+nice widget! (I'm so easy to please.)
+easy to do a lot or a little sorting, depending on your level of categorization OCD.

+pulls almost exclusively from the Amazon database (see above, re: my robber baron ambivalence)
+things don't upload in the order I put them in. (this is probably due to user error of some sort.)

summary: I can easily see adding all my books (opposed to just those that I'm reading as I read them) to this system. It's easy to use and pleasing to look at.

main site
my page

I've had my eye on LibraryThing for a while now, but haven't pulled the trigger and listed any of my books yet. I think this one is probably the most versatile and powerful of any of the online self-catalogs. It's the most dangerous to me, and therefore I have been avoiding it! You can "Catalog with Amazon, the Library of Congress or 680 other world libraries," which is pretty damn cool! There's a lot of flexibility, and you can even use a little USB barcode scanner (which they sell) to make cataloging quicker. In the little bit of poking around I've done, I see that you can search for books or titles or authors and LibraryThing will pull up ANY discussion in which they've come up, not just the postings to directly relevant topics. (everyone knows the good stuff is often tangental to what you THOUGHT you were looking for.) And, I know this may be considered shallow, but they have a lot more covers to choose from, so you can get JUST the right cover for that paperback Mary Stewart novel from 1972. (not the one with the girl running across the moors in a white nightie, but the one with the girl in a red dress and killer bobbed haircut.) Anyway, since I only just created an account tonight and have yet to add any books, I can't tell you how it works with with friends and recommendations, but I'm sure I'll have more to say about it soon. Books only.

+easy to use
+enhanced recommendation skills
+widget! (!!)
+used by lots of off duty librarians
+first 200 books are free.

+not entirely free. Current fees (for beta) are $10 year, or a $25 lifetime membership. But the first 200 books are free, which is certainly generous enough to get a feeling for whether or not you'll use it.
+certain to be a massive time-suck.

summary: I sense danger, wonderful bookish danger! I think I'll give this a go, at least see if I can import my goodreads list and see how it organizes differently.

main site
my page (currently empty, but who knows by the time you click?)
2 comments on "chainsaw alarm clock (with list)"
  1. I finally gave in to the pressure to join Facebook and if it makes you feel any better, you don't actually HAVE to do anything at all once you're signed on. You don't have to upload a photo or fill out your profile or add any friends or anything. The reason I keep going back is that you can play scrabble there. That's awesome.

    I haven't figured out what the library thing thing is for. I guess I need to go there and "check it out" (tee hee!)

  2. hooray for scrabble! I think the thing about facebook for me (the crazy thing that makes no sense) is that it feels EXPOSING by its very nature. (nevermind that I'm blabbing away here all the time.) I don't know. maybe I'll change my mind, but in the meantime I enjoy imagining secret Facebook hazings and whatnot!

    As for librarything, it's for keeping track of your books! (like goodreads, but juiced up a little.) But you should def. check it out. (har!) It's actually a great place to read ABOUT books and get ideas for "if you like this then try this" books that's not Amazon.


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