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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ultimate Geek Fu

Summer Reading

...and we're back, live, after a long week and then some up at the cabin. And while I've much more to say about the experience, fortunately Henry has calmed me down, so I won't be saying it for public consumption.

One thing that continues to puzzle me, though, is that every year we seem to pack heavier, even though the actual number of people on the trip decreases as the kids become adults and make plans of their own. I'm certainly not packing any more fishing tackle now; I'm still using the same two rods and reels I was using forty years ago.1 We definitely are packing along more clean clothes now; funny that we never noticed the smell factor when we were kids. We're also hauling in a lot more food these days: while there are still fish to be caught, they're better used as sources of industrial chemicals than as daily provender.

We do pack a lot more books than we used to. There was a time when we hardly thought of vacation reading; there was too much to do. But the appeal of canoeing in a waterproof poncho fades after awhile, and I guess the cumulative weight of too many days spent cooped-up in the cabin, watching the cold rain drizzle down, has finally caught up with us. Karen packed one entire bag of paranormal romances: at 60- to 80K words each, she consumes 'em like popcorn and can blast through one in an afternoon. The Kid packed a few Warhammer 40K novels. Well, at least he's reading. I packed one box to leave at the cabin — mostly P. J. O'Rourke and Patrick McManus, with a few others for good measure — and the four books I expected I might find a chance to read: The Reagan I Knew, by William F. Buckley, Damon Runyon: A Life, by Jimmy Breslin, and two by Heinlein, The Man Who Sold The Moon and Waldo and Magic, Inc..

Overkill? Perhaps. But the memory of the year I was stuck inside the cabin for two days with only a George Carlin book that someone else had left behind is still pungent, and beyond that, there was the year a line of tornadoes swept through the area, knocking out the power and closing the roads, and I was stuck in the cabin for four days with only Ken Follett's Lie Down with Lions, a novel which I truly, deeply, and still to this day passionately hate.2

How about you? What's the best book you ever read while on vacation? What's the worst? And if you were to be stranded in the wilderness, what's the one book you would want to have along with you, if only because you would so enjoy tearing out the pages one by one and using them for tinder?

Let the arguments begin.

1 They still work, so why change? Well, as it is written, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you can sell him a boat, a motor, a trailer, a trolling motor, a sonar, fifteen rods and reels for all different environmental conditions, a seemingly endless supply of new hooks and lures, and a lifetime subscription to In-Fisherman."

2 Does anyone care to know why, or should I keep it to myself?

ULTIMAGE GEEK FU runs every Wednesday. Have a question that's just bugging the heck out of you about Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, Battlestar Gallactica, Farscape, Firefly, Fringe, Heroes, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Smallville, The X-Files, X-Men, The Man From Atlantis, or pretty much any other SF-flavored media property? Send it to slushpile@thefridaychallenge.com with the subject line, "Geek Fu," and we'll stuff it in the queue.
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