Auditioning New Alarm Clocks

I mentioned a while back that I was considering a navel-gazey post about trying to find a new alarm clock. Well, here goes.

I love my alarm clock. It’s a Timex travel alarm clock with an Indiglo backlight.   I have owned it for longer than just about everything else that I have owned. I think I was given it as a graduation present during high school. It’s possible that I have had it longer than that. I just don’t remember. I took it with me to on my mission, that’s for certain. It’s followed me from Wyoming to Utah to Michigan. Most everything else has been discarded or acquired somewhere along the line.

Indiglo alarm clock
My alarm clock looks kind of like this one, but it doesn't have that extension at the back.

I am perfectly attenuated to it. I know exactly when it will go off after a snooze and can usually drag myself out of bed a few moments before it sounds.  If for some reason I’m not around to silence it, or I’m already in the shower, I know that it will ring for exactly one minute and then stop. I even love the short high pitched sound it makes when I hit the snooze button.

It’s more than 10 years old by now, and with age, my alarm clock has developed some quirks.   Among others, it resets itself and loses the set alarm if it falls off my nightstand (or, as usually happens, when it gets forcibly knocked off my nightstand during the night terrors).  This can be problematic, as you might imagine.  It used to take a huge drop, but even gentle bumps will reset it these days.

So, reluctantly, last winter, I decided it was time to start auditioning new alarm clocks before it became terribly critical.  I had only a few requirements: #1 Battery operated #2 Easy to read in the dark without my contacts in.  Actually, #1 is a function of #2, because I usually have to hold it pretty close to my face, and if it were one of those big ones with a power cord, I’d smash my face frequently.

The first trial has ended unsuccessfully. Instead of replacing my alarm clock, I’ve just had two sitting on my nightstand in case one fails. The only things that I like about the new one was that it automatically reset itself for Daylight Savings Time.  It was insufficient in all other aspects of alarm-clockery.  The backlight is terrible. It rings for too long and at the wrong intervals.  For some reason, it has a thermometer which is consistently overly optimistic about how warm my bedroom is. In another oddly designed “feature”, if I hit the backlight, it shows me what time the alarm is set for, rather than what time it is, which has led to a few panicked moments.

So, on to round two, I guess.  Anyone know where I can find a brand new Timex Indiglo Travel Alarm clock, vintage 1998, perchance? Or have an awesome alarm clock that snoozes for exactly 8 minutes?

Best Books Ever!

I’m a huge fan of reading.  Ever since they taught me how to (and probably before), I’ve been practicing as frequently as I can.  There was one teacher I had in grade school who claimed that she would either visit in our homes or call our parents, and if we were reading when that happened, we’d get something special. (I don’t remember anymore what the reward was.)  Because of that (threat/promise/challenge), I read a lot.  And kind of kept going.

More old books...
More old books... by guldfisken

The statistics on reading baffle me.  A few years back, a survey showed that the average American who reads regularly read only 7 books per year. And one in four adults read no books.  No Books?!?!? I’ve already read six since the beginning of the year, and most of a seventh (it’s mostly a running book filled with tedious training plan details. I don’t really need the part of the book that I haven’t read until later when I’m going to run a marathon). If I stopped now, I’d be there with the average reader, and I still have ten and a half months to go!

The problem with reading that much is that you start to run out of things to read.  I have always been a strong genre reader.  I come back again and again to specific genres because I know them and I know that I will generally like what I read.  My genre is typically Epic Fantasy, although I will occasionally fiddle with some other aspects of Speculative Fiction.  I’m open to other genres and types of books, but I generally don’t know where to start outside my genre.

Late last year, I decided two things.
#1- I was going to read at least three books out of genre before returning to Epic Fantasy.
#2- I was going to leave Young Adult Fantasy and Sci-Fi behind me for the time being.

To point the first, I was pleasantly surprised by the books which I did read.  The World Without Us is one that I’ve brought up in conversations with many of my friends and family.  And while I don’t think I could recommend Ragtime in good conscience to most people, it was a good read.  I think that my “adventure” with James Joyce could best be described by not describing it.

To point the second, I recently decided that while most YA Fantasy is good reading, I needed to read less of it.  The plots were becoming predictable for me, and I was tired of the sanitization that happens in YA.  Several years ago, I drew a line that placed that vampire series (you know the one) on one side of a line, and Harry Potter on the other.  Lately, I’ve pushed a whole lot more past the line.  Once my detox is complete, I think that I might reevaluate where the line sits. (There will always be at least 4 books on the other side of the line.  You know which ones.)

After returning from my out of genre stint, I’ve actually had some fun.  I’ve been reading classic science fiction works from the ’60s and ’70s.  These were some of the real pioneers of the sci-fi genre.  I also read a heady Speculative Fiction novel and a Literary take on fantasy.

With all of this reading,  my To-Read shelf has dwindled.  I have one or two more novels there, one of which I am saving because it might take some re-reading of some previous novels.  So I took my problem to Facebook, and asked my friends what the best book they’ve ever read is.  I was blown away by the response.  Some clearly didn’t understand the assignment.  (I’m looking at you, Clint.)  I got a huge list of books to read! Of those suggested, I had only read four.  And while a few were YA, most looked like ones that I could come back to after my self imposed ban is over.

I was so happy with the list that I thought that I should share it.  So, below the break, I’ve included a cleaned up list of The Best Books, at least according to my Facebook friends.  I linked them all to Amazon, in case you’re interested in more information about any of them.  I’ve already ordered one (Scar Gate), and I’m looking forward to reading many more of them this year. (If you were wondering, I marked the ones I’ve read with (R) and the Young Adult Fantasy and Sci-Fi with (YA).)

So what about you? Did this list miss the best book you’ve ever read?  Let me know in the comments!


Recently, Google decided not to continue support for the method which I use to publish my blog to I had a few choices as to which direction I could go, and decided that I really really liked publishing to this domain and not to a random blogspot location.   Call it vanity.

Anyhow, I’ve updated to a WordPress blog. I’ve managed to import most of my posts and (sadly, only a part of) the comments from the last few years.  I’m hoping for minimal disturbances.

I still have some updates to make to make my blog pretty.  But that’s not difficult.  And then maybe I should add a post or two of my recent doings.  All in good time.

I do have a favor to ask, Dear Readers.

I’m not sure that my feeds are working correctly.  Can you leave a comment to let me know how you get to my blog normally (GReader, website search, link, bookmark, etc) and if that method is still working for you?