December 24, 2012

Somerville – City of Lights 2012
by docsmartypants

You can see the entire Somerville Christmas light gallery HERE.

Merry Christmas!

June 6, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday, Serif!
by docsmartypants

Serif (right) with two of her siblings.

The day we picked her out.

Early days with Serif.

Serif in the snow, winter 2011.

Serif in Vermont, October 2011.

Serif lounging in the condo.

posted under Pets | 4 Comments »
May 28, 2012

Continued Adventures in Reading
by Larry

Sorry for the lack of posts. I have yet to get in the habit of regular blogging. Damn my leg!

To date I’ve read Treasure Island, A Princess of Mars, Warlord of Mars, The Gods of Mars, The Hobbit, The First Men in the Moon, Hunger Games, and Ender’s Game. Not bad for someone who went so long without reading a single book.

During the reading of these books I’ve noticed several things about myself:

  • It takes a lot of effort to get myself to begin another book. I want to read something fun, but I’m finding it challenging to identify a book that I may enjoy without having a plot line or idea spoiled by a recommendation. The less I know the more surprised I will be and the more I’ll enjoy the book.
  • I prefer to see movies based on books before I read the book. Most would disagree with me here, but those who know me know that I don’t watch movies I’ve already seen. When watching movies I tune everything out around me and get fully immersed into the story. When I know what is going on, I am critiquing the film, distracted, and generally bored.
  •  Given the previous two points I would have thought it would be difficult for me to read a book that I already knew the story of. But when I read the Hobbit and The Hunger Games after seeing the movie versions, I found that it was fun to see how the author originally presented the story and how Hollywood decided to present it in film. For me these books were still exciting and fun to read.
  • I’m clearly drawn to adventure books.
  • Reading inspires me to be creative and at the same time depresses me. Movies can do this to me as well, but on a much smaller level because they generally last several hours and by the next day I’ve forgotten about it. Books on the other hand last weeks, so I find myself having more time thinking about the story and the parallels with my life and current events.

I’ll go into greater detail on some of these points in separate posts.

posted under Commentary | 6 Comments »
April 14, 2012

I am Art
by docsmartypants

This post was written on March 20, 2009. When I went to include the all-important link to the visual element it had disappeared from the internet, so this post was never published. Through an odd series of events early this morning, I ended up finding that the art is back up, so several years later, here you go:

Back in October, during our fabulous UK Stratford-upon-Avon Shakespeare geekfest, Jen, Stacey, and I decided to make a quick day trip over to Cardiff. While we were wandering around the Queens Arcade mall in search of lunch and toilets and Doctor Who calendars we encountered a strange photo session in progress.

At first we planned to ignore it, but later we walked by again and the people working on it explained that it was some sort of community photo mosaic project. We were invited to participate. “We aren’t Welsh,” we explained. “That’s fine,” they said, “it doesn’t matter.” Clearly these people had a quota to fill. So feeling a little self conscious I followed Stacey and Jen as we each had our photos taken in front of several different colored screens, all the while being directed to look “up and to the left,” then “down and to the right,” and so on and so forth. One of the photographers flirted with Stacey. No one flirted with me. Clearly the Welsh don’t deserve me. Next time I’ll go to Manchester instead.

After they’d taken our photos they gave us each a T-shirt and sent us on our way.

So what was this mysterious project, you ask? It was the “I am Art” project, a photo mosaic containing more than 15,000 images of about 3,000 people. After the photos were taken the people (not us) voted to decide which famous Welsh person the photo mosaic would be of.

Go ahead, think of as many famous Welsh people as you can. I’ll wait here.

Done already? Yeah. That’s probably why the big winner, the “Face of Cardiff,” wound up being 2007’s “X-Factor” (think “American Idol”) runner-up Rhydian Roberts (I was hoping for actor Gareth David-Lloyd but Rhydian will do).

Several months passed and finally the completed project was revealed. The three of us spent some time zooming in on the mosaic to find each other. It was loads of fun. Each of us appears multiple times—zoom in and see if you can find us!

Here’s a pic of the three of us from earlier that week so you know who to look for.


So that’s the story of how Stacey, Jen, and I came to be featured in a strange piece of Welsh art, one with the people of Cardiff, forever immortalized in a pop star’s head. WE ARE CARDIFF. WE ARE RHYDIAN. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.

posted under Travel | 1 Comment »
March 30, 2012

Picking My First Read
by Larry

… the continued adventures of The Year I Started to Read Books.

So after my long hiatus from reading, I needed to find something to read. What to choose? Do I go with something current, classic, or unknown?  Given I have read so little my options were practically endless. Imagine walking into a bookstore and not having read a single book found in the store. Where do you start?

Being really cheap and not totally sure that I would be able to read on my Android phone, I began browsing the free ebook selection. Next I needed to decide what type of book. I already knew I wanted to read fiction, but did I want a story that took place in space? Some far away fantasy world? Vampires, ninjas, pirates? I didn’t know.

While all of the books are virtually unknown to me, I have heard friends talk about some of them, and I’ve seen many film adaptations. Note: There will be a future post about my first experience with having a beloved book get converted to a movie. While film adaptations are not the same as the book, I felt that I needed to find a story I knew nothing about and had no preconceived notions of. This quickly started to limit my options.

In reality the selection process didn’t take that long. It’s only in hindsight that I fully understand what drew me to choose Treasure Island. I knew it had pirates, a character named Long John Silver, and did I mention pirates? So this was the perfect book–a fresh story to re-energize my mind.

Next: I will discuss what it was like to read a book after my long hiatus, along with a really short review.


posted under Commentary | 3 Comments »
March 24, 2012

In Which I Am Almost Eaten By Goats
by docsmartypants

I’m up in Vermont for the weekend with my friends Lindsey, Moira, Laura, Emily, and Lindsey’s mother. Today we popped over to Fat Toad Farm to see the baby goats (and some pigs). Here are a few photos:

Emily with the pigs.

One of the many kids. Read the rest of this entry »

posted under Travel | 9 Comments »
March 18, 2012

The Year I Started to Read Books
by Larry

I can’t claim that I’ve never read a single book, because I have. My earliest memories of reading are from elementary school when I read loads of Scholastic Book Club books. I remember being excited when the book catalog would come out, and I would go through and select a dozen or so books to purchase. I would create reading forts and spend hours upon hours in there reading things like Ralph and the Motorcycle, Encyclopedia Brown, Bunnicula, Wayside Stories from Wayside School, and The Finches Fabulous Furnace.

Book It!The prime motivation for reading during this time was Book IT! This is an awesome program which rewards reading with vouchers for a personal pan pizza at Pizza Hut. As a kid the idea of getting my own personal pizza, which today at my age is ridiculously small, was awesome–especially given my dad’s cooking.

Amiga 1000Then one day I discovered a magical device called the Amiga. Why read when I could be playing games, hundreds of games! Needless to say computers and video game consoles kept me busy for many years and got me out of the habit of reading.

Eventually I had to read books again. There was the required reading one has to do when in school. Titles like Call of the Wild, Where the Red Fern Grows, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Then there were the book reports where one gets to choose the book they want to read but is then forced to write about it. While many of these books I was forced to read were good, I wasn’t immersed in the story because I was focused on how to answer the homework questions. I suddenly found reading to be a punishment.

Fast forward to today: I’m 32, and as of a few months ago I could only recall maybe 10 books that I had read during my lifetime. Ninety percent of these were kids’ books, of which I have fond memories, particularly Roald Dahl. I have tried to read books many times over the years, but I have found the process very frustrating. I find holding books uncomfortable; I have a hard time tracking the lines with big blocks of text; and I am easily distracted, or I can read several pages without actually processing what I just read. So basically no matter how interesting the story is–the process of reading was frustrating and required too much work. So I just didn’t read.

Then I discovered a new magical device. App really. The Kindle App for my Android Phone. I don’t remember what motivated me to install this app and use it to try to read, but what most people dislike about reading on their phone turns out to be what makes it the perfect invention for me. It’s comfortable to hold, and the screen doesn’t display a lot of text, breaking up what traditionally is a huge block of text into a bite size readable chunk that I find much easier to process. Suddenly, the technology that lured me away from reading was luring me back.

In the past three months I have somehow managed to read 5 books. Crazy sauce! Going forward I will blog about my reading experiences as an adult suddenly discovering the joy of reading. The free personal size pizzas are gone, but there are 30 years of good reads to catch up with.

Up next my first read: It’s a classic.


posted under Commentary | 8 Comments »
March 18, 2012

Docsmartypants welcomes new co-blogger
by docsmartypants

As of today I will be sharing custody of this blog with my partner-in-crime Larry, who will be blogging primarily about his experiences as a newcomer to the wonderful world of reading for pleasure. Neither of us has been blogging often enough to really require separate blogs, so I invited Larry to share mine. In addition, we’ll also post about our travels, and I’m sure Larry will share some of his excellent photography. And I know I am looking forward to reading along as he recounts the experience of finally learning to love books at 32!

Beyond that it’ll be business as usual here at So welcome, Larry!

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