The Order

For a few months, I knew Monday was drawing inexorably closer. Each month, I got a statement from the Visa Rewards program on my debit card, showing how many points I had. Showing, indirectly, how much closer I was to being able to get a $100 Amazon gift card. Showing, even more indirectly, how much closer I was to receiving a box of $100 worth of my Amazon wish list. Which arrived Monday.

And let me tell you, filling my shopping cart with $100 worth of free books was a lot of fun. It didn’t take long, since, like I said, most of it was just a matter of picking and choosing from books I’d accumulated in my wish list. But even that was a lot of fun; a lot of those were things I wanted but couldn’t justify buying at the moment. Shopping without having to worry about justification is a lot of fun, let me tell you.

So, the results of my spree:

Ambassadors from Earth: Pioneering Explorations with Unmanned Spacecraft — This is the fourth book in the University of Nebraska Press’ Outward Odyssey series, which, of course, also includes Homesteading Space: The Skylab Story, by astronauts Owen Garriott and Joe Kerwin and this David Hitt guy. For that reason alone, you should buy Ambassadors. Assuming you’ve already bought Homesteading. Otherwise, buy the latter first.

T-Minus: The Race to the Moon — It’s a comic book. About space. How far wrong can you go? (Well, it’s a comic book about space history, which should be even better. And, technically, I know I should say graphic novel. Anyway …)

These Dreams Keep Me Going These Days: A Bellen! Collection — More comics. This time, comic strips instead of comic books. Or graphic novels. Bellen! is a web comic by Box Brown. We did a guest strip for him once. So I bought his book. (Well, technically, this is the second book I bought; since I also bought the one way back when that featured the strip we did.)

Stargazer — And speaking of personal connections, Stargazer is like Twilight written by someone you went to college with. Well, not you. Just me. Unless you’re one of my readers who also went to college with Claudia Gray, before she was Claudia Gray, the pen name of Amy Vincent. This is the second book in a series, after Evernight. If you like teen vampire romance, or went to college with Amy, check out the Evernight series.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies — And speaking of romance and mythical monsters (like how I’ve managed to keep this segues going through this whole post?) … I’ve heard this is good. So I bought it.

The Last Days of Judas Iscariot — OK, I have no cool transition to this one. I borrowed a friend’s copy of this book quite a while back. I decided I needed it in my library, so I bought a copy. Earlier this year, I decided someone needed to read it, so I put it in my wish list. As Bruce Springsteen would say, she’s all gone, it’s still here. Or, at least, it’s here now — I went ahead and bought it because it’s one of those books that I know that, at some point in the future, I will want to hand to someone and say, “Here, read this …” (I used to keep a stash of The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel so that I could do just that. Think I’m all out now, though.)

David: A Man of Passion & Destiny — And speaking of books about religious issues (ha, I did it again), I wrote on here a little while back about my meditations on Hosea and David, and that I was buying a book for research on that. This is it.

How to Talk to Girls — My coworker JoCasta shared this book with me, and I had to get it. It’s written by a nine-year-old, and is amusingly perceptive. Funny stuff.

Among the Oak & Ash — The only non-book in the order. I know nothing about it, save that half of the group is Garrison Starr, who I like muchly (and who attended Ole Miss), and so, even though it’s apparently not her usual stuff, was totally willing to spend the nothing it cost me to get this album.

The End. At least, that’s all I got in that order. As a bonus, I’ll throw in that since placing the order, I’ve also bought the following:

xkcd: volume 0 — Another web comic collection. Good stuff. Geek humor, to the extent that I don’t get a lot of it, but with stuff on life and love that is so very true.

And Another Thing… — Yeah, I bought it. I read a few pages at the bookstore, and decided that, OK, I’ll give it a try. We’ll see.

And as yet another bonus, the Outward Odyssey series, thus far:

Any Given Saturday

So Thursday morning I had no plans for the weekend at all.

By that evening, there was at least the prospect that I was going to the Chili Festival in Tupelo, Miss., the next day though I didn’t know that for sure until Friday morning.

The Chili Festival was, in fact, fun, even if the Unitarian chili I sampled was very possibily the nastiest thing I have ever eaten. I mean, wow.

Saturday morning arrived still without plans for the day. Driving to Oxford seemed like a good way to take advantage of the day — it was cold, but, after weeks of rain and general drabness, the sky was blue and the sun made an appearance. Being in the car allowed us to stay warm, while cranking up the music and enjoying the day.

Ah, Oxford. It was only the second time I’ve been back in over two years, which is quite the rarity for me over the past 18 years since I first went there. It was good being back. It was the first time in quite a while that I really walked around town and campus, and it was … right. We also got to visit another old college friend and his family, which was cool. And I had a pumpkin truffle at a shop off the square — The Chocolate Bar — run by an old friend of Shannon’s that was possibly the single best truffle I’ve ever had. I mean, seriously, this was good stuff.

The plan was to go, see the Thompsons, hang out in Oxford, wander through The Grove, and then be back in Tupelo in time for dinner. The plan was not to go to the game. (The fact that none of this was planned is further evidenced by the fact that I was not only wearing red or blue, but the other team’s green.) But then we passed by a guy who asked if we needed tickets. And, you know what? After walking through The Grove, after seeing the team head over to the stadium, after hearing the band play Dixie, after taking in the whole ambience, yeah, we really kinda did.

It’d been too long since I’d been to a football game, and it was great. Especially when Ole Miss scored with only 13 seconds gone from the clock.

The entire evening was a paean to spontaniety. First, we kicked their butt. Yeah, we were playing UAB, and without question should have won. And, yeah, we probably struggled more than we should have before the offense finally showed up. (Our first touchdown of the game was courtesy of special teams, the first first down was courtesy of the defense. We spent quite a bit of the first quarter hoping the offense could just move the ball enough that either special teams or defense could score for us.) But, you know, in my opinion, that’s part of the experience of being a true Ole Miss fan. It’s like watching preschoolers play soccer — you don’t expect too much out of them, but get really excited when they actually do something right.

It was cool sharing the experience with a friend who enjoyed it properly. As best as I could recall, Shannon and I hadn’t been to an Ole Miss game together in 16 years, when we watched Gene Stallings, who had just won the national championship the year before, beat the Rebels. As a couple of native Alabamians, Shannon and I were less disappointed than the rest of the group we went with. Saturday, though, it was all about our Rebels. We yelled Hotty Toddy until I was a bit hoarse. Sure, we’ve been out of the student section for a couple of years now, but you wouldn’t have known it watching us.

And, then, there was the moment where I was eating Corky’s barbecue nachos while they announced the Alumni Hall of Fame inductees, which included former shuttle program manager and current Kennedy Space Center director Bill Parsons. The combination of tasty barbecue, Ole Miss and NASA made Dave a happy man.

All in all, not a bad weekend, really.