Book Review: Born on a Blue Day

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The opening paragraph of this book had me hooked right away. That's usually a good sign.

As the next few pages progressed, I began to worry that the entire book would be a loose collection of examples of synesthesia. Then the first chapter ended, and the second chapter began a chronological journey through the author's life. The book is indeed well organized.

I found this book rather interesting. It is well-written and engaging, and the main character (the author himself) is interesting to get to know. The reader can sympathize with him from fairly early in the book.

I do have a couple of caveats, however. In the first place, the cover is a bit misleading with the tagline, "inside the extraordinary mind of an autistic savant". The author is not, in fact, autistic, and never was. This becomes immediately clear upon reading the first pages of the book. He does have Asperger's syndrome, but although Asperger's is considered to be loosely related to autism, it is certainly not the same. It is a much milder disorder, much less debilitating, and much more common. It is normal for someone with Asperger's to lead a more or less normal life. Several major Silicon Valley CEOs have been diagnosed with it. There was an article on Wired a while back entitled The Geek Syndrome, which seems to cover Asperger's pretty well, at a layman's level, so I'm not going to detail it further here. Long story short, I consider this tagline disingenuous on the part of the publisher.

The more interesting thing about the author's mind is indeed (as was hinted from the first paragraph) his pervasive synesthesia, and it IS fascinating, particularly so because it is a first-person account. The first several chapters of the book, covering the author's early childhood, are particularly interesting.

The other caveat comes to light later in the book, when the author reveals he is a practicing homosexual. This is not by any means the focus of the book, however, and it does not appear to color the remainder. For a discerning adult, I would say that the book is still interesting and, indeed, valuable. But I thought I would be remiss if I did not mention it.

A third caveat, if it can be called such, is that I am writing this review without having actually finished the book. I am writing this now, but I may update it later if I come back and finish the book. Another book has pulled me away from it for the time being, but I intend to get back to it and at least read more of the account of the trip to Lithuania, which was only just starting where I left off. That another book was able to pull me away is not a significant criticism. In the first place, this happens to me all the time, and in the second place, the book that pulled me away is by one of my favorite authors. So this is more a caveat about my review, than about the book itself. Caveat lector.

I have little doubt that a significant portion of the critical acclaim this book has received is due at least in part to the fact that the author is homosexual. Nonetheless, it does not follow that the book does not deserve some significant acclaim. It is rare, in my opinion, to see a non-fiction book about a fascinating subject like this receive any significant attention in the kinds of sources where this one has been written up — library-oriented publications particularly. Normally they focus on much less worthwhile books: formula fiction (lots of this), inane autobiographies by celebrities who neither can write well nor have had interesting lives, incoherent political ramblings, vapid self-help books... in a word, drivel. This book is certainly not that, and although the critics may like it for the wrong reasons, they are not wrong to like it.

Born on a Blue Day

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I saw this book at the library, and it looked interesting. Now I'm reading it, and it is interesting. So I've set Stone of Farewell on the back burner and am planning to finish this one first. I'll post a review when I finish it.

On monikers, real names, and finding yourself on the web

I have for years used the moniker Jonadab the Unsightly One on the internet, partly because it struck my fancy, but also partly because I expected it to be more unique and identifiable than my actual name.

Yesterday, on a whim, I punched my first and last name (Nathan Eady) into Google and started looking through the results. I expected the first several to be me, because Eady is not a terribly common name, and because I've been active on the internet for a while. But I did not expect to get past the first page of results. In fact, the first result I found that does not, in fact, refer to me was the very last result on the fourth page, i.e., the fourtieth result overall. It's a PDF entitled 'Slide 1' from the Development Services department of the city of San Diego, and the name Nathan Eady (both halves together, even though I didn't do the search as a quoted phrase) occurs in a list of employees being noted for some dubious award. Having never been anywhere near San Diego, I am pretty well certain this isn't me.

What is perhaps more interesting is some of the stuff I found along the way -- reference to myself, or my participation in various things, that I had not thought about in some while. For example, I received an honorable mention in a contest for short bad prose, entitled the Lyttle Lytton, in 2001. I remember that sentence very well, but I had forgotten that I wrote it myself, or why. (I do remember the contest, though. It was announced on a usenet group I was reading regularly at the time.) In another place, someone had collected something I said once in a list of quotes. It was clearly something I said, but I have no recollection of the context in which I said it, only the quote remains. I found a number of things like that, obscure places I'd turned up over the years that I'd nearly forgotten about.

Two observations I'd like to draw out of this. First, it's interesting to look at what other people see and remember of you, the things that have been recorded. Second, if I'd just used my actual name in the first place instead of a moniker all these years, that guy in San Diego would be *way* further down the list.

VBS Materials moved to Blogger

A while ago I secured free hosting for our Vacation Bible School materials.

Well, the free hosting didn't work out. The site was constantly going down, presumably because the free hosting service offered some things that are difficult to secure when the content providers are untrusted. More than half the time when I tried to update the content I was unable to do so, due to technical problems.

So I've moved it over to and am now using Blogger to post the materials. One positive side of this is that it makes it easy (err, automatic, really) to keep an update history.

The downside is that it takes time to post things, since I can't just use FTP. (At least I'm *able* to post, though; with the hosting site, ftp was down half the time.) So far, all I've got up is the Bible lessons for 2007, and some general information. Nonetheless, it seems to be working out, so hopefully in the coming weeks I'll get things fleshed out over there.

Map of Osten Ard

I've been rereading The Dragonbone Chair, and in the process I've been working on this composite map. There are maps in the books, of course, but there are several issues. First, each book only has some of the maps, so one would have to carry all three (rather thick) volumes around in order to have all the maps handy, and there can be a lot of flipping around to find them. Even if you photocopy all the maps from the books and keep them paperclipped together or something, it can still be a lot of shuffling to find something, because different maps, aside from showing different areas, also have different details. Also, some things on the maps sometimes go by other names (e.g., a Sithi name, a Qanuc name, ...), so having them labeled with both names can make referring to the map easier in some cases. Finally, there are a few instances in which the text of the story directly contradicts the maps (e.g., the location of Haethstad, which on one of the maps is placed where Hullnir is on my map, but the story clearly states its correct location for Heathstad is the northeast corner of the lake). So I've been putting it all together into one map.

I'm not done, obviously. (Some of the islands in the south aren't drawn in at all...) I'll be finishing up while I reread the other books in the series. Nonetheless, what I have is already good enough to be useful, so, here it is. Update: I've since added a preview of the completed version.

Trying to look for Osten Ard maps on the internet doesn't appear to turn up anything this good or detailed, so I figure making it available to the public is a (small) service to Tad's readership. It's available in larger resolutions and in vector formats (SVG or eps (update: or PDF)) upon request. To request a copy now that this blog entry is no longer current, contact jonadab AT columbus PERIOD rr PERIOD com and be sure to put the words Osten Ard in the subject of the message. I've been answering one or two of these requests each month.

Please note that leaving a comment here does not automatically give me any way to contact you or send you the map. So if you want a copy, you need to follow the above instructions.