It's been a pretty shit month, hasn't it? I'll write more about that later, but I need to distract myself a little tonight, so that's what I'm doing now.
I dedicated my January reading to "authors who influenced authors I like." I started out with G.K. Chesteron's The Man Who Was Thursday. It's an exquisitely written but ultimately puzzling book. It's marvelously paranoid comedy in the opening chapters, turning to broad farce, and finally to something akin to magical realism and...I'm not sure exactly what. He's a terrific writer, but I enjoyed it less and less the deeper in to it I got.
Next on the list was my first-ever Raymond Chandler novel, The Long Goodbye. I know it's only one novel, but I can tell you already that I flat-out love Chandler. The plotting is a little over elaborate and some of the characterizations feel more racist now than they probably did when the book was released. That aside, he's an incredible stylist. He keeps it tight without ever making it seem as though being sparse was an end of itself. He's incredibly pleasurable to read, and I say that as a person who has never had any interest in crime fiction.
Friday, I finished P.G. Wodehouse's The Inimitable Jeeves. I'm told that this is, at best, a middling example of the Jeeves books, but it's a lot of fun nonetheless. "Breezy" is the best word to describe these stories. The dialogue is hilarious, the inner monologue of the nigh-clueless Bertie Wooster is a hoot, and the plots, while a little repetitive, will make you grin. If you're looking for something that you'll enjoy reading without being overly challenged, Wodehouse is a perfect fit.
In case you haven't been following the latest news in web browsers (and frankly, I haven't either), you might not be aware that Opera now features a built in VPN. I don't know how it compares to other VPNs, but it is severely limited in terms of countries you can select. Still, a built in VPN seems like a Very Good Thing Indeed and it was enough to get me to take it out for a spin.
Opera looks enormously like Microsoft's new Edge browser, or maybe it's the other way around. It has the features you'd expect in a modern browser. Most importantly, it supports extensions, so you can use things like LastPass (and you should be using LastPass or something like it), and it supports private browsing and things like that. It's surprisingly lightweight as well.
Just for grins, I pulled up Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Edge and loaded the same four web sites (Gmail, Twitter, and Facebook) to see how much memory they were using. Edge was by far the lowest, using a mere 28mb of RAM. I suspect this is partially due to it being built in to the operating system (I'm using a Windows computer tonight) and partially due to the limited support for extensions. Opera was the next lowest at 87mb. Chrome clocked in at 125mb, and Firefox sat in the 450mb range. WTF, Firefox?
UPDATE: Windows Task Manager is bullshit. When I opened the same sites on the different browsers, the memory usage for the browsers was reported as wildly different by Task Manager. But...the total memory usage percentage moved by almost identical amounts for each browser (in the 550mb range for all four). Opera still feels lighter and faster than Chrome and especially Firefox, but my initial numbers didn't tell the whole story.
Anyway, I think I'll keep using Opera for a bit. The VPN even works on my Android phone, albeit as a separate app. The only downside I've found so far is the sync between different machines doesn't seem to work especially well. I can live with that.
Here's a little bit of required reading: Keith Law's weekly Stick To Baseball post. If you're not follow Keith, why not? He regularly writes about baseball (duh), books, food, music, and board games. That's in addition to his weekly links-list-a-go-go. He writes frequently, he writes well, and he writes almost exclusively about things I'm interested in, so this is the easiest recommendation I'll ever write.
I just read that the courts have stayed the executive order barring people-from-certain-countries-but-definitely-not-just-Muslims from entering the U.S. Thank goodness for some good news in a week that's been almost devoid of anything positive. Right now, I'll take what I can get.