As my series on re-reading Les Misérables grew, I realized it needed its own space. The pages that once held my long-defunct fan site, hyperborea.org/les-mis, seemed appropriate. I’ve moved the whole series there, along with the reviews of the show and movie, and some of my meta-commentary. With any luck it should be easier to find and navigate now.

It’s been slow going, but I’m determined to finish the book — I got through the end of Part Four (of five) last night, almost 1000 pages — and the commentary by the end of the year.

Read on for the commentary as Gavroche rescues his brothers* and his father in the same night…but no one recognizes him, and even he doesn’t even know the younger boys are his brothers.

*Yes, brothers. I thought I’d remembered all the Thenardier children, but it turns out there are five in all.

San Francisco Food Court Trash Cans

In the old days, trash was trash and as long as it wasn’t cluttering the place up, you didn’t worry so much about where it was going. These days we’re more aware. In the LA/OC area, you can often get residential recycling (and sometimes green waste for compost) along with your trash pickup, and malls and other areas often have bins for aluminum cans and glass/plastic bottles.

San Francisco goes a step further, with not just trash and cans/bottles, but trash, recycling (all), and compost. More importantly, they’re labeling the “plain” trash as landfill. It makes you think about where the trash is going, and a bit more likely to separate it so that things are a bit less messy and wasteful in the long run.

But for the short term, it really takes a while to figure out which bin to put your trash in.

I had a long list of books I wanted to read this year, and now that it’s November, I’ve become acutely aware that I’ve only read a few of them.

I can’t feel too bad about it, though, because one of those books I’ve been reading is Les Misérables, complete and unabridged…all 1200+ pages of it…and I’m writing commentary on it. Even when I first read it as a high school student, back in 1992, it took me several months.

It is taking me a lot longer to read this time around. I started it back in January, and I’m about three-quarters of the way through now. At first I thought it was just a matter of time.

At first I thought it was a matter of reading time. Between having a family, a full-time job, time-consuming hobbies and of course the constant temptation to look at Facebook or Twitter or Feedly or something else, I’m down to reading during my weekday lunch hours and that’s about it.

On the other hand, back in high school, I was a student. I had homework, extracurricular activities, and lots of reading for school.

I don’t think the commentary slows down the process too much (except that it does take up time on the weekends when I could be reading), but the fact is…

I actually have made a sizable dent in that reading list. And some of those books have been immense themselves: A Memory of Light (The Wheel of Time conclusion by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson), A Turn of Light (Julie Czerneda), The Windup Girl (Paolo Bacigalupi, not terribly long, but incredibly dense), plus new books by Robert J Sawyer and Seanan Maguire, a bunch of non-fiction…

Looked at that way, I don’t feel quite so bad, either for not having Les Misérables finished or for not having finished all the other books I wanted to read.

Thurston Cave Ghosts

A long exposure shot in Thurston Lava Tube on the big island of Hawaii, capturing ghostly images of people walking through. I originally posted a color version along with other photos from the visit back in 2005, and converted it to black and white for my entry in this week’s photo challenge on WordPress.com. If I’d known it would look so much better in black and white, I would have converted it years ago.

Stranded travelers leaving LAX on foot down a closed Century Blvd.

I work in an office building across the street from Los Angeles’ main airport, LAX. This morning was….interesting.

I was driving to work as usual, and noticed two things:

  1. Just past the next intersection, the street was completely full of stopped cars.
  2. At least five helicopters were hovering in place up ahead.

This is the third time in as many months that I’ve seen helicopters just holding position like that near the airport. Once the choppers were keeping an eye on a damaged airplane making an emergency landing. Once was the ex-TSA agent bomb scare on September 11.

I turned onto a side street and took a back way to the parking structure. The drone of helicopters was stronger when I got out of the car, and police car after police car started racing down the left side of the street, sirens blaring.

The building concierge hadn’t heard what was going on. She just shrugged and said, “L.A.”

Once I got into the office I found out what was going on: There had been a shooting at the airport, an incident still ongoing. There were still airplanes taking off at the time, though we hadn’t noticed anyone landing, and more and more helicopters took up position in the sky down the street.

Information was still spotty at the time, so I sat down to work, but it’s unnerving to listen to the constant drone of helicopters when you know they’re there because something’s wrong, especially when that sound is punctuated every few minutes by yet another siren.

By lunchtime, Century Blvd. had been blocked off by police and the trapped cars had been cleared out, leaving the street eerily empty. A stream of stranded travelers trudged along the sidewalk and in lanes, dragging their luggage away from the airport and toward hotels, offsite parking, or transportation. The cafe downstairs was swamped (though not as full as I’ve seen it during conventions).

What surprised me were the people getting out of cars at the curb just outside of the barricaded area, pulling their suitcases with them and starting the mile-long trek toward the airport. I can only assume they were counting on delays being lifted by the end of the day and their flights actually taking off. Though I’m not sure what the people waiting at the bus stop inside the closed area were planning to do.

It’s about two in the afternoon right now. I’m pretty sure I heard an airplane take off a few minutes ago. Most of the helicopters are gone, and while the street still looks closed, I can see more people walking toward the airport than away from it. It looks like things may be starting to return to normal.

Update 6:00pm: Century Blvd has been re-opened for traffic (though I wouldn’t say it’s moving, and airplanes are taking off again. If you look closely in the picture below, though, you can just see some helicopters still holding position above the airport.

Backed up traffic at sunset

On a completely different note: I’ve decided to try NaBloPoMo and post every day this month. I’ve been getting all the NaNoWriMo emails, and while I don’t have the time or story ideas (and Katie’s covering the “writing a novel” thing), I’m a little nostalgic for a writing challenge.