Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Other Side of Spring

As I commented on Twitter last week, everyone expects the spring of painters and poets. More often spring kind of sucks. Dark cloudy days, rain, storms. There have been years when we didn't see the sun at all for weeks at a time. This year though, we have had many very nice days, truly the spring of painters and poets. So I guess I shouldn't complain too much that this week is going to be the more typical spring of rain and storms.

This was Saturday, looking up from under a tree in my front yard. It doesn't get much better than this.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Smart Move Jack (sarcasm)

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey seems to be preparing to "improve" Twitter by taking away what people like most about it. At the same time he flatly refuses to do anything the users request, such as adding the ability to edit tweets and, more importantly, enforce existing rules in a fair and unbiased manner.

Okay, I know... I was skeptical about the change from 140 characters to 280 and that's worked out well. This though - changing from following people to following topics - really seems like it would destroy Twitter. It's the people I'm interested in, not topics. My favorite people on Twitter each tweet about a variety of topics. I never know what might pop up in my feed - topics that wouldn't occur to me to follow.

So where will I go if Twitter dies? Follow the mass exodus wherever, hoping all my favorite people go to the same site. But I still have a small amount of hope that the massive negative feedback will change Jack's mind. I have not encountered the so-called incivility that some people seem so concerned about. You choose who you follow and you can block or mute anyone who bothers you. I think the people who complain about incivility either are idiots who haven't got the sense to block and unfollow people or they actually enjoy both the drama and complaining about it and in the latter case nothing will prevent them from indulging in said drama and complaining.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The World Wide Web is Grown Up Now? Maybe?

I see on Google that the World Wide Web is 30 years old today. When a person turns 30 that is the age at which they have to face the fact that they are actually grown up. So is the WWW grown up? I suppose it has and that's actually a little sad.

Who would have thought that one day we would be nostalgic for the way the Web used to be? Sure, it's a lot better now than it used to be and much of the cool stuff is still out there but these days most of us are like kids in the world's biggest library who just sit in the corner and gossip and taunt the kids at the next table and never even look at a single book. Oh well, you can improve the Web but there's not much you can do about people.

If I had to pick one thing I miss from the "good old days" of the Web - this might seem strange but the thing miss most is badly designed websites. Oh, they still exist but you never just accidentally stumble upon them like you used to. Fortunately, there are lists:

Web Pages That Suck
Top 50 Worst Website Designs
Top 10 Worst Websites

And a single website that proudly calls itself The World's Worst Website Ever

I feel better now. The World Wide Web that we have long known and loved is still alive. We just have to get away from Twitter and Facebook once in a while and look for it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

This 'n' That

Occasionally I come across a website with a name that I find ridiculously appealing. It's even better, of course, when it turns out to be an excellent website. That is the case with Awkward Botany. Someone on Twitter linked the Seed Oddities article, which was very interesting.

There are several interesting articles on Atlas Obscura. A 1930's House of Tomorrow is for lease, but the new tenant will have to restore it. I would like to see pictures when it's done. And The Exotic Pepper Project! I am low-level excited about this. I hope the Pumpkin Habanero makes its way to my neck o' the woods before too long.

The Public Domain Review is a great history/literary site that I really want to make more time for.

100,000 Stars looks like a fun, scientific thing to play with.

In praise of autochrome. These old color photos are lovely.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Books and Things

Dammit! I was really going to start blogging again, at least semi-regularly, but it hasn't been happening. I could blame "too much time spent on Twitter" but there are plenty of times I'm not on Twitter and I think about blogging something but I'm like, "Nah. Not in the mood. Maybe later." It's just habit I think. I used to be in the habit but now I'm out of it and it's not so easy to get back into it. Part of it too, I think, is knowing that I will spend time writing something and maybe three people will read it or maybe none and I'll never know because one has anything to say.

Okay, sorry, I'm starting to whine about how unpopular I am and nobody wants to read that. Let's get to what I'm really here for today: books!

I finished reading The Broken Earth trilogy by N. K. Jemisin several weeks ago and have been wanting to rave about it but I don't know quite what to say other than, "It's fantastic!"

I first found out about it on Twitter. At first I didn't think much about it but then someone said something about a "sentient planet"? So that immediately got my attention and made me want to read it. As it turns out, it's not really clear whether the planet is actually sentient or the people in the story only believe it/he is, like we believe in God but, let's be honest, there's no proof that He/She/They/It actually exists.

Okay, let's quickly leave that can of worms behind us. It's also not clear, to me at least, whether these books should be categorized as science fiction or fantasy and that's one of the things that I like about them - it doesn't matter. Magic is mentioned, not as something that is performed but more like a force that exists, like gravity or magnetism or maybe the weather. But they also mention technology - mostly the technology of dead civilizations that the characters in the story don't understand. And, I don't know, there are just things about the story that seem "science-y" to me, a non-science-y person.

This trilogy has an epic, important, feel to it. I highly recommend it but maybe not to everyone. It is dark and often violent and involves some child abuse so if you're especially sensitive you might not enjoy it. But I really don't have the words to tell you how excellent The Broken Earth Trilogy really is.

* * * * *

I'm currently reading Persepolis Rising, book 7 in The Expanse series and loving it as always. And there are a dozen or more books that I want to read absolutely right away! One of my favorite things about Twitter is Book Twitter - all the readers and especially the many authors (some of them true superstars, in my mind at least) who freely engage with readers just like ordinary people. I have discovered more Must Read! books in a month on Twitter than I did in a year before I went back to spending time on Twitter.

My final thought for this post: Twitter (and the rest of the Internet) is whatever you make it. It can be politics and ugliness or it can be friends sharing books and cat pictures. It's all up to you.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Trees Are Always Beautiful

This morning the sun came out for the first time in five days? I can't even remember when I last saw it. I hate when we have a long string of cold gray days. I'm a summer person. I like warm or even hot days and green leaves and flowers. But even in weather like we've been having lately I find that it lifts my spirits to get outside for just a little bit. I took these pictures yesterday.

Do you ever stop and take time to really look at bare trees?

I do miss the leaves in winter and oak trees leaf out so late. By March I am extremely impatient to see some green.

But for now, I'm satisfied to enjoy nature's winter art show.

And here's one of our neighbor's pond.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Forgotten Singer

In the late 1960s a young unknown singer named Vickie Jones was tricked into traveling to Florida and forced to impersonate Aretha Franklin. She was arrested and released with no charges filed, then had a brief career in her own name. I was going to post a video to go with this but I don't know if any exist. There are several Vickie Joneses on YouTube but I'm pretty sure none of them are her. Anyway, it's an interesting life story and it ended well, I think. Worthwhile reading.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Well, Here I Go Again

I'm going to try to start this thing again. I don't know why other than I used to enjoy it. But anyway, since it's January 2nd let's talk about the new year.

As I get older, the end of one year and the beginning of another is less and less of a big deal to me but I can't completely get away from the feeling that it's something since everyone else is talking about it. I don't make resolutions because I'm pretty satisfied with my life the way it is. I know I'm not perfect; I could strive to make a few self-improvements and I do think about eating less/eating healthy but I think that's mainly because I've been eating so much crap during the holidays and I'm ready to get back to what is for me normal eating.

I also think about things like reading more and sewing more and especially sewing from the stash and shopping less but I have never shopped beyond my means and there's actually a good reason for continuing to build the stash and that is that someday my income will not be what it is now and I will have to cut way back on self-indulgent shopping and then it will be nice to have a large stash.

Another thing I think about every year is having a little garden and actually continuing to take care of it instead of letting it go like I always do. I got my first seed catalog in the mail on New Years Eve and saw an interesting tomato variety that I want to try. Tomatoes at least are pretty easy.

A really good resolution for me would be to spend less time on Twitter but I probably won't. I have enjoyed it a lot in the past year. I have discovered several new authors on Twitter as well as seeing hundreds of cute cat pictures so I really can't see Twitter as being a bad thing. Nearly everything in your life is what you choose to make of it.

One thing that is pretty definitely going to happen this year is a major house cleaning and throwing out of stuff. I expect we will be done with the new house this year and moving, even though the back of the new house is only four feet away from the front of the old, is not is not going to be fun. The less you have to move the better and, having lived in the same place for more than twenty years, we have accumulated a lot of stuff and much of it is stuff that probably won't be all that hard to let go of. Well, at least that's what I'm telling myself right now. No doubt it will be a different story when I actually start going through all of it.

So that's my outlook for 2019. No resolutions, just moving forward.