Thursday, September 21, 2017

Random Linkage

Books in Books - 12 novels that mention lots of other books. I think I want to read Among Others just based on its hidden reading list.

Subway to Nowhere - If this was in the U.S. within a couple of months there would be a 7-11 and half a dozen fast food places nearby. In America if you build it they will come.

Ingo and Friends - Gorgeous photos of a German shepherd and his owl friend. Seriously, I can't tell you how much I LOVE these.

Pizza Forward

Museum Twins

Love and Skeletons - Oh those prudish Victorians! NSFW

And finally, the solution to all problems:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Books, History, and a Bit of Politics

I recently finished reading Foundation: The History of England From Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors after reading it off and on for over a year. It took me so long not because it wasn't interesting but because I was trying to read it while reading other books at the same time and that never works for me. It really is a fascinating book. I have always wanted to know more about early England and this was the perfect book to get a good overview.

The second book in the series, The Tudors begins with the reign of Henry VIII and I couldn't resist immediately downloading that one too. I have been reading it for several days and got through the section on Henry VIII. All most of us know about him is that he had six wives, two of whom he had beheaded, and that he established the Church of England, with himself as its head, because the Pope wouldn't let him divorce his first wife. The details, of course, are a lot more complicated and more horrifying.

As I was reading this book a thought occurred to me. A lot of people like to compare presidents they don't like to Hitler but if our current president has any historical parallel it's Henry VIII. (Now if this blog was popular enough to attract trolls someone would surely point out that the Donald has never ordered anyone beheaded, to which I would respond, "That's because it's illegal now days, dumba**.") Of course you can't really compare two people who lived over 400 years apart. The differences in culture are too great. No one can say what a modern U.S. president would do if he had the same powers as ancient Kings. But the similarities in personality traits are striking: egomania, paranoia, greed, demands absolute loyalty, can't stand criticism, overall kind of gross and disgusting.

Anyway, I just thought I'd throw that out there. Someone else can take it and run with it or tear it to shreds if they are so inclined. As for the books, I highly recommend both of them but maybe not The Tudors if you are prone to nightmares.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Silly Sci-Fi

Science fiction TV shows are sort of like cookies. Even if you know they're not going to be good they're still irresistible. At least that's the way it is with me. As they say, your mileage may vary. It's like, someone leaves an opened package of store brand sandwich cookies on the counter. I know those things are usually kind of awful but I will grab a couple and eat them anyway and, if they're not too terrible, later a couple more.

So that's why I watched The Orville. It is definitely "store brand" sci-fi and the name of the store is Fox. That said, I have to confess, a bit sheepishly, I did sort of enjoy it. If you've seen the commercials you already know that visually it's very much like Star Trek:TNG. The ship's exterior is sleek and white; the interior bright, clean, minimalist, and full of wasted space and the crew is a mix of humans and aliens but otherwise it is pure Seth McFarlane - casual, irreverent, and lowbrow.

I was expecting that it might be nothing but gags but it did actually have a plot and some action. The style of humor is not really to my taste but at the same time nothing offended me enough that I immediately wanted to stop watching it. There were a number of familiar faces. I was pleasantly surprised to see Penny Johnson Gerald as the ship's doctor and Brian George (of Big Bang Theory fame) in a guest starring role.

So I'll keep watching for a few more episodes, at least, to see how it develops.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Random Linkage

Precontinent - Jacques Cousteau's underwater habitat. I don't remember if I've ever heard of this before. I used to watch the Jacques Cousteau TV specials when I was a kid so I probably saw something about it once and just forgot.

NASA's Retro Space Travel Posters - I'm sure you've seen some of these before. They've been around for a little while and they seem to be popular but I wanted to put a link here mainly so I can find them again myself.

Retro sci-fi covers featuring impractical female attire

Hairy Selfie Nails - OMG! I can't even!

Yann Souetre - Science fiction art. Fascinating images.

Fungus Arrangements - Photography. Colorful arrangements of mushrooms.

Star Wars Galaxy Necklace - The planets and spaceships from Star Wars, including the Death Star, on a necklace

Quarter Trick - Useful tip

Pink Floyd Household Object Project - I haven't listened to these videos yet.

Woodland GIFs - These make me feel peaceful.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Friday, September 1, 2017

Great Space Opera

Oh! Wow! Space opera fans, you have to read this: Kit by Val Kubera. It's part crime drama, part political drama, part horror story, part romance, and 100% space opera.

The title character is a Tentari, who are hermaphrodite humanoids. Kit and a younger sibling are the only survivors from a starship that was destroyed under suspicious circumstances. They survive as best they can on a large space station inhabited by all manner of unsavory characters. He (I'll address the matter of pronouns in a minute.) has some memory chips given to him by his parent that contain information that everybody wants. He is taken in by a merchant ship captain who was close friends with his parent and thus the wild ride begins.

The author uses male pronouns when referring to the Tentari which is grammatically correct, I suppose, but it feels wrong in a number of ways. One, it reinforces our human tendency of binary thinking - every creature must be either male or female. I found it nearly impossible to think of Kit and other Tentari characters as anything but male. It also at times felt awkward and ridiculous since the author remained consistent in using the male pronoun even when referring to a character nursing an infant. I think it would have been preferable to use made up pronouns, such as Mary Gentle did in The Golden Witchbreed with the neuter pronoun ke.

Anyway, very minor quibble. Overall it was a fantastic, exciting, edge-of-your-seat, unputdownable book. A few scenes are not for the squeamish and there are a couple of fairly explicit sex scenes but nothing that a reasonable person could call "gratuitous," in my opinion.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Harvey

I commented on Twitter at the time when Hurricane Harvey was first approaching way out in the Gulf that hurricanes should not be named Harvey. Harvey sounds like a friendly but ineffectual guy. Well, it looks like Harvey decided to teach us a lesson about not taking him seriously.

So far I am impressed with Houston's mayor and FEMA shows signs that they have learned from past mistakes. Everything seems to be going as well as can be expected. I won't make any comments about certain politicians because they have nothing to do with any of this. I guess that's about all I have to say other than, my sympathy to all who are affected.

It's funny how things seem to intersect sometimes. Like coincidences but I don't think this qualifies as a coincidence but something like that. Last week there was a conversation on one of the sewing blogs I read. I mentioned that I had been thinking about trying some of the African wax prints (also known as Dutch wax because they were originally made in Holland, and some still are, for African trade) and the blogger encouraged me to go ahead and do it already!

Well, the last thing I need is more fabric but one has certain social obligations you know. One simply cannot declare a desire to do something, receive encouragement and then just drop out. [ahem] Anyway, I searched Etsy for African wax prints - for days. I favorited almost two dozen fabrics and spent almost every waking moment thinking about them and trying to imagine each one made into something until I woke up Monday morning and just knew which one I had to have. But then I realized that the seller is in Houston.

So now I don't know what to do. My heart goes out to this woman who might have lost everything and I feel bad about even thinking about myself and something as trivial as fabric shopping. But I guess I'll pick another fabric eventually. There are many more that I like but I am so in love with that one that I probably can't have. Right now I am back to looking and thinking and waiting for another fabric to say, "Pick me! Pick me!"

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eclipse 2017

First of all, before I talk about the eclipse, I have something to say to all those people who made a point of declaring their lack of interest: Nobody is impressed with you and nobody cares what you think. Just shut up and go on with your sad, pathetic little lives and leave the joyful people alone.

So, now that that's out of the way...

The sun was about 90% hidden here. It would have been only a two or three hour drive for us to get to an area of totality but when we thought about crowds and heavy traffic 90% seemed good enough. I would have liked to have been in the path of totality but what we did see was still pretty cool. We viewed it through those paper framed eclipse glasses, at first just going outside to look every 10 or 15 minutes then when it got close to the maximum we stayed outside and watched. The sun being almost directly overhead made viewing rather uncomfortable so we didn't watch continuously.

I think what I enjoyed the most was seeing it get darker even though it didn't get as dark as I expected. Ten percent of the sun's brightness is still pretty darn bright. It actually looked sort of like when you put on dark sunglasses. It also crossed my mind that this is what the light would look like on a planet that is farther away from the sun. The temperature dropped almost 10 degrees, enough to be noticeable.

I did watch some of the coverage on TV. It was nice to have a couple of hours when the country was focused on something besides politics. And you know, we could do that on any day - focus on something else, at least for a while. Most of us ignore the common, everyday wonders. Our sense of wonder and joy in nature are only awakened when a rare event occurs but there are wonders all around us all the time. I know that sounds like a cliche but it's true and if we don't, at least occasionally, slow down and enjoy those wonders we are not much different from those pathetic people who felt compelled to tell everyone that the eclipse was not a big deal.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Random Linkage

Dripping glass tables - I would call them sculptures. I don't see how you could use them as actual tables but they are cool looking.

Vault of Retro Sci-Fi - Art, photos, and GIFS

Beyond Paper - 13 creative maps

Yana Movchan - Beautiful art. I LOVE these. Lots of flowers and cats; also other animals and a few portraits.

Places - A computer program designed to recognize attractive landscapes

100+ Tumblr Cat Posts

Walden - a slow computer game

This is Gonna Get Ugly - Clever, funny, and weird ad campaign.

Lego Building Guides

Queen Victoria's Stalker - Fascinating story of a boy who hid out in Buckingham Palace

Monday, August 14, 2017

Overalls

This is actually my first pair of "real" overalls. Years ago I had a feminine pair with embroidery on the bib and no pockets.

Sorry to disappoint the overalls fans but I'm really not an overalls person. I bought these for practical reasons not fashion and I will probably never wear them in public. They're okay - comfortable enough except that they feel too heavy. I did wear them longer than I thought I would. I expected that by noon I would be too hot and have to change but it was a cooler than normal day (this was Saturday) and I ended up wearing them until late afternoon. But finally I had had enough and put on a dress.

The details: Roundhouse brand men's striped overalls. (because women's overalls are hard to find and more expensive) They're a little long because I allowed for shrinkage. I have washed them once and they didn't shrink noticeably. (Roundhouse overalls are made in Oklahoma.)

And, in case anyone's wondering, no, I did not run the excavator.