Friday, July 21, 2017

A Quote For Our Time

Or perhaps for all time. Today's Google Doodle honors Marshall McLuhan (whom I had never heard of before) "a Canadian professor, philosopher, and public intellectual." What a job title! Can I be a public intellectual? I think I would be good at it. How much does it pay?

Anyway... There are several quotes listed. This one seems particularly relevant.

A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding.

I'm sure Mr. McLuhan had a point of view also but I suppose he was qualified. After all he was a public intellectual.

Don't know why I'm being so snarky this morning. I really don't know anything about the man. (I think the words "public intellectual" set me off.) Anyway, I like the quote. It seems like an awful lot of people these days are substituting viewpoints for understanding. I think most people don't know the difference.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

This 'n' That

Okay, let's get this one out of the way first. Does It Fart? Haven't you always wanted to know which animals fart? Well, actually, I never gave it much thought. I just always assumed that everything that has a digestive system occasionally expels gas. But that's not always the case? Some of the Notes are, as you might expect, hilarious.

[ahem] How about something pretty to clear the air before we move on:

Cheese on apple pie? Yes, of course! Always. And only cheddar. (or maybe gouda)

The Concealed Revealed looks interesting. A blog but set up kind of weird. "Home" instead of being the most recent posts is a "About the Project" page then you have to go to the archives and recent posts links on the sidebar.

Dumpster Honey - the problems of urban bees

Owl Cabins - tiny, minimalist inside, so cute outside

86 percent of Americans draw circles in the counterclockwise direction. 80 percent of people in Japan draw them in the clockwise direction.

Insects, snails, flowers and more - Beautiful photography by Vyacheslav Mishchenko

Autochromes - Early color photographs. Here's one to finish up this post:

Genre scene, woman in kitchen peeling vegetables

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Books Books Books!

So I have been putting off blogging about my reading for months! It's not an obligation, of course. Nobody is obligated to blog daily, but see, I want to share this. I just haven't. So anyway, I've mostly forgotten what I wanted to say about all but the most recently read of these so I'm just going to put them all in one post and just to do something different I'm going to stick some completely unrelated photos in here as dividers. (These are not all of the books I've read this year, just some highlights.)

Earlier this year, thanks to Amazon's recommendations for me, I read two books with similar subject matter. Both are set during the Civil War era, including the pre- and post- Civil War years. Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim is about a young plantation owner's daughter's warm, loving relationship with her nurse, a slave woman named Mattie who is separated from her own son in order to nurse the white infant.

In the other book, Sister of Mine by Sabra Waldfogel, Adelaide is given a slave girl named Rachel to be her personal maid when they are both still children. The two get along well and soon discover that they are actually half-sisters. The story follows them through adolescence to young adulthood.

I highly recommend both of these books. The stories are interesting and the characters are fully developed and realistic. Both books manage to illustrate the tragedy and injustice of slavery without beating the reader over the head with brutality at the expense of the story. I don't want to give away the endings but I will say that both are satisfying though the ending of Yellow Crocus seems the more plausible of the two.

Of course one of the highlights of my reading year was Amongst the Stars, the third book in Kelly Sedinger's Song of Forgotten Stars series. This is the kind of fun and exciting adventure story that got me hooked on reading science fiction in the first place. While I now love a great variety of science fiction it's great that someone is still writing this kind of purely fun story.

I am a huge fan of fantasy writer China Mieville. His novella This Census-Taker is quite different from the other books of his that I have read. In it a young boy witnesses his father killing his mother. The authorities (and most other adults) choose to believe his father's version of events, that his mother abandoned them, but there are other hints that Dad is "not right." There are elements of fantasy in the story but they are so subtle they almost don't matter. This Census-Taker reads almost like a mainstream novella.

I have started reading Three Moments of an Explosion, a book of short stories by Mieville. They are also very different from the Mieville that I'm used to and I like some better than others. I have taken a break from it to read some other books though. The nice thing about a book of short stories is that you can spread them out, reading them one at a time between other books.

For some reason a lot of authors follow me on Twitter. I figure they're just trying to get attention, which is fine, but mostly I haven't paid much attention to them. I'm not sure what was different about S.E. Smith. Maybe the titles, maybe the cover art. Whatever it was, I followed her and followed her links to her books on Amazon and discovered A FREE KINDLE BOOK! A Warrior's Heart. Free. So I didn't even bother to read any reviews; I just downloaded it.

I am so glad it was free. Oh! My! Gawd! As I have already said on Twitter, it's pornographic. But dammit it's still science fiction and there was actually a bit of a story and I really hate to not finish a book; I mean like a Sheldon level have to finish so, quickly skipping over certain scenes, I kept reading. Turns out there were really only a couple of explicit (very explicit) scenes near the beginning and a couple more near the end.

Aside from that there was a lot in the book that just seemed silly to me. Two brothers who were kidnapped from Earth and enslaved as children grow up and fall madly in lust with two sisters from an alien warrior race. (Think Klingon but even meaner and cuter and purple) Anyway, in spite of the fact that these sisters are perfectly capable of kicking anyone's butt and feeding it to them, and the brothers really are not, the brothers constantly feel the need to "protect" their alien girlfriends.

Overall the story is pretty simplistic. The only real action (other than the aforementioned [ahem] "action") is a pretty standard escape. That's really unfortunate because the races and civilizations mentioned in the story seem like they could be interesting if the author would concentrate more on those and less on the "romance" and interpersonal [ahem] activities. But, you know, I guess some people are into that sort of thing. I won't judge. Or at least I'm trying not to judge.

Photos taken by me over 10 years ago.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Could Stores Please Just Behave?

You've probably heard that Hobby Lobby is in trouble again. I don't normally boycott anything. It's ineffective unless a really massive number of people do it and it just seems like a kind of childish temper tantrum or pouting. But it really bothers me to think about shopping at Hobby Lobby since the insurance thing and now this reinforces my instinct to not shop there. At the same time I really hate all this because, apart from their politics, I really like Hobby Lobby.

The take on this among people here in Oklahoma will be something like, "liberal judges picking on good Christian business owners," so they may actually see an increase in sales. So, much as I would like to see them suffer for their bad decisions, it's not going to happen whether I shop there or not. Still, the idea of shopping there makes me extremely uncomfortable.

Oh, and just to be clear, I am not anti-Christian but I do not believe that Hobby Lobby's business decisions are driven by Christian principles, rather they are using religion to justify illegal actions taken merely to save or make money.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Closing

I just found out this week that the local J.C. Penney store is closing. (It's in the same shopping center as the place where I get my hair cut.) This makes me sad but I have to admit that it's merely a sentimental reaction. There has always been a J.C. Penney store everywhere I have ever lived. It's just one of those places that have been around all my life and seems like it should continue to be around forever.

But the truth is I almost never shop there. I can literally count on one hand the number of items I have purchased there in the past 20 years. I go there more often than that - or I used to - but I rarely find what I'm looking for or anything that I would ever want. Part of the reason, of course, is that I make most of my own clothes and J.C. Penney mostly sells clothes, but I do buy things like sweaters, socks, undergarments, jeans, coats, jackets, and the occasional t-shirt. Every time I look for these items at JCP either they don't have my size or (usually) don't have anything I like. Everything is all so "trendy" and fussy and often slightly weird. There are no basics.

Obviously, I am not the only person with this problem. I never see more than one or two other customers in the store at the same time. Message to all the stores: Stop blaming millennials for all your problems. I'm not a millennial and I don't shop in your store either. It's not millennials' fault (or anyone else's) if you don't have anything in your stores that anyone wants to buy.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Monday, June 26, 2017

Eclipse (and a few more things)

As you probably know already, there will be a total eclipse of the sun across the United States on August 21st. When I first saw a map showing the path of totality I got excited because it is only about a three or four hour drive from where I live. But more lately the Scrooge in me has been coming out. I think about the traffic and the crowds because everyone is going to flock to somewhere on this narrow, 70 mile wide, path across the U.S. I picture traffic jams and general chaos. But still, it's the last chance I will ever get to see a total eclipse of the sun.

Then this morning I found this eclipse simulator. You just enter your city or zip code and it shows you what the eclipse will look like where you live. (or for any location) If this is accurate it looks like the sun will be eclipsed about 90% or more here. Technically not total but close enough to make it not really worth it to drive four hours and deal with the crowds.

Oh, and I still have my eclipse shades that I bought for the last partial eclipse we had, so I'm all set.

* * * * *

I did say, when I switched back to Blogger, that I was likely going to neglect the blog but I still feel a little bad about it when I go a whole week without posting anything and there are things I want to blog about, like a whole bunch of books. Well, maybe four books that I really have to mention sometime. But not today. Why not? I don't know. I just have to be in the right mood. Know what I mean?

I have been fairly active on Twitter lately. I am @uppityokie in case anyone's interested. I mostly retweet stuff but I do occasionally post a complaint or smart-aleck comment or a "wow, cool" or something and sometimes even get into actual little conversations with a couple of people. I'm typically on it on my phone during the commercials while I'm watching TV in the evening and I also check it a few times during the day.

* * * * *

Forgotten English looks like a fun site but I haven't taken time to really look at it yet.

Finally, enjoy these lovely images by Igor Zenin

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Close Encounter

The most crazy awesome thing happened just a little while ago. (Sadly I don't have video evidence to prove it.) I had walked to the mailbox and was walking back up my long driveway when I saw a flash of brown in my peripheral vision. A dog? So I stopped walking and turned my head to look at it. It was a fawn and it was running toward me eagerly. I'm sure of it. It didn't just happen to be going that way. It saw me and was purposely coming toward me.

But then it stopped just four or five feet away from me and just looked at me for maybe ten or fifteen seconds. Then it walked around me, stopping to look back at me a couple of times and finally started running when it was well past me. I think the poor little guy (or girl, I didn't notice that detail) mistook me for his mom. I hope he found her. I'm flattered but I don't think I'd be a good deer mom.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Morning Walk

I spotted this beauty this morning in the woods behind my house. I don't remember ever seeing one exactly like it before. The photo is not as sharp as I would like. The little guy (or gal?) was shy and wouldn't let me get close so I had to zoom in from several feet away.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Random Linkage

Relax - a brief history of stress relief toys

Luxury Train - I want to take ride! It's in Japan of course.

Everyday Foodie Menus - How to make your ordinary meals sound pretentious

Sun Worshiping - great photos of cats, and a few dogs, enjoying the sun

Before Bond - Young Roger Moore, modeling sweaters and vests

Obnoxious Antiques - an online antique store

Textless Movie Posters - These are great. Movie poster art without the words.