Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I'll Remember That - Not!

One of the hardest things for me to remember is that I don't remember things as easily as I used to. Last week I heard a song on the radio and for some reason thought about looking up the video of it and posting it here, then I thought, "Oh that would be the perfect song for inauguration day." So I decided to wait but now, the inauguration is two days away and of course I can't remember what song it was that I was going to post. It would have been so appropriate in a negative, darkly humorous, cynical way. I still have two days to remember it but I don't have high hopes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

America's First Female President

I know it's extremely early for this but my cat Dax (named after a character on ST:DS9) would like announce that she will be running for President of the United States in 2020.

I know there will be some questions but I assure you that she is qualified. She was born in the United States though I admit there might be a problem if anyone demands that she present a birth certificate. Her equivalent age in human years will be 68 in 2020.

More importantly, she has no ties to any foreign governments or to any large corporations. She is, for the most part, quite honest. She has literally never told a lie. She has on a few occasions tried to steal the dog's food and she has been seen licking her own butt but she has never tried to hide these habits and we do not think they will interfere with her ability to serve the nation as President, especially when you consider the habits of some former and soon to be Presidents.

Dax is a peace lover but she does believe in self-defense when necessary. She is in favor of universal health care and enough food for everyone (as long as she gets hers first) so, at heart, she's a Democrat but, as her chief advisor has observed, labels are what is most important to people and since it has recently been demonstrated that Republican voters will vote for anyone as long as he or she is Republican, after much soul searching Dax has decided to run as a Republican.

We hope that she can count on your enthusiastic support.

Friday, January 13, 2017

This 'n' That

Reader-in-Chief - This is wonderful and it also makes me sad because our next president probably never read anything that didn't tell him how to make more money. I think my tastes in reading probably don't overlap much with President Obama's but I already know I want to read some of these and I will look up reviews of some others. There are two that I have already read: Heart of Darkness, which I didn't care much for, and Moby Dick. Also, I think I read To Kill a Mockingbird when I was just a kid but I can't remember for certain. I might have only seen the movie. And of the children's books, I owned one: Harold and the Purple Crayon, and it makes me so happy that the president recommended a book I loved when I was a child. I won't bother to list those I want to read and might want to read but I will refer to this list later. Oh, and I love the photo at the top of the article - the president wearing jeans and hanging with his daughters at the library like any normal dad.

One of the most beautiful things I've seen recently: A Rosy View is a site devoted to beautiful pictures of roses. It includes names and is organized by color.

Odd. A Tumblr devoted to a curious absence of ears

I recently started following Emergency Kittens on Twitter. (Donald Trump followed then unfollowed Emergency Kittens. Hmmm... so many questions. What does it mean? [/sarcasm] I think it's too bad he unfollowed. A daily kitten might have been good for him.) There's also a website. Keep refreshing the page to see more kittens.

I love this wonderful collection of happy historic photos. The headline says there are "10+". I have looked at the first 40 so far.

Great collection of photos of an old pencil factory in Portugal. I just love everything about this. (Via Messy Nessy Chic)

Artist Suzanne Moxhay creates photo montages of abandoned places and nature. I seem to be using the words "love" and "wonderful" a lot lately but I love these; they're wonderful.

And finally, what the heck is an otomatone? Well, I'm not sure you really want to know but here ya go anyway.

That's actually not entirely bad. In fact, I think, creepy but really pretty good.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Tree

One of my favorite things when I was a little kid was my mother's old collection of scenic View Master reels. They were, in a way, my "internet". They showed me the world (actually, only parts of the US) and I spent many hours looking at them and pretending I was looking out the window of a bus or passenger train. Most of the reels have copyright dates in the late 1940s, about 10 years before I was born. They were still in perfect condition in the 1960s and 70s but now most of the transparencies are faded, dirty, or damaged. This one is still in fairly good condition.

One of the images is of a giant redwood tree with a tunnel carved through it for cars to drive through, so when I heard that the Tunnel Tree had fallen in a storm it was almost like I was reading about another celebrity death. But it turns out that it's not the same tree. The tree on the View Master is the privately owned Chandelier Tree.

This is the Tunnel Tree, also known as the Pioneer Cabin Tree.

And now...

This is very sad. It was a famous tree so it's still sort of like a celebrity death but I have to admit I'm relieved that "my" tree is still standing.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Books

My latest read was Flood of Fire by Amitav Ghosh, the final book in the Ibis trilogy. I discovered it here. (You really should go read that. It's a much better review than mine will be.)

The Ibis trilogy is set in the first half of the 19th century in India and China and is about people involved in and affected by the opium trade. It's a fascinating, rich, epic story and I highly recommend it. Since the author is Indian you might imagine that the British are the bad guys in this story and, on the whole, they are but on an individual level it's well balanced. The characters on all sides are realistic and well developed and the story highly complex and, though it's serious overall, there is subtle humor throughout.

The first two books in the trilogy, which must be read in order, are Sea of Poppies and River of Smoke.

* * * * *

I am ready to get back to science fiction for a while. I have started Neal Asher's Hilldiggers and have two more new Neal Asher books waiting: Dark Intelligence and War Factory. On the other hand, after reading this article, The Many Bad Moms of Charles Dickens I was suddenly possessed by a desire to read Bleak House immediately. I'll go ahead and download it but my history of trying to read two books at the same time is not good. I always end up neglecting one or the other. In fact, I have a couple of books on my Kindle that I never got around to finishing for this reason.

So... lots of reading to be done and there's also sewing and my house desperately needs cleaning but I'll try to not neglect this blog quite as much as I have been recently.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

New Year

Oh my! It's a new year so I should probably have a cheerful, positive kind of post up instead of leaving the "2016 sucked" post at the top for days and days. Well, let's see... I do have one thing. I discovered Literary Hub a couple of days ago on Twitter. Twitter seems to be a much more rewarding site than Facebook for discovering worthwhile things on the Internet. So now I'm wondering, why did I not know about Literary Hub sooner. So many wasted days. I've missed so much.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016: The Suckiest Year Ever

I think pretty much everyone agrees that 2016 has been a horrible year. There was that extremely ugly presidential campaign that resulted in a President-elect who is unqualified, morally bankrupt, and emotionally immature. That alone is enough to brand it "the suckiest year ever" but I think the thing that really bums out most of us is the seemingly unusual number of celebrity deaths.

The passing of Carrie Fisher seems especially cruel to me. I first read on Twitter that she had had a heart attack, then several hours later that she was "in stable condition". So I relaxed a little bit and thought, "She's probably going to be okay." But she wasn't. And then, just a couple of days later, her mother, Debbie Reynolds. And there are still two days left in 2016. Frankly, I'm a little bit scared.

Will 2017 be any better? That's what everyone always hopes and I see a lot of hopeful comments and memes on social media but I just keep thinking, calendar years are completely arbitrary. The Earth travels around the Sun without a beginning or end point. We could just as well start the year on the Winter solstice or the Spring equinox or any random day. And, in fact, there are other calendars besides the one we use. So why should beloved celebrities stop dying just because we say 2016 is over?

Even though it's arbitrary, I do think it's good for us, psychologically, to have a sense of starting over. In my family we have never really celebrated the New Year. We go to bed at our normal time on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day is just the day when we get to start a new calendar. But there is still a little bit of that feeling of starting anew. The Christmas season is really and truly behind us and we can concentrate on new things and look forward to spring and summer.

Up to a point, each year is what we make it but we don't have any control over what happens in the world, who dies, who gets elected, what natural disasters happen and so on. For me, personally, 2016 wasn't bad at all and I expect 2017 will be pretty much the same. But I don't have much hope for the world outside my gate being anything but worse.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Best Week of the Year

Well, we did that Christmas thing. We all got a lot of nice stuff and ate too much and spent the day just hanging out. It wasn't a white Christmas; in fact it was more like mid-spring. All in all, it was a really awesome day.

And someone got this for Christmas:

I wasn't sure about what kind of reaction this would get. A quilt isn't a typical gift for a 17 year old young man but he loved it. I also managed to finish another gift quilt that I had been working on for years so now I am between projects and that just feels wrong but at the same time I don't feel especially motivated to start anything else. At least I don't feel motivated by any one particular project but I will start something in a day or two. Right now there are books to be read and Mythbusters Mega-Marathon to be watched.

And speaking of Mythbusters, did you see that they're bringing it back with new people? There is going to be a "search" series first, to pick the next generation of Mythbusters. I have mixed feelings about this. I think the world really needs Mythbusters. We will never run out of myths to bust. But so much of the appeal of Mythbusters was the people so a new set of people? I don't know. I'm sure I will eventually get used to whoever ends up on the new Mythbusters but it will never be the same.

At the top I called this the best week of the year but is it really? The weeks before Christmas are pretty fun for me and there are other weeks of the year that are just as nice in their own ways but there's just something about this week when all of the busyness is done and there's nothing that has to get done in a hurry... And sometimes it can actually be sort of boring and, in some years, even a bit of a let-down but I suppose, like any other week, it's mostly whatever kind of week you choose to make it and this year I choose to make it about drinking tea, reading, and watching Mythbusters.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hallelujah

Winter Solstice Morning

I was sitting here at the computer yesterday morning and, looking out the window, I noticed that the world had a beautiful rose-gold glow. So I rushed to get my camera and went outside without taking time to put on a coat or proper shoes but, even though it took me less than a minute to get outside with a camera, the moment was already gone. So this is what I got. A little disappointing but still not bad?