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


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?

Friday, December 16, 2016

This 'n' That

As some of you have already noticed, I have started using Twitter again. A lot. A couple of things got me back into it. One is football. We watch football every time there's a football game on so that's five games a week, sometimes six counting college. I like football sometimes but I quickly get bored with the game if it's two teams that I don't really care about and I can't read a book while the TV is on. Sadly that's not one of my talents. So when I get bored with the game I pull out my phone and see what's happening on Facebook. But I'm starting to get bored with Facebook so, Twitter.

Turns out that Twitter is much more interesting than Facebook. Facebook is mostly the same memes and listicles and slide shows over and over and over again. On Twitter you can have actual conversations. It's like texting with people you don't know well enough to give your phone number. Including sometimes even celebrities. And since my phone is always in my pocket I've taken to checking Twitter all through the day, maybe a little too much. So if you wonder what I've been up to you can probably catch me there. I'm @uppityokie.

* * * * *

Besides tweeting too much I've been doing what most people are doing this time of year: shopping, though I'm about done with that. I have also finished a quilt and I'm about to finish another. Not sure if I can finish it by Christmas but I'm going to try. Sewing clothes has taken a back seat to quilting lately. I got the last thing finished except for the buttons and buttonholes a couple of weeks ago and just kind of abandoned it but I will eventually get back to it. I've also been doing some reading but it's been a while since I've read any science fiction and I'm starting to crave some.

* * * * *

I was at Wal-mart this morning, in the checkout line, and the woman in front of me turns around and says, in a Russian accent that sounds like something you only hear in movies, "I'm 80 years old and I don't know how much longer I can do this," and then starts talking about how she's getting tired of supporting her grandson and all he wants to do is hang out with his friends and so on. I didn't know what to make of this but after she had left, the checkout girl said something about how sweet she is and that she talks to her frequently. So, I don't know... she might be a fun person to talk to when you get used to her. I kind of hope I run into her again sometime.

* * * * *

And finally, a "This 'n' That" post is not complete without complaints about the weather, right? Actually, there's probably something else I wanted to say but I can't remember it so... It's cold today and tomorrow it's going to be f***ing cold. Well, it's December so that's normal but it was nice for so long when it normally should have been getting cold so now this feels like a sudden tragedy. (Yes, I am being overly dramatic.) As I said on Twitter recently (or was it Facebook?) I wish global warming worked like people think it does - you know... making the weather warmer than "normal" all winter instead of making it weird and sometimes colder than normal.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Weird Victorian Christmas Cards

You have got to see this collection of Victorian Christmas Cards.. (The headline says "10+" but there are actually more than 50.) Many of them are seriously creepy; most are just sort of like, WTH?! A few are actually really cute. I think maybe some of these were intended to be humorous and we just don't get Victorian humor.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


I discovered this extremely interesting book on Project Gutenberg: The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa.

Olaudah Equiano was kidnapped from his village in Africa when he was about 11 years old. His name was changed three times, finally to Gustavus Vassa, the name he went by for most of his life. His experience was very different from that of most African slaves. He had several owners, most of whom were kind masters and he was taught to read and write, however, though he was comparatively well-treated he did suffer many of the indignities and hardships that were common for black men at the time.

Vassa spent much of his life at sea. He served as a steward to an officer in the British Navy for a number of years then was sold to a Quaker merchant whom he served as a clerk, mostly in the Caribbean islands. He was allowed to earn money by buying and selling items such as glassware and fruit which enabled him to buy his freedom. As a free man he continued to work on ships off and on as well as having a few jobs on land, mostly in Britain.

This autobiography had nine editions during Vassa's lifetime and several more after his death and is, in fact, currently in print. There's also a detailed Wikipedia page.

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Little Christmas Music

Carol of the Bells has been one of my favorite Christmas songs since I was a child. I have always been extremely picky about it though. It must be sung by a proper choir and they must sing it "right," meaning exactly like I heard it when I was a child. Needless to say I don't find a version that meets with my complete approval very often. However, in the past couple of years I have become fascinated with instrumental versions. Here's a nice one.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Book Quote

I just found this in my Drafts. It's from weeks ago. I don't know why I didn't go ahead and post it at the time but anyway, here it is.

* * *

From The Last Humans by Dima Zales:

"This confirms my theory that bullies are secretly pussies."

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Just a Recipe

I don't know if I'll make this for Thanksgiving because I already had plans to make something else but these pumpkin pecan brownies look really good so I will make them sometime.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


The Jaguar's Children by John Vaillant is not a fun book to read. In fact it is a disturbing book but that's exactly what's good about it. Sometimes we need to be disturbed. A group of illegal immigrants pay to be smuggled into the U.S. They are sealed into a water tank truck. The truck breaks down just this side of the border and the driver abandons them. Scenes of trying to survive inside the tank alternate with one immigrant's memories of what led him and a friend to try to enter the U.S. illegally. This book is a reminder that we in the U.S. can never really understand what it's like to feel true desperation and it gives some insight into what life is like in Mexico, which we erroneously think of as merely that lazy little country to the south.

My only complaint about the book - without giving away the ending I will say that it ends rather abruptly. The main question is resolved but it would have been nice to know what happened in the next few days or even the next few minutes. Still, this is a very minor thing and - I don't often say this - I think everyone should read it.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Earth Image of the Week

Washington, DC. It really is a beautiful city. Too bad it's full of politicians.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Musical Joke

Because sometimes it seems that all of life is a joke. We might as well laugh so we don't all go insane.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

5 Reality TV Stars Who Would Be a Better President Than Donald Trump

I don't actually watch a lot of "reality" TV so I could only come up with five and a couple of these might be stretching the definition of reality TV slightly but they're all people who appear as themselves so I think that's close enough.

5. Larry the Cable Guy - Because he would tell Congress to "Git 'r done!"

4. Troy Landry (Swamp People) - A family man who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. Literally. And he wrestles alligators. Sounds like presidential material to me.

3. Danielle (American Pickers) - She spends lots of time on the phone and she knows how to negotiate.

2. Nicole Curtis (Rehab Addict HGTV) - A frugal, hyperactive, sometimes abrasive, workaholic. Those seem like excellent qualifications.

1. Jamie Hyneman (Mythbusters) - It would be great to have a scientifically literate, no BS president. Of the two main Mythbusters stars I actually like Adam Savage better but I think Jamie's serious, somewhat grumpy demeanor might be more advantageous in a president.

That's all I've got. Please post your nominations in the comments.

Well Sh*t!

Dreams can be so cruel sometimes. Last night I dreamed that Hilary Clinton won the election with 65% of the vote. It seemed so real but then I woke up and it was a little after 2:00am. I was tempted to grab my phone and check the election results right then but I didn't. I just went back to sleep instead. Then I had another weird dream in which a tiny orphan girl was following me around and after a while I picked her up and she was clinging to me and wouldn't let go. The election dream I can understand but this other... how does my brain manage to make up such stuff? Also, in part of the earlier dream I was looking in my t-shirt drawer for something to wear and I had all these great t-shirts. I have had versions of that dream before and it's always a disappointment to wake up and realize I don't actually own those clothes I dreamed.

Anyway, the election. First thing this morning I Tweeted, "Why wait? Impeach the bastard now!" but then I thought better of it. If they did manage to remove the Donald from office we would be stuck with Mike Pence, who would be more "presidential" but functionally probably actually worse. I still say that everything Donald said during the campaign was just for show and we have no idea what he will actually do in office. An evil part of me is hoping he will surprise his supporters in a bad way by being more liberal than they were expecting. More realistically, I think he's going to be a disaster economically and in foreign policy and a major embarrassment to the country. Oh well, the one bright side: at least Alec Baldwin (and a lot of other comedians) will have job security for the next four years.

Locally, all the State Questions went the way I wanted except for two and those two I was really on the fence about anyway so I'm not terribly disappointed about any of that. I'm not happy about our senators and representatives or pretty much any other elected official in our state but nothing has really changed there, just different names and faces.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Election Eve

I can hardly believe that tomorrow is finally election day. I have had plenty of political things to say these past months. The reason I haven't said them is not so much wanting to avoid politics as it is the same reason I haven't been posting much of anything else, whatever reason that is. Now, I'm not trying to change anyone's mind about anything because I know that's not possible. I'm just a lady with a blog and thoughts to share.

First of all, I want to say that no matter who wins the election I am really going to miss President Obama. No, I haven't always agreed with him. No two people can ever agree on everything. But his policies have been reasonable and he has brought a grace and dignity to the office that we haven't seen in a very long time and may never see again. On top of that he has a wonderful sense of humor.

No matter who wins tomorrow, I will not panic. We are electing a president, not a dictator. No president has ever been able to do even half of what he promised during the campaign. If you really want to change the direction the country is going you should give more careful thought to who you vote for for Congress and the Senate. I'm not saying that it doesn't matter who we elect for president. I does. It matters a lot. I'm just saying, overall, America will be fine. We could be better or worse but we will survive.

I am absolutely appalled that Donald Trump was nominated and shocked and dismayed that so many people, including people I know to be reasonably intelligent and kind people, plan to vote for him tomorrow. but at the same time I understand the reasons for his popularity and the reasons why "red states" are "red".

Yes, there are stupid people and bigots out here in red state America but there are also people like that in the blue states. Let's just get that out of the way first. I'm not talking about those people. I'm talking about the majority who are of average to above average intelligence and are generally decent people without any ill will toward any group. Why would such people even consider voting for Donald Trump?

Most people are not deep thinkers or even much of any kind of thinker at all. Their heads are filled with thoughts of family and friends and the logistics of their everyday lives. When it comes to the big questions they tend to latch on to whichever ideas seem the most immediately attractive to them. Abortion? Same sex marriage? Transgenders in public restrooms? Most people wouldn't care all that much if nobody else brought it up. What people in red state America mostly want is lower taxes and for the government to leave them the hell alone. They might be a little short sighted in that they don't care if the government is not leaving someone else alone or if they allow other big, powerful entities, such as corporations, to trample on everyone's rights. They don't put that much thought into it.

Most people are loyal. Loyal to family, loyal to their favorite brand of toothpaste, loyal to their favorite sports teams. Their favorite political party is very much like a favorite sports team. Once most people decide, "I am a Republican," or "I am a Democrat," all future decisions are made. There's no more need to think about it. Republican or Democrat is their team and they will be loyal to their team no matter what. They will refuse to see when their team acts against their best interests and will make excuses for inexcusable behavior or simply choose not to believe it. At the same time the "other team" will always be the enemy. Nothing they say will even be worth listening to and every bad thing that they hear about them will automatically be believed as the gospel truth. Yes, this is a stupid way to be but that doesn't mean that people who think this way are necessarily stupid. It's just a mental shortcut - a way to avoid having to think too much.

But why Donald Trump? Why on Earth, Donald Trump?! Why, especially, would anyone who claims to be Christian vote for that?! Because people in red state America are tired of being disrespected. They are tired of being portrayed as stupid. They are tired of being called racist just because they were late getting the memo informing them of where the goalposts have been moved to this time. They are tired of having their religion and culture disrespected, criticized, and attacked (even if most of the "attacks" are just imaginary) while other cultures are apparently above criticism. But still, why Donald Trump? Because he's different. Because he says outrageous things and gets away with it. Because he's not a Washington politician. They may not agree with him but they mistakenly think "He's one of us," because he exercises his freedom to say whatever the hell he feels like saying. They don't stop and think how this could be disastrous in a leader or that every word that comes out of his mouth might be a lie; they just see someone who will not bow to pressure and will not be told what to do or say.

So, what will a Donald Trump presidency be like? I hope we don't have to find out but if he does become president I think he might surprise some of his supporters. Things he has said in the past suggest that he might be more liberal than they expect. But who knows? Everything he has said during the campaign has been just for show. He has run businesses, he has bankrupted businesses, but when - if - he gets down to the business of running the country we have no way of knowing how he will go about it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


I heard this for the first time on the radio last week.

When I searched for it I found that it is actually a Stowkowski transcription of Again, As Before, Alone so here's that.

Just so you know, I have absolutely no reason for being so dark. Unless I start thinking about the upcoming U.S. presidential election. There is that.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


When I clicked on this article about one song that reduces anxiety and saw that it was not one song but a list I had two thoughts: 1, that I would know, or at least have heard of, two or three and 2, that none of them would be classical. I was wrong on both counts. I hadn't even heard the one by Mozart. So here's that one. As for these being the most anxiety reducing songs... well, I'm sure they didn't test every song that's ever been written so the list is invalid. ;-)

And, yeah, I'll listen to the others on the list sometime.

Monday, October 24, 2016


This looks useful. Jess Kielman's website has lots of cleaning tips, DIY tips, recipes, crafting ideas, and gardening ideas.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Book Quote

From The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Sir Edward Gibbon:

The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful.

I Should Apologize For This

This video is highly offensive, (NSFW) and hilarious, and the song is way too catchy. No, I'm not going to embed it here! I have standards. No, really, I do. I do! Anyway, it's all his fault.

The video was uploaded almost two years before Ray Bradbury died so I think it likely that he saw it. Anyway, it amuses me to think that he did and that he loved it.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Thursday, October 13, 2016

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Grocery Store

Now is the season of the dread Pumpkin Spice Invasion. That stuff sends out mind control rays that make you think pumpkin spice flavored everything is a fantastic idea. Did you know that? No? Maybe it's just me.

I've always been mostly indifferent about it but this year it seems like I'm seeing more pumpkin spice flavored stuff than ever. Pumpkin spice Cheerios, pumpkin spice instant oatmeal. I'm not a big fan of Cheerios in general. Some of the flavors (apple cinnamon for example) actually do taste pretty good but I guess it's the size and texture of Cheerios that I find off-putting. It makes me feel like I'm eating cat food. But anyway, for just a second I was tempted to grab the Pumpkin Spice Cheerios because, pumpkin spice!

I did buy the pumpkin spice instant oatmeal. It's actually not bad but it's not great either and the smell of it bothers me a little bit. So I decided to put it in oatmeal cookies. They were good because, cookies!

I don't know where the pumpkin spice temptation comes from. I'm not even a big fan of pumpkin pie. I mean, I like it okay; I always eat at least one slice every Thanksgiving. After all it would be weird to eat Cool Whip by itself. But it's not one of my top ten favorite pies. So I don't know why pumpkin spice flavored everything else would seem like such a good idea. Just the novelty of it I guess. Either that or mind control rays.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


I just finished The Last Humans trilogy by Dima Zales. It seems to me that, based on both content and tone, the target audience for this story is adolescent boys but there's certainly nothing wrong with that and it does not mean that an aging housewife can't enjoy it too. In fact, I found it to be unputdownable and I finished it in what is for me record time.

The tale takes place in a domed habitat named Oasis, home of the last survivors of an attack of alien "goo" that covers all the rest of the Earth. But life for these last humans is not all bad. They live forever and are not considered "adult" until age 40. Everything they need is provided instantly with just a thought and a wave of the hand. But things are not what they seem. A Youth, age 23, named Theo, with the help of a secret friend, starts discovering surprising secrets about Oasis and has exciting and sometimes frightening adventures. It's a wild ride from beginning to end.

I haven't paid much attention to post-Singularity fiction until now but I'm definitely glad I read this one. I will look for more books by this author and possibly other books in the same genre.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Earth Image of the Week

I am going to try to get back to doing this weekly. Google Earth disappeared from my computer the last time we upgraded Windows and I just finally got around to downloading it again. This is Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Thursday, October 6, 2016


I finished reading China Meiville's Iron Council for the second time. I don't often read books more than once anymore. I used to have a few favorite books that I would read over and over again but as I have gotten older I started to realize that there are too many great books in the world and too little time to read them. But some books really benefit from a second reading and this is one of them.

I don't know how to adequately describe Iron Council. It is a fantasy with a steampunk feeling. It is dark, violent, often grotesque, but also strangely beautiful. The Iron Council in the story is a moving city, on and following a steam train. The "Iron Councillors" lay track in front of the train and remove it from behind as they go. Along the way there are bizarre creatures, weird phenomena, and magic. Part of the action takes place in the more conventional city of New Crobuzon, where the Iron Council has become legend.

I feel that doesn't give a very good idea of what the book is about or like but it's the best I can do so I recommend that you go read the introduction on Google Books. Isn't it cool that we can do that?

Friday, September 30, 2016

Just For Fun

The top 5 things I might do if I woke up one day to find that I was a multi-billionare. I'm not saying all of these things, just one or two but these are the top five I would consider.

1. Start my own TV network - Programming would be science fiction and fantasy and science documentary. I would hire Neil deGrasse-Tyson and put him in charge of non-fiction programming to insure that no psuedo-science ever aired. Of course, Joss Whedon would be in charge of fiction programming. I would also bring back Saturday morning cartoons with all science fiction, fantasy, and super hero cartoons. Saturday evenings would be billed "Bad Movie Night" and would feature B-movies from the 1950's, with a host doing humorous introductions and commentary.

2. Buy an NFL team and move it to Oklahoma - I don't have any particular team in mind but I'm thinking it should be one from a state that already has more than their fair share of teams. Looking at you Florida and California, especially.

3. Start a company to make women's clothing and accessories, mainly undergarments and shoes because I have the hardest time finding acceptable underwear and shoes.

4. Start a car company - All my vehicles would be modern and energy efficient but with only complete retro styling.

5. Buy property on Mars and open a luxury resort - Well, in reality I couldn't but does this look anything like reality?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

My New Kindle

Oh, hi. Yep, still here. Just off doing that thing people call "having a life." I did get my new Kindle in the expected two days so I've had it for a while. I bought this lovely cover for it.

There were a number of equally lovely choices so I had a hard time deciding which one to get. Opening and closing the cover turns the Kindle on and off, which is very cool. It also has an on/off switch in case you decide to not use a cover.

And here's the Kindle itself. This picture is a little out of focus but you can get the general idea. Too lazy to try again. This is the basic Kindle. I did consider the Paperwhite but after reading the reviews I decided I would really rather have this one.

My old Kindle was a 2nd generation; (or was it 3rd? can't remember for certain) this one is 8th generation, so quite a few changes. It has a touch screen, obviously. You just touch the edge of the screen to turn the page. It's very sensitive so sometimes I accidentally turn two pages at once but not often enough to be really annoying. I think my favorite thing about it being a touch screen is that it's so much easier to use the dictionary. You just touch a word and its dictionary entry pops up. Of course, Iron Council has a lot of obscure and archaic words that are not in the dictionary. I'm actually pretty good at figuring out the definition based on context and usually don't feel like I need a dictionary but I just happen to like dictionaries. It's sort of a cool toy.

There is more stuff I need to figure out about it, like how to highlight and save quotes for one. I just haven't taken the time to read the user's guide yet.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Little Song

Marcy Harriell is one of my favorite sewing bloggers. (You all know I also have a sewing blog, right?) Marcy is wonderfully funny and charming and our tastes in fabrics overlap by quite a bit. She also happens to be an actress and singer and I knew this but it never occurred to me to look her up on Youtube until someone else mentioned it. So here she is with just a very short song.

Monday, September 19, 2016


Yesterday my daughter-in-law and I did a little antique shopping. We took my granddaughter with us. There were free babysitters available but she wanted to go so we let her. She behaved as you would expect a two-year-old to behave in an antique store - running around touching everything - so we actually did more toddler watching than antique shopping but overall she was really good so I bought her this:

Based on the style I would guess it's from the 1960's or earlier. It has a squeaker that still works. She fell in love with it and immediately decided to name it Angel. I'm glad she picked it because I think it's adorable. One of the ladies in the store said she was happy that it was going to a good home.

It's enjoyable to speculate about the history of things like this and imagine what kind of "life" it had before. It mostly likely started out as a Christmas or birthday gift because kids didn't used to get toys just because. Then it might have been passed on to younger siblings then the next generation. On the other hand, it seems to have been well cared for so maybe after its original owner outgrew it it was put in a closet or attic and forgotten about. Now it has a new "life" after who knows how many years.

And I bought this for myself:

I have always liked Blue Willow dishes and I especially like the cups with the picture on the inside like this one or any cup or mug with a picture on the inside. This one is, unfortunately, a bit awkward and uncomfortable to hold so I might not actually use it much but I love it anyway.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Earth Image of the Week

The little town of Republican City, Nebraska. My sympathies to any Democrats who live there.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Book Quote

From Perdido Street Station by China Mieville:

The river twists and turns to face the city. It looms suddenly, massive, stamped on the landscape. Its light wells up around the surrounds, the rock hills, like bruise-blood. Its dirty towers glow. I am debased. I am compelled to worship this extraordinary presence that has silted into existence at the conjunction of two rivers. It is a vast pollutant, a stench, a klaxon sounding. Fat chimneys retch dirt into the sky even now in deep night. It is not the current which pulls us but the city itself, its weight sucks us in. Faint shouts, here and there the calls of beasts, the obscene clash and pounding from the factories as huge machines rut. Railways trace urban anatomy like protruding veins. Red brick and dark walls, squat churches like troglodytic things, ragged awnings flickering, cobbled mazes in the old town, culs-de-sac, sewers riddling the earth like secular sepulchres, a new landscape of wasteground, crushed stone, libraries fat with forgotten volumes, old hospitals, tower blocks, ships and metal claws that lift cargoes from the water.
How could we not see this approaching? What trick of topography is this, that lets the sprawling monster hide behind corners to leap out at the traveller?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Three Annoying (unrelated) Things

First of all, I need a new Kindle.

That's not all bad because it means I get to buy a new Kindle with all the nifty new features that the old one doesn't have. The annoying part is that it did this in the middle of my reading (Iron Council by China Mieville, in case you're curious) and it will be two days before the new one gets here. Oh well.

The second thing is worse and much harder to solve. We have a serious and persistent ant problem. Today we found ants in the peanut butter. (and by "we" I mean Number Two Son) We had to throw out a four pound jar that was nearly half full. I had been buying a smaller size but I saw this big jar of our brand (they had not had the big jars before) and impulsively bought it.

Anyway, these are tiny, tiny black ants - just specks, almost too small to see if there's just one but of course there's never just one. We've been having a problem with them for a while now. I've been spraying with this "organic" pesticide that smells pretty good, like mint and cloves or something like that, and it actually works but only for a few days to a week. We need to find where they live outside and get rid of them there.

I love summer and I'm sad that it's ending but at the moment I'd love a good hard freeze for a day or two to kill all the ants.

Third thing: Very minor but still... I was getting tired of this template and thought I would try a different one for a while but when I was trying to customize it the sidebar kept looking wonky in the preview. I tried three different ones and they were all the same so I gave up and decided to try again in a few days.

UPDATE: I ordered the new Kindle but they say it could take until October 4 for delivery. Yay, two day shipping. They've already shipped the cover I ordered for it but not the Kindle itself.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Laziest Weekend Ever

I really didn't intend to spend the whole weekend watching the Star Trek marathon but I pretty much did. My plan was to do a lot of sewing and quilting but I did none. I did do some laundry and cooked meals and the usual minimum necessary tasks but a lot of that was done during commercial breaks. I also took a break from ST to watch a couple of hours of HGTV and last night we watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier but it all adds up to spending a shocking amount of time in front of the TV. But it was fun. I actually don't normally spend hours and hours in front of the TV.

When you think about it, it's surprising how well the original Star Trek holds up after 50 years. Of course, some of the details are laughable but overall the stories are still interesting and valid. The sad thing is, when I was a kid watching it I was sure that it was going to change the world, in that bigotry would be history by now but it's still with us. We have all this technology seemingly inspired by Star Trek - personal computers, mobile phones, etc. - but this one big, important thing that ST is famous for having addressed is still as much of a problem as ever. Maybe it's because you can't change human nature? Well, I think you could but only if the individual humans want to change.

I still have a bunch of episodes on my DVR that aired in the middle of the night but I'm going to save them for a few days, maybe until next weekend. I hadn't seen TOS in a really long time. I've always thought it strange that none of the channels ever show it anymore, only The Next Generation.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Most Amazing Anniversary Ever

Fifty years ago this evening I sat down with my mom and little brother (Dad was at work.) to watch our little black and white television. We watched a brand new show called Star Trek. I was eight years old. It's hard to say what my first thoughts were. I can't remember exactly. I suppose I liked it because it was different - interesting and different characters having interesting and different adventures. And often it was funny.

It was an immediate hit with the neighborhood kids I played with. We would get together every Saturday morning and act out the previous night's episode. I always got to be Lt. Uhura. Sometimes I couldn't believe my luck - that the other girls never argued with me. ("But you always get to be Uhura.") But there was never any of that. I did always get to be Uhura and no one ever complained. Years later I figured out that my friends were all racists. No one wanted to be the black character. I just liked her because she was the most important female character and she was likeable. Who wouldn't want to be her?

Star Trek started my interest in science fiction, though, strangely, I was an adult before I ever read any science fiction books. For years the only sci-fi I was interested in was Star Trek. I liked thinking about there being a whole galaxy full of strange civilizations and people and ships traveling between them. Of course I always knew it wasn't real but it was fun to imagine that something like it was real or might be someday.

Something else I always knew was that TV shows don't last forever. I hoped it would last a long time but I knew that someday I would grow up and Star Trek would be just a TV show that I had loved when I was a kid. Just a memory. But, it turned out, that's not what happened. First there were re-runs for years and then four more series and a bunch of movies. Oh, and a cartoon. Strangely, I was never a big fan of the cartoon. At the time I wanted the real thing back and making a cartoon of it seemed like a cheat.

I can remember, just barely, the world without Star Trek and it's almost as hard to remember the world before Star Trek was a phenomenon, though it took a few more years for that to really happen. I don't know... maybe, in a sense, there never was a world without Star Trek or, to be less metaphorical, never a world without the things that Star Trek embodies. A world in which people look up at the stars and wonder what's out there, in which people long for adventures, in which people dream of an Earth where everyone gets along no matter one's race or religion.

The world needs Star Trek now more than ever and I think it's sad that, even though it's still popular, Star Trek is not what it once was, and almost certainly never will be again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Coconut Cream

I have occasionally looked at old product labels and lamented the fact that today's labels are boring and tacky in comparison. But this weekend I found this:

And the soda was delicious too. The company, Boots Beverages, is based in Texas. I bought this one at Atwood's, a regional chain.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Friday, September 2, 2016

Book Quote

From Farewell Earth's Bliss by D. G. Compton:

If asked about his routine he would have said it was all that had kept him sane. If asked about being sane he would have admitted that of course he wasn't.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Not Ready Yet

It's the last day of August. Everyone seems to be looking forward to fall, just like every year. Summer won't really be over until the end of September but August is one of my favorite months and I'm not ready for it be over yet. And it hasn't been a normal August so all month I've been impatient for "real" August to get here. But this is what August looks like today and has looked like for much of the month. Oh, I appreciate the rain but I also enjoy three or four weeks of uninterrupted hot, sunny weather. I'm just weird like that.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Earth Image of the Week

This is in Kansas, south of Waconda Lake. This area looks very interesting to me.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

It's Beautiful! Get Over It!

Can everyone please stop having knee-jerk negative reactions to everything? The latest "outrage" in our state is the new license plates - the design and the extra five dollars we're going to have to pay for them. Five dollars, folks. Really? That's what... two or three fewer beers? (I have no idea how much beer costs.)

Personally, I love them and I can hardly wait to get mine. I am not terribly fond of the current license plates. I mean, they're okay. I don't hate them. They are culturally appropriate and reasonably attractive but in real life the image of the statue is not so well defined. Unless you're really close to it - closer than you would be in your car driving around behind one - it just looks like a confusing, dark blue... something. Also the red numbers and letters are more difficult to read than the black ones.

The new plates are beautiful. I love them. Did I say already that I love them? Sure, maybe it's the same problem - that you won't be able to tell that the white area is a silhouette of a bird and if you can you might not be able to tell that it's a scissor tailed flycatcher (I'll bet 80% of the people couldn't identify a scissor tailed flycatcher if they had one sitting on their hand.) but overall it's a beautiful design. The colors are beautiful and I think you can at least tell that it has a bird on it, if not the species.

Anyway, get over it. In another few years they will come up with another new design and everyone will hate it and talk about how much better the old design was. So why wait until it goes away? Start liking it now.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Book Quote

Am I evil for liking this one?

From East of Eden by John Steinbeck:

The church and the whorehouse arrived in the Far West simultaneously. And each would have been horrified to think it was a different facet of the same thing. But surely they were intended to accomplish the same thing: the singing, the devotion, the poetry of the churches took a man out of his bleakness for a time, and so did the brothels.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Classical Gas

I'm sure most members of my generation remember this little bit of ear candy. Today is Mason Williams' 78th birthday so...

A Most Excellent Blog Post

You need to read this. No, don't tell me it's too long; I don't want to hear it. But here's just a sample:

I often go through periods of wondering if writing fiction is a waste of time in a world that needs so many more practical things. Why contribute a novel when what is needed is potable water, enough healthy food, more medical supplies, and safer buildings? What is the point of fiction when reality is so pressing?

Invariably I am reminded that stories have power. Because it’s not just our physical needs that need to be met in this life. We need to know that we are not alone. We need to be reminded that restoration and redemption are possible. We need to remember what hope feels like. We need to believe that there is another future for us beyond our current situation. We need to dream. We need to encounter the divine.

Go read the whole thing. Seriously.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Young Hawk

We saw this in this dead tree in my front yard yesterday.

I was facing toward the sun so after quickly snapping a few pictures I circled around and managed to get a few more from the other side.

My camera is a Sony Cybershot with 20X zoom, zoomed in not quite all the way for these two pics.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Today's Sky

It was supposed to rain today. No rain yet but we do have some interesting clouds.

A Useless Extra

Freaky celebrity fact of the day: Carrie Underwood was born with a third nipple. Also interesting is that there's a blog devoted to supernumerary nipples, though, sadly, the last post was in 2012.

Link sent to me by he who (apparently) talks about nipples at work.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Book Quote

From Brass Man by Neal Asher:

It had not taken the general population, for whom it was a long-established tradition to look upon their human leaders with contempt, very long to realize that the AIs were better at running everything. And it is very difficult to motivate people to revolution when they are extremely comfortable and well off.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mozart Violin Sonata

This is my favorite of Mozart's Sonatas for Violin and Piano. At least it is right now, at this moment.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Earth Image of the Week

So let's try this for a while. This is the Tulsa Zoo. That sort of boomerang shaped thing at the top of the picture is the parking lot.

I'm thinking that most of the time I won't pick something this specific, rather just a random piece of the world that looks interesting.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


I hadn't heard this one before. I love it, and the paintings too.

From the Youtube page: "CORRECTION: Please note that the orchestra in this performance is the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, not the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, as stated in the opening credits of the video. The film begins and ends with a painting by Sir John Arnesby Brown. The second painting in the sequence is by Albert Julius Olsson and the third is by Robert Gallon. Thereafter, the paintings are all by either Albert Julius Olsson or Norman Wilkinson."

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Summer Sky

This page looks so empty. Here's a photo just to fill up some space. Took this a few weeks ago, in July.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Well, Here I Am Again

There should be something here in a few days, maybe a week. Maybe.