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.