Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Random Linkage

The Miss American Vampire Contest - a weird beauty pageant from the 70s

Greg Van Dye - very colorful landscape paintings

Cultural Snow - an interesting looking culture blog that I must take time to explore sometime

Harrison Ford Halloween - a few of Harrison Ford's Halloween costumes from the past few years

Hedgehog Goes Camping - cute

Leila Jeffreys - lovely bird portraits

Gentleman's Surprise Chair - plus 12 more beautiful and interesting items. I have seen pictures of this chair before and I want it.

Karen Knorr Photography - Beautiful animal photos in ornate interior settings. I love these.

The Real Mata Hari - Another case of what "everyone knows" being not true.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Oooo! A Book List!

Hello out there! Anyone still reading this thing?

I usually roll my eyes at any list of things I "must" or "should" do but I'm inclined to take this list of 200 Books Everyone Should Read at Least Once a little more seriously because, hey, it's books! Even if I don't agree that I should read them all (which I don't) it's still a good list. So, you can follow the link and read the whole list but I'm going to make two lists of my own out of it: books I have read and books I want to read.

Books I Have Read

Bleak House by Charles Dickens - I wasn't sure which list to put this one on because I haven't finished it yet. This is the book I'm reading right now. I'm 32 percent of the way through it. At first I found it charming but it soon became almost unbearably tedious and now I'm kind of between, "I can't take any more of this," and "Dammit I will finish this book!"

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

Charlotte's Web, E. B. White - Does it count that I had this read to me when I was a kid?

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

Clan of the Cave Bear, Jean M Auel - Do not waste your time reading this book. It's awful.

Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky - I have read this one twice, first in high school, mainly because I wanted to appear smart but I did find it interesting then, and then again just a few years ago.

Dune, Frank Herbert - Yes! Several times. I read the first 4 or 5 books in the series. First three are excellent, the rest were disappointing.

East of Eden, John Steinbeck - At least twice, maybe three times.

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley - Such a famous character I had to read the original. Actually liked it better than I expected to, though it is by no means one of my favorite books.

The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett ? - I did read one novel by Pratchett. I think it was this one. It was okay, not really my cup of tea but I might try one of his other novels sometime because I do sort of feel like I should.

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

The Green Mile, Stephen King - One of his better ones, I think.

Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad - Didn't like this one. In particular one detail kept bothering me. He kept talking about how silent the jungle was at night. Sorry, I know better. My back yard out here in the middle of nowhere is not silent at night and I'm pretty sure the African jungle isn't either. Besides that, there was just nothing about it that I found interesting or enjoyable.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams - A long time ago and I'm not sure if I finished it.

Johnathan Livingstone Seagull, Richard Bach - Yes! I loved this book. I need to get another copy. Somewhere in our several moves I let it go and now I wish I still had it.

Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien - I didn't love this one as much as I feel like I should.

Moby Dick, Herman Melville - Twice. I actually read it the second time because I hadn't liked it the first time and for some reason felt like I should give it another try. I think I "got it" a little better the second time around but still not one of my favorites.

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde - It was okay.

The Stand, Stephen King - Didn't care much for this one.

A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens - Two or three times. Excellent book, with arguably the best first and last lines of any book.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee - I should read this one again. I read it when I was probably too young to really get it, I think.

War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy - I actually read this one because it has such a reputation for being a long book. I enjoyed it and it didn't seem unusually long to me because I have read other very long books.

War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells - I hate to say this but the movies were better.

Watership Down, Richard Adams - A lovely, unusual book. I want to read it again sometime.

1984, George Orwell

Books I Want to Read (An incomplete list, just the ones I most want to read)

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll - I've seen numerous cartoon and movie versions of this and it has never been one of my favorite stories but my mom once told me it was one of her favorite books when she was a kid so, for that reason, I have always sort of felt bad that I never read it.

Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy - I liked War and Peace so maybe I would like this one too.

Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres - Have never heard anything about it but it's about a captain? and a mandolin? Sounds interesting.

The Color Purple, Alice Walker - Just because I've heard so much about it.

The Far Pavilions, M. M. Kaye - Because I like the title

Flowers in the Attic, Virginia Andrews - Because my mother mentioned it once or twice

The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway

The Once and Future King, T. H. White

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez - When I was in high school one of my classmates did a book report on this - the kind where you stand in front of the class and talk about the book - and I sort of thought I wanted to read it but never got around to it.

Ulysses, James Joyce - Because people have said it's challenging or "difficult"

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera - Maybe. I like the title but...

In addition to those, I of course want to read anything by Charles Dickens that I haven't read yet and I want to read at least one book by Jane Austen. And I want to read at least one more book by Terry Pratchett.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Dogs and Cats

The world is a dumpster fire so turn off the news and watch this instead. (Disclaimer: I watched this with the sound turned down because I'm listening to something else.) The gray cat with the whole litter of puppies is too cute.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

This Is Not Star Trek (and Other TV Notes)

I think I might like Star Trek: Discovery if they didn't call it Star Trek. It just doesn't look or feel like Star Trek. It's supposedly set just a few years earlier than the original series. Of course I don't expect the clunky 1960's version of the future but they could at least make it look like it belongs in the same universe. Visually, everything is too dark and too busy. And they appear to have changed the Klingons yet again. Those scenes were too dark to clearly see what they look like but it's apparent that they don't look quite like the Klingons in The Next Generation and the movies.

Possibly even more wrong than the visual appearance of the show is the... I don't know what to call it other than the feel. The feel is all wrong. Everything is so deadly serious. There's no friendly banter, no chemistry between the crew members, and so far little in the way of real personality. I have only watched the first episode so far so maybe it just needs time to develop but I don't hold out much hope that this will ever be really Star Trek

* * * * *

I have been interested in the Big Bang Theory spin-off, Young Sheldon. After one episode, I think I like it. It's a difficult thing to do, to cast younger versions of established characters but I think they did as well as can be expected. The actors are all good. The writing? We'll see. In some ways 9-year-old Sheldon seems almost more mature than adult Sheldon and the dad so far is a more sympathetic character than was hinted at in The Big Bang Theory. Jim Parsons narrates, establishing the connection between the two shows.

Speaking of The Big Bang Theory, I watched the season premiere of that. No spoilers. It's starting to feel like this show might be winding down - like this (or maybe the next) might be the last season. It has developed so far from what it started out as. I think that's a good thing, actually. The fact that the characters were allowed to grow is part of what has kept the show going for so many years. I like the The Big Bang Theory a lot; I don't want it to end but everything has to end sometime and I think it would be appropriate to end with all four of the guys happily married and that seems to be the direction the show is going. There's no one for Raj yet but the writers could make it happen and I really hope they do eventually. It would be too sad if he got left out.

I haven't seen very many new shows and season premieres yet. The season is just getting started. I've watched the season premiere of Scorpion. The less said about this show the better. A nice set of characters with some really really bad writing. Gotham is back and is still one of my favorite shows.

In the non-fiction department, this past summer I got hooked on Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, a half hour political stand up comedy show. If you like Donald Trump and Fox News don't watch it; you'll hate it.

I have seen some promos for several new shows that I might be interested in. I'll probably do another TV post in a few weeks when/if I've had a chance to see some of these. I have a somewhat limited amount of time to watch TV series though so I don't know how many new shows I'll be able to get into.

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.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

That Moment When...

Have you ever been reading a book and come across a line or a passage that suddenly changes your perspective on the author? Maybe it sends the author up a notch or maybe it's like, "Oh! I thought he was that kind of author but he's actually that kind of author." Am I making sense?

The first three books in John Scalzi's Old Man's War series were discounted during Amazon's Prime Day. I had always been kind of interested in these but also kind of not or maybe I should say less interested than I was in some other books but the Prime Day discount seemed like a good opportunity. Not only were they discounted but they are standard size paperbacks which seem to be increasingly rare these days, at least in the books I most want to read, which annoys me no end.

So anyway I got them and started reading the first book and it's good. I'm not a big fan of military sci-fi but this is fleshed out enough with personalities and interesting dialog, and of course, interesting technology, to make it seem like not just military sci-fi.

So I finished Old Man's War and immediately moved on to The Ghost Brigades. It's been a fun read. Then about three-quarters of the way through the book, maybe a little more, I come across this line:

And as for thinking, what about thinking requires you to observe yourself doing it?

This begins a couple of pages long discussion about consciousness. I'm not sure I'm buying it, or maybe I'm just not completely able to wrap my head around the concept of a being that thinks but is not aware. That's kind of beside the point though. What I am charged up about is discovering an author who explores tricky subjects such as consciousness. So, now I'm suddenly a Scalzi fan and I have added several more books to my Must Read list.

BTW, Scalzi is really entertaining on Twitter. I have liked so many of his tweets I'm starting to feel like a creepy celebrity stalker.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Well, There Goes Another Piece of My Childhood

Glenn Campbell was one of my favorite singers around the time I was about 9 years old. I liked several of his songs but I really couldn't get enough of this one. Of course, at the time I didn't clue in to the sad romantic story part of it. I just liked the tune and the imagery.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Random Linkage

Brin Levinson - Wild animals in decaying urban settings. Wonderful! I love these.

Last word on "Cultural Appropriation - Or at least it should be.

Books - a great collection of book and library related links

Valerian and Laureline - a 1960s French comic that looks strangely similar to Star Wars

Bird Palaces of Turkey - Wonderful!

Latte Art - Impressive. On the one hand, it's "too pretty to drink," but on the other I think it would be so cool to be served this. It would make me feel special, just like when I was a kid and my mom would do a little something extra just to make me happy.

Whatever Happened to Data - A slideshow about what former Star Trek actors are doing now. I knew some of this.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

So ell enzina

I heard this on the radio this morning. It was composed by Led Zeppelin bass player John Paul Jones. I love discovering wonderful little surprises like this. It's a lovely video too.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Musical Find

I was looking for a piece by Sofia Gubaidulina called On Leaving and found this instead. I haven't listened to all of it yet. Currently about four minutes into it and so far I'm liking it.

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.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Eat Your Cake; It's Good For You

Add to the list of questionable scientific studies I want to believe, eating chocolate cake for breakfast is good for you. It allegedly improves cognitive performance, memory, and abstract thinking. And - the really exciting one - it can help you lose weight. Yay! Just the good news we've all been wishing for! Now we can eat chocolate cake every morning and we'll all be thin and smart. What a wonderful world. I love science, don't you?

The scientists say that "your body converts food and energy more efficiently in the morning" plus there are those wonderful, beneficial "flavonoids" in chocolate but I have an additional idea about how this (the weight loss part of it) might work. Believe it or not I actually do tend to lose weight when I eat ice cream as opposed to when I pig out on things like pizza and giant greasy hamburgers. When I eat ice cream it's usually in the evening and because I know I am going to eat ice cream I "save up" during the day by avoiding snacks during the day and maybe eating a little less at supper. I can see some people if they eat cake in the morning "being good" the rest of the day because they think, "I had that slice of cake this morning so I better watch the calories the rest of the day."

Anyway, I don't think I'll be trying the Chocolate Cake Diet, at least not right now. A while back on Twitter I said that if I live to be 100 I'm going to eat ice cream for supper every night and tell people it's my secret for a long life. So maybe I'll add cake to my 100+ diet plan. Cake for breakfast, ice cream for supper = long life. I'll figure out what to have for lunch later.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Gotham

We can't all like the same things. Different strokes, no accounting for taste, and all that. I get it; I really do and I'm fine with it. But still, once in a while something comes along that is so awesome I just can't fully grasp the fact that not everyone loves it as much as I do. My brain has always known that there must be people out there who do not love Gotham but my heart and soul do not believe it's possible. So it was a bit of a shock to learn that there are at least two people who do not like Gotham.

In case anyone reading this has missed out, Gotham (Fox) is a Batman prequel. Bruce Wayne is a teenager - quiet, serious, and often surprisingly innocent. All the familiar characters are there, though some of the villains have not yet acquired their villain persona. Edward Nygma, for example, in the early seasons is just a shy young guy with issues that probably wouldn't seem all that bad if you didn't know what was coming and it is great fun watching him become The Riddler.

Gotham is incredibly fun to watch. The casting is outstanding. The actors all play their characters brilliantly. My favorite is Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin. I can hardly keep from giggling every time he appears on screen. I could list each actor and gush about how brilliant each of them is but you really just have to see for yourself.

Could it be though, that I am having so much fun watching the characters that I never noticed that there's no plot? Typically, shows that have a long season to season story arc tend to eventually lose focus and go off on weird tangents. I have to admit I'm starting to get a little bored with the Court of Owls, and if Penguin is "killed" and brought back to life one more time it might make me roll my eyes a little, but overall I don't think that's happening with Gotham. It does seem like they skip around a lot. Often the story will refer back to events of a season or two ago. I started watching during season two and I caught on fairly quickly but I don't think it would be possible to pick it up much later than that. This skipping around really doesn't bother me though. To me, it just makes it seem more real. In real life events do not always happen in a smooth, logical progression.

So anyway... I suppose I'm just defending one of my favorite shows and if it's not your cup of tea, it's not your cup of tea but if you haven't watched it yet try it. Start at the beginning and give it some time. And don't worry about the plot or lack thereof. Just sit back and enjoy it moment to moment.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Random Linkage

Starfleet Academy - It's a real place and you can take a tour! But you might be disappointed when you find out what it really is.

Artist Rick Stevens - I love this. Abstract and not quite abstract?

Language Links - A long list

Scardy Dog - Lots of pictures of dogs being afraid of things. Vacuum cleaners are a common fear and far from the silliest.

Tender Wings of Desire - OMG! Someone please tell me this is not real.

Digital Pin-Ups - I suppose that, as a woman, I'm supposed to be outraged about stuff like this but I like pin art. I can't help but appreciate the silliness and ridiculousness. These have a bit of a retro feel but at the same time modern and twisted. NSFW?

Sarah Forbes Bonetta - Interesting, little known history

The Orville - A Star Trek parody series. I'll decide later whether I love it or hate it. Of course you know if it's good Fox will cancel it after only 14 episodes.

Beautiful Tables

Train and Rail Yard Art

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Water Bucket

A simple but clever idea: put a camera in a bucket of water. I'm a little disappointed that no cats came to drink but I love this anyway.

Friday, May 5, 2017

This 'n' That

I tried Coca-Cola "Life", the one with the green label, and it's not awful. It took me a long time to get to it. The green label greatly bothers my inner Sheldon Cooper. I know it's silly but it goes against my sense of the way things are supposed to be. Coke labels are supposed to be red. The silver Diet Coke label and the black Coke Zero label don't bother me but green is just a color too far. Another thing is stevia. I assumed as soon as I saw the green label that stevia had something to do with it. I had tried it in the little packets before and didn't like it. It's supposed to be "natural" but it has a bitter artificial taste so I had no interest in trying the green label Coke. But then I saw in a commercial that it's sweetened with cane sugar and stevia. So, okay, worth a try.

As I said, it's not awful but it's not great either. I can't decide if it tastes more of less like "the real thing" than Coke Zero. I haven't had a "real" Coke in a fairly long time so it's hard to say. I think I like it slightly better than Coke Zero but it does still have a bit of that wrongness about it that artificially sweetened drinks have. I would be interested in trying a Cherry Coke "Life". That should have a colorful label. Maybe they could come out with it right before Christmas time.

* * * * *

Speaking of Sheldon Cooper, I just heard that there is going to be a Big Bang Theory prequel series about Sheldon as a child. I don't really have an opinion about it yet but I do think it's interesting that Sheldon's mother will be played by Zoe Perry who is the real life daughter of Laurie Metcalf, who plays Sheldon's mother in The Big Bang Theory. And the young actor who will play Sheldon looks enough like grown-up Sheldon to be believable.

* * * * *

I discovered Kenga Rex on Twitter. If you want to spend hours looking at collections of wonderful photographs this is the site for it. It uses a slide show format, which is one of my top pet peeves of the Internet but this is not too terrible. The photos load reasonably quickly and they are so beautiful and amazing that it's worth the relatively small annoyance.

* * * * *

Oooo! I must get the PlantNet app. (I forget where I first saw this.) At a glance, the website doesn't look especially well organized but the app might be more useful. There are of course other plant identification apps. Everything seems to be focused on useful or desirable plants but what I really want most is to identify all the interesting little "weeds" that grow all over my place.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Fascinating Fungi

We have been getting SO MUCH rain lately! I think maybe someone is supposed to be building an ark. We have had a few breaks, like yesterday, when the weather was nice and I could get out and walk around outside. Naturally, when we get lots of rain we get lots of fungi and it seems like every year I see something new. A few days ago I found this gorgeous fungus growing on this small tree. It actually seems a bit translucent.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Voices

Fillyjonk said something that caught me by surprise. Talking about Willie Nelson, that "He doesn't have a beautiful singing voice..." When I really think about it, I suppose that's true. He doesn't have the kind of voice that people normally think of as beautiful but I have always loved it.

I am attracted to unique voices, at least in popular music. With operatic singing I'm more interested in the music itself. I expect operatic voices to be well trained and I only want the singers to respect the music and "sing it right." But with popular music I want to hear voices that don't sound like all the other voices.

She mentioned Hallelujah. I hadn't heard Willie Nelson's version of that and I've had a certain fascination with that song recently so of course I listened to it. I was a little disappointed, probably because I have developed certain expectations for the song, so I'm posting one of my favorites instead.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Just a Few Links

Edward Gorey, Collector - This is not surprising at all. (I used to have a few of the Red Rose Tea figurines. I haven't seen them since before the last time we moved, over 20 years ago.)

Aging - Comparing photos of centenarians with their photos taken when they were young adults

Vintage Book Covers - I want these.

Russian Tea Containers

Alternate Universes

Fictional Butterflies - Lovely!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Little Something...

Wow, have I really not posted anything all week and the week is almost over? I need to do a book post because I just finished another book and that makes three since the last time I posted anything about books. I probably won't get the chance tomorrow either because we're supposed to have a massive rainstorm, 4 to 6 inches of rain and hail likely and satellites apparently can't see through heavy clouds so no Internet or TV for me tomorrow. I should get lots of reading and sewing done.

So, for now, here's a little something from one of my favorite "lesser" composers.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

In With the New, Out With the Old

I have such a hard time letting go, even of things that I don't really like all that much anymore. The plate on the left in the first photo below is maybe 30 years old. I originally bought 4 10 inch plates and four 8 inch plates. They're actually a pretty hefty plastic, thicker and better than typical plastic plates but two of the large ones and one of the small ones eventually broke. Last year I finally found somewhere I could buy DallasWare in a small quantity. (They're a restaurant item, usually only available in cases of 48.) I bought 12 blue 10 inch plates and threw out the two yellow plates in that size but kept the three remaining smaller ones. The three that are left have stains that won't come out. I even bleached them and that helped some but there are still faint stains.

I had been looking at these aquatic themed plates at Walmart. I fondled them and left them in the store several times because I "don't need anymore plates." I thought about buying just one so my granddaughter will have something bright and colorful to eat off of when she comes over but today I finally gave in to the impulse and bought four of them. Which means I must let go of the old.

It shouldn't be hard at all to throw out some old, stained plastic plates that we don't even use all that often anymore but... but... they have been part of my life for almost 30 years. My children ate off of those plates! Okay, I did throw them away and right this moment I am resisting the urge to get them back out of the trash. Have you ever heard of such silliness?

I'm sure these new plates won't last that long. According to the label they are only "top rack dishwasher safe" but I know sooner or later (almost certainly sooner) someone is going to put them in the bottom rack and I won't notice and there goes my pretty new plate. Also, while they seem to be fairly decent quality I don't expect them to last more than a few years. Which, I'm kind of okay with because they were cheap enough but, for that reason, it seems sort of wrong to throw away something that is "still good" in favor something new and probably not as good.

Well, all that's probably more of the inside of my head than you ever wanted to see. Here are two more of the new plates. There were only three different designs so I bought two of the fish. When I got home I wondered why I chose two of the fish when the starfish is actually my favorite but I'm really not too disappointed with my choice. I like them all. I really wish there had been four different designs.

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Lovely Weekend

Guess who I got to meet yesterday!

(She was dressed for church. I was dressed for a long car ride.)

We drove down to Austin, Texas on Friday to visit family and drove back on Sunday. I have always had mixed feelings about meeting people I only know online, mostly because the people I'm most attracted to online are all better educated than I am and I worry about what kind of impression I will make. I'm really just a dumb redneck with a sort of weird variety of interests. Fortunately, my husband can talk to anyone so I knew I wouldn't have to worry much about awkward silences.

I really enjoyed our little get-together. It didn't feel like I was meeting Erica for the first time because she is exactly as I always imagined her. We had lunch at a little Italian restaurant called Roma's. I didn't really mind that it took them forever to bring our food because it gave us more time to talk.

* * *

Saturday with family (in-laws) was great too. There were cousins there whom I had only met briefly over 30 years ago and also some I had not met before including some really sweet and adorable kids. So it was a lovely and fun weekend.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Random Linkage

Rubik's Cakes - a cute party idea

Hidden Haikus

Artist Will Wilson - Portraits, still life, animals, and more

Six Pie Recipes

Colormind - I haven't taken the time to play with this yet but it looks interesting.

Glass house - Beautiful! Definitely do not throw stones.

Candy Geode - You'll need a few friends to share it with.

Planet Building Blues - An interesting blog if you have time to do some reading.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Few Things

Turkish artist Huseyin Sahin creates beautiful, surreal scenes using photographs.

I just discovered Factinate this morning. As always, be skeptical of any "facts" you read on the Internet but this does look interesting and I noticed that they did get at least one thing right that often misleads people, about life expectancy in ancient times and how it's skewed by the higher number of infant and maternal deaths.

Black and WTF is a Tumblr devoted to odd old black and white photos.

I made this raspberry sour cream pie. I halved the recipe to make only one pie.I wouldn't say it was the best pie I've ever tasted but it was yummy and I will be making again sometime.

Book Quote

From Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds:

And though he did eventually return, his doubters had in a sense been right, because a large portion of his sanity had not come back with him.

Thanks to my son for sharing that with me. I have read the book but it was several years ago. ("Several" being something like 10 maybe)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Just Some Birds

Newest Vice

Prepared food industry, I hate you. You keep on coming out with irresistible stuff. And by the way, Mother Nature... I don't hate you because you do some really awesome work but let's be honest, you are a cruel bitch sometimes. Like, the way you make stuff that's bad for us taste so good. But back to the prepared foods industry and this evil temptation.

I know... almonds are healthy, right, so this isn't that bad? That's what they want us to think. They don't want us to read the required Nutrition Facts part of the label and see that it has 14 grams of fat and 13 grams of carbohydrates per unrealistically small serving.

So far we've tried it on whole wheat bagels and on graham crackers. The jar is almost empty. I'm going to try to resist the temptation to buy more. For a while.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

New Old TV Episodes

In 1995 we moved from Virginia to Oklahoma. (This is closer to where we were originally from) The first season of Star Trek: Voyager had just finished. And, if I remember correctly, we were in the middle of the second season of Babylon 5. We found, to our intense disappointment, that in the Tulsa area both of these shows were on a weak channel that you can't get with an antenna unless you live practically next door to the broadcast station. It would be several more years before we got cable and then later, DirectTV.

So there are six entire seasons of ST:V that we have not seen. (Not to mention several seasons of B5*) Until now. BBC America recently started showing reruns of it on Monday night and I'm enjoying catching up. So far they have been showing episodes from the later seasons, mostly 1998, 1999 or around that. When the show first premiered I found it a bit disappointing. It was okay but just not... I don't know... not Star Trek enough. But I'm liking these later episodes a lot more. I am missing one of my favorite characters from the first season, Kes. I even named a cat after her.

Seven of Nine is annoying but I think I'm starting to hate her a bit less. I don't think I'll ever name a cat after her though. I can see why most guys like her so much. (You know, I really don't mind the token eye candy but it would be nice if we gals could see some too. At least in the original we occasionally got to see Captain Kirk without a shirt.)

But what I really wanted to talk about is the theme music. This is my favorite of all the Star Trek openings, both the music and the visuals.

There is also an extended version.

And then there's this:

(* No we can't stream it on Netflix or Hulu. Real high speed Internet is not available out here in the boonies.)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Cute Weirdness... or Weird Cuteness

I did try to think of something clever to say about this but, honestly, I don't think it needs anything from me.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Random Linkage

Clouds - This guy says we should spend more time talking about clouds. It does seem like a better topic for conversation than most I have been hearing lately.

Spiritual Perception - A beautiful surreal art Tumblr. Beautiful! I am so in love with this site!

Kawaii Monster Cafe - Not very monstrous. A colorful and fun Japanese cafe.

Ambiguous Abbreviations - Or perhaps one could say, unfortunate.

Food Carving - Artist plays with food

Ted Wilson Reviews the World - A hilarious review of butter.

Russian Fairy Tale Portraits - Beautiful portrait photography.

Real photographs that look like paintings

Village of Flowers - A Polish village with flowers painted on everything. Wonderful!

The Turban Trick - an interesting bit of history

Ambient Geek Sleep Aids - Background noise from science fiction movies and TV shows

Miniature Environments by Song Kang - Fascinating sculptures

Friday, March 3, 2017

Book Quote

From Helliconia Summer by Brian W. Aldiss:

Hate cheers you up, makes you forget guilt.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

This 'n' That

I came across a word that I don't remember seeing before even though it is an old word, probably considered outdated which would be why I hadn't noticed it before. (And it does seem sort of odd that I had never seen it so maybe I had and just forgot about it?) The word is botheration. This seems like a useful word. The way it's used in the book I'm reading, Helliconia Summer, it's an understatement. All kinds of big, really bad events are just botheration. With all the hyperbole we have in the world today I think more understatement would be healthy.

Here is a list that I actually, totally agree with: Top 20 Things No Woman Should Wear After 30. No, really. You have to go read it. I'll admit though, I might be tempted by the cursed amulet. Or maybe I'm trying hard to find something on the list that I would wear, just to be contrary.

I thought of an idea for a Criminal Minds episode. Disturbed blogger who never gets any comments hunts down lurkers and tortures and murders them after forcing them to comment on every single post on his (or her) blog. No, no! Not me! I would never do that. I wouldn't know how to find you anyway. But it would make a good creepy story, wouldn't it?

Fake fur in a spring fashion show seems a bit odd. Well, that's not the only odd thing about this collection but my inner child wants to pet these clothes and maybe even wear them. At home, alone, where no one can see me.

A nice post about body image. You know, body image is sort of important to me but not important enough to ever make me want to wear long sleeves in the summer. But then, I live in Oklahoma, not New York.

There are several books in this list, How to Escape in 9 Books, that I might want to read. It's not often that you see a general list of books that starts with a science fiction novel so I was immediately encouraged.

Finally, here's another one of those cool Animusic videos, because I simply can't resist.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Font of Goodness

This makes my rebellious little heart almost giddy with happiness. Hating Comic Sans is Ableist. Now before I go on I have to say that I hate the word "ableist". I hate pretty much any recently coined word that ends in "ist". But I won't get any further into that now. I have never had any strong feelings about Comic Sans one way or the other. It's just a font; it's kind of cute, informal, probably shouldn't be used for resumes or term papers but if you did I don't think it would be a deadly sin or anything like that.

Look, I can understand people having font preferences and dislikes and that they might differ from mine. But I will never understand the amount of energy some people waste on hating Comic Sans. I mean, it's not that it's difficult to read, the only legitimate reason for hating a font; people just hate it for no good reason - because it's casual, I guess. But whatever the reason, the way people express their dislike for it is just too over-the-top. Come on, people; there are many things in the world more worthy of all that hate, if you must hate.

Now, here is an excellent reason to demand tolerance for comic sans.

The day my sister, Jessica, discovered Comic Sans, her entire world changed. She’s dyslexic and struggled through school until she was finally diagnosed in her early twenties, enabling her to build up a personal set of tools for navigating the written world.

“For me, being able to use Comic Sans is similar to a mobility aid, or a visual aid, or a hearing aid,” she tells me while we’re both visiting our family in Maryland. “I have other ways of writing and reading, but they’re not like they are for someone who’s not dyslexic.”

The irregular shapes of the letters in Comic Sans allow her to focus on the individual parts of words. While many fonts use repeated shapes to create different letters, such as a “p” rotated to made a “q,” Comic Sans uses few repeated shapes, creating distinct letters (although it does have a mirrored “b” and “d”). Comic Sans is one of a few typefaces recommended by influential organizations like the British Dyslexia Association and the Dyslexia Association of Ireland. Using Comic Sans has made it possible for Jessica to complete a rigorous program in marine zoology at Bangor University in Wales.

As the article notes, there are other fonts designed for dyslexics but some still find Comic Sans the easiest to read and I think people, disabled or not, should be allowed to choose what makes their lives easier without ridicule from self-appointed guardians of good taste. Okay, I have to admit, I lean toward being a guardian of good taste myself in some ways like, for example, if your bra straps are showing and it's obviously not an accident I definitely think badly of you but I'm not going start a website devoted to outrage over exposed bra straps. It's all about the amount of energy you put into hating relatively unimportant things. Comic Sans might be a serious irritant to some people but it's not up there with bigotry, poverty, and a whole long list of actual problems. So, Comic Sans? Just get over it, people. It's only a font.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Book Quote

From Helliconia Spring by Brian W. Aldiss:

...life has a quality rulers cannot touch.

I have thought about this but something that good writers can do that most of us can't is state a thought simply and elegantly that most of us take whole paragraphs to try to say without ever really getting the point across.

Interesting Sweet Potato Recipe

I saw this Melting Sweet Potatoes recipe on Facebook and want to link to it here so I can find it again. It's very simple but interesting to me for some reason. You might laugh at me but, to be honest, the 500 degree oven temp kind of freaks me out a little bit but I'm going to try this sometime.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hello February

It seems like everyone hates February. I often hear people say that the only good thing about is that it's short. It's true that we have had some of our worst weather ever in February but to me February feels sort of... I'm not sure this is the word I really want to use but sort of hopeful. This is because the days are getting noticeably longer. It's a little less dark. It's increasingly possible to imagine spring. (March, on the other hand, makes me impatient because it's usually still cold in March and it starts to feel like winter will never end.)

Saturday it was 80F. Today it's gray and cold, more like February is "supposed to be" but that's okay. I had Saturday and today it's still not freezing and the sun will come out and it will warm up again soon. February is okay.

I took the picture in this post a few minutes ago, between 8:15 and 8:30.

Valentines Day

I don't really care much about Valentines Day one way or the other. It's a nice little "holiday" I suppose but I'm not that emotionally invested in it. We're not really overtly romantic people which suits me just fine. Too often things that look romantic in the movies come across as creepy in real life. Guys who have been called "creepy" might want to make a note of this. Don't try too hard. Just be real.

I think the jewelry stores, and in particular DeBeer's, have ruined Valentines Day. When we were kids it was just that fun little day when everyone got those little Valentine cards that always had some kind of silly pun on them and when you were grown up you would get a prettier card and if he was really serious maybe a heart shaped box of chocolates, a third to a half of which are slightly icky (Seriously, why doesn't anyone make Valentines chocolates that are all one kind, like all chocolate covered cherries or all coconut so you can have a whole box of your favorite kind?) and that was pretty much all there was to it. Just a nice, fun little day.

Now it's become so complicated. Guys are expected to come up with the perfect gift, "perfect" meaning expensive, and there's a definite suggestion that the woman is expected to "put out" in response to this perfect gift. Sorry folks but if that's the way it works that's a payment for services, not a gift. Also, there's now a stigma against being alone on Valentines Day - like it's so sad and the worst thing in the world. I blame sitcoms for that.

Listen people, the movies are not real life. TV is not real life. DeBeer's commercials are not real life. Just because we see it on TV does not mean that we are required to play along. Just do your own thing, whatever feels right, whatever makes you happy and don't be all angsty about it. Take back Valentines Day and make it the cute, silly little day it used to be.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Earth Images of the Week

I was watching a documentary series about Antarctica Saturday so I decided to do a little exploring on Google Earth. Not much to see down there but this area looks sort of interesting.

From farther out:

Fortunately, it's quite a bit warmer on my part of the planet.

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Bit of Spring in February

More Books

As I already mentioned, I was reading Neal Asher's Dark Intelligence. Excellent story, great fun. It's the first of a trilogy set in his Polity universe and features a very interesting AI character - one of the insane ones - seen in earlier novels. This AI is being hunted separately by two humans, one of whom is being rapidly transformed into something not human.

As I said in the my earlier post I have the second book in that trilogy and I thought about reading it next but since the third book hasn't been published yet I decided there was no point in getting in a hurry about it. So I read Binti instead. You can read an excerpt here. It is not long, a novella, and I read it all in one day. It is excellent and unique, about a teenage girl from a tribal culture who is accepted by a university off world but her parents forbid her to go and her brothers and sisters ridicule her ambitions so of course she sneaks away and goes anyway. On the way she meets people who look down on her because of her traditions and vicious aliens who hate humans. A very worthwhile read.

What do you do when you have two books you want to read immediately? You go looking for a third one. I looked to see if there was anything in my Kindle Recommendations and was shocked and awed (in a good way) to find Brian Aldiss' Helliconia Trilogy for $5 and change. I had found Helliconia Spring over a decade ago in a used bookstore and loved it but I couldn't find Summer and Winter anywhere. After a while I gave up searching and mostly forgot about it. So of course that's what I'm reading now.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Just a Few Links

Vintage Wallpaper - Very interesting designs. I guess it's just as well they don't make it like this anymore. I would have a terrible time deciding what I want on my walls.

How to Transfer a Photo to Wood - A fun thing to try sometime

Fairy Doors

Fat Cat Art

Reading for Longevity - People who read books live longer.

Fy Nyth - Life in a tiny house in Wyoming. Gorgeous nature photography. Take some time to browse the archives.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Science Fiction & Fantasy on TV

Just a few short notes about some of the shows I have been watching:

Pure Genius - This show is about an advanced medical facility that regularly comes up with miracle cures, usually without waiting for FDA approval. The center's founder is a young billionaire genius (but not a doctor) with a lot of heart, enthusiasm, and impatience. In a current ongoing story line he gives a patient an experimental drug that has not been approved by the FDA which leads to a lot of drama but I'm sitting there thinking, "What about all those other times you used treatments that were not approved by the FDA or the AMA or anyone because they were made up on the spot and it was apparently perfectly okay?" Three stars. Or maybe only two and half.

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Beyond is on Freeform, a network I had never heard of until I saw this advertised on another network and discovered to my surprise that we do get it. A young man wakes up after having been in a coma for 12 years. In addition to having to catch up on all the things he missed, like high school and learning to drive, he has to deal with some pretty weird stuff going on - people he's never met who apparently know him and some strange powers. Not bad but not great. Three stars.

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Emerald City (NBC) - As you might guess from the title, this is a re-imagining of The Wizard of Oz but it has very little in common with the original. A rather fun show with entertaining characters but the story is a bit confusing so far. Still, I'm going to give it four stars because it's imaginative and, overall, well done.

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Gotham - You really need to be watching this show! Everything about it is brilliant! The writing, the acting, the set design. For those who haven't heard of it, it's a Batman prequel. Bruce Wayne is about 13 or 14, I think, in the first season. Penguin is one of the few villains who is already known by his Batman villain name. Brilliantly portrayed by Robin Lord Taylor, he is now my favorite Penguin ever! There's really just no way I can convey to you how entertaining this guy is. Edward Nygma is just a shy guy with issues - issues that come out more and more as the show progresses. And he who will someday be The Joker has only recently made an appearance. Morena Baccarin, of Firefly fame, has a role as a medical examiner.

Interestingly, Gotham has a 30s/40s noir ambiance but mixes both old and new elements. We see both cell phones (flip phones only, no smart phones) and rotary dial desk phones. Cars are not really "vintage" but I haven't noticed any current models either. Actually, to be honest I haven't paid a whole lot of attention to the cars. Anyway, the whole thing seems designed to make it impossible to tell what era it's in. I love this show. Five stars.

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The Expanse - Second season premiered this week. Based on the series of novels by James S.A. Corey, this is another excellent show. Most of the action takes place aboard space ships and space stations but I hesitate to call it "space opera" because of the associations that term has for some people. The portrayal of life in space is the best and most realistic I have ever seen. I am not a scientist or geeky enough to tell you if they got everything right but it looks very believable to me. Five stars.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Random Linkage

Beautiful Blue Eyes - Believe it or not the photo is real.

Cynthia Mosser Art - Some lovely abstract paintings

105 Year Old Cyclist - You're never too old.

Parallel Dimensions - Interesting old book.

Paul Michael Smith Photography - He makes photos of historic scenes using miniatures.

Dragon Stones - Beautiful paintings of dragons on small stones.

Disney Meets Dali - A forgotten collaboration. I love it.

Studio Soo Flower Shop - More miniatures

Route 66 Then and Now - a series of GIFs, many of Oklahoma

Thomassons - "preserved architectural relics which serve no purpose"

Geeky Valentines Day Cards

Illustrations by Antanas Gudonis - Fascinating. More