Quotes From Here and There

This clock may not be exactly “steampunk”, but it certainly tickles the dials-and-knobs delight!here (Oh my! I really do need to win Powerball.)

“A pedant or grammarian, I think, is the worst possible judge of literature—except the general public.”there

That flash of light is the first clue that the technology is too good to be true.here

Plagued by an apparently incurable case of idiot’s whimsy, yesterday I decided to perform all my household chores as though I were creating a work of art.there

Aliens and Spaceships and Bombs! Oh My!

The 5th book I have read this year is My Other Car Is a Spaceship by Mark Terence Chapman.* Present Day retired U.S. Air Force pilot Hal Nellis is kidnapped by aliens and offered the choice of either returning home to a peaceful retirement or training to pilot a starship and fighting pirates. No points for guessing which option he chooses. This book is full of action from beginning to end – lots of shooting and bombs and destruction but also an interesting plot with surprises and intrigue. Pure fun and escapism. I highly recommend it to any space opera fans out there.

* I read the Kindle edition.

Random Linkage

What Happens When You Stick Your Head Into a Particle Accelerator – Don’t try it.

Wonuts – Dear Internet, please stop showing me food. I’m trying to quit.

All That Is Interesting – A site that perfectly lives up to its name.

17 Aerial Photos

23 Solutions to “First World Problems” – a few good tips in there

The Rise of the Spider Goats – Longish article that I want to read later.

I may never eat another Cadbury Creme Egg after seeing this

ITFM – Funny and odd stuff. I like this. And this. (I’m pretty sure the gray building is in front.)

Rats!

NFL football season is over. Oh, there’s that game coming up, that “Superbowl” thing. Big, fat, hairy, stinking deal. Oh, yeah, we’ll watch, with sad thoughts of what might have been. I am put in the position of having to root for the team that beat my team, because I certainly can’t root for that other team. You know… the P-P-P-P… Dammit, you know who I mean. Oh, well, there’s always next year.

Actually, I am ready for football season to be over. It’s funny… I enjoy watching some of the games and I always look forward to the beginning of the season but by December, if not late November, I am feeling overwhelmed by football and looking forward to there being no football. Then, sometimes, I get interested in the playoffs and start enjoying football again for a few weeks. And the Superbowl… I love that it’s kind of over the top and practically a national holiday. But this year… Blah. Yay! Football is over!

Quotes From Here and There

Well, maybe Mr Fashion Designer might have benefited from reading about how he treated the help, but then again, it’s my experience that a certain type of person never comes to realize when they are in the wrong.here

This is…ironic? Yes? The definition of irony has always eluded me, but I think that’s what we’ve got here.there

…and for one brief moment, I achieve a status in their eyes that is absolutely Gandalfian or Dumbledoresque.here

Once the skies had been thronged with gods.there

It dawned on me this morning that the most obvious difference here is between respecting practice rather than product. This doesn’t mean that product doesn’t matter, far from it, but by achieving the ends desired by using similar or identical means we offer a greater degree of respect for those who produced the products that we admire or are influenced by.here

Different and Interesting

I finished reading the Extinction Point trilogy by Paul Antony Jones. I’m having a hard time getting started on this “review”. It was definitely good, definitely interesting. I read it in what was, for me, record time. But the ending was a disappointment. So what can I say about the ending without it being a spoiler? Perhaps, nothing? It wasn’t terrible, I suppose. Perhaps someone else would think it is the perfect ending?

So, let’s start at the beginning. A mysterious red rain falls, destroying almost all life on Earth. Emily Baxter, a journalist for a NYC newspaper heads off on a cross-country trip to find other survivors. (And I have another small quibble. Emily is from Iowa. Is it just me or does it seem like young women who move to New York are always from Iowa? More bothersome is the fact that she does not know how to drive. If she was from Iowa and moved to New York City as an adult she would at least know how to drive. She might not own a car and might not have got a license in NY but she would know how to drive.)

Anyway… I don’t want to be too negative. Overall it was a very interesting story and I do recommend it to anyone who reads science fiction. The characters were well developed and interesting. The alien life was original – different from anything I’ve ever come across in other books or in movies. The story itself, the action, was compelling and made all three of the books unputdownable.

Mr. Jones says that there will be at least one more book in the series and there is a short story about one of the characters in the series and, yes, I will read those and likely other books by this author.

Quotes From Here and There

Forget parking spaces — I’m not sure these men have the intellectual depth to handle driving.here (Wow. Really?)

Which, in the end, proves that just having access to an encyclopedia won’t make anybody smarter. … The Internet has just allowed us to be who we already were on a much grander scale. It hasn’t changed us. It’s magnified us.there

If you are so scared of life that you have to cling to your world view despite proven facts, then I don’t need to waste time talking to you.here (and thanks for the link)

The avalanche of novelty quilting cotton holiday wear that invaded my blogroll last December irreversibly infected me on Christmas Eve. I raced to Hancock’s, and had a skirt for dinner the next day.there

In a Reading Mood

Since I finished reading Railsea I have already finished another book and I’m more than halfway through another. Wow, must be the weather. At this rate I could read over 200 books this year but I can’t keep this up. I have to come back to the real world and do other things, like sewing. I haven’t really done any sewing since before Christmas and I really need to get back to it. The stash is feeling abandoned. I haven’t even so much as fondled it in weeks. Not to mention that all the online fabric retailers keep having sales. (Shhh. Go away; I don’t need you.)

The books I’m reading now are the Extinction Point series by Paul Antony Jones. I’ll have more to say about them later on. I probably won’t review every book I read but I have decided to try to keep track of the total number of books I read this year. I’ve been doing that on Google+ but I might start some kind of list here too. Feel free to add me to your Circles if you like and I will add you to one of mine. (unless you’re a spammer) I’m not trying to be as exclusive on Google+ as I am on Facebook.

My Weird Brain

I dreamed a cartoon last night (probably early this morning actually) and quite a good one and I’m disappointed that it doesn’t really exist. Of course I don’t remember much now but it had animals and robots. They were like two “races” and there were “good” and “bad” characters among both. I remember some kind of encounter between a large black bird and a flying robot. The bird was “bad” (or maybe just mischievous?) The whole thing had sort of a Hanna Barbera feel to it, which makes sense because that’s mostly what I grew up watching. It’s been years though, so why did I dream that this morning? Brains are weird.

Random Linkage

Why some stars won’t talk to the media – Sheesh!

Anthrocentric – an awesome Tumblr

Physics Girl on the Loose – a lot of sewing, some cooking, and other cool stuff

Most Amazing Science Images of 2014 – Wow!

Pop Culture Trivia – and some nice vintage images. I only knew one of these. Guess which one.

History of Virgin Births – Interesting.

Free Books – a categorized list of 100 sites where you can legally download free books

There’s another (shorter) video of the same dog with a toy helicopter

Trains!

I got China Mieville’s Railsea for Christmas. It’s one of those books that I have been wanting for a while but never got around to buying. I started it a few days after Christmas and finished it Saturday night. (which is really fast for me) I don’t know how to review this book because about all I can think of to say is, “Wow!” Which is usually the first thing I have to say about any of Mieville’s novels.

Railsea isn’t as totally freak-out weird as Perdido Street Station or Iron Council but it’s weird enough. It is not set on the same world as those two novels. It has elements of Moby Dick but it would be unfair to call it “Moby Dick on rails” as I did when I first started it, as that aspect of it turns out not to be the most important part of the story. And there are surprises.

I used to say that if you’ve never read China Mieville start with Perdido Street Station but now I’m thinking Railsea might be the better one to start with. But it doesn’t matter all that much. If you like weird fantasy and science fiction you should definitely read both. PSS is fantasy; Railsea is science fiction. I think. With Mieville, sometimes it’s hard to tell.

Road Trip, 1919

I’m not especially fond of travelogues (except for those written by Bill Bryson) and I have no interest in reading about motorcycles, but when Number One Son (a.k.a. “Hippie”) recommended Across America by Motor-cycle by C. K. Shepherd I thought it might be interesting because this trip across America took place in the year 1919. It was definitely worth reading.

First of all, I must say this book will give you a new appreciation of paved roads, even poorly maintained ones. A great deal of the book consists of complaining about the state of the roads but there are also, motorcycle repairs, encounters with friendly and helpful small town people, and wonderful descriptions of scenery. My favorite part was the description of Arizona’s Petrified Forest. I’ve seen pictures of the place before but reading about it gave me even more of a feeling of what it’s like.

The most amusing part, to me, was the author’s confusion upon finding that the Arkansas River had no water in it. We in Tulsa and the surrounding area are quite familiar with the varying water levels of the Arkansas.

I downloaded the Kindle version with images. There are only a few small photos but I was glad for the chance to see them.

Back to the Everyday

I like holidays and vacations; I think most of us do; but sometimes I think one of the best things about major holidays and vacations is that they make us appreciate our routine, everyday lives. Much as I love the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year season, it’s a relief and a pleasure to get back to normal and enjoy just an ordinary day. It’s cold and gloomy outside but I don’t mind. I did what little shopping I had to do yesterday and I have nowhere to go today.

Speaking of “normal”, my weird cat is back to her normal level of weirdness (I know you were all beside yourselves worrying about that, right?) – eating six times an hour as long as there’s food in the dish and yowling like she’s dying whenever her humans are out of her sight. [sigh] Why do the prettiest ones always have personality issues? Actually, she doesn’t really yowl every time we’re out of her sight, just randomly at times, most often at 3:00 AM.

Quotes From Here and There

I don’t much do “resolutions”, because it always seems slightly unrealistic to suddenly expect to adopt an entirely new approach to life or something based merely on the flipping of a calendar page.here

One of the gifts I gave the DC* for Christmas was a low-temperature Stirling engine kit that, much like us, runs off a cup of tea.there

Happy New Year, people. And animals. Okay, yeah, and sentient plants and ghosts and any alien stopping by for a quick read before it’s time for a probing appointment. Let’s just get ‘em all in so no one writes to me, calling me a “species-ist” or something.here

My friends R, JC and I have always preferred to set a theme for the upcoming year rather than individual goals. Themes like “Expand Horizons”, or “Take Chances”.there

One Day After Yesterday

The Earth circles the sun continuously, with no starting point and no end point but we humans, who so love to measure things, decided to divide time into years and decided that each year would start approximately ten days after the northern hemisphere’s winter solstice. Of course, other humans have used different systems to measure the years, starting the year on different days.

Today is just one day after yesterday. Like every other day of the year, it has no meaning except the meaning we decide to give it. The idea of a “new beginning” is appealing – useful even. So today we begin again. We make big important resolutions and small, perhaps even silly ones.

I don’t formally make resolutions. I don’t get very excited about the new year. This is just the day I get to start a new calendar. But even I can’t entirely keep from thinking about “what I’m going to do this year,” what I want to accomplish, what I want to do differently. And it’s always pretty much the same – eat less, exercise more, spend more time outdoors, read more, sew more, clean out closets, get rid of some junk. Will I actually do those things? Probably not any more than I did last year but it’s good to think about it. But not too much. After all, today is still just one day after yesterday.

One of Those Silly Year-End Review Things

Everybody does it: a big Year-End Year In Review post. Well, I thought about going through each of my categories and picking one favorite post from each but then I thought, “That will take a long time.” So I settled on just two favorite topics: Books and Sewing Projects. Then I thought, maybe a few favorite quotes of the year. And then I thought maybe… but no, I’m getting into too much work. It’s a lazy time of year. So, anyway, here we go.

Favorite Books Read in 2014

When I think about all the books I have read this year I am a little disappointed that I did not manage to read more. I normally spend only about 15 to 30 minutes a day, before bedtime, reading so it takes me a couple of months or even longer to get through a book but in the last few months of the year I have been reading more, maybe an additional hour a day and I hope to continue that trend in the coming year. But, even though there have been relatively few books read, it is still hard to pick just a few favorites. They were all good. But there are a couple or three that stand out.

My favorite books that took me somewhere I was interested in but knew little about was This is Not That Dawn by Yashpal and Daughters of the River Huong by Uyen Nicole Duong.

Well now, if I started listing every book that I enjoyed this year I would soon have listed all of them but there’s one more I have to mention. I read less science fiction and more history and travel books this year than ever before but science fiction is still my favorite genre and of course the book I must mention is the one written by one of my cyberspace neighbors, the closest I’ve come to reading a book by someone I actually “know” – I’m talking, of course, about Stardancer by Kelly Sedinger. Was it my favorite of the year? That’s hard to say; I have a hard time picking favorites and I have read several very good books this year, but this one is definitely good and definitely one of my favorites.

Favorite Sewing Projects of 2014

Oh my! I have made some lovely clothes this year. I love them all. Well, maybe not all. There are a couple that I don’t love quite so much and a few that I really do love but for some reason have not worn very many times but we won’t talk about those right now. I’m here to list favorites. So, first of all, there was this paisley top. Love the colors, love paisley, love the rick rack. In May, I made the lovely roses and lace dress. Then in early June (or perhaps late May and I only got around to posting in June?) was the simple dandelion dress, one of my most often worn dresses of those made this year. In between those I made this adorable romper for my granddaughter. Honestly, I love this so much I have been tempted to make a blouse or something for myself with this fabric and eyelet trim. I bought it at a local store and I know it’s still available.

Oh, so many. You need to just go look at them all again. Okay, okay. Just two more. My true favorite dress to wear, this orange and teal batik dress and my most complimented garment of the year, the brown gingham shirt. (Darn, I wish hadn’t screwed up those buttonholes.)

And finally, Favorite Quotes of 2014

All is well, but nothing is complete. It goes on forever and I can only stand, watch and wonder. (link)

I personally have always considered committees as proof that human beings evolved from animals that had tails and liked to chase them. (link)

My theory with dresses and fashion is all about everyday is a celebration, everyday is worth dressing up for, everyday is awesome. (link)

…“if you cannot walk more than a block in your shoes, they are not shoes; they are pretty sculptures that you happen to have attached to your feet.” (link)

I thought I wanted a pair of trousers with a fly front, but turns out I don’t have man parts that necessitate a zipper in the front. (link)

Why do we want to celebrate our main events with foot sprains and blisters? (link)

If I had a dollar for every time a middle class, white, lesbian with a Women’s Studies degree tried to tell ME how to appropriately respect MY OWN CULTURE AND HERITAGE, I could probably buy a goddamn reservation and turn it into a theme park. (link)

I hope that it’s not just me who thinks that having speed bumps in front of a JoAnns is funny! (link)

Okay, this is getting to be more than just a “a few” and I’m only halfway through the year and I haven’t even had breakfast yet. You people – bloggers – write too much profound and quotable stuff.

Happy New Year everyone.

There Is No “Privilege”

Pardon me for getting serious for a moment. Adam Savage posted a link to this lengthy whine about “male nerd privilege” on Twitter. I have to confess, I tried, I really did, but I only managed to read about half of it before I decided, “I can’t take this nonsense anymore.” I am so very, very tired of “my suffering is worse than your suffering” screeds.

Listen boys and girls, suffering is always individual and very personal and is not necessarily proportional to the sufferers actual situation and the injustices suffered. What one person can easily shake off might be a deeply personal and hurtful attack to another and telling someone that “your suffering is nothing compared to mine” is just as hurtful as actual bullying.

Sadly, even with all our technology and sophistication, underneath it all we are still just educated apes. (Who was it who said that?) We form hierarchies and if we try to take away the hierarchies and make everyone equal we just form different hierarchies. We have alpha males and alpha females and the alphas and non alphas behave almost exactly like alphas and non alphas among our ape ancestors. More than 100 years of feminism and more than 200 years of democracy has not changed that and one thousand more years will still not likely change it very much. I don’t think that means we should just accept our ape nature though. We, as individuals, can behave like the higher beings we like to believe we are.

And we can start by holding our heads up and not whining quite so much no matter what our position in the hierarchy. We can show sympathy to other people who are suffering instead of belittling their feelings. We can refuse to play the game that keeps some people down while protecting those at the top.

And here’s one more thing. Each of us can choose not to suffer, not to be victims. To say, “just grow a thicker skin” sounds like exactly the opposite of what I said above. A lot of people would say it’s “blaming the victim” but it’s a fact that bullies pick on people who are the most fun to pick on so you can definitely help yourself by being less fun to pick on.

Bullies should definitely be severely punished when caught but punishing bullies will make other bullies more subtle and clever and harder to catch. It’s like fighting cockroaches and terrorists – there will always be more and you can’t ever stop fighting them. But the best way to help victims is to help them be tougher and the best help may come from other victims saying, “I understand; I feel your pain,” instead of, “Ha! you think you suffer? You don’t know suffering.”