Reading

I do not know J.S. Johnson, author of A Door to Truth but there is what you could call an indirect family connection. Without that connection I probably never would have read the book simply because the title does not appeal to me at all. So perhaps I shouldn’t judge a book by its title? But if you can’t judge a book by its cover and you can’t judge a book by its title how does one choose which books to read? Anyway, I am glad that I read this one. It is an interesting story.

Because of the connection I mentioned, I feel hesitant to write very much about the book. It honestly is a very good story so that’s no problem. It’s just, you know… talking about a book written by someone I could very likely end up sitting next to at a family picnic someday. This situation really lights up the “what if I say something stupid?” node in my brain.

You can read a little bit about the book in the author’s Introduction. Here there is something that bothers me and, though I am very reluctant to say anything, at the same time I have to because trying to make people understand what science fiction is is sort of a cause for me. Johnson writes:

“A Door to Truth” can be loosely defined as a science-fiction story. I’ve struggled with categorizing it from the moment I knew what I wanted to write about. The story has to be called science fiction, because it requires some science and is certainly fiction.

[...]

But it is a story of “why” vice “how,” and this is where I struggle to justify it as science fiction.

I have been reading science fiction for well over three decades and I have read hundreds of books. Science fiction is very much about “why”, far more so than “how,” though “how” certainly plays a part. So many people have this mistaken idea that science fiction is all about space ships and blasters and cartoon-style heroes and that it’s full of techno-babble. Science fiction is as much about spaceships and blasters as mainstream best sellers are about houses and furniture. Science fiction explores human nature, culture, and the “why” of things by putting people in situations that could not happen (at least not yet) in the real world. It explores possible futures and speculates about the ways people might behave in those futures. Sometimes it questions what we are doing in the present and warns about where it might lead in the future. Science fiction is an extremely broad and inclusive genre. Sometimes it’s just for fun but it is often serious and often very political.

A Door to Truth is unquestionably classic near future science fiction. And it’s good. Read it.

Random Linkage

African Art Village – Beautiful

42 Custom Kitchens – These are gorgeous. I couldn’t begin to pick a favorite. One thing I will say about all of them though is that they need more color. I will be SO glad when everyone gets over the “earth tones” thing. I mean, I know neutrals have always been popular but I can remember when you had a choice. Now you go into any home improvement store and all you see is 50 different earth tone tiles and 50 different earth tone countertops and so on.

46 Best Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes – I need to get back on Twitter and start following this guy. Love the one about the chicken and egg. Also the one about Terminator.

Classified Oops – a few unintentionally amusing ads

Roman Limestone Quarry – the interesting history of an ancient hole in the ground

The History of Autocorrect – I disagree with the statement that, “Without it, we wouldn’t be able to compose windy love letters from stadium bleachers, write novels on subway commutes, or dash off breakup texts while in line at the post office. [...] Because we know autocorrect is there as brace and cushion, we’re free to write with increased abandon, at times and in places where writing would otherwise be impossible.” Not true! Not true! Not true! The first thing I did when I got my smartphone was to turn off autocorrect.

Neuroprosthetics – Science fiction keeps on becoming fact.

Animals in the News – long list of links

Elephant Octopus – a fantastic mural

Madewell Musings – a blog I want to take a longer look at later

Martin Bailey Photography – Wonderful.

Darth Stove – Awesome!

Just Add Monsters

20 Bizarre Flavors of Food – These weird food lists are always fun. I would try some of these. Ginger ale Kit Kat. I never eat Kit Kats but that doesn’t sound so bad. (and the cheese flavored Kit Kat) Bacon flavored soda? Oh I’d have to try that just once. And jalapeño flavored ice cream? You can get that at Sonic. (chocolate jalapeno shake. No, I haven’t tried it yet)

Quotes From Here and There

Weird is a wayward wordhere

No one goes to see movies about nonviolent conflict resolution. They see movies about robot dinosaurs destroying tall buildings.there

I am 100% certain that the hacking of entertainment industry’s security features provides better entertainment for these kids than the entertainment we’re trying to prevent them from stealing. Let that sink in for a second, then try not to bust up laughing.here

This ‘n’ That

I’ve gotta get this book. Maybe. I need to somehow get other people to read it. Or is that the wrong attitude?

Interesting article about guiding the output of bees and silkworms to make art and materials. The “bee plastic”, produced by a specific species of bee found in New England, has a lot of potential. And of course we’ve all heard of spider silk from genetically engineered goats.

The idea behind I Know Where Your Cat Lives is a little bit creepy but it’s actually a fun site and I don’t see any way to search for a particular cat or even a particular country. I could get hooked on this site. This morning it keeps getting stuck on one picture from Japan that’s not even a picture of a cat. Thanks, Fillyjonk (via email) (UPDATE: By zooming and dragging the satellite view I managed to get to my local area and even find my house. (!) My cat isn’t on it.)

You’ve heard of “mommy blogs”. Well, No Idea What I’m Doing bills itself “a daddy blog.” There’s a lot of talk about poop, just like on mommy blogs, but mostly a really fun, interesting, and well-written family blog.

In Space No One Does Laundry

This is a really good article by astronaut Chris Hadfield. (Remember when everyone knew the names of all the astronauts?) 6 Ways Movies Get Space Wrong. It’s not the usual “OMG! That’s so fake!” kind of list that you might expect given the title and the website. It’s a lot of mundane little things that you probably never thought of. Except #5. I’m getting sort of tired of the “How do they go to the bathroom in space?” question. But even that one has a couple of details that I hadn’t read before.

Found on Facebook.

A Nice List

Going by this list of 12 Stupid Things Truly Nice People Don’t Do I am a nice person. Well. Oh no, I guess I just broke rule #4. Oh well, nobody’s perfect.

#8 is a particular pet peeve of mine. People who are too helpful are the most difficult people to deal with because, usually, they sincerely think they are being nice. They can’t imagine someone not wanting their help or that their “help” might actually be the opposite of help and no matter how many times you tell them you don’t want their help they just keep on helping. I call this pathologically helpful.

Random Linkage

“Average” Women Around the World – Oh, I am so below average.

Peachridge Glass – antique glass bottles

The Mystery of Blood Types – Longish article. Interesting.

CIA Style Manual – Writing tips from the CIA

Consume Consume – great photos

Bunny Food – a Tumblr devoted to silly animal pics

Cat Amusement – another clever way to entertain your cat

3-D Calligraphy

Rainbow Wasp

Fairy Sculptures – Lovely

Quotes From Here and There

Think about it—in science fiction and fantasy, isn’t invisibility a super power?here

I feel like people don’t tend to see the eighteen balls I’m successfully juggling, they only see – and point out – the one I happened to drop.there

“But nobody said we were not allowed to have points of view. The exercise of personal taste is not the same thing as imposing personal opinion.”here

I know it’s just a movie and just entertainment, but the bad things were just sooo bad I couldn’t get to my “fictional characters” place and enjoy it at all.there
(Unfortunately, (or perhaps fortunately?) usually when I am told a movie is “really bad” my curiosity demands that I see it, even if I had no intentions before reading the bad review. Besides, sometimes I like bad movies.)

How Lame! She’s Talking About the Weather Again

Yes, I know but seriously? This weather is amazing. It is the middle of July and it’s currently 63°F and last night one of our local meteorologists said that the temperature “might not make it up to 70°” today. Rain and a high of 69° in Oklahoma in July. It’s not unprecedented. I can remember one 4th of July cookout when we were all wearing sweaters or flannel shirts (or wishing we had brought one to wear) but still, on those rare occasions when we get summer weather like this it always feels amazing. (BTW, why does “meteorologist” not mean “one who studies meteors”?)

Aside from the unusual weather we’re having today, this summer has not been really hot hot, which is nice, but the other side of this nice weather is that every time we’ve had a pleasant summer it has been followed by a miserable winter. I would rather deal with a hot summer and a not too bad winter than have a cool summer and a horrible winter.

In other news, we picked our first tomato yesterday. I’m planning a big dinner salad with chicken and feta cheese tonight. It’s the kind of meal I normally plan for hot days. Tonight I should be serving soup of chili. But I have the tomato and I don’t want to wait. We’re not expecting another 90 degree day until next week.

Bugs!

If you hang out here a lot you might have noticed that I have a bit of a thing for bugs. Oh, I have no desire to get up close and personal with them but I do find them quite fascinating. So I had to have this fabric from eQuilter. I am in dress mode this time of year but I almost immediately knew this fabric had to be a New Look 6963. (I wish I could show you what the background color really looks like. It’s an amazing color that you just can’t see in a photo. It’s bright but not insanely bright. It’s just a really interesting color.)

NL 6963 is one of my unused patterns that I wrote about earlier this year, one that I didn’t think I would get around to using anytime soon. Surprise! It’s my new best friend. (Well, among patterns anyway) It was fast and easy to make and it is loose fitting without looking like a sack. Well… everything loose-fitting looks somewhat like a sack on me but it’s much better than my former best friend big shirt pattern. (What did I ever see in that thing?) And I love love love this shirt!

Instead of going on a long frustrating search for “the perfect buttons I picked some navy ones from my button stash. I cut some bias strips to finish the armholes and they turned out better than my usual. My only disappointment is that identical bugs ended up side by side on the front. I would prefer that they were more random.

(The pants are new also but they’re kind of awful and I’m glad you can’t see more of them in the photo.)

The Proust Questionnaire

I had never heard of the “Famous Proust Questionnaire” until I read David Bowie Answers the Famous Proust Questionnaire on Brain Pickings. The questions all seem pretty basic, the makings of a really lame blog post, but questionnaires are one of the things we bloggers do, so here goes.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? – the simple things in life

What is your most marked characteristic? – I really don’t know. You’d have to ask someone who knows me.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? – My sons.

What is your greatest fear? – Losing people.

What historical figure do you most identify with? – Never thought about it. There are a number of historical figures I find interesting but “identify with”? None of them really. And, we don’t really know historical figures do we? We only know what historians tell us about them. I’m not saying that’s necessarily inaccurate but it is certainly incomplete.

Which living person do you most admire? – My husband. He can be annoying sometimes but he’s really an all around great guy.

Who are your heroes in real life? – Good writers, novelists.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? – Lack of confidence, being easily intimidated by certain kinds of people.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? – Arrogance.

What is your favorite journey? – My daily walk to the mailbox. We have a really long driveway so the walk to the mailbox and back is close to a quarter of a mile.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? – Being a “self starter”. There’s nothing wrong with needing a little help getting started.

Which word or phrases do you most overuse? – Really. (But you knew that already, didn’t you?)

What is your greatest regret? – That I worked while my kids were growing up.

What is your current state of mind? – A little bored.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? – I would have the extended family (and by that I mean in-laws) get together a lot more often.

What is your most treasured possession? – At first that seems like a very tough question because I tend to “treasure” my possessions probably too much so I’m tempted to say “all of them” but when I think about it for a minute it’s actually easy: My sewing machine. It was my grandmother’s, a Singer treadle machine. It’s really beat up looking but it sews great. I have had it since I was 18 and I never have any desire to sew on anything else.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? – Not sure. I don’t think I’ve ever been there.

Where would you like to live? – Right here. A fancier house would be nice but I want it right here.

What is your favorite occupation? – Sewing. Or reading. Or just sitting on the front porch looking at my front yard, listening to the birds, etc.

What is the quality you most like in a man? – The ability to engage in an intelligent conversation.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? – The ability to engage in an intelligent conversation.

What are your favorite names? – Not sure. I like names that are interesting and uncommon but not too weird.

What is your motto? – The secret to lifelong happiness is to learn to love weeds.

Tunnels of Music

Here’s another one from an extremely fascinating series of videos. I posted the one of Flight of the Bumblebee last week. Here’s another one. It’s even more fun toward the end where it gets busier. And there are a few others: Beethoven, Mozart, Debussy.

Quotes From Here and There

And, in terms of even broader perspectives, the study brings to mind a quote from Blaise Pascal: “All human evil comes from a single cause, man’s inability to sit still in a room.”here

Existence itself is not a hack.there

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

Just Move!

Another type of driver to add to my list of “Drivers I Want to Drag Out of Their Cars and Slap Really Hard”: the driver who sits in the middle of the driveway that I’m trying to turn into and furiously motions for me to “go ahead.” Seriously, people who do this, what the hell is wrong with you? You can see that I am in the turn lane, my turn signal is flashing and I am in a car not on a motorcycle therefore there is not enough room for me to turn into the driveway. What do you expect me to do? Jump the curb and drive across the grass?

People do the same thing in the grocery store. They block the aisle you’re trying to turn into and try to get you to go on. Listen people, if “being polite” inconveniences someone it is not polite.

Quotes From Here and There

There’s just something so creepily medieval about the way World War I started.here

I am quite certain that dress is not microwavable.there

How come every time something simple gets popular, people want to make it more complicated? And less fun? And then eventually less popular?”here (via)

“That’s MY number.” (and how dare you speak the sacred numerals aloud, heathen scum!)there

This ‘n’ That

I had a post about the Hobby Lobby thing just about completely written in my head but when I sat down here to actually write it I thought, “Nope. It’s politics. Don’t go there.” (No guarantee I won’t change my mind later.) So what am I going to write about today? I decided to just start a “This ‘n’ That” and hope I think of more than one thing to say in the next few minutes.

This is cute. British parents, American kids. I can picture it. Kids are so funny. Kids, who just a few short years earlier could barely babble “Mama” and “Dada”, are always so confident that they know more about the language than their parents and this is true even when both kids and parents grew up in the same country.

I’ve been following Grammarly on Facebook for a while but just last night I discovered the Grammarly blog. It’s not the same stuff that’s on their Facebook page, which is really fun, by the way – lots of grammar related comics. The blog has articles.

Here’s a nice little discussion about “fear of color”. You know, I don’t get that. Never have. It’s not just that I’m getting older and don’t care anymore. If you like orange, wear orange. If you like hot pink, wear hot pink. Why does it take “nerve” to wear these colors or any colors you like? I’m crazy for colors but I also like brown and even gray. (Hey, those are colors too.) There is one particular shade of pale lavender that I think looks awful on me and I consider appropriate colors to wear for certain occasions but mostly I never think in terms of “my colors” or “not my colors”. All colors are my colors and they’re all your colors too.

Random Linkage

The First First Lady With Short Hair

WWI in Photos

Cities at Night Scarves – I’m not really a scarf person but I like this. Fortunately, it costs $295 so I won’t be tempted to buy it and then stuff it in a drawer and not wear it for years.

Flying Formation – Digital photo collages

Stair Art – Wonderful!

Three Odd GIFs

Native American Bread Recipes

The Fiercest Lilliputian – a vintage fashion blog

Space Cat – Great painting!

Blue Morocco

Summer TV

The second season of Orhpan Black ended a little over a week ago. [sigh] It seems like it just started. If you’re not watching this show I don’t know how to tell you how awesome it is. Tatiana Maslany recently won a well-deserved Critics Choice Award for her role(s) as the clones, seven at last count, all with distinctly different personalities. The technical people on this show deserve an award also, for the amazing job they do making it look absolutely real. We often see as many as four of the clones on screen at the same time and I have to keep reminding myself, “It’s only one actress, playing all those roles.”

While Orphan Black would be fun to watch only to marvel at the technical magic, there’s a lot more to it than that. Mysteries abound. Which one is the original? Why is Sarah the only one of the clones who has been able to have a child? What exactly happened to Helena to make her such a nut case? Can Cosima be cured? And Allison… wow, never underestimate a soccer mom. Which side is Mrs. S on? Oh, and I must not forget Sarah’s foster brother Felix, a very fun character.

Two things you need to know if you haven’t watched Orphan Black before and you want to start: 1. You must watch it from the beginning, and 2. Send the kids to bed. It’s a very adult show. Occasional nudity, but not very often, and use of the “s-word” at least once or twice per episode.

The second season of Defiance just started a couple of weeks ago. This is a very weird, complicated show. It is set on Earth some years after an invasion. There are eight races occupying Earth. Defiance is the name given to what was St. Louis. I can’t say I love this show but it is interesting enough that I want to keep watching it. Several of the characters are very entertaining. I don’t know… maybe I do love it just a little bit.

Longmire is a modern day western with some of the usual western cliches: old-fashioned sheriff (He refuses to own a cell phone but is always borrowing his deputies’ phones.) surly Indians, and one wise Indian sidekick who speaks without using contractions. But, aside from that, it is a very different and interesting show. It has been praised for its accurate portrayal of Native American culture and for bringing up a little known historical issue in a recent episode. I do really like this show a lot. It has some interesting characters and stories. Each episode is a stand-alone but there is also a continuing story arc. If you haven’t watched it you could probably start at any point.

We just started watching the new series, Dominion. I probably would have passed on this one but Number Two Son wanted to watch it. I’m starting to get interested but I’m worried that it might become one of those impossibly complicated stories that just goes on and on and on without ever going anywhere. (I can’t really say why I think that and I could be wrong. It’s just a first impression.) In Dominion angels are the enemies of mankind, except for one who is on the humans’ side. Human society has become somewhat medieval since the invasion of the angels. So far I’m not especially impressed by any of the characters. But it’s okay so I’ll keep watching for a while longer.

Red, White, and Blue… and Some Other Colors

Even though it’s not patriotic themed fabric and not only red, white, and blue, ever since I bought the fabric I have been thinking of this as “the 4th of July dress” but I could just as well call it “the angst dress” because I have had several “issues” with it that have caused me a bit of angst.

First of all, I mostly avoid white and very light colored fabrics. I would love to have one of those lovely white peasant/hippie dresses but I’m always imagining clothing disasters involving massive quantities of barbeque sauce or blueberry pie or the like. I haven’t ever had a huge clothing disaster of that type but if I ever did it would happen to a beautiful white or delicate pastel dress that was my favorite. Another issue with the light colored fabric is that I felt it would need a lining but extra layers are to be avoided in Oklahoma in the summertime. (In an age when girls are wearing see-through leggings as pants is it terribly old-fashioned to worry about back-lighting?)

I originally planned to do an asymmetrical top thing with this fabric but, since I had never done anything like that I decided I needed to make a test dress first – what most sewing people call a “wearable muslin” but I just call it, “trying out a new pattern or idea with cheap fabric before I risk the precious fabric.” Well, the test did not go well. I can probably fix it so that it will be wearable, at least as a house dress that will never be seen in public.

I was still going to do the asymmetrical thing with this fabric but at almost the last minute I sort of panicked and decided to do something safe. I got out dear, trustworthy, tried and true, Kwik Sew 2671 and made some modifications to the bodice and added elastic to the waistline. And, here it is. (All fashion photos should include a cat’s ass, don’t you think?)

It’s not the most flattering thing I’ve ever worn but I actually like it when I’m just wearing it and not looking at pictures of myself in it so I guess it’s okay. I did line the skirt with white cotton batiste. I had originally planned to use cotton lawn but I waited until I was almost ready to start sewing it before I went shopping for it and my source for discount cotton lawn was sold out and all I could find was $13 a yard and my inner cheapskate had a panic attack. The skirt with the lining is heavier than I’m used to and I keep thinking maybe I should have done something different – something with less fabric in the skirt but really it’s not bad.

Here is a close-up of the fabrics (from eQuilter) and trim. (There is a center back seam because I didn’t have enough of the button fabric to lay both pieces on the fold.) The rick-rack was a last minute inspiration. The fabrics told me they wanted rick-rack.

I don’t know if I will actually wear it on the 4th of July, as I have been planning to do for months. We’re not going anywhere so I don’t know if I want to wear it just for hanging out around the house. If we have chili dogs, like I’m thinking about doing, then no, definitely not.

UPDATE: The background on the lighter fabric is a very pale aqua, not white.

Quotes From Here and There

So the real question is not “Why is glass transparent?,” but “Why aren’t all materials transparent?”here

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.there (via)

Whoo- you know you can’t spell ‘flattering’ without ‘F, A and T!here

And I sort of feel that’s your responsibility as a person, as a human being — to constantly be updating your positions on as many things as possible. And if you don’t contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you’re not thinking.there

Unfamiliar Machines

I had other things I wanted to write, pictures I wanted to post and a new dress I wanted to talk about but our “main” computer is busy. It was installing something and seems to be stuck. So I’m on my husband’s Surface, which I love because I can look down at the screen but I am not used to typing on it and I’m very slow. I literally have to backspace every three or four keystrokes. And I keep accidentally hitting something that makes the cursor jump back a couple of lines. Weird.

I just need a lot more practice and writing all that stuff I was talking about would be practice I guess but I’m used to not having to think about typing, and it just feels wrong, so it’s hard to concentrate on what I wanted to say. Besides, my pictures are all on the other computer.

It’s funny how we get used to using particular machines or devices and our hands just automatically do what they need to do, so when you have to get used to a new machine it feels so awkward and… alien. That was weird. The screen just suddenly got brighter for no reason.

Anyway, that awkward babbling is all I’ve got this morning. But I promise, tomorrow, or perhaps this evening, will be awesome. Or maybe at least a little bit less lame.