Peaceful Piano

Calm, serene, meditative – the world would be a better place if everyone started their day with something like this.

Random Linkage

Vaught’s Practical Character Reader (1902) – Sadly, I think most people still believe this stuff. Even if we don’t think we believe it we still have the same first impressions based on appearance.

Five Improved Bicycles – Patents, mostly recent.

Who really invented breakfast cereal? – and the origin of the word “granola”

Four Legged Heroes – a few amazing and heart warming stories

Photoshop Me – Funny Photoshop requests. Be careful what you ask for.

Beware of squirrels – and other animals you probably don’t think are dangerous.

Subterranean Singapore

SpotMini – No, I do not want one. That thing’s creepy.

Insect Intelligence

Moss vs. Lichen – giggles

A Very Quick Review

The Expanse series of novels by James S.A. Corey keeps getting better and better which, in my experience is fairly unusual for series of more than three books. Cibola Burn, the fourth in the series is the first one to be set on an extra-solar planet, making it more like the kind of science fiction I am typically attracted to. It features some of the same characters as the earlier books plus a bunch of new and equally interesting characters. I like the the characters, the action, and, believe it or not, the politics in The Expanse and this book adds an environmental disaster to the mix. I’m looking forward to the next book and when I get all of them I might binge on the whole series. I don’t re-read books as much as I used to because I feel that there are too many books I haven’t read to waste time re-reading but these stories are well worth the time.

Shoe Review

I first started seeing those woven elastic shoes a couple of years ago, maybe longer. It seems really recent but I know it’s been longer than it feels like. At first I thought they might be one of those things that most people either love or hate and get all worked up about way out of proportion and I wasn’t sure which side I would be on. Then last 4th of July I noticed my sister-in-law was wearing a pair of them and I asked her about them. She said that they are the only kind of shoes she wears now.

My sister-in-law and I have very little in common, fashion-wise. She is more conventionally fashionable than I am. (I’m more like, “Oh, that’s fashionable now? Get it away from me.”) But anyway, the shoes – I’m always looking (usually unsuccessfully) for comfortable shoes that look appropriate with dresses and some of the more recent styles of these are fairly attractive. The earlier styles I saw looked a little tacky or clunky to me. So, I’ve been curious about them and finally got around to trying a pair about a month ago and then bought two more pair.

Shoe selfies are a bit awkward so these are not the best shoe modeling photos.

Stretch shoes, silver, pink

This first pair is Bernie Mev brand. They look more grey than silver in this photo but in real life they’re definitely sparkly silver with a subtle bit of pink trim. They feel like house shoes, very comfortable and kind of flimsy. The sole is very thin and it almost feels wrong to wear them outside the house.

Stretch shoes, multi-color

This multi-colored pair I actually saw at Walmart a few weeks before I bought the silver ones and thought about buying them but didn’t. I’m not a snob about Walmart generally but I am a snob about buying their shoes or any cheap shoes but I went back and bought these. In some ways they are actually better shoes than the silver ones. The sole is sturdier, like an athletic shoe sole, and they have a very thick cushiony insole. Downsides: The heel piece is very stiff and uncomfortable. I bought stick-on heel pads and that fixed that problem. The other thing about them is they are rather tight with a very strong elasticity. They’re fine when I’m standing or walking but when I’m sitting down, not putting weight on my feet they put the squeeze on my toes.

Stretch shoes, navy blue

This navy blue pair, received just a couple of days ago, are Sketchers brand and they’re the best of the three – sturdy enough sole, cushy insole, and just right stretch. I’m trying to resist the temptation to get one or two more pair of these. The “bronze” ones would be very useful. They would go with a lot of different clothes. But I tell myself I need to wait a while and see how well these hold up in the long run.

I’m not ready to give up all other shoes because I still like most of my other shoes but I can really understand why someone would want to wear these exclusively. I can see myself wearing them more and more.

Familiar Notes

I would like to have posted a version of this with pictures and without the spoiler but the only other video of this piece had very poor sound quality. Pay attention at about 0:32.

Just Stop

Everybody needs to read this. No, don’t tell me it’s too long. Just go.

Okay, short version: Just because a girl likes “boy things” does not mean that she is “transgender”. And here are a few of the best parts:

I wanted to be a boy. Desperately wanted to be a boy. I thought boys had more fun. I felt like a boy in the way that our society views genders. I liked blue and green more than pink and purple. I remember sitting up as high as I could climb in our huge mulberry tree, bow & arrow in hand, trying to kiss my elbow (a neighbor lady had told me that if I could accomplish this, that I would turn into a boy, which was what I wanted in that moment, as a child, more than anything.)

Thankfully, my parents didn’t adhere to the archaic stereotypes that “boys like blue” and “girls like pink;” that “boys play with dinosaurs, and girls play with dolls.” Had they told me that liking these things made me a boy, I would have concluded that I was a boy.

They just let me be me. They let me be a girl who wore jeans more often than skirts. They let me play with slingshots rather than princess wands. They didn’t conclude that I was gay, or transgender. They didn’t put me in a box that would shape my future, at the expense of my own free will.

[* * *]

In this day and age, I probably could have been labled as transgender. They would cut my hair off short (because, all boys have short hair, right?) I would be given “boy” clothes to wear, blue walls in my room rather than pink, and be told to pretend to have a penis, at least until I could have one surgically added. Had this happened, I can not even imagine how traumatic puberty would have been for me.

I still love some stereotypical “male” things. [* * *]

But I also love being a woman. I love to feel beautiful, especially when I have an event with my husband. I love putting on an apron and creating elaborate meals for friends and family. I love nursing my babies. I looooove going to the spa.

[* * *]

These things don’t make us gay or transgender, they make us unique human beings.

I have been hearing since the 1970’s that traditional notions about what is masculine and what is feminine are outdated, that women and girls can like trucks and football and hunting and all those traditionally guy things and still be all woman. Doesn’t anyone else see what is happening? Now being “progressive” involves defining kids by those same old-fashioned notions of masculine and feminine. Trucks and football and dirt are “boy things” so if a girl likes these things she must be transgender. This is the same nonsense feminists have been fighting against for decades, just in a shiny new wrapper.

I like football, (sort of) I drive a pickup because that’s what I prefer; I like action movies, hate romantic comedies; and I think bugs are kind of fascinating and I can’t help feeling a little bit of contempt for women who are afraid of them. But I also love wearing dresses; pink is my favorite color; I like sparkly, shiny, girly things, and I am so glad I was born female.

I’m not saying anything against actual transgender people, just that parents should not rush to decide that their child is transgender based on the toys and activities the child likes or on temporary childish wishes to be something they are not. Each child is a unique individual with a unique set of interests that can include all “boy things”, all “girl things” or a combination of both. If they turn out to be transgender, fine. Continue to love and support them but don’t rush to define them when they are barely out of diapers.

An Old Favorite

I used to hear this on the radio frequently but it’s been years. I was actually going to look for something else but this came up in the recommendations. Suddenly I feel like it’s my lucky day.

Random Linkage

Artists’ Progress – Artists share early works compared with works done after years of practice

24 Weirdest Food Related Items on Amazon – It’s not all food; the list also includes ice cube trays, a cookbook with a NSFW title, and a really cute and funny salt and pepper shaker set as well as some really gross food items.

Hidden Temples – Wow!

Piano Dance – Lovely!

Victorian Calendar Illustrations

People in Peril – 1950’s illustrations

Interesting and Fun Public Mailboxes


I recently finished River of Smoke, the second book in the trilogy by Amitav Ghosh, which started with Sea of Poppies. This one is set mostly in China, in a community of European and Indian expats and is about the conflict over the opium trade. There’s also an interesting sub-plot about a young Frenchwoman’s search for a rare camellia that no European has ever seen except in an illustration. It took me a little longer to get into this one but it turned out to be at least as unputdownable as the first book, if not more so. I found myself feeling sympathetic to both sides in the conflict, not terribly unusual for me, when I think about it.

It will be a couple of months before the final book in this trilogy is published so for now it’s back to science fiction for a while.

Happy Friday

I started writing a post about how crazy the world is lately but I only managed two sentences and then got stuck. People thinking the life of a zoo animal is more important than the life of a three-year-old human child, people thinking that running someone off the road is okay, even justified, Donald Trump might be our next president… What is wrong with people?

Never mind. The sun is shining, finally. I can’t go out and personally slap some sense into everyone who needs it so I’m just going to laugh at it all and move on. Seriously though, sometimes I wish I was a big celebrity so I could say stuff on TV and millions of people would hear it. Boy would everyone get an earful!


A little magic to make the sun appear? Or maybe I’m just trying to remember what it looks like.

Coincidentally (yeah, it had to be coincidence) the sun did come out for just a couple of minutes while I was listening to this.

A Few Links

Salad Cakes – What an evil idea.

1930s Travel Posters – Look at how people dressed on vacation back then.

Inappropriate Asian English T-shirts – I actually like #12.

Minimalist Aquariums – Nice for modern minimalist decor but I sort of feel sorry for the fish.

Interesting Things – A collection of little known facts, with explanations.

Dog Wool – Does your dog shed enough to make a sweater? Well, why not? Go ahead. These people did.

The Invention of the Flat-Bottomed Paper Bag – Interesting history

Small Wildflower

In my world there is no such thing as “just a weed.” Nearly everything is interesting if you really look at it.

Small wildflower