Unexpected encounters, part 3

Jun. 26th, 2017 09:55 pm
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
It was the first day at St. Bonaventure University, to which I was transferring after two years above the Adirondacks at Potsdam State. One of the girls down the hall, who had been there for a couple of years, was showing me around the campus and filling me in on which professors to take for which classes, and which to avoid because they weren't as good, and which to avoid because they hit on the students -- all good things to know.

After we'd wandered around most of the buildings, she took me to the nature trails, on the wilder part of the campus by the river. The trails had been there for a century or more, weaving through the woods and the nearby swamp; the longer trail we ended up on ran from the village to the west, past the campus, and into a park halfway to the city of Olean, on the east. It was well-worn dirt, not bad for walking, and she was talking and gesturing as we walked and I listened.

Then I looked up.

There were trees on both sides of the trail, so we were walking under the arch of their branches. And on one of those low branches -- say, 15' from the ground -- there was a bald eagle, and it was staring at me. It shifted around on the branch to face me full on.

I tried to get her attention; I couldn't manage to interrupt her, and we kept walking forward toward that branch.

The eagle lifted off, watching me the whole time, and swooped low, its claws nearly touching my head, and swung off into the woods.

The girl with me never saw a thing.

I learned later that the eagle was one that had been found injured in a farmer's field, had been taken to a branch of the Audubon Society, where they had a vet who patched up wounded birds, and rehabilitated. When she was released, she built a nest on the edge of the swamp, near the river. That wasn't a bad choice for a fish-eating bird -- that river had four-foot carp, not to mention catfish and other fish.

I used to see the eagle again, when I was walking through the trails, taking a break from class. There was a small clearing in the woods, with a stone bench that caught the sun, and it was a good place to study or catch up on reading -- I've never been able to study with other people around me. After a while, the animals would come out to see what this odd thing was that smelled like a human but didn't move like one. I would see deer fairly often, and parts of wild turkeys (you never saw a whole one -- they always kept part of a tree between you and them), and once or twice a fox. But they left when I moved, and none of them gave me the intense close encounter that I had with that eagle.
oursin: Books stacked on shelves, piled up on floor, rocking chair in foreground (books)
[personal profile] oursin

10 Famous Book Hoarders

(I think we may contest the term 'hoarders' for people with lotsaboox, hmmmm?)

In most of those cases I think we do see a real love of books, though I'm not sure about Hearst and whether 'ostentation' was not on his mind rather than use?

In some cases those appear to be the personal libraries that have fetched up in public collections, and one wonders whether there was a certain amount of weeding and selection at the point of accession. (I'm not saying that Houdini or Arendt also had vast collections of pulp westerns or school stories or whatever, but I'm not ruling out that choices were made at some point.)

And indeed, while calling your private collection 'the Library of the History of Human Imagination' is indeed quite a long way along the pretentiousness scale, I look at that picture: 'It has three levels, a glass bridge, floating platforms' and feel a certain covetousness.

And even if it's ponceyness turned up to 11, it's not as cringe-making as this, which crossed my radar pretty much on the same day: Meet The App That Revolutionized Book Reading For 2 Million People

We sort through the approximately 2,200,000 books published worldwide to find the best nonfiction books out there. Then, our subject specialists, writers, and editors identify the key ideas from each of these hand-selected books and transform them into smart, useful summaries of insights we lovingly polish and refine until they are nothing but the absolute most essential elements of the writer’s main ideas. We do the filtering for you, then we share those ideas with you the way your dream-friend would.
Tonstant Weader called for a stiff drink.

*'Twenty-two acknowledged concubines, and a library of sixty-two thousand volumes, attested the variety of his [Gordian II's] inclinations; and from the productions which he left behind him, it appears that the former as well as the latter were designed for use rather than for ostentation.' Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol I.

twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
Ifixit.com, the free repair manual.

The world's first waterpark for people with disabilies.

Facebook now provides resources for journalists' safety.

Trump has shut off the televised feed -- and all cameras present -- at press conferences (thus ensuring the only video record of what was said is in his hands), and journalists condemn this -- but they're not boycotting the conferences.

The Washington Post is using an AI to moderate comments to the paper.

Johnny Depp opened his mouth at the Glastonbury Festival and dropped a big one: When was the last time an actor assassinated a president? As if that weren't enough to catch the morning edition, his financial woes -- what is this, spending $2 million a month? -- may sink the Pirates franchise. I look at his spending habits and all I can think is, this is a guy who was a kid who was really poor at some point, and it has never left him.

Famous women have been denying the mores of fashion (and conservatives) and wearing menswear for years. Here are some photos.

Trump is being sued for intentionally destroying presidential records. And also, he's played upon the grief of people whose family members were killed by undocumented immigrants (whether in a car accident or otherwise) to get their support.

Canada is tired of dealing with Trump, so now it's doing business with individual states and cities.

Trump also has dropped a grant for a nonprofit that helps people leave violent right-wing groups. It's like he and his crew want us to be harassed by neoNazis, isn't it?

Sen. Warren blasts the blood-money cuts in the Republican anti-health bill.

Unfortunately for us all, the Senate can't slow the progress of the GOP bill once it's written, so they're doing all they can now. And here's the Economic Policy Institute on what we have to lose.

And five Republicans refuse to support the bill -- one because it's too harsh, four because it's too liberal. I have some concerns about the mental health of those four. And McConnell may think he will win by losing if it goes down at a vote. Why? Then it's over for this year and they can go on to amending the tax code to reward the wealthy and steal from the rest of us. What a thoroughgoing scoundrel!

I don't want to say this, but there are strong rumors that Supreme Court Justice Kennedy may want to retire at the end of this term. That means either we go back to an 8-person court or we get another retroRepublian, for the next 30 years. But, in the meantime, the Court has agreed to hear a bill on gerrymandering that will affect Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Maryland (and probably others as well.)

Bill Cosby, who will face another trial in the aftermath of his mistrial,
plans to give speeches on how not to be arrested for sexual assault. No printable comment on this is possible.

More on Yellowstone grizzlies losing endangered-species listing. Thing is, they don't always stay in Yellowstone, and they can be hunted if they stray outside.

Here is a graphic from NARAL that you are free to share where you will.

Culinary

Jun. 25th, 2017 08:47 pm
oursin: Frontispiece from C17th household manual (Accomplisht Lady)
[personal profile] oursin

During the week, baked a loaf of the Shipton Mill 3 Malts and Sunflower Organic Brown Flour.

Friday supper: Gujerati khichchari - absentmindedly used ground cumin rather than cumin seed but I don't think the effect was disastrous.

Saturday breakfast rolls: the adaptable soft rolls recipe, 2:2:1 strong white/wholemeal/dark rye flours with maple sugar and sour cherries.

Today's lunch: redfish fillets rubbed with Cajun seasoning, brushed with milk and egg and coated in panko crumbs, panfried in olive oil, served with steamed samphire tossed in butter and baby leeks healthy-grilled in avocado oil and splashed with gooseberry vinegar.

(no subject)

Jun. 25th, 2017 12:34 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] shana!

good? bad? who knows?

Jun. 24th, 2017 04:24 pm
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
It's been a day and it hasn't stopped.

There are two farmers markets locally that we go to; the SU goes to the one by the railroad tracks with the good meats, and I sometimes go to the one downtown (locally, not DC), which has good veggies and fruit. I got ready to go to that one today. I got less than a mile away when my stomach said, loudly, "I don't feel well. I may give you back what you've eaten if you keep going."

What could I do? I took the next cross-street, which is a fairly direct route home, and came home and took something to settle the stomach, which continued to grumble.

I had put down my glasses for some reason; when I picked them up, one side piece fell off, behind the hinge. We went to Kaiser; no, they couldn't fix it, but they recommended a shop some distance away that was going to close in about 90 minutes. It took half an hour to get there, but we did. The cost isn't bad -- $65 is a lot better than ordering new glasses and going without for two weeks because the old ones hurt to wear -- and I can pick them up Monday.

The guy who does the repair also does lenses, replacement and new prescriptions, and I may take my very old Bausch & Lomb sunglasses there to get polarized lenses for them, or maybe even the distance half of my prescription so I can use them in situations where I'm at an angle to the sun that puts light on the *back* of the glass (which means I see the glass surface or dust or smears and not through the glass).

So, I can't drive till Monday after we pick the repaired glasses up, since I need them to drive (legally). I was going to get tickets for a local play - I know one of the actors - but the computer glitched on me and blew the sale, and I'm too frustrated, so it will be next weekend.

(I am very glad that I did not agree to be in the Second Life fundraising event today -- which took place about the same time we were driving along the six-lane looking for the address for the glasses repair place.)
(Oh, yeah, I got locked out of my credit union account on Thursday -- their new 'security system' sent my passcode slower than their time limit for entering the passcode, so I had to repeat the process, and then it said that was the wrong passcode... I got in this morning, no problem.)

And I discovered one of the two soprano coyotes -- it's the collie that belongs to what must be new people in the house behind us (none of the people look familiar and the others had a beagle.) It was listening for the *real* coyote in the park and singing replies. The baritone coyote is still out there being a coyote somewhere, I suspect.

But the contractor who bid on the masonry work we need looks very good and we said yes. And the garlic and onions I planted seem to be doing fairly well; I need to trim back lemon balm from shading the garlic, but that's all.

So the world is slightly fuzzy around the edges, but it's not that bad.

Endless summer

Jun. 24th, 2017 09:19 pm
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[personal profile] heliopausa

We get two Junes this year!  Or something like it, anyway.  Mildly complex arithmetic-astronomy under the cut )
So that's how come there are two Junes this year, and why I'm justified in calling this entry Endless Summer.

For your refreshment after all that, two pictures from the endless summer - glorious bang lang trees in flower, and appropriately (since the flowering of the bang lang signals exam time for tertiary students) flowering above open-air bookstalls.





Bang lang flower


A pique-nique of linkspam

Jun. 24th, 2017 02:57 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

I am fairly hmmmm about this piece on empaths, and wonder if some of those consultant empaths are employing the cold-reading tricks attributed to psychics, but buried in it is actually an interrogation of how useful quivering responsiveness to emotion is and the suggestion that 'empathy alone is not a reliable way of coming to a moral decision', and

Empathy is not action. It’s much more useful to be knowledgable about what’s happening so you can effect structural change. If everybody’s swimming in a sea of feelings, it’s an impediment to action.

And possibly somehow related to this, on the advantages of scheduling over spontaneity.

See also, review here of Selfie by Will Storr: 'This engaging book links the ‘self-esteem’ industry to Ayn Rand and neoliberalism. But is the selfie-taking generation unusually narcissistic?'. And is there not something problematic about making a big deal out of a single young woman who takes a lot of selfies? (shoutout here to Carol Dyhouse's Girl Trouble and the constant motif of young women's behaviour epitomising what is supposedly wrong with These Here Modern Times.)

And in Dept of, Countering National Stereotypes, the French minister who wants sexual harassment fines and is annoyed by the cultural myths about Frenchwomen.

Born in 1799, Anna Atkins captured plants, shells and algae in ghostly wisps and ravishing blues. Why isn’t she famous? - how long have you got to listen to my answer?

A book on hares which is, it sounds like, more about hares than the writer's journey and epiphany from their encounter with nature

the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Pursuing political ladies, continued: with shoutout to [profile] gothickess

Another day nose-down in the Wallace papers, surrounded by that typical local record office buzz of family historians, clattering microfilm readers, etc. How very different from the rather sinister solitary sepulchral hush of the Mulcaster Muniments and its soft-footed and decrepit curator, straight out of a gothic novel (I was in constant anxiety that the strain of fetching files would do for him, probably on the wrong side of the door, leaving me locked in: no wifi, no phone signal).

Today’s box turned out to be pure gold: those copies of The Intelligencer in which Susannah Wallace’s political journalism appeared – marked up and annotated in Sir Barton’s hand with comments about his ‘clever wife’: Awwwwww, ded of kewt or what?

Furiously snapped away at these for future perusal in detail, but got distracted by the other contents of the paper: surely there must be historians who would be fascinated by ‘Sheba’s’ fashion tips? And, the fiction!

Particular shout-out here to [profile] gothickess: There is a serial ‘The Silent Simulacrum’ by ‘the author of The Gypsy’s Curse’ that I’m pretty sure you’ll be interested in for your project: intriguing conflation of the gothic, social comedy and feminist critique.

Alas, the final episode must have appeared in an issue to which Susannah did not contribute, so I can’t tell you how it ends, but, the story so far:

Our heroine is a lovely young widow so widely accepted in Society that she finds herself overwhelmed with invitations to the extent that she is in considerable concern that her inability to be in two places at once will give offence to those holding social occasions that she is physically unable to attend.

Enter her brother-in-law, a mad scientist and inventor. She unburdens herself to him, and he proposes to make a simulacrum of her that she can send to those events that she herself cannot attend. But, says he, the problem is that although he confides that he can construct a simulacrum that will move, and even dance, he cannot see any way in which it might be made to speak.

Our heroine responds with a laugh that so long as it can look very intent at any that addresses it, she doubts any will notice.

The simulacrum is constructed, and indeed, no-one notices that it is not very conversational when it goes into society.

Our heroine sends it particularly to those occasions where her very unwanted, most objectionable, suitor will be present –

I suspect that there will be some horrid outcome involving him (castrated perhaps by the inner mechanism of the simulacrum when he endeavours a rape?), but this would need following up – have a nasty feeling that this would involve microfilm, don’t think The Intelligencer is yet available in any online databases. (Which was why I was massively chuffed to find these copies, even if they hadn’t been so usefully marked up.)

But, anyway, back to the correspondence files (Y O Y did they not date letters properly? ‘Tuesday’ is really not very helpful.)

(no subject)

Jun. 23rd, 2017 03:41 pm
boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
[personal profile] jesse_the_k tells me all the cool kids are doing this:

what boxofdelights likes to talk about

row 1: my kids; gardening; tutoring; the fanfic community; Octavia Butler;
row 2: stories; books; autonomy; Wiscon; storytelling;
row 3: dogs; Rachel Maddow; math; different points of view; raptors;
row 4: introversion; puzzles; podfic; logic; making people laugh;
row 5: compost; R.A. Lafferty; science fiction; due South; ecology;

I made this at http://myfreebingocards.com
I picked 25 topics that I like, and that I like to talk about.
I let the web page randomize the placement. I was lucky that "my kids" didn't end up in the middle.
I clicked "Play Online Now" to get an image I could snip.

Check off the things that also interest you and see if we have a bingo.

Invitation to the dance

Jun. 23rd, 2017 07:57 pm
oursin: Illustration from the Kipling story: mongoose on desk with inkwell and papers (mongoose)
[personal profile] oursin

Well, not literally.

But I have finally managed to have a discussion with the editor at the Very Estimable and Well-Reputed Academic Press whom I had hoped to get together with during the Massive Triennial Conference the other week, which did not happen for, reasons.

And they are very keen about a book I have been thinking about for ages, which is not the Major Research Project of the moment, though somewhat tangentially related, and I'm hmmmmmm about it.

Because it's a book where I haven't done more than research rather a small part of one angle of the bigger picture, but on the other hand, I do know what has to be in there and where to look.

And unlike the Major Research Project, which is large and contains multitudes, this would be a discrete project that wouldn't (I hope) keep starting yet more hares for me to go baying after.

*Wibble*

the gift of fear

Jun. 23rd, 2017 02:40 am
boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
I do think that there is value in Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear, even though it doesn't work for me. It doesn't work for me on either end: I'm not much good at understanding strangers' intentions, and don't want to spend enough time and attention on strangers to get somewhat better. And I am good at attracting extra attention from security people, even though I don't intend to steal, smuggle, or damage anything. I don't know how much of that is racism, how much is missing communications cues because I'm partly deaf and have not much peripheral vision, especially on the same side as my deaf ear, and how much is behaving oddly because when I am in a crowd of strangers I am spending a lot of energy wishing that I were elsewhere, and hoping to escape with the least possible eye contact, talking, and being touched by strangers. But just by being myself I soak up enough security personnel attention that anyone who does want to steal, smuggle, or damage things should use me as a stalking horse.


Friday evening I was walking to the library with Aiko. I was on the north side of the street, heading east. I saw a couple walking toward me, but there was a break in traffic and I crossed the street before we met. On the south side of the street, Aiko was uneasy. He kept stopping and looking back. I looked back too, and saw the couple that had been on the north side of the street, going west, were now about half a block behind me, on the south side of the street, going east.

Well, people do change their minds and turn around. But Aiko would not settle down, so at the next street I turned south. The couple behind us also turned south, but I was on the east side of the street and they were on the west. I stopped and let Aiko sniff for a while, so I got to the next intersection after them. They crossed to the south side of that street. I did not. I turned east. They also turned east, and continued to walk about half a block behind me, on the other side of the street, for about seven blocks. Then we were in a well-populated area, and I didn't see them again.

I am a short fat old woman, and my hands were encumbered. I had library books in one hand, and a leash and a bag of dog poop in the other. But I was walking a German Shepherd! How did they plan to assault me without getting bit? Also without getting a bag of dog poop in the face? Though it was one of the good bags, and probably wouldn't have burst even if it had hit. Also, I didn't have any money on me, though they didn't know that. I was wearing a fanny pack, which is where my wallet would have been if I was wearing my wallet. I thought about taking my phone out and taking their picture, but they had dropped back far enough by the time I thought of it that it wouldn't have been much of a picture. The fanny pack has the kind of buckle that you squeeze to open. Probably they planned to run up beside me, grab the buckle, and run off with the fanny pack before Aiko could react. They would have got my phone and my housekeys, and could probably figure out where I live from the phone.

Anyway, I do think that there is observable, identifiable behavior that signals that one human being is looking at another human being as prey, and I think Aiko observed and correctly identified it.