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Oct. 20th, 2017 10:52 am
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[personal profile] elizilla
In other street news, another event happened yesterday out there.

There's a guy who spends hours in the library, when he isn't circling around town on a bicycle. Seems to make a full time job out of wandering around chatting people up. He considers himself an informal ambassador for the bicycle trail system, when he's not sharing TMI about his mental problems, or how he is being unfairly accused of hoarding. He is one of our local characters and I am on perfectly good terms with him, though I do my best to avoid getting caught up in his various dramas.

Yesterday I heard shouting and I looked up to see the bicycle ambassador rolling around on the grass in front of the library, having a fistfight with a guy I didn't recognize. One of them was yelling but I couldn't tell which of them it was. But the words I could understand were about his no contact order. I guess one of them is supposed to be leaving the other alone. There were a half dozen teens and adults stopped on their way in or out of the library, staring with a sort of OMG look but no one was breaking up the fight; people were just frozen in shock. I was about to call the police when the stranger disengaged, dusted himself off, and went off to the parking lot.

I have no idea what that was all about. I'm dying to ask but I think I will let it go. The bicycle ambassador would no doubt tell me every gory detail.

Fire hydrant maintenance

Oct. 20th, 2017 10:22 am
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[personal profile] elizilla
A red city pickup has pulled up in the street out front and stopped. It has a yellow device mounted on the trailer hitch, that looks like the top of a fire hydrant. A guy jumped out and hooked up a big yellow hose between his trailer hitch and an actual fire hydrant. Another similar red truck with a similar hydrant thing on the hitch, pulled up and a much bigger guy jumped out and gave a karate kick to the wrench the first guy had put on the hydrant. Water gushed forth from the trailer hitch at a rate that turned the street into a roaring stream bed. The big guy in the second truck left.

Bicyclists kept going by, carefully riding through the roaring torrent. They probably wished they had fenders.

The guy from the first truck watched the water flow for about five minutes, then turned it off. He disconnected the hose, then attached some kind of portable pump to the hydrant, and pumped out some more water. I guess the actual tap is down below the frost line and they pump out this bit to empty the portion that is susceptible to freezing.

Looks like the trailer hitch thing lets them route the water over the grass and into the street. The weight of the truck is important there too. One guy couldn't hold a hose to direct it so neatly, even if it was the big karate kicking guy from truck #2.

I suppose they will spend all day doing this to every hydrant in town. Maybe more than a day - there are a lot of hydrants and I don't know if these are the only two trucks or if there are more. They probably pick the day carefully, to do it when the storm drains are not under any load from actual weather, and after it cools off enough that people have stopped watering their lawns so they have the water tower plenty full.

Trivial I know, but I find it interesting to keep track of what's going on out there.


Oct. 20th, 2017 02:00 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat


This is one of the cool things you can see when you go underwater.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.


Oct. 19th, 2017 11:01 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat


This is what the “dive experience” looked like, in the human direction. Everyone was under water with forced air going into the weighted helmets. The air was balanced for buoyancy. The net effect was that people who might have trouble walking or breathing were able to go underwater in ways that may not have been possible before. However, people who are sensitive to pressure making ears pop and such should probably avoid it.

Once underwater, you held onto handrails and walked on the prescribed path. Mostly, it was seeing fish. A side effect of the helmet is that you couldn’t really move your head up and down, which made getting the right angles on photos nearly impossible. So, I don’t recommend it for the photography aspects. Still, it was an interesting experience.

The most interesting thing for me was the moment I walked down the ladder and saw the water close over my head. As soon as that happened, something in my brain went “This is **wrong**, get out now!” It’s weird to be 40 years old and encounter a new instinct. I used logical brain to push that aside and did it anyway and I was fine. However, in that moment I suddenly understood the stories of people suddenly and unexpectedly panicking. Had I not been prepared for that feeling, I could see the instinct overriding the logical brain very easily.

It was interesting.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Tor.com giveaway of Winter Tide

Oct. 19th, 2017 04:13 pm
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[personal profile] boxofdelights
Tor.com is giving away the ebook of Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys until midnight October 20.

It is a response to Lovecraft, but Kirkus describes it as "essentially a story about identity, found families, wrapped in a cozy mystery. With magic. And monsters. Except the monsters are not exactly who you expect them to be."

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[personal profile] sarahmichigan
Book No. 53 was "Sappho: A New Translation of the Complete Works," translated by Diane J. Rayor, with introduction by André Lardinois. If you know anything about Sappho, you probably know that she's an ancient Greek poet from the island of Lesbos and that her work is very fragmentary. But exciting things have been happening in just the past 10-15 years, with a nearly-complete poem of hers discovered in 2014, and significant fragments found in 2004. This volume contains those newer fragments along with ones we've known about for some time. I really liked that the end note material explained how they pieced the fragments together, how they made choices about what words to insert based on context, and how they know some of the fragments were hers rather than by other poets of the time. Some of the fragmentary poems are interesting in their own right, but the longer, more complete ones really show her mastery of imagery. It's thought that most of her poetry is actually song lyrics and that she wrote a lot of songs to be sung at weddings. This was really fascinating.

Book No. 54 was "The Fellowship of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien. I'm a 45- year-old nerd and I've just gotten around to reading this! I read "The Hobbit" as a kid and also read a biography of Tolkien but gave up on the "Ring" trilogy after trying it once in my teens. This time around, I had it on audiobook and I think that helped a lot. I've seen the movie adaptations (both animated and live action) multiple times, so I know the basic story well, but it's fun to get the more detailed account in the books, even though the pace is a bit slow in places. I love Tom Bombadil, though I understand why he's left out of most adaptations. I also love Tolkien's absolutely gorgeous descriptions of nature. And because there are so many songs (at least a dozen) in this book, it's fun to have it read & sung on audiobook. I'm glad I finally got around to reading/listening to this.

The other books I've read so far this year: )

Me with Urchin

Oct. 19th, 2017 06:00 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat

Me with Urchin

I post a lot of photos from zoos and, for the most part, I am in favor of them.

I am not, however, naive. I’ve been to some, pardon the language, real shitholes. I do not post photos from those places. (This is not a story of one of those places.)

Almost all of my photos come from AZA accredited zoos (CAZA in Canada, EAZA in Europe). These places are required to prove to their peers that the animals are healthy – physically and psychologically. They are required to be involved in the science of conservation and, increasingly, to have some sort of in situ program in place, protecting or rehabilitating specific ecosystems so there will be a place for the animals to live in the wild. Every zookeeper from an accredited zoo that I’ve ever spoken with wishes that animals could live in the wild and be more free from the gawking public.

There is, however, another type of zoo. Discovery Cove (owned by SeaWorld) is an accredited experiential zoo, where it tries to provide something of a “visit to the wild” experience to people who can’t afford the time or money to actually travel to the far reaches of our planet. A lot of the “theme park” zoos are moving in this direction and, in general, I can say it’s positive.

These places are a lot more expensive than a trip to a “regular” zoo, but a hell of a lot less expensive then taking a trip to the tropics. This approach also allows them to streamline the guest experience. For most people, this is great. It allows people with various disabilities to participate in things that would otherwise not be an option for them. This photo is of a “dive experience” where everyone wears pressurized helmets and the group spends about 20 minutes walking through a huge aquarium. If you’ve ever done a real dive, there’s a lot missing. However, it is a lot closer than a lot of people will ever get. From that perspective, I am in favor of this change … mostly.

As someone who has traveled, if not to the far reaches of the world, a bit further than the average American, the sameness of the experience was troubling. It is a lot more like going on a Disney ride than being in the jungle trying to see the flash of feathers that indicates a rare bird that almost no one will ever see. In their attempt to streamline the process for everyone, they’ve lost a lot of the wonder.

Still, there is wonder if you look for it. Being able to enter the environment of a sea urchin instead of pulling them into yours is a different experience. For me, it was one well worth doing once. It’s certainly worth it for people who can never do it any other way. However, I’m not sure if I, personally, will go back.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

No excuses every day

Oct. 19th, 2017 09:37 am
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[personal profile] badgerbag
Cannot quite work up the oomph to fix my various Wordpress problems.
Yesterday was a nice office day, tho my face still hurt I had a good afternoon there.
The smoke blew away from here over night and now it's foggy and rainy. I can't find my face mask.

I'm on 100mg neurontin at night for the face nerve pain from shingles. Taking it at 7pm isn't quite early enough (i am still groggy and weird feeling now) I'd like to go off it by the end of next week or decrease the dosage. My face really hurts..... and is cold sensitive. I need one of those microwaveable pillows.... my old one got moldy I think. the actual heating pad is huge (the size of my entire back) and rough textured. My eye is twitching.... it feels tired. I guess all the muscles around my painful face are tensing up. The skin is not too bad now but the pain has moved to a deep ache in my jaw like a toothache.

Working in little fits & starts on my new writing project (a novel)

Actual work still looming though right now I have a little bit of a break. (mid cycle, no dot release so far for 56, the lull before a big push to release 57)

Nazi rally in Gainesville is pissing me off. Hundreds of cops mobilized for this bullshit. It just helps militarize the situation even more.

Reading - Squirrel Girl novel, which was beautiful! Last night read The Lucky Stiff by Craig Rice and this morning The Fourth Postman. Hardboiled detective. But also funny! Craig Rice is Georgiana Craig.

Which would be worst?

Oct. 19th, 2017 11:58 am
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[personal profile] supergee
1. The NYPD has a database that cannot be searched because they are incompetent.

2. The NYPD has a database that cannot be searched because they are afraid of what would be found.

3. The NYPD is lying.


Oct. 19th, 2017 11:47 am
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[personal profile] supergee
If they’re so young that sex with them is illegal, maybe they’re too young to be branded for life as sex offenders.


Oct. 19th, 2017 02:01 pm
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[personal profile] guppiecat


None shall pass.

Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.

Enhanced, by Carrie Jones

Oct. 19th, 2017 08:14 am
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[personal profile] mrissa
Review copy provided by Tor Books.

This is the sequel to last year's charming Flying. It's not a bad book, but it highlights the perils of sequels rather clearly. Flying has a clear emotional arc and core: Mana is figuring out what the heck is going on with aliens and enhanced humans and her place in the world, but her relationship with her mother and her friends is rock solid. In Enhanced, the central mystery is far smaller in scale. The basic facts of the world are known and we're down to figuring out the details. Mana's mother is out of commission, and her relationship with her friends is shaky for most of it.

Possibly worse, her combination of cheerleader and superpowered (enhanced, as in the title) individual really doesn't get a chance to shine for a full three-quarters of the book. Mana is scared, uncertain, and on the defensive--which is fine, but it's less fun to read about than Mana discovering, exploring, and kicking butt.

There are some new aliens, some new government agencies, some new developments in the world. But in general this feels like a little more of the same but less so. A de-escalation in some senses, a holding pattern. I still believe that Jones has somewhere to take Mana and her pals Seppie and Lyle, and this book is a fast read to get to the next step, but...we're not at the next step yet, and I don't really feel closer.

Please consider using our link to buy Enhanced from Amazon. Or Flying.

Books read, early October

Oct. 19th, 2017 07:54 am
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[personal profile] mrissa
Elizabeth Bear, The Stone in the Skull. Discussed elsewhere.

Sean B. Carroll, Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo. Evo devo is, generally speaking, bullshit, but Carroll is someone I heard at Nobel Conference, and he goes beyond Just So Stories; he is a good egg. And he talked in general in this volume, stuff that one could find anywhere and probably already knew if one had the slightest interest, but then also about insect wing patterns, and the insect wing pattern stuff was interesting, so basically: skim to get to the insect wings.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance. Kindle. I had had such smashing success with 19th century novels lately! (Oh my Middlemarch.) And this one is set in a Fourierist phalanx and I thought, brilliant, lovely, let's do that then, perhaps I love Hawthorne now too! Oh. Oh neighbors. No. No not so much. Poor Mr. Hawthorne. I read all the many many pages of Middlemarch, and North and South and Framley Parsonage and so on, and never once did I think, well, poor lamb, I suppose you can't help it, it's like being born before antibiotics. And yet with The Blithedale Romance I caught myself thinking that on nearly every page. Because it was the only way through, the other alternative was to shake him until his teeth rattled and send him to bed without supper, two punishments that would not occur to me without 19th century novelists, thank you my dear Louisa. So: he goes on at great length about how men have no tenderness really, and there is a bunch of maundering stuff about women's work and the purity of women and how bachelors have to obsess about whether the women around them have known marriage before (hint: nope, obsessing on this topic is completely optional), there is a Dreadful Secret, he abandons all interest in the Fourierist phalanx except as background noise...oh Hawthorne. Oh Hawthorne no.

Ursula K. LeGuin, Searoad. Reread. I first read this when I lived in Oregon. I keep learning things about characterization from it, how she creates a seaside town one person at a time, how the stories link and twine and inform each other. This time, thanks to a conversation I'm having with Marie Brennan, I thought about how differently it would read if the stories were in a different order, how a character is shown novelistically though the structure looks like short stories.

Carter Meland, Stories for a Lost Child. This is a literary science fiction novel in an Anishinaabe tradition; the way that Meland uses the rhythms and patterning of language are not at all the same as the way Gerald Vizenor does in Treaty Shirts, and having more than one is really nice, I want more, yay. Stories for a Lost Child goes forward and backward in time, contemporary teenagers trying to figure things out, a grandfather writing with stories previously barely dreamed of, a space program, past pure water, all sorts of elements that fold together.

Mary Szybist, Incarnadine. This is a poetry collection focused--not in a religious-inspirational way, in a literary way--on the Annunciation. The image, the idea of the Annunciation threads through these poems, beautifully. They are beautiful poems. I was beginning to worry that they were all going to be beautiful poems and none of them were going to be heart-touching for me--that I was going to nod along and say, yes, beautiful, well done, but never, oh, oh, would you look at THIS one--and then, and then there was Here There Are Blueberries, so: oh. Would you look at THIS one.

Carrie Vaughn, Bannerless. I had previously enjoyed some of Vaughn's short stories but not really been the target audience for the Kitty books, so I was really excited at what a complete departure this is. It's a police procedural of sorts, with flashbacks to the (sorta) cop's young adulthood. It's also a post-apocalyptic novel, with a catastrophe that has led people to seriously consider their resource usage. And it's also a relationship story that, because of flashback structure, allows the protagonist to grow past her teenage relationship, to change and be an adult. For a short novel, there's a lot going on, and it all fits together and wraps itself up by the end. Pleased.


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