Sunday, February 22, 2015

Esty Store - Cute By Coo

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Baby Phalanopsis

I finally got my orchids all repotted.  Poor neglected things.  It's been too long.

Remember my Phals?
 This is what they looked like last winter.  This is a good window for them.  It's north facing so I've got a four tube fluorescent shop light above them.  It's really hard to find the sweet spot for sunlight in windows anyway, so this is ideal.  It also gets really chilly next to the glass once it starts getting cold out.  This says "Hey, bloom now!"

You can see that they're growing right out of the pots.

 My friend gave me this phal because she didn't know what to do with it.  Phalanopsis sometimes grow keikis (babies) on the bloom stem.  These had roots so I just cut them apart.  I considered putting them together in a pot with the parent plant, but changed my mind.

 The next three pictures show how badly my phalanopsis needed to be repotted.  After I took this one out of the pot I decided  to cut the plant off at about the level of the top of the pot.  Then I removed about four or five leaves from the bottom because I wanted to get the roots between them down into the pot.   I put all the phals as low into the pots as I could so they'd have room to grow upward for a year or two.

This is the only one of mine that had a baby plant.   I didn't try to separate it from the parent plant.  I put them both in a pot slightly on their side so that the plant crowns would be next to each other and have room to grow.  Both already had bloom spikes growing.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Joy Cometh with the Mourning

"Dave Freer is a former Ichthyologist (Fisheries Biologist) who turned author because he heard the spelling requirements were easier. They lied. He is happily married, with two great sons, two lovely daughters-in-law, and now is bracing himself for grandchildren. He and his wife Barbara live on remote Flinders Island, off the coast of Tasmania. He dives, fishes rock climbs, lives a chaotic experiment into self-sufficiency, including making his own bacon, from his own pigs, and writes novels. Some have even blundered onto best-seller lists before being kicked out by respectable literature." (Bio from Amazon.)

Dave Freer is one of my pretend internet author friends and exceptionally skilled writer. He recently moved from South Africa to Flinders Island, about as near the back side of beyond it's possible to manage and still be on Earth, and has written this book and is dedicating all proceeds from it to his new little parish church. Many of his books are science fiction and fantasy. He also has some literary YA books out. But THIS one is a "cozy". It's a comfortable murder mystery (a *cozy*) which he assures us that "your conservative mother will like." The heroine is a timid priest sent from the city to serve a country parish after the old priest had died.

Dave says: "I wrote this book for one simple reason (and, of course being me, several complex ones). I have given the entire income from it to my little Church on the Island. The Island is at least as nominally Christian as the US – which I see comes in 76%. (...) But in the meanwhile, Sunday to Sunday, it’s a very small group. Most of them are old. The church is important to them. They don’t have enough money to have a priest, or even to fly one in regularly to take mass. That is important to them. It’s important to me. They’ll take dawn service on ANZAC day, on Remembrance Day, and I’ll be there while I am still breathing, to pay my respects to the fallen, and honor those who served. They’ll bury me here, one day… if there is anyone left to bury me. They’ll be the ones making teas and comforting the grieving, as they do now, regardless of creed or color or background, or if you ever came to church."

As it's time to start thinking about gifts for our Conservative Mothers, I thought I'd share.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Calcium Carbonate

Growth rings in an exposed CaCO3 outcrop.
The whole thing looked a bit like a stump.

Actively forming rock.  The spikes are about 1cm across.
The source of the dissolved CaCO3 is the Madera Formation.

Another view of the first rock.  The whole thing was full
of funnels or tubes, from these big ones to
about 2mm in diameter.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book cover art.

 This is meant to be a wrap-around so imagine it folded in half.   I put my name in the lower block but don't have anything in the back cover block yet.  It's pretty neat, I think.   It's slightly cartoony but  I don't think so much so that it won't work.  The story itself is plenty appropriate for younger readers anyway.

Monday, August 25, 2014


 Guadeloupita Mesa. The orange layers (starting at the bottom) are the Abo Formation, Lower Yeso, a little bit of the remaining Upper Yeso which has been eroded and topped over by the Bandolier Tuff which is all of the buff colored rocks.

The other side of Guadeloupita Mesa. Starting at the bottom is the orange Lower Yeso (the Abo doesn't show at all) a complete Upper Yeso which is the fine layers of darker red.  The Glorieta sandstone is the light and dark, relatively chunky layer about half the thickness of the Upper Yeso.   Above the Glorieta sandstone is layer that is eroded and looks like a bit of a slope with vegetation, that's the Moenkopi formation. (I looked up how to spell that.  The last dark sandstone/conglomerate layer is the Chinle Group.  Above that is the Bandolier Tuff. 

In between the two pictures is fault displacement of maybe a 100 meters.  On the left everything above the Upper Yeso is gone, eroded away before the mega-volcano covered it all.

 This view is from the top of Sandia Crest and shows the Madera limestones.   These are actually *below* the Abo formation at the very bottom of the mesa in the first pictures.  But they've been uplifted to the very top of the Sandia mountains.

Purple asters on Sandia Crest.  And another picture of the layers of limestone and the weathered granite below.  The exciting part (I am assured) is that the granite is 1.4 billion years old and the limestone laying directly on top of it is 300 to 318 million years old.  There is 1.1 billion years of rock that is missing between them.

Another shot of the Abo formation... the one that would be directly on top of the Madera and I suppose if a person dug a deep hole they'd find it there.  The Abo is a lot of mudstone and flood plain rocks with layers of sandstone between and breaks up sort of easily... the pillar is impressive, but probably won't last for many more years.

And last, more flowers.  Apache plume.

Also... I realize most people don't care AT ALL what names go with layers of rock, but I'm going to have to remember all of this so I'm mostly repeating it all for my own benefit.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why the movie Transcendence Sucked....

Transcendence is a 2014 movie starring Johnny Depp, who was incredible as always.  Rebecca Hall also did a great job, as did Paul Bettany.

I note that on IMDb it lists "Warner Brothers" after "written by".   Frankly, "written by committee" explains a whole heck of a lot.

The idea of "transcendence" is relatively standard in science fiction.  In essence the "essence" of humanity is uploaded to the cloud and we leave our physical limitations behind.  Sometimes this is expressed as the "singularity".  I'm not at all fond of this particular sub-genre, though my husband prefers it to other science fiction sub-genres.  He agrees with me about this movie, which he should have loved.

The movie opens with the aftermath... there is an implication of a police state, food shortages, and the absence of technology, even refrigeration.  This situation would be utterly horrific and involve the death of millions... or so I would assume, since you know, reality.

So back we go... an anti-tech domestic terrorist group kills a bunch of scientists at Lawrence Livermore who are working on artificial intelligence (except for Morgan Freeman who was too busy working to eat his cake) and blows up some random college students surfing porn and shoe blogs... I mean, doing homework... in computer labs at a number of Universities.  A crazy person shoots Dr. Will Caster after a TED talk and then blows his own head off.  Will Caster survives but the bullet had traces of radioactive stuff on it and Will Caster will die of radiation poisoning in a matter of weeks.  His wife, Evelyn, is desperate to save him and convinces him to try to upload himself onto a computer, because someone had previously done so with a monkey (and thus spawned the terrorist group).  He loves her, so he agrees.  Their partner Max Waters also loves her so he also agrees.

It works.  Max freaks out and wants to turn it all off.   Evelyn is desperate to save her husband and drives him off.  He immediately gets kidnapped by the insane terrorists to use his phone to back track to the old school where they had set up their lab to upload Will.  But they are too late!

As I'm describing this it's clear that Evelyn is driving what is going on.  In the movie this was not clear.  In fact, Evelyn spends almost the entire movie mindlessly doing whatever Will asks her to do.  Which was undoubtedly on purpose because it was a bait and switch.  We're supposed to think that the uploaded Dr. Caster has run off the rails and wants to take over the world.  Max gradually gets "turned" by the terrorists as he recognizes the danger.  But even at the very beginning of his captivity he never ever (and this was my first instance of WTF) throws the fact in the lead terrorist's face that SHE caused all of this directly through her own actions by poisoning Will so he was dying.  The "third smartest person I know" according to Will Caster and Max is passive in his captivity.

So the uploaded personality of Will Caster turns into a terrifying, slave creating, power consolidating fearsome thing and everyone bands together with the terrorists... the military, the FBI, Morgan Freeman who apparently doesn't recall all of his dead friends... and they're going to destroy the monster.   Then at the end we find out that the uploaded AI really was Will Caster and that he was just trying to fulfill Evelyn's dreams of curing disease and saving the planet... which no one knew and Evelyn didn't know, because evidently in approximately three years she never actually had a conversation with Will about what he was attempting to do or why.

Which is why this movie sucked.

They never had a conversation about their goals.  They never had a conversation about how quickly and in which ways to release new biomedical information or other breakthroughs to the world.  They never had a conversation about how to ease people into accepting this frightening thing.  Will can rebuild people, make the lame, walk, and the blind, see.   Yet they apparently never sold a patent.   Will even figures out how to create a new body for him to be inside (instead of controlling people, which he also does) and he doesn't tell her that he's working on it, that he can be a person again.  Evelyn, who we assume is the "second smartest person" that Dr. Will Caster knows, spends three years never asking a question.  About anything.

And that's why this movie sucked.

It's Evelyn Caster's story.  She's the driving force behind the decisions that her "transcended" husband makes and everything he does.  But if she had been active past the point of "saving" him, the plot would have gone in different directions than it did.  So the result is that the whole movie lacked focus... and then it ended with what I'm now coining as a "spinning top" moment in honor of that execrable movie "Inception".  Are they dead or aren't they?


Friday, August 15, 2014

Caught in the Act...

I caught the last caterpillar in the act of turning into a chrysalis.  (Video in the post the follows this one.)

 The last picture is a bunch of the older chrysalises.  About half of those have already hatched.

Not much chance I'll get a job as a videographer.


Black Swallowtail Butterflies

Nine butterflies so far.  I should have at least this many more before they're all hatched.

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Saturday, August 09, 2014

Larry Correia lays some smack-down on NPR

I do so appreciate some Larry Correia snark.  I don't think he could fail to be entertaining if he tried.  However, his smack down of NPR "looking to manufacture some outrage" over the under-representation of Hispanics in film is not precisely *funny* which makes me think that Correia just might be slightly, actually...  annoyed.
 "When NPR says that some of the Latin actors aren’t “easily recognizable” that means that they aren’t conforming to accepted liberal suburban Ivy League stereotypes. NPR wants Latinos to play beaners in sombreros, hotel maids, or gang bangers… "

When NPR bases their argument on the fact that Jennifer Lopez is not easily recognizable as Hispanic in a movie, you know they've thoroughly jumped the shark.   OTOH, you probably already knew that, seeing as we're talking about NPR here.

Larry Correia fisks NPR.

Especially mindboggling... the part where NPR complains that Zoe Saldana played the part of a black person in Star Trek.

More Larry... as I said, he's a compulsively funny guy, but I think he's just a wee bit P.O.'d too.
"Yes, Latinos, NPR just called you stupid. How DARE you enjoy movies and be entertained? You should totally boycott them to salve some white suburban liberal’s white guilt!
Annoying twits put their perpetual outrage ahead of their enjoyment. Everything has to be filtered through their obnoxious white guilt. Meanwhile the rest of planet Earth is throwing piles of money at a movie with a sentient tree and a talking raccoon."

Monday, August 04, 2014


No dear, you weren't talking too much about yourself.  You weren't going on and on and boorishly promoting your latest book.  You were, in fact, talking about other people.



In the foyer.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

All Creatures, Small and Tiny

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Does violence define masculinity?

I'd say, yes, actually. That's with a whole bunch of caveats and recourse to definitions. Still, I think that most of what this guy says is both very right and very wrong. 

First, he claims that men = violence is entirely cultural... that it's trained into boys from their youngest years.  Part of that is true, but it's also not true.  We know that higher testosterone is associated with higher aggression in both men and women and men tend to have more testosterone. Violence is actually essentially human. We don't train it into ourselves, we train it OUT.*

Read more »

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Dad's Hot Rod

There are T-shirts over the seat covers.

My dad has had this hot rod since he was a "rebel" in the 50's.  When I was a teenager he started to fix it up again, rebuild from the bottom up.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

How long is a Novella?

I'm starting to consider that I might be a novella writer.  Short stories don't seem to fit.  My ideas for novels seem to just peter out, even when I know how I want the story to conclude, because there doesn't seem to be enough going on.

But novellas Do Not Sell.

I learned this impermeable Truth about the same time I cut my milk-teeth learning about writing and publishing in the early 1990s.  Novellas do not sell.  It's a Short Story or the Game of Thrones.  Choose wisely, young one.

Novels, you see, are no longer 50,000 words (no matter what NaNoWriMo tells you), a novel begins at a nice meaty 80,000 words or It Will Not Sell.   It doesn't matter how many Golden Age space operas or Louis L'Amour novels you've loved nearly to the point of disintegration.  Novels start at 80,000 words.  I knew this with all my heart.

And then, as Grue from "Despicable Me" would say, "Light bulb!"

My expectations are stuck in the old paradigm, the traditional publisher, agent, brick-and-mortar trifecta of gate keepers who decided that the economic realities of book binding and distribution made novellas a waste of time.  What I learned so very well belongs to that version of publishing.

Ebooks are a whole new world.

As a consumer of ebooks, however, I've been burned.  Yes, they say you can check the file size and get a good idea about how long the story is that you're buying for $2.99.  To me this misses the "customer is always right" principle.  And if I'm selling novellas I want to be entirely up-front about what I am offering.

So I did a little web surfing and research to find out how different story lengths are categorized these days. There is some variation.  Different contests and awards have their own, very specific, rules.  Some add additional categories such as short-short and long-short stories. Generally, though, this is a pretty good approximation of what lengths are called what names.

Flash fiction:     less than 1000 words.
Short fiction:    1,000 to 7,500 words.
Novelette:        7,500 to 17,500 words.  
Novella:           17,500 to 40 or 50 or 60,000 words.
Novel:             Whatever is left.

Okay, so we've still got a problem. SFWA and the RWA define the "novel" category as anything upward of 40,000 words for their award categories. To give a good approximation, this is a 150 page novel.  It is approximately 1/2 inch thick, and has been unsalable as a "novel" for decades.

I found definitions online that put "novella" at 30,000 to 60,000 words.  The goal here isn't to be pedantic, it's to set and meet the expectations of readers. Readers expect a novel to be more than 300 pages, probably closer to 400 pages and at least 1" thick. That's 75,000 words and up.   It may feel like a story has been demoted to second class, but someone who is reading a 40,000 word, 150 page "novel" is going to wonder what happened to the rest of it.

The answer I found on the Writer's Digest website used the NaNoWriMo standard of 50,000 words as the cut between novella and novel... and then went on to say, as "writing advice" to someone, to expand their novella to novel length so it would be salable... "at least 80,000 words."  That is what readers expect because for decades that is what publishers would buy.

So I'm inclined to ignore the contest regulations for the Rita and Nebula awards and cut the difference between the technical and "real" novel length presented by WD, and go with the high number for "novella" that I found on my web searches, 60,000 words.

Novella < 60,000 < Novel

Other than that... Novelette and Novella can duke it out over where they split the take.

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Art my kid did for me for a book that's not done yet!

Definitely need to get my butt in gear!   But
at least my artist is hard working and prompt!
I'm intending this for the back cover art.  The 
front art has her asleep and the cherry blossoms
are small buds.