Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Albuquerque Botanical Garden

My husband and I went to see the Japanese Tea Garden today for the cherry blossoms.  I think that they would probably have been better a week ago.  The flowering apple trees were amazing though.  And the tulips were very nice.


This might be a cherry tree.  I didn't check.  It's probably
an ornamental apple.

The red blossoms are undoubtedly a flowering crab apple.
I'm told the stone boxes are called Tōrō or Dōrō.

There were huge numbers of huge koi in the pond.
This one wasn't so big, but it was pretty.

I think that the orange flowers are quince.  There is
a Canada goose there by the little house (hokora).

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tent Rocks

I finally got some of the pictures off my phone.   These are from a field trip to Tent Rocks which is part of the Bandelier volcanic outflow... area... thing.

The path goes in there...
















... and through here...

















... and between this...
... and under that...

... and up some really steep parts to the very top...


Yes... we started at the bottom of that.
I'm not sure if the rocks look like tents or if they look like gnomes in hats.
Whoo hooo!

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Saturday, February 08, 2014

My Phalaenopsis are blooming!

I moved my Phals to this north-east facing window and got a regular 4 tube fluorescent light about a year ago or so.  They don't get enough humidity and I frequently forget to water them and they all need to be repotted, but the combination of the artificial light, the window, and the fluctuations in temperature at night have triggered bloom stems on all of them.  I have one with yellow flowers that has buds that haven't opened yet.  I find that I'm more apt to kill the yellow phals than the pink ones.  The lights have been raised about six inches because the bloom stems were growing into them.  I turned the plants to take pictures because all the flowers face the window.






Friday, January 10, 2014

Freedom and Judgement

In Praise of Libertarian Judgementalism
"The state’s decriminalizing of an activity or substance doesn’t transform that activity or substance into a moral, healthy or admirable one. And libertarians don’t have to act like it does. You can celebrate the fact that people are free without celebrating all the dumb things those people do with their freedoms." - David Harsanyi
Something is wrong when we make the State the arbiter of morality. In so many ways we end up viewing expressed disapproval as an assault on someone elses freedom, and why? Because we've bought into the assumption that approval or disapproval, right and wrong, must be expressed with the coercive power of the State. There is no live-and-let-live if every judgement is reflected in law.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Rock (and proof I'm a nerd)

...as if there was any doubt.

















A local shop had some pretty rocks with fluorite crystals (note on them says "Fluorite NM" but I don't know where in NM they were collected). The others might have been more spectacular but I wanted this one (which was my Christmas present from my husband) because it had three different minerals that form isometric crystal structures.  That means that they form (or can form) perfect geometric cubes.  The white crystals are calcite (CaCO3), which has a hexagonal crystal structure, and I think if you zoom in on the bottom half of the rock there are some sorta hex shaped white nuggets.  But no one cares about the calcite.  So... the fluorite crystals (CaF2) are the clear purple/blue cubes.  There are also galena crystals (PbS), but they are hard to see in this picture.  Galena is super showy.  The crystals look like perfect little metallic cubes with mirror-shiny faces.  Most of the galena crystals in this rock are fractured, but the cube shapes still show clearly.

Well... I've now convinced myself that the glittery black crystals are not what I thought they were, (darn you, internet!)  but are actually also galena crystals (I thought they must be chromite but I couldn't find *any* images of actual cubic chromite despite the fact that it's isometric.)  The galena crystals have glittery coatings of Anglesite on them...  PbSO4... so, essentially the surface of the galena crystal has oxidized and recrystalized as little lead sulfate crystals. Which I suppose is also pretty cool.

(The amazing box that I'm using to prop up my rock was a gift from my daughter who made it in wood shop.)

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Note to Self

Self, when making krumkake do not touch the base of the krumkake iron with your bare fingers.



What I was making:



Recipe:

3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla, or almond, or lemon, or cardamom
1/2 cup flour

Do the usual stuff with the butter and sugar, flour and eggs, and flavoring.
Cook a teaspoon at a time on a krumkake iron over low-ish heat until they are golden.  Roll onto a tapered dowel while hot.  Slide off the dowel.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar if you must.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Speculative Fiction Diversity Survey

Trying out Google docs survey form for the fist time. Check this out!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Walls, Wire, Bars and Souls

I was reminded of this book today and I suddenly thought, "Hey, a prison chaplain's memoir is the sort of thing a bunch of people at Lem's would probably like." So...
I haven't read it, but I've heard that it's very good.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Science Fiction - The Crazy Year



Sister Time

This is old.

This is new.

Sometime, June-ish, the science fiction and fantasy world blew up over a chain-mail bikini and a couple of old guys talking about science fiction publishing over 60 years ago in which they spoke admiringly of "lady writers" and "lady editors" and mentioned that someone or other was particularly good looking.

The. World. Ended.

This ancient June history is important because World Con just happened and the call for inclusive science fiction is continuing to gain strength with the article from the Guardian stating the dire state of modern science fiction.  Both articles are extremely short and informative concerning events, though I'm having trouble finding something pithy to quote from them.   Mostly, though, it's assertions of fact that are easily disputable.
Science fiction loves a good paradox. Here's one for you: how can a genre that dreams up alien cultures and mythic races in such minute detail seemingly ignore the ethnic, religious, gender and sexual diversity right here on the home planet, here in the real world?
Science fiction also likes a good Fantasy, and this is one of them.   It's such a NICE fantasy.  So CONVENIENT for our science fiction Church Ladies.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

The Pen That George Used

So... this weekend was Bubonicon again.   I'm on my fourth year as Gofer Wrangler (elsewise known as the Volunteer Coordinator or cat herder... actually, my volunteers are awesome) so I was working rather than going to panels (and this seemed like a good idea, why?)   I got to one panel on publishing by a gentleman named Robert Vardeman which was wonderful and informative.

Most of the time, though, I was holding down a table.  When I wasn't holding down a table I was badge checking programming venues.  We had some great Guests of Honor... Brent Weeks and Tim Powers... but I never saw any of their panels or went to their readings.

Because we also had George.   You know George... as in R.R. Martin?   Yeah, him.   Well, I didn't go to any of his panels or reading either.  I was *working*.

The pen that George used.
Poor guy is local so we're all terribly unimpressed, though that might be rather restful for him, who knows.   But anyhow, we had to close the door on his reading because too many people wanted in and I'm the person who stood in front of the closed door and had to stand up to super-fans who'd traveled from out of town and tell them "No!"   There were a few who tried wheedling and a couple who managed it by begging please if someone came *out* could they go in?   But mostly I made statements with some variation of "Fire Marshall" in them and everyone backed off like I'd waved a magic wand.  I did have one other gofer with me for back up, which I was glad of!

I also guarded George's door and line for the mass book signing.   Everyone was incredibly polite.  They got to have two things signed and then get back in line as often as they got through it.   I only had one case of line jumping, and I pounced on them and said no no no... but their friend you see... and I said, no! no savesees! (because your brain is always the first to go on Con weekend) and I got a badly snotty "I'm attending a disabled person!" and a huge sneer like I was a mean hater.  It had been a group of five people and three were not getting anything but wow... who doesn't ask?  Someone is standing right there directing traffic and they don't politely ask that the disabled person step in front? Just jump on up there? (Also, if you've been to a sci-fi convention "disabled" isn't unusual at all... people spend the weekend in wheelchairs and this girl had a cane.) It didn't ruin my day or anything but the "friend" in line came afterward and apologized profusely for how rude her friends had been and how they made her complicit in the rudeness.  Well, I didn't blame her anyhow.   The goodness of everyone else (and I do mean EVERYONE else) just made it tons of fun.  People who'd driven from out of state just to get George's signature got everything they brought signed, got through the line as many times as it took in the hour and a half given... *even* an independent bookstore staff with every Game of Thrones inventory item they had.  And they were wonderful too.  Every time a straggler came with a personal book to get signed they boosted them ahead, even though the signed comic books, posters, calendars and books were their bread and butter.

The most fun, though, was a lady right at the end that got her item signed... I'm not sure what it was, maybe a game or artwork or something about 15 x 15.  I didn't notice what it was because I was looking at her face.  She walked down the hall holding her treasure out in front of her so she could look at it and just *smiled*, so obviously pleased and so obviously joyful at her good fortune that she just oooozed happiness all the way down the hallway in little drips.   It still makes me smile.

Anyhow... the pen.  So I was off doing something or other and my friend gave my silver sharpie to George Martin's assistant.  (He had several other metallic sharpies, too.)   And then she got it back again at the end, which embarrassed me a little bit because really, I'm not concerned about losing my silver sharpie!  But we've been having fun ever since making a big deal of my famous silver sharpie and laughing our butts off over it.  So I thought I'd take a picture - it lasts longer.  ;-)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Elmore Leonard 1925 - 2013

Ace posted a link to an article on writing by Elmore Leonard.

(One article about him from the Guardian)

Elmore Leonard was elderly and passed away and I know nothing about him other than that he wrote "Fire in the Hole" which I've never read but was turned into the first season of the television show "Justified" which I liked a whole lot. After that show came out I noticed his name quite a bit but I still hadn't read anything that he'd written.

  Until I read this.

 Having partaken in a fair amount of writing advice over the years I will say that his 10 rules for writing (and summation of the 10 rules in the rule "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.") is short, to the point, and spot on. It's concise and even laconic.

 As far as I'm concerned writing fiction shouldn't be about the author, it should be about the story. Part of what I don't trust about "literature" is (other than the mistrust born of science fictional tribalism) that I expect the story to be about the author being clever. And then, afterward, all the critics exclaim about how clever the author was. Why should anyone at all care about how clever the author was?

Some of his 10 rules I've heard a million times. Some of them were surprising. Such as: 1. Never open a book with weather. Dark, stormy nights are right out, but I'd never heard anyone say not to do it at all.  I found this rule bemusing: 5. Keep your exclamation points under control. I imagine a novel full up !!!eleventy!! and wonder... someone does that? But perhaps they do.  I think that my taste likely favors more description than he prefers but most of what I read and write tends toward either Romance (so you have to "see" how sexy the hero is) or science fiction where the world that exists around the character is often a character in its own right, and he wrote crime fiction, mostly, I think.

From the Guardian:
For most of his career, Leonard was undervalued by critics, both because of his consistently high sales and his facility with dialogue: some critics distrust speech-led novels as shooting scripts for future movies. 
Yes, but of course.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Hooks vs. Explanations

"Hey, did you see what I did there?"

 I've just seen both Pacific Rim and The Wolverine. Both are popcorn movies and not meant to be particularly deep. Both had obvious and less obvious elements included in their construction. Some of those included details may have been meant to support other parts that ended up on the cutting room floor, but I'd like to think that sometimes an artist/writer/director/actor includes some detail on the sly because the story-word demands it, even if very few people will notice what they've done.

 I also think that including open hooks instead of set explanations makes for richer writing and better stories. People think more when you don't do all of their thinking for them or demand that their "take" is the same as you, the creator, intended.

 I don't intend to "spoil" either of the movies, but if you're worried about it you'd probably better not read the rest.

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Thursday, August 01, 2013

Human Wave Garage Sale

Over at According to Hoyt.

Ladies, Gentlemen, Beings of Furritude, I come not to bury grey goo plotting but to yawn at it and to sigh “I don’t care what happens to all these characters” and — occasionally, when a novel rises a little bit above the common style –, to sigh and say “I want them all dead by chapter two.” (Ah, for a minion I could dispatch to story world. “Guido, see to it. I want them all dead by chapter two before they all start the belly button contemplating until it reels the mind. Make them dead. Hide the bodies.” Of course, in many cases this would improve the pacing and action of the plot. In others no one would notice.)
The antidote is called Human Wave fiction. The Garage Sale is a list of (mostly) Kindle special deals from authors who have promised not to serve up grey goo or contemplate belly buttons.

Scroll down, but don't skip reading Sarah's post because each and every word is put there with malice aforethought to engage and entertain (even if you refuse to be properly thoughtful.)

You know you need more to read, you know you do! So go.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Classic Ambiguity

I took a grammar class in college this spring (and aced it, natch) so I thought I'd share from my textbook. Pg 200…

"The absolute phrase (also known as the "nominative absolute") is a structure independent from the main sentence;(...) The absolute phrase introduces an idea related to the sentence as a whole, not to any one of it's parts:"

 It goes on with examples... I'll skip those.

 "Absolute phrases are of two kinds - with different purposes and different effects. (...) ...the first kind: the absolute that explains a cause or condition. (...) the absolute phrase could be rewritten as a "because, "when" or "since" clause:" The other type... "The absolute construction, on the other hand, leaves open the possibility for other reasons...." etc.,

 "Perhaps the most famous absolute phrase is the one found in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. And, as we know, it is open to more than one interpretation:"

 Ah hah! She had a point to this grammar nonsense, you say.


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Does the Constitution Matter

It went like this:

A pro-gun hot-head posting comments to a CNN article proclaimed that he’d taken an oath to uphold the Constitution long ago and had every intention of putting himself on the line to do so now. The “reasonable” not-against-the-second honest-trust-me commenter said:
What if the Constitution changes?
I answered:

 “I think that when a contract is altered that it's a new contract. The one you swore to uphold is the one you swore to uphold. If it's a different Constitution, you'd have to swear over again to the new Constitution.”

 Apparently this is absurd.

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