Word of the Day

Jun. 22nd, 2017 04:54 pm
mathhobbit: (Default)
[personal profile] mathhobbit

As it turns out, I prefer tomato sauce.  What a delicious mistake!

A Liverpool Lark!

Jun. 22nd, 2017 08:07 pm
mizkit: (Default)
[personal profile] mizkit

A few weeks ago my friend Leah said her husband wasn’t much interested in seeing Wonder Woman, so she wasn’t likely to see it in the theatre, and Ted said “THIS WILL NOT DO” and checked to see how much plane tickets to Liverpool were and they were practically nothing so he sent me to Liverpool for a lark with Leah, and we went to Wonder Woman together!

Knowing I had to get up wery wery early for my flight, I took a shower the night before and ended up with…Quite The Hair in the morning.

But I tamed it, and got myself some hot chocolate at the airport. I was very tired. But less large of hair. :)

It was the shortest flight I’d ever been on that didn’t involve being in an actual puddle-jumper (ie, 6-12 seat twin propeller airplane). We went up, we went down, there I was. I hung out at the airport for a while, reading, until Leah could collect me, and we spent an EXTREMELY giddy couple of hours ranting about work, children, and the patriarchy. (And, to be fair, a bit about Tom Hardy. Not so much ranting there, mind you, but. :))

These drinks are not actually alcoholic, because it was 11am, but they were DELICIOUS!

We went to our movie. We sat through a truly inordinate number of ads, which, thankfully, had no sound. We started to become concerned, in fact, after many many soundless ads. Then the trailers started, also soundlessly. They were doing these weird little 10 seconds spots for Dunkirk, and the second-to-last one faded to black and immediately came up with the trailer for War for the Planet of the Apes, except because there was no sound and the fade to black had been so brief, they really looked like one trailer.

“Is this how we won WW2?” Leah asked, mystified. “Woody Harrelson and an army of monkeys?”

Then a theatre employee came in and said the entire sound system in the theatre had blown and they would not be showing us Wonder Woman in that theatre at that time.

However, there was another showing half an hour later, and they let us go to that one!

We had an utterly splendid time. Leah really enjoyed the movie. It ended and she said, “That was…that was *good*,” in astonishment, and then we went back to the airport, picking apart all our problems with it and rewriting things to our satisfaction, but we were really happy and had such a good time! And decided that we should really do that more often, because it turns out to be really cheap to pop over for a day, and ours is one of those friendships based on kindred spirithoodness rather than regular meetings in real life (we think that was our 6th time actually being on one another’s physical presence), but it was such fun that it seems like it should be a thing we do, and I need to look into doing that with OTHER friends in England and equally nearby locales…!

But yeah. That was really great. Yay for a lark!

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

sunrise, sunset

Jun. 21st, 2017 07:37 pm
totient: (Default)
[personal profile] totient
Today was the longest day of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere. But it wasn't the earliest sunrise, or the latest sunset.


The length of a day -- 24 hours from sunrise to sunrise, on average -- comes mostly from Earth's rotation. But a few minutes of it comes from Earth's orbiting around the sun. It takes Earth 23 hours, 56 minutes, and a bit over 4 seconds to rotate 360 degrees, at the end of which time the stars will be in the same positions in the sky as they were the previous day. But because the sun isn't in the same place in the sky as it was the previous day, Earth has to rotate about 3 minutes and 56 seconds more to bring the sun back into the same apparent position it had been in 24 hours previously.

The catch is that "about". Two things affect this number. First, Earth's orbit isn't perfectly circular. It's closest to the sun in early January and furthest in early July. When it's further, it moves more slowly in its orbit, so it doesn't have to turn as much extra to make a day. When it's closer, it moves more quickly, so it has more to make up. Second, and right now more importantly, at the equinoxes Earth can catch up to the sun's new east-west position quickly because some of the sun's apparent motion is north-south. At the solstices, Earth has to turn quite a bit further to make up for same amount of orbital motion, because all of the sun's apparent motion is east-west. This makes the day/night cycle longer than average -- right now, it's about 24 hours 15 seconds from one sunset (or sunrise) to the next. The effect is even more pronounced in December when it's aligned with the eccentricity effect instead of opposed to it.

The longer days mean that here in Boston, though we've missed the earliest sunrise by about a week, we have until June 26 to celebrate the latest sunset of the year.
swan_tower: (gaming)
[personal profile] swan_tower

I’ve been sitting on this news for nearly a year, waiting for my first piece to go live so I can tell you all about it.

So there’s this game called Legend of the Five Rings. It was a collectible card game and RPG; I got involved with the RPG, doing some freelance work for the later parts of fourth edition, because it had sucked me in overnight. The setting, Rokugan, is inspired by Japanese history and culture, and it’s got the kind of rich worldbuilding that makes the place come to life for me. So when the parent company sold L5R off to Fantasy Flight Games, I was, shall we say, rather determined to stay involved.

And I am. But not writing for the RPG this time: instead I’m one of their fiction writers. You see, one of the defining characteristics for L5R has always been the ongoing narrative of the game, influenced by the winners of various tournaments, and expressed through official canon stories.

My first story is here!

I think it should be a decent introduction to the setting for those who aren’t familiar with it. (In fact, that’s one of the goals for this first set of stories: give newcomers an overview of Rokugan, clan by clan.) If you like what I wrote, you might find L5R overall interesting, and you can check out the other fictions here (those provide links to the pdfs if you want to see the pretty formatted versions).

Yeah . . . I’m pretty excited. 😀 The setting has been rebooted back to the Clan War, so there’s an opportunity to do all kinds of cool new things, and this story provided a really great chance to showcase that, with the Dragon facing two entirely fresh conflicts that don’t come with easy answers attached. And I’m working on more stuff as we speak, so my involvement will be ongoing. *\o/*

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

Weekly media report

Jun. 21st, 2017 11:05 am
immlass: (dr. who - keep calm don't blink)
[personal profile] immlass
- The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, Season 2, Episode 7.
- Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners, by Therese Oneill. Fun and snarky but a little too irreverent and badly sourced for me to take it seriously.
- Dead Water, by Barbara Hambly. Eighth in the Benjamin January New Orleans mystery. In this one Benjamin and Rose recover the money stolen from their bank and involve themselve peripherally in the Underground Railroad (which is going to be a larger presence in the rest of the series.)
- The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power Behind Five English Thrones, by Thomas Asbridge. Very readable (so far) biography of Marshal.

- Doctor Who: The Eaters of Light. Bog-standard (in a good Classic Who way) monster of the week episode to fill us out to get to the end of the regular series and into the finale.

- none (we listened to the new Styx album but apparently it was out of order!)

(no subject)

Jun. 21st, 2017 10:54 am
immlass: (no one cares about your blog)
[personal profile] immlass
Something I posted on Tumblr after seeing that stupid quote about fading into useless middle age one time too many. )

In proof that people see what they want to see in these things, someone had to talk about Plath's mental health, apparently completely missing the point that her attitude reflects it and drives it at the same time. Sigh.

Recent Reads: The Expanse

Jun. 20th, 2017 05:18 pm
mizkit: (Default)
[personal profile] mizkit

We watched The Expanse late last year, & liked it a lot, so I got Ted LEVIATHAN WAKES, the first book in the series the tv show is adapted from, for Christmas. He read it & liked it & said I had to read it, so I did a couple days ago.

It was very good. It also happens to be one of the best adaptations from book to screen I’ve ever encountered, which is unusual and appealing. Anyway, having finished it I immediately started the second book, CALIBAN’S WAR, which Ted has not yet read.

LEVIATHAN is a good book. CALIBAN is a terrific one. It made me laugh out loud repeatedly, and there were lines I stopped to read to Ted. There was a thing from the last book that hadn’t been addressed, and I was muttering about it, and Ted said “Maybe it’ll come up later,” and I said, “I’m on page 342 and it hasn’t been addressed yet, I don’t think it’s going to be.”

In the middle of page 343 it was addressed. :)

“Oh no!” I aid, and started laughing. “A new element?” said Ted. “Holden!” I said. “There must be a law, like Murphy’s Law. Any bad choice you can make, Holden will make. Holden’s Law.”

And then reading the last several chapters went like this:

Me, involuntarily: Fuck!
A few pages later: Hah! HAH HAH!
And a few pages later still: Oh, shit! Shit shit shit!


I can’t wait to read the next one. GOOD BOOKS YO.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

Words of Yesterday

Jun. 20th, 2017 08:16 am
mathhobbit: (Default)
[personal profile] mathhobbit
caterpillar and flexibility

A woman with the lung capacity to converse throughout a three hour rock concert deserves a better vocabulary.

Moving House

Jun. 19th, 2017 07:35 pm
liralen: A pictures of one of my bees (bee)
[personal profile] liralen
When we first set up the hive, it had to be away from the house because we were replacing the roof and the solar panels on the south side of the house had to come down before the roof could be put on. So we put the hive on the North side of the yard, facing South to catch the sun in the entrance on most days.

But the entrance also faced the biggest part of our backyard lawn, and the flight path for the bees was right over the grassy area where all the kids would play if we had a party again in our backyard. So we had to move the hive.
Read more... )

New Worlds and Dice Tales!

Jun. 19th, 2017 10:53 am
swan_tower: (Default)
[personal profile] swan_tower

The most recent New Worlds post is on sumptuary laws, i.e. the ways in which societies try to regulate the outward signifiers of class and rank.

Looking back at my previous blog series of BVC — Dice Tales is now set to be an ebook! You can currently pre-order it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, iTunes, and Kobo; or you can wait for the on-sale date of July 18th and get it from DriveThruRPG or direct from the publisher, Book View Cafe. This is edited and expanded from the original blog series, with more than half a dozen new essays.

And — as a teaser — while it is my first foray into game-related publishing, it may not be my last . . .

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

a very merry unbirthday

Jun. 18th, 2017 09:42 pm
mizkit: (Default)
[personal profile] mizkit

My older nephew, wishing to space his birthday out from Christmas somewhat, requested a half-birthday, so the family got together today for a kind of combined Father’s Day/unbirthday party.

Between the hours of 8am & 2pm, I baked a rather complicated cake, made its complicated frosting, made vanilla ice cream, cleaned the kitchen 2 times, did 4 loads of laundry, emptied all the rubbishes, cleaned the kitty litter, made lemonade, and just barely managed not to die of the outrageous 80 degree heat.

Ted went out to do errands, and the first thing he said upon returning was, “In my defense, *you* sent me to the bookstore….”

(The take was 2 cookbooks for said elder nephew, who wants to learn to cook, as well as Naomi Novik’s TEMERAIRE, a book for Indy, and the next three books of the Expanse series.)

Post-erranding, Ted made a ridiculously delicious dinner of grilled veg, salmon, shrimp, & kielbasa, which we all sat down to eat with hearty appetites. We also spent a lot of time lounging in the back garden, where, among other things, I spent a few minutes leg pressing my sister, which is no doubt perfectly normal behaviour.

The unbirthday boy cleaned up nicely, with a whole bunch of *extremely* nice tea (he’s apparently really in to tea, who knew?) and cookbooks along with an offer of cooking LESSONS from my husband the professional chef, and a super cool katana-style letter opener and some other good stuff, and seemed very pleased with his unbirthday.

The cake and ice cream turned out very nicely–the ice cream was so rich and smooth it was practically obscene, which isn’t always the case with my ice cream; I don’t make it enough to be really good at it consistently–and the lemonade was appropriately appreciated.

I managed to walk 4000 steps without actually leaving the house, which seems a little ridiculous. I am absolutely shattered, and to top it all off, I’m coming down with a cold. But it was a splendid day and we’re all happy. Tired. But happy. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

Word of the Day

Jun. 16th, 2017 10:34 am
mathhobbit: (Default)
[personal profile] mathhobbit

It's not clear to me how this word differs from "slander".  Sad that we have more than one word for that.

An Everything Day

Jun. 16th, 2017 12:15 am
liralen: Finch Painting (Default)
[personal profile] liralen
Today was one of those days....

I was added back onto the roster of my old 6's team, I got my bee allergy shot, I helped plan a siege defense, I got to play Rainbow Siege Six for the first time with my son and his friend, I had a last minute dental appointment with my periodontist that was nearly foiled by my GPS, and I might have a mild eye infection as well. But I got Dairy Queen and good gaming.

I think I'm a little tired.

Read more... )

101 in 1001 report

Jun. 15th, 2017 01:14 pm
immlass: (break the monotony)
[personal profile] immlass
It looks like I didn't actually hit any this time but I'm getting there. Still ahead, though I'll have to keep moving on some of these items to stay ahead.

List under the cut. )

I don't think I changed anything this time around and I'm making good progress on everything but walking. I'm glad I added the PT exercise goal because it's do-able in a way that walking outside seems not to be right now. I feel like I'm in a weird place with my reading cycle and I don't know whether to count the draft of my friend's novel or not--but I loved it just the same.

that whole “tikkun olam” thing

Jun. 15th, 2017 10:09 am
swan_tower: (Default)
[personal profile] swan_tower

I’ve been making these tikkun olam posts for about half a year now, and responses to them have been slowing down, which I suspect is in part a sign of fatigue. It’s hard to keep on working to repair the world when so many people seem determined to break it, and when it’s hard to see any result for your effort.

But sometimes you can make a very real difference to a very specific person. Chaz Brenchley has put out a call raising funds to treat his wife’s multiple sclerosis. If we lived in a country where this was covered by insurance, they wouldn’t have to worry; instead we live in a country where Republicans are trying to take away even the insurance we already have. Karen is the primary earner in their family, and she doesn’t know how soon she’ll be able to return to work. Helping out, either by donating directly, or by subscribing to Chaz’s Patreon, can make all the difference in the world to these two people, and to their friends and family.

And while you’re at it, call your senators and beg them to oppose Trumpcare. Because I’d like to live in a world where things ranging from anxiety to surviving sexual assault don’t count as “pre-existing conditions,” and where health insurance companies are required to cover things like doctor’s visits.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

The Little Cherry Tree That Could

Jun. 14th, 2017 03:22 pm
swan_tower: (Default)
[personal profile] swan_tower

When we bought our house last year, the property included one Meyer lemon tree, two apple trees (producing four kinds of apple between them, because grafts), and something we dubbed the Charlie Brown Cherry Tree.

Remember the Christmas tree in the Charlie Brown holiday special? Yeah. It was like that. Shorter than I am, spindly, rather lacking in leaves, and though we can’t remember how many cherries it produced, the number was small enough to be counted on one hand. I don’t have any pictures of it, but you get the idea.

This past winter, we finally got an abundance of rain. Also, our neighbors trimmed back a tree on their property that had been overshadowing the cherry.

Oh. my. god.

Here’s one branch of the tree. Note how there are more cherries on this single branch than the entire tree produced last year.

a small cluster of cherries on a tree

Here’s a shot of the most abundant section when it was really starting to gather steam:

a downward shot of cherries on a small tree

And here’s the near-final tally; there are still a few more cherries ripening on the tree that I haven’t picked yet.

a plastic container full of cherries

About half of those were harvested yesterday. Reader, I tell you: I got BORED picking cherries. Pick, pick, pick, for god’s sake why are there still more cherries to pick; I’ve been out here forever. They’re frozen because the tree is still shorter than I am, and even with its present abundance, we have to save up to get a useful amount. (They’re sour cherries, so less the kind of thing you just snack on than what we buy at the farmers’ market.) But we have enough to do . . . man, there are too many possibilities. My husband has been making jam out of various fruits, so maybe that. Or a pie? Is this enough for a pie? Maybe some little tarts or something? I don’t know.

I only know that it’s no longer the Charlie Brown Cherry Tree. Ladies and gentlemen, this is The Little Cherry Tree That Could.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

Weekly media report

Jun. 14th, 2017 03:26 pm
immlass: (dr. who - your first doctor)
[personal profile] immlass
- The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, Season 2, Episodes 4-6. Finally getting back into this and I don't know why I stopped. It's fun and an easy read.
- Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners, by Therese Oneill. Working my way through this and it's quite fun and enjoyable.

I also read the draft of a friend's novel which was AMAZING.

- Doctor Who: The Lie of the Land. Third of the three-parter. Honestly I thought the first half was pretty weak but I like the use of Missy which helped pep up the second. One of the criticisms I've seen is that it's a retelling of the end of Nu Who S3 but I think it was an improvement on that for all that it's a low bar.
- Doctor Who: Empress of Mars. A fine fine episode of Doctor Who meets Space 1889 with a fantastic old-school feel and the BEST CAMEO THIS SEASON (possibly in all of new Who). A really great Gatiss episode.
- Orphan Black Season 5, E01. I know we're still in the setup phase but that was intense and difficult.

- Anuna, Songs of the Whispering Things. Seven songs based on poetry by the Irish writer Francis Ledwidge set by Michael McGlynn. I've heard some of them before but I'm always glad to support their work, and the singing is beautiful, as always.

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