Monday, July 11, 2022


On this lovely afternoon I've been thinking about immortality ... not so much as a personal preference, but the way it's presented in fiction.

You can't dip your toe into a paranormal without coming across some character who is an immortal vampire or minor godling. My problem is, these folks don't seem to have learned anything from their centuries or millennia of life. There ain't no wisdom on display, no accumulation of knowledge, no self-control, no long view.

I mean ... I'm not the same person I was fifty years ago. I don't say half a century has made me noticeably wise, but I have some perspective.

I don't think this shortfall in characterization is an authorial failing. It's authorial choice. The fiction I read is created for amusement and gentle distraction. Readers want to see characters they understand and identify with. This kinda precludes writing characters who could realistically have been around for centuries.

ometimes Dr Who gets this right. Mostly not -- but they make plausible choices.

Sunday, March 06, 2022

Enjoyed a Short Stoey

I just enjoyed a short story by Carrie Vaughn, The Book of Daniel, in Kitty's Greatest Hits

A nice historical shapeshifter short story.
Maybe somebody else has written this idea, but I haven't seen it.

Gave me a little smile in the middle of a long night.

The collection is generally good. It's expensive on Amazon. $10. I can't imagine why.
I got it online from my library.

Go libraries!

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Bread and Beer


They call bread the staff of life, using staff in the sense of “a long stick used as a support when walking or climbing or as a weapon”, which is to say, the first metaphorical meaning, since even the most warlike among us seldom take up baguettes and plunge into battle. What we mean when we talk about bread this way is that it supports us and keeps us alive.


This was true all through the historical period in which I interest myself – the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. Bread provided most of the calories of the average person’s diet. Maybe 60%. (This was in the days when most folks were trying to scrape together enough calories to keep themselves alive, not trying to avoid them.) Beer – bread’s funtime cousin – contributed another 20% of calories. That’s 80 % of what folks lived on. Bread and beer were fueling the European working ma

Table bread
click on this for a closer look at costs and calories










They didn’t necessarily know they were getting their protein from bread, because getting protein in the diet does not seem to have been a high priority, as per this handy table above which may be taken as more or less representative.

From this you will see that your average bloke in 1750 Strasbourg (this was a table easy to find if not totally relevant to 1800 London, but I’m talking Big Picture here) was spending 20% of his income on beer and getting only a teensy bit of his yearly protein. Put another way, the fellow was spending as much on beer as on soap, linen, candles, lamp oil, and fuel combined. He doubtless found this worthwhile.

Bread pic 2 czanneBread was almost sacred. The custom I’ve seen of making a cross on a loaf of bread before slicing it would have been widespread a century or two back. In church, bread was the body of Christ and a sacrament. You didn’t mess around with bread.

Beer didn’t have quite that cachet, but it was still pretty cool.

Bread 2
click on this for a closer look at what protein cost











Bread was cheap protein too. Lookit this nifty comparison of the cost of protein in silver value. Bread and beans were king. Half the price of meat when it came to providing protein.

Cheese and eggs, on the other hand, were expense, their protein roughly twice the price of bread protein. I admit I’m surprised to see the relative expense of egg. We think of eggs as cheap protein nowadays. When  a farm wife is in charge of eggs and cheese for market, she was running a profitable little business of her own.


More hot rolls
typical bread chez jo


 But there it is, laid out in very general terms. Up to modern times European folks were bread and bean eaters. Now the choice of grains had widened and most people eat more of what used to luxuries. Bread is no longer the center of people’s diets. (Though I remember my father always wanted to have bread on the table, even if it was cornbread, often as not.)

Thursday, December 16, 2021

 I should get one of these tote bags ...

It reads
"Every girl needs her morning coffee before a day of wrecking ships and drowning men."

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Neil Gaiman Talks About Writing

 A casual, wandering, interesting interview with Gaiman that touches on his writing methods.

Find it here in a small review of American Gods, number 22 on a list of recommended Fantasy genre novels/

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

The Non-violent Heroic Confrontation

I came across this in my reading. 

The article considers,
"How does the hero confront violence without becoming violent themself?"
"How intrinsic is violence to the idea of heroism?"

Interesting to me. Maybe a thought-provoker for others who write or review.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

What I'm reading ...


Some good books I read in the last little while.
I got them as kindle books, borrowed from my library.

Hunter, Elite, Apex (Hunter Novels), Mercedes Lackey

The Mercy Thompson Collection Books 1-5, Patricia Briggs

Blackout, All Clear, To Say Nothing of the Dog (The Oxford books), Connie Willis

Blood Heir (Kate Daniels series), Ilona Andrews

The Will and the Deed, Ellis Peters

The Death of a Cad, M.C. Beaton

Wood Beyond the World, William Morris

The Scargill Cove Case Files: An Arcane Society Story, Jayne Ann Krentz

American Gods, Neil Gaiman


And here are a couple few more on the TBR shelf. I'm looking forward to reading or rereading them.


Always Coming Home, Ursula K. Le Guin

Tales from Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle Series Book 5) Ursula Le Guin

Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock), Faith Hunter

Year One (Chronicles of The One), Nora Roberts

Jack of Shadows, Robert Zelazny

Coraline, Neil Gaiman 

Grimspace (Sirantha Jax), Ann Aguirre

Friday, November 26, 2021

The Setting as Story

I’ve been thinking about “The Setting as Protagonist.” That is, when setting acts in the story. When it has its own narrative.

Fr'instance, consider All Clear by Connie Willis. This is a Time Travel SF that moves from a small town in the English countryside in WWII, to the evacuation at Dunkirk, to Bletchly Park, to the coastal defenses, to London during the Blitz. Time travelling protagonists see the era's awfulness and bravery through modern eyes.

Willis' use of London-as-a-character is clearest about midway through the book in scenes of the air attack on St. Paul’s Cathedral.

How does she do this? Well ... Lots of prior description of St. Paul's physicality. Vignettes of members of the Fire Guard. She purpose-builds two Cockney moppets for use in the Blitz subplot. The protagonist argues that destruction of the cathedral would be a final blow for British morale.

So. Not just extended metaphor. Setting can be a symbolic equivalence. Can clarify and add an emotional gloss. I find myself rooting for St Paul's as if it were an old friend.

 cf Tolkien's the "Cleansing of the Shire." Burnett’s Secret Garden. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Turf of a Viking Burial Mound


I've been reading up on Vikings. Nothing deep or scholarly on my part, just random bits about the social order of Vikings.
(n.b. This quoted passage is an example of why academic journals need editors.)


"Interestingly, the grass that was used to cover the mound was tested by Bersu and was found to have come from the dead individual’s farmstead, which consisted of about 500m2 of grass for the  purpose of covering the mound.

...  archaeologists found near the top, a layer of cremated animal bones that have been identified as cattle, horse, sheep and dog remains. Within the same layer the remains of a younger female, between twenty and thirty years old, was also found. 

... claims that there was a lack of regard for the burial that the woman received (no coffin and lack of items accompanying the body), testifies to her being a slave." 

The poor woman seems to have been killed by a sword chop through the head. Tough being a slave on the Isle of Man in the Viking Era, apparently.  

None of that comes as a great surprise.

Now I sit here wondering whether the grass on the mound was picked up and carried some distance to cover the grave or if the farmstead was just the nearest place to roll up some first-rate sod.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Men's things and Women's Things in the Medieval World

While this below is probably most interesting to those exploring the Medieval world, I think it has larger interest.

This is how these folks saw the world. This is the men's sphere and the woman's sphere.
Notice how the 16th Century woman got to keep the "books that women tend to read".


We still have this today. Imagine the moveable goods of your own household taken out into the yard and neatly sorted as to what belongs to who.

(Yes. I know this "whom" of which you speak, but I do not choose to acknowledge him.)


 Anyhow, from

From Brill & The Hague Academy of International Law


According to Magdeburg Law (Magdeburgisches Weichbild), a deceased husband’s wife was to pass on to his male descendants his sword, his best saddled horse and best armour, as well as his pulvinar bellicale “military bed,” which included a bed, two pillows, two sheets, a tablecloth, two bowls and a towel. The hereditary property of a wife that was to be received by her daughter, and otherwise by her closest female relative, was much more extensive. Although in Łaski’s Statutes these were defined as being only her sheep, dishes and the food in her home, in the judgments of Magdeburg Law, translated into Polish in 1501, these were described with much more precision as: the woman’s silver and gold jewellery, cups, chalices, spoons, cupboards (in Latin armarium), wash-basins, cushions, sheets, pillows, tapestries, carpets for covering benches (In Latin bancalis) and beds and hanging on walls, tablecloths, towels, quilts, clothing, headscarves, chests, candlesticks, yarn, beer brewing kettles and books ‘that women tend to read,’ as well as a pot for melting wax, a mirror, scissors and other items commonly used by women. In 1567, Bartłomiej Groicki, a notary at the High Court of Magdeburg Law in Krakow, described the Weichbild as follows:

These things belong to the woman’s movables [gerada] according to Magdeburg Law: all the woman’s clothing, gowns and cloth cut for the clothing the woman typically wears and has power over; all gold and silver that is woven for the woman’s clothing; all rings, buttons and pins, buckled belts, silk cloth, bracelets and necklaces, bed coverings, sheets, bath towels, curtains, lace curtains, beds, head-rests, pillows, table-cloths, bowls, brewery vessels to be leased, a wash-boiler, crates with lids, linen, washed and raw wool; books that women usually read; geese, ducks, sheep that are herded out to pasture.

                                Jakub Wysmułek
                                History of Wills, Testators and Their Families in Late Medieval Krakow

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Carbon Paper

 It occurs to me that some folks have never seen carbon paper in action. 

The first couple minutes of this program show somebody using it.
So I share.

My first book was typed on a manual typewriter like this, an Underwood, and I used carbon paper.


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Ingredients of Character

I was thinking the other day about how we create characters, since I'm trying to do some of that.  

What are the ingredients we knead and stir and bake into characters? How do these people end up knocking around inside our brains, anyway? Where do they come from?

Some of the sparks that grew into Marguerite in Forbidden Rose were real spies.

Consider Marie-Madeleine Bridou. (She ended up Marguerite in the book instead of Madeleine as a nod to The Scarlet Pimpernel. Jo waves. Hello, Scarlet Pimpernel.)

Read about Bridou here, here, and here.

She chose the code name Hedgehog because, as one of her colleagues put it, “it’s a tough little animal that even a lion would hesitate to bite.”


You will be pleased to know Bridou worked for a publishing company.  Heroic people, those who work in publishing.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Celebrating Language Change

I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm a language fuddyduddy, clinging to past-pull-date English. Language is a living thing. I don't expect it to freeze solid in 1969*.

Language chases after change in the real world. Names are born for the new stuff: wiki, tweet, google, go cup, podcast, bitcoin, DNA, penicillin, page view, Peace Rose, moonwalk, on brand, quark. 
Bright, shiny new things, these words.

Words let us look at familiar things in new ways:
right-size,  single-use, metrosexual, non-binary, slipstream,  catfishing, mansplaining, fail as a suffix (skateboard fail,) salty, to "ghost" on somebody, Black Lives Matter, geek, I can't even, slut-shaming, binge watch, photobomb, throw shade, because reasons, because awesome, nerd, gender fluid, double down, rewilding, first world problem, singular they . . .  
We play with language.
I adore that**.

*1969 is the first use of "pull date" according to Webster's
 ** Careless errors of grammar, OTOH are not useful nor clever nor beautiful.

And, in truth, there are days I stomp grumpily along the transitional boundary where the newfangled grammars ooze into general acceptance, me sneering and fluffing out my feathers.
(The proper use of lie and lay, for instance. Gone. Hrumph.)
So maybe I am a fuddyduddy.

Interesting punctuation

Came across this in Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs, in the heroine's viewpoint. A private detective is guarding a  client. He says on the phone:

"I'm kinda hoping her soon-to-be-ex shows up," he said softly; I thought so she wouldn't hear him.

Semicolons always seem a bit academic and formal to me. Most times when I see one in popular fiction I feel it could be advantageously replaced by two sentences.

"I'm kinda hoping her soon-to-be-ex shows up." He said it softly, probably so this client wouldn't hear him.

But .  .  . though my editorial alternative might be slightly clearer,  Briggs' choice — or her editor's choice . . . this 'feels' like an editorial correction — is maybe the better writing. It uses POV so neatly.

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Cursing in ASL

For those of you who want to be obscene but not heard.
Or let your time travelling characters curse effectively while moving silently in a dangerous place.
Or exchange rude comments at a Regency ball.

How To Curse in ASL.

Words are cool.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Perfect words

Sometimes in the midst of a beautifully written story ⁠— in this case Coraline by Neil Gaiman — you find a little vibrating diamond of a sentence.

"Terribly slowly, stiffly, heavily, a hinged square of the floor lifted: it was a trapdoor."

. . . which is a Japanese meal of a sentence, perfect in its simplicity. A square of sunlight on the walls of a museum. One wild strawberry growing in the tangle beside the path.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Violence: Deep Country Version

 So. Here's what we get up to in this neck of the woods. Happened a few weeks ago.

"Investigators from the Sheriff’s Office processed the victim’s vehicle and located evidence related to this incident. Investigators were able to identify the suspect and obtained several charges.

Wyant, a 31-year-old white male from Buena Vista, Virginia, was wanted for attempted malicious wounding, abduction, use of a firearm in commission of a felony, shooting from a vehicle and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon."

 As you can see, authorities threw the book at him.

I bet you didn't know that shooting from a vehicle is a separate charge all on its lonesome.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Random Comments on the Day

photocredit: veronika_andrews

 More and more hummingbirds are coming to sip my sugar water. More and more butterflies nestle in my butterfly bush.

 Listening to some mellow jazz .

 This time next week, I'll be in New York City.

 Life is good.

Monday, August 09, 2021

Rurouni Kenshin

Netflix is showing two Rurouni Kenshin flicks. The first, Ruroumi Kenshin: The Beginning, gives us interesting plotting, subtle acting, complex reveals, unexpected assumptions.

Always nice to see a new cultural take on familiar material. Lovely photography. Fairy tale level of realism. Glacially slow in places. Full of folks getting killed.

Glad I saw this.

Monday, August 02, 2021


Rives Park -- local here -- has a nest of copperheads. Some poor dog got bit and they're worried whether he'll make it or not.

Animal Control collected 3 baby copperheads, (Doesn't that sound endearing? Little baby copperheads.) but warned that there may be others. Animal Control is not for sissies.

Anyway,  I won't be walking Mandy there for the nonce.

Back in Saudi Arabia,
(relatively few  countries are named after people. America, Bolivia, Columbia, Monrovia, but not, y'know, Chad,)
we had a viper under one of the bushes in the housing next door. Very poisonous. It was the compound with all the kids, of course. One of the dogs spotted it and did the hysterical barking thing so nobody got bit.
Though, for all I know it was a peaceful committed pacifist snake minding its own business.

The gardeners had to go kill it, that being in the job description. Being a gardener in West Africa is one of those jobs with a lot of side benefits.

I'll be cowriting with friends in a bit so I will warn the one who lives next to Rives Park to be cautious.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Movies: The Irregulars and Gunpowder Milkshake

Both these movies have multi-racial casts and pass the Bechdel test.
For me, that's icing on the cake rather than a requirement.
— iced cake.

I've been looking at Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, and Paranormal books for a while now. Lately I've expanded to movies and TV series.
Endless delights delivered to my computer screen.
We live with such splendid technology.

First, consider the tongue-in-cheek, cynical, and bloody romp that is The Irregulars.

It's "a British mystery adventure crime drama television series" created by Tom Bidwell for Netflix."*

Some paths in the Magical Wood  are well trampled. Beer bottles and McDonald wrappers litter the roadside.
I'll admit to being jaded about powerful lost heirs, schools for angsty teenage wizards**,  colorful squaddies on the battlefield of clashing magical empires, and other staples of the genre.

One could make the case that The Irregulars is wuxia
which is trope and utterly predictable,
but it's a story I like.
Finding such a story with good tropework is sweet. 

Irregulars is a nugget of gold in the spoils pile of the Sherlock fictive universe.

Gunpowder Milkshak
e also pleased me.
This one glows with subtle, intelligent acting from everybody on the set.

Now, there are long sequences of car chases and kung fu fighting and extras dying bloodily ***.
Presumably the intended audience likes car chases, martial arts, and gore.
Me, I fast forward through that stuff and it does not interfere with my enjoyment of the movie.****
Ain't technology grand?

A study of Jackie Chan's corpus of work might have kept the frenetic action scenes from being so boring.
I dunnoh.
Maybe it would have subverted the spirit of the story . . .
I have no wisdom in critiquing movies and my taste is not especially commercial.

Final thoughts on Milkshake is that it worked for me and I recommend it.  


I pulled the description from the wiki so it must be true.

** I wasn't much interested in teenagers even when I was one.

*** Some of the violence is disturbing. Most of it is like those old Westerns where cowboys have 37 bullets in their handguns and spin and fall dramatically when hit,

**** Some Romance readers flip past pages of the explicit and go on with the story. It's a skill.


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, and Paranormals: A List

These books are full of good storytelling, fine characterization, lyrical language, and intelligent world building.
Eminently readable.

Some are legit free online.
Most all are in the online section of major libraries.
Many are relatively cheap to buy.

Buying books supports authors.
So does checking them out of your library.


Ben Aaronovitch. Midnight Riot, Rivers of London.

Douglas Adams. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Hitchhikers Guide series.

Ilona Andrews.  Magic Bites. Kate Daniels series. 

Peter S. Beagle. The Folk of the Air.

Patricia Briggs. Moon Called. Mercy Thompson series.

Lois McMaster Bujold. The Curse of Chalion. World of Five Gods series. 

Emma Bull. War for the Oaks.

Jim Butcher. Storm Front. The Dresden Files. 

Gail Carriger. Soulless. Parasol Protectorate series.

Susan Cooper. The Dark is Rising. Dark is Rising Series.

David Eddings. Pawn of Prophesy. The Belgariad.

Jasper Fforde. The Eyre Affair. Thursday Next series.

Jeaniene Frost. Halfway to the Grave. Night Huntress series.

Neil Gaiman. Good Omens.

Lev Grossman. The Magicians.  Magicians trilogy.

Charlaine Harris. Midnight Crossroad. Midnight Texas.
This Charlaine Harris is not to be confused with the most excellent C. S. Harris who writes Sebastian St Cyr books.  

Robin Hobb. Assassin's Apprentice. Farseer trilogy.

N. K. Jemisin.  The Killing Moon. Dreamblood series.

Diana Wynne Jones. Deep Secret.  

Mercedes Lackey. Burning Water. Diana Tregarde Investigations series.
Also Born to Run. Serrated Edge series.

Ursula Le Guin. A Wizard of Earthsea. Earthsea series.

Fritz Leiber. Our Lady of Darkness.
He's better known for his short stories. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.

Madeleine L'Engle. A Wrinkle in Time. Wrinkle in Time Series.

C. S. Lewis. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Narnia series.

R. A. MacAvoy. Tea with the Black Dragon. Black Dragon series.

Anne McCaffrey. Dragonflight. Dragonriders of Pern series.

Seanan McGuire. Rosemary and Rue. October Daye series.

Robin McKinley. Sunshine

Barbara Michaels. Ammie, Come Home.
She's also Elizabeth Peters.

Naomi Novik. His Majesty's Dragon. Temeraire series.  

Terry Pratchett. The Color of Magic.

Phillip Pullman. The Golden Compass. His Dark Materials series.

Spider Robinson. Callahan's Crosstime Saloon. Callahan's Place series.

Patrick Rothfuss. The Name of the Wind. Kingkiller chronicles.  

Brandon Sanderson. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians. Evil Librarian series.

Lisa Shearin. The Grendel Affair. SPI files.

Mary Stewart. The Crystal Cave. Arthurian saga.

J.R.R. Tolkien. The Fellowship of the Ring. Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Carrie Vaughn. Kitty and the Midnight Hour, Kitty Norville series.

Manly Wade Wellman. John the Balladeer. Silver John books.

Connie Willis. To Say Nothing of the Dog. Oxford Time Travel series.

Roger Zelazny. This Immortal.

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Library Book Titles That Stick to Your Kindle

Here’s how to get rid of those old library book titles that ghost in your Mac computer’s Kindle list.


1) Caveats.

Are you willing to empty your computer's Trash can? If not, you can't get rid of your ghosts in this way.

This is a Mac computer fix. I don't know if it works on other Kindle devices. 

If you have .pdf files, personal documents, or books from non-Amazon sources stored in your computer's Kindle, you should copy them elsewhere. They may die a horrible death if you do not.

In this fix you will lose the date of acquisition of your Kindle books in your Kindle. Accurate date of acquisition will remain at Amazon but your Kindle acquisition date will revert to the date of the fix.

2) At the end of Step 8 the list of books in your Amazon Content & Devices library will match the library in your Kindle. Your currently borrowed library books will be in both places. The dozens or hundreds of borrowed-and-returned ghost library books will appear in neither place.

3) Directions:

At Amazon go Content & Devices / Library.

You can take screen shots of the Amazon book list as a backup in case anything goes wrong.

4) In your computer,  go to the Kindle app program.
(In my machine that's Finder/Go/Applications/Kindle app.)
Uninstall Kindle by moving it to Trash.

Now go to the Trash icon and empty Trash. I had to do this twice before it took.

5) At Amazon, go to Content & Devices / Devices. Deregister your Kindle App for Mac.
If you have other Mac devices you do not need to deregister them.

Now  re-register your Kindle App for Mac.

6) On Amazon search for and buy Kindle for Mac.
It’s a freebie.
Download it to your computer and install it. 

7) On your computer the Kindle library should show as empty. 

8) Back at Amazon, go to the Content & Devices library. Send everything into your new Kindle. This may take a while. There will be no ghosts.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Lovely cursing


Sometimes there's lovely cursing:

“Who the fuck are they?” I asked. 

“That’s the gentry and their servants,” said blond Bev. “All the liars, hypocrites, exploiters, dog-bastards, wankers, janissaries, Monday men, cat-ranchers and people who fly-tip in protected waterways.”

Ben Aaronovitch,  Lies Sleeping (Rivers of London)

That's how it's done

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Another Contemporary Fantasy

I recently reread Peter S. Beagle's The Folk of the Air,  contemporary fantasy, one of my favorite books. It's also set in Berkeley, (always a plus.) This Beagle, sadly, is not available in kindle, which is enough to make one doubt the inherent benevolence of the universe. 

Quote: "He did recall being instantly certain that he had just met either an old friend or a very patient, important enemy."

Lovely. lyrical, unforgettable prose.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Adding Backstory

Since I took time off from all extraneous pursuits a month or so ago I've not only been getting my head together, I've found time to do some of that reading.
(That's part of getting my head back together.)
It's been TBR-bookshelf time.
A self-indulgent immersion in story.

I'm looking at how to fold in complicated backstory in First Person.  Ben Aaronovitch Rivers of London,  Jim Butcher's Storm Front, and Seanan McGuire's Rosemary and Rue  

Backstory be like (1) lay out the backstory on the bones of the plot, (2) take your time. 

I'm mentally highlighting my way through the books in three or four different colors and see how they're woven together.

Interesting that the three authors who immediately come to mind for introduction of backstory are all writing First Person.

Do we introduce backstory and infodumps more easily in First Person?
More to think about.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Adventuring In My Own Way

I have a little machine called a Eufy that glides around my floors and picks up dog hair and cat hair from underneath the chairs and the bed. It's like a roomba but cheaper. *
I am a creature of the cheaper alternative, always.

The cat and dog eye the Eufy with grave suspicion but it does not terrify them which is a good way to live one's life.

Today my little machine friend managed to pull out one of the wires essential for the operation of my internet.
The possibilities being manifold it was not immediately obvious which of many potential problems was now mine.
Even after I decided there must be a physical lacunae in the system ., . well, I have lots of cords running around behind the desk.

By dint of** some dusty scrambling about and muttering I finally managed to lay my hand on the cord that had been pulled from its proper mooring. ***
Yeah me.

While I was on my hands and knees doing this I noticed a UBS port on the side of the offboard hard drive I recently added to my collection of mysterious black box sitting about.
It appeared to connect the external hard drive to what may be the router.
I didn't even know I could connect the backup to the router though I had rather wanted to.

So now I have wireless access to my Time Machine.
I am doing backups automatically.
Even though I am not adventuring with the Doctor
my life is bright and shiny and I feel very clever.

I have signed up for pottery wheel access. It starts tomorrow. I will now be both artistic and clever.




 * Here's a video of a cat on a roomba. It is not my cat. My cat is smarter than that.

** The dint in "by dint of," you will be pleased to know, is from Old English dynt "blow dealt in fighting" (especially by a sword), from Proto-Germanic duntiz (related to Old Norse dyntr blow, kick.)
This dint is probably not directly from the co-existing dialected dint of C15 that comes to us from PIE "dent" meaning tooth but doubtless they lived on the same street.

"By dint of" as a phrase for "by force of, by means of," is early C14 so it is a fine, strong, ancient little set of words.

*** This picture is a slight exaggeration of the number of cords I have around my desk.
But not by much.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The Music Playing

Listening to Clifford Brown in this collection  because it is so mellow.

I put this in the background of re-reading. Aaronovitch's Moon Over Soho. 
Aaronovitch is so good with deep POV. He uses sophisticated elements to build it -- language, special knowledge,  scene reaction, philosophy. Just splendid stuff.

As to the music:

Trumpet – Clifford Brown
Bass – George Morrow
Drums – Max Roach
Piano – Richie Powell
Tenor Saxophone – Harold Land 

Parisian Thoroughfare
Blues Walk

Joy Spring


Brown only lived to be 25

Monday, May 24, 2021

Computer Stuff

An exciting weekend in which I set up my external hard drive.

On a Mac this means buying a black plastic box the size of a good novel, fiddling through my barely finite collection of twiddly wires, and then blindly following the directions of Some Guy on the Internet.

The problem with getting advice from YouTube videos is that they're all for systems five or seven years old. Every two minutes the nice geek with the oddly untrained voice tells you to, for instance, "Click on Options" and you discover there is no Options key because they threw that out in the 2015 OS.

Once again, the world betrays you.

You prove inadequate to a task that is completed handily by 16-year-olds.
(Don't ask me about my cell phone.)

You lose.

So you go to Google to figure out where Mac has hidden the action you wish to undertake. And you

have to decide whether you want your GUID (whatever that is) to be a table or a map.

Half an hour later you close your eyes and pick at random
because the hell with it anyway.

This is like ordering in an Azerbaijani taverna far, far off the beaten path where nobody speaks any language with which you have a nodding acquaintance,
except less prone to moments of delightful surprise.

Or like when your car has an extra bobble on the PRSNL to put the stick in and you have no idea what it does but the car seems to run okay either way so you ignore it.

I now have an operating back up and a Time Machine
or I don't
and I am back to limping along with my severely crippled version of Word except for (probably) backup.

This is not exactly adulting, but I muddle along.

Saturday, May 22, 2021


I came across, "He’d lost an exponential amount of blood," in a book recently.

The weakening of the word "exponential" from meaning
number that gets multiplied by itself"
to just meaning
"a big hulking, scary number"
is very sad.

We take these delicate, specific, useful adjectives and empty them by the slop-bucketful till they're just one more of the thousand bland, lank, meaningless synonyms for common concepts.
Our word shelves become full of Twinkies and Wonderbread.

Thank god for slang, that's what I say.