(I'm Texan. I grew up on country, okay? ^_^)
Feel free to link to Youtube versions of songs that make you happy! I expect yours are less mushy than mine. ^_^
There is a short blond teenage boy in a blue-white-and-red jacket standing at the bar, studying the nonalcoholic-side of the printed list of drink specials. He seems to be taking his time with it, not in any hurry to make a selection.
Some of that lack of hurry may be evident in the fact that he also has his right leg raised in a stretch that is as distressingly near to vertical as the human body can bend itself of its own accord. His toe (in a leopard-print sneaker) is pointing straight up at the ceiling, and his hand is behind his ankle and heel, holding his elevated leg firmly against the side of his torso.
Showing off? Maybe. But he's had several long hours of training today, and this is all part of the cooling-down period.
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."
I'm going to Japan in November! I'll be there for two weeks, divided between Tokyo, Kyoto, and Fukuoka. The last is a city further south than I've been before, with some very pretty day trips.
I'm going to use AirBnb, which I also haven't used before, but it looks pretty great. I have two lovely apartments all to myself for cheaper than a hotel room would be, and one room in a house with a lady who cooks breakfast, has a friendly toy poodle named Piccolo, and says understatedly, "I am a former hotelier who worked in the five star hotel. I think I can assist you well during your stay."
Any of you done anything fun in Japan?
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A goat-herding dog refused to leave his goat flock -- and they made it it through the fire, and even enlarged the flock by a couple of deer fawns.
I called the landlord yesterday, left a message about it. There's construction going on on the floor below me, but I asked one of the guys if they're working on the plumbing and he said no.
It's still doing it.
How worried should I be? What scenarios could be causing this?
I then look at my phone, because grabbing that when I wake up in the middle of the night is absolutely a reflex (though the Pip sleeps much, much better these days!) . . . and it was me. The cell had someone dialed the landline. [*]
I post this story elsewhere, and literally seconds later, I get ( the punchline )
[*] On reflection, it wasn't that late, so I think I fell asleep with the phone still on in my hand and touched it enough to keep the screen awake, until eventually I randomly dialed home. I checked, I hadn't made any other outgoing calls, at least.
We all use GPS to navigate urban areas. But what about the backcountry? If you’re skilled with map and compass, you can, under favorable circumstances, determine your point position. But if it’s dark, you don’t recognize any landscape features, or you’re in heavy forest cover, you’re probably out of luck. As a wilderness navigation instructor (and former Forest Service ranger), I’ve tested over a dozen backcountry GPS apps, and for me Gaia comes out on top. I have used this app for about three years. It enables me to travel with increased confidence and safety in the back country when hiking and mountaineering. Here’s why it’s great:
- A quality GPS app offers the holy Grail of navigation: a highly detailed map with a “you are here” marker on your exact location. Gaia has the complete functionality of a “normal” GPS: mark waypoints, record tracks, generate routes, show compass, show distance and bearing to a waypoint, download quality basemaps, and easily share this information with others.
- It has a (mostly) intuitive interface without much extra fluff (like posting your hike statistics to social media.)
- Gaia works in airplane mode (which is a great battery saver) and outside cell phone range. Download base maps via wifi (faster) or over cell network for use when you’re outside cell phone range.
- Superb customer support. Gaia has a dedicated support staff who will usually get back with most any question you have within a day or two. How many apps can say that?
- Regular upgrades. In May 2017 Gaia released a major update. This has a cleaner interface, a “snap to trail” feature which is a great help in making routes, additional base maps, faster map rendering, and more.
- Terrific base maps. Many GPS hiking apps give you one or a just a few options for underlying base maps. Gaia gives you dozens, and with the pro version, you can layer one on top of the other, for example a satellite image and a topo contour map. Open source mapping gives street, topographic and cycling coverage for the entire world, so the app works great for international travel.
While you can probably figure out the core functions of the app on your own, there are some good YouTube videos that can get you up to speed in a few minutes. (At present, Gaia works better on the iPhone than Android, but the Gaia development team is apparently working hard on an improved Android version.)
Standalone GPS units (like from Garmin) have some major drawbacks – they cost several hundred hundred dollars, have a poor user interface and screen resolution, and have limited and often expensive base maps. Since I put Gaia on my iPhone a few years ago, I have not once taken my Garmin on a hike or mountaineering trip.
The iPhone uses both the US GPS satellite constellation and the Russian GLONASS system, so receiving satellite signals even in canyons or under tree cover has improved greatly in the last few years. (On a recent multi-day trip on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon last month, Gaia consistently found my exact position in a narrow river canyon in under 20 seconds.)
There are a few downsides to phone based backcountry GPS: Battery life, fragility, and the lack of a dedicated GPS antenna. You should always carry a small auxiliary battery and charging table, and consider a sturdy case for your phone if you’re really going to beat on it outdoors. And, of course, you should always carry a paper map and know how to read it.
If you’re a “GPS power user”, and use your GPS to record tracks for all day for multiple days, or use it in very cold weather conditions, you may want to have a dedicated GPS. But for pretty much all “recreational” users, Gaia GPS on your phone should be all you’ll ever need. Gaia offers a free one-week trial to put it through its paces, and after that it’s $20 a year annual subscription. Yes, that might seem a lot for an app, but if you consider it’s quality and the cost of the alternatives, it’s still a bargain.
-- John Godino
Gaia GPS (Free to $30 per year, depending on features)
It’s been a long time since we had a child at home. But our favorite pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene, recommends the EarCheck Middle Ear Monitor, which uses sonar to check for ear infections, the number one reason kids need to see a doctor. Just slip the nose cone of the device into child’s ear and press a button. The child hears a chirping noise but feels nothing–and you get a reading that indicates how well the eardrum is moving. A “Green” light means the eardrum is functioning well, and most likely your child does not have an ear infection. A “Red” reading suggests that there is fluid behind the eardrum, so a visit to the physician is needed. Further details on using the monitor can be found at Dr. Greene’s Housecalls.
-- Tom Ferguson, M.D.
[This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2004]
EarCheck Middle Ear Monitor ($40)
Available from Amazon
• What are you reading?
Notes from a Feminist Killjoy, by Erin Wunker. It's a bits-and-pieces book, but all the bits are in conversation with other writers, and with reality; even its bittyness recalls how Tillie Olsen would carry a sentence in her mind, polishing it in scraps of time between interruptions, through a day of women's work, a day of no peace, no privacy, no silence, no solitude.
When I started this book, I wanted to write something unimpeachable. Something so clear and objective, it could be a little dictionary or translation phrase book for how to speak a feminist language and live a feminist life. I wanted what many other writers -- the many-gendered mothers of my heart -- had already written. I wanted A Room of One's Own, Sister Outsider, Willful Subjects, Islands of Decolonial Love. I wanted Feminism is for Everybody and The Dream of a Common Language. I wanted No Language is Neutral.
I wanted books that had already been written by people whose experiences of moving through the world are different -- often radically so -- from mine.
I got stuck.
I read some more.
I remembered that I tell my students that reading and writing are attempts at joining conversations, making new ones, and, sometimes, shifting the direction of discourse.
I sat down at my typewriter again.
• What did you recently finish reading?
George & Lizzie, by Nancy Pearl.
Lizzie agreed. "I remember reading a novel in which one of the characters, a college professor, was writing a book on the influence of Emily Dickinson on Shakespeare and how his colleagues always misheard it and thought it was the other way around. I wish I could remember the title, because talking about it now makes me want to read it again. It's so interesting to think about. Do you think we read Shakespeare differently because of Dickinson's poems?"
I remember reading that too! It was by David Lodge, I think Changing Places? I read it about the same age Lizzie did. Not at the same time: I'm maybe ten years older than Lizzie. But, like Lizzie, I grew up in Michigan and went to UM and struggled with depression most of my life and, as a young woman, tried to claim my sexuality in ways that were bad for me and for the people I interacted with. Lizzie feels real to me, is what I'm saying, and I'm okay with the fact that the people around her are kind of one-note because the problem this book is about is: if you can't stop being sad about your shitty childhood even though your life is no longer shitty, if you can't stop punishing yourself for bad choices that you made long ago, if you can't stop trying to change something that happened long ago and wasn't in your control even then. . . then how do you stop?
[Lizzie says] "They're your thoughts, right? How can you not think them?"
Marla struggled to answer. "I don't know, but people do it. I think I let go of things, or at least try to. You have to, really, otherwise you're weighted down with all those cumulative bad memories. James and I used to talk about that baby missing from our lives, whether it was a boy or a girl, whether we could find out who adopted it, whether we'd ever forgive our parents, why we didn't just say 'Screw you' to them back then and get married after I got pregnant. I mean, you know, it was so present. It was always there in our lives. But if we kept that up there'd be no place for anything else. And now we just acknowledge all that awful stuff happened, that maybe we made the wrong decision, that we were just kids. We were just kids. You have to forgive yourself eventually, right?"
Lizzie's husband George got famous by explaining that, while pain is inevitable, suffering is optional, but his explanation doesn't work for Lizzie. George doesn't seem to understand that, for some people, that's liberating, but for others, it says that your suffering was your choice and therefore your fault. I'd offer Lizzie Season of Mists, because "you don't have to stay anywhere forever" worked for me, but how a story works depends as much on the reader as on the story.
Which is not to say that we shouldn't do our best to write good stories. This one has a stupid editing oversight that dumped me right out:
[Marla:]"I love you Lizzie, and always will. And I will always, always, keep your secrets. But this, what this means to you and George, is an important secret. It's not the equivalent of a little white lie. It'd be like me not telling James about the abortion."
[Lizzie:]"But James knew about the abortion, he was with you when you had it."
"Don't be deliberately naive, it doesn't become you. You know what I mean: some other James I was involved with."
What abortion, I wondered? Was there an abortion as well as a baby given up for adoption? When?
No, it must have been changed from an abortion to an adoption at some point. Which was a good change: it's believable that Marla would find it harder to move on with her life after carrying the baby for nine months, while knowing that there was a person out there that she felt responsible for but had no ability to protect. But leaving evidence of the change in the story made me notice how flat all the other characters are, how they are the way they are in order to serve Lizzie's story.
• What do you think you’ll read next?
The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, by H.P. Lovecraft.
( Blurb, work talk, and a lovely picture of us, Zyfron, and Mystics atop a ceramic moose behind the cut. )