“Magnificent Devices”–Wow. Just Wow.

I allowed myself to get sucked into this four book collection the other day. Wow. So very well-written. Best “steam-punk world” I’ve experienced. VERY hard to put down. Engaging characters, good plotting, well-detailed descriptive narrative: just a Good Read.

Magnificent Devices

Now, if you saw my normal reading list, you might be surprised that I enjoyed this collection so much. Four short books (the whole collection doesn’t run much over 800pp) that were a really fun read. I immediately bought the next book, A Lady of Resources, and immediately devoured it. Yes, I enjoyed the entire collection and I will purchase the next book as soon as it’s available.

But why, pray, might you be surprised at my glowing commentary? Oh, well, these books are “juvies” (yeh, yeh, they call ’em “YA” books now, but since “juvenile” now extends to the late 20s–or later: most politicians are sociopathic juveniles, for example–and “young adults” are more likely to be 30-somethings anymore, I’ll just stick with “juvie” mmK? ;-)), and the ONLY reason I read juvies is because I enjoy sharing my Wonder Woman’s world. She’s a K-8 librarian and is very close with her readers. I suspect a very large portion of her enjoyment of juvie books is anticipation of interaction with her students about the books she reads WITH them. And I enjoy the well-written and well-edited ones for being able to share them with her. (Besides, they are invariably very, very quick reads and don’t disrupt my other reading hardly at all, so. . . *heh*)

OK, but these books are quite different. Yeh, yeh, I read the Percy Jackson stuff. *yawn* Well-written enough, but really quite pedestrian, boringly predictable. And yes, I read the J.K. Rowling things, despite being bored to tears after getting halfway through the first one. (Maybe I’m a bit picky, but then again maybe not. . . )

These books, though, are real gems. They’re just very, very well-written, with an excellent Victorian period feel melding well with the fictional steampunk universe, characters that are engaging and credible, ripping good stories, just. . . just Good Reads, regardless the genre or target audience. What’s even more surprising is that this very, very well-written prose and these very, very well-told stories are from the hand of a person with an actual B.A. in Literature AND an M.F.A. in Writing Popular Fiction–two things that, in my experience, tend to result in writers producing Suckitudinous Fiction. *heh* My hat’s off to Shelley Adina for developing REAL writing chops despite her academic credentials. πŸ˜‰

Fun, Fun, Fun

And there’s not even a T-Bird in sight.

Well, I got my mother online today and she sent her very first ever emails. Her 89th birthday celebration is tomorrow.


Gimme an “Accomplishment” Badge er Sumthin’


Finally got around to replacing the master bath sink and faucet today. Not such a much; getting A Round To-it was the hardest part, really. Bummed me a wee tad that I couldn’t see my way to having the time all in one chunk to also rip up the counter and put some tile down that I have set aside for that space, but the new fixtures are still a major improvement over the 35-year-old fixtures that were original to the house. *meh* Finally got around to also installing shut-off valves for that sink’s faucet. Yeh, not a single plumbing fixture had shut-off valves as originally installed. . . and as it was when we purchased the place This is the next-to-last. I’ll pencil in some time to do the toilet in that bathroom in the next few days, and that’ll be the last.

Easy gig. Anyone not dumber than a bag of hammers can do it. (That leaves out most high school and college grads nowadays, of course. *sigh*)

Little by little I’m bringing this house not just up to current code but a wee tad beyond. Feels good. Wonder if I’ll live long enough to finish the work? *heh*

Benefits of being an Olde Pharte with juuuust a wee touch of swagger? While I was in the plumbing hardware section at Lowe’s, no one asked me if I needed any help. Good. Because I didn’t. πŸ˜‰

N.B. Edited out a coupla typos. Left the ones I wanted. *heh*

Dream Gig

Tour guide for America’s Third World County.

I took some time this a.m. and, persuading Son&Heir to come along, traveled some of the back roads of America’s Third World County. A few high points included going back over a road where I’d cleared out a fallen tree last Friday (was just noodling around, tree was blocking half the road, had me some fun moving it with Archimedes’ help ;-)–just checking to see if any local denizens had claimed the firewood), THE prettiest cemetery in the county and the edges of a nature conservation area.

Noodling around in the “piney woods” byways of America’s Third World County is just such a refreshing experience, methought a gig as a tour guide for the county would be an ideal gig. I mean, how many folks–even those who’ve LIVED here all their lives–know about that lil community cemetery out in the middle of nowhere, tucked into a hillside beside a rarely-graded dirt road? Wrought iron fencing with finials all around, always seemingly freshly mowed, well-kept, and with a neat lil gazebo tucked into one corner: just a lil gem.

And there are all sorts of lil gems all throughout the county–bluffs and caves (few of them well-explored–some apparently never explored!), pastures, woods, creeks and rivers, bridges, low-water crossings, high ridged two-tracks, winding hollows, forested cathedrals, gorgeous homes-hovels-dilapidated and abandoned structures: such variety and more. People groups? Amish, Somali, Hmong, Vietnamese, Latino, South Pacific Islanders, Blacks, Caucasians and more. And even within those groups, it seems that geography molds differences. Real Ozark hillbillies? We got ’em. Salt-of-the-earth farmers and ranchers? We got ’em. End-of-the-word survivalist compounds? We got ’em, too. Party gals and guys? Too many. And on and on and on. And unless the property’s posted with warnings, most of the folks are approachable and pretty darned friendly–and their dogs are too. πŸ™‚

And you can be pretty safe betting they’re also well-armed. And that’s a good thing, IMO, because well-armed folks in America’s Third World County are almost always at the very least polite and helpful. They may want to know why one is approaching their door, but that’s OK, because if one is polite in return, interested in and appreciative of the area, they’ll almost always be a fount of neat information.

Tour Guide, America’s Third World County. It’d be fun.

Benign Neglect Gardening

Well, not really. More of a “lazy-faire” *heh* approach to lawn care.

For some few years now, I’ve let about 1/3 of the back yard go more or less natural. Oh, a large section gets string trimmed to whack down any grass and weeds sticking above the “yard vine” I’ve been trying to encourage to spread (it’s working! :-)), and the “possum grape” vines sometimes threaten to choke things out (not a bad thing, since I almost always have some to pull down, cut back and use to make some fine charcoal out of the woody remains :-)), but one particular joy has been “The Boys’ corder.”

Before The Boys (Son&Heir’s dogs) ran off to dog heaven (RIP, guys!), I really encouraged the grape vine to grow over the fencing in the SW corner of the yard. Yeh, it provided a visual shield from the view of a neighbor’s large storage shed, but it also provided some great shade for The Boys in the dog days of summer. After they were gone, I just continued weed whacking that corner to cut down grass and weeds but took moderate care to NOT cut down anything that looked interesting like. . .

Not our back yard. A pic of our hollyhock may come soon.

Been keeping an eye on our volunteer hollyhock for a couple of years now. It finally bloomed just recently.

Streaming TV

Seriously considering dropping the TV portion of our cable service. Oh, my Wonder Woman would have to delay watching some of her shows–on Hulu or some such. But for the most part, the TV I’ve been enjoying recently has been stuff streamed on Amazon Prime (*whispered* or downloaded from YouTube *heh*) like Top Gear or various BBC “cop” shows or Amazon’s offering of “Under the Dome”–a new episode each Friday*.

Mostly, my leisure “entertainment” budget (time and $$) is consumed by books, but it’s nice to have a wide variety of interesting TV, movies, etc. The only thing is watching my bandwidth consumption, since my cable provider has put a cap on all users–yeh, different caps for home and business users, but caps all the same.

*Yeh, it’s a CBS show, and I don’t watch CBS, but since it’s w/o the commercials and CBS doesn’t get my bandwidth, I’m letting this one slide by my boycott (of not watching CBS). Gray area. *heh*

Ah! Life’s Little Pleasures!

After years of using an “old tech” 12-volt NiCad battery-powered string trimmer and suffering through the NiCad woes (finicky recharge cycles, maintenance difficulties during storage, progressive battery “senility” *heh* etc.), I’ve been enjoying some backyard cleanup using the new 20-volt Li-ion battery-powered string trimmer my Wonder Woman got me as a Fathers Day present. Really sweet.

Now, next on my list is the companion polesaw that uses the same battery packs. That would ease some of the tree trimming I need to do, and even cut down on the amount of ladder and climbing gear use for most of it.

Continue reading “Ah! Life’s Little Pleasures!”

Anyone Notice. . .

. . .that politics have been (mostly) absent around twc for the last short bit? Yeh. Even evil gets a bit boring after a while when all it does is repeat itself: Lies, Damned Lies, MORE Damned Lies and yet MORE. . . with no evidence of any creativity or even the scantest attempt to make the lies anything but blatant, bald-faced yawners.

*shrugs* Maybe that’s the plan, make evil so yawningly, terminally boring that there’s just nothing left to say about it.

Anywho, at least I can watch yet another episode of Poirot via Amazon Instant Video. I never tire of the saxophone in the theme music, and the acting, settings, costuming, dialog and even, to some degree, the fairly predictable Agatha Cristie plots, are all just wonderfully enjoyable. And, of course, the incidental music–quite apart from the theme music–is extremely enjoyable.

There’s that, at least, when all the rest of the world has gone mad, mad, I say. . . *heh*

Why I Like eBooks

. . .let me count the ways. πŸ˜‰

Of course, one very big reason I appreciate eBooks is storage. With thousands of volumes of hardcopy books clogging our home, storing electronic copies of text is a BIG advantage for us. Sure, I miss the tactile sensations of reading hardcopy when reading eBooks, but the text’s the thing, you know.

Then there’s the thing with aging eyes. With eBooks, I can select from a wide range of text sizes and even, in some formats, toggle between serif and non-serif fonts to ease my eyes. Very nice.

Portability is a big plus, too. When I go out with my Kindle Fire, I carry several hundred eBooks with me, some of them as yet unread and others re-readable. Very nice!

Oh, there are other reasons I like eBooks (less expensive, overall, than hardcopy, easier to shop for, immediate lookup of etymologies, historical references, artwork, etc.) but The Big Reason I really appreciate eBooks hails back to a habit I’ve had for years, one that has grown ever more “necessary” for me to engage in as time has gone on, and a habit that is a real no-no to give expression when reading library books: I edit my books to be more as they would have been had the writers had literate editors in the publication loop. *heh* Marking up books–lining through a “dele” (from “deleatur”–editorial deletions), correcting a spelling, grammar or word usage error, cleaning up an awkward descriptive narrative here, an amphibolous phrase there and the odd “WTF?!?” in between are all serious “Bad Dog”s *heh* when applied to library books. My own copies? Full of such things.

And then there are the other notes, usually underlined or starred and noted by page number on the end pages of books, adding background or commentary correcting language or historical problems or simply reminders to look further into something mentioned in th text. And example from a recent read is where a character–a Roman Catholic priest, no less!–translated “Sic transit gloria mundi” as “the glory of man is fleeting”. *feh* Any even semi-literate person knows better. “Sic transit gloria mundi” is more properly, “Thus passes the glory of the world,” or more casually, “the world’s glory is fleeting, transient, impermanent.” No reference to man in the phrase at all, except that man is a part of temporal existence.

Things like that irritate me, so correcting them scratches an itch.

[The observant reader of this blog might at this point–or perhaps at an even earlier point *heh*–say, “Yeh, if you’re so smart, why is your blog filled with all kinds of convoluted constructions, obscurantist phraseology, and even the occasional misspelled word and lousy grammatical construction?” Fair question. This blog is written as dialog, spoken word, and I cut myself slack here as much as I do authors when they are writing dialog. *shrugs* And who says I have to be consistent anyway? *heh*Nevertheless, I cut myself no slack and am abashed when I re-read an old post and find a misused word or obvious grammar error that cannot be legitimately placed at the feet of casual speech.]

I like the annotation features offered in my Kindle Fire for making snarky corrections to text. In fact, since the silly onscreen keyboard is a bit irksome to use, the very fact that it slows down my reading is often a plus (I do tend to read things too quickly.). But for annotations, nothing beats reading an eBook in html format in a browser on a plain ole everyday computer. Open the html-formatted book in the browser, open each chapter in a text editor and switch back and forth between them for inserting comments, corrections and amendments in the text: fun for me.

Note: my notations do include interesting tidbits to explore further, as I said above, and also amusing lil things, like a character with only one eye appearing described as looking on a dangerous ally, “The big one. . . seemed ambivalent but kept a real close eye on her.” *heh* “Eye”. Funny.

More. . .

One small distraction when inserting notes into eBooks formatted as html files is the really, really sloppy html I see a lot of. *sigh* It’s almost as though many of them were formatted in a WYSIWYG editor like FrontPage that inserts all sorts of extraneous, useless, completely unnecessary crap. Oh, I don’t mind deprecated html tags that’ve been replaced with more “acceptable” markup lingo so much, but so much of the garbage markup is simply unnecessary.

Lil (Very Minor) Techie Pleasure

There are a (very) few TV shows I really enjoy that are sometimes just not all that easy to fit into a viewing schedule. Fewer still are shows that fit that category AND are enjoyed equally by my Wonder Woman. Sure, we could have purchased (or “rented” *gag* from our cable provider) some sort of DVR or found some other sort of specialty device to serve as a means of schedule-shifting, but why, since spare computers abound here at TWC Central?

So, yeh, the Windows Media Center box I’ve mentioned here before several times.

But still, it’s a source of pleasure to use the thing, connected to a nice enough external sound system (thanks, Josh!) and our TV to view what we want, when we want.

Right now? One of our mutual favs: Sherlock, via Amazon Prime Instant Videos. The series is a really good adaptation, The irritations experienced in plot changes in stories cited aside ;-), of Conan Doyle’s tales. Sometimes, the little surprises (like musical choices) are sweet additions, too.