Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Onward

Not feeling as scared and teary as I was on Sunday. Guess it will come and go. As I told my husband, I suppose the gift that this administration is giving us is the clarification of our values. I feel more confident saying that I support access to education and healthcare for everyone to build a stronger society. I believe in compassion and caring for the most vulnerable in our society. All anarcho capitalists should go to their private tropical islands and leave the rest of us in peace.

I'm reading Headlong, a novel about how the British royal family was wiped out in a freak Hindenburg-like accident and an obscure chorus boy from Cornwall was found to be the next in line for the throne. I haven't quite worked out the tone. It has made me chuckle a couple of times.

I laughed much of the way through The Flood Girls. That's something to cherish in January. A recovering alcoholic comes back to her tiny godforsaken Montana hometown to make amends and decide if she should stay there. The small town characters are cussed and low-down and I like how much the author obviously enjoys them and their mayhem. But there are plenty of plot problems such as -- Laverna couldn't go pee by herself with two broken arms, sorry. And then there is a sacrifice near the end of the book that is a pointless plea to add pathos and meaning to the other characters' lives. It doesn't work and you should not have made that choice Mr. MFA Dumbhead. Recommended for the first three quarters, then lose the book.

Looking forward to watching British History's Biggest Fibs.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Emergency

Best explanation of the ramifications of the removal of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from the National Security Council in favor of Steve Bannon. It's from metafilter commenter Kafziel:
Okay, so, we used to a have a system in place for determining when to target someone for killing, especially when that person is a US citizen. The Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs, and the National Security Council all had to agree on it for the use of force to happen. It was a big deal. 
Under Obama, this system was replaced with the Disposition Matrix. The Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs were removed explicitly from the decision-making process, and the decision was left entirely in the hands of the National Security Council, based on a complicated set of priorities which are not public. This is less of a shift than it seems, because since the National Security Council has existed, the Joint Chiefs have never not been on it, and the Pentagon answers to them, so not a lot actually changed, but it still wasn't a great move for a lot of reasons. 
One of those reasons is becoming clear now, because the Joint Chiefs are no longer on the National Security council. It consists entirely of Donald Trump, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon. So the decision to approve the targeted killing of a US citizen lies entirely and exclusively in the hands of Donald Trump, the head of the RNC's campaign finances, and a Nazi propagandist. Without review or oversight. 
This is a very, very bad thing.
Other commenters jump right in to predict war with Iran or China. I am reassured by the lack of consensus on those predictions. But I still feel pale and faint. 


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Off and stumbling

Inaugural
Year has started. Semester has started. Presidential term has started. We are underway. Hang on to your hats.

Pinking in Topeka
Our pioneer mother shows off her pussy hat:




































Ride impaired
Both our cars took damage this week. Last Wednesday evening I hit a deep and vicious pothole that did for one tire. Bang! Scream! I was lucky that I was still able to pick up and deliver kids and get us home without incident. It was flat by morning and wheel was cracked. Just got a replacement wheel put on at noon. Whew. Got in the other car on Monday and after backing out of the driveway I heard the sound of the muffler falling down to the pavement. I managed to park on the street without ripping it off. Nod bungy-corded it back up and we're waiting to hear from the mechanic. That's the car we're thinking about driving to Texas in March. Hm.

Shhhedule
I'm having trouble setting a date to get a massage. My esteemed life partner gave me a xmas present of time with a great bodyworker who is also a friend. And I can't seem to get the day and time nailed down. I guess I'll treat this as an opportunity to practice. Surely I can get this on the calendar.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Entertain Me

Written Words
My first world problem today is that my historical novel is too thick to lie flat. So I can't easily read it at meals. It's a library copy, a crappy new paperback copy covered with the thick plastic library cover. The pages have half the title and the page numbers cut off at the top of every page. If I wasn't being impeded in this way I would be whipping through The Fool's Tale because it offers plenty in the way of entertainment. It isn't wowing me with sincerity but there's a lot of history in there as well as English and Welsh stereotypes I hadn't really considered before. It also showed me the root of the Harry Potter house elf/sock system.

I'm also reading The Flood Girls. It's a hardback that lays open fairly well. (I may add a rating to all of my Goodreads reviews to say how well the particular book I read laid flat.) I picked it out at random off the fiction shelf. The scene I opened to had a middle aged date that was quickly heading to sex and I was hooked. It's about a godforsaken little Montana town and the recovering alcoholic who returns to see if her life is there. I think. So far anyway.

Cinemah
Movies seen in December and January:  Manchester By The Sea, Rogue One, Moana. A few impressions, will try not to plot reveal.
MBTS. Before the movie, I had to sit through the preview for the horror film Split. Because those audiences overlap so much. Gack. MBTS is full of such good acting and sense of place. And yet, it's one of those family dramas that might make more sense on a stage. And it's total Oscar bait. How do these families earn enough money to keep these big houses? Why are we put through this emotional wringer for very little resolution at the end? Maybe some would argue that makes the story more realistic but I'm not sure that's a good enough reason. Give me an arc, let the main character discover one new emotional outlet maybe?
Rogue One. I went back and forth on this and whether I wanted to see it in the theater. It was plenty entertaining but I could have survived just fine until DVD time. I liked The Force Awakens (ep. VII) better.
Moana. Oh that was a lovely time. I really liked the music and my eyes leaked during all the songs. I was pleased at how demigod Maui didn't just feel like a stand-in for Dwayne Johnson. It was a complete character and DJ was really acting and everything. I was delighted with the Shiny song sung by Jemaine Clement as the treasure hoarding crab.
Up next:  La La Land.

TV on the laptop
At a friend's repeated recommendation I've been watching Crazy Ex Girlfriend (CW and Netflix). It's cringe comedy but for me it's on the right side of the line: I find it funny rather than desperate/sad. And the fact that it's hybridized with musical numbers helps a lot. Plus lord knows there do exist people who have enormous brains and very little common sense or emotional boundaries. We hope they can get better!




Thursday, January 12, 2017

Whip up those turtles

Icing
Watching the forecast for the coming ice storm. I hope it won't be awful but think I will be able to stay off the roads. At least until Monday morning. Am remembering why I should work Veteran's Day next year and stay home on MLK Day.

Grist for the mill
Showing what metafilter does best, here's a wonderful thread discussion on parenting prompted by a fairly stupid article. The article is from the UK Telegraph about how the Dutch raise the happiest children and is high on the 'you're doing it wrong' scale. The discussion on mefi brings in interesting observations such as it's a privilege to live in a safe enough neighborhood so that kids can play outside unsupervised. And that Scandinavian parents don't work as many hours as US and UK parents which voila makes them able to parent better. Time and peace, both are luxuries. I'd rather have them than a new car.

I'm really overdue to pay my $5 and start commenting over there.

Keepin' a lid on it
There were two things I couldn't talk about last week so I could build up a head of steam and get them underway. First thing was get the xmastree down and out of the living room. I baked a last batch of gingerbread cookies and decorated them just because it's fun. The cookies helped fuel the tree dismantling and I think we did a good job of tucking the ornaments away carefully and not just throwing everything in a box willynilly. That was the best tree we've ever had, it smelled wonderful the whole time and had those short blunt needles. Sigh. It is now aging in the backyard and waiting for the annual burn.

Got three jogs in during the last week and that's enough for me to call it a pattern. I have been going to the indoor track at the public rec center. I feel lucky to have somewhere to go in the cold and dark. I would like to build a routine before spring and then get to take it outdoors again.

Resolved
Mighty Girl points out a writer who considers how many times he'll do a particular thing in his lifetime. We don't know our own denominator number exactly but we can make a guess. "Number of times to swim in the ocean..." that one makes me feel a little sad here in the belly button of these USofA. There probably won't be many more swims for me on southern California beaches or on Sanibel Island. MG wrote a sweet greeting to the new year with resolutions and some habits to shed as well.

Octopus Updates
Read on Seanan's tumblr how octopuses at the Hatfield Marine Science Center (Oregon State) are treated. The commenter said that an octopus will indicate acceptance of a docent by putting their tentacles on them, they indicate rejection by squirting water. I hope this is true and am happy to hear about the policy for keeping each octopus only briefly in captivity. My inconsistent carnivore policy excludes octopus.



Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Boooooooks

It's cold and I'm out of the habit of going to work. This week is a little rocky. But! There are end of the year book lists to read and that's a good thing. The cry of Booooks! is heard across the frozen prairie...

Here's Katyboo's list. Julian Barnes's The Pedant in the Kitchen sounds essayish and wonderful. Goodreads tells me that I read 76 books in 2016 but it includes the ones I marked as 'didn't finish'. I am old enough to do that (even though it still gives me qualms and I have to give myself permission out loud before I can put the book down).

My faves according to those pesky star ratings:

The Ancillary (Imperial Radch) trilogy by Anne Leckie. What a good series.
To Love and Be Wise by Josephine Tey. Charming and of its time yet also working from unexpected angles. I gobbled up the Inspector Grant books.
Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast. Memoir with all her wit and self-doubt, it carries a warning message. How do we live out our last phase of life?
Behind the Mask: The Life of Vita Sackville-West by Dennison. Strong personalities and gardens in late 19th and early 20th century England.

May we all read well in the new year. I am currently reading A Court of Thorns and Roses by Maas. It's okay but I am ready for more things to happen. I started reading Spirit of Steamboat and was happy to fall into the arms of Craig Johnson for another Longmire installment. This is a shortie but I got the next book as well.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Peaceful booms

Spent the last day of the year flying back from NM to KS. Got on the ground in time to see the setting moon: a red gold fingernail paring floating down to the horizon. Once home we walked over to our friend's house for a partay. Arriving late we actually stayed until the midnight (not my usual pattern). They looked for a countdown to watch in our time zone and instead of Chicago we ended up with Ottawa. The smarmy Canadian celebrity host seemed smarter and less oily than his American counterparts. Fireworks over the Parliament Building sealed the deal. Now I want to watch Canadians at every NYE! We could hear neighborhood fireworks in the distance as well. But the booms didn't go on too long.

I brought back treats for all courtesy of my mother's generosity. Despite my doubts it was great to spend time with my brother and mom. Ry grilled some salmon and we popped some delicious prosecco. She got what she wanted and rated it as the best birthday since her 50th. I was also informed that we should plan to do this every 5 years until liftoff.

Because my mother likes planning for her death we went through her folder of important docs and threw out some that were no longer relevant. Came up with a couple of questions for the finance guy and/or the attorney. I guess I'm lucky that she wants to get this all in order beforehand. It did make me a little sad. But then it made her happy to have it done so I guess that was part of what I was there for.

Good time off and more restful than the start of the hols. There is more cleaning and de-Christmas-ing yet to do. I may bake more gingerbread cookies because they're really good and using cookie cutters is fun.