Books: Caliban, Alley, Equilateral

Sep. 19th, 2017 06:47 pm
woodwardiocom: (Default)
[personal profile] woodwardiocom

Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey

Second in the Expanse series, this volume revolves around the crisis on Ganymede, and the associated blue-eyed beastie. Entertaining adventure SF, recommended.

Far-Seer by Robert J. Sawyer

A tale of Galileo, if Galileo was a sentient dinosaur living on the moon of a tidally locked gas giant. Interesting world- and myth-building, recommended.

Winter Witch by Elaine Cunningham

Set in the world of the Pathfinder roleplaying game, this is a light fantasy about a Viking woman, an urban mage, and the icy witch who brings them together. Mildly recommended.

Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny

Loosely similar to the movie, murderer and rapist Hell Tanner is given a chance at a clean slate if he'll ferry a plague cure across a ravaged America. It's clearly supposed to be some sort of redemption tale, but Zelazny missed the memo that some crimes don't get redemption. I honestly prefer the movie.

Venus Equilateral by George O. Smith

Fixup novel of a series of stories published in the 1940s in Astounding, revolving around a communications relay station and the scientific geniuses therein. The science is advanced and accurate for its era, but has not dated terribly well. (The problems they encounter in communicating with, and locating, spaceships were solved in much simpler ways within the author's lifetime.) By the end, the science has advanced so far that it's almost shifted genres from hard SF to morality play. Mildly recommended.
[personal profile] damarisol
It was dusk as we got tree shrine. I was exhausted from the travel. Eevolertu and Chloe reported back about our trip to take out the shrine, which had turned out to be shrines, both cold and time, taken out by ashes and the bag of light, respectively. We told them of Oreshalore's loss and Woveshancor's injuries. The rest of our party is quiet.

The valley has more popping sounds and smells of chemicals, rather different from when we left.

Marguerite said that they'd reached out to the shrine network and talked about connecting to the gracknel, which caused some of the physical changes. Marguerite had had a vision in many parts. One showed her a memory of a blessed interacting with a guard who keeps her out of the keep he's guarding, because there are far-away guests visiting the young lord and his variant old advisor. She got the impression she could return to the shrine after dark. And then there was a bit some human siblings, after nightfall. And another one where she talked to two old women working on a fractal pattern thing, and they were sort of beetles.

People here were pretty prepared.

Eevolertu and I pretty much fell over to sleep. I made sure I was near Woveshancor, in case his condition changed.
[personal profile] damarisol

[I got 4 hero points.]

Orehalore was dead. I couldn't quite grasp it, but knew I had to help Chloe with Woveshancor if I could. Quintillian was sitting by Oreshalore's head; I said the traditional condolences, then went to Woveshancor. I was able to help.

Eevolertu returned, and talked with Quintillian about Oreshalore's body.

I knew that one of the ways Elix bodies can be released into the trees, letting her bones return to her family. And if a group of Elix went into the trees, it's easier to keep focus.

Eevolertu said that the winter shrine is rubble, and the time shrine is a shadow in the shrine's shape. Chloe asked if he wanted to shine a light on that. We talked about how to do that while not breaking our blessing.

The closest trees are about a quarter mile away, perhaps an hour away, down. Eevolertu took the lantern to throw on the shrine while the rest of us headed for the trees. There was a weird *hitch* in time. We kept on after that. Eevolertu came over the ridge, and seemed to be moving a bit strangely, slower than I would have expected. The snow wasn't falling at the right rate under his feet, either. He seemed to be under a time effect. The wind around him was strangely slow. It seemed like a wave of whatever the time effect was was coming down towards us. None of us wanted to be caught; we wouldn't be as fast as Eevolertu in his large state, and even he was slowed.

We made it to the trees. There was a snap that yanked through, and the snow went backward momentarily. There was a thunderclap back up the mountain, and it seemed like the wave was broken up, though there were eddies of the time effect left.

Three of us weren't up for three hours of running back. Discussion of whether going through the trees is feasible for at least some of us or not.

Eevolertu started to talk about that, and I pointed out that we should put Oreshalore into the trees to return to her family. My focus for that was not just the usual ritual, but whatever Quintillian needed to help her.

I spoke first, about he silver city beyond the wood, Vueleshaharon Chacalathur, through the All-wood, on the other side, how Oreshalore's journey should be an easy one, and that we should meet again there. Chloe spoke about the how we've learned from Oreshalore. Eevolertu spoke about her light-hearted spirit and humor under stress, and he will look forward to enjoying that again in the silver city. Quintillian spoke after a moment, about Oreshalore's bold foolish heroic death, in saving us all, about saving us all, and how her story will live on. And then we put her into the woods, to be taken to the silver city.

We rested for half an hour, then managed to travel back to the valley, though I was wholly tired out when we arrived.
[personal profile] damarisol
I yelled to the archers to shoot at the sakken that was still above us, while Quintillian, Oreshalore, and I attacked the flaming sakken writhing on the ground. Unfortunately, neither were taken out, and then the sakken that had been upslope was next to me and attacking strongly. I took a hard blow, then ducked behind the line of archers so they could get a sight line (and because I was just about out of vigor). Basbran moved up to hit at the one that was still down. The other sakken were killed.

Then we waited. We weren't sure what to do, nor how long to wait. I started the conversation with Quintillian about what we should do. There was some talk, and Woveshancor, Quintillian, and Oreshalore went up to the top. Apparently Eevolertu signaled them about sakken below them, because Woveshancor rushed down, and grabbed some flaming stuff, and threw it over. Then our people were rushing back down, and a sakken was following. The archers shot at at it before it could teleport down, and it died. The others from that triple did not come over the slope, however.

We talked about what to do to get more sakken over. Chloe had a lot of ideas; we went with making noise by singing, coordinated by Chloe. Something changed, and Chloe sent the three up again to drop ash as we continued singing. They did, then immediately started coming back, as several sakken, at least three, appeared at the top of the slope as our people scrambled down.
The archers started shooting immediately. The sakken started acting more like regular sakken.

Three more sakken appeared at the top, and seemed to be acting more normally for sakken, not the strange teleport ones. I tried to pull Oreshalore out of the line of fighting, since she was hit and bleeding badly, but I didn't have the strength to get her out as I'd wanted. Basbran pulled me out of the way. Oreshalore went down. Woveshancor went down still holding the closed lantern.I rushed in, stabbed at the last sakken, and it went down. I turned immediately to the people who'd gone down. I was on Oreshalore, Chloe on Woveshancor. And then I realized Oreshalore was gone.

I was stunned; I couldn't quite believe, after all this time, that she'd fallen.

We heard a crash , and there was snow blowing, and the clouds blew away, and chunks of ice landing below us. Not long after, the heavy chill comes off, so it's a regular level of cold.
[personal profile] damarisol
Discussion about how to attack the sakken and attack the shrine. Back and forth, figuring out what can be done. In the end, the plan was to draw the sakken over to us while Eevolertu, invisible, put ash and such on it while we noisily fought the sakken, including traps with rope soaked in oil that the archers could flame.

Chloe inspired us.

Eevolertu headed out to ash the winter shrine.

The ones going to get the sakken attention headed up. Quintillian and I were in front. We ran at them, attacking the one closest to us first. I managed to dodge its attack. We went a few rounds, then Quintillian called time for us to head back. Oreshalore attacked the last sakken as she headed back, as did Basbran. As we retreated, three more sakken ambled over. We backed towards the rest of our group. The injured sakken stayed, but the other sakken kept up with us. We kept heading back to the others, helping each other as we went.

Two sakken fell past us, and were on fire, blocking our path. Oreshalore and Quintillian get to the sakken first and climb around it. I did too, as did the others and the sakken were making noise now; being on fire was not good for them.
[personal profile] damarisol
The path wove a bit more, and the visibility was far less, due to the spires of rock and heavy mist that got everywhere. We continued for hours, climbing. There were some gaps in the clouds, where the wind spirits seemed to be dancing. There was a hard cold, which definitely felt noticeable, but not in the biting way it would have been without the blessing. We stopped to make a plan. A scout went ahead, and found a sakken in a pass not far above us, while we were figuring out how to use the ash, oil, and liquid light to attack the center of the shrine. Eevolertu got invisible and went to fight the sakken, trying to minimize any sound, to avoid alerting any others that might be around. Not long after, a sakken body fell to where we were, and was hacked up. Eevolertu came back down, and sent the scout out again. He came back, reporting that there were six sakken around, and he described the ice flower of the shrine, which is quite large.

More plans, to split the group, having one deal with the sakken coming through the notch one by one, as the other group attacks the shrine.

Woveshancor scouted the other side, and there were two more clusters of three sakken, and a second smaller shrine as well. More discussion of how to attack, whether shooting at the shrine can happen due to distance challenge, whether there are more sakken around, how to hit at least one shrine (which? will one explode when hit & damage the other?). Are there sakken just over the ridge? So Evolertu went invisible and sneaked to check out the other side and the slopes.
[personal profile] damarisol
I asked Eevolertu if we could leave, and he wanted to check in with the others. He asked Chloe if she were coming, and she seemed reluctant, because she gets tired faster, so I made a rope harness Eevolertu could use to carry her some of the time, to balance that out.

The sun was up when we left, around 10 low bells, and I could hear the gracknel's song, which seemed different than before, which changed from the sleepy song to something more about doing things. I started sticking a branch in the snow at intervals, so we'd have a path to follow back. Eevolertu said we should do a mark higher up, to follow if we're running. In the end, some of the scouts did the same as me, and the path was clearer.

We continued through the pine forest, then up slope for some hours. Up ahead, there was a place where the snow was turning opposite the direction of the wind, like a manifested spirit of winter wind, which has many ways it could damage us. We stopped. It seemed to be fairly stationary relative to the landscape. Not sure what to do; some talk back and forth. Eevolertu and Oreshalore volunteered to approach and see what happened, whether it sensed us with the blessing on. They made it by, not disturbing the little spires of snow around it. The rest of us followed.
xtina: (Default)
[personal profile] xtina
"Why the fuck is there an entry in Activity Monitor for "Google Chrome Helper" that's taking up ~98% CPU?!?"

Steps to resolve:

* In Chrome, go to Window > Task Manager, or to [menu dots thing] > More Tools > Task Manager.
* Sort the list by CPU descending.
* Find whatever is making that top entry so horrible and kill it.

In my specific case, it's this entry:

Subframe: http:__hanstrackr[dot]com

It's correct in the CTM. I just don't want folk accidentally clicking it.

I googled on "hanstracker" and got a thread that suggested disabling a couple of specific extensions. The one I disabled that entirely removed this entry was Flatbook. It might be because the hanstracker[dot]com site appears to be down. Regardless, I uninstalled the extension and left annoyed noises on the extension in the Chrome store, because don't do that.


Sep. 17th, 2017 10:29 am
magid: (Default)
[personal profile] magid
This week I finished two books, John Allen Paulos' A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper and James Hamblin's If Our Bodies Could Talk.

Paulos' book was printed over two decades ago, so some of the examples given felt dated. Overall, however, despite the potential paradigm shift of the availability of the news on the Internet, not just paper, it felt rather timely. People still do not think critically about the news they read, from whatever sources. Paulos looks at all sorts of ways the news can be inaccurate, through all the sections of a traditional newspaper, but even more importantly in some ways, how it can be completely true, yet leave wrong impressions. One example was about voting procedures, and the various schemes that could be used for making sure an election ends up reflecting the will of the people; I was not surprised to see a variety of different possibilities mentioned, with the strengths and weaknesses of each. That and other essays pointed out some of the problems with how our government is set up. I was also interested to see the references to Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, having read The Undoing Project back in January (this year has included a much higher percentage than my usual for nonfiction).

Hamblin's book is also set up as a set of connected short essays grouped by theme, this time based on human body systems (not the usual ones, but perceiving, eating, drinking, relating, and enduring). I learned some biology, and how there are today many things still to learn (that we may be in the process of learning, even), and there are awful ways in which the body can go wrong that I hadn't known of before. What I particularly appreciated was how the author pointed out that many health issues are not solvable in a hospital, but are about social and economic disparity (which reminded me of a book I read two weeks ago, White Trash, a history of class in the US, which reviewed all the ways in which the playing field is not, in fact, equal, even now) that need to be addressed. He also pointed out how in many ways, the US healthcare system is not actually about health, but about delivery of billable stuff, which is not needed when *actually* healthy. Prevention is what people might want, but the companies don't have nearly as much to bill then.... It was a bit depressing, realizing that, again, there are huge, complicated systems embedded in how our society works that are so extremely flawed. The one thing I really was not pleased with was how there was passing reference to 'just' losing weight, as if that were a trivial thing. If it were, there would not be so much failure at that all around.

farm share, week 15

Sep. 14th, 2017 06:22 pm
magid: (Default)
[personal profile] magid
  • a pound of carrots
  • a pound of yellow onions (= 1 large)
  • two delicata squash (plus an extra for late bonus)
  • two pounds of green bell peppers (plus an extra for late bonus)
  • four Hungarian wax (hot) peppers
  • two pounds of field tomatoes
  • half a pound of salad mix
  • a bunch of curly green kale
  • a bok choy (one of the all light green kinds)
  • six ounces of shiitake mushrooms

First thoughts: another batch of white bean and kale soup with carrots (need to get some white beans, maybe some potatoes). roasted peppers and tomatoes, perhaps to put in a lasagna. delicata squash baked with maple and cranberries. some kind of green salad, of course.
rosefox: A man's head with a panel open to show gears, and another man looking inside. (examined head)
[personal profile] rosefox
I don't want to write another huge long entry tonight, because last night's took 90 minutes and then I went to bed super late, but I do want to leave myself some quick notes on a thing. When Kit was off from daycare for a week, I was up and dressed by 11 every morning so I could do childcare. I put on real clothes and left the house every day. I did social things and I did actively fun things (not what I'm coming to think of as enjoyable sloth things, like playing video games or hanging out on Slack). My body and brain were engaged. I felt GREAT. I enjoyed every day and ended the week feeling like I'd been on vacation—like I'd gone on a holiday to New York and done all those things I'm always too busy or tired or whatever to do. And I did it while working (at night) and staying totally on top of my deadlines, even the ones accelerated by the holiday.

So I need to figure out how to do that more. I hoped a week of early rising would reset my body clock but of course I'm right back to going to bed at 5 a.m. (or later—Monday morning I went to bed at half past nine, which is not okay and has set me up for feeling like crap all week) so I will have to work on that part because I think it's pretty essential. Having something fun to get up for really helped, a thing that has been true going back to my childhood; I would be late to school every weekday morning for months but happily get up at dawn on a weekend to go to the Stormville flea market with my mother. Even more crucially, I would care enough to go to bed early—a thing I did during Kit's week off too—so that getting up early didn't wreck me and wreck the event I was looking forward to.

I don't think I can get up before 10 on a regular basis, but if I got up at 10 or 10:30 to be out the door by 11 for a ~12:00 thing someplace, that sounds doable. It just has to be a fun thing. I have an OT appointment at 13:00 and I genuinely enjoy OT in addition to it being kind of vital for my health and well-being, but it's not the exhilarating kind of fun, so going to bed early and getting up early and getting there on time are all challenging.

What are exuberant fun things that could happen around noon? I think I need something where I'm making a commitment to someone else, at least at first; I've tried setting schedules through sheer willpower before and it's never worked out. Lunches with friends? Classes of some kind? (Ideally free or cheap ones.) Swapping language lessons with someone who wants to improve their spoken or written English and help me learn to read kanji or sign ASL? A teaching or tutoring gig? (Maybe the local library needs volunteers in their adult learning center. I've sent them a note.) A crafting meetup? A chorus or other singing group? A walking club? Doing storytime or otherwise helping out at Kit's daycare? It doesn't need to be a big thing or a long thing or a very structured thing. It just has to start at around the right time of day and get me out of the house and engage my body and mind and bring me real joy. Nothing will do that as well as time with Kit, but some approximation should be possible. Suggestions are very welcome, keeping in mind that I used to write the learning section of the nonsense nyc weekly events newsletter and already know about basically every source of free and cheap educational experiences in the city. :)

"That's rather nice, actually"

Sep. 10th, 2017 02:45 am
rosefox: Autumn leaves on a wet sidewalk. (autumn)
[personal profile] rosefox
What a lovely week it's been. What a lovely thing to be able to say that!

The weather has been 100% autumn and I am HERE FOR IT. Today I wore my hoodie! And zipped it up! While it was still light out! I've had my window open for three nights running. So much delicious aaaaaair.

J and I had a real date last Saturday (we went to a friend's BBQ for a bit, which doesn't sound like a date but was amazingly nice to do as two adults with no child in tow), and X and I had a real date today (we went to Coney Island for the first time in ages), and we even got a real family date last weekend where we snuggled up in my bed and watched Pacific Rim and ate popcorn. There have been lots of cuddles and hugs and smooches lately as we all savor finally being healthy. The week Kit was off from daycare was splendidly vacation-like and I came off of it feeling rested and relaxed and happy; now they're adjusting well to being back in daycare, and eating and sleeping like they're being paid for it, which means they should have a big growth spurt pretty soon. I'm having lots of fun writing fanfic for [community profile] crossovering and I just nominated fandoms for [community profile] yuletide for the first time in something like 12 years. J has been cooking a lot, and tonight we axed our towering tottering basil and made pesto, which was easy and delicious; I threw in some macadamia nuts on a whim and didn't bother measuring anything and it worked out great. [ profile] schanoes came over on Friday and we had lunch and talked nonstop for three hours. I figured out how to comb my hair while it's starting to grow out. The meeting for Kit's IFSP went extremely well and all their PT services have been renewed. They're starting to play with their food sometimes, which is a big improvement on being wary of it. It's just been a nice week.

I have to keep the focus pretty tight to write about things this way, because the land is being destroyed by fire and storm and a great many people we care about are having a really hard time right now. But that makes me cherish our little oasis all the more. We're able to offer other people shelter and support again, after months of barely being able to cope with our own stuff, and it feels so good to be able to help our friends and to have our feet on stable ground. For however long this lasts, I plan to bask in it and store up good memories to get me through the next round of challenges.

Farm share, week 14

Sep. 8th, 2017 12:38 pm
magid: (Default)
[personal profile] magid
  • a bunch of lacinato kale
  • a head of lettuce (I chose red leaf)
  • two pounds of white onions
  • a pound and a quarter of rainbow carrots (I chose purple and orange ones; I like the intensity of color)
  • a pound and a half pounds of mixed beets (plus some extras for being later in the pickup; I chose red over yellow or Chioggia)
  • a smallish head of cabbage (plus another for later pickup)
  • two pounds = three green peppers (plus another for later pickup)
  • two pounds of field tomatoes
  • six ounces of oyster mushrooms


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