Friday, November 30, 2012

On a Trip to the Used Book Store

"That’s reason for pensiveness, never despair. It’s a worthier challenge to roam the stacks, using this one slim relic of Blaga Dimitrova to find in endless spines not squandered lives, but infinite creation--"    --Jeff Sypeck

This would fit so nicely in with my dream of achieving midlist glory, never gaining great fame, and then someday being discovered by some 14-year-old kid staying at his ageing auntie's house ...

Links From My Bro

The list of things that could not have kicked your ass between the late Carboniferous era and the end of the Cretaceous was probably a lot shorter than the list of things that could.

How to hunt Quetzalcoatalus, from The Locavore Hunter (TM).  Hint:  double-aught buckshot, kids.

Thanks to Mojourner for the link!


Wow do I like this post.  Yes, any one or group of similar religions may be deconstructed - for silliness, for validity, for hyper-specific oddments, or general pugilism - but at the end of the day ... those of us who choose to subscribe to them do so because they challenge us.

Yeah, or they reinforce us, or tell us we're superior, or that others are inferior, or whatever message it is we in our hearts and selfishness want to hear.  Often, the message is a shared one - this is fellowship.  "We are all better than They", unfortunately, is a commonly preferred message.

(U)nderstanding even the most apparently nonsensical religious practices (and this isn't nearly the most nonsensical, if you're on the lookout for nonsense) is vital to understanding how we are all shaped.    --K. M. Grant

The message I choose to hear from my religion (not my faith, nor my G-d) is that it is itself a tool - and a poor one - for reaching something better.  Better than I am, better than "we" are, better than today, better than yesterday, better than This Plane.  I believe in G-d, but I also very fervently believe there isn't a religion in existence which provides a portrait of the divine - much less a usable map (as if there is such a thing).

This (and my priest) are the reasons I am Episcopalian.  While I'm here, the only way to eff the ineffable is to "give" to the world I live in, to try to make myself a sufferable part of it, to love, to seek greater good, and to - yes - share in some fellowship in that quest.

To the point of Grant's post - as a historical novelist, if I refuse to respect the faith of my characters, the world and expectations in which they lived, I will be unable to write well.  This means respecting all the bad maps and (apparently?) aimless paths we wear for ourselves, in the challenge and the quest to make "better" of ourselves - however "better" is defined.

Part of creating great characters is taking them on their own terms, in every context.  Writing Clovis - a pagan believing himself divinely descended, who accepts and champions Catholicism during a period when so many forms of Christianity (and, indeed, pagan cults) abounded - I had to very seriously consider what motivated him.  Where some historians will say "politics" (... "money"), I could not in the end accept that there was no component of faith involved.  This man renounced some pretty bone-deep beliefs in order to espouse his chosen new religion.  Yes, he was also ambitious to a mercenary extent.  Where to draw all those lines ...

It was a fascinating question I had begun to consider even before Clovis discovered himself to me, became my subject.  It never has quite been answered, nor lost any part of its thrall.

Cat Friend Dog Friend

Shared with me by Beloved Ex, a little animal humor for the day.

Okay, let the stereotypes fly!  Some of these I've seen in my home, but they left out how the two *interact* ...


And that IS a good booooooyyy - I like it when they save me some trouble too.  Hah!

This post is dedicated to my newest follower, Jessica Feldman.  ;oP

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


It's getting to be a slog managing the spam in comments, so we'll be shifting the settings, dear readers - my apologies for the extra step, but I had thirty-eight extras myself today, and I want this place 'bot free for all of you!  Here's hoping you won't mind too much.

I've Finally Found Them ...

... the most seriously deranged sellers on eBay.  I've been buying for thirteen years, but never seen anything QUITE like these folks' offerings.  And the variety of ways it's whackadoodle is dizzying.  The 100-item lot of condoms.  The Christian literature.  The cheap vintage plastic beads for fifty and seventy bucks.  The freebie flip-flops you can see TOE MARKS in from use.  The hand-heart-silhouette-over-sunset photos which have nothing to do with given items.

And yet ... they do have a feedback rating.  Someone has bought this stuff.  I'm half tempted by the (fully functioning!) Tupperware keyring myself ...  But - wow.  I spent a good twenty minutes just scrolling and marveling at all this stuff!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Meta Photography

Still more vintage images - this time ranging across a very wide swath of the 20th century and even dipping into the 19th!

State Library and Archives of Florida ...
... via The Passion of Former Days

Sunday, November 25, 2012


The kids just broke a CFL bulb (but not the excessively cool cranberry glass lamp with an internal light as well as the main bulb).  *Sigh*  I used to work for the electric utility, so I actually know (a) proper CFL disposal and (b) how important it actually is.

Still, the thing was already improperly disposed of when I came to it.  So the dustbuster it was.  Here's hoping nobody dies of mercury poisoning (yes, thank you, that is my tongue in my cheek - sort of ...).

The day started with a three-Advil headache, which isn't all that intense by my standards, but the waking-up with the damn thing helped make it more irritating.  Then there was the half-hour wander with Penny, attempting to get her to poo, but not in the exact same people's yard she's become a bit too prone to using.  No dice.  But a beautiful morning, if cool for my suede jacket.

Just as well, Penny decided to have a nice chew on that jacket when we came home.  *SIGH*

Have just lit a dozen or more votives, in cute little candle fixtures all over the living room.  Most of the lights in the room are fairly dim, so it's a soft and warm, low light for the evening.  It'd almost be romantic, but ... ah well.

My mom will be back in town tomorrow, and I've called to offer my stepfather (again) to drive up with him in the evening.  We'll see if he takes me up on it, but my expectations are not high.  Worrisome.

This week I need to be on top of a fairly big game, and lately I haven't been.  This could redeem, or compound, but the pressure I've got on myself is kind of high.  (Hence a cozy and cheering room full of candles, an the full indulgence I have given myself, being lazy this Sunday.)

The house is clean, the pets are so good.  Twelve hours to go, before a somewhat heavy duty week.

How to Have a Life Altering Epiphany ... Doggy Style

Hyperbole and a Half has a lot more to offer than observations on depression.  Such as DOGS!  I hugely recommend, like, all the posts about dogs.  Such as this one, on training one.  And this one, on moving with them (first time I ever read this one, I got a laughter headache).

Aww.  The ground IS all weird.


Perhaps the most honest and non-maudlin, non-writerly personal essay (and comic) on depression I've ever seen.  No excesses of melodrama, nor appeals for pity and attention.  Just a description, and a very clear, good one.  Unique.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Richie Three? Ask in January!

We will know about the carpark king in about two months!  I've never been so excited about dental calculus in my life.  Everybody's holding their breath (because breathing on the bones can compromise 'em!) ...

Just one thing I've been observing, though.  Doesn't anybody else find the excess of froth about "proving he wasn't a hunchback/didn't have a 'withered arm'" - as if the Tudor slander that Richard was deformed reflects a *valid* value judgment, in that bone deformation actually is some sort of evil - ignorant and bigoted?  Because there is a LOT of ink abounding, in shrill reformation of this piece of history - and, as far as I know, there is actually no moral flaw in a body's not conforming to modern (or even ancient) expectations of normal health.

History of Science

I grew up knowing about Tycho Brahe and his golden nose - a pretty spectacular figure, historically, though perhaps not as famous to other people.  Tycho's death has long been attributed to mercury poisoning - but, as we reconstruct Richards and peek into their hearts, why not take a detour into some forensic history with this florid scientists, mentor of Johannes Kepler, fantastic party-thrower, something of a tantrum-thrower as well, judging by his irascible reputation ... and, possibly ... murder victim?  Well, not by mercury poisoning, anyway.

18thC Portraits and Costuming

Isis' Wardrobe is one of my favorite recent finds (along with Madame Isis' Toilette), and features the wonderful real-person experience of researching and recreating period clothing.  This week, there's a great image-rich piece looking at the details of 18th century feminine dress, with interesting observations about textile, draping, and prints.  Ahh, for the love of plaids, stripes, and florals - but don't forget the quite fabulous headgear!

(For those interested in wearing the threads, shoes, and accessories of the past, there's also the American Duchess - just in time for Small Business Saturday, though why restrict such shopping to just one day?)

Good Posts - Kim Rendfield

A nice pair of posts from Kim Rendfield as I cruise the blogs I follow this week.  One I can identify with strongly - the excitement of finding correspondence in the course of research - and another, one of those great threads you can also find in research, useful for medical, culinary, superstitious, and/or agricultural detail.  I give you the many (folkloric) uses of:  the carrot!  Hey, as much as bunnies eat 'em, perhaps it's no wonder there are a few fertility related items on the list ... (though I have to say, the "not by ingestion" tidbit is worrying!)

Another King Richard ...

... this time, that scoundrel the Lionheart.  While we await the forensic face of what so many of us illogically but fervently hope is the skeletal remains of Richard III, we can also wait on a rather interesting test which may tell us some interesting facts about the death of Richard I.  You can also peek at Nancy Bilyeau's novel about the unusual facts of the famous cour de lion's death - thanks to, of all things, tests on his cour.

Oh yeah - I went to the "key to the heart" place.
(public domain image)

Friday, November 23, 2012

More Vintage Photography

Here is a nice selection of images of turn-of-the-20th-century London, notable for its variety of subjects and composition.  Very nice collection, ending on a color (tinted) image.

Rah Rah Retail

In my life, I have only ever "done Black Friday" one single time - and that was in the local shopping district of Carytown, not in any sort of major retail nor big box stores.  Today, however, I did indulge a bit of major retail, if only online, and if only for the fuzzies.  Still, all my contrarian-against-The-Retail-Man tendencies notwithstanding, it was a score to provide a year's heartworm meds, and six months' each of flea protection for both the babies, all for under $131.

My Black Friday hurrah.

Next up:  visiting with the beloved TEO,  my best friend all the way back to middle school.  Now THERE is a real hurrah!

Thursday, November 22, 2012



Penelope, lying in the sun, chewing on her own foreleg.

Gossamer in the kitchen, lurking at the stuffing I can't even fit in the fridge.

I have been watching TOS this morning - a nice counterbalancing of "Balance of Terror" and "Shore Leave" - both great episodes, and very nicely different from one another.

It's a dazzlingly lovely day outside, and Pen and I had our walk earlier and practiced some "down" after she was a good girl outside.

My neighbor friend and I will eat in a couple hours and some change, and the dog show will commence recording on the DVR in just a few minutes so we can enjoy that.

Penny is gleaming in the sun, her expression curious and alert, her ears trembling slightly, alert above her head.

House is beautiful and cozy, and the turkey breast will go in shortly.  Two big stuffings (I wasn't sure how many people were going to be here!) and a spicy sweeter-tater-smash to follow it later.  I'm following the vintage Trek with some DS9 (I suppose that's vintage, too, by now ... !) - "Meridian", an episode I don't mind but can easily leave on while I putter around the house not glued to the tube.  It does have the very great advantage of an appearance by Jeffrey Combs, whom I adore to bits in all his insinuating, engaging roles, in one of the most hilarious subplots (well, a fine subplot with an EXCELLENT punchline anyway) DS9 ever did.  I just love Combs' voice, and loved seeing him as an Andorian too, when he showed up on "Enterprise" farther down the line.  (Huh - and I see he also appeared in Steve Martin's "Man With Two Brains", for which I own the DVD - will need to be re-watching that on the double!  It also features Cromwell, whose footprints in the Trekverse may be fewer, but whose position is inestimable, after "First Contact"!)

Aw, and now Gossy is having a sun-kissed little bath on the chaise, while Penelope sits with her chin on the side of the cushion, watching while the little guy licks and stretches.  Her little fu-manchu whiskers on the top of her nose are shiny in the light.  How perfectly, disgustingly cute.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pen and Me

At late middle age, I have grown into a good enough self-awareness that decisions tend to come out as expected for me, and I'm reasonably good at them.  Going into the process of looking for a dog, it was a relative no-brainer to seek a calm dog, a mature dog, one who could be alone for my long workdays, one I would not fail because I tend not to be around as much as would be idea for training and dealing with separation anxiety.

Of course, then there was Penelope, and that was it for that.  So my commitment has changed, the demands much increased, and the frustrations too - on both sides.  But this smart little girl is teaching me a lot.

We have our setbacks - but those are more on my side than hers.  We both feel bad about it.  But it's early days yet - not even two months.  And she is too smart.

One of the trickier commands for a dog is to transform "sit" into "down" and then into "stay".  We've been working on this this week, and she is so promising.  It's interesting how changing the location of our training changes her results; when we're in that area of the kitchen next to the fridge and the back door, she's very good - but when we go into the living room, into her and Gossy's room, into the dining room, she's more easily distracted by curious Goss, trailing us and watching from the margins.  Outdoors, however (and oh so promisingly) she was amazingly good.  So a good lesson for me:  vary the training!  Its time of day, its place. Make sure she knows these words aren't ritual attached to a single place, a limited time.

It's so exciting for us both when she does well, too.  The sense is not so much "I got you to bend to my will" as it is "we communicated!" and that is gratifying from both sides.

The one issue we can't seem to surmount right now is that she still eliminates in her cage (or "crate" if you simply must).  This of course means she may be eating some solids - though I have a sense it's more the liquid variety ... admittedly, this may be vanity/hope on my biased part - and definitely is marinating in her leavings.  So I've removed the blanket and my tee shirt (you're supposed to leave something that "smells like you" in the cage), which cannot be comfortable for her, and absolutely breaks my heart.  Ten hours or so in a metal box, with a couple of toys, in a cool house, and loaded with energy - never mind anxiety because she's alone but for when (theoretically) Gossamer comes to peer at her.  What a tease.

How to get her to stop peeing in there.  There isn't really any command for "don't pee" is the thing.  She has learned appropriate elimination not by prohibition but by allowance - praise and rewards for going outside, extreme alacrity from me in responding to indications she needs to go outside.  But prevention?  Everyone says "they don't pee where they eat and/or sleep" - well, I tried putting her food in there and the result was unappetizing.  As for sleeping, I can hardly make her do that on my schedule - and most likely she does, but has overcome this instinctive avoidance.  Certianly, she does NOT eliminate in the bedroom she is allowed to share (in her own bed - but with absolutely scrupulous behavior, without any training on this point at all).

So I don't really know what to do.  Leaving a pee pad in there only meant finding a pureed (unused) puppy pad a the end of the day.

This is really the final frontier for the two of us.  Though she's certainly got a ways to go on "down" and "stay" we're clearly on the path; this route, though, I can't seem to find on the map.

Over this very long holiday weekend (though I work my Friday half day, it will be from home), the plan is to disinfect the cage (again ...) and put a cushion from the bed she has downstairs inside.  She doesn't use the bed much, but IS aware it is the only furniture she is allowed to get on - that it is "hers".  It's a nice big, thick chair cushion, and smells of Siddy and of herself, but without elimination smells.  If she can't behave with it, it won't be a very bad loss, but if she can ... happiness for us both.  If nothing else, if she does mess on it, it will be less of a floppy pile to manage than the blanket and my tee shirt were, when she peed on those.  I am prepared to trash it if need be, but do HOPE that would not be the end result of this effort.


Penny is not the dog I meant to get.  I may not be the "people" she really deserves.  But the commitment to try, to be as good for her as I can be, is there, and grows stronger every day.

She had another bath yesterday so she'll be sweet for Thanksgiving day (she was unliveable last night, before we did the deed).  Today, she's getting good attention - AND she is out of both collar and harness, too (she prefers to be naked, and I like an unadorned dog myself; though, for the record, her tags are on that new harness of hers, so WILL be with her when she goes outside).  She's just plopped up against my ankle, warm and solid and so contented you can see it in her body.

If there's anything better than knowing you have contented a living creature like that, I can't quite imagine what it is ...

Off for now, to tidy up and putter, figuring out what needs to be done for tomorrow.

And to stop here and there to admire my girl.  And nuzzle the boy, too - who is the best kitten in the whole world.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Category By Themselves

At Historical Fiction Online, there's a new discussion centering on History's new series about the Crusades.  For those who haven't seen the advertising, it centers on the statement that "Of all of the wars fought over religion, the Crusades belong in a category by themselves" - and this statement is the focal point of the discussion.

My post:

If the point of a tag line is to market a show about the Crusades, a sensationalistic and narrowly interpreted view of history may well be a must.  I've seen the ads too, and it's not exactly the stuff of dissertations; it's entertainment.  That doesn't make it okay, but to hold this statement to any sort of scholarly analysis is beside the programmers' point.  In any case, the statement itself is one of those technically-defensible declarations like saying to a bad actor, "your performance was *interesting*" or "such-and-such (whatever) is unique."
Depending on how one sets up the concept and determination of "category", sure, the Crusades (as K**** points out, there is more than one way to define that designation, too) belong in one by themselves.  So does any war, so does any ruler, so does any leaf or molecule or system of planets.  It's a pretty meaningless phrase, but it *sounds* heavy with import, so it sells a show.  Nothing new - over millennia now, popular perception still trades on certain stereotypes, facile (mis)interpretations, and misconceptions galore.  This one, being empty, is probably a less important statement than the hard-trodden regurgitations and tropes that will probably comprise most of the content of the programming itself.

The History Channel is a station which also touts a show called "The Men Who Built America" (because, after all, women hadn't been invented in 18th- and 19th-century North America (and that is the only period in which this country's history is relevant - hah)).  They also, not for nothing, rarely broadcast anything to do with history at all anymore, much to a lot of electronic "nyah-nyah"-ing discussion and sneering.

It's not like these folks are anyone's idea of a go-to resource for serious historical scholarship.  I may even watch - if only to encourage the brand (history over pawn-focused "reality" teevee) ...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Richard's Face

This I look forward to seeing, certainly - they're forensically rebuilding the face of the skeleton from the carpark.

Wikimedia Commons
Portrait circa 1520 (earliest known)

Loved it when they did King Tut.

National Geographic

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Two Tonight

So far, tonight's list has yielded two agents I will query (but haven't yet; I'm culling first this time).  Not bad, actually - but I'm coming close to the end of my current list, so will need to create another one soon.

With my mom traveling for the holiday, I'd been looking forward to being an orphan and using the time entirely for myself, but plans changed when a neighbor turned out also to be orphaned for the holiday.  Now the two of us will be the three of us, and things are looking a bit more "traditional" - particularly in terms of the $70 worth of groceries I bought today - for the holiday, but it'll be nice.  BUT not productive in the way I'd half anticipated.  Hah - poor, sad me, to have company over Thanksgiving!

At least tonight I'm finding some possibilities.  There's progress in that, too.


Kitten is still a kitten - but he has almost just this weekend reached a point where his cuteness is becoming handsomeness.  Okay he's still stuff-loaded with cuteness.  But he's gaining a different look as well.

Aww.  And as I type this, he's curling up between my ankles.

Yeah, pretty cute.  The handsome boy.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Yesterday was the ten-year anniversary of the first time I met Mr. X.  We've been long distance almost this entire time, but there's almost a fondness in looking back at the time that separation was only by 150 miles.

For the past six months or so, since the last time I saw him, there's been a sort of litany of disaster at both ends of the extreme distance between us.  Nobody's happy, and he in particular has got a crap deal.  I've got looming issues beyond my control - but, during the past week, have been pushing back hard on what I can.  Gaining steam at work.  Gaining ground with Penelope's training.  Planning Thanksgiving with my neighbor and a friend of hers, organizing some things, looking out toward the holidays, hopefully looking at installing a fence in the backyard.

Tonight, I will take myself out in celebration.  I haven't been "dating" myself in a long time ... and yet, it's still a part of who I am.  I've just been, frankly, a bit too depressed.  Even last week, a charming acquaintance said we should meet out, and I ended up stewing in my middle-aged-overweight-lady juices, staying home and watching "Dinner at Eight."

A good movie - but an opportunity missed.

Tonight, I seize opportunity, dust myself off, make myself shiny, and see who's out even if last week's friend isn't guaranteed.  Maybe I will dance, in impractical shoes.

Tonight, I celebrate ten years of what loving X has made of me.

Fast Learner

Today, Penelope is practicing "down" in a non-greeting situation for the first time.  Good LORD does she obey with alacrity when she is motivated.  She's only pooped in the house two times since last week - and, given that twice a day was her minimum before, that is pretty achin' good.

It'll take time for "down" to take in a real-world situation, but she's pretty amazingly smart.  Things are looking up for this little pack.

*Currently being kneaded by a kit with fresh-cut nails*

Life's not bad on pre-Thanksgiving Saturday.

Friday, November 16, 2012


No.  It hasn't escaped my notice I adopted a dog named Penelope.

Once Again - We're Not So Much Smarter

My theme of late:  Yes, Virginia, people didn't suddenly develop intellect one century ago (or less ...).  Science says so.

What Forkery Is This?

In historical fiction, there are some recurring fascinations we revisit - subjects, historical tidbits, the surprises of interpretation.  The Tudors will never stop exerting their charisma on storytellers, it seems.  Or we like to retread Stupid Medieval People - or stop and Wait, Medieval People Were SMART! - or regurgitate tales of royalty (*uncomfortable pause*  ...  " ... hi ...").  One of the things we like to share from our researches is the history of the fork.  It shows up in movies from time to time, usually in a scene marveling the pomposity of innovation.  But we seem to be tied up on tines.

The entirely delightful Elizabeth Chadwick has a bit to say about forks (including how forking is a sin!).  Pithy, but illustrated and informative!

Early 20thC Color Photography

It's amazing how rich and gorgeous these images are.  I had an uncle who had a book of extremely early color plates from Russia, once - they were fascinating.  So are these, so PLEASE go look at them!

A History of Dentistry

Having a cleaning next week, I'm feeling pretty good about the demise of certain drugs' (cocaine, arsenic!) place in dentistry.  Read a dentist's essay on the history of the practice here!

With my own history of new teeth every ten years *since* I was ten, I have never been dainty about the drill.  Still, that pelican is a fairly scary looking implement ...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Steam. Powered. Nerdliness.

I am dying to know the memory on this little booger (not the sleek and fuzzy one):

Pet Mood

It is almost astounding the extent to which the dog's house training has affected my mood.  It may be the other issues summer and onward have left mouldering on my plate, and one will continue to loom over me for some time to come, but the literal and figurative tone and position of my life over the past month or two has been "in the toilet" - as, indeed, since adopting Penelope five and a half weeks ago, the house has become.

Of course, I'm not immune to the romantic ideas we're all prone to, and "getting a new dog" was supposed to be a time of unmixed joy perhaps, even as realistic as I try to be about things most of the time.  Or, at least, if the joy had some frustrations mixed in - they were supposed to be *dwarfed* by the extent of gooey love I was supposed to be falling-in with My New Dog.  Frankly, it was rather like that with Gossamer - and it's no coincidence I adopted him two days after a literal car accident - and it's no accident, at that, the two adoptions were timed as they were, with an all-but-unadmitted desire to pack on a sense of blessings and excitement at a time otherwise marred by the loss of my Sweet Siddy La, the accident, the health issues, the overwhelming awareness of being without a partner, the damned inconvenient fallout of life itself.

So the gap between the foster mom's statement that she was "almost there" with house training and the reality, that she could scarcely be persuaded that outdoors even represented an opportunity for eliminating her extras at all ... was, at first, incredibly dismaying.

I've tried to focus on her whip-smart intelligence, though, and her extremely clear desire to please me as her alpha dog.  She learned peeing outdoors fairly well, but the poop issue was beginning, even only last week, to seem to be a vanishing goal I would never reach, with her.  I despaired of learning, myself, how to speak Puppy well enough to get her to understand.

When it became clear she "got" that mom wants no poop in the house, oddly enough, I was gratified.  Even though, at first, her method to meet this goal was ... eating the poop.

Yeah, I know.  But she is a dog, people, and dogs exist outside the human penchant for getting squicked.  I look at animal behavior in my home not as a shocking joke or offense, but as ANIMAL behavior coming from an ANIMAL - and I never forget that I too am an animal, when it comes down to it.

As a wise person I'm fortunate to be acquainted with online put it:  "you speak puppy with such an accent she can't understand you."  Well put, that, and it's not about HER understanding ME - it's about ME making myself coherent to HER.  The mountain goes to Mohammad, when the mountain is made of poop and it's continually rebuilt in the dining room.  (Ugh.)

So she saw what the goal was, and - like a puppy - she dealt with it in a fairly nervous manner which a human observer might find ineffective and nasty, but (I had to focus on this) *she dealt with it*.  That and a hundred other things have shown me - this dog is not stupid.  She is, in fact, probably the smartest dog I've ever had - AND she is the youngest I personally have had responsibility for, of course, which is all to the good - because, untrained as she is, she is *untrained* - so I have a lot of opportunity for communicating with a fresh, nimble, and eager-to-please mind here.

Depressed I may have been, focusing on this to the exclusion of the actual ultimate causes (ahh, humanity - easily squicked, and so eager to glom onto proximate causes rather than ultimate solutions), I've been paying attention, and the saving grace has been not quitting on one strategy.  My accent is bad, but I can modulate my puppy-speak, where Penelope can't really modulate what she's able to "hear".

So after two foolish walks, where she did go poo outside, and I was slathering on all the "GOOD GIRL, GO POOP **OUTSIDE**!!!" I could, I realized - duh - what she needs is immediate reward, and a more potent one than the verbal.  Bring a damn Milk Bone along on the walk, stupid.

She'd HEARD the "good girl, go poop OUTSIDE!" speech, to be sure.  She likes verbal praise.

But damn if the remediation hasn't been pretty much instantaneous, clockwork-schedulable (!!), and almost entirely reformed as long as I keep to the proper behavior.

Penelope finally got me trained.

It's stupid this should make me so happy, but holy hell several days now of NOT fearing the moment I smell dung in my dining room (the entire house, that is) is better than Zoloft, for so MUCH of my general outlook.  I'm actually performing better already at work, seriously.

It all comes down to communication.  And I finally got it right, at last.

Says little Miss PeNED-opy:  "I won't poo in the house if you remember WHEN to walk me and don't forget the Milk Bones - m'kay?"

And, dear readers, Diane is listening ...

Bad Copy

"Assuming that your manager OK's" ...

Spotted in an employee communication today about time off requests.  The term "okays" would be only one single space longer than OK's is.  And it would not cause me mental anguish.   Please fix this.

Thank you.

*Expiring in a puddle of unpunctuated goo*


"Obama Meets C.E.O.'s As Fiscal Reckoning Nears" ...

Good lord, what punctuation addicted profligate wrote this?  For the NEW YORK TIMES?  And what editor let it fly?

And - the President is  meeting with a CEO's what, exactly?

My brain hurts.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Titanic Jewels

The jewels of the Titanic (not including that tacky Heart of the Ocean pendant, we hope) may be coming to a city not exactly near you.

"The purpose of the exhibition is to show the public the wonder of exploration" ...  (Wait.  It's not wealth porn?)  Whatever the reason, the preservation is remarkable, and the work intricate, fine, and rather lovely.  Makes me want to go drool at the Faberge' we have locally again.


Smithsonian Magazine showed up recently on my Twitter suggestions, and that was a Follow in a hot minute.  They don't seem to post a steady stream, so this is my first link from them, but the photography here reminds me of the sort of fascination we sometimes found in dad's subscription when we were younger.

I can also remember (back when my eyes were so perfect) sitting on the counter in the bathroom, nose all but pressed to the mirror, and staring intently into the detail of my irises.  It fascinated me that the colored surface of that circle, under my lens, looked "dusty" to me.  How could something moist appear particulate like talc, like the dry dirt on the ground?

Suran Manvelyan

These images are almost too particular, themselves, to avoid almost grossing some people out, but deeply fascinating indeed.

More Trek-nology

First we had the tractor beam story.  This time, it's a universal translator!

Impossible not to think of the Babel Fish - both Douglas Adams' conception, and Teh Intarwebs edition - and hilarity ensuing (breaking down language barriers - causing more and bloody wars than anything in galactic history).  It ensues in this vid, to be sure.  Still.  Gee-whiz stuff, to be sure!

Jefferson ...

... as a Saxon heir.  Thanks to Jeff Sypek for another intriguing post!


An interesting article for us, at a(nother) time when the U. S. as world power is compared to Rome (by people who haven't studied Rome particularly).  Environmentalism before it had a name (and vegetarianism, and a rather interesting set of ideas on how to handle lead ...).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Coming Clean

Day, I read this and thought of you - hoping you will see and enjoy!  Ashes, tallow, and turpentine - the way to keep things clean, Regency style ...

Foray Into History

We haven't only been fighting wars since the 20th century.  Antietam.

Vintage Images

There are some remarkable and inspiring images at The Passion of Former Days this week.  First, photos of voters going back to the early 20th century (the final shot, of a New Zealand crowd in 1931, is striking!).  Second, for Veterans--er--Armistice Day this week, portraits of those who served in WWI.

Kim Rendfield

Kim, I must apologize for being LATE to say congrats on how well your new baby is thriving!

Also, what a great post from your dad - mine was a physics professor as well.  *Grin*

Friday, November 9, 2012

Oddly Enough ...

... not the first story of hope I've seen about a pickle startup this week ...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Jane C. Louden

Someday, I need to read this.  I also need to read a bit more about the author, Jane C. Louden - a woman who produced 22nd century mummy sci-fi in 1827.  In which women of the future are posited as wearing *trousers* and having hair ornaments with flame.  In which no man plays god.

Did I mention she (SHE) wrote this close to 200 years ago?  And married one of her own fans?  And became one of the most famous horticulturalists of her century?  Excellent.

My Idea of Patriotism

I noodled around with this post yesterday, but it appears I never put it up.  Little late post ...


Yesterday, leaving the polling place, it seemed of course dead appropriate to me to listen to an Englishman, so I cruised on Bowie and enjoyed my commute.  He finished off my drive with "Heroes" - a song I've always found pretty powerful, but which seemed appropriate to the culmination of a wearing campaign season. 

Today, once I shifted away from NPR, I hit the radio instead of the CD player, and was treated to ...  "Too Sexy for My Shirt" which was a giggle.  Even more of a laugh, the "we play anything" station segued from Shirt into Tom Petty - hilarious enough given almost any track, but again, somehow pleasing and appropriately, the song they chose to play was "American Girl". 

I liked Petty fine when I was younger - he never set my teeth on edge the way Springsteen *STILL* does, nor got worn out by the DJs like Stevie Nicks and Led Zeppelin did.  I was enough of a little white Southern girl (still am ...) to go for the rock they fed us - Bad Company (yes, I'm aware they're not exactly Georgia boys; tell it to every pink-necked boy I grew up with), even Charlie Daniels, I can admit that.  Petty, though, has aged very well indeed, and he appears to be a pretty smart cookie, as simple as a song like "American Girl" may seem in its way.  Simplicity, as it turns out - particularly with music of a certain flavor - is genius, and "American Girl" still curls up in a VERY comfortable place indeed in my aging mind.  Petty doesn't feel stale - where, as much as I like it, "Shooting Star" feels of-its-time in a very different way.  BC take me back.  Petty just is.  American Girl may not sound modern - and his early 90s work in particular is less flexible - but take a listen to "Breakdown" and it doesn't drag you to a particular place (unless you have a personal association to link that song to a memory of your own) necessarily.  He doesn't sound more 70s than 80s than now, his music has a tensile twang that, no matter when you hear it, you can take or leave.  It's likeable - or it's not.  But it's not laden with bellbottoms or skinny ties or mullets or election-memories, circa 2000.  (Sorry, Fleetwood Mac, but y'all tied yourselves to Clinton in '93, and ever since, there've been branding issues with politics and music.  Happy end-of-your career, Kid Rock ...) 

We've come to the part of the year where it's still dawn and dim when I drive in to work, and dark when I go home.  Music can be more fun on a breezy golden day, with a sunroof - but music in the intimacy of cold and dark, all alone in the car with the news of the day quieting the noisy tires, music can really make me laugh (you all KNOW I was thinking of the President when Right Said Fred was playing when I changed channels - right?  I'm not one of those women with a crush, but he's by far the only president I can imagine who *could* laughingly listen to that song in front of all of us, and maybe bust a little move or two), and music can make me just feel good.  Thanks, Tom.  You're not half bad, says this American ... Broad.

Ancient Puppy

So Penelope (also sometimes called New Poops, whereas The Lolly's name was sometimes Little Poops - which, now I've run across Pen's monster leavings, seems as appropriate as ever!) fleetingly appeared to me similar to Sidney, but it was immediately apparent to me she was no husky mix; she has no cat-hatred.  People ask from time to time what breed(s) she is, and I was at first incurious on this point, being busy just getting her at all settled in.  But my pesky curiosity can't be idle forever, and Wikipedia happened to fan the flame a little today.

Source:  Wikipedia

One of the featured articles today is on Abuwtiyuw, perhaps the most ancient known domesticated dog in the world.  He was guard to Pharaoh, and an image on his article intrigued me.  The image is not of Abuwtiyuw himself, specifically - but of a Tesem type dog, one of three breeds known from ancient Egypt.  Though the body is slimmer than my girl, the tail and ears are pretty striking, as is the size of the feet.

Penelope is blunter than the Tesem, but that tail seems to be Egyptian.  Her stronger resemblance to the Basenji doesn't much shorten the lineage - their own resemblance to animals found on ancient stelae is documented.

What I find most interesting, though, is her resemblance to another ancient hound, in my neck of the woods now called a Carolina dog or several other dingo variant epithets.  HERE we start to see Penny's inexplicable, utterly charming ears, and the insouciant set of her jaw/underbite.  Still showing some of the wrinkle-headed traits of the Basenji, but with coats more like hers and the much boxier face, there's more variety in these dogs' body style it looks like, but still much to share with my new baby girl.  The very very black nose is familiar, too.

These breeds are all called "primitive" - I prefer "ancient" myself - but the sense intended is basically that this dog has not been much modified by human interference (breeding for looks and traits).  It looks like there's one little whip-smart, little-adulterated African blonde in my house.  She's got a Carolina head and a Basenji butt, that kid, but I see a lot of these beautiful beasties and not a lot of bloodline-mucking-about in her.

Whatever she is, she's taken out a pretty long term lease on me, and I hope I will make it worth her while.  Aww.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Monk - Not a Romance

... or ... "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made" ...

This brings me to mind of Douglas Adams' Electronic Monk, from one of the Dirk Gently novels.  Human ingenuity - again, kids, we didn't invent it just yesterday!  The photos are pretty neat.


Came home sick today after an hour trying to tough it out at the office (which is to say, closer to three hours of "toughing" really - getting to the office takes time, too).  I feel wiped out, but still have this idea in my head two sick days are reserved for life-threatening direness, and exhaustion doesn't qualify.  Work Ethic by Mom.  *Zonk*

While I was still there, I snipped the waistband of the hose I was wearing, and remembered the last time, the first time, I did that.

The day dad died my stomach was in knots - not like today's discomfort, but a serious, acute pain indeed.  It was also the first time Erick ever came to visit here, and I was trying to take him out.  Oddly enough, trying to do my own birthday.  What a bizarre thing that must have been for him; certainly, it wasn't normal for me.

I failed to feed him any sort of dinner, and he ordered a steak.  I took a bite and bit my tongue so hard it bled for a pretty long time.  Nice hole, right through it.  The steak didn't agree with me, and between that and the taste of blood (and the event of that day, intense enough in itself), I had about the worst upset stomach I can remember.  I went to the bar and got a knife, or scissors, or who knows what, and cut the waistband of my hose, in the bathroom.

The sound and sensation of a blade in nylon is very distinctive.

What a funny thing to bring me back to thoughts about losing dad.  I miss that man.

I rather miss the other one, too.  But that is significantly less painful.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


NYU has built a tractor beam.  Sure, the scale is a tad small ... but it's more than *I've* gotten done this month.  How about you?

Public Domain clipart

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Wackyness Ensues

Penelope chases her tail.  Because she is wagging it when she chases it, she hits herself in the face with it.  This appears to irk her a little, and she chases with renewed vigor.

Me, I watch, and remember my brother as a kid, and keep thinking to myself, "Why are you hitting yourself?  You keep hitting yourself!"

Friday, November 2, 2012

Progress, Then Off to Bed

An update for those who (astoundingly!) claim to find this sort of thing interesting (hi, Cute Shoes!) ... querying still going well.  After nothing but eliminations last night, found a good one tonight, and got that off a little while ago.  One query in a night may not be much - perhaps other authors do more at a time - but I start with a pretty large list as a rule, research carefully, and eliminate based on a fairly well-educated-at-this-point set of criteria.

I don't query in hard copy.  This made me feel guilty for a bit - what if I am missing out? - but in this day and age, it's the rarer agency who won't accept electronic than who will, and I look at this as a business consideration.  If even a Luddite such as myself finds email etc. a convenience, the refusal of the practical advance using it represents (not to mention the affront to trees; what a wasteful practice, even with recycling) and the excesses of time it requires are, valid or not, a deal-breaker for me.  We're coming to a time when refusal to go electronic almost looks like pointless posturing - whether to intimidate or just look snobbishly elite - and I don't need that noise.  (Yes, it has occurred to me that sticking with hard copy reduces the slush pile flow.  But I have to draw my personal lines somewhere.  Your lines may vary!)

If an agent's idea of historical fiction is undefined, and their website is predominantly pink and precious, I won't query.  It's my guess you're looking for romance-in-a-corset, and that's great stuff, but I'm writing ahead of the (European) invention of that bodice-heaving accessory, and my work is passionate, not romantic.  It also involves an awful lot of blood and blades ...

... but, muscular as my work may be, I'm also not quite Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden, nor even (and I love this guy!) Ben Kane.  If I think the cover designs for your histfic would work as well for genre video games, I might not query there either.  Or I will be pretty careful about it.

I'm even getting so I want to eliminate agents who don't clearly state their taste profile on their website, or at Agent Query, QueryTracker, or another such clearinghouse listing site.  Yes:  the need to research agents and read interviews is understood; but, if I have to open three or more pages to get to the meat of the matter, you're fatiguing me unnecessarily.  It's almost as wasteful of my time as snail-mail querying.  And wears authors out.  Have a page on your agency website with a blurb for each agent, and IN THAT BLURB please tell me what you want to see - genre, taste preference, authors on your list - I don't care which way you do it, but give me some sort of an indication.  With everything we have to do to appeal to you guys, coyness is just a cruel return on our quest to attract literary (publishing industry) attention.

So only one query out tonight.  For me, given the grumpy exclusions above - that's not a bad night at all.

It doesn't stop me querying extensively.  I just don't blanket-spam every member of the AAR without any consideration.

Umlaut-less Otzi

I should thank JohnJayJay for reminding me, by commenting on my +Ulfberh+t post, that I have failed to point to NOVA's simply jaw-dropping special on Otzi, the Iceman.  Framed as a procedural exploration of a murder mystery, this absorbing episode of the superb series examines everything from Otzi's state-of-the-art gear and garb to his tattoos and last meal (ibex and grain, if you want to know without the laproscopic and laboratory imagery, which might in fact be a bit much for some viewers!).

Image via PBS, of course
If only for the bit about the copper ax, this is a must-watch for history, archaeology, and tech nerds.

Even so, I have to say with a very deep smile that, in the end, my favorite part of this show was discovering a few days later that my mom had watched it too, and reveling in discussion of how exciting it was.  This is the lady who raised me on these things, and I am forever grateful.  Thanks, mom!


Kitty is fascinated by New Wave.  After this shot he tried to eat the laptop.  (The screen still is from Visage, "Fade to Grey")

Gnawing good musical fun!

Tum Pluckered Out from excitement

Meanwhile, Pen lies on her sweet, clean blankie under her beloved end table, all cozy and cute - getting revenge on me for her bath today by farting up a storm.


A my pets will do, Penelope has begun her collection of nicknames.  Some of the nicknames I give are just for fun.  Some are a softer thing, truly pet names, the product of the warmth of affection.

For fun, like most pathetic middle-aged women, I do baby-talk the kids.  Gossamer has a funny pronunciation, sometimes, I would have no idea how to translate into text.  Penny sometimes gets called PeNE-dopey.  Something like "pisghetti", I suppose.

But the soft nickname is Neddie, from the Ned in PeNE-dopey.

House training continues to dismay me; I have what I think is a healthy fear/dismay that I might not be the best mom she could have had.  Four days a week, I'm gone for eleven hours (and even longer), and she gets separation anxiety.  Two days this week, she eliminated in her crate, and yesterday when I came home she was simply nasty.  Had rolled in her own pee, and was sticky and stinky and utterly foul.

It's dispiriting (I imagine for us both).

But I have to remember - she has a will to please and to obey.  Her confidence is growing.  I can SEE her progress in manners (she's jumping less; and she seems not to jump on men - she isn't kissing in the face much, and I can put my face next to and in front of her head, and she doesn't go completely nuts (this does have to be timed correctly!).  She does "go" outside, and when she makes a mistake with #1 (#2 is proving a very tricky one to learn at all), it's my mistake often.  When she comes in from being a good girl, she behaves with almost comical politeness.

She's really something amazing.  My sweet - she's had a good bath, you see (and was good for that, too) - little Neddie girl.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Is It Wrong ...

... of me to eliminate an agent from my query list because their Agent Query page includes not only the text "We accepts queries" (I didn't find Gollum on the client list ...) but also the sentence "Her clients include bestselling authors, Jane Doe and Jeannine Doe."  That comma isn't helping anything here.

Edited to add - it just got worse!  I actually decided to click through to their website, which includes this perfect little gem:  "since we don"t specialize in" ...

Yes.  The "don't" had a quotation mark instead of an apostrophe in it.

As much time as I have spent making sure *I* don't present typos to *agents* - the least they could do is copy edit their own dang websites.  Eesh.  Their copy itself is also all but unreadable.  Guys, I know that like critics, you might not be able to create good art, but know it when you see it - but if your trade is the written word and you aren't adept at deploying words yourselves, HIRE A WRITER.  Surely you have access.