(no subject)

Sep. 17th, 2017 11:23 pm
gramarye1971: Fakir looking up from a library book (Princess Tutu: Fakir)
[personal profile] gramarye1971
Still around and reading, just a bit quiet. Finishing my Remix Revival fic tapped out quite a bit of my creativity. And I keep starting and deleting entire screeds about the current state of North Korean politics and nuclear brinksmanship because I am a rank amateur when compared with the good folks in the disarmament business who can look at a missile for five seconds and say things like ah, yes, that's a second-generation Iranian-produced Scud-D model, only painted black and with extra fins added to it for no good reason that we can determine. I hate feeling only half-informed, if that.

At this point I am crossing off days until my folks swing down from the Frigid North to visit in mid-October, and to my planned Japan trip in mid-November. If anything else creative or similarly productive gets done during the interim, I'm not sure whether it'll be in spite of or because of my own efforts.

But still around and reading, as mentioned.
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
The "Wildcat Peak Trail is closed" signs disappeared a while ago so this morning I went up to see if the trail had really been fixed or just bashed down by foot traffic. But first I was surprised on Upper Packrat Trail by a bicycle coming up behind me. The guy claimed to have come from a trail "up there" and to have seen no signs; I know of no trail "up there" and the ranger I reported it to much later didn't seem to believe the claim, either. I wish I could say I made him turn back, but I think he would have pushed me off the trail had I refused to step aside. So that was a nice start.

Wildcat Peak Trail has indeed been fixed, wider and flatter than before. I guess it was done by a couple of guys with shovels as I cannot imagine how to get any other equipment to the site short of a helicopter. Maybe that's what they did. Anyway, once up that far (the slide site is a lot closer to the top than I recalled, but then I was too freaked to remember clearly) I of course did not turn around (my plan were it not sufficiently fixed) and after briefly contemplating going down Conlon I settled for the connector down to Laurel Canyon Trail and out.

There have been first of season reports for a number of winter species, but I neither heard nor saw any. Wildcat Peak Trail has no hard bits but it's boring and today was no exception. Just the usuals: )

So not an exciting morning, and it produced some un-encouraging empirical data. Stupid back. )

I forgot to say that the weather was perfect, clearing quickly but cool. I went out in two t-shirts and a light flannel, with my neckwarmer to start, and was quite comfortable.

Fifteen Characters Meme

Sep. 17th, 2017 08:14 pm
el_staplador: Can-can dancer; caption 'Oppan can can style' (can can style)
[personal profile] el_staplador
Nicked from [personal profile] lost_spook:

1) Make a list of fifteen characters first, and keep it to yourself for the moment.

2) Ask your f-list to post questions in the comments. For example: "One, nine, and fifteen are chosen by a prophecy to save the world from four. Do they succeed?", "Under what circumstances might five and fourteen fall in love?", "Which character on the list would you most want on your side in a zombie invasion?"

3) After your f-list has stopped asking questions, round them up and answer them using the fifteen characters you selected beforehand, then post them.
el_staplador: TARDIS (tardis)
[personal profile] el_staplador
Someone created Vastra and Jenny's wedding photo, remixing my My Beloved Snake, and Said Unto Me. It is absolutely delightful: period-typical in the best way!

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Flint-Vastra (The Carte de visite remix) (0 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Doctor Who (2005)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Jenny Flint/Madame Vastra
Characters: Jenny Flint, Madame Vastra (Doctor Who)
Additional Tags: Fanart
Summary:

The wedding photo of the widow Vastra and her young new husband.



I have been watching Kids on the Slope on [personal profile] moetushie's recommendation, and am enjoying it very much thus far. I am a sucker for seaside + nostalgia + music. I have also been watching Izetta: the Last Witch, which ought to be right up my street (Ruritania + loyalty TO THE DEATH + femslashiness) but which for some reason isn't grabbing me in quite the same way.

On the subject of anime, I went to see the Anime Architecture: backgrounds of Japan exhibition (now finished, sorry) at the House of Illustration, and was mostly impressed the sheer detail of the artwork. I hadn't realised how small the backgrounds were in real life; they really repaid standing six inches away and marvelling.
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
I got out about sunrise, went to three places, and was home about 11:30, so have three short lists. Point Emery: )

I didn't stay long before heading up the frontage road to what used to be called Berkeley Meadow. I walked east up the Virginia street extension, through the park, out the west gate, and along the fence back to the car. McLaughlin Eastshore State Park: )

There were great reports from Richmond Shoreline yesterday monrning but today it was the least productive. Meeker Slough: )

A day of mysteries.

My timing was terrible in that I was at Richmond Shoreline right around high tide and didn't want to hang around for an hour or more while the tide receded. There was also intense clean-up activity, which is wonderful if only briefly noticeable, given the unimaginable amount of crap that washes continually onto those shores and marshes, so too many people, however good their reason for being there.

Reading: The Shortest Way to Hades

Sep. 16th, 2017 10:08 am
white_hart: (Default)
[personal profile] white_hart
The Shortest Way to Hades is the second of Sarah Caudwell's Hilary Tamar novels, and is very similar to the first; Hilary, Professor of Legal History at Oxford, is called in by the junior members of the barristers' chambers at 62 New Square to investigate the death of a young woman who was recently involved in a variation of trusts case in which all of them represented various parties, and which they feel was suspicious. Like the first novel, it's entertaining and contains some lovely comic scenes; I particularly enjoyed the account of how Selena, on finding herself present at an orgy, decides that her preferred pleasure is in fact reading the copy of Pride and Prejudice she happened to have in her bag (a woman after my own heart!), and, having an Oxford background, I also very much liked Hilary's justification for not taking part in examining, which was an absolutely pitch-perfect example of the Oxford don's refusal to carry out a disagreeable task couched as a favour to absolutely everyone else. Meanwhile, the mystery was well enough plotted that I didn't come anywhere close to suspecting the real murderer until the final reveal, which is all you can really ask of a mystery, after all.

I think I enjoyed Thus Was Adonis Murdered more, but I'm not sure whether that's because the second book is so similar that I knew exactly what I was going to be getting and there wasn't the pleasure of discovering something new, or if I simply wasn't quite in the right mood for it; I certainly think it's just as good a book.

Yuletide nominations and stuff

Sep. 14th, 2017 08:54 pm
naraht: (other-Yuletide squee)
[personal profile] naraht
How can the Yuletide season be starting already? Usually I'm on top of these things but this year I was caught without even a potential nominations list.

So, in a fit of absence of mind, I have nominated:

Return to Night - Mary Renault
Hilary Mansell
Julian Fleming
Lisa Clare
Elaine Fleming

Figure Skating RPF
Evgeni Plushenko
St├ęphane Lambiel
Johnny Weir
Evan Lysacek [not so attached to him, does anyone have someone they'd like me to nominate instead?]

Cycling Commentator RPF
David Millar
Ned Boulting
Carlton Kirby
Sean Kelly [ditto... does anyone want Gary Imlach or Matt Stephens or Brian Smith?]

I'll be in North Wales for work tomorrow (!) and staying into Saturday for a mini-break, so I thought it was best to get things tided away now, lest I forget.
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
I drove up through the fog to higher overcast, but the weather rose as well. It looked like this )

There were breaks in the clouds over Contra Costa and thunder to the SSE while I was in the parking lot, but it got worse as I headed north: not much rain but wind so strong I turned back at the first gap in the ridge lest I be blown over. Twenty minutes later I was able to continue and despite not much energy I walked out to 2 mile and back. Lack of birds doesn't help, but it was all made worthwhile just north of the first cattle gate. I was looking for a thrasher calling in a little hollow to the west; I never found it but I did find a wonderful mixed flock: bushtits, several blue-gray gnatcatchers, a Hutton's vireo, two orange-crowned warblers, and a chickadee. This is what we're always hoping for. I wasn't going to bother with a list til that happened: )

Some colorful and varied vegetation at about one and a half mile. )

It was 11 am and I didn't want to go home yet so I spent an hour at the EBRP Botanic Garden. It was still overcast but not cold, or even windy down in the gorge, and I had quite a few birds not encountered up on the ridge. Best was sitting on a bench and listening to purple finches singing and calling just over my head: Another short list: )

My view from the aforesaid bench )

Other taxa: From the Botanic Garden's primary bridge over Wildcat Creek I watched an enormous crayfish slowly but steadily working its way upstream. I've never noticed one there before and saw no other in other parts of the stream. I know they're in Jewel so presumably they're in Anza, but that's still quite a ways downstream. Impressive.

Reading: The Mark of the Horse Lord

Sep. 12th, 2017 07:07 pm
white_hart: (Default)
[personal profile] white_hart
Reading Gwyneth Jones put me in mind of Rosemary Sutcliff, and as I'm off to Argyll on holiday soon I thought I would re-read The Mark of the Horse Lord, which is set in Argyll. Unlike most of Sutcliff's novels set in Roman Britain, Phaedrus, the protagonist of The Mark of the Horse Lord, isn't a Roman soldier; instead, he's a half-British ex-gladiator, son of a Greek wine merchant and a slave woman, who lived his whole life as a slave until being freed after winning a fight in the arena. By coincidence, he discovers that he is the exact double of Midir, the exiled prince of the Dalriad tribe, and is persuaded to impersonate Midir and travel beyond the northern boundary of the Empire to lead a rebellion and win back the kingdom of the Dalriads from Queen Liadhan, who has seized the throne and imposed the old matrilineal rule of the Earth-Mother in place of the patrilineal worship of the Sun-God. The plot is not dissimilar to The Prisoner of Zenda, really, as Phaedrus tries to take over another man's life and relationships and learn how to be a king.

This isn't my favorite Sutcliff; Phaedrus is a less sympathetic protagonist than the various members of the family in the Dolphin Ring saga, hardened by the years in the arena as he is, although he does become more sympathetic as the story goes on. I also don't find the society of the Dalriads, beyond the frontiers of the Empire, as interesting as the Roman society depicted in the books set inside the Empire, and, revisiting it now, I also feel that the conflict between the matrilineal and patrilineal societies is probably more nuanced than the book really suggests, and I wish we had got to see Liadhan's point of view as well as Phaedrus's.

GIVEAWAY!

Sep. 11th, 2017 03:38 pm
mrkinch: albatross soaring (Default)
[personal profile] mrkinch
So I wore the flanged ear plugs on the way to work once and discovered they are useless to me. Returning them is too much trouble (I've given up amazon AGAIN so returning stuff is a pain) and will ship them at once to anyone who wants to try them. Comment and then we can take it to email or whatever for the details. Please take them off my hands!

9/10/2017 Inspiration Trail

Sep. 10th, 2017 09:44 am
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
Took what is becoming my usual Sunday morning walk down Inspiration Trail, this time almost to the not-a-junction with Nimitz Way (blocked by cows). I was only out two hours because by 9 am it was quite warm. Surprise of the day was hearing both acorn woodpecker and white-breasted nuthatch up on the ridge. Not much migration so far: )

On the way out there was a coyote that kept peeking back around the corner at me to see if I was still coming, which I was, though very slowly. I glimpsed it on the way back, too.

Reading: Rainbow Bridge

Sep. 10th, 2017 05:16 pm
white_hart: (Default)
[personal profile] white_hart
Rainbow Bridge is the fifth and more or less final novel in the sequence Gwyneth Jones began with Bold As Love (there is a sixth book set in the same universe, published several years later, but that appears to be a YA novel with a different main character, rather than part of the main continuity). It begins more or less where the fourth left off, in a near-future, post-oil England which has just been invaded and is under military occupation, and sees Ax, Fiorinda and Sage (Jones's near-future rockstar Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot) playing a complicated game, having to work with the invaders to try to prevent further loss of life and manipulate the global political civilisation to give the world the best possible chance of surviving the coming Dark Age.

It's taken me over a decade to finish this series, despite loving the first two; it took me a while to get round to obtaining a copy of the third, and then I wasn't reading much, because citalopram killed my ability to become absorbed in a narrative, and in any case I was scared to try to face the darkness of Jones's post-catastrophe near-future. I only returned to it after re-reading The Once and Future King left me thinking that the tragedy of the Arthur story could have been avoided if only someone had told them about poly, and I remembered that that's exactly what Jones does here.

Despite reading it so slowly, I have liked the series a lot; the narrative is odd, disjointed in places, and the structure of the novels is somewhat unconventional, veering between affairs of state and the trio's polywobbles, with parts of the political action taking place offstage and merely reported in a way that would drive the advocates of show-don't-tell as an unbreakable rule of writing round the bend, but somehow it works for me. I like the characters, too, even if I have found myself wanting to smack all of the central trio with codfish at multiple points throughout the series. And actually, like Rosemary Sutcliff's novels of post-Roman Britain, which are an obvious influence on Jones (there is a chapter in Rainbow Bridge entitled 'The Lantern Bearers', and a section called 'The Shield Ring'), while the future of these novels is dark and scary and beset with difficulties, it's not a hopeless future; what matters, mostly, is love and loyalty and being able to be flexible in some things while absolutely inflexible in others, and ultimately, it's quite a hopeful book, and ends with Jones's three heroes finally able to settle down in peaceful obscurity, away from the public eye.

(no subject)

Sep. 10th, 2017 01:03 am
gramarye1971: a meteor-sized plum pudding slamming into Earth, from a cover of The Economist (Pudding)
[personal profile] gramarye1971
My Yuletide nominations for this year are Porco Rosso, Night Raid 1931, and Master Keaton. They're all finally available in English -- the last volume of Master Keaton goes on sale mid-September -- so perhaps this will be my year for rare history-based anime fandoms? I live in hope.

EDIT: I should admit that most of these nomination choices came about because at one point a few months ago I was seriously considering having an all-DPRK slate: the Inspector O novels, The Schoolgirl's Diary film, and the Squirrel and Hedgehog animated series. Much as I would enjoy writing or reading fic for any of these canons, I do not relish the thought of ending up on _coal at this time.

Reading: Desolation Island

Sep. 9th, 2017 11:10 am
white_hart: (Default)
[personal profile] white_hart
After finding The Mauritius Command rather sombre and focused more on the mechanics of the campaign than on the characters, I was pleased to find that I enjoyed Desolation Island much more. After some time working for the Navy ashore, Jack Aubrey is given command of the Leopard with orders to take her to Botany Bay and a cargo of convicts, including a spy who Stephen Maturin has been given the task of covertly obtaining information from. As neither Jack nor Stephen has been entirely thriving on land (Jack's fair and trusting nature makes him an easy mark for dodgy tradesmen and card-sharps, while Stephen has been taking more and more laundanam in an attempt to ease his broken heart) this voyage is a good thing for both of them, but after a promising start they are beset with difficulties; an outbreak of gaol-fever (typhus) kills a third of the crew, while several others are left too weak to travel and have to be put ashore in Recife to convalesce. Undermanned and unable to fight his ship effectively, Jack makes for Cape Town where he hopes to be able to recruit more sailors, but encountering a larger Dutch ship in the South Atlantic he is forced to change course and flee far south of the Cape to try to outrun her. The chase through the stormy Southern Ocean is a wonderfully atmospheric piece of writing, as is the Leopard's subsequent desperate limping journey to make landfall at Kerguelen Island (the 'Desolation Island' of the title), while after The Mauritius Command's focus on plot the emphasis is firmly back on character. If I had one gripe, it would be that the mention of Australia as a destination had made me hope to see Stephen encountering a wombatt, but even wombatt-free it's a terrific read.
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
U and I left the East Bay at 7 am for Fort Mason via the San Rafael and GG bridges, which was not nearly as painful as I feared. We spent time in the community garden, walked around the General's mansion, and sat on a bench overlooking the batteries before moving on to The Presidio and El Polin Springs. The birding was much less interesting both places than on previous visits. A few yellow warblers at Fort Mason and that was it for warblers. One just never knows. Surprise of the day was a single call of a blue-gray gnatcatcher near the General's residence at Fort Mason. We looked at each other in shock; there was no question what we'd heard, but we could not find it. U has become a trained watcher with the Hawk Hill crew and said they had a flock of sixty gnatcatchers come through recently. Without that information I might have thought we were both delusional. Fort Mason: )

We shared El Polin Springs with several classes of small children at various decibel levels and three twenty-something white guys who were obviously tripping. Took me a while to twig, but no one giggles that much without chemical aid. We went up the stairs because I thought I heard a tanager, but nothing so interesting appeared. Best bird there was the selasphorous sp we saw at the north edge of the tiny parking lot, exactly where others had been in May 2014, though not in September 2015. Birds, man, I dunno. El Polin Springs: )

It's always good to get out, but these are not the lists we were hoping for.

9/6/2017 Wildcat Creek Trail

Sep. 6th, 2017 12:27 pm
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
I walked up almost to the Rifle Range Road bridge and back, four-plus miles. It was overcast and the temperature was perfect. Bird of the day was cedar waxwing, a flock calling in the parking lot, though I couldn't see them. A reasonable late summer list: )

Havey Canyon Trail is closed off tight at the bottom; I should check out the top. I failed to ask a ranger what's being done, probably just flattening out the terrible ruts from last winter. I'd be surprised if there's money to bridge the ford at this point. I thought I might be hearing heavy machinery noise from the top of Rifle Range Road, severely damaged winter before last and still "closed" but I fear the construction was further north.

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