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Goats, gripes, and grasping for greatness
 
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in a preponderance of punctuation marks' LiveJournal:

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Monday, January 2nd, 2017
9:34 am
Sticky
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017
8:48 am
Book drop notice: Bishop, Briggs, McGuire, and anthology
For people who are following the various Urban Fantasy series, in two weeks there will be a major influx:

Magic for Nothing (InCryptid)
Etched in Bone (The Others)
Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson)

And just for fun, there is the anthology Little Green Men - Attack! which features Robert Silverberg, Mike Resnick, Allen M. Steele, Esther Friesner, Elizabeth Moon, Seanan McGuire, Jody Lynn Nye, James Gunn, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

ETA: For those people who are local to me and prefer to borrow than buy, please let me know. All four are on order for delivery to my house.
Tuesday, February 21st, 2017
3:29 pm
Books: Joe Vampire, by Steven Luna
Joe Vampire, by Steven Luna. Urban Fantasy. Epub (free on Kindle through BookBub).

This was surprisingly good for such a shallow story. I think the storytelling method - first person dictation through blog posts - added humor and tone to the narrative that a plain old in-his-head first person story wouldn't have been able to contain. It also allowed for a constant near-past timeline to scroll by (ha ha) without feeling like the narrator knew more than he shared.

I mean it when I say a shallow story. Guy has girl problems. Guy gets vamped. Guy tries to figure his new undead life out. People happen. With the amount of urban fantasy I've read, I can say that there is nothing original in this string of plot-lets. What's original is how well Luna combines the ingredients into this tossed salad. My particular favorite character is Bo, the split-personality redneck with a first-grade vocabulary, a truck and a toolbelt, and oh by the way some mad computer skilz. I would happily read an anthology of short stories about weird situations that Bo suffers just to read how he saves the day.

I got this book free on Kindle because of an advertisement from the daily BookBub email of free and cheap e-books. I recommend it to anyone who needs a funny, shallow vampire story.

Books for 2017
12:46 pm
Goat baby names
It's a slow day today, and so I'm thinking about gardening and upcoming baby goats. Dahlia is definitely pregnant, and is due the first full week of March or thereabouts.

Dahlia started out with Jared - Ria, Orchid, Trillian and Astor (twins), and Angelina. With Cookie, she had Henry and Maurice (twins). Then I moved her to Ari and she had Diego, and twins Padric and Clancy. This year is another year with Ari.

Dahlia's name comes from the comic character out of Something Positive because I bought her from the MacIntyres. Ari's name comes from The Price of the Stars as the big, solid older brother. The kids' names have come from everywhere including comic strips, the Stainless Steel Rat series, and the Clancy Brothers musicians.

On the top of my head, I'm considering Kiron (Joust) for a boy and Hix (Shadows) for a girl.
Saturday, February 18th, 2017
12:17 pm
I learned a new phrase today: The Oracle of Approximate Knowledge
I'm reading an incredibly shallow book that I got for free through BookBub and Amazon - Joe Vampire. And in it, he talks about Internet searching and what percentages of information are true. He calls the web The Oracle of Approximate Knowlege. I love this phrase. I shall use it.
Monday, February 13th, 2017
9:05 am
Pan-goat is off to a new adventure
Pan's interview on Saturday went very well, and he trailered off to a new adventure at Poppitykash Farm. (You can find them on Facebook). Pan is now living with two Nigerian Dwarf goats and two babydoll sheep. The family owns about eight acres of pasture, and then two hillsides of woods up to the top with views. Pan's new mom loves to go walking in the woods with the goats and wanted Pan to go with her. I assured her that Pan would stick with the herd and that he loves pine trees. So they spent all weekend bonding over treats and nature walks. Pan's new mom filled my email with photographic evidence of their good time.

While I know that I will miss Pan, I think this is a great opportunity for him to join a loving family while he is a good opportunity for Poppitykash Farm to start their fiber animal collection.

photos!Collapse )
Thursday, February 9th, 2017
9:45 am
No snow, no traffic.
The line of water and the line of cold crossed north of my house. So I ended up with God's Own Wrath of Rain at about 2:30 this morning, but not a touch of snow was to be seen when I got up to do chores.

With everyone prepared for the snow and allowing extra time for commuting, there was no stupidity and mostly no one on the road this morning for the drive into work.

My only concern is that the ground is rather wet and not frozen during these huge wind storms. Thankfully, the wind is coming from the southwest where it belongs, so I'm hopeful that our trees will keep standing.
Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
9:29 am
Also, the weather is confusing all of us
Yesterday hit a high of 70 degrees. Today it will be 61 degrees. Tomorrow will have a low of twenty degrees.

I abhor pneumonia weather. This temperature swing does nothing good for the garden or the goats. I only hope that all of the midges and mosquitoes hatch today so that they will freeze solid tomorrow.

And the three inches of snow that will be surfing in on this weather front will make tomorrow morning's commute... exciting.
9:15 am
Fighting formation, llama style
I forgot to mention - Hercules and Jessie's team were in fighting formation when I walked out there yesterday. Anna, Fiona, and Lily were in that pasture at the time, so the flying wedge had a full cadre of adults in it. Usually a goat fighting wedge will have the most dominant goat at the front point with the ranks fanning out behind her and the youngsters directly inside the wedge. So it would look like 3,2,1,2,3. However, with the llama version of the fighting formation, the center is so strong that the points take the next strongest animals, so the ranking actually looks like 1,2,3,llama,3,2,1.

At the point/center was, of course, Hercules. He was not standing straight on, but was turned mostly sideways and looking as big as he could get. Directly behind him and nearly under him were the yearlings Tia, Mouse, and Tuma. Soma, too tiny but too big, was hovering somewhere off of his right rear behind the line. To Herc's left, fanning from center to edge, were Elsa (kinda behind his shoulder and possibly ranked as a defensible yearling for this), Emma, and Lily. To his right were Jessie (kinda behind his rear), Fiona, and Anna. Or, if you looked across the front line, it was 2,4,5,llama butt, llama head,6,3,1. Yes, little Lily is the ranking goat in this pasture.*

As I've said before, the fighting formation is the easiest way for me to see the current political/pecking order for the goats and their current alliances. So what I've confirmed is that Lily outranks Emma and Anna still outranks Fiona. Anna still outweighs Fiona, so I'm not really surprised that Fiona can't move up yet. I've also confirmed that Lily is teaming up with her cousins while Fiona is kinda joined up with the Jessie mafia.

*When Lily, Anna, and Fiona are in the other pasture on Dahlia's team, they are the bottom ranks. (Anna teams up with her brother Lerris and moves up above Lily.) Hence the swapping back and forth from one to the other pasture depending on how much those three are getting beat up. I don't like them being beaten by Dahlia and Pan, but I also don't like them doing the beating on Elsa in particular.
Tuesday, February 7th, 2017
4:36 pm
Books: Grave, by Michelle Sagara
Grave, by Michelle Sagara. Urban fantasy. Hardback, 450 pages. Book three-and-final in The Queen of the Dead series. Keeping it.

Oh my heart. If you read Silence and loved it, read Grave. It doesn't matter if you read Touch or didn't. Sagara explains everything in this book, and what she doesn't explain doesn't matter. Yes, I'm channeling Emma when I say that. This is the story about the lantern, the Queen of the Dead, why Chase and Eric are who and what they are. This story is less about Michael and Amy and Allison and Petal, but they are all there too to make Emma whole. The story is also about what Emma is, and isn't, and how the choices she makes and the judgments she refuses to make affect everyone - alive and dead.

... her seventeen-year-old self had had time and distance. She had had her mother, her friends, school life, and her dog. Life's friction had dulled the edges of that pain until it no longer cut her anytime she returned to it. She could think of her dad now and remember the good things. The funny parts. The comforting bits. She could even remember the anger she sometimes felt.

I adore this quote for the phrase "life's friction." I'm going to remember that one and probably use it at some point. And to that end, I'm sure you know the drill by now with this series, but just in case: I cried. I cried more than once. I had a good and happy sniffle when Nathan demonstrates love born of understanding. So be warned and bring tissues.

Books for 2017
Friday, February 3rd, 2017
10:51 am
The chickens are at half-power
I reported here that the chickens were back online. Unfortunately, they appear to be working only at 50% productivity. I'm only getting small brown eggs right now, not big tan ones. I'm thinking that there is a power supply problem, and that I need to add more solar energy into the mix.
Thursday, February 2nd, 2017
12:49 pm
Movies: The 13th Warrior and language barriers portrayed
I saw this movie when it came out. I really love Banderas. We bought the movie, but I only re-watched it a time or two. Now comes Tor's electronic newsletter, with an amusing skewering of inaccuracies and a love letter to the film craft, particularly regarding language barriers. Now I want to watch it again! (And of course I adore The Hunt for Red October.)

For Melebeth, particularly, and others who appreciate the arts of language, acting, and filmmaking. Don't worry, it's a short article.

http://www.tor.com/2017/01/26/medieval-matters-the-13th-warrior/
Sunday, January 29th, 2017
7:56 pm
Books: A Study in Sable, by Mercedes Lackey
A Study in Sable, by Mercedes Lackey. Fantasy. Hardback, 313 pages. Book eleven (twelve) of the Elemental Masters series. Giveawaybox.

A shadowy figure is summoning ghosts to haunt an opera singer. Sarah is hired to get rid of them, but in working to do so, starts uncharacteristicly cutting Nan out of her life. In the meantime, Nan is asked to track down a blood altar and its priest. Oh, and there is a capturing and dispensing of an old angry haunt at the beginning of the book so that the characters have an excuse to like each other.

This story had excellent adjectives, decently structured scenes, and the shallowest plot(s) yet. It's not enough for Lackey to create an alternate London with interesting and odd characters. She has to steal Holmes and Watson as character crutches upon which to allow these disjointed adventures to limp along.

I'm really not sure why I keep reading this series expecting anything to improve. I usually enjoy the characters Sarah and Nan. But I am getting tired of the unnecessary skulking of secondary characters and the emotion-laden whining of almost all of the primary ones. I think I may have to go back to the sadly disowned Fire Rose or the better-crafted Serpent's Shadow and remind myself what this series had back in its initial volumes.

If I can find her before I lose the book, I'll give it to BlushingGrace so that she can keep up with the series. Otherwise, it's headed for the giveaway box.

Books for 2017
Tuesday, January 24th, 2017
11:17 am
The chickens are back online
The chickens stopped producing in the middle of November. They went into molt and basically ended all other activities. I got two random eggs across two months.

Apparently, the chickens came back to the production floor on Friday. Since then, we've collected four eggs in five mornings. So I need to start the spreadsheet/checklist back up. I'm trying to decide if I want to keep going with the eggs-by-description breakdown or just count eggs regardless of size or color.
8:59 am
Art exhibit: Cut Up/Cut Out
On Sunday, Mom and I went to Cut up/Cut Out at the Bedford Gallery. It was mostly paper cutting, with some metal and wood cuts. There were also random extra exhibit pieces, like a pile of bamboo that supposedly had a guy's face in it if you looked at it just right. As is usual for art, there were a few pieces that I really liked, some that were interesting or challenging to understand, and a lot that left me unmoved.

And, as is is often my complaint, the curating left something to be desired. The lighting made for challenging viewing due to shadows not being where they were supposed to be as a part of the art. The bamboo piece was in front of a set of wall-mounted art so there was no plain background for contrast. Most of the labels did not give sufficient context to understand all of the aspects of the piece - materials, concept, etc. There were two paper mache animals included at the base of a huge wall mounted gardening scene. Were they a part of the scene? Did the curators think they belonged right there?

I enjoyed some of the abstract art and some of the massively detailed work. The coral reef and the butterfly were two of my favorites. The doorway perspective piece had a lot of forced depth to it that I appreciated.

official descriptionCollapse )

Sample images are here: http://bit.ly/2b28Rh6
Tuesday, January 17th, 2017
10:07 am
annual vet visit for the goats and llama
The vet came out to bless the goats yesterday - annual shots and a general lookover - and do the same for the llama. This was the same new vet as came out to put down Sancho. I was really pleased that he had the chance to come visit and see the goats in the daylight when nothing was wrong. He complimented me on how well-behaved the goats and llama were, and how quietly they all dealt with the vet. Yay for everyone.

Jessie and Loki are doing as well as could be expected. Dahlia is confirmed pregnant, and Madeline is very likely. Anna is still a maybe. Part of the challenge is that everyone is in good body condition and health, and their due dates are far enough away that it's tough to palpate the kids.
Monday, January 16th, 2017
7:30 pm
Books: Level Grind, by Annie Bellet
Level Grind, by Annie Bellet. Urban Fantasy. Hardback, 470 pages. Omnibus of the first four books of the Twenty-Sided Sorceress. Keeping it for now.

Jude Crow is the Native American gamer girl version of the Iron Druid from the first Hearne book. The differences are mostly window dressing but for the power type and source. Jude is a sorceress hiding her powers from her evil ex in a comics and game shop rather than a bookstore. She has a group of gamer friends, a leprechaun pawn shop owner next door, and a crowd of shapeshifters who believe in her. With all the were-animals about, there is no need for a talking dog. The comic relief is shared among the sidekick friends and the Russian weretiger she starts dating.

This was a fun set of stories. The plots aren't hard and the characters are easy to like or not. The scenes and stories were almost at minstrel theater levels of shallow, but that was what I enjoyed about them. Plots. Yes, there are four in this omnibus. Bad evil thing shows up and kills someone who was important to someone else. Bad evil thing must be stopped and likely destroyed. Neighbors start hating on Jude for her powers. Friends start believing she can do miracles. She and Russian boyfriend don't communicate. Magic slags her cell phone, or she drops it, or it gets shot. Then she gets shot or stabbed or burned or exploded on. She has to kill someone. Someone important makes a cutting personal commentary that causes her to hate herself. Her friends badger her into moving again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Sprinkle in some D&D references or movie lines. Happily for me, Phenomenal cosmic power, itty bitty living space was one of them. And yes, In Soviet Russia, references get you!

I picked Level Grind up because it was a part of a Barns and Noble blog post about 12 Highly Binge-able Urban Fantasy Series. This was the only book/series that I hadn't already read that looked interesting. There are blood, guts, and gore, but this still felt like a summer beach book for me. However, I do not recommend it to FireAndEarth because the heavy scattering of pop culture references and D&D spells would eventually get old.

Books for 2017
Saturday, January 14th, 2017
7:37 pm
Books: The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe
The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe. Fantasy and Science Fiction anthology. Hardback, 392 pages. Keeping it to loan out.

Once upon a time, in a desert or a science lab or a mouse hole or a space station, there lived a character...

This is a fun and interesting collection of retold fairy tales. Most of them end well, though there are some horrors and equivocations included as well. I enjoyed the idea of reading retellings where little girls have agency and might be called villains for some slice of the story. And then I (mostly) enjoyed the fact of the reading. There are lesbian lovers, AIs, teachers, lab partners, impossible animals, and twisting truths.

I thoroughly enjoyed the stories by Seanan McGuire, Amal El-Mohtar, Marjorie Liu, Kat Howard, and Naomi Novak. Some of the others were enjoyable enough. And a few were horrifying. Two were written in ways that did not catch or keep my attention.

I just saw the musical Into the Woods last week. I think that experience might have left me particularly receptive to the stories and retellings in The Starlit Wood. Regardless, I recommend this book for its blatant invitation to revisit and rethink what we know and what we believe fairy tales are teaching us.
Tuesday, January 10th, 2017
1:21 pm
Books: Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day, by Seanan McGuire
Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day, by Seanan McGuire. Urban Fantasy. Paperback, 192 pages. (Purchased in e-pub first). Standalone. Keeping it.

McGuire knows about ghosts and witches. She introduced us to many different kinds of people - routewitches, crossroads ghosts, etc. - in Sparrow Hill Road. Here in the Dusk, it is a different world of fables and tales, but there are ghosts and witches just the same. There are ghosts in mirrors and witches in cornfields, only sometimes the ghosts are getting coffee and pie, and the corn witch is playing guitar in the corner of the diner.

Ghosts have threads of life, too, we learn, and when they are cut short, someone has to weave in the days and years that span the difference between the time of death and the time of dying day. Jenna died too early, running away from grief. So she went to New York City to try to earn herself onward to her actual time of death, one precious lifesaving minute at a time. And then she found out that someone was stealing ghosts out of existence.

There's a plot in this book, but like McGuire's recent book Every Heart a Doorway, this book is not about plot. It is about knowing yourself and being kind to others. It is about hearts coming together to weave the fabric of society stronger against the pull of greed and the entropy of indifference. The story is also about knowing where you are going, and about finally going home.

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Books read in 2017
Sunday, January 1st, 2017
3:50 pm
Book roundup for 2016
It's interesting to me to see how I start each year with a surge of interest in long books, escapist books, and solid fantasy. I end the years with a few sequels, some dabbling in anthologies and short stories, and generally stewing around. My re-reads are almost mirror image. I start short and end with longer comfort reads. This is all, of course, handwavingly generally speaking.

cut for length, of courseCollapse )
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