Round 1, I planted two wave petunias, one in a pot and one in the barrel garden; plus a packet of chive seeds in the septic garden.
EDIT 5/27/17: Round 2, my partner Doug raked grass and I helped haul it away.
EDIT 5/27/17: Round 3, I trimmed grass around about half of the wildflower garden.
Ever since anyone can remember, there have been complaints that British elections have become “too presidential”. Back in the 1970s, when the principals were Ted Heath and Harold Wilson, their duel was ridiculed as “a man with a boat and a man with a pipe”.
So this spring’s contest, with its relentless focus on the woman with the bag and the man with the beard, is not so much a new development as the culmination of a long-established trend. This was by Tory design because making it a personality contest was supposed to be to their benefit. The name of Theresa May is emblazoned on her campaign coach in lettering so enormous that it probably can be seen from outer space. The word Conservative is a microscopic footnote. The Tory campaign has been organised around the projection of the Supreme Leader to the virtual exclusion of every other member of the cabinet. Even Margaret Thatcher in her pomp would share appearances with her ministers. Mrs May has granted just the one “podium moment” to a member of the cabinet when she appeared alongside Philip Hammond and conspicuously failed to reassure the chancellor that he was safe in his job.
She's a mixed bag of strengths and weaknesses who has been flattered by the absence of competition from within her partyContinue reading...
Gemma Marin and Israel Duffus first caught our attention back in March with their epic dance videos throughout Gemma's pregnancy, but now that she's given birth, the couple's videos have gotten a major upgrade. From mommy's tummy to daddy's baby carrier, at just 4-weeks-old, baby Alexandra is joining her parents' dance party and it's so great!
1) In Google Drive, you can show files sorted by file size across all folders by opening the quota page. To get there, either click on that link, or:
* Hover over the sidebar item showing how much space you've used.
* In the bubble pop-up, you'll see a little teeny tiny "i" next to the Drive line. Click that.
Y'know, I've seen various posts complaining about fanfic authors' competence (or lack of) in crafting a "suitable" blurb to draw readers into their story; such post float around in various corners of the 'net.
My reaction has always been, "But - but - but... the blurbs for profic aren't much better. And that got me to analyzing them with my beta eyes. Does the blurb contain a breathless question? The answer will always be 'yes'. (Can she escape...? Will he find...?) We know that; we're reading to find out how it occurs, so why ask?
If the blurb doesn't ask unnecessary questions, it exclaims over simple, mater-of-fact statements. Samples from recent Book-Bub offerings: "Thus begins a rip-roaring tale of mishaps and misunderstandings!" and "A complete trilogy of spellbinding epic fantasies!" Sorry, blurb-writers; adding an ! does not make a simple statement exciting! (See what I did there? <g>)
But I growl my biggest growl when the main characters are either "hot" (if male) or "gorgeous" (if female). What earthly difference does that make to the worthiness (or not) of the story to be read? Consider the following --
Sizzling-hot FBI agent Jake Carlisle is in trouble and on the run. To save himself and an injured child, he kidnaps nurse Samantha Edgars. Can he keep her safe… and gain her trust?
Why does it matter that this agent is "hot"? Trick question; it doesn't. Would the story be less worthy if he was an ordinary-looking guy? Trick question; it wouldn't. It's just... I have long objected to covers with scantily-clad women; now I am developing equal objections to covers with bare-chested men. And there are quite a few of both types that show up on Book-Bub; I'm quite likely to pass on the book without even checking it out. Bad Linda! And I know that authors often don't have much input when the book-cover design is chosen. Still... there are plenty of books to read that don't offend me at first glance.
As for the blurb above, I'd write it this way -- "FBI agent Jake Carlisle is in trouble and on the run. To save himself and an injured child, he kidnaps nurse Samantha Edgars. Now he must keep her safe… and gain her trust to save them all."
But the cover doesn't offend, and I can set aside the "hot" and the question. Checked out the book; it looks good, has good reviews, and is free, so I grabbed it. I'll probably enjoy it... when I read it sometime in the next few years or so. So much fanfic, so little time; my fic-to-book ratio is still about 10:1, despite the ease of books-on-iPad.
I took them to the local bookstore after lunch yesterday to pick out some reading material for the road trip. Connor got a couple of Plants vs Zombies graphic novels and Will got the most recent Tapper Twins book. The cashier who rung us up said none of the employees had gotten their expected paychecks that day. I will be very unhappy if they are forced to close.
Last night was game night and we finally convinced Robby to come along. Will won one of the door prizes, but it's a party game that's rated ages 17 and up, so I'll have to screen it for appropriateness. We got about halfway through a game of Harry Potter Clue before Connor started dying of hunger, even though we all ate supper before we left, so I had to run him to the nearest McDonald's drive thru. After we got back, we played a fun game called Sounds Like A Plan, which was a lot like Apples to Apples but without so many pop culture references.
The Red Sox have been winning lately. I keep falling asleep on the couch watching baseball on TV, so my shoulder is very sore and unhappy. Meanwhile Robby threw out his back and is trying to avoid putting any more strain on it. No roller coasters for us old folks.
My mom seems to have gotten some sort of stomach flu. I had to go over there on Thursday with some Popsicles because she couldn't keep anything else down. Now she's worried I'm going to get sick right before our trip, but I don't think I caught it.
I knew it'd be a weekday, I was told they usually are on Wednesdays, so figured I could arrange for whatever friends wanted to celebrate to go to the pub that evening, but it's Eve of Poll so I imagine even then a lot of you will be busy!
Me and the Brighouses are already talking about going to watch village cricket that weekend, to celebrate surviving the election/commiserate about whatever kind of Brexity government we've ended up with. With the picnic hamper and wine and I can make a cake. It would be nice to have something like that to look forward to.
I am finding the whole citizenship thing a bit anticlimactic, to be honest. Maybe just due to my brainweasels, maybe the job interview didn't help, or maybe it's just taken so long and been so expensive and draining that I can't summon the energy to care any more.
I hoped to be more happy about this, but I expected to at least be relieved.
Maybe I'll feel better after the ceremony, but at the moment I'm just trying not to dread it too much. I don't want to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy kind of thing where I think I'll hate it and so I hate it, but damn, I've never liked this idea. And now it's not an idea, it's this letter with all the information printed so tiny I got Andrew to read it. It suggests practicing the Oath or Affirmation before you get there but "this isn't a memory test!" so cards with the text on will be provided. So I'm gonna have to print it off at about 20-pt font because I won't be able to read their damn cards. I'm torn between really not wanting Andrew (or anybody) there and wanting him there for accessibility reasons, like so I don't get lost finding the place.
I'm glad it will be over soon, anyway.
"Saturn was the largest rocket in the world, the most complex and powerful ever to fly, and remains so to this day. The fact that it was developed for a peaceful purpose is an exception to every pattern of history, and this is one of the legacies of Apollo." -- Margaret Lazarus Dean, Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight, 2015
[A blessed Ramadan to everyone starting their fast today!]
Fleet Week involves air shows. Air shows sometimes end up sending fighter planes over my house. Fighter planes over my house panic me and bring me back to my third period class on 9/11, when they were right over my school. This is not good.
And I feel so stupid about it. Nobody I knew got hurt. Nobody I knew* was even there - the closest was Jenn, on the boat. She just walked off back into the terminal and went home. Likewise, my mother and I were both on Staten Island. (And trapped here for a week!) It's not like I had to flee Lower Manhattan with body parts raining down on me.
So even though "a lingering dislike of low-flying planes, especially fighter planes" is a very, very minor side effect of 9/11, I don't like having any at all, like it's somehow disrespectful to people who actually suffered and actually have PTSD. (And you don't need to tell me that this is a ridiculous position. Knowing that doesn't make it better, and I feel like the vicious cycle this can lead to is a bit self-evident.)
On the plus side, and there is a plus side, at least I'm aware it's Fleet Week. It's only really bad when I don't pay attention to the calendar and am completely taken by surprise. One year the airshow was a week late or something, and I ended up in the basement with the girls. They thought I was completely overreacting. And I was, but if I hadn't been, I might've just saved their lives, so whatever.
Edit: Actually, I had the bright idea after typing all this up to look at the schedule. Looks like all airshows have already happened. Boy, is that a relief. Worked myself up over nothing!
(Still don't like Fleet Week.)
* This is not strictly true. My mother's coworkers were all there, and I knew many of them. But you know what I mean, I hope. Anyway, they all survived with no physical injuries.
I've known for a while that I had an essay due, a rationale and reflection document due, a short story to write (1500 - 2000 words) and a rent inspection due at some point this month. This week, the uncertainty bubble surrounding the date of the inspection collapsed, and we discovered when it was going to happen: this coming Wednesday (it's due in May, Wednesday is the 31st of May, it apparently counts).
For those of you not ensnared in the morass of the Australian rental market, let me describe the joys of a rental inspection to you. Firstly, you get told the inspection is happening at some time on a given day - usually with about a week's notice. The current real estate agency are nice enough people - they narrow it down to "some time between 12pm and 5.30pm", which is positively generous. Before this happens, you need to have the property in a condition which would satisfy either your mother, or your mother-in-law (depending on who has the more rigid housekeeping standards - if neither of these qualify, pick your unfriendly local germophobe). You also need the gardens (if there are any) looking good as well - the local mowing places do a lot of good business out of people who have inspections due! So, once you have the property in pristine condition (including things like cleaning off light switches, wiping down walls and cleaning the oven) you wait for the property manager (if you're renting from a real-estate agency) or the owner (if you're renting directly) to come in and have a look over the place. Now, technically, they're not supposed to be judging you on your housekeeping standards - but we all know this is so much horse elbows, so yeah, they are. If it's a property manager, they come in and often (these days) take photos of the interior of the place, in order to prove you've left the walls where they were when you came in, and to prove the roof hasn't spontaneously fallen in or similar. This, of course, means they're usually taking photos of your goods and chattels as well. Anyway, they come in, do their walk through, make sure you haven't knocked the place down since they were last there, then breeze back out again after making a report for the owner. The whole business takes about fifteen minutes to half an hour tops, but it requires about a week's solid effort in preparation because the place needs to be pristine for them.
This happens every three months, by the way (four a year).
We had the tradesman come around to have a look at the kitchen cupboards on Friday at about 7.30 in the morning. He brought the owner with him, which I would have appreciated knowing about beforehand (while the house wasn't in "complete dog's breakfast" condition, it wasn't quite at "suitable for unknown strangers visiting" levels of cleanliness). Basically, the owner and the tradesman consulted with each other, and I suspect the outcome is going to be a replacement of at least some (if not all) of the kitchen benches. Now, when this will happen (and whether we'll be in the property when it does) is currently all up in the air - our lease expires on the 21st of July, and while I'm going to be talking to the property manager about getting another twelve months in the place nailed down, what may wind up happening is the owner might decide (in the interests of "not disrupting our lives", gods help us) to give us our notice to quit at the end of this current lease, so he can get the tradies in to do things uninterrupted. Now, I don't know whether this is certain, probable or merely in the range of possibilities out there, but it's something I've added to the list of potential worries coming up.
I've mostly finished all the uni assessments - I finished off the editing of my major essay for one of my units this morning (it's been sitting there waiting to be done like an albatross around my neck for the last three or four days, but when I try to do it in the afternoon, my brain basically throws up an "Out of Spoons" error and refuses to parse the wretched thing). I just have the short story to write a first draft of (for workshopping purposes) by Tuesday. Which should be fun, right? But once I've submitted that short story (due the 1st of June) I've finished for the semester, and all I have to do after that is wait for my results.
Of course, this also means I have to go and speak to AtWork regarding Work for the Dole, since at present my university study qualifies as my Work for the Dole activity - and technically they have me on the books as needing to do Work for the Dole until about August or thereabouts. So I need to find out whether I'm going to be breaching my mutual obligation requirements if I don't immediately start doing something else (like picking up litter, sorting rags, washing bottles, or picking oakum) immediately the moment I've handed in this last assignment.
Still going on MFF, have deleted Avengers Academy from the tablet (since it wasn't going anywhere, and was crashing on a regular basis every time I tried to open it) and I'm getting very fond of Final Fantasy Record Keeper, which I've been playing for over a year now, and which hasn't crashed, glitched, or demanded money from me in all that time. Why can't there be more games like that?
 The logic here being that having renovations done around us would be disruptive. Which, yes, it would. But having to move out on short notice, and find another place to live in for the amount we can afford (preferably close to uni - that's the main qualifying feature of this place, by the way - it's close enough to the university that we can basically be there within 15 minutes of leaving the house) would be even more disruptive.
note the fine print that Wynn is paying for the fireworks. How interesting.
Round 1, I watered the potted plants on the porch and trimmed grass around the telephone pole.
The mourning dove eggs have hatched into two tiny, fuzzy squabs. I found a video of one online.
Raspberries are beginning to turn pink in a few places. Many of the mulberries are pink.
EDIT 5/26/17 -- Round 2, I pulled weeds around the forest garden.
Also the last shipment of plants arrived today.
EDIT 5/26/17 -- Round 3, I planted three windflowers, two stargazer lilies, and three balloon flowers around the barrel garden; and one White Feather hosta in the purple-and-white garden.
A cool breeze has blown up, downdraft from a storm some distance away.
EDIT 5/26/17 -- Round 4, I planted a white lilac and a black hollyhock.
EDIT 5/26/17 -- Round 5, I sowed more grass in the streetside yard.
It's getting dark, so I'm done for tonight.
It goes a lot farther back than postwar suburbs. Lawns started as a status symbol among European aristocracy.
Advice to stop watering, fertilizing, mowing, etc. or to replace lawns with something else is great -- if it's legal. In many areas it is not, and people are fined or even evicted for being unwilling or unable to keep their lawn in a manner pleasing to others. Such laws are bad for disability and bad for the environment, but those are things fewer people care about than power. Check the local level of tyranny before trying to solve lawn-related problems.