Categories
Whimsy Writing Life

I click links & read things. It’s what I do.

This episode of me is just three rambly items. That is all. Yes, HUGE things are going on In The Real world. Bad things. Humanity being awful to humanity at home and abroad. But. Not here. ITRW I’ve done what I can for now–I’ve put my money where my principles are, voiced words of support–and I will continue to do what I can. As I have been reminded, so I remind others: dwelling & doomscrolling & working up a knot of stress helps no one. So. This blog post isn’t about anything Real. It’s about the usual: reading & cats & randoming.

Thing the First.

Did you know Lido means beach in Italian, and in British English, it also refers to an outdoor swimming pool + its associated amenities? I did not, until today.

At long last, I have an explanation for why there are “Lido Decks” on cruise ships! The term always puzzled me when I watched Love Boat in the late 70’s. This trivium comes to us courtesy of a Guardian interview with some BBC broadcaster who’s probably a household name in Britain but who was completely unknown to me. Score one for a beautifully designed enticing headline.

Which I’ve already forgotten.


Random thing 2: the latest in Cat adventures.

Pippin’s current Favoritest Toys Ever are the tear-off strips from boxed Trader Joe’s hot chocolate packets. (not the packet w/chocolate! The litle strip you pull on to open the box.)

These bits of paper hold a narrow lead over mylar strips cut from the bottom of pita chip bags. Something about the way those things crunch fascinates him endlessly. There are a dozen or more Stacey’s Pita Chips bag-ends scattered about the house, built up over the last few months.

He is generous with his toys, too. On any given morning I’ll find up several of crunchy mylar strips on the bed. Pips naps with us at night, but he comes and goes–and every time he returns from a ramble he brings us a toy in case we wake up and want to play with it.


Lastly, I have discovered A Best New Game for me, courtesy of Louis Evans, who I follow on Twitter because…yanno, I don’t know if I met him or someone suggested I follow him, or he followed me for inexplicable reasons and I followed back, or what. I try not to let that ignorance bother me, but it still does sometimes. My discomfort over the parasocial nature of online connections is one of my biggest peeves with social media, and I have a LOT of peeves…never mind, this is digressing even more than usual, ANYWAY.

This game is Semantle, and it’s SUPER FUN. Like Wordle it’s a once-daily word puzzle, but that’s about all they have in common. I like Wordle’s simplicity, but that’s about all I do like about it. It’s a pretend word game. it isn’t about language at all, nor really about vocabulary. It’s letters as numbers, essentially. Finding a solution w/in 6 guesses is a process heavy on betting the odds of a given vowel or consonant being used, plus luck and eliminating variables.

I find it fun, don’t get me wrong. But it isn’t…stimulating, I guess? It’s about spelling, not words.

And don’t get me started on people who get hung up on use of wordfinders, dictionaries or other tools. Is it legitimate or does it constitute “cheating?” It’s a SOLITAIRE WORD GAME FFS. What is even the point of getting judgey & snobby about how someone else plays it? Any yet. People gotta feel superior, I guess.

Solving a Semantle occupies a lot more of my wording brain than Wordle. That’s my favorite part. My second favorite aspect is the no-limit guessing. There’s no “genius!” for a lucky break or any competitive triggering at all. Guess until you get it right, for pure solution satisfaction.

And like the name implies, it’s all about semantics. Associations. Connections. Right up my happy neighborhood parkway, in other words.

You’re attempting to guess a secret word based on hot/cold responses to your attempts. The more similar your word is to the secret one, the higher your guess’s rank will be. And once you get within 1000 words of the secret one, you get that clue as well.

Look. It’s kinda hard to explain but super-simple to play. Type words, type more words that seem related, rinse & repeat. My best result so far is solving the puzzle in 33 guesses, my longest game was 87 guesses.

I find Semantle MUCH more satisfying to play. There’s no right or wrong way to think of connections. I’m fond of Thesaurus.com for inspiration, but also fond of typing a bunch of ideas into Google & skimming the results for a word that just feels right as a guess, and also blindly staring at my list of guesses until the next inspiration strikes.

Spouseman still doesn’t understand how I could look at bureaucrat and leap to the secret word (historian) in two guesses. (president and constitution in between)

I can’t explain it either. But that’s the wild thing about inspiration. It’s always a leap into the dark that pays off. It’s an idea arcing across a void of not-knowing.

https://semantle.novalis.org/


And that’s that for tonight. Gonna go play wordle as soon as it’s midnight, and then off to bed.

TOmorrow I’ll try to write my Winter Subscriber Newsletter before it’s spring, and also get up some book reviews for all the amazing new speculative fiction I’ve been consuming.

Until later!

The water has disappeared. Pippin is disappointed.
Categories
2. Worldbuilding nuts & bolts Writing Life

Recent research topics

By recent I mean “today.” This is a glimpse of what goes through my brain on a daily basis

–> Identification of red foxes versus coyotes (foxes are not necessarily red but reliably have black legs and a bushy white-tipped L O N G tail held out from body, so what we saw trotting down the sidewalk at midday was probably the neighborhood fox, not the neighborhood coyote)

–> Followup topics: are red foxes native to North America or were they brought over from Europe? (Recent genetic research indicates the populations are all native, contradicting long-held assumptions about gentry colonists bringing them over for game hunting.) Do people still raise foxes for fur? (Ew, yes.) Can you own a fox as a pet in Illinois? (Not legally. Indiana, yes, though) Look at all these cute pet fox videos…

–> Both desiccate and siccate mean dry–why have two such similar words mean the same thing? I knew the answer but double-checked the etymology before responding to someone who asked this online. (They differ in degree. Siccate means dried like you dry off after a shower or hang out wet clothes. Desiccated is dry like beef jerky or a mummy. Latinate words & fun Latin prefixes!)

–>Looked up the location of Tonga on a full world map because news maps annoy me. Followed that by playing “name that European country” on world-geography-games.com, and also “name that African country. Did not do well on either one, but slightly better with Europe than Africa, no big shocker there.

–> What are marshmallows made of? Why are they called marshmallows? What’s the traditional use of mallow? How and where does it grow? Does the flower have a scent? Is it considered an herb? What’s the difference between an herb and a spice? History of spice trade. Origin of National Geographic magazine. (Yes, folks, this is how my brain bounces 24/7/365.)

I love the internet. Yes, Wikipedia, I often start there, but the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, the USDA. The NCBI.NLM.NIH site. Archives galore. Social media is a hellish time suck, but the internet? The internet is fucking amazing. Maybe it makes my writing better? I don’t know. It makes the process fun & makes time fly, that’s for sure.

my research assistant

That’s all for now. Until later!

Categories
other things Writing Life

Sharing Random Thoughts

I’ve slid into a bad blogging habit, which is treating this space as a place for Bigger Ideas. It’s not an inherently bad idea, but most of my thoughts aren’t Big or Exciting or Happy. They’re small, ephemeral, personal ponderings.

Or rants.

The tally of my petty rants–drafted but not posted–is well into double digits. I rant on subjects like “How did I waste this whole day?” or “WTF shut UP about my NAME already!” and no one else needs to read the whininess I simply need to get out of my head.

Back to today’s meander. It feels even more petty and unimportant than usual to write about my little life when so many Large Important Events are happening and so many people have Much More Important Things to Say.

And yes, I could leave the blog to languish. The problem with that plan is that if I ignore this virtual space for too long it taps hard on my guilt button. Or rubs at the surface of my attention and leaves blisters. Or gnaws on my mental ankle like a hungry cat. Pick your favorite analogy.

(I’m in an analogy mood today. I love the days when metaphors are easy. And parentheses. It’s a parenthetical day too.)

ANYway. I feel bad if I don’t regularly use all the different spaces in my house, too, so it’s clearly something fundamental in my psychology.

This is my usual long way around to the point, which is that I don’t actually HAVE a point today

Attractive topics are not thick on the ground. I don’t want to bore anyone with another same-old writing update (progress is being made, but it’s glacial & hard to quantify) the house fancification is done, the garden is in an early summer “nothing to see here” phase, I haven’t baked anything interesting, and I haven’t found the right words for dealing with my feels on the Current World Situation.

Plus every time I check the internet I’m reminded all Karens are awful, which reinforces my already powerful belief that the world neither needs nor wants to hear from me. It also feels physically like someone has just kicked me hard in the gut, so that’s fun.

It’s a struggle to convince myself to share anything. And by struggle I mean the kind of struggling you do when you’re walking forward against hurricane-force winds while people beat on you with sticks.

(This has been a digression into a small sample of the rants I write when I’m crying offline. Sorrynotsorry. We now return to the regular program.)

In summary: I wanted to say, “Hello, world!” via blog because it’s been too long since I last posted. And now I have done that. Victory is mine! Check box checked!

I’ll try to prevent more large time gaps from developing, even if I only have more Small Thoughts or stray dream snippets.

Until later!

Categories
Detours Whimsy

Random thoughts

True love means harmonizing the songs of separate lives. I do not stop singing my own song simply because my partner sometimes bellows off key. This is a metaphor, by the way. Spouseman has a wonderfully resonant tenor singing voice.


Did anyone else watch Wonder Woman doing WWI battle action and think, “Hey, she’s the team tank?” That was my first thought.   In both the main battle scenes she drew aggro from the boss enemy so her DPS teammates can pick off the mobs/adds. And in another scene her team gets together to specifically launch her at the enemy. Literally.

Games have always shaped culture. It’s just getting more visible.


In case you wonder what I mean when I mention I’m pickling things, this is my basic recipe.

Pickling mixture
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1-2 tsp salt
1/2 cup hot water

Occasional additional ingredients, depending on what I’m pickling: peppercorns, mustard seeds, dill seed, onion flakes, garlic cloves…sky’s the limit there.


Heard standing in line waiting for a delicious grilled cheese at my local tasty-foods establishment (Dave’s Finer Foods)

Staffer: “It’s for the lady with the blue hair”
Dave (who knows me personally) “She doesn’t have blue hair!”
Staffer: (eyeing my observably blue hair)  “…”
Dave: “It’s blonde! And it’s blue. So it’s blueberry blonde!”

Blueberry blonde. Heh. I like this and may steal it for future use.


Best status I’ve ever scrolled past on Facebook:

“Does anyone know offhand when the llama costume contest is?”


I said random, and I have delivered.

 

 

Categories
Authoring

Arbitrary Starts

January 1. An arbitrary day for new beginnings.

An arbitrary beginning is better than no new beginning at all. So and thusly,  I am beginning a New Thing. What kind of thing, you ask? Good question, but not one easily answered yet, as it is a newly formed Thing,  still soft around the edges, tender in the middle and not hardened into any mature form.  These traits make it A Thing easier to define by exclusion than description.

It won’t be a real diary. It won’t be an honest bragging platform for personal accomplishments.  It will be closest to a miscellany in the classic sense, containing information learned, events observed and stories related to me by others along with personal thoughts and philosophical ruminations, but even there, it won’t be limited to the mundane, the real or the factual.

No promises on what will appear beyond an assurance that I will keep mentions of grocery needs to a minimum — unless they’re interesting groceries like Snark Crispies or freshly-ground verrucicles. I might post every day, but probably not. Once a week, certainly. Except when that doesn’t happen.

Yes, it’s truly going to be A Thing. Sounds thrilling, eh? I thought so. Wait until I spend a whole post rambling on about my definition of antiquity or improper uses of the word squeegee. You’ll hardly be able to contain your appreciation.

today’s randomness: took 10,023 steps, watched 3 discs of Babylon 5. Average temperature outside: 15 degrees. Inside: toasty warm, with a splash of hot bathwater. The moon is waning, the Quadantid meteor shower is falling. I ate seven ginger cookies and licked the centers out of four chocolate truffles.