Books Read in 2021

41.    *Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy
40.    *In Other Lands, Brennan, Sarah Rees
39.    Where Shadows Dance: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S. (xre-read)
38.    What Remains of Heaven: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S. (xre-read)
37.    Where Serpents Sleep: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S. (xre-read)
36.    Unicorn Vet, Chant, Zoe
35.    Why Mermaids Sing:  A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S. (xre-read)
34.    When Gods Die: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S. (xre-read)
33.    What Angels Fear: Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery 1, Harris, C. S. (xre-read)
32.    A Liaden Universe Constellation, Volume 4, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
31.    A Liaden Universe Constellation, Volume 3, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
30.    A Liaden Universe Constellation, Volume 2, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
29.    A Liaden Universe Constellation, Volume 1, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
28.    Fortune’s Favors, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (novella) (re-read)
27.    Shout of Honor, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (novella) (re-read)
26.    Trader’s Leap, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
25     *Vixen Ecology, Carriger, G. L. (Novelette)
24.    *In Other Lands, Brennan, Sara Rees
23.    Accepting the Lance, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
22.    *Neogenesis, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
21.    The Gathering Edge, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
20.    Alliance of Equals, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
19.    Dragon in Exile, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
18.    Necessity’s Child, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
17.    Dragon Ship, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
16.    Ghost Ship, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
15.    Saltation, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
14.    Fledgling, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
13.    Mouse and Dragon, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
12.    I Dare, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
11.    Local Custom, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
10.    Plan B, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
9.      Carpe Diem, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
8.      Agent of Change, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
7.      Conflict of Honors, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
6.      Crystal Dragon, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
5.      *Goblin Fruit, Lake, Celia
4.      *Masquerade in Lodi, Bujold, Lois McMaster (Novella)
3.      *Time Variance of Snow, Yu, E. Lilly
2.      *When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain, Vo, Nghi (Novelette)
1.      Crystal Soldier, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve  (re-read)


It’s Deja Vu All Over Again*

Note:  This is a post from several months ago which I somehow saved to draft and thought I’d lost.  It’s still relevant to our current situation, so I thought I’d go ahead and post it.

Saw this, watched it, and it sounded strangely familiar . . .

She left out the bit about why the rats are such a big deal.  The rats are the reservoir for the plague, the fleas (which she doesn’t mention) that bite the rats and then bite people are the plague vectors, i.e., the way plague gets from rats to humans.  But otherwise, she’s got her facts straight.

She did not made this up. This is not fake news.   It is historical fact.  It actually happened.  This is why bubonic plague is now endemic in certain species of rodents native to the American southwest.  This is the reason why doctors who practice all over the western United States are still treating anywhere from 11 to 100 people for bubonic plague each year.

I wish Doughty’s tale of greed, graft, and corruption was an isolated incident, but guess what?  We must be on about the fifth or sixth verse of this same old song by now.

Like the man says:

Masks prevent COVID19,
but only if you wear them and wear them correctly.

*I stole the quote from baseball's inimitable Yogi Bera. I wish I was using it to be funny, but tragically, it's all too true.

How Times Have Changed

Since I hate the WordPress block(head) editor so much, I’m going to try composing this text in WORD and see if I can cut and paste it into WordPress.  (&#%#$#@!!)  

I was watching a video by the curator of Chawton House about the Jane Austen novel Emma which discussed the various visual interpretations of the titular character Emma Woodhouse in book illustrations and film*. Shown (below) in the video is the first page of the first edition of Emma.  Like its predecessors Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, it was published in three volumes.  (It was common at that time period to publish a work in multiple volumes that today would be published as a single volume – and there’s a good reason they did that. Keep reading.) 

Research reveals that this first edition of Emma was printed in “duodecimo” size  (as were P&P and S&S before it), a page size of approximately 5″ to 5.5″ x 7.125″ to 7.5″, which is the same size as my 6-volume set of the Oxford Illustrated Editions (OIE )* of the complete works of Jane Austen (5” x 7.5”).  However, that first edition volume looks to be about a third of the thickness of my OIE.  My single volume contains all 484 pages of the novel plus illustrations and annotations. 

When I was looking at that first edition, however, one of the things that leapt off the page at me, so to speak, was the way it was typeset.  There’s a whole lot more white space in the first edition text than would be found in modern books – indeed, there is so much white space that the first edition has less than half the text on the page as the first page of my OIE Emma does (at left). 

In the first edition, the lines of text are not single spaced, but are at least 1.5 if not 1.7 spacing. That puts a lot more white space between lines of text.  The second thing I noticed is that the text is typeset with more white space between words than we are used to.  Part of this extra spacing between words is due to the fact that the text is justified. But it’s still noticeably more wide-spaced than the spacing in my OIE.  This white space is the reason the book had to be published in three volumes. 

Because of all this extra white space, the book probably had 600+ pages (not to mention the thickness of the paper in use at the time), which would make it impractical to publish it as a single volume (unless you wanted to reuse it as a doorstop).All that white space seems wasteful to the modern eye, but I think there’s a very good reason for it, and it has to do with lighting. Up until the 1860’s when gas lighting became more widespread, if you wanted to read after dark, candles and oil lamps were your only options.

And here’s the thing: All that white space between lines of printed text and between words made that text easier to read in dim light. I’d be interested to see a side-by-side comparison of the amount of intratextual white space in pages from books printed during the candlelight era, versus the gas light era, versus the electric light era. I’d be willing to bet that each improvement in lighting saw a corresponding decrease in typographical white space.

There’s a take-away from the above.  If you have an e-reader but find using it is an unsatisfactory experience, or that it causes eyestrain, there are things you can do about it.  Most e-readers allow you to do some customizing of the display.  Kindle does.  Some of the variables you can control are the font size – the size of the letters on the page; line spacing – the amount of space between lines of text; text alignment – whether text is aligned in a straight line down the right margin (justified) or has a “ragged” right margin; and background color. 

If you are having problems due to eye conditions that affect the sharpness of your vision (cataracts, for one) or if your arms have gotten shorter over the years, try using a larger font size and/or increasing the amount of space between lines of text (line spacing).  If you have problems with eye strain, try changing the background color to green (why do you think we have green “blackboards” now?) or beige, and/or switching from justified text alignment (straight margins on the right as well as the left) to left aligned (“ragged right”) text alignment.  Left aligned text is easier to read because the amount of white space between words is consistent from word to word and line to line throughout the text.  The amount never changes.  Justified text may “look pretty” but it aligns the right margin by spreading the words on the line further and further apart until the last letter on the line is even with the right margin, so the amount of space between words is variable and inconsistent; it changes between one line and the next. You can even display text in multiple columns. One of the reasons I went from my smaller Kindle to a Fire 10-inch tablet was so I could turn it sideways (landscape view) and get text in two columns.  Gets more text on a page so you don’t have to “turn the page” so often.

*Why, yes, I am an English major. . .


Well, it’s finally happened. You can’t access the classic editor any more in WordPress, which means WordPress is officially broken. Like I needed one more thing to have to deal with on top of the shambles that COVID and a certain political party and its tools of Putin have made of this country and my personal world. Being very unladylike in my language just now. “Losing my religion” over it, as it happens.

Every time I attempt to access my most used tags, it crashes the stupid editor.


Stupid iMillennials.

I Did It Again

You saw it coming, didn’t you.  Showed you a little “proof of concept” piece for a rectangular shawl I’m calling “Short, Sweet and Nubby.”  And isn’t the yarn I tested the pattern on a nice color of purple?  Well, guess what?  That yarn isn’t just purple.

It’s Sike-a-Delic!

So, I just couldn’t stand it.  Casted it on (99 stitches), and I’ve been working on it for a couple of days now.  It’s worsted yarn on US9(5.5 mm) needles, so it goes pretty fast.  Nearly at the end of the first ball.  I have six regular size skeins and a gigunga skein of this yarn, so I’ll have plenty.

I really wanted a rectangular shawl today.  I was chilly about my upper body and shoulders and, so I put on The Assassin’s Daughter shawl, but it was too “all encompassing” and consequently too warm.  A rectangular shawl would have been just right.  I have two triangular shawls in my wardrobe — Malguri Morning, and The Assassin’s daughter. I have no rectangular shawls in my wardrobe.  See?  I need to do this one right now.  Never mind that I have humpty zillion other UFOs, some of which are rectangular shawls.  No.  I have a large gap in my shawl wardrobe which I must fill right now! Sigh.

Stuff I need to do:

  • Rake my back yard and put the rakings in the dumpster. (Monday and Tuesday are predicted to be in the low 80’s F/26+ C, so that’s when I need to do that thing.)
  • Do a major sort out on my yarn stash, with a rearrange of storage units, a sort through and weed out of yarn, do a realistic frog-it-or-finish-it sort, and frog the stuff I know I won’t finish.
  • Block a bunch of knitted shawls and send them to their new homes, which entails getting out the folding banquet table, the steam iron, and blocking mat. (Do ASAP before hot weather sets in.)
  • Make two lap robes. I have the blankets.  I just need to haul out the sewing machine, the banquet table, and sew the lap robes.

This Is A Public Service Announcement

I know a lot of folks out there are upset with WordPress for changing over to the new “block(head) editor.”   For those “Classics” like me who prefer the classic editor and are driven nuts by the “new way,” here’s my WordPress work around.

  1. Create a new post, give it a title, then save it as a draft and x out of it.
  2. Pull up the blog again, click on the “W” in the upper left corner to get a drop-down menu and choose “WP Admin.”
  3. From the “Posts” menu, choose “All posts” which brings up a list of posts.
  4. Find the one that you just created and select “classic editor” and go from there.

It’s called “The Columbus Method.” Going east by sailing west. I think WordPress changed things to make it easier to create posts using smart phones. By doing so, they made it harder for everybody else.  It’s the revenge of the millennials. Resistance is Futile.

(Of course, now that I’ve posted it, those yahoos at WordPress will remove the classic editor altogether.)

Short, Sweet and Nubby

This is a pattern to make a rectangular knitted object:

Here’s the whole pattern:

Choose your yarn, choose your needles, determine your gage with that yarn and those needles. Decide how many inches wide you want your object to be and how many inches long you want it to be.  Use your gauge to determine the number of stitches to cast on to get the desired width.  If that number is an even number, add 1.

Cast on an odd number of stitches.
Knit 1 row.
Row 1: K6, (k1, p1) until 7 stitches remain, k1, kfb, yo, k2tog, p1, ssk.
Repeat row 1 until you reach the desired length.
Cast off knitwise.

That’s it.  That’s all there is to it.  If you make the rectangular object narrow, it’s a scarf.  If you make it wide, it’s a shawl.  You use whatever yarn you want and you produce as dense or as lacy a fabric as you want by adjusting the needle size up or down.

It has a knit-as-you-go border that looks like it was worked with double crochets.  The body is worked in seed stitch.  Typically, seed stitch is worked over an even number of stitches in two rows like so:  Row 1:  K1, P1.  Row 2:  P1, K1, which means you have to keep track of which row you’re on.  But, when you work seed stitch over an odd number of stitches, you don’t have to keep track of your rows.  Every row starts with k1 because  the odd number of stitches automatically offsets each row by one stitch. I’m calling it “Short, Sweet, and Nubby.”