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On Books

I'm addicted to books. I just wish I was addicted to reading books.

My belief, which dates back to when I was a little kid, was that learned people read books, whether they needed to or not. But I haven't read books in any sort of sustained way in years. It's not the books' fault. I started reading John Scalzi's Locked In earlier this year, and really enjoyed the first three chapters. That was in June. I haven't read a page since. I even took it up north with me, but didn't open it up.

I'm just easily distracted, I guess. I seem to be always online, where I'm often reading things; they're just brief passages with photos or illustrations. I always have my eyes in books at work, since I'm composing them (formerly known as "typesetting"), but I don't have time or need to read them closely, so at best I scan a page here or there. At the end of long workdays, I go home and don't want anything to do with words for a while, sometimes.

When I do read, sometimes a voice in my head says "Look at me, I'm reading!" which is ... um, kind of strange. And then I'll get lost and have to reread a paragraph two or three times. And then I'll think of what other things I should be doing. It feels as if I'm spending time that should be put to more productive use, which of course is not true at all.

However, it doesn't stop me from buying more books. I bought three today, though one is going to be a gift for my great-niece. One was by one of my favorite authors, on special in paperback. The other is Oliver Sacks' memoir, for which I paid full price (even though I'll be able to get a free copy of the large print edition in a month or so, probably). I really like to have books. The physical oomph of a book is something I've always really liked. It's not a fetish, but maybe something like one. They smell good, they feel good in my hands, they look good on a shelf.

Then there's my catalog on LibraryThing. I have it up-to-date (except for today's purchases, but I'll log those in by midnight), and I like to just look at the listing of books, adding tags (slowly) to categorize my collection, and looking at what other people have in their libraries. It's good bibliogeeky fun. Even if it's not actually reading a book.

Maybe I'm just a collector. That's not so bad, really. Is it? Um, don't answer that.

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Was lost, but now I'm found

Whoa, where was I? I was in a place where I thought I was going to write more LJ entries, but then suddenly... well, it doesn't matter, does it? Sorry I've been away for so long. Or a wafer. But who doesn't like cookies? I haven't even been reading my friends' list much, which I regret. I'll try to get caught up soon. Y'all are doing interesting stuff. More so than I am, I think. I'm mostly working and eating and sleeping. I've been trying to work out, but not very hard. I've been trying to play music, but again not all that strenuously. Meanwhile, we've had a lot of sunshine here in my neck of the woods, and not enough rain. That's not so good.

I don't want to make this a super-lengthy post. Things have been quite mundane here. The next couple of weeks look interesting though:
  • Tomorrow is my company's annual picnic. It has a beach theme, yet it's being held at a soccer field. That's ok, I don't have flip-flops and jams, anyway.
  • Tomorrow, Dave is coming up from metro Louisville, so we can go to the Woodward Dream Cruise again on Saturday, the 15th. Here's my most recent LJ post from the event, with pics, but I've been every year for the last decade-plus. Yes, I'm as surprised as you.
  • And next Saturday, the 22nd, I'll be playing a show at Warren's best venue, The Dovetail. Sharing the stage with me will be the super-talented songwriter and instrumentalist Jere Stormer!
Anyway, that's my scoop. I'll try to not be a wafer too long again.

Summer Vacation

Hiawatha 2015 campsite
Sorry for the long time between entries. The highlights of the last month or so were two trips. First I went to visit Dave for his birthday during the Fourth of July weekend. We had fun in a quiet way, except for all the fireworks exploding around us. We discovered a new Indian restaurant and revisited an Arabic restaurant in Louisville. Tasty, tasty, tasty. This was the shakedown cruise for the new Subaru, and it performed very well.

Then there was the Hiawatha Music Festival in Marquette, Michigan, just a week ago. It was so good to go up north again and see my friends up there. The weather was mostly dry, a bit too hot for my tastes though everyone else liked it so I won't complain too much. I did not see much of the music on the main stage, but did a lot of jamming in our campsite. I just played guitar this year, having not even plunked one note on the mandolin in 51 weeks. In fact, I've played so little guitar lately that my fingertips were ridiculously sore on the last day. But I had fun. There's a lot more I could say about it, but I hope to write more sooner than later here.

In between that, I've been roped into a couple of health-related things. Doctors have prevailed upon me to start using a CPAP machine — don't ask me what CPAP means, but it blows air into my face while I sleep (via a mask), because apparently I stop breathing while I sleep. Who knew that? Certainly not me, I was sleeping. I affectionately call it the face-hugger. I guess it's helping. I can't really tell.

Then they got me into working with an exercise physiologist in their office. He's basically a trainer, really, but the doctor pops in to supervise. So I'm working out again, having fallen off that bandwagon before now. It's hard, and I don't even know why because it's actually less strenuous than what I had been doing at the gym with my previous trainers. The other interesting thing is, these sessions actually take place at 8:30 in the morning. I never was a morning workout person before, but I've adapted to it pretty well. It keeps me awake in the morning and doesn't interfere with mealtimes, as happens when I work out in the evening. I think the point of this was to kickstart me into regular workouts again. They were disappointed that I didn't do workouts during my trip up north, but I was disappointed that they'd expect me to put the guitar down long enough to do a workout. I mean, come on.....

Anyway, I'll sign off here before this gets too far into TL;DR category. I hope you all have been well. You're still looking good, y'know. Thanks for reading.

Brand New Car!

subaru01
I just bought a 2015 Subaru Forester! It replaces my ten-year-old Dodge Stratus, which was in need of a ton of repair work to fix just what I knew was broken, let alone what else could be wrong with a car that has 180,000 miles. It's much bigger, and I love the window space which makes the interior seem so airy as well as gives me a better idea of what's around me on the road. It'll be great for camping trips and comfortable for road trips. Though it's much bigger than the Stratus, it is supposed to have significantly better fuel economy and is a partial zero emission vehicle. I'm usually stoic about cars, but I have to admit I'm a little in love with this one.

It has so much new technology, and a giant owners manual. I will have to hire a tutor to learn all the features, I fear. But it drives very, very nicely.
more photos!Collapse )

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The New Iconoclasm?

The New York Times had an article that cogently said something I've had vague ideas about for a long time: Taking a Tire Iron to Techie Triumphalism. We keep getting told, mostly by computer and tech industry leaders, but also by politicians who believe them, that technology will solve everything and we're in a new world now. This article is a review of a book with a differing view, Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology, written by Kentaro Toyama, who was in the thick of tech companies for long enough to see that it ain't necessarily so.

Mr. Toyama used to share that worldview: “I am a recovering technoholic,” he writes. Then he moved to India, to lead the Microsoft lab, and observed a phenomenon that he would come to believe was universal: “Technology’s primary effect is to amplify human forces.” When computers entered rural schools, for instance, guess who held the mouse? Upper-caste boys. Technology wasn’t an intrinsic leveler or a bulldozer to archaic structures: It just gave people new, improved tools to be lovely or horrible to each other in all the old ways.
Several people I know, and probably many more, have said that the thing about the rise of "technology" is that it doesn't change the fact that there are Haves and Have-nots, it just rearranges who gets to be a Have. But it may also be true that the people who are Haves in the traditional ways can glom onto technology more quickly than others to continue their power and wealth. THAT isn't what we were sold when this personal computer/tech thing got started some twenty-five years ago.

This is a book I may have to make time to read.

Tech news (sort of)

Welcome to the 21st century — I now have a smartphone! I figure it'll take me weeks to learn how to use it. So if I don't answer when you call or text, I'm not ignoring you; I'm just fumbling. I had to promise Dave I wouldn't stare at it through dinners with him.

I got the smartphone because my laptop shopping struck out. I was at the store with the big yellow tag for a logo, and I realized that the laptops I was looking at had no CD or DVD drives. I confirmed with a sales associate that manufacturers were indeed leaving out these drives because, of course, everyone downloads everything now. I find this actually horrible, except that external CD/DVD drives are really cheap now. I should get one before they disappear, whether I get a new laptop or not.

Meanwhile, the old laptop no longer boots; I get that weird frizzy screen hang error before the Windows logo displays sometimes. I've been trying to figure out whether to fix it or buy a new one, but repairs could be costly and it also needs a new battery — meanwhile new laptops are pretty inexpensive. But they have no CD drives. Also, Windows 10 is coming out at the end of July. It's just hard to know what to do.

Don't even ask me about a new car. I'm in denial.

There's medical stuff I could mention, nothing of a terribly critical nature, but I think I'll save that for later if at all. Don't worry, I'm not gonna diiiiie.

My Norse ancestors?

Someone on Facebook had a link to this article about how many Algonquian words are awful similar to Old Norse words: http://209.157.64.201/focus/f-bloggers/2684571/posts.

I love that URL, don't you? The site is actually a conservative site called Free Republic. I don't know (yet) what the connection between a bunch of Tea Party people is to this research. Anyway, from there it goes to the Ancient Artifact Preservation Society, http://www.aaapf.org/scripts/openExtra.asp?extra=1 located, oddly enough, in the U.P. (Its PO box is in a little town southeast of Marquette.) They seem interested in selling stuff and in promoting a big piece of "float copper".

The guy who wrote the book on this Lenape-Norse connection has a website at http://www.frozentrail.org/index.html .

I have yet to find any "official" discussion of the hypothesis, but I haven't really tried yet. It's worth noting that the AAAPF, in the deepest part of their links, has a link to Erich von Daniken. So for all I know, this will come up some evening on Coast to Coast A.M. but maybe there's something to it. We do know there were Vikings who traveled at least as far as Greenland, and that's not terribly far from Labrador, especially if there's a lot of ice — and these travels took place during the Little Ice Age.

I don't know about the Lenape tongue, but Anishinaabemowin doesn't have eths and thorns. But what do I know, Mom and I have marveled at blonde Indians at powwows.

This week's update

I wanted to write this earlier, but my laptop is beyond broken. Saturday night, it worked perfectly well for over two hours. Sunday night, it was almost, if not completely, the opposite, and now I can't get it to boot up at all. This is terribly frustrating. I don't know if I should get a new one or take this one somewhere for expert repair. It's only four years old, which I know is ancient, but don't get me started on the world of planned obsolescence.

In considerably better news, Dave is coming up (even as I type) so we can go see the Detroit Symphony again. This time they're playing Mahler's first symphony. Originally they were going to have the famed former child prodigy Midori playing a violin concerto, but she had to cancel and so someone else is going to play a different violin concerto, Sibelius's, which we've seen twice before. Nice, but how often does one get a chance to see someone like Midori? Apparently less often than you'd think. But it will still be good. It'll likely be the last DSO concert of the season for us.

Not much else to report, so I'll share this story of a guy and his werewolf boyfriend. Just like everyday life, eh? Don't worry, it's fairly gentle for a werewolf story (unless you're a cat).

DIRTY PAWS from Karina Farek on Vimeo.

It's lilac time in Michigan

Lilac selfie 2015
My lilac has good years and bad years. This is a pretty good year, with lots of blooms. These two photos are from three days ago, just before I drove up to my sister's house for a Mother's Day cookout.

The title of this post is the title of a humorous song by my friend Jim Perkins. The first line is "I used to kiss her on the lips, but it's all over now." I just checked, and couldn't find the song on Soundcloud, but he has quite a few others here and here and even here too.

A close-up lilacCollapse )

May 10, 2015

My previous post started with an apology. And then I took another four weeks to write again. Obviously my apologies are not to be trusted.

The highlight of the last few weeks was seeing the Detroit Symphony perform Bruckner's 4th symphony. with Dave as usual. Dave will be here in a short while as we go back to Orchestra Hall to see Mahler's 1st symphony and a concerto performed by the famed violinist Midori not the famed violinist Midori who, unfortunately, cancelled due to illness.

In the meantime, I've managed to sleep an awful lot. This is what some depressed people do, see. Sigh. As it turns out, I have a sleep study scheduled for this week, so I have to somehow avoid three-hour naps this week, or else my sleep study will be a mess. It would be nice if I could feel better overall so I can avoid the naps. We'll see. I'm going to try getting more physical activity in. I've been away from the gym for a few weeks, which is quite the waste of a gym membership fee. Even if I just use the treadmills and exercise cycles there, it's a start.

I'm beginning the process of shopping for a new car. Pray for me. I haven't done this in ten years. My Stratus has developed quite a few issues that haven't prevented anything yet, but will at some point. So it's probably time. I'm looking at outdoorsy kinds of cars from Jeep or Subaru (the latter being kishenehn's fault, but only partly). Well, I will be looking, when I actually get to a car lot and put myself at a salesman's mercy. *shudder*

My lilac has bloomed and it's having a good year. I took a photo, but I haven't processed it yet.

Oh, yeah, the worst bit: I am still fighting with my Win7 laptop. I went so far as reinstalling the OS, then re-updating it, and finally when it seemed stable I downloaded the latest ESET NOD32 antivirus (which has worked very well for me for four years). And then ... the very next day it did its hang routine with the frizzy geometric pattern onscreen again. GAH. I don't know whether to kill myself or go bowling, at this point. It's probably going to a repair shop at some point. I can't imagine anything else I can do.

How's this for an omnibus update? Too many subjects for one blog post, I know. Anyway... here's hoping I come back sometime sooner than four weeks. Hope all y'all are well. You still look great.

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