Thursday, August 28, 2014

More blogger weirdness

A photo completely unrelated to the contents of this post.
For some inexplicable reason, no doubt known only to the Powers That Be at, my blog rolls are doing strange things. They're alternating between displaying the way they should with the most recently updated being at the top of the list and showing the title of the most recent post and displaying as a randomized list with no information about recent posts. In the latter configuration, if I click on any of the links the result is a display that's solid HTML. Very, very strange -- not to mention hard to read.

I'm going to take this as a sign to walk away from the computer for the rest of the day.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A genre to avoid

Mystery/romance. Or romance/mystery. I'm not sure just what to call a genre that crosses Harlequins with what is supposed to be a thriller, but apparently it's a genre that is Carla Neggers's forte. Too bad she is, at best, a thoroughly mediocre writer.

I just finished a book called Cold Pursuit. It's apparently the first in a trilogy of books about a female Secret Service agent and her love interest, a former Special Forces soldier. I assume it's a trilogy because the L'Anse Public Library tries to label books that are part of a series, and when I plucked this gem off the shelf it had a number 1 label on the spine. The next two books on the shelf were marked 2 and 3 so it's probably safe to assume that agent Jo Harper and ex-Sgt. Cameron will continue to have hot and steamy sex while investigating a suspected ring of international assassins that for some bizarre reason are apparently based in rural Vermont. 

You know, I am continually being surprised by the places that I find lady porn. What I can't help but think of as the Jean Auel model keeps popping up all over the place. I call it the Jean Auel model because, so far as I can recall, Clan of the Cave Bear is the first place I encountered the formula: a certain number of pages of narrative to move the plot forward, then a couple pages of hot hetero sex, then back to so many pages of narrative, more hot hetero sex scenes, all tastefully written but making it pretty damn clear what was happening, then more narrative. It took awhile to get going in the first book in the series, but after that it was pretty much guaranteed that every 70 pages or so Jondalar was going down on Ayla. Apparently Cro-Magnans were big making women happy with lots of cunnilingus, "worshipping the goddess" so to speak, because Ayla seemed to be on the receiving end a lot more than Jondalar was. Auel really knew how to tap into women's fantasies.

Anyway, since then the lady porn has evolved. It's gone from being tasteful and intermittent in fiction targeting women to being basically the whole book (e.g., 50 Shades of Gray). It's also gone from euphemistic to blunt (in the Outlander series Claire Beacham wraps her hand around Jamie Fraser's cock and describes the organ in affectionate detail; she doesn't just admire his manhood). Cold Pursuit falls kind in the middle on the descriptive scale -- lots of "plunging" that makes intercourse sound a lot like trying to fix a stopped up sink drain -- which could be one reason it felt so much like a Harlequin.

Now, I know that there are a lot of "mysteries" out there that fall into mutant genres, too. Janet Evanovich's books all mix romance, mystery, and humor. J. D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts) mixes romance, mystery, and science fiction. Laurel K. Hamilton mixes horror, romance, and mystery, although the biggest mystery with her Anita Blake series is why Anita is still capable of walking after banging half the population of the western hemisphere. Some are more readable than others. So why have I singled out Neggers? I have no clue. Maybe it's because after I finished the book I found myself thinking, well, there went another 90 minutes of my life I'll never get back.  Maybe it was because the attempt to blend two different themes (romance and mystery) was so clumsily done.It felt like she wrote two separate books and then did some cutting and pasting to merge the two. And maybe it's because it's Sunday morning, I'm  bored, and I don't feel like doing anything more productive than whine about mediocre books.  

It's a mystery.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Never attribute to malice

that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, or so the old adage goes. I used to occasionally wonder what would happen if the two factors (malice and stupidity) happened to merge. I wonder no more. We've got the police force in Ferguson, Missouri, providing a prime example.

First, they wallowed in the Stupid for a few days: they had an officer-involved shooting but totally blew the response. The list of ways they managed to screw up is a long one, but a few gems from the first few hours after the incident include failing to secure the scene, bungling the communications with dispatch (the 911 dispatchers learned about the shooting from the news media, not from cops on the scene), allowing the body to remain in the street for over 4 hours while the neighborhood worked itself into a frenzy, and then responding to protests by sending in riot police that looked like they were invading Fallujah. In short, the first 24 hours or so leaned pretty heavily towards Stupidity in its purest form.

Then came the malice: smearing the victim, portraying him as a thug, emphasizing that there had been a robbery reported in the neighborhood even though the police themselves admitted that the officer involved in the shooting had no knowledge of a robbery, and similar efforts. Those efforts included releasing a video tape that purportedly showed the dead teenager pulling off a strong arm robbery a few minutes before the shooting.

And this is where stupid and malice cross: it has now come out that the police did selective editing. The complete video surveillance tape shows Michael Brown paying for the cigarillos. He apparently didn't have enough money on him for as many of the nasty little cigars* as he wanted as the tape also shows him handing some cigars back to the cashier. Even more telling, the store owner is now stating loudly that there was no robbery, they never reported a robbery, and they're really, really upset that the police are claiming that there was.

Another old adage says that when you realize you're in a hole, you should stop digging. Apparently the cops in Ferguson haven't figured out that they're down well past their ears and that it's time to put down the shovels.

It's unclear what's going to happen long term, but a good start to defusing the current situation might be to start housecleaning in the local police department. Given the apparent stunning incompetency of just about everyone in it, they'd probably be better off just firing them all and starting from scratch.

The S.O. says that if the grand jury in Ferguson is smart they'll indict the cop on homicide charges. It'll thoroughly piss off his supporters but, hey, when white people riot they buy T-shirts. Long-term I doubt if the guy would be found guilty of anything -- cops rarely are -- but by providing the illusion of accountability it could have the short-term effect of eliminating one of the reasons people are protesting.

*If the news reports are accurate, he was buying Swisher Sweets, one of the more disgusting tobacco products on the planet. Why anyone would ever want to smoke them is a total mystery; the only thing they have going for them is they're cheap.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Another mystery

Why does my underwear have a pocket in the crotch? You know, there are some areas I normally would not go near, like discussing anything remotely related to an intimate knowledge of me, but this item is just too bizarre not to share. I recently purchased a package of undies that I assumed were perfectly normal women's undergarments -- there was certainly nothing on the packaging to indicate they had any special features -- and, lo and behold, there's a pocket in the crotch.

Now I know there are some unmentionables that are manufactured with pockets in the crotch for specific reasons. The adult entertainment industry sells sexy lace panties that include a pocket in which the lucky wearer can insert a vibrator and spend the day (or however long the battery lasts) walking around smiling mysteriously. But these undies did not come from an Adam & Eve catalog; they came off the rack at Kmart. Are these crotch pockets some new and improved feature I wasn't aware of? Have I been missing out on trends in women's undergarments? Is this pocket supposed to be the ultimate place to stash your keys while jogging or serve as a handy place to tuck a credit card or some cash just in case someone snatches your purse? It's a mystery.

What isn't a mystery is what Google is going to be doing to me for a while after I spent way too much time doing an image search that included the phrase "panties crotch pocket." The next time I visit a monetized blog, I'm going to see some really strange ads.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Feeling a tad unmoored . . . adrift . . . at loose ends

I'm not sure just what the most apt phrase would be. I'm finding myself in between projects, more or less, and am wondering just what to tackle next.

I speak of indoor projects, of course. There's always a zillion things to do outside in the summer, from the boring but necessary (weeding the garden) to the mildly creative (the long-delayed water feature). If nothing else, if it's not raining, there's always firing up the lawn mower and creating more mulch for the garden.

Indoor projects, on the other hand, the kind that a person retreats to when it's raining or the bugs are really bad, are in short supply at the moment. I've finished two quilts this summer, although neither one is a quilt in the purest sense of the word. One is technically a comforter because it's tied instead of quilted; the other is more of a duvet cover. The "duvet" stuffed into the latter is an ancient comforter we inherited eons ago. I don't know if it's something the S.O. had in his stash of priceless heirlooms or if my parents handed it to us back in the '70s. I'm also not sure what it's filled with, but it's definitely not feathers. If you have small children, it's one of those comforters that eliminates the need for a babysitter. It's sufficiently heavy that if you toss it over a toddler, for sure that little barracuda isn't going anywhere for awhile. I have a vague memory of sleeping under comforters of similar weight way back when I was young. My grandmother made them. I think they were stuffed with horsehair and bricks. It's a minor miracle that my sister and I didn't end up flattened like pressed flowers in a Victorian album.

Maybe that's the story I should be telling young people instead of the hiking to school through waist-deep snow uphill both ways narrative. "You guys don't know how good you have it. You don't have to bench press your bedding the way we did back in the day. . ."

In any case, I made a duvet cover, a giant pillowcase to slip over the ancient comforter. We're going to put it into the guest cabin, the ratty trailer we bought last year that is slowly becoming less ratty. Whether or not anyone will ever be desperate enough to sleep under it is debatable, but it will make a reasonably durable surface to sprawl on top of while watching tv or reading on rainy days. The cover itself looks like this:

One thing making that duvet cover did was use up most of my stash of old jeans. About all I've got left now is a pile of pockets. Maybe I should do a comforter where that's what every block is: a functional pocket. Then I'll give it to one of my nieces who has preschoolers so she can get to play "where's that odd smell coming from?" when she steps into the kids' bedroom.

Evil smile.

I think I just found my next sewing project.

Friday, August 8, 2014

And what does this say about our national psyche?

I was noticing various headlines this morning that all had some variation on "Obama authorizes air strikes in Iraq." If a person actually linked on the headline, then you'd learn that Obama also authorized air drops of humanitarian aid (food and water) to the Yazidis (Iraqis who practice a non-Islamic religion) who had taken refuge on a mountain top.

You'd also learn, if you went past the first couple of sentences in any of the news articles, that the humanitarian air drops have already taken place. They started immediately. As for the air strikes against the Islamist militants? They're still in the theoretical stage: they're threatened but not yet happening. So why did the media emphasize the threat over the reality? I have no answer, but a good guess would be that doing something nice (humanitarian aid) is just never going to be as news worthy as threatening to kill someone. If it bleeds (or if it might bleed), it leads.

I did notice that Obama tacked a nice little caveat on to the air strikes promise -- "if Americans are threatened" -- so he's got a nice out for never following through with actual bombs.

Update: Okay, so we've dropped a couple bombs. Now the question is just how many we'll drop before someone decides it's enough.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

We have water

Yep. We've definitely got water. Siirtola (the well driller) told us it would take a few hours to clear up so we should just keep the water running until it stopped looking murky. That was early Friday afternoon. The hose is still running. Each time the S.O. checks, there are still visible "fines" swirling around. I figure, based on the pump having a return rate of 10 gallons per minute, that over the past two days we've pumped at least 20,000 gallons of water out of that hole. I don't think we're ever going to have to worry about the well going dry.