On-On, Short & Sweet!

If you know me you know I’m a Hash House Harrier. And I always figured that if you couldn’t explain hashing in 30 seconds or less, you were saying way too much. As much as I hate to endorse a commercial product, this Michelob ad is spot on!

On-On!

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Paul’s Book Reviews

“Yes, the secret commonwealth …you don’t hear much talk about that these days. When I was young, there wasn’t a single bush, not a single flower nor a stone, that didn’t have its own proper spirit. You had to have a mind to your manners around them, to ask for pardon, or for permission, or give thanks….Just to acknowledge that they were there, them spirits, and they had their proper rights to recognition and courtesy.”

—Philip Pullman, The Secret Commonwealth


secret commonwealthThe Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust #2)
by Philip Pullman
4_5

I suppose every book in the “His Dark Materials” saga ends this way, but this one ends with a doozy of a cliffhanger. I’m literally panting to find out what Lyra discovers in the Blue City, and Philip Pullman hasn’t even announced what the title of the final novel will be! All I can do is wish him continued health and a long life, and hope for a swift resolution to the suspense.

Turns out the adult Lyra is as beguiling a character as she was as a young girl, but devoted readers will be upset by the estrangement between her and Pantalaimon. I was. The single most attractive element of Lyra’s world, at least to me, is the attachment between humans and their dæmons, and the separation of Lyra and Pan is what drives the tension and suspense of this novel. Well, that and the machinations of the Magisterium, of course.

Almost anything I say about the plot will be a spoiler for some. Some readers will no doubt want to stay in the world of the first three books, where Lyra is a young girl. I know some readers were left cold by the first novel in “The Book of Dust” series (I’ll start calling it a trilogy when the third novel is published), “La Belle Sauvage,” where Lyra, an infant, is a secondary character and a young boy, Malcolm Polstead, has the lead; they will have similar objections to “The Secret Commonwealth,” where Lyra is in her early 20s. Well, they’re a bunch of poopheads.

The element of fantasy, here expressed by the idea of the “secret commonwealth,” is present, mostly in the background but occasionally in the foreground, as is fantasy in the preceding novels, but overall the world of the adult Lyra is gritty and real, full of disturbing echoes or our own world and the horrific events unfolding around us: fleeing refugees from the Middle East and Africa, the rise of fascism in formerly democratic societies.

This novel, like the ones before it, was almost too rich to digest in one setting, and demands a second reading. After finishing the “La Belle Sauvage” I re-read the “His Dark Materials” trilogy, cover to cover. When I’ve read the third novel in “The Book of Dust” series, I will certainly give this trilogy a second reading.

I’ve only read one other series, book by book, cover to cover, more than once: the Aubrey/Maturin novels of Patrick O’Brian. When I say I’ve re-read one Philip Pullman trilogy … and plan to read his next trilogy more than once, even before the third book has been written, let alone read … you can take that as high praise.


case historiesCase Histories (Jackson Brodie #1)
by Kate Atkinson
4_0

I was impressed with Kate Atkinson’s storytelling powers in her earlier novel, “Transcriptions.” My opinion of her writing remains high after reading “Case Histories.”

Jackson Brodie is an engaging character, a former soldier and policeman turned private investigator, still a young man at the height of his powers, most curiously retiring to France at the end of the first novel in a series. I think I can confidently predict he’ll have to come out of retirement, otherwise it won’t be much of a series!

I liked the concept here: Brodie being asked to look into unsolved crimes and murders committed from the 1970s to the 1990s, some of which he knew nothing about (having been a child at the time), some of which he remembers reading about in the papers. The survivors are alive, though, and one by one they become deeply involved with Jackson Brodie. Who gets close to solving the crimes, but as in “Transcriptions,” it is Kate Atkinson who wraps things up in a final chapter, introducing unsuspected twists. Good lord, we humans are awful awful creatures, and Ms. Atkinson … even more than Jackson Brodie … sees right through us.

Great, great fun. Fascinating characters, dry humor, plenty of action. I will certainly follow up on this series!


testamentsThe Testaments (The Handmaid’s Tale #2)
by Margaret Atwood
3_5

I can’t help thinking “The Testaments” is part of a packaging effort meant to enhance (or extend, or exploit) the commercial success of HBO’s televised retelling of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” I don’t mean to crash down on it, because I truly enjoyed reading it, but I’m not sure it contributes anything of significance to the original work. “The Handmaid’s Tale” is canon and will be read and taught for generations to come; “The Testaments” will not, I suspect, achieve that status.

Well, Margaret Atwood is a damn fine writer, and there’s enough new information about Gilead (and a few of its main characters) in this second novel to keep anyone who fell under the spell of the earlier novel turning pages. This novel, more so than the original, has cliffhangers and perilous adventures (perhaps written with another TV series in mind?). It’s a solid read, but overall a lesser effort than the original.

In the final chapter, which consists of notes from yet another conference of Gileaden Studies academics held a century or more after Gilead’s fall and the reconstitution of the United States of America, we’re re-introduced to the scholar who spoke at the end of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” As in the first novel, he helps tie a few loose strings into a nice bow, but for some reason, this time around, he strikes me as a misogynistic asshole. I’m certain Margaret Atwood intended readers to have just that reaction. But why? To remind us that as long as we’re human another Gilead is always nearby? As the kids say, “ya think?”


FutureofAnotherTImeline-FlowerClockThe Future of Another Timeline
by Annalee Newitz
3_5

The science fiction in “The Future of Another Timeline” is fun but hard to swallow. Imagine a world where trained scholars from the future intermix with and study their forebears. Now imagine that it’s not done in secret: everybody, in all eras of history, knows people from the future walk among them, and accepts it. And then there’s this: scholars not only travel back to study the past … they “edit” it to improve the times they come from.

While Annalee Newitz touches on the potential consequences of altering the present by changing the past, she doesn’t get as deeply into it as I thought she might. Wouldn’t the urge to tinker with the past be irresistible? I can’t believe any society, no matter how educated and disciplined, would be able to restrict time travel to a small class of trained scholars. How would they stop the rest of us, to cite just one well-worn time travel trope, from going back in time to stay and live like kings by cashing in on our historical knowledge of sports scores and hot stocks?

But back to the novel: it’s amusing, as you get into the narratives provided by different travelers (and one young girl living less than happily in her own early-1990s present, certainly the grabbiest part of the novel), to see the ways the two “presents” Annalee Newitz focuses on (roughly the post-Reagan years and the early 2020s) already significantly differ from ours, and observe other momentous changes as travelers continue to muck about in the past.

Different timelines are not alternate universes, one traveler explains to another in a bit of expository dialog, nor can you jump to an alternate universe (as Julia Crane does in “The Man in the High Castle”). You can, though, alter history, then return to a different present (warning: you may not like the migraines that come with it). Okay. Got it. Wait. No I don’t get it. How are these not one and the same thing?

Possibly some spoilers here: the novel posits a near future where American women have only enjoyed the right to vote for a few years and Roe v. Wade never happened, their present far more impacted by Anthony Comstock and other crusading moralists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries than in our own reality. The tension in the novel comes courtesy of Comstock disciples from the future trying to alter the past to put women even more in their place, and a group of woman travelers determined to prevent them from doing so.

My own geeky science fiction quibbles aside, “The Future of Another Timeline” is an inventive and enjoyable science fiction novel with a strong feminist message.


blue moonBlue Moon (Jack Reacher #24)
by Lee Child
3_5

I’ve read and reviewed every one of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels. Frankly, I’ve said all I have to say about them. If you’re addicted to the character, as I am, you will certainly want to read the latest, “Blue Moon,” number 24 in the series. As I just did.

“Blue Moon” is weaker than some novels in the series, stronger than others. I didn’t really get the feel of the unnamed midwestern city this one is set in … it was truly anonymous. The gangsters were notably weak, easily fooled, and ultimately ineffective. Jack had a far-too-easy time recruiting his own gang of accomplices, as much a deus ex machina as is artificial gravity in made-for-TV science fiction. Real people would have run from him and his unhinged plan to single-handedly defeat two separate armies of entrenched bad guys who had the cops on their payroll, and oh by the way where were those cops? Is this the first Jack Reacher novel where he doesn’t get busted and spend a night or two in jail?

Hey, it’s a Jack Reacher novel. You love Jack Reacher, you take the bad with the good, and no matter how bad these novels get, they’re still pretty goddamn good.


under occupationUnder Occupation (Night Soldiers #15)
by Alan Furst
2_0

From my earlier review of “A Hero of France” (Night Soldiers #14):

“The last three Night Soldiers novels read less like novels than outlines of novels, with characterization, world-building, and nuance yet to be added.”

I gave Alan Furst another chance, hoping he’d return to form in “Under Occupation,” the 15th novel in the Night Soldiers series, but no. In fact, this one strikes me as an ever lazier effort than the one before it. It’s a draft, unfleshed, lacking in feel and characterization. I could not believe in Ricard, nor Leila, nor Kasia, nor any of them. Ricard is reluctant to commit to the resistance, yet on the next page he’s all in, with nary a bit of inner struggle or dialog. Leila is an aristocrat with whom Ricard knows he hasn’t a chance; by the next page she’s dragged him into her bed. It’s like that throughout … the bare structure of a plot, waiting to be finished, contradictory twists suddenly introduced with no explanation.

Sorry, Mr. Furst. I loved your older novels but I do not even faintly like your recent ones. Good for you that fans continue to buy your books, but you’ve lost this one.


supernova eraSupernova Era
by Liu Cixin
0_0

Did not finish; no rating.

I came to Liu Cixin’s science fiction through the excellent “Three-Body” trilogy, and later enjoyed an earlier novel titled “Ball Lightning.” The difference between the trilogy, hard theoretical SF on a cosmic scale, and the stand-alone “Ball Lightning,” near-contemporary military fiction with a slight SF premise, was stark, but I enjoyed Liu Cixin’s inventiveness, political and social perspectives, and writing.

Which brings me to Liu Cixin’s latest SF novel, “Supernova Era.” But wait … this isn’t his latest, not by a long shot. It’s an early work from 2003, only translated into English this year. As with “Ball Lightning,” originally written in Chinese in 2005, it’s being marketed to American fans as a new novel. To cash in on the author’s popularity with Western readers? I can’t say.

The difference between this novel and ones that made me a Liu Cixin fan needs an adjective stronger than stark.

This time I did not enjoy the writing, not at all. The story is based on a ludicrous premise, with not even a remotely-plausible “scientific” explanation, just some empty hocus-pocus. The characters are cardboard cutouts, and halfway through … once the world’s entire adult population dies en masse … the storyline devolves into one I could neither relate to or buy. That is the point at which I gave it up as a bad job.

The next time they announce a new novel by Liu Cixin, you’d better believe I’ll do some research before buying it, to make sure it really is new.

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What a Croc

5A719586-5ECB-4EE6-A4B1-33CDE42F6516_1_201_aDonna said she was stumped on what to get me for Christmas, so I suggested a pair of Crocs. I love the leather Merrell open-heel slip-ons I got two years ago, and expect to love the Crocs just as much, though they put me in mind of those grotesque Earth Shoes trendoids wore 40 years ago. Remember them? The ones with low heels that made you look like you were about to tip over backwards? I never once considered wearing those, but now here I am with Crocs on my feet.

The photo, I just noticed, makes it look like I’m giving Mister B a kick to the behind. God forbid! He just happened to notice I was taking a photo and that he was in it … he hates being photographed, and you can tell because whenever you point a camera or cell phone at him he tucks in his tail.

Well. We had a lovely Christmas, and hope you did as well. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas! We had a crowd over Christmas Eve for my clam chowder and shrimp boil; then Donna’s eggs Benedict after unwrapping presents Christmas morning. Both meals have become tradition at our house. We don’t do a big Christmas day dinner … Thanksgiving’s still fresh in our memory, and who needs another huge feast so soon after that one? Donna intended to serve scallops along with the chowder and shrimp on Christmas Eve, but in the rush to finish everything before company arrived we forgot them, so they became our Christmas day supper, served over pasta in a creamy butter-garlic sauce. I’ll get around to posting both recipes on my cooking blog, Crouton’s Kitchen, one of these days soon. Since the clam chowder and shrimp boil recipes are already up there, I’ll just post photos of the eggs Benedict and scallops here:

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Apologies if you’ve already seen these on Facebook, where a friend commented on the trays. It’s true, we eat most of our meals on trays in the family room, and my food photos are often taken with an iPhone pointed down at my lap. We sit down at the table on Thanksgiving or when we have company for dinner, which is only three or four times a year. Donna says we should eat at the table more often, but I’m wearing her down.

Speaking of wearing people down, one of my favorite columnists and bloggers, Nancy Nall, says she wants to disengage:

I’m considering my one-word new year’s resolution in these final days, and considering Disengage. For a journalist, it feels like a betrayal. You have to stay engaged! You have to keep up! But I am honestly exhausted with keeping up. I don’t want to know anything about Baby Yoda. I don’t subscribe to Disney+, I left all things Star Wars behind in, what? Nineteen-eighty-something? Is there a filter I can install, an app of some sort, that will tell me what I want to know, and what I need to know, and maybe surprise me with some things I didn’t know I wanted to know but am now glad I know, without including Baby Yoda? And all the social-media bullshit that goes with it?

Nancy talks about Baby Yoda and social media bullshit, but I think she’s really talking about Trump. I feel the same way. You’ve probably noticed a strong turn to the personal here at Paul’s Thing. I’ve been writing about the things that make my life worth living, avoiding commenting on the things that make me wish people were better than they are, that we lived in a happier, more humane world. But damn it, disengaging is what they want us to do! They want to wear us down to the point where we roll over and give up, to accept living in a country that puts kids in cages and pardons war criminals, a country where the worst racist and anti-Semitic impulses of illiterate deplorables get a wink and a nudge from an unelected president no one has the balls to take down. But what, apart from voting and voicing my discontent on my blog, can I do? And my friends … even the ones who hate what’s going on as much as I do … say they like my personal posts far more than my political ones. And I have to admit, so do I. Yes, I’m retreating a bit, but I’ll still do what I can, and hope for better days.

There’s still time to achieve my 2019 goal of losing ten pounds. Only fifteen to go!

Happy New Year, friends!

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Lighting Candles

Donna got up early with the dogs, fed them, then put Mister B back under the covers with me. I crawled out of bed half an hour later, brushed my teeth, got dressed, grabbed a cup of coffee, and went into the home office to log on for news and email. An hour after leaving the bedroom, I heard a faint whine. It was Mister B on the bed, letting me know he was still there and wanted down. There’s no jumping off our bed … it’s far too high for dachshunds. They sell doggie ramps, I’m told. We really need to get one for the bedroom.

Yesterday, Donna took the new kitchen out on a shakedown cruise:

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That’s Donna’s friend Millie and her three great-granddaughters, making gingerbread houses. I’m glad I took the second photo when I did, because later the girls went a little crazy with the white frosting, covering up most of the colorful candy on the roofs and walls. But they had great fun. Meanwhile, Mister B and I settled into our little oasis of calm in the farthest corner of the family room. Contentment, with a whiff of holiday spirit.

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We’ve invited a few friends to drop by Christmas Eve for a shrimp boil and clam chowder, so the kitchen’s going to get another workout, this time at my hands. Donna announced this morning that keeping up with the house has become too much for her and she’s going to hire a housekeeper to come twice a month. I’m all for that, even though it forces us to face the fact that we’re easing into our assisted living years. But cleaning up for Christmas Eve company is still on us, and I’m hoping Polly will pitch in and help today, since it’s one of her off days from Amazon (update: no it’s not, so no help from the daughter).

For some reason, right-wingers cling to the notion that saying “Merry Christmas” triggers pinkos like me. Funny, though, how you never hear Fox News raging about the War on Hanukkah. Hanukkah, this year, begins this evening and ends the evening of Monday the 30th. Christmas, of course, is technically just the one day, but in practice has become a multi-day event, Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day. Granted six of those days are wholly secular, unlike Hanukkah, I’ve always been jealous of the Menorah candles, and wish Christians had a candle tradition for the days that wrap up one year and start another. I guess you could argue that the advent calendar is religious equivalent of the Festival of Lights, but I want candles too!

Anyway, saying Merry Christmas triggers me not at all, nor does it trigger anyone I know. This is the charitable time of year, a time when nearly everyone is in a giving mood. And while the season is hard on some, for a variety of reasons, it’s a happy time for most of us, regardless of faith. I’m just saying it would be happier if we all had candles!

If I don’t get back to you for a few days, Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!

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La Cuisine C’est Pret: un Photoblog

Our kitchen is done, and as promised, here’s the evidence. First, the before, during, and after:

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Everything but the fridge, ovens, and tiles on the floor and refrigerator is new, even the window over the sink. The contractors started work October 28th. They said it’d be done by November 26th, two days before Thanksgiving … and it was, minus one cabinet (the one if the upper left of the after photo) and the tiling on the walls. Those were up by December 16th: a month and a half in all. Here’s the best part: we stayed within our budget. Compared to home and kitchen remodeling horror stories we hear from friends, our experience has been miraculously good and trouble-free. We are delighted.

Details? Two short videos:

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Please to ignore Dominick the Donkey braying in the background. Donna had the stereo remote and I couldn’t wrestle it away from her.

More details? Two more photos:

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And if that’s not enough for you, there’s our Kitchen Remodel album on Flickr, where you can see all the piggy-dirty deets!

With that, we pronounce our kitchen do-over a done deal. Merry Christmas to us! This should do for several Christmases to come, and anniversaries as well (says he, even though he knows better).

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The Final Countdown

Screen Shot 2019-12-18 at 9.04.54 AMSorry, Die Hard fans, yours isn’t the only Christmas movie. So is The Final Countdown. As long as we’re on the subject, so is HBO’s Watchmen (which I finished last night and pronounce doubleplus good).

One more week. Seven days. My shopping is done. Will it piss you off if I gloat? It certainly set Donna off when I mentioned it just now, which I take to mean she hasn’t even started. You can say what you will about Amazon, but I say thank god.

Actually, the poster on the left is relevant to a thought I had this morning. The trailer for Top Gun: Maverick was released yesterday, and aviators and aviation fans immediately started complaining about overuse of CGI in the flying scenes. Remember the movie Midway, released just a month or two ago? No? That’s because it died a quick death, and the reason was too much CGI … the flying wasn’t real. So yeah, if that’s what Tom Cruise’s new movie’s going to be like, why even bother? Stick with the original … at least the flying scenes were real.

Perhaps in response to yesterday’s criticism, today the production company released a behind-the-scenes video. It’s titled Top Gun: Maverick–Real Flying. Real G-Forces. Pure Adrenaline (click the link to see it). Turns out there’s real flying in the new movie after all, plenty of it, and avgeeks like me can rejoice … I, for one, will definitely go see it when it comes out in a few months.

So getting back to that thought I mentioned. Someone associated with the new movie got a back seat ride in an F/A-18 during filming and said this on Twitter: “Can confirm pulling ‘G’ in the back seat of a @BoeingDefense F/A-18F Super Hornet is like going 5 rounds with Mike Tyson—but a bloody awesome experience!!” And you know, that’s the exact analogy I use when explaining Gs to Pima Air and Space Museum visitors. Except I say Muhammed Ali. Or, sometimes, George Foreman. Do younger visitors even know who Ali and Foreman were? Would Mike Tyson be a better choice, or Canelo Alvarez? Maybe I should switch to a WWF analogy: “Pulling nine Gs is like getting slammed to the mat by The Rock.” It’s time to update my spiel!

Related, kind of: a Gen Xer I follow on Twitter, Xeni Jardin, posted this today: “Your regular reminder that Edward Snowden is not on your side. Whistleblowers don’t run to Moscow with help from dirtbags. Spies do.” I’m not sure what her statement was in reference to, but it reminded me of Viktor Belenko and my reaction to him.

Way back in 1976, Belenko defected from the Soviet Union with a new and highly secret MiG-25 Foxbat, landing at a northern Japanese air base. After debriefing Belenko the CIA and DoD put him on the road, visiting operational US fighter units to talk about the MiG-25, Soviet tactics and training, and what life was like in general for Russian pilots. It was fascinating information, and we peppered him with questions, but when it was all over my reaction … and the reaction of all the other pilots I knew … was a strong feeling of distaste for the man. He was a traitor. He betrayed his country. And he left his wife and children behind.

My feelings about Edward Snowden are similar. If he’d stayed behind to face the music he’d have been a hero, like Chelsea Manning or Reality Winner. Instead, he ran. He’s a traitor, never mind that he peeled the lid off something that needed to be exposed. I replied to Xeni with a short version of my Belenko story, and then as I wrote about Ali and Foreman a few minutes ago had a similar thought: do younger people even know who Belenko was and why he was important?

Okay, boomer. Damn but I am getting old.

Our project today is to put cookbooks in the last empty cabinet in our remodeled kitchen. I’m helping because it’s an overhead cabinet. It’s going to be a bigger job than you may think, but when it’s done the kitchen do-over will be complete (the missing accent tile came in and was installed yesterday) and I’ll post another round of photos. Meanwhile, if you’re interested, I added a few short videos of the self-closing cabinets and pull-out drawers to our Kitchen Remodel album on Flickr (scroll down to the newest uploads to see them).

But you’re here for pet photos. No, don’t deny it … I can read you like a book. Here are two I took this morning:

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It was just above freezing when I took these. Maxie … who does not go for walks if she can help it … had cocooned herself in a blanket on the dog couch. Mister B, as always, was up for an outing, and since I was bundled up in ski pants and a fleece jacket I put a fleece wrapper over his harness. I think he appreciated it … he pranced up and down our cul-de-sac, which I took as a sign of approval.

Seven days, baby. Have you finished your shopping?

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Books: My Top Ten for 2019

In the spirit of end-of-year lists, here are the ten books I read in this year that stand out in my mind. For me, it hasn’t been a year for pipe smoking and high literature. I’ve been enjoying myself instead. Of all the books I read this year, I enjoyed these ten the most.

secret commonwealth abaddons gate calculating stars transcription moonglow
late show blue moon grammarians cold storage because internet

Some of the covers stand for books in a series I read (or am still reading) in 2019:

  • Philip Pullman’s “The Secret Commonwealth” is the second book of a planned trilogy called “The Book of Dust,” of which “La Belle Sauvage” was the first (I read & reviewed that one in 2018)
  • “Abaddon’s Gate” is a placeholder for the entire 9-novel “The Expanse” series (it’s #3 in the series … I’m currently reading #6, and plan to write an overall review when I’ve finished them all)
  • “The Calculating Stars” is the 1st of 2 science fiction novels by Mary Robinette Kowal (the other is “The Fated Sky”)
  • Michael Connelly’s “The Late Show” is the first of a new series featuring Renée Ballard, a woman police detective in Los Angeles, who occasionally works with a certain Harry Bosch
  • The Lee Child cover, “Blue Moon,” represents the entire 24-novel Jack Reacher series, which I started reading in 2018 (and will keep reading as long as Lee Child keeps cranking them out)

Each cover links to my Goodreads review of the book or the series.

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Accent Strip

A chilly morning in Tucson. Mister B started pulling hard for home the second his did his business, so our morning walk was a short one. Time to break out the dog sweaters.

A friend gently hinted I’d gone a bit overboard on Facebook and Instagram with kitchen photos, to which I responded, “Well, if you can’t have fun with social media, what’s it even for? Oh, right … handing your personal information over to faceless corporations to use in targeted advertising.” Anyway, after this one I won’t post any more until the kitchen’s actually done. Which it almost is.

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The walls are tiled now, but even though we measured twice, we came up short on the colored glass tile for the accent strip, as you can see behind the food processor and the little drying rack. Not a single supplier in town had that particular tile in stock. We ordered more and are supposed to get it tomorrow. The tile guys say they’ll come over Saturday to finish the job, which’ll wrap everything up. I’ll take some photos then and post them. That’ll be the end of it and we can get back to dachshund photos. I promise!

My list of chores today includes putting the plastic bin of Thanksgiving stuff back in the garage and bringing in the Christmas bins. We don’t have any decorations or lights up yet. I’d like to get a string of solar-powered lights to wrap around the palo verde tree in front of the house, and maybe put up a string of regular colored lights around the front door, but that’s about it. It’s not looking as if we’ll even have a Christmas tree this year. We plan to invite friends over for seafood on Christmas Eve, as we normally do, and I think there ought to be at least an attempt at a tree, but Donna and I disagree on what kind. I want an artificial one we can reuse for a few years while Donna wants a real one, so we’re locked in a tree stalemate.

The Christmas letter, on the other hand, is written. Now for the hard part: formatting and printing 60-plus address labels, stuffing and stamping envelopes, getting them in the mail to friends and family. My desk will be a mess for the next few days.

Donna’s desk now has my old 21″ iMac on it. She finally decided, three or four months after I offered it to her, to start using it. She was resistant to switching from PCs to Macs, but she’s been using a Mac laptop for quite a while now, so I guess she was ready. That’ll make things simpler in the office, I hope. She still uses a PC laptop, but only for digitizing artwork for her embroidery machine.

We watched an hour of Netflix’s three-hour-plus The Irishman last night. Pretty good stuff (we’ll watch the rest over the next couple of evenings). We’re both very into HBO’s His Dark Materials, breathless over every cliffhanger ending. I saw some asshole on Twitter bitching about Monday’s episode, titled The Dæmon Cages, saying it doesn’t give enough emphasis to the connection between humans and their dæmons in Lyra’s world, when to my mind that’s precisely what the episode is about, and now I’ve resolved to be less critical of the creative efforts of others lest I be mistaken for some Twitter asshole.

I almost said “some random Twitter asshole,” but caught myself in time. Twitterati use “random” and “rando” as nouns and employ them disparagingly. You see them used in tweets like “Clicked on some random’s profile on Twitter” or “Some rando questioned my expertise.” It comes across as belittling people for not being verified-account face cards or celebrities. How shallow do you have to be to think only the statements and opinions of celebs are worthwhile? Shoot me if I ever call someone a rando.

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