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Ramblings of a Perverted Moth Below are the 50 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Badnoodles" journal:

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October 30th, 2013
03:47 pm
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Here is one thing I now believe:

Only a drunken wager could result in a novel with the lines "...you hoot like an owl when you reach climax" and "He's probably using her as a sordid sex-puppet."

Of course, this is the same author that had a character apply the scientific method to fellatio, so I *could* be wrong...

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October 7th, 2013
09:20 pm
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West Virginia Things To Do #1: Arts Walk
I have been flirting with a blogging project for a couple of weeks, but it has been stymied by the fact that LJ has been blocked at the university, and I don't have a machine with a keyboard at home. Neither the kindle nor my Droid make for an enjoyable writing experience. But I figured out how to use TOR to get around the university blacklist, so here we are.

I have been living in West Virginia for a little over a year now. And I feel absolutely starved for contact with people who aren't my students, my coworkers, or my partner. If I can't make that contact with humans, at least I can make it with the land.

So I've been trying an experiment. At least once every couple of weeks, I've been actively trying new things. Getting out of the house. Going. Doing. I've started going to the Sunday morning farmer's market and the public library. Aaron and I went to a 14-course gastronomy dinner. I had spam musubi overlooking the nearby Cheat Lake. I took silly pictures of alpacas at the "West Virginia Fiber Festival".

And you know, it is making me feel better about living here. It's not urbpan's 100 Urban Species project, but if can attempt and document "30 Things To Do Near Morgantown, WV", I'll consider it a win.

In that vein, here is THING #1: Morgantown Arts Walk (October 3, 2013)

While I'm not super-enamored of Morgantown as a place to live, the downtown area is, well, charming. As in a lot of smaller towns, on the first Friday of every month, the local businesses stay open later and many do specials or demonstrations or what-have-you. For this particular first Friday, the downtown association really put together a good show, and Aaron and I went down to check it out. For $15, there was a tasting pavilion set up by some of the local restaurants, including the only Thai place and a brewpub. For me, the standout was the butternut squash soup from Black Bear Burrito. It was savory and creamy, but I must admit that I did not care for the crumbled candy corn used as a garnish. (No. Just no.). The random elderly Italian ladies who shared our table seemed terrified at the concept of crawfish; I was compelled to demonstrate proper mudbug head-sucking and tail extraction technique.

We then walked the streets - each of the participating businesses was marked with a tiki torch, which made it easy to find them. All of them had a featured artist or artists in addition to their usual wares. I didn't really see a lot of art that particularly spoke to me, except for some mixed-media pieces at the Arts Monongahela gallery involving the juxtaposition of trees and society. But even if I didn't care for their particular work, there was a lot of talent on display.

We also met a street musician who improvised a song to the prancing man in the giant breakfast sandwich suit. I wish I'd had video for that, because it was the kind of thing that only happens in the really good fever dreams, or after a good amount of psychedelics.

It was free (save for parking). It was a very pleasant fall night. Many places had free snacks. Really, the only drawback was that some places were so crowded that I couldn't appreciate the art, or attract the attention of a salesperson to buy something.


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September 18th, 2013
09:45 am
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I do not understand the slut pride movement.  I fully support and back someone's right to sleep with whom the choose, and that someone's choice of apparel has no bearing at all on their status of consent.


But to embrace the name "slut"...
A slut is to a voluptuary as a glutton is to a gourmand. One is a title to wear without shame, the other implies a complete lack of taste and self control, that you'll share your body with anything that wriggles.   And yes, it does invite judgement, much like we tend to judge people that stuff themselves with Ho-Hos and Jack in the Box and Hungry Man XXL frozen dinners. There's just as many calories in English trifle or duck confit with bearnaise sauce, but we (as a society) approve of appreciating fine food.


So be a sybarite, not a slut, in both behavior and nomenclature.

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June 16th, 2013
07:00 pm
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When speaking of modesty, there's a huge difference between "I'm covering myself beccause I don't want you to see me" and "I'm covering myself because I don't want to force you to see me."

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October 10th, 2012
05:59 pm
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Eb can't get here quickly enough, because I am rapidly turning into Foul Bachelor Frog.

Minus most of the "blast it with piss" bits, because I rather lack the appropriate equipment.

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October 8th, 2012
01:47 pm
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I am such a nerd. As I have been grading some papers, it has seemed like kids with last names in a certain section of the alphabet were turning in homework at a lower rate. So I used chi-square analysis to see if there was a difference among the four groups.

And it turns out, there is a weak corellation (p=.15) between last name and likelihood of homework submission.

Isn't science grand?

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September 30th, 2012
09:08 pm
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Thank the maker! I managed to unfuck the boot partition on my main computer at home. Not only do I have access to LJ on a full size keyboard instead of Swype, I can listen to music. Loudly. With profanity. I know my desktop is getting old, and it struggles with java and flash-heavy websites. But it still works. And it's got a decent monitor resolution and

Things are still a mess, and I find it very stressful. On the one hand, I want to unpack all these boxes and satisfy my anal need for organization and neatness.

On the other hand, I persist in thinking "I'll only be here for a year. What does it matter if I unpack these dishes that I never use?" Although I do like teaching, I like my students, and I like my coworkers, I feel very cut off. I'm an intense homebody, so it's very hard for me to meet people. And I don't have any family here, or even any internet friends (as far as I know). In many ways, it reminds me of my sojourn in Riverside - I hated that, too.

But good things have happend. I found out that I did pass my boards, and I am now an official member of the American Board of Forensic Entomologists. WVU gave me my own credit card, which I promptly used to buy maggots over the internet. And I figured out that I could park my motorcycle not 50' from my building - a far cry over the 40min commute by car. And ebony14 will be here by the end of the month. If I can ever get out from under my mountain of grading, I want to spend some time in Pittsburgh. At least I know I can get half price books, clothes that fit, and Swedish meatballs there.

Current Music: Dropkick Murphys - In The Streets Of Boston

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August 4th, 2012
07:02 pm
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I tell you, I am absolutely exhausted.

But there is very good news - I have a job! A great job! I am going to be a professor in the Forensic and Investigative Sciences Department at West Virginia University. And I'm starting in WV on the 20th. So it's been, and will continue to be, a pretty wild ride.

Wednesday, July 25th, I flew from Houston to Pittsburgh, then drove to Morgantown.
Thursday, I spent all day interviewing with the Forensic and Investitgative Sciences Department.
Friday, I drive to Pittsburgh, and fly home to Houston. As soon as I turn my phone on, I have a message from the department head telling me that I've gotten the job.
Saturday and Sunday, my aunt Heather and I box up and pack 80% of my 3 bedroom house.
Monday, I drive to Houston. I interview for a death investigator job at Harris County Forensic Science Institute. I go to lunch, and I have a phone interview with Hudson Valley Community College. I buy some specialty packing material, and a bunch of plants. I talk to friends, to family, and to professional mentors. I call WVU back, dicker for a bit, and come to an understanding with regards to pay and benefits.

Tuesday, I leave College Station at 4 to catch a flight to Pittsburgh. I drive from Pittsburgh to Morgantown. I pick up a paper, an apartment guidebook, and visit the chamber of commerce for a map and some advice. I make approximately 800 phone calls, drive around town a bit, and tour one townhouse.
Wednesday, I tour three townhouses, seven apartment complexes , and one stand-alone house. I also go to dinner with the department head and manage to eat pasta without dribbling marinara on myself. I present the five finalists to ebony14, and we decide to move on the house.
Thursday, I tour one more apartment complex, sign my offer of employment, talk to the relocation administrator, apply for a replacement social security card, eat lunch with the department head and his wife, and go through all the processing steps to be entered onto the WVU payroll. I pick up a hard drive full of presentations from one of my new coworkers, and then drive back across town to make absolutely sure that the house is acceptable in the daylight (it is.) I drive from Morgantown to Pittsburgh, fly to Houston, and then drive home to College Station.
Friday, I drive from College Station to San Antonio. I give a 50 minute talk. I drive home via Lockhart, where I sample the BBQ at three of the top five BBQ joints in the entire state of Texas. I price a bunch of shit.
Today, we had a yard sale starting at dawn. Everything that didnt' sell, we hauled off to charity. I've got a 26' U-Haul reserved. I've booked a painter to start Monday, and new carpet will be laid on Friday. Eb's return ticket is also booked.

I still have to finalize the lease in WV, arrange to hand off my house to a local management company, arrange for a make-ready maid service, manage the disconnect and connection of utilities, internet, and cable, take books to the used book store, pet stuff to the animal shelter, dispose of some hazardous waste, and put down 12 bags of mulch.

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July 24th, 2012
12:26 am
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Inspired by an offhand comment at the meeting last week, I want to start a citizen science program to track the extent of the invasion of the Hairy Maggot, Chrysomya rufiffacies. I think they are a great subject because we don't know if they are permanent residents or transients, and how far they range north and west.

The problem is that they unlike ladybugs or ivory billed woodpeckers, or other relatively charismatic fauna, I'm talking about a maggot. Something that grows in rotting animal tissue. Never mind that they are predators of our native decomposers, that the may be reducing biodiversity. And never mind that they make the best possible type of species for citizen science: Easily identified to species, and generally identifiable by smartphone photograph. I just can't imagine that anyone outside of people that I bully would bother to look at dead things and report back to a webpage.


Although it occurs to me that it's just 6.99 to add a domain name to my existing hosting account. So I totally registered hairymaggot.org, but I haven't yet put a site up.

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July 13th, 2012
01:57 pm
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This week has gone really awesomely well. I have two job interviews lined up and was invited to give a presentation at a large meeting next month. All my books arrived in the mail. Several checks have arrived in the mail. And people I've missed for a long time turned up on Facebook.

It's almost too good, you know? I'm profoundly grateful, because if the month before had sucked any harder, I'd be inside out. But like every gambler knows, a run of good luck never lasts. And I need every drop of luck I can get to face my board exam next week.

It's a 12 hour exam. No one has ever finished it faster than 10 hours. I have to get 80%+ on all sections in order to become board-certified. I've been studying very hard - honestly, harder than I studying for my PhD qualifying exams. (Some of you will remember that I woke up with my face paralyzed from the stress of those. I want to pass, and I need to pass. I need every credential I can get.

But whatever deity is responsible for this week, I thank you.

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June 21st, 2012
09:21 am
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If it's June, it must be time for more punched paper SantasCollapse )
Merry Texmas #2: Yellow Cowboy Boot

Canvas is designed by "A Collection of Designs", and stitches by Emily Pannier. I didn't make any major changes. Fibers are Designing Women, River Silks, and Thread Gatherer silk ribbon, Dinky Dyes, Gentle Art, Kreinik, Rainbow Gallery, Thread Worx, and Vineyard Silk, plus glass beads and Swarovski crystals.
They say peppermint is good for shoe odor, but light bulbs? Collapse )

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June 18th, 2012
02:43 pm
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The Entomologist vs. The Pantry Ecosystem
Yesterday, I waged war against the insects living in my pantry. It started off as a plain cleaning, but by the time I was done, I'd carried out 4 trash bags of stuff that was either contaminated by bugs or extremely expired.(or both)

Let me tell you what I found.

1.) Indianmeal moth, Plodia interpunctella

(Image gratuitously hotlinked from wikipedia)

The presence of this guy was the main impetus for the clean up. See, while it's easier to ignore a lot of other critters, having a bunch of moths flying around your house is unavoidable. As pests moths go, they are pretty attractive. The adults don't bite - some say they don't even feed - but they do tend to leave a nasty smear when you squish them. The worst thing about Plodia is the caterpillars. They feed on all kinds of stuff in a pantry, and they leave behind a nasty silk webbing in their feeding sites, which tend to the oily vegetable or carbohydrate. And they are quite good chewers, too. Yesterday I found them in a closed party can of mixed nuts, inside several unopened packages of pasta, in a sleeve of Ritz crackers, and in a sealed jar of dry polenta. I still can't figure that out out - the container was *waterproof*, but they got in.

Speaking of how they got in, I'm lucky in that I know precisely how they got here. Usually, bird seed and pet food is the culprit, as it's held to lower sanitation levels than food intended for human consumption. This time, it came from an open bag of Gardetto's that my aunt left in my house. She had an active infestation, Gardetto's make an excellent greasy, carb-y, protected food source for the tiniest larvae. Since I don't tend to eat them, and merely left the bag in the pantry, they had plenty of time to establish a colony.

Indianmeal moths are hard to get rid of. The most important thing is to break the life cycle. That means I had to remove and clean up everything that has caterpillars in it. I also checked inside the flaps of cardboard boxes, and the plastic seams on bags, as the pupae will shelter there. Pupae also like vertical corners, such as where the wall and ceiling meet or on the edges of the underside of shelves. I squashed and wiped without mercy, but I disposed of every caterpillar and pupa I could find. Now that I've taken out most of the younger generation, I'll pick up a pheromone trap to deal with the adult males. The trap is sticky, and baited with a little chemical nugget that smells like a female moth in the mood for love.

It's really funny to watch them try to mate with the lure nugget. Males are not the brightest of creatures.

2.) Carob moth, Ectomyelois ceratoniae
I only found a couple of these nondescript gray moths, and they were exclusively located inside two unopened packages of Medjool dates. If not for the fact that I had Tom Perring on my graduate committee in California, I never would have been able to positively ID the species. Trust me, there are a bunch of moths in the family Pyralidae that are greyish-white and feed on stored products. However, carob moth is one of the few insect pests of date production in California, particularly in large, moist, unpitted dates like the Medjool.

What this means is that the packages of dates were already infested when I bought them. Will that stop me from buying and eating dates in the future? Absolutely not! Dates are delicious, and I can't taste the moth eggs.

Since I didn't find any live ones, the only thing I needed to do was dispose of the contaminated dates.

3.) Red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum

(again, gratuitous hot-linking)

Ordinarily, you need a nice magnifying glass or a microscope in order to tell red flour beetle from its close relative, confused flour beetle, Tribolium confusum. In this case, I could use behavior to tell them apart. I have seen a few of these beetles fly to my full-spectrum Ott Lite, and only red flour beetles are known to fly. Although this beetle is sometimes called the flour weevil, they are actually members of the family Tenebrionidae, or "darkling beetles". One of the primary defenses of the larger darkling beetles is that they use chemical warfare, squirting a noxious, sulfurous liquid from their back ends. Eleodes actually aims its ass like a cannon. For the flour beetles, these noxious compounds contaminate the flour with a foul smell and flavor. (I guess benzoquinones and caprylic acid are not going to be the next big thing in molecular gastronomy). So even if you were to pick out all the beetle shit, shed skins, and actual beetles in your flour, it would still reek.

Flour beetles are pretty widespread. They could have gotrten into the flour at the mill or packing plant, during transportation, on the shelf at the grocery tore, ore right htere in my own pantry. It's hard to say.

There is a pheromone trap for the beetle, but I probably won't bother with it. Once you get rid of the beetle population in the food source, they usually aren't a problem again.

4.) Varied Carpet Beetle, Anthrenus verbasci

(hotlinked from whatsthatbug.com)

I found some of these guys and their larvae feeding on a bag of dried cuttlefish that had gotten wedged in the back of the pantry. I wouldn't mention them at all, except that it was esciting to see a species that I have encountered in a professional capacity. Carpet beetles will feed on dried hair, skin, and feathers, so they are pretty common on older dead bodies. (The converse is not true. Just becasue you have carpet beetles in your house does not mean there's a body nearby. OR DOES IT??)

Getting rid of carpet beetles is a monstrous pain in the ass because they can eat just about everything besides synthetic fibers. So everything from wool coats to leather-bound books are vulnerable to hungry beetles.

I just threw out the cuttlefish.

5.) Assorted Spiders, Family Theridiidae
I can't give a better ID, because many of these fell victim to a certain "squish first, ask questions later" mentality, and the rest RAN FOR THEIR ARACHNID LIVES. But the webs of cobweb spiders, coupled with the large-assed body shape are relatively distinctive.

The presence of spiders in my pantry tells me that there was enoguh going on in there that they had a moving food resource, and enough of one to support multiple spiders. Actually, had I not been in a mood to clean out everything, I would have left the spiders in situ. They can't do anything to harm me. If anything, they are providing a beneficial service inside my pantry.

But as far as clean up, all I did was wipe away the webs. Maybe they will return. I kind of doubt it - with all their prey hopefully gone, there's no need for them to continue hanging around.

6.) American cockroach, Periplaneta americana

Luckily for me, I found only one of these. It was a nymph, and it was already dead, meaning that it never produced more of the little bastards. Roaches are a fact of life in Texas. No matter how clean your home is, you probably have at least a few American cockroaches around somewhere. American cockroaches are also one fo the few insects that I have an absolutely irrational reaction to. I hate them. I know, intellectually, that they are harmless. They don't bite, they don't sting, they are probably cleaner than the cats. But they fly. If you've ever had a roach in your hair, as i have, it's a horrible experience. The little tibial spurs and tarsal claws get tangles, and you have a dirty great bug crawling around where you can't exactly see it. It is way worse than having 10-20 june bugs inside your shorts. And even when they are not flying, they stink something awful.

American cockroaches are one of the species that's big enough to carry the Robo-roach array, which I just wanted to plug becasue the combination of neuroscience and entomology tickles my fancy. And who doesn't want to perform unneccessary surgery to control something's brain? It's the best mad scientist simulator *ever*.


So there are six species of things that I found in my pantry. I'm sure tehre are still bugs in there, but within acceptable levels. This is an important part of the concept of integrated pest management. You have to accept that there are insects everywhere - even in your house. You then have to decide how many is too many, and when you've got more than "too many", you take the appropriate steps to reduce the population size. As an entomologist, and somewhat lazy person, I have a higher tolerance for indoor insect life than many. I don't bother with the earwigs I often find in my bathroom, or care at all about the indoor spiders. I've got some silverfish, but not enough to deploy pesticides. And pesticides aren't always the answer. I didn't use anything more toxic than soap getting rid of these guys. I didn't need to go to Tactical Nuclear Strike to deal with the problem. Even for cockroaches, I just step on them when I see them. When you get right down to it, about the only species that gets chemical treatment is red imported fire ant, because there's really no other way of dealing with the bitches.

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June 7th, 2012
11:34 pm
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I finally got caught up on the five episodes of Mad Men I had in the hopper. (and fairly spoilery, so you may want to skip if you're not current).

"The Other Woman" actually had me crying, which has never, ever happened before due to the television. The closest has been some of the Moffat-penned episodes fo Doctor Who, whihc tend to be quite emotionally involving. But here? Tears. Tears for Joan's horrible Catch-22, and hatred for Pete. And of course, there was the sucker punch of Joan realizing that Don, alone of all of them, had been in her corner. I don't blame her for her decision - it's the one I probably would have made. It's just terrible to realize the fallout that will ensue when she's a voting partner on a board that views her as a high-class whore.

I also found the interaction of Lane and Joan interesting. The first episode, he had her back, letting her know that she was irreplaceable. A few episodes back, Lane was calling Pete a "grimy little pimp" and righteously beating the shit out of him. And now, wiith his own nuts in the fire, he's willing to serve as a pimp himself. I'm torn on the interpretation of his monetary suggestions to Joan. On the one hand, since he's already had his hand in the cookie jar, having her take the $50K in cash will expose his behavior, so he has a personal interest in not paying her this way. On the other, I think he does like and respect Joan enough that if he has to begrime himself, he's going to do as best for her as he can by giving her the position and security she couldn't earn on her own. And yet, surely he must know that setting her up in this way means that she will spend the rest of her live working with men who know for absolute certain that she earned her goods on her back. However grateful the men may be in this instant, that will fade to condescension in no time flat.

And then, of course, was the absolute sucker-punch of Don. I don't like Don Draper as a character. I was not expecting him to be the good guy here - albeit the good guy that arrives too late to do anything. It's ironic, because he alone of that group would not hold it against a woman to maker her way up that way. He's never seemed judgemental in that respect.

The other thing I see is Ginsburg. Ginsburg give me the creeps, and I can't put my finger on why. He seems to have a simultaneously predatory attitude to women and a somewhat revulsive response to sex - see the "Cinderella" shoes and the Jaguar ad copy juxtaposed with his rejection of of the Chicago nurse photos and Megan's actress friend crawling on the table. Plus there was that whole bizarre sequence about being a Martian born in a concentration camp. He's almost evocative of Norman Bates, in a way. I don't see any of the other major recappers or commentators getting the same vibe, so maybe it is just me. But there's something weird about Ginsburg, and given how dark this show can go, I'm not certain I want to see it played out.

But God, this is television at it's best.

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May 16th, 2012
11:12 am
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Since I did recently graduate, a number of family and friends gave me gifts. They didn't need to, at all, and I'm actually kind of embarassed at what they did.

If I do say so myself, I'm very good at sending thank you notes for monetary gifts, thanks to a little trick I picked up from an etiquette-conscious aunt:

I won't deposit the check or put the gift card in my wallet until I have written a thank-you note to the giver. It's a solid reminder, especially for cash.

Now, thank you notes for *things* often get forgotten. I'm really bad at that. I don't mean to be, and I feel bad about it. But sometimes you get to the point where it's been so long that the act of sending a note seems like it would only draw more attention to your atrocious lack of courtesy, and that the gift in question is likely forgotten. I can only hope that family is understanding about that.

(No, this is not a passive-agressive post directed at someone else. I'm just working through the piles of stuff on my desk, which includes a number of gift cards)

Current Music: Static-X - Love Dump

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May 15th, 2012
09:37 pm
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Today was a very productive day!

I took my car into the shop, got my state inspection, and had the brake pads replaced. Well, I say replaced. There wasn't actually any pad left in the front left wheel, which accounted for the horrible grinding noise. And the rear brakes had "some kind of sticky red gunk" on them. But now all four wheels are clean and safe. Good news for me, not so much for my Amex.

I had an impromptu phone interview with the lab monkey supervisor at Bryan PD! He was impressed with my credentials, but he wanted to be sure that I would stick around for a few years, and not just get the citizens of Bryan to underwrite my training and then skip off. I did my best, telling him that I've lived in this town off and on since 1993, that I own my house, and I'm unlikely to go anywhere. That seemed to assuage him. He also asked me a question that I have yet to see in any of the many, many interview tip articles I've read: "What is a work situation that causes you stress?"

Now, the actual answer is "working for and with idiots", but I didn't say that. Instead, I went with "It stresses me when people's mess spills into my work area", which 1.) made me sound like the organized, neat scientist I actually am and 2.) not like a whiner who can't deal with multitasking, weird odors, and gossipy coworkers. I was pretty proud of coming up with that, as I had no idea that I was going to be interviewed.

I look at it that there are some pros and there are some cons. On the plus side, I would not have to move. I have family and many friends in Texas. Since it's a small department, they'll train me in a wide variety of techniques. I'll be on a day shift, with weekends off. On the down side, the pay is only $16/hr. I'd be the most junior person in the department, which means I'd draw all the shit jobs. And I'd be on-call pretty much 24-7/365. And since it's a small department, there won't be too much that happens that's interesting.

I booked tickets for Canada to interview for that post-doc. Flying out of BCS was a ridiculous amount of money, so I'm going to drive down to Houston and fly from there. Much, much cheaper.

I also submitted my application packet to take the board certification forensic entomology exam in July. In going through my case history, I discovered two cases that I'd worked that weren't in my CV, and one case on the CV that I didn't actually work, but only read the report. So it's a good thing I went through with a fine-tooth comb before I turned the thing in.

As I said - a productive day.

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May 10th, 2012
11:11 pm
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Interesting news on the job hunt. I was offered a post-doc in Canada, so if all else fails, I've got a fall-back job that I can take. It seems like a goo dposition on the surface, but I'm more than a little leery that the PI took 3 months to get back to me. It's a one year position, with the option to renew for another year.

At any rate, I'm flying up there at the end of the month for a visit and to work out details. I want to be damned sure I know what I'm getting into before I formally agree to anything. I also need to pray that I hear back from Platteville or Purdue before I have to sign a contract.

And it looks like I'm cleared to graduate, and there really will be a diploma in the tube tomorrow morning. It's kind of surreal - I've been a student of some kind since I was 3 years old. Now, I'm finally not. I won't know hat to do with myself.

(Also, I have to use the icon that mothoc made for me many moons ago.)

Tags: ,

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January 12th, 2012
07:25 pm
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Bigger fiber projects, and foreign language instructions

Lizzie Kate's 2009 Boo Club banner.

I wish I'd included something for perspective - this came out about 2.5" long.

I had this kitted up in my stash box for quite a long time before I finally got around to starting it. It went together pretty quickly, and then it stalled for months while my LNS dicked around getting me a spool of Kreinik. (Never do mail-order through Ginger's Needlearts of Austin!). I made two fairly significant alterations to the pattern. For one, I swapped out the bland yellow used in the stars for each panel with glow-in-the-dark Kreinik. I tried a couple of different glow in the dark flosses before settling on the kreinik. DMC glow floss is bone white, which I didn't like, and didn't glow enough if I blended it with a yellow floss. I had some unnamed floss left over from a stitch kit, but it was an abhorrent lime green. So I went to my nemesis, Kreinik.

The other thing I did was add candy to the top of the border as well as the bottom. The original pattern just had the checkerboard, but as the pattern is an odd number of stitches wide, there was a weird compensation right in the top right corner. Plus, who doesn't like more candy. But looking at it now, I wish I'd left a little more space between the candy and the words.

Silver Dragonfly
Designed by Nora Corbett for Wichelt.

When he visited at my birthday in November, ebony14 picked this for me to do as my next largish piece I almost feel like this was an example of bait & switch on the designer's part. The picture on the chart shows a very muted, sophisticated, and silver winged dragonfly, and that's what I was expecting to stitch. Instead, the colors are much more in the pastel family, and the blue and pink floss stand out strongly against the metallic Kreinik. I did make a couple of changes: I swapped out the fuzzy Wisper for a black perle cotton for the legs and antennae, and I stitched the antennae to be nominally anatomically accurate. I'm an entomologist, and I know my odonates - they are not fuzzy, and they have short, almost spiky antennae. I hate it when designers do grossly inaccurate insects.


I picked up this little kit when I was in Japan back in July. It's more traditional embroidery than my usual style, but I liked it, and I had seen lots of violets. And though it is small, it was a fairly ambitious project for me because all the instructions were in Japanese. Fortunately, they were quite well illustrated, so I had a fighting chance of turning out something decent.
I'm not sure what the actual name of the design is, but I believe the designer is Kazuko Aoki. It's a beginner difficulty thing, and nothing special. But I'm proud of myself for making it come out half-way decent.

I don't think that the floss was regular cotton DMC - it felt far too silky, and was very pleasant to work with.

Princess Roll (Or as I call it, the Kawaii Cake!)

This was another of my Japan purchases. I saw (and ate!) green tea flavored pastries several times. And it doesn't hurt that I thought it fell into the realm of so-cute-I-had-to-buy-it.

I was even more nervous about this one because it isn't embroidery, but more 3-d construction. But like the piece above, the instructions were very well illustrated, and the felt happened to be pre-cut. So I was able to put this entire thing together over the course of a 3 part miniseries about Martin Luther. The only thing I didn't get quite right was the whipped cream puff. The picture shows something that's pointed at the top, while mine is pressed inward. But there were a whole bunch of arrows and instructions on that bit that I couldn't follow. But I did eventually manage to shape it into something that looks like a squirt of whipped cream to my fairly experienced eye.

(cross-posted to cross_stitch)

Current Music: Rush - Subdivisions

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06:35 pm
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Punched paper projects and a couple of slightly twee hearts
I stitch all the time. But I'm really bad about documenting what I've done and putting it on the internet. so it tends to come out in rather giant blorts, rather than a sprinkling from time to time.

Also, I am terribly sorry that I'm such a bad photogrpaher. I can get stuff in focus, but I suck so hard at lighting, it's not even funy

This series of 6 tassels (Orchid, Plum, Rainbow Teal, Sapphire, Willow, and Wisteria) was from Mill Hill in 2001. They look fantastic under indirect lighting - very sparkly. But they were a pain in the butt to assemble. They didn't want to fold evenly because two sides were one square wider than the other two. And since they aren't perfectly square, the tassel part doesn't always want to hang straight. But overall, I'm happy with how they turned out. I wouldn't put them on an Xmas tree, though - they need light from all sides to really stand out.

Here is Melchior, from the 2011 "Magi Trilogy" series. The Magi have always been my favorite part of the nativity sotry, so I was very excited to see a series of these guys. I will have to say that it took me forever to do all that beading - the small preview image just doesn't do justice to how many beads there and how rich they make him look.

Bluebird Santa and Cardinal Santa, 2003 "Alpine Santas" series. Stitched as charted, backed with black felt.

These are the first two of this series. Compared with the later Santas, they aren't nearly as detailed or distinct. But I'm at heart a completionist: some months ago, I gave into my baser impulses and bought all of the punched paper santas that I didn't already own. And then I picked up 2011's series when it came out, so I'm now several series behind. But nwo that I'm done with my dissertation, I'll knock them out quickly, I think.

"Ireland" and "Japan" from Victoria Sampler's "International Hearts" Series.
I have a bunch of these hearts - countries that I've visited, and countries where my family has come from. Alas, they haven't released any of the more obscure countries in a while, so I may never get to make one for Malaysia or Czecholsovakia. Anyway, this kit came with an odd burgundy floss to use for the flag and to fill the specialty stitch. I say odd, because the Irish flag is green, white, and *orange*. So I pulled an appropriate shade from my stash and subbed it. I also gave the leprechaun eyes and gold buttons, because I felt like he deserved a little more personality.

Unlike Ireland, Japan is stitched pretty much as charted, though I do think that geisha is a little garish.

(cross-posted to cross_stitch)

Current Music: Rush - New World Man

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November 24th, 2011
05:49 am
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my liver has a sad from drinking 4 16oz red bulls and a coke over the course of about five hours.

But i've written 23 pages of dissertation in that same time period, so maye it was worth it.

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November 23rd, 2011
01:16 am
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Three big chapters down. Two short ones to go.

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November 2nd, 2011
01:12 pm
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I went and saw Three Musketeers last night with Sancho, Michelle, & Tasker. We actually caught the 2D version, which was something of a mistake - only nominally "in focus" at all. I'm not sure if this is just due to the fact that the studio doesn't care about the 2D audience or because our theater is cheap and presents the "2D" showing by just popping the polarizer off the projector.

It was a terrible film. Just really terrible. But I enjoyed the hell out of it. I admit that at least a third of that enjoyment came from sitting next to Sancho, who was nursing a hip flask and making desparing comments with me.

telophase found Orlando Bloom to be a scene chewer, but I must respectfully disagree. I didn't find him to be feasting on the sets, mostly because any lines he had were completely overshadowed by the fact that his attitude and body language seemed to be channeling some sort of high camp drag queen. It was amazing, and I could not help but giggle *every* time he showed up on screen. And I think he *knew* that he was playing a greasy cut-rate Casanova in pumps and was loving every minute of it.

It's a really contrast to Porthos, who is also vain as hell and more than a bit of a dandy. But Ray Stevenson was able to pull him off as not one whit effeminate, and I loved him for it. Although honestly, he was playing Titus Pullo again, just in a beard and doublet instead of a tunic. It worked, though. Athos and Aramis were woefully under-characterized, particularly Aramis. He's such a devious, calculating bastard, and the extent of his developent was "Religious, but occasionally pretends to be Batman". Instead there was a lot of D'Artagnan being a youthful jackass. Which is pretty accurate to the original book, but not so interesting on the screen.

Part of the lack of characterization was that there were maybe only 30 pages of dialogue for the whole film. the vast majority was swordfighitng, explosions, and gratuitious 3D elements. Come to think of it, any of the scenes where people were actually talking reminded me of the cut scenes of a video game. then there'd be a map element to telll you where the next level was, and then there would be loud noises and grunting.

It was such a weird hodge-podge of a movie. It was like they put up movie posters of The Princess Bride, Pirates of the Caribbean, National Treasure, Zorro, and John Hughes-esque Teen Rom Com #32 on the wall, and when they couldn't think of dialog or plot point, they just threw darts at the wall and cribbed from whichever one they hit.

And they really blew their wad on the over-the-top cheese factor in the first five minutes or so. There is precisely one other scene with that level of insanity, coindidentally involving Milla Jovovich in her contractually-agreed underwear.

It's not a film to see alone. My enjoyment came largely from the lulz we were able to mine from its ridiculousity, not because the film itself is either funny or interesting. But if you've got a designated driver, it'd be worth taking a bottle of something interesting and finding a theater with a high tolerance for heckling.

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September 29th, 2011
04:19 pm
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And here are all my small finishes. I only let myself work on two projects at a time, so I tend to rack up the little ones while chugging away at the big ones.

Ten! Ten finishes, ah! ah! ah!Collapse )

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03:43 pm
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I think it has been ONE MILLION YEARS since I posted any finished needlework. But I have been stitching up a storm - it's a decompression thing.

Here is the big stuff. I've got a bunch of little things in a second post.

Halloween Sprouts
Halloween Sprouts by Hinzeit
2x2 on 28ct Jobelan. I don't know if anyone else has done this piece, but the chart and finishing directions are really terrible. There are symbols on the graph not on the key, there are symmetry errors, and things on the directions that aren't anywhere in the graph or the photo. In the end, I just ended up doing a crap ton of backstitching around all the elements, as it really does make them stand out from the background.

Frank N Boo by Bent Creek
2x2 on unknown fabric. Stitched with suggested DMC rather than variegated threads.
I worked on this on my trip to Asia this summer, but I didn't get around to actually finishing it until much later. The instructions claim that it fits into any 5x7 frame, but I found that it's exactly 7" tall - the rabbet on most frames overlaps it. /However/, I had a frame intended for one of those old APS panoramic photos, and it fit perfectly, though I may put a mat on it at some point.

Pole Star
Pole Star by Laura J. Perrin
Rainbow Gallery metallics, perle cotton, Caron Watercolours and Waterlillies, and glass beads on 18 mesh mono canvas. The acrylic "jewels" provided were replaced with Swarovski crystals.

Even more than counted cross stitch, I love counted needlepoint. or canvaswork. I really think that it works with the geometric nature of the fabric. Anyway, this is a companion piece to Independence Day, which I completed last year. I think of it more as comet than as Polaris, but I love the mixture of symmetry and asymmetry in this piece.

Winter Wonderland by Mill Hill
DMC, glass beads, and crystal snowflakes on punched paper.

This was quite the bear to stitch - with the exception of the dark blue, all of the color values are really close together. It came with a ceramic bunny button, but I didn't like the folksy look on the monochrome sophistication of the trees. So I picked out a couple of glass snowflakes instead.


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September 28th, 2011
03:17 pm
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I've set my defense date. December 14th.

And now, we run for the roses.

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September 23rd, 2011
03:59 pm
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A couple of days ago, I dropped my droid, fracturing the front glass. A quick look at the internet told me that any completely new phone would rung me $250+, which I didn't like. But for $30, I could order a replacement digitzer. The only trick was that I'd have to install it. So I ordered the part and looked up disassembly videos on youtube.

Honestly, it was like performing surgery - tiny little ribbon cables and junctions that had to be carefully disassembled, easily stripped miniature screws, fragile glass and plastic. Aside from the crippling feeling of "Oh god, oh god, what if I fuck this up?", it was rather a lot of fun.

The important thing, to me, was that I could do it. I could open up a device that I own, take it apart, swap out a part, and put it back together. And I did so with the help of people on the internet. It almost felt transgressive, because it's generally frowned upon for an end user to tinker with electronic devices. Modding one's playstation or rooting a phone or really any kind fiddling with a device you own is naughty. Even if it's only to replace a broken part without the authorization of the company that made it. Ending is better than mending.

So here's to nominally user-serviceable parts. open source software, standardized hardware, an a willingness to at least give it a try.

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September 16th, 2011
01:41 pm
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#62: Kushiel's Avatar (Kushiel's Legacy) by Jacqueline Carey

So much better than the second one, which was mostly political intrigue and not a whole heck of a lot of character impact. This one was much better, but it struggled with making Phedre a little to much of a Sue. Of course, part of the point is htat she is explicitly makred as the chosen of a god, so I guess that taste goes down a little better. But I'm glad that Phedre will not be the oritagonist for any more books set in this continuity.

#63: Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

This is one of the Disc books that I'm in two minds about . The story fo Death as Bill Door is some of the most touching stuff that Pterry ever wrote. But the business with Windle Poons and the mall was just...ugh. Still, it's got one of my favorite lines in it: "Lord, what can the harvest hope for if not for the care of the reaper man".

#64: Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett
Yet another of the books where the wizards kind of got shoehorned in. The stuff with Ridcully was important, yes, but what was the point of having Stibbons and the Librarian along? Still, it had more of Casanunder, and I love that character.

#65:Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
A reallly, really excellent young YA. It's got an active, pragmatic female protagonist (Creel), dragons with distinct personalities (One is a neurotic with a collection of dogs), and just enough medieval fantasy to keep it fun. It did not hurt in the least that Creel liked to embroider - it's fairly unusual to see that hobby portrayed in a positive light. Usually, it just indicates characters are kind of boring.

There's also some surprising romance. Not only is it surprising for who it involves, but that they are all plot significant characters first, and romantic interests second. And nobody plays the damsel-in-distress, which I quite relished.

I liked this one so much that I want other people to read it - I'll happily loan my kindle copy to anyone who likes it. Otherwise, go download the teaser chapter. If that doesn't sell you on it, nothing will.

#66: Fascinated by Various Authors
A series of short shories/novelettes. More erotica, frankly, than trashy romance novel, with the D/s elements, the role-playing, and -yes- female on male butt play. That last is really the most surprising, because the author managed to work some prostate tickling into the story in a way that was sweet rather than vaguely icky. That same story featured older protagonists outside of the usual "white, wealthy, aristocratic" mold of historical romance.

#67:Hello Kitty Must Die by Angela S. Choi
One part Chuck Palanhuik, one part Quentin Tarantino, one part Amy Tan. The "Hello Kitty". I loved the black humor, the snarkiness, the bile, as expressed in my earlier post about the baby-shaped punching bag. It really balanced out the self-important navel gazing and name dropping that characterized much of the rest of the plot.

My main problems with the book were that the authorial voice largely overtook the character's voice at times, and that the ending was pretty much lifted verbatim from Heathers. Though really, given the setup, there were only two ways for the book to end, and only the Heather's ending woudl fit with the pscyho chic tone fo the rest of the novel.

This is another one I'd highly recommend and loan out in kindle format.

#69: In the Garden of Temptation by Cynthia Wicklund.

In a word: bad. In a few more words: It was free, and I got what I paid for.

#70: Pompeii: City on Fire by T.L. Higley
This two-viewpoint historical novel started out with an interesting premis: an upper-class Roman coming to Pompeii to lick his wounds after an embarassing political defeat; and an escaped Jewish slave who disguises herself as a man to become a gladiator.

And for awhile, it continued well: Cato cannot avoid getting involved in politics, and Ariella struggles with keepign her gender a secret and relative poor performance in gladiator school. But then, they both get involved with the seccrect sect of Christians living in Pompeii, and the novel's focus changes to a conversion story. If it were just a plot element, I could have swallowed it, but it very much becomes the focus of the last 25-30% of the book.

It is well-written and as far as I can tell, historically accurate. But I really hate bait and switch religious fiction.

#71: The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

Don't judge me. Please. (but I secretly liked it a lot).

#72: The Tick: The Complete Edlund by Ben Edlund


#73: You CAN Train Your Cat by Gregory Popovich

Yes, this is the book by the guy who runs the cat circus. I'm not sure any of it is terribly useful unless you don't own a cat, or have never been around them. And it's a bit anthropomorphic. But the sotries of hwo he started preforming with animals and how he picks them and trains them makes it interesting more as a memoir than a manual.

I can however attest that I have used his training tips to successfully teach Ziggy to lie around all day like a bum.


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September 6th, 2011
03:43 am
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I'm so tired I can't half see straight.

But it's the last experiment. I can do this.

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September 1st, 2011
05:08 pm
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Things my students have misspelled so far:

  • Brown: Bronw

  • Cargo: Cago

  • Haired, Collared, Buttoned: Haird, collard, buttond, bottant

  • Beret: Buree, bare, berrat, burret, baree, barret, barat, bernie, "that french hat I can't spell"

  • Wig: Whig (x3)

  • Suede: swayde, suade,

  • Corduroy: corderio

  • Jeans: genes

  • Collared: collard

...and several variations on "khaki", but I'll give them a pass on that one, as I can't always spell it correctly myself.


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August 30th, 2011
12:30 pm
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I went to Las Vegas this past weekend to visit my family - I haven't been out there since Xmas.

I had a wonderful visit, wherein I did Five Awesome things.

#1: I went to Stitcher's Paradise and bought ALL THE THINGS. And by all the things, I mean twenty new projects, most of which are quite small. More of my crazy punched paper Santas and other little things that can be completed in a day. Not that I can start anything new until I've finished the 3 projects currently in progress. Two of them have been stalled for months waiting on a shipment from Ginger's in Austin. I will never, ever, order anything from Ginger's again. They are just fucking incompetent.

#2: The least awesome of the five, we went to see Crazy Awesome Warren's new jewelry store so I could get a ring repaired. He does such nice work - had a 155 carat topaz pendant/brooch "fruit" with tiny gemstone blossoms. The stone was the size of a bantam chicken egg. Absolutely gorgeous. But well out of my price range, alas.

#3: My mother had wanted to go to dim sum in Chinatown for some time, but was hesitant to go with just my stepdad and brother. But now that they understand that really it's just "point at what looks tasty", I think they'll go more often. My brother made an absolute pig of himself with the shrimp har gow - I think he ate 3 orders by himself. I was just glad to get hold of some nice fresh bolo bao, which I haven't had since California.

#4: And as if that wasn't enough, on Sunday we went to Sushi-mon. Now, I'll grant you that any place that serves all-you-can-eat sushi is not going to have the absolute apex of quality sushi. And I'll admit that their nigiri was not a patch on Sushi Dai at Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo. However, they make DELICIOUS American-style rolls. Instead of conveyor belt or buffet style, you order in rounds and the chef makes it right in front of you. I think between the four of us, we ate fifteen or sixteen rolls. Total debauchery.

#5: The last time I was out in Vegas, the local news channel did a little segment on a Russian guy that has a show on the Strip featuring trained animals from the animal shelter. And--well, let Youtube show it better than I can tell it. This is essentially one of the segments of the show:

It was basically an hour and a half of animal tricks with dogs, cats, rats, doves, a parrot, and geese doing the chicken dance. And Popovich himself does some really impressive juggling feats, including juggling while balanced on a 9' freestanding ladder. It's the rare kind of show that's "family friendly" without being "totally lame".

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August 19th, 2011
03:27 pm
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This is a series of paragraphs from Hello Kitty Must Die by Angela S. Choi

But not the black and white photos of defecating zoo animals in glass box frames. Those said Sean. His statement on wall art.

And the large punching bag shaped like a giant baby hanging from the ceiling and anchored to the floor with a metal chain. I punched its swollen belly and it wailed like a cholericly newborn, sound more and more like a stuck pig. [...]

Sean picked up a baseball bat that was leaning against the wall corner. He sung at the bawling baby. Hard. Harder. Until the noise stopped.

"My new toy. It's very therapeutic. Helps me deal with any aggression I have. You have to hit it until it stops screaming. Like it?"

Now, I haven't finished the book, so I'm withholding final judgment. But I knew I had purchased an express ticket to hell when my first three responses were.

1.) Uncontrollable giggles.
2.) Dude, where can I get one?

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August 17th, 2011
04:39 pm
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I realized that I have not updated my reading list since April.

This is just what I can remember reading, or what I read in e-book form. I know there are a couple more that I read in dead tree form, but I can't remember the title off the top of my head. For some reason, I have been reading VORACIOUSLY the past few months. And I just bought a whole sackful of stuff when I went to the Plano Half-Price Books.

Before I left for Japan, I loaded my phone up with .yar format discworld books. (That I don't feel bad about at all, because they caused me to buy them in paper form). I was working on re-reading the early part of the series.
#20: Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
#21: Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
#23: Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
#24: Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
#25: Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
#26: Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett
#27: Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett
#28: Eric by Terry Pratchett
#29: Guards, Guards by Terry Pratchett
#30: Mort by Terry Pratchett
#31: Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
#32: Sourcery by Terry Pratchett

Occasionally Terrible, Occasionally Awesome, Usually Trashy Romance Novels
Also prior to going on vacation, I bought a bunch of Free-$2.00 romances. I'm going to stop apologizing for my embarrassing love of trashy historical romance novels. They are like crack for my brain.

#33: A Proper Companion by Candice Hern
#34: A Change of Heart by Candice Hern
#35: Miss Lacey's Last Fling by Candice Hern
#36: An Affair of Honor by Candice Hern
#37: The Best Intentions by Candice Hern
#38: A Garden Folly by Candice Hern

"A Proper Companion" was a Kindle freebie some time ago, and I picked it up. Although the plot on that one was pretty obvious from the outset, I was taken in by Hern's wonderful authorial voice and heroines that aren't complete friggin' idiot Barbie clones. It's kind of weird, because I usually prefer fairly explicit/kinky/PwP stuff, but the smuttiest Hern gets is passionate tonsil hockey. I'd highly recommend Garden Folly or Best Intentions to any regency fan.

#39: Unlocked by Courtney Milan
#40: Adora by Bertrice Small (OH JOHN RINGO NO. Multiple scenes with gratuitous child molestation, and a whole lot of rape.)
#41: Arabian Pearl by Emma Wildes (The pearl in question? Spooge. Plus the bizarre plot construction of "I can't rescue you from sexual slavery if I don't rape you a little first")
#42: A Fool Again by Eloisa James
#43: The Mudlark by D. Jacobs
#44: Secrets of Midnight by Miriam Minger

#45:Kushiel's Chosen by Jacqueline Carey
#46:A Regimental Murder by Ashley Gardner
#48: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen <- Late to the party, but also excellent, if somewhat schmoopy.
#49: Viking Warrior by Judson Roberts
#50: Silken Thread Patricia Ryan <- A medieval retelling of Rear Window

#51: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
#52: Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
#53: Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
#54: Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery
#55: The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer <- The one with the gender-switch lesbian retelling of Hades and Persephone.

#56: See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Roxanna Elden
#57: Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You by Sam Gosling <- Interesting, straddling the line between pop psychology and peer-reviewed science.
#58: Malaysia - Culture Smart! by Victor King
#59: Lonely Planet Guides: Japan- Kansai by Chris Rowthorn <- Very useful for Kyoto/Osaka
#60: Lonely Planet Tokyo by Andrew Bender and Timothy N. Hornyak <- Super useful for Tokyo.
#61: DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Japan by John Benson


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August 10th, 2011
12:23 am
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Scrapbooking is an amazingly messy activity.

And I'm not tlking about the fancy scrapbooks twith the electronic shape cutters, or the boxes of brads & ribbon & stickers and shit. I'm talking about the basic act of using some double stick tabe to adhere pictures, ticket stubs, and other bits of paper-ish ephemera to some cardstock, and sticking it in a plastic album sleeve.

Even so, there it has made one hell of a mess in my office. There are stacks of things intended to go together. Thejre are stacks of blank things wiaing to have shit glued to them. There are little bits of paper that have been cropped off *everywhere*, and more than a couple that are just stuck to me.

And that's not even counting the paper cutter, scissors, pens, pencils, and markers involved.

Still, it's fun to actually make something out of the piles of mess. And it's funny to see how well I photographed easch things. Tokyo? Almos no pictures. The Osaka Aquarium? Pages worth.

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July 28th, 2011
11:40 am
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There I was, making ballistic gel in my kitchen.


Listening to Skynyrd.

With guns and ammo on the kitchen counter.

I was one Rebel flag an a regrettable tattoo away from a truly unfortunate ethnic stereotype.

(In my defense, the guns were in a bag emblazoned with "GLBT Pride")

Current Mood: they're takin' our jerrrbs!

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June 21st, 2011
11:41 pm
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I celebrated the solstice by going and getting a pedicure. The fancy kind, with some kind of mud and hot rocks.

I shouldn't have wasted the time, maybe - my list of stuff that has to get done in the next 18 hours is really mind-blowing. But happy feet (and they are happy) make for a happy Noodle. And honestly, it felt like the start of a vacation, getting pampered a bit.

In other news: there is not a SINGLE PAIR of khaki, grey, or black pants in my size in the entirety of College Station. There are oceans of shorts, capris, ankle pants, jeggings, leggings, and skirts, but actual trousers are not to be found for love nor money. And I tried both methods.

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June 17th, 2011
06:50 pm
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This time next week, I will be across the Pacific. I am so very excited I find it hard to render in words more complex than sound effects.

I have quite a bit to see and do planned. The ramen and gyoza museums are on the list, as is the Internal Parasite Museum. I'm going to Tsukiji Fish market to se the tuna auctions (thought hey will make me sad), and hitting the otaku holy land of Akihibara.

I'm goign to look for the Mysterious Fox Shrine in Kyoto and feed the deer in Nara. I'm going to visit the World's Largest Spatula and World Heritage site on Miyajima island. I'm going to embrace the Osakan motto of "eat until you drop."

Half the fun of this trip, I think, has been the tactical planning. I've got a little binder full of maps, printouts, reservations, more maps, lists and other bits, all highlighted, annotated, and organized by expected use date.

Seriously, my gizzard is pulsating with joy at the mere thought of the food. So many fish things. FISH THINGS.

I just hope that amazon gets my new SD card to me before I leave. :)

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June 16th, 2011
11:34 pm
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If you're singing along to the middle bit of Under Pressure, you must do or do not. There is no try.

Well, actually, there is, but it causes the neighborhood dogs to howl.

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June 8th, 2011
06:38 pm
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There has been a video going around the past couple of days of someone bitching after being kicked out of the Alamo Drafthouse for texting during a film. I am amazed it got to that point, because while talking/texting/etc is a near-universal irritant, I am patently incapable of being quiet about it.

I find that I frequently am ghosting across the theater to "Keep it down!" or "Put that thing away!" I call people out who have more than 10 items in the grocery store line or who demand popsicles during dinner. I chastise ill-behaved children, line-cutters, and other people who blithely stroll through life with the attitude that their expression, comfort, and convenience are more important than that of the group. Let me cite the incident of the Chinese restaurant:

I had gotten my plate of chicken, and was sitting down to eat, when nearby free range child wandered around the restaurant. He ventured near me, and stuck his grubby little mitts into my food. I told him to get his damn hands off my plate and sit the hell down. His bovine parent came rushing over, berating me for using profanity in front of her child. I replied that if she didn't want me to use FUCKING profanity in front of her FUCKING child, she should keep him from sticking his FUCKING hands in other people's FUCKING food. I think I used up at least five years worth of put-down in that one moment, but it was worth it for the look on her face.

Admittedly, when I'm calling some idjit on their behavior, I'm not thinking of the good of the group so much as myself - who are YOU to inconvenience ME? It was just as well that I grew up sheltered and privileged, because I suspect that otherwise my big mouth would have gotten my ass kicked on any number of occasions. I cannot stand the sort of casual miscreantism of littering and rudeness and just not following the rules.

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June 6th, 2011
03:05 pm
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A series of thoughts:

1.) My DVR failed to record Who on Saturday. This means I must find it in .yarr format somewhere because all the recasts will be cut to hell and back.

2.) Oh my god, Nicholas Hoult is so. very. pretty. Apparently, I got the mutant gene that makes me find guys in horn rims and lab coats just paralyzingly hot. (See also: Arthur Darvill in "Day of the Moon".) I guess it's a similar function to the way leather pants signify a man's badassery, with nerd plumage indicating a potential mate that has very strong opinions about charm and strange. I like men with large...craniums.

3.) My knives are very sharp. I spent three episodes of White Collar this morning honing them before coming to lab for a liver cutting party. I think we have hats this time. I couldn't find my mineral oil, so I would up using the end of a stick of lard that's been hanging out in my fringe for ages. Seemed to work okay, but it made me desperately hungry for pork chops for lunch.

4.) I found a dead lizard in the car and I think it was what was causing the mysterious stink.


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June 2nd, 2011
02:09 pm
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For the past couple of weeks, I've been valiantly trying to listen to some audio books. But I think I'm just going to give up, because I find them very frustrating, for a couple of reasons.

1.) They are just too darn slow. At the linguistic level of most fiction, I can read at 60-70 pages an hour, if not more. That's vastly faster than the average narration speed. I've tried several narrators, and they all suffered the same problem. Too slow. I think that if I didn't know I could assimilate the information faster by reading it, this wouldn't be such an irritation, but it is.

2.) I cannot pay attention to them. I have always had a hard time assimilating information auditorily. I have been a church-wriggler, a window-starer, a lecture-doodler, and an illicit reader for as long as I can remember. The words just slide off my brain. So it's completely unsurprising that I find myself rewinding the same 90 seconds of book repeatedly because I got distracted halfway through. This never happens with a book. Or an ebook. Between the visual processing and the fact that my hands are busy, I don't get distracted, and the information sticks.

Not that audio books are particularly necessary for me - I read enough from real actual books to more than satisfy that need.

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May 31st, 2011
05:21 pm
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Flipside is fun, but the effort:cost:fun units is rather skewed in the wrong direction. Overall, I think I get as much happiness out of a very lazy weekend in the comfort of my own home. I mean, I enjoy seeing my friends, and doing fun things with them. But I certainly don't get any deep spirituality of the thing. Even if I had stayed to see the burn, I don't think it would have meant much to me beyond "fire is pretty". (I didn't have off on Monday, so I couldn't stay much beyond 10pm out there)

Being with friends is what makes it all worthwhile, and having wonderful campmates like longshot14, Messiah, Julie, Kevin, Lisa, and of course Meine Squishy made an objectively unpleasant experience (hot, humid, loud, full of poison ivy) actually fun and enjoyable. And though I know people found it odd, having my own separate tent to do with as I pleased was a godsend, especially with that little electric fan. As long as I have a comfortable, organized retreat, I can deal with being confronted with chaos. The part I liked the best was actually just dicking around in the river. It was cool and comfortable, shady and interesting. It reminds me that I really need to go down to the Guadalupe one of these summer days and go tubing.

Honestly, I think introversion and pragmatism are two traits that don't mesh well with the whole Flipside ethos.


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May 18th, 2011
07:27 pm
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We're now on day 3 of my latent print processing class. Thus far we've practiced quite a few techniques for getting fingerprints off various surfaces.

There's nothing disturbing, but it's a lot of pictures. Collapse )

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May 16th, 2011
10:47 pm
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Day five of typhoid fever vaccine, week old mushroom pizza, and a couple glasses of merlot is a really, really wretched combination.



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09:10 pm
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I'm already enjoying the latent prints class more than the csi intro course. One of the very first things we did was cyanoacrylate fuming - heating superglue in a glass tank to deposit the vapors on the prints. For all that this technique is integral to the high tech dye and stain techniques, it's surprisingly low-tech. All it takes is an old fish tank, a coffee warmer, a small rack, and couple drops of super glue on a piece of aluminum foil. Less than 10 minutes later, you've got visible prints on your zippie bag.

This afternoon, we practiced photographing prints. We did a little bit of forensic photography in the CSI course, but because we didn't really practice the techniques, the relationship of aperture, exposure, and ISO didn't really sink in. But as part of this course, we all got identical SLRs, and part of the exercise was picking the right exposure for an f stop range of F6-F12, using automatic exposure bracketing, and then our own opinion of the best shutter speed. It was a great thing to do, and I think the concepts finally managed to stick in my addled grey goo.

Tomorrow, we get to play with fluorescent dyes and possibly fire.


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May 13th, 2011
04:47 pm
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There is currently a lot of debate/discussion/controversy going on with regard to the Texas legislature adding a rider to the current budget stating that all publicly-funded universities that had a GLBT(further acronym soup) student center would have to spend the same amount of money on a "Traditional Family Values" center.

A lot of the disturbingly intolerant folks around here have really latched on to this idea. The undergraduate student senate passed it's own measure supporting the TFV Center, the president vetoed it, and then they overruled him when it came back to a vote. The Texas Aggie Conservatives have released at least one youtube video of footage they secretly shot at a safe sex seminar meeting. There have been several op-ed columns in the student newspaper in favor of this.

But that's not what I want to talk about.

I want to talk about how the trackable use of full names has a freezing effect on my participation in debate and discussion on Facebook.

Everyone shortly to enter the job market knows that for most jobs outside the service & retail industry, you're going to be googled and your social network profile examined. So you're told not to post pictures of yourself doing stupid and/or illegal shit, and you have to hope that none of your friends post about you doing stupid shit. Plus, there's the routine privacy leaks, exploitable settings, and cruft that means that whatever you say, your full name will be linked to it. On the flip side, if you have a more liberal attitude about privacy than your friends, you can let information spill that they'd just as soon keep secret.

I don't necessarily want to make it clear to a potential employer* that I'm pro-choice; involved in queer issues; abhor religious dogmatism; don't like the current administration OR the tea partiers; and support polyamory, the ACLU, and the EFF. Those opinions don't have any impact on my ability to do a job, but they are damn sure likely to color the opinions of someone in a position to hire me. I'm not ashamed of who I am, but I like to break the unusual a little bit at a time.

So I don't post about issues that matter to me. I don't comment on others' thoughts. I don't join groups or repost or anything. There's a real truth to the fact that nothing on the internet ever really goes away. At least on LJ or most sorts of internet forums, there's the pseudo-anonymity of the screen name, plus the fact that what you say isn't automatically served out to the friends of your friends.

Maybe I'm just paranoid and fearful, but that's why I don't have anything to say on anything more than an utterly banal level on facebook.

*Particularly since I want to work for a government or military entity, who tend to find bucking the status quo an undesirable trait.

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May 9th, 2011
08:48 pm
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This trip to Japan is becoming more and more real. (Not to mention expensive, but I knew that going in.)

I've got a list of stuff to do in each place. I've noticed that there is a lot of emphasis in the guidebooks on castles, temples, and shrines. While that's all well and good, I'm the kind of person vastly more interested in a stuff like the Pokemon Center, the Instant Ramen Museum, or the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota. Sure, I want to see the big sights, but if I could put together a tour of nothing but quirky stops and street food.

I'm spending three nights in Tokyo, two in Kyoto, and two in Osaka, then an additional night (my layover is about 18 hours) in Tokyo. I've already planned for the last day in Tokyo to be a mammoth shopping trip, so that I only have to haul souvenirs one day, and don't risk breakage on three four international flight legs.

I'm getitng really super excited, which means that my relative level of excitement for Flipside is lower - my excitement glands can only handle so much output before they go into acute excitement fialure, and I decide to lay on a futon in Osaka for six days eating take out takoyaki and watching incomprehensible Japanses television.


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May 5th, 2011
09:40 pm
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I am drunk and I want my Squishy.

Also I am petulant because I cannot have the aforementioned.


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May 1st, 2011
12:10 am
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Thoughts on Day of the Moon:

Hell Yeah SpoilersCollapse )


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April 30th, 2011
09:39 pm
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Oh man.

Steven Moffat, you play me like a goddamn VIOLIN.


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April 27th, 2011
11:34 am
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#16: Radium Halos by Shelley Stout

At once two stories of the dark side of America - the Radium Girls, who contracted horrible cancers after being exposed to deadly amounts of radium as unskilled workers, and the care of the mentally ill during the deinstitutionalization movement.

It was hard to relaly like the narrator of the story, because so many of her problems were of her own doing. Yes, she's in a home, but the psychological trauma that put her there was her own fault. And while the story of the Radium Girls is tragic by itself, the meshing with 1960's culture just didn't work for me. I simply didn't care what happened to any of the characters during the present-day setting.

#17: The Hanover Square Affair by Ashley Gardner

Not, as you might reasonably expect, given my known literary predilictions, a trashy regency romance novel. This is, rather a regency murder mystery.

Actually, it's a gritty noir murder mystery, complete with a melancholic detective with a temper and a gimp leg, who shares a dilapidated home with a candle-stealing courtesan. He's got some friends and some frenemies in high places, but he doesn't actually have much to do until the crime of an abducted girl falls into his lap. The tale wends through some subsequent grisly murders, a human sex slavery ring, and fending off aggressive Covent Garden prostitutes.

I really liked it. Not that the protagonist was all that sympatheric, but it was fun to see the noir tropes used in a different setting, and one that didn't involve the supernatural in any way.

#18: Hawk of May by Gillian Bradshaw

An interesting retelling of the story of Gwalchmai, better known to me as Gawain. (Though I didn't pay too much attention to the cover blurb, and thought that it was a re-envisioning of Merlin, based on the "hawk" imagery. Also, I am not as up on Arthurian legend as many - I did read Sir Gawain and the Green knight in high school, but other than that, all I've got is the Disney version of Sword in the Stone and Monty Python to fall back on.

The main challenge for me readoing this book was the name spelling - lots of use of w as a possible vowel. It took me forever to figure out how to pronounce Bedwyr. Other than that, I quite liked the book. It straddles an odd place, though. On one hand, the story is strongly affixed to the real world - Arthur is a Romanized Briton, and the social structrues and warfare techiques are realistic, rather than idealized. On the other hand, the real presence of magical elements such as sorcerous incantations, demons, bardic power, and prophecy are present throughout the tale. This is a hard balance to strike, because if magical powers can be used effectively, there's not much point of the guys with swords. Bradshaw gets around this limitation fairly well by having Gwalchmai unable to manifest any magicalness intentionally. He has visited the Isle of the Blessed, he's got a magic sword and a magic horse (I kept calling him Shadowfax, and not his proper name), but hhe can only do great deeds while in either a berserker or ecstatic state.

At it's heart, it's a fun adventure story, though it feels like Part 1 of a trilogy or epic saga. (A whit of further research tells me it is, in fact, the first of a trilogy). Part of the fun was trying to match the names as given with the characters from other Arthurian sources.

#19: His Majesty, the Prince of Toads by Delle Jacobs

Don't make me review this. Suffice it to say that sometimes, .99 gets you exactly what you paid for. :(


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10:22 am
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#14: A Bed of Spices by Barbara Samuel

I thought this was historical fiction about the the interaction between the European Jews and the Christians during the Black Death.

Instead, it was a historical romance novel with the heroine, Rica, as the daughter of a white Xtian nobleman, and the hero Solomon as the educated, egalitarian Jew. At first, I was very much into this set up. Unlike a lot of romances, you have a major hurdle to overcome that is not the fault of the characters being fucktards. They bond over a shared love of herbal medicine and a boundless curiosity about the world, and work - if not actually together - at least not against their eventual happily every after.

The problem was that samuel also introduced a major plot thread of the heroines identical twin sister, and the brutal man (one of her father's vassals, and suitor to Rica). In non-romantic fiction, dealing with this conflict would be given equal treatment as the romance, and for awhile, it is. But once Twin's machinations to steal the vassal from Rica come to pass, that hole storyline gets weirdly dropped. It's set up in such as away as to seem like a major part of resolving the tangle, but it just..never goes anywhere.

So let us say that the first half is awesome, and then when it gets more trashy and less plotty, it kind of goes off the rails into not so good.

But! It does have several instances of BODICE RIPPING! It's been so long, and Ive missed that trope.

#15: Lucien's Fall by Barbara Samuel

ON the back of the previous one, I picked up this one, which was explicitly a trashy regency romance. And much like the former, it was about half awesome and half blech. Lucien is a musical savant and unabashed man-whore, Madeline likes gardens. They come together along with a very odd set of attendees at a house party intended to get Madeline married, except that only one of the male guests is a potential suitor - the rest are dudes that Madeline's not-actually-step mother wants to bone.

What really stood out abou t this book is that Samuel did break a lot of romance tropes. The love triangles and squares* are way more complex than most, to a degree usually seen in soap operas and tragic novels. The other problem was that I never liked the hero. He was too overtly predatory and fundamentally broken for me to want him to win. I was rooting for the Ducky, the not-so-hip but deeply caring guy Madeline is supposed to marry. He's awesome, kind and forthright, just not PASSION and ANGST and OH GOD THE KISSES of Lucien. Usually, when a romance heroine has to choose between two suitors, the choice is obvious (one is a rich puppy kicker, the other a bedroom Adonis with a tragic past). At least in this case, it wasnt' quite so cut and dried.

Much like Bed of Spices, the first half is pretty good, setting up the various characters and their interactions . Then, after one dark and stormy night, the drama dial gets turned up to eleven. There's breast-baring and library boinking, and very-nearly-almost rape, abduction, the overnight composition of an entire symphony, and very symbolic red roses. And then there the disinheriting, the revelation that stepmom is actually mom, and someone dying dramatically of consumption. It's the narrative crazy train.

In both cases, it was almost as if the author would have been more successful from a literary point of view if she'd been writing straight historical fiction rather than genre romance. The characters all have clear motivations, and consistent strengths and weaknesses. They function. But once you're commited to the formula of getting man and woman together for the squelchy, those characters lose all their agency.

No bodice ripping in this one, though the hero has a penchant for licking the heroine's palm, which seems more than a little bizarre.

*A loves/is fucking B, B is C's best friend, C used to fuck D, but now A is trying to fuck C, causing B to fuck D (also A's best friend) because B wants to marry A and A won't say yes. Only C, the "hero", is part of the main relationship. This is very odd.


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