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change of form change of novel

I finished reading William Dean Howells' first novel, "Their Wedding Journey". I took a very long time finishing this novel--since September 9. That works out to an average of 10 pages a week or so for the first half of the novel, and 40 pages in 4 sessions over a week for the remainder of the novel. The difference was that I read the second half of the novel on the small netbook. This form factor seems to work better for reading than a laptop. So far my old-netbook-as-tablet replacement idea is working. I hope this keeps my pace for reading at a steady pace. I do not mind taking a book slowly, but I want to return to finishing more books more quickly. 

Sunday and Monday were pretty darn cold. I got in my steps, and watched a lot of birds each day. But I am eager for a bit of warmer weather. Fortunately, this is on tap soon.

I bought and downloaded Spencer Ellsworth's "StarFire: Memory's Blade". I am looking forward to this one. I enjoyed the first two novels, which each took a few days to finish. I miss, a bit, the old days when I rolled through paperback novels at breakneck speed.

"Their Wedding Journey" was a good read with some flaws. I liked its narrative device of narrating a wedding journey in the 19th Century. I liked the protagonists. This look at tourism in an earlier era intrigued me. Though Howells was known as a kind of Christian socialist and advocate for some egalitarian ideas, some of the narrative fails to meet the standard of being progressive at all, and instead relies on problematic ethnic or gender stereotypes. I wonder if a novel about travel is particularly vulnerable to this problem, as part of any travel guide is the drama of "the other". The book's characters travel from Boston to New York to Rochester to Buffalo to Niagara Falls to Montreal to Quebec and back again, all without planes or automobiles. I'd like to take that trip on by train and boat,if not quite by horse cart in New York City.

I got a lot done at work today. I hope to get more done the rest of this week.





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Isle du Bois Trip

Recently I joined a Facebook group called Texas Backroads. Members share photos of Texas images, including in particular country roads. This made me miss the days when I drove rural farm roads in our area. I decided to drive to the nearby small town of Celina on Highway 289, as that highway is near lots of farm roads.

Celina is a small town with a huge tradition of high school American football. I was impressed that the Celina Bobcat stadium was small and down-to-earth, with signs proclaiming its state championships. My current home town of Allen has a much larger stadium and a rich American football tradition. But our stadium is not a simple field with a fence and goalposts, as with Celina, but instead a $ 60,000,000 stadium. I liked the more modest Celina glory.

I went to Old Celina Park to walk around. This park has ballfields, a pond, and a walking area. It was very chilly with a cold, blustery wind there. I saw a Great Blue Heron, a Great Egret, several Dark-Eyed Juncos, a Blue Jay and a Northern Mockingbird. I had the park nearly to myself in the modestly inclement weather. But "nearly" in this case is only "nearly", A firetruck and an EMT truck pulled up and a couple of firemen got out. They were across the parking lot and seemed to be doing some kind of maintenance or training exercise. I did not call out to them.

I drove west from the park. I realized that I was near Lake Ray Roberts State Park. I set the Google Maps application to take me to the Johnson Branch of that park. Somehow the app brought me to the Isle du Bois Branch.

I learned that my annual state park pass had expired, so I renewed it. Then I drove into the park to the lakeshore. I went walking for a couple of hours, in cold and breezy weather. I saw a goodish number of bird species. One species I could not identify. I will do some book-work. I also saw a Nine-Banded Armadillo which nosed about in the leaves nearby.

I also drove to the Jordan Branch, which is another outlet to the lake. I got some nice views of the kind of stark, country-road landscapes that I like here.

I got a Subway sandwich and baked chips for dinner.

At home, we watched the Kansas City Chiefs game (my wife is from Kansas) and the Dallas Cowboys game. We enjoyed them both, though the latter would have been even more fun had they won.

We also ate steak and potatoes for dinner. Now we are watching an episode of Doc Martin.

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Pi border

My plan to use a netbook as an ereader is off to a good start. The novel that I have been reading slowly on my laptop is moving along a bit more swiftly now. It's interesting and yet a bit odd that form factor would make a difference. Also, I notice that I cover more ground reading if my ereader application is on "full page" mode. Perhaps the "what page am I on" question is distracting.

The news is full of a new plan by President Trump to divert allocated funds from the United States Army Corps of Engineers to construct hundreds of miles of border walls. I favor a less wall-centric solution to border security. In this age of electronics, I am not confident in any border Maginot Line. I think that computer resources, human resources and proper spending on border patrol, immigration courts and virtual surveillance equipment would be a cheaper and better way to go. But things will unfold, and we will all see what happens.
way,

I was impressed when Livejournal user Nacowafer described on another social platform her success in installing Raspbian on an old Windows 8 laptop. That is a good idea--Raspbian is an operating system designed to work with the single-board computer the Raspberry Pi. By definition, this software should work well on a laptop. On the other hand, it is even easier to simply install Debian or a lightweight Debian desktop spin. Either way, it's all fun.

We ate chicken enchiladas at Anasofia tonight. They were good. I had verde sauce while my wife had rancheras sauce.

I spoke with my sister today. She always has an interesting life. I was glad to hear from her.

A gentle rain falls outside. We are daydreaming about future vacations. We watched part of the Fellini film "8 1/2". Each of us saw it separately in separate places and lives when we were in college. Decades later, it still seems like a fine film.

I like the television show "The Orville" about as well as I like most Star Trek episodes.

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more rice still nice

I find myself eating more rice cakes than usual. I was glad to see "New Amsterdam" return on television. I find that i enjoy the 4 major networks more than cable these days.

Chilly weather is setting. I worked a bit late into the evening, but not too late. I will work hard tomorrow.

We do not plan to attend the football playoffs.

We ate peppers stuffed with turkey tonight.

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End of the Year 2018

olive oils and old entriesCollapse )

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many nanny returns

Thursday before work I walked in the shopping center right beside the building where I office. I saw American Crows atop the roofs calling out. At lunch, I walked around the baseball field in Heritage Park.  Then I went to Church's. After work, my wife had planned to go to a movie with a former co-worker. I picked up things to make for dinner--a chayote squash, a red potato, and half a pound of eye of sirloin round steak.

When I arrived home, my wife was there. Her friend had begged off due to illness. We decided that we would each take care of our own meals. I boiled water in the hotpot, and cut my meal into little pieces to cook and eat. I enjoyed this simple meal. An episode of Doctor Who played in which some villain claimed to be Satan.

This morning I walked in the cold at Shawnee Park in Plano on my way to work.   I saw 16 different bird species, and took pictures of an Eastern Bluebird. I worked a solid day, but allowed myself to leave at 4.30 p.m. Tonight my wife and I went to see "Mary Poppins Returns". We liked it very much. I like that Emily Blunt (and the movie in general) did not merely re-do or even purely homage Julie Andrews and the original movie. On the other hand, P.L. Travers, who disliked the original movie, would roll over in her grave yet again over the sequel. But I would see it again, and no doubt will, when it arrives on cable.

Cold weather holds sway. It's just a few degrees above freezing each day.

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Christmas Day 2018

Christmas morning arrived with temperate if not warm temperature, an overcast sky, and a bit of mist in the air. I walked in our local Glendover Park, which is a simple portion-of-a-mile walk from our house.  Although i can circle the park's small pond in roughly half an hour, I spent 80 minutes there. I walked back and forth and circled the park a few times.  I saw some 20 different species of birds, and got good pictures of Eastern Bluebirds and Cedar Waxwings. The rain held off--and did not really arrive beyond a sprinkle or two.

My wife and I drove to the restaurant Mignon in Plano, where our reservation was at 11:30 a.m.  Mignon used to be a traditional French place, but now it is a "retro French steakhouse", which is a shorthand way of saying that the regular menu has some French touches but is closer to an upscale steakhouse these days. When we arrived, we were seated immediately.  The restaurant was busy but not crowded. They had a Christmas buffet that was delightful--turkey cooked with sage butter, dressing, salmon, short ribs, ham, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, green beans with almonds, broccolini, hard rolls with sesame seeds, butternut squash soup, bibb salad, and a host of other sides and desserts.

I limited my plate to the leaner things--the turkey, the salmon, the green beans, and so forth.  When  I went back for seconds I limited myself to the salmon, but perhaps over-indulged a bit. Yet like most holidays, I find the focused holiday meal easier for self-restraint than other meals and snacks.  We both were so full that we did without the dessert. 

My brother sent me a Facebook message showing off what I got him for Christmas.  He has taken up electric guitar recently, and takes lessons on-line from a guitarist in Austin. I got him a wah-wah effects pedal. I had wanted to get him an inexpensive multi-effects guitar pedal, but our local Guitar Center required a 3 to 5 business day heads up to get them in. I was shopping on the Saturday before Christmas. Since he is learning from a blues guitar perspective, I figured he would enjoy a wah-wah pedal. He sent me a link to a Soundcloud posting of his playing a song using the pedal.  That was fun.

After lunch, we took Beatrice for a walk. We did not go as far as we often do with her, as she seemed to tire a bit early yesterday. Then my wife and I went on a longer walk in Glendover Park. The weather turned pleasant yesterday afternoon. Later in the day, I walked in Suncreek Park in Allen. I liked that I heard the call of a Red-Shouldered Hawk  and then hiked over and found the hawk perched in a tree.

Sunday evening we opened presents. This worked out well.  The few gifts we exchanged and received were just right. Our Christmas tree, though not put in place until December 23, is perhaps my favorite one of the 28 or so we have had. I wonder if this is an annual thing, though, with every tree being the favorite.

I fell asleep too early last night, but still got a couple of the gingerbread cookies my wife made Monday. We will send most of those to my nephew.

This morning I got up early. I decided to microwave two eggs for breakfast. I tried a new experiment. I have some skim-milk string cheese. So I broke up a stick of that into very small bits and mixed it in with the eggs. This worked out well--though the flavor of the eggs did not change that much (I had wondered if it would make a vaguely omlette-like difference), the consistency of the cooked eggs improved. The cheese apparently added a little body to the mix.

I theorize that I like those 45 or 50 calorie cheese sticks precisely because I am indifferent to uncooked cheese in general. If I were a cheese buff, then the down-edited skim version would annoy. But since I am not enamoured of the original, the bowdlerized imitation actually tastes pretty good to me.

I must go into the office today, for what will amount to the last busy day of the year (though Thursday and Friday will also feature things to do).
I enjoyed Christmas, and look forward to the coming days.






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The Chicken Enchilada Miracle

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Equinoxal stuff

Thursday I got a lot done, but as I finish the week one thing may require me to work on Monday.  I was pleased that my assistant was able to take off today until the New Year. Tonight I got one swath of my shopping done. Tomorrow I will finish the rest. Thursday morning I had business in McKinney. The chill breeze pierced even my overcoast as I made my way from the car to the building.

Tonight we went to Silver Thai. I had the Garlic Gulf, which is a brand name for shrimp with vegetables in garlic sauce. I daydreamed about taking a train to Mineola, Texas. I'd like to visit its nature preserve someday. I looked up the schedules. It would all be easy for a 3 or 4 day weekend.

I talked to my 20something niece by telephone. At Noon I walked in Breckinridge Park in Richardson.

The government is inexplicably shutting down at the whim of the president. The president also appeased Turkey by withdrawing support for the Kurds in Syria. It's a puzzling time. The resignation of General Mattis as Secretary of Defense happened this week.

I heard a really good interview on the radio about a study of the extent to which and in particular which universities do the most good in facilitating upward mobility.  I was not surprised that despite more liberal scholarship programs, elite universities are still largely the province of the privileged. The "winners" for helping with social mobility are state universities that focus on achieving the result.  My own views about university have been changed by the relentless efforts of state governments to reduce taxes by de-funding public universities and the rising tuition of private institutions. Now I believe that educational choices may be better served with more folks starting in community college. I hope someday effective vocational training is emphasized more at all community colleges.

I am pleased that the new bill has passed reducing certain onerous federal criminal sentences.

I like American Goldfinches in Winter.







 

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on the road

Tuesday I worked a solid day. I had a couple of important calls to handle. Tuesday night I belatedly addressed some of my Christmas cards. I am glad that Christmas has 12 days, as I seem a bit behind for arrivals by the first one.

I walked at lunch in Heritage Park in Sachse. I loved seeing three little Eastern Bluebirds in a bare tree.

I woke up at 3:45 a.m. to catch a bus to Austin. I like the "luxury bus", as it is less expensive and more practical than flying or driving.

I need to link up with my niece soon and see what she wants to Christmas and when she can visit.
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