Esquivarience
Printed in copper on water

Gwynedd
Date: 2015-06-03 07:18
Subject: Five things
Security: Public
1. Late night dog school is exhausting -- fun, too -- but I am so very tired the next day.

2. There were many large salamanders on the road Monday night. Unfortunately it was not safe to stop to look at/further ID/photograph them. Fortunately I don't believe I smushed any.

3. In sadder news, last week I was obliged to run over a possum: I came around a curve at night and there was a thing in the road that rose, staggered a few steps, dramatically threw back its head, and keeled over right in the path of my tires. I tried to avoid it, but there was also a large red truck tailgating me, and a sickening thunk from my undercarriage.

4. Yesterday, I found a tick crawling on the dashboard of my car! I'm not sure how it even got there, but, in what was probably the inaugural use of my cigarette lighter, I killed it with fire.

5. I also groomed out the dogs and slimed them with their monthly tick-killer. (Or, mostly groomed out the dogs: the ticklish bits require additional work, but I got all the broad, flat bits and made parts down their backs to facilitate sliming.)

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Gwynedd
Date: 2015-06-01 07:34
Subject: Neither lacking in all conviction nor full of passionate intensity
Security: Public
Tags:art, my so-called social life, polymer clay
My polymer clay guild brought in Loretta Lam for her ""Cracked Pods: Making big, beautiful, hollow Brooches" workshop. Loretta encourages a design-first approach with her techniques which was interesting.

My perpetual problem is that I'm not sure I have anything to say, so approaching polymer as fine art rather than nifty techniques is a bit of a stumper for me personally (there are a *lot* of amazing fine artists working in polymer. I'm just not one of them).

On the other hand, it might be enough to say "I like fishes" or "I like blue" and go from there.

I didn't manage to make a complete piece and I think I'm giving up on the partial piece I nearly completed (it became a design train wreck), but I made some forms that may yield interesting pieces later, and I learned some fun and interesting cane techniques: Loretta's "linoleum," "dots-and-dashes," and "spine" canes which have the added benefit of being quick and easy to make so that you can do them up in whatever palette you are working for harmonious accents.

Loretta is a fabulous teacher and the workshop was fantastic.

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Gwynedd
Date: 2015-05-27 20:41
Subject: Things fall apart
Security: Public
Tags:adventures in home-owning, joys of homeowning, kitchen sink
Including my kitchen sink this morning.

More accurately: the drain pipe magically unscrewed itself from the sink's outlet so that the water I was using to wash dishes ended up on the floor. I noticed this fairly quickly, came to the conclusion that it wasn't fixable before I had to leave for work, and called N to let him know. He finished disassembling the relevant bits, took them up to the hardware store for replacement bits, also ran out of pre-work time, and handed the project back to me.

After poking things a bit, I have come to the tentative conclusion that the threads on the original metal bits may be gunked up rather than corroded and have decided to see if I can clean them with a soak in Draino rather than swapping them out for thinner, plastic bits that will have to be cut down with a hack saw. We shall see.

ETA: The metal nut was actually cracked and couldn't be reused. The metal connecting pipe was salvageable. The drain portion of my sink is back together and appears watertight. The sprayer faucet seems to have some sort of leak, though.

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Gwynedd
Date: 2015-05-27 19:54
Subject: 50 Books 2015-30: H is for Hawk (unabridged audiobook)
Security: Public
Tags:50books, audiobooks, biography, falconry, grief, memoir, non-fiction
Written and read by Helen Macdonald.

Helen has lovely voice and reads beautifully, but I think this would have been better titled "G is for Grief" as it seems to be mostly about Helen training a goshawk because she can't deal with her father's death, and also largely a sort of biography of T.H. White's unhappy life and how that sabotaged his goshawk training (as outlined in his book The Goshawk, which apparently had a great influence on Helen Macdonald as a youngster).

I think this is because it turns out that a modern falconer training a goshawk with humane, positive-reinforcement-based methods results in a pretty good relationship between hawk and austringer and not the sort of drama that would fill up a book on its own? Which is a shame, because I really liked the bits about that part. (There's also a lesson in there about observational bias and getting what you expect out of the animal with which you are working, which is maybe a bit self-evident and maybe not so much.)

This was a library book, and I had something of a slog to get through it before it expired (and I'd have had to wait weeks and weeks for it to be available again if I wanted to finish) because I wasn't sure I was interested enough in T.H. White to get to the end, but the final third of the book talks more about Helen's own experiences with her goshawk Mabel and there is some lovely nature writing shot throughout.

Ultimately, though, Helen's father's death was not very much like my father's death, and her grief was not very much like my grief, nor did it seem to offer me any insight into grief in general. It just made me unhappy for her in her loss and self-isolation and unhappy about T.H. White's horrible parents, miserable childhood, and lonely life.

For what it's worth, practically the whole world knew this was a memoir about grief going into it and even gave it awards as such, so I really don't have much of an excuse for expecting a book primarily about goshawk training. In short, this was not the book I was looking for, I was not the target audience for it, and we failed to connect.

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Gwynedd
Date: 2015-05-20 17:43
Subject: 50 Books 2015-29: Bryony and Roses (eBook)
Security: Public
Tags:50books, faeries, fairy tales
by T. Kingfisher

Another of her superb fairy tales, this one based on Beauty and the Beast.

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Gwynedd
Date: 2015-05-19 18:37
Subject: 50 Books 2015-28: The Long Fall (unabridged audiobook)
Security: Public
Tags:50books, audiobooks, mystery
Leonid McGill Mystery #1
by Walter Mosley, Read by Mirron Willis

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Gwynedd
Date: 2015-05-17 22:49
Subject: Movie: Mad Max Fury Road
Security: Public
Tags:movies
Worth seeing on a big screen even though timing required me to watch it in 3D (prophylactic aspirin helped).

Ps. The vehicles were real and most of the stunts were performed live (not CGI). This may have contributed to the watchability both from an "I understood what was happening and could follow the action" and "I didn't get a raging headache from viewing the film" standpoint.

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Gwynedd
Date: 2015-05-17 13:05
Subject: 50 Books 2015-27: Casino Royale (audiobook)
Security: Public
Tags:50books, audiobooks, fiction, spies
James Bond Series, Book 1
by Ian Fleming
Read by Simon Vance

Sexist, racist book is sexist and racist with bonus pro-rape sentiment tossed in, though I suppose it is unfair of me to complain that half the book is devoted to card-by-card descriptions of a baccarat game.

There are, however, a few quotable moments and an interesting discussion of heroes and villains.

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Gwynedd
Date: 2015-05-16 08:46
Subject: This morning's focaccia
Security: Public
Tags:baking, bread
When I turned the pan after twenty minutes, I sprinkled the top with a four-cheese mix and then put it back in for nine more minutes.

Untitled

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Gwynedd
Date: 2015-05-15 22:16
Subject: 50 Books 2015-26: The Three Body Problem (unabridged audiobook)
Security: Public
Tags:50books, audiobooks, science fiction
by Cixin Liu (Author), Ken Liu (Translator), Luke Daniels (Narrator)

I found the parts dealing with the Cultural Revolution heartbreaking and compelling, but I failed to be engaged by the modern-day stuff, and was let down by the ending. Turns out this is the first book in a trilogy. I don't think I care enough about the big-picture conflict or any of the characters to pursue subsequent installments.

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June 2015