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General Discussion / Re: NYT Spelling Bee
« Last post by ciao_yall on May 30, 2023, 10:22:20 AM »
QB with just the grid - last word innie. LB bequeath-horizon.

ab_grp Yes, I have met a lot of interesting people and have had great conversations and made real friends. Fairly wide range of ages, but the ones I gravitate to seem to be in the 40+ range, with a few young "old souls." Just keep trying and you'll find your crowd.

Happy solving!
General Discussion / Re: What have you read lately?
« Last post by Parasaurolophus on May 30, 2023, 09:20:03 AM »

And also a quite significant amount of intellectual and technological innovation.  Medieval technological innovation may have been a very gradual process by modern standards, but cumulatively it had a profound effect on the world.  It was the period that produced such innovations as clockwork, gunpowder, and printing, after all, to name only the three best-known.

Not to mention wind and water power!

My haul for May:

Adrian Tchaikovsky - Redemption's Blade: After the War: An interesting collaborative series, in which each of many authors writes one novel. This is the first. It's a high fantasy tale that takes place after the great war against evil has been won and everyone is left to pick up the pieces of the world. It's an interesting idea, and the worldbuilding is very rich. It basically reads like a D&D campaign, however. That makes for a competent and fun story, but the D&D aspect is kind of distracting once you notice it. I'll read the next one if I come across it in a book box or something, although I'm somewhat skeptical of what the D&D campaign will look like in someone else's hands.

Adrian Tchaikovsky - Ogres: Spartacus meets Toussaint L'Ouverture in a distant-but-not-so-distant future that, in a way, imagines what the world would have looked like if the Confederacy had been a global power (and won). There's perhaps even a dash of that LeGuin novel about slavery. I've said before that Tchaikovsky really excels when it comes to novella-length works, and this is no different. I was reticent to read it, but almost immediately hooked. I think, however, that it should have ended with the penultimate scene.

Adrian Tchaikovsky - City of Last Chances: A bit of the Paris Commune (IIRC?) in a fantasy setting, with elements of Terry Pratchett's Small Gods. Thoroughly enjoyable, with typically rich worldbuilding.

Rob Wilkins - Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes: I'm not much for biographies, although I do enjoy reading about the authors I love and their creative process. This is that. It's engaging and very well written, with more than a hint of Pratchett himself in there. Learning about his life up to the Discworld success was a fascinating glimpse into the scifi/fantasy world of the 1970s and 1980s, and even the 1990s, as well as into the publishing industry of the time. It is, however, an extremely sympathetic portrayal (borderline sycophantic or fanboy?), despite a few hints at some rough edges. He appears to have been a difficult man. I'd have liked to learn more about those rough edges; that they're glossed over in passing left me filling in the blanks in ways that are not entirely complimentary to Pratchett, and I'd have preferred a more direct look at those warts instead. I'd also have liked to learn more about his family life, which essentially doesn't feature at all. I imagine that's deliberate, and in keeping with the estate's wishes (since it's the official biography, and Wilkins is a close friend of the Pratchetts), but in the end it serves to make Pratchett sounds like something of a monomaniacal workaholic. And while I get the sense that there is a grain or two of truth to that characterization, I also get the sense that this grossly distorts his character. The extended description of the descent into Alzheimer's is heart-wrenching, especially if you've any experience with that. Also, the job of being a personal assistant sounds like it sucks.

Darren Naish and Paul Barrett - Dinosaurs: How They Lived And Evolved: As far as I can see, this is the best popular up-to-date summary of dinosaur science out there (although it's no longer entirely up to date, since it was published seven years ago; I have the first edition, but the second seems to have made mostly relatively minor adjustments). As such, it's good and accessible (it starts with the very basic basics), and it's nice that it devotes an entire chapter to birds (rather than just Mesozoic birds, or Mesozoic + early Cenozoic), and is entirely unapologetic about birds and dinosaurs. The art selection is a little dated, although the authors don't shy away from critiquing it (the cover of the first edition, however, is bad in all kinds of ways; I gather they had no control over it, and weren't happy about it). Some sections offer what is perhaps a slightly more balanced treatment than is warranted (e.g. the section on the end-Cretaceous extinction). At this point I don't think I learned much that was new to me, but (1) it's good to read an up-to-date palate cleanser after having delved for a bit into the dinosaur science of the '80s and '90s, and (2) there's so much that you're bound to forget stuff, and it's nice to be reminded of it all.

Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games: I found it at the yearly community book sale, and I'd been meaning to read it for years, so I picked it up. I expected it to be just another perfectly decent teen novel (I saw the film when it came out). I was wrong`; it's very good. It's very well crafted, the satire surprisingly deft and surprisingly biting, and its singular focus makes it hard to put down. I have a few small quibbles--you don't load a bow, goats need to be/have been pregnant to produce milk, and how could Clove know about what happened to Rue?--but really, it's a great read, even for an adult, and top-notch teen fare for sure. I'm desperate to read the sequels and prequel, although someone's got them out at the library. I suspect, however, that they'll dilute the focus and centre instead on fomenting a rebellion against the Capitol, and that will make it less interesting for me, and push it squarely into the teen novel realm. Which is fine--I like teen novels!--but will mean that they're just much less good than the first.
General Discussion / Re: What have you read lately?
« Last post by apl68 on May 30, 2023, 08:03:19 AM »
Medieval Science and Technology, by Elspeth Whitney.  This was part of an early 2000s series by Greenwood that dealt with aspects of the Middle Ages.  The author notes at the beginning that whenever she told people about studying science and technology in the Middle Ages, the usual response was surprise that there was any such thing.  Whitney's work is mostly a survey of the intellectual world of the Middle Ages that demonstrates a high level of continuity with ancient ideas involving (proto) science and medicine. 

And also a quite significant amount of intellectual and technological innovation.  Medieval technological innovation may have been a very gradual process by modern standards, but cumulatively it had a profound effect on the world.  It was the period that produced such innovations as clockwork, gunpowder, and printing, after all, to name only the three best-known.

And yet the popular view persists of the Middle Ages as a dark age of stagnation, dominated by moronic superstition and dogma, until a secular Renaissance enlightenment finally broke the hold of the Church.  I blame Monty Python in part, although their Holy Grail movie has always seemed to me as much a satire of silly modern ideas of the Middle Ages as of the period itself.  What's really culpable, though is recent works--Nature's Mutiny, Philipp Blom's massively disappointing look at the "Little Ice Age" comes to mind--that continue to perpetuate the thoroughly debunked medieval religious dark age vs. modern secular Renaissance enlightenment fable. 

I don't even consider myself a fan or apologist for the Middle Ages.  I just hate to see a whole civilization constantly denigrated by scholars who evidently don't know what they're talking about.  Or worse do, but don't let historical evidence get in the way of whatever agendas they're trying to advance today.

General Discussion / Re: What have you read lately?
« Last post by apl68 on May 30, 2023, 07:44:16 AM »
I started reading Watership Down to MFP and Smolt, but about 1/3 of they way through, they were bored and gave up.  I continued it on Audiobook and I loved it.  It's is a great story and very dark at times.  I'm bummed I missed it when I was young.

It was the one book in the library leadership book club I was in for a time that I actually enjoyed.  Although The Alchemist was at least very readable.
General Discussion / Re: Fauna and other natural things
« Last post by apl68 on May 30, 2023, 07:42:50 AM »
While coming back from lunch, I spotted a turtle crawling along the walkway in front of the library.  It was peering over the edge of the curb, and shying away when it decided it didn't like the looks of that drop.  Dropping down there wouldn't have been a good idea--beyond lay a broad asphalt driveway, then a broad strip of grass, then a sidewalk and a busy highway.  The day has been mainly overcast, so I suppose the turtle ventured farther out into the open than usual.

I carried the turtle to the back side of our lot and into the edge of the woods.  Usually when I interact with a box turtle it clams up tight.  This one showed no signs of that.  It started flailing with all four legs, and kept its head stuck out as well.  It kept trying to fight all the way back to the woods.  I strongly suspect that this is where the turtle emerged from in the first place.

The first one I rescued last week tucked up tight.  The second one scuttled away and flailed like yours did.

They are probably programmed to go in a certain direction to lay their eggs. What we see as "rescuing" actually interferes with the egg-laying schedule of turtles and their relatives. I speak from experience. Long ago, while hiking in one of the state parks I and a fellow motorist spend almost half an hour performing what we thought was a humanitarian mission of rescuing turtles that were trying to cross one of the roads in the park. A few weeks later I came across several clutches of hatched turtle shells on the side of the road that we were "rescuing" the turtles from reaching.

I do my best to get them to the side they are headed to.  Otherwise, it's most likely....splat.

I try to move them in the direction they're going too.  Unfortunately, sometimes that's just not a very viable direction.  The one I moved back to the woods behind the library was not only headed for a busy road, but had little likely habitat awaiting beyond that.  It creates a quandary for the would-be turtle rescuer.

While visiting the park at Arkansas Post yesterday I saw the largest turtle I've seen recently on the edge of a trail.  This one was heading in the general direction of a large pond, with no roads to cross.  So I just took photos and did not intervene.  The turtle was probably glad to finally reach that cool water.
General Discussion / Re: Look! A bird!
« Last post by apl68 on May 30, 2023, 07:38:09 AM »
I spent Memorial Day visiting the Arkansas Post National Memorial, which I'd managed never to visit before despite living in-state for most of my life.  The park's picnic area sits on a bayou.  I went by there long before lunch, and had the place all to myself.  I sat by the water's edge and took in the scene.  Soon I heard and saw a hummingbird buzzing around the flowers growing in the shallow water.  Then I saw other small birds dipping in and out of the plants.  Can't say what they were, as I'm not that much of a naturalist and my vision is too poor to make out details very well.  I'd be a lousy birdwatcher.

And lots of dragonflies.  And more.  It was a wonderfully tranquil scene on a pleasant late morning.  Lots of opportunity to appreciate God's sheer inventiveness in creating all these creatures (However many eons it might have taken).  I really needed that.

The historic site was interesting too.
General Discussion / Re: NYT Spelling Bee
« Last post by ab_grp on May 30, 2023, 07:25:13 AM »
Good morning!

Got the pangrams and to genius or thereabouts.  Yesterday we needed bee buddy for keno.

For LB, I got the schmofficial bequeath-horizon, but it took a while! I kept going down the wrong road.

Thanks for the info about Meetup, ciao_yall and Langue_doc! It sounds like a nice opportunity for folks wanting to get out and about and also meet some people.  Are the people usually people you would want to meet? I guess it depends what kinds of outings you sign up for.  I looked at the ones around my area and had no idea there were so many going on! Sounds like they don't actually make arrangements for transportation or buy tickets for the group but do provide pretty thorough DIY info.

Happy solving!

General Discussion / Re: The vinhale thread?
« Last post by FishProf on May 29, 2023, 11:48:14 AM »

So I pushed through all that pain yesterday and fell even farther/further* behind.

* I looked up the usage, and I still couldn't figure it out since I am talking about steps/distances.

*more  ;)

All steps are good steps.

I can accept both of those.
General Discussion / Re: NYT Spelling Bee
« Last post by Langue_doc on May 29, 2023, 10:01:51 AM »

Pangram and above genius. Needed help with finitude, infinitude, and heff (or was it haff?).


ab_grp, I've been a member of the hiking groups that now use Meetup to list their events for at least a couple of decades, so I know several people who are also members of more than one group. Some of these groups are behind a paywall which means that their listings on Meetup are visible only to members in good standing (who have coughed up their membership fee). You just sign up for a Meetup account on your computer--I think I use the app and not the website on the phone--and you get notified as soon as an event is posted by one of your groups. I'm not sure if you can see what's listed on this website, but do give it a try:
Here's another one:

Details of where to meet, how to get there (subway, bus/train schedules and fares, etc.) restroom locations, what to bring along, etc. are provided in the write-up for each event.

Happy solving!
General Discussion / Re: NYT Spelling Bee
« Last post by ciao_yall on May 29, 2023, 09:07:02 AM »

I thought I was doing great until I realized I only had 1 of 4 pangrams! So I made up finitude and voila! Needed the 2LL for fifteen though. LB rajah-hypnosis. Quick 2fer this morning.

ab_grp you were asking about Meetup? I found it through a friend on WW and joined a bunch of hiking groups. Have made a lot of new friends and acquaintances! Always lively discussion and good exercise.

Happy solving!
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