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Iskaral Pust

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  1. Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series is very well written. I just posted a review of the fifth installment in the current quarterly reading thread.
  2. I found those Faerie Queen epigraphs to be very annoying. The Early Modern English forced into Spenser’s stanzas, and randomly excerpted from the flow of an epic poem, makes for a jarring interruption to the flow of reading. But, yes, if you’re familiar with the Faerie Queen, then this novel has some parallels with some of the characters, although it’s not attempting to match the overall theme of the virtues.
  3. I read A Crown For Cold Silver by Alex Marshall, but I didn’t love it. It started well enough as a grimdark fantasy with plenty of wry humor from jaded and grizzled veterans — a bit Abercrombie-ish, which is high praise — but it drifted and lost focus as it went on and then got bogged down across too many POVs and no real progression. The author really wanted to create a bunch of cool characters and throw in lots of twists, but it just seemed sophomoric and silly. (Be wary of what your concept of cool reveals about you) Now, unfortunately, “sophomoric” is at the top of my mind as I write a quick review after re-reading Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. This is a book I have read a few times now and still enjoy enormously despite the entire current-day plot being a sophomoric libertarian tech-bro wet dream. But this book is written with such verve and humor, and the POVs of Lawrence and Bobby are so entertaining as they fight WWII with information theory in their very different ways. Stephenson had a stretch of five consecutive novels — Cryptonomicon, The Baroque Cycle trilogy and Anathem — that were pure gold. Sure he was juvenile (but still pretty good) before that, and surprisingly boring afterward, but he really found his stride for that stretch. I’m planning to re-read the others in the coming months. And I just finished Big Sky by Kate Atkinson, the fifth in her Jackson Brodie detective series. This was, once again, immensely well written. She writes the inner monologue of several different POVs and the narration is not what they are doing or experiencing but how they are thinking, reflecting, making associations and drifting off on tangents. I think Atkinson is really one of the best at writing minds and personalities, as opposed to moving characters about like puppets in her play. Caveat: there is a reason why I go a long time between her books; they are very gloomy. In her world, women are constantly preyed upon by men. All of her characters are defined by this, either as predator or prey. Even functioning relationships seem to involve emotionally-distanced use rather than love, especially women using husbands for financial security while disdaining them utterly. Her worldview is very bleak. But what a great writer.
  4. I’m not a teacher but neither scenario is a big deal. There isn’t much at stake. For #1, it might be smart for the teacher to defer the relationship until the end of the school year when the student moves on to another grade, or at least avoid personal visits to the home of her current student while they are her student. And that’s only so that a teacher very early in her career doesn’t get drawn into any unhelpful gossip by immature middle-schoolers, and to allow boundaries for the student. There’s no professional ethical concern, just that it may be better to maintain some boundaries as she is getting established in a new role early in her career. #2 is not uncommon. Many teachers in small communities end up with their children or nieces/nephew in their class at some point. There’s no problem with it. One minor concern is that a 17yr old is getting close to college applications, so the teacher should recuse themselves from writing any references or anything like that. Teachers have lots of scope to show favoritism toward students or bias in grading. That consideration is not specific to situations like this. Race, class, gender, personal affinity, brown-nosing, and many others factors could apply. Teachers need to be fair and unbiased in general, and schools need to support and monitor this in general.
  5. There are hardy varieties of bamboo that can handle winter freezes, although you might want to insulate new plantings for the first couple of winters. Bamboo spread can be controlled with smart planting. Slopes, trenches, raised beds and barriers can contain bamboo spread, even for the running type. Clumping type is easier. I planted some great bamboo at our first house in Seattle. When I went back to visit a decade later, it looked amazing and had stayed exactly where intended.
  6. I took some initiative and had a weights workout yesterday afternoon while listening to a webinar. Shoulder press and pull-ups went well, although I did only 5x8 pull-ups instead of the usual 5x10 as a concession to my tiredness, lack of recent training and incipient flabbiness. I felt great after getting that exercise. I’ll look to do something tomorrow or Thursday too, although work is still crazy busy. I need more sleep.
  7. We finished Informer on Amazon Prime. It’s very good if you’re in the mood for some tension and suspense. Raza and Dadir and Holly are all great characters. Gabe is good too but the Gabe/Charlie subplot could have been ditched. I’ve also been watching Quark Science by myself on Amazon Prime. Despite having watched many other popular science programs (like PBS Nova and its ilk), I’m still finding this presentation of ideas to feel fresh and interesting. My son has been watching Jim Gaffigan specials on Netflix. I’m gradually feeding him more and more comedy. A year ago he was writhing in hilarity at Bottom and Father Ted, and chuckling at BlackAdder. Although Red Dwarf hasn’t grabbed him yet. He liked BBT and Friends too, so I needed to add some more absurd or quirky material. He’s a bit young for Dave Chapelle or Jim Jeffries yet, but there are plenty of points along the spectrum to progress in an age-appropriate way.
  8. No workouts last midweek as I recovered from my second vaccine jab. I had a good run yesterday but then flaked on my weightlifting session today. I’m still struggling with a lower motivation for weightlifting these past few weeks. I think perhaps I should try morning sessions rather than evening, but that will require a shift in routine to wake earlier. I am not a morning person. Our pool is open now for the summer, but very, very cold. I don’t want waste energy on the heater so I’ll start swimming in a wetsuit at Memorial Day weekend, and then the water should be warm enough by mid to late June for just regular swim shorts.
  9. I rewatched a couple of eps from S1 just to get back in the mood for these. It still stands out as a really well curated anthology of quirky, thoughtful Sci-fi, where great visuals do all of the world-building almost effortlessly so that all of the run time focuses on the character’s experience. And they all leave you wanting more.
  10. That’s the bottom line. It will become obvious with hindsight. It’s arguably fortunate that Fields was still available at 11th, which makes it an attractive value trade. OTOH it’s plausible that since he and Mac Jones were still available at that point, the Bears could have moved up less (or even stayed put?) and still got one of them. Pace has a terrible track record at picking QBs, but now he has spent two first round picks to select Fields after giving up the last two first round picks to acquire Mack (plus other later picks for both). That’s a lot of draft capital expended so he better get it right. Having a good QB on a rookie contract is so valuable to the entire team that Pace pretty much had to gamble and hope that he’s actually good enough to be a starter in the next year or two. I wonder if Foles will get traded now and just take the risk on Dalton + Fields.
  11. BCS is a slow burn but some slow parts are more acceptable than others. I got pretty fed up with how much time they spent on Chuck and Jimmy and the heavy-handed Cain vs Abel. A slow burn on Mike, Saul, Gus, Nacho and Hector is something I can watch all day. Kim is a great character, and I even enjoy watching Howard except that he comes packaged up with the boring Hamlin McGill antagonism. I was close to quitting during S3 but it improved in S4 (that’s all that Netflix has so far).
  12. Bears gave Giants a lot of value to trade up. Let’s hope Fields does better than Trubiskey.
  13. Thanks @Veltigar, McDonald & Dobbs was a good rec for an enjoyable British detective show, although there’s only two episodes available on BritBox. It’s pretty light but the humor and dialogue are good, especially between the odd-couple detectives. The villains are excessively theatrical but in a self-aware way to set up all the fun. I thought the addicted-to-dependency plot was even better than the King Lear plot. I hope they make more. We’ve started Informer, another British show on Amazon. This is grittier but quite good so far.
  14. I’m glad yours went smoothly. I got Pfizer #2 yesterday and I’ve had a low fever and flu-ish feeling all day today. I was able to work through it with Tylenol but I’d really like it to wrap up before another busy day tomorrow. I’m going to eat plenty of ice cream now to fuel my antibody production.
  15. Gah! I just recently bought Kindle versions for a re-read. They should have told me it would be on sale soon.
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