Cozy

Apr. 22nd, 2019 11:41 am
warriorsavant: (Couch camouflage)
Was a gray rainy day. Made a cup of coffee, lit the fireplace and read my journals, looking up every few minutes to gaze at the fireplace indoors, and the gray rain out. A comfy seat, coffee, reading, and a fire indoors on a gray day; one of the coziest feelings imaginable.
warriorsavant: (Meh)
Holiday weekend. Happy Easter / Joyous Passover to all my Gentle Readers. Statutory Holiday here in that things are closed either the Friday or the Monday. Since I don't work Friday's anyhow, closed the office Monday to give my vast staff (both of them - they make up in presence what they lack in numbers) a paid holiday. I'm on call, but since Residents take first call, usually don't have to go in, just back them up by phone (handy to be able to text pictures). Already got one call today, but didn't have to go in.

Nom took the kids out shopping. It was a zoo, but they like it. I did some reading, some studying, some cleaning, but somehow not very much of either. So in the spirit of finally digging in and doing work… I'm posting this.

We've been in this house for a year-and-a-half. The vast majority of organizing and putting away got done fairly promptly, the small percent that remains will likely take another 10 years. Mostly not really that important, but my tidy (eg neurotically organized) mind likes things neatly put away. I am working on organizing all the toys, etc in the basement play (which previously looked like a cross between an explosion at a toy factory and a refugee camp), putting different things in different boxes (eg “Legos all go in the box marked ‘Legos’ when you are finished playing with them.”) They get the concept of “tidy up” at school (eg daycare), and I’m slowly working on extending the concept to home. Key word is "slowly."

If they are motivated, they do help clean up. Some weeks back, they got into it, because it was Hedgefund’s birthday party. Her actual Bday was during the week, but more-or-less got the concept of “we’re having the party on a weekend, b/c that’s when people can come.” (And liked the idea of cake on two days: at the party, and her actual Bday.) Miss Manners somewhere said the that number of invitees should be equal to the child’s age in years, which more-or-less happened. This was the first year she wanted to have her friends or for her Bday; I don’t think at a younger age they really have a concept of “friends” and “my friends.” She invited 2 kids from her class, plus another friend, plus 2 daughters of a friend of Nom’s (which is to say Nom invited the mom & her daughters) plus immediate family. It went well. She had fun decorating the house (eg telling me to put up decorations), a little big each night for a week. Nothing fancy, crepe paper streamers and balloons, but she has definite ideas about what she wanted where.

Dunno if I mentioned, but the other day she told Nom, “when I grow up, I want to be bossy like you.” Actually, HF has managed “bossy” since quite an early age, much more so than Nom. I think I told her she was bossy when she was 2 or 3 (HF, not Nom), to which she solemnly replied, “yes.”

Anyhow, party was a success all around. I thing everyone actually had fun, even Nom & I. We had a piñata, but one of those degenerate modern ones where you pull ribbons that eventually open a trap door, instead of whacking it with a stick, or as we did at Army Family Days, shooting at it with an M16. (Joking!)

Winter is definitely over, which is to say that all the snow and ice has finally melted in the backyard. There is likely to be one more sprinkling of snow, but we are now in "post-winter," sometimes known as "mud." It's a gray, rainy day. Not depressingly so, what with my being indoors, but don't really have much energy. On the other hand, that could also be because I've had a long week. Doing more reading, both professionally and recreationally. Will post on the latter soon.
warriorsavant: (Books (Trinity College Library))
Just reread Dorothy Sayers' "Gaudy Night," recommended by katharhino as being the best of the Peter Wimsey series. I'm enjoying it, but not overwhelmed as I once was by the characters and the writing.

My thoughts are more about the milieu in which it takes place, Oxford University in the 1920's (early 30's?). Sayers crafts it as an idyllic place (despite the crime & murder taking place) of academic wonder. Despite some squabbles, it is a serene oasis of scholarship and learnedness. (Oxford, with it's collegiate organization (basically a federal system) combines the intimacy of a smaller school with the opportunities of a large university, which is a great idea.) I suppose in my own mind, universities should be like that. Reality is that I rarely see the learnedness, especially of the classic sort, sketchy collegiality, minimal open-mindedness, and no serenity at all. Lots of posing, lots of sophomoric behaviour and thoughts (and I'm referring to the faculty, not just the students). Largely a waste of time and resources.
warriorsavant: (Books (Trinity College Library))
Alexandra Fuller's "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight." It's autobiographical of a very young girl growing up in a family of basically poor white farmers in the Africa in the 1970's(?). In the intial parts they live in Rhodesia during the war for independence. It is raw, gritty, mostly well-written, and gives a lens into the times and psyches.

Dorothy Sayers' "Lord Peter Wimsey" series. Growing up, I mostly read SF. Sometime around college, I had read pretty much everything worth reading. In Medical School I started reading mysteries, mostly classic British mysteries. Initially that was the influence from my gf from the era, who was a classmate of mine. Oddly enough, she was from Montreal originally, but moved to the US when she was 3(?), but her parents were old-line English-Canadian of the "we're more English than the English" stock, and still strongly identified with the British Isles. Our favorite of the era (or should I say favourite) was Lord Peter. I wanted to be him when I grew up. (Not having been born a aristocrat in an era when that mattered; nor having been born rich, which always matters; was a bit of a handicap in that ambition, not to mention his being fictional.) Recently a Gentle Reader mentioned Jill Paton Walsh's reviving of the character with "Thrones and Dominations." I got it from the library, started reading it, then realized I had read it years ago. It's not an imitation exactly, in that Paton Walsh was working from notes/drafts that Sayers had started. She's since written two more, which I'm tentatively planning on reading. For comparison purposes, I went back and started re-reading one of the actual, original series, "The Five Read Herrings," and just couldn't get into it. Maybe it wasn't one of her best, or more likely my tastes have changed. As to the new series by Paton Walsh, it was well done. Held my interest adequately, but no more than that. I seem to remember feeling the same way the first time I read it (but that was literally decades ago, so not certain). Like other series that try to take up where the original author left off, sometimes it's too well done. That is, they tend to overdo the details and mannerism of the original character. I seem to recall feeling that way about Robert Goldsborough's taking up of Rex Stout's "Nero Wolfe" stories. Not saying it shouldn't be done, but just very hard to get exactly the right flavor.

I already posted about Ben Schott's "Jeeves and the King of Clubs." I grew up adoring the Wooster and Jeeves stories by P.G. Wodehouse. This novel, approved by the estate, claims to be an homage to body of works, but could equally be a sequel, pastiche, parody, or all of the above. Overall, I liked it. Some of it went well outside what Bertie Wooster's world would have allowed, and some of it made too liberal use of the mannerism embedded in the stories, but overall well done. I hope he'll write another one, which P.G.. can't, what with being dead. Such state being an handicap to writing, although not necessarily to being published, and certainly not to being read. I just reread "Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit." While not as fall-on-the-floor-laughingly funny as I found them to be first time around (xxx decades ago), I still really enjoyed it.

BTW, the Wooster & Jeeves, and the Peter Whimsey books were all made into TV plays, back when I did watch TV, and they were very well done.

Mostly I have no energy for serious reading. I'm tired, I have a lot going on, and I have to do serious reading as part of my job (although there are some journal articles that are ludicrous, but not necessarily comic). On the list of "very well written fluff," there's David Weber's "Honor Harrington" series of space operas. I suppose one could think of it as a continuation of C. S. Forester's "Horatio Hornblower" series. If the brave Captain had lived in the 40th (?) century, had a star ship, and was a woman. Except even more interesting than that.
warriorsavant: (Wedding/Romance)
Happy St Patrick's Day to all my Gentle Readers. Neither Nom nor I are Irish (beyond that everyone is Irish on St Paddy's Day), but it is in fact, the day we met. That was purely coincidently, as we were introduced via the ancient Vietnamese custom of online dating, but we actually met in person on March 17th, hard to believe fully 7 years ago. (A huge amount has happened in those 7 years!) We met for coffee at the coffee shop that is part of a local chain of bookstores. Nom being the forward and shameless hussy that she is, she is sat at the next table from me. Today, to celebrate, we sat at separate tables at breakfast. Well, not really, but I did make her green scrambled eggs. I think it will become a family tradition. Hedgefund loved the famous Dr. Suess "Green Eggs and Ham" when she was a toddler, but we were out of ham, so had bacon instead.

Reading

Mar. 9th, 2019 05:00 pm
warriorsavant: (Warriordaddy)
Speaking of Hedgefund (which I rarely do...), she is starting to actually be able to read. Since age 3, she claimed to be able to read, in that she’d actually memorized one or two of her books, but I mean actually sound out short sentences of short words, and actually know what she is reading. Sometimes hard to tell, as she has memorized parts of lots of different books. We get lots of books from the libraries, and we always read at night (which is to say, I read to her). She doesn't like to actually read, because still work for her, but if I push her, she actually can read. *Kvelling.*

Soon, she'll love reading all on her own, and I'll be out of a job, which will make me both proud/happy and sad. That's what's parenting is about: doing yourself out of a job.
warriorsavant: (Signpost Ft. Benning)

Camping out at home.  Moved 2 large mattresses together on the floor of the Blue Room (WS's bedroom), so we could also sleep together. Brought in HF's new nightlight (Sky from Paw Patrol), not to mention all the pillows, blankets, and of course, books. Normally, we put them to sleep separately, and this is way they usually settle down fairly quickly and easily. Unfortunately, putting the kids together, they stimulate each other: bouncing around, shrieking, running in circles, and generally behaving like maniacs (eg normal kid behavior). By the time we did get them calmed down, I was stimulated, and after everyone else eventually fell asleep, I repaired to the Red Room (master bedroom) and eventually managed to get to sleep myself.

 

Snow removal.  Oddly fascinating. During the snowfall, they hastily plow the streets (and sidewalks), but that just piles huge amounts of snow to the sides of the street, leaving them only marginally passable, plus there's a limit to how much can be piled throughout the winter. Eventually they have road construction machinery and plows move it into neat-ish lines, then another machine pulls it up and blows it into waiting dump trucks to be carted off to somewhere it can sit until it melts in late spring (eg: Canada Day).

 

Book review.  Jeeves and the King of Clubs by Ben Schott. I grew up adoring the Wooster and Jeeves stories by P.G. Wodehouse. This novel, approved by the estate, claims to be an homage to body of works, but could equally be a sequel, pastiche, parody, or all of the above. Overall, I liked it. Some of it went well outside what Bertie Wooster's world would have allowed, and some of it made too liberal use of the mannerism embedded in the stories, but overall well done. I hope he'll write another one, which P.G.W. can't, what with being dead. Such state being an handicap to writing, although not necessarily to being published, and certainly not to being read.

 

Skiing - not an unmitigated disaster

    We're not skiers. This is unfortunate, because (a) it's one of the national passtimes (besides fighting about languages), and (b) it would make winter more bareable. Nom never skied. I tried once or twice, but essentially never did. 

Read more... )
warriorsavant: (Dr. Injecto)
I was seeing a patient in Room 1, when I heard Evil Secretary yelling, "Doc, doc!" very loud and excited and anxious. Not like her. I thought someone was assaulting her. I ran out. There was a dementor hovering over the patient who had just come out of Room 2. I pulled out my wand and exclaimed, "expecto patronum!" driving it away. (From Harry Potter Does Dermatology, the about to be released 8th book in the series.)

Uh, yeah, okay, not quite. I'll get my fantasy life in check. What actually happened was that I had seen a patient in Room 2, and removed a small growth. We usually can tell when a patient is feeling faint or dizzy, and get them lying or sitting down quickly (such as the next patient who was in Room 2). This makes only twice in, uh, never mind how many years, that someone slipped past our guards. Anyhow, he seemed fine, said thank you & goodbye, and went to the front desk while I went into Room 1. Apparently he suddenly went from 'fine' to starting to fall over. Evil Secretary grabbed him, but she was on the other side of the reception desk. When I came out in response to her shout, she was leaning across the desk, holding him under the arms. Couldn't let go or he'd fall, but had no way to get around the desk either. I got him under the arms, and laid him down with something soft under his head and a stool to raise his feet. Turned out he hadn't eaten all day. Those are always the ones who get dizzy, combination of low blood sugar and anxiety. Frankly, if I don't have a nibble mid-morning, I get light-headed by the end of the morning (just the blood sugar, no anxiety), and this was the early afternoon when the gentlemen saw me and had his episode. We got him some juice (we keep some juice boxes in the fridge), and half of E.S.'s granola bar. After a while, he felt better, sat in a chair for a while, and when felt even better, took a taxi home. I think we're going to lay in a supply of not-very-good chocolate (because if it's good chocolate, well, I have no will power and would eat it all). Raises the blood sugar, and besides, everyone knows that's what you need after a dementor attack.

Libraries

Aug. 20th, 2018 12:37 pm
warriorsavant: (Books (Trinity College Library))
We are enrolled in both Montreal and Westmount libraries. Montreal library policy is that you can return books to any branch, and they’ll take care of it. Good because there is a branch near our old condo (8 minutes drive from current house, with a nice wading pool in the adjacent park), and another near Nom’s parents, so it varies which one she goes to. Westmount only has one branch, which is about 8 minutes slow walk from our house (I DO like living near a library - v.i.). Although separate entities, in fact, we have accidentally returned a Montreal book to Westmount (or vice versa), and they did route it to the correct institution for us.

Living near a library: Many moons ago, when I lived in Portsmouth NH, I lived about 3 doors up from the library. This is before I’d shacked up with the ExoticOlderWoman, but even then only lived a few blocks away. (Portsmouth is a charming, but fairly small city.) This was pre-internet days. I loved that they got several dozen newspapers from around the country and a few from other countries. I considered their little reading room to be an extension of my living room. I’d go there and read a different newspaper each day. I was fairly actively writing then, but laptops hadn't yet been invented, so I did that at home.

China

Jul. 9th, 2018 04:37 pm
warriorsavant: (Signpost Ft. Benning)
Am reading a history called The Devil Soldier by Caleb Carr. Carr is best known for his excellent novel The Alienist, but he writes history too. The book is about Frederick Townsend Ward, who was an American mercenary commander in the Taiping Rebellion in China in the 1850-1864. It’s a period of time and a history that I knew nothing about. The Taiping were sort-of Christian converts (really had their own religion that was a mix of Christianity and their own thing) fighting the Imperial Manchu government. Seems the Manchus, although we think of them as the ancient line of Chinese Emperors, were essentially new-comers, being Tartars who conquered the place in 1600-something. For the Chinese, they were the interloping new-comers, since 200 years in China is like 15 years here. The Manchus were also corrupt, oppressive, and incompetent. Unfortunately, the Taipings weren’t any better. Ward was a soldier of fortunate who ended up forming a western-style organized and equipped, mercenary combat force that was apparently decisive in that civil war. The Imperial Government, since they had the Mandate of Heaven, were reluctant to hire lowly foreign barbarians to do their fighting for them. They also, despite having gotten their butts kicked in the Opium War (and repeatedly afterwards), saw no reason to change how they did business, organized, fought, or in any way changed their views that they were the center of the earth and everything they did was right. They would rather suffer 100 defeats than admit that any other way could be right, regarded any backing down as massive and unthinkable humiliation, and were masters of bureaucratic obfuscation. Much like their view that China was the center of the universe, it is a mindset I think the Chinese government still has, something to remember for anyone dealing with China today.
warriorsavant: (Meh)
In Patrick Taylor's Irish Country Doctor series, the young protagonist, Dr. Barry Laverty, is introduced to his mention, Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly, when the latter physically evicts a patient from his office because he hadn't washed his smelly feet before wanting them examined. I'm not sure the College des Medécins would appreciate my doing likewise, but it was tempting today. There's a reason we keep a bottle of air freshener handy.

Don't sit in my chair. Really, it's not hard. The chair in front of the desk is mine, it's my office, you don't sit in it. Also, don't move the furniture. I thought carefully about the layout of the office, and the placement, and there's a reason why things are where they are. Don't move them. Not even moving the patient's chair, especially not 2-3 feet backwards. But really, keep out of my chair.

It's rare that a patient faints, but does happen. Super rare that we don't see it coming. Usually they're still in the exam room, I see them looking pale & sweaty, and quickly have them sit or lie down. Rarely they make it up to reception, and Evil Secretary is very good about spotting the signs and running around the desk and having them sit down. Only once that I can think of did someone give no warning. He (she?) was standing at the reception desk, talking, looking perfectly fine, and suddenly went out. Today it was the daughter of an elderly patient. Daughter looked at me, said, "Mom is feeling faint, can I get her some water." I said there was a glass by the sink, while quickly helped mom to sit down… when daughter fainted without warning. She was fine besides being embarrassed, but only second patient in this many years to faint without warning.
warriorsavant: (White Lion - Jabulani)
WWC and my Gentle Readers who so indulge can keep your cats and dogs, we have baby dragons. See picture. (Actually there are 6 of them, but the 3-headed one is camera shy and playing in the basement.)

Not quite as cuddly as cats and the bills for groceries and fire insurance have gone up considerably. Also as can be seen in the picture, formerly unknown to folklore, dragons love their coffee. On the other hand, these as a choice of pets does suit the family eccentricity.

Yeah, okay, they’re plastic. Nom’s Uncle bought them to Wallstreet (or maybe for both kids, not sure). Don’t think said uncle has an especial fondness for dragons or other fantasy fiction, but he was right on that the kids took to them immediately. Also, Wallstreet, even at age 2, knew what they were. Nom accidentally referred to them as dinosaurs one day, and Wallstreet immediately corrected her.

I know there are dragons in Vietnamese mythos, but don’t figure as large as they do in Chinese. (The original oligarchs in VN, the Lak Lords (sp?) derived their legitimacy from being the descendants of the Mountain God and the Sea Dragoness (or perhaps the Mountain Goddess and the Sea Dragon - I forget which). No worse than claiming suzerainity based on some miscellaneous cutlery thrown to you by a tart in a lake.

Have gotten back into reading some. Downloaded some SF of dubious quality but adequate to pass the time. One was Andre Norton’s Star Soldiers. Not sure if a novel in 2 parts, or two linked novels 5000 years(?) apart in same universe. The second half is a bit Foundation-esque at the edges of the collapse of the Galactic Empire. Made me think of how much of her work has an undertone of melancholy, vanished empires (the Forerunner races) in it. Currently reading the 5th in Gail Carringer’s “Soulless” series (called “Timeless”). Definitely enjoyable fluff.
warriorsavant: (Books (Trinity College Library))

One on my projects for over the holidays is to finish putting away the stuff in the last few boxes that have not yet been unpacked ("few" being a relative term). For now, a first approximation of where things go, then over several months going over the place with a fine toothed comb to put everything obsessionally in its place (for some stuff, that place will be trash/recycling).

Today I organized medical and language books. From my old condo, I had 2 lovely bookcases with glass fronts. I'm not sure I really like glass-fronted bookcases, makes it too hard to see and get to the books (like keeping animals in zoos), but they do look impressive. The big one has three sections, was in my den in my old place, and is now at the end wall of my tablinum in our new house. The smaller, but matching, one is single section, which was between two windows in the den in the old place. I was going to put it in the new office (almost finished *crosses fingers*) as a display case, having left it in the living room of our new house until then. I realized there is no good space in the new office, and it looks rather nice in the living room, so there it shall stay.

There are 6 shelves. The top two are respectively, books, and medical equipment, that was my late great-uncle's from medical school (plus a few antique medical books). He had graduated medical school exactly half a century before me. The next two are respectively books and medical equipment, that was mine from medical school. (My Derm books from Residency are in the bigger bookshelf in the tablinum. The last two shelves are ultimately reserved for Hedgefund's and Wallstreet's medical school books and equipment. (Does this count as optimistic, determined, or pushy?) Will be more than half a century after me, but can't time everything correctly; that's okay, as long as they go, and I live to see it. If they have kids who go to medical school, they can jolly well find some other bookcase to exhibit things. For the meanwhile, until such time, and in case of disaster and heartbreak (they don't go to medical school😱), those 2 shelves are for language books. The fifth shelf has the real languages. Which are those, you ask? English and French, you silly non-Canadians. If I ever get Vietnamese for Ignorant Round-Eyed Barbarians Made Simple, it will go on that shelf also. The bottom shelf is all other language books that have drifted my way over the years (books on learning those languages, dictionaries in those languages, and English-XXX dictionaries). Those are arranged west-to-east on the shelf to roughly match the geographical regions of origin of those languages. (I did mention obsessional didn't I? Not to mention whimsical.) I think I have: Spanish, Italian, German, Yiddish, Macedonian, Russian, Arabic, Pashto, Dari, Japanese. Plus Latin and Esperanto. I'd love to have the time to sit down and study a half-dozen languages or so. I could probably use that many in my office. Sadly, that's on the "C-priority" of  the To Do List. (= "Get around to sometime this lifetime if I live long enough and all the B-, A-, and OMG-priority items get taken care of first."). I suspect that will never happen, unless the kids graduate medical school and take over the practice at, oh, age 12, or thereabouts. Still, hanging on to them just in case, and besides, they look cool and fit my self-image. (Worldy gentleman scholar. It ain't pretentious if you actually done it.)

Dogs & Cats

Dec. 5th, 2017 08:15 pm
warriorsavant: (Meh)

(I'll get to a more serious post one of these days, whenever it is I have the time & energy.)

My family are cat people. (There's a reason my sister is WWC = Woman With Cats*, which is a politer way to say Crazy Cat Lady.) My brother had a dog once, but I think that was by accident. My immediate family don't have either, and not just because I generally tell the kids that we eat dogs**; keeping pets is just not a VN custom.

There are two problems with dogs. First and foremost, since I don't live in the countryside, they have to be walked and pooper-scooped. Although rather used to cleaning up excrement these days, have no real interest in taking an animal for a walk several times/day regardless of the weather. (See numerous rants about the "seasons" in this country.)

Second, is their attitude. It's great. It's too good. It's cloying. "Hiya. I love you. I really love you. Really really. Do you love me? Huh? Do you? Do you love me? Say you love me. Because I really, really, really love you. So you love me, right? Hmmm? You do, don't you? You love me, right? How much do you love me? Etc, etc." Usually while drooling on you. I've dated people like that. Briefly. Very, very briefly.

Cats are usually accused of being aloof, but more a question of their being chill. "What? You wanna hang out? Yeah, okay, that would be cool, just don't crowd me too much." What's really more amusing this their 'ignoring' you. "I'm ignoring you now. Okay? Got it? I'm paying no attention whatsoever to you. I'm not even talking to you right now, I just want it clearly understood that I'm completely and totally paying not the slightest mind to you. It's like you're not even here" (while sitting in your lap). "Hey, don't turn around. Look at me! How can I be ignoring you if you are not paying attention to me. Yes, that's right, scratch my back, but I'm paying no attention to that either." "Where are you going? The other room? I'm going there too, but that's completely coincidental. In fact, it was my idea first, so let's go into the other room - entirely separately - while I ignore you there." (Hmmm, probably what my kids will be doing when they are teenagers.)

*The term is taken from one of Lawrence Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr, The Burgler Who… novels. The point is that if you have one cat, you have a cat; two keep each other company; three or more (and WWC has variably but considerably more), you are a Woman With Cats. The character saying this (who has 2 cats) concedes that it is sexist in that it doesn't apply to men. I have no strong opinion on that latter statement, but would look askance at a man with 3+ cats also.
**Started as teasing my relatives about the VN words for "lunch" and "dog" were the same. Hedgefund was scared of dogs for quite a while, which she picked up from her ba ngaoi. To help her get over that, I kept telling her "we eat dogs, yum, yum, yum." She'd repeat it back, and after a while, it helped. Not perfect, but she bring herself to touch a small dog recently, so make fun of it all you want, it worked.

warriorsavant: (Warriordaddy)
I usually read Hedgefund to sleep. The other night, she put her toutous on a pillow, put a blanket over them, and "read" them a story. Last night she "read" a story to Wallstreet. "Read" is in quote marks. She's three-and-a-half, she can't read. That didn't stop her at all. The two of them sat next to each other, her holding a book, and she reciting bits of stories I'd read her, and made up some things, and sang some songs. As far as both of them were concerned, she was reading to him, and they both loved it.

Books

Oct. 9th, 2017 10:57 am
warriorsavant: (Books (Trinity College Library))
I know "books" is a subject near and dear to the hearts of all my Gentle Readers. By modern standards, I have a fair number. (Okay, by modern standards, possibly anything over 6 is a fair number, but I do have a fair number.) My tablinum is a lovely, gentlemanly room, but a bit small. My ideal would be the library at the Morgan museum, but I lack the requisite billions for a house big enough to contain that. The current space is certainly smaller and with less storage room (especially shelf space/bookshelf space) than I had in the old condo.

As an aside, "stuff" expands to fill the available closet space, much as digital information expands to fill available computer memory. Years ago, I had a friend who renovated a condo in DC. She only built 1 closet, to thereby limit how much "stuff" she'd accumulate. I'm pretty good at getting rid of non-essential stuff…. Well, I thought I was until this move. We'll see how strict I can actually be with myself, not to mention the rest of the family.

I've finally emptied enough boxes that I can see most of the floor in my tablinum. I realize I have more books than I need. (Okay, on some level, there is no such thing, but am ignoring that for now.) I've already given one box of books to the local library, and have three more in the back of my car to go. The ones they don't use (which is most of them), they sell at their big annual book sale to raise money. I realize a couple of the ones I'm giving them I bought from their book sale in prior years. *Chuckle* Very little of what I'm giving away is actually causing me any pangs of regret. I don't really need Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum numbers 1 thru 20. There are three sets/types of books/articles that I'm setting aside for display. Not sure if going to go in my living room at home, or in my professional office when I redo that. The first is books and medical instruments that were my late great uncle's. He was an ophthalmologist, my one forbearer who was a doctor, very educated and cosmopolitan, a bit in the older European sense (he came to the US as a very young child, but always maintained a little bit of that air about him). He graduated medical school 50 years before I did. The second set is books (and maybe instruments) that were mine from medical school. The two sets would make a nice contrast. The third set are language books. Dissimilar from the others, except I think a few of the older ones were my great uncle's. I have think more about keeping these. I like having them. I love languages and admire people who are truly bi-, tri-, or multi-lingual. Said great uncle and aunt were like that. To me it's part of being educated and cosmopolitan. I can get by in French, but not really what I consider fluent. I used to speak Spanish (learned it for a South American deployment with the Navy), but have forgotten it. I'd love to have the time to just study languages; I could easily use 5-6 major ones in my office every week; I just don't have the time. With all that having been said, the question is how many of those language books are worth keeping. Like everyone today, if I want to translate a word, I look it up on line. The older ones might be worth keeping as antiques, and the language lesson books might also be worth keeping in case I go back to learning languages. On the other hand, probably will never find the time (something about having 2 kids to put through medical school), and I'm trying to get rid of stuff I don't really need, unless it has some sentimental value for me. Stay tuned to find out where the balance ends up.

Varia

Sep. 10th, 2017 02:17 pm
warriorsavant: (Renovations)
Was in a coffee shop the other day, sipping my coffee and doing some work. In the background could hear the two young women at the counter chatting. (Um, yeah, “barristas.” Or is that barristae if plural female?) They were agreeing that their respective parents were pretty cool for old people... y’know, ppl in their 40’s. *waves his cane at the young whippersnappers and demands they get off the lawn*

Looks like we are moving end of the month. Finally. After all this time, doesn’t seem real, and I’m almost dreading it. Not the move itself (although that will be a pain), but I’ve adapted to being where I am. We’ve adapted to being here. It’s a little tight, but that’s also good, in that everything is near at hand. Feel like in place 2+ times as large, we’re going to be rattling around and losing things (including possibly children). I know the kids will take a little while to adapt, although Hedgefund has been clear for quite a while that the green room is hers. Anyhow, have moved enough times in my life that one more time won’t be a big deal. (After that, the next move will be to the morgue, and hopefully not any time soon.) And no, we are not getting a cat (or seventeen).

Am reading Alexander McCall Smith’s Emma. He’s the author of a number of popular books, including No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series (like many series, excellent for the first several books, then got repetitive). It is Jane Austen’s Emma recast in modern times. So far, so good. I mean Jane Austen & Alexander McCall Smith, how can you go wrong. Haven't done much recreational reading for a while, but past month or so, got back into it, mostly light reading, especially detective stories.
warriorsavant: (Infantry haircut)
Two things lately made me realize I'd had had enough of the Army. (Important realization when one has been retired, for, oh, 5-6 years.) No, not Hedgefund and Wallstreet, although they would have been enough to keep me from doing anything silly like trying to re-up, or deploy.

The first is talking with someone I knew from the Army. He is a full-time Reservist (called an AGR), I first knew as a Captain when he was my Adjutant (= S1 = Personnel & Admin Officer) when I Commanded a CSH (Combat Support Hospital - like a MASH, but bigger). He's now a Colonel himself, in charge of major training site (I'd trained there more than once). It was not a very happy call, in that I'd heard 3rd hand that he'd recently lost his wife of 32 years (cancer, spread quickly) and was calling to offer my condolences. We chatted for a while, and he was mentioning getting ready for 3 CSHs moving into his training site for their summer training. I was thinking, "yeah, I understand what that involves (huge planning & paperwork for those personnel and logistics) and am so glad I don't have to be doing that anymore.

The second is a book I'm reading, Christie Blatchford's Fifteen Days about her time as a reporter embedded with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan a few years ago. I'm only so-so enjoying it. Basically war stories, I suppose good insight if you've never been there. Again, the feeling of "glad it's not me anymore." Not the getting shot at part (although not a big fan of people trying to kill me), but the moving into, and staying in, some godforsaken, dusty patch of barely habitable real estate and calling it home for the day/week/month. Nope, glad I don't have to be doing that anymore.

I did my time doing those things. Didn't mind them at the time, proud of it, very glad to have done it, but have done enough of it, and getting too long in the tooth to want to do more.
warriorsavant: (Books (Trinity College Library))
I love bookstores and libraries. To me, the central reading room of a great library is like the nave of a cathedral (icon is Long Room at the library of Trinity College, Dublin). The problem for me is that I get brain-lock. I want to buy everything, but since I can't, I'm almost afraid to buy anything. What if it isn't the best choice? Actually, these days I find myself going more mid-brow, both at bookstores and libraries. I confess I hadn't even been visiting libraries much past 2-3 years, partly because so busy (dang kids, they interfere with my reading and my drinking!), and partly because the library nearest us isn't very good. We recently inscribed ourselves in the library where we'll be moving, which is much better, but still rather disappointed in 2 of the last 3 books I borrowed from there.

What triggered going to a bookstore was finding my stash of "lucky money." Vietnamese New Year tradition, the elders give everyone else a coin or small bill in a red envelope to bring luck and prosperity in the new year. I always felt that I should use it for something special, and put it away in a drawer - several years' worth when I came across it recently. Still not a huge sum, but enough to actually buy something. I metaphorically scratched my head, and decided a book was the ideal item.

I had a dental appointment, and I knew there was a bookstore nearby, so planned to stop there on the way home. Going into the store, I hit the brain-lock, and realized part of that was insufficient caffeine. Fortunately they had a coffee shop attached. Unfortunately it was a certain Seattle-based major chain, but drug addicts in withdrawal beggars can't be choosers. I ordered a cappuccino, and the counter clerk (I refuse to call them "barristas" - get real people) asked me something incomprehensible. After the 3rd repeat, I realized he was asking, "Name for your cup?" which still didn't make any sense to me. I've named my children (some silly legal requirement here). I used to name my computers, but got over that. Hedgehogs have names, of course, and they chomp your nose if you don't remember them. But I didn't see why I needed to name a coffee cup, especially a disposable one. Eventually he managed to communicate that he was asking my name, which he would then write on the cup, so they could call me out the huge crowd of… well, actually, I was the only person ordering coffee just then, but I suppose SOP.

Caffeine finally perking thru my system, I spent some lovely time browsing, and eventually settled on 2 books (more than my lucky money covered, but I had some standard money on me also). One was about Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan, written by a reporter who had been embedded with a unit, and one was a popular science book on astrophysics. (Only downside is that it was written by Neil DeGrass Tyson, who although is an eminent scientist, and very good at popular explanations of science, also lead the evil movement that down-graded Pluto from a Disney character planet.) Looking forward to reading them, as soon as finish the last book I'd borrowed from the library, which is about expeditions to find the remains of the Franklin Expedition (for the non-Canadians/non-Artic history buffs in the crowd: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin%27s_lost_expedition ) I'm a firm believer that if you have books and coffee, the world can't be too bad.
warriorsavant: (Renovations)
Part of the beauty of the house was the old woodwork. Well, once you stripped away a century of varnish and grime. You can really appreciate the depth and pattern of the woodgrain. Here's some of the doors (it's the end of the main hallway, powder room on the left, wardrobe on the right, which is the one with the more interesting woodgrain).

Picture 1 - long view )

Coming in a little closer, you can really start to appreciate the beauty of the woodgrain

A bit closer )

Coming in still closer, your mind's eye actually makes it look like imagines of something, like you "see" in tree grain, or clouds. (Sorry, this one's a little out of focus, but you can still get the impression.)

Closer still, your eyes play tricks on you. )

I think I mentioned that this is a wardrobe door. In fact, it's a double-ended wardrobe. One door opens to the front hallway, the other opens to the family room. So in fact, it's a wardrobe that is also a passage. Sound familiar?

Look again )

*Chuckle*


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