Friday, January 29, 2021

more books

June 2020–January 2021, gonna need a bigger library!
How would I have gotten through 2020 (and so far, 2021!) without books? When I can't stand the news and realize I'm just doom scrolling I shut off the phone and go to my "library." It is just a corner of my house with my books, but in my dreams I have a two-story tower with rolling library ladder and get to keep every thing I've ever read…

I probably re-read more books than ever last year. There was the month of August when everything was closed, it was too smoky to go outside, and I read almost a book every-other day. That was awesome (if a bit unsustainable!).

But today it is raining, and will continue to rain for days (all the muddy trails, sob!), what better time to share books with friends. Here is what I've read, good and bad, the last 6 months or so, (books with ***** are my most recommended):

6/2/20: Bone Silence, Alistair Reynolds, A*****
Final in series, really interesting

6/4/20: The Last Emperox, John Scalzi, B *****
Final in series, love these characters

6/8/20: Prelude To Mars, Arthur C Clarke, B

6/21/20: Old Man's War Series, John Scalzi (Re-Read)
The whole series is a fun read, the first is still the best
    Old Man's War, A*****
    The Ghost Brigades, B+
    The Last Colony, B
    Zoe’s Tale, B
    The Human Division, B-
    The End Of All Things, B

6/22/20: Powersat, Ben Boba, B-
just a bit dumb

6/24/20: Scrapper, Matt Bell, C
completely forgettable!

6/27/20: Aurora, Kim Stanley Robinson, A-
entertaining sci-fi by a master

6/29/20: Fleet Of Worlds, Larry Niven And Edward Lerner, A
Prequel To Ringworld, and I love that series

7/4/20: When The Great Days Come (Short Stories), Gardner Dozois, B
vintage sci-fi stories, some very haunting

7/9/20: Forsaken Skies (Book 1 Silence Trilogy), D. Nolan Clark, B+
military-ish sci-fi, just entertaining

7/13/20: The Wasteland Saga (3 Novelas), Nick Cole, B
back to apocalyptic stuff, entertaining, unsurprising

7/15/20: God’s Fires, Patricia Anthony, A-
interesting with historical info, if a bit depressing

7/21/20: The Massacre Of Mankind, Stephen Baxter, C-
Remembered why I really hate most Baxter stuff

7/28/20: Learning The World, Ken MacLeod, B
very good, with the lovely strange worlds MacLeod creates

7/30/20: Salvation, Peter F Hamilton, A *****
another great, amazing adventure by one of my favorites

8/2/20: Salvation Lost, Peter F Hamilton, A*****
second in series, can't wait for the third!

8/8/20: Forbidden Suns (Book 2 Silence Trilogy), D. Nolan. Clark, B
military-ish sci-fi, just entertaining

8/9/20: Forgotten World (Book 3 Silence Trilogy), D. Nolan. Clark, B
military-ish sci-fi, just entertaining

8/10/20: Logos Run, William C Dietz, C
vintage sci-fi, never captured me

8/12/20: At Play In The Fields Of The Lord, Peter Matthiessen, B
Now for something completely different: missionaries in South America! Very good, but see the excellent movie too.

8/13/20: The Martian, Andy Weir (Re-Read), A
always entertaining. I'm gonna have to science the shit out of this…

8/14/20: We Never Talk About My Brother (short stories), Peter S Beagle (Re-Read), A *****
Lovely, poetic stories by the author of the amazing Last Unicorn

8/15/20: Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein (Re-Read), A *****
There is a reason this is classic, all should read

8/16/20: Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman (Re-Read), A *****
different genre (though Gaiman is his own thing), a fantasy I like

8/18/20: Star Quake (Cheela 2), Robert L Forward (Re-Read), A
Life on a neutron start, why not, love this series

8/22/20: West Of Eden, Harry Harrison (Re-Read), A*****
What if the dinosaurs didn't die? And got smart…

8/26/20: Winter In Eden, Harry Harrison (Re-Read), B
sequel is still fun

9/2/20: Return To Eden, Harry Harrison (Re-Read), B
trilogy ending not as strong

9/8/20: A Fire Upon The Deep, Vernor Vinge (Re-Read), A
World building at it's finest

9/15/20: Black Out, John Lawton, B
Historical mystery, interesting

10/4/20: Far North, A Novel, Marcel Theroux, B-
thrift store impulse buy, predictable

10/9/20: Predators I Have Known, Alan Dean Foster, B
Fun sci-fi author relates his world adventures, fun

10/11/20: Blue Heaven, CJ Box, C+
thrift store mistake, so very predictable

10/12/20: The End Of The World Running Club, Adrian Walker, B
apocalyptic but entertaining

10/18/20: Then She Was Gone, Lisa Jewel, C+
thrift store murder mystery, meh

10/24/20: Mission Critical, Edited By Jonathan Strahan, (Short Stories) , B
A mostly solid collection of stories about what can go wrong in space

11/4/20: The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August, Claire North, A *****
This was a strange find that I loved, a man relives his life many times, highly recommend

11/10:20: The Aftermath, Ben Bova, B
Standard space story by usually solid Bova

11/20/20: A Deepness In The Sky, Vernon Vinge (Re-read), A*****
This is my favorite Vinge novel, wonderful world building and creatures!

11/30/20: The Pharaoh Key, Preston And Child, D
so dumb, so, so dumb

12/5/20: The Final Frontier (short stories), edited By Neil Clarke, B
More short space stories, entertaining

12/10/20: Good Morning Midnight, Lily Brooks Dalton, B+
good, easy read, don’t see the movie, very changed to pacify stupid people who need a happy ending

12/20/20: The Peace War, Vernor Vinge, B
Sci-fi with interesting inventions

12/27/20: Solar Express, Le Modesitt, C-
Why a mostly fantasy author should not write sci-fi

12/28/20: The End Of The World Survivors Club, Adrian Walker, B
Sequel to The End Of The World Running Club, so more apocalyptic but entertaining

1/5/21: Future On Ice (Short Stories) edited by Orson Scott Card, B
editor is an asshole human, but the stories were pretty good

1/9/21: Artemis Awakening, Jane Lindskold, D
so very stupid, why I should not read fantasy…annoyed the whole time

1/13/21: Infinity Beach, Jack Mcdevitt (Re-Read), B+
A good, sci-fi story by a solid author

1/23/21: The Children In The Sky, Vernor Vinge, B
Finally got my hands on this hard-to-find sequel, good

someone (Jack!) likes to steal my fireside reading pillow…
  So that was my (long) list (I'll try to do these more often so they're shorter!) I could just show my favorites but I like you to see I make bad book choices too! If I had to suggest three books, I'd say: Old Man's War by John Scalzi (accessible sci-fi), The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August by Claire North (interesting premise), and Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein (still an important classic).

I'd love some new suggestions (though I admit, I am a bit sworn off of most fantasy…), let me know what you've read lately that you really liked!

Monday, January 25, 2021

detour: lake bottom

Rattlesnake Bar bridge 1862-1954
It all started with a post by a local historic group: Did we know about the old Rattlesnake Bar bridge?
bridge collapse from too large truck!

Why, I did not! After reading the interesting post (the bridge collapsed before it could be inundated by the lake), someone commented that you could see the abutment remnants when the water was low. Challenge accepted!

It was an overcast, gray day, with threatening clouds. No one else seemed to think it was a good idea to be out, so I had the eerie lakeshore all to myself.

seeing both sides

The old bridge abutments were a short walk from the main parking area, though walking along the lake bottom is weird! The ground is very soft, though not muddy, and there are tiers where each receding lake level has left its sandy imprint.

The abutments are quite tall, easily 6 feet tall by 12 feet wide. I was tempted to climb up but was by myself, wrenching an ankle out here would not be fun (see, I have gotten smarter in my old age!). As the lake level drops (if it does, low rain year so far) I'll have to see if I can access below them.

I figured I was here, I'd walk around the lake bottom a bit, and it was so cool. Like being on the surface of another planet. Not too close to the water, as it gets very squishy there, and there is a need everywhere to watch your footing due to loose rocks, weird terraces and goose poo!

gnarled tree

what we did then (hydraulic mining)

and now…sigh…

It was absolutely still. I heard no birds or people, a lone gull flew over silently. Maybe some would think it ugly, but I found it all fascinating.

And disorienting! The lake was so still it was perfectly reflecting the rocky hills on the opposite shore. You could not tell where water ended and rocks started, it was mesmerizing.

perfect reflection

weird hole
There were the strange datura seeds (pokey! and the plant is poisonous but pretty) and sculptural trees and rocks, but mostly the silence was all encompassing.

spiky datura wrightii


last season's flowers
And needed. 

this is exactly where I swam this summer, in five feet of water!

a bright spot

Monday, January 18, 2021

monday moment: embarrassing

mmmm, what is this thing?
 Sorry, (not sorry), Major to embarrass you this way, but photos must be shared.

maybe I'll just give it a lick
  The Uncle Jimmy's Hanging Ball was a big hit. Major got it Christmas Eve, and it is still around, though in much diminished form.

can't quite bite, must try!
  Though he does get a bit messy!

 I'm sure he'll get me back for this…

Friday, January 15, 2021

olmstead adventure

It had been awhile since I'd gone on an actual adventure! I was inspired while hiking the day before: looking across the canyon I saw horses on the opposite side on the Salt Creek loop. They were tiny and I pondered that I hadn't done that trail in a long time.

tiny, tiny riders

Well, that didn't take long: the next day I loaded up and trailered over. The trailhead is only 25 minutes away, but it is down and up a steep canyon with asshole drivers, so not my favorite. But we got there early and the lot was already filling up, bound to be a busy day.

(numbers are coordinated with photo locations)
I didn't have much plan other than doing the loop I'd seen the riders on the day before. But of course to do the loop you have to get out there, and this park has a multitude of trail choices. I used my handy GPS app (others will work fine, but I use Gaia GPS so I can download the maps to my phone in this less-than-stellar cell area) to pick a route.

(1) heading out
Normally I'd just wander about, but I get turned around in this park and am trying to avoid the super rocky awful part (success this time!). 

I picked a smaller trail, very shady, cold and slippery! I forget that the earth here is mostly red clay, and how slick it can get when wet (the wet leaves on it did not help either)! 

(2) slippery choices

I crossed the dry Salt Creek and turned right onto a dirt access road, shady and cold but good trotting!

(3) fun trotting road
Down, down the gravel road goes, in a quite uninteresting way (except for the view), then you're at the river. Well, above the river on a low plateau. Major, for once, wasn't interesting in going down to the river, probably because we'd only gone 5.5 miles at this point. He wanted to go up! 

(4) down the boring road

(5) where I'd seen the riders the day before!

(6) going up (and a lost easyboot on the marker post!)
We took it easy because it is very steep set of switchbacks, with great views. Back up from the river is about 1000 feet climb in about 1.5 miles.

(7) love these views

(7) silly trail marker, no where else to go (over the cliff?)
At the top I had to decide which way to go. Major seemed game, so I headed out towards the Rim trail. Getting there is half the fun, a wide variety of different trail views!

(8) pine trail

(9) low, green pond

(10) old orchard

A couple wrong turns (Major wanted to take every path back to the trailer, my GPS told me otherwise!) and we were on my favorite trail, the twisty, turny Rim trail! Though this time it was also the damp and slippery trail! Discussions were had about slowing down…

(13) oaks everywhere

After that it seems like you should be done, but it is still about three miles back to the staging area! We passed by the pretty pond (and a dad and kids on bikes) and I made Major take a breather and snack on some green grass.

(14) perfect pond

(15) are we there yet?

(16) important snacks

I thought he seemed a little tired, but then he tried to trot back to the trailer after his snack, so not too much! One last trail though knee deep water (fun!) and we were back. Mash, warm cooler, the washing of muddy boots, trailering home. All in a days fun, I think for us both.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

welcome 2021


looking into 2021
Well, my new year ride recap is a week late. Yep, that sounds about right for plans the last year or so…

Riding-wise the year started off perfect. An easy local ride with friend C and Friday. 

pre-ride: snack all the time
 It was what we always hope for: an uneventful, fun ride to start the year off right.

after ride: OMG, why is my friend on the other side of the trailer!?

But maybe the US didn't get the memo?

Major would like to set the record straight: Do the right thing. Stay home, or close to home, and eat your alfalfa. That is all.

Major's other advice: ignore the news for awhile, go for a ride…