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Irrationally Exuberant [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Danny Adams

[ website | Bio of a Silver Fox ]
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I Can't Move My Arms [Jan. 19th, 2015|10:46 pm]
[Current Location |Closer To Where I Want To Be]
[Current Mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[Current Music |"Pleasant Valley Sunday" by the Monkees]

That's not a reference to A Christmas Story (though I was tempted to take a picture of myself bundled under three or four coats), but rather that I finally got back to the gym today for the first time since before I moved (that is, before last April).

I'd been telling myself that I'd get back for...well, never mind that. But it was particularly intense over the past couple of weeks, except I let my time-gobbling duo of writing and doing house-related things (125,000 words on No Word in Death's Favor as of this past Saturday, by the way) gobble time that could otherwise have gone to working out. But today I was determined to get there, since I was starting to feel my resolve slipping again.

And more to the point, I have an active summer planned, which will include a maniacal amount of sightseeing involving an equally maniacal amount of walking, plus hiking with some treading up to the tops of giant rocks. I anticipate having a great deal of fun this summer, so naturally I do not want to cut it short in midstream with a heart attack.

At any rate, the hardest thing for me about working out is not the exercise itself, but making myself not compare where I am now to my 2009 peak of one hour workouts four days a week, when I dropped several inches off my waist, could run a couple of miles without breaking a sweat, and lift the highest settings on the campus gym's weight machines one-handed. That was after several months of intense exercise, and honestly I'm not sure if I could reach that level of intensity again. But what I would like to do is get rid of as much of the gut as possible, build back some arm muscle...and of course, not die of a heart attack (on vacation or any time in the next few decades thereafter, preferably).

I broke down today's workout into my old standard non-intensive plan:

I started with the elliptical, doing a mile in about 10:30 - no record-breaking there, but breaking the no-workout streak was all I cared about. I did another half mile in almost exactly five minutes, then a cool down.

Then the weight machines, and the titular loss of movement in my arms. While I was smart enough to not try the same weights I was doing even when last I worked out, I was naive enough to think I could do the same quantity. After seven ten-sets of pull-downs (with the machines set to 7 out of 12 on five of those, and 8/12 on two), I knew I was done with lifting for the day - especially when an 8/12 machine pulled me back into my seat on the last tug.

Then a mile on a stationary bike going 55-100 RPM, with a third-of-a-mile cool down.

This is the point where I pointedly tell myself not to remember that my original workouts would've added jogging three laps around the gym, a number of push-ups, an extra one-half mile to one mile on the elliptical, and at least twice as much weight-lifting. Right now I'm just pleased that I got to the gym at all, so I'll go with that.

What I need to figure out now is why I have so much trouble keeping up this exercise habit, while in 2009 I was kind of obsessive about working out and stopped only after (1) a doctor told me to quit exercising for a month after my nearly-lethal spider bite, and (2) my car died. I suspect if I can figure this puzzle out I'll at least get back to something close to fighting shape.

Or walking miles a day shape. Either way I'll be happy.
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2014: Annales Photographia, Part 2 [Jan. 14th, 2015|10:11 pm]
[Current Location |Between Cold and Warm]
[Current Mood |hopefulhopeful]
[Current Music |"Nine Times Blue" by the Monkees]

More highlights from my past year as told in a few of my favorite photos.

Tucker wishes one of his bovine buddies a happy 2014. (January)

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2014: Annales Photographia [Jan. 9th, 2015|02:27 pm]
[Current Location |One Foot in 2014]
[Current Mood |thoughtfulthoughtful]
[Current Music |"The Last Goodbye" by Billy Boyd]

I started writing a "Year In Summary" post for 2014, but after a couple or three paragraphs I decided I'd rather just post some of my favorite pictures from the year. This isn't all of them - they only cover up to October - so I'll likely post more when I get the chance.

One of the first pictures, if not the first, I took of the New House, three months before the sale went through. (January)

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Link Stew, Sponsored By The Brand New 2015 [Jan. 7th, 2015|01:25 pm]
[Current Location |A Building Struggling To Stay Warm]
[Current Mood |coldcold]
[Current Music |"Candle on the Water" ala Kristin Chenoweth]

Visiting A Park Could Save Your Life. Well, yeah. And woods too, I imagine.

Talk like an Egyptian: If we want to safeguard our languages, stories and ideas against extinction, we had better study Egyptology. This is actually the sort of thing that's always in the back of my mind when it comes to collecting and preserving my own library. I also really got deep into this idea, as it were, a few years ago when I read Gregory Benford's non-fiction book Deep Time.

Why Creative People Seem To Have The Messiest Minds. Based on how messy mine can be...second only to my room.

This Brilliant 11-Year-Old Revolutionized Flood Prevention. Peyton Robertson invented the possibly genius and potentially life-saving sandbag that doesn't require sand.

Top Ten Ancient Egyptian Discoveries of 2014. I always especially love "old news".

First Buffalo Roam East Of The Mississippi Since 1830. There were even buffalo here in southwestern Virginia until the last one was shot in the late 1790s. Alas, a program trying to reintroduce them in certain areas some years back never came to fruition.

Byron Ballard keeps Appalachian folk magic practices alive. And it turns out that she happens to be the friend of a friend.

Oh My God, There’s A Cat In Russia That Wears A Bow Tie And Works As A Librarian. Because cats.

Morris the rescue cat has become a horse whisker-er since meeting Champy. Because cats and horses.

Christmas Tree Massacre! Big cats and a different sort of catnip.

In France, Vestiges Of The War's Bloody End. World War One, that is. Meanwhile, French town tries to save first world war soldier’s room for posterity. A century-old time capsule.

NASA Astronaut: Why We Need To Visit The Moon, Not Mars. I particularly like Hoffman's point that the Moon, being closer but extraterrestrial, would make the perfect practice ground for a Mars expedition.
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I Hate The Sound Of Story-Chopping In The Morning [Dec. 30th, 2014|08:55 pm]
[Current Location |Staring Into Winter Staring Back At Me]
[Current Mood |Lacerative]
[Current Music |Hobbit closing songs]

I'm facing another big Kill Your Darlings moment: As much as I like the first two chapters of my first Arizona novel, three years of distance and experience since writing them is increasingly telling me that they aren't nearly as up to par as I'd like. And that if I cut them out, plus changing the first three chapters from the second book into the last three of the first, I'll have a much stronger novel. This would start the book - which I might re-title Wolves in the Desert (currently the name of Book 2) - out with a single prehistory chapter and end with the beginning of Geronimo's warmaking in the 1850s.

I hate chopping that much. But if I finally decide that it makes the book better, I'll be ready with an hatchet in each hand.

And of course, in our fabulous Age of the Internet, if the book sells I can always put those two chapters (both prehistory - the first set at the end of the Ice Age and the second about the building of the great canals near modern Phoenix) online as free reads. This would also then have the effect of compacting my 2nd and 3rd Arizona novels into one book as well. Which means if I ever write the last book, the series would finish as a trilogy.

Meanwhile, I've also toyed with the idea of chopping up my last Shenandoah novel as well - ending it at the beginning of World War Two instead of the present day, then adding to the pre-existing chapters to have a final book more comprehensively covering the 1940s up to now. But that would depend on selling that series, too.

As for actual new writing, I knocked out 2000 words on the For Fun Fantasy Novel today, just to get in a few more licks before the end of the year. It's hovering around 115,000 words now and still not quite close to finished yet. It's a good thing that "Don't pay close attention to your word count" is one of the book's multiple experiments.
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Link Stew Can't Choose Between Articles So It Links Them All [Dec. 11th, 2014|09:52 pm]
[Current Location |Waiting For Christmas Land]
[Current Mood |Ramped up]
[Current Music |"Duel of the Fates" from Star Wars]

'Star Trek' Flashback: Leonard Nimoy Notes 50 Year Anniversary of Original Pilot Shoot. Of course this had to be my lead story. Meanwhile, Astronauts lift our spirits. But can we afford to send humans into space?

Why Pluto Still Matters. And while we're talking about Pluto, New Horizons Wakes Up On Pluto's Doorstep.

10 Reasons Why Our Universe Is A Virtual Reality. I'm not sure if I buy any of this, but it's like candy to my Writer Brain.

The Closer We Look, The Stranger Europa Gets. As much as I'm fascinated by distant galaxies and quasers and what-not, I love exploring our backyard. And in the farther backyard, A Distant Planet May Lurk Beyond Neptune. Besides Pluto, they mean. And not, I suspect, the Planet X / Nibiru that some people think will sweep in someday and destroy all Terran civilization.

New Mystery Arises From Iconic Iwo Jima Image. The image had identification issues right from the very beginning, but I'm fascinated that that problem can resurface after 70 years.

Shell Engraving Has 'Rewritten Human History'. Those archaeologists, always pushing and pushing.

Is Space-Time Shaped Like A Spiral? See my comment about the universe being virtual reality. But I would dig the idea of the entire universe having a Golden Ratio.

Roman Cats Turn Historic Site Into A Cat Haven. Cats and ancietn ruins. Add some books and that's pretty much all I need.

Slayer Rescues A Kitten. Because as the article points out, there's nothing more metal than saving kittens.

Cutest Baby Ever Couldn't Be More Confused By the Concept of Twins. Because as much as I hate to admit it, the Internet can't be all cats.

Government To Pay Off WWI Debt. I personally like the idea of being considered solid if I can pay off my debts within 80 years.

Literally The Best Thing Ever: The Journal Of Emily Shore. This early 19th century teenager wanted to write natural science articles - and succeeded before she was 20. I'll warn you that this story doesn't have a happy ending, though.

Why Save A Language? The author agrees with the idea of seeing things from a culture's unique perspective, but argues that this most-often-given reason isn't the only one by any means.

Now Where Did I Park My 60 Cars? Another awesome treasure trove of antique cars unearthed. I'm less amazed that such things exist, though, that they keep being "lost" for decades at a time.

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' character names revealed (in coolest way possible). I'll admit that even after collecting a thousand or so Topps movie cards when I was a kid (and that I still own them), I didn't realize Topps was even still in business, but I was happy to hear it. I still have my collection of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back Topps cards, so maybe I'll grab some of these for old time's sake. You can have my gum.
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Hoping For A Truthful Happy Little Black Cat Ending [Dec. 7th, 2014|09:27 pm]
[Tags|, ]
[Current Location |Half-Sheltered]
[Current Mood |anxiousanxious]
[Current Music |The Virginia Gentlemen]

As much as I love cats, and kittens, and little black cats in particular, I was hoping that this year would be the first in a fair few that the library didn't end up hosting feral kittens. That hope was dashed by the appearance of one early last week - a little black kitten about six weeks old, living inside an outer library wall.

By "outer library wall" this is what I mean: It's a brick sheathing with a hollow space inside for running cables, and the holes the cables run through also allow a little climate control out. So over the years it's been a popular spot for feral cats because it's both sheltered and cool or warm depending on the season. One of the other librarians heard it mewing, and caught a glimpse of it; I likewise heard and saw it the following night.

I started making plans to catch it and take it to the local no-kill shelter. Keeping it wasn't an option; we already have eight cats (four of whom were supposed to be fosters until the people we were fostering for never took them back) and two dogs. I was willing to spay/neuter it and have it vaccinated, but then what? The shelter wasn't forthcoming about whether or not it could take the cat, which usually means they don't have room. (Though Laurie advised I push on through - take the cat there and make them turn me...and the kitten...down face to face.)

So catch-and-release seemed to be the only option if the shelter wouldn't take it. Which is a poor option, because kittens and small cats don't last long on this campus, nor do the domesticated cats dumped by students at the end of the school year because they have the idiotic thought that "It's an animal, it knows how to survive". (Or they assume someone will clean up their mess and take the cat - I even met someone once who dumped a cat because they knew Laurie and I rescued and they figured we would rescue that one too.) Wandering dogs kill these cats, diseases kill them, roadkill dropped food that's spoiled and rotting kill them, and running alongside campus is a secondary highway where half the drivers act like they race for NASCAR no matter what the weather. Most of the feral kittens I've seen on campus disappear, probably to one of these fates. A few of them I know did.

I wasn't particularly happy about the release idea, though doing nothing was a bleak option as well.

Then the mewing under the window disappeared for two days, and I feared that it was gone. Especially since a skunk had been roaming around, and skunks will attack kittens too. But then one of the library's student workers told me that a student she knows had managed to get the kitten and planned to give it to "a good home". I hoped the student who got the kitten was telling the truth; students aren't allowed to have animals in the dorms, and I was afraid maybe they were saying that to keep from getting busted. I passed along the message that if the good home fell through, bring the kitten to me and I'd take care of the surgery and shots.

My hopes rose when my library worker told me that the student got the kitten vaccinated.

But then, just a few minutes before I started writing this, she found out that the student took the kitten to the shelter. So - not the worst possible ending, or really even a bad ending so far, but not quite the best of possible worlds either. The shelter is good, it will do right by the kitten. But I also know that black cats are a hard sell around here - the two we have are proof of that. At the time, no one else would take them.

But who knows? Maybe this time will be different. But at least the kitten is indeed away from ravaging dogs, and skunks, and every other danger small creatures on this campus face.

In the meantime, I'll try trapping the mother if I can to have her spayed. I'd still feel bad about releasing her, though not as much so: she's an adult, so she's probably already learned the tricks to survive, and feral adults usually don't socialize well. She'll still have her little climate-controlled shelter, and with no possibility of more kittens. So there's that.

Animal rescue: wonderful work, but I certainly understand the quick burnout.
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Link Stew Exclaims "SCIENCE!!!" [Dec. 1st, 2014|08:31 pm]
[Current Location |Not Well Poised]
[Current Mood |Kitten-fretting]
[Current Music |"Yankee Doodle Dandy" ala James Cagney]

Russian Miner Spends His Breaks Taking Photos Of Foxes In The Arctic Circle. Just because, as some of you know, I have a thing for foxes.

Young Volcanoes on the Moon. Rabble rousers!

On the Trail of an Ancient Mystery. Temples aside, the Antikythera Mechanism is far and away my favorite ancient artifact, and I love finding new stories about it.

What It Feels Like To Rocket Into Outer Space. Aside from the cool factor, this might come in handy for some of you writers one of these days.

Forging a Photo is Easy, but How Do You Spot a Fake? Not something I need very often, but you never know, it may come in handy in online political discussions.

Mystery of the 'spooky' pattern in the universe: Scientists find that supermassive black holes are aligned. I also find it especially interesting that some of these are thousands and possibly millions of light years apart - which means, of course, that we're seeing them as they existed at different times across millennia.

The riddle of the missing stars. I'm one of these people who's thrilled when one solution creates two new mysteries. In science, I mean, not my personal life.

Brain Scans Reveal What Dogs Really Think of Us. The headline's a wee bit misleading, but I still like the notion.

Why Science Fiction Matters. Money shot: What O'Brien is getting at is that investing resources-including imagination-into the intersections of art, science, technology, and health will help us understand creativity as a resource that can be "exercised and optimized in fresh ways." The right to imagine a new world is perhaps the boldest act of citizenship.
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Link Stew Looks Like It's Seen A Ghost [Nov. 25th, 2014|01:24 pm]
[Current Location |Watching The Coming Snow From the E-Peak]
[Current Mood |Anticipatory]
[Current Music |"Enterprising Young Men" from Star Trek]

Artist Jakob Hadavra has created 32 plaster life-sized ghost statues inside a medieval church in the Czech Republic. The church has been falling into disrepair for nearly fifty years, and this is bringing attention back to the idea of trying to save it before the church itself becomes nothing more than a ghost.

The SLF Working-Class / Impoverished Writers' $750 Grant. The qualifications are broad, and entering is about as easy as they could possibly make it.

"Miracle" Kitten Survives Ride Under Car Hood in Freezing Temperatures. Yeah, I'm a sucker for stories like this. And speaking of animals...

Enter Now: Grand Canyon Wolf Naming Contest! The solo wolf that has been spotted in the Grand Canyon - the first wolf seen there in 70 years - is up for naming - if you're under 18 years old. A neat contest for kids!

Unearthed: Thanks to science, we may see the rebirth of the American chestnut. The Washington Post tells the American Chestnut's story and about the now-successful attempt to genetically modify the tree to make it Blight-resistant. I've seen chestnuts that were nearly on the cusp of the Blight strangling them to death, when they were just a little taller than me. It's probably too late for me to see one fully matured now, unless I travel to see one of the handful of naturally Blight-resistant ones, but just seeing one survive well into adulthood would be enough for me.

Catholic Church Says Religious Freedom Protects Them From Going to Court. The church being subject to secular authority is an old, old debate, going back almost as long as Christianity itself. Money shot: However, there is no special religious exemption for sex discrimination which is how the terminated teacher is framing her dismissal. She proved her point quickly by showing that the diocese had never fired a male teacher for using any type of fertility treatment. The church admitted that indeed, it had never fired a male teacher undergoing fertility treatments in the past, but it probably “would” because it is against church teachings; they just “hadn’t gotten around to it in the past.” I've got to say that I'm with the secular authorities in this particular instance.

'Star Trek' was launched 50 years ago this week. "The Cage", that is - not when the main series with Kirk began. I first watched that episode in 1987, as I recall - on cable TV, about a year after it was released to video. Happy Anniversary, Star Trek!

The Unexpected Math Behind Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”. I might've done better in math if I'd known more about stuff like this.

Swiss museum accepts Nazi-era art collection. And they say they're going to try working with German authorities to get artworks back to their rightful owners. In a way, the Monuments Men never stopped working.
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Infected By The Too Many Books Syndrome [Nov. 24th, 2014|03:40 pm]
[Current Location |On The Cusp Of A Cusp]
[Current Mood |restlessrestless]
[Current Music |After Jack]

I've been collecting books for a long time, one way or another. I started gathering them about me from my earliest memories, picked out my own that I wanted to buy early on in elementary school, and at the age of 12 - after seeing Phil Farmer's 20,000 volume collection in this pre-Internet age when information was not necessarily at your fingertips - decided that I wanted my own personal library. So for thirty years I assumed that once I got my own house then that would be that - I'd get all the books shelved and turn the house into a permanent biblio-fixture.

Strangely enough, while I do still have several thousand books that aren't going anywhere shelved all over the house, now that I am a homeowner for the first time I've kind of accelerated the pace of giving books away.

It's not many - a small box every few weeks - and it's not exactly unprecedented. I've given away hundreds of books over the past fifteen years, since my first big move. But I've never owned a house before, been able to put the shelves and books exactly where I wanted with no one (except perhaps structural engineers) to gainsay me, and I hadn't expected to keep purging once I did.

I don't have enough shelves, and I don't want to add any more shelves to the library room since it's not a ground floor, but it's not really a space issue. I can always get and fit more shelving. And sometimes I'll look at the giveaway box and think, "Why not keep them? When you've already got a few thousand, what difference will an extra dozen or two make?"

The best answer I can come up with is, while as counter-intuitive as they may have seemed to the pre-house owner me, I'm still getting rid of books because I'm a homeowner.

Not over space, not over crowding from shelves, but because now that I own a home I've been filling it in a permanent way with things that are meaningful to me. Along with books, things like family heirlooms, pictures I particularly like, and the odd bits here and there like favorite antiques and various types of replica weapons have been finding nooks and crannies in ways that they never could while I was renting. Since I'm optimistically assuming my home ownership status is permanent, I want the things around me to be that much more meaningful.

And some things - even books, I shudder to say - aren't quite making the cut. Things I lugged through ten moves over the last twenty-one years are going away, being fostered by the local Goodwill or Better World Books.

Maybe I'll miss some of them. I have replaced a handful of books I've given away over the years - though if I do any book replacing I'll be starting with the two hundred plus I ended up having to throw out due to mildew damage. One thing I can guarantee, though - one way or another, if you come to visit with me, you're still going to be surrounded by books.

PROGRESS REPORT FOR 11/22-23/14Collapse )

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